Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Oh joy! It’s clock moving time… again

Crazy clockIt’s that time of year again, when Insanity Hour arrives.

While it would have been useful to have had the clocks an hour ahead a few weeks ago, we’ve already arrived at a time when the evening are getting light, and will only keep on getting lighter, so it’s really too late to bother putting the clocks forward.

As for the morning?

Not much to add there, unless you need it to be light before 6 am (or 7 am once we move the clocks), then putting them forward by an hour seems pretty pointless (by the time it happens) too.

While I’m not particularly bothered by choosing either permanent summer time, or winter time, to stay with, I’ve always maintained that there’s no benefit form the twice yearly insanity of moving the clocks back and forward by an hour.

And it seems I finally have confirmation from official sources…

DST misery

Although this is reported under EU policies, for those morons who like to kick the EU and blame it as the source of all wrongs, it should be remembered that Daylight Saving Time (or whatever you like to call it) dates back a long way…

Benjamin Franklin takes the honor (or the blame, depending on your view of the time changes) for coming up with the idea to reset clocks in the summer months as a way to conserve energy, according to David Prerau, author of “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time” (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005). By moving clocks forward, people could take advantage of the extra evening daylight rather than wasting energy on lighting. At the time, Franklin was ambassador to Paris and so wrote a witty letter to the Journal of Paris in 1784, rejoicing over his “discovery” that the sun provides light as soon as it rises.

Even so, DST didn’t officially begin until more than a century later. Germany established DST in May 1916 as a way to conserve fuel during World War I. The rest of Europe came onboard shortly thereafter. And in 1918, the United States adopted daylight saving time.

Turns out, people tend to have more heart attacks on the Monday following the “spring forward” switch to daylight saving time. Researchers reporting in 2014 in the journal Open Heart, found that heart attacks increased 24 percent on that Monday, compared with the daily average number for the weeks surrounding the start of DST.

Daylight Saving Time 2019: A Guide to the When, Why, What and How

Daylight saving time (DST) – so-called summer time – has been compulsory in the EU since 2001, aimed at making the EU internal market work more smoothly and reducing energy costs.

Fewer time differences, it was argued, would facilitate cross-border trade and travel in the EU. The extra daylight hours in summer could reduce spending on artificial lighting and help outdoor leisure activities.

But the energy savings from DST have proven to be quite marginal. And some of the EU’s major trading partners – among them China, Russia and Turkey – do not operate under DST.

The consultation and scientific studies suggested that the clock changes were having negative effects on people’s health.

The EU Commission says studies suggest “the effect on the human biorhythm may be more severe than previously thought”.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said “there is no applause when EU law dictates that Europeans have to change the clocks twice a year.

“Clock-changing must stop. Member states should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time.”

Under the new legislation, governments opting to make summer time permanent would adjust their clocks for the last time on the last Sunday in March 2021.

For those choosing permanent standard time – also called winter time – the final clock change would be on the last Sunday of October 2021.

European MPs vote to end summer time clock changes

As usual, I’ll just be like…


No need for GPS, atomic, or radio controlled clock setting systems if you have a cat.


31/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, World War I | , | Leave a comment

Are the Buchanan Galleries REALLY 20 years old?

In a way, it was something of a shock to see an article declaring that Buchanan Galleries opened 20 years ago this weekend.

Like many things which have that sort of timescale attached to them, they exist in a part of my life which has some years that are a sort of ‘black hole’, and are just a time that almost didn’t exist for me.

Without going into detail, for me at least, that’s what happened when I became a ‘carer’ for a few years. Time just seemed to stop, or disappear, and never really started again.

Going back to Buchanan Galleries, when it opened (yes, I DO remember that) I found it had one or two interesting shops, but like most shopping centres of recent years, was full of brand names and labels that hold no interest whatsoever for me. My interest was more along the lines of the tech and gadget shops, which it at least had to start off with.

I only started to get up to that end of Glasgow recently, and even then didn’t bother going into the Galleries.

When I did, I almost wished I hadn’t.

In fact, the only reason I made the detour was after reading various adverse comments about the safety of the upper floors, and the need to make them safer, after reading that someone had fallen to their death there a few days before. I wanted a closer look at what was being claimed, by some, to be so hazardous the public.

The ‘interesting’ shops all seem to have gone, and the place looks as if it is largely another haven for the wealthy, and those who can afford designer label products and clothes, which seems to be what the ‘High Street’ thrives on – presumably because it has a huge mark-up on stuff manufactured overseas by child/slave labour for pennies.

Yes, I’m a disillusioned cynic these days.

I wander through the place wondering why I went in, other than to get out of the wind and rain.

I don’t seem to have any pics, except these

Read this for the thoughts of happier people…

Buchanan Galleries celebrates 20th birthday this weekend


Close enough for me.

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Broken and lost streetlight – repaired

Starting with the ‘Fat Birds’ post back on 19 February, we’ve had a nice new streetlight fitted to replace the broken one that did a disappearing act during Storm Gareth.

Not sure exactly when it was replaced as I missed the event, but since I had been wandering back and forth, and it had not been replaced earlier, I can say it happened during a two hour window.

Pity, I wouldn’t have minded so much if I’d been out all day and missed this, but being in all day and STILL not seeing any of the show is just irritating.

The good news is that this the first LED streetlight to arrive in my street.

While we have had three white light fitted in recent years, these have all been the old fluorescent legacy type, which I’m sure the council lighting department was trawling up from old stock, to avoid buying any low pressure sodium replacements before the LED changeover was underway, and new stock was all of that type.

While it would probably be very hard to photograph, to the eye at least, the single new LED light in the sea of yellow murk is impressive to say the least.

There’s obviously NO upward light pollution as LED fittings only emit light from one side anyway.

Side spill is controlled by the lens and fitting, and is very low, just enough to provide useful illumination outside the main light pool.

Probably the most impressive aspect is the clearly defined main illumination pool, which can be clearly seen with only this single light in the midst of the sodium yellow surrounding. Being able to compare the brightness of the two is impressive, with the gloomy yellow being in stark contrast to the clearly illuminated white area, where a lot more detail can be seen.

By eye, I can see how it illuminates a rectangular area of the road, extending far enough to eventually merge with the lights on either side, but seems to be shaped to avoid the footpath. I’m not aware if that is intended, or just an incidental effect of how it is mounted. Poor or careless mounting could influence this, and there are some of these lights in nearby streets which have been very badly installed and aligned (they may actually have been disturbed after fitting). Regardless, the illuminated area is a near perfect match for the width of the road.

Broken Streetlight Repaired

Broken Streetlight Repaired

A little better than before.

Broken Ligh tNight

Broken Light Night

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Meet Owl Kitty – short but sweet

While I seem to be happy spending ridiculous amounts of time editing still pics, it’s probably just as well I never scored any cheap (or free) video editing toys, or I’d probably never see the light of day.

Chances are I’d be caught up in trying to find suitable clips to make clips like these, which always leave me wanting more, as they end just as they are getting interesting.

There’s quite a few Owl Kitty productions now, so it’s not so easy to pick one, but I rather like this example, where everyone else is already clearly aware that their place in the greater scheme of things is to bow down before their feline overlord.

Find more of the same here:

Meet Owl Kitty. Your favourite movie kitty


Maybe just ONE more…

If you have a cat – NEVER lose you tin opener!

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Looks like battery powered trains trials are turning into new train plans

When I noted news of plans for running trials of battery-powered trains, I also observed that it was probably too soon to expect any sort of follow-up story.

Looks like it only took about four months for that story to appear, and the plans for such trains to be announced.

Scottish passengers would be among the first in the world to ride on battery-powered trains under plans unveiled by Japanese firm Hitachi.

The company wants to add batteries to the new electric trains it is building for ScotRail which are being introduced across the Central Belt.

It would extend the range of the Class 385 trains on to non-electrified sections of track.

That could bring the newer trains with their improved comfort to lines currently served by older and more polluting diesel trains.

Hitachi said the trains could run up to 60 miles on batteries.

It said recharging would take ten to 15 minutes.

That would mean the trains could run beyond Dunblane – the northern extent of ScotRail’s electrified network – as far as Perth and Dundee.

Hitachi has suggested other routes they could be used on including from Glasgow to East Kilbride and Kilmarnock, and on a Glasgow northern suburban line to Anniesland via Maryhill.

ScotRail has ordered 70 of the Class 385 trains, which will become its largest fleet.

Plans to introduce battery powered trains in Scotland

Surprisingly for a Moron Comment section, I don’t see any nonsense disparaging the idea, only suggestions that seem to show it is a good idea.

Possibly the best thing about this type of train is that it can carry on running past the end of current electrified lines, and doesn’t need ANOTHER train powered by diesel to be added. And, it can operate along lines where electrification is not practical, or too costly to implement.

I’m amazed the Naysayers and their miserable friends haven’t descended on this story en masse, to rubbish it – maybe they’re out dancing around wind turbines 😉

Hitachi is reported to have been developing this technology for 15 years, and has had a “Dual ENergy CHArge train” (DENCHA) operating in Southern japan since 2016.

A lot of such ideas were not seen as practical in the past, such was the state of battery technology.

Even those manufacturers who persevered, and produced prototype vehicles back then have actually been disadvantaged as a result, such as GM, which produced the EV1 battery electric car, which worked, but was not really practical. After recalling the prototypes (which were not sold to, or owned by, those who drove them), some outraged people today demand boycotting GM for scrapping/destroying most of those prototypes at the end of the project.

Given the old (limited) battery technology used then, and how many people are still not happy with even the latest Lithium-ion battery technology in battery electric vehicles (BEV), GM could never had made the EV1 viable or economic in its day. A handful of people might have bought the EV1 and tolerated it, but the general public would simply never have bought it. Comments online (especially in the UK) still show most barely consider BEVs serious even now.

But why try reasoning with fanatics – they’re not interested in facts or reality, just their own dogma.

30/03/2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Time for a good DIG

I just realised I haven’t seen many registrations of this format in recent years.

DIG 4446 seen on a 2014 Vauxhall Mokka (I’m so far out of touch I’ve almost never even heard of that model, clearly around for at least five years too – oh well).

I wonder if the owner is a keen gardener?

It’s a form of number I’ve never known the significance of for owners who are prepared to buy them, and seldom forms a recognisable word or name, so maybe the number, (always four digits) rather than the letters, is the key feature for them. I can’t recall ever coming across one with any text/caption below the number, explaining the choice.

Maybe someone will give me a clue.

2014 Vauxhall Mokka [DIG 4446]

2014 Vauxhall Mokka [DIG 4446]

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove’s neglected view

Look for images of Kelvingrove and the chances are you will mainly get views of the side facing Dumbarton Road.

Just look at the header image on the museum’s web site

Despite legends about the building being built back to front, leading the architect to throw himself to his death from one of the towers), the simple fact is that the building was always intended to face into Kelvingrove Park. However, it is true to say that most visitors arrive at the Dumbarton Road entrance and assume that to be the front. I noted this recently as a group of tourists asked how they’d know they were at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and when to get off the bus – of course they were told they couldn’t miss the front of the building (not by me, but some other heading for the same place).

That said, I’ve been visiting the place for all of my life, should know better, but still mentally assign ‘back’ and ‘front’ to the wrong faces!

I though of this a few weeks ago, while standing at the top of the hill overlooking Kelvingrove from Glasgow University, and had wondered if the seasonal absence of any foliage on the trees would allow Kelvingrove to be seen. Sadly, no. There’s just too many trees in the way, and all you can see is the roof, even from that vantage point.

I’d looked at the view from the car park (on the Kelvingrove Park side) before, and knew it was restricted. There a few large trees fairly close to the building, and the proximity of the River Kelvin means you can’t stand as far back as on the Dumbarton Road side, so need a VERY wide lens to capture the whole façade.

Or some clever imaging software, which I decided to give a try, on the basis that ANY images is better than NO image.

The version I use (for free, of course) combines images radially rather than linearly, but after a couple of tries I was able to stand far enough back and avoid most of the (foliage free at the moment) trees, and get an image that just looks the usual perspective distorted result of a very wide-angle lens.

It’s worth noting that you’ll never get a clear view thanks to those trees, so you HAVE to try this sort of shot during the winter months when the trees have lost their leaves.

Kelvingrove Kelvin Stitch

Kelvingrove Kelvin Stitch

I found the main limiting factor was the height of the building as I didn’t want to start stitching vertical images as well as horizontal, and managed this with only two shots, making it easier for the image combination.

For comparison, this is the straight view using a 27 mm (35 mm) lens, which is 18 mm in ‘modern money’ digital camera terms.

Kelvingrove River Kelvin view

Kelvingrove River Kelvin view

Time to get a little closer, and look at the ‘new’ entrance we got thanks to the £30 million ‘restoration’ of 2003-2006, which provided ground level disabled access with lifts, and also allowed some 8,000 artefacts to go on permanent display, as opposed to only 4,000 in the previous layout (still leaving thousands in storage).

The ‘new’ layout discarded partitions that restricted much of the space, and where the lower floor was the museum, and the upper the art gallery – but figures showed that few than one-third of visitors ever ventured upstairs! Today, the space is mixed throughout.

Described as the ‘Main Entrance’, this view show the statue of St Mungo, patron Saint of Glasgow, above the lower ground floor entrance.

Kelvingrove St Mungo Entrance

Kelvingrove St Mungo Entrance

To explain that, the lower ground floor was dug out of the old basement (during the redevelopment mentioned above), leaving the existing ground floor and first floor above, as they always were.

So, nothing confusing at Kelvingrove then: the front is the back, and the ground floor is the lower ground floor (which was the basement), the first floor is the ground floor, and the second floor is the first floor – all depending on which entrance you use 🙂

I should the leave the last word to St Mungo, I think often neglected, so here is his close up.

Kelvingrove St Mungo

Kelvingrove St Mungo

The figures to his left and right represent art, and music.

I may have to go back for more, having noticed the various reliefs that adorn the arches here, by the same artist who created this bronze, George Frampton, and similarly (in my opinion) generally neglected, not noticed, and seldom mentioned. The same could probably said of other figures around the exterior of the building – I may be there for a while one day, and have to do some digging into my original souvenir guide-book, from before the redevelopment.


30/03/2019 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Pencil Day

30 March is Pencil Day.

With so many clever alternatives, and the option not to physically write at all by using a word processes, or draw using software, it not hard to see how the humble pencil can be overlooked and forgotten.

Even I find myself voiding the wood and graphite original, as it seems to very wasteful to keep sharpening to maintain a sharp and narrow tip, which is what I usually need for precision drawing. Those who can live with broad strokes are more fortunate. They only have to sharpen their pencil to reveal new core material, and can carry on with broad strokes. I, unfortunately, need that tiny 0.5 mm (or less) core hidden within.

It should come as not surprise then, to learn I like mechanical pencils.

While I never liked the traditional and original propelling pencil (usually twisting the body would extend the lead from the mechanism). I don’t really know why, maybe the lead was not held securely enough, and I found I seemed to have to stop writing and twist for more lead after only a few words, which was distracting and irritating.

I was much happier with a mechanical clutch pencil, which held a fairly thick lead in sprung jaws, and had to sharpened to a point using a tiny sharpener, or rubbed on sandpaper to form a sharp point. Although this probably took more effort than a propelling pencil, because you were in control and could fine tune the point to suit the job at hand, it was not so noticeable, irritating, or distracting.

Then we got arguably the best mechanical pencils, which took precision leads of fixed diameters (usually 0.2, 0.5, and sometimes 0.7 mm in my box), and just needed a click of the button at the top of the pencil to micro-feed the lead as it wore down in use, which took no time at all.

Some had the ‘button’ on the side of the pencil, while some even had automatic feeds, which would feed the lead out when the pencil was lifted from the paper (activated by a sleeve over the lead, and a ratcheting system). The latter didn’t really work though. While they did what they were supposed to, the sleeve over the lead covered and hid it, and was a distraction as it obscured the tip of the lead when it was worn down far enough to activate the mechanism.

The manual button, on the top or the side, worked just fine.

The last ‘useful’ option fitted to the last such pencil I bought was a rotating feed, which seemed to be a good idea.

As you use these fine leads, the tip can wear to become an ellipse rather than a circle if the pencil is held at an angle to the paper – this can result in odd with changes if you pick the pencil up at 90º to the previous use, or even if you just change the angle you are holding it at.

By rotating the lead each time it is advanced, the lead is prevented from becoming worn in only one direction.

The wear over the tip, rather than being confined to one orientation.

I’m not arguing that one is better then the other, they’re just different, and one may be better for some jobs than the other.

If you are really stuck, you could try a mechanical pencil housed inside a wooden pencil body.

Mechanical Wooden Pencil

Mechanical Wooden Pencil

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Chatty Cafe scheme comes to Glasgow

Seeing this article reminded of a slightly irritating visit to the shops a few days ago.

I tend to keep myself to myself, and anyone who encroaches uninvited into my personal space is unfortunately like to waken up with the words “What place is this?” (or “What hospital is this?”) on their lips.

Sorry, that’s just me (human version of Grumpy Cat).

While I was trying to work out how to stretch my funds in the supermarket, this guy walks up and starts rambling away “Hi there. How are you? OK? I’m fine thank you. Thanks for asking, Having a good day? I am having a good day”.

And he just carried on babbling similar stuff even though I just grunted and ‘drew him a sinker’.*

A few minutes later I was standing with some other people looking at the reduced shelf – he rolled in again and started off with the same stuff.

I think everybody just looked at him as if he was mad (and took one step back).

Somewhat less intrusive is and confrontational is The Chatty Cafe Scheme

Basically seems to be a way for those not inclined to be so forward, but provides a way for them indicate they’d be happy for someone to sit at their table and chat…

A Chatter & Natter table is where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers“.

A Chatter & Natter table creates a space for people to talk; whether it is for five minutes while you drink a brew, or an hour of good conversation. We’re not trying to build friendships – just simple interactions to combat loneliness and to just maybe have a big impact on someone’s day.

Although the aims of the scheme are to reduce loneliness and get people chatting we decided not to use the word loneliness on any of the publicity that is displayed in cafes.

Instead it is very positive and focuses on bringing people of all ages and from all walks of life together. We want to mix everyone up!

There’s a ‘Chatty Cafe’ finder on the web site.

The only place I saw on the list which is also somewhere I go is Kelvingrove.

I wandered into the café a few times this week, hoping to get a pic of the ‘Chatty Table’, but there was nothing to be seen, no signs or labels suggesting any of the table were ‘Chatty’.

Maybe somebody forgot to tell them they are part of the scheme?

More seriously, I should add that the café is currently in a temporary location within Kelvingrove, having been displaced from its usual home in the main hall by the arrival of Dippy the dinosaur. It will go back to its usual spot when Dippy leaves in a few weeks.

The scheme got a more detailed mention in an article in our local media.

Chatty Cafe scheme rolled out across Glasgow venues to help tackle loneliness

Since my venue was devoid of signs, and I’m not likely to be in any of the others listed on the web site any time soon, all I can do is show one of the pics from the article, showing the Chatter & Natter table within the café at St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art in Castle Street.

Chatter and Natter Table

Chatter and Natter Table Pic credit GlasgowLive


A slightly odd observation.

After I wrote that I “Drew him a sinker” – an expression common around here, which means to give someone a very obvious and very disparaging look, I searched for it online, just to see how it was described.

Nothing found.

Is this a very local expression to the east end of Glasgow and unknown elsewhere?

I’ve no idea, I never even thought about it before, so common and ordinary did I think the expression was.

Or, am I wrong?

29/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | 2 Comments

Swiss cat ladders are a thing

Swiss Cat Ladders – looks like a good book.

Swiss graphic designer Brigitte Schuster went out and about in Bern, Switzerland and documented the Bernese people’s love of felines in her book “Swiss Cat Ladders” that will be released later this year.

Pity WordPress kills links to imgur collections/galleries, so I can only show one sample to get you interested.

Swiss Cat Ladders

Swiss Cat Ladders

See the rest here

29/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Nice follow-up to Rose Street Foundry mural (mosaic) story from 2013

I first came across this mosaic (inaccurately referred to as a mural back then) when looking at some info relating to PLUTO, World War II’s famous ‘pipeline under the ocean’ which allowed fuel to be pumped across the Channel from England to France to support D-Day invasion operations.

Surprising connection to PLUTO revealed in Inverness

What I didn’t spot in the intervening years was any mention of a project to restore those mosaics, which were noted to be decaying in the original post.

Mosaics returned to former Inverness foundry building

That project is now complete.

A set of mosaics celebrating Inverness’ industrial past have been reinstalled following restoration work.

The panels are now back in place at Rose Street Foundry, also known as AI Welders, in Academy Street.

Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has been leading the efforts to revamp the vacant site.

Owner Cairngorm Taverns Limited was awarded a grant of £960,000 by the project last year to bring the building back into use.

Piece of history restored as mosaics return to foundry



29/03/2019 Posted by | Transport, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

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