Sunday, April 15, 2007

In the Yorkshire Dales

Again, the summer-like temperatures made us contribute a bit more to global warming - and to drive with our Chelsea Tractor (well, the small Suzuki Vitara actually is not really in that behemoth category...) up to the Yorkshire Dales. We decided to go to Grassington, where every 4 weeks on Sunday there is one of those Farmer's Markets, with local food and produce.

Grassington is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, north of Skipton (here are my pictures of it). From Bolton Abbey, a very narrow road leads to it, often only one lane wide. But I do not mind those narrow back roads, as they provide very nice sights, and they adapt very well to the hilly landscape. If one would prefer a more convenient wider road, one would access Grassington from Skipton.

We drove to the small village of Thorpe and hiked from there up into the Embsay Moor. As on top of the incline there did not seem to be anything very interesting, we walked down again and continued towards the village of Burnsall. Lots of sheep on the way, with young lambs. The walkway crosses many walls, with steps and gates that need to be closed to keep the animals in their areas. A set of pictures from that hike is here in this Flickr set.

15. April 2007: Yorkshire Dales, Between Thorpe and Burnsal
In the Yorkshire Dales.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hiking in Ilkley Moor

Ilkley is a small town north of Leeds, in the Wharfedale. This valley is the first of the dales, with the river Wharfe flowing from West to East. Coming from Leeds, one has to travel down a hillside to come into this valley. It takes about 35 minutes to drive from our home to Ilkley, and it is the first "recreational" place out of the city borders. Well, even closer is the Chevin Forest right on the edge of where the Leeds plain falls down into the Wharfedale, but it is still quite close to Leeds, and the airport is very close, so it is not as tranquil as when one would drive a bit further away.

Ilkley is a very nice town, with lots of small oldfashioned stores, butchers, and one of the Betty's Cafes. South of Ilkley rises the Ilkley Moor, a very picturesque area for hiking. This Saturday, we used the nice weather to hike up the steep slope from Ilkley, then move on the relatively flat tops to the highest peak of the moor at 402 m. As usual, I took a lot of pictures - collected them on my Flickr site.

White Wells Bath House, Ilkley
View from the moor slope towards the Wells Bath House over Ilkley and the Wharfedale

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More Pictures on Flickr

Since 2 weeks I have spent lots of time going through my digital photo archive and uploading pictures onto my Flickr site. So far I have uploaded about 10% of the more or less reasonable photos. When uploading, I have to make a decision: is the picture worth to be shown publicly? Some pictures are nice based on their impact, others are just plain documentary. I decided often to upload them anyway, even if they are not perfect, or even if I have several versions of them - it might be that someone finds something peculiar in a version which I myself would rate as less impressive.

Time is also consumed by tagging and giving a decent title. By default the title is the image name. And my Sony DSC-M camera has the bad feature to wrap around the image numbers - after 9999 comes again 0001 - so there may be duplicate numbers there because of that.

I will upload more pictures in the next few weeks.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Model Railway Show, York

Model Railroading is still a very serious hobby in the UK. Every weekend there is somewhere a model railway show, with displays of layouts and vendors. Last year, in winter 2005/06, I visited numerous of them, but since then I had not much time anymore. But today, I went to York for one of the largest shows around.

Very interesting in British model railway layout is the meticulous attention to detail. Colors match, and epochs are exactly reconstructed, down to a particular year. Very popular are 1930s - 1960s. Typical for UK model railway layouts is that they recreate the original grime-ness of the steam age. Tracks appear oily, industries are dominating, sometimes run-down, buildings are in the usual British gray, the railway tracks dominate the layout, even when they go through wonderful moor landscape. None of that colorful cutiness of the central European model railway layouts with their Alpine holiday mood to which I have been accustomed. Similar is, btw, the approach to model railroading in the US. There too is a dominance of industrial grime - exactly as in the real original.

At the 2007 York Model Railway Show

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Middleton Railway, Leeds

The Middleton Railway in Leeds claims to be the world's oldest working railway. It was built in 1758, first operated with horses, then from 1812 with one of the first steam locomotives. Quite pioneering effort!

Nowadays, the line is open as a museum train, with small industrial steam locomotives. I took a ride on the short run between the station Moor Halt and Park Halt. No spectacular scenery here, just going under the motorway, along a few warehouses, through former industrial territory. While on the train, one of the passenger comments about the fenced-off sports facilities nearby, with its CCTV cameras, and the high metal fence around. "These vandals would smash the train too, if they could! What a shame". Yes, there are some problems... recently the Harry Potter train got smashed by vandals. The Middleton railway is in Hunslet, not far from Beeston where the London bombers came from. No connection here between the islamist religiously motivated disillusion, and the pointless no-future attitude of vandalising youths. Again I think, considering what happened to my bicyle and my car, "what is wrong with Britain?" Why do I have to be concerned about this, on a nice sunny day out?

Well, anyway, what is the point of complaining... here are a few pictures of the Leeds Middleton Railway which I took.

Middleton Railway, Leeds: smoking steam engine

Saturday, April 07, 2007

In York

Another nice day on Saturday. We travel to nearby York for a walk around the wall.

Daffodils on City Wall, York
Wall around York. Yellow Daffodils grow on the green wall hill.

Friday, April 06, 2007

In Skipton and Settle

Skipton is the "Gateway to the Dales", about 45 minutes northwest from Leeds. The nice weather here prompted us to drive there and walk a bit around in the town.

Canal in Skipton
The Leeds-Liverpool Canal through Skipton

Note: the pictures in this post are hosted on Flickr - this is the first time that I use Flickr instead of the Google/Picasa/Blogger storage.

We continued further north to the small town of Settle.

View over Settle. The famous Settle-Carlisle railway line goes right through the town.

Tree branches, near Settle
Outside of Settle

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Images in this blog

Some changes here in Blogger which I noticed today: the amount of pictures to be posted is limited. I do have a Google Picasa account, and the pictures here in this blog are stored there, everytime I upload one here into this blog. A few months ago I had run into a storage limit on Picasa when I uploaded external pictures (250 MB), but last week I noticed that the limit has been extended to 1024 MB. And today I noticed for the first time, that when I uploaded pictures here into the blog, this limit of 1024 MB was indicated. So far I only used 384 MB... but I might consider using a different method for storing pictures.

Flickr may be a good alternative. Right now my account there allows unlimited image storage, and also provides a way of accessing the pictures in different resolutions. So in the future I may try Flickr for the images in this blog.

Visiting a friend in Manchester

I have known David Solomons since many years - I think it was in 1998 when I got acquainted to his web site "Le Petite Musique" where a small group of musicians posted their works. It was there that I got acquainted to other online musicians and began daring to post some of my works. David lives in a suburb of Manchester - so it was very logical that after I had moved to Leeds, I paid him a visit in September 2005. And this weekend we visited him for the 2nd time. He prepared a very nice lunch, and together with my wife and with Rosemary we had a very nice afternoon, with chat, discussions, and his music.

On the way back home to Leeds, we stopped at the nearby Trafford Centre, and suddenly we felt as if being in Las Vegas - or at least in one of those typical "fake" Southern California shopping malls.