Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Last week was almost like Mackintosh Week

Last week was something of a bonus for those who like Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

I’m always slightly wary of mentioning such things, since certain ‘types’ I don’t like to be associated with decided to adopt Mackintosh as one of their heroes, and decided it would be ‘kewl’ to pretend they had always liked him and his work.

“The city that rejected him now plasters his image on everything from tea towels to fridge magnets,” says Lachlan Goudie.

First surprise was spotting Mackintosh feature in a documentary (available online until the end of June 2018):

Mackintosh: Glasgow’s Neglected Genius

Glasgow artist Lachlan Goudie examines the life, work and legacy of Scotland’s most celebrated architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh – the man Lachlan Goudie calls “The greatest genius in the history of Scottish art”.

The film examines Mackintosh’s iconic buildings, notably the Glasgow School of Art. Interwoven with his architecture, design and watercolours is the personal story of Mackintosh. Little known at home, his work found favour on the continent. In later years he struggled for work, and came to endure real poverty, but continued to create remarkable pieces of art.


Then there was some fairly significant news regarding the completion of works to restore the Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street.

A tea room designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been reopened to mark the 150th anniversary of the great architect’s birth.

The public had the chance on Thursday to preview the Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms, first opened in 1903, after it underwent a £10m restoration project.

The 200-seat restaurant and tea rooms will have a phased opening during the summer with the official opening of Mackintosh at the Willow in September.

It is estimated the tea rooms in Glasgow will welcome at least 360,000 visitors a year.

The building at 217 Sauchiehall Street is of international significance.

It is the only building where Mackintosh had total control over the architecture and the decorative elements, including the design of the cutlery and the waitress’s uniforms.

The new heritage attraction will include a gallery, billiard room and an exhibition, retail, learning and education and conference suite in the adjoining building.

Mackintosh tea room reopens 150 years after his birth

Much as I’d liked to have included my own pic of the exterior at least (which I passed a few days before this news was published, and I’m not likely to ever be inside), at the moment, that’s not possible, so you’ll have to make do with the news publicity pic.

Mackintosh at the Willow Pic Credit: PA

Mackintosh at the Willow Pic Credit: PA


If you have never managed to visit any Mackintosh creations (and, don’t forget there is an excellent display of some of his work always to be found on show in Kelvingrove), then this selection of images featured in a BBC article will hopefully give you an idea of what those of us who admired his work in the years before he was hijacked by the ‘kewl brigade’ were attracted to, long before dropping his name in company became ‘fashionable’.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the rooms that inspired Europe

Of the featured locations, I didn’t realise the Glasgow School of Art ran tours of the interior, although I’d seen the exterior and grabbed the odd pic more than once. Then, although I was a regular visitor to Helensburgh, I’d never tripped over Hill House by accident, so eventually made the pilgrimage there many years ago, and it was worth the effort. Probably the one place I visited frequently (without realising it) was the Mackintosh House at The Hunterian Museum.

I’m sad to see that each visit to the Mackintosh House now has an admission charge of £6 – when I was wandering around there some years ago, entry was free.

I guess this is the price of ‘kewl’.

The Mackintosh House

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Hill House

House for an Art Lover

And finally…

Green light for giant Mackintosh mural after planning row

A giant mural to Charles Rennie Mackintosh overlooking The Clutha bar has been given the green light despite an objection by an arts charity.

Bar owner Alan Crossan had hoped the tribute would have been completed in time for the 150th anniversary of the iconic designer’s birth on Thursday.

But Workshop & Artists Studio Provision Scotland (Wasps) said he didn’t seek permission from Glasgow City Council.

But a planning enforcement officer has now ruled the mural can go ahead.

Scaffolding was erected outside the Clydeside pub at the end of last week and the wall, which is around 60ft by 40ft, was painted white.

But work had to be abandoned after Wasps objected on the grounds that the pub is next door to the A-listed Briggait.


To some extent, it’s understandable that somebody would think they could do what they like with their own property, but on the other hand, it’s a bit hard to believe that anyone involved in a business in Glasgow city centre wouldn’t check with the city’s planning department before doing anything overseen by neighbours, or the public.

Or perhaps that an artist’s studio that wasn’t part of a mural that appeared beside it might not find a way to drop a ‘hint’.

I’ll have to make a point of getting down there later, as I won’t be able to get there in the near future.

Well, since I never got around to using this stitch of the original Clutha mural, I might as well use it here – since it shows The Briggait just to the right.

Also, it no longer exists since a chunk was carved out of wall in the middle, to open out the area for a ‘Beer Garden’.

Click on the mural image for a slightly bigger version.

Clutha Mural Stitch

Clutha Mural Stitch

11/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

When neeb’s wheels just aren’t interesting enough

It’s a bit sad, but quite a few cars fall into a sort of limbo where they’re nice enough, there’s nothing objectionable about them, but they’re just not ‘interesting’, even if they contain some nice technology under the skin.

I’ve noticed quite a few of my neighbour’s cars fall into this category, and quite a few sport interesting registration numbers I’ve been passing for years, but never ‘collected’.

No real need since I see them on an almost daily basis, and they’ve  become almost invisible by way of the old ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ adage.

This one in particular has always intrigued me, but I never remembered to check its history.

As you’ll see, the plate shows the registration as SFO 697, but with the ongoing plethora of plates with illegal spacing, I always wondered if it might be SF 0697. Likely or not, I now know it is nice and legal as shown.

2005 Audi A8 TDI Quattro Auto [SFO 697]

2005 Audi A8 TDI Quattro Auto [SFO 697]

And it looks pretty good for a 2005 car too.

13 years on Scottish roads don’t seem to have made much of an impression on it.

Some cars look old and tired after only 3 years, even if looked after. I was sometimes disappointed to look at some of my company rides when I was obliged to give them back, and could see problem areas, tatty spots, rust, ingrained discolouration, and other evidence that showed they had not escaped use, even after I had looked after them. That said, few of them had broken down or failed.

Pity the same cars in the hands of some of my colleagues.

They wouldn’t even check fluids… “That’s a job for the garage when a service is due” was their philosophy.

11/06/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Yarn Bombing Day

11 June is Yarn Bombing Day.

Yarn Bombing Day is when fibre-freaks from around the world go on a knitting rampage to embrace the world in warm fuzzy comfort.

Ironically, Yarn Bombing Day began life as a simple gimmick at a sewing boutique. As part of their style and personality they knitted a sleeve for their door handle, and from there it spread like wildfire.

It spread to telephone poles, became socks on statues and bike racks, and even trees got warm sleeves to see them through the cold of winter.

It’s all done in the spirit of beautification and fun, and can bring a fantastically colourful display to urban areas around the world. It’s not seen as graffiti (and why would it, since it does not do any damage, or cause offence) by most people in a ‘bombed’ area, but rather as an acceptable and attractive form of urban art.

I don’t know when it appeared, but this has been in Glasgow’s London Road for some time, and who knows how long it will last.

London Road Yarn Bombed Poles

London Road Yarn Bombed Poles

11/06/2018 Posted by | Blogroll | | Leave a comment

Today is German Chocolate Cake Day

11 June is German Chocolate Cake Day.

I’ve never heard of it – but any excuse for chocolate cake is a good excuse, so who cares?

SURPRISE! German Chocolate Cake is not a cake invented by Germans. It’s actually the creation of a man known as Samuel German, a devotee of Dark Chocolate, and a fan of its rich and complex flavours/ His cake is the culmination of his love and dedication to that bittersweet treat.

The Sweet Baking Chocolate traditionally used in its creation was made by Baker’s Chocolate Company and was specifically mentioned by Mrs George Clay when the cake was published in a Dallas Newspaper in 1957. Baker’s Chocolate then took the recipe and distributed it with their chocolate.

It’s understandable that people mistake the name as a country of origin, but while it doesn’t hail from Germany, it’s still one of the most delicious cakes available. The combination of black cherries and coconut blend with the icing to create a delicious array of tastes and textures.

Understandably, it was partially inspired by the German Black Forest Cake, which is why it has a layer of cherries inside.

Going by the pic I found – I have to go find a sample of this cake now!

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

11/06/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: