Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh at The Willow visited

When the news told of the reopening of The Willow Tearooms in Sauchiehall Street at the start of July, I couldn’t make it in for quick look and pic, so promise/threatened to make up for this when I could.

I could, so I did.

It was a little irritating too, as there’s a tree blocking most of the few of the restored facade, so you can’t get a nice clear, square-on view of the building, and get both horizontal and vertical perspective distortion in the same shot.

It’s quite extreme, and can’t be tweaked out by editing, or the view becomes very unnatural due to the ‘impossible’ angles some corners take on, and the parts that would not be seen from the revised, or non-existent, viewpoint.

But I’ve mellowed down the correction, and applied it lightly, just to make the distortion less extreme.

Mackintosh At The Willow Facade

Mackintosh At The Willow Facade

There’s a sort of ‘Visitor Centre’ beside the restored tearooms.

Mackintosh At The Willow

Mackintosh At The Willow

And, unlike the original post, I now have my own pics of the signs.

Pity I messed this up, and missed parts. Careless – I didn’t even notice this slip until later.

Note the extensions above the sign, at least visible in the rear example.

Mackintosh At The Willow Signs

Mackintosh At The Willow Signs


I didn’t see this coming!

After this post was published, I came in and looked at my various news feeds – and found the BBC had published a feature-length article on the tea rooms of Glasgow.

The original 1903 Willow Tea Rooms were designed in their entirety by Mackintosh and he had total control inside and out.

He remodelled the exterior of the 1860s tenement block and oversaw the interior decorative elements, right down to the design of the cutlery and the uniform of the waitresses.

However, Glasgow was largely indifferent to the genius in its midst and it was businesswoman Kate Cranston, the tea room queen, who received the plaudits.

The tea rooms that brought Mackintosh back to life

Mackintosh’s Tea Room

Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms will be shown on BBC Two Scotland at 21:00 on Tuesday 07 August 2018.

06/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Hill House rescue works release Mackintosh items for Lighthouse display

Work to help preserve Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh have provided the opportunity to display some of the contents in Glasgow’s Lighthouse.

Good old Scottish weather (and Helensburgh doesn’t help by being beside the sea, and having a nice salty atmosphere) means that while Mackintosh may have been a revolutionary designer, what were cutting-edge materials and building techniques of 1902 have not stood the test of time, and The National Trust for Scotland is currently carrying out an extraordinary conservation project which involves enclosing the house in a mesh box, in order to protect it from the weather and allow it to dry out.

Since this has required the contents to be moved out of the house, it has allowed them to be moved into The Lighthouse as a temporary exhibition, so you can see them even if you can’t get to Helensburgh.

Working with his wife, Margaret Macdonald, Mackintosh designed the rooms and interior features of the house including those most well-known: the entrance hall, drawing room and main bedroom. Items from all these spaces are represented in this exhibition of more than 30 objects from the house, including chairs, light fittings, beds, mirrors, and tables.

Emma Inglis, curator (Glasgow and West), the National Trust for Scotland, said: “The Hill House is the most complete surviving example of Mackintosh’s whole-house approach to design. He designed the architecture of the building, interior decoration, and household furnishings to work in unison, creating rooms rich in interest and colour. Fundraising is still ongoing to save the Hill House and this exhibition is an opportunity to display objects which represent the heart and style of the Hill House.

Find The Hill House at The Lighthouse between 04 August and 23 September 2018 in Gallery One.

This is the drawing room of Hill House, as seen in 2017.

Click the image to see the huge original by Tony Hisgett on Flickr, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

It’s actually one of a number of photographs you will find with it, taken inside the house.

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

06/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project Bluebird – It Works!

So, the media finally caught up with this one.

I still prefer the local touch from Zak, who must have been up early to get more goodies. If you can’t be there, it must be the next best thing 🙂

I liked this one (click for larger original).

Bluebird First Trial on Loch Fad - Courtesy o Zak

Bluebird First Trial on Loch Fad – Courtesy of Zak

There’s a growing gallery of images.

Bluebird on Bute

With even larger versions being added to the Flickr collection.

And even some video.


06/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

I finally found Glasgow’s Purrple Cat Cafe at 2 Trongate – by chance

It was a bit of surprised to find Glasgow’s cat café where it had originally been supposed to be when I first went to look for it – but found only a derelict bank at 2 Trongate.

I’d been collecting pics of an old shop elsewhere, when I decided to wander along to Glasgow Cross.

I thought I was imagining things when I saw the formerly missing cat café!

Thank goodness I had my original pics which prove it really wasn’t there when I first went to find it back in October 2017.

It’s definitely there now, and it seems I was just a few weeks too early, as it arrived not long after.

Be aware that this is not really a ‘Walk-in’ facility, and unless you’re lucky, it seems you really should book a session if you want to be sure of getting in.

And, the cats are resident there, the café is their home, so there are rules in place to make sure they’re not upset by visitors.

If you’re interested, it’s worth studying the info on their web site properly…

Purple Cat Cafe

The Cats Remember, they live there, and are not seeking adoption.


The House Rules

So, I’ve only got some pics from outside.

Maybe they’d have let me take a wide pic from the door (or chased as some weirdo).

My first surprise sighting.

I had to look twice!

Yup… It’s definitely the Purrple Cat Café. I’m not imagining it.

You can go in, but note the sign says ‘Booking Times’ rather than ‘Opening Times’.

Another sign, and a pointer to their ‘Walk Thru Window’. You can’t actually ‘Walk Thru’, it’s really a takeaway where you can buy goodies without going into the café, and disturbing the residents. It’s the window with the canopy, seen in the pic above.

Decoration beside the ‘Walk Thru Window’.


They have a sense of fun too.

I was almost out of luck. Although there are places for the residents to sit/lie/play on the window ledges inside, only one was could be seen, and even that view is restricted by bars on the window (which play havoc with autofocus). This one isn’t featured in the cafés list, but looks like a mature cat that never grew much bigger than a large kitten. That’s a child’s hand its holding onto in one of the pics, not an adult, which might give a clue as to size.

Video from the café…

06/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment


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