Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow’s Doors Open Days 2019

It’s hard to believe I was hunting around for places to visit almost as soon as the first Doors Open Days event appeared in Glasgow.

I don’t know how long it had been running for before I discovered it, but I do know it did appear online, on what would now be described as ‘primitive’ web pages, made mainly of plain text plus pics, with relatively simple, or basic, search options.

Oh, and don’t forget most access was then by dial-up modems over the phone line, or if you were lucky (as I was) via ISDN, which was almost always on, and faster, 64 kbit/s. Dial-up had to dial and establish a connection, then ambled along at 56 k (or faster with cleverness applied). ISDN made an almost instant connection when demanded, and could even use pair two channels to achieve 128 k. BUT, you were billed double if you did that, as each line being used was charged for by the minute, albeit at a flat rate. We could afford 64 k, but not 128 k. Compared that to today’s always on broadband, and at GB speeds too.

Back then I used to download and print what I needed or was interested in, as this was cheaper than racking up connection charges for going back online to look at stuff I’d found.

I wonder if kids even believe this?

Sad to say, Doors Open Days was (and I realise this is entirely my own opinion) better then than I think it is today.

Then, there were still too many venues to visit in the time available, but there were just enough to let you pick your favourites, and with a bit of effort and planning, get to them.


There are so many venues on offer that it’s almost impossible to pick the best and make the trip.

No matter what selection I make, I feel as if I’ve made the wrong choice and should have gone to others, rather than the one I picked.

There’s one other slight irritation (which has grown over the years), and that’s the number of places that are ‘open’ anyway.

When it began, ‘Doors Open Days’ comprised venues where the public would not normally have been welcomed, possibly because they were places of business, offices, or meeting rooms where people would usually be working, or were places that had been closed for years, maybe even derelict, or being restored.

However, many of today’s venues are open to the public on a daily basis, and can be visited anyway, and seem to be joining in just to gain some publicity, which fair enough, but perhaps should not be included.

Removing them, or perhaps placing them under some sort of separate categorisation, would reduce the size of the list of truly ‘Open’ venues, and make it easier to see the ones which the festival is REALLY giving rare access to, and avoid wasting time looking at those which could actually be visited at any time.

(If there weren’t so many, I’d almost consider it worth the effort of compiling such a segregated comparison, just to see how many GENUINE participants were listed).

I’d also like to take this opportunity to upset the Green Loonies…

You really need a car to get to them all in the time available.

Public transport is just far too slow (and limited by its timetables), and while cycling is OK for a neighbourhood, if you want to catch unique locations in different counties, then that’s just not going to happen by bike.

Not sure if opening doors like this would be a good idea (as always, if you look for these old relics of the past, you can find quite a few still surviving – used for moving stock/supplies).

On the other hand, could be useful if someone you’re not too keen on asks for directions.

“No problem pal, straight through the double doors at the end of the corridor. OH! By the way, you’ll need to take a bit of a run at them, they’re always getting jammed shut”


Hope Street Doors

Hope Street Doors


It’s now Monday, 16 September 2019, and the main Doors Open Day web site has NOTHING listed for Glasgow.

Fortunately, Glasgow has its own web site for Doors Open Days, and that DOES have content.

Unfortunately, when I try to use the ‘search’ facility, it’s not well enough designed to return only the criteria I enter, eg ‘stables’, ‘police’, ‘office’, and the  like, and return a simple list of venues which are open, together with their locations and dates.

It returns everything on the site which mentions the criteria I input, so I get a whole load of sh rubbish which is of no interest, such as info about volunteering, city walk and tours, talks, other events, and events which may be taking place in venues.


What’s so hard about just returning a list of open venues?

That’s all I want to know about, so I can plan a route to suit my time and ability to get to the places I’d like to see.

Sadly, as I noted about, this event (or perhaps its organisation, management, and presentation) has gone downhill over the years, instead of getting better.

With lists of perhaps up to 40 items being returned, of which maybe a 5 to 10 are actually unique venues (and many of them are not genuine ‘Open’ venues, but could be visited at any time), I’m already fed up, and can’t be bothered.

16/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Ayr’s Water On Tap (Not)

I came across the animals gathering at a new watering hole in Ayr a while ago.

Passing the same spot recently, it seems this has already dried up.

Ayr Water On Tap NOT

Ayr Water On Tap NOT

How it used to be.

Ayrshire gorilla leaving watering hole

Ayrshire gorilla leaving watering hole


14/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Educational ‘Hidden Lane’ planning application tale

I collected quite a few pics of ‘Ghost Signs’ a while ago, while wandering along Argyle Street.

Such signs are relics of the past, sometimes faded and unreadable, sometimes remarkably well-preserved, even after decades.

Some appeared on the walls of a lane, now known as The Hidden Lane, as described below.

The Hidden Lane sign

The Hidden Lane sign

Compare the modern signs with the originals which they have been stuck over.

Can you tell which is which?

The Hidden Lane sign collection

The Hidden Lane sign collection

The real reason I resurrected these pics was down to the recent refusal of planning permission for a restaurant down The Hidden Lane.

It was proposed to turn  a vacant workshop into a restaurant for nearly 60 people at ground and basement levels.

But it’s been refused by city planners… the lane’s too well hidden: 😉

Their report states: “The position of the premises in relation to the public road, width of the pend from Argyle Street and proliferation of car parking within the lane all result in an inappropriate access for vehicles and pedestrians.

“Given the scale of the restaurant use proposed, this lack of an appropriate access is considered to unacceptably impact upon both amenity and safety.”

They also state that the proposed low-level discharge of cooking odours was not acceptable as it would “detrimentally impact upon residential amenity” and that the applicant had failed to demonstrate suitable arrangements for waste and recycling.

HIDDEN Lane Restaurant Plan Refused… As Lane Is Too Well Hidden

It’s nice to see the reasons being given nowadays, instead of the histrionics we used to see in the past, by those who hated the council and planners.

This one reminded of a great pizza restaurant I used to visit when I had to work in Dundee, and had to stay over for a few days.

Sad to say it has moved (might even be gone by now), but it served the best pizzas I ever came across anywhere.

I often used to leave as much pizza as I ate, as the bases and edges were often (to me at least) inedible, being burnt and brick hard, or undercooked and still like raw dough, but this place got them just right, and it was easy to clear your plate – if you had room for the whole thing.

Notably, this restaurant was down one of the city’s narrow lanes, near the city centre, with no easy access, or even any easy way to know it was there, unless you had gone hunting for somewhere a little different to find an evening meal.

13/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Interesting plan seeks to make Pollok Country park frendlier for visitors

I didn’t realise that I wasn’t alone in thinking that Pollok Country Park wasn’t particularly visitor friendly or even well-organised with regard to its layout, and that observations about its roads and less than optimal internal allocation of space for cars/pedestrians/cyclists have been noted by others.

I’ve cycled out there two or three times, but the place is so unfriendly that (under its current layout at least) I don’t really want to repeat the trip. Unlike a number of parks I’ve visited throughout Glasgow, Pollok just isn’t fun to cycle around.

The good news is that I spotted an article which suggests this is not just my imagination, and has been noted by people who are involved in reorganising the park and its roads with a view to improving the current problems.

The Transforming Pollok Country Park Project aims to make major improvements at the showpiece greenspace — Glasgow’s largest park — ready for an expected increase in visitors when The Burrell Collection re-opens in early 2021 after a multi-million pound transformation.

Documents produced as part of consultation over the changes state that “[uncontrolled car parking] impacts upon visitor experience and safety, and diminishes the importance of the park as a green space for leisure and nature conservation.

“The overall vision of the project is to deliver a high quality green space within the city which is accessible to all. Through various landscaping installations and points of interest along the route, people will be encouraged to walk to attractions and enjoy the park’s diverse mix of green space.”

The large number of vehicles parking on main routes restricts other park users and emergency access. Cycle routes are blocked by parked cars, and vehicles regularly restrict access to pedestrian routes.

The statements continue: “During peak periods and events, the lack of controlled parking results in long delays for visitors both entering and exiting the park by car or coach.

“To ensure the proposed park infrastructure can operate effectively, it is necessary to implement a managed parking solution to prevent unrestricted parking throughout the site.

“The key principle of the redesigned access and reorientation strategy is to reduce traffic and unrestricted parking in the centre of the park by implementing an active travel management plan.”

A new 280-space perimeter car park with lighting will be constructed on the former red blaes gravel pitches at Nether Pollok, near the Haggs Road entrance. The Burrell Collection car park will be kept as will the Riverside car park next to Pollok House.

However all car parks will operate as pay and display. There will be no free parking outwith Blue Badge spaces. The level of charge has not been finalised although initial proposals are £2 for four hours and £3 for all day.

ACTIVE Travel Plan For Pollok Country Park Includes Charges For All Car Parks

That said, I find the wording somewhat biased, seeming to me to place ALL the blame on cars.

Blame (if there is such a thing to be allocated) should be shared between the people who cause the problem – the planners, and those who chose to park inconsiderately, maybe even those who have successfully attracted more visitors to the park, while neglecting to cater for the increased numbers.

I didn’t think there was much car parking inside the park, but I think that’s down to me seeing them empty due to the times I was there, and the only one I ever parked in was for the Burrell, and that always had charging in place – even if there was no security or staff in attendance, and each time I parked there I returned to my own car to see the police in attendance at cars which had been broken into.

Burrell Collection Building Works

Burrell Collection Building Works

12/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Vandalised Glasgow tiger mural – and a new food market on the Clyde

I haven’t been able to get near since there was news of the Glasgow tiger mural being vandalised…

The much-loved tiger mural found on the banks of the River Clyde at Glasgow City Centre has been defaced.

Photos shared on social media show a graffiti signature covering over the left side of the mural.

The move has provoked anger from many Glaswegians, with Shawlands artist James Klinge’s work having been a popular sight since its addition to the Clydeside in 2017.

After sharing an image of the defaced mural on Twitter, Lorraine Howard said: “It’s made me angry they have defaced one of my favourite pieces of street art in Glasgow, it was my favourite.

Meanwhile, John McCarney commented: “That’s shocking … why would anyone do that … “

Much-loved Glasgow tiger mural defaced at River Clyde

Easy answer – because they’re a talentless little snot that can’t get “Five minutes of fame” any other way.

If you compare my slightly later pic with those taken earlier (as seen in the media article), you’ll see someone has ‘vandalised’ the vandalsim.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow Tiger Mural Vandalised

Glasgow Tiger Mural Vandalised

Perhaps having the area busier, with more people around could dissuade such little people from their self-gratification.

Riverside  food market plans approved

I mentioned plans which proposed to turn this area into a food market:

PLAN For Weekend Street Food Market On Central Glasgow Riverfront

There’s a bit more detail in this article:

Two 20-foot, side-opening shipping containers would be erected there from May – September, alongside dozens of street food trucks.

The market would be licensed and would be positioned in the area which features the tiger mural.

Seems this proposal gained favour with planners, and has been given the go-ahead.

CITY council officials have agreed that a street food market can operate beside the Clyde in Glasgow City Centre.

They granted planning permission for the proposal which involves public open space over two levels at 1 to 5 Custom House Quay Gardens, between South Portland Street suspension bridge and Glasgow Bridge.

The application submitted by Platform on the Broomielaw Market stated the licensed event would have capacity for 500 people — 100 seated and 400 standing — and would operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 10pm over the summer.

A report by planners stated: “Conditions have been proposed to ensure that there would be no adverse impacts on local residents or noise-sensitive uses as a result of noise emanating from the street food market.

“Given the proposed temporary nature of the development, it is recommended that permission be granted subject to satisfaction of and adherence to conditions in relation to access management, noise, refuse and boundary treatment.”

PLANNERS Have Appetite For Riverfront Street Food Market

11/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will people get fed up with town and city centre event disruptions?

While Glasgow is having problems with disruptions arising from what I’ll refer to only as ‘traditional’ event, I was inconvenienced in both Glasgow AND Ayr this weekend, due to special events.

Glasgow had TWO cycling events disrupting public transport, and travel, across the city, with roads closed and bus diversions on both Saturday and Sunday.

While I’m local and watch the local travel reports for this nonsense arriving, I now see that people who have no interest in this stuff are taken by surprise when buses turn off their usual routes to divert around the road closures, and elderly people just heading to the shops find their usual bus stops are closed, and they have to walking to find an alternate, or someone who knows where to send them.

My bus should have gone along Gallowgate, but ended up touring the Gorbals before heading to Central Station.

And I haven’t even bothered taking my usual weekend bike rides this year, as most of the roads I cut across Glasgow over were listed as being closed during most of the day. I have to cross Glasgow to get to the longer, more interesting routes to the west.

Then I took a spontaneous trip to Ayr (rather than mess about with the nonsense in Glasgow on Sunday) when the Sun suddenly came out, only to find the place was jammed as a number of roads were closed for its annual GO! Festival. Traffic around the bus station was jammed almost solid for a couple of hours in the afternoon, even though much of the event didn’t take place until later.

I’m sure these events are fun for the two or three people who attend, but I suspect (since I’m more tolerant than most, but am now becoming fed up and irritated by these things) the majority of people with no interest are going to get fed up with them soon, and might even start complaining or objecting.

These events should be moved, and held on the outskirts, away from main traffic routes, but still accessible by those who want to attend.

Ayr Go Festival 2019

Ayr Go Festival 2019

11/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Has the CSO (compulsory sales order) died a natural death?

One of the ideas for dealing with vacant/derelict properties that failed to convince me of its effectiveness was the proposed CSO or Compulsory Sales Order, which would have allowed an order to issued to force the sale of a vacant property, but it wasn’t absolute, so, if there were no buyers, or reasonable offers, then the owner was not obliged to sell at any cost.

At least that was what I read in articles published about it at the time it was being proposed.

I fear some people may have ‘Heard what they wanted to hear’ about this proposed legislation, and interpreted it as a variation on a CPO or Compulsory Purchase Order, or a suggestion that councils had suddenly developed bottomless pockets, and would be buying up such properties.

Note this line I quote from an article reporting that the CSO legislation has apparently been dropped:

The introduction of CSOs – which would allow local authorities to buy homes after other legal avenues were exhausted – is viewed as a key tool in fixing the problem.

SNP MSP questions Scottish Government priorities after manifesto pledge dropped

It’s a moot point, but I don’t think that interpretation is entirely accurate. A council COULD buy a property if it wanted it AND paid a fair price, like any other buyer, but while the owner may be compelled to sell it, that would only happen if those criteria were satisfied.

I DO get the aim this would have of bringing properties to market (if it was well-formed legislation), but I still doubt it qualifies as ‘key tool’, and would better seen as one of a collection of tools.

Tools better thought over a considered period, rather than perhaps being knee-jerk reactions.

Derelict House

Derelict House

10/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S48

No news this week (at least not in the feeds that I see), so I thought I’d try to lighten things a little, especially after last weeks’ fairly miserable and unhelpful article (or was it an ‘Opinion Piece’, or OP?).

You may, or may not, if such things don’t interest you, be aware of the current refurbishment underway at Rothesay’s classic art deco pavilion

Beginning with the closure of the building back in 2015, the location (which has seen even worse weather than usual), a ceiling collapse (which exposed hidden asbestos), and the discovery of areas of the building in even poorer condition than surveys indicated, has resulted in delays to the project, and significant cost increases to deal with them.

An initial budget of £8 million has risen to £14 million, with the additional costs being underwritten by the local council, and other fundraisers.

The opening is still scheduled for this year, but has been moved from its original date (first set for 2017, before the full extent of the complications was learned) of July 2019 to 03 September 2019. I’ll be a little surprised if that works, or if does, but there’s still a lot to be done before it’s all complete and the last contractor leaves.

While I’m not able to be on the island (something I once did regularly), I’ve been able, at least, to watch as work progressed on the outside of the pavilion building, thanks to the pics shared by Zak as he wanders around the Isle of Bute. I’m trying to get back for a look, and can’t believe this year has reached September and I’ve still failed miserably to even get close. Oh well 😦

This week’s pics included a view that made me think the pavilion was trying to make the Mackintosh Building feel a little better, as it has been wearing scaffolding that looks almost as extensive as that shrouding the Mackintosh.

This is how it looked this week (although that crane has now left the site).

Rothesay Pavilion August Scaffold

Rothesay Pavilion August Scaffold

There was even more scaffolding previously, as seen in April, making it look even more like its Glasgow cousin.

Rothesay Pavilion April Scaffold

Rothesay Pavilion April Scaffold

As always, thanks to Zak for these pics, more of which can be seen in his collection here.

And usually updated daily here.

A reminder of the Mackintosh Building.

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding


Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

01/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s odd about this pic taken in Kelvingrove?

Just a bit of fun, but it’s not completely silly.

Looks like an uninteresting pic of some people standing around in Kelvingrove.

It’s one collected during a bit of ‘peoplewatching’ during one of the lunchtime recitals.

Some people stare, some don’t notice, some look around, some take pics, some are phone zombies, and some raise their voices so they can carry on their conversation over the noise of the organ.

Kelvingrove Dr James Hunter

So, this view appears to be fairly normal.

Why does my post title suggest it’s somehow odd?

Well, you’re seeing someone who’s normally only seen from behind, so only the back of his head is easily recognisable 😉

Normally seen most Fridays, giving the lunchtime organ recital on that day (and taking the weekly free tours which is offered afterwards), the gentleman in the jacket is Dr James Hunter, musical director of Kelvingrove.

I’ve been on the tour (worth taking) and sometimes bump into him in the hall as he makes his way to the balcony.

It’s the first time I’ve spotted him in the central hall while a recital was underway and someone else was performing on the Lewis organ – wonder if he approved?

For what it’s worth, I think he is one of the better performers on the Lewis.


Being watched:

Organ recital

Organ recital

01/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

All hail the birth of The Great Glasgow Golf Course Conspiracy Theory

I was going to waffle on this, but it’s so tiresome as a few folk who like to spoil a walk by hitting a little ball with a stick demand their hobby be financed by the rest if us, I just can’t be bothered.

While the operator has made a clear and unambiguous statement…

Glasgow Life, the council’s cultural and sporting arm, said the closure of Ruchill golf course was “unavoidable” and temporary.

A spokeswoman said the decision to shut the course was not linked to recent consultation on the future of the city’s municipal courses.

There is, of course, someone who KNOWS the REAL story, and that lies have been told to cover up the truth…

However, concerned golfers fear the nine-hole course has been closed “surreptitiously”.

John McDermott went to play the course on Tuesday but found its gates locked. “It is claimed to be a temporary closure but the greens have perished and there is no way that course can be played again without investment,” he said.

“The course looked well laid out, had good views and could be attractive but it’s been abandoned and gone to ruin. A disappointing loss of facilities for Glaswegians.

“It’s my opinion this is a permanent closure, done surreptitiously.”

Glasgow Life close Ruchill golf course due to lack of staff

Liar liar pants on fire

Note my pic is not assigned to any side of this story – I can wait.

30/08/2019 Posted by | council | | Leave a comment

Could Shettleston be home to a creepy new restaurant?

It can be weird reading some people’s opinions regarding repurposed buildings.

Some see a creepy past as a reason to go, others find the same thing as a reason to run a mile, and would never even cross the threshold.

So, I’m left wondering how the masses would respond to permission for change of use to these premises in Shettleston Road.

Excuse the pic, the day I would have been there poured and plans were changed, but I did realise the bus was going to pass the door, so gave the flypast a shot to see if the pic came out. Could have been worse on a dull day that ruled out a fast shutter speed. Main mistake was presetting the zoom to be too close (or waited too long to take the shot).

James Hardie Funeral Services To Let May Sell

James Hardie Funeral Services To Let May Sell

It will be interesting to see if this one is reported again, if the application to prepare and sell food in a building where corpses were stored and prepared for burial is looked on favourably, or rejected.

It’s hard to predict the outcome of such things, as the planners have so many things to take into account.

Then there’s that upper storey – who wants to live over a funeral parlour – or a stinky, noisy restaurant with takeaway?

PLANNERS are being asked to let vacant funeral director premises be turned into a restaurant with takeaway.

The change-of-use application has been submitted for a building on Shettleston Road, Glasgow.

The upper floor would be converted into a three-bedroom flat.

RESTAURANT Plan Aims To Breathe New Life Into Empty East End Funeral Parlour

Nice wordplay in the that title 🙂

The new owners could theme the restaurant if they get the go-ahead.

Coffins for tables, and chairs with gravestone backs, and cutlery fashioned after the style of surgical instruments.

And the lucky chef could serve Halloween cakes every night.

Halloween Cake

Halloween Cake

Yes, I know, it’s not one of the gory ones 😦

30/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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