Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Nardini update (Byres Road)

Not sure if ‘update’ is the right word, but it will have to do after I passed Nardini’s defunct Byres Road venue.

Since I’d never seen the place before that chance spotting, I had a slightly closer look when I was in the area again, and remembered.

It was hard to avoid the reflections on the glass, and see anything, let alone take a pic through the glass.

I didn’t even know what I had until I saw the pic, and found the place had been largely stripped of anything that could be moved, leaving only the fixed part of the servery – the counter had gone, as had whatever seating and tables might have been there.

I didn’t realise there was a rather nice Art Deco mural on the back wall – it was just a blur in the background as I looked inside.

Byres Road Ex-Nardini InteriorByres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Byres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Not ideal, but I tried cropping and enlarging the mural…

Nardini mural

Nardini mural

And what was left of the similarly styled servery…

Nardini servery

Nardini servery

And, of course, since it was added the day AFTER I took the first pic, a look at the sign warning anyone trying to access the place after its closure was confirmed.

Nardini repossesion sign

Nardini repossession sign

Since I had to do a short course on law, I always seem to start analysing such signs for legitimacy, and whether the folk who make them had a clue about the law and what they assert.

In this case, I found myself wondering about what law might be used to make the mere opening of a door illegal.

At least they didn’t make the mistake of referring to trespass.

Scotland DOES have trespass laws (it seems to be a VERY long time since I’ve heard anyone make the bold, but just plain wrong, claim that “There’s no law of trespass in Scotland”), but they’re a little different from the English version. Ours is a little harder to break.



20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Take pensioner benefits and give them to young people – THAT seem like a good idea

This is one of those stories that stuck in my head, and wouldn’t go away until I gave it a mention.

If it wasn’t so serious and dangerous (pensioners could die) it would almost be funny.

But, I seem to have spent my life being told the various taxes and deduction made from my wages are made in order to fund the benefits I will receive when I become a pensioner.

(These things I was told then began to hurt my head after a while, since I was also told to be grateful my parents’ taxes and deductions paid for them – so I learned fairly early on that politically based logic was based on the logic of insanity.)

And I also seem to recall being told I (and other young people just out of school) we were ‘lucky’ the state handed us benefits even though we hadn’t (then) paid anything into the system to pay for them.

So, the idea of taking benefits from pensioners would seem to be a ridiculous idea thought up by peers who are mostly very privileged – independently wealthy and well-paid – so not conversant with the phenomenon most ordinary elderly are likely to ‘enjoy’… pensioner poverty.

“Outdated” age-specific benefits for older people should be replaced with support for the young to “deliver a fairer society”, say peers.

The Committee on Intergenerational Fairness urged ministers to focus on housing and training, rather than benefits like free TV licences.

Committee chair Lord True said failing to rebalance policies could risk the “strong bond” between the generations.

But campaigners warned against changes, saying pensioner poverty was rising.

The committee – made up of Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers – issued a raft of recommendations, both to “retain the supportive relationship between generations” and to plan for the “100-year life” that younger people can expect to become the norm.

Suggested improvements include:

  • Ensuring local authorities have specific planning policies to meet the housing needs of younger and older people
  • Increasing training funding for young people who don’t go to college or university
  • Making sure those who work for the “gig” economy – getting paid per “gig” – have the same rights as other workers

The peers also propose changes to benefits for older people, including:

  • Removing the triple lock for pensions, which raises the basic state pension by the rate of average earnings increases, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is higher
  • Phasing out free TV licences based on age (currently free for over-75s) and ensuring the government decides on whether to give free licences based on household income
  • Limiting free bus passes for the over-65s and winter fuel payments until five years after retirement age

‘End pensioner benefits to help young’, peers say

What could possibly be wrong with that idea?

Teenagers would certainly ‘benefit’ and not have to worry about being caught on CCTV while stealing from pensioners.

Teen steals from pensioner

Teen steals from pensioner

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Use your cat’s litter to teach thieves a lesson

I don’t know what other places are like, but around here it can be a pain if you’re not in to receive parcels.

They usually end up back at the depot if not deliverable, or maybe there’s one retry, then you have to ‘make arrangements’.

I’ve seen various US and Russian videos where deliveries are just dumped and left to lie in public view, and where thieves just wander along and help themselves to stuff lying in front of doors.

I rather like this option, but suggest one alteration.

Don’t leave you special package in front of your own door – the types that steal stuff are all too likely to return it and throw it back where they stole it from, OPENED, so the content spill all over your porch.

Amazon litter box

Amazon litter box

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | 1 Comment

Today is Quiche Lorraine Day

20 May is Quiche Lorraine Day.

The humble quiche is one of the tastiest dishes you can have. Served either warm or cold, and packed with ham or veg, this is a super versatile meal that goes with all sorts of sides, and it’s even simple to make (but I never have – I really really should).

A quiche is a type of open-topped pie, comprising a case of shortcrust pastry filled with savoury egg custard and a choice of vegetables and meats, to suit your tastes. Often regarded as being of French cuisine, some say it may have started life in medieval Germany.

The quiche lorraine is named after the Lorraine region of France, where it was created as an open pie filled up with savoury custard and cubes of pork fat. Today, you’re more likely to find it made with bacon cubes rather than fat, which sounds a lot better to me.

It was originally made without cheese, but nowadays you’ll find most recipes call for this addition (of your choice). Traditionally, it doesn’t include onions – if you do add onions to your quiche Lorraine… seems you’re actually making a quiche Alsacienne.

I guess my family was rather conservative, and I didn’t even taste this treat until I was what teenagers refer to as… ‘old’. But I love the chance to have it now.

Sadly, some quiche arrives more like bricks and cement – no thanks.

I like mine to be more like pudding, soft and melty, even falling apart, rather than tough and chewy.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Weights & Measures Day

20 May is Weights & Measures Day.

‘Weights & Measures’ covers a vast field in which standardised, legal, fiscal measurements are made, and standards are agreed nationally and internationally.

Even if you don’t realise it, there a hugely technical network maintaining references that are used to ensure your kilogram of potatoes, litre of petrol, and kilowatt of energy (gas or electricity) is delivered accurately and consistently wherever you are.

And I don’t mean by Trading Standards, by whatever name, I mean the actual value of that kilo or litre, or volt or ampere that determines a kilowatt (or I should really add time which needs an accurate second) to determine your energy consumption in kilowatt-hours. Gas is a little more complicated, as it has to be further analysed to determine how many kWh a given volume delivers as this can vary depending on the chemical make-up, and that needs yet more weight and measure.

This used to be fairly complex and exacting science (I know, I was one of only 300 or so people who specialised in this around the country).

But, as seems to be the case with all things these days, the addition of some computers and software dumbed this down, and there are many more people in this business today.

However, I think few of them understand things in the same way as we did in the past, and that aspect has become the province of a few better qualified experts in the field.

Ignoring the overly alarmist and dramatic headline, this article is still a reasonable look at just one ancient, venerable, and respected standard…

Hidden in a vault outside Paris, vacuum-sealed under three bell jars, sits a palm-sized metal cylinder known as the International Prototype Kilogram, or “Le Grand K.” Forged in 1879 from an alloy of platinum and iridium, it was hailed as the “perfect” kilogram—the gold standard by which other kilograms would be judged.

Why the Metric System Might Be Screwed

Le Grand K

Le Grand K

Sadly, Le Grand K has been losing weight, not a lot, but the accuracy demanded, the unexpected change has caused the odd raised eyebrow.

Without delving into detail, there has been a technological drive regarding physical standards in recent years, with the aim of replacing thing like pieces of metal (used to define length for example) with fundamental standard based on reproducible physical phenomena.

So the metre is no longer defined by a lump of metal that changes size with temperature, but is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in second.

Similarly, once a fraction of the 24-hour day (which can vary in length), the second has, since 1967, been defined as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that gets an atom of cesium-133 to vibrate between two energy states.

The important difference between the new and the old definitions is that they are considered to be invariant, and reproducible anywhere merely be following the same procedures.

And that where Le Grand K trips and stumbles, since it depends on variable things like mix, density, and purity of the elements used to create it, and the measurements of its dimensions. Not to mention contamination, and possible chemical effects on its exposed surface.

Last time I looked, there was at least one project (there are others though) intended to create the kilogram using other standards, such as the force generated by an electric current, and measuring that to create a kilogram equivalent that is bases on other precisely defined standards.

I’m not sure how close they are, as the method has to very accurate, and not subject to outside interference.


When I wrote the above, the work underway to change the definition of the kilogram was not quite complete, although it had all been done, it still had to be considered, agreed, and then implemented by all the relevant official institutes.

That was completed a few months ago, and the physical kilogram is no longer the master.

The kilogram is now defined by a method which is reproducible anywhere, should not vary when reproduced anywhere, so should not vary with time, like the old physical kilogram.

Note, I didn’t say it was EASY!

See the NPL’s explanation….

The kilogram is the SI base unit of mass

The impact of the SI redefinition

There’s a more reader-friendly explanation here…

It’s Official: The Definition of a Kilogram Has Changed

This time around, I’m in luck.

Back in 1990, metrologists changed some definitions. The result wasn’t any great difference in existing measurements (a volt changed by something like 1 part in 10 million), but for those if us working at the ppm (part per million) level, it was a real pain.

Anything which depended on electrical measurements and which had to have its uncertainty accurately reported had to have that reported accurately, and since 1 part in 10 million is 10% of 1 part in a million… we had to revise everything.

And this included temperature measurement too, since accurate temperature measurement is made using resistance sensors, that meant any change to voltage (or current) definitions changed too.

It all get very complex and inter-related, especially when clients want things explained and accounted for.

So, I’m rather glad I don’t have to do that this time.

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Did I really buy an expensive Iron Man cookie jar?

Anyone reading here regularly (or who knows me) will know I have no time for any sort of branded crap, ‘designer label’ goods, or souvenirs/collectibles which carry prices that prove “A fool and their money are soon parted”.

So why did I bring home a £40 Iron Man ‘official’ cookie jar, available today, in stock, from Amazon for a mere £56, or other online sellers for between £16 and £25 – but all with ‘No stock available’ status. (That’s what was online the day I wrote this post, so will change).

Iron Man cookie jar

Iron Man cookie jar

Well, the answer should be fairly obvious – a sale!

Knowing there was a run taking place in Glasgow city centre (so loads of streets closed to traffic), plus the added disruption and delay of more nonsense bringing crowds to Parkhead, I left home really early to get to Kelvingrove for the 3 pm organ recital.

This meant I arrived early, and decided to have a wander around the museum shops.

One was having a SALE!

So, that’s how I came to have a £40 cookie jar – for which I only paid £5. (Which is all I’d pay for a cookie jar).

Iron Man sale price

Sale price

I have to give special mention to a claim on the box, which may not be clear in the oblique view above…


Here’s plain shot.

Armoured cookie jar?

Armoured cookie jar?

Have to be honest – NOT going to test that one.

This also gives me the chance to include a mention for a couple of favourites who are no longer with us.

Iron Man’s creator, and Grumpy Cat, seen together not all that long ago.


Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat

Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat


Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat again

Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat again

No, not really 😉

Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat not really grumpy

Stan Lee and Grumpy Cat not really grumpy

19/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Clutha inquiry S04

This week…

Clutha inquiry: Helicopter operators ‘concerned about fuel indicators’ before fatal crash

Faulty fuel sensors on Clutha helicopter ‘were not replaced’

Clutha helicopter operators ‘worried about fuel display’

Clutha helicopter crash inquiry: two drops of water could have caused faulty fuel reading

Clutha: Two drops of water ‘could distort fuel reading’

Clutha inquiry: Pilot warned of faulty fuel reading

The Clutha Bar 2019

The Clutha Bar 2019

19/05/2019 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Sorry for mentioning cycling again

I feel I have to apologise for some fairly frequent mentions of cycling, which I almost don’t even want to do for fear of sounding like a fan, or worse, a damned activist!

But there just seems to be a lot happening all of a sudden, and this year seems to be very busy already.

Maybe it’s just our ‘heatwaves’ bringing more people out of doors.

My usual routes are already busier than last year – I think I’ve already passed more other cyclists this year than I did last year.

Also notable is the number of Nextbikes (the hired ones), which I hardly saw in use last year, this year already seem to be all over the place.

But what I really wanted to mention was the response to the impending completion of reorganising Sauchiehall Street, to encourage pedestrians and cyclists, and discourage motor vehicles.

For the past couple of years, there was a disappointing level of negativity and adverse comment about the proposals and the work, with some suggesting it wouldn’t work for various reasons, and that it would be the death of many shops in Sauchiehall Street as people deserted it because of the changes.

Seems the naysayers (dare I say “As usual”) were wrong, and it seems that actual traders there are relatively happy.

A number of Glasgow businesses have spoken out about the ongoing Sauchiehall Street Avenues project, praising the impact it has had.

The £115 million Avenues programme, piloted in Sauchiehall Street, will upgrade at least 17 key streets across the city centre over the next six years until 2025.

Work in this area, which extends pavements and cycle lanes and reduces space for vehicles, is expected to be completed by the end of May.

Now, some of Sauchiehall Street’s main business people have praised the project, claiming it will transform the area.

Brian Fulton, co-director and co-owner of the Garage nightclub and chair of the Sauchiehall Street Avenue Project, said: “I think it’s really going to make a big difference to how we use the street going forward.

“Back before the bid started people were really negative about the streetscape in the public realm so we spoke to businesses about what they would want from a street and public realm improvements was the main, overriding thing.

“With the set up of the bid, it put us in a good position to lobby to have this as the first pilot project of the Avenues project and you can see here today the difference it’s made to the streetscape compared to how it was four, five years ago.”

The scheme, which will introduce green infrastructure, extend pedestrian walkways and reduce space for vehicles, have been separated into three blocks – A, B and C.

Block A includes the Sauchiehall Street development but will also oversee the transformation of Argyle Street, Dixson Street and St Enoch’s Centre into a pedestrian and cycle friendly city.

The Underline, which will connect the West End to the city centre via St George’s Place, Phoenix Road and New City Road, will promote similar routes.

Businesses speak out on Sauchiehall Street’s ongoing Avenues project

Why wouldn’t anyone want what this is delivering?

Sauchiehall Street was an ancient mish-mash of outdated layouts and systems until this came along – I didn’t even bother walking along there just for a look. Seeing traffic trying to use the old layout made me glad I wasn’t trying to drive there.


The current changes seem set to become still further enhances, with almost £300 k set to be released for more improvements.

Glasgow councillors are expected to support a plan to pump almost £300,000 into footpath improvements on one of the city’s main streets.

City chiefs can approve the use of the money on Sauchiehall Street , as part of the ongoing Avenues programme, when they meet on Thursday.

It has been generated from developer contributions, where private companies behind city centre projects commit funds to public realm schemes.

The £290,000 of funding, from a private development at Buchanan Street/Bath Street, will go towards footway works on the northern side of Sauchiehall Street, between Charing Cross and Rose Street.

Councillors set to back £300,000 plan for Sauchiehall Street footpaths

I was there last week, just for a look, and there’s still quite a bit of work to be completed, but most of the changes have been made and it’s possible to see what the finished street will look like.

My only gripe remains the same – that black tarmac laid for the cycle path is terrible.

The contractor should be sent back in to smooth it off, at THEIR cost.

The surface ripples make it shooglier than the block paving around it!

Sauchiehall Street Avenue

Sauchiehall Street Avenue

19/05/2019 Posted by | photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Should we be mad or sad at stupid parents?

We’ve already seen the damage that a combination of lies, misinformation, and stupid people can do, thanks to the actions of one man followed by a load of anti-vaxers (and bandwagon jumping celebrities who saw a way to get a lot of free publicity by ‘educating’ their moronic fans, and advising them not to vaccinate, like them).

Years of damage need to be undone, as vaccination depends on a population participating, and the lies of one man’s discredited report have disrupted that.

If you haven’t heard, there’s no link between autism and vaccination!

There’s a similar mythology spread by some, based on belief rather than evidence, that certain types of radio emissions are harmful.

As usual, they emphasise their nonsense by claiming children are at risk, and trying to shame anyone who doesn’t support their dogma.

Reading some of their nonsense, they’ll even try to scare non-believers by listing the same hazards for non-ionising radiation (ie radio waves) as for ionising radiation (ie nuclear radiation).

It’s hard to fault uneducated parents who are confused, and think they’re doing the right thing. On the other hand, it gives the loonies credibility and traction, and as we saw in the case of vaccination, CAN cause actual harm to others.

Those of working/trained in these industries and subjects can only look on, and shake our heads as we read news such as…

Parents remove children from island school over 5G mast

I suspect a study of such reactions would show more verifiable damage from such responses than could be shown (via factual data) to be due to any of the supposed harmful effects being claimed via belief rather than independently verifiable scientific evidence.

It should also be realised that such actions could hinder testing of secret/covert projects which can’t be tested in public.

Death Ray

Death Ray

Tin foil wrapped kids

I wonder if those same ‘caring and concerned’ parents realise that we live in a world saturated by radio waves of all frequencies, covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Just taking them away from ONE transmitter is not going to prevent them being permeated by such signals.

See, for example: Revealed: 5G rollout is being stalled by rows over lampposts 

Maybe they don’t have any lampposts on the island 😉

I wonder if anyone has told them about Cosmic Rays, constantly bombarding us all 24/7, and which ARE dangerous if they hit a cell nucleus, and can cause mutations. Don’t tell them that despite the number, few such collisions cause harm, but they do happen. Better to tell them that nothing stops Cosmic Rays, not even the whole of the planter Earth – they just pass straight through it (and you if you’re standing in their path).

Those parents will have to wrap their kids in tin foil to protect them (even though it doesn’t work, but don’t tell them that either).

Think of the children

Think of the children

While many think wrapping things in tin foil stops electromagnetic radiation getting to them, in the belief that it forms a Faraday Cage around them, sadly, that’s not the reality, and it takes a lot more than that to do the job.

In fact, even genuine Faraday Cages, or screened rooms, don’t work unless very carefully designed, built, and maintained.

Rooms costing tens of thousands of £££ can be defeated if not.

This was one of my businesses, and we once found such a room installed in Faslane (yes, THAT Faslane) and completely ineffective.

The failure was not found by tests (which apparently the room passed on first installation) but when someone noticed the painters finishing the cosmetic part of the install were… LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THEIR RADIO!

In a screened room – no one can hear a radio.

Technically, everything was correct – apart from some corrosion/oxidisation which had developed on the edges where the walls and doors contacted one another, due to the time it took to build the room.

19/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ferries used to be fun

Years ago, I used to enjoy finding ferry stories in the news.

Even the bad ones were fun as they often brought together two sides with widely opposing views, one of which was promoted by reasonably sensible people, while the other was clearly coming from a bunch of dafties.

In other words, one side was ‘right’, while the other was (probably) ‘wrong’ (or driven by some sort of agenda it had, rather than by something sensible and logical).


No such fun, or even an easy way to determine who’s right or who’s wrong, who’s honest, or who’s being economic with the truth.

The last battery/diesel hybrid ferry story sank without trace after a while around a decade ago – last I heard of it was when someone sent me an email claiming the project had been a screw-up, and the batteries used were crap, and all had to be replaced shortly after the build was completed.

I don’t know if that’s true, as I couldn’t even track down further information about that project – so with no verification I was never able to post about it.

Sadly, there are plenty of stories online about the two newest Scottish ferries, , and all bad: MV Glen Sannox, intended to be in service on the Arran route last year, and an unnamed boat, Hull 802, intended to serve the Outer Hebrides.

It’s just embarrassing, when it should really be innovative.

Troubled CalMac ferries ‘may’ be ready next year

As I said at the start, I used to like reading/writing about out ferries.


All At Sea


19/05/2019 Posted by | Maritime | , | Leave a comment

Dogs of war get significant memorial in Angus

Interesting to note that memorials are still be raised to commemorate events dating from World War I.

In the early 1900s, Airedale terriers were trained in Scotland for World War I.

The training took place around Angus, where local people would play the part of injured soldiers which the dogs would search for. Lt Col Richardson, who lived at Panbride House near Carnoustie, eventually convinced the government the Airedale was the right breed for war work.

Wendy Turner, of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland, spoke of her delight at the creation.

She said: “2000 Airdales were in WW1 and that’s stemmed from Angus.

“At first for the British Red Cross, they would carry panniers with first aid equipment.

“They would also go onto the battlefield for wounded soldiers rather than dead soldiers – people that could still be helped. They would bring back a cap or anything that they could show they found a soldier who was alive, take it back to the stretcher bearers and they would follow the dogs out to collect the person.

“They were so good at what they were doing that the British army took notice and asked for them to be trained for them.

“They were used for carrying messages and also carried first aid supplies as well as being guard dogs. They were also used by the Russian army and the German army.”

The memorial was carved from a 30 tonne block of granite by Kirriemuir sculptor Bruce Walker, said to make it one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

The sculpture was funded by donations from around the world, and has been installed at East Haven beach in Angus.

Memorial unveiled commemorating Scotland’s dogs of war


The first four Airedales Lt Col Richardson and his wife trained were presented to Glasgow Police in 1905 and were stationed at Maryhill Police and Queens Park police stations in the city.

These were the first official police dogs in the United Kingdom.

The British Red Cross then used the dogs to locate injured soldiers on the battlefields and also carry first aid supplies and crates of carrier pigeons on their backs.

The breed was trained to wear gas masks and navigate the treacherous and often terrifying conditions of the front lines.

A war dog school was opened in Shoeburyness in Essex and the Richardsons moved there to manage the training of the breed.

Memorial to be unveiled to heroic dogs of war at East Haven

Bruce Walker Carving Pic Credit The Courier

Bruce Walker Carving Pic Credit The Courier

19/05/2019 Posted by | military, World War I | , , | Leave a comment

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