Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Has Halloween joined Christmas as an excuse for garden displays?

Nearing home after a walk to the shops last night, I turned a corner to find one of my neighbour’s garden was hosting  –  a Halloween Party!

Halloween Party

Halloween Party

Not something you see every day night.

What’s most impressive about this little show is that it’s nearly all home-made and would not have cost much to put together.

Even that rather impressive spider crawling on the wall (did you spot its friend to the left) just looks like black bin bag.

But wait.

There’s more – spotted after I passed and looked back, the gravestones which had been hidden in the shadows suddenly appeared in the light.

Halloween Party

Halloween Party

Be interesting to see if this catches on.

I had set aside some other pics collected recently, to be used tonight.

Well, waste not, want not.

This one could almost have been made to follow the pics I took.



This guy’s getting worried, depending on what he’s been doing, it could be too late for redemption in time for Christmas!

Cat Naughty List

Cat Naughty List

Of course, I couldn’t ignore Grumpy.

Grumpy Halloween

Grumpy Halloween

And, a little dig and the disgusting and sometimes dangerous, custom sadly imported from the US.

We really don’t need this.

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

31/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Physical adblocking comes to our streets to prevent… BLOCKING!

I recently wrote a post denouncing the disgusting iWalker, a modern take on the sandwich board that funded many a drunk’s happy time back in the early 1900s, brought up to date with creepy face-recognition and other software intended to creepily spy on unwitting passers-by. I still feel deeply embarrassed (and a little ‘dirty’) to think that canny Scots had a hand in this abomination.

However, I can report that not ALL news about advertising is always bad, and while this story relates to action taken by Edinburgh Council, they are not actually first to enact this ban, so we can only hope that ever more groups and organisations pledged to aid blind and disabled people who suffer the inconvenience of completely unnecessary footpath obstructions placed there in the name of ‘advertising’.

A city-wide ban on all on-street advertising boards will come into force in Edinburgh next week.

The move, approved by members of the Transport and Environment Committee in May, aims to create more accessible, clutter-free streets across the city.

It also provides more safety to those with disabilities such as sight impairments and mobility difficulties.

The council has written to businesses across the city advising them that all on-street advertising, also known as A-boards, should be removed by midnight on Monday, November 4.

Transport and environment convener, councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “This is ultimately about opening up our streets for all members of society, creating welcoming, clutter-free spaces where people can move freely.

“We’ve heard from lots of different groups about the mobility issues caused by the presence of temporary, moveable structures such as advertising boards, so it’s clear that action needs to be taken if we are to live in a truly equal, accessible city.

City-wide ban on street advertising boards comes into force

This follows a similar ban I recall reading about a few years somewhere on the Clyde coast, in at least one of our resort town.

I’m not sure of the wording, but I do remember that it was particularly aimed at those shops which insisted on making themselves more noticeable by littering the street with things such as decorative trees, tables and chairs, advertising boards of course, and even their industrial-size giant wheelie bins, which they generally couldn’t be bothered removing after collection.

I also recall they (the shops) were up in arms, complaining bitterly about being victimised by the council, and how many would go out of business if they could not do these things. None seemed concerned about the complaints, or complainers, who had contacted the council asking for something to be done about all the junk put out on the footpath by the offending shop-owners.

Sad to say, I had to give up reading the news from the Clyde resorts not long after that, so have no idea what happened, if anything.

I couldn’t find any pics showing this – but then again, it’s exactly the sort of thing I tend to avoid.

But I did dig up one apparently honest image – regrettably, looking online suggest most of these images are staged, or arranged by people with some sort of agenda regarding the issue (or are about related subjects, and today we are ONLY considering blocking by ads).

Footpath Congestion

Footpath Congestion

I hope other councils have the time to follow this lead.

ALL adblocking, online or physical, simply MUST be encouraged!

31/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Another Baillieston surprise

Will the surprises never end?

Although I was in Baillieston only a few night ago, I didn’t spot this new, and somewhat disgusting (to me at least) optician.

There’s a perfectly good optician’s in Baillieston already, which has been there for years, and only a few metres away on the other side of the road.

It seems to have managed quite nicely without all those revolting brand names plastered all over its façade.

I wouldn’t touch this place with the proverbial pole, with all those brand names being pushed – this place is only good for the sheeple who feel some sort of need to have these ‘badges of honour’ on display for all to see, to show the world they are ‘kewl’.

Not sure if I would even rate it ‘better’ than the betting shop it replaces.

It’s hard to miss, being white and brightly lit, so either I need to visit the other optician across the road, or this place wasn’t up and running, with it lights on like this, when I passed the same spot before.

If I did that sort of thing, I’d make a jibe about that being the owner’s BMW parked in front, paid for by the sheeple who pay for ‘branded’ gear, but I don’t, so I won’t.

OH!  😉

Baillieston JLL Eywear Ltd

Baillieston JLL Eyewear Ltd

31/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Magic Day

31 October is Magic Day.

Magic Day began with ‘Houdini Day’, and the first took place during the summer 1927, less than a year after the famous magician’s death. On that day, his widow presented a trophy in his honour.

While I’ve always liked magic/illusion, there are some aspects I don’t like.

While I appreciate the need for secrecy, and respect individual magician’s right to protect their secrets, the almost paranoid approach by some to the revealing of the secrets behind ANY illusion has always taken away some of the… magic for me.

I applaud those who risked their careers some years ago, and snubbed that side of the art, and not only began to reveal way (or at least ONE way) many of the more common and well-known illusions could be accomplished. To be fair, most of those which they’ve revealed over the years are obvious (and I might even add that some of those reveals are less than elegant, so there are undoubtedly better ways to perform the same feats), and for me at least, improve the experience thanks to the insight they offer. For some of them, the secrecy was a bit of an insult to the intelligence.

I think the golden age of magic was the period when we had ‘TV Magicians’, with their own shows which ran for years, and the big stage shows (still running in the US) were part of that.

I haven’t seen much decent magic in recent years.

I’m not impressed by the sort of arrogant types we see (sometimes), who insult audiences and hosts with their behaviour because they think they are ‘great’, or who turn up looking as if they are boozed up to the eyeballs, or high on drugs.

And there’s also a few who are pretty good, but just seem to be too smug, which wastes an otherwise good performance.

Guess I’ll just have to keep digging up old videos.

Not sure the search engine got this one quite right…

Black Magic

Black Magic

This was its next try, probably misled by my search history…

(Just look at those performance figs. Imagine trying to sell a special edition with numbers like those today.)

Black Magic Opel

Black Magic Opel

I’ll make up for it (actually, it just didn’t come up with anything I liked) by giving a mention to ‘Tam Shepherds’ shop in Glasgow’s Queen Street.

As you’ll see from the signs, this shop dates back to 1886 and, apart from the stuff in the window, I don’t think the interior or exterior looks any different from the day it opened – it’s been painted black and looked like this for as long as I remember, and that includes the glass topped/fronted display cabinets inside as well (they’re not painted black – they just look the same).

I’m deferring to the shop’s appearance, and not mentioning the apostrophe. Oops.

Tam Shepherds

Tam Shepherds

I’ve bought a few silly things there over the years, just for fun, but never anything that would be classed as ‘real’ magic.

As a kid, I always assumed I’d probably be thrown out for trying to learn something ‘secret’ since I couldn’t have shown I was a ‘real’ magician.

That said, there were times I was in there and saw professional magic items being sold to people who clearly made their living on the stage.

I haven’t  been through the doors for years – the place is usually packed with kids, and there’s no room!




31/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

High Street improvement plan set for council review

I spotted news of plans to revive the stagnated area bounded by Glasgow’s High Street a while ago.

I found that interesting as I’ve always thought it was a shame that much of this area just feels ‘dead’ as I walk through it.

While there are a few interesting spots, there’s little to attract visitors (or even tourists) there, and non-locals are unlikely to just wander there for a look.

Now, “The High Street corridor, from the Cathedral to the Clyde, should be a vibrant and recognised district in its own right”.

The High Street Area Strategy (HSAS) was drawn up from a public consultation on High Street and the Saltmarket, with the council asking residents and businesses how best to regenerate the area.

It follows years of debate on the city’s medieval quarter – home to 6,000 people and including attractions like the Barras, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Green, the Necropolis, Provand’s Lordship and the Tolbooth Steeple – being “left to ruin”.

If approved, the HSAS promises to ‘better promote the area’s rich history and built heritage, support small businesses and the local economy and enhance the public realm’.

The aim is to put those tourist attractions and independent shops and traders, artists’ studios, bars and restaurants in the spotlight for years to come, and if it goes ahead the strategy will run from 2019 to 2023.

Quoted in the plan, Councillor Angus Millar, deputy city convener for economic growth, said: “As the oldest part of Glasgow, the High Street area has played a leading role in the story of our city. But there has long been a feeling that the area has not been given the attention and recognition it deserves. This strategy aims to address those concerns.

Plan to ‘breathe new life’ into Glasgow’s historic High Street to go before city council

Echoing my own observations, they say “In recent years, too often the High Street has been treated as a boundary, at the fringes of both the city centre and the east end”.

I’ll be watching for reports of their findings on the plan – despite the sadly politically motivated negative criticisms levelled at Glasgow City Council, it actually does a pretty good job of these things, provided you leave your political luggage at the door, and actually read their analysis and ruling on application such as this.

As I noted in the first post, hitting High Street when either arriving in the city from the east, or leaving in that direction, really is just like crossing a boundary – vibrant to its west, and dead to its east.



Looking towards High Street from Saltmarket makes a handy reference.

To the left (west) is the city centre and lots of activity.

But, take only a few steps to the right (east), and you will find yourself in quiet, deserted streets, with no shops or other reasons to be there.

To be fair, Glasgow Green is just to the right of this particular spot, but that doesn’t mean anything as you go north towards High Street itself.

Then there’s The Barras (market) but as locals will know, this is really a shadow of its former self these days.

The rest is either open ground, or residential.

30/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sticky speaker follow-up

I mentioned the ever so slightly more than slightly irritating scam being perpetrated by some loudspeaker manufacturers whereby they use a self-destructing foam support ring for the speaker cone – guaranteeing the future failure of the speaker after a few years, and more sales for them.

I referred back to the older design of speakers which had the support ring formed by nothing more than a suitably creased area of the paper speaker cone, which last for years.

Coincidentally, I was clearing up some junk (translation, just moving it around) this morning when I found one such speaker in a box of speakers collected as I upgraded systems. Most of them were from cars, and the support ring seems to be made from a form of fabric, to resist the damp conditions that can arise in some car mounting areas, and they look as if they will last forever – no sticky foam anywhere.

Pictured below is the paper item, which I’m guessing was (like the ones I referred to previously) salvaged from a dead TV, so could be from the 1970s, or even the 1960s.

As you can see, for something that was used, then reused for various projects, then shoved in a box of spare speakers, this paper design is much more robust than its more modern relative.

And paper mounting, even on a much higher quality speaker would probably still work just fine, were it not for ‘Hi-Fi snobbery’, the need for folk to be able to boast about what their latest toys are made of, and the fact that the speakers manufacturers can charge a premium for using fancy materials, which they couldn’t really do with a straight face for a plain paper support.

Vintage Speaker

Vintage Speaker

30/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Dumb deer – apparently even dumber after we move the clocks

I finally got around to writing a post about one of my pet hates a while ago – dumb deer.

Worth clicking on the link and having a look, it gained quite a few pics to illustrate the point.

That one grew a bit, so I won’t waffle on again, but remind you that they are dangerous, and thanks to their ability to defeat fences, can be found wandering on the road, where they have no place as they seem to no ability to understand that cars are MOVING objects, and will just take off and run into them, so they are just as likely to hit the side as front.

Even if a driver hit a deer square on with the front of their car, I would STILL describe that as the deer hitting the car!

It seems I might have inspired others to write about the dopey deer, as this is the first time I can think of seeing a media article written to specifically warn drivers about them.

Glasgow drivers are being warned to watch out for stray deer on the city’s roads.

With the clocks having now turned back, drivers across Glasgow are being advised to look out for deer crossing roads, as the evenings draw in.

The deer rutting season is at its peak and Scotland TranServ has identified the M77 at Pollok Estate and the M80 near Junction 2 as potential local hotspots for deer strikes.

Increasingly roe deer are becoming established within urban areas, prevailing in our large towns and cities such as Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Dumfries, Paisley, East Kilbride and Ayr.

It is understood that the reason for this is the spread of villages, towns and cities into historic and current deer range.

Drivers warned to watch out for deer on Glasgow motorways as dark nights draw in

Oh joy!

Now one need not drive out of Glasgow in order for them to make an attempt on your life, or cost you a fortune in damage.

They dug up some figures showing just how costly these ‘road morons’ are for drivers:

Figures on the number of DVCs (Deer-Vehicle-Collisions) collated from the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions project suggest 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle strikes every year.

It is estimated that in Scotland there could be as many as 9,000 collisions per year, resulting in anywhere between 50 and 100 human injuries, with the total cost of material damage and injury thought to be around £9.5million.

Here’s a thought…

Invite brave ‘world-renowned hunter’ Ms Larysa Switlyk (who calls herself a “professional huntress and angler”) to come and shoot them all. Surely she’d appreciate the challenge, or does she only shoot dangerous and ravenous (wo)man-eating Scottish goats?

I get to use my favourite phrase now 🙂

I told you so.

And, I already knew they were moving into the burbs, since I took this picture quite near Apollo Towers.

Baggyminnow Pond Deer Original

Baggyminnow Pond Deer Original

30/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

When going by bike is maybe not a good idea

I never really thought about what, or even how much, can be carried or transported by bike, especially if you have no intention of adding various racks, panniers, or baskets. Backpacks are about as far as I’m prepared to go.

Anything else is just hassle, especially if you have to park up and leave the bike anywhere. You either have to drag all the carriers/panniers/bags with you, or leave them on the bike – an easy target for even the casual thief to help themselves to.

However, there’s a far more restrictive aspect to bike transport and loading, and that’s the size and shape (not to mention weight) of anything too big to fit in a bag or backpack.

I didn’t actually notice the bike (hidden behind the load he was struggling with) when I first passed this scene as I left the supermarket recently, and it was only when I realised what the chap was doing that I had to go back for a second look to confirm what I thought I’d seen:

Impossible Bike Load

Impossible Bike Load

I wish I could have hung around for longer, to see the result, but couldn’t wait.

As it was I did wander around for about 15-20 minutes as he attempted various ways of holding the load, but it was just too big and too heavy.

I think it’s a wooden cot, having mistaken it for some sort of garden recliner (which would have been a lot lighter) when I first passed.

It can’t really be carried on either side due to its size/length, since the rider still has to be able to peddle, and that means it has to be held away from the legs/pedals – and it’s just to heavy for that to be done for more than a few minutes (by an extended arm).

I wonder how he got there?

I wonder if he rode, or just carried the thing, and wheeled the bike?

Or even sat it on the bike and wheeled the two together? That would probably have worked best (and not killed him).

Pity I couldn’t hang around longer, I really would have liked to know what happened.

30/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

St Vincent Street and Douglas Street junction is ‘Crash Central’

I’m not sure agree with the ‘league of shame’ description the writer assigned to the result of an analysis of road traffic collisions, since that seems to imply (for me at least) some sort of choice to have a collision, which is… unlikely.

Even if a bad decision led to the collision, it’s probably still an unintended result, which is why they’re referred to as ‘accidents’, and not ‘on purposes’ (unless you’re one of the sort of scum that deliberately CAUSES an accident in order to scam the insurance companies.

I’ve always wondered about this (and other) junction on the steep hill these roads are built on, and if it affected the accident rate – now I know.

I used to be in Glasgow at all hours, and one of the amusing things was to watch the area about halfway down the sections leading to St Vincent Street, where West George Lane crosses Douglas Street (this isn’t the only spot like this). The hill road changes from steep hill to less steep as it crosses the path of the lane, then gets steep again (it doesn’t look like much of a change in pics, but feels greater as you drive over it). The short section of steep hill, and junction at the end means you don’t want to let your speed build, but years ago, the er… ‘Ladies of the Night’ used to congregate at the level section of road, and tout for business as cars drove relatively slowly there.

It used to be fun watching them, as I often got pressed into service as a ‘private taxi’ for the boss and had to wait near the various hotels there, so he could take customers to dinner, and not worry about driving after drinking.

Scotland’s most dangerous traffic junction has been revealed – and it’s a busy spot in Glasgow’s city centre.

The ‘league of shame’ is based on analysis of more than 100,000 road traffic collisions in Britain in 2017 in which people were either killed or injured.

The data reveals that there was one junction in Scotland which saw five accidents resulting in casualties: the crossroad between St Vincent Street and Douglas Street.

The junction may not be the busiest in the city, making it a surprise hotspot – but the steep incline on Douglas Street and give way junction at the top of the hill cause trouble for many drivers.

The five casualty-causing collisions there in 2017 took place on February 22, February 27, April 7, May 5, and September 15. They involved a total of 10 vehicles and saw six people injured in all.

All those injuries were classified as “slight”.

Glasgow junction named the ‘most dangerous’ in Scotland for car crashes

I guess the good thing to take from this is that they probably all took place at low speed, due to the location.

I was just counting myself lucky not to have cycled down this street (it’s one way anyway, UP the hill) when I realised I had done just that recently, on the equally steep Bytheswood Street, while heading down to the River Clyde after visiting the Mackintosh Building. The one way system (and road works in Sauchiehall Street) make it hard to find a quick route if you can’t remember which street goes which way, and I’m usually walking, so the one way routing doesn’t matter.

This view looking UP Blytheswood Street from St Vincent Street might help give an idea of the steepness, if you look at the altitude change to the buildings up the hill.


29/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Early frost – Brrrrr…

A few days earlier than I’m used to, after a half-hearted attempt at frost two nights ago, we had proper frost to wake up to this morning.

This time it made it onto the roofs, grass, and paths, and even lasted for a couple hours.

No great surprise though, as the unsettled and wet weather we had recently means we have clear skies at the moment.

That means no heat retentions as there are no clouds, and although the Sun shines for a lot of the time, the heat is lost quickly, and while the frost survives, it acts much like a layer of white snow, so reflects most of the heat from the Sun.



This is the actual temperature for the past three nights.

It didn’t quite make it to freezing during the first night, then it tried, but something kicked the temperature back up for while, so it didn’t really become proper frost even though it fell below freezing for a while.

But, last night it fell, and stayed down there long enough to become the first proper frosty night of the year here.

I suspect the odd spike seen before noon is just the effect of a single very tall tree, which hides the low Sun for a while during the morning.

October Chills

October Chills

It’s remarkable how often this arrives so close to the end of October, something burned into my mind after the main fan motor on our central heating decided to give up completely on the night of October 31 some years ago. We woke up freezing as the day had been fairly nice, not even that cold. But the frost came down hard, with a vengeance, on November 1.

Somehow, I managed to find a suitable replacement the same day, and had it delivered that afternoon, and fitted by evening.

Big motor too (couldn’t lift it with one hand) for the oil-fired heating we had back then. Biggest bonus/surprise was the identical positioning of the mounting lugs, so it slotted straight into the burner body. Handy, since it stayed freezing that day, and I could hardly feel my fingers – cold motor, cold burner housing, cold air… everything damned cold!


29/10/2018 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow 1984

Couldn’t pass this item without giving it a mention.

Only spoiled by GlasgowLive ‘feature’ of sliding a window with the next video OVER the one you actually WANT to watch BEFORE it has finished playing. Somebody needs to be taken behind the toilets and given a good kicking for thinking that this is a ‘Good Thing’.

They need to add an option to disable this sort of irritating junk, not make it automatic with no choices!

Glasgow local’s ‘1984’ photo project shows how our city looked over 30 years ago

1984 has one of special ‘spots’ in my head, not simply because Orwell’s dystopian novel was stunning, but because it was one of the set texts during my school years.

As a ‘tiny’, my little brain could not comprehend how far, or near, that was in terms of years/life. Numerically it was an easy calculation, but that just didn’t seem to sink in, and I really wondered if I would live long enough to see what 1984 was really like.

Now it’s 2018!!!

In later years, I become more confident, moved into electronics and became convinced that the technology envisages was not possible, or at least not practical, using analogue video system, then moved into computing, onto the Internet, and was alarmed to see that digital system COULD (and have) place working versions of Orwell’s Telescreen in EVERY home throughout the world.


It’s a pity the pics are black and white, colour was not a novelty in 1984, but then again, the medium adds to the atmosphere.

There are some interesting views, some the same, some completely different today.

I wonder what I have from 19984?

I wasn’t long into taking pictures by them, and could just about afford cameras, film, and d&p (that developing and printing for those digital only types).

I really should go out and buy a Round Tuit, and get on the case of digitising my film pics, but there are thousands!



29/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

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