Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Another wrong assumption – this time, memorial benches

It’s funny just how often an assumption can be wrong.

I first saw these benches near the Miner’s Memorial in Cambuslang some time ago, and noticed them again under the slightly odd (for me at least) conditions of daylight. I’m usually not around here until it’s dark, so don’t usually get to see them properly, or get a decent pic. Flash doesn’t work well on gloss black painted surfaces, and the same holds true for trying to take a ‘low-light’ pic.

I quite like them, given that recall events not to be forgotten, but I was a little disappointed (in my assumption, not the benches) to find they are standard pattern items. I had wrongly assumed they were a one-off commission for use at this memorial, but having shared memorial pics with others, it seems that they can be found across the land.

As I say, assumptions can get you into trouble (unless made carefully).

Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

There was one interesting point – although not obvious in the above pic (thanks to the reflected glare on the flat metal seat backs), the red-painted floral tributes are not always so painted, and others I have seen have had the benches finished all black, with no features picked out.


I passed on a better day, and managed a better pic – you can actually see a hint of colour (and, in the first pic above, see how my poor camera no longer shows ‘sharp’ detail in the right half of a wide-angle shot):

Memorial Bench

Memorial Bench (Revisited)

I have to take pics like this with full zoom to have the whole frame in focus. If you think the first pic above looks out of focus down the right-hand side, it’s NOT your eyes (or my carelessness), it really is out of focus after a recent mishap trashed the linearity of this camera’s focussing system at wide settings.

I had to stand back in Carmyle to take the second one!

(Just kidding – I only had to stand in the road and hope nobody wanted to run ‘The idiot with the camera’ over.)

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The replacement we need for Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross

It’s already well known that Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is set to leave Kelvingrove and begin a series of world tours from September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

I don’t think I saw any mention of what will take its place, but I’m guessing a copy will take its place, to mitigate some of the disappointment visitors may suffer.


Given that Dali was the creator of the original, perhaps this find from the interwebs might suggest a possible alternative, which would also pay tribute, or ‘cat tax’ to our feline overlords:

Dali Melting Cat

Dali Melting Cat

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Glasgow’s deadly east end, not even a Smurf is safe

Some say…

Glasgow is a violent city, and the east end is not somewhere to be after dark, Parkhead being no exception.

In fact, I was appalled to learn that the manager of a small estate agents in Shettleston insisted on having his shop closed and staff on their way home before 6 pm every evening, in the belief that the place turned into some sort of ‘battle zone’ not long after that hour passed, when open gang warfare would break out on the streets, and the locals cowered in their homes waiting for the dawn.

(True story, revealed when the owner – from the affluent suburb of Newton Mearns – would apparently not even allow a shopfitter I knew to work on upgrading the premises after hours to avoid disrupting the business – he preferred just to close down for a week and have the work done during the day.)

It’s all lies, of course.

However, I was shocked to see that not even an innocent little Smurf was safe in the area.

Send the children to bed now, or at least cover their eyes, so they are spared the sight of this unfortunate Smurf I found beaten to a pulp, and left for dead in a street corner near Parkhead Cross.

I’m pretty sure it’s dead.

Dead Smurf

Dead Smurf

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Blogroll, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Our Flickr pool just passed 10,000 pics contributed (but not with this one)

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has been kind enough to take the time to contribute pics to the Secret Scotland pool in Flickr.

I honestly have no idea if making it to 10,000 is good or bad, and had no preconceived ideas or targets when I set it up – it was just something groups had, so I created it, and to be honest, neglected it.

To be a bit fairer and accurate, I left it alone to see what happened with it, and what might need tweaked, but with a steady trickle of fascinating pics from around the country dripping in all on their own, I never really saw any need to do anything, on the basis of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

I thought it might bomb after a while, since I used to get around lots of interesting places, but this perk came to an end just as the group was established and I shifted up from toy digital cameras to proper digital cameras (great timing – NOT!) and left film behind. With nothing worthwhile, I almost gave up on the pool almost as soon as I created it.

But I guess I didn’t realise how things worked, and now see that provided there’s a half decent reason for a pool, interested contributors will support it.

So, once again, thanks to all.

I’m pretty sure the pic below is the 10.000th, but I’ve notice that uploaded pics can appear inconsistently, so I could be wrong. However, it was the 10,000th at the moment I looked and counted.

William Cordiner –  Peterhead Harbour – The boatlift at Peterhead, early on a calm spring morning

Sad to say, this image has full copyright and has had sharing disabled when I checked the source, so I’m not free to re-use (not quickly at least, as needed for this post).

But I’m not going to be thwarted…

So here is a shared pic of the harbour which shows the same boatlift:

Peterhead Harbour with boatlift

Peterhead Harbour with boatlift – © stu smith via flickr CC

Funny thing, despite being in Peterhead many times over the years for work, I really can’t even remember seeing the boatlift.

Then again, my work was usually in the former Crosse & Blackwell factory on the opposite side.


I did do one job on a DSV (diving support vessel).

It was so urgent it started on the dockside in Greenock, then when the vessel had to move, I had to drive up to Peterhead and rejoin it once it had berthed.

There was some fun then too, as they gave me cabin to stay in for the duration of the job, and the galley still ran 24/7, so the various shifts were always fed – very well, and so was I since I was told just to ‘Help myself anytime’.

The fun came when the haar settled one day – when I woke up in the morning and felt the ship moving, and couldn’t see a thing when I looked outside!

Thankfully they hadn’t forgotten about me being on board, merely been ordered move to a new berth.

But I can assure you, I woke up REAL FAST that morning.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Barnton Quarry may open to the public in 2019

A favourite of those with an interest in the history of the Cold War (and Edinburgh’s vandals), the bunker located in Barnton Quarry is moving closer to completion of its restoration and refurbishment, with a broad date of 2019 being given as its opening date as an attraction.

There may, of course, have been stories we’ve missed, but the last time we spotted something newsworthy was back in 2013: Barnton Quarry bunker to be developed as partner to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Anstruther.

We won’t go over the story again, you can read this article about the bunker’s history.

An article published by The Scotsman in July 2017 repeated the story, adding that the bunker is expected to open to the public in 2019.

Edinburgh’s secret nuclear bunker prepares to open its doors

There’s possibly a bit of ‘journalistic leeway’ in The Scotsman’s use of ‘prepares to open its doors’, which might tend to suggest someone is about to open them in a few days, or maybe weeks – but TWO YEARS is perhaps stretching this use of the description.

Barnton Quarry

Barnton Quarry – Courtesy of Subterranea Britannica

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Could Flamingo Land land in Balloch?

I was intrigued to see the apparently hostile response to proposals for proposals (yes, I did MEAN to say that) for a theme park and development located near Balloch and operated by the existing Flamingo Land owners.

While I’m not a theme park fan in the sense of visiting them to take part, I have always enjoyed wandering around them and seeing people enjoying them and the rides. I used to enjoy a run down to Morecambe for the day, which included a wander around Frontier Land, but that was closed and razed some years ago, when the town also gave up its illuminations in deference to Blackpool. This unfortunately coincided with personal problems which meant I was unable to visit during the years this happened, and when I did eventually manage a return trip can only say that the town was a sad and dead place without those features.

While I don’t claim that’s equivalent to Balloch, I’m left wondering if the apparently massive negative reaction to the proposal is from the sort of people who just like to say ‘NO!’ to anything.

Flamingo Land chiefs have unveiled plans for a public consultation as they seek to progress their proposals for a £30 million leisure resort at Balloch.

The Yorkshire-based firm is in the process of creating a website showcasing the proposals in a bid to win over local residents.

Tens of thousands of individuals have already signed a petition opposing the plans, while a number of locals staged a demonstration against the proposals by gathering in Drumkinnon Woods – part of the land which could be affected by the development if it gets the green light.

Via: Flamingo Land at Balloch a step closer with public consultation

While some would also look at the handful of negative responses in the comments after the story, sadly, I’ve come to realise that most of the commenters on Scotsman stories are sad and miserable, or just out to make political capital.

Hopefully the media will follow this, as I’ll be more interested in the result of the public consultation, than the potentially biased response of a few noisy activists.

As the proposer says:

However, in September last year, Mr Gibb admitted that the plans would not go ahead if they weren’t supported by ‘most of the people in Scotland’.

He said: “Flamingo Land totally understands some of the local concerns about our proposed leisure resort in Balloch and we are committed to engaging with all parties involved to fully explain our ideas.

“Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

“To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans.”

Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Just to be clear, I am merely mentioning this, although I expect to be misrepresented and said to be in favour of the development – merely because I have not suffered an immediate knee-jerk reaction stating I am against it.

For what it’s worth, I still think the theme park in Strathclyde Country Park looks out of place as a permanent installation. I originally thought it was just visiting when it first appeared.

I’m more interested in seeing how the National Park Authority plays its part, as I see it as a body that like to make rules to keep itself in a comfy well-paid job, has introduced rules that would probably have Tom Weir spinning in his grave given the restriction it has brought in for wanderers, yet seems happy to allow development and housed to be built within the park it is supposed to be preserving.

These links might help keep some folk’s blood pressure down:

Flamingo Land proposals are opposed by thousands

Our view on Flamingo Land’s Loch Lomond proposal

The LLTNPA’s involvement in the Flamingo Land proposals

The potential impact of Flamingo Land’s proposals on the National Park


July 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One for the Spitfire fans as another is saved

For such a small aviation museum run by volunteers, the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum punches above its weight, and is an impressive performer.

It’s a long time since I’ve been there, but I have watched its steady progress online.

Slightly irritatingly, I learned that before I made my visit I had regularly spent days within sight of the museum, but did not realise it was there. This was in the days when I used to (try to) fly RC helicopters, and attended annual fly-ins held on the old airfield runway.

Oh well…

The museum’s most recent success is the restoration of a World War II Spitfire that saw service in the Battle of Britain, but crashed during a training flight from Ayr in 1941, killing the Czech pilot.

The plane was finally salvaged from of Loch Doon in 1982, following a four-year search by divers after the museum’s founders commissioned the salvage project in 1977, not long after the museum opened.

This article covers the recovery operation: The Loch Doon Spitfire is Found

Since then, it has taken 35 years of work to restore the aircraft’s bodywork – although an expert (from Yorkshire) was able to restore the fuselage, it seems ill-health prevented further work, but the museum was able to raise fund to buy wings, and allow this part of the work to be completed.

However, there remains much to be done – while the exterior has been largely completed, the interior remains as the next stage of restoration.

Via: Loch Doon Spitfire goes on display in Dumfries

Longer story appeared later: Spitfire recovered from Loch Doon put on display

Dumfries And Galloway Air Museum Loch Doon Spitfire P7540

Dumfries And Galloway Air Museum Loch Doon Spitfire P7540 – Pic via BBC News

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Crappy story found about Dewar’s whisky plant at the end of my street

The Dewar’s whisky plant that features in this dirty story is not that far away from me, and while I used to pass it quite often when out for a walk, it seems that I can say that this became less so in recent years as I walked, or even cycled, along the Clyde Walkway which passes behind it.

There was a time when I used to do a fair bit of custom electronic control system design and build for some whisky plants around Glasgow, but Dewar’s was not one. I did visit the place once with the boss, as we tried to get some work in there, but the place was like something from far distant past compared to the plants we were working in then, labour-intensive and with little electronics or automation (then, at least).

Even so, it will be hard for me not to think of this story whenever I pass that way, and the sort of scum that they are unfortunate enough to have in their employ there.

I’m just going to quote this one, and not even try paraphrasing:

Bosses at a world-famous whisky factory have launched a “whodunit” probe after human poo was left on 
the floor.

Managers at John Dewar & Sons in Glasgow are grilling factory workers in a bid to identify who left the mess in a ­control-room office.

Sources claim the “dirty protest” comes after bosses at the plant – owned by Bacardi – instigated a security crackdown to stop workers helping themselves to booze.

The firm yesterday branded the stunt “disgusting” and said a thorough internal probe would be carried out “to get to the bottom of it”.

They said no contamination of any of their famous products took place.

A source at the plant told the Record furious bosses at the London Road factory had been studying worker’s log-in 
details in a bid to narrow down the list of 
potential culprits.

He said: “There had been leaving drinks the night before and maybe there was a bit too much alcohol taken by someone.

“It was discovered first thing in the morning and nobody was claiming ­responsibility for it. It was found by one of the management in an area off the 
bottling factory.

“It’s a really big area and people are in from very early in the morning so there are lots of people coming and going.

“They got it down to a shortlist of around five or six people who they think are the most likely culprits and have been pulling them in for interrogation.

“The offending article was removed quite quickly but they were saying afterwards they could have tested it for DNA.

Via: Poodunnit? Bosses at whisky factory launch investigation after dirty protest on work floor

Like I said in a recent post, you can probably recognise me easily in the street. On the basis that you never really know just how weird the people you might be next to could be, I’m the one walking with his arms out, to keep everybody away!

Although I took some pics of the factory fence a while ago, which is a custom job with the company name rendered in every section of metalwork, (and notable for the correct use of an apostrophe in that name), I’ve never taken a pic of the building itself though, but luckily there was one taken only a few days ago:

John Dewar and Sons geograph-5446431-by-JThomas

John Dewar and Sons

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

I found a funny in Street View

OK, I admit this is not the most hysterically funny thing ever found in Street View, but at least it’s not going to be deleted (like some less-than-savoury finds of people caught with their pants down).

I was ‘cruising’ along a road looking for evidence of a new/hidden path that the locals might have opened up to make life a bit easier for themselves with, when I spotted this Transit, ever so slightly modified as the mapping software tried to piece together the various pics that make up the whole view.

I wonder if it’s cramped in there?

Maybe it’s real – and I actually caught Ford testing a special edition based on the tiny microvans they have in China and Japan (kei class).

It was announced they were going to hit out roads back in 2010.

Google Earth Transit

Google Earth Transit

July 16, 2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Child – No Reward – Seems Fair

Saw this recently.

Just seemed to be so right:

Lost Child No Reward

Lost Child No Reward

If only this had happened about 60 years ago.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

The Holyrood skip is featured on a stamp

No matter how many times ‘They’ try to retell history, make up ‘Alternative Facts’, or claim that the Holyrood Skip aka the Scottish Parliament Building was never estimated at something like £40 million, and that the final accounting of something more like £430 million – I won’t buy it.

Oh! My mistake – I paid tax at the time, so I was FORCED to buy it, no matter what it cost.

For example (just one link, I don’t have enough time left to list more): MSPs ‘deceived’ over Holyrood costs

And it made a list too: Great British building blunders

The Scottish Parliament – 2004

In arguably the most spectacular mismanagement of public finances ever, the original estimate for the construction of the Scottish Parliament building, Holyrood, did not even cover the final tax bill.
Over nearly 10 years projected costs of £40m ballooned to a final bill of over £400m as design changes, overruns and a hugely ambitious architectural specification turned what should have been the pride of Scotland’s burgeoning political ambition into a major embarrassment.
In attempting to design a building that reflected both the geography and culture of Scotland, the joint Spanish/Scottish architectural team EMBT-RMJM created mountains of extra costs.

While I have no interest whatsoever in the politics, I will never forgive those responsible for their choice of architect, his wife (who apparently came knocking on the door for more money after he died), and the pile of rubbish foist on Scotland, beaten by the Scottish weather and leaking (water in, and heat out), and then also apparently needing yet more spent not long after completion to upgrade its poor security.

Worse still, reports noted back in 2014 suggest will be cheaper to demolish the heap after it has been standing for only 30 years (due to spiralling maintenance costs).

So, I’m not quite sure why anybody would want to have a stamp issued to commemorate a national embarrassment and a skip, but it seems they did:

Scottish Parliament and Armadillo celebrated with new stamps

SeSco was lucky enough to be given an early look at one of the designs, featuring a view of the Scottish Parliament in session in the £430 million Catalan architectural ‘gem’.

Holyrood Skip Stamp

Holyrood Skip Stamp

The BBC also had the story of the new stamps, but wisely avoided any mention of the Holyrood skip in its story, although it did include a pic (probably had to, to avoid accusations of pro-Glasgow bias) – but that means little since it also had pics of all the other places featured on the new stamps.

SEC Armadillo features in new special set of stamps

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 1 Comment

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