Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Albanian bunkers of the Cold War

Apart from any other irritating diversions I’ve enjoyed recently, I ended up with too much spare time, and too little paint to watch drying.

This let me reflect on the gradual disappearance of items related to the Cold War, said to have ended in 1989 (but I think really just changed to something else (unfortunately MUCH less obvious and observable, but just as dangerous), together with many of the people I used to be able to exchange comments and observation with on the subject.

That process was so gradual I didn’t really notice it happening, but have realised that all those people seem to have disappeared completely – no contact responses, plus their emails and nearly all their related web sites have gone, or gone dormant (no changes for years, if they are still online/visible).

One aspect that came up in the past was how some countries really embraced nuclear bunkers.

Not the type we would recognise in the UK, or perhaps the US, Russia, or even Canada, and related to government or mass population, but smaller structures, more associated with individuals, or families.

I’d all but forgotten about them, and how pervasive they were where they appeared, and it was nice to see this article about a book of photographs showing what happened to those in one country.

Photographer Robert Hackman has created a photo book that documents the many bunkers that were built in Albania between 1975 and 1989 amid fears of the Cold War.

Estimated to number up to 500,000, some bunkers are in states of dereliction or have been converted into cafes, homes, restaurants, swimming pools, barns, bridges and water tanks.

The Albanian bunkers built in the midst of the Cold War

I’m not a great traveller (and I certainly don’t have the funds to support this sort of fun), but I’d kind of like to be able to go look for stuff like this today, just to see what survives.

Hopefully this sample pic will give you an idea of the size of these things.

Albanian Bunkers Pic Credit Robert Hackman

Albanian Bunkers Pic Credit Robert Hackman

Britain’s remains from World War I

This reminded me of an article run just after the turn of the year, which reminded me of an explore I actually almost managed to make some years ago.

I’d been making quite a few work-based trips down to London, which had to be completed by car as I was ‘hand-carrying’ some fairly sensitive electronic gear which could not be entrusted to a carrier, or even someone not technically competent in handling the kit.

As I had to do this at least twice per annum, and each trip was double (I had to take the stuff down there, then go collect it a few weeks later), so I always organised it for the end of the week, so didn’t have to return immediately.

While I managed to visit a few interesting places on the south coast (of England) I never quite managed to create an effective route to the south west coast, which is surprisingly further away from the Glasgow-London route than it looks.

Unfortunately, while working on the best route for this trip, that particular piece of work came to an end – killed by ‘modern’ electronics and the retiral of the old precision gear we used to use.

Denge Sound Mirrors

Denge Sound Mirrors

They’ve appeared on some TV programmes, but not recently, and seem to be forgotten again.

I’d liked to have seen them up close.

It’s also a shame they were rendered obsolete by RADAR, so never benefited from any development work.

They weren’t particularly successful or effective (apparently), but didn’t benefit from any electronics (at least not as far as I’m aware), being dependent on stethoscopes and tubes to carry the sound to an observer.

Being made of concrete didn’t help either, as it would have been hard to build many prototypes quickly, to determine the best design to develop.

That said, later pics can be found of portable devices (at least if you had a trailer) which were intended for use in the field, and had huge trumpets which were pointed skyward to listen for aircraft.

Maybe it’s just as well RADAR came along!

24/02/2019 Posted by | Cold War, photography | | Leave a comment

Virgin Galactic rocket pilot is from Helmsdale

While most of the stuff seen in the news these days is just tripe, there is still the odd gem there to bring a little surprise.

Virgin Galactic has pushed its Unity rocket plane faster and higher than it’s ever been.

Chief pilot, Scotsman Dave Mackay, and co-pilot, American Mike Masucci, took the vehicle to almost 90km in altitude above California’s Mojave Desert before gliding back down to Earth.

Mr Mackay, from Helmsdale, Sutherland, becomes the first Scottish-born pilot to travel to space, by Virgin’s preferred definition of that term.

“It was thrilling yet smooth and nicely controlled throughout, with a view at the top, of the Earth from space, which exceeded all our expectations,” he said after landing back at Mojave airport.

Virgin’s Unity plane rockets skyward

Pity the more generally accepted altitude for ‘space’ is 100 km or 62 miles, although it is just a line in the sand, er… sky.

Maybe next time.

Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic Press FTP

Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic Press FTP

24/02/2019 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | | Leave a comment

Clutha continuation

Just noting, for completeness.

Clutha families ‘punished again’ over cost of fatal accident inquiry

Clutha Tributes

Clutha Tributes

24/02/2019 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Early ticks – no tocks

Although I no longer get to the places where ticks might be found, I still find myself getting slightly alarmed every year there are advanced warnings of their presence.

That’s mainly because these nasty little creatures can spread a harmful infection to humans, and if there’s anything like that going around, my luck is usually to be a winner!

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, can be spread to humans by infected tick bites.

Ticks emerge early in February’s mild weather

Evil Tick

I’ve brought home TWO of these little buggers (that I know about) in my time wandering the fields (despite being fully clothed on both occasions), and most notably had no idea I had these unwanted passengers until I was in the bath.

While you should NEVER try to pick them off, and you will find advice on their removal (and even little tools for the job), I found I couldn’t do anything with them, and had to leave them alone, to go in their own good time.

The usual method involves careful removal INCLUDING the head (just picking or even scratching them off the skin can detach the body and leave the head embedded and may cause infection), but on both of my discoveries I found the wee beastie was deep into my skin and BELOW the surface, so there was no way to get to the head to remove it properly, and no danger of me breaking the body off either.

I’ve no idea what ever became of them – they disappeared, and I didn’t suffer any after effects.

Or get back ‘up north’ to run the risk of finding any more either.

I thought I had rambled about these things in the past and had some pics to hand, but seems not (or I filed them away badly).

So have a look at this longer item: Ticks in Scotland – don’t worry, but be aware

This list of lyme disease symptoms is vaguely worrying – I could probably tick (sorry) many of them off, but don’t think I have this disease ūüė¶

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme Disease Symptoms

24/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Anonymous shed on Crownpoint Road

After coming up almost empty when digging into Christ Church House on Crownpoint Road, I thought I’d try again.

This time, it was a big shed that lies to the east of Christ Church House, and the former carpet factory beside it.

It’s another place I’ve passed quite often, but can’t recall ever seeing any activity around, but then again, I wasn’t really looking closely.

Nowadays it seems to be completely derelict, although a closer look shows a number of small businesses may once have occupied the units which open onto Crownpoint Road, but the doors all now just feature very old, and very faded, For Sale or To Let signs, if anything. Although, I have spotted one that says ‘Cooker Factory’ but nothing else.

I’d liked to have found even a clue as to what this was, or who it belonged to, or was attached to, when it was built, but not a single clue online in the historic building records of Glasgow, so apparently not noteworthy.

Crownpoint Road Shed

Crownpoint Road Shed

The only identifiable thing I ever managed to spot was a sign on that first roller door, for the Bridgeton Boat Co.

Unfortunately, that was struck off and dissolved way back in 2010.

Crownpoint Road Bridgeton Boat Co

Crownpoint Road Bridgeton Boat Co

It’s a pity it isn’t easier to find details (online) of buildings that haven’t caught the eye of those who maintain the official historic records.

I’m sure it would be possible to find out what this was (and many of the surrounding building, which are not recorded either) by visiting the Mitchell Library and trawling through the archives, or photo collections, held there.

But one person’s life isn’t long enough for that.

24/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

   

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