Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

It just snowed in sunny Glasgow

I should have known better, really, I should.

Yesterday was really nice, both dry and sunny, and well above freezing temps too.

Of course, I was stuck indoors for reasons outwith my control, or choice.

Today, I’d largely decided to get out, and the morning at least started well (if chilly), being dry and bright.

Come 10:30 or so, it was time for coffee, and I saw the dullness that had fallen was being accompanied by a combination of rain and wet snow, stuck to my window – had I arrived 5 minutes later, it would have been gone, as the temp was hovering a few degrees above 0 deg C, so no chance of it lying.

But I saw it, and it was no great surprise as the snow is already lying on the hilltops surrounding Glasgow.

It’s already stopped and gone away, so maybe I’ll still make it out after F1 free practice on the telly (if I can find my shovel).

No evidence to take a pic of, so…

Light Scottish Snowfall

Light Scottish Snowfall



I ventured past a window an hour later to find that a new period of dullness was down a REAL snowfall.

Unfortunately, still too much latent heat around for this to lie, I had to go on a quick learning course to find out how to photograph falling snow.

I had just about worked out how to do this when I thought the method had stopped working, but dragging my eye from the viewfinder revealed the flurry had just stopped while I had been busy.

But, I did at least get a usable view, even if I had to crop out most of the surroundings.

Warm Snowfall

Warm Snowfall

Hint: Flash might sometimes produce interesting effect in rain – but it’s not an option for snow.

I’d found a nice range of shutter speeds, but all fun stopped when the snow stopped, and focus/aperture/ISO remain mysteries for another day – but at least I learned something new.

F1 commentators were spot on too

Watching F1 free practice from the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi was fun.

News came in that those at Knockhill were “Up to their ankles in snow”.


“Well, you can be up to your ankle in snow at Knockhill in the middle of summer”.

Never quite saw that myself, but sometimes wished I had a wet suit and scuba gear as I waded around the circuit some years.


November 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) passenger ferry built and launched on the Clyde

I have to confess to a miserable failure, having spent too much time looking at the detail behind the first hybrid ferries launched and operated on the west of Scotland to follow up on their story.

Built for Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) at Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow, the hybrid ferries MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar were announced back in 2012, and I gave the early details here The hybrid ferries of CalMac are real

However, after their completion and entry into operation, I forgot about them (since I no longer ‘float’ around the Clyde) until I received a message to the effect that there had been some sort of problem with their batteries, and that they had failed to operate as expected.

Since I don’t like to rely purely on hearsay or a single unsubstantiated source, I never got around to finishing that story as I (then at least) couldn’t find any news reports or accounts of the problem.

Maybe somebody knows better, and will point me/us at proper details (or I might have another look).

But, this is really about the arrival of another new (here at least) technology for our ferries, unveiled at Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited’s Port Glasgow shipyard.

MV Glen Sannox

MV Glen Sannox can accommodate up to 1,000 passengers, is 102 m (335 ft) long and can carry 127 cars or 16 lorries. It can operate on marine gas oil (MGO) as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG), and is the first of two such ferries being built as part of a £97 million Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) contract. The second LNG ferry (as yet unnamed), is still under construction at the yard, and is planned for the Tarbert/Lochmaddy/Uig route.

Intended for the Ardrossan/Brodick route, the new ferry is set to begin operating in winter 2018/19, and will contribute to meeting emission  reduction targets set by the Government.

This sees the return of the name Glen Sannox to an active vessel, having been seen on a car and passenger ferry serving Clyde routes between 1957 and 1989.

Via UK’s first liquefied natural gas ferry launched on Clyde

Glen Sannox Port Glasgow

Glen Sannox Port Glasgow

Thomas Nugent’s catches are often rewarding, and it seems a shame not to offer credit for the research done regarding this particular (sole surviving) Clyde shipyard:

A series of photos of the construction of MV Glen Sannox, taken from the same spot over a period of eight months.

Shipbuilding is still thriving in Port Glasgow, 237 years after Thomas McGill opened the first yard in the town in 1780.

Ferguson Marine shipyard is the last shipyard on the Lower Clyde and is also the last yard in the UK capable of building merchant ships. Shipbuilding started on this site at Castle Road, off the A8, in 1791.

Things could have been very different; the yard entered administration in 2014, 70 staff were made redundant and it appeared that the town’s proud shipbuilding history had come to an end. However, East Kilbride based Clyde Blowers Capital, owned by Jim McColl OBE, purchased the yard and have invested millions of pounds in an on-going modernisation project that will see the yard enter a new era and seek out new markets.

The building on the left is the new shipyard new office complex. The ship under construction, now known as “Glen Sannox”, is a 102m long LNG (liquefied natural gas) powered car and passenger ferry for Caledonian Macbrayne. Part of her sister ship “Hull 802” can be seen on the right.

See the rest of his pics at: Building a ship in Port Glasgow :: Shared Description

LNG and a Scottish loch

There is, perhaps, a slight irony in the arrival of these ferries, as Loch Striven on the west of Scotland was once used to hold giant gas tankers, which lay dormant for some 14 years:

Nestor and Gastor were two refrigerated LNG (liquefied natural gas) carriers completed during 1976 and 1977, intended to transport LNG from Algeria or Nigeria. The discovery of North Sea oil/gas in 1969, followed by the start of production on 1975, effectively rendered the tankers redundant, and they were laid up in the loch the with only a skeleton crew on board, They remained there until 1991, when Shell purchased them to transport LNG from Nigeria. Prior to undertaking the sea journey to France, the tankers were taken to the pier at Inverkip Power Station, where engineers reactivated the vessels and restored them to safe operation for the trip.

In the 11th November 2011 edition of the Dunoon Observer in the 20 YEARS AGO column an item,”Ghosts leaving” appeared:- “The twin ‘ghost ships’ of Loch Striven – giant gas tankers, the Castor (stet) and Nestor – were to be recommissioned after lying dormant in the Loch for 14 years. After a refurbishment by Shell UK, the Bermudan registered ships were to be used to transport liquefied natural gas between new gas fields off Nigeria and Europe and the USA. The 274 metre-long vessels were to be re-named the LNG Lagos and LNG Port Harcourt.”

Via our Loch Striven page

November 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Buy Nothing Day

Not only one of those ‘Days’ most likely to be ignored by just about everybody, it’s one of that does not even fall on the same date every year, having been lumbered with the definition of ‘The Friday after Thanksgiving’ (so that was/is: 23rd Nov, 2018, 24th Nov, 2017, 25th Nov, 2016).

It supposed to be a protest against the consumerism, and is described as being founded in Vancouver, Canada, by some artist called Ted Dave back in September 1992. It’s arrival on a Friday is presumably meant to coincide with the day known as Black Friday. Since then, campaigns for the day arose in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Norway… and it seems that more than 65 nations have now fallen in line.

Some say that taking part can be the start of a life-changing lifestyle commitment, while others claim it’s a pointless gesture, since participants will simply buy more the next day.

You pays your money, you takes your choice.

Oh wait! You DON’T pays your money of you take part!

Here’s our official UK Buy Nothing Today web site



No Scotsman ever needed such a day to help him keep hold of his money!

Locked Wallet

Scottish Wallet

November 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Campbeltown Picture House finally reaches restoration goal

One of the (many) things that has irritated me in recent years has been the discovery of Campbeltown Picture House – long after the days I was either able to visit the place at the drop of a hat, or was there on a reasonably regular basis most years.

Still, I was at least able to watch its fight for survival since it was closed, and its supporters were able to work on raising the money to save it, and eventually even restore it to its original glory after a £3.5 million restoration, at least as it was following an earlier refurbishment in 1935.

Described as one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the country (maybe even the first, according to some accounts), it opened in 1913, and was designed by the celebrated cinema designer Albert V Gardner, who studied architecture at The Glasgow School of Art between 1901 and 1905

Gardner embellished Campbeltown Picture House with a blue sky with moving white clouds projected across it, and two plasterwork buildings (known locally as the “wee houses”) on either side of the screen. The effect was to give the auditorium the ambiance of a Mediterranean courtyard.

These special features have been meticulously restored with other elements of the original design such as the art deco lights recreated by contemporary craftspeople.

Few of these atmospheric cinemas now survive with Campbeltown Picture House being the only example left in Scotland and one of only a handful in Europe.

The cinema celebrated its centenary in 2013 but closed a year later while efforts to secure its refurbishment continued.

Via Campbeltown Picture House returned to former glory

Campbeltown Picture House

Campbeltown Picture House

As it’s been so long since I was able to go to Campbeltown, I was also interested to read that:

Two derelict hotels have been reopened, a new golf course built and the town hall and other nearby buildings restored.

A seasonal ferry service to Ardrossan has also been established to provide an alternative to the long road journey to Glasgow.

The hope is that the restored Picture House could help attract more tourists to the area.

The biggest problem I had when I was in the area (to sneak around the then still active RAF Machrihanish) was to stop bursting out laughing if stories about it being Scotland’s Area 51 crossed my mind, with invisible secret aircraft flying around, and an entire underground city hidden below, accessed by giant elevators hidden in the hangars (and Project Aurora was always a favourite of the local conspiracy theorists).

Wonder if it is still down there?

Perhaps now accessed via secret underwater caverns, visited by the UK’s secret nuclear submarine fleet, since the base has been sold off.

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Police report ‘Suspicious Kitten’

I get some weird stuff…

Suspicious Kitten

Suspicious Kitten

Were these reports related?

Does anybody know?

Does anybody care?

As long as the kitten was OK!

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Shadows in the old St Enoch Picture House

It’s not that long since I happened to put a name on one of the few original surviving buildings in decent condition in Argyle Street.

I mentioned the St Enoch Picture House with a pic of the façade some time ago, and was left wondering if the building was still in use in any way, or was just lucky to be reasonably well-preserved by being located between two active buildings.

Normally, the window are in darkness, but when I was walking along Argyle Street recently, I glance up and was surprised to see some of the windows were lit.

St Enoch Picture House Windows Lit

St Enoch Picture House Windows Lit

Probably belongs to one of the clothes shops, those silhouettes are clearly manikins, which may sound obvious, but when seen by eye, rather than enhanced in the low-light pic, the shapes were not quite so obvious.

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

November 22 – Go for a Ride Day

Just a quick note in passing…

Since I try to get out and about anyway, ‘Go for a Ride Day’ is kind of pointless for me, although for those of us not glued to our couches, its spirit still applies, and it can be taken as a reason to go somewhere new, or find a different route to a favourite spot.

Of course, that reckons without Scottish weather.

It’s been quite reasonable recently, if diving to fall below freezing a little too often, it even managed to jump all the way to +12 deg C during last night, but that also brought steady rain – and I don’t do ‘Soggy Walks’ (even if the wind disappeared too).

Pity, I’d liked to have used the day as an excuse to go find something ‘new’ to do.

Then again, maybe not…

Alligator Ride

New Ride

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Sad Snow Globe is… Sad

Since I’m just an observer and it is not my intent to upset anyone, I’m not giving this location away, whether or not it is obvious.

After my previous post about a chance snow globe find in the street, this one could hardly fail to catch my attention the other day.

Two things were notable while I stood at my observation point.

The stand was busy, with a steady stream of folk engaging in discussion, but I didn’t see a single ‘little darling’ get shoved into the globe.

And the snow never filled the globe (or was even seen being blown more than a few flakes a few centimetres above the air outlets around the edge).

While I was there, the globe was deflated as a young lady bravely entered with a brush and shovel, fluffing up and redistributing the white stuff lying on the floor, but even after her dedicated efforts… it still just lay there, apparently unconcerned and undisturbed by the howling gale whipping around the interior as the globe reinflated and stabilised.

I may not be the sharpest tool in the box – but I think this idea needs to be revised, lest Trading Standards arrives and matches what is being supplied against what is being offered in these globes.

So Sad Snow Globe

So Sad Snow Globe

Hysterically comical

As per last year’s find, I had to fight the fits of laughter (or was it tears) as I spotted the ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’ sign – on a feature dedicated to photography!

No Photography

Strictly No Photography

For legal purposes, it should be noted this is a small clip found in another pic I took, from at least 20 m away, and I was nowhere near this, or intending to photograph the sign concerned, which was, of course, caught purely be chance.

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

There goes the neighbourhood II

Better hurry along into Glasgow if you want to see what little is left of some of its older and less desirable buildings.

I happened to be back at one site in Trongate, which now looks like this…

Trongate Demolition

Trongate Demolition

After only a week or so from this

Trongate Demolition

Trongate Demolition

While I’m not a member of the club that demands just about nothing be demolished, that doesn’t stop me wondering about some clearances I see. But, it also has to be remembered that not EVERY building was well-built, even if it looks great, the underlying structure could be woefully inadequate, built by less than dependable builders of the day, or made of little more than newspaper and cardboard. The latter apparently found in some Glasgow tenements, built by less than scrupulous people during the tenement building boom period.


I have noticed another trend while walking the streets of Glasgow recently, which can also be seen in the area surrounding the central area too.

A number of formerly vacant buildings, and even scraps of land as small as a couple of hundred square metres, have been cleared of ‘illegal’ occupants or users, fenced off or closed, and have large ‘FOR SALE’ signs from various agencies attached.

While I probably wouldn’t have noticed one or two of these appearing, there’s probably been around a dozen on the streets I walk.

I did actually spot a lot of these sites being cleared, and the temporary fencing going up over the past weeks, but the signs only appeared on those barriers in the past week or so.

(I could have taken many pics of these, but NO free advertising for them!)

Multiplied across the whole of Glasgow, if similar to ‘my’ streets, that could mean that hundreds of similar offerings could just have been openly placed on the market.

If what I spotted is correct…

I wonder why?

Why at this time, and why so many?

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

There goes another Cold War bunker (I didn’t buy)

One of the sad things about the 10+ years that have passed since I was talked into starting ‘something’ regarding the secret side of Scotland is the slow disappearance of most of the resources which fuelled the early days.

Then, ‘secret’ was meant to encompass what the media has come to rely on as Urban Exploration or UrbEx, and use as a clickbait term to attract outrage at this supposedly deadly hobby which puts lives at risk, and encourages lawbreaking through trespass (although it generally neglects the subtle difference between trespass law in Scotland, compared to England). Most cases cited or decried as ‘trespass’ here probably aren’t – and if you think I’m going to tell you why, forget it! I’m not giving away the research I did years ago for free. This was back in the days just prior to the completion and issue of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, when much of the background material was then placed online, but has slowly evaporated over the years (so I can no longer refer to the legal sources that were then made available).

Most of the references for ‘secret’ places, sites, installations, facilities, operations, etc that were to be found online some ten years ago have largely evaporated from the Internet. If you want evidence of this, just try looking up some of the more ‘interesting’ pages in SeSco’s Wiki. I used to update the reference links with the added text ‘Dead link‘ (to show, at least, where the original info had come from), but after a while decided this had  become a waste of time, as I was finding more and more had died and gone over the years.

Sad to say, I probably couldn’t create many of the Wiki pages if I was starting today (at least not via online research).

But that doesn’t stop the odd place, such as a former Cold War bunker at Raigmore, Inverness. However, it was not built for that purpose, and dates from World War II, when it was used as a centre which handled reports from outlying radar stations, as a Sector Operation Centre.

After the war it was used by the RAF for training, then from 1958 to 1968 by the Civil Defence Corps, and finally (from the 1980s) as an emergency centre for Highland Regional Council (as it was then), to be used in the event of a nuclear attack.

Sad to say I never visited this site, like many that were easy to get to, I just never made the time.

There’s a proper account here, from our old friends at Sub-Brit:

Site Name: Inverness – Highland Emergency Centre (Raigmore)

Highland Council is now divesting itself of the site and its responsibility for the abandoned facility.

A bunker built to survive a direct hit from World War Two’s most powerful bombs has been offered for sale.

The subterranean property in the Raigmore area of Inverness was upgraded in the 1980s during the Cold War.

The enhancements included a capability to protect those inside from a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Highland Council, which owns the site, has offered bids for the bunker. Viewing of the property is “strictly by prior appointment”.

A closing date on 6 December has been set for offers for the property, which is close to Inverness city centre.

Via Highland Council selling Inverness’ bunker

This view of the former mounded filter room with the (then) current emergency planning admin block to the left – image courtesy of our friends at Subterranea Britannica.

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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