Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Fundraising appeal for Alexander “Greek” Thomson designed villa Holmwood House

It’s some years since I was last able to go visit Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s villa, Holmwood House, and my first visit was probably back in the 1990s, as soon as the place was opened to visitors after NTS Scotland took it on.

Thomson designed Holmwood House for paper magnate James Couper and his wife.

I think that may also have been the first time was shocked to see how many people had turned up at a then not-so well-know Doors Open Day venue. I was used to meeting only a handful of people at any of the ‘open’ places, and the only time I had encountered a massive queue was at the registry office in Park Circus, which was mobbed the only time I went for a look (and left).

As noted, that first visit was the first time the public had been given access, and the place was completely bare, still being cleaned up, and with many area looking their age due to neglect.

But work was underway to find out just what sort of condition the building was in, and there were many small exploratory ‘reveals’ showing just what original material lay under the various coats of paint, varnish, and other decoration that had been added over the years.

I never cease to be amazed by the conservators’ skill, as they remove layers of paint and varnish to reveal what lies below, without damaging that original layer of decoration.

I have to confess to usually failing miserably when trying the same, as the solvents that take off the offending layers I want rid of just carry on their work – and take out most of what I’m trying to reveal as well! Fortunately, what I do this to is not historic and doesn’t matter, so it’s just very irritating, as opposed to destructive. Probably part of the trick I’m missing is that all the material I play with are modern, so the same solvents affect most layers in the same way. When working with genuinely old originals, they used different solvents to those used in more modern decorating materials.


The National Trust for Scotland is fundraising to conserve original decorations found hidden under paintwork in the historic house.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) needs to raise £120,000 to protect and recreate the original interior design found in the Alexander “Greek” Thomson designed villa Holmwood House in Glasgow.

Since NTS took over the property in 1994, conservators have discovered Thomson’s original decorations which were hidden beneath layers of paint and wallpaper applied by previous owners.

A three-year restoration project is now under way to return the house to its original glory so that visitors can see what it would have looked like when it was first built in 1857-8.

The process sees conservators carefully peel away paint and wallpaper to reveal areas of the original design which can then be recreated across the rest of the room.

A three-year restoration project is now under way to return the house to its original glory so that visitors can see what it would have looked like when it was first built in 1857-8.

The process sees conservators carefully peel away paint and wallpaper to reveal areas of the original design which can then be recreated across the rest of the room.

The restoration work is currently in its second year and the funding will help carry it through to the end of the three-year project, extending work throughout the house including into the parlour and up the stairs.

Drive to raise £120,000 to conserve Alexander “Greek” Thomson house in Glasgow

Amazingly (given the ridiculous number of duplicate pics some places are allowed to have) Geograph has only ONE shared pic of the exterior of Holmwood, and that is from 2006, so thank goodness ’emma’ cared enough.

Holmwood House by emma mykytyn

Holmwood House by emma mykytyn

21/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Told you so – Loch Lomond NPA has lost the plot (and maybe should be wound up)

While it may only be my opinion, ever since it was formed I’ve wondered what the point was of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority (NPA).

Supposedly created to look after and protect the area (from development?), all I ever seemed to see was news of development continuing within it, while the NPA used the ruse of ‘protecting’ the area by introducing rules and regulations which would, I believe, have driven away people like Tom Weir and hos friends (if they were still with us) from one of their favourite ‘wild’ areas, and served only to let the NPA justify its existence, and increase its power.

When plans were announced for a massive development near Loch Lomond I suggested Oh-oh… Looks like my unhappy opinion of the NPA might not be the only one

It seems I was right, and more than 53,000 54,500 other people agreed.

It’s probably also worth adding that this figure will be considerably larger, since it represents only those who actually registered their view.

More than 53,000 objections against a proposed £30 million tourist development on the shores of Loch Lomond have been handed to planners.

Plans for the Lomond Banks resort in Balloch include a 60-bedroom aparthotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants, as well as improvements to public footpaths and green spaces.

Green MSP Ross Greer visited the village on the loch’s southern shore along with locals to hand over objections, fulfilling a pledge to gather more than 50,000 by enabling people to object via his website.

By Monday afternoon, more than 54,500 people had lodged their opposition via his site.

He claims the number sets a record for any Scottish planning application and called for the planning authority, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, to reject planning permission for the Flamingo Land Limited and Scottish Enterprise application.

Mr Greer said: “Flamingoland Loch Lomond is now the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history and when you look at their proposals, it’s no surprise why.

“Local residents have been joined by people from across Scotland in saying that Loch Lomond’s world famous natural beauty should be protected, not sold off for the profit margins of a private developer.

“Time and time again, it’s only the Greens standing with communities when they fight to protect Scotland’s environment against corporate takeover and destruction.

“Our campaign to save Loch Lomond will continue until the National Park reject these plans and this threat is ended once and for all.”

Flamingoland resort ‘most unpopular planning application in Scottish history’

Loch Lomond resort ‘most unpopular development in history’

Heads should roll

I’m not usually a fan of the “FIRE SOMEBODY” response which is so popular nowadays, and used to make a public statement when some alleged mistake or slip is made in a publicly visible company, but in this case I think such a move would be wholly appropriate.

This is not a mere error, but a complete failure by an organisation supposedly tasked with protecting an area of outstanding natural beauty.

I’d say it’s also the worst example to date of how this NPA really isn’t fit for purpose, not has it been since it was put in place.

Not only the chief executive should be looking for a new job now, but with such a gross error being made in public, the whole board should probably be deemed complicit too, and ‘invited’ to leave.

And with that, maybe a NEW NPA should be formed, one which will do the job an NPA is supposed to do!

Unless we actually WANT Loch Lomond’s shores to look like…



A more detailed look at ‘The Plot’

The BBC ran a long and detailed review.

Proposals for a tourist resort on Loch Lomond have been complained about more than 55,000 times.

Plans for the £30m resort near Balloch are believed to have attracted the largest number of objections for a Scottish planning application.

The online petition against the Lomond Banks development has been passed to planners.

Significantly, this para confirms the NPA can do as it likes, and the planning decision is not down to the local council.

Final plans were submitted to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority last month. The developers modified previous plans in light of requests by the authority for changes and further information. The decision on whether to allow the development lies with the authority – not the local council.

Why isn’t the local council making the decision?

The local authority, West Dunbartonshire Council, has a right to express a view on the project but will not take the decision on whether to grant it planning permission because it is within the national park’s boundaries.

A spokeswoman said: “We will be making a formal response as a consultee. This will be considered by councillors in June and will thereafter be submitted to the National Park Authority as the council’s response to the application.”

So, the NPA can do as it likes.

Will the volume of signatures have an impact on the decision?

Obviously, the authority will be aware of the number of signatories but the sheer number alone would not be a factor.

Even if what it want to do is really “privatisation of public space”.

Some would also argue a commercial development on this land represents the “privatisation of public space”. Indeed this row seems to touch on these fundamental issues. Leading opponents include the Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer and the writer and champion of the outdoors Cameron McNeish.

Why did 55,000 people object to Loch Lomond development plans?

Mental image when I see opinions be offered to the NPA…

Well kiss dis

21/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Little known mural about to be obscured in Howard Street

I don’t think I’ve seen this pair of murals referred to in any mural ‘trails’, but I wouldn’t claim to have dug up every list there ever was.

The one that’s not in any danger of being lost to easy view sits above Kenny’s Music in Howard Street.

If nothing else, it demands a bit of notice for its semi-realistic appearance.

Howard Street Suite Dreams mural

Howard Street Suite Dreams mural

The second (to the left of the first) shares that semi-realistic aspect, but will soon be lost to direct viewing as the building being raised on the site of the former Safeway (and others as the name over the door changed) is completed, and the lane (apparently unnamed, at least according to my maps) is once again closed in by the surrounding buildings.

Howard Street Lane Hostel Suites mural

Howard Street Lane Hostel Suites mural

21/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Today is I Need A Patch For That Day

21 May is I Need A Patch For That Day.

(I’m beginning to think someone out there is just making these day up. OH! They are 🙂 )

I was about to write “Check out this cat related web site” where Thomas & Ruth Roy created a number of ‘Days’ some time ago.

The web site was at but when I recently tried to access it a few times, it came up dead.

Anyway (from the archives)…

Some days are set up with the express purpose of ensuring that something we often take for granted or miss entirely receives the honour that it deserves.

‘I Need A Patch For That Day’ is a good example of such a day, and is a day when we can sit back and celebrate the humble patch, in all its various forms.

The day is not dedicated to any one type of patch, but refers to all possible patches, so can be patches in clothes, software, tyres, even patchwork quilts.

Should you think this is a silly day, then I suggest you try surviving WITHOUT patches!

ESPECIALLY software patches nowadays.

However, I’m going to mark this day by mentioning the humble bicycle repair patch.

But, not the ancient, traditional type seen in the ubiquitous tin box, as seen below.

John Bull puncture repair kit

Ye Olde John Bull puncture repair kit

While I bowed to greater knowledge and experience than mine, I still never understood why it was necessary to go through the procedure of preparing dry patches with umpteen coats of rubber solution, applied to the patch and the tube, which had to be carefully dried to just the right degree of tackiness (or risk imminent failure) before applying the patch.

It seemed more of an initiation ceremony than a legitimate repair operation – get it wrong, and your repair would fail. Although I never had that happen.

Then there was that useless little can, or tube, of rubber solution.

Whenever I needed to use the stupid repair kit – the can or tube was always EMPTY! The contents evaporated quickly, and I always had to run and buy a new one when I actually had a repair to complete.

I saw no reason for all that nonsense, concluded there was some sort of conspiracy preventing the availability of a self-adhesive patch.

I guess whoever was behind that particular conspiracy died a few years ago.

Last time I went to the bike shop, self-adhesive patches were on offer.

And, as I expected, they work just fine.


21/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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