Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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


October 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

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

Today is Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Another day with a wandering date, sorry (I almost missed it myself).

10 October 2018 is Pet Obesity Awareness Day, but it falls on the second Wednesday of October, so the actual date moves around, and next year it will fall on 09 October 2019.

It’s bad enough that humans spend a lot of time fretting over their weight, either denying they are FAT, or going to drastic measures to prevent or fight obesity.

Animals suffer greatly as a result of obesity too, and sadly this can be down to over-indulgent owners who think they are being kind by supplying endless food and treats to those in their care. Not only can this drastically impact their general health, it also reduces their overall quality of life, interfering with daily activities and their enjoyment of things like walking and playing ball. It is difficult to deny our furry companions of the food they constantly beg for, and seeing the delight on their faces when they are given treats and scraps from lunch or dinner is one of the greatest things about having a pet. But doing this regularly is doing more harm than good.

Let Me Eat You

To raise awareness about this issue and promote healthier diets for our pets, many animal lovers get together one day a year to celebrate Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Veterinarians often lead the events where owners are encouraged to bring their dogs and cats along to receive complimentary health examination and screening. They can then receive advice, tips and nutrition plans from professionals in the field to help them reduce the weight of the dog or cat and stop the problem escalating further tailored to their pets’ requirements.

Seriously, it’s not funny, cute, or clever.

And there seems to be a further danger.

It seems that if a fat pat slims down, and does it too quickly, their body cannot cope, and there have been a number of cases in the media where grossly overweight pets have lost the weight, and died fairly soon afterwards from complications.

Then there’s bath time.

Looks like lots of exercise, but oh so sad.

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Appeal | , , | Leave a comment

October is Black Cat Awareness Month

(Having had various hassles descend on me as the month turned from September to October meant I missed a lot of things I’d usually have spotted and mentioned – and I see some are significant, so I may do some catching up.)

First is probably the most significant, and that was spotting that October is Black Cat Awareness Month.

A whole month dedicated to one of the best cat colours around.

Although all the rest are equally good 🙂


Think of it like quantum physics and infinite universes – where every possibility exists somewhere, so even thought there is a ‘best’ in each universe, overall, the probability is the same for them all, so they’re all… equal.

Black Cat crossing

Many superstitions surrounding the feline with sable fur, and if you’re daft enough to believe in such things, then there is good news. If you thought this event meant bad luck – all you have to do is look elsewhere and take your pick of superstitions, since different cultures assign different meaning.

Different cultures across the world have superstitious beliefs which claim either good or bad luck when a black cat crosses one’s path. Some sayings implicate good luck when black cat crosses: “Black cat, cross my path – good fortune bring to home and hearth. When I am away from home, bring me luck wherever I roam” (an old English one). “Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack” (an English proverb). Some say crossing a black cat could mean Saturn is not favourable for you. Folklore from Sussex claims that black cats are suspected to be witches, so crossing their path would mean bad luck. In China, they are believed to bring famine and poverty. On the other hand, Latvian farmers believe black cats are the spirit of Rungis, the god of harvest, and when they find black cats in their granary, they become overjoyed.

Good Luck

  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses left to right, then good luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked away from someone, it meant good luck.

Bad luck

  • If you believe in bad luck when black cat crosses your path, you may also believed that if you walk backwards ten steps, then turn around three times, then the bad luck will be repelled.
  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses right to left, then bad luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked towards someone, it meant good luck.
  • Gamblers believe that if a black cat crosses their path when are about to play, then means bad luck for them.
  • When driving, if a black cat crosses it is believed that one should turn around and go back to avoid bad luck.
  • In western and southern Europe, a black cat crossing one’s path is said to bring bad luck.

None of these choices is going to have an effect on your luck, one way or another, but your current happiness level might rise if the cat approaches you, and you get to pet it.

We would like to remind you that Groucho Marx was right. All it means when a black cat walks in front of you is that the animal is going somewhere, and should either be pet, fed treats, or left well enough alone.


Groucho Marx Black Cat


Bonus – History of International Black Cat Awareness Month

The creation of International Black Cat Awareness Month, founded back in 2013, came about after it’s creator, Layla Morgan Wilde, noticed that while there were two days dedicated to black cats, one in the UK and one in the US, there was nothing dedicated to them on a wider level. Such a dedication was (and still is) desperately needed, as superstitions surrounding black cats have become so out of control that shelters won’t have begun to suspend adopting them out during October. Too often the cats were being adopted as part of the Halloween holiday mystique, and were abandoned, or worse, after the holiday had passed.

Even for the rest of the year, it can be more difficult to get them adopted. How much more difficult? Black cats adoption rates are some 50% lower than any other colour of cat.

That’s just plain crazy, and we can’t understand this at all.

A sable furred cat is perhaps one of the most beautiful animals to walk the earth.

Black Cat Relaxes

Black Cat Relaxes

At the end of the day, this stupidity arising from superstition amounts to nothing less than (an excuse for) animal cruelty and abuse.

Chances are anyone who uses these ‘rules’ to mock you is a bully, a racist, or worse.

If you can do anything to dispel it, please do.

Black Cat Support Group


October 9, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Cats in the news – and a Scottish SPCA appeal for disinfectant cleaner

Important stuff first!

The Scottish SPCA has launched an appeal for supplies of Anigene.

Its Cardonald Centre needs a large amount of the disinfectant to help fight animal infections.

Every year, the charity cares for thousands of animals that have been abused, injured, or abandoned throughout Scotland, and needs a large amount of the disinfectant to ensure it fights all types of animal infections.

The Scottish SPCA receives no government funding and relies on donations.

Anigene can be donated to our centres through our Amazon wishlist, or by purchasing on a third-party site such as Viovet and having it delivered to our centres. Alternatively you can drop any donations into one of our animal rescue and rehoming centres in person.”

Scottish SPCA Ginger Pic Credit Peter Devlin

Scottish SPCA Ginger Pic Credit Peter Devlin

Next, still serious, but maybe a solution to a mystery

Cat killer mystery solved

While this story originates in Croydon, the subject has no boundary.

It was the murder mystery that kept police guessing and struck fear in the hearts of pet owners.

Now, Scotland Yard says the so-called Croydon cat killer, thought to have bludgeoned and decapitated cats across the UK, never existed.

Instead, cats were being run over and their dead bodies mutilated by foxes, they say. So what can you do to keep your cats out of trouble?

Cat killer mystery solved, but how do we keep our pets safe?

I have to say I’m surprised we don’t have a similar investigation underway up here, if this solution to the so-called Croydon cat killer is accurate.

Here (in the burby east end of Glasgow) we are inundated with foxes, so either the foxes don’t like them, or our Scottish cats are more road savvy than their English cousins.

I do walk a lot, and have not come across a lot of roadkill – although I’d also say that wandering cats are the exception nowadays.

But in recent years, I seldom go out and don’t spot a fox, either directly, out of the corner of my eye, or just by the disgusting cries they make while hidden in undergrowth and gardens. It really is a horrible noise. Sometimes I can pass as many as three or four in an hour.

I never get a pic though (unless they’re dead), as they may not be all that shy, but you can’t generally raise a camera and still have them in view if they’ve wandered out in front of you.


Ever spot outdoor spots and floods in gardens, apparently coming on at random during the night?

I used to think ‘wandering cat on rounds’ – now I know better (they’re probably too small, and too furry) and have seen that this is usually a fox.

If only… that had been a Buckfast bottle!

Happy Boozy Fox

Happy Boozy Fox


He’s behind me, isn’t he?

Goodbye world.


He’s behind me

And lastly, ‘Odd News’

Cat incident is last straw for man abused by wife for 60 years

After sixty years of controlling behaviour and physical violence, Jim changed his blood-stained shirt and walked back to his wife who was making them a coffee after smashing him in the face.

He had asked her to let the cat in while he cut the grass outside.

But instead of turning left to the kitchen, he turned right, walked out of the door and kept on walking away from his life of abuse.

With only the clothes he wore, he didn’t look back, and at the age of 78, he started his life again.

Jim is one of a growing number of men telling other men it is okay to admit to being abused by women.

‘My abusive wife battered me over letting the cat in’

There are some things I just “Don’t get”.

Amongst my sins are loyalty, and a resistance to change.

But after the first hit/abuse incident, I’d be off and the abuser (if an abuser, as opposed to ill) would be being collected by an ambulance and/or the police.

(I do speak from experience, but that’s all you get.)

This could all have been resolved years ago, if only they’d left the cat out during a winter night…

Cat Sleep Kill Repeat

Cat Sleep Kill Repeat

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland to outlaw designer dog and cat breeding

The breeding of designer pets is to be effectively outlawed in Scotland under new licensing regulations

The Scottish Government plans to tighten the licensing of dog, cat and rabbit breeding activities in Scotland to stop people breeding these animals in poor conditions and then selling them on.

Part of the new approach would involve prohibiting harmful breeding practices by discouraging the breeding of pets with a predisposition for genetic conditions, which can lead to health problems in later life. As a condition of licensing, breeding practices likely to cause the offspring suffering in later life will be prohibited.

In recent years, there has been a growth in demand for pets with particular physical features such as short noses, protruding eyes and long ears. This has incentivised breeding for extreme characteristics in some breeds, but it heightens the risk of harmful genetic conditions and can seriously affect the future health and wellbeing of the animal. It can also place unexpected financial strain on the owner as many of those pets will need on-going and costly veterinary care.

The Scottish fold cat, which has a genetic defect preventing it from forming cartilage, the absence of which causes long term arthritis.

The munchkin cat, which has disproportionately short legs

Designer dog and cat breeding to be ‘outlawed’ in Scotland under new regulations

This can’t come soon enough.

Callous breeders and ‘farmers’ who exploit the lack of regulation, and the waste-of-skin celebrities who splash their cash to look ‘kewl, or get one up over their attention-whoring neighbours are the only people who will be upset by this.

It’s sad to read comments from these breeders, posturing their ‘love and care’ for their ‘products’ while steadfastly ignoring advice from vets.

The BBC ran this story last year – generating a whole THREE comments back then.

Should Scottish fold cats be banned?

I found that article only confirmed what I had read about some months before, when I discovered discussion between concerned vets who had been trying to publicise the problem which the Scottish Fold suffered, as the condition which produced their ‘folded’ ears was not restricted to their ears, which flopped or folded due to a lack of cartilage, and affected all their joints, which rely on the presence of cartilage for proper, pain-free, functioning.

At least one Scottish Fold ‘Knows what you did’.

Scottish Fold Revenge

Scottish Fold Revenge

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

Lil Bub has a problem



I wasn’t sure if this item would embed as I sometimes get a surprise when I find WordPress refuses all my efforts to add some fairly common and popular sources, while others slot in without any complaints.

This one looks OK.

We don’t see much of the Internet cats these days, at least I don’t, in the places where they used to feature often online, although it looks as if they’re still wandering around helping others.

I first read about one of the real originals, Lil Bub, having a problem a few days ago, then found the story was true, and had been announced/detailed on her Tumblr (something I never normally go near).

Fingers crossed that this is as much of a non-event as they suggest, and she’s not at risk.

So, we all know Bub’s a little girl, just go with the thought.

King Of The Internet

King Of The Internet

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Appeal | , , , | Leave a comment

What exactly IS James Watt holding?

(Please be aware this post is a rapid rewrite of one I just completed and had to revise when a tweet delivered the link to the PMSA entry for the statue.)

While I didn’t expect ANY response (as usual) to one of my posts, it seems I actually managed to catch the eye of one or two readers when I wrote in jest with respect to the instrument or tool James Watt is shown holding in his hands in his statue near the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green.

As the detail is not sufficient to be absolutely sure, I (jokingly) intimated he was holding nutcrackers, with a view to visiting some of those who had failed to pay the royalty on his improved condenser type steam engines, and owed him millions of £££.

It’s been suggested by some he is holding compasses, but even with the crude carving, it would be possible to depict ‘pointy ends’ at the ends of the two arms – after all, the screw and hinge where they join is clearly shown in the carving, so I doubt compasses.

There’s a possibility of dividers, but they seem a little crude even for that (but we found out otherwise, later).

There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to suggest the presence of any sort of scale on either of the arms, or at the hinge, so this device is not going to be measuring either length or angle.

James Watt's Instrument

James Watt’s Instrument

I did try to track down more info about the statue’s origin (online) but apart from a few general forum discussions about its condition and restoration, was unable to find any early history relating to it. It doesn’t seem to be listed in any of our historic references either.

I ended up giving up, as dozens of useless items kept coming up from trash web sites like Tripadvisor, with brain-dead moronic repeats of mentions of people seeing a statue of James Watt somewhere in Glasgow – these sites are a poison that needs to purged from the web one day. They can completely ruin attempts to search for subjects with common names.

I had finished this post with the line…

As someone said on Twitter “Suggestions on a postcard”, or maybe just in the Comments below (perhaps with a pic too, if you have, or find, one).

But even as I was writing it, the answer was already sitting in Twitter, just waiting for me to spot its arrival.

Thanks go to Derek Elder for this one:

Details of the James Watt statue on PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association)...

James Watt

Statue of James Watt (1736-1819) Portrait statue of James Watt in contemporary dress holding dividers and standing beside a steam condenser.

Commisioned (sic) by W. & J. Martin in 1864, the statue stood in a niche above the entrance to their leatherworks at 8 Baltic Street, Bridgeton. The statue was presented to Glasgow Corporation by the firm in September 1936, prior to the demolition of the building, and erected in McPhun’s Park (Glasgow Green).

Correspondents to the ‘Evening Times’ shortly after the statue was placed in the park complained about its decayed and paint spattered condition and the fact that (at the time) there was no inscription identifying the subject.

Surprisingly out of date though, as the statue was removed from the park in 2003, for restoration, and installed in its new home on the Green at the People’s Palace in 2006. No mention of this on that site by 2018.

I looked to see if this is project is still live – the last news entry is 4 years old, in 2014.

The last event listed is even older, 2012.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

Adelaide beats Glasgow in glasshouse restoration

Glasgow (and even Scotland) has a dismal record regarding the preservation and maintenance of the few historic glasshouses (or winter gardens) in its care.

Examples such as Springburn Winter Gardens have long lain in ruins, and although I can’t get there now, was sad to learn that the glasshouse in Ayr’s Bellisle Park had been closed in 2005, and I saw the sad sight of it boarded up, but thanks to local efforts had been restored and reopened in 2016.

Surely the worst case (since it was rescued but then dumped only a few years later) now has to be Tollcross Winter Gardens (not forgetting its once new Visitor Centre).

In summary, the Winter Garden glasshouse in Tollcross Park was last rescued and refurbished in the period 1999/2000, having then lain derelict for at least a decade, and at risk of being lost at worst, or left to be vandalised or rot at best. However, £1.7 million was raised to save it then, when it also gained an adjacent Visitor Centre, café, and play area.

But, having suffered storm damage during the winter of 2010/2011, it was simply closed and left to rot, with lack of cash being given as the reason.

While Glasgow City Council squandered more than £300 million paying to host the farcical 2014 Commonwealth Games, and spent freely on ‘upgrades’ for the Commonwealth Pool in the sports centre only a few metres from the stricken glasshouse, not a penny could be found to restore what would have been a better tourist attraction – since it would always be there, unlike the ten days or so of sporting madness of the dopey games that were ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’.

Since the hull of the clipper ship ‘City of Adelaide’ (aka The Carrick) went there, I get automated news updates, which include articles relating to Adelaide.

This story about what would appear to be the only such glasshouse in the southern hemisphere was just highlighted, and puts Adelaide ahead of Glasgow in this particular race.

Being a sole survivor of war is a burden few ask for, but when you fall under the weather and weigh 22 tonnes, you can be sure to draw attention.

The Palm House in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens is undergoing its second restoration in about 25 years, with a team of painters and builders treating it for salt damp and rust incursion.

Plants have been moved out and cracked glass panes are being replaced, as workers utilise a huge freestanding scaffolding structure that took a week to build inside and around the 1877 structure.

Originally built in Bremen, Germany in 1875, the Palm House was shipped to Adelaide and reassembled, although the glass panes were all broken by the time it arrived.

Following the devastation of subsequent wars in Europe, it remains the only known German-built glasshouse from the era and is Australia’s second oldest.

Andrew Carrick from the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium said there were similar examples of iron and glass botanical houses around the world, such as the Crystal Palace and the Kew Gardens palm house in London.

“They are the same style with the cast iron, and obviously at a much grander scale, but ours is probably the only one in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.

It is also possibly the only surviving example of a prefabricated glasshouse, and was originally used for tropical plants until rust incursion in the early 1990s led the gardens to change its use to dry plants from the southern and western tips of Madagascar.

Palm House at Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens stands alone as example of German glasshouse design

Compare and contrast…

The Adelaide glasshouse scaffolding supporting… restoration.

Photo: The palm house was built in Adelaide during 1877 after prefabrication in Germany. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

Photo: The palm house was built in Adelaide during 1877 after prefabrication in Germany. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

The Tollcross Winter Gardens scaffolding supporting… what’s left.

Tollcross Winter Gardens ruined

Tollcross Winter Gardens scaffolding

August 31, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another small step in the Maid of the Loch’s return to steam

There’s now extreme danger of me surviving long enough to sail on the Maid of the Loch before I pop my clogs!

I’m beginning to really appreciate just how young I was when I managed a trip on her before her working life came to an end.

And I wish her home had been a little closer, rather than an ‘Away day’, which is what a trip to Balloch or Loch Lomond means for me.

Still, if I don’t drop dead first, I might be able to ‘Get on my bike’ and get there for free by the time the restoration is complete.

Don’t laugh, my normal daily (at least when it’s not raining) is half the round trip distance – so I guess I could at least get there.

The Maid of the Loch – Loch Lomond’s famous paddle steamer – is set to benefit from two bumper five-figure donations.

The Clyde-built ship has since 1981 been moored at Balloch Pier and is currently used as a tourist attraction, with a tea room and a host of children’s activities on offer.

However for decades a fundraising campaign to restore the ship and enable her to set sail once more has been running.

And it will now be boosted by donations of £40,000 courtesy of charity The Wolfson Foundation and £20,000 from The Swire Charitable Trust.

This cash brings the campaign nearer to its £5.5million goal and also edges closer to the £3.8 million target required for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) match-funding.

Campaign to have Maid of the Loch sailing again receives fresh cash boost

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

This time, I’d like to see the abandoner found

I generally don’t agree with what appears to be an automatic ‘knee-jerk’ response of our animal care services to call for a witch-hunt every time there is a story about an abandoned animal.

Circumstances vary, and there’s a world of difference between someone leaving a pet on the doorstep of a shelter (or some other obvious spot), and someone who does their best to hide the animals they are getting rid of.

I’ve no problem with hunting down the latter, but in the first case, I’ve been in (or close enough) to a place which altered my thinking patterns, and can easily see how someone who is there would be afraid to approach any sort of authority, but still has the presence of mind to place pets they can no longer cope with where they will be found and cared for.

This seems to be a case of dumping and hiding though.

Two cats were rescued after being dumped in a lay-by.

The cats, named Lucy and Julius, were discovered in Larbert on Wednesday, August 22.

The Scottish SPCA said they were found in a very distressed state.

Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer Stephanie Kirk said: “We were called out to rescue two cats that were both very distressed but fortunately had not been injured.

“The cats were not close to any houses and were found on a quiet country road so we feel they may have been abandoned.

Two cats rescued after being found dumped in lay-by

I think that ‘officer’ also needs a little more training, after stating “we feel they may have been abandoned” – although to be fair, somebody might have been re-arranging their luggage while in the lay-by, forgotten about their cats and driven off, then forgot where they re-organised the stuff in their car too, so couldn’t pop back to pick them up.

Abandoned Cats Lucy And Julius Pic Via STV News

Abandoned Cats Lucy And Julius Pic Via STV News

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Appeal | , | 2 Comments

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