Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Question – What wrong with pre cut/chopped packaged fresh vegetables?

Background to this query is a habit I developed a few years ago, when I started picking up fresh vegetables that were being cleared at the end of the day, and sold at a greatly reduced price.

I started making my own soup using these (probably more of a vegetable stew the way I make it, being basically lazy) since you can throw the lot in a pot, with a stock cube, and leave it to cook itself for an hour or so – like I said, lazy.

For a while, I also picked up packets of pre cut or chopped vegetable for soup making which appeared on the same ‘Quick Sale’ shelf.

That was fine for a while, but these seemed to change.

While there had been no difference between this packaged veg and whole veg I peeled and cut up myself, latterly I found TWO problems.

First, the smell, as if they had been washed in some chemical, possibly a disinfectant or preservative. But, according to the package labelling, there was nothing other than the named vegetable in the pack.

My nose begs to differ.

Second, they NEVER get soft. No matter how long I leave these packaged pre cut or chopped vegetable simmering, or even up the heat so they’re almost boiling, they NEVER GET SOFT. They stay chewy, and some part still seem to ‘crunch’, as if they were raw and had never seen ANY heat at all.

I had actually stopped buying them just before the first lockdown was applied.

I recently picked up a few packets, thinking it might have been my imagination, but I have to say that I’ve just reconfirmed these pre packaged cut/chopped vegetable issues, both the disturbing smell, and their apparent unwillingness to cook and soften.


This DOES NOT HAPPEN when I cook whole fresh veg I have peeled and cut/chopped myself, and cook in the same way.

That’s all I can think of to say.

Answers in the comments below, if anyone has them.

Thank you.

Chopped veg

Chopped veg

18/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Security update at Bothwell Castle – there’s Armadillos in the grass!

I made some observations about the security around Bothwell Castle when I posted a pic and mention some works going on there.

I’m almost surprised to see the place still standing when I go there – of all the castles I’ve visited, and I’ve been around this one for decades, it’s probably the  only one that’s had scaffolding and work underway to stick bits back on, or hold them on, every time I see it.

In that previous post I mistakenly noted seeing scaffolding/work underway on one of the towers, or donjons – that was WRONG!

I hadn’t walked to that scene for a closer look, only observing it from a distance as I walked up the path from the river, and past the east wall, so it was yet another case of ASS-U-ME.

Still hunting down an old feature I used to be able to walk straight to on the banks of the river, I made a second visit last night, with more time to spare.

Also, still failing miserably to find even a clue as to where the path to the feature is hidden (and it is well hidden if you don’t know of its existence), I detoured around the castle to look at the works, and found they actually lie on part of the castle wall, BETWEEN towers.

A mass of scaffolding does a good job of hiding the detail from an observer below, but from past experience I know this will just be work necessary to counteract decay in the structure, and deal with bits that want to fall from it.

Bothwell Castle Security

Bothwell Castle Security

What was more interesting was the chance to look closely at one of these blue and yellow chequered security Daleks which I’ve seen appear around a number of demolition sites recently.

Also, not caught in this pic’s field of new, numerous warning signs stating that these devices are monitored by a special police unit which they contact if disturbed.

From a distance, they obviously have numerous PIR (passive infra-red) detectors fitted, so can detect body heat (or more accurately, CHANGES in body heat) as someone approaches, and trigger alarms, lights, or remote alerts. While it is actually possible to defeat this sort of detector by moving very slowly for example, I suspect that’s not going to work against the multiple detectors these things are fitted with.

Given their purpose, I’ve never dared to approach one closely enough to get any details, but as these are clearly configured to AVOID detecting activity on the path outside the fence, it looked like the ideal chance to have a closer look.

The configuration is fairly obvious, from the top:

  • A dome on top houses a mobile module for communication, maybe even some wireless options too
  • A PIR
  • A camera, probably low light, maybe colour and B&W, maybe also infra-red sensitive too
  • A high intensity LED light
  • Two more PIRs
  • A loudspeaker

This is repeated around the unit so, unlike in TV and film, there isn’t a handy, unprotected ‘back’ of this device, where a hero, or villain, can sneak past undetected, or open up so as to disable the whole thing.

And you can be sure it is fitted internally with various anti-tamper toys as well.

Armadillo Security at Bothwell Castle

Armadillo Security at Bothwell Castle

They’re described online, so here’s the actual data:

Bear in mind the numbers given include all three sides, I only mentioned the visible side above.

  • 3 x 5Mp HD Cameras with wide 120 degree horizontal field of view and adaptive high speed exposure control and compensation
  • 12 x Remote Configured Adaptive Smart PIR Sensors
  • 3 x 4000 lumen High Efficiency LED White Light Illuminators
  • 3 x 110 DB intruder detection audio warning speakers
  • Prerecord site Health and Safety announcement enabled
  • Rotational, Angular and Vibration based Anti-Tamper Detection
  • Programmable Range Active InfraRed Anti-Masking
  • Remote customer log-in & viewing capability
  • Remote ‘Guard Tour’ capability

The VideoGuard360 is an armoured, rapid deployment unit using a fully encrypted IoT visually verified operating system with DM-Top loader matrix enabling ultrafast 3-4g data package uploads. These units work remotely, communicating via the mobile networks with a built-in battery life of up to 4 years.

The units work autonomously or can be networked enabling highly tailored security coverage for any size site.

I’m slightly surprised not to see any mention of video motion detection for the cameras.

This seems to be stable now, and can be configured to monitor specified zones in the field of view (and can’t be defeated like PIRs) – maybe it’s a trick they deliberately don’t mention in the blurb.

One more thing…

They’re Scottish, and made in Prestwick.

18/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Unpleasant truths

Unpleasant truths…

Not a modern invention – apparently comforting lies have always been popular.

Covidiots Through History

Covidiots and Anti-vaxxers Through History



18/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cat Logic

Yes, cat logic, different from human logic.

Cat Logic

Cat Logic

18/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Old College Bar finally gone

Taking a day longer than (I had) expected, the Old College Bar on High Street is no more.

I wasn’t in Glasgow today, but curiosity got the better of me, and I had to go take a look.

Just a similar view to that taken yesterday, with the same items in the background, but they can now be seen.

Old College Bar Gone

Old College Bar Gone

I suppose I’m being silly, but I sometimes wonder how to refer to pics of something that’s not there.

Can’t take a pic referring to the Old College Bar if the Old College Bar isn’t there!

Probably over thinking this one, and all I should really do is just prefix the name with ‘Site of…’, or maybe even more accurately ‘Former site of…’.

One pic left to collect.

The cleared ground before they get around to building the new student accommodation block (or whatever eventually lands here), once they clear all the rubbish/hardware/vehicles, and the irritating perimeter security fencing, which I’m currently shooting through gaps in, to avoid having it appear in, or obscure the view.

18/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

The real reason alien abduction stories dried up

The aliens realised they were making a mistake!

Cat Abduction

17/06/2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Marking three years since the Mackintosh Building fire – and where are we?

That’s a rhetorical question – I have no idea, and since I really can’t bring myself to look at any news these days, I don’t really know if anyone else does.

Would any other country have left a national treasure damaged like this?

Would other countries have tolerated those who called for the remains to be torn down to make way for something ‘useful’?

I’m not going to labour the point.

Three years have passed, and other than some finger pointing, a few resignations, and a few ‘experts’ using Ye Olde Social Media (or just ‘The Media’)to tell us how this was avoidable, what they would have done, and how this could never have happened if they’d be in control – all we seem to be doing is waiting for the fire service report, presumably so more fingers can be pointed, and blame handed out.

The other day, with news of that report being due before the end of the year (maybe), I mentioned how the old place was still just the same after all that time has passed, and is lost behind scaffolding.

Walking along Sauchiehall Street, I notice a part could still be seen WITHOUT scaffolding getting in the way.

So, to mark the third year of inaction, I thought I’d grab a couple of pics.

This is the bit with no scaffolding attached.

Nice brick arches.

Mackintosh Building Almost No Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Almost No Scaffolding

And this is where to find it, if you really want to.

Mackintosh Building at Scott Street

Mackintosh Building at Scott Street

17/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Old College Bar still standing (just)

I detoured up High Street last night, fully expecting to see little or nothing on the site of the Old College Bar, being demolished with the rest of the building on that ground after the recent fire.

Surprisingly, it was still there, or at least quite a recognisable part.

That said, all the fairly substantial sandstone blocks I referred to in the previous post were all gone, and a few of them were pretty heavy looking.

While there is a bit of a view of the interior now that the wall and part of the ceiling has gone, while details could be made out by eye, the perimeter fence keeps observers too far from the remains to take meaningful pics – at the distance permitted, even with a long zoom, the result just looks like piles of rubble due to the angle.

I did take a few more pics, but the distance and angle meant nothing recognisable could be seen.

Pretty sure this will not be sitting there when I next pass this spot.

At least I get the straight on front view I was denied yesterday, since some genius at the demolition company planted a cherry picker almost right in front of this view, and ruined the pic opportunity.

Intriguing to note the ‘new’ University Innovation Centre behind, and two of Glasgow’s giant murals on the building to the right.

Also, a pity about the pub’s ghost sign – it would have been nice to catch that before it was trashed.

I think it showed ‘THE OLD COLLEGE BAR’ painted on the background – but that a pure guess based only the surviving lower parts of only some of the letters.

Old College Bar Standing

Old College Bar Standing

17/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Disappointingly did NOT find a secret portal to the underworld in Barrowfield

Reviewing a route out of Glasgow on Google Maps, I was surprised to see what looked like a portal descending deep into the Earth.

This was unexpected as I knew the area and, the last time I saw it, it was just a piece of bare, spare ground.

I guess the mistake shows I spend too much time looking at things which are paths leading underground, or into hillsides, and the idea of anything similar being something else doesn’t spring to mind.

This clip from Google Earth shows the aerial view, looking like a road along the top of the images, leading to a spiral path disappearing underground, as the darker vegetation to the upper right of the hill gives the impression of a depression with shadow, rather than something rising into the light.

Barrowfield Community Park and Skatepark

Barrowfield Community Park and Skatepark

Of course, in reality it is just the opposite.

In fact, it’s a relatively new park recently created in Barrowfield, complete with a play park and skatepark, and a small tumulus, or hill, with a tarmacked path, and dates from 2016.

Sadly, there don’t appear to be any proper reviews of the skatepark, and only one derogatory entry on Google, by someone I suspect would not know what a skateboard was if you placed it in her hand with a sign.

I had to go look at the ‘portal’, and came back with some pics (and disappointment).

Barrowfield play park and skatepark

Barrowfield play park and skatepark

I took that pic from atop the small hill in the park, which means the path I had hoped spiralled down into the bowels of the Earth – actually just leads to the top of that small hill.

It’s not possible to stand far enough back in the corner where the hill is, and catch the path, so I ended up having to stitch three shots together to get one view.

Barrowfield Park Hill and path

Barrowfield Park Hill and path

Otherwise, taken from where you CAN stand further back, all you get is the hill, and no path, like this, to give a better idea of its height.

Barrowfield Park Hill

Barrowfield Park Hill

The straight features are just concrete standing areas, arranged along the side of the path, so they’re not even the road they might have been, as seen in the aerial view.

Barrowfield Park Path Concrete Borders

Barrowfield Park Path Concrete Borders

It’s fairly well hidden/screened from London Road, and even the road running alongside, so I’d never have noticed this other on Google’s aerial view.

17/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Washing machine door fix – Part 3

Despite being almost done when I called a halt last night, I thought this one was going to suddenly become a failure today, as it produced some surprises.

I thought all that was left to be done was to properly secure the fabricated hinge mount reinforcing plate to the trim ring, and then attach all the bits to reassemble the door.

I’d planned to add just four reinforcing bolts (two upper and two lower) to secure the new plate to the trim and ensure the old embrittled plastic was not load bearing, so there would not be another failure.

As you’ll see from the pic, six had to be used. After the four bolts were fitted, I noticed one of them landed in the middle of the trim ring pieces I had superglued in order to stabilise them – this meant it was not being supported by the undamaged section of the ring. So, I had to add another in the undamaged area, and a matching one to keep thing symmetrical.

Whatever else breaks in future, it clearly won’t be the hinge mount.

Trim Ring Fix

Trim Ring Fix

I had to find a new location to take pics – the door is reassembled, and has a heavy glass bowl (to control movement of the washing) fitted behind a plastic front piece. The plastic is concave and everything reflects in it, ruining the pic, so I had to find a spot with no sky or direct light reflections.

Final assembly turned out to be problematic – the correct positions and orientation of the parts turned out to be critical, but I had no idea about this as I never saw them in the correct order or position. Recall that the door all but exploded in my hand when the plastic part the hinge was attached to fell apart and the door came off the machine in my hand, leaving all parts lying loose.

The (heavy) glass bowl has a circular edge with a lip which is used to secure it to the trim ring. It also has a key cutout, but no obvious place to align it. The bowl is also asymmetric, but again, has no obvious indication as to which way it should be fitted to the trim ring.

Also, unknown to me (because it fell apart before I could see it), part of the door latch mounting is used to hold the glass bowl on the trim ring.

That was the major problem when I was trying to reassemble and refit the completed door – and it meant the door would not latch.

And that was just silly, since it had latched OK before the hinge was fixed.

The problem was down to that piece of door latch mounting which held the glass bowl against the trim – I couldn’t see that the bowl had to go BEHIND this piece. Had I dismantled the door, I would have to have removed that first, to get the glass bowl out. But, since things had just fallen apart, the bowl had been able to fall out without that latch part having to be removed to free it.

Since the bowl was on the wrong side of that piece, the door could not close.

No problem – as I kept pressing on the door to see what was fouling, it seems that piece of plastic was a little brittle too, and it eventually parted.

Once it was gone, the glass bowl sat flush with the trim ring, and the door latched perfectly.

The rest of the securing clamps for the glass bowl still hold it in place securely, so I don’t have to buy a new latch set – for £40.

Trim Ring reaches reasonable price

On the subject of prices…

Since I was having problems with the order of the parts for door reassembly, (having a pile of parts drop on the floor instead of dismantling it), I thought I’d look online for an assembly drawing – and actually found one!

Better still, the company that had it on file also stocked, and even had in stock, that trim ring.

Best news?

Rather than racking up almost £60 for part plus delivery…

They only wanted about £16 – a bargain by comparison with the others.

Of course, the only problem with that is that I’ve fixed mine, for free. I not only don’t need it now, with that alloy plate in place, I never will.

Still, it’s interesting to note how the big expensive suppliers of the part were able to hog the search result, and the little company with the reasonably priced part didn’t even get listed in my initial search results.

17/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

How to negotiate with your cat

Cat Negotation Rule

16/06/2021 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

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