Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

No slacking in Maid of the Loch restoration

After I hinted that suggestions of Gloom and Doom for the project to restore the Maid of the Loch to steam were unduly negative following a Heritage Lottery Funding rejection, the project has not only carried on, but is apparently picking up speed without the massive cash injection which had some feeling so glum.

The last paddle steamer built in Britain will undergo a historic slipping this week.

The Maid of the Loch will be subject to a massive refurbishment from Thursday – only the second time the ship has been slipped in almost 40 years.

Mackay Boatbuilders Ltd will haul the 191-foot-long, 555-ton vessel out of the water by the original winchhouse and onto the Balloch Steam Slipway, a Category A listed building on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Once on the slipway, a full ultrasound survey, overseen by classification society Bureau Veritas, will be carried out on the ship’s hull to provide a definitive report on its current condition, before the major refurbishment takes place.

Work set to take place includes the restoration of the aft deck saloon to 1950’s style, the creation of an education suite and total rebuild of the main saloon aft to 1950’s style with replica wood panelling and central heating.

A complete overhaul of the original engines and machinery will also be carried out to restore them to working condition, with steam set to be supplied by a package boiler on the pier.

The campaign to restore the Maid and return her to a fully operational steamship was last month boosted after the £950,000 capital grant awarded by the Scottish Government was confirmed along with £50,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, taking the work package to £1 million.

The Maid currently operates as a static tourist attraction and hopes to gain industrial museum status for the ship and steam slipway as a growing number of artefacts are collected and restored to working condition.

Massive Maid of the Loch refurbishment set to begin this week

Pity I’m so far away, it would have been nice to see.

The shared pic below has the following text…

dThe paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is seen here undergoing a historic slipping on the 27th of June, 2006; in other words, it was slowly winched out of the water, and pulled onto a rebuilt slipway. This was the first time it had been out of the water, or indeed moved, since being withdrawn from active service in 1981. With the exception of this slipping, the steamer has been moored at nearby Balloch pier continuously since 1981 (at the time of writing, it is still there).

The slipping was performed as a test of the rebuilt slipway, with the longer-term goal of returning the Maid of the Loch to service (I am one of many who travelled the Loch on this steamer in the old days).

The Maid was drawn up onto the slipway by means of a steam-powered winch. This was a fairly slow process, although most of the day was taken up with carefully manoeuvring it into position using ropes; see: NS3882 : Maid of the Loch – preparations for slipping.

Maid of the Loch - undergoing slipping

Maid of the Loch – undergoing slipping


08/01/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Hourstons closure in Ayr marks the loss of another traditional shop

Sad to see news of the closure of Hourstons shop in Ayr.

One of Ayr’s oldest high street stores is to close after more than 100 years with the loss of 81 jobs.

Staff at Hourstons on Alloway Street were told on Monday that the department store would shut on 7 February.

The shop, which first opened its doors in Ayr in 1896, is the latest in a series of town centre stores to close in recent years.

South Ayrshire Council leader Douglas Campbell described the news as “truly heartbreaking” for the town.

He added: “Hourstons is synonymous with Ayr high street and its loss will be felt throughout South Ayrshire and beyond.

Ayr store Hourstons to close after 100 years with 81 job losses

As a ‘tiny’, I must have spent countless hours just wandering around this shop in the past, as we holidayed in Ayr every year, and it was a great place for a kid to explore.

Not sure if I’d have been left alone to wander as I did in those days – the way kids behave in shops nowadays I’d probably have been watched for a few minutes, then ejected before it was assumed I was filling my pockets with random goodies from the shelves.

It’s no great surprise.

A wander around Glasgow soon shows that most of the traditional department store type shops have gone.

The rest are probably, as we say, on a shaky nail.


Ayr store Hourstons confirms closure with 81 job losses

Hourstons Ayr Image Google

Hourstons Ayr Image Google

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Today, I learned something new – there’s a Glasgow Uni accent (and a Strathclyde Uni Glasgow Patter aid)

Sometimes I get a REAL surprise, especially when I see an article about something in Glasgow which I’ve NEVER heard of, come across before, or ever heard anyone else mention in conversation.

Such was my reaction when I read a news article which informed me that not only was there a ‘Glasgow Uni accent’, but that it apparently ‘drives half the city up the wall’.

Well THAT was a surprise!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that anyone in possession of a Glasgow University matric card speaks, well, a certain way.

Okay, so not everyone who ends up in the hallowed halls of Glasgow’s oldest university ends up speaking like landed gentry – but it has to be said, a high number of students end up with “that accent”.

And it happens to drive some Glaswegians up the wall.

In fact, if hipster bashing is the sport then that ‘Glasgow Uni’ accent is the ball.

The Glasgow Uni accent – and why it drives half the city up the wall

The only thing I can think of is that this story is about what we, or my family and friends in the east end of Glasgow used to refer to as ‘Kelvinside’.

Unfortunately, I can’t write that word the same way it was pronounced when it was raised in conversation.

Maybe somebody out there knows better.

I’d also almost completely forgotten about it, until I read the article about the Glasgow Uni accent.



Meanwhile, over at Strathclyde University

They’ve published a little online guide to the Glasgow Patter, to help new arrivals make sense  of some of the words they’ll never heard at home, but will have to get used to.

Glasgow Patter (Glaswegian) (pdf file)

Strathclyde University Glasgow Patter

Strathclyde University Glasgow Patter

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Did Green Loonies make same mistake as eBay in Glasgow?

I’ve no time for Green Loonies even on a good day, but I couldn’t help wonder if they went a step too far in their latest silly stunt played in Glasgow.

We recently saw eBay shoot itself in the foot by addressing Glaswegians in Glasgow as ‘Weegies’.

Did a group of unknown Green Loonies do something similar by hijacking a Glasgow institution?

Campaigners have placed a green cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head to send out a stark warning to Glaswegians of the dangers of climate change.

Extinction Rebellion Glasgow, a group which looks to combat the onrushing threat of climate catastrophe, made the statement yesterday.

They replaced the usual orange cone – which famously sits on the head of the iconic landmark – with a green one in hopes that it will catch the eye of locals and tourists, forcing them to stop and think about the future of the planet.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the group said: “Today, Extinction Rebellion Glasgow laid claim to our city and took the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington as a symbolic act, to let our city know that change is coming.”

It’s just one of many bold statements made by Extinction Rebellion, who are a global movement and operate with no hierarchical structure.

Recent action by activists in Scotland include the interrupting of a meeting of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and lobbying the BBC.

Campaigners put green cone on Duke of Wellington’s head as stark climate change warning

What a bunch of useless sados.

Whatever message they MIGHT have conveyed was lost in the abuse of one of the city’s icons.

Green Cone On Duke Of Wellington Pic Credit GlasgowLive

Green Cone On Duke Of Wellington Pic Credit GlasgowLive

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Closer and closer and…


This is getting to the stage where I’ll just have to point the camera out the window, or stand in the close, and I’ll have stories BEFORE they appear in the news!

Security guard targeted in armed robbery outside bank

Security guard robbed while delivering cash to Clydesdale bank in east end

And again…

Police appeal after security guard attacked in violent robbery in east end

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Project Yuk 2018

Project Yuk

Project Yuk

As usual, a warning for the squeamish to avoid the pic below 🙂

Project yuk is still going strong – and no closer to an answer.

Recalling previous results (2014 and 2015 numbers were mislaid/lost):

2012 was 2,129 g (5.58 lb)

2013 was 2,542 g (5.60 lb)

2016 was 1,050 g (2.31 lb)

2017 was 1,197 g (2.64 lb)

2018 was 987 g (2.18 lb)

That’s STILL about 19 g per week, or 3 g per day.

Although the number APPEARS to be falling over the years, this is a false trend which reflects a change from DAILY vacuuming (which was indulged at the start of Project Yuk), to WEEKLY, mainly to save electricity after noticing how long it took to complete this task while burning around 1.5 kW.

After 6 years I’m none the wiser about where this stuff comes from.

It arrives steadily whether I’m tramping muck into the house while gardening during the summer, or laid up ill in bed for weeks with nobody crossing the threshold.

It doesn’t even include stuff tidied up if I’ve been working and making a mess. I collect and dispose of that separately, otherwise the number would be even bigger. But, since I know that source of that material, I avoid its inclusion as far as possible.

And, it still does its ‘party trick’ whereby I can vacuum the place clean, repeat the process immediately and collection almost nothing, then repeat it 24/48 hours later and collect anything up to 10 g of Yuk, even if the house has been unoccupied for all of that time.

Don’t worry about the little round things, they’re not something REALLY horrible like insect eggs or similar.

They’re just polystyrene grains from cushions, and are too light to remove easily.

Project YUK 2018 end

Project YUK 2018 end


08/01/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Little Barrowland neon revisited

The request/suggestion for Billy Connolly to consider doing a farewell gig at Barrowland reminded me I had collected another pic of the little reproduction neon sign exhibited in the People’s Palace.

The first time I notice this one, and tried grabbing a pic, I thought the blue ‘neon’ stars had failed and were all dead.

My guess back then had been that some of the phosphors were maybe being exited by the adjacent tubes, but I realised later that this was wrong.

In fact, a closer look showed that a few were still lit, albeit fairly dim.

I recently tried for a better pic, with a little enhancement to pick them out a little better than in the first shot.

I think I did better this time, and you can see the ‘live’ stars amongst those that have expired.

Looks like it’s down to only three.

This was probably made at a Glasgow neon workshop (oops, sorry, I forget the name of that workshop) that I believe is now closed, since neon has largely been superseded by cheaper alternatives, and was a bit of a craft and art, was also becoming expensive, and a bit risky (in the eyes of some) due to the high voltages employed.


People's Palace Barrowland Neon Sign

People’s Palace Barrowland Neon Sign

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Earth’s Rotation Day

08 January is Earth’s Rotation Day.

If you’re a regular visitor, you might think I just included this day to noise up the ‘Flat Earthers’ – and you’d be right.

Someone recently tried to shame me into not laughing or mocking the Flat Earth Loonies, but that tactic only works when applied to sensible people, not nutjobs who try to spread their dangerous beliefs in contradiction of simple facts.

I can willingly forgive uneducated people who make an honest mistake and assume the Earth is flat because it’s ‘obvious’.

But we’re way past the days when that was acceptable. It’s not as if it’s even credible.

People promoting such things as a Flat Earth really need to be removed from the gene pool.

Consider them the same sort of brainless rubbish that has one lonely brain cell that can grasp the concept of free speech, but has nothing left to understand how that right also comes with the matching concept of responsibility, which would need a second brain cell to keep the first one company.


A mean solar day is based on the year long average, but the basic concept of a solar day itself is the length of time for the earth to complete one full rotation on its axis. Each day varies slightly, hence the need for a mean.

In 1851, French physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated how the earth rotates by suspending a lead-filled brass ball from the top of the Panthéon in Paris. Now known as a Foucault Pendulum, showed that the plane of the swing of the pendulum rotated relative to the Earth’s own rotation. Such pendulums can now be found in many places, and are worth having a look at – unless you’re a Flat Earther (but feel free to offer YOUR explanation of how it works – they say a good laugh is good for the health).

Foucault Pendulum Reveals Earth's Rotation

Foucault Pendulum Reveals Earth’s Rotation

08/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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