Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Can we have a ‘Good News’ story about Scottish wildcats please?

I started following the various stories about Scottish wildcats some years ago, almost by chance, simply because I’d come across one or two in captivity, and because they were cats of course, without really realising what the position was with their future then.

Over the years, it’s been depressing to watch the numbers estimated for true Scottish wildcats fall, as steadily more accurate means are employed to find those numbers.

This latest story makes even those estimates seem hugely optimistic.

A major study has concluded that Scottish wildcats are now part of the same gene pool as domestic cats.

The author of the research said it suggested wildcats were extinct, or on the brink of extinction, in the wild.

The researchers, from the Wildgenes Lab at Edinburgh Zoo, studied the DNA of almost 300 cats, most of which had been identified as wildcats.

They found all those living in the wild were part of the same hybrid gene pool as domestic animals.

The lead author of the study, Dr Helen Senn, said the vast majority of cats in the wild were “hybrids” and, from a “functional perspective”, Scottish wildcats were on the brink of extinction.

The key to future conservation efforts appears to lie in the almost 100 wildcats in captivity across the UK, which have a stronger genetic inheritance.

The fundamental problem is simple.

Scottish wildcats just love making kittens and they’re not too choosy who they make them with.

The same is true for domestic cats, feral or otherwise.

That interbreeding has long been recognised as a major threat to the survival of the “Highland Tiger”.

Now we know just how bad things are.

Scotland’s wildcats ‘functionally extinct’ in the wild

In earlier posts I made on this subject, I expressed concern that not all parties involved in saving the species were ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’, with at least one group opposed to having wildcats in captivity.

This seemed wrong to me, with so few examples apparent.

Now, it seems those captive examples could be crucial.

Among the SWA’s (Scottish Wildcat Action) current initiatives to combat the spread of genes from domestic cats in wildcat areas is TNVR, which stands for “trap, neuter, vaccinate, release”.

They also surveyed the wildcat population using camera traps and other techniques, and the emphasis is shifting towards capturing live specimens with the best quality DNA.

The key to the future seems to lie in the almost 100 wildcats living in public and private sanctuaries across the UK.

The testing has shown these captive cats have a stronger genetic inheritance and it is hoped their DNA could be reintroduced to the wild.

As I said in those earlier posts, this is not a scenario where infighting or the like can have any benefits.

I suggested someone should maybe be “Banging heads together” to end such stupidity.

I haven’t seen any news of those disagreements, and hope they are a thing of the past, or that they maybe just get rid of anyone who isn’t actually helping.

If they waste their time on needless bickering, THIS may the only wild cats kittens we have one day.

Scottish Wild Kittens Shortbread

Scottish Wild Kittens Shortbread

20/12/2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Ferry storm is brewing

While it was obvious, and I claim no cleverness over predicting that Ferguson Marine and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) would end up having a slight dispute over the dual-fuel ferry contract, is something sad to see.

Instead of potentially having a product that might have been an asset as a sales offering, and maybe even being able to suggest Scotland had something to point at and say ‘Come to our shipyard and buy a ship’, all we have is the usual sad tale of Clyde shipyards, delays, and disputes.

All it needs is for the workers to come out on strike for more money, and the set is probably complete!

The shipbuilder with the contract to build two delayed CalMac new ferries has said it will lose £39.5m on the deal.

The latest accounts for Ferguson Marine show the Inverclyde yard made a loss of £60.1m in 2016.

Ferguson Marine claims “interference and disruption” from the Scottish government’s ferry company is to blame for the losses.

The firm also wants to renegotiate the terms of its £45m government loan.

Owner Jim McColl – who rescued the yard from administration in 2014 – put £8.5m into Ferguson Marine from one of his other companies, according to the accounts.

The two dual-fuel ships – which can be powered by liquefied natural gas as well as diesel – will operate on CalMac’s Clyde and Hebridean routes.

They have been ordered by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which buys and leases the CalMac ships on behalf of the Scottish government.

‘Interference and disruption’

In its accounts, which were filed over a year late, Ferguson Marine stated: “The directors believe that post contract award, variations, interference, and disruption caused by the customer have resulted in additional unforeseen costs.”

But CMAL rejects this and has previously insisted Ferguson Marine has to stick to the terms of its £97m fixed-price contract.

The row is set to go to the courts.

Ferguson Marine says it will lose £40m on new CalMac ferries

I can’t watch.

But, I started following this years ago, so I suppose I’m stuck.

I found this video of MV Saturn from 2011, when it was still sailing (although I’d used it regularly, I was out of the loop by then).

I think the last sentence in the description of the video is just about sums things up today…

Calmac car ferry sailing into Gourock. Video shot in November 2010. This was a familiar scene for many years. All we have now are memories and video clips.

Still, we can enjoy the clip, and seeing one of the streakers in action.

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The ageing Winter Gardens of Glasgow’s People’s Palace

To be fair, this post could probably be made about ANY of the winter gardens or glasshouses we have in Scotland today, as they all date from the same era, and are made of the same materials, and are subject to the same lovely weather we enjoy here.

There may be differences in the composition of the cast iron made at individual foundries that made their metalwork, but I missed out on chemistry, so I don’t know if some types/compositions are more resistant to corrosion than others, in a similar way to steel and stainless steel.

However, I am familiar with way our seasonal variations can destroy building materials.

During warm and wet periods, surfaces and surface finishes can expand and crack, allowing moisture to penetrate. Once inside, the moisture does not just ‘go away’, and can become trapped.

Our winters can bring repeated periods of freezing and thawing, when water’s wonderful property of EXPANDING when it freezes (most stuff contracts when it gets colder) means that anything it trapped inside will blow out, or burst, leading to larger gaps and cracks where MORE water can seep in, causing yet more damage when the freeze/thaw process repeats again and again, year after year.

If you think this is trivial…

How much force is ice capable of exerting? In 1784 and 1785, a Major Edward Williams took advantage of weather in Quebec and repeatedly tried (and failed) to find a method of containing ice. At first he tried to seal water inside artillery shells, but cast iron plugs were launched  475 feet at 20 feet per second when the pressure become too great. Williams tried anchoring the plugs in place using hooks, so the shells just split.

In another experiment, an attempt was made to fill cannons made of one inch thick cast iron with water. They just split when frozen. Academics in Florence later tried to fill a ball made of one inch thick brass with water. That also cracked when it was frozen. They later worked out that the force of around 27,720 pounds was needed to do this.

Some of our buildings don’t have a chance against that, depending on what they were made of.

I took some pics of the exterior, where I could see weathering, bearing in mind we are looking at a structure which is over 100 years old.

I haven’t seen any follow-up from a statement made following the publicity given to the structural problems here, where it was announced that ALL glasshouses across Scotland would be inspected.

The statement made sense, as I noted earlier, they’re all of a similar age, and subject to our lovely weather.

Maybe the others are scared after seeing the potential bill for the People’s Palace Winter Gardens remediation – and are going to keep quiet about their findings, until they also hit the point at which closure on grounds of safety/liability is their only option.

Winter Gardens Original Doors

Winter Gardens Original Doors

Not sure if these doors are absolutely original, from the day the place was built, but these west end doors are older than the side doors. Those were replaced some years ago (might have been the 1990 work), when modern powered doors and ramps were installed to provide disabled access to the building.

Winter Gardens Roof Exterior

Winter Gardens Roof Exterior

Fairly standard, and you can see how the curved glass panes have clips supporting one another.

This view caught my eye for the odd skid mark in the middle.

Winter Gardens Exterior Weathering

Winter Gardens Exterior Weathering


Winter Gardens Exterior Weathering

Winter Gardens Exterior Weathering

While the Glasgow Green situation is the one closest to me…

I’m more than aware of other glasshouses that have closed and never opened again, or been able to muster enough support from the local population to be ‘saved’.

Some are ‘saved’, only to fall into ruin when the money runs out a few years later.

(Name drops for Springburn, Tollcross, and Belle Isle for example – look them up if you don’t know them.)


Despite the hue and cry from a few, Glasgow City Council has acted correctly and responsibly.

Am I the only one who is now just a little bit concerned about some of those that are apparently fine?

Are they really?

Or is it a case of ‘If we don’t look, nobody can say we knew there was anything wrong‘?

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

One Smart Lady

She didn’t really have to pretend.

The Orange Moron barely manages English anyway.

One Smart Lady

One Smart Lady

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

After the cat met the Christmas tree (Updated)

So, the Christmas tree went to assertiveness classes.

Christmas Tree Warning

Christmas Tree Warning


Really Grumpy Cat

Really Grumpy Cat




Christmas Tree Challenge Accepted

Christmas Tree Challenge Accepted

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas presents at the end of the street

One of the strange things that always amuses me is how the media portrays the east end of Glasgow as a poverty-stricken ghetto of deprived people with no money, poor health, living with squalor, and early death (at least according to the statistics and records).

Yet, despite living in the middle of that, I can wander along the street and take pics of Bentleys, Porsches, Ferraris, Mercedes, even Lamborghinis if I’m quick, and there have been burglaries where £10,000 or more has been stolen in the form of jewellery. I didn’t forget Rolls Royce, I just didn’t mention them – I have to go a few miles east, to a nearby village to catch them, they don’t seem to be popular here.

And there’s our friendly second-hand car dealer, at the end of the road, where most of the offerings are around £40,000 (and upwards).

They used to be nice too, but now they are mostly hulking great brutes of SUVs, and I generally avoid passing the place now.

But there was at least one nice pre-Christmas offering.

Christmas Car Dealer

Christmas Car Dealer

20/12/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | | Leave a comment

Classic car radar – still working

I’ve been neglecting various car pics I’ve collected recently, and might mention why in a later post if I get around to having a clear out.

But this one was different, and confirms my ‘Classic Car Radar’ (sixth sense, or ‘nose’) is still working, even if my classification as ‘Peasant’ means I can no longer be involved.

I got the urge to stop and have a look around while walking along a road, and when there was nothing to be seen in driveways, had a look for side streets – and found an access lane running behind a row of sandstone villas, with this in the distance, at the end of the lane.

Classic 1969 Porsche 911 [EGC 445H]

Classic 1969 Porsche 911 [EGC 445H]

A little closer.

2.2 litres of rear-engine fun, from the days before clever rear suspension.

Classic 1969 Porsche 911 [EGC 445H]

Classic 1969 Porsche 911 [EGC 445H]

20/12/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | | Leave a comment

The usual weird public response to a potential mass killer

I used to follow a web site that provided almost daily pics of shocking car crashes from places such as China and Asia.

Mostly featuring drivers of cars listed at anything from £250 k to £2 million, the incidents were notable as most were down to sheer carelessness, and the surprising result that even when the cars were wrecked (as in write-offs) most walked away, or drove away after getting a friend to bring their ‘other car’ so they could carry on driving. Authorities also seemed to show little interest in many cases.

Things are different here.

Looking at our news, even for the past week or so, shows a number of serious injuries from crashes and collisions on Scottish roads, with few people walking away from incidents.

The following story caught my eye for various reasons, but the most outstanding one how people were willing to throw money at the driver concerned, as if he was some sort of unfortunate victim, and bale him out of a large bill for the damage he did.

Damage he did when he fell asleep at the wheel of his own car, and ploughed into three expensive Ferraris.

A young Taiwanese man who dozed off in his car and crashed into three Ferraris got the shock of his life when he was told it would cost 12 million Taiwan dollars ($390,000; £310,000) to pay for the repairs.

But a public outpouring of support and donations to help him pay what at first seemed an insurmountable sum has stunned the 20 year old.

It was around 05:40 in the morning when, exhausted from working all night, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the Ferraris.

They were among four luxury cars that belonged to a group of friends who were meeting up before a scenic drive. The owners were standing near the vehicles and no-one was injured.

The public have even asked the owners of the damaged car to be ‘Nice’ to him!

Since the story hit the news, some Taiwanese social media users have called on the Ferrari owners to forgive Mr Lin and not demand money from him, given his circumstances.

One owner, however, has publicly said that he worked hard to be able to buy the car and would like to be compensated for the damage.

Mr Lin says the Ferrari owners have been kind and have not insisted he pay the bill all at once. They have instead suggested he could start eventually paying in instalments while they consult their insurance companies on how much the policies will cover.

Sympathy for overworked Taiwan man who ploughed into Ferraris


Everyone has lost their senses and perspective.

HE chose to get in a car and drive while exhausted.

That’s not much different from getting into a car and driving while drunk, or doped up on drugs.

Would there be sympathy for him if he’d done either of those?

Nobody seems to have considered how lucky he was just to have piled into four Ferraris (and missed their owners and passengers).

Suppose he’d fallen asleep and mounted the pavement, and wiped a street load of people walking there?

Or ploughed through a junction while the lights were at red?

Or through a pedestrian crossing?

He’s lucky not to be in jail for manslaughter, or some other driving charge.

Instead, this is what he’s worried about.

With a monthly salary of 35,000 Taiwan dollars ($1,136), it would take Mr Lin 28 years to pay the full cost of the repairs. His family’s vehicle insurance policy only covers injuries not damages.

And that will probably be forgotten about after a while, since he’s not worth anything.

They don’t all walk away.

This Mercedes seen in a Taiwan street had been speeding, bounced off a rubbish lorry, then a pole – killing a woman in the street at some point in its trip.

Like I said – ‘sleepy driver’ was lucky, and people in the street were even luckier that night.

Taiwan Mercedes

Taiwan Mercedes

20/12/2018 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Buchanan Street Bus Station set to get better

While I once spent what felt like a major portion of my early life using the original Buchanan Street Bus Station, and was sad to see it go, not so much for the structure itself, but for the extensive changes that meant for the area as a whole, I’ve barely seen the ‘new’ bus station that replaced it.

A few visits when it opened, then I lost any need to use it at all, so only ever saw it during chance visits nearby.

That said, I have had to drop in a few times recently, when I spotted a statue there.

Meet the “Winchers Stance”, created in 1994 for Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive.

Buchanan Bus Station People

Buchanan Bus Station People

That was interesting, but as someone who once had architectural leanings, I’ve never really been inspired by the interior, or concourse.

It just feels completely bland, with no feel for its purpose, or design elements that inspire the visitor, or guide them through their visit. It’s almost like a shed, a nice clean shed, but one with no real clues as to its purpose.

I think part of the problem is the way all the facilities are out of immediate sight, hidden away in recesses off the main concourse. Nothing is obvious. You have to actively go and look for any facility or services you want to use there, and the signage is pretty small.

THE main concourse at Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow is to be given a makeover as part of a £580,000 refurbishment contract.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has approved the project which includes de-cluttering the area to improve passenger flow and the look and feel of the bus station.

As well as removing artificial trees and re-locating seating within the concourse, left luggage and the security scanner will be moved elsewhere. New public toilets are also planned.

Bus staff and operator facilities will also be improved behind the scenes and there will be more space for retail facilities.

Enhancements in the next phase are set to include improvements to customer information and to the fabric of the building.

BUS Station Concourse Improvements Will Be Just The Ticket

Sounds about right, fingers crossed.

At least I’ve been there just before these changes, so I’ll be able to tell things are better afterwards.

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Why let facts get in the way of a good People’s Palace scare?

Ever since news of problems with the Winter Gardens attached to the People’s Palace broke, and a certain local news site jumped with the story that the BOTH the Winter Gardens AND the People’s Palace would close indefinitely, it has continued to write stories using ‘Weasel Words’ to suggest the People’s Palace will join the Winter Gardens indefinite closure pending structural repairs (which need around £7 million), while noting in ‘small print’ that the People’s Palace closure will only be temporary, to allow the fire escapes to be altered. This change is needed since the present fire escapes depend on access through the Winter Gardens, so if that closes, then the People’s Palace would be obliged to close too.

However, although the ‘knee-jerk’ double closure story was headlined, and led to a silly petition being raised, when the final story was released by Glasgow City Council, the reality was that while BOTH would close at the end of 2018, the People’s Palace would only close until Easter, to allow modification to the fire escape, to allow the museum to remain open to visitors while access to the Winter Gardens was restricted.

I wonder if the writer is even aware of what they are doing?

It’s easy to do, and not fully realise the bias is there, simply through the choice of words, and positioning of material.

But I’m not supposed to be neutral.

Those in the public eye should be.

Worst – headline – ever.

Glasgow says goodbye to People’s Palace as fence marks closure for repairs

We’re NOT saying goodbye to the People’s Palace.

And, it’s NOT closing for repairs either.

It’s being closed temporarily for modification to the fire escapes, and some other access features. So, to steal someone else’s clever word play, ‘This is only au revoir, not goodbye’.

And it’s the Winter Gardens that are being closed, and not for repairs, as the £7 million has not been found yet.

Inaccuracy and bias in the media.

NEVER a good thing.

One might be tempted to suggest partaking of a little ‘Glasgow City Council Bashing’.

But nobody does that today.

Do they?

Do people even deserve to get into the Winter Gardens?

Maybe they shouldn’t bother fixing the place, and just leave it closed.

Shocking suggestion!

But I have a reason for making it.

A while ago, I posted after seeing signs added to the plants asking visitors not to remove fruit (lemons).

Peoples Palace Lemons

Peoples Palace Lemons

I recently did a pre-closure shoot in the Winter Gardens, and there was a NEW plea dotted around the displays…

Click for bigger if you can’t read it.

Winter Garden Rock Sign

Winter Garden Rock Sign

Still, at least the sign is just asking them to keep off the rocks, rather than not to steal them, and use them as ‘half bricks’ to beat their mates about the head with, after the Buckfast kicks in.

20/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment


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