Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Time Spiral in McPhun’s Park (Glasgow Green)

Ever passed something and never seen it?

Although I’ve passed McPhun’s Park many times, that’s just what I’ve always done – passed it!

I guess the railings (fence) and gates put me off just wandering through it – and I’ve come across some nasty types in the past (not here, I hasten to add) who think their little piece of fenced off greenery is just that, THEIRS, and woe betide any strange face they see in it, which must clearly belong to someone who is up to no good.

I decided to give the place a glance after reading it had been the location of a World War II Barrage Balloon site, and that some slight evidence remained in the form of bumps on the ground (but I forgot to check exactly where they might be found – oh well, another visit some day).

I’d seen the collection of large stone blocks from the road, so decided to look closers, and they turned out to be much more than they looked.

Click the pic for a little bigger.

Glasgow Green McPhuns Park Time Spiral

Glasgow Green McPhuns Park Time Spiral

Described best by one of its own plaques.

Sadly, the plaque doesn’t detail its creation date.

It was around in 2006, but when did it arrive?

McPhuns Time Spiral Plaque

McPhuns Time Spiral Plaque

And a sample of one of the plaques – I picked the Charlotte Street on deliberately, as the little house that manages to survive there is just nice to see.

Time Spiral Plaque 1780

Time Spiral Plaque 1780

It’s a quiet spot, which is nice for the little park and the nice folk who go there, but it also makes it easier for the morons who like to damage stuff, and some of the plaques have been attacked with a vengeance if they refer to sensitive items.


May 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

That’s… interesting

A 2018 Hyundai Tucson isn’t something I’d normally point a camera at, and by the same logic, most modern/current 63 plates aren’t likely to grab my attention either.

But I’ll take anything noteworthy or interesting, for just about any reason.

So, this one’s got a fairly obvious meaning, and was probably a present – but can we be sure?

Hyundai Tucson [RD63DAD

Hyundai Tucson [RD63DAD


Yes, we can – just look in the rear window.

Tiny Taxi T-Shirt

Tiny Taxi T-Shirt

But wait…

I didn’t spot this at the time, and the glare on the glass of the rear window is obscuring most of the detail – but is that row of pennants appropriate for the tiny t-shirt?



Or is it TOO appropriate?




May 22, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Beware unexpected first impressions

There’s a warning that goes along the lines of ‘First Impressions Last’, usually taken to mean one should be careful about first meeting with unknown people (depending on what impression you might want to convey in those first seconds, as opposed to the one you actually convey).

I found an alternative of sorts recently, while exploring some cycle paths near Glasgow city centre, in this case some that help keep cyclists off the busy Clydeside Expressway. This one can worrying at the best of times if not driving on it, and I felt less than safe when I ended up having to follow a section on foot, on a dark winter evening, in heavy rain (helped along by stormy winds), and then had to cross the dense and heavy evening traffic as well.

But this was just me having a nosey on the cycle path, and looking along routes I wouldn’t usually be on. This time towards the new Clydeside Distillery.

I turned onto the pedestrian bridge over the expressway, and thought somebody was having a laugh.

Did they REALLY expect anyone to ride those little ramps jammed up against one of the sides?

Reality kicked in, and they are actually a handy filler that mean you can just push your bike up and down to the main span, rather than bounce it up and down the steps, or carry it.

But, I’d recently been on another route with a lot of similar little fillers that allowed riding up and down kerbs, and that was still fresh in my mind, hence the ‘silly’ First Impression thought.

Clydeside Expressway Bridge Helpers

Clydeside Expressway Bridge Helpers

May 22, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Mercedes says thanks (or TA)

It’s hard to be longer than an S Class Mercedes… unless you’re its formal name!

Some names really are silly long these days…

Mercedes-Benz S Class 3.0 S350 CDI BlueTEC 7G-Tronic Plus 4dr.

Whatever happened to the good old L. GL, GLS and similar badges of company car status?

A quick glance along the rears of all the cars in the company car park, and you know where everybody stood in the pecking order.

Nice white 2012 car, shame about the diesel – but at least they have a reputation for long life (as if anyone buying an S Class really cared).

I still have an illogical liking of 2+2 registrations, and I like this one.

I guess it’s NOT property of a PC service engineer specialising in SATA hard drives.

Mercedes S Class [54 TA]

Mercedes S Class [54 TA]

I’m tending to favour aligning the cars accurately in pics where the camber of the road leans them over at odd angles. With a wide shot that angle is not obvious, but close in, concentrating on the subject, it just looks as if the camera was at an angle, not the road.

I’m not sure where most of the artificial light was coming from in this late night shot (a mix of various street lights, shop windows, and passing vehicles), but it was hard to balance the mix out and get this one close to white. It’s still not perfect, but everything I tried seem to end up with a colour cast.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

That 1988 rowing pic I asked about?

While I blog for my own reasons, independent of any readers, it’s still sad to note that the few comments/responses the material once got have dried up completely.

I guess ‘Social Media’ has killed this sort of thing.

I posted a pic taken from about the River Clyde in 1988, with rowers shown on a section of the River Clyde I couldn’t identify from present day aerial views…

Clyde Rowers From The Air

Clyde Rowers From The Air

Now that I know where this is, I also know why it wasn’t immediately obvious where it was, and why it didn’t make for an easy find using present day aerial views.

The first problem was one of assumption, deliberate or otherwise, that the pic had been shown with North at the top.

I know it’s a notional thing, but if this scene is inverted compared to its appearance on a map – those rowers are actually rowing downriver, to the south east.

The building seen to their right can still be found at the back of Richmond Park. Such buildings can usually be found and identified on old OS maps, but this one seems to be absent.

Clyde Riverbank Building

Clyde Riverbank Building

Incidentally, this pic caught one of Glasgow City Council’s safety initiative from years gone by – when all the spikes were sawn off their railings and fences. This followed a number of incidents where children (and others) had managed to fall and impail themselves on these old features, sometimes fatally.

The second problem was just nature – seen from above, most of the ground detail is now hidden below trees, and simply cannot be seen.

Don’t forget – the Google view below is inverted compared to the original pic shown above. That little building is on the south (lower) bank seen in the view below. You can also see how the trees have grown to completely the cover the view of the path and two benches seen in that original view.

Even this view is now out of date – the area on the south bank of the river (where the building still lies) is currently fenced off and has been cleared for extensive land works, not further identified.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Rare electrical porn

One for my electrical engineering mates.

I spotted this freshly dropped, clean, shiney, transformer for a small substation on a nearby new build.

It will no doubt receive an enclosure soon, so this is probably a rare chance to catch an exposed transformer – although compared to older builds, it’s already pretty well enclosed.

It’s a pity most of these are now completely enclosed, even the older installations in the area have had enclosures built around them, with only a few very small transformers being left open inside fenced enclosures. And really big distribution centres of course, which need space outdoors (due to the very high voltages in used), and connect to overhead lines.

Little Transformer

Little Transformer

I couldn’t make out much of the labelling – it was actually a lot darker than this processed image makes it appear.

I could see a warning regarding sulphur hexafluoride, so this is quite a nice little unit.

Sulphur hexafluoride is used as a gaseous dielectric medium for high-voltage circuit breakers, switchgear, and other electrical equipment, usually replacing oil filled circuit breakers. The pressurised gas is used as an insulator in gas insulated switchgear as it has a much higher dielectric strength than air or dry nitrogen, so allowing its size to be reduced, and increasing reliability.

I did come across SF6 once at work, used to insulate a giant Van de Graaf generator use to produce lethal X-Rays to treat cancer. This was inside a pressurised (with SF6) enclosure weighing tons, and so dangerous the room it was in had a concrete maze you had to take cover in if it was accidentally energised if you were in the room! Unlikely given all the keyed interlocks (and ‘Kill’ switches) that had to be set before it came on, but that last passive defence was still deemed essential.

But, now I’m waffling.

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Cat Rules

I wonder if passing cats would come in if I had this printed and mounted at the bottom of my outside doors?

Cat Rules

Cat Rules

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Where did that come from?

While recognising the obvious options, I still sometimes wonder “Where did THAT come from?” when I come across a personal registration in a place I often visit, but have never seen before.

This is even more noticeable when the registration is easy to recognise and remember (even for me).

Spotted on a 1998 Mercedes C250 (diesel), I’m not being unkind when I also note the slightly worn finish on the car, which someone seems to have started fixing, then abandoned years ago. I mention this simply to reflect that the number is probably worth way more than the car.

1998 Mercedes C250D [VCO3]

1998 Mercedes C250D [VCO 3]


May 20, 2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Polish on the Clyde

It’s funny how some spots of the River Clyde’s banks seem to collect rubbish, while others seem to stay clean, and the odds of finding something interesting (carried along and dumped by the river seem to be low.

I’ve mentioned this before, and think the reason is down to the route the river takes, and it doesn’t pass close to populated places near people (who can drop goodies) until it reaches Glasgow.

However, in this case, although the stuff was on the riverbank, it wasn’t the river that dumped it there.

Looks like some Polish traveller had their luggage stolen, and it was taken down to river, where it could be raided on a steep bank out of sight of the road.

Nothing of value was left, only a selection of Polish literature, notes, and cheap stuff like odd pens.

Polish OnT he Clyde

Polish On The Clyde

There was ONE interesting detail though – the packaging for a soft (toy) hand gun.

While not illegal, increasingly restrictive firearms’ legislation in Scotland, and the chances of a “Shoot first and ask questions later” response by armed police, who can’t be sure if a good replica is a genuine firearm or not, or the state of mind of the person issuing threats with it, are sufficiently high to render it a ‘Bad Idea’.

Soft Pistol Packaging

Soft Pistol Packaging

The damp had got to the printing, and while I could see the details identifying the usual ammo and its weight (plus the obvious muzzle velocity claim), it wasn’t clear if this was CO2 or spring powered.

Oh… Found it!

Armed police arrest man after ‘gun’ report

(Just kidding).

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Quiche Lorraine Day

20 May is Quiche Lorraine Day.

The humble quiche is one of the tastiest dishes you can have. Served either warm or cold, and packed with ham or veg, this is a super versatile meal that goes with all sorts of sides, and it’s even simple to make (but I never have – I really really should).

A quiche is a type of open-topped pie, comprising a case of shortcrust pastry filled with savoury egg custard and a choice of vegetables and meats, to suit your tastes. Often regarded as being of French cuisine, some say it may have started life in medieval Germany.

The quiche lorraine is named after the Lorraine region of France, where it was created as an open pie filled up with savoury custard and cubes of pork fat. Today, you’re more likely to find it made with bacon cubes rather than fat, which sounds a lot better to me.

It was originally made without cheese, but nowadays you’ll find most recipes call for this addition (of your choice). Traditionally, it doesn’t include onions – if you do add onions to your quiche Lorraine… seems you’re actually making a quiche Alsacienne.

I guess my family was rather conservative, and I didn’t even taste this treat until I was what teenagers refer to as… ‘old’. But I love the chance to have it now.

Sadly, some quiche arrives more like bricks and cement – no thanks.

I like mine to be more like pudding, soft and melty, even falling apart, rather than tough and chewy.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Weights & Measures Day

20 May is Weights & Measures Day.

‘Weights & Measures’ covers a vast field in which standardised, legal, fiscal measurements are made, and standards are agreed nationally and internationally.

Even if you don’t realise it, there a hugely technical network maintaining references that are used to ensure your kilogram of potatoes, litre of petrol, and kilowatt of energy (gas or electricity) is delivered accurately and consistently wherever you are.

And I don’t mean by Trading Standards, by whatever name, I mean the actual value of that kilo or litre, or volt or ampere that determines a kilowatt (or I should really add time which needs an accurate second) to determine your energy consumption in kilowatt-hours. Gas is a little more complicated, as it has to be further analysed to determine how many kWh a given volume delivers as this can vary depending on the chemical make-up, and that needs yet more weight and measure.

This used to be fairly complex and exacting science (I know, I was one of only 300 or so people who specialised in this around the country).

But, as seems to be the case with all things these days, the addition of some computers and software dumbed this down, and there are many more people in this business today.

However, I think few of them understand things in the same way as we did in the past, and that aspect has become the province of a few better qualified experts in the field.

Ignoring the overly alarmist and dramatic headline, this article is still a reasonable look at just one ancient, venerable, and respected standard…

Hidden in a vault outside Paris, vacuum-sealed under three bell jars, sits a palm-sized metal cylinder known as the International Prototype Kilogram, or “Le Grand K.” Forged in 1879 from an alloy of platinum and iridium, it was hailed as the “perfect” kilogram—the gold standard by which other kilograms would be judged.

Why the Metric System Might Be Screwed

Le Grand K

Le Grand K

Sadly, Le Grand K has been losing weight, Not a lot, but the accuracy demanded, the unexpected change has caused the odd raised eyebrow.

Without delving into detail, there has been a technological drive regarding physical standards in recent years, with the aim of replacing thing like pieces of metal (used to define length for example) with fundamental standard based on reproducible physical phenomena.

So the metre is no longer defined by a lump of metal that changes size with temperature, but is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in second.

Similarly, once a fraction of the 24-hour day (which can vary in length), the second has, since 1967, been defined as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that gets an atom of cesium-133 to vibrate between two energy states.

The important difference between the new and the old definitions is that they are considered to be invariant, and reproducible anywhere merely be following the same procedures.

And that where Le Grand K trips and stumbles, since it depends on variable things like mix, density, and purity of the elements used to create it, and the measurements of its dimensions. Not to mention contamination, and possible chemical effects on its exposed surface.

Last time I looked, there was at least one project (there are others though) intended to create the kilogram using other standards, such as the force generated by an electric current, and measuring that to create a kilogram equivalent that is bases on other precisely defined standards.

I’m not sure how close they are, as the method has to very accurate, and not subject to outside interference.

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

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