Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Beast from the East is real

I see what I have referred to recently as the Siberian Blast in recent posts has come to be known officially as the Beast from the East.

It really does feel as bad as it looks in the clip above, and today started looking a little snowy at first light, then continued to go downhill.

Although not ‘heavy’, the snow continued to fall in varying degrees throughout the day – most notable was the light and fine nature it had, akin to dust or powder most of the time, and explaining why it has not piled high (yet?). I left a couple of doors cracked open – no gap to see through, but when I went back later was fairly amazed to see this dry, dusty, powder like snow was being blown in through the tiny gap.

The next depressing sign was a drop of -3°C in the afternoon, a time when the temperature usually rises during the day – this does not bode well, and has taken below -4°C and I don’t fancy what the night might bring.

Apollo Towers was beginning to collect snow as the day progressed.

Snowy Apollo Towers

Snowy Apollo Towers

At least I found a cat there…

Winterised Cat

Winterised Cat

I ventured along the road to lane that overlooks some houses, but was more interested in seeing what the hill in the distance looked like.

Yup… WHAT hills? Visibility was nil past only 1 km.

Hill View NOT

Hill View NOT

I grabbed a quick street view, and as noted, although the snow is non-stop, because we are only being hit with a fine powder it is not building up to any great depth. But I guess that could change at any moment.

Now that the ambient temperature has settled well below 0°C, anything that falls will not go away.

Proper Snow

Proper Snow

Last thing I did before it got dark was venture up into the loft, and glad I did too.

Normally the snow doesn’t blow in the open skylight, but this light powdery stuff did, and was beginning to build up.

I leave this open year round for ventilation – but now it’s closed for the first time in years.



I was irritated later, when I missed a photo-op.

In the dark (it is not actually dark here now thanks to the snow, I don’t even need room lights on), I saw a fox wander through the garden, but there was no time to go pick up a camera as it was not hanging about.

28/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth fun Wednesday

Following Monday’s news that flat-earthers have insulted the people of Scotland by taking over a shop in Inverness, I can only do my own bit and have some fun for the rest of the week.

Apparently their most recent proof!

Obviously, the Earth has to be flat or you couldn’t run a Roadster on it, could you?

Spaceman Flat Earth Roadster

Spaceman Flat Earth Roadster

28/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


Bollards – so new they still have their plastic wrapping in place.


Concrete bollards are now deemed to be so sensitive they have to be supplied to site wrapped in protective plastic!

And this is not even a joke.

It would be funny, but for the fact that I used to make posts showing these reinforced concrete structures being destroyed where they were installed. It’s too common now, so longer interesting or even fun.

They’re being installed in the public road, so I have to assume they are official. Homeowners can’t just go sticking stuff in the road as and wherever they like.

Nice New Bollards

Nice New Bollards in Plastic


Curiosity got the better of me, so it was on with the Sun and light-proof suit plus dark glasses so I could go venture out during the hours of daylight.

And I’m not really much more enlightened after looking at the context and taking a second pic of the scene from across the road.



I don’t have any recollection of vehicles being parked on this area of footpath, or mounting it for any reason.

As can be seen from the pics, this road has many sections built out to deliberately narrow it, and when buses stop, traffic is blocked until they move since they are prevented from pulling in to the kerb.

I’ve been here for years, and never seen anything ‘naughty’ being done.

There’s even a nice little section of lowered kerb so vehicles can reach the… Oh!… non-existent drive of the house behind.

So, why does someone in the council see the need to install these today, in time of ‘austerity’ and council spending cuts?



See that ‘Elderly People’ sign and the dropped kerb?

Could this be our newest pedestrian controlled crossing on its way?

There’s a row of flats on the opposite side of the road (caught in the first pic), built to house the very same type of resident some years ago.

I’ll have to re-organise my walks, so I get here a little more regularly, and can watch for developments.

28/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Timorous tortie

While this one was no more wary than any other cat that (very) occasionally wanders through here, the description is no less applicable.

Apart from my once sort of regular black visitor, the cats still wandering around seldom let me near.

I spotted this one, apparently enjoying something it had found during one of the breaks between the snow flurries our current Siberian ‘cold air’ bath eventually delivered today.

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 1

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 1

I know every leaf lying around my ‘garden’ at the moment, and believe me, there’s NOTHING edible down there, at least not that I left out.

I tried to get some more views, to see if there were any clues on offer.

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 2

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 2

Definitely got a mouthful of ‘something, but I have no idea what.

Another catch didn’t really help – and I’d been spotted!

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 3

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 3

“Hoomin’s too damned close – I’m off, and putting more distance between us.”

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 4

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 4

Whatever it had found, it took with it.

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 5

Tortoiseshell Snow Cat 5

That look…

Was basically my marching orders.

If I went indoors, ‘Tortie’ would move.

If I stepped outside, ‘Tortie’ went back into the undergrowth, and stayed put.

I used to have treats/food to hand, but gave this up long ago, as I just ended up throwing it away when it got to be too old, or was opened and discarded, so didn’t have anything to offer.

On a positive note, this character was clean and well-fed, not in distress, so probably just made the mistake of going for a walk on the wrong day.

28/02/2018 Posted by | photography | , | 2 Comments

Siberia in Scotland suggests time to plan holiday

The current blast of cold air we are ‘enjoying’ from Russia/Siberia is dragging our average temperature below 3°C, and last night took a dive below -3°C at one point.

I’m hoping the forecast remains accurate (woke up to snow this morning). Although it shows this nonsense carrying on until the end of the week, things get better after that and the daytime max is predicted to start rising again.

Because this is cold air being ‘parachuted’ in, it actually feels a lot colder that it did during the frosts and freezes we had a couple of weeks ago.

I was thinking it would be nice NOT to be here at the moment, and this bus trip to go see an atomic bomb being detonated seemed both a bargain and a good idea at the moment.

You might even come back with a nice warm glow that could last for a while, just like the Ready Brek kids.

Warm Day Trip

Warm Day Trip

Some say…

They brought in kids that lived near Sellafield when they filmed this series of ads 😉

27/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War | , , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth fun Tuesday

Following Monday’s news that flat-earthers have insulted the people of Scotland by taking over a shop in Inverness, I can only do my own bit and have some fun for the rest of the week.

Can’t argue with this.

Russian Kid Flat Earth

Russian Kid Flat Earth

27/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Ice-cream so good…

Ice-cream so good – whoever bought it barely tasted it before leaving it on the seat in a bus shelter.

Maybe it was just the arrival of the freezing cold weather that put them off, as Scotland is just starting to REALLY enjoy the freezing cold air being blasted in from the east of the country, from Russia and Siberia. See Why the UK will be so cold

Or maybe they had a taste – and that was enough!

It’s not unusual, and while the media and those who like to score political points choose to insult the rest of us by claiming children in Scotland are both living in poverty AND going hungry, when I see school kids in the street, they are carrying the most expensive tiny bottles of juice, and things like this tiny tub of ice-cream, also horrendously expensive.

Worse still, the streets are littered with such bottles discarded after only a couple of gulps have been drunk from them, and the same goes for that other expensive accessory – a plastic bottle of bottled water.

Shettleston Ice Cream

Shettleston Ice Cream

This pic also confirms I’m a vampire (why do you think I take so many night pics?) – I cast no reflection in the glass side of the bus shelter!

27/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Parked or abandoned?

Not sure.

But the industrial wheelie-bins seem to have better security than the car.

That said, is it legal to chain such wheelie-bins to bike racks, and block them from use by the people they were installed for?

Parked Or Abandoned

Parked Or Abandoned

27/02/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

How to argue with the flat-earthers in Inverness

I don’t mind having reasonable discussions on controversial subjects, but I draw the line at idiots.

As the Inverness councillor carefully worded a response to this news, the only good thing about the some flat-earth loonies taking on a shop in Inverness is that it will occupy the space and provide income…

Assuming they are legal that is, have the money to pay their various bills, and are not just squatters who will cost decent folk money – and are not bleeding off donations that could have been better used elsewhere.

Flat Earth believers have rented a shop in Inverness in a bid to promote their theory.

The campaign group, called The Flat Earth, posted a list of 50 questions on the window which attempt to debunk the widely accepted fact that the earth is round.

Among the list, it calls into question are the earth’s curvature, orbital movement and the evidence of gravity.

At the top of the message it states: “You have been lied to.

“We do not live on a spherical rock hurtling through a vacuum.”

The door shutters are down but inside the premises are sofas, a television, a bookcase and a chessboard, as well as a kitchen.

Inverness West councillor Alex Graham said that anything to boost occupancy of the several empty shops on Greig Street in Inverness should be welcomed.

He said: “I am not aware of this development myself.

“Personally, I do believe the Earth is round, but people are very much entitled to have a different view on that as long as debate is peaceful.

Unfortunately, it seems they, or their fans, may NOT be peaceful, as the article continues with news of criminal damage:

Graffiti claiming the earth is flat has appeared on road signs in Inverness and on the A9 Thurso-Perth road last year.

In September, police confirmed that they were investigating a positive line of inquiry as they attempted to track down those responsible for the vandalism.

The slogan was spray-painted on the side of buildings and signposts across Inverness, appearing in areas such as South Kessock, Howdens Garden Centre and Daviot Wood picnic site.

The same graffiti also appeared at Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s stadium and off the Aviemore ski road, and spread as far south as Livingston.

Via ‘Flat Earth’ campaigners rent city shop to promote theory

While it may be nice that we tolerate such things in our midst, it’s also deeply sad and disturbing that such idiots are free to move amongst the rest of us.

I think I’ll enjoy the rest of the week digging up fun like this, which is more than these sad people deserve.

Arguing With Idiots

Arguing With Idiots

For what it’s worth – I don’t even dignify this nonsense by discussing it.

A better debate would probably centre on why we thought it was a good idea to stop locking such people up.

Flat Earthers Described

Flat Earthers Described

Oh… my commiseration to the poor people of Inverness.

That said…

I did find one potential advantage of being a flat earther.

Flat Earther Advantage

Flat Earther Advantage

But then I got priced of the road, so that was the end of that.

26/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | 4 Comments

Why we can’t have nice things

I spotted a pic online that probably shows one of the downsides of cheap mass production of advanced items that shouldn’t be in the hands of ‘everybody’ (aka morons).

Back in what we could probably now refer to as ‘The Good Old Days’, some of us managed to have radios in our cars, and even GPS systems that matched with laptops.

At the time, I don’t recall any cases of crashes or similar attributed to us (or them), or anyone able to make a name for themselves by demanding legislation to curb their use.

In the years I had them, I used them freely, yet was never diverted by them, crashed, or went flying off the road at any time, while I operated them.

Yet putting what amounts to the same devices into the hands of the mindless masses seems to have created death-dealing monsters.

Although I’m no longer in a position to play with those toys, looking at current legislation, I think I’d be locked up and have the key thrown away if I dared try, or even just sat them on the seat beside me, as I used to.

Yet I was once covering anything up to 1,000 miles per week with them.

How did I do that for years, yet not die, or kill somebody?

This pic probably sums up the problem.

Phone Bump

Phone Bump

The driver didn’t even try to lie, and said she wasn’t wearing her seat belt, and when she dropped her phone while driving, just leaned down to try to pick it up, ending up by colliding with an inanimate object and being launched against the windscreen, creating the nice little bulge pictured.

As other noted, Darwin had his chance with this one, and failed miserably.

Still, only 15 mph in a car park.



26/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen powered ferry to be studied for Western Isles

I usually steer clear of projects involving hydrogen, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with the idea itself, if carried out under appropriate conditions, but because all too often I find that many of those advocating such projects are technically incompetent, and fall into closer to the category of Green Looney than informed advocate.

Hydrogen is easy to misrepresent, and sell only on the basis of being ‘clean’ (or ‘green’), since the only emission (claimed by some) from its use is… water.

But this forgets the conventional process of producing the gas, which can consume large amounts of energy. This is merely a fact arising from the processes involved – it is neither ‘green’ nor ‘non-green’.

This also conveniently glosses over the consequent fact that using the same energy (and let’s be honest and say this is electricity) to power electrical transport directly can be done at around 90% efficiency, while using hydrogen to power transport, via a mechanical engine, or fuel cells, with only yield about 20% – once the whole chain is taken into account.

Those with a negative agenda will now point out that the production process is ‘dirty’, since it uses various fossil fuels to produce the electricity needed to manufacture/compress/store/chill/pump the hydrogen.

They might also note that hydrogen cannot be stored indefinitely, and in hydrogen vehicle use, the tanks have to be vented as the compressed gas boils, with the loss being up to half a tank over a two-week period.

And so far, apparently, there are no private hydrogen refuelling stations for vehicles – they cost millions, and the few that exist for road vehicles are presently only provided by the hydrogen suppliers. I could go on with more potential pros and cons, but it’s not my job to educate, just to point out that both exist, and should be properly considered.

But we don’t have an agenda, so we now point out that sensible plans will use renewable sources of electricity for those processes – something that makes a great deal of difference to such proposals.

This is a game-changer for such proposals, and it seems that the proposal for a hydrogen-powered ferry does refer to renewable sources to provide its hydrogen.

The feasibility study will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power, the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers, and how the design of the ship and its engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.

Point and Sandwick Trust said hydrogen has been used for small vessels on rivers or coastal routes but, so far, not successfully for larger sea-going vessels.

Project manager Calum MacDonald, development director for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology.

“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology.”

Via Study into hydrogen powered ferry for Western Isles

At this stage, pre-judging positively OR negatively would not be a wise move, and more indicative of the politics of anyone making such a premature judgement.

Hopefully the media will not just forget about this study, and will alert us to the subsequent findings.

I lost track of the story of CalMac’s hybrid ferries, and never picked up the thread again, although I was told that there had been a problem with the batteries, but my ‘informant’ on this subject failed to provide any details to back up the claim. And, after a quick look failed to find any substantial details, I gave up. I know… I should have ‘Tried harder’.

Wonder what these guys breathe?

Unusual Ferry

Unusual Ferry

26/02/2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

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