Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gran duty


The childminder, who usually looks after my littlest granddaughter whilst my daughter is at work, has gone on maternity leave, expecting the birth of her own baby very soon. That means a few days of 'gran duty' for the next few weeks, stepping into the breach until the school holidays start. I must admit to finding it quite tiring, being on high alert all the time. M, however, is a delight to look after. Being two and three quarters, she likes to do things for herself and gets quite cross with me if I try to intervene (lifting her into the car seat, for example: "No! I do it!") Generally speaking, she is a very contented and secure little girl, with a remarkably long attention span. She loves building things with Duplo and Magna-Tiles, and will play for ages with little figures and her dolls' tea set. I also found a book with magic pictures that appear when you paint over the page with water. (I remember them from my own childhood, but these days they are reusable.) She loves discovering the pictures and keeps up a constant flow of chatter, exclaiming over what she sees. Utterly cute. I'm a very lucky gran.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Watchtower


Here is another moody, stormy sky that really seemed to make all the colours glow. Despite the dry spring, the trees of Shipley Glen and the fields on the flanks of Hope Hill are looking lush and green. The clear lighting picked out the peculiar little glazed watchtower on the roof of 47 Titus Street, Saltaire. No-one seems quite sure why it's there. It may have been simply a decorative touch, being more or less central in the village, but in the 1870s the house was the home of Salts Mill's security chief and so the tower may actually have been used as a watchtower.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Wonderlab


The National Media Museum in Bradford has recently changed its name to the National Science and Media Museum (it was always part of the Science Museums group) with a greater emphasis on the science of sound and light. They have opened a new gallery called 'Wonderlab', aimed at children, but when a rainy day spoiled a planned walk for me and some friends, we decided to go to the museum and play. It's a fascinating place, though a bit bright and noisy for us oldies!! (Perhaps would have been easier on the senses outside of the school holidays, as there were a lot of children racing around excitedly.)

I especially enjoyed the infinity mirror maze, where you really couldn't tell what was a mirror and what was a corridor or whether you were coming or going!  Hundreds of 'me' visible at any one time. It was utterly mesmerising, although considerably disorientating.

Being deaf, a lot of the 'sound' exhibits defeated me but I liked the light lab that explored the colour spectrum, with lots of filters and lenses to understand refraction and the effect of mixing different coloured lights.

Worth a visit if you're in Bradford, especially if you have children with you. (Free entry too.)



Thursday, 22 June 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Alan Troake and Suzanne Jackson

Just had the good fortune to spend a lovely, warm, sunny evening in Roberts Park watching a free open-air performance of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', this year's play from Shakespeare in the Park, Saltaire. This is the third year they have done a play, though the first I have managed to see. The story of how these performances came about is an interesting one - see here.

It was a delightful evening. The play is, of course, a light comedy about love, fairies and comical mistakes, with some engaging characters. The performance had a modern twist but was pretty faithful to the original dialogue. Being so deaf, I wasn't able to hear much of it really but I know the story from my schooldays so I could just about follow it. (I'm not sure if I've got all the cast correct...) I enjoyed it all very much. It's being repeated on 24/25 June and 9 July, if anyone local wants to catch it.


Puck (Suzanne Jackson) with Hermia (Sophia Leanne), one of the sleeping lovers.


Titania (Meg Hughes) falls in love with Bottom (Stephanie Hindle).


The Mechanicals perform their play for Theseus (Colin Pinks) and Hippolyta.


Pyramus (Stephanie Hindle) dies - amidst a great deal of tomato ketchup!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Red and green


I thought this a rather pleasing juxtaposition of colours. The red door echoes the red leaves of the acer and the bright green shrub is a lovely contrast. This is one of the houses at the eastern edge of Saltaire, built later than the rest of the village, on land used for the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition in 1887, which celebrated Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. The land was sold off to developers after the exhibition; these houses don't form part of Salt's master plan and are not included in the World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Birthday honours!


It has been my birthday recently and I arranged to meet my daughter for the day in York - chance for some light retail therapy and a good conversation over lunch, uninterrupted by the usual chatter of her little girls. It turned out to be a hot, sunny day, so we decided to sit for a while in one of the parks in the shade of the trees.

All of a sudden, our reverie was interrupted by marching music from a military band. My daughter said she'd ordered it specially for me! It was 'birthday honours' but for Queen Elizabeth's 'official birthday' rather than mine. There was some more music, a few short speeches in front of the gathered VIPs and then a 21 gun salute, fired at precise 10 second intervals from three guns. It was impressively done, with each soldier and team knowing exactly what to do and when to do it, amidst a good deal of marching about and standing to attention.

A soldier gave me a leaflet explaining that, in 1971, to commemorate the city's 1900th anniversary, the city of York was given the honour of being one of 12 'saluting stations' across the UK. Gun salutes are fired to celebrate various Royal occasions. The salute was fired on this occasion by the 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery, accompanied by the band of the Yorkshire Regiment.

I gracefully accepted all the fuss in celebration of my birthday!

(Photos from my phone. I didn't take my camera so I couldn't zoom in very close to the action.)



Monday, 19 June 2017

Where did you get that hat?


Dancers from the Crook Morris side were wearing colourful flower-bedecked hats - with the odd mouse hiding among the blooms!

The Flag Crackers wore a wide variety of wacky headgear, many decorated with pheasant feathers, badges and greenery.



The gentleman below had a top hat with a couple of sunloungers and a pool on top! Not to mention various miniature drinks bottles around the sides... all empty!


The lady below seems to have a tiger in her tank. (Oh dear, knowing that catchphrase rather dates me, doesn't it?) 




Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dance sides


Including the Flag Crackers, the festival at The Airedale Heifer involved half a dozen different dance sides (teams), dancing a wide variety of different traditions.

The ladies above are Fiddle 'n' Feet, an Appalachian dance team based in nearby Shipley. Appalachian-style dances are energetic and involve high kicks and foot tapping on a hard surface.


Persephone Morris dance in the North West tradition of clog stepping and processionals that date back to the days when an annual ceremonial procession brought new rushes for the church floor.

The Buttercross Belles, another ladies North West Morris side, come from Otley. 


Crook Morris are based in Kendal. They have quite a repertoire, including Border Morris dances and Rapper Sword dances. At this festival they were dancing traditional Cotswold Morris dances, familiar to many as the archetypal English dances with waving handkerchiefs and jingling bells.


And finally, there was Saltaire's own Rainbow Morris, who also dance in the North West clog tradition, using garlands, sticks and handkerchiefs.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Flag Crackers


These colourful Morris men (and women) in their rag tunics are a side called Flag Crackers, based in Skipton. They dance Border Morris, relatively simple and raucous dances that originated on the border of England and Wales, in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Their blacked-up faces are a means of disguise and have no racial undertones or implication. They traditionally wear clogs and use sticks in their dances.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Down at the pub


If you go down to the pub today, you may get a big surprise...
Pubs and Morris dance sides go together, of course, like bread and butter (or gin and tonic?)  So maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise to find these characters outside The Airedale Heifer in the nearby village of Sandbeds.
The pub was built in the 18th century as a farmhouse and attached barn. The curious slit windows were ventilation for the barn.



Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sunset at Formby


'The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise or sunset.' Catherine Opie

Never mind, I think I'm allowed a cliché now and again. We took an evening walk on the beach near Formby when I was on my Liverpool trip a while back. The sunset was not spectacular but the sky was pleasing, nonetheless, and my iPhone did a creditable job of capturing it.

I was going to post something else today but in the wake of a lot of bad news both nationally and further afield, and from a couple of my friends too, I decided a brief pause to reflect on a peaceful scene might be the more appropriate thing for today. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends I know personally and also all those I don't know, who have lost or are anxious about loved ones or who are suffering in body, mind or spirit.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Pond life


There are as many ways of photographing a pond as there are people with cameras, I guess. This pool on the moors was safely fenced off - to avoid livestock falling in, I suppose, though it was probably as well to keep me away from it too, since I was having an accident-prone day! 

Here are two versions of it: an arty close-up and a more straightforward rendering. 



Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The greening of England


We walked a long circuit through the farm fields, along the edge of the moors and through little wooded valleys full of bluebells, blossom and pretty white flowers. I thought the white flowers were wood anemones but, on closer inspection, I now think they are a variety of stitchwort (stellaria). Pretty anyway. England is greening up with such a wonderful variety of fresh tones as spring slips in to summer.


Monday, 12 June 2017

A day on the farm


Although my camera club doesn't meet over the summer, several outings are arranged that are usually fun to join in with. One of our members lives on a farm on the edge of the moors above Ilkley, so we were invited to visit.

The day was bright and sunny, the views magnificent and all the farm life was fascinating to this 'townie'. I loved these sheep, waiting for a much needed haircut. I've seen sheep being sheared in a competition at Bingley Show but I've never got so close to the action before. Once the wool is off, in one big loose sheet, it is rolled into a bundle and bagged ready to be taken for processing.

PS: When I was a little girl, my dad taught me how to count sheep using the ancient numbering system used by Derbyshire shepherds. I've always remembered it started (1-5): Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip. There are many dialect variations. I've just seen, in my Country Walking magazine, the whole 1-20 listed, as used by shepherds in Swaledale: Yan, tan, tether, mether, pip, azer, sezar, akker, conter, dick, yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, metheradick, bumfit, yanabum, tanabum, tetherabum, metherabum, jigget.  Glorious!


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Food poverty



Our church's Local Outreach Co-ordinator, Angus, works tirelessly with other churches and within the community on all sorts of key local issues. He is involved in our local foodbank and with initiatives such as the Saltaire Canteen, a 'pay as you feel' café that uses food, donated by local businesses, that might otherwise be wasted. He has just spent two days without food and locked in a cage in Shipley town centre, as a way of standing with those who find themselves trapped and hungry in their circumstances.

He says: 'I've seen poverty in Shipley and been challenged that those in poverty are not "the undeserving poor" but have often found themselves unsupported by the State when in circumstances beyond their control. Since March 2012, the demand for help from foodbanks has risen by over 100%. This is largely because other means of support have been eroded. As living costs have gone up and job security has decreased, delays in benefit payments are a common occurrence and the use of sanctions [for instance, stopping people's benefits because they miss an interview, regardless of the reasons] has massively increased. As a Christian, I believe that God calls us to respond to his amazing love by loving our neighbours as ourselves.' He goes on to say that hearing people's stories makes him question and want to challenge the injustices that push people to the margins; he thinks there is a call to action, for all of us, to try change the story.

The display boards around his cage have moving accounts of people who, because of ill health, redundancy or relationship breakdown, have lost their source of income and sometimes their homes. The way our benefits system works can mean unexpected delays or changes in the payments people get and it's not difficult to see how this can result in not only a struggle to exist on a meagre income but a crisis when there is simply no money for food. Added that, the stress and loss of confidence and esteem in difficult circumstances can really push people under. The foodbank can assist people not only with emergency food but with a listening ear and help them to find support from charities and other agencies to resolve their underlying problems. Similar stories can be read on the website of The Trussel Trust, the umbrella organisation that supports foodbanks (see HERE). I encourage you to read them.

The Bradford North foodbank, according to their website, gave out 1323 emergency three-day food parcels in 2016-17, supporting over 3000 people, 40% of whom were children. People have to be referred to the foodbank by other agencies (you can't just rock up and ask for food). It is quite apparent that something is going badly wrong in our supposedly civilised society.

We can help by:
- reading the stories and educating ourselves so that we are well-informed;
- donating food to our local collection centres;
- volunteering;
- asking questions and talking to our political representatives and community leaders about how to achieve a better society for everyone.

I'm rarely so 'political' on this blog but I think it's important that we are all aware of what is going on.

#EndHungerUK

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The red vote


I felt a bit overwhelmed on the day after our General Election, when the results were coming through. On the one hand there was much to celebrate, with young people coming out in droves to vote (and having a big impact) and a very positive result for Labour's anti-austerity manifesto: 'For the many, not the few'. On the other hand, to my dismay, my own constituency has kept its hard-right Conservative MP, albeit with a much-reduced majority - and in the end the numbers just didn't add up overall for a real change. It all looks rather confusing at the moment; time will tell how things bed down.

I suppose it didn't help that I'd stayed up until 3.30 am watching the TV coverage! I was tired but I needed escape, so I drove over to Harrogate for a soothing walk around the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr. Whatever time of year you visit, there is always something new to see. They are particularly good at providing little 'set-pieces' in and among the grand vistas. This was one of a series of three small gardens all designed to provide habitat for hedgehogs, which are apparently as under threat in our ecosystem as tigers are in their territories. Vote for hedgehogs!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Yorkgate again


Another day (rather wet and humid) and another open garden. This time it was Yorkgate in Leeds, (which I last visited a whole five years ago. How time flies!)  The garden was bequeathed to and is now maintained by Perennial, the Gardeners' Benevolent Society. It was created by the Spencer family, who owned the house between 1951 and 1994. The house itself is now a lovely coffee shop, with offices above.

Our gardens seem to have been affected somewhat by the long spell of dry weather we've had this Spring and there is perhaps a little less colour in the borders than you might expect. There is, though, some lovely foliage in this garden, the tubs were full of enormous tulips and the wisteria was in full bloom.





Thursday, 8 June 2017

Higher Coach Road


The area on the opposite bank of the river from Saltaire, along from Roberts Park, is called the Higher Coach Road. The name dates back to when the road was a carriage drive leading to Milner Field, the grand residence of Sir Titus Salt's oldest son, Titus Salt Jnr. Because the mansion was demolished, the road doesn't actually lead anywhere now, petering out into an overgrown track beyond the Milner Field estate boundary.

There were a few old farmhouses and cottages in the area but then in the 1950s some social housing was built: a small estate of terraced houses and flats, for people displaced by slum clearance in Shipley. It always seems to me a bit of a backwater, rather overlooked, perhaps because it is a bit out of the way. It's physically cut off from Saltaire by the river and canal. There are some interesting history notes HERE, describing how the development came about and the rows over access. The road bridge from Saltaire into this area had been weakened by tanks driving over it during WWII and it was eventually demolished and replaced by a footbridge. The area is also cut off from Baildon, the nearest sizeable village, by the steep escarpment of Shipley Glen. There is a bus service and a large upper school but few shops or other amenities for quite a distance. Most of the properties are in private ownership now and the local residents have formed the Higher Coach Road Residents Group, to encourage community spirit and pride in the area and to lobby for the support that such an area deserves.

There is one house in particular that has a colourful mural painted on the fence. It has useful information boards and things like free doggy-poop bags to encourage folks to keep the area clean and tidy. I'm always glad when people come together to make things better. It must be having an impact. During the World Heritage Weekend celebrations in April, the Higher Coach Road residents held a 1950s family picnic to celebrate 60 years of the estate. That is one of the first events that I can remember when the community on that side of the river has really actively been included in a collaborative event. More of that please!


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Drama


From this angle, the Victoria Hall does look a bit 'naked' since they felled the large trees that stood nearby. The lion sculptures, however, are easier to appreciate and you can see, too, the glory of Hope Hill in the distance above the house roofs. You also see a lot more sky - not a bad thing when it is as dramatic as this one was. A huge hailstorm had just passed over.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Lasting Impressions: Cloth Taxonomies


Saltaire Arts Trail 2017
For the origins of the 'performative and participative artwork' that took place in the spinning room on the top floor of Salts Mill during the Arts Trail, you have to go back a year. Last year, the artists Hannah Lamb and Claire Wellesley-Smith invited people to let them emboss a small piece of their clothing - a button, a seam, a zip, some lace - on a porcelain tile and asked them to write a label giving some facts and feelings about the item of clothing thus immortalised. (See here). This year, they were asking people to weave the labels into new work, using a variety of different types of warp threads.

It is a way of connecting the heritage of the textile mill with our everyday experience and the clothes we wear from day to day. Perhaps it sounds a bit daft, but it was quite moving for me to see thread and weaving in the breathtaking space that is the relatively untouched top floor of Salts Mill, a space that somehow echoes with the history it holds. Interesting too, to be able to touch, feel and experience the differences, in both their raw and spun states, between the various natural and synthetic threads we use.