Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Well, I TRIED to warn you about Dumb and Dumber Deer

Nice of officialdom to map out the places where dumb deer will try to kill you.

Deer hotspots highlighted in warning to Glasgow drivers

And the number… the numbers are alarming.

Deer really are thicker than two short planks, and dangerous.

It’s almost funny that the article refers to “If you hit a deer”, since their behaviour and the way they’ll bolt out of cover from the side of the road makes the reality more likely to be that one of them will hit you.

Still, it’s worth taking note of most of the advice offered in this article, but maybe not so much where it suggests drivers hit deer.

And not just drivers are at risk from these idiots. See this video.

Deer attacks innocent cyclist

Fortunately, another cyclist missed being totalled by a deer – as it totalled itself by colliding with a car!

Yes folks, again, the deer hit the car, not vice versa. See this video, and some pics.

Deer, best avoided

Deer Danger

Deer Danger

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25/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Impressive proposals for Dunoon revival

I have to give a mention to some plans being proposed to revive the fortunes of Dunoon.

A famed seaside town could be revived with cable car to take tourists up a hill, and rollercoaster to take them down, if ambitious plans for a community buyout go ahead.

The town of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, was once a popular spot for Glaswegians to go ‘doon the Watter’, but its fortunes diminished with the rise of package holidays abroad.

The resort, on the banks of the Firth of Clyde, has fallen off the tourist map but hopes are high it could once again become one of the biggest attractions in Scotland.

An ambitious plan, The Dunoon Project, based on a community buyout of the Corlarach forest above the town, could see it become a centre for outdoor activities.

A cable car would be installed to take passengers up the Kilbride Hill which rises above Dunoon to a cafe and observation spot at the top, according to the proposals.

Going down the hill to a base station, there would be the option of a zip-slide ride down the hill over a distance of four kilometres or a trip in an “alpine coaster” – a type of rollercoaster which follows the contours of the land.

Those of a less stalwart disposition could still take the cable car, or ride down on a mountain bike.

Plans to revive Scottish seaside town with cable car and rollercoaster

It’s an interesting plan, and certainly ticks the box for innovation and ‘Thinking outside the box’, but I fear it has missed one  or two small points.

Dunoon’s success in the days of ‘Doon the watter’ came to an end years ago, along with all the other Clyde coast resorts.

Most of those others have seen a revival in recent years, but I’d say they were luckier than Dunoon in that they are nearer, and don’t need such a long ferry trip, or drive.

I suspect that today, people seek more instant gratification, and the 2 hours or so it takes to get to Dunoon before having any fun is a potential barrier to success.

Unlike the others, Dunoon benefited immensely from the 31-year presence of a US submarine refit facility in the Holy Loch from 1961 to 1992.

That’s not coming back any time soon.

Other outdoor facilities, once popular in the area, have also failed to maintain the popularity they once enjoyed.

Castle Toward was once a popular residential outdoor centre, but once it ran into difficulties, all attempts to save it failed, and it fell of the radar.

Last heard of in 2018, it was still closed, but the grounds were open to public access.

If somewhere with an established record for activities couldn’t maintain its position (regardless of whatever politics or intrigue were, or may have been, going on in the background), that’s another reason I have my doubts about a new venture.

Sadly, I have to say I took a very quick trip to Ayr today, and looking at this sad shadow (so many empty shops, and nearly all the new/recent shopping arcades are almost empty too, with hardly any units occupied, and many of those only open for a few days, or with ‘Closing’ signs in the windows) of its former appearance, also suggests trying to revive somewhere as  far away as Dunoon is maybe a great idea, but with little chance.

I got this poster from a now defunct Dunoon web site some years ago, and have had to expand it as the image they had was very small.

This is dated 1943.

Dunoom Lido Poster 1943

Dunoon Lido Poster 1943

 

25/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, military, Naval, Transport | , | Leave a comment

LNT – Is this the right way to use lighter-than-air craft?

My engineering heart always sinks whenever I see some great new announcement proclaiming that someone has had a brilliant bright idea, and that they’re resurrecting the airship in some way.

The last revelation was Airlander 10, but like most of these giants, it ended up having an accident.

Since day one of this, I always pointed out that if the military (with its budget) didn’t think they could make it work, and dumped it, its chances of civilian success were slim to nil.

Airlander 10 crash-landed after mooring line snagged power cables

I’m willing to go out on a bit of limb and suggest that, with current technology at least, basic physics means that these giants are doomed from the day they are conceived.

I don’t know where the borderline lies, but the basic flaw is that their propulsion systems are limited in relation to their size.

While there is a practical limit to the force they can exert on a relative small amount of air, and impart a controlling force to the craft, as they get bigger and bigger their area (and volume rise rapidly, meaning that the effects of wind and buoyancy rise faster than any of the controlling forces available to the pilot.

The bigger the get, the slower they get, and also the lower the wind speed they can legitimately operate in.

While the financial rewards for smaller craft are less attractive for the big monsters, I’d always maintained they could be more successful if anyone dared downsize developments, instead of continually trying to make these things ever bigger.

It’s almost as if the first thing those involved do is throw all thoughts of ‘Commin Sense’ out the door.

Now, it seems someone has taken that step, and I’ll be interested to see if progress of these smaller craft leave the big monsters in its wake.

Researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) have helped create a revolutionary new type of aircraft.

Phoenix is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to stay in the air indefinitely using a new type of propulsion.

Despite being 15m (50ft) long with a mass of 120kg (19 stone) she rises gracefully into the air.

She looks a little like an airship, except airships don’t have wings.

“It’s a proper aeroplane,” says the UHI’s Professor Andrew Rae.

As the project’s chief engineer, he has overseen the integration of Phoenix’s systems.

“It flies under its own propulsion although it has no engines,” he says.

“The central fuselage is filled with helium, which makes it buoyant so it can ascend like a balloon.

“And inside that there’s another bag with compressors on it that brings air from outside, compresses the air, which makes the aeroplane heavier and then it descends like a glider.”

New aircraft rises ‘like a balloon’

First lighter-than-air aircraft I’ve come across in years that hasn’t made me say “Oh no” at first sight.

UHI Phoenix Via BBC

UHI Phoenix Via BBC

23/04/2019 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Online reviews are false – seems the same is true of comments

I’ve never understood why anybody puts any faith in online reviews.

Most read like promotional literature posted by the subject, and there are too many cases reported in the media where false material intended to harm a business (perhaps by someone seeking revenge) to make positive OR negative reviews trustworthy or believable.

See this recent article if you believe any online reviews (or believe I’m making this up 🙂 ): ‘Why I write fake online reviews’

And that’s before we even get to those business who beg for positive reports and 5-star reviews.

I recently bought some camera accessories online, and was about to post a pic of the note that came with them, begging for positive reviews and 5-star ratings for the items.

Two things meant I didn’t, firstly that it would have given the seller free publicity (not from me), and secondly that they told me NOT to give a review OR rating if it wasn’t going to be 5-star.

Sure, like I am going to do ANY of those things of ORDERED to by a seller!

So, how did ‘Comments’ end up being lumped in with reviews?

If you’ve read any items where I’ve mentioned the few articles that still appear after news articles in the media, you will probably have noticed that I now generally refer to the ‘Comments section’ as the ‘Morons section, and that I will mostly be referring to that section as it appears after articles published by The Scotsman.

The BBC still offers a few online items with comments open, and these are just about as moronic (probably the same people), but I seldom mother even looking, as their comment section is hidden by default, and needs to be clicked on to be made visible, and it’s not usually worth that amount of effort.

The most recent article was a genuinely useful and informative piece on the introduction of cycle spaces on buses.

You might be forgiven for thinking such a sensible move would be relatively free of adverse and moronic comments.

WRONG!

I’ve been forced to use the bus (or sit at home) for almost a month, and the commenters, sorry, morons, have clearly been locked indoors for a lot longer than that, and not been on any current buses – if they’ve even seen, let alone been ON a bus in the past twenty or thirty years.

According to the moron commenters, buses are dirty, drivers unhelpful, too busy racing between stops, don’t run on time or to schedule, and a nightmare for the disabled or anyone with a pram.

In fact, I’ve been shocked to find that I could set my watch by any of the buses I’ve used. In Glasgow, they run almost to the minute, and we have digital displays on our bus stops which countdown to the bus’ arrival.

The buses are new and clean (unless a drunk ned has been on recently).

Drivers stop and help disabled people (and people with prams) get on if needed, manually dropping a ramp to the pavement – if the kneeling bus cannot get close enough or kneel down far enough. There are special places for wheelchairs and prams to sit too. I’ve seen many people in powered wheelchairs get on and off the bus unaided, apart from that ramp, if needed.

There’s no rushing between stops. As noted above, the drivers run to a timetable, and often wait at stops, or just pull in for a minute, if it is quiet and they are early.

Apparently NONE of this happens in the world, or twisted mind, of the moron commenter.

Funny thing is, as I watched the prams and wheelchairs going on and off, the he only thing I began to wonder about was bikes on buses.

And then this story appeared a few days ago…

Here’s Scotland’s first bus you can wheel your bike onto

The story’s pretty much what you’d expect, with space and racking, and supports to suit bikes, similar to that in place already for wheelchairs and prams.

The real subject though, I suggest, is a look at the comment/moron section after it.

It’s hard to believe that some people have little more to do with their time than make up the rubbish and misinformation that fills most of this section.

It’s even sadder to see that some of them are mocking even the idea, and suggesting it is stupid to provide such paces on buses.

They really don’t get out enough, or have any contact with other people.

22/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Damn! Kelvingrove’s not that far from Charing Cross

I used to go for some fairly long walks, especially when I had long days to kill – 3 hours out, and 3 hours back can eat up a day, especially if you mess about while stopping to take pics.

Not sure what’s changed, but while I still walk a few miles most days, the long ones seem to have melted away as I can’t find the time for them.

One ‘extension’ I pondered, but never followed, was the stretch from Charing Cross to Kelvingrove.

I often looked along St Vincent Street, or Sauchiehall Street, but always turned around, remembering that I still had to walk back home after getting there.

I never checked the distance, but it’s only about a mile, or 20 minutes, so would actually have been fine – but it just felt a lot longer when I ran the route in my head.

I’m not sure what the walking distance would be (maybe I’ll have to step it out one day) but I do know that between the bus, or the bike, the distance travelled is between 7 and 8 miles. However, unlike those two routes, which have to wander around a bit to suit the roads, walking can be considerably shorter as it can be more direct, so would be less than either of those alternatives.

The view below shows the route I wandered along when I decided to take a wander through Kelvingrove Park after leaving the museum.

By the time I got to the memorial at the Park Circus gate (the houses right of centre), it seemed daft to head back, so I just carried on to Charing Cross.

While this was not even the most direct route, it seemed to take very little time, and would have been even quicker/shorter had I left the park at the Claremont Gardens gate, and headed to Charing Cross from there, which is almost a straight and direct route.

Kelvingrove To Charing Cross

Kelvingrove To Charing Cross

22/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Clutha inquiry S01

I’m changing this to a weekly summary option, rather than making a post when the media notices anything, as my interest in helicopters means I keep watching it, but I don’t really want to post about some of the stuff raised by the legal representatives, as some of it is more like ‘Points Scoring’ than relevant material (and is getting a little irritating as this is supposedly a solemn inquiry).

So, I’ll just tend to note progress.

Clutha Inquiry: ‘No evidence’ of helicopter fuel contamination

Clutha FAI: No smell of fuel at Glasgow crash scene, inquiry told

No smell of fuel at Clutha crash scene, inquiry told

Clutha Tributes

Clutha Tributes

21/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Byres Road farce defines “Too many cooks”

If you’ve never come across the fiasco that has become the Byres Road “City Deal-funded comprehensive public realm scheme”, then I suggest sitting down with a strong cup of tea or coffee (or maybe something even ‘stronger’ – you’ll probably need it), and doing some background reading of past articles online.

The get ready to keep reading for another THREE YEARS!

This scheme is CURRENTLY not expected to be completed until 2022 – and that will only happen if no more ‘cooks’ come to the table.

In the past, plans such as this were created and imposed on an area.

Not necessarily right, but at least it meant the plan was delivered, something was done, and then the various interested parties could fight it out over the years and have what they thought was ‘Most Important’ installed as a modification in later years, if they could get anyone to listen to their whining.

Now?

Now, schemes can end up delayed for years as those who think THEIR requirements are the most important, and should override everyone else’s needs and wants.

This almost happened in Sauchiehall Street, with various groups whining on and on about how THEY should get priority in the scheme to alter that street, until it just seemed to start and get built, while those people were still whining away in the background.

But Byres Road just seems to be one never-ending collection of ‘Cooks’ determined to have their say and get priority for THEIR group and demands, and stuff any other group.

I’m not even going to TRY to take a representative quote, I’d have to copy the whole article!

But, the bottom line…

The current timetable for the work shows construction starting in summer 2020 with completion in spring 2022, although the programme may be subject to change depending on the nature of objections raised during consultation required to obtain a Traffic Regulation Order.

MAJOR Byres Road Revamp Won’t Be Finished For At Least Three Years

While all these ‘Cooks’ have their fun, the rest of just have to carry on cycling on the same old roads and routes, with the same problems they say exist on them.

Somebody should bang all their heads together, and force the word ‘compromise’ into them – there’s clearly enough space in there!

On that basis, I suspect few them actually use the roads as such, and just whine about what they think they see as problems, as they stand on the pavement and study their belly buttons passing traffic, without ever being part of it.

I have to ‘borrow’ one of the pics with the article as I’ve never take a pic of ‘just’ Byres Road – apart from the find of the now closed Nardini’s a few weeks ago.

I’ll have to rectify that.

Byres Road with cyclists Pic Credit reGlasgow

Byres Road with cyclists Pic Credit reGlasgow

Update

Seems the wider media caught on to this a few days later.

But did have anything to say, just parroted off the plan without noticing the three-year timescale, or all the wailing and moaning that’s already gone on, and might add more years to that timescale if there are objections.

Cyclists and pedestrians are set to benefit from a £9m project to redesign Glasgow’s Byres Road.

Protected cycle lanes will be installed on both sides of the road, while pavements will be widened to make more room for pedestrians and public seating areas.

Meanwhile, the taxi rank at Hillhead Underground Station will be restricted to the hours between 6pm and 2am and a speed limit of 20mph will be enforced for the entire length of the road.

Bus stop bypasses – routing the cycle track behind the bus passenger boarding area to maintain the separation of cyclists and motor traffic – have also been included in the design.

Cycle paths and 20mph limit in £9m Byres Road revamp

Well, we’ll see.

I just hope I’ve got enough time left to see this one delivered, and get to try it one day.

20/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

A82 emu – that’s not usual

Pity WordPress deletes embedded BBC video.

Odd, as it shows it as being embedded and visible.watchable in preview mode, then it disappears when the post is saved/published.

So, not only odd, but very, very irritating.

You’ll have to follow the link to enjoy this one…

‘Road Runner’ emu filmed sprinting along A82

I spent a lot of my life driving the A82, but never saw anything as funny as this, so it earns a mention.

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sad to see the Bluebird story is unresolved as craft reportedly heads back to Loch Fad

Some things amaze me, and the Bluebird scenario, or apparent fiasco, is one of them.

It’s hard to believe the wreckage was recovered, restored, and trialled, yet there was no clear definition of ownership and responsibility.

Given that there must have been a fair amount of money involved, which must have been administered, it’s hard to see how things got to where they are without that clear definition being spelt out somewhere in the legal documentation around the project.

Yet, as I noted a while ago, the saga of who’s in control is STILL unclear with the dispute as active as it was back then.

The man behind the restoration of Bluebird plans to run the vessel on a Scottish loch for a second summer, despite the threat of legal action.

Donald Campbell’s craft was recovered from Coniston Water in 2001 and rebuilt by Tyneside engineer Bill Smith.

Last week, lawyers for the Ruskin Museum demanded the hydroplane be handed over so it can go on display.

But Mr Smith said the vessel should be seen in action and it would be taken back for test runs on Loch Fad in July.

Campbell’s family gifted Bluebird’s wreckage to the museum in Coniston, but the Ruskin Museum Trust and Mr Smith’s Bluebird Project restoration team cannot agree what the craft’s future should be.

Bluebird: Iconic craft set for Scottish loch test run

If both sides really care about the craft, then the solution is that both should be satisfied by having it on show in the museum during the winter season, and out on the water, running (to keep it in good order) during the summer season when weather permits.

Incredibly, they don’t even seem to have a problem funding this, which is usually where these projects die their death, with no money to maintain such craft, or even fill the fuel tanks!

One word for all those involved –  DAFT!

I hope this isn’t really a clash of personalities waging war by proxy, with Bluebird potentially being locked up in some legal battle, and lost to everyone while it plays out.

And this nonsense after the trials on Loch Fad went so well.

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak

Bluebird Planes Courtesy Zak

18/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Ford Mustang Day

17 April is Ford Mustang Day.

The Ford Mustang first appeared in April 1964. The World’s Fair was taking place, and the car was Ford’s offering as the car of the future. This introduction of the Mustang also was the introduction of the first Pony Car, referring to a line of small sporty cars with sleek lines and an affordable price-tag.

Mustang sales confirmed that the car was going to become an American favourite, with well over 400,000 sales in its first year of production, an unprecedented success.

The muscle car of the time was the Thunderbird, which every serious sports car fanatic wanted. The Mustang was introduced not with the idea of replacing it, but to put the type within reach of anyone. This seemed to succeed, with more than 500 clubs dedicated to the new car coming into existence within just 3 years of its release.

60 years later more than 9 million have been sold.

Possibly the only downside was that the originals were made for the long straight roads of the US, and the bendy bits were never fun, so British/European drivers were never fans of the handling, even if they did like the looks and engines.

But, that’s all changed in recent years, as the Mustang has been reborn with modern chassis and suspension design (as have all the muscle cars of the original era – but we won’t mention them here).

A few of the locals…

Mustang GT 2015

Mustang GT 2015

 

Supercharged Mustang GT

Supercharged Mustang GT

 

2017 Ford Mustang GT Auto [82181 PE]

2017 Ford Mustang GT Auto [82181 PE]

Mustang Ecoboost

Mustang Ecoboost

There’s a truly terrible film remake made in 2000 that stole the title ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ from the original and best, which starred my personal favourite Mustang body style in the shape of ‘Eleanor’. The original comes from the days when the film, and not some waste-of-skin celebrity actor handed millions just to appear, was still the main focus.

I even saw the original in the cinema! (One of very few I ever went to see).

You can lock your car. But if he wants it…it’s GONE IN 60 SECONDS! Insurance investigator, Maindrian Pace & his team lead double-lives as unstoppable car thieves. When a South American drug lord pays Pace to steal 48 cars for him, all but one, a 1973 Ford Mustang, are in the bag. As Pace prepares to rip-off the fastback, codenamed “Eleanor”, in Long Beach, he is unaware that his boss has tipped off the police after a business dispute. Detectives are waiting and pursue Pace through five cities as he desperately tries to get away.

The Mach 1 remains my favourite style, although I haven’t seen one for real for years.

Someone near me used to have one years ago, and it really nicely tuned V8 rumbling away inside – not unsociably loud, but you always knew when it was coming along the street.

Mustang Mach 1

Mustang Mach 1

Update

Too late for the day itself, but since some unknown fan decided to drop this in my inbox, it seemed a shame not to add it to the end.

Note that it IS actually a GB RHD creation!

Police Mustang

Police Mustang

17/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Maid of the Loch will open to visitors at Easter

Nice to see the Maid of the Loch continues to progress toward the ultimate goal of sailing on Loch Lomond once more.

Following a cash injection from the Scottish Government, the tearoom will be opening with guided tours of the ship and nearby Balloch Steam Slipway will be available.

Seems the work in hand will see the addition of a lift!

That will help in getting between decks – they never had things like that when the paddle steamer was originally in service.

From Easter weekend onwards, the Maid of the Loch will open every day until the end of October. Opening hours and any closures due to works on the ship will be posted online.

Some people like to be glum, but I’ve always held out for this restoration to have a successful conclusion, no matter how slow progress may seem at times.

I sailed on the Maid as a kid, only a few years before the paddle steamer was taken out of service and disappeared, so never even got the chance to go back.

Then I was wandering around a park somewhere at the bottom of the loch, near Balloch, and came across what seemed to be little more than the abandoned hull one day.

No Internet or easy way to ask about it then, so I’m afraid I forgot about the find (I didn’t even get a pic), and it was years later, as the recovery project was made public and an appeal was made for ‘scavenged’ parts to be returned to help with the restoration, that I learned it had not been scrapped.

  • Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain.
  • It was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and was launched on March 5, 1953. It entered service later that year.
  • The ship operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years, and as with other steamers, cost pressures led to the ship being laid up after a last commercial sailing on August 31, 1981.
  • A series of attempts to bring the boat back into service under a succession of owners were unsuccessful, to which it gradually deteriorated at the side of the loch.
  • Since 2016, it has been undergoing restoration work at Balloch Pier thanks to The Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Maid of the Loch set to open its doors on Easter weekend

I intend to make a serious attempt at a revisit to see the steamer. Last time I did it things went very badly, as I was able to drive, but my car’s battery decided to expire without warning in the car park near the Maid. Rather than a nice visit, I ended up spending the rest of the day getting buses, trains, other vehicles, and long walks in order to get a new battery and rescue my car.

This time I’ll either cycle (I did just over half the trip last year, and it was easy) – even though the Glasgow/Balloch is reputedly one many try, but never finish 🙂

Alternatively, I’ve been looking at alternate transport I can afford (ie free) and found that the same route that can me to Helensburgh also goes to Balloch, so might be a nice day out.

I need a decent pic.

When I last visited and actually took a digital pic, the camera I used was so down-market (at the time, a 1 MP Olympus cost around £560 – I know because I had to buy one for work) that it only pretended to take a 640×480 pixel image. In reality, the resolution was about half of that, and it interpolated the capture to scale it to that number.

I don’t even have those image, or I do, but the barely used hard drive they were stored on failed, and fixing/recovering is a job I need to get around to one day. Before you ask, IT was the backup, and only had a few hours use before going wonky. Of course, it was also the only backup drive I’ve ever really needed , as the source did fail.

Typical.

Was there ever any follow-up to the incident that occurred during the slipping of the vessel some months back?

I don’t recall seeing anything in the news after the initial report, and the media had looked as if it was going to feed well on it.

16/04/2019 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

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