For whatever reason, this photograph says Halifax to me. Although I was born seven miles away in Bradford and now live four miles away in Huddersfield, Halifax as always been - and always will be - home. The built environment - whether it was built fifty years ago or one hundred and fifty years ago - cannot overwhelm the shape of the landscape, the rise and fall of the hills.
This is a scene I keep returning to: I can never pass the concrete Burdock Way Overpass without taking out whatever camera I may have with me. My adolescent eye was captured by these concrete curves forty years ago and I have been returning to them ever since.
More deck chairs, but an entirely different scene. We are now looking across the South Downs from the splendour of the gardens of Polesden Lacey House - a great Victorian/Edwardian country house constructed out of the eye-watering profits of the McEwens Brewery. Cheers! - or should it be Chairs!
We recently spent a night at the Oakley Court Hotel near Windsor - a splendidly spooky place on the banks of the River Thames. Whilst there, I discovered that it had been used as the set for the films "The Brides of Dracula" and "The Plague Of The Zombies". Laster, I also discovered that my good friend Jane Gordon-Cumming had used it as the setting for her novel "A Proper Family Christmas". A large house - a small world.
In the shadow of the massive stone walls of Windsor Castle stands the Duchess of Cambridge Pub. In the shadows of the Duchess of Cambridge Pub sits someone who is highly unlikely to be the Duchess of Cambridge.
Deep within Windsor Station there is a small shop - Havana House - that sells the finest malt whisky and the very finest Havana cigars. Next to the door is a sign proclaiming "Welcome To Paradise". Was ever a truer word written?
Timbered Building, High Street, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire
Bishop's Castle takes its name from the castle built by the Bishop Of Hereford on land given to him in Saxon Times by Edwin Shakehead. By far the most fascinating part of that explanation is that someone could have the name Edwin Shakehead. Wonderful!
Just around the corner from the old petrol pump is parked - permanently, it is to be hoped - this old rust-covered contraption. I love the way the seat has been protected from the elements by a plastic bag, just in case some dare-devil owner decides they want a rustic ride.
A strange combination : a petrol pump which must have been last used when cars with running boards were running by, and a plaque to a school (Harford House Private Girls School 1860-70) which must have last resonated with the songs of young schoolgirls when schoolgirls sang rather that texted.
Pinosa Market : The shoe seller. The market can be in Pinosa, Pondicherry or Pickering - but the shoes will probably be the same and the patter of the shoe seller will definitely be the same. "They'll last you a lifetime, these - like walking on air"
Market Day, Pinosa : "The wind in Spain blows mainly off the plains". And once it comes off the plains, it sweeps around the mountains and gets funnelled through the concrete streets of little market town, playing games with hanging garments, throwing coloured caution to the wind.
Benidorm : land of mobility scooters and cheap beer. But there is nothing wrong with that - if you have worked in a hard industrial environment all your life you probably need a mobility scooter to get around, and if you have worked hard for just enough to get by on, you deserve all the cheap beers you can get.
Why would anyone want to get hold of an old Schweppes van, cut it in half and then mount it on the side of a north-facing wall in a back street in a small Spanish town? Is the other half similarly mounted on a south-facing wall in another town? Who knows? But it made me stop in my tracks and take my camera out.
Another example of Denia graffiti. The rough concrete wall adds to the quality of this piece of art which was hidden away in a loading bay down a back street. I was seriously tempted to chisel it off the building and take it home.
The problem with sitting in the sun all day on the Costa Blanca is that it is all a bit tiring. You read a page or two, have a glass of fizzy lager, lay back in the sun and .... yawn ... before you know where you are, you are fast asleep.
Spain seems to lend itself to street graffiti such as this example on the side of a building in Denia. The buildings tend to have concrete canvas sides and there is a tradition of graffiti which is decorative rather than self-promotional. And for photographers, they present endless opportunities to frame and selectively enlarge.
There is a tunnel under the castle in Denia. It looks and it feels as if it has been there for ever - just like the castle that sits on the hill high above. It was, in fact, only built in 1937 and it was constructed, not as a convenient short cut across town, but as an air raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War. The musician looks as though he might have been there since those horrific days.
A couple of weeks ago, Yorkshire was full of cyclists: Lycra-coated, hill-attacking, sweat dripping athletic titans. Whilst they were here, I was in Spain. There they were uncoated, sandhill passive, sweat dripping sunbathers.
The problem about hot countries is that they are hot. I have no problem with "hot", not for the occasional week here and there. It makes a nice change to cold and grey. Knowing, however, each day when you wake up, that yet again it is going to be hot, that must be a challenge. What can you do but take your chair out into the street and think about it.
DREAMS COME TRUE : GRAFFITI IN MONOVAR, SPAIN (MAY 2017)
Perhaps dreams do come true, but if the dream is of a new apartment rising like a concrete phoenix from the ashes, this Spanish dream is certainly taking its time. Graffiti comes in two forms - the formulaic broadcasting of a meaningless tag, and graffiti that makes you stop in the street and think. This certainly falls into the second category.
Ripley is a neat little village; neat houses, neat roads, and no doubt below the streets the sewers are as neat as a matron's apron. Each evening, when dusk has descended, a group of cleaners take to the street, wash down all the stonework and polish the pavements. A neat place, Ripley.
It's all about the look. It's no good building an ancient castle complete with towers and turrets, you need a lake to set it off. And some finely manicured lawns, not to mention a cast iron bridge. Let's not forget the cast iron bridge
Gravestone, St Andrew's Church, Aldborough (March 2017)
You can just imagine it - the monumental mason's sales pitch. "It will be a memorial for posterity sir, a lasting reminder of John's life which will last until eternity". And outside, down the bleak Yorkshire Dales comes the whisper of the wind, "Not if I have anything to do with it"
"So how can I guarantee that I will be remembered?". "Well, you could get a big gravestone". "But would people notice it, the churchyard is full of gravestones?" "We could always hire an angelic trumpeter to blow a blast loud enough to wake the dead every time someone walks by". "Now that sounds like a good idea"
The architectural jewel in the crown of Halifax is, of course, the eighteenth century Piece Hall which contains a fine open square surrounded by over 300 trading rooms which were originally used for trading in pieces of cloth. Over the years it has been used for a variety of purposes from orchestral performances to a wholesale fruit and vegetable market. It is currently undergoing a major upgrade and redevelopment and should open later in the year. For the moment, the imposing stone gates are as far as you can get.
Causey Hall, Halifax Minster - April 2017 (Alan Burnett and iPhone FCDQJ91YG5QW)
I took this photograph on my mobile phone the other day as I was walking passed Causey Hall which is next to Halifax Minster. The building dates back to the mid-nineteenth century - it was built originally as a Parish School - but it is distinctly modern compared to the old Parish Church which was built more than four hundred years earlier. For some reason my mobile phone didn't like the original photograph and decided to do some work on the image itself (a stylised edit, it calls it). Pleasant as it's edit was, it had left in a decidedly modern burglar alarm box on the wall, so I did a stylised edit on its stylised edit. I am waiting to hear back from my phone as to whether it is satisfied with the final product of our collaboration
Gravestone : St Andrew's Church, Aldborough, Yorkshire (March 2017)
There is something gloriously imprecise about the wording of this gravestone. No "buried here below" or "beneath this stone"; but a poetic "nigh to this place". It could be in the shade of the tall grass, it might be amongst the springtime stems. We don't need to know - just remember.
The Old Court House, Aldborough, Yorkshire (March 2017)
There are two quite fascinating elements to this photograph. First of all look at the memorial to the wartime Canadian aircrew, and, in particular, look at their ages. The eldest was the pilot, aged just 24, and the rest of the crew were little more than teenagers. And then there is the second memorial - to the old courthouse where the members (note the plural) of Parliament for the village were elected until the parliamentary (rotten) borough was abolished in 1832. History on a brick wall.
Sometimes it is unclear whether you are holding things up or desperately trying to prevent them from flying away. But sometimes, you are just stretching your limbs after a morning selling shirts on the market.
There were a good few arcades in Dewsbury (the collective noun for arcades ought to be "a contentment of arcades", but it isn't). There was a King's Arcade and a Queen's Arcade; but there was one that needed no aggrandisement - it was "The Arcade". Now it needs all the aggrandisement it can get.
Four Stone Faces, Cloth Hall Mills, Dewsbury (2017)
Most nineteenth century Yorkshire mill owners had two over-riding ambitions. The first was to make money ("brass" as it is known in these parts). The second was to have their heads carved in rich local sandstone and appended to their mill. Brass and stone - it should be the county's motto.
If I were a bird I would get annoyed by people sticking spikes on everything in order deter me from finding a place to rest my weary wings. The kind of society that does that is the kind of society which sets sharp stones in concrete outside the offices of financial institutions to deter homeless people from finding shelter.
A statue of the Good Samaritan, the work of local artist Ian Judd, stands outside Dewsbury Town Hall. It seems to have been carved from local sandstone and, strangely enough, there appears to be a tide mark half way up. They must have high tides in these parts.
It takes a particularly strange sense of humour to name a street which is walled by stone and coated in tarmacadam, "Garden Street". The good folk of Sheffield have always prided themselves with a good sense of humour.
A Shed Load Of Adverts : Charles Street, Elland (1972)
Try doing this with a commercial break. Try building a shed from Twitter feeds. We may live in an age where advertising headers are personalised and sidebars are intuitive - but you can't use them to build a half-decent shed to keep your pigeons in. And they talk about progress!
I took this photograph in 1972 when sections of the old back-to-back houses had been demolished but other sections were still occupied. Part of the terrace - which was originally built by the dye works owner John Edward Wainhouse in 1876 - still exists today; empty, overgrown and cocooned in its Grade II listed status.