Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Clyde Tidal Weir – still working

Sad to say, this is actually the first opportunity I’ve had to get anywhere near the Clyde Tidal Weir since its recent disaster.

Not that there was really anything new to see, since it was repaired within a few days.

There might have been more to see if I’d remembered about the damage reported to the nearby south bank (near the distillery and flats), but I was concentrating more on the road home, thinking I was going to be close to walking 20 miles by the time I finished the day, and not wanting to overdo it by adding another couple (turns out I could have, as my estimate proved to be a couple of miles light after I saw the GPS log).

Still looking good, especially with that nice clean stonework (and no more soot to turn it black).

Clyde Tidal Weir From West

Clyde Tidal Weir From West


Clyde Tidal Weir From East

Clyde Tidal Weir From East

These pics (or the originals, and the top one, from the west) were weird when I processed them.

Although I would have sworn both were perfectly level when I hit the shutter, the originals are way off the horizontal (15-20 degrees).

Don’t know about anyone else, but I find this often to be the case, and I should perhaps be clear that I’m referring to the camera (or pic) being at an angle to the horizon or horizontal, NOT converging verticals or similar perspective distortion (which I deal with separately).

While the second pic looks just about right, the first one was a real problem to correct.

It was taken off-centre, standing near the left bank.

When I aligned the vertical, the image looked worse than the slightly rotated original, and the alignment still looked ‘off’.

Although it was not horizontal, I tried setting the top of weir horizontal – this actually looked better, and the weir no longer appeared to be trying to slide out of the pic – but the building and chimney were now lying at an angle.

Time for a compromise – I split the difference, with the bias being on the verticals. Well, verticals HAVE to be vertical, don’t they?

In this case, they lean a little to the right, but when I made them true verticals, the slope of the weir seemed to create the illusion that it was at the wrong angle.



October 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Sheriff Court (still) beats the Holyrood skip

I came across a chance pic I took of Glasgow’s Sheriff Court, and it brought the standard tear to my eye as it reminded me of Scotland’s shame in the shape of that skip sitting in Holyrood – the embarrassing £414 million money-pit sometimes known as the Scottish Parliament Building. Thankfully not credited to any Scottish architect, but a weird Catalan architect who succumbed to brain disease not long after it was completed (some might put two and two together regarding that). Seems his wife was no prize either, as I have memories of reading she wanted money for work done on the building after he was dead and buried.

Recent news of the Holyrood skip has reported it will come to the end of its useful life as soon as 2060: Scottish Parliament building ‘will reach end of useful life by 2060’

Again, just going by memory, that seems to be a mew claim or more recent figure, magicked up after an earlier claim was made a few years ago, suggesting it would only last 30 years (due to spiralling maintenance costs), taking it only to 2034 or so. I wonder where they found the additional 26 years from? (Maybe they just bought a box of hard hats, and anyone entering the skip will be obliged to wear one).

Now, after the scandal of the build price, they’re having to try to hide the ridiculously shabby build it paid for:

Architectural experts warn MSPs will have to approve a massive refit bill or face moving to a new building.

Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, architectural writer David Black said, “It doesn’t compare terribly well with the Scottish Parliament Hall in Edinburgh, which was built in 1639 and is still there.

“The Holyrood building has in-built problems. It is so ridiculously over-engineered.”

Peter Wilson, who was project architect for the Museum of Scotland, said: “The Scottish Parliament should have cost about £150 million if it had been managed properly. But it was totally mismanaged, though an inquiry, which was a whitewash, said no one was to blame.

“But you could say the building has more value than some of the occupants. If you replaced them with wall or loft installation, you wouldn’t know the difference.” A Scottish Parliament spokesman added: “Our annual accounts assume an initial 50-year depreciation period for the building, which is based on standard practice.”

Via Scottish Parliament building ‘will reach end of useful life by 2060’

I wonder how many remember the stories of loose and falling beams, not long after the skip opened, now possibly all deleted to hide its near immediate failure.

Yet Glasgow’s Sheriff Court, a building that has to be reasonably secure and robust, and fit for purpose, just seems to amble along and do its job without fuss, disaster, or scandal.

It even managed to become the first post-war court facility in the country to be named as a listed building in Scotland.

Glasgow Sheriff Court across the river

Glasgow Sheriff Court across the river

September 30, 2017 Posted by | council, photography | , , | 2 Comments

Inside a concrete lamppost

After yesterday’s post about a repaired concrete lamppost I thought I’d dig out a view of what’s inside one.

If you know anything about concrete, then you know it has no strength in tension, only compression, so these poles are not simply solid concrete – which would break the first time a decent gust of wind hit – but are full of rebar (steel reinforcing bar) to prevent any tension causing the concrete to crack and fail, as it would do on its own.

Concrete Lamppost

Concrete Lamppost

But they’re getting old now, and the thinnest surface concrete is failing and allowing water to creep below.

This become a self-compounding problem as it allow air and moisture to reach the steel.

Two problems follow, firstly the water can freeze and the expansion of the ice causes further cracks in the concrete, so more moisture gets in.

Then the steel starts to rust as it combines with oxygen, this also expands and cause more damage, eventually blowing the concrete off the surface, exposing the material below.

Concrete Lamppost Reinforcement

Concrete Lamppost Reinforcement

September 19, 2017 Posted by | council, photography, Transport | , | 6 Comments

An actual cost-saving repair

Not seen often, but I guess this street lighting repair cost less than digging up the old lighting pole, buying a new one, and setting it in the pavement.

I’m not sure how strong or long-lasting those metal straps are – I’d have used three myself.

As it is, the failure of one (or even slackening as the concrete of that old pole erodes) will leave all the load on just one, while the addition of a third would considerably reduce loading and increase life, and be safer should one strap fail or work loose.

But that’s just me – always over-engineering.

Spotted somewhere in Greenfield.

Economising Light Repair

Economising Light Repair

I suspect the old concrete lampposts may be due for renewal or replacement – there have been some reports of their failure in the media, and a closer look at them shows the concrete is failing, revealing the steel reinforcement inside – and that exposed metal can corrode and expand, leading to further accelerated failure of the structure.

It may be coincidence, and a rogue item, but it’s only a few weeks since the upper part of a lamppost in Glasgow failed, and unfortunately struck a van passing below.

It will be a bit of a shame when they are replaced, I rather like the appearance of concrete lampposts, and we won’t see them made again.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Down again – the bollard with a season ticket to the repair shop

I’m beginning to realise that this concrete and steel reinforced bollard is no match for the delivery lorries to the small row of shops nearby, and my first thought that it was never repaired was wrong too.

Far from just lying broken, it looks as if this poor bollard is just victimised, and doesn’t survive long before the lorries gently ‘persuade’ it to go away.

I used to think it was just neglected, but after paying closer attention and taking the odd pic, it seems this one just enjoys the repair cycle, and only lasts a few weeks after each repair, before it throws itself under another lorry.

One of my route changes brought me here last night, although I had already noticed this guy had been beaten up and left lying at an angle last week.

Bollard Again

Bollard Again

Last time:

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August 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

I guess Lightburn Hospital will be gone when I need it

It looks as if Glasgow’s Lightburn Hospital, which serves the east end, is finally going to succumb to closure – something which has hung over it existence for some years.

For various reasons ranging from age, illness, and through to accidents, my elders and betters were lucky enough to be tended to in Lightburn, so were never far from home,  there didn’t seem to be any problems with the staff or operation.

While I’m still some way off repeating any of the successful ploys they used to get in there, it looks as if I won’t be so lucky when the time comes, and I’ll have to find an alternative, or enjoy being transported around.

A community hospital in Glasgow’s east end, which provides rehabilitative care for older patients, has been earmarked for closure.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the service model at Lightburn Hospital no longer fitted with modern healthcare.

It said a health and social care hub would be set up with £40m.

Parkinson’s UK criticised the proposed closure and said the hospital provided essential services to vulnerable people in a disadvantaged area.

NHSGGC said inpatients across the north east of Glasgow would be served by “fit-for-purpose” facilities at Stobhill Hospital.

‘National strategy’

It said local care homes would be commissioned to provide an extended level of care to inpatients, not requiring acute facilities.

More patients would be discharged from Glasgow Royal Infirmary directly to home, with additional support if required.

Stobhill Hospital would provide day hospital and outpatient services, it said.

Finally, it said Parkinson’s services would be delivered from Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

NHSGGC chief executive Jane Grant said the proposals were consistent with national strategy to shift care from acute hospitals to community services delivered by health and social care partnerships.

“The proposed hub will give real opportunity to further integrate health and social care services to the benefit of patients and service users.”

She said the decision followed a three-month consultation, which included service users.

Previous closure plans

The Scottish government rejected proposals to close Lightburn Hospital in 2011.

Via: Glasgow east end hospital set to close

I realise that’s a long quote from the new item, and the article is even longer.

But it’s hard to see the logic after the last closure threat of 2011 was countered by Nicola Sturgeon, who was then health secretary, and said local people’s interests were best served by maintaining Lightburn Hospital and its healthcare services.

However, in August 2016, NHSGGC (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde) announced plans to consult on proposals to close or cut down on some in-patient and maternity services.

The latest decision by the health board to close Lightburn Hospital is to be referred to Health Secretary Shona Robison.

We can only wait and see if NHSGGC’s assertion that after only five years, the service model at Lightburn Hospital no longer fits with modern healthcare.

The entrance to Lightburn Hospital on Carntyne road:

Lightburn Hospital Entrance

Lightburn Hospital Entrance

I had intended to take a pic of the covered entrance to the hospital itself, as I’d sat there for many hours during visits (handy for keeping out of the rain), but as you can see, lots of greenery screens it, especially that tree at the centre of the turning circle, notably larger than it was when I was last there.

Lightburn Hospital

Lightburn Hospital

One important point these days, its car park, a place I would once have needed a season ticket for, had tickets been needed or charges made.

I mention it as a great convenience for visitors, after noting the horrendous stories about hospital parking I see in media these days, especially for hospitals in the city such as Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where there are not only charges, but it would seem a lack of spaces and poor access for those who have to attend.

While I can park some way away and walk (and have done this during recent visits), for those not so mobile, it must be hell.

When I had to take someone there for tests, I found it hard to conceive of them getting there on their own, they just would not have been capable. Fortunately, the doctor put us in touch with, and arranged, for a volunteer ‘taxi’ (someone who gave their time freely and used their own car) to provide transport to and from GRI. I don’t know hoe I’d have coped otherwise. Sure, I could have driven the person there, but what do I do on arrival? Put my car in my back pocket until I need it again? I couldn’t leave them on their own for a moment, standing lost in the street, yet had nowhere near the relevant door to leave my car (or even stop) so I could walk or wheelchair them to the door.

Lightburn Hospital Car Park

Lightburn Hospital Car Park

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Last chance to see Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross before first tour stint

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

It was a bit of a wake-up call when I saw an item about the painting earlier this week, alerting anyone interested that the iconic painting is heading to London soon, and won’t be back in Glasgow until next summer. The first alert had come back in May, but I didn’t move.

The painting will be one of the star attractions of Dalí/Duchamp, opening on 7 October at the Royal Academy of Arts.

The exhibition will then travel to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida from February to May 2018.

I had a look at the Dalí Museum – tickets there are $24.

(Think that as you enjoy free admission to Kelvingrove! We really do enjoy some benefits here – as a native Glaswegian, I just can’t comprehend not being able to visit museums as often as I wish.)

It will then go on loan to Auckland Castle in County Durham from autumn 2019 until spring 2020.

We will get a piece by Hentry Raeburn from the Royal Academy in return.

I have my own thoughts on the replacement we need while this painting is on loan.

It was nice to see that Kelvingrove was busy, and that the small room where the painting is displayed was also busy (as opposed to mobbed). A steady stream of viewers passed through, also watching a video showing near the door to the room, and displays relating to the history of the painting and its acquisition.

I was pleased to see that there were no restrictions on photography (other than the all-encompassing ‘No Flash’ request – ignored by some). One of the coups achieved by Honeyman (who purchased the painting for Glasgow) was to have the copyright included (often retained by the artist), and I have been to other museum where they have the equivalent of the ‘Heavy Squad’ on hand, enforcing a No Photography rule on works they own copyright for.

That’s bad, very bad, and I just don’t patronise them. They’re also in a land where you have to pay for museum admission.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

This is your street. Not your personal bin.

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

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

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can dream.

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

Another wrong assumption – this time, memorial benches

It’s funny just how often an assumption can be wrong.

I first saw these benches near the Miner’s Memorial in Cambuslang some time ago, and noticed them again under the slightly odd (for me at least) conditions of daylight. I’m usually not around here until it’s dark, so don’t usually get to see them properly, or get a decent pic. Flash doesn’t work well on gloss black painted surfaces, and the same holds true for trying to take a ‘low-light’ pic.

I quite like them, given that recall events not to be forgotten, but I was a little disappointed (in my assumption, not the benches) to find they are standard pattern items. I had wrongly assumed they were a one-off commission for use at this memorial, but having shared memorial pics with others, it seems that they can be found across the land.

As I say, assumptions can get you into trouble (unless made carefully).

Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

There was one interesting point – although not obvious in the above pic (thanks to the reflected glare on the flat metal seat backs), the red-painted floral tributes are not always so painted, and others I have seen have had the benches finished all black, with no features picked out.


I passed on a better day, and managed a better pic – you can actually see a hint of colour (and, in the first pic above, see how my poor camera no longer shows ‘sharp’ detail in the right half of a wide-angle shot):

Memorial Bench

Memorial Bench (Revisited)

I have to take pics like this with full zoom to have the whole frame in focus. If you think the first pic above looks out of focus down the right-hand side, it’s NOT your eyes (or my carelessness), it really is out of focus after a recent mishap trashed the linearity of this camera’s focussing system at wide settings.

I had to stand back in Carmyle to take the second one!

(Just kidding – I only had to stand in the road and hope nobody wanted to run ‘The idiot with the camera’ over.)

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The replacement we need for Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross

It’s already well known that Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is set to leave Kelvingrove and begin a series of world tours from September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

I don’t think I saw any mention of what will take its place, but I’m guessing a copy will take its place, to mitigate some of the disappointment visitors may suffer.


Given that Dali was the creator of the original, perhaps this find from the interwebs might suggest a possible alternative, which would also pay tribute, or ‘cat tax’ to our feline overlords:

Dali Melting Cat

Dali Melting Cat

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Flamingo Land land in Balloch?

I was intrigued to see the apparently hostile response to proposals for proposals (yes, I did MEAN to say that) for a theme park and development located near Balloch and operated by the existing Flamingo Land owners.

While I’m not a theme park fan in the sense of visiting them to take part, I have always enjoyed wandering around them and seeing people enjoying them and the rides. I used to enjoy a run down to Morecambe for the day, which included a wander around Frontier Land, but that was closed and razed some years ago, when the town also gave up its illuminations in deference to Blackpool. This unfortunately coincided with personal problems which meant I was unable to visit during the years this happened, and when I did eventually manage a return trip can only say that the town was a sad and dead place without those features.

While I don’t claim that’s equivalent to Balloch, I’m left wondering if the apparently massive negative reaction to the proposal is from the sort of people who just like to say ‘NO!’ to anything.

Flamingo Land chiefs have unveiled plans for a public consultation as they seek to progress their proposals for a £30 million leisure resort at Balloch.

The Yorkshire-based firm is in the process of creating a website showcasing the proposals in a bid to win over local residents.

Tens of thousands of individuals have already signed a petition opposing the plans, while a number of locals staged a demonstration against the proposals by gathering in Drumkinnon Woods – part of the land which could be affected by the development if it gets the green light.

Via: Flamingo Land at Balloch a step closer with public consultation

While some would also look at the handful of negative responses in the comments after the story, sadly, I’ve come to realise that most of the commenters on Scotsman stories are sad and miserable, or just out to make political capital.

Hopefully the media will follow this, as I’ll be more interested in the result of the public consultation, than the potentially biased response of a few noisy activists.

As the proposer says:

However, in September last year, Mr Gibb admitted that the plans would not go ahead if they weren’t supported by ‘most of the people in Scotland’.

He said: “Flamingo Land totally understands some of the local concerns about our proposed leisure resort in Balloch and we are committed to engaging with all parties involved to fully explain our ideas.

“Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

“To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans.”

Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Just to be clear, I am merely mentioning this, although I expect to be misrepresented and said to be in favour of the development – merely because I have not suffered an immediate knee-jerk reaction stating I am against it.

For what it’s worth, I still think the theme park in Strathclyde Country Park looks out of place as a permanent installation. I originally thought it was just visiting when it first appeared.

I’m more interested in seeing how the National Park Authority plays its part, as I see it as a body that like to make rules to keep itself in a comfy well-paid job, has introduced rules that would probably have Tom Weir spinning in his grave given the restriction it has brought in for wanderers, yet seems happy to allow development and housed to be built within the park it is supposed to be preserving.

These links might help keep some folk’s blood pressure down:

Flamingo Land proposals are opposed by thousands

Our view on Flamingo Land’s Loch Lomond proposal

The LLTNPA’s involvement in the Flamingo Land proposals

The potential impact of Flamingo Land’s proposals on the National Park


July 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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