Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

And the ferry ‘fun’ just goes on

While I may have given up on commenting on the decades of fun certain people have already had at the expense of those running Scotland’s ferries, that doesn’t mean I have to ignore the ongoing hilarity.

My generalisation stands, that there’s a noisy, vocal, clique which, for whatever reason, just says ‘NO’ to whatever is done regarding ferries (and CalMac in particular), and that they’d still whine and complain in just the same way if there were twice the number of ferries sailing, and they were free too use.

Don’t misinterpret that, there are genuine issues, but they’re nothing to do with ferry services as such, for example, the current nonsense which has developed regarding the supply of two new ferries being built on the Clyde.

Bet they wish they’d had them built in Poland.

And so it goes on, with people trying to play at winning ‘Brownie Points’.

More whining, no action, and, of course, Cmal’s to blame…

An independent inquiry into the future of West Coast ferry services is now a necessity, writes Brian Wilson.

An open letter to staff from a respected Caledonian MacBrayne skipper, retiring after 34 years, did not miss and hit the pier.

This account makes Fred Karno’s Circus seem like a smooth operation. Linkspans that don’t fit cardecks. Gangways that don’t fit ferries. Transient management in Gourock that doesn’t listen to seafaring experience. And so on.

What is to be done? Many problems trace back to a quango called Caledonian Marine Assets Limited, chaired by a Danish logistics expert and including nobody from the ports CalMac serves.

Respected skipper’s letter exposes dire state of West Coast ferries – Brian Wilson

The next whine will be along shortly.

Sinking boat


13/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Kitten loves food so much she “swims” in it

Can’t let this one pass…

When Maisey reached five weeks old, she began to learn to eat on her own. The little tuxedo was given wet food for the first time, and she dove in face first and scarfed it right down.

Soon, they discovered her interesting, endearing eating method.

Maisey insists on “swimming” in her food when she eats. She loves it so much that she doesn’t mind getting a bit messy.

“She enjoys belly flopping head first into her plate of food and working her toes between the mushy cat food wetness,” Danica told Love Meow.

“I have tried many different cat dishes and containers to keep the mess at bay, but she’s most content when I let her just swim in it, so as long as she’s happy, we are happy.”

Rescued Kitten Born in Insulation, Loves Food so Much She “Swims” in It

13/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is Chips… sorry… French Fries Day

13 July is French Fries Day.

I’m sorry, I CAN’T keep typing French Fries instead of Chips, so this is ‘Chips Day’ from now on.

Chips, batons or fingers of potato deep-fried in oil.

Not to be confused with the American ‘Chips’, thinly sliced pieces of potato fried until crisp, they’re really ‘Crisps’.

Where do the come from?

Apparently, the story of their creation can be found in a family manuscript dated 1781, which tell us that potatoes were originally cut into the shape of fish and served in place of the fish normally caught in a series of small villages in Belgium.


It seems the river had frozen over that year, so the fish the villagers normally caught and fried couldn’t be caught and fried.

So why ‘French’ and not ‘Belgian’ Fries.

That’s down to World War I, when troops sent there got their first taste of the fried treat. The official language of the Belgian army was then French, so the newly arrived troops thought they were in France rather than Belgium, and the name stuck.

While I should really just feature chips, I have to say I usually can’t resist the temptation to add a fish, and have a fish supper (fish and chips). No doubt I will find there is a ‘day’ for that as well, so just look at the chips in this pic!

And imagine the smell wafting up with some salt and vinegar added.

Chips (With Fish)

Chips (With Fish)


I used to fry up chips all the time, almost daily (or ‘eveningly’ to be more accurate), but eventually gave up as it was just too much hassle.

While the actual deep frying was no effort, I’m the sort of person whose luck/fate means that the list of potential disasters associated with ‘chip pan’ full of hot, inflammable oil meant I never even though of venturing down that road.

Instead, I used an assortment of deep fat fryers, ranging from basic units that just controlled the temperature, but were otherwise open, all the way to the fanciest totally enclosed version with filters and drains.

There was no difference in the chips (potatoes are not ‘smart’, so only know they are in hot oil/fat, and have no idea what the pot is like) since that really only depends on the temperature of the oil, and how that temperature is maintained, or varied, as they cook.

The real problems were not the chips, but the effect of frying them.

The surprise I got was the amount of fat/oil deposited on the kitchen walls and ceiling. I only discovered how extensive this was after washing down the kitchen after months of frying, and could compare that to the (lack of) deposits) when I hadn’t been able to have those regular chip orgies. Even using an enclosed and filter deep fat fryer, the place was still being covered in the stuff.

But that was not the killer, since I have a Vitrolite (glass walls and ceiling) kitchen, it’s easy to clean, and never needs decorating.

The real killer was the state the fryers got into if they weren’t regularly cleaned and drained.

The open types made too much of a mess if not constantly cleaned down.

The closed and filtered types didn’t make the same mess, but cleaning them was a major job as their designs have lots of corners and recesses where old oil get trapped, and can’t be easily accessed to clean. Plus, any filters or vents also get saturated fairly quickly, and need to be replaced (COST!), or cleaned regularly.

That all mounts up in terms of time, and it takes even longer if you miss one or two cleanings.

Why do I mention this?

Because – chips could be BACK on my menu soon.

I got lucky recently and picked up a big name hot air fryer for 20% of the best price I could find anywhere.

Brand new (still had the ‘feature’ stickers stuck to the body and lid) and working, also never even been used, it took me a while to find out what was wrong with it.

The lid was severely cracked (but still working mechanically) after some moron had presumably forced it some way.

Being a hard, Bakelite type material (to resist the heat), it just cracked as it has no flexibility.

Since I didn’t want the crack to grow, I didn’t even give the fryer a test run, but set about cleaning it up, drilling out the ends of the crack (to stop it propagating), and then setting the whole thing back together using a slow-setting epoxy resin adhesive.

I’m taking my time over this, so the job isn’t finished yet, and that means no ‘hot air’ chips to celebrate the day with, this time.

13/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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