Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Today is Photography Day

19 August is Photography Day.

I’m almost tempted to pass on Photography Day, but I’m not quite as jaded as some (yes, I’m looking at you Win Wenders), and while I do think it’s true, to some extent, that having a camera in every phone, has cheapened the idea of photography by placing it in the hands of many mindless morons, that does NOT detract from those who care about taking photographs.

Rather, many who would not have had the chance to enjoy photography were it still a costly chemical based process have been enabled as a result of the arrival of digital photography.

Morons will be morons regardless, and it’s unfair to punish or criticise good people because of their actions.

How on earth do you choose a pic to celebrate photography day?

I’m going to use two – not because they’re amongst my best, but because I was able to take them at all.

And, because I was able to use them the moment I got home, and process them myself – not wait days while the film was sent somewhere for d&p (developing and process, if you don’t know that term).

Also, because I’d probably not even have been able to take them with film – both are hand held low light night pics, the BMW in particular being a long lens (almost 250 mm in 35 mm terms) shot at ISO5000, and only 1/20 of a second. A catch taken as I looked down a side street I was passing. I’d never have done that with film! (I used to try – believe me, this in film would have been horrible).

BMW i8 Low Light

BMW i8 Low Light

And this one, later the same night, again hand held, and impossible to do in film.

Shots like this needed tripods, and if the exposure was too long, the colours would not be recorded accurately.

Doulton Fountain Peoples Palace

Doulton Fountain Peoples Palace

Looking at this, I think I’d like to go back and try this with my ‘real’ camera – this one was taken with my clever little compact, but while it can do clever tricks, it still doesn’t have a large sensor (it has one on the option list – but it also multiplies the price three or four times, and that’s NOT an option for me). But, the compact CAN always be to hand.


August 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Aviation Day

19 August is Aviation Day.

Aviation Day celebrate the development of aviation, commemorating and falling on the birthday of Orville Wright.

It seems Federal buildings in the US may be required to fly the US flag on this day (at presidential whim, but probably only if the president is not an Orange Moron) in order to promote the day.

I never understood why I never had any urge to get involved in aviation (as a job), but suppose I managed to satisfy at least some of my interest by flying (or trying to fly) RC helicopters almost as soon as they became practical, and more importantly, affordable.

Early Aviation

Early Aviation

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Potato Day

19 August is Potato Day.

It seems potatoes were first cultivated by man in Southern Peru and the Northwest regions of Bolivia sometime between 5000 and 8000 BC, then spread around the world to become a staple of many diets.

Ireland was once so reliant on the potato as a food crop that a potato plague brought about a famine that almost starved the entire country. It’s said there was plenty of food being grown there at the time, but 5 full ships sailed out of the country each day, to feed England, which then ruled that country.

But Russia found the best (according to some) use for the potato, and made a distilled product from it. You may have heard of this distillate, usually referred to as ‘vodka’.

Funny thing, I don’t eat many tatties these days. But I’ll bake them (microwave is great for this IF used properly – DON’T follow common instruction to blast the poor spud on full power for ages). Either given them full power for only a couple of minutes at a time, with a minute or two between these blasts, until ready. Alternatively, use a low power setting, and leave them in the microwave for about 20 minutes, or until ready.

Just blasting them on full ruins the potato (especially if it’s a nice big ‘un), as the heat can only flow to the centre at a set rate, so the outer part cooks, then overcooks while the centre is still cold, and has to catch up.

Chips are good too, but I gave up making them as the fumes from frying them made such a mess of the kitchen over time.

These days, I seem to prefer to use potatoes as the basis of a nice hot vegetable soup.

I’m so lazy I just keep throwing stuff into the pot with potato until it makes a decent meal – I can’t be bothered cooking other stuff separately, then dirtying more plates. Just give me the pot and a spoon!

Potato Soup

Potato Soup – with other stuff

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

What’s happening (or happened) to the McLellan Galleries

When I was finally able to get as far as Sauchihall Street to get a look at the Mackintosh Building, I wandered near the McLelland Galleries, which are almost inaccessible due to road works in Sauchihall Street, unrelated to the closures resulting from the Mackintosh fire.

I thought I was suffering from a touch of ‘brain fade’. Although it’s some time since I had any reason to be near the galleries (since most of the shops that interested me around there have gone), I recalled the galleries had a porch, or portico, extending into the street and providing a sizeable cover to the entrance, as seen in the old pic clip.

McLellan Galleries Porch

McLellan Galleries Porch

Although I thought I’d arrived at the right place, the absence of any porch, or even a sign with the words ‘McLellan Galleries’ to be seen, had me thinking I was in the wrong place (not helped by the likes of Jessop’s being long gone).

But, I was pretty sure I was in the right place, so started looking at the detail of the building entrance, which were the same, and then I spotted the stubs of the girders that used to support the porch.

I hadn’t ‘lost it’!

McLellan Galleries Porch Cut Off

McLellan Galleries Porch Cut Off

The fence around the road works meant I couldn’t stand in front of the entrance to get decent pic, but I found I could get a better view by shooting through the fence, from the other side of the street.

McLellan Galleries Facade Minus Porch

McLellan Galleries Facade Minus Porch

What was more noticeable one I’d confirmed I was looking at the right building was not the absence of the porch, but the fact that I could not see any signs identifying this as the McLellan Galleries, and the derelict nature of the entrance. A stranger or visitor to Glasgow would not know what they were looking at.

Dirty from the works in the street, the place was in darkness. Granted I was there in the evening, but from the limited view through the dirty glass doors, it seemed to be empty inside, with no lights or even security staff to be seen.

I took a look online, but could find no recent references to displays or exhibitions held there.

Nor was there any recent information about the galleries, such as invitations to hold events or exhibitions there, or even a dedicated web site.

Is it derelict?

Has it closed?

Do tell if you know better.

August 18, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow 2018 bribe?

So, was this ‘free and unticketed’ event really just a bribe by the organisers to divert the people’s attention and make them think they were getting ‘something for nothing’?

They (or I should say ‘we’) lost free access to many parts of Glasgow (and still have in some places, as it has yet to be restored) to give priority to races on our roads, and even this ‘free’ event led to a large part of Glasgow Green being closed off by a perimeter fence manned by security personnel at all times, and only accessible via controlled access points even though ‘free and unticketed’.

I have no idea how well attended this was as I only ventured onto the Green in the evening, arriving around 7 pm or later, to ensure I could get through it without having to alter my usual route too much. Although even then, a number of access points were still denied by closed fencing, and those ever-present security staff, who at least had seats and didn’t have to stand all the time.

Glasgow 2018 Bribe

Glasgow 2018 Bribe

Just make it all go away now – please!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Proposed Compulsory Sales Order seems less than helpful

While many moan and whine about abandoned and derelict land and buildings, few seem to be able to come up with anything that might actually help deal with them.

The situation is not helped by the righteous morons who simply say that the owners (if known, alive, or maybe even if dead) should be fined, or even the land or property taken from them.

A CSO, or compulsory sales order, is proposed in order to move things along.

This can be summarised by:

Local authorities already have a number of policy instruments – including compulsory purchase orders – that can be used to help regeneration.

But the commission found these policies required a clear plan in place as to how the land or building in question would be used.

In many cases, public authorities and communities do not have a specific end use in mind for problematic sites but simply wish to see them used for some productive purpose.

In some ways it’s hard to see how the CSO helps.

It forces the owner to put the land/property up for sale by auction, if it has been derelict/abandoned for three years. Three years seems to be a typical period accepted in such things, but it could vary.

But then the buyer (as opposed to the current owner) has to have a plan in order to be a valid bidder – and it may also be that the they are speculators (wanting to sit on the property or land, in which case there may be a compulsory time period (of three years) after which another CSO kicks in.

I’ve read some of the documents (they are online) arising from this idea, but get the feeling this idea is one which is more like ‘passing the buck and keeping it moving’, rather than actually solving the problem.

I’ll be interested to see how this develops, if it ever moves from being anything more than a proposal, and if does eventually become an option, an analysis of how effective it is.

New power could tackle blight of abandoned buildings in Scotland

I’m genuinely curious to see if this ‘power’ would make any difference.

This building has lain empty for years.

It’s swallowed a ton of money being made secure and sealed against the weather.

But it still lies unused.

How would forcing the owner to sell it change that?

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

British Linen Bank Gorbals Street

I could easily wander around Glasgow and find more of these, many in poorer condition.

Forcing the current owner to sell to a new one is fine if the new owner has funds and a plan, and they’re sustainable.

But if it was so easy, why doesn’t the current owner just do whatever that may be – and change the place from a money pit into something useful.

I await developments.

But this CSO just seems to be a compulsory purchase order by another name, or the back door.

I’d like to proven wrong – and see load of CSO subjects blooming around the city in a few years.

Will I?

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

Another ‘secret’ box spills its story for us

Not that long since we last saw inside one, this ‘secret’ box on the side of the road in Rutherglen decided to give us a look at that which is not normally seen.

Better than most, it came complete with labelled breakers and isolators, and even a complete circuit diagram.

What more could we ask for?

This one’s clearly had a bit of a refurb in its life, with a nice enclosure fitted to carry the stuff that we’ve seen just mounted directly inside the larger outside box in other examples – although they didn’t manage to get the fuses in the new area.

Still, it’s a lot better looking than any we’ve come across so far.

Rutherglen Road Secret Box

Rutherglen Road Secret Box

Interesting items on the breakers.

I’d be intrigued to see the actual difference between the ’24 HR’ circuit, and what the ‘BY-PASS’ option actually by-passes, although it’s probably obvious.

I wonder if there’s a thermostat on the ‘HTR’ (heater) circuit, or if it’s just a big power resistor or real heater element that just cooks the interior all the time.

‘PEC’ will be a photoelectric control circuit that should ensure the street lighting only activates during hours of darkness, unlike the old street lighting circuits, which had timers to switch them on during ‘Lighting Up’ hours.

The two switches above this are an ‘OVERRIDE’ on the left, and a ‘MAIN SWITCH’ on the right.



Nice (partial) diagram.

At least this one is photogenic – the first and last one I came across a while ago had actually faded thanks to the weather, so  couldn’t be pictured.

Interesting to see the test values recorded, also both the poles with lamps, and those with no lamps (‘REST POLES’ used to support the overhead cables on their routing) are identified individually.

Rutherglen Road Lighting Box Diagram

Rutherglen Road Lighting Box Diagram

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Vanilla Custard Day

17 August is Vanilla Custard Day.

I have to confess that simple, plain, vanilla custard is one of my favourite treats.

It just seems to go so well with just about anything, and enhances the taste.

It may even be true to say that there is nothing quite so tasty as vanilla custard, with its rich creamy texture, and its light and delicious vanilla flavour. Custards are one of the most amazing and versatile desserts ever created, and can be eaten on their own, used to fill pies, and even injected into doughnuts.

I could waffle about its history, but let’s just say it goes back at least as far as the Roman Empire.

This day is the perfect excuse to indulge yourself with this classic.

Vanilla Custard

Vanilla Custard


Oh dear…

It seems there’s a bit of a problem with REAL vanilla.

Ever heard of a ‘vanillionaire’?

Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day

17 August is Black Cat Appreciation Day.

It’s hard to believe, but because of stupid the superstitious beliefs in some cultures, black cats are sometimes associated with bad luck and, sadly, are more likely to be put to sleep or wait a long time to be adopted from shelters.

Black Cat Appreciation Day was launched to show people that a black cat could be the perfect cat for them, and help raise awareness about black cats in general.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that campaigns to legalise the putting to sleep of those who victimise black cats were successful, so we can’t celebrate the say by inviting them to… special ‘sleep-ins’.

I’d like to say this was my cat, but it wasn’t.

Just a regular visitor a few years ago, when we used to have cats that would come and say ‘Hello’ around here.

Black Cat

Black Cat

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Yes, that whining noise you hear DOES mean Scottish ferries are back in the news

Off we go again.

I love the way ferry users complain when they don’t get what they want, and still complain when they do.

For years, it was complaints about the high price of ferry tickets in Scotland, the lack of RET (road equivalent tariff – I’m not explaining it any more, go search), and stifling of tourist trade and visits to the islands.

Guess what?

Now that we have RET and ticket prices are falling…

Yup, you guessed it – STILL complaining!

Rising visitor numbers are creating pressures for places on ferries to and from Scotland’s islands.

Locals and businesses are feeling the pinch while the Scottish government say they are working to improve services.

Should locals get priority on ferries?

And it doesn’t end there.

It may come as a surprise to some, but you can’t just go to ‘The Ferry Shop’ and buy a new one off the shelf.

They last something like 20-30 years, and have to be commissioned when new ones are needed and built. They always cost a lot more, and not just because of inflation, but because legislation changes, get stricter, and these days have environmental/energy requirements to meet.

This means that each generation of ferry is effectively not only a new-build, but also new-tech.

If there’s something similar being produced in the yards, chances are you’ll get an on-time delivery.

But if you order something special, reality check says you should plan on it being late.

Or you can stick your head in the sand, and look shocked and surprised when it’s late.

Writing on my favourite subject is making me late, so I’m just going to stop there.

Or add one more little observation – it’s a contract to build a new ferry type.

So how come the comment moron section is full of demented political rambling?

Latest CalMac ferry now delayed by a year

I’m REALLY beginning to favour only the BBC’s generally ‘moron section’ free articles nowadays.

(And beginning to understand why a few hundred morons went to protest at the BBC’s HQ recently, if they can’t get posting their stuff there as much as after other media sources.)

Further delays to delivery of new CalMac ferries

Not even going to waste a nice ferry pic on this one.

Have some free advice instead.

Whining Solution


August 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Stonehaven fish and chips – apparently still lovely stuff


At number 31 on the list, fish and chips is the UK’s top entry, with the experience at Stonehaven particularly recommended.

The guide states: “Sailing boats bob in the harbour; rockpools teem with crabs and sea stars; gulls ride on the breeze; and in the distance, the leaden horizon of the North Sea.

“Completing the scene, halfway along the beach is The Bay Fish & Chips, whose fish is wild-caught from Marine Stewardship Council-certified stocks.

“Considering the setting, the sustainability and the beautifully cooked fish, is it the best fish and chip shop in the world? The constant queue suggests so.”

Fish supper in Stonehaven rated top global food experience

I have to say that fish and chips in Stonehaven used to be one of the advantages of living in Glasgow, and having to work in Aberdeen at a moment’s notice.

While my colleagues would hunt out an expensive restaurant to charge an evening meal to on their expenses, I much preferred to stop in Stonehaven on my way home, and collect a fish supper, to enjoy while sitting in the one of the car parks overlooking the bay.

Didn’t matter if it was summer or winter either, as the view is great regardless of the season (but I’d rather not be lashed by a semi-storm, but being in the car, it didn’t really matter).

And all the fish and chip shops seemed to pretty good too. None could really afford to be sub-standard, as they’d be dumped and avoided by the customers, so they have to be good, or they’re gone.

It’s just a pity we can’t have them in old newspaper – I preferred it to the cardboard or plastic boxes we have to have now.

Fish And Chips

Fish And Chips


August 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: