Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Do people really need to be TOLD not to…

Leave their cars idling in the street?

Well, yes, it seems that some are so thick they DO need to be told…

Police are warning motorists to take care when defrosting cars on cold winter mornings.

Officers say they have received numerous reports of attempted thefts of vehicles which have been left running to defrost.

They are reminding drivers to be vigilant and are urging them never to leave cars unattended.

A Police Scotland statement reads: “Opportunist thieves operate in residential areas on frosty mornings looking for cars left unattended with the engine running. It takes a matter of seconds for someone to jump in and drive off.

Drivers warned about leaving cars to defrost after rise in attempted thefts

I find it hard to believe, but as I walk most place now, can confirm the shocking number of cars I pass which are left idling in the street, with no driver nearby, or even in sight sometimes.

I’m pretty sure not many of them (more likely none) are fitted with systems that allow the key to be removed to allow ‘warm up’, and will kill the engine if any of the controls are operated before the key is inserted.

That said, I do remember reading of one Mercedes owner who WAS fined for this some years ago even though his car was secured by an automatic system so it could not be entered or driven. A passing police officer noticed the exhaust, and would not accept that the car was secure/undrivable, and issued a £30 fixed penalty notice when the owner/driver refused to accept that his car was not secure and had been left that way in the street with the engine running.

I wonder what he would have done with one of my cars, fitted with a fuel powered heater that would start on a timer, and have the car nice and toasty warm for you. It had an exhaust! But the car engine wasn’t needed.

It’s got to be on a stupidity par with the folk I see pull up at the kerb and jump out of their car and run into shops, leaving the engine running. On the other hand, I’ve yet to see any of them lose their car as some passing opportunist jumps in as soon as they get into the shop, and drives their car away.

I’ve always thought about trying it, but I’d prefer not to face the consequences.

Anyway, this pic made me laugh, supposedly and example.

Frosty Car Theft

Frosty Car Theft

Clearly NOT a frosty morning, look at the rest of the cars in the pic!

Manchester police did a bit better…

Operation Frosty Ice Bandits

Operation Frosty Ice Bandits

I do like the ‘Ice Bandits’ reference.

Then there’s the law

What surprises me is the fact that this story has advice from the police, but fails to mention that it is an offence to leave a vehicle with the engine running while unattended.

Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states: “You must not leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.”

Doing this can incur a fixed-penalty fine under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002. Doubled if unpaid within a given time frame.

I also note that a driver who left a car parked on the road unattended, running, with the keys in the ignition was committing an offence of ‘quitting’.

The offence is against S42 of the RTA 1988.

This section deals with Construction & Use offences.

Quitting is dealt with by Regulation 107(1) of The Road Vehicles (Constriction and Use) Regulation 1986 (SI 1986/1078 ).

And let’s  not forget Glasgow’s by-law on idling, which will get you a fine even if you are in the vehicle and doing so unnecessarily.

I’ve noted that the council’s own web site has (or had) a section that gave the number of such fines issued, so it does happen.

No Idling

No Idling


It took them TEN DAYS, but at least one of our local media sources eventually picked up on this warning.

Having to de-ice your car during the cold winter months is a massive bugbear for many motorists.

It’s usually the same routine, you wake up in the morning and realise your windscreen is thick with ice. So you pop the engine on, turn up the heating full blast and head back into the house while your vehicle defrosts.

It’s a common thing to do, but not many people know that it’s actually illegal.

Leaving your car unattended is against the law as drivers are expected to always be in control of their car while the engine is running, even when defrosting, reports Plymouth Live.

A police spokesman explained: “Anyone who needs to defrost their vehicle must ensure they stay with it and don’t leave it unattended with the keys inside.

“Leaving the engine running to ‘warm up’ during the winter months not only risks having the vehicle stolen, it’s against the law.

“Don’t make it easy for opportunist thieves because they don’t even have to go to the trouble of breaking into your vehicle if you have left it running for them.

“Insurance companies may not pay out if a vehicle is stolen in this way.”

Police have reported a rise in ‘frosting’ in recent years, which means having your car stolen when you leave the keys in the ignition to heat it up.

Here’s why it’s illegal if you leave your car running to defrost

I’m tempted to suggest that people would be more inclined to pay attention to the fact that far from “may not pay out”, their insurers will not pay out if they are daft enough to leave their cars unattended with the keys in (as against this being illegal).

But, nowadays they’re probably not likely to bother, as they’ll probably be happy to go whining to the media, or onto social media, and complain about their ‘useless insurers making up a reason not to pay out’ on their claim.


09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Fix your own gadgets – good luck with that!

I was amused to see an article encouraged unskilled people to tackle repairs of their own gadgets.

Consumer campaigners are winning the battle for a “right to repair” – which could mean our electrical appliances last longer and are easier to mend.

But when your devices go wrong, how do you know whether there’s a ten-minute fix or if your appliance is destined for the scrapheap?

We asked some experts for their tips on the repairs you can do at home.

How to fix some of your own broken gadgets

For what it’s worth, I’ve never handed anything over for repair unless it’s something I’m legally obliged to have a qualified person tackle, or needs specialist tools I simply can’t afford to justify the cost to purchase.

I’d rather pay the cost of doing the work myself, even if it costs the same as going to a ‘Pro’, and even used one large repair to justify installing my own vehicle lift some years ago.

But the gadget story is more about electrical repairs, and while you can do a lot of simple jobs yourself, in recent years legislation has been introduced which has taken that away in many cases.

A few years ago I wanted to replace some blown heater elements – NOPE!

In the first case, and oven, there was simply no source of the glass enclosed elements, despite the oven being a major brand name.

In the second, I tried my usual electrical spares suppliers, only to be told that recent government legislation had outlawed the sale of open type of heater element I simply wanted to replace.

So, not only could I not buy a spare part, I couldn’t even buy a similar part and alter it to suit.

Battery does NOT necessarily mean safe

I was amused to see this advice in the article

If you’re new to repairing electrical appliances, Ms Gunter advises steering clear of mains-powered devices.

“It’s a good idea to get started with battery-powered devices, which are much safer, as a way to get confidence,” she says.

In fact, I’d say you’re probably SAFER poking around mains-powered devices nowadays – provided, of course, you have unplugged and isolated them.

Reason being that many devices are now powered by rechargeable lithium-ion cells.

Obviously, I’m  not referring to the sort of goodies powered by AA, AAA, or PP3 batteries and similar zinc chloride or alkaline batteries.

However, mishandling of lithium cells can lead to the rapid onset of overheating and fire.

I have to add that this is NOT down to the wrongly stated danger of reactive lithium bursting into flames on contact with water – in fact there is only a tiny amount of lithium in such cells, and even that is in the form of an oxide, not pure lithium.

Lithium is not the danger.

The danger arises from the high energy density of the cells, which can deliver huge currents if shorted, be this by their leads, or some mishap which punctures the cell and shorts it internally. In such cases these cells can suffer thermal runaway, causing them to overheat and release flammable chemicals which form their electrolyte.

Such cells are normally equipped with battery management to look after charge/discharge, but it’s also easy for someone inexperienced to replace them with types missing such protection. And that would not be a ‘Good Thing’.

I know people well experienced in handling these cells who still keep an open metal bin next to their bench when working on anything containing them, especially if the cells are very high power/capacity and are charged, just in case.

However, I’m not intending to put anyone off, quite the opposite.

But the experts should update their advice.

We really do need to claim back our gadgets, avoid the mentality that has come to accept disposable technology, and seek advice for silly little repairs that can be easily ad cheaply achieved in many cases.

So long as the parts are available!

Even guys that know what they are doing can get it wrong, as in this example where batteries from a Tesla were repurposed for another vehicle – and they didn’t quite look after their battery management properly.

That first video actually led to a lot of misunderstanding.


The people behind it made a second video to clarify matters.

You should watch both.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Die Affäre Borgward – a treat for Classic Car fans

I’m not going to go into any great detail about this one.

In fact, the only reason I’m making the post is to make those who may be interested aware of this German docudrama film online.

I should also add it is a German production, so is in German with no dialogue translation.

That said, those familiar with the story won’t really need it.

This little summary of the end is pretty close, and is what this film is about…

The end of the Borgward Group is a shameful story. The Government of the state of Bremen (where Borgwards were built) claimed that Borgward was insolvent,and then effectively compulsorily acquired the company. They then side-stepped all schemes which might have saved the firm, putting the cars out of production and selling up the assets. All creditors were paid in full, proving that the company had never been insolvent after all but governments that act improperly are always above the law. Borgward died a broken man in 1963. There is some evidence that other car makers were involved in the plot to destroy Borgward, but the full truth has not yet been revealed.

Die Affäre Borgward 87 min.

Der Name des Automobilherstellers Carl F.W. Borgward ist noch heute ein Synonym für das westdeutsche Wirtschaftswunder. Für Hundertausende ist die “Isabella” das erste Auto nach dem Krieg. Doch 1961 geht das Unternehmen überraschend pleite.

The name of the car manufacturer Carl F.W. Borgward is still synonymous with the West German economic miracle. For hundreds of thousands, the “Isabella” is the first car after the war. But in 1961, the company is surprisingly broke.

I’ve no idea how long the link given will stay live.

So, if interested, I suggest watching soon.

As seen in the film, Carl Borgward stands in the road beside his car, seconds after hearing the news about his company over the car radio.

Borgward News

Borgward News


I had feedback about the link given above, with some problems viewing.

I received an alternate link which seems to have worked for those having a problem with the first.

Die Affäre Borgward

Now on YouTube

This link turned up a few days later.


There was a Borgward dealer for Scotland, operated by the Burns Statue Square Garage in Ayr.

I’m always zooming into pics I find of the square, in hopes of finding the garage shows some evidence of this, but have never found anything.

If you have a pic you are willing to share that does show this, I’d love to hear about it.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Lost, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

New rules of the road – is there enough publicity?

As a ‘State Registered Cynic’ 🙂 I feel as if I’m in danger of being grouped along with the useless cycling campaigners and activists by making this post, but I’ll take the chance.

There seems to be an unfortunate trend in recent years, to make new laws in response to some crimes/offences, instead of just enforcing existing legislation with a tad more vigour. I read somewhere that the number ran into the low thousands, but wasn’t really paying attention. However, I suspect it may be true, as it’s probably easier for ‘politicians’ to stand up and point at legislation they may have been responsible for having introduced, and so deflect attention from the real question of number of offenders who have been apprehended.

I noticed an article which highlighted changes to the law this year…

Overtaking cyclists and new MOT rules: Changes to driving laws in 2019 that you need to know

And warned…

New laws and regulations are coming into force for motorists this year, so make sure you’re up to date..

Such as…

As of March, motorists can be fined for not leaving enough room between a car and a bike when passing.

The current law states motorists should leave at least 1.5m distance. This is to be taken more seriously with the introduction of a monetary penalty and police will be penalising those who get dangerously close.

Not leaving enough space could leave you £100 down with three points on your license.

My apologies for giving a cycling example, but it’s also the only illustration given with specifics and the penalty scheme.

Well, they did give some for ‘Smart Motorways’, but I suspect we won’t see any of those for a while.

While I will take a moment to (again) distance myself from any campaigners or activists, I’m also not blind to what I see when I am out and about.

Without making any sort of political point, I can see there are generally few police to be seen on the streets, and apart from periods of raised awareness, I seldom see them on the road.

So, I have to ask what the chances are of any offending motorist who clearly passes well below the 1.5 m clearance of a cyclist being pulled up?

I merely ask the question, given the lack of police visibility.

I’d quite like to see such offenders being inconvenience by a police stop/caution/fine/points.

However, unlike cycling campaigners and activists, I’m also going to compliment the vast majority of Glasgow motorists, who actually appear to be scared of me when I’m on the road on my bike, such is the clearance they usually give me.

It’s also almost embarrassing when I meet some coming towards me, especially on side streets with parked vehicles, as they often pull in behind those vehicles and wait for me to pass.

And, yes, I DO give them a wave of acknowledgement and thanks as I pass them.

I think it’s time many other cyclist did this too.

Perhaps things would improve if this was the norm, instead of the ANGRY CYCLIST we often see in videos they post when they believe they have been wronged, go chasing after motorists, start banging on their cars, and shouting abuse at the driver.

I sometimes think it is no great surprise that some cyclists think drivers are terrible, and just don’t understand most people’s response when subject to ‘passive aggressive’, or just ‘aggressive’, behaviour towards them.

You may indeed have been wronged, but there is truth in the saying that “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

How many ‘problems’ in this video are down to the cyclist looking for trouble, and causing confrontations, when things could have been defused simply by everyone just getting out of one another’s faces, and carrying on their own way? Instead, he can’t resist stopping, provoking, and escalating.

I don’t know who this is, nor do I want to.

I just want to be as far away as possible from him, and his ‘attitude’.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh follows Glasgow’s lead

While I don’t really like the hostility (or rivalry) some seem to genuinely promote between Edinburgh and Glasgow, I’m not going to ignore genuine opportunities to reflect the pair.

In this case, it’s the adoption of Low Emission Zones by the two cities, already underway in Glasgow, and a year away for Edinburgh.

Like the Glasgow case, the only sad thing about this news is the sheer lunacy of the campaigners who are spouting the usual rubbish about car exhausts killing people, as if they were dropping in the streets like flies.

If it wasn’t so silly, tragic, and counterproductive, it would be funny.

But it’s disingenuous nonsense, as it completely negates the efforts made over the years with various emission controls enforced on vehicles for decades, and the elimination of leaded petrol, which was a REAL danger at ground level, and has been banished from our roads.

But why let a little reality waste the panic and scare-mongering efforts of the activists and campaigners?

Cllr Doran has also highlighted the importance of tackling poor levels of air pollution, which she labelled a “silent killer”.

She added: “I always used to say Scotland has beautiful, clean air – but it has most certainly not. You always used to think Scotland had clean air because of the mountains and all the outdoors – but you cannot possibly say that in any way, shape or form.

“We are pushing our buggies along the road at car exhaust level. That is the most frightening thought and it is happening every single day. I would love to give a gift of clean air to future generations.”

The council will also bring forward plans for a Low Emission Zone next year, as well as specific proposals for monthly ‘open streets’ events on Sundays.

Cllr Doran said: “The LEZ will be for Edinburgh, it’s very ambitious for Edinburgh. People have to travel from city to city so there has to be a bit of joint working on how that will work.

“We can’t say people are not going to change, so what’s the point – the city will just grind to a stop. What we need is a city that is moveable and breathable and you can actually get around.”

Green councillors have called on the council to ensure that reality matches ambition. City centre Cllr Claire Miller said: “Across the world city centres are transforming away from car-dominated places of congestion and air pollution. Right now, Oslo, for example, is taking out car-parking spaces in its city centre so that pedestrians and cyclists come first.

Plans to ‘open up streets to pedestrians and cyclists’ in Edinburgh

The Green Loonies, campaigners, and activists are becoming little more than whining irritants nowadays, seeking to negate all the gains made to date, and trying to suggest that things are worse today than they were in the past, as if no progress has ever been made.

Have a look at the Moron Comment section after the following article, which simply reports some factual numbers, yet is met with much negative reactive from a certain type of respondent, which I will not identify again, other than to say they are sad, and not helping.

Greenhouse gas emissions by Scottish industry at 10-year low

Seriously, you can’t go on and on responding negatively, or rubbishing EVERY news item that reports advances in emissions or pollution control, and expect to be taken seriously.

I don’t mind admitting I no longer listen to, or give any credibility to any ‘Green’ activists or campaigners. Even before they start, I’ve turned off as I feel as if they are treating me like an idiot,

Now that I regularly cycle Glasgow city centre, I OBJECT to campaigners who TELL me I’m cycling in polluted, gridlocked, and congested streets they illustrate with pics like the one below – when my EYES (and nose) tell me they are spouting rubbish.

Campaigner Road Pic

Campaigner Road Pic

The realty of Glasgow is this pic, recently taken in Trongate at peak evening traffic time.

Full disclosure – I had to wait for the traffic lights to turn green, or I’d have taken the pic the same way ‘campaigners’ do, to make the street look as if it was blocked by traffic, which was really just waiting for the lights to turn from red to green.

If I’d wanted to be as ‘naughty’ as them, I’d have waited until the whole line had cleared, and shown an EMPTY street.

Gridlocked Glasgow Trongate

Gridlocked Glasgow Trongate

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Two stories and the problem of derelicts – no easy answer

I noticed the proposal to introduce CSOs (Compulsory Sales Orders) a while ago…

Proposed Compulsory Sales Order seems less than helpful

Compulsory Sales Orders – Solving a problem, or just moving it along?

And had that little pair of rambles, hoping to gain a better understanding of the idea, but don’t really think it helped a lot.

I keep having the same reservation – if the places described are so good that either a compulsory sale (or maybe even purchase) was the easy answer, then the current owner would have taken advantage of what they had.

In reality, I suspect many of the properties concerned are money pits, either from the point of view of just owning them (with crippling maintenance, or cost of ownership), or would cost so much to restore or convert to repurpose that the whole thing is just uneconomic.

There is probably another option, where they could be successful or profitably repurposed, but the owner doesn’t have, or can’t raise, the capital needed to carry out the work.

Compulsory Sales Orders

Radical new powers allowing councils to order the sale of “eyesore” derelict sites and vacant land across Scotland are to be introduced, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Empty homes, abandoned shops, derelict hotels and gap sites could be among those targeted by the introduction of compulsory sale orders (CSOs) after planning minister Kevin Stewart said they would be introduced in the course of this Parliament.

The move to bring in CSOs by 2021 would allow councils to force owners to sell such sites at auction instead of allowing them to lie empty where they are seen to be causing “harm” to local communities by attracting problems such as anti-social behaviour.

However, there are concerns about whether councils will have the funding or expertise to bring forward such measures.

The CSO proposal was a key recommendation of the 2014 Land Reform Review Group.

Stewart has confirmed in a parliamentary answer the Scottish Government will introduce the orders by 2021 after proposals drawn up by the Land Commission.

Councils already have powers to buy land through CPOs, but this would involve the authority making the purchase itself, which it may not always have the funds to do. There is also a community “right to buy” for sustainable development, but it may not be appropriate for the smaller scale development envisioned for CSOs.

New powers will allow councils to order sale of Scotland’s derelict sites

It will be interesting to see how this works in reality.

I wonder if it would be appropriate for the following case?

I’m not suggesting a CSO would/should be applied, merely placing the two stories together here.

Historic house is a ‘rotten tooth waiting to be pulled’

Fears have been raised over the future of one of Aberdeen’s historic buildings.

Westburn House, an A-listed building designed by renowned architect Archibald Simpson, was built in 1839 but has lain empty for nearly two decades.

During that time it has fallen into a state of disrepair and is repeatedly attacked by vandals.

Local councillor Bill Cormie branded it a “rotten tooth waiting to be pulled”.

He told STV News: “Westburn House is in a dreadful state, it’s almost in a state of collapse.

“There has been nothing really done to this building for over the last 20 years now.

“I managed to get into it four years ago and it was pretty horrific at that time.

“I think last winter, when we had a hard snow, really killed the roof off with the snow lying on top of it and I believe most of the back end of it now has collapsed into the building itself.”

The building, in Westburn Park, has seen many uses over the years, serving as a home, a clinic, tearoom and a nursery.

In 2016, councillors approved plans by Elgin-based company Liberty Kids to turn it into a modern nursery, where youngsters would enjoy plenty of space to roam around outdoors. However, the project failed to move forward.

Historic house is a ‘rotten tooth waiting to be pulled’

I don’t really know enough of the details to suggest anything as regards this building.

But what does make me wonder is how the ability to impose any sort of compulsory order on it would help.

If owners/developers are skint, then forcing something to be done with no cash behind it seems unproductive.

It might make some work for somebody, but doesn’t do much for the building(s).

Maybe I’m just being too ‘simple’.

Westburn House, Westburn Park, Aberdeen

Westburn House, Westburn Park, Aberdeen

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Glasgow panorama

Since there won’t be an opportunity to try this shot from the People’s Palace viewing gallery for a while, I thought I’d have a quick try at taking a wide, or panorama, view while I could.

Unfortunately, the panes in the window are quite small, making it impossible to get a clear view easily, and avoid having to move slightly to get the whole view while avoiding the window frame. The exposure is a little tricky too, as the glass is Georgian Wired, and as you rotate the camera, the changing angle means shooting through varying thicknesses of glass.

The light wasn’t good for contrast, and I don’t think shooting through the glass helped either, as it wasn’t possible to improve the contrast by processing the image. The exposure was very variable across the extent, so does vary in the final view.

But it’s not too bad.

Click to show the full panorama.

People's Palace Glasgow Panorama

People’s Palace Glasgow Panorama

09/01/2019 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Static Electricity Day

09 January is Static Electricity Day.

Static electricity is generally considered to form when two insulators are rubbed together, generating a static field of imbalanced positive and negatively charged ions. When these charged insulators come into contact with a conductor at a different potential, usually ‘earth’ or ‘ground’  the charge is released. This is why, for example, you get shocked when you grab a door-handle after crossing a room in wool socks.

The general description isn’t really correct or accurate, since even conductors can build up a static charge under the right conditions. A stream of water, or liquid mercury, can build up a charge if the flow breaks into droplets rather remaining continuous for its whole length. This can cause a discharge from the nozzle the flow is coming from.

I’ve always toyed with the idea of building a nice little Van de Graff generator, but can never really lay hands on all the bits.

Fairly Large Van de Graaf Generator

Fairly Large Van de Graaf Generator

And I did once get the chance to service a really old one, operating at around one million volts.

It had been part of a medical X-Ray generator used to treat cancer, but had been repurposed to take X-Ray images of metal castings.

The generator was not very large, only about 2 m x 1 m, but lived inside a pressurised steel container charge with sulphur hexafluoride gas to insulate it.

It fed and X-Ray generator housed in a room with 10 tonnes of lead door, walls lined with emergency stops and entry interlocks to ensure it could not be powered if anyone was in the room, PLUS a concrete maze which you had to run into and hide from the X-Rays if it was ever somehow turned on while you were in the room.

Maybe I should start smaller.

09/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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