Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Study suggests nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk

Old And Isolated

As someone touched by dementia within their family, I think anything that might reduce the risk of falling victim to this affliction has to be worth a mention.

According to an international study in the Lancet., one in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, and it lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking, and physical inactivity.

These risk factors, described as potentially modifiable, make up 35% of the total risk – the remaining 65% is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.

  • Mid-life hearing loss – responsible for 9% of the risk
  • Failing to complete secondary education – 8%
  • Smoking – 5%
  • Failing to seek early treatment for depression – 4%
  • Physical inactivity – 3%
  • Social isolation – 2%
  • High blood pressure – 2%
  • Obesity – 1%
  • Type 2 diabetes – 1%

Depending on your own lifestyle and circumstances, some of those may or may not be easy to alter positively, but I think the relevant factor is that people be made aware of them.

It’s no secret that some of the items listed are clearly not good for their health, but many people ignore that already – perhaps coming into contact with people affected by dementia (victims and their families) might be something that would help persuade them to review their life choices.

Via: Nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk, study says


The report, which combines the work of 24 international experts, says lifestyle factors can play a major role in increasing or reducing an individual’s dementia risk.

Although dementia is diagnosed in later life, the brain changes usually begin to develop years before,” said lead author Prof Gill Livingston, from University College London.

Acting now will vastly improve life for people with dementia and their families and, in doing so, will transform the future of society.


July 31, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | | Leave a comment

This is your street. Not your personal bin.

It looks as if Glasgow is having another go at its litter louts with a new campaign.

Wandering around various burbs, I’ve come across the following sign placed high on many lampposts:

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

While I like the sentiment, I suspect the people who will really like it are the residents who are fed up with those who litter, while those who litter will just laugh at it, and pay absolutely no attention whatsoever.

While I was raised not to drop litter, and don’t – ever – anything goes in my pocket or a bag to be disposed of later, I see very few children who have been taught not to litter. And they become the adults that also have no care regarding litter.

It’s sad to walk along the street, especially with shops, and watch the behaviour of people as they leave shops.

Those leaving convenience stores, newsagents, and fish & chip shops are amongst the worst offenders.

Often unwrapping cigarette packets, the wrapping is discarded instantly without a second thought.

But the saddest sight is that of the kids, especially the smallest ones, as they come out with packets of sweets or similar treats, and these are already being opened and unwrapped as they leave the shop, and you can see they have NEVER been taught not to litter, as the wrappers are dropped as soon as they come off, without as much as moment’s thought about what they are doing. They don’t even know they are littering. Putting the wrappers in their pocket does not even occur to them.

And if the council, a community worker, or police officer DARES to pull anyone up, or issue a fine?

THEY are slated as the ‘Bad Guys’, unreasonable and oppressive, just out to make money and pick on people.

If they wanted to do that (make money), they’d be better to collect all the discarded McDonald’s packaging that fills our streets (buyers of this muck are amongst the worst, just opening their car doors after visiting a drive-through, and dropping the lot on the road), return it to source and charge them for each piece of branded litter they return.

I can dream.

July 23, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, photography | , , , | 1 Comment

Good News – Clara has been found!

Good news for a change (and I, for one, need some).

Deciding to take a random late night walk to the shops, I noticed a soggy piece of paper flapping in the trunk of one the trees in a park I often cut through.

Whatever I expected to see, it wasn’t what I found, but at least it made the walk to the shops worthwhile.

A ‘Thank You’ note from Clara’s human, letting folk know the lost cat was now a found cat!

Found Clara

Found Clara




Seriously, this is great to see.

I’ve come across so many ‘Lost’ posters in recent walks, and apart from the problem of them not having a date on them (so there’s no way to tell if they are recent, or not so recent), it’s also impossible to tell if they were any use, and the cat was found.

That’s just an observation, I realise there’s not much can be done about that. After all, the humans have better things to do if there is a find, I think what I’m really just noting is that while I’ve found quite a few ‘Lost’ posters, this is the first ‘Found’ one I’ve ever come across.


June 29, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Clara is missing in Sandyhills

Another set of posters in the area tells of another missing cat.

Having been sort of housebound for a few weeks, I kind of snapped and just went out for a mindless wander to cover a few miles, and was disappointed to find that another appeal to help find a lost cat.

I’m guessing this one has been missing for a week, but it’s never possible to be sure as the posters generally just refer to ‘last Sunday’ and omit any sort of date, so it could be a week, or it could be weeks. There’s no way to tell.

I’ve seen some of these posters up for months on some of my walks, and looking reasonably fresh if originally well made.

However, these are just plain paper, so have to be only from last weekend.

Clara Missing Cat

Clara Missing Cat

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

Kinloch Castle makes the news yet again

I’ve waffled about Kinloch Castle before, more than once it seems.

It’s funny how some stories/appeals only seem to need one or two appearances in the media, and there seems to be a virtual army lined up behind them, while others seem barely even to evoke a response, and when it does appear, it’s apparently hostile and negative.

As someone who lives in an area where many a fine mansion was built in the 19th century, and who has in more recent years learnt that nearly all of them have been razed and lost without trace, I see the loss of any examples that have survived so far, and might yet be saved, as worthwhile.

In my own case of the area between the River Clyde and the east end of Glasgow, I can’t believe just how many ‘Big Houses’ once lay in the area, built by wealthy merchants who favoured the river view, have been wiped from the land, leaving little or no trace to show they ever even existed.

The only way I know of their past existence is through finding illustrations/photographs of them in books giving accounts of the area.

The most recent, which I actually saw, was on the grounds of Belvedere Hospital and referred to as the Doctor’s House. It was systematically stripped then ultimately demolished and erased as a new housing estate was partly built in an attempt to profit from the dopey 2014 Commonwealth Shames. My guess is that the developer was out to make a quick buck from the mugs expected to come and witness this folly, and thought the houses could be let to them at vastly inflated rates. I also guess this never happened, and to this observer at least, work appeared to stop early, the site was abandoned with only about half the area cleared being built on, then the contractors, plant, and machinery disappeared. The remainder of the building site was landscaped, and is now just flat grassland.

The derelict roofless shell of Belvedere House eventually disappeared too.

(Sad, and embarrassing, to say, although I collected one or two pics of this over the years, I can’t lay hands on any of them today, so the pic that SHOULD here, isn’t. Sorry. I’ve searched and searched for them, but they seem to have disappeared too.)

While there are a few who are keen to preserve Kinloch Castle and see it as an asset in a remote place which has little to attract the tourist’s wallet (and lighten it for the benefit of the local community), if the comments after this media article is to be believed, the community “Don’t want none of that!”

Via: Campaigners plan bid to save Kinloch Castle from demolition

Kinloch Castle

Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Allie is missing in Shettleston

News of another missing cat, this time in Shettleston near Killin Street.

At least that’s where I picked up this pic.

Not much I can add, but Sunday was only a couple of days ago, so this is a new appeal.

Allie Missing Cat

Allie Missing Cat

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

SUPERCAT flies to the rescue of the Scottish wildcat

I almost missed this one, but it’s nice to see some more publicity appearing.


Cat owners across Scotland are being asked to help protect a highly endangered native species, the Scottish wildcat.

Experts estimate there are fewer than 300 wildcats left in the wild but Scottish Wildcat Action hopes that pet and farm cats will help save the day by becoming “Supercats.”

Scottish Wildcat Action is a national project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aims to halt the decline of this native species by 2020. It is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and is a partnership of 20 organisations. The Supercat campaign will launch on World Spay Day on 28 February with support from wildlife filmmaker, Gordon Buchanan, and using the hashtag #supercat.

To become a Supercat, a domestic cat needs to be micro-chipped, neutered and have up-to-date vaccinations. This helps wildcats by reducing the risks of cross-breeding and disease that are wiping out the last few wildcats in Scotland. Vaccinations, in particular, also help give Supercats themselves better protection from a range of threats.

News Release – Originally published by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Supercats are pet or farm cats that have been micro-chipped, neutered and have up-to-date vaccinations.


And in the media:

New campaign launched to save Scotland’s elusive wildcat

March 3, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Anyone know what this mystery object spotted in Largs is?

Anybody able to identify the object pictured below, spotted in Largs Mackerston Park near the shore  (courtesy of one of Tam Nugent’s excellent geographs)?

There is no identification or plaque apparent.

We’ve found a few other pics online, not showing the item itself, but which have caught it by chance.

These have established it was definitely there in the early 1960s, and given the age of the images used, was there at least in the 1950s, probably earlier, but we don’t have definite evidence for that so anything earlier is really just an assumption.

Largs Mystery Object

Largs Mystery Object

So far, we haven’t come up with it, or even anything similar, not online at least.

I can’t make to the Largs Museum, which would be worth a shot.

Any helpful/generous local care to ask in there for us, or even just point them towards this appeal for help?

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Could the Maid of the Loch sail again in 2018

Predictions that the paddle steamer Maid of the Loch could sail again in 2018 are probably the most realistic I have seen for the historic steamer since restoration began. Ambitious plans gave a number of earlier dates, but without being critical (just practical) I never expected them to be delivered, mainly due to the cost of the project (funded by donations, grants etc) and the huge amount of work required, which all has to be completed to standards set by outside certification bodies.

Thankfully, the volunteers have never given up, and despite the economic climate being less that favourable over the years, neither did the arrival of funds, even if they were slow.

It’s one I’d love to have had a hand it, but time, and the distance, just ruled it out for me when this restoration began.

Of the 2018 sailing date, this was said:

The summer of 2018 could see the last paddle steamer built in Britain sailing once more.

The Maid of the Loch has been out of use for 35 years.

But enthusiasts working towards a multi-million pound restoration of the vessel believe it could be cruising Loch Lomond again.

They are aiming to raise £1.7m by the autumn which, they believe, could release twice as much again in lottery funding.

If the fundraising drive over the spring and summer is successful, that would release £3.8m of heritage lottery cash.

If all goes to plan, the Maid could be sailing by late summer next year.

Via Old Maid prepares for new lease of life

This promotional video from 2015 is described as having been key in securing backing from Heritage Lottery – it’s also a pretty good summary to, with some nice period footage from the Maid’s first life on the loch (probably from about time  I managed a trip, or maybe two, but I can’t remember).

It’s years (think of the word ‘decade’ and add some) since I last walked on the Maid’s deck and wandered down to the engine room and saw the paddles through the handy observation window provided, during a Doors Open Day opportunity.

Not that I would have forgotten that day, but things got more interesting after I parked in Glasgow, only to find my car battery (which had given no advance warning) suddenly decided to die, totally and completely. Let’s just say I had busy hour or two after that, since I was on my own.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The Scottish wildcat disaster train rolls on

WildcatWhile it’s gratifying to see publicity for the campaigns aimed at saving the Scottish wildcat from extinction, I still fear for its future if those involved cannot be made to form a consensus and work together, instead of forever being seen as being in dispute about who is right and who is wrong, amid accusations of doing harm rather than good with their plans.

There was news that wildcats had recently been caught on camera at two National Trust for Scotland sites in Aberdeenshire, near Drum Castle, and near Leith Hall.

More news described how new 1,500-square-mile conservation zone in Caithness was to be established, joining a similar area already set up in Ardnamurchan, with a long-term plan to see the two areas linked up to created a “truly national” safe area for the species.

Now, here’s the problem:

On 23 April 2016 I noted this (on the Cairngorms National Park Authority web site)…

Statement on behalf of Scottish Wildcat Action:

Eileen Stuart, head of policy and advice at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said: “We at Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) are once again dismayed at the latest statement produced by Wildcat Haven on 12 April 2016. We have a Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan which has been published and been developed by experts in their fields.

“Wildcat Haven’s actions misrepresent the progress we have made in the conservation of Scottish wildcat.  To be able to work with them, we need them to produce evidence and information relating to their activities‎.

Full statement can be read here: Statement on behalf of Scottish Wildcat Action

Then, on 23 August 2016 I noted this (in the news)…

Wildcat Haven says Scottish Wildcat Action is putting mothers and their newborns at risk.

A Scottish Government-backed wildcat protection scheme could be endangering the lives of newborn kittens, a conservation group has warned.

Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) aims to catch and neuter feral felines in Aberdeenshire to prevent them from breeding with wildcats, which are critically endangered.

Wildcat Haven says the group risks capturing new mothers and harming their young by laying traps during the breeding season.

Full statement can be read here: Wildcat Haven says Scottish Wildcat Action is putting mothers and their newborns at risk

Frankly, this behaviour from both sides (and I am not picking one or the other) is just not good enough.

I’m not even going to waste my time writing a new comment today, merely quote what I wrote about 2 year ago, since it seems to have just about the same relevance, and shows that little has improved regarding relations between these two warring factions:

It’s a while since I gave efforts to save the Scottish wildcat a mention, mainly because I couldn’t really see any good news to relate, and because there also seemed to be disagreement between those who should know better.

With extinction so close, that’s a truly sad and disappointing thing to have to note.

On 2 April 2015, we had Scottish wildcat captive breeding plan defended – BBC News

Sadly, this article reveals that rather than get together, various experts have taken up opposing views on whether it is better to create a haven which promotes safe living and breeding areas for wildcats, or to trap them and stock captive breeding programmes.

Surely the issue not for organisation to fight over which is right or wrong, as it should be obvious that a mix is needed. We already have animals in captivity that are breeding. We also need haven areas where animals can be protected and allowed to live and breed. Polarised groups at war only produce one thing – casualties!

I have nothing to add…

And no progress to note.

This recent video looks at not only the Scottish wildcat, but also touches on efforts being made to reintroduce the lynx:

Although it was good that he at least agreed to take part, it was actually sad to hear the farmer’s view on lynx, his dismissal of objective evidence in favour of hearsay and anecdotes, and beliefs influenced by the media and ignorance.

It reminded me of news coverage of a lynx escape from an English zoo last year:

“The animal should not be approached as it could become dangerous if alarmed or cornered.

“Officers have visited two local schools to offer safety advice and reassurance.

“All children at All Saints Primary School are not in school as they are away on a field trip.

“Police are also working with staff at Little Orchard Montessori School to make sure they are kept inside.

“Officers are also going house to house in the area to offer advice and are assisting with the search on the ground.

Via: Lynx on the loose in Devon after escaping from Dartmoor Zoo

After all that, Flaviu wandered around for about 3 weeks and… nothing happened.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Poor old Kinloch Castle (it’s on the Isle of Rum)

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit (or am likely to), I’ve always like the look of Kinloch Castle.

The open arcade (wrongly referred to as a ‘loggia’ – which has a roof or covering) around the building gives it a wonderful appearance.

Dating from around 1897, wealthy English industrialist George Bullough clearly wanted something just a little better than a hovel – his new retreat included lighting, powered by its own hydro-electric scheme, central heating, double-glazed stained-glass windows, sophisticated showers, and even an early telephone system, plus a (now lost) conservatory with hummingbirds, peaches and grapes, and heated pools in the (walled) garden with… alligators and turtles. That garden also contained 250,000 tons of imported soil.

His father (James) had bought Isle of Rum 1886 for £35,000. Inheriting much of the family fortune he spent £15 million (a 1974 valuation) building the castle, employing some 300 craftsmen, and importing red sandstone quarried in Corrie, Arran.

It was eventually sold to Scottish Natural Heritage in 1957 for around £1 per acre, and featured in the BBC’s ‘Restoration’ series in 2003.

SNH has been paying to maintain the building and contents ever since, but even though it is A-listed, it could be demolished as the bill for repair and maintenance is said to have reached £20 million.

At that, I think I’m unlikely to write anything different from the last alarm call for Kinloch, so you should just read this post from 2013:

Whither Kinloch Castle (and many others)?

Kinloch Castle

<a title="< A > title : null
href :; href=”; data-popupalt-original-title=”null”>Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph

Well, maybe there is a further comment, after I read this:

Kinloch Castle “faces demolition” due to repair bill cost

While the “shocked” ‘Kinloch Castle Friends Association ‘ may have their hearts in the right place, they also have to move into the real world.

There is no bottomless pit of funding for public bodies to dip into and ‘magic’ £20 million for a building that does not pay its way, or cannot provide some sort of operational contribution.

It’s all well and good to wave your hands and cry:

“Kinloch Castle is a truly magnificent place to visit and we simply do not accept that it is a write-off. It would be nothing short of a scandal if the castle were to be demolished, a scandalous loss of heritage.”


“I can’t believe that a heritage body would even consider demolishing such a beautiful, historic and unique building. It would be a huge mistake.”

But if you can’t also bring the funds needed to prevent it:

Earlier attempts to preserve the mansion, which were backed by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, have failed given the lack of public funding available.

Then your position may indeed be morally sound, but sadly practically flawed.


Perhaps another sad aspect we have nowadays is the aspect of liability, and the fear that SNH may find themselves being sued by someone who enters the abandoned and derelict castle one day, and is injured or even killed.

Even thought they may have entered without permission and wilfully ignored ‘NO ENTRY’ and ‘DANGER’ signs, chances are that SNH remain liable simply for leaving the castle there – and that threat is why they dare not simply abandon it and walk away, and warn that demolition is their option if they cannot fund repairs.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , , | 6 Comments

%d bloggers like this: