Woodlesford. March 7th, 2017


It’s been a while since we’ve had a days walking, and the suggestion of a decent forecast encouraged us to dig out the rucksack and the maps and get started.  Woodlesford is a village on the edge of Leeds, which I guess wouldn’t want to see itself as a suburb, but in many ways is.  Pleasant area, about 5/6 miles to the east of the city, it has some very posh looking houses near the canal, and doubtless some much more ordinary houses closer to its centre.  The canal has a lock, something of a car park and a line of tethered canal boats, some lovingly tended, others in dire need of TLC.  It also now has some surprising animal residents which were well worth a chuckle and a photograph, though I’m not clear just what is the connection between Woodlesford and the Gruffalo!

We headed towards the city along a towpath which ranged in quality from a good road surface to genuine Yorkshire mud, puddled by the recent rain and ploughed by “mountain bike” tyres.  The path is part of the “Trans Pennine Trail” which pretty much does what the name suggests.  In fact we discovered at what we decided was lunch time that from about Thwaite Mills on it was closed for some works related to the city’s flood defences – a good enough excuse to turn round and head back!  Incidentally – Thwaite Mills was closed as well, except to pre arranged school visits.  I guess that’s not so surprising; the economics of keeping such an enterprise open for passing trade must be difficult – shame though.  Check out the web site before visiting.

It’s always an interesting experience, I find, approaching a city either along or alongside a canal.  There’s a gradual change in scenery and in sound and smell as the very rural gives way to the industrial and eventually the civic.  It’s something of a reminder of the heritage of the canal system of course; only recently has it become about leisure and recreation.  Its initial purpose was very much to do with industry and commerce, the vital supply route.  We learned a while back that there are moves towards a resurgence of that original purpose in the transport of aggregates and such like into the city on barges, which probably makes all kinds of sense.  The canal itself is quite wide, although the locks aren’t, but no doubt they’ve thought of that!

Anyway, it was a good beginning to our walking season.  We live in hopes for much more as the year develops.  A few pictures follow …… which include the Gruffalo!

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The Royal Armouries, Leeds 7.5.15


We’ve been meaning to visit here since we moved in 4 years ago, and not quite got round to it.  It’s a significant “attraction”; the local outpost of the Imperial War Museum in London, and so is important I guess, respectable and somewhat “establishment”.  The building is purpose built and rather splendid, on the south bank of the River Aire.  The ground floor offers the “Nelson Bistro” which served us a decent enough snack lunch, and the inevitable shop (which we avoided); it leads on to the tower featured in the first four images.  This is visually spectacular, viewed either through the huge mirror at its base, of with a cricked neck – or through the moveable screen on the back of the camera!  To my eye the contents and the shape become abstracted into a curious, almost spaceship like construction.

Moving into the galleries, the emphasis comes directly on to the weaponry which is at the heart of the museum.  We both found there sheer, relentless scale and scope of it all of it all to be increasingly difficult and oppressive.  These are implements of death and destruction – obviously – and there was not reason to be surprised by that.  I think I was struck by two essentially negative thoughts – the one was that this was about combat at an intimate level, even when considering the considerable number of modern firearms.  This is about one person killing another, whether in attack or defence.  The second was that these weapons were the result of design and technology – in other words someone has sat down at a drawing board and considered how most effectively to devise and improve the efficiency of them.  I remember picking up the thought somewhere that somebody had had the inspiration that lead to the creation of napalm.

These scruples are being expressed by one who enjoys the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child, and the Bond films et al – and I can’t avoid the charge of hypocrisy!  The horns of a dilemma, which I suppose could be seen as the luxury of a relatively peaceful existence in suburban England!

We escaped the emotional tension of that fairly briskly for the open air and I’ve tacked on a few photographs made around the area.   It was probably a foolishness to render the interiors in monochrome and the exteriors in colour – but then again, maybe not!