Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Free fruit for kids is news?

I’m always a little concerned when I see headlines splashed like this one…

A supermarket in Glasgow is offering free fruit to children shopping with their parents

NOT because of the offer of free fruit, but because of the line which ran below that bold headline.

Morrisons in Glasgow is hoping to improve children’s health and reduce waste.

I’m not ‘children’ (or even ‘kids’), so haven’t really paid much attention to a stall in our Shettleston Tesco, but it has offered ‘Free Fruit For Kids‘ for months.

I’m sure I’ve seen others, but again, of no use to me, so I haven’t really paid them any attention, other than to think it’s at least an effort, but do the kids want to play?

If this news had perhaps featured an article featuring how ALL (or maybe many) Glasgow supermarkets, or maybe referred to Tesco (and any other offering such free fruit), I might not have questioned it, but as it only mentions Morrisons, as if that was the only one to do so, it falls short of the standards I’d expect, and feels biased.

Maybe it should have had ‘Sponsored Article’ tacked on to the end.

Sorry, but it’s bad enough having to live with stories that are biased with political ‘spin’ in Scotland these days, without getting the same feeling when reading branded adverts, sorry, articles.

Incidentally, they tried this in Australia a while ago – and parents complained.

They said the displays were ‘unhygienic’.

Sadly, probably true. The ones in our local stores usually have fruit that the kids have taken one bite from, then thrown back into the box.

Wonder how long it will be before there is a campaign to have them outlawed here?

Can’t have the little darlings share their germs etc and develop natural immunities, they have to be kept squeaky clean to avoid that, so they can develop ‘allergies’ instead.

Tesco Free Fruit

Tesco Free Fruit

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Wait! ANOTHER project that improves cycling – that CAN’T be right (according to some)

Looks like I have ANOTHER reference to poke the damned cycling activists in the eye with.

I had no idea this was coming, and while they will NEVER be happy unless they are whining about some injustice, or failure, or some such, it does at least poke a fairly large hole in repeated claims that Glasgow, and Glasgow City Council is somehow ‘ignoring’ cyclists (and road users other than car drivers).

They’re getting boring (like a broken record), and irritating (also like a broken record).

This item has featured in the news twice in the past few days.

Work has begun on the next step of a major regeneration project in Govan.

The £750,000 public realm improvement project has been funded by the Glasgow City Region City Deal and Govan Cross Townscape Heritage Initiative.

It is part of a wider project to transform Govan which has seen Glasgow City Council invest £90 million in the area since 2006.

“This public realm investment does a number of things; it protects the heritage of a historic area, improves the very fabric of the heart of Govan and puts in place the building blocks so it is ready to thrive from plans to make Govan a more desirable location for innovate and creative businesses and workers, not least the new bridge to Partick.

“In short, it makes Govan a more attractive place for its residents and those doing business there.”

The work is due to finish in May 2019.

Work begins on major regeneration project in Govan

WORK has started on £750,000 of public realm improvements in Central Govan.

Enhancements are being made in the area of the Govan Old church and adjacent to the Pearce Institute and Govan War Memorial, as well as on Pearce Lane, Burleigh Street and Langlands Road connecting to Langlands Path.

The project ties in with the forthcoming Govan to Partick pedestrian and cycle bridge, and will be a key link in the proposed active travel network running between Byres Road and the University of Glasgow over to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A segregated bike lane will be installed to allow cyclists to travel to, from and through Govan more easily, linking the landing point of the Govan to Partick bridge at Water Row with the Langlands Path cycle route leading to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

PUBLIC Realm Project Underway In Govan

I haven’t looked in detail at the route described, although from past studied I did on old building in the area, and the fact that I can already get almost from my front door to Glasgow University almost exclusively on cycle paths and cycle routes, I know this means I will be able to cycle to Govan on such routes next year.

Next year… that’s only 2019!

And that’s kind of nice, since I haven’t been there for years.

A computer-generated image of some of the changes in Govan

A computer-generated image of some of the changes in Govan

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

I wish I was closer to Buckhaven – Fried Christmas Dinner looks great

I used to drive through Buckhaven quite often when working up north.

Sadly, no longer, especially as the Fried Christmas Dinner on offer there (for £8) looks pretty good.

The monster crunchy box includes roast potatoes, pigs-in-blankets, carrots, and sprouts – all battered and dipped in hot oil.

The festive feast will be on sale at April’s Plaice, Buckhaven, Fife, until Christmas Eve, costing £8.

Dad-of-one James, originally from Blackpool, Lancs, is offering diners two options for the deep-fried poultry – either chicken, or turkey.

James said: “The Scots will batter anything.

Scottish chippy selling deep-fried Christmas dinner with all the trimmings

Fry-ups from good chippies are NOT greasy, that only happens if the fat is not hot enough, or old.

Not included in the Christmas dinner box deep fry are the mince pie and a portion of gravy.

I can imagine the mince pie self-destructing in the heat, so that’s no great surprise, and I’d be more than a little impressed by ANYBODY who could deep fry gravy!

Christmas Fry Pic Credit SWNS Via The Scotsman

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Inchgreen Dry Dock in the news (with Updates)

Funny how there is nothing about historic goodies in the news, then they’re like buses – a little line of them appears all at once.

I think the massive Inchgreen Dry Dock has been in the news a few times in recent years, usually the same sort of story, with someone trying to win points by whining about it not being in use, how that’s ‘Terrible’, that the owners should be lined up against a wall and shot for mismanaging it, and that something called ‘The Government’ has betrayed everyone by not keeping it filled with work.

Last mention was as recent as September Yet another ‘derelict’ initiative

I never know how to take these stories and claims, since ‘They’ whine about filthy, money-grabbing owners who will do anything to turn a profit, yet ‘They’ also complain about filthy, money grabbing owners who just sit on assets in order to make money from them as they appreciate and rise in value.

But I think ‘They’ selectively forget the cost of ownership of such assets if lying idle and unused, or that they may never appreciate and grow in value – something that only happens if a buyer can be found who will pay a fortune for it.

Shipbuilding in this country costs an absolute fortune with our high wages compared to the Far East (plus our various minimum wage demands), so nobody will be running here for builds any day soon.

Even our working yard on the Clyde doesn’t really work, as I recall seeing news of the yard holding its hand out for more money to pay for escalating costs on its most recent ferry project. But that’s not entirely the yard’s fault, as I also recall it is not only building those ferries, but also developing new technology around the power sources used, so it’s not just a build, but active R&D as well, and that really needs a ‘blank cheque’, or access to funding.

So…

In short, if there was any (profitable) work for the old  Inchgreen Dry Dock, I tend to think the owners would not really need to be ‘forced’ to take it.

Inverclyde Council is set to increase the pressure on the owners of a huge dry dock in Greenock.

Councillors want the owners to either bring the Inchgreen Dry Dock back into use or make it available as an asset for the nation.

Peel Ports insist they want to secure an industrial future for the dock and work was being tendered for.

The owners said they were bidding to win refit work on the Royal Navy’s new QE2-class aircraft carriers.

If successful, the tender could create hundreds of shipyard jobs locally but campaigners and councillors are running out of patience.

The Inchgreen dock, one of the largest in the UK, is where the QE2 was fitted out in the 1960s after its launch from the John Brown shipyard.

But it has been largely unused for 16 years and its cranes were demolished last year.

Call for huge Inchgreen dry dock to be ‘saved for the nation’

It’s interesting to see the place be compared to Prestwick Airport.

And even more interesting to note that when we see that in the news, it’s because it’s not making a profit, or paying for itself.

Inverclyde’s deputy leader Councillor Jim Clocherty said the dock area was of importance to the whole of Scotland.

“We should not leave it up to one firm to decide what can and can’t go into it,” the Labour councillor said.

“What we are actually looking for is the Scottish government to say ‘it is of such importance we will take it into public ownership’.”

He admitted that he was calling for a form of nationalisation, citing the example of Prestwick Airport, which was bought for £1 by the Scottish government five years ago amid fears it could close.

“We are seeing an asset for Scotland really going to waste,” Mr Clocherty said of the dry dock.

I wonder if he’s ever been told assets MAKE money, as opposed to eating it?

I’m always intrigued when I see people who have absolutely no possibility of ever actually being responsible for something come forward and say something along the lines of ‘THIS is how to deal with this issue’. They never have to put their money where their mouth is (they don’t have the money anyway), and will never have to take the risk of standing behind their advice, and falling with it, but expect others to do so.

The article on the dock concludes with.

Responding to the council motion, Peel Ports insisted they shared Inverclyde’s ambitions of restoring Inchgreen as a major, viable centre for ship repair, creating jobs and economic prosperity.

They said they had kept the council updated on the current MoD carrier repair procurement process and, once complete, they would have a far greater degree of clarity how to bring Inchgreen back into productive use.

I wish I could include a conclusion to this but, one way or another, whatever that may be would still seem to be some years away, so just need to keep watching for articles and updates to appear.

It’s a shame those involved with such things seems to be adversaries, rather than members of the same team.

Captured one night back in 2008.

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock

Update

I referred to problems with escalating costs on a build in our working Clyde shipyard and, as if by magic, a story referring to the very issue was published.

A contract to build two ferries has become an albatross around a shipbuilder’s neck, owner Jim McColl said.

Construction of the CalMac vessels at Shipbuilder Ferguson Marine’s base in Port Glasgow has been hit with spiralling costs and lengthy delays.

Mr McColl estimates the final bill could now be as much as £50m over the agreed budget.

The Glen Sannox is expected to be delivered in the middle of next year, more than 12 months behind schedule.

It is the first of two vessels being built as part of a £97m contract from Caledonian Marine Asset Limited (CMAL), a company owned by the Scottish Government that buys and leases ships to CalMac.

Speaking to STV News, Mr McColl said: “This is a real albatross around our neck.

“If we could just wave a magic wand and get rid of those two vessels that would be a godsend to us because they’ve just been a headache from day one.

There’s a lengthy article following the above opening quote, and as the matter is clearly in dispute between both parties, I suggest reading their statements, as I certainly don’t consider myself privy to enough factual data to make any sort of comment, other than to note there is clearly something wrong somewhere.

Read more here.

Ferry contract ‘albatross round shipbuilder’s neck’

We’ll clearly have to wait some time to see any resolution or independent review.

Similar disputes with power stations have taken years to resolve, before courts or legal processes have concluded.

Update 2

Somebody must  be watching me!

The day after I added the update about the unfortunate direction the ferry contract was taking at our surviving yard on the Clyde, the media carried the following stories about Ferguson’s.

Shipyard to launch claim against ferry firm amid design row

Ferguson Marine to lodge claim in Arran ferry design row

Sadly, this was telegraphed months ago, when it was clear that the two parties were not seeing eye to eye, and things (to an outside observer) were deteriorating, rather than being progressed towards some sort of amicable conclusion.

It seems that whether its the 20th century, or the 21st, Clyde shipbuilding is going to be beset with one problem or another, be it strikes or disputes.

This post began with consideration of attraction work to Inchgreen Dry Dock.

Given how overseas shipyards seem to be able to get on with the business of building ships, while Clyde shipyards seem doomed to be sources of some discontent or another…

Much as I’d like to be posting about growing local success (and Ferguson’s was actually doing quite well, with both work and innovation), I don’t think many looking for a shipyards are going to be looking towards the Clyde, and even the giant Inchgreen, as their first choice.

I think they should try REALLY REALLY HARD to win maintenance work within the UK, or start to think about filling it in and building ‘luxury flats’ on the reclaimed land.

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Naval, Transport | | Leave a comment

Yet another Clutha media story

Is it just me, or are most recent article about the Clutha incident generally negative?

Last time (I’m not counting positive stories regarding rescue/survivors) it was the Clutha’s owner taking Bristow to court.

This time, it’s complaints about the outcome of the FAI (Fatal Accident Inquiry), not even known at this stage, and the time it has taken to be conducted.

I haven’t noticed this sort of ‘hurry’ wanted in past serious incidents, but now note it has also been forwarded regarding investigation/report into the fire at the Mackintosh Building.

In both cases, it seems that there is a suggestion that the delay means the result will somehow not be valid.

Yet, I wonder if the same people would be jumping up and down if these inquiries and reports had been carried out and completed much sooner, and complaining that they had been carried out with ‘undue haste’, before proper investigation, gathering of evidence, and evaluation, followed by demands that another be held, this time with the required time being spent.

One way or another, it seems someone is always unhappy.

Compare with many news stories that report errors or mistakes in procedures.

No longer do such articles begin with something like ‘Call for procedure to be reviewed’, or even ‘Introduced’ if there are none.

Now, almost every such story begins with the heading “Family angered by…”, or “Anger at…”.

Does every story have to begin with what amounts to little more than ‘Clickbait’, or something to draw readers in?

Just an observation.

But have a look – you may find I am right.

Father of Clutha victim does not expect justice from FAI

The Clutha

The Clutha

05/12/2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

New documentary promises to celebrate and explain Glasgow’s stunning cityscape and architecture

I didn’t get a chance to mention this sooner, but if it meets the hype, it’s one to watch for.

The trailer looks good, and the narrator sounds good.

I just hope it makes it onto the small screen, and doesn’t spend its life elsewhere.

Symphony in Stone: a 60 minute documentary which celebrates and explains Glasgow’s stunning cityscape and architecture.

ASIS Trailer from Tony Burton on Vimeo.

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s opinion of ‘Designer Bags’

Nice one spotted in Queen Street, outside a fashionable shop.

That’ll be the Weegie Effect then!

Designer Bag Dump

Designer Bag Dump

But seriously folks

I found it amusing (or should that have been sad, or maybe even irresponsible) that this article…

Christmas shoppers urged to be vigilant about counterfeit goods

Concentrated on…

Experts warn they could be funding human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism.

Yet showed a pic of a Chinese made USB adapter which, depending on its internal design, could at best give you a shock, and at worst – KILL YOU!

(I should add that ‘Made in China’ is NOT an issue in itself – the problem is if it’s made FOR China, rather than a country with competent electrical safety standards.)

But there was no mention of the pictured item in the story, or even a reason for having that picture at the head of the article.

In reality, I’m only aware of one reported fatality (back in 2014, and from Australia), where the story behind it gave no real details.

Dodgy USB chargers could kill you

Like many who are aware of the safety features built into genuine UK chargers, I/we know the non-compliant versions lack these features.

I found this handy list, which has a nice summary of the problems in reasonably plain English…

Common features of cheap USB chargers and cables

Apart from being generic, made in China, and costing only a few dollars, cheap USB chargers and cables often share the following features:

  1. They are rated incorrectly and don’t have sufficient overload protection. For example, they may claim to offer 10 watts, but can only safely output 5 watts. This means slower charging, and the chance of overheating if the device overloads the charger.

  2. They skimp on the separation between high and low voltage components.The specification of electronic components is an essential aspect of design safety, so if they’re not specified it can have potentially dangerous consequences.

  3. There can be less than 1 mm separating the voltage input from the output.This is only a fraction of the recommended safe distance of 3-4 mm. This could potentially cause a lethal electric shock hazard.

  4. They have huge spikes, and voltage levels vary wildly with peaks over 6 volts and troughs under 4 volts. High input voltage spikes can damage the sensitive internal electronic components of a device.

  5. Their high noise output makes it difficult to use the touchscreen while charging your device. In other words, the noise from a cheap charger disrupts the sensitive electronics that measure your finger’s position on the screen.

Cheap USB Chargers and Cables Can Be Dangerous and Cause Injury

One of the problems in identifying such chargers is that they can be made and sold in countries where they simply don’t have the regulations we have, and the risks are not considered.

But a counterfeiter doesn’t care about you, so will buy a load of them (dead cheap), mark the cases to make them look as they are UK compliant.

I’m guessing many are caught by our import control, but that’s not 100% perfect.

It’s complex too, as it could be OK to use one of these chargers to power something that cannot be touched, yet using the same charger in an application where someone could touch a connector would not really be a good idea.

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Erskine Bridge gains Category A listed status

Nice to see the Erskine Bridge recognised as being of special architectural interest.

Officially opened in 1972, the bridge is one of Scotland’s most architecturally and technically designed bridges of the post-war period, and is described as having the longest cable-stayed span of its type in the world.

Although it is one of only three bridges in Scotland which has a main span of more than 300 metres, my recollection of crossing it remains with its height – while it is  33 metres wide, the road is 125 feet (ca. 38 metres) above the River Clyde. It feels like more.

Those figures came from the bridge’s own web site, but feel wrong. The height looks like a LOT more than the width.

This is lifted from Wikipedia (I can’t check, but it seems to match my eyeball better than the figures given above):

Total length 1,321.87 m (4,336.8 ft)
Width 31.25 m (102.5 ft)
Height 45 m (148 ft)
Longest span 305 m (1,001 ft)
No. of spans 15
Load limit 500 Tonnes
Design life 120 Years

It has a 305 m (1,001 ft) main span and two 110 m (360 ft) approach spans. The width of the road deck is 31.25 m (102.5 ft). Pylon height is 38 m (125 ft) high. The total length of the bridge including approaches is 1,321.87 m (4,336.8 ft). The clearance of the bridge is 45 m (148 ft). The weight of the steel is 11,700 tonnes. 1250 miles of galvanised wire with a breaking load of 500 tonnes were used during construction. The bridge has 15 spans in total and rests on 14 diamond shaped piers which have been designed to allow air to circulate freely around them.

That’s still not been high enough for some ships. In 04 August 1996, it was damaged when the Texaco Captain platform hit the bridge as it was being towed under it. The result was some £3.6 million in damage, and a loss of some £700,000 in revenue from bridge tolls, still in force then, and in place until 2006.

It’s a while since I’ve been there (I used to use the coast road and usually evade the toll, to get to the same places in the end), and this view from the beach makes it a little surprising to think that it was STILL low enough for that platform to hit.

Erskine Bridge

Erskine Bridge

Funny thing, apart from never having thought to take a pic when I could, the only time I ever saw the bridge from this angle was when I got lost!

It wasn’t long after I started driving, and was supposedly going home (to the east end of Glasgow) from work, in the city centre.

Clearly, I was yet to develop the ‘sense of direction’ needed in the days before GPS.

I had no idea I where I was going until I saw this – and the very, very, wide River Clyde which came into view about the same time.

Shame I can navigate on just about any road in Scotland using just my ‘nose’, but have been priced off the road 😦

05/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

   

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