Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

LNT – I’m not an electrician, but…

It’s true, I’m not an electrician, but my training is way above that level, and I’ve forgotten more about electricity than most people will ever have any need to know.

Sometimes it’s almost funny, as anyone that so much as touches a wire at work these days has to have some useless certificate or other, or they’re not allowed to. Unfortunately, this foolishness and false sense of security is much like my criticism of driver training nowadays, where they’re trained to pass the test, NOT to understand what they are doing.

It’s shocking (no pun intended, but why not), as I’ve asked freshly ‘qualified’, or certified, people some electrical theory questions, and they just don’t have a clue. All they’ve really done is just memorise stuff, not understood it.

Think of signs on building site entrances these days – often showing a picture of ‘REQUIRED PROTECTION’ to be worn or admission to site will be refused. I’ve spotted many of these with hard hats shown – in places where there is NO overhead work underway. But if you try to get in with no hard hat – someone will stop you until you are wearing one.

I’m currently poking around some ancient and original domestic house wiring (if these posts just stop appearing, you can guess why), lovely lead sheathed, natural rubber insulated wires – which, if you’re in this business, you will know the natural rubber has now degraded and become hard, brittle, and ready to crumble if disturbed. If bent, or even just disturbed, the wires within can make contact. This makes a big bang, just before the ancient hand-wired fuses blow and, if you’re really lucky, becomes a permanent short hidden inside the cable. This means that if you rewire the fuse, it blows spectacularly (in your face) every time you insert it into the distribution box.

It’s more spectacular, and noisy, than dangerous (unless you’re the sort of fool that thinks it’s a good idea to keep rewiring the fuse with heavier fuse wire each time).

Electrician wanted

This means working on panels that are at least partially still live and connected to the mains, and I’m now up to making at least FOUR independent checks before I put my fingers anywhere near a circuit, even if I can see it’s isolated. A voltmeter, a circuit tester (basically lights), two basic electric field detectors, and a new, slightly more sensitive field detector. The field detectors are good since they avoid the need to make contact with the wiring (like a meter), but can be too general if there are many live wires nearby, in which case meters, lights, and contact measurements become mandatory.

Even so, I still play safe, and after having to poke around for some wire ends inside the panel (remember, it can have live bits where I’m not actually working), I decided to add some nice Poundland insulated screwdrivers to my vast collection of screwdrivers.

Poundland Insulated Screwdrivers

Poundland Insulated Screwdrivers

They’re surprisingly decent, especially for 25 pence apiece, and better than insulating tape, or other temporary measure to insulate the metal shaft. They may not be officially rated at the more usual 1 kV for such toys, but then again, I don’t have 3-phase or anything more than domestic mains to poke them into – plus, I’ve no intention of using them on actual live wiring or terminals (that’s what the main isolators are for). These are merely ANOTHER level of safety, just in case I miss something, or make a wrong assumption.

It’s just occurred to me that I’ve worked with quite a few ‘sparkies’ who were happy to carry out ‘Hot’ work (on live wiring), and while I’m sure desk-bound, or armchair, ‘experts’ would be horrified, the reality is that it’s not really that dangerous if done correctly, with proper insulation, and space to ensure that even if there’s a slip, then there nothing to make contact with, and complete a circuit with your body.

Working with one hand (so you can’t complete a hand-to-hand circuit through chest and heart) is always a good idea, as is not standing on a conductive surface, which could be a wet, or even just damp, floor. And working on anything over UK mains voltage while live is a very bad idea, especially if it can deliver more than about a mere 7 mA into the impedance of a body. That is going to hurt, while 70 mA is likely to be fatal.

It’s not the voltage that kills, but the current, however current depends on voltage, and the impedance of the body, so it’s not simple…

31/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

All hail the birth of The Great Glasgow Golf Course Conspiracy Theory

I was going to waffle on this, but it’s so tiresome as a few folk who like to spoil a walk by hitting a little ball with a stick demand their hobby be financed by the rest if us, I just can’t be bothered.

While the operator has made a clear and unambiguous statement…

Glasgow Life, the council’s cultural and sporting arm, said the closure of Ruchill golf course was “unavoidable” and temporary.

A spokeswoman said the decision to shut the course was not linked to recent consultation on the future of the city’s municipal courses.

There is, of course, someone who KNOWS the REAL story, and that lies have been told to cover up the truth…

However, concerned golfers fear the nine-hole course has been closed “surreptitiously”.

John McDermott went to play the course on Tuesday but found its gates locked. “It is claimed to be a temporary closure but the greens have perished and there is no way that course can be played again without investment,” he said.

“The course looked well laid out, had good views and could be attractive but it’s been abandoned and gone to ruin. A disappointing loss of facilities for Glaswegians.

“It’s my opinion this is a permanent closure, done surreptitiously.”

Glasgow Life close Ruchill golf course due to lack of staff

Liar liar pants on fire

Note my pic is not assigned to any side of this story – I can wait.

30/08/2019 Posted by | council | | Leave a comment

Judgemental Cat

Nearing home in last night’s damp gloom, I stopped for a moment thanks to that feeling of Somebody’s Watching.

Turned out to be catbutt’s creepy cousin – Judgemental Cat.

Harder to spot as he (more likely she) sits in places where she can overlook you, and decide your fate.

Sure enough, a careful check of the surroundings, and I was able to match the feeling to a pair of feline eyes looking down on me, passing judgment.

Lurking under cover, in the shadows, and out of the rain.

Judgemental Cat

Judgemental Cat

I’m not having much luck with cats this year.

There was a gem the day before, when the Sun was beating down on us.

This one had found a nice safe place to sunbathe, surrounded by metal railings around a grassy patch, so nobody get near and disturb the mood (or get a pic).

30/08/2019 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment

Could Shettleston be home to a creepy new restaurant?

It can be weird reading some people’s opinions regarding repurposed buildings.

Some see a creepy past as a reason to go, others find the same thing as a reason to run a mile, and would never even cross the threshold.

So, I’m left wondering how the masses would respond to permission for change of use to these premises in Shettleston Road.

Excuse the pic, the day I would have been there poured and plans were changed, but I did realise the bus was going to pass the door, so gave the flypast a shot to see if the pic came out. Could have been worse on a dull day that ruled out a fast shutter speed. Main mistake was presetting the zoom to be too close (or waited too long to take the shot).

James Hardie Funeral Services To Let May Sell

James Hardie Funeral Services To Let May Sell

It will be interesting to see if this one is reported again, if the application to prepare and sell food in a building where corpses were stored and prepared for burial is looked on favourably, or rejected.

It’s hard to predict the outcome of such things, as the planners have so many things to take into account.

Then there’s that upper storey – who wants to live over a funeral parlour – or a stinky, noisy restaurant with takeaway?

PLANNERS are being asked to let vacant funeral director premises be turned into a restaurant with takeaway.

The change-of-use application has been submitted for a building on Shettleston Road, Glasgow.

The upper floor would be converted into a three-bedroom flat.

RESTAURANT Plan Aims To Breathe New Life Into Empty East End Funeral Parlour

Nice wordplay in the that title 🙂

The new owners could theme the restaurant if they get the go-ahead.

Coffins for tables, and chairs with gravestone backs, and cutlery fashioned after the style of surgical instruments.

And the lucky chef could serve Halloween cakes every night.

Halloween Cake

Halloween Cake

Yes, I know, it’s not one of the gory ones 😦

30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s a little gold mine

Really, it is.

I’ve watched the news for items about the Cononish gold mine near Loch Lomond ever since it first appeared in the news some years ago, and the first batch of inevitable Naysayers started whining about how it would destroy the area and ruin it for visitors – still waiting.

As far as I can recall, the company took on board reasonable concerns, changed plans, and gained approval, from official sources at least.

It still seems to be ‘work in progress’…

The start of commercial production at Cononish, 12 years after Scotgold’s work began on prospecting there, has been delayed from next December to February, due to the late delivery of equipment.

But with gold prices higher than previously forecast, the company is now assuming a market value of £1,200 per ounce of gold. That does not allow for a premium on Scottish gold, which it received for its first, small-scale batch.

The firm has reworked its financial prospects, telling investors they could see earnings of £147m over the lifetime of the Cononish mine.

That’s up from the previous earnings forecast of £101m. The figures assume capital costs of £27m and operating costs of £73m.

Richard Gray, the company’s chief executive, told investors: “The combination of the gold price being in excess of £1,200 per ounce, and the pipeline of projects that we anticipate will result from our Grampian exploration work, bode well for the company’s long term outlook.”

Hope for gold mining potential in Argyll’s Glen Fyne

Seems the same fault extends to Glen Fyne, and there’s a chance for more discoveries there…

Scotgold Resources said it was encouraged by tests of soil samples from Glen Fyne, near the village of Cairndow.

The firm described the results as “exciting, new and potentially significant”.

The samples from Glen Fyne are said to be far more promising than equivalent tests for the existing mine.

Scotgold said they were three times better for gold, and nearly as twice as good for silver.

It is not clear how extensive the precious metal deposits could be.

But a sampling of stream sediments showed promise of this being “anomalous”, meaning gold could be present, and that the area could be 3km (1.9 miles) long.

No mention in this article of Naysayers gathering to object – but I suspect they can’t be far away.

Naysayers by Einstein

Naysayers by Einstein

They’re probably lurking just around the corner – waiting and watching for me to start digging up my back garden 😉

30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Recognise this piece of floor?

I sometimes wonder how easy/difficult it is to recognise features you might see regularly, but are part of something much bigger.

Take, for example, these two pics of features in a well-known Glasgow building.

Even though I just took these pics for fun one day, and know what they are and where they came from, I also wonder if I would recognise them quickly if seen like this, out of context, and with no surrounding clues, or real indication of scale.

Kelvingrove Marble Floor Mosaic 2

Marble Floor Mosaic


Kelvingrove Marble Floor Mosaic

Marble Floor Mosaic

I’m really not sure if I would be able to place these pics if presented with them on their own, with no other clues, or with the lack of scale that these shots display. These features could be anything from a few inches to a few feet (oh, sorry, a few centimetres to a few metres) across.

They are, of course, a couple of examples of the smaller mosaics inlaid in the floor of Kelvingrove’s Central Hall, and can be spotted in the pic below.

Kelvingrove Week Day Dippy

Kelvingrove Central Hall


30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Two Fat Ladies being tarted up

Yup, I can make with the terrible word play too 😉

Last time I looked at this place, it was just to have a little with fun with the sign.

This time, it’s more interesting.

When I passed a few days ago, the lights were on, and there were bodies moving around inside, cleaning the place up.

Nobody there this time, or lights, but the place has been cleaned a polished, and the Two Fat Ladies 88 graphic has been scraped off the window too.

Two Fat Ladies Cleaner

Two Fat Ladies Cleaner

Too soon to tell what, if anything, is happening, but the inside seems to have shopfittery stuff lying around now, instead of just junk and debris scattered around.

All I can do is remember to look when I pass.


Dumbarton Road twofatladies

Dumbarton Road twofatladies

That was a damned nice metal gate!

I hope it’s not lying in a skip.

30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Vacant and derelict land IS being reclaimed, and historic buildings ARE being saved

What a difference a decade or two can make. Seriously.

It doesn’t seem that long ago I was swept up with the crowd of baying hounds that were the (very) negative critics of what I (as an apolitical type) will refer to merely as NOT the current Glasgow City Council. The attitude of what I’ll refer to simply as ‘My Forum Buddies’ was so derogatory that I had to leave, for fear of being associated with some of the more outrageous claims they made.

I won’t repeat any of the slurs levelled at named councillors back then, suffice to say it was alarming as a concerned outsider to see how many claims of ‘dubious’ business connections and interests appeared to be backed up by records dug up by moles.

There was also endless criticism of what then appeared to be near zero efforts to do anything about derelict land or buildings, or the alarming incidence with which building blocking up developments seems to suffer from the mysterious effect of spontaneous combustion.

Consigning that to history, archives, and documents that may be accessible via FoI inquiries nowadays, while I suspect the people who think there is some sort of ‘Magic Pot’ out there, full of money to pour over such land and buildings and stop the rot, will NEVER be satisfied, there now exist various department who are actively pursuing efforts to restore such land and buildings to service, and, unlike the zero budget situation faced some 15 years ago, there are now funding routes available to them.

Back then, organisation tasked with looking at such things had budgets that allowed them to investigate, record, classify, and recommend (or even issue enforcements), there was no access or organisation of any sort of funds which would allow work or purchases to be made.

Things really do look better today, 10-15 on from the days when there was a lot of looking, but no touching.

Two stories which just appeared together give a better idea of what is happening now, after years of apparent inaction, changes are being made.

Firstly, land:

SIXTY-four hectares of vacant and derelict land was returned to productive use in Glasgow last year — the equivalent of 90 full-sized football pitches.

This amounted to a 6.4 per cent reduction, from 1,069 to 1,005 hectares. These figures compared with reductions between 2016 and 2017 of 3.9 per cent and 42 hectares. It was the eighth year in a row that progress has been made.

There was also a cut in the number of vacant and derelict sites, from 761 to 721. Most of the city’s vacant and derelict land is in the north and east of the city.

Two-thirds of the land brought back into use was developed for residential purposes, with other uses including transport, recreation and leisure.

Nearly half — 349 — of the remaining sites are owned by the council. The council has drawn up a Vacant and Derelict Land Assets Plan as it prepares to make use of the land in the coming years.

Glasgow City Council will spend a £3.5million Scottish Government funding allocation on potential treatment and/or investigation of over 37 hectares in this financial year.

INCREASE In Amount Of Derelict Glasgow Land Brought Back Into Use

It goes on to list a number of proposals together with amounts – the amounts are not huge, but note my observation that the figure used to be ZERO.

Secondly, buildings.

I’ve already mentioned development at Buchanan Wharf, where two historic building (the only two left when development began, I think) remained standing, although decaying and largely unoccupied. It would have been easy for the developer to press for permission to demolish the derelicts, but that didn’t happen, and the developer has taken control of them, and will be remedying their condition, and reusing them.

RUNDOWN Grade A-listed premises in Glasgow City Centre could be set for a new lease of life.

The Campbell building at 71-75 Robertson Street, is mainly disused and appears on Scotland’s Buildings At Risk Register. The five-storey structure, which dates from 1901, was designed by architect J A Campbell.

It is beside the site of a proposed 14-storey office development in Argyle Street, the plans for which have been adjusted to allow sightlines of the Campbell building.

During discussion of the Argyle Street proposal at Glasgow’s planning applications committee senior planning officer Blair Greenock stated: “There is interest in the Campbell building.

“There is a gap side behind it which is likely to take a companion piece so, whilst confidential, we are discussing the reuse of that building.

“One would hope this investment [the Argyle Street office] would be a catalyst for that.”

To address concern that it might be deteriorating beyond repair, he said: “We are in dialogue with the owners. There was a previous listed building repairs notice served on one of the owners.

FUTURE Looking Brighter For Historic Glasgow Building Of National Importance

The eternal Naysayers would have us (you) believe that there is no concern for Glasgow’s older buildings, especially if derelict.

It’s true many are, or have been razed over the years.

But it’s also true (now that we see more detail reported) that many of those were in poor condition, possibly for years, and maybe even since the day they were built (shoddily).

You can’t keep EVERY old building, not can you please EVERY Naysayer, but you can, and should, investigate each case and decide on merit.

See, for example, the Buildings at Risk Register (not available years ago) now online for all to see, and trying to gain attention for those which could be available.

This Really IS NOT the Glasgow of two decades ago, where some claimed there was no problem getting access to a tasty site blocked by a derelcit, provided you had a box of matches.

These are the buildings on the Buchanan Wharf site, and also The Monteith.

Clyde Place Buildings Kingston House

Clyde Place Buildings Kingston House – Beco Building behind


The Monteith

The Monteith – converted from hostel to flats

Both sit in the midst of land which has lain derelict and vacant for years, but which was taken over for redevelopment for a mix of business and housing recently, and would have been easy to clear and raze completely, rather than have the existing building retained, repaired (or had conversions made over the past decades reversed), and then redeveloped as part of the redevelopment of the area.

Another very recent example is 50 Argyle Street, said to be beyond saving due to deterioration after being surveyed years ago, and recommend for demolition as the only option, recent re-inspection (and I suspect revised methods and techniques which are now available as options), have led to this building being part of new development which will retain the structure.

Apparently that scaffolding, added to allow horrible adverts to be hung from the structure, allowed inspectors access they couldn’t get during earlier surveyors, and let them carry out a more detailed inspection of areas they couldn’t get to otherwise.

50 Argyle Street B

50 Argyle Street B

30/08/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Slinky Day

30 August is Slinky Day.

Although I’ve noticed this day before, I never thought it worth mentioning, but having seen my very own ORIGINAL Slinky recently, thought it had survived long enough to earn its mention.

Mine has been retired, and lives in a safe place, to avoid any further damage – one or two links don’t close perfectly, and the ends aren’t coiled as tightly as they were when it was made.

But, bar the tarnishing of the metal, it’s just about as good as it was the day it was made, and still works just fine.

I’m afraid I’ve never liked the multi-coloured plastic imitations that surfaced some years ago, but guess they were inevitable to stop the little mites spearing themselves with the pointy metal ends of the coil.

Sadly, in the days when I was that size, we were expected to be smart enough NOT to do something like that – no wonder kids are so dumb today.

The Slinky was born in the 1940s when its inventor accidentally knocked a spring off a shelf, and saw it ‘walk’ down a series of books, onto a tabletop, and then to the floor where it neatly coiled itself. Richard James went home and said to wife Betty, “I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension, I could make it walk“. That took a year to do. With a $500 loan the pair made 400 ‘Slinkys’ and formed a company, selling them then at $1.

They didn’t to too well, until…

They were allowed to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbles Department Store. 90 minutes later, all 400 had been sold and more asked for.

A year later, the Slinky appeared at the American Toy Fair.

It has been marketed around the world, in both plastic and metal forms.

During the Vietnam War, United States troops used them as mobile radio antennas, as have amateur radio operators ever since. They’re always popular with teachers who use them to demonstrate the properties of waves.

I forget where the ‘safe place’ mine lives in is, so you’ll have to with this old article I found.

Click to read.

Slinky Article

Slinky Article

30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Unfortunate cat scoffs treats AND packaging – earns trip to vet

Looking quite like the black and white cat in the related animated advert for his favourite treats, and sharing a similar unstoppable desire for those treats, it seems Poppy was just a little too quick…

Four-year-old Poppy ate the clip along with some packaging while gorging on a packet of his favourite cat snacks which he found while his owner was out of the room.

Owners became worried when he stopped eating, was being sick frequently, and struggled to go to the toilet. After several days with no improvement, and unable to keep even water down, it was time for a visit to the PDSA.

Vets at the Glasgow PDSA Pet Hospital on Shamrock Street examined Poppy and performed X-rays, which revealed the metal clip in his stomach.

PDSA vet Emma Bates carried out an hour-long operation to remove the clip, which could have led to a ruptured bowel and potentially fatal sepsis if it had not been removed.

Ms Vandal said: “Poppy has a big appetite and he can’t get enough of his Dreamies, so we weren’t surprised when he stole the pack. But I couldn’t believe the X-ray results.

“We knew Poppy had not been himself, he is usually full of energy, but we had no idea that it was down to him swallowing the metal clip and part of the packaging.

“I can’t thank PDSA enough for everything they have done for Poppy – I know he wouldn’t be here now without their fantastic treatment.

“Poppy is back to his usual self – this incident hasn’t put him off his favourite treats but we now keep a close eye on him and make sure he can’t steal anything he shouldn’t.”

Glasgow cat who swallowed metal clip while sneaking treat rushed to life-saving surgery

Nice one PDSA, which added:

PDSA advises people to speak to their vet as soon as possible if they think their pet has eaten something they should not have, as some substances can be poisonous and even small objects can potentially cause a blockage.

Please NEVER CONFUSE PDSA with Peta, a huge animal killing machine masquerading as animal lovers, but really just some horrible people grabbing money, and attracting waste-of-skin celebrities for publicity

Poppy the cat who swallowed a metal clip while stealing his favourite treat has made a full recovery after life-saving surgery (Image PA)

Poppy the cat who swallowed a metal clip while stealing his favourite treat has made a full recovery after life-saving surgery (Image PA)

29/08/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Kelvin Hall – an interesting little indoor vs outdoor comparison

An unplanned view, grabbed yesterday as I passed and realised it matched an earlier pic.

Kelvin Hall balcony door

Kelvin Hall balcony door

The other side of the balcony (ie the interior) over the front door was caught when I took a few pics of Glasgow’s Circus School, and happened to notice the stained-glass windows and door above the original entrance, as seen from inside the building.

The pics were just grabbed when I noticed the glazing, in case they became interesting – and they did.

The first pic was just context, to show the balcony over the entrance, and how it had the stained-glass windows and door (there’s a matching one on the right, out of sight). I’m guessing, but this was probably the original office area, overlooking the exhibition and display area of the hall below.

If you ever visited the Kelvin Hall when it was open and using the front entrance (which had numerous ticket kiosks in the area between the outer and inner doors) then you’ll have an idea of the space available for those offices on the floor above. Guesstimate up to about 10 metres overall.

The second pic is just a closer views of the balcony, and the taller glazed panels above.

The third pic looks in closer detail at the balcony glazing, door, and metal railing along the edge.

Kelvin Hall interior glazing

Kelvin Hall interior glazing

It’s nice to be able to wander into the old place once again, and see what’s left of the original interior (after it was all bashed around for the sporty types to have ANOTHER arena).

Now that it has returned to arguably more useful service, and you can just turn up and wander around most of it, temporary displays related to various museum resources can be found there, together with AV presentations about the hall’s history, and the work currently underway to rescue and restore the building.

Check the hall’s own web site for up to date information about its opening, access, and resources now available there.

You may be in for a surprise if you had written it off after it turned into (yet another) Glasgow sports venue, and the Transport Museum moved to Riverside.

Welcome to Kelvin Hall

Visit Kelvin Hall

A unique partnership between Glasgow Life, the University of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland sees this historic and much loved venue transformed into an exciting new centre of cultural excellence providing access to collections, temporary displays, teaching and research, alongside a state-of-the-art Glasgow Club health and fitness centre. Entry to Kelvin Hall is free.


After being irritated by the lack of an actual pic indicating the distance between the internal stained-glass panels, and the external glazing, I found myself looking at that very thing today, so the grabbing of a pic became today’s job.

Kelvin Hall Entrance side view

Kelvin Hall Entrance side view

28/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

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