Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Where have my little furry visitors gone?

For the last photo of the month, I offer a lost guilty pleasure.

It was a surprise/shock to look at the date on this pic and realise that some four years have passed since this magnificent beast deigned to share some of its time with me one day (it’s not the only day, or possibly the last of all, but is not far off).

Occasional visitors used to be a nice diversion, even if not in great numbers, and some turned up as if they lived here, or owned the place, for an hour or two at least.

But, on reflection, this just hasn’t happened at all in recent years.

Granted, I might meet one or two while walking, but usually at a distance, and if I dare try to approach them, no matter how slowly, they’re off like a shot!

I did meet one last night, but didn’t dare even look to close – for some reason it was sitting in the gutter of the road, and if I had even moved toward it, it would surely have run away from me – and into the road and traffic. I might add it was perfectly fine, a house cat with a collar just out for walk, or maybe a house escapee, given its silly location chosen to have a ‘sit’.

Anyway, enjoy my memory, and yes, it’s mucky – this one like a good roll on the ground:

Black Cat

Black Cat

May 31, 2017 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment

Allie is missing

News of another missing cat, this time in Shettleston near Killin Street.

At least that’s where I picked up this pic.

Not much I can add, but Sunday was only a couple of days ago, so this is a new appeal.

Allie Missing Cat

Allie Missing Cat

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

The Tizard Mission followed a visit to MAEE at RAF Helensburgh

The Tizard Mission has come to be regarded as one of the most significant events of World War II.

In summary, the mission saw a group of British military officers and scientists headed by Sir Henry Tizard secretly travel to the US and Canada in September 1940, beginning one of the least known but potentially most important missions of World War II in an unparalleled collaboration in science and technology.

Their goal was to convey a number of technical innovations to the US in order to secure assistance in maintaining the war effort.

The collection of ideas, blueprints, and prototypes they carried was probably some of the most valuable material ever taken to American, inside a briefcase (almost lost in a London taxi at the start of the journey – the driver apparently left without his passenger). In particular, the cavity magnetron was not only instrumental in the Allied victory, but also became the foundation of an enduring scientific relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.

The briefcase contained all Britain’s military secrets, with blueprints and circuit diagrams for rockets, explosives, superchargers, gyroscopic gunsights, submarine detection devices, self-sealing fuel tanks, and information that would lead to the jet engine and the atomic bomb.

Research into the secret MAEE (Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment) at RAF Helensburgh has discovered the visit there by Tizard and other involved in the mission, as told by our friend Eye on Millig.

The story begins:

A VISIT to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at RAF Helensburgh in 1940 by Sir Henry Tizard was a prelude to what is said by historians to be the most important secret mission of World War Two.

A team of six headed by Sir Henry went to America with a black box of secrets. With him were two of the world’s experts in radar, Dr Robert Watson-Watt and 24 year-old genius Edward Taffy Bowen.

Tizard was a former military pilot and chair of the Aeronautical Research Council, and previously headed a Government air defence committee to explore the possibility of a death ray.

He enlisted Watson-Watt, who did not favour the concept but instead developed radar as a way of detecting approaching enemy aircraft, and was responsible for the chain of radar stations that played such an important role during the Battle of Britain.

The Tizard Mission took secret documents to the USA for safe keeping following the fall of France and possible invasion. The contents were to be shared with the Americans.

Tizard invited Watson-Watt and Bowen to form part of the delegation because of his earlier work with the two scientists. Bowen was made personally responsible for the box during its journey to Washington.

Retired Merseyside newspaper editor Robin Bird — author of two books about MAEE — tells me: “Now it can be revealed that Sir Henry, Watson-Watt and Bowen were at RAF Helensburgh shortly before the Tizard Mission.

“They are listed among eight VIP visitors at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment regarding developments in ‘experimental warfare’.

“In hindsight this was a significant visit. MAEE was involved with trials of the new ASV long range air to surface radar, Bowen having conducted the first trial using ASV radar to detect submarines in December 1939.

“MAEE adapted it for use by Coastal Command Sunderlands and lend-lease Catalinas, and airborne ASV radar proved to be a major weapon in the ultimate defeat of Germany’s U-Boats.

“What exactly the meeting at Helensburgh was about we will never know. No doubt ASV radar was on the agenda — and possibly developments in anti-submarine warfare.

“The fact that we know Tizard, Watson-Watt and Bowen were at Helensburgh is down to a contemporary report on MAEE at the National Archives in Kew, London.

“It merely states the names of official visitors to RAF Helensburgh for discussions about possible developments in war requirements. I recently had the opportunity to inspect it.”

Via: Eye on Millig: The top-secret mission that began at RAF Helensburgh

The full story of the visit to Helensburgh can be read at the link given above.

MAEE Badge

MAEE Badge

May 30, 2017 Posted by | World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross to go on tour

I have a vague recollection of Salvador Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross, going on tour some years ago, but have no notes or mentions of thus from the time, but also from my own less-than-perfect memory, I also seem to have a definite note that the news of the time carried a warning to visitors that they were not viewing the original painting, but a copy commissioned to ensure its absence was not too hard to bear. (I can’t dig up an online note to confirm this, but I doubt I could have imagined both memories. Maybe someone reading this can confirm.)

Purely as a work of art, it is a most impressive sight, and one I was surprised to learn was owned by Glasgow’s Kelvingrove.

(The embedded slideshow below is supposed to be WordPress compatible, but the buttons don’t seem to work – try the source.)

Painted in 1951 and purchased by the City of Glasgow in 1952, it has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.​

Dali’s creation was one of the more controversial purchases made by Dr Tom Honeyman, then Director of Glasgow Museums. It is now widely recognised that Dr Honeyman made a very astute decision. Not only did he secure the painting for less than the catalogue price, that price included the copyright, giving Glasgow a never-ending source of revenue from its investment

However, the painting was not well-received by everyone – students from Glasgow School of Art argued that the money could have been used to purchase work from Glaswegian or Scottish artists.

But, after going on display at Kelvingrove in 1952, the work attracted visitors in their droves as the gallery now attracts millions of visitors per year.

Sadly, the painting’s presence has not been without drama, and it has been damaged twice, most famously when the canvas was badly torn by a visitor wielding a sharp stone. Fortunately, the skilled conservators at Kelvingrove were able to repair the painting and the damage is barely visible.

Tours

September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018.

Glaswegians, and anyone who visits Kelvingrove, might care to take note that while we can wander in for a look as often as we like, with our Scottish National Museums offering Free Admission – ONE visit to the RA will set visitors back a massive £15.50 (£14 if you withhold the donation).

The painting will be one of the star attractions of Dalí/Duchamp, opening on 7 October. The exhibition will then travel to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida from February to May 2018.

I had a look at the Dalí Museum – tickets there are $24.

It will then go on loan to Auckland Castle in County Durham from autumn 2019 until spring 2020.

Via: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

GoMA needs to get a grip

I used to enjoy making the effort to get into Glasgow’s GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) whenever I was in the city centre, but in recent years I’ve begun to wonder why I bother.

All the permanent exhibits have gone.

It has so little to offer it was able to lose the basement exhibition space and turn it into a library.

There used to be an exhibit space on the first floor (there was a Sharmanka installation there) which seems to have gone.

Looking at its web site, all the interesting exhibits seem to be from past years – and I seem to have missed most of them to.

Guess I don’t get the chance to drop in often enough.

But I’m not just ‘having a go’, as the most recent claimed ‘exhibit’ that appeared in the news is really just an insult…

An empty gallery has been unveiled as the latest work by an artist who “cancelled” her exhibition at one of Glasgow’s leading venues.

Marlie Mul asked for no exhibition to be held in the Gallery of Modern Art.

All that will be visible in the gallery are billboards advertising that the exhibition has been cancelled.

People are being invited to “visit and interact with the space” – and suggest alternative uses for the gallery during the five months set aside for the show.

Gallery 1 at Goma will lie empty from Friday until the end of October.

Visitors will instead be greeted by 21 billboards advertising the cancellation of the exhibition by the Dutch artist.

‘Amazing opportunity’

Goma said Mul’s “conceptual gesture” was to act as an “implicit critique of what is displayed within museums and galleries”.

It said that by removing traditional content and opening the space for public use, Mul was “augmenting the institution to question the relevance of an art exhibition in 2017”.

Goma curator Will Cooper said the cancellation was an “amazing opportunity”.

He said: “By removing what would traditionally be considered an art object we are instead presenting the gallery as an empty space, giving us a moment to question the value in turning over exhibition after exhibition after exhibition.”

He added: “We’re excited by the different types of activities that might be on offer during this cancelled show.

Via: Glasgow gallery left empty for ‘cancelled’ exhibition

Since the ‘artist’ cancelled…

Are any sponsorships, fees, or payments cancelled too?

Or are they excluded?

It’s nonsense such as this that turns people off so rapidly when the words ‘Modern Art’ are uttered, and GoMA’s curator commenting that offering an empty space for public use is “amazing opportunity” is just an attempt cover up a disaster by repackaging it an hoping nobody notices.

(I noticed).

I’d say we are being sold short by GoMA these days, and they really should give themselves a shake.

At the moment, the best part is the shop, which is more interesting and inspiring than any of the exhibition spaces – and it’s a lot busier too!

GoMA

GoMA

Carl Sagan

Here’s a suggestion, an exhibit dedicate to Carl Sagan and his Baloney Detection Kit!

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Lifeboat station sculpture

I wonder how many people pass by the lifeboat station of the Glasgow Humane Society and fail to notice the sculpture about one of the access doors?

It’s not exactly a high-profile location, nor is it particularly easy to spot, as the spot is littered with other odds and ends belonging to the station (there’s even some ‘classic’ cast-iron there, rescued from the street – but maybe another day), and since most folk wander around looking down at their phones in some sort of dumb trance, I doubt many see it.

It makes a change from usual stainless steel used for many such creations these days, as the plain old steel it’s been drafted from is weathering and rusting, and making it look completely different from those more usual shiny installations.

It’s a nice catch to make if in the area, and a shame to miss if passing nearby.

Clyde Sculpture

Clyde Sculpture

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

South Rotunda saved

Not a place I see often these days (for many years to be honest), but I did reach the South Rotunda recently, and was aware that it has been saved recently, after being acquired by a company that carried out a complete refurbishment of the structure to convert it into their offices.

For those completely unfamiliar with it, suffice to say its original purpose was to house a pair of hydraulic elevators that took vehicles (that meant horse & cart as it opened in 1895) up and down to a tunnel under the river, with a separate tunnel accessed via stairs for pedestrians.

I’ve already made some notes about it elsewhere, so you can read more details here, in our Wiki:

South Rotunda

It’s really strange to see it like this, at a junction, and next to a bridge over the River Clyde.

I watched the roads being recreated here after the Glasgow Garden Festival, when the place was a near desert and there was hardly a car, or person, to be seen. Now it’s practically a main thoroughfare, and quite a shock to see all the traffic flowing here.

South Rotunda

South Rotunda

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Oh deer

I suppose I’ll have to stop grumbling about having to take the little compact out some days (as opposed to the dSLR and its gem of a sensor). Granted the pics are not pixel sharp, it’s slow, and doesn’t have a proper viewfinder (I absolutely HATE holding the thing at arm’s length to see that rear display) – but one cannot argue with the logic that says the best camera you have is the one you have with you to catch a pic.

In this case, a flashing white ‘deerbutt’ alerted me to the presence of this example of the world’s least ‘road aware’ species (much thicker than two short planks if near a road, they are so dumb they are truly scary and very very dangerous) as I passed the site of the Baggyminnow Pond swans – this pair disappeared in the past few days, so I guess their eggs hatched recently and the family marched along to the nearby River Clyde and have now swam away. Maybe I’ll see them there later.

I couldn’t see the deer in the long grass, but hit the button and made an appointment with the compact to take pictures in the near future, and after it woke up and sorted itself out after the usual buzzing and whirring, set the zoom to 10X and scanned around.

I got lucky as something made the deer look up just as I spotted its back, and for once, I actually got a proper pic, complete with head.

Baggyminnow Deer

Baggyminnow Deer

Baggyminnow Pond Deer Original

Baggyminnow Pond Deer Original

I was really surprised there was enough detail for a little post-processing, especially when I noted the speed was 400 ASA to help the anti-shake with the long zoom.  I usually think anything not caught at 100 ASA can’t be cropped, but this proves me wrong. It’s just a pity there is no RAW option, or even choice of compression, but then again, it will even slip into a trouser pocket, which is not a bad trick for 10X zoom. And having had ‘longer’ zoom similar compact and even bridge cameras, the size disadvantage of 12X or even 15X makes little difference at this level, but adds bulk and drops image quality at this level. (Click thumb for bigger).

May 26, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Missed me – again

It’s only a few days since I walked along this particular piece of road, and at first I didn’t realise something fairly major had happened.

First clue was pieces of car headlight reflector, some silvered plastic caught my eye first, then I saw pieces of the unit, and these led to some more pieces of grille. But for the silvered parts, what little there was could have been missed as it was spread over a distance of about 15 metres, and was only what was left after the rest was swept up, and not noticeable unless all seen together. No bits big enough to ID the car.

I checked the road and kerb, (and the trees which grow from the grassy part of the kerb here) and found some rubble knocked loose from the kerb about another 15 metres from the line of remains. But there were no skid marks, so whatever happened had not seen any heavy braking take place.

For once, the pic I took shows little (and there was not point in taking a pic of the bits of plastic), and I concluded the car/vehicle had left the road and gone through the metal fence pictured.

I base this on the Police blue/white tape which is all on the other side of the fence (I’ve had to inset a slight enlargement to identify it) as are the larger parts of plastic panelling from the car (they’re mostly black and just don’t show up against the ground in the pic).

The pic doesn’t really show much as it’s clear the recovery and clean up time got their fast, did their job, and even got the damaged fence repaired quickly – it was only after seeing the whole scene and standing back a little which showed the finish of these fence sections was different to that of the older sections to either side, giving away their newness. Apart from that, all those bits are behind the fence – and that didn’t happen unless the fence was knocked down.

I have to confess to being impressed by these recovery services. I’ve seen a couple of incidents that disabled the car involved, so not drivable, and made a mess of the surrounding area, and while things like brick walls take time to arrange, the tidy up of the ground and removal of the car can be done in hour or two – as long as it take me to get to the shops and make the return trip.

London Road Cleaned Up Crash

London Road Cleaned Up Crash

That’s two fairly major misses in a matter of days (I posted one in Cambuslang a few days ago).

I wonder if I should be worried?

I tend to think, or imagine, this sort of thing comes in threes, so the next one might be too close for comfort.

May 25, 2017 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

A little bird on bird action

I really didn’t expect to catch this shot, with the waiting time for the compact camera to wake up and initialise, then the time for the power zoom to zip out to the 10X end, then more time for the autofocus to settle on the backlit image – the real bird on the sculpted bird should have spotted me, laughed, and flown away long before the camera decided it was ready to shoot.

But it didn’t, and even got the exposure right too (I had time for second shot and tweaked its exposure for the backlighting, but it was hopelessly overexposed – the auto setting really does work surprisingly well.

The sculptured heron is one commissioned by Sustrans in 1998, and is sited on the banks of the River Clyde at Carmyle , near the Clydeford bridge. It is intended to symbolise the environmental regeneration of the river, and stands over 8 metres high on the Clyde Walkway near Cambuslang, and Route 75 of the National Cycle Network.

Clyde Heron and Bird

Clyde Heron and Bird

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

2018 marks 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

It was nice to see early news of a temporary exhibition taking place in Kelvingrove during 2018 to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

I always feel rather sorry for Mackintosh, in some ways

Largely ignored during his life, he only came to notice (along with others of his kind such as Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson) after his death, and then suffered the fate of many in Scotland, where his is mocked and devalued because he became famous and popular. (Note: Does not apply if you are that modern ‘waste of skin’ known as… a celebrity!)

Mackintosh and building

Mackintosh and building

It’s now well known that a number of their buildings have been lost, for various reasons, and that many that survive have advocates trying to save those that have become abandoned and derelict. Fortunately, many lesser known examples have survived in use, and are occupied by residents who know and love them, and actively preserve and restore them.

Glasgow Style

Glasgow Style designs and art works were created by teachers, students and graduates of The Glasgow School of Art in the period between about 1890 and 1920.

Said to be at the core of this movement were Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald, Frances Macdonald, and James Herbert McNair.

Exhibitions and Events

Glasgow Museums will commemorate the landmark of the Glasgow-born architect with a programme of events in 2018.

One of the highlights, according to curators, will be a temporary exhibition held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

It will showcase works by Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporaries.

Many of the works will be on display for the first time in a generation, while others will be given their first public appearance.

The exhibition includes works by The Four: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his future wife Margaret Macdonald, her younger sister Frances Macdonald and her future husband James Herbert McNair.

Alison Brown, curator with Glasgow Museums, said: “Charles Rennie Mackintosh is rightly celebrated around the world as one of the most creative figures of the 20th Century.

“He is regarded as the father of Glasgow Style, arguably Britain’s most important contribution to the international Art Nouveau movement.

Via: Exhibition to mark Mackintosh anniversary

There don’t seem to be any details on offer at the moment, so I will be watching for more news to appear, and post more then.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 2 Comments

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