Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

They killed the Hip Hop Marionettes

Well THAT wasn’t much good.

After clearing the view of the Hip Hop Marionettes mural…

They just knocked it down!

Spotted recently as I slipped through Glasgow and headed home via George Square one night.

Although I know there was a load of redevelopment underway at the top end of John Street, I hadn’t realised it stretched all the way down to George Street.

I guess that means an end to students getting grabbed in John Street to act as witnesses for weddings in the former John Street registry office. I remember getting the warning about that one – then carelessly letting myself get caught one day.

Well, there are worse things that can happen.

George Street Hip Hop Marionettes Gone

George Street Hip Hop Marionettes Gone


06/01/2019 Posted by | Lost, photography, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing developments in energy management

When I was studying, one of the things I came across in the university library was a book by someone who had invested in a heat pump system to heat his home.

I’m not sure when it was published, maybe late 1960s or more likely early 1970s.

I’d liked to have done something similar, but never had the chance.

It’s a fairly major undertaking to do properly, and means either excavating to heat collector piping well below ground, or drilling boreholes to achieve the same result.

There are current systems being sold which try to extract heat from the air, but they’re almost ‘cowboy’ systems in reality as the end up freezing in cold weather, meaning their effectiveness is severely limited. Sadly, being better known, and rubbish, they air systems have led to heat pump systems getting a bad reputation, which they don’t deserve.

I noticed an article in the news which described a system which had been installed correctly today, together with other innovations not available back in the 1970s.

Probably the most significant aspect is the understanding of insulation…

From many angles, it is little different from many of those near it in a small community in Ayrshire.

But the technology which powers it draws energy from as far as 400ft below the ground – or, thanks to an impressive solar device beside the house, directly from the sun.

This house is home to Jamie Davidson, who built it with a determination to minimise its impact on the environment.

Much of the design is directed towards reducing heat loss from the building.

“At the outset I was very focused on what technologies I could use to generate heat and electricity in a sustainable way,” he explains.

“I was quickly told that the focus should be on insulation, insulation and more insulation.

“The amount of time that we spent putting in the insulation and the insulated plaster board and making sure with the foam gun that we filled up every hole and paying the extra money for the triple glazing was really the most important thing.

“If you’re not losing heat, you don’t need to generate it.”

The house that keeps its secrets buried

It’s well worth a read of this short piece, as it debunks a lot of the nonsense spouted by ‘Armchair Experts’ who dismiss all the types of energy saving tech mentioned in the article.

I really don’t know why so many people are so happy to be dismissive of these methods, especially when they are proven in use.

Energy storage

Another aspect widely promoted by the naysayers is the inability to store energy.

Again, this is completely untrue.

We CAN store energy, but at the moment are not particularly good at it,  nor has there been enough work or experience in this field to either optimise the process, or get it right first time, every time.

That also means it can be fairly expensive, but that’s always the case when something is new.

However, if commercial businesses are beginning to take up this option, then unless you are a professional naysayer with no interest in the facts, then it’s time to start looking at this option.

The technology is becoming easier to adopt, and the prices are falling.

An Edinburgh hotel has become the first in the UK to be battery-powered.

The Gyle Premier Inn at Edinburgh Park has installed a five-tonne battery which will charge from the national grid during off-peak periods and power the 200-room site for several hours each day.

The 3m3 lithium ion battery is expected to save the hotel £20,000 a year on its energy bill, and is able to power the whole venue, including the restaurant, for up to three hours at a time after a two-hour charge.

Premier Inn’s parent company Whitbread said the trial of the battery storage technology will help its commitment to halve its carbon emissions by 2025.

Cian Hatton, Whitbread’s head of energy and environment, said: “Batteries are of course everyday items, more commonly associated with powering small household goods like the TV remote control, so it’s incredibly exciting to launch the UK’s first battery-powered hotel.”

The hotel chain joins companies including B&Q and Veolia, which both installed lithium ion battery power systems in 2018.

Electricity company E.ON has supplied and installed the technology at the hotel and will be remotely managing the battery’s workload and efficiency from its energy management centre in Glasgow.

Premier Inn to become first battery-powered hotel in UK

If you want a good laugh, or maybe a good cry, you could try reading some of the stuff in the Moron Comment section after this article on the same subject.

A lot of it is just… sad.

UK’s first battery powered hotel comes to Edinburgh

I think there’s another group that could be included if we ever follow the example of Golgafrincham, and launch a ‘B’ Ark one day.



Golgafrincham was a planet, once home to the Great Circling Poets of Arium. The descendants of these poets made up tales of impending doom about the planet. The tales varied; some said it was going to crash into the sun, or the moon was going to crash into the planet. Others said the planet was to be invaded by twelve-foot piranha bees and still others said it was in danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star-goat.

These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B Ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitisers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course, the other two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Sounds like a plan 🙂

06/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is Apple Tree Day

06 January is Apple Tree Day.

I always feel the need to mention this since I have an apple tree.

Last year I gave up trying. After three attempts at tasting that year’s crop, and becoming rather ill (from eating just one apple each time), I decided enough was enough, and have lost a month of my life to the attempts, just collected and binned the lot.

For various reason, I decided not even to have a taste this year, and ruin a good week, or two.

I just collected the lot and binned it.

Maybe next year.

Memories of 2007 (I just happened need some nice apple pics that year).

Apples 2007

Apples 2007

06/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Shortbread Day

06 January is Shortbread Day.

Not sure why it’s on the 6th of January, given we start stuffing it into our faces on Hogmanay, and carry on into 01 January, one would think either of those two dates would have been more appropriate.

It’s not really all that difficult to make shortbread, most recipes basically call up one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.

Given that basic starting point, I wonder how some bakers manage to absolutely ruin the stuff, and serve up hard biscuits instead of deliciously crumbly, melt in the mouth shortbread, which might even start crumbling in your hand if it is really good.

I found this online…

Three ingredient shortbread fingers (makes  10) – Prep  4 minutes. Cook 12 minutes.

175 g Butter
75 g Caster Sugar
250 g Plain Flour


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl, then add the butter and rub into the mix. Knead until smooth.

Shape into fingers (you can change this if you really want to).

Cook on a baking sheet for 12 minutes.

Less time makes them softer, more time makes them harder, and your oven may vary, so experiment with the time and temperature to suit.

I should really even try to advise, as I use one of those glass halogen fan ovens now – I’m a complete convert, since it doesn’t make pies soggy, like conventional ovens.

Some like to add various things to the basic recipe – anything from dried fruits to chocolate chips to lavender, but the basic recipe remains the same. And you might as well keep it that way, and forget the ‘accessories’. While the odd chocolate chip or two (and I really mean that few) can’t be faulted (Chocolate!), the same can’t be said of the dried fruit type. It’s RUBBISH! Even from the big name shortbread makers, who make ‘good stuff’. For some reason, they all use dried fruit that is like little black stones, and no matter how long you suck the stuff for, or how much tea you drink to try to soften it – it just STAYS like little black stones, which I eventually just dispose of while ‘mine host’ is looking in the other direction.

One suggestion – big, chunky, shortbread fingers are usually the best bet.

If they look like these, then you’re probably in for a treat.

Shortbread Fingers

Shortbread Fingers

06/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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