Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Bargain of week – Global Positioning System only £16.99

Quite a bargain, a Global Positioning System for only £16.99.

And that was actually reduced from the original £19.99 which would have been pretty good too.

This is currently on offer in one of my local ‘Cash Generator’ shops, occasionally (but not very often) the source of a bargain.

Considering that a Global Positioning System needs at least thirty satellites in medium Earth orbit, plus ground stations, staff, and other support, that they can fit it all such a small box AND sell it for the reduced price of £16.99 is remarkable.

I’m not sure if the real system cost millions or billions, originally being shrouded in the budget secrecy of the Cold War probably nobody really knows, but I think a single, large satellite launch is around $4 million, not counting the hardware. Multiply that by 30, double (or treble it) for losses and replacement, then do the same again for the hardware, and just keep going – let’s just say, it’s not cheap. More than £16.99.s

In fact, I mention this as it illustrates one of the major failing of Cash Generator shops everywhere, in that their labelling and descriptions are often very poor, making it hard to identify items accurately, or at all, in many instances. Stuff sits in the window for weeks.

I was looking for a number of laptops recently (which I bought ‘off the shelf’ elsewhere, based on full label descriptions) and just gave up looking in Cash Generator, as there was no clue as to processor, memory, disk, or operating system of items in their displays. You could have two identical laptops sitting beside one another, with one at £200 and one at £400, and the only way to find out the difference would be to go inside and ask about them – with staff who aren’t computer-literate. Sorry, not taking that sort of chance.

As for smartphones and tablets – heck, they already all look the same.

And it’s basically the same with most of their tech – if you know your part numbers (and they don’t have vast differences under the skin), fine, otherwise, oh dear.

Hence my look at the Global Positioning System box, which I was curious about.

The box in question was sitting on the top shelf in the window, so all I could see was the label, the price, and the words ‘Global Positioning System’ on the box. The logo wasn’t familiar to me, so didn’t help.

Time for a trick since I couldn’t see the top of the box – I thought it might have had more detail.

I held my camera up, and took a pic from above…

GPS Bargain

GPS Bargain

That worked well -NOT!

Still don’t have a clue.



25/08/2019 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Butt… is it politically correct?

I think I’m going to avoid getting into trouble for this, and just state the circumstance.

Arriving at my local charity shop, which had recently had a sort of ‘Art and Collector’s Day (I missed it, probably just as well since the goodies on offer may have been bargains, but weren’t cheap), and was clearing items that hadn’t moved on the day.

In the middle of the main window was…

Wooden Carving window view

Window view

You might not believe it, but the pic is actually clearer than the view from street was, at first, and I innocently wandered inside to see if the apparently ‘abstract’ carving was based on anything identifiable.

I’d been there earlier in the week, just after the sale, and saw a round lump sitting in the same place, and when I took a closer look inside, turned out to be a stylised sleeping cat. No, it’s not sleeping on my table – nice as it was, £15 was too rich for me.

This time, looking closer from a different angle…

Wooden Carving

Wooden Carving

I’m sure some PC nutjob(s) will be going ballistic by now, and having a fit over this.

25/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Today is Banana Split Day

25 August is Banana Split Day.

Oddly, I don’t seem to have caught onto this one before this mention – strange, given my lifelong consumption of bananas, and learning about them.

I won’t go into the looming disaster that may be the extinction of the current favourite, the Cavendish, due to its existence as a clone (this means it only takes one disease to take hold, and the whole species can be wiped out).

But I will note the interesting effect of temperature on their ripening.

In very rough numbers, if the temperature falls below about 16°C, this edible fruit (apparently it is a berry) goes dormant, and simply will not ripen.

That matters in Scotland, where the ambient temperature doesn’t spend much time over that, even in summer.

As for autumn, winter, and spring?

I suggest learning to digest raw, unripe, indigestible banana!

I used to buy them, then wonder why they never turned yellow, going from green (or yellowish if they had been in the shop for long enough) to shrivelled and black after I’d had them at home for a week or two – but NEVER turning yellow, and becoming ripe, or edible.

My home just isn’t that warm 😦

I make the best of summer, when we get some days that go above the magic 16°C and stay there long enough.

As for the banana split, seems it really has a proper history, and is attributed to David Evans Stickler. In 1904, he was serving as an apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Pharmacies of the day usually had soda fountains, and that how and when he invented the banana split, which quickly became a hit with the students at Saint Vincent College nearby. Its reputation and popularity spread rapidly, becoming an American institution, then going global.

It’s relatively simple too…

Split your banana(s), arrange in a dish,

add ice cream, top with whipped cream, nuts, hot fudge, strawberry syrup (and anything else you can imagine), then sprinkle with cherries.

Vary to suit your preferences.

Banana Splits

Banana Splits



Just ONE banana split 🙂


Banana Split

Banana Split

25/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

This (allegedly) is ‘Geoff’ – I have a nice job for ‘Geoff’

I’ve mentioned being tired of WordPress’s failure to provide (or even consider) a tool to allow bloggers to ban unwanted ‘Followers’ or ‘Likers’.

Believe it or not, their best advice is to make our blogs ‘Private’ so they can’t be seen.

The word ‘moron’ comes to mind for anyone who seriously suggests hiding a blog from the world to prevent spammers from attacking it.

While I seem to have found a manual means of dissuading this sort of scum – as I lose one… another appears and attaches themselves, so it’s become a never ending job

Meet ‘Geoff’ – assuming ‘Geoff’ really is the spammer behind my most recent unwanted, recurring, follows, and is not simply a stolen library pic of a sad old man’s face.

I’m almost moved to believe this really is ‘Geoff’, since I don’t think anybody trying to sell ‘inspiration’ or ‘motivational’ crap online would actually choose the face of such a sad looking and washed up old loser to promote their scam. That face is hardly inspirational in today’s world of manufactured celebrity faces.

I wonder what psychotic villain role a TV series typecaster would give a face like this?




I would like to nominate ‘Geoff’ for a very important job, which could save some innocent driver, person, or even a car or bus load of people from a terrible accident.

I’d like to have him strapped into a harness facing the rear of a twin tyre lorry axle such as the one seen below, with a button to set off an alarm if the rock comes loose.

On second thought, never mind the alarm – just arrange things so he’s facing the gap between the tyres.

Rock between lorry tyres

Rock between lorry tyres

Add a twist to the tale and tell him pressing the button stops the lorry for safety – but, in reality, it would release the harness and drop him.

A system best installed if he’s looking at the front axle, so the rear tyres would be ‘Along in just a moment’ 😉


Ten seconds after the above was published, this moron ‘Liked’ the post and tried to ‘Follow’ SeSco.

Obviously, I’n not saying what his site is.

And, seriously?

Who, in their right mind, is going to hand their money to a face like that on the promise of it being invested, and turning them into a millionaire?

Mr ‘NO EXCUSES’ (VIP) might get rich quick, but I doubt anybody unfortunate enough to be near him would.

This one is also a coward, who doesn’t even give contact details, or even stick a name to his pic.

So, it looks as if we’ll have to order multiple harnesses!

And hire more lorries (and rocks).

Income Moron

Income Moron

24/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Go visit the Lighthouse, but look deeper inside

I’ve featured a wander into the Lighthouse before, but that was focussed on the building and some interesting feature noted regarding only that aspect.

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

The Lighthouse Tower Spiral Stairs

I’ve dropped in quite a few times since, mainly to get some exercise by climbing up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, but there are occasional, changing, exhibitions featured there (I don’t think there was a decent one worth mentioning any time I’ve fallen through the door), and more interestingly, a permanent, dedicated exhibition space feature Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his life, and his work.

It seems to be slowly changing and expanding. (Unfortunately, bits of the audio-visual displays seem to be… unreliable).

I’m not sure how many people know about it, or visit, since its located on one of the upper floors, doesn’t have much in the way of signs or publicity, and when I’m there – I’m almost alone, with few others to be seen.

I’ve always meant to make a trip to look at this display more closely, but it seems to alter each time I drop in, with pieces moved around, or not seen.

The most stunning aspect is series of models of projects Mackintosh DIDN’T have the opportunity to complete.

Last time I was there, I thought they’d cleared those models away for some reason, or put them into storage – they weren’t to be seen where they had been before, at the entrance to the Mackintosh exhibition area.

I found them later, as I wander up to the top of the building, where they were found sitting on one of the landing.

I should have grabbed some pics, but the place was closing by the time I came across them.


I see one of local media sources has made that trip, taken some  pics, and added some archive material too…

No one has left their mark on Glasgow quite like Charles Rennie Mackintosh has.

Rightly heralded as one of the most innovative architects of the 20th century, the buildings he designed that stand tall in the city encourage visits from people from far and wide in pilgrimage to appreciate his genius.

And while the likes of The Lighthouse, the House for An Art Lover, Scotland Street School Museum and the Mackintosh church are all well known tributes to his originality, foresight and spirit of creation, they should also be looked at in tandem with the designs that never went past the drawing board.

The unbuilt Mackintosh gems that would no doubt have furthered his legacy and brought about a new level of architectural beauty to a city in Glasgow that already bears witness to his genius.

Competition entry designs that were brought to life in model form and exhibited within The Lighthouse and the House for An Art Lover in recent years.

The incredible Charles Rennie Mackintosh designs that never made it off the page

The article’s worth a look.

And the models are worth a visit.


24/08/2019 Posted by | Lost, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Helenvale Sports Complex disappears – chimney appears

I mentioned plans to finally demolish the Helenvale Sports Complex buildings a while ago, after the site had lain derelict for years, lots of years.

The job’s done, leaving nothing but nice flat ground for some new flats or similar housing, to reuse the land.

Actually there is still a little something left – some of the fencing, and the gate, with its sign.

That will, of course, go when the site is redeveloped.

Helenvale Sports Complex Remains - Sign

Helenvale Sports Complex Remains – Sign

There was another interesting reveal as a result of the demolition.

The chimney which would have serviced the boilers of the adjacent Corporation Baths and Washhouse.

While it wasn’t completely hidden before, it was obscured.

One of the diminishing number of old chimneys still standing, it won’t have made smoke for years, since the public baths and washhouses were deserted years ago.

There used to be a small business development office in the ground floor space of the building, but that closed a few years ago, presumably rendering it abandoned and derelict too.

It can only be a matter of time until someone decides it’s an eyesore, and demands the whole lot be torn down in the name of safety, lest some innocent vandals, sorry little kids, get hurt after they break in, trash it, and set it on fire.

Maybe not – the baths and washhouse are B listed buildings, shown as part of Parkhead Library.

Although the baths look fairly narrow when seen from Tollcross Road, they extend far behind the façade, far past the library, on the left in this pic.

Helenvale Sports Complex Razed

Helenvale Sports Complex Razed

24/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

Hope there isn’t a fire at the Coats Observatory refurb

Being from Glasgow, known by some as Tinderbox City, and mindful of the Mackintosh Building’s fate (not to mention a number of other Sauchiehall Street buildings in recent times), I couldn’t really ignore this photo opportunity that developed in Paisley, as I was taking pics of the old Coats Observatory building, currently being refurbished.

The van driver just pulled up, locked the van, and disappeared into the flats on the left.

Oakshaw Street Fire Path

Oakshaw Street West Fire Path

I’m not going to pass any comment, just zoom into the sign on the left.

Oakshaw Street West Sign

Oakshaw Street West Sign

23/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Sponge Cake Day

23 August is Sponge Cake Day.

Often attributed to the Victorians thanks to the Victorian Sponge Cake, sponge cake actually finds its roots in Italy. Sometime in the early 18th century, a respected and wealthy member of the Pallavicini family in Genoa commissioned a cake that was to be as light and delicate as sea foam. The result was an airy and delectable confection originally known as Pâte Génoise.

What set this creation apart was its creation without any yeast or leavening agent, instead, it took advantage of the properties of whipped egg whites to add air to the texture of the cake.

It would survive to become to be known as a ‘sponge cake’.

Despite my technical abilities, I’ve always been a simple soul, and really love simple treats such as sponge cake and its variations. While they’re very nice, more complex cakes can have so many ingredients that it become easy for them to be spoiled by a bad choice of just one.

With so little to choose from with a sponge cake, you have to try really hard to waste it.

Seriously simple. Seriously good.

Just plain sponge, plain cream, plain jam. That’s all, thank you.

Sponge Cake

Sponge Cake

23/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | 1 Comment

Time for a little embedding test

One of the (many) irritations I’ve come up against in recent years with WordPress is the roll-out of various ‘improvements’.

Improvement which their propaganda machine tells me make things ‘better’, as does their ‘Happiness Team’ when I dare to complain comment.

I’ve given up on the latter, after it proved futile when I joined those who moaned when they removed the spelling and grammar checker – without warning (so we floundered around until we reported the bug, and got told it was a new feature, since we could go find our own, better checkers online).

But one of the long-standing irritations (for me at least) was the disappearance of various embedding option, as I used to drop in links to goodies found in imgur, and also BBC video features. These worked fine for a while, then the blog just started deleting them when I tried to include as I had been doing before.

However, I recently noticed that tweets with image or video content seems to work OK when they’re embedded, so I might be able to get around the ‘ban’ by blogging a tweet with the content I want to embed.

This is slightly silly of course, since WordPress also automatically sends a tweet for every blog post I make, so now I’ll be guilty of double-tweeting – unless I jump in and delete the second tweet.

But then I lose the tweet about the blog post, which will be different from the tweet I made previously just be able to get the embeddeable image.

I can’t win, can I1?

Well, it SEEMS to work.

Although, I DO have to go back and delete a bit of useless javascript that appears.


Looks as if I DON’T need to bother about double-tweeting.

While the tweet I make just to get the embeddable tweet with the image actually shows the image, the tweet that WordPress makes automatically when the post with image is published doesn’t – it just shows the post title, and a text extract. No image!

Looks like this is worth playing with, and may be of help to anyone else who got ticked off by WordPress’s ‘ban’ on imgur images and BBC embeds.

22/08/2019 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Volunteers… DON’T go into the light!

While I admire those who are able to volunteer their time and effort to support legitimate charities (always check any organisation sailing under the charity banner – and find out if it’s supporting a multimillionaire head first, and beneficiaries second).

I can’t offer the same ‘charitable’ opinion of huge commercial ventures that depend on volunteers to make it work.

Yes, I’m looking at you, usually giant sports ventures that eat millions, pay little or nothing to those who make them successful, and strut their stuff with claims of how much they benefit the local economy – while selectively forgetting about any monies that goes to those behind them.

I suspect a few lucky folk walk off with a nice little pot – while thousands of volunteer get expenses and beer money to keep them happy, and probably lots and lots of mind-bending indoctrinational inspirational talks about how ‘important’ they are to the success of the venture.

I’m impressed, really, I am, at how these events manage to pull the same trick every time they come around, be they the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games or whatever.

There’s currently a whopping THREE such events competing for free labour volunteers to help them along to a healthy bottom line once the books are closed and the accountants go home.

A recruitment drive has been launched for volunteers to join the team running three major sporting events in Glasgow.

Glasgow Life are looking for people to help with the running of the LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships, the LGT World Men’s Curling Championship and UEFA EURO 2020.

Applicants will be able to choose which event, and how many, they’d like to be involved in.

A variety of roles, including supporting spectators and visitors,

Applications open on Monday July 22 and will close on Sunday August 25, for a variety of roles including supporting spectators and visitors to the city during the events.

Thousands of people have volunteered at previous events in the city including the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships.

Across all three events, more than 1,000 volunteers will participate in some of the biggest events in the world.

Glasgow volunteers sought for three major sporting events

It’s funny how unions and suchlike get all up in arms and mouthy about ‘Free labour’, ‘Cheap about’, or even ‘Slave labour’ when business try to run apprenticeships, or work experience schemes, but I can’t think of a union that has lifted a finger over highly profitable sporting events and similar – which would probably be financial ‘Black Holes’ if they were forced to pay EVERYBODY involved in their running.

Maybe the union bosses like football etc, and have corporate boxes at those events, for their rich mates.

Volunteer Zombies

PS – Don’t forget

Don’t forget the other little scheme that let goodies be divvied up between the lucky few.

The ‘Awards’.

I’m not going to waste time on this, but it would be nice to know how much Glasgow will have to throw into a ‘Money Pit’ (regardless of whether it wins this award) just to keep in the running for this.

Glasgow officially noted its intention to bid in January of this year, and submitted a formal candidature bid last month, resulting in the city being shortlisted for the title alongside Genoa, Italy.

If successful, Glasgow would be the first city to win the coveted title twice. It would also mark 20 years since it first gained the accolade back in 2003.

Glasgow shortlisted for European Capital of Sport award

Mentioning ‘sport’ seems to make some people lose touch with reality, and expenses.

22/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

So, THAT’s Coats Observatory (the outside, at least)

I don’t really know why (apart from the obvious distance), but I’ve seldom made the trip to Paisley, despite the presence of interesting places to see/visit there.

Decades ago I did end up there a few times, once to look for a camera shop (now gone of course), and a few more time to visit Dunn’s Models, also gone after making the move to Glasgow city centre.

I never got around to even finding, let alone visiting any of the features, such as Coats Observatory.

I’ve almost rectified that, having found the place recently, purely by chance, while visiting Paisley (to buy some computer goodies).

However, with my usual spectacular timing and the intervention of ‘Spooky Coincidence’, the place looked closed, abandoned, and almost derelict – not what I’d expected.

Seems my timing was such that I’d arrived at the wrong time…

Coats Observatory along with Paisley Museum and Paisley Central Library is currently closed to the public while the buildings undergo a 4 year long £42m transformation. During that period there will be no public tours or visits. We will re-open in late 2022 following the redevelopment.

So, I have to wait for a further three years before there’s any chance of looking inside or visiting.

Oh well, at least I know where to go now.

It’s easy to see how/why it became an attraction (as opposed to an observatory), given the proximity of houses with chimneys filling the surrounding air with smoke, and how the expanding town would have filled the sky with light.

It’s a while since anyone cleaned and polished the plaque, or even blew the cobwebs off.

Coats Observatory Plaque

Coats Observatory Plaque

These views show the problems the observatory came to suffer, despite being on a hilltop, with houses and chimneys around it.

Coats Observatory

Coats Observatory

The entrance is reasonably impressive, with an appropriately themed carving in the tympanum.

Coats Observatory Tympanum

Coats Observatory Tympanum

it got me thinking…

The telescope is obvious, as is the wise owl standing on books.

But a chicken?

A little research, and it seems I should be referring to the chicken as a cock (sorry, I was actually trying to avoid that).

And that, it seems, stands for ‘Courage and perseverance; hero; able in politics’

While Thomas Coats (1809–1883) was a Scottish thread manufacturer who, with his brother made the Ferguslie Thread Works substantial, I suspect that latter did not tarnish the family name 😉

So – now all I have to do is keep breathing until late 2022, as Coats Observatory becomes yet ANOTHER museum class venue that I’ve lost access to for around four years.

And I thought I was done with this waiting crap as I shuffled around waiting for the Burrell Collection to reopen its doors in 2020.

I don’t really want to sound morbid, but I’ve recently begun to wonder just how many people drop dead waiting to make that ‘One Last Visit’ during these extended closures?

22/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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