Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Hogmanay traditions. Lost?

I came across a list of Hogmanay traditions as practised in Scotland, not much use to some as unsocial as me, but the notable factor was that they were given in a nostalgic list of things supposedly done “Your Granny’s Day”.

I never thought of that – just that everybody I used to do these things with was long gone.

So, in no particular order…


That chilly walk to be first across the door at someone’s house.

Being sneaked a wee drink

A bit of an anti-climax thank to a slightly Continental home, but it was still nice to get this treat.

Non-alcoholic gifts

Traditionally something like a lump of coal, or a bit of bun.

Obsessive house cleaning

It was considered bad luck to start the new year with a dirty or messy house.

Hogmanay dinner

I did like starting the year with a big meal.

George Square celebration

Apparently this ended in 2011 – but since I was too busy first-footing while this was going on, I only ever saw the aftermath.

All the shops closed

This is one I miss, since I used to have a little cache of shops that didn’t close (you probably know the ones I mean, but I can’t refer to them now cos the name everybody used, including them, is now ‘racist’), and could impress others by nipping out and buying something like a bottle of milk on 01 January.

I’d add one more…

People not going out on 01 January

One thing I missed come the millennium was the quiet drive I used to enjoy at the start of the year.

Most of the world stayed in its bed, recovering from the New Year celebrations.

You could go for a drive, maybe anything from 50 to 100 miles north of Glasgow and barely see another soul (driving through the largely deserted city was almost spooky).

The last time I tried this it was horrible.

Previously, I’d maybe land somewhere like the car park on the Rest and Be Thankful and the biggest problem might be the snow.

The last time I made that trip on 01 January I couldn’t even have got into the car park, had I wanted to stop there.

I didn’t!

It was packed from end to end, and full of catering vans selling food to the crowd.

Seriously? Fish and chips from a van on the Rest and Be Thankful on New Year’s day.


I was done, and so were my nice New Year’s Day drives.

I’ve probably got better pics, taken on the day, and probably with snow, but they’re locked away on film.

But this one from 1984 was taken in the days, when the place would have been deserted come New Year.

Have a good one, and enjoy 2019.

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , | Leave a comment

My 2018 nemesis – ‘Dog and Cone’

I didn’t realise a ‘simple’ pic was going to become something of a marathon.

I spotted this ‘Dog and Cone’ by chance, while collecting a Glasgow mural I’d missed (didn’t even notice it for ages).

I managed a closer pic at the start of the month with the compact, but I thought I could do better.

I was wrong. Between not having the long lens with me, arriving so late that it’s dark, and today’s gem, no doubt arranged by the damned dog – a puncture en route, which cost me well over an hour.

So, once again, arrived in the DARK.

Despite the apparent brightness of this pic, it was actually dark, not good for a long-lens pic, and even with vibration reduction, every shot was ruined by camera shake.

Sunset was at 15:52 today, the pic was timed at 15:57, and taken in a narrow street (two car lanes and only one side with footpath) where the buildings are at least 4-storeys high, and more, so not a lot of light gets past them even when the Sun’s up..

I was almost tempted to let the ISO setting run up another two stops, but decided against fiddling with things since I will be back for another try, in daylight.

Meantime, I include this merely as a reminder (to me) that even a simple trip out for ‘quick pic’ can still be ‘torpedoed’!

Don’t move dog… I’m coming for you…SOON!

Dog And Cone

Dog And Cone

I still can’t really believe the previous pic (with the compact) is so much better than the dSLR under the conditions.

Usually, in the dark, at high ISO, and long lens settings, it’s easy for the bigger camera to knock the compact out of contention.

I was even thinking I might have set something wrongly, but everything seems to check out OK.

The daylight pic had better be a LOT better.

I dug out the compact’s effort, just to be sure I wasn’t imagining things.

Window-ledge Dog And Cone

Window-ledge Dog And Cone

31/12/2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Last Purrple Cat Cafe flypast of 2018

Depending where I am, I kind of try to fly past the Purrple Cat Cafe, in case there’s something interesting to be seen.

As it’s been a while since this was possible, I made the effort and detoured tonight.

Although I couldn’t manage even a bad pic, I did learn that the cafe has an elevated walkway for the resident cats (they were wandering along it), mounted just below the fairly high ceiling of the former bank premised. Nice.

I think I saw more cats than ever, as they were gathering on a set of shelves sitting in the middle of floor, at every level.

This one was on the top with two others, which disappeared as soon as turned the camera on, and the one that was left, of course, sat down,

I thought I’d managed to catch the pic but, sadly, when inspected later was found to have locked focus on a reflection in the window, from across the road. Oh well.

Purrple Cat Cafe Hogmanay

Purrple Cat Cafe Hogmanay

I hadn’t realised there was one sleeping in the window right in front of me!

The puddle of fur sprouted ears when it moved.

There was a little black one with orange/yellow eye trying to rouse it, but it wasn’t interested.

Unfortunately, the combination of black together with the purple LEDs just screws with everything the camera tries to ‘fix’, from white balance to autofocus, (they must have a lot of UV or near UV light in them). To the eye, the colour is nowhere near as purple or vivid as the pic). You can’t alter the colour or rebalance it because the purple is very monochromatic, so there is nothing else to recover.

This was the best of the lot – you should be able to (just) make out a cat ear emerging from the edge of the ‘fluff’.

Purrple Cat Cafe Hogmanay Ear

Purrple Cat Cafe Hogmanay Ear

31/12/2018 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment

Au revoir, People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

Although I collected some specific pic sets recently (they haven’t made it into the Blog), intended to help my withdrawal systems in the coming weeks, with the People’s Palace closed for modification for about 12 weeks, and the Winter Gardens closed until someone prints off something in the order of £7.5 million to deal with its ‘old age’, I couldn’t resist ‘Just One More’ as a slight disruption to my travel plans for the day landed me on Glasgow Green late in the day.

This pic is significant – being taken on 31 December 2018 means that the People’s Palace was on its last day for visitors prior to closure for building mods to add a fire escape route, since the Winter Gardens doors are no longer an option.

However, the Winter Gardens closed one day earlier, and is the reason for the aforementioned mods since the People’s Palace only has one entrance/exit at the front. Should a fire break out AT that door, anyone inside the building would be trapped. There are, of course, windows, but these are 1898 windows, so not so easy to get yourself through quickly, and doesn’t cater for everybody.

The glasshouse is completely dark, but you can see some lights in the museum building.

Quite apart from just wanting to get back in, it’s going to be fascinating to see what the planners came up with for the new emergency exit, or fire escape.

Steps and ramps were added to all three access points when the building improvements were carried out about 30 years ago, but two of those (plus a non-ramped door) belong to the Winter Gardens, leaving only the front door of the museum building.

Don’t miss the little tease of Templeton’s carpet factory behind.

Click for bigger.

People's Palace Open Winter Gardens Closed

People’s Palace Open Winter Gardens Closed

This wasn’t real!

I’d say just a false alarm, but when I asked at the time, they weren’t sure if it was, or had been a malicious call.

You can see the one front entrance and the rails of the ramp and steps.

Peoples Palace fire alert

Peoples Palace fire alert

Bonus pic

Coincidentally, I came across this early illustration of the Templeton Carpet Factory just the day before, in Kelvingrove.

So I get to use it.

Templeton Carpet Factory Illustration

Templeton Carpet Factory Illustration

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

What’s a HUL1E?

I almost forgot about this, spotted a while ago.

I think I’ve been spending too much time in Glasgow recently, where there are plenty of interesting plates, and spotting them is not as interesting there as it is closer to home, amongst all the east end poverty the media tells us of, where nobody should be able to afford such frippery, and has to deal with the hassle of parking it around the corner, out of sight of the food bank they’re visiting.

I had a quick look for this as a name, but came up empty.

Spotted on a 2010 Volvo XC90, HUL 1E, obviously personal, but nothing obvious.

2010 Volvo XC90 [HUL 1E]

2010 Volvo XC90 [HUL 1E]


Sad to say, (almost) nobody ever rises to a question or query raised in the blog nowadays, even if I try to provoke one.

I ended up answering this question for myself while reading about some events.

I’m not giving the answer away (but there are two or three possibilities, so this avoids picking one and being wrong), but suggest that in the rare event anyone is remotely interested, then look for ‘hoolie‘.


31/12/2018 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

That Stan Lee mural

I missed a few chances to fly past this (for various reasons) when it was revealed, although I did make it across to the Gorbals a few nights ago and bagged it in the dark, in case I couldn’t get back.

That was really more of a route finder, so you’re not going to see that pic, despite it turning out surprisingly well.

A proper visit in daylight followed, which proved interesting as I bumped into a nice man who was even more serious about collection Glasgow’s various murals than me (I just catch them when, and if, mostly by chance rather than design).

That said, we were both at this one as it’s already known it is only temporary, and will be gone in a few weeks (to be replaced by… windows!)

There was also a little stream of people arriving to grab their pic too.

Interesting chat too, as we both notice how a number of murals around the city are already being lost, either to the slightly unfortunate progress of development around the city, and opening of businesses/shops in previously empty building or shops that provided wall space.

Or, something not so understandable and excusable, somebody deciding that the murals have to go, and destroying them, or painting them over.

Bear in mind these comments DON’T refer to graffiti vandalism or similar property damage, but decent murals, not painted on private property, people’s homes, or their doors or walls. Anything put up by scummy Banksy wannabes – I’m happy to see that exterminated a few nanoseconds after it appears. Same goes for the vandal behind it too.

I always wonder what eventually happened to an Australian student who decided to play this game few years ago, sprayed his crap on any clean wall/door he could find, then went crying to the media when he was caught and told he was going to be deported for his crime of repeated vandalism. Sad to say, the media never reported the end of that story (or he got a slap on the wrist – hardly good clickbait for a tired old hack to impress their editor with, and ask for bonus),

Stan Lee Mural

Stan Lee Mural

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Christmas in Baillieston

I really thought I was going to miss any shots here.

After spotting the arrival of the tree, no camera to hand, I was going to make a trip back the same night to finish the job, but decided that was silly, as I’d be passing later anyway.

Mistake! I was taken out of circulation almost the same day.

But I’ve managed back, fortunately before they tore the lights down.

Baillieston Christmas Tree

Baillieston Christmas Tree

This view has become interesting over the (recent) years, as it was one of the first that showed how much better LED lighting was compared to the old low pressure sodium that used to feature in the background, smothering this major junction at Baillieston with its yellow ‘poison’ washing over everything.

I still see naysayers arguing (amongst other things) that the monochromatic yellow is still better than white (which is actually true for a very small section of the community), but it’s hard to accept that when you can compare a scene like this with the older images of the same spot.

This was supposed to show the light along the street, but they’re not really big enough to show up well.

Baillieston Christmas Lights

Baillieston Christmas Lights

They’ve had LED lights on the tree for the past few years, but the originals weren’t particularly vivid.

The newest set seems to be much more colourful, and has a very nice blue, which avoids the weird ultraviolet oddness seen in previous versions, these are definitely getting better.

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | 2 Comments

George Square Christmas surprise

Watch that viewpoint, and PAY ATTENTION when taking pics!

I missed a thing while I was Playing with George Square’s Christmas Lights

That included an illuminated globe that had featured in its own area last year, lightly fenced off to let people queue up to use as a setting for their pics.

This year, it was just dropped onto one of the paths in the square.

BUT, I missed something.

From that path, it just looked like the globe was there on its own – it wasn’t.

There was another, only revealed if you were looking from the side.

So here’s the whole picture of this huge pair of ba Christmas decorations.

Hidden Globe Revealed

Hidden Globe Revealed

Hard to miss, but in the original pics, I did (check the originals in the post linked above).

Hidden Globe Revealed

Hidden Globe Revealed

I also mentioned the poor reindeer I spotted (with a sore head) while taking those earlier pics.

Thankfully, somebody noticed, called the electric vet, and it’s all better now.

George Square Reindeer Fixed

George Square Reindeer Fixed

I’d also tried grabbing a daytime shot of the Square, as that’s easier to gauge how much can be caught in a wide shot – you can see the edges in daylight, but not in the dark!

That eventually paid off, as I tried standing around the same spot at night, without also having to try to find it too.

Turns out it’s hard to get that wide night shot.

Traffic gets in the way, both wheeled and on foot, as you have to stand as far back as possible.

That could be dealt with (just using patience), but there a bigger problem thanks to all the poles and junk that intrudes into the view.

Guess I’ll just have to try standing in front of all that stuff, and take a set of pics to stitch together – nothing’s simple.

George Square Lights Wide

George Square Lights Wide

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Bridgeton Christmas lights

I had collected a load of pics to keep me busy over the festive season, but my usual luck applied, and I was knocked out of circulation for over a week, so almost none of it got used – and it was fortunate I had a stock of goodies just to let publish itself.

One chance catch was Bridgeton’s Christmas lights, which I’d not come across before, and collected a couple of very quick views as I stopped there one night.

Bridgeton Christmas Lights

Bridgeton Christmas Lights

Yes. There was a tree too.

Bridgeton Christmas Tree

Bridgeton Christmas Tree

It’s NOT your imagination – they really did miss the top part when they threw the lights at the tree 🙂

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

An experiment that worked (in Kelvingrove at least)

I thought I’d try an experiment with stitching images to see if this could be simplified.

While I know it works, there are a lot of quirks that have to be watched for as they can trash a set of pics and stop them from stitching together.

One of the hassles is collecting enough images to fill in the corners and edges, where distortion can leave gaps if you don’t mentally line things up beforehand, and make sure there are enough images to catch those areas.

Rather than try this (and end up with a huge collection of images), I decided to do the opposite.

I’d made number of abortive trips to catch the 1 pm organ recital held in Kelvingrove during the week, so decided to try for the 3 pm offering on Sundays – even this almost failed after I confused the ending time of 3:45 pm for the START! But I made it.

While collecting some pics of the organ in action, I thought a wide shot of the many gallery concourse would be nice but didn’t fancy the large number of pics it requires to go from corner to corner (I’ve tried this before).

Instead, I went minimalist, and took one central pic, followed by four more to fill in the area above, below, left, and right of that.

As an experiment, it worked perfectly, and meant I ended up with most of the detail I wanted, and probably cover more than 150° of the scene.

I might play this game more – it’s certainly easier, and faster, than trying to fill the frame with detail with is largely redundant.

Click for bigger.

I’ve had to play about with the lighting in this, and I think I got it wrong.

If you look at the light fitting suspended from the ceiling, you should see more than half of them are turned off for the recital, to give emphasis to the organ and performer. The camera was telling me I should really have been shooting ABOVE ISO 3200 for my settings, such was the actual light level (but I didn’t).

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Stitch

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Stitch

After I completed the shot, I was intrigued to find that while I caught it in only 5 frames, had I tried to fill in the missing corners and scallops, I would have needed at least a FURTHER 8 frames, and maybe even more to be sure of catching enough additional detail.

Seems like a poor return to me.

This is probably more representative of the actual lighting at the time of day.

Sunset was probably 10 minutes after this, so despite the windows appearing to show plenty of daylight, it’s an illusion.

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Lighting

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Lighting

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Our wonderful weather II

After yesterday’s post on this subject, I was in Glasgow city centre again and passed through George Square during the evening. The Christmas market is still there, which I mention only because I deliberately avoided St Enoch Square earlier as it has a similar feature, or HAD, since I glanced down there from Buchanan Street only to see it had gone completely, so I needn’t have detoured.

George Square was pretty quiet, but still relatively busy with folk having a last look.

Last week, this would have been a solid mass of people.

George Square Post Christmas

George Square Post Christmas

However, the interesting thing was the lack of cold.

While many people were wrapped up as if it was freezing (and I ended up overheating when inside buildings yesterday – I really did have to step outside to cool down at one point, and I was far from ‘wrapped up’), and I honestly don’t know how they could stand being wrapped up in thermal jackets, hats, hoods, scarves, and gloves, others were wandering around in t-shirts.

Here’s one example I caught at the side of a pic of the Christmas tree.

Is this really Glasgow, Scotland, on 30 December?


Scotland In December

Scotland In December

I checked my own temperature records when I got home.

That said it had been over 12°C at my house then, and had started falling (but only to 11°C).

Bear in mind I live in a ‘cold corner’, and a city centre can easily be 2-3°C warmer than the surrounding area.

It certainly felt like that.

31/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment


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