Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

First St Kilda, now Rockall

While I’m not the greatest fan of outright bans on such things, I can’t help but feel that there probably should be some sort of protection that prevents commercial tour operators from making a profit by shipping moronic tourists to sensitive locations. They don’t own these places, yet seem to be free to treat them as if they did, and exploit them with little or no apparent regulation.

I also doubt the intentions of the majority who might make the trip. Other than a few genuinely interested visitors to a rare site, who might take advantage of the opportunity, I suspect many of those who arrive will be of the ‘List’ mentality, merely paying for the opportunity to set foot on a rarely accessible location so they can tick it off their ‘Bucket List’, and wanting to know “When does the boat go back?” about 3 nanoseconds after their foot hits the ground.

The most recent symptom of this was seen when St Kilda was promoted as a top tourist destination by a ‘travel bible‘.

Now, for a mere £1,600 you can (maybe) have a little trip, to Rockall, and even set foot on the rock.

I say ‘maybe’ since even some better planned and better prepared (than chaperoned day-trippers) people have spent days just trying to reach the place, let alone get on to it.

Tourists will get the chance to visit a controversial uninhabited Scottish island for the first time next summer.

Those seeking a more adventurous way to spend their holidays can now voyage to Rockall for £1,600 a head.

The week-long journey has been organised by a tour company which normally specialises in tours to more challenging destinations such as North Korea and Chernobyl.

Now, visitors will get the chance to step foot on the volcanic plug, which sits 260 miles to the west of the Outer Hebrides.

Lupine Travel, which is based in the north of England, said its Rockall trip was sold out within a week of it being announced.

Travellers will get a chance to step onto Rockall, which is 30 metres wide and rises 21 metres above sea level, for around 15 to 20 minutes with visitors given wetsuits, boots and flotation devices to get them onto the mound.

They will be led by Edinburgh-based adventurer Nick Hancock, who spent 45 days on the island in 2014.

Travellers will visit Rockall on a Dutch schooner, which will hold 15 to 20 people. The boat will depart from Oban next May.

Mr Finnerty [a tour director] added: “There is a real growing trend for people wanting to visit every country. They are working on the basis of ‘what’s left, what’s next?”

Tourists to visit controversial uninhabited Scottish island for first time

Wonder what the chance of a fatality are?


Rockall © Andy Strangeway via geograph

17/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s Forbidden Planet is on the move

It seems odd to read that the Forbidden Planet shop in Buchanan Street has been there for thirty years.

I wonder if that’s correct? (I don’t know – maybe somebody more active in this area can confirm, or not).

I seem to have a recollection of it being in the west end, and wonder if it has been in Glasgow for thirty years in total, with part of that time spent in each location.

I didn’t spend much time there that far in the past, but am sure I saw the shop there, always meant to stop for a look – but never did, and have no accurate idea of the date when I was doing that.

I have dropped into the Buchanan Street shop a few times, but it doesn’t really sell the sort of stuff I’d buy, and it’s also generally quite expensive.

I recently saw a series of B&W books of the Inuyasha series, being sold secondhand for £3 per volume – and there were at least 18 I could see (the set was not complete). I have to be honest, I’ve seen the whole anime series, in colour, for free, and think it was a better than those books.

The new shop is only a few minutes away.

Taking over the former River Island – at 122 Sauchiehall Street – the move means Forbidden Planet will become ‘one of the biggest comic destinations in Europe’. The new store will be around six times the size of the present Buchanan Street shop.

Forbidden Planet group retail manager explained Kevin O’Donnell explained to Glasgow Live: “It’s a dream come true for all of us, it’s absolutely incredible.

“This store is going to be potentially six times the size of our current one.

“Hopefully it will be one of the biggest comic destinations in the whole of Europe when we’re finished. Quite exciting times for us.”

More details will be revealed in due course, with staff targeting an opening date in November.

Glasgow’s Forbidden Planet on the move as comic store reveals expansion plans

That just might entice me through the door again, at least for a look.

One of the problems with the old shop was the space – there wasn’t any!

On the few occasions I visited, the shop’s popularity meant it was like a sardine can inside, with everyone shuffling around shoulder to shoulder.

Bigger premises will certainly help – provided the costs, and the address in Sauchiehall Street don’t bankrupt the owner.

I’ve seen a few happy faces turn sad when such moves turn bad.

Buchanan Street Forbidden Planet

Buchanan Street Forbidden Planet

I wandered along for a matching pic of the new location, but wasn’t familiar enough with the River Island shop mentioned to locate the unit, and the street numbers weren’t clear.

17/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Great News! – The midge ‘Harbingers of Doom’ are back for 2019

Last year was a little unusual.

Unless I missed it, there was no panic story from some ‘expert’ who wanted their name in the headlines with claim that THIS YEAR would be a boom year for midges…

Where was 2018’s ‘Midgie Invasion’ panic story?

Before that, I’d already gone with…

Time to roll out the midge experts and their (now regular) claims of imminent doom

Thankfully, it seems 2018 was just a mistake, and the midge horror stories are back in the media for 2019.

Oh joy 😉

The notorious Highland biting midge is forecast to appear in “bumper numbers” in the next few weeks.

The first of this year’s hatchings in May happened two weeks earlier than usual, according to the scientists behind the Scottish Midge Forecast.

This was because of warmer than usual temperatures.

But the cool and unsettled weather that followed affected the second hatching of midges and peak populations normally seen in June did not occur.

Numbers were high in June, but not at the peak levels expected in that month.

Dundee-based APS Biocontrol Ltd, which runs the midge forecast, has forecast what it described as potentially “bumper numbers” in coming weeks.

Director Dr Alison Blackwell said 2019’s midge season to date had been a mixture of pockets of very high midge intensity and then areas where they hardly seemed to have got going.

Scotland’s midges season usually start mid to late May and goes on until late September.

But in 2015, warm autumn weather produced a rare third hatching of biting midge.

In 2017, it was estimated that there could be 21 billion of the biting tiny insects in the Highlands and Islands.

The figure was for females, which feed on blood.

Peak levels of Highland biting midges expected soon

I tend to spot these stories nowadays, because I seem to have become more sensitive to midge ‘bites’ as time has passed. While I may have been bitten in the past (and it’s not really a bite as such, as the midge actually cuts into the skin), I don’t seem to recall the much larger and very much more irritating red lumps caused by their saliva.

Despite recommendations, I haven’t found a repellent I’d describe as effective, regardless of cost, or if it’s a chemical concoction, or ‘natural’,

I also seem to be almost immune to most of the treatments intended to reduce that swelling and itching (again either claimed as’natural’ or chemical), which is very frustrating as the itching can become intense. Possibly the best luck I;ve had has been with anti-histamine creams, which I mention in case it helps anyone looking for any relief at all.

Blood sucking midge

Blood sucking midge

17/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s High Street revival project is gathering pace

I’ve mentioned the recent  initiative to bring the area around Glasgow’s High Street back into use.

The street has always been something of a notional boundary where the city comes to an end, and commercial properties become domestic accommodation. Many years ago it was more industrial, with warehouses and factories, but these have all gone, leaving deserted areas, or if they survived, lived on as conversion to flats. Some became shops, but many of those closed as the area became quieter in recent years, and were never reoccupied.

You can now read more on the High Street Area Strategy, running from 2019 to 2023, here:

High Street Area Strategy 2019-2023

And, some of the first shop units are ready to be occupied.

A new project, which will see 11 vacant shop units on Glasgow’s historic High Street and Saltmarket transformed into interim/temporary spaces – most of which are for the creative industries – was launched 26th June.

The Meanwhile Space project aims to increase the vitality of areas by generating footfall and supporting new and growing businesses. The initiative, one of 26 exciting projects planned as part of Glasgow City Council’s High Street Area Strategy (HSAS), by City Property Glasgow (Investments) and Glasgow City Council. It is also part of the Council’s Space for Growth strategy, which will see several long term vacant shop units transformed into temporary creative spaces.

The initiative, which has already seen success in London and Paris, is part of the HSAS plans to revitalise the area, helping to develop creative organisations and creating jobs while also supporting inclusive economic growth across Glasgow. Moreover, making units will help to support and grow a thriving local community.

New MEANWHILE USE Spaces Open on St Andrews Street

Saltmarket From St Andrews Street

Saltmarket From St Andrews Street

Some of the first tenants include:

SOGO – Sogo is a Scottish based bi-annual lifestyle and arts magazine, which promotes and provides a platform for Scottish creative industries and communities. They intend to design a programme of Art and Artists events throughout the year commencing with the launch a major retrospective photography exhibition by the work of David Pratt.

WASPS – Based in Glasgow, Wasps is the UK’s largest non-profit studio provider for artists, offering affordable workspaces in 19 locations across Scotland, currently supporting 900 creative tenants. They intend to continue this support by utilising Meanwhile Space to support activities in which creators can prosper.

New Glasgow Society – The New Glasgow Society (NGS) is a civic society promoting, protecting and raising interest in the City of Glasgow, through campaigning, discussion, projects, talks and exhibitions. They intend to continue this work throughout their Meanwhile Space tenancy.

TRACTion Cancer Support – TRACTion Cancer Support aims to raise awareness of, and support patients with, ADT (Aero Digestive Tract) Cancers (e.g. lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal chords and windpipe). The charity has been set up by cancer specialists who recognised the growing need for targeted ADT Cancer support in Scotland. They intend to use the space to continue this work in supporting patients with ADT.

Meanwhile Space arrives in Glasgow

There’s more on the beginning of this project here:

Glasgow City Council has approved a new High Street Area Strategy to breathe new life into vacant shops in the historic heart of the city.

The new project will see 11 empty shop units on Glasgow’s historic High Street and Saltmarket transformed into temporary spaces to be used by the city’s creative industry.

It follows years of debate on the city’s medieval quarter – home to 6,000 people and including attractions like the Barras, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Green, the Necropolis, Provand’s Lordship and the Tolbooth Steeple – being “left to ruin” .

Vacant shops to be transformed into temporary creative spaces on historic High Street and Saltmarket

And here:

ELEVEN shop units in Glasgow’s historic High Street, St Andrews Street and Saltmarket areas are being turned into temporary creative and enterprise spaces.

The Meanwhile Space project aims to enhance the vitality of the neighbourhoods by increasing footfall and supporting new and growing businesses. The first of these, the New Glasgow Society, an art gallery, moved in last month, with all of the other units to be occupied shortly.

The initiative, one of 26 being delivered as part of Glasgow City Council’s High Street Area Strategy (HSAS) and is being delivered by City Property Glasgow (Investments).

CREATIVE Solution To Empty Shops In Glasgow’s Historic Heart


Saltmarket towards High Street

It must be working – St Andrew Street has already gained a new mural in the past few days 🙂

St Andrews Street Mural

St Andrews Street Mural

17/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Hot Dog Day

It seems 17 July 2019 is Hot Dog Day.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when the next one is, or how the day is fixed – all I see are dates for the last two, 18 July 2018, and 19 July 2017.

Best of luck finding 2020’s day if there is a rule in there to be had from those three!

Anyway, I’m guessing from what I’ve read that this is really a US ‘day’, as it refers to skinlesss sausages and grilling the things.

Our UK hot dogs are usually steamed or heated in hot water, and quite different from the grilled type, and probably more pork than beef. And, since I don’t want be told I’m completely wrong about them, that’s as much as I think I’ll say about their recipe.

However, since I’m NOT a lover of ‘burgers’, and always used to go for the hot dog option when at an outdoor event and feeling hungry, I have to give this a mention.

This was the only decent image I could get with a ‘steamed’ hot dog sausage – the rest were really horrible ‘staged’ images (ie probably inedible), or of the grilled type.

The problem is I like mine with fried onions and tomato or brown sauce (not mustard). But if this is all I can find in the free stock images. No sauce for some reason (those that did have more had all sorts of odd relish smeared on them).

Hot Dog and Onions

Hot Dog and Onions

17/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | 1 Comment


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