Monday, 31 January 2011

Around Derwentwater 3 - National Trust

The National Trust is a UK charity which is totally independent of government, relying on membership, donations, legacies and commercial activities to generate its income. The purpose of the organisation is to protect and show historic houses, gardens and monuments. In addition to this, they also buy and maintain areas of natural beauty; moorland, forests, fens, coastline, marshes and archaeological sites. The aim is to protect and preserve the historic and natural beauty of our island, for all to enjoy.

Brandlehow, 108 acres of woodland and pastureland at the foot of Catbells, on the east shore of Derwentwater, was the first purchase of the National Trust in 1902. The woods were opened to the public on 16th October, by HRH Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. As part of the opening ceremony, four oak trees were planted., one by the Princess and the other three by Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon H D Rawnsley of Crossthwaite, all of whom were instrumental in the founding of the Trust.

The Trust itself was founded just six years earlier in 1896 after some vigorous campaigning. Their first lifelong member was the father of Beatrix Potter, writer of the famous tales about Jemima Puddle Duck, Peter Rabbit and friends.

In 2002 the National Trust celebrated its 100 year anniversary and these carvings were placed at Brandlehow to mark the occasion.

Since its foundation, the National Trust has grown somewhat and now owns or leases around one quarter of The Lake District National Park, ensuring its preservation for generations to come.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Around Derwentwater 2 - Low Brandlehow

The Keswick Launch Company runs boats around the lake throughout the year, stopping off at seven landing stages, including this one at Low Brandlehow. Boats travel both clockwise and anti-clockwise, with the round trip taking 50 minutes.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Around Derwentwater 1 - The beginning

Last Sunday, Dad, Ben and I took a day trip to Cumbria to see Mark. Ben took up all of his climbing gear and while they were spending their afternoon hauling themselves up a rock face, Dad and I went for a rather more sedate walk.

We dropped off the lads in Borrowdale and headed for the east shore of Derwentwater.

Boots on; flask in rucksack; camera over shoulder. What could be better?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Canary Wharf by night

I love the steam venting from the pyramid.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Penny for your thoughts

At the foot of Cubitt Steps, just south of Cabot Square, a pair of men are sitting on a bench.

One is gazing out over the West India Docks towards Heron's Quay

...while the other gazes, hollow eyed, towards the Square.

As I watch them musing, I wonder what they are thinking.   

Are they considering all of the changes which this place has seen since the years it was the busy Port of London, with ships bringing in cargo from all over the globe?    

Or, maybe their thoughts are more personal; family, home, work (though ageless, their smooth skin suggests they are young enough for active employment). Perhaps they have been hit by the cuts and no longer have jobs to go to; no money, many cares.

Perhaps someone they know is in trouble or difficulty. With their hunched shoulders and stony expressions, they hold an air of sadness.

I wish I could know! Wish I could ask!







Sculptor: Giles Penny. 1990

To read other p-p-p-p-posts, potter over to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday and join in the fun.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


My brother in law works in the field of valuing, buying and selling land and property. During the years of the Docklands redevelopment, the firm in which he is employed was involved in a lot of multi-million pound land deals; some of which were John's responsibility! If it were me, I don't think I'd sleep at night.

This was one of his deals. The land on which this building now stands sold for over £40,000,000! I can't quite get my head round numbers that big.

The original London docks were built throughout the 19th century to cope with the fast growing demand for space, partly from overseas trade, but also from coastal trade; particularly of coal, needed to heat the houses of the fast growing population of the city. Rival companies competed for the trade; notably the West and East India Dock Companies, Surrey Commercial Docks Company and St Katharine Docks Company. If we could have stood on Tower Bridge around 1790, we would have seen hundreds of ships and thousands of tons of cargo moving up and down the river on a daily basis.

This particular body of water is the West India Docks.

This is what the area looked like in 1962; West India Docks from the air, showing the warehouses and rail network. If you look carefully, you can see the cranes unloading the docked ships.

Aerial view of West India Docks, London, June 1962. (1895-42952 / 10457562 © Science and Society)

Some of the cranes have been preserved as a kind of artistic memorial to the history of the area. Now they stand juxtaposed with the new commercial structures, and somewhat dwarfed by them!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Over New Year, we stayed with family in London. A good time was had, including a day around Greenwich and Docklands, during which, we travelled on this.

The Docklands Light Railway is an automated light railway system, opened in 1987 to service the Docklands area of East London. This whole Port of London area fell into decline when goods began to be transported in container ships. Being a river port, London was not suited to the continuous passage of such huge ships and a new container dockyard opened at Tilbury in Essex.  

Very quickly, strategies were mooted to redevelop the area and this light railway system was an integral part of bringing life back into the former port. 

To begin, there were two lines, from Island Gardens to Stratford (close to the Olympic sites for the 2012 games) and to Tower Gateway, near to Tower Bridge.

Since then, extensions have been built to Bank (in the heart of the city), under the Thames to Greenwich (our first destination) and out to London City Airport. Some of this development has required the railway to go underground.

On 9th February 1996, an Irish Republican Army bomb was detonated under a bridge close to the DLR South Quay Station. The bomb killed two people, injured thirty nine others and caused £85 million worth of damage. It was a tragic event in the history of the area.

I can't remember how long after this it was that myself, my husband and our then young sons travelled on the DLR, but soon enough that the normally fully automated system needed a little bit of help. We had boarded at Stratford and installed ourselves in the very front seats of the very front carriage. At one stop we found ourselves being joined by an apologetic DLR employee, who explained that, due to the continuing danger of debris falling onto the line, the train needed a 'driver' to start it from each station over the next section of the line. We moved the boys onto knees to make room. 

At the very next stop, Mark was rewarded by being invited to press the button to start off the train and at the station after that, it was Ben's turn. At age 4 and 2 respectively, it was quite a thrill. They have always liked trains!

This time around, our final stop was at Canary Wharf. I loved the station roof!

...through which you can just make out the tower.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Limestone landscape

I love dry stone walls and I love farm buildings, so taking this photo was a no brainer for me.

Whereas here, it's not so much the wall as the gap in the wall, which draws me in.

In and down, through the woods and into the valley bottom. ..

...and up onto the far hillside.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Derwent Valley; Ambergate

Above the town of Belper, is a pub called The Hill Top, perfectly positioned to give panoramic views over the Derwent Valley.  In addition to the river itself, the valley is occupied by the A6 and the mainline railway, both of which give access to the north from Derby. This train line is the one which I travelled on my day trip to Sheffield. 

There are settlements all along the road, including the large village of Ambergate, which grew up around the confluence of the river Derwent and its tributary, the Amber. The Amber, obviously, forms one part of the present name of this village. The remainder came in 1820, with the opening of a turnpike road between Belper and Cromford. The toll gate which stood on the junction of the present day A6 and A610, was named Amber Gate.This, of course, quickly encompassed the settlement too.

Incidentally, the stone posts of the gate still remain, though not in their original location. They were preserved and now stand near to the White House Inn on the A6.

Once home to a row of large lime kilns and, in 1876, the site of the newly opened Richard Johnson and Nephew wireworks, Ambergate's modern claim to fame is that it was the first place in Europe to have a fully operational electronic telephone exchange. (1966).

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Morning moon

For the past two nights, the sky has been clear, the temperature has dropped below freezing and the moon has been full. Yesterday morning, just before I left for work, I grabbed my camera to take these photos.

Good job I'm not a werewolf!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Photo Friday - Trees

I am very much looking forward to this...

...becoming this!

I'm joining up with Photo Friday today and the topic of 'Trees'.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

One whole year!

Today, my blog is one year old, which means that I have met my personal challenge of posting an entry a day for a year. I've actually clocked up 373 posts since my first tentative attempt.

And was it worth it? Absolutely! I've learned loads of things which I would not otherwise know; I've developed a much greater interest in taking photographs (pun intended); I've loved being able to write in a way which is not at all work related and I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing with and in the blogging community.

I've taken a little time to browse back.

On my earliest posts, I was very lucky to get even one comment. The first comment from someone whom I had not actually met, was a cause of great excitement! The post was the tale of my abseil down Derby Cathedral Tower, and the commenter was JennyFreckles from Saltaire Daily Photo. I can't believe how small my posted photos were back then!

Alphabe-Thursday was a great discovery because it introduced me to bloggers from other parts of the world. It is a fun meme, run by a committed host and I love being part of the community. Of those who read this post today, a significant percentage will have come over from Jenny's and I value every one of your visits.

I have seen a large number of extremely good blogs and it is very tempting to click Follow on every one, but I don't (much as I would love to) because I know that I just wouldn't keep up; I would rather be a faithful follower to a few, whilst remaining an occasional visitor to others.

I wanted to repost my favourite photo from the year, but I just can't decide! (Sometimes, I'm useless at decisions!). Instead, I think I'll restart where I set out this time last year...

...with The Dawn of a New Day.

I'm delighted to be able to link this post to Alphabe-Thursday over at Jenny Matlock's. I can't believe that 'O' actually fell on my blog's one year birthday!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 12 - Trams by the Cathedral

Sheffield has its own Supertram! It became the second UK city to open a modern tram system; the first being the Manchester Metro, which pre-dates Sheffield by two years.

Opened on 21st March 1994, the Supertram has three routes which run like spokes from the city centre and total 18 miles in length. One spoke stretches north-west to Middlewood, one north-east to the Meadowhall shopping centre and the final one, south east to the interestingly named Halfway. Extensions are planned, including to Rotherham.

One of the stops on the south east line is outside the Anglican Cathedral, the oldest building in Sheffield. There has been a church on this site for over 1000 years, but over the centuries, it has been rebuilt, extended and developed into the modern building. All that remains of the earliest church is a Saxon cross, which is now displayed in the British Museum in London. In the east wall, there are stones dating back to the time of William the Conqueror and a window in the Cathedral Chapter House illustrates Chaucer's reference to Sheffield cutlery in his Canterbury Tale ' The Reeve's Tale' (1300s).

More demolitions, alterations, rebuilding and extensions followed through the centuries until 1914, when the church was granted Cathedral status as a result of the formation of the Diocese of Sheffield. With the ending of the first World War the building underwent a major upgrade, with the aspect of the church being turned through 90 degrees and a second tower and spire being built along with a new chancel and sanctuary.

Although not quite in the same league as places like Wells, Ely or Salisbury, it is nevertheless an impressive piece of architecture! Unfortunately, when we were there, the doors were locked and only the faint glimmer of a security light could be seen shining through the long, high windows. It would have been good to have walked inside.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 11 - Carousel

This carousel was a heart-warming sight at the top of one of Sheffield's main shopping streets. Beautifully made, its dancing horses pranced up and down on their rotating arms, at the same time as circling the central core. The paintwork was fresh and bright and the lights gleaming in the foggy, late afternoon while the sound of the hurdy gurdy organ transported me back to another era!

According to the painted sign, this carousel was built by Savages of King's Lynn, Norfolk, in 1896. The engineering firm of Frederick Savage began around 1853, building agricultural machinery for the farming of newly reclaimed swamp land around the flats of the Norfolk coast. The business rapidly became a success and began to experiment. In the early 1860s they built their first self propelled traction engine; a three wheeler with a wooden frame which they named the 'Juggernaut'. After a move in 1872, to a new location on the northern edge of the town, they began to build fairground equipment.

Originally, of course, this carousel would have been powered by steam, but now it is electric.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 10 - Town Hall

In 1886, Sheffield Municipal Council launched a competition to select an architect for the design of a town hall. They had 178 responses, from which was chosen that of Mr E. W. Mountford. Building began and the completed construction was officially opened eleven years later on 21st May 1897 by HM Queen Victoria.

The Town Hall is still used by Sheffield City Council but also boasts an impressive array of silverware, which is open to public viewing in the Reception Suite. The outside of the building, which is made of 'Stoke Quarry' stone from Grindleford in Derbyshire, has a range of carvings, designed by Frederick William Pomeroy (1856–1924), a sculptor well known for his work on municipal buildings. The carvings represent scenes from the industries in Sheffield.

Crowned the building is the 2.13m tall statue of Vulcan, atop the 64m high clock tower.

Vulcan also appears, alongside Thor, on the city coat of arms, which was first awarded to the Borough Council on 16th July 1875 and subsequently passed on to the newly formed City Council on 1st September 1977. The choice of these two gods of fire and thunder was deemed appropriate for a city founded on steel working.

Vulcan himself is from Roman mythology and was associated with the use of fire in metalworking as well as having an obvious link to volcanoes. The Romans feared him for the destructive nature of fire and most worship was aimed at averting his anger. He is carved here holding the metalworkers hammer and has, apparently, been adopted as the patron god of Sheffield.

I did wonder if Vulcan might be a little chilly in the weak December sunshine, but, by the afternoon, he had wrapped himself up in a blanket of fog.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 9 - The chances of anything...

... coming from Mars
Are a million to one,
But still
They come!

Do you remember 'War of the Worlds'?

I still prefer the original film. I also prefer the original Jeff Wayne musical!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 8 - Water features

These kinetic water features in the Winter gardens added a nice touch of interest. The power of the water is used to make the feature move. In the case of this top one, the water is trapped in the sectioned channel around the rim of the skeleton globe. When one side is filled, the weight of the water pushes the globe into a downward spiral so that it slowly rotates round the rim.

Here, the leaves work in opposite pairs, like a see-saw. Water is captured on one leaf until it drops and releases a splash. The weight of the opposite leaf then pulls it back up to horizontal for refilling.

Predictably, both pools of water had been used as wishing wells, with a thin layer of small change spread across the bottom of each. I didn't see any notices, but I expect it is all gathered up and donated to charity.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 7 - Winter Gardens

Sheffield Winter Gardens is one of the largest temperate glass houses to be built in the UK over the last one hundred years and, at 70 metres long, 22 metres wide and 21 metres high, currently stands as the largest urban glass house in Europe. According to the City website, during the construction of the Winter Gardens, 2,100 square metres of glass, 900 cubic metres of concrete and 80 tonnes of steel were used.

Built as part of the £120 million Heart of the City regeneration project, it was designed by architects Pringle, Richards, Sharratt and consultant engineers Buro Happold and is a 'glulam' design. Glulam is a method by which strips of timber (in this case, larch) are shaped and glued together.

And, under that superb glass roof, the Winter gardens contain more than 2.500 plants from around the globe.

But, enough of the facts and figures. I liked this place. I loved the airy feel of being in a glass house; especially under a bright blue sky. I also loved wandering among the plants, hearing the sound of water and the echo of voices. It's a wonderful oasis in the heart of the city.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 6 - Nine steel balls

Outside the Winter Gardens is Millennium Square, a triangular open public space which was designed by architects Allies and Morrison as part of Sheffield's 'Heart of the City' project.  Within the 'square' is another piece of sculptural artwork, in the shape of these stainless steel spheres. Look carefully into the reflection and you can see that there are more than just the two; balls reflect in balls, reflect in balls, and actually, there are nine in total.

Created by sculptor Colin Rose, winner of the 2003 competition to create a piece of artwork for this location, the nine stainless steel spheres are designed to represent raindrops which have just landed on the surface of the square. They vary in size, the largest being two metres in diameter, and are clustered in groups scattered across the granite paving.

When the weather is not so cold, these balls are water features, their surfaces shimmering with the flow of the running water. At night, they are lit up by coloured LED lights.
(I can see yet another reason for a return trip here! This city has much more to offer than I have yet seen!)

Of course, the use of stainless steel is a celebration of the industry which made Sheffield famous across the globe, but the shape distorts the reflections, reminding me of the old fashioned Hall of Mirrors in a fairground attraction. Look carefully into this last sphere and you can make out the squashed idiot with the camera, accompanied by the friend who now appears to have an extremely eloooooongated neck!

I'm linking up with the marvellous Jenny Matlock and Alphabe-Thursday, which this week, has reached the letter 'n'.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A grand day out in Sheffield 5 - Barking up the Right Tree

Moving on upstairs, we found 'Forkocactus Spoonelliflora' and 'Barking up the Right Tree', two sculptures by artist Johnny White, who describes himself as a Mechanical Sculptor, working mostly in steel and usually including kinetic elements or light.

'Forkocactus Spoonelliflora' (the smaller one at the front) is a musical donation box. As the coin is dropped into the sculpture through one of the many slots, it hits a section of the 'musical instrument' within and chimes a note. It was commissioned in 2008 and based on a cactus from the nearby Winter Gardens. Like Barking up the Right Tree, it uses cutlery in its design.

The 'Right Tree'  up which we are meant to bark, is the rather larger giraffe-like, sunflower thingy behind and is entirely covered in knives, forks and spoons; all of which were donated by the people of Sheffield.

This one is the older, having been commissioned in 2000, for the opening of the Millennium Gallery.It was originally intended to be a temporary installation (6 months), but has remained popular and therefore, remained here. 

There are four buttons on a front panel of the tree, three of which activate the heads at the end of the branches and the fourth of which operates an audio clip of a dog barking. (Having said that, we pushed all four and didn't notice any movement from anywhere. It did, however, bark!)

I do find the giraffe face rather appealing! I'm not sure whether it's the sticky-out ears, the curly eyelashes or the thick slobbery lips, but something.

Incidentally, according to the information in the gallery, Johnny White is a local artist, but an arts website I browsed said he is based in Wirksworth. He's certainly been involved in some projects in the Derwent Valley Heritage Area, but I can't find any more info on his location. Anyone shed any light?