Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Another coincidence – just a few doors away from St Simon’s in Partick

I try to avoid the ‘Spooky Coincidence’ theme I seem to attract, but this one deserves a mention, if only to add to the calls for the dross responsible to be ‘Dropped in it’.

Reading the report about the vandalism carried out within St Simon’s church in Partick, it was depressing to note I was just a few doors away from the church when the vandalism took place, as I’d spent a while rummaging around in the goodies in the Salvation Army’s Dumbarton Road shop.

I even picked up a little bargain too, a pair of brand-new tyres (half price) for a ‘beater bike’ I’m slowly putting together from parts. I might even finish it one day.

But the subject is the attack that tool place on the church, which I have to confess I was unaware, and was surprised not to have come across references to, as it is known as ‘The Polish Church’, due to connection with Polish person who stayed nearby during World War II.

Polish services are still held there today.

Archdiocese condemns ‘shameful’ attack on Catholic church

St Simon's vandalism


30/04/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh dear – even the BBC sometimes just repeats myths

I wondered if the recent tale of a ‘spy’ in the form of a ‘beluga whale’, kitted out with a GoPro and reportedly trained to approach vessels for food, would be picked up by any media sources, and it seems our very own BBC was the one lured in by this ‘honey trap’.

First rule of spying – don’t look like a spy.

The beluga whale – if that’s really its name – found in Norway’s waters can certainly tick that box.

But it appears to have committed an absolutely basic rookie sleuthing error.

The reason it’s causing suspicion among Norwegian fishermen and scientists is that it was wearing a harness and a label saying it was from St Petersburg in Russia.

Russia has denied any wrongdoing – and so far the beluga is refusing to talk.

Can’t or won’t?

Regardless of the truth, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time undercover animals have been used to spy.

It goes on to recount the tale of the now fairly well-known CIA’s ‘Acoustic Kitty’.

If there’s one thing we know about cats, it’s that they do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Admittedly, they’re inscrutable and impossible to second guess, so that’s possibly why the CIA thought they’d make excellent field operatives.

In the 1960s, it’s estimated $14m (£10.7m) was spent on a project to fit listening devices inside cats. The idea was for them to prowl around picking up vital Russian intelligence.

But it ended in failure on day one – when the cat was run over by a car outside the Soviet embassy in Washington.

Spying whales and other undercover animals

Sad to say, while that account is probably not wholly inaccurate, it’s probably also a bit of a myth.

There’s no disputing the creation and existence of Acoustic Kitty, and the chances are you can search online and find most of the story, and maybe even X-Rays of the cat showing the wiring and microphone.

And it’s probably also true to say it was a complete and utter failure, since the chances of convincing a free-roaming cat to follow instruction are at best, slim to nil.

However, I’m going to call ‘FAKE’ on the usual conclusion to the story, as given in the BBC article quoted above.

A few years ago a CIA officer published his memoirs, and these were quoted at length online, by the sort of web site that likes that sort of thing.

Acoustic Kitty came up in story.

The officer noted the project’s failure, but gave a completely different (and for its worth, far more believable account than that of the cat just happening to be “run over by a car outside the Soviet embassy in Washington.” Seriously, try working out the odds of that happening.

The officer’s account of the conclusion to Acoustic Kitty’s career was that, after the handlers found it impossible to control the cat once it was released (it went for a wander where it wanted to), they ‘recovered’ their asset, removed the radio/wiring/microphone (apparently fitted into the cat’s ear canal), and then retired it, after which it went on to live out its life somewhere more comfortable than a city.

I really wish I noted the web address of every article I read, which would make it easy to go find such items years later, but I do keep watching for this one, and if I do come across it, I WILL make a note.

Incidentally, to give you an idea of the credibility of the tale of  the cat being run over the first time it was released, I might add that the stories about this project report a cost to the CIA ranging from less than $10 million to over $120 million before it was cancelled.

Some say…

The Soviets were preparing countermeasures.

Serious Cat

30/04/2019 Posted by | Cold War, Lost, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Kelvingrove ends on 06 May 2019

Although it doesn’t have the pic below, it’s worth noting that the exhibition of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci which has been on show at Kelvingrove since 01 February 2019 ends in a few days.

Monday coming in fact, 06 May 2019.

We’ve already featured one example showing just why the Mona Lisa has that smile, now we have another.

Completed Mona Lisa

Completed Mona Lisa

Everything is better with cat hair“, especially if the cat is still attached!

30/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Chapel webcam back at last

After more than a week of absence, this one has come back to life.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel webcam

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Interior

Memorial Chapel Interior

30/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Metro – Where did that come from?

(The answer’s in the linked articles.)

I’ll be honest and say I ran away from all forms of public transport as soon as I could, having spent much of my early life forced into using it – for example, a four year stretch of depending on the ‘Green Bus’ that got me into and out of Glasgow every day. Today, I have no idea why I had to use that rather than a Corporation bus, but there must have been a reason.

I first came across a metro system during the time our company had an office in Durham, which meant trips there, and Newcastle, and Beamish Museum.

Having tried driving and parking around the city, when I notice publicity for the metro, and was staying in a hotel not far from a connection, curiosity enticed me into giving it a try. I ended up impressed, and using it on a number of return visits.

A number of features made it attractive, not least of which being that it actually worked!

It had ‘Park & Ride’, so I could leave my car at the point where I arrived, outside the city, so no time wasted looking for somewhere to park.

Tickets came from a machine, took only a few seconds to set up and pay for, and were valid for the whole day, unlimited trips, so no need for detailed planning so long as you stayed within the zone you paid for.

Trains/buses/coaches were integrated, so you just jumped on and off whatever suited, and your ticket was valid for all.

I wonder if it still exists? After the office was closed after a few years, I never had much reason to get back.

I realise some aspects mentioned are common now, but this was years ago, before smart phones and contactless systems.

The Glasgow system appears, in summary at least, to be realistic, and based on actual analysis, as opposed to endless whining heard from naysayers who still think, for example, that buses run the same way they did some thirty years ago, but I suspect are people who have never actually been on a bus in that time. Their method of commenting on proposals is to look at their belly button fluff, and repeat whatever it tells them.

I’m reasonably sure I’d win a bet that said the haters will be out with their knives sharpened, and the ‘People who like to say NO!’ will be planning parties.

The only downside I can see is that I’ll probably not be around when it arrives.

Oh well.

Glasgow needs a city-wide metro system to reconnect left-behind areas and boost the economy, according to a radical new blueprint.

The Glasgow Connectivity Commission wants about £10bn to be spent over the next 20 years on a range of measures to upgrade the city’s transport capacity.

It said the first new link should be to Glasgow Airport via Renfrew, Braehead and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Other tram or light rail lines should then be spread out across the city.

The commission, which was set up by Glasgow City Council 18 months ago, wants the metro network to revive abandoned rail routes, convert heavy rail to light rail and develop on-street trams.

The commission proposed:

  • Developing a Glasgow Metro to connect areas of the city poorly served by rail
  • Connecting Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations by a tunnel to increase capacity
  • Extend Glasgow Central station to the south of the Clyde to prepare for HS2 services
  • Developing plans for bus priority on Glasgow’s motorway network
  • Preparing for the shift to electric vehicles by considering new methods of road charging

CONNECTIVITY Commission Reveal Public Transport Vision For Glasgow

Radical blueprint calls for Glasgow metro

Glasgow-wide Metro system part of ‘radical’ new proposals to transform city transport

I would/will be impressed if I ever see the old Edinburgh Road looking anything like this concept view.

Edinburgh Road Metro Concept

Edinburgh Road Metro Concept

Ever since the traffic was taken off it years ago, I’ve thought it looks like the biggest waste of road space to be seen around Glasgow.

Having sat in nose-to-tail traffic jams on it in the past, if you were brave enough today you could probably just close your eyes and walk across it without looking, such is the low volume of traffic there now.

As a final thought…

Glasgow really HAS to do this, if only to show Edinburgh how a project like this SHOULD be done, after the tram fiasco it ‘enjoyed’ recently.

30/04/2019 Posted by | council, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Church House 142 Crownpoint Road

A surprising result from a pic taken out of curiosity about an old derelict building with a cross on top.

There didn’t appear to be anything informative to be seen on this building at 142 Crownpoint Road, other than the obvious cross on the apex of the façade, which sits over an unidentified crest with the date 1914 below. There are letters above, but not understood.

I had expected to find this building noted in some of Glasgow’s historic records, but it is not included, unlike the later 1930 carpet factory building to the left, which does have a record, and was built for John Lyle & Co, carpet and rug manufacturers, which were already  established nearby, in Fordneuk Street.

The only reference I could find was this sort note:

‘Christ Church House, 142 Crownpoint Road, Glasgow, Scotland’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [, accessed 06 Feb 2019]

When I took the pic shown below, the building was an obvious derelict which I thought might have been in danger of being lost, with windows missing, and a clear line of sight through the failing roof to the sky above.

However, by 2017 it had been restored and was being let for industrial use, apparently some sort of artist collective, Crownpoint Studios, but as they only appear online on Facecrook – I’m not touching the link.

It’s just a pity it was not a more notable building, and had more history or detail recorded online.

I chanced across a note about this place (forget where, it was a while ago while looking for something different and not paying attention, search can’t dig up again), but if I remember correctly it mentioned that this was the minister’s house for an adjacent church, now demolished and long gone. I think it referred to lightning bringing down the steeple, but I looked at aerial pics from 1931 and 1947 (Aerofilms) and the church structure does not look as if it ever had a steeple. Did the strike predate the 1930s? As the building disappeared so long ago, it’s not in current historic listings.

It’s funny how this apparently insignificant building, almost in the middle of nowhere in terms of historic interest, can be saved from dereliction and put to use, while more deserving buildings, in high profile locations, are abandoned with no apparent interest in reusing them.

Perhaps the policy of listing, and restricting restoration methods, together with the potential high value and costs of their locations needs to be reconsidered by those in charge.

Making the cost of saving such buildings high could be leading to more losses than saves!

142 Crownpoint Road Christ Church House

142 Crownpoint Road Christ Church House

30/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

More info suggests ‘Bus stop collision conspiracy’ might not be

I thought I’d collect a pic of the front of yesterday’s ‘featured’ car, just to show it was damaged since it was visible in that pic, but not obvious.

2011 Vauxhal Corsa [SH11 GVR]

2011 Vauxhal Corsa [SH11 GVR]

But the real interest was something I spotted as I stoated (now I’ve lost those who don’t speak Glaswegian) aff the bus later in the day.

The first thing I noticed from that position was some dreadful parking.

I seriously simply cannot understand how anybody can do this, and just leave. I couldn’t. Ever!

If they don’t know they’ve done it, and it should be obvious, then they should lose their licence as they are danger to others.

At least it’s not underinflated – I’ve seen a lot of cars parked like this with tyres that severely underinflated, and the sidewall is trapped and crushed between the wheel rim and the kerb. That’s got to be blowout/failure in the making.

Risky parking tyre stress

Risky parking tyre stress

However, things got more interesting as I collected myself and realised the car the tyre was fitted to was familiar, seen recently in Oops! Was that there when I went out?

Same car, looking brand new and in the same place as spotted before.

Not hard to remember that registration.

Nice and shiny from the body shop – and being abused.

2017 Toyota Yaris [E1 HYP]

2017 Toyota Yaris [E1 HYP]

So, I guess this maybe (but not necessarily) busts my thoughts about some odd accidents happening here.

The red car might have been dropped here after being recovered.

Granted, unlikely. A recovery would usually drop the job at the body shop.

But it might explain why I didn’t see it a few hours earlier, if it simply wasn’t there.

What I didn’t notice, or look for, was wreckage on the ground, as could be seen around the white car.

Oh well…

I suppose I’ll just have to watch for any more wrecks appearing.

I did arrive very early for the bus today, and watch quite a lot of cars using this junction.

Not one of them suggested any obvious ‘misjudgment’ that would give offside corners collision damage, so that’s something else I might keep watching.

30/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Apparently little known sculpture on Dumbarton Road

I can usually find reference to sculptures online once I know where they are, but this one has me beat so far.

I’d seen it from a distance, but manage to take a quick pic as I passed it yesterday.

I didn’t have time to go for a closer look, so don’t know if there’s a plaque nearby – pity I didn’t.

Although I now know it’s on the corner of Dumbarton Road and Bulldale Street, that hasn’t helped me track down its story.

It’s not even a very good pic, so I really should have stopped and taken the time to cross the road.

Dumbarton Road Bulldale Street Sculpture

Dumbarton Road Bulldale Street Sculpture

So, a bit of mystery for me, until I get back there again on foot and can wander about to see if there’s any info nearby.

Unless, you know better.

The detail shows some little stylised ships, so it relates to the river, just behind the houses.

Unfortunately, the angle of the pic was wrong to show the creatures inside the loop – I’m guessing maybe hedgehogs (so, I’m biased by Sonic, better than rats off the ships!), but that is just a guess, with no logic or reason.

Dumbarton Road Bulldale Street sculpture detail

Dumbarton Road Bulldale Street sculpture detail

29/04/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Heatwave memories

I’m always intrigued at the way the weather can make step changes between conditions, as opposed to just changing slowly over time.

The four day heatwave we enjoyed over the Easter weekend just appeared, and disappeared, as temperatures jumped from 14/16°C to 23/24°C then went right back down to the lower values again – and has stayed there.

Yesterday was a bit odd for me as I found I couldn’t tell if it was warmer or colder – I seemed to be running a slight temperature due to an infection that turned a bit nasty, and was ‘hot’ regardless of the surroundings.

But I noted nobody was wandering around what I’ve come to refer to as ‘T-shirt and shorts’, the woolly hats, gloves and winter jacket had reappeared, except in this case, as somebody walked into my shot as I took pics from the bottom of Byres Road. It’s due to be modified (if complainers stop complaining) to make it friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists, but all the media takes a pic at the top end, not the bottom.

That didn’t go too well, and will need a revisit on another Sunday.

You can see the back end of a white van in that pic – and there seemed to be glut of white vans with extended high roofs parked in Byres Road. They’re really tall, and it doesn’t take many of them to block most of the view along a road.

I couldn’t really feel the temperature, but even at that, I could feel it was at sleeveless level.

Byres Road was not that warm

Byres Road was not that warm

When I got home, I thought I’d take a look at the actual numbers since I’d been unable to tell what sort of a day it had been.

First, I had a look at the actual temperature, from just before the heatwave, up to the current day, which showed things hadn’t really changed and were still at the lower figure.

Easter heatwave

Easter heatwave

Next, the daily averages. This almost shows a rise, but in reality that’s as much due to slightly increased night temperatures as much as it is to any daytime increase, and things aren’t really changing much at the moment. But, it is noticeably better than before Easter.

Averages to date

Averages to date

Not worth a graph, the more sluggish internal temperature is almost flat now, between 13-14°C.


29/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

Finally, Fossil Grove’s official opening times make an appearance

As noted earlier, I had been dropping in on Fossil Grove in Victoria Park in hope of finding out when it would be opening in 2019.

However, even when the painters and joiners were in getting the place ready – there was still no notification of the opening dates.

I gave up after having an early ‘unofficial’ visit.

Since I needed a bit of a walk, when I came out of the Kelvin Hall today, I decided to have a wander along Dumbarton Road and see how far I got before I got fed up and headed for home – that happened around the Yoker ferry.

On the way, I diverted onto Victoria Park Drive, and that meant ending up at Fossil Grove even though I knew it would be closed as evening had arrived.

However, it did mean getting to see the noticeboard, and finding that the opening times had FINALLY been posted.

As usual, just a few hours at weekends:

20 April – 20 October 2019


12 – 4 PM

Victoria Park Fossil Grove opening times 2019

Victoria Park Fossil Grove opening times 2019

Fossil Grove’s own web site still doesn’t have opening times, but does have some events listed:

Opening during Easter holidays – check back here for details

Saturday 11th May 2019. 12-4. Geoweek event. Guided tours of the Fossil Grove and quarry by experienced local geologist. No booking required. FREE.

Saturday 1st June 2019. Fern planting in the Quarry with the British Pteridological Society

Doors Open Festival – Sat 14th September 2019. 12-4 FREE

Humidity and Temperature Monitoring

For those with an interest in the environmental conditions inside the Fossil Grove building, I see the web site has gained a page giving the readings (via graphs) of temperature and humidity since the start of December 2018.

Should I note it seems pretty close to my house since I stopped ‘burning’ my hard-earned?

Humidity and Temperature Monitoring

There are quite a few new pages, including time-lapse video cameras (but there seems to be no video when clicked, yet?).

The stills on the page show the pooling I caught in the pics I took the week before it closed for winter.

Time Lapse Cameras

Even more new pages

In fact, Fossil Grove’s web site has a number of new pages and features in 2019, more than I can list, so you really should visit (both the web site and the Grove).

Although I gave up on geocaching long ago (when it became far too popular), Fossil Grove now has TWO recent earthcaches.

Two earthcaches have been set in the Fossil Grove – one in the quarry area (accessible at all times) and one in the building (accessible when open).

Quarry earthcache

Fossil grove earthcache (inside building)

It’s great to see activity there, which will perhaps see improved prospects for…

The Future of the Fossil Grove

Fossil Grove 2019 preparation

Fossil Grove 2019 preparation

29/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

There’s still a Yoker/Renfrew ferry

I keep thinking the ferry between Yoker and Renfrew came to an end years ago, but it does actually still run today.

It’s usually referred to as the Renfrew Ferry, but since I was at the Yoker terminal, it seems only fair to mention it.

I think I saw some news stories about the ending of the subsidy on the loss-making route back in 2010 and, since I’m nowhere near it, didn’t catch the follow-up story until much later, when it was taken over by a private company, and had been operating that way ever since.

Maybe now that I have actually SEEN the ferry in operation, I will not forget it’s still there and it’s still running.

I came across it while wandering along Dumbarton Road, and spotted a side street with the name ‘Yoker Ferry Road’, which meant I had to go down it.

Sure enough, there was a tiny wee ferry out in the middle of the River Clyde.

Click for bigger.

Yoker Renfrew Ferry

Yoker Renfrew Ferry on the River Clyde

Damned mobile phones, even in the middle of the river!

It’s a wonder the zombies didn’t fall overboard.

Renfrew Ferry phone zombies

Renfrew Ferry phone zombies

There are two ferry vessels, and this closer look at the arrival of the one seen above gives a chance to see the other out of the water.

They look like aluminium craft, and they are, so must be pretty light and easy to lift. The shape also means they’re easy to land.

Conventional hulls usually need to be slung (and then propped on land), and I’ve seen that procedure doesn’t always go well, if the vessel is not perfectly balanced, and begins to rotate along its length – there’s no stopping it once it starts.

Renfrew ferries

Renfrew ferries


The Renfrew Ferry has a Twitter account, keeping travellers up to date with disruptions – and some interesting pics too 🙂

Renfrew Ferry Twitter account

There is a normal web site, with timetable details.

BUT… under ‘Fares & Prices’ (I was curious) there’s – nothing! Well, just a note that Zone Cards are accepted.

Travel Information Renfrew – Yoker

29/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: