Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

George Square goes pedestrian on 20 July for Clean Air Day

After the previous news of suggestions and support to ban traffic from George Square, it seems Glaswegians are to get a taste of what the square would be like if traffic restriction were put in place, and the area was pedestrianised.

Glaswegians will be given a preview of tentative plans to pedestrianise George Square this week as traffic is banned from entering the area.

In celebration of Clean Air Day, Glasgow City Council will be forbidding traffic from entering the city centre location this Thursday (June 20) from 9am to 4pm.

George Square east will be closed in its entirety for the day, while George Square south will allow no waiting, loading or unloading from 3pm on Wednesday (June 19) to 4pm on Thursday.

Several companies will be in attendance at the event to promote public transport and leaving the car at home. They will range from bus operators such as First or Stagecoach through to smaller companies such as bike-only delivery start-up, Eco Runners.

There will be musical performances, displays of electric vehicle, car clubs and an electric taxi. People will be able to try out eBikes and conventional pedal cycles and there will be details of the ‘City Ways’ cycle paths initiative.

Picnic tables will be set out on George Square east with it closed to traffic, allowing people to eat out in front of the City Chambers.

City centre road closure offers a preview of a pedestrianised George Square

George Square (not) Grass

George Square (not) Grass


19/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Here come the spaceport naysayers

I wonder why it’s taken so long for the spaceport ‘Naysayers’ to break cover?

And why is it the Green Loony MSP that’s promoting them too?

At least it’s in keeping with my general observation that no matter how apparently ‘good’ something is, you can always be sure there will be Naysayers pouring cold water on it.

Sadly, it also seems to be becoming the norm for objectors to be backed by Green MSPs too, who just seem to latch on stories that will get them noticed in the media.

However, the research by Prof Mike Danskin, of Heriot-Watt University, and Geoff Whittam, of Glasgow Caledonian University, casts doubts on claims that 40 “high-quality jobs” would be created by the scheme, suggesting “the jobs which will be available to local people have been stated as housekeeping and security”.

The academics also express concern that far from bringing jobs and prosperity to the area, the spaceport would obstruct the development of more appropriately-scaled businesses.

The paper questions the focus by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on the A’Mhoine site over others and suggests a previous report overstated the level of community support while not paying enough attention to infrastructural issues and environmental designations.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said: “I hope Highlands and Islands Enterprise reflect on this important study.

“It casts doubt on the purported economic benefits that constructing the spaceport at A’Mhoine will bring and highlights that it could cause considerable environmental damage.

Experts cast doubt over Highlands spaceport plan


These proposals did not appear overnight, or even a few months or years ago.

Where have these experts (and their supporters) been during that time?


The answer is no

18/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Sooooo close – ET might have been in the back!

I couldn’t pass this one, which was SO close to the source.

2012 VW Caddy [CA11 HME]

2012 VW Caddy [CA11 HME]

18/06/2019 Posted by | photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The illegals – A10 ATS

It’s not often I spot a plate that risks A £1,000 fine if a grump traffic cop spots it, and think it might be worth it, but this one’s kind of nice. At least it doesn’t need an over-active imagination to ‘read’ it.

This one’s a little intriguing as the pic was actually taken in Ayr a few weeks ago, but when I was coming along Argyle Street a few days ago, I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu as I passed an Audi S5, and saw A1 0ATS.

Audi S5 [A10 ATS]

Audi S5 [A10 ATS]

Looking at the spec makes feel a little glum.

When I got my first car with more than 300 bhp it was relatively rare, and it was tested as a ‘super car’ by the motoring magazines, with the observation that it was one of (then) only a handful of cars that could cruise at more than twice the maximum UK speed limit.

Now, it’s easy to find and buy a car with well over that power (S5 has 333 bhp according to the standard specs), usually limited to ‘only’ 155 mph. They’ll go about 25% further for each gallon of petrol too.

17/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Slightly odd, maybe even worrying – St Kilda named by ‘leading travel bible’

While it’s never going to be the easiest place to get to, St Kilda is a place I tend to think of as being protected, if not subject to visitor restrictions.

It’s not very big either, and the ‘Points of Interest’ are few, meaning that any visitors (tourists) will tend to tread the same path, so the arrival of increased numbers could lead to serious damage and erosion. And, while NOBODY does it (aye, right), it would take many people collecting some little a souvenir of their visit to leave the place looking pretty poor.

I don’t pay any attention to social media, or online reviews, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware that many thousands of people do, virtually worship the people or sites that they follow, and mindlessly following any recommendation they make.

I hope this accolade doesn’t turn into a Death Note for St Kilda.

St Kilda, the remote cluster of islands lying more than 40 miles off the coast of the Outer Hebrides, have been named one of the most beautiful places in Europe by one of the world’s leading travel bibles.

Conde Nast Traveler has hailed the “unforgettable ocean views and unique ecosystem” of the Unesco World Heritage Site, which is 100 miles from mainland Scotland and was evacuated by its last permanent residents in 1930.

However an estimated 5000 visitors now flocking to the largest island each year thanks to the growing popularity of boat trips from Skye and Harris, the quickest of which still take nearly three hours.

They are drawn to an abandoned village dating back to the 19th century, its spectacular coastline, the highest sea stacks and cliffs in Britain, and Europe’s most important seabird colony.

St Kilda, which has been owned by the National Trust For Scotland since 1957, is the UK’s only dual World Heritage Site, recognised for its cultural and natural significance.

The archipelago, which lies 40 miles west of North Uist, has now been rated alongside Biarritz, in France, the Dolomites in Italy, Lapland in Finland, and the Swiss Alps by Conde Nast Traveler, which has showcased what it describes of 20 of the most breathtaking landscapes across Europe.

The travel website states: “This cliff-dotted archipelago along the western coast of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides has unforgettable ocean views and a unique ecosystem.

“Visitors can encounter hoards marine life on one of the many ocean tours offered by local boating companies, while those without sea legs can also explore the area’s ancient ruins.”

St Kilda named one of ‘the most beautiful places in Europe’

Pity Conde Nast Traveller doesn’t have a proofreader checking their article.

Two absolute howlers are immediately obvious – not only did they use the wrong word hoards (stuff that’s been gathered or collected, possibly in secret) instead of hordes (a vast multitude), the didn’t notice they’d missed out the word ‘of’ after it!

Then they managed to misspell the name of the very archipelago they were featuring.

It’s name really is St Kilda *with no full stop after the St), rather than St. Kilda, which they unfortunately used.

This screen grab of their entry shows…

Conde Nast Traveller St Kilda name error

Conde Nast Traveller St Kilda name error

Probably better to go see the display in Kelvingrove, and not to any damage to the site.

Easier to get to as well.

St Kilda Goat

St Kilda

16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Surprise? The Italian Job coach died in Scotland

We can only wonder at what it might have been worth if it had not been scrapped.

At a time when a rare and original James Bond Aston Martin DB5 is about to go to auction (used by Eon Productions to promote 1965 film Thunderball) and is expected to raise anything up to £5 million (and ‘ordinary’ example might make at least £750,000 at the moment), it seems the coach which was seen hanging precariously over a cliff edge at the end of The Italian Job had an interesting life afterwards, but was lost (scrapped) before film memorabilia ‘investment’ could save it.

“After that, like all movies, you sell off assets that you don’t need anymore and this coach went back to being a passenger vehicle. Up until 1979 that’s what it did and it ended up in Anstruther.”

The coach was used by the Craw’s Nest Hotel, run by the family of radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman, and was driven by her grandfather.

After being converted back into a passenger vehicle, the bus operated in Blackpool, Liverpool and later Kirriemuir in Perthshire where it was used by local firm Meffan for school runs. It was later bought by racing driver Archie Cromar, in Anstruther, and converted — like in the film — into a transporter for his Formula Ford racing car.

The bus had another two owners before it was scrapped by Burnside Motors in Leven around 1990.

Cliffhanger coach from The Italian Job ends its days in Fife

Oops, somebody missed a chance there.

Since the article quoted used the inevitable ‘cliffhanger’ shot, I’ll go with a nice pic of the coach.

Find more views of this lost star in the source.

Italian Job Bedford VAL 14

Italian Job Bedford VAL 14

This story’s not really that unusual for vehicles used in, or produced for, TV and films of the time.

They were often impractical, if not almost undrivable due to the odd styling and modifications carried out, or damage inflicted during shooting.

Many specials were lost over the years, as can be seen in this feature on Straker’s car from Gerry Anderson’s TV series UFO.

16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

For a brief moment, I made the mistake of thinking somebody might have been doing something useful at Tollcross Winter Garden (other than perhaps demolishing it).

When I passed recently, there was a small ‘cherry picker’ parked alongside.

But, it looks as if someone was just using the roof overhang as a shelter to keep the rain of their ‘toy’ and keep it dry (not a very good idea, given the quiet nature of the spot, and the number of vandals that party there given that there is no lighting).

It was gone a few hours later, and I haven’t seen it again.

Mind you, given where it was left, the locals could easily have had it dismantled during the night, and sold all the parts as spares!

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

Tollcross Winter Garden nope

14/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

New east end cycle route – I put my foot in it!

It’s remarkable – all I have to do is make a statement about something…

And I’ll be given the equivalent of ‘A poke in the eye with a sharp stick’.

Yesterday, while considering the ambitious plans for new parks and other goodies running from the river to Kelvingrove Park, I mentioned that plans for a cycle route along London Road seemed to have sunk without trace, after being expected to see a start as early as the second quarter of 2019.

I’m thinking of one project local to me, which I was following, and looked as if it would be underway by now (middle of 2019), but has seen no activity, or apparently any update info regarding its progress, or not.

Sooner, rather than later please (I’m looking at backers as I say that, NOT the council).

Of course, as soon as I committed my thoughts to print, in less that 24 hours I was proved wrong.

Construction on phase one of new sections of the East City Way is due to start at Mount Vernon, in January 2020 and be completed by June 2020. Applications for funding to progress phase two and three designs have been made to active travel organisation Sustrans.

The plan is for East City Way to stretch for seven kilometres from Bridgeton to Mount Vernon, with work carried out over the next three to five years.

NEW 2.2-Kilometre Segregated Cycle Route Proposed For Glasgow’s South Side

Ah well, I may have been a day early with my negative thoughts, but at least the East City Way looks as if it is going to arrive, if a year later than expected. And anything up to another six years for the rest!

Guess I’ll just have to wait that little bit longer before this view becomes a reality.

Proposed Layout London Road

Proposed Layout London Road


13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

2020 Bentley Flying Spur bonnet mascot

While I’ll never get around to forgiving Bentley for its disgusting Bentayga, the rest of the fleet is still OK, and doesn’t make my eyeballs bleed.

I just received some pics of the recently released 2020 Flying Spur, and wanted to note the arrival not because of the car (I won’t be collecting one any time soon), but for the size of the pics – 16000 x 7240 pixels.

That’s pretty big, and I’m guessing taken with a camera (not identified) which, together with its lens, would probably have cost the same as a small car. I know that because the huge pics could still be zoomed down to the pixel level without losing resolution and becoming blurred.

As an example, I cropped this view of the new bonnet mascot, which is both retractable AND illuminated on the new car. No pics of it lit so far though.

2020 Bentley Flying 2020 Bentley Flying Spur bonnet mascotbonner mascot

2020 Bentley Flying Spur bonnet mascot

Ah… they did a tease video before the car was launched.

We can only afford old secondhand cars down my way,

But that’s not really a problem as I think they have ruined the looks of the Flying Spur with a huge radiator grille with vertical struts. It’s very anonymous looking, and has lost the family resemblance to the existing smaller grille, as seen on this bargain GT for sale at the end of my street.

2013 Bentley Continental GT

2013 Bentley Continental GT

This is the 2020 grille – sorry, but it is just BIG, anonymous, and could have been lifted from a 1970s American cruiser. The late Lincoln Continental of the time probably DID look better, even if it was a land yacht.

I did, however like one observation – “For when an entire building needs to go 207 mph” 🙂

Or reach 60 in 3.7 sec (that’s for 2,437 kg unladen).

2020 Bentley Flying Spur

2020 Bentley Flying Spur (626 bhp / 664 lb ft or 900 Nm)

And I still like the ‘old’ classic Bentley saloon, also for sale beside the one above, and even more of a bargain.

2001 Bentley Arnage

2001 Bentley Arnage

And it really is a bargain now, £2,000 LESS than the first time I spotted it.

Just for letting it sit on the forecourt for few weeks.

2001 Bentley Arnage

2001 Bentley Arnage

Found another pic.

I still think this body has more classical style and is more pleasing to the eye.

I worry that later versions are beginning to suffer from ‘Directions from above’ where bosses hand down directives to the design department to make sure they keep certain recognisable body lines, but are also instructed to make the next car look ‘different’ (or they’ll be looking for new jobs).

I’m not thinking only of Bentley.

2001 Bentley Arnage

2001 Bentley Arnage

13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | | Leave a comment

Scottish spaceport is not ‘going away’

I seem to have been following various stories about Scottish spaceports for some years, since before the military base at Machrihanish was closed (and it was classified as “Scotland’s Area 51” as there was already so much spacecraft activity there – according to some 😉 ).

Much has changed since then, including the requirements for a facility which can support spacecraft launches, as criteria such as vehicle size and orbital altitudes have changed.

The whining of naysayers was loud in those early days, and can still be heard today, at the alternative spaceport sites now being proposed in the north of Scotland.

But the chances of that whining being rewarded by such proposals never coming to pass seem to be somewhat remote these days.

Activity and interest continues to grow, as we’ve noted in the past.

I can’t wait for the first launch, and just wish I was in a related industry/business (and lived up there, which would help).

It has been almost a year since it was announced that Scotland could host the very first UK spaceport – and interest is far from waning.

By the end of the year, plans could be submitted to build a facility at the A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland.

But Scotland has a number of regions which look attractive to aerospace companies for development.

A consortium has revealed plans to build the UK’s first vertical launch site at Scolpaig, North Uist, following months of investigations.

Shetland has also been earmarked as a desirable location.

When looking to build a spaceport, the UK considered both horizontal and vertical launch sites.

Like their names suggest, horizontal launch sites fire rockets at a gradual angle – similar to what you would see at an airport.

Prestwick Airport, for example, is on the cusp of applying for a licence to carry out horizontal space launches from its 2,986-metre concrete case runway.

The airport also cites its “coastal take-offs, favourable weather conditions and excellent transport connections” among the factors which make it an ideal launch spot.

Similarly, Cornwall is also expected to have a horizontal spaceport operational by 2021.

A vertical launch pad, as the name suggests, is one which enables rockets to be fired directly upwards into space.

There are key criteria which are necessary for a site to be considered for this.

They revolve around the orbits of the rockets – principally known as polar and sun synchronous orbits (SSO).

An SSO is where it passes over any given point on the Earth’s surface at the same local solar time. A polar orbit is one that passes over polar regions, especially one whose plane contains the polar axis.

Scotland contains sites with the best access to polar and SSO orbits without flying over land inhabited by humans.

Why is Scotland a prime rocket launch site?

The above criteria are crucial, as anyone aware of the dire condition of land around the Soviet era Baikanur launch facility will already be aware. It is now contaminated and extremely hazardous to anyone living there, as fallen rocket bodies were just left to rot where they fell, discharging highly toxic propellants such as hydrazine wherever they fell.

The Western Isles have entered the race to create the UK’s first commercial spaceport.

The project led by Western Isles local authority – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – is separate to bids to build ports in Sutherland and in Shetland.

It has been proposed the Western Isles’ Spaceport 1 be located at Scolpaig on the north-west coast of North Uist.

The comhairle said up to 70 jobs could be created at the site which would be used for small satellite launches.

Test launches could be carried out later this year.

The comhairle has agreed to invest about £1m to purchase the land needed.

Western Isles in race to open UK’s first spaceport

Lift off: UK’s first vertical-launch spaceport plans unveiled

Vertical Launch Spaceport

Vertical Launch Spaceport

12/06/2019 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will I live long enough to see ‘New’ Glasgow?

While it’s the apparent norm for the usual naysayers and negative types to simply sound off against Glasgow City Council as that’s their real pastime, I don’t subscribe to such party lines.

The sad truth is that the council is usually just the nearest ‘whipping boy’ for everyone to reach for, and those who are really to blame for any planning failures get a free ride as nobody bothers them, brings them to task, or holds them accountable.

After all, it’s a lot easier to just cite ‘The Council’, or say ‘Nay’, than spend time researching.

I’ve noted previous news promising development and reenergising High Street, and land to it east.

Now there seem to be even more impressive proposals seeking approval for the area to the south, as articles appeared regarding parks running all the way from Saltmarket to Kelvingrove Park, including the area on the opposite side of the river, and even bringing back water taxis.

Water taxis and huge new park planned at River Clyde

River Clyde at Glasgow City Centre set to be transformed by running parks and water taxis

‘River park’ proposed for Glasgow city centre

Proposed plans to transform Glasgow’s St Enoch ‘welcome but long overdue’

I’m intrigued by the way the last two articles listed appear to centre on the St Enoch area, since the plans are MUCH more extensive (and the ‘overdue’ due bit is just… silly – every plan is always too late for somebody).

It’s notable that past errors are being paid attention to, as the council carries out public consultations for some time in advance of such announcements. Some years ago, it was becoming clear that even potentially positive proposals were being rejected, or objected to, simply on the basis that they appeared to be being handed down as council decrees, which people had no say in.

A new park running along both sides of the River Clyde in Glasgow is set to be approved by councillors.

Improvements to the M8 motorway, water taxis and sports activity on the river are also expected to get the go-ahead.

The council said “strong support” was received for its proposals during a consultation process.

The park would run from Glasgow Green to the Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove, while “beautiful, small-scale buildings” would pop-up along the riverbank for shops and leisure facilities.

An idea of how the new park might look - Glasgow City Council

An idea of how the new park might look – Glasgow City Council

Nice pic, shame about the too tall buildings though.

It’s not my intention to be negative, rather to point out (again) that the council is not wholly responsible for such plans, although it has the important job of approving them, and mediating them, to ensure they are compliant with legislation and local demands. And, unless it’s a council project, it doesn’t fund it either, but has to act to facilitate finances (it’s complicated, or another story for another day).

I’m thinking of one project local to me, which I was following, and looked as if it would be underway by now (middle of 2019), but has seen no activity, or apparently any update info regarding its progress, or not.

Sooner, rather than later please (I’m looking at backers as I say that, NOT the council).

12/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: