Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

More fun for the mindless – ‘Heritage Crime’ is added to their list of hobbies

I’ve been watching the slow but steady increase in reports relating to crimes against historic sites and artefacts over the years.

I’ve been able to see this for myself as sites relating to World War II and the Cold war are vandalised and burnt-out, while anything more recent (such as memorials) has become a handy resource for metal thieves, who don’t like the idea of dying if they steal wiring from high voltage substations and train lines.

I’ve revisited some sites (which I might add are in isolated locations and can be hard to find) which were complete, intact, and well-preserved at my first visit, only to find they’ve been broken into, vandalised, and stripped, even if the contents have no real value. It’s enough gratification for the morons involved just to destroy them.

This increase has become noticeable, and is now in the news.

A campaign has been launched to raise awareness of “heritage crime” in Scotland.

It follows a series of vandalism attacks on ancient monuments such as St Anthony’s chapel in Edinburgh.

The Crimestoppers charity said such incidents were on the rise and that the cost to the public purse was thought to be “significant”.

It is now calling on people to report offences like graffiti, metal theft and fire-raising anonymously.

What is heritage crime?

Crimestoppers said heritage crime was when historic buildings, monuments and shipwrecks are criminally damaged. This can include:


•Anti-social behaviour

•Theft, including metal theft

•Metal detecting on scheduled monuments

•Recovery of objects from protected shipwrecks

•Undeclared treasure trove or salvage

•Illicit trade in antiquities

Fresh bid to tackle growing ‘heritage crime’

An example

The level of violence vandals will employ to destroy something, or gain access to a closed space is not limited, and even robust sites will be attacked.

Take this example I came across a while ago.

Compare my first pic taken in around 2001 with the second taken by another visitor to the same site some years later, in 2007.

Hatch 01

Hatch 01

Six years later.

Hatch 07

Hatch 07


18/04/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Cold War, photography | , | Leave a comment

Memorial Chapel organ edits

After looking at the shots I took (quickly) of the organ loft of the Memorial Chapel organ mentioned earlier, I decided to play with them, mainly because I hadn’t even been able to see the loft thanks to the blinding glare from the high intensity lights fitted around the aisle.

Since I was carrying the compact, the shots suffered more from this than the dSLR, which is generally less susceptible to flare and glare (provided I remember to fit the short zoom).

This first shot is actually a better view than seen with the naked eye which, for me at least, was almost blinded by the direct glare and light from the white discharge light. I should add that there is a second identical light only a few metres to the left, obscured by the ceiling light hanging in front of it.

These lights may provide loads of illumination for the aisle (see the webcam), but are useless otherwise, blinding any attempts to look at the ceiling or organ, and wasting energy in these environmentally aware days.

Interestingly rebuilt in 2005, while it retained a number of the original 1927 parts, sufficient changes mean that it is described online as ‘virtually a new organ’.

It even has a tremolo, which can be clearly heard during some recitals.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Original

Organ Loft Original

I wouldn’t normally edit such a poor shot, but in this case, since I have nothing else (and couldn’t even see the loft by eye), I decided to apply some corrections. While the settings can be raised to recover detail, the problem is that areas which don’t need correction get the same treatment, and the result looks terrible as completely unnatural looking features are created.

However, in this case I think it was justified, as it revealed that the loft features the actual organ pipes, open to the aisle, and not hidden behind a decorative façade of ‘false’ pipes.

This also becomes obvious during recitals, where individual voices can be heard particularly clearly. Something not found if they are behind any sort f decoration.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Edit

Organ Loft Edit

While waiting for things to get underway, I thought I’d try an alternative view, from my raised position in the stalls.

Sadly, while this (almost) raised my viewpoint above the offending bright discharge lights – it brought new lighting problems.

The chapel’s original lighting, suspended from the ceiling, just happened to land in the ‘wrong’ place. Oh well.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Original 2

Organ Loft Original 2

Since I’d sold my soul and edited one image I normally wouldn’t have, I thought I might as well try another.

Same problem, with an unnatural end result.

On the other had, it does bring a little more detail.

Glasgow Memorial Chapel Organ Loft Edit 2

Organ Loft Edit 2

Now that I know the problems, and the dates of more recitals due in the coming weeks, I might make this one of the ‘mission’, and try to beat the glare effects of all those nasty lights, and get a better shot one day.

Not all failure

Having given the ‘bad news’, I can give some ‘good news’.

As I noted in the first post, this chapel interior is a feast for anyone who likes to take detail images, and has many features.

I noted one tourist arrive, and after staring at all the goodies on show for a while, started taking pics of them, and might still be there!

On this occasion I just stopped for one extra shot, taken as the Sun shone in through one of the windows, and landed on one of the carvings.

A few minutes either side of this moment, and it wouldn’t have happened.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Angel

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Angel

For anyone who may suggest I’ve ignored the Memorial Chapel itself, and its history, I’m afraid that’s not the case.

There are accounts online, and as I learnt more about this building I decided I couldn’t really do any better.

And there is quite a lot to cover.

I was surprised once I’d gone through it all.

I’m also surprised there isn’t more signage directing visitors to it either – there really is nothing dedicated to the chapel, not even at its entrance or the stairs leading to the doors – just the name as it appears on the general signs directing people around the grounds.

Finally, I tried a shot of one the Chapel’s suspended lighting fixtures.

This is OK, but the extreme variation in illumination means it would have to be more carefully exposed.

In reality, the central, internally illuminated, lightbox appears relatively darker than the suspended lights surrounding it. It also has the appearance of a colder (or bluer) light than the others, which appear to be warm white.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel lighting

Memorial Chapel lighting

Just one more thing (didn’t even try to take a pic)…

The stained glass in this building is stunning, and I have to say it is fortunate it is safe within a controlled perimeter, as opposed some Glasgow back street where it would have to be protected behind wire mesh guards, screens, and grilles.

It must be some of the largest, most complex, and intricate work I’ve ever seen, and should not be missed.

You can’t get close to it, which I found a little odd, being more used to visiting smaller venues featuring such work, and being able to get much closer to the detail.

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Easter reminder… Chocolate is POISONOUS to dogs!

Just a reminder, which even the cat* wants made public…

Hide the chocolate and make your home a dog-safe zone this Easter

Dogs Trust has issued a warning for dog owners ahead of Easter weekend.

The charity is reminding people to be vigilant and keep the chocolate out of reach of all four-legged friends over the next few days.

Last year 60 per cent of vets reported cases of pets suffering from chocolate poisoning over the period.

As Easter eggs and other tasty cocoa treats find their way into homes, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity hopes to raise awareness of the continued risk the consumption of the sweet treats poses to our canine pals.

Vets issue chocolate warning to Glasgow dog owners over Easter poisoning fears

Chocolate Toxic To Dogs

Chocolate Toxic To Dogs

Sadly, it seems the cat’s motivation was one of selfish warmth, and not any concern for a fellow creature, so no surprises there.

Cat on dog

  • so no surprises there.


18/04/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Found a new webcam – University Memorial Chapel

Found an intriguing webcam at Glasgow University, installed in the University Memorial Chapel.

It seems to be live 24/7, although there nothing to see when it’s dark and the lights are off (no IR or low light).

Visitors are also alerted to its presence and constant operation (which includes audio too) by signs, which offer them the option to contact the admin and have these turned off during their visit.

Chapel webcam

Although I’ve wandered around most of the university’s grounds, around the building, and even into a few of them, I hadn’t realised this was the chapel building, or that it was open for wanderers to wander into – there are no public signs outside.

I only discovered this when attending one of the occasional lunchtime organ concerts, which are usually free.

I grabbed a few quick pics as this was the first time I’d seen the place.

The interior is frustrating to view, as there are a number of VERY high intensity lights around the aisle (they look like outdoor discharge lamps), located not far above head height, producing a lot of glare and making it almost impossible to see the ceiling or organ loft. I almost went to try to find someone and ask if they could be switched off, which would be more useful than having the webcam turned off.

This view avoids them (they are off to either side) and looks towards the webcam.

There’s a lot of interesting detail to see there, and it needs a visit to show it.

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Interior

Memorial Chapel Interior

The rear of the building is easy, as seen from the quadrangle.

Memorial Chapel Rear West Quadrangle

Memorial Chapel Rear West Quadrangle

The facade and entrance, not so easy due to their size and limited space (and the odd tree branch).

Glasgow University Memorial Chapel Entrance

Memorial Chapel Entrance

I tried a quick stitch to get more in shot, but forgot some basic rule for this, so the result was not good on this occasion, and will need another try one day, without all the mistakes. This hardly added anything, and introduced a lot of ‘nasties’ – but taught me a little more, so was not all bad.

Memorial Chapel stitch

Memorial Chapel stitch

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Probably a video of how NOT to work live high voltage power cables

While I usually managed to avoid any sort of work involving high voltage power, I did still manage a few sessions involving test and measurement of systems running up to 200,000 volts. The system would go higher, but that was all I ever needed.

The good news about doing that (as opposed to power line work) was that it involved playing with those voltages under laboratory conditions.

So I was inside a screened room with a thick, wired glass window, while all the sparky bits were hung around a very large room.

It may not have been power in the sense of distribution, but it was power that could simulate lighting strikes, and destroy anything it arced onto.

As in indication of how dangerous the owners of this setup thought it was, the high voltage connector was about 6 metres overhead, just to make sure there was little chance of accidentally touching it with anything, or connecting to it by mistake. Plus you needed to complete interlocks, have at least two people working, and all that sort of procedural checking before even turning it on.

No such luxuries when working with power distribution in the street, as this person discovered.

The video’s a bit fuzzy, and there’s no back story either, so although he looks like a pro, I can’t even be sure if he’s using a proper hot stick on this live cabling. Or has someone else nearby, wearing appropriate gear to help him quickly if something… happens.

Still, he either positioned himself safely in the event of something going wrong – or was just lucky (and had double underpants on).

As you can see, when things go wrong with this sort of cable, they go wrong FAST!

Your life flashes before your eyes 😉

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Clutha inquiry, not new

It’s only the opening stage, but if it carries on like this, I wonder if anything new will come out?

This is really no more than we had in the days following the incident.

Clutha Inquiry: Lack of crash evidence ‘frustrating’

Lack of Clutha crash evidence ‘leaves unanswered questions’

Going over the existing material is good, it has to be reviewed, but after so many years, we might expect information to appear that was not available at the time.

Perhaps the legal people are preparing the way for new/additional legislation.

Clutha crash site

Clutha crash site

18/04/2019 Posted by | Aviation | , | Leave a comment

A82 emu – that’s not usual

Pity WordPress deletes embedded BBC video.

Odd, as it shows it as being embedded and visible.watchable in preview mode, then it disappears when the post is saved/published.

So, not only odd, but very, very irritating.

You’ll have to follow the link to enjoy this one…

‘Road Runner’ emu filmed sprinting along A82

I spent a lot of my life driving the A82, but never saw anything as funny as this, so it earns a mention.

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sad to see the Bluebird story is unresolved as craft reportedly heads back to Loch Fad

Some things amaze me, and the Bluebird scenario, or apparent fiasco, is one of them.

It’s hard to believe the wreckage was recovered, restored, and trialled, yet there was no clear definition of ownership and responsibility.

Given that there must have been a fair amount of money involved, which must have been administered, it’s hard to see how things got to where they are without that clear definition being spelt out somewhere in the legal documentation around the project.

Yet, as I noted a while ago, the saga of who’s in control is STILL unclear with the dispute as active as it was back then.

The man behind the restoration of Bluebird plans to run the vessel on a Scottish loch for a second summer, despite the threat of legal action.

Donald Campbell’s craft was recovered from Coniston Water in 2001 and rebuilt by Tyneside engineer Bill Smith.

Last week, lawyers for the Ruskin Museum demanded the hydroplane be handed over so it can go on display.

But Mr Smith said the vessel should be seen in action and it would be taken back for test runs on Loch Fad in July.

Campbell’s family gifted Bluebird’s wreckage to the museum in Coniston, but the Ruskin Museum Trust and Mr Smith’s Bluebird Project restoration team cannot agree what the craft’s future should be.

Bluebird: Iconic craft set for Scottish loch test run

If both sides really care about the craft, then the solution is that both should be satisfied by having it on show in the museum during the winter season, and out on the water, running (to keep it in good order) during the summer season when weather permits.

Incredibly, they don’t even seem to have a problem funding this, which is usually where these projects die their death, with no money to maintain such craft, or even fill the fuel tanks!

One word for all those involved –  DAFT!

I hope this isn’t really a clash of personalities waging war by proxy, with Bluebird potentially being locked up in some legal battle, and lost to everyone while it plays out.

And this nonsense after the trials on Loch Fad went so well.

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Some people could get a job in the Purrple Cat Cafe

If I was the sort of person who was depressed by such things, I’d probably be depressed after looking at the application form for ‘Cattendants’ at the Purrple Cat Cafe.

Purrmanently Sad

Chances of me ticking enough boxes to be considered?

Probably slim to none, I’m just too much of a non-conformist (and some other goodies) to meet the criteria. And I ran/owned businesses, employed people, plus my professional qualifications mean I’d probably also be discarded at the first stage.

But for everyone else…

Job Description :

90% cleaning. Cleaning up after cats is not for the faint hearted! Purrhaps you have cats at home, in which case you should be used to a certain amount of cleaning (we hope!). Either way – cleaning at Purrple Cat Café is on a much bigger scale – add in a few long-haired cats, some geriatric cats who might get lost on the way to the litter box, and that’s not even considering the thousands of humans who visit the café every month. And humans are messy too! Everything from carpets and upholstery to floors and windows are cleaned daily, and we are a café, so there’s the food service stuff to deal with.

You’ll need to be calm in a crisis – sick or injured animals don’t need a human freaking out, so you’ll have to put your feelings on pause, and deal with the paws!

Loving the line – some geriatric cats who might get lost on the way to the litter box

My cat was always able to find the box… but there seemed to some issue with aim.

See more here if interested…

Purrple Cat Cafe Jobs

There was also a media article here:

Glasgow’s only cat cafe is hiring again

There’s probably not a lot of point in trying for this by the time I’ve posted this – if memory serves me at all, then the first round of job offers was completely swamped with applications, not a few hundred, but a few thousand if my recall is correct.

Purrple Cat Cafe

Purrple Cat Cafe

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Today is Amateur Radio Day

18 April is Amateur Radio Day.

This day reminds us of the pioneers of radio, their modern descendants, and how radio has been serving a worldwide community for well over 100 years.

Back then, they were fighting against people who just didn’t think what they were doing was possible, let alone of any practical use.

Here’s one example with a Scottish connection I suspect not many are aware of:

Machrihanish Radio Station was established on the seafront at Uisaed Point, west of Machrihanish on the Kintyre peninsula, in December 1905. It remained there as part of an experimental transatlantic radio system until December 1906, when it collapsed during a gale.

Moving forward, things have changed, and I suspect true to say they have changed a lot.

I was a radio amateur for a while, when it was still possible to stick bits together and built your own equipment. Since my abilities at Morse never developed, I was then confined to the high frequency end of things, which was fine as I ended up playing with TV transmission after finding another couple of amateurs with similar interests, and we were able to set up links between, for example, Glasgow, Hamilton, and Motherwell. There was another down in Lanark, but that path just wasn’t possible, although he did work with mobile TV while on the road.

It’s all pretty laughable now, as we struggled to make those hops (or work mobile), and share fuzzy, low resolution images. And I might add, I needed a 5 metre long rotatable bean antenna on my roof too.

The Internet means anyone (with no technical ability) can share live TV today, in high-definition, virtually for free, in minutes, and from almost anywhere in the world.

Changed days.

I used to turn on the receivers to look for local activity, but it’s so quiet now it’s really a waste of time – and that around Glasgow.

As far I know, there aren’t any shops left either, at least those I used to visit in Glasgow are all gone, and the last time I saw Jaycee mentioned (the last gathering point I knew of in Glenrothes), it was a notice about its closure.

Best wishes to those who still persevere today.

(We’ll need you one day, when all the stuff packed with software and smart chips goes belly up, and can’t be repaired/replaced).

70 cm Yagi

70 cm Yagi

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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