Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Article on ‘Saving the Highland Tiger’

WildcatSpotted this article explaining some of the issues around saving the Scottish wildcat, or Highland Tiger, from extinction.

Attempts to save wildcats raise complex and morally tricky questions, writes Jonny Hughes.

Of all Scotland’s wild mammals, the wildcat is perhaps the most elusive. I’ve only ever had a good sighting of one once – on the dunes at Coul Links in east Sutherland back in 1994. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the animal I saw was unlikely to have been a pure-bred wildcat, despite displaying all the physical characteristics of the species, including a wonderfully bushy tail. It’s highly likely it was a hybrid between a domestic cat and the ancestors of the European wildcats that colonised Britain 9,000 years ago by crossing the ice which then connected us to the continent.

Like many other species, wildcats have suffered a precipitous decline in numbers over several centuries due to a combination of habitat destruction and persecution. By the end of the 19th century, Victorian hunters had exterminated wildcats in England and Wales and only a few were hanging on in northern Scotland. In the 20th century, hunting reduced somewhat but by now the remaining wildcats had begun to breed with domestic cats creating a new race of hybrids.

Scottish wildcats: We must try to save ‘Highland tiger’ – Jonny Hughes

It’s encouraging to see that there seems to be a degree of cooperation developing between various groups which could influence the success of this project, but still worrying to read that those involved are far from confident in their chances of success, given how far the decline of the Scottish wildcat has progressed.

It’s also very sad to see that The Scotman’s comment section, at least when I looked not long after publication, had only provided an opportunity for morons to make their usual pointless and mindless contributions – which at least one brave contributor had thankfully dared to challenge.


Dec 13, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

78 Derngate – Another Mackintosh creation to be saved (but in England)

Not sure how well-known 78 Derngate is outside the circle of Mackintosh ‘fanatics’, but it is a unique property which Mackintosh was involved in later in his career. He didn’t design the property, but was responsible for its later style.

78 Derngate was famously re-modelled by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1916 for his client, Northampton model engineer, W.J Bassett-Lowke. Purchased for Bassett-Lowke by his father as a wedding present, the house had originally been constructed 100 years previously.

You don’t have to head for Northampton if you want to get a feel for the house, there’s a reproduction of part of the interior to be found in the Mackintosh House exhibition which can be found in the Hunterian Art Gallery. Note that the art gallery has free admission, but there is a charge for the Mackintosh House exhibition within.

Not sure if I have any pics from past visits (the exhibition was free for a while, many years ago, so I did visit quite a few times), but this video – really a collection of stills – gives a tour of the actual house itself.

The house had to be restored to its original condition (as redeveloped by Mackintosh, not as originally built) after the work was covered over by drab paint.

In it original finish, it was yellow, very yellow, and very bright.

Led by Jane Preston, great niece of W.J Bassett-Lowke.

Nov 29, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Giant chainmail box begins around Mackintosh’s Hill House

I didn’t realise I’d made the mistake (way back at the start) of referring to the protective box being erected around Mackintosh’s Hill House as a ‘glass box’.

I hadn’t originally meant it literally, as the initial stories clearly referred to the box as allowing ventilation, meaning that it would protect the house from further wet weather damage, while allowing the water damaged structure to dry out slowly/naturally, while remedial work was carried out.

But the idea stuck, and I did reinforce it by referring to another protected house, in Argentina, which actually is in a real glass box.

The project is now underway, and the much better description of a ‘chainmail box’ has been applied.

I don’t think the initial stories gave that sort of detail, but it does make the plan clearer now.

(I really must try to get a proper look since I have no excuse not to. The train to Helensburgh passes not that far away.)

The first pieces of a pioneering plan to save Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece from the driving West Coast wind and rain have been put in place with work now underway on the giant chainmail ‘box’ that will protect the property from the elements.

For more than 100 years, The Hill House in Helensburgh has been absorbing the worst effects of the weather putting the building and its unique interior at risk.

Now, a unique chainmail structure is being built around the property which will allow conservation work to continue and the property to remain visible to the public.

This semi-permeable metallic mesh pavilion, designed by architects Carmody Groarke, will allow the building to dry out over a number of years while conservation work continues.

The public will be encouraged to come onto the site and see how the project is progressing, with a community hut to open over the winter.

The work has been possible due to a public fundraising campaign which has generated £1.3m since February 2018.

A push to find the final £200,000 required to complete the work is now underway.

The total cost of the Box project is £4.5 million.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House gets giant chainmail ‘box’

As usual, The Scotsman’s ‘Comment Area’ after this story would be better described as a “Moron’s Area”.

I’m beginning to miss the days when my clever adblocker used to interpret the comment service used as ‘dangerous’ and blocked it.

Maybe it should have a setting for ‘useless’, and I should let it block the comment again, on that basis.

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Nov 24, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

I LIKE furry Pikachu (updated with film location info)

While it’s a long time since I enjoyed watching Pokémon, that doesn’t mean I forget it.

I was amazed to read that some people not only don’t like the furry rendering of Pikachu, they’ve gone so far as to label the little guy “gross”, “grotesque” and “disgusting”.


I saw the pic first, and thought ‘great’ – being just like the image formed in my mind years ago.

Detective Pikachu: ‘Gross’ furry Pokemon divides fans

I doubt those complaining are actually fans, but are really just social media whores, out to drive clicks to their sad, dying accounts.

Looking good Pikachu 🙂

Furry Pikachu Image Warner Bothers

Furry Pikachu Image Warner Bothers

I expected the folk who play with pics to have played with this, but only a couple appeared.

Pikachu Evolution

Pikachu Evolution

Oh well.

Pikachu Fur

Pikachu Fur

Did I really just make a post about Pikachu?


I don’t actually follow this sort of stuff, just catch in interesting news feeds, so I didn’t know this…

Pokemon Detective Pikachu movie filmed in Highlands

Scenes for the upcoming Pokemon Detective Pikachu movie were filmed in the Scottish Highlands, it has emerged.

Parts of Glen Nevis and the surrounding area were temporarily closed to the public in March this year for an unnamed film production.

A trailer released this week for the Pokemon movie includes scenes shot in Glen Affric.

Local Highland councillor Margaret Davidson said the crew were “good neighbours” during the filming.

She said: “They were good users of the landscape and they got on well with the people in the area, even leaving a little bit of money for local projects.”

Ms Davidson, who is also leader of Highland Council, said: “We will have to wait and see what impact the Pokemon movie has on the Highlands.

“But through the years some other films, and television programmes, have left a lasting legacy.

“Plockton is still remembered for Hamish Macbeth, and Glenfinnan for Harry Potter.”

It’s intriguing to see Scotland becoming an increasingly popular destination for film-makers, and while I never expected it to keep on growing, I have watched with interest, if not even amazement, over the years, still haven’t seen anyone come up with a reason.

At risk of ‘bursting the bubble’ (nah, I won’t give names), I can think of at least one location on this island that has very similar locations (I feel really at home there, or did, when I could spend a day or two there).

Thinking of reasons…

I think the Scottish locations are actually easier to get to than some of the alternative places I have in mind – and that can make a big difference if you have to transport a film team and all of its equipment there.

Nov 14, 2018 Posted by | Appeal | , | Leave a comment

‘Falls of Clyde’ story brings a surprise

Browsing through some apparently local media stories I was surprised to see a story about the Falls of Clyde came up with pics not of the waterfalls to which I was once a regular visitor, but a sailing ship.

Despite having searched for info about the actual Falls of Clyde in Lanark over the years, I never noticed any references to this ship.

Notably, Falls of Clyde is described as the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker.

Built in 1878 in Port Glasgow, the Falls of Clyde is currently moored in Honolulu harbour.

A group campaigning to bring the ship back to Scotland said it had agreed a deal with a Dutch company to collect it in February next year.

The plan is to restore the Falls of Clyde and use it as an education and training vessel.

The Save Falls of Clyde campaign hopes a mooring can be secured in Greenock near to where it was built.

The Falls of Clyde transported sugar from Hawaii to America’s west coast during the early part of its life before being converted into a bulk oil tanker.

Historic sailing ship to return home

The plan is for the Falls of Clyde to be transported by a heavy lift ship, leaving Honolulu in February and arriving back in the Clyde in April where it will be greeted by a flotilla of small boats.

Does that sound familiar?

City of Adelaide Departs from Irvine in 2013, bound for… Adelaide!

I have my fingers crossed now, as I’d hate Glasgow to end up looking as sad and pathetic as Sunderland, after some deranged and delusional nutter decided that City of Adelaide should have gone there, and kept on mounting insane objections and mad protests in various attempts to prevent the move to Australia. He even said he would bring the clipper BACK from Australia to Sunderland, despite not even being able to raise either the funds or interest to move the hull from Irvine to Sunderland. Maybe he read about ‘quantum teleportation’, and thinks that can be used.

Back in the real world, it seems the group behind the Falls of Clyde move is having more success.

It the late 1960s the ship returned to Hawaii where it had spent much of its working life, and where it was hoped it would be fully restored.

However, it is now in a poor state of repair, and in 2008 it was suggested the ship might have to be scuttled.

Later that year, the ship’s long-time owner, the Bishop Museum, agreed to sell it to a non-profit group which wanted to restore it.

The Save Falls of Clyde campaign to return the ship to Scotland was formally launched in 2016.

Sadly, I can’t really tell you much more about the specifics, as they don’t have a ‘real’ web site, but reside on Facecrook Facebook, which is a creepy pile of toxic crap I will not touch. (Find them by searching online).

You can, however, read a little more on the excellent ‘The Old Salt Blog’.

Falls of Clyde Heading Toward Scotland in 2019?

It will be interesting to watch this project develop, if the media chooses to watch (or it gets a proper web site I can look at).

The City of Adelaide project has come under repeated fire for not having ALL the money needed to carry out work to preserve the hull (note it was never intended to be a RESTORATION project returning the hull to its original sailing condition), as if ANY such project ever did.

It will be interesting to see if the Falls of Clyde folk come under similar fire for not having EVERYTHING in place, down to the last penny, before starting. Or if they are allowed to get on with fund-raising on an ongoing basis (like the City of Adelaide folk have) without being harassed and negatively criticised (by some).

I note the words “The Save Falls of Clyde campaign hopes a mooring can be secured in Greenock“.

Anyone who had followed City of Adelaide’s progress will be aware that the team has been subject to regular abuse (from some) as it also did not have a permanent mooring secured for the hull, and have had to move as plans to develop the surrounding area have changed.

This is the Fall of Clyde fund-raiser.

Nov 12, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Sad to see no drop in cruelty as 2018 runs out

I suppose it’s a hopeless hope, even though I don’t go looking for (cat) cruelty stories, there seems to no reduction in the number that make it to the top of the news pages, either directly or indirectly.

A number of outlets picked up on this story which may relate to snares, or worse, around Dalmally.

A cat had to have one of its hind legs and part of its tail removed after being found with unexplained injuries in Argyll.

The one-year-old named Leo was one of several cats found with multiple injuries in the area.

The Scottish SPCA now fear that the animals could have been harmed intentionally as they appeal to the public for information as they bid to establish the full circumstances.

The injuries could also have been caused by a snare but Scotland’s animal welfare charity are yet to discover any in the area and have asked anyone who does see one to contact them as soon as possible.

Appeal as several cats found with unexplained injuries

One Year Old Leo Wth Multiple Injuries Pic Scottish SPCA

One Year Old Leo With Multiple Injuries Pic Scottish SPCA

PDSA pet survivor of the year 2018

On a related subject, a Scottish cat is one of four potential recipients for an award.

A cat which was left fighting for its life after a suspected hit-and-run is in the running for a national survivor of the year award.

There were fears that Maximus might have to be put down after the incident in which he lost his right eye and suffered a fractured skull, split jaw and torn lips.

Owner Sharon Trotter, from Inverkeithing in Fife, asked vets if there was anything they could do to save him as she knew her son Cory, then aged ten, would be devastated to lose him.

Vets at Inglis Vet Centre in Dunfermline devised a special treatment plan for the pet, known as Maxy, which involved a metal pin to go across the front of his face through his nose to keep the two halves of his fractured upper jaw together while they healed, while his lower jaw was also wired into place.

As he was coming round from the operation, Maxy stopped breathing twice and required resuscitation, but pulled through and was eventually stable enough to go home.

Seven weeks after the incident the cat managed to eat his first solid food and is now well on the road to recovery after enduring further treatments and surgery in the months following the accident.

Cat in ‘hit-and-run’ up for survivor of the year award

I always feel a little guilty over cat and car incidents. Unlike dogs (and I am not saying anything against dogs, lest I be misrepresented), which can be fairly big and run in front of cars, I’ve seen cats dart out and run UNDER a passing car, so the driver has no idea anything has happened (other than maybe some odd bumping noises heard inside the car), and the cat shoots off, maybe after tumbling, so the driver would see nothing if they looked around for a cause.

I hate seeing cats sitting UNDER parked cars, and only say ‘Hello’ (or try to, since all I usually get is catbutt) from the footpath, and never bother with them if I am on the road side.

Worse still, while cats are admittedly resilient and flexible, even if severely injured they can run away before the injuries hit their systems.

I’ve never found one after seeing this happen – they just seem to vanish.

My hope is always that they make it home, or got lucky, and the worst they suffered was rolling around and nothing serious.

He may be getting better, but he still looks mad (just kidding),

Maximus Survivor Pic PDSA

Maximus Survivor Pic PDSA



Nov 12, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

I completely hate web ads – and this disgusting thing is maybe even worse

Having been around since the very start of the web, I was subject to the very worst abuses of sellers/advertising from day one.

The worst offenders today are still pretty bad of course, but nothing like the ‘bad old day’ when we had pages filled with animated gifs and marquee text marching across the screen (marquee is a tag then makes text scroll horizontally – deprecated, but still works as far as I know). Then it got even worse when they learned how to optimise video, and were able to embed that into pages as well.

I called ‘ENOUGH’ when pages had animate banners top AND bottom, gifs dancing around in all the content, and sometimes had the SAME video embedded five to seven times on the page, often in identical groups if the code behind their selection and placement was utter crap.

I haven’t seen an online ad for yeas now, and it’s LOVELY 🙂

I have one very good adblocking module which I have screwed up to ’11’, and since I use Firefox, that also helps things along with its settings, especially in the most recent variants (the Nightly version has become very stable recently, and I use it all the time). I did have more than one blocker, but recently tried removing them, and found one of them was doing a great job all on its own, so I was able to ‘clean house’, and minimise the amount of overhead I was dragging along.

I don’t visit any web sites that demand I disable my adblocking – simple as that, they’re history.

One reason is their insulting approach, as they often give advice on how to disable, or even remove my adblocker – which is just going too far, treating me as, or implying I am, some sort of idiot that doesn’t know how they set up their own browser, or how to adjust they adblocker they chose to install.

Doesn’t affect me as companies that are so desperate to push their adverts are never those I am even interested in anyway. Even if they were, I’d find an alternative.

Worse than web ads?

So, what could I come across that could maybe be worse (as a concept at least) than web ads.

Sadly, a SCOTTISH ‘invention’.

Actually, this is so disgusting, I hesitate to use either the word ‘Scottish’ or ‘invention’ to dignify it, but there isn’t really any alternative I can use for those.

The disgusting iWalker was developed by a Glasgow-based company (Nomadix Media Systems), product design consultancy i4 and, I’m embarrassed to say, the University of Strathclyde (seriously, WHAT were you thinking?).

It’s a wearable screen which streams advertising and social media messaging.

But wait, there MORE!

This creepy tech is equipped with cameras and uses facial recognition technology to spy on all passers-by to capture data on who has viewed the content, including their age, gender, and emotional response. All without asking!

At least when you are online, they are obliged to get your permission – and you can use your adblocker and anti-tracking software.

But out on the street they can creep on you as they please, and you won’t even know you’ve been grabbed.

Still, I did have a look in the Help File for my adblocker, and it does have a suggestion for dealing with this thing…

Live Adblocker For Non Internet Ads

Live Adblocker For Non Internet Ads

Come on ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) – wake up to this sort of abuse, and do something about it.

How about some of you out there, write in or email complaints about this invasive use of tech.

One little moan from me isn’t going to get noticed.

This thing is also pretty degrading for those coerced into walking around wearing it.

After all, wasn’t it the poor, tramps, alcoholics etc that wandered around the streets wearing sandwich boards in the day of black & white film?

After all, wasn’t it the poor, tramps, alcoholics etc that wandered around the streets wearing sandwich boards in the day of black & white film?

From the 1920s (there’s no apostrophe when this date is written correctly).

Oct 26, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Police armed with dangerous ‘Trauma Teddies’ now

There are so many people who seem to think it is ‘kewl’ to attack the police and make all sorts of ridiculously generalised adverse claims about them, I think I have to try to balance this out when possible.

While I’m not going to suggest they’re perfect (especially the two ‘kids’ they gave a ‘Traffic Car’ to, and who tried to fit me up for dangerous driving one evening, then drink driving when that failed), too many supposedly shocking incidents that make the media can often be shown to be ‘passive aggressive provocation’ by those complaining.

I briefly noted the provision of ‘Trauma Teddies’ some time ago (to be deployed in cases where children were suffering trauma and needed to be comforted), and they’ve turned up again, as this story tells of the donation of a supply of such bears in Dumfries.

Nearly 150 trauma teddies knitted by members of the Church of Scotland will help police soothe distressed children.

A group of around 40 knitters from Caerlaverock Kirk, near Dumfries, and St Mary’s-Greyfriars’ Church, in Dumfries, made the bright and colourful bears following a suggestion from minister, Rev David Logan.

The former police officer asked people to make them two months ago following a conversation with community police officer, Jaclyn Irving, about what the church could do to help the force.

Knitting patterns were made available by children’s charity, Children 1st, which is encouraging people across the country to make the bears for Police Scotland.

Rev Logan said: “Trauma teddies have captured the imagination of people within my congregations who were more than enthusiastic about knitting them.

“Often the police are involved in situations where young children are upset, frightened or have witnessed something traumatic.

“These little fellows are given to them by police officers when they are working with them to comfort them and allow the officers to do their job more easily.

“I was in the police for 30 years and we did not have trauma teddies – we certainly could have used them.

Police get their paws on trauma teddies knitted by church

The media often seems all too happy to concentrate on bad news, so it’s good to see a story like this reaching the public.

Bears: The teddies will help soothe distressed children. Loftus Brown

Bears: The teddies will help soothe distressed children. Loftus Brown

I see a number of police offices have issued appeals for teddies, so the idea is catching on, and is one that deserves support.

Oct 23, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

News is still bad for cats

I’ve been a bit lax with the ‘Bad News’ stories regarding the deliberate injury of cats, but I won’t be dropping the mentions anytime soon.

Everyone needs to be reminded not only that this is still happening despite calls for those involved to be identified or turned in (and there have to be people out there who know who they are, they MUST be bragging about how ‘brave’ they are), but also that studies continue to find that there is a real danger that those involved are actually practicing their skills, and may advance to children for their next ‘high’.

This from 12 October (with a reminder of an earlier incident).

Police have appealed for information after cats were shot with suspected shotgun pellets.

A family cat was found injured near Tillyfourie and Monymusk earlier this month.

An x-ray revealed it had numerous pellets in its body, however Police Scotland said it was expected to make a full recovery after surgery.

A similar incident was reported to police at the end of August with an injured cat in Leylodge area.

PC Ellen Long said of the latest incident said: “This is the second such incident reported to us in the last few months and so is concerning that domestic animals are being unnecessarily injured.

Appeal follows shot cat incidents in Aberdeenshire

Still up north, perhaps not targetted, but injury still arising from illegal activity.

A cat has been found caught in an illegally set snare near Nairn in the Highlands.

Police said the pet was discovered in the trap in the Little Kildrummie area near the town last month.

The cat escaped serious injury, but the incident has prompted a warning from police about the setting of snares.

PC Lindsey Baldie said: “Illegally setting a snare like this or failing to dispose of it safely in a (sic) is extremely reckless act.”

The officer added; “The use of snares is the subject of strict legislation and it is extremely important that anyone using them does so safely, legally and humanely.

Cat caught in illegal snare near Nairn

It’s enough to… OH!

Cat Driven To Drink

Cat Driven To Drink

Oct 22, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is Global Cat Day (Previously Feral Cat Day)

Feral Cat Day became Global Cat Day, apparently a permanent change that will be in effect from 16 October 2018 and for every year thereafter.

Alley Cats Allies Global Cat Day

So, it seems everyone loves a cat… unless it’s a stray cat, then the not-so-nice generalisations can kick in. This day aims to remind us that  every stray cat has within a loving, cuddle-able furball looking for a forever home.

Back in August of 2001, Alley Cat Allies celebrated their 10th anniversary, and launched the first annual Feral Cat Day to promote raising awareness about feral cat colonies and how to care for, and prevent them. Alley Cat Allies is a strong supporter of the ‘Trap-Neuter-Return’ policy, where stray cats are captured and brought in to local volunteer veterinarians to be neutered and returned to the streets. This allows the cats to live out their lives on the streets, without creating more kittens to perpetuate the problem.

Except, perhaps, Australia, where politicians and cat-haters seem to think the only way to deal with is via a cull.

Trap Neuter Return

Trap Neuter Return

Oct 16, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is World Egg Day

12 October 2018 is World Egg Day.

I’m sorry, this is ANOTHER wondering day, defined as falling on the second Friday in October, so will next take place on 11 October 2019.

World Egg Day celebrates this wonderful little package of deliciousness, and the incredibly important role eggs play in our day to day lives.

Possibly one of the oldest foods known, eggs have played an important role in our lives and health almost since time forever.

One of the sad things about the Internet/web is the number of loonies who have set up pages, and made videos with baseless claims that eggs are dangerous poison, and that every one you eat could be the one that kills you, or will have you in hospital.

All I can say is look around you and decide for yourself – if there was even a shed of truth in that nonsense, hospitals would be full, and the crematoria and graveyards would not be able to keep up with demand.

I can’t even pick a favourite recipe, but have to confess I nearly always grab an egg when I was fast food (and I mean REAL fast food, not McDung which I have never touched in my life), and it’s into, and out of, the frying pan in a minute or two, usually before the the toast it will be joining has popped up.

Take care of your eggs.

Egg Care

Egg Care

Oct 12, 2018 Posted by | Appeal | | Leave a comment

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