Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Look at that smile

I sometime go for a quick wander while listening to the organ recitals at Kelvingrove, mainly to get a better view of the video displays relaying the performer’s feet and hands, particularly the pedal board, which can be interesting to watch.

I’d been standing beside a couple of tourists (why are they the quiet ones?) before changing sides on the balcony, and happened to look across at where I had been standing.

What a nice change from the usual babbling, sometime arguing, disinterested locals and their noisy brats who usually ruin whole sections of the recital, especially at the moment with the schools on holiday.

It’s almost a pity that the lights in the central hall have been switched off this week, as the Sun shines in, which makes the place a little darker than usual, and the poor old camera couldn’t quite cope with the marginal conditions.

Kelvingrove Smile

Kelvingrove Recital Smile

I probably smiled as much when I saw this video clip of a cat sleeping in a piano.

While it would be nice to have a Kelvingrove organ cat, I doubt even the cat would sleep through a performance if it was on the keyboard.

While the lowest notes don’t cause vibrations in the central hall, having been to a demo in the organ balcony, I now know the lowest notes are powerful enough to make the stone floor underfoot vibrate up there (well, the organ pipe do sit just behind the console).


24/04/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S39

Not really a Mackintosh Building item as such, but more of a spin-off, or just some observations

While the fire at the Mackintosh Building seems to have generated little more than a witch-hunt for someone to blame (and either burn at the stake, or maybe just fire) and given some really really hostile Glaswegians the opportunity to demand the site be razed and reused for something ‘useful’ which, does not need any public money, the Notre Dame fire of last week seems to have brought a more sympathetic response.

There was an almost immediate response which had promises of rebuild and restoration, with no calls for blame apparent, nor any demands that no money e wasted on restoring an old ‘pile of junk.

Also, unlike Glasgow’s fire, there was consideration of arson, which I don’t recall seeing anyone suggest may have been the reason for the blaze.


I found that unusual in a place once known historically as ‘Tinderbox City’ – but to this day, I can’t recall seeing even consideration that arson or deliberate fire-raising was behind the fire.

However, it seems that Notre Dame is not the only such building to have gone up in flames recently, and due consideration to arson HAS been raised in that respect.

Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months.

More than 10 churches have been hit since the beginning of February, with some set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged.

St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral, had the large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze March 17.

Investigators confirmed March 18 that the fire was started deliberately, according to the website of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.

Vandals, arsonists target French Catholic churches

Then again, Notre Dame was also being renovated.

Nervous Renovation Ticking

21/04/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mural surprise along a lane

With so many murals now being listed almost ‘officially’ on some web sites and publications, it’s almost something of a surprise to go wandering down lanes and finding examples not seen listed in those sources – or I’ve just missed them.

This one turned up in Burgh Lane, Hillhead, not far off Byres Road, and is on the wall of the Western Baths, which is just as well, as it features – the Western Baths!

Quite a place by all accounts, I managed to miss my chance to get in for a look at the place before it was revamped and became a club, although much has been retained.

Prior to the changes (and I have to say I am going by memory here, risky), I think the place, exclusive as it was, was under threat of being lost, but that seems to be a thing of the past for it now. It seems to be doing well.

The Western Baths Club is a Victorian era private swimming and leisure club founded in 1876. The club remains at its original site at 12 Cranworth Street, Hillhead, Glasgow. The 19th-century baths are protected as a category A listed building. Along with the Arlington Baths it is the one of two clubs of its kind left in Glasgow.

I had to go back a couple of times – I didn’t feel like taking an awkward pic (ie not a quick snap) with a small crowd of ‘yoofs’ who were intent on studying the contents of plastic bags they were carrying, standing on almost the same spot I had to be on to take the pic.

The lane is fairly narrow, and the mural fairly wide – there’s no chance of catching with any ordinary wide lens.

I had to stitch four shots together to get the whole thing in one pic.

It actually worked.

Click for bigger.

Burgh Lane Western Baths Mural

Burgh Lane Western Baths Mural

Although I don’t have any accurate tools to correct the distortion in such a wide stitch, I thought I’d try anyway, just to see how it did.

It does help, but if you look at the extreme edges on the left and right of the second image, you can see how this correction tool is adding more (different) distortion as it corrects the original distortion.

Click for bigger.

Western Baths Mural Version 2

Western Baths Mural Version 2

26/03/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Today is No Smoking Day

13 March 2019 is No smoking Day.

Unfortunately, another wandering day that falls on a different date most years – set as being the second Wednesday of March.

It may be an addiction, but that’s no excuse for starting!

Why is it so important to have a day set aside for this? Over the last few decades, it has become very clear just how extremely dangerous smoking is. There are toxins in smoke that cause many different forms of cancer from the mouth to the lungs. What is also important to know is that while it may be a personal choice to smoke or not, when one smokes near another person -or even a pet – the second-hand smoke is just as dangerous to them. So, it really isn’t just a personal decision. The protection of people who do not want to be affected by second-hand smoke has led to new laws in most communities that ban smoking in most public spaces.

Sadly, the many myths, beliefs, and excuses for smoking are STILL deep set in our various cultures, reinforced by the lies fostered by the tobacco companies in order to suppress the truth and keep people addicted.

This was especially important to those companies then (as it still is today, and they move into less well-informed countries and communities, as they knew full well that the more they got their customers to smoke, the sooner they killed them, and needed replacements to take their place, and keep up sales and profits.

Previous no smoking day

See also the fun here:

Anybody else miss those old educational cigarette adverts

Smoking Birth Weight

13/03/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s top attractions

Two venues in Glasgow recorded more than 1 million visitors in 2018.

No real surprise that those were Kelvingrove and Riverside.

Six Scottish attractions made that figure, the others being the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish National Gallery, and St Giles’ Cathedral.

I never made it to the last two – maybe one day.

There was even a marginal overall (0.1%) increase compared to the previous year – that’s going to be worth watching over the next couple of years, with the Burrell set to reopen in 2020, and the new V&A in Dundee to do a full year.

Top Scottish visitor attractions revealed

I simply haven’t bothered looking at the comments  – I’m sure the naysayers will be out in force. It’s guaranteed in the face of anything remotely resembling good news that normal people will be pleased to read about.

There’s some more detail listed in this article:

These two Glasgow tourist attractions were the most visited in the city last year

I wonder if I made a difference, since I try to get to these places more than once a week now that I’ve found easy and free ways to get to them.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum




06/03/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Off we go again – yet more ‘local’ violence

And again…

After noting one incident reported earlier today, I’ve just spotted another on, for somewhere I hadn’t visited for years, but was at the same place on Sunday – fortunately some hours after the event.

I toured the whole length of Dumbarton Road on Sunday afternoon, just to see if any of the old buildings I remembered were still there – of course, the ones I had in mind are long gone, so I ended up just looking for interesting shops – unaware of what had happened a few hours earlier.

At least I’m never likely to be there around midnight.

A 37-year-old man who was seriously assaulted outside a Partick chip shop was left with serious injuries to his face, requiring surgery.

The incident occurred between 12.05 am and 12.35 am on Sunday, March 3 outside the Blue Lagoon Chip shop in Dumbarton Road.

The man was attempting to diffuse (sic) an argument between two people. He was then assaulted by a group of other people which left him with serious injuries.

Emergency services rushed to scene and the injured man was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance where he was released after initial treatment. However, he will return at a laster (sic) date for surgery.

The culprits had made off prior to police arriving at the scene.

Man, 37, needing facial surgery after serious assault outside Partick chip shop

Violent crimes

Violent crimes

05/03/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Off we go again – yet more ‘local’ violence

And again…

As usual, few quiet days, then the madness is back, and in the middle of the day when there would be plenty of people around.

Glad I only use this station a few times a year, and not at all recently.

A 14-year-old girl was repeatedly hit in the face by a man and then thrown into a wall at a Glasgow train station.

British Transport Police are investigating the assault on Platform 8 of Queen Street Station on Saturday 16 February.

The teenager was with three other young people when the attack happened at about 13:00.

Teenage girl hit in the face by man at Glasgow train station

Violent crimes

Violent crimes

05/03/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Saltire Fund was tiny when it was announced in 2008, now it’s lost nearly £3 million to inflation



Back in 2008, I was intrigued to see the Saltire prize being announced, and ventured to suggest that at £10 million was not really enough to be worth the effort of trying to win.

If you tried following its progress, you’ll already know what happened…

Nobody won it!

The cash just lay unclaimed, and I think there was a recent story which suggested part of the problem was down to the terms of the award, and that the chances of anyone meeting the criteria lay in the realms of ‘Slim to Nil’.

However, the cash was still there, even if nobody was likely to collect.

So, what to do?


A £10m prize for the development of technology to harness tidal power has been relaunched in Scotland.

The Scottish government said it was offering the Saltire Fund to help commercialise clean energy and lower operating costs.

It comes after the original competition, conceived in 2008, was ended in 2017 without anyone claiming the reward.

Industry bosses have welcomed the new fund.

The Saltire Prize faded from public focus after the deadline to produce award-winning renewable technology passed without a winner.

The original prize was offered for the development of wave and tidal energy. However, the two are now recognised as separate entities following the collapse of wave power firms such as Aquamarine Power and Pelamis.

Tidal energy has now progressed while wave technology has effectively gone back to the laboratory.

To reflect the change in the industry, the prize has now been relaunched as the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.

The Scottish government has also proposed to invest a further £10m in Wave Energy Scotland (WES) by 2020.

Scottish government launches £10m Saltire Fund

I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take a great deal of understanding to see that £10 million, while it would be nice in a person’s bank account, is a piddling amount when taken in the context of creating a new or innovative tidal energy device.

Even worse, small as it was in 2008, £10 million is no longer £10 million in 2019, thanks to a little fact of life known as ‘Inflation’.

Now, it’s value is closer to £7.5 million.

I guess that’s why another £10 million was thrown into the little pot.


11/02/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Interesting – Who objects to plans aimed at keeping emergency routes open?

I just don’t go near the place (Parkhead) when there’s a crowd-pulling on at Celtic Park.

There’s probably a concentrated ring of about a mile around the place where the streets are clogged with cars, and buses/coaches, where you’d never see them parked end to end along streets, or jammed onto any bit of ‘spare ground’ that not fenced off, or blocked off in some way.

If I go out wandering, and see this, I’ve learned just to a swift about-turn and go back home.

It can be hopeless trying to get through that lot if you are unfortunate enough to arrive in the area just after the park has spilled.

The fans’ driving is so bad, that almost every junction is blocked by nose-to-tail vehicles (despite police being around – there are just too many offenders) that you cannot even cross a junction. The only cyclists that I see get anywhere are those who’d be classed as ‘bad’, and just ignore the cars and seem to blast through junctions with their eyes shut!

I’m glad to see the council will ‘weight’ objections bases on where they have come from…

Bailie John Kane said: “For people to be putting in an objection for emergency route restrictions around a football park, for goodness sake.

“It’s not all that many years ago that we had some pretty disastrous events at Ibrox. Those routes are there for a very good reason and to be using that as an objection, which then forces us as a council to go down the route of having a reporter look at it.

“Quite frankly I find that pretty disgusting.”

Tory councillor Robert Connelly said: “How many are residents of the area? How many just want to come in and watch their team?”

A council officer said: “There’s quite a mix of objections and you’re quite right some of them are supporters clubs, others are from residents themselves.”

SNP councillor Ruairi Kelly said: “The locations that people live are going to be pertinent to whether they’re valid or what sort of weight we give to them.”

Thousands of objections received in Celtic Park and Ibrox parking row

Click pic for bigger.

London Road Horror

London Road Horror

05/02/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you’re going to screw something up…


Although this is kind of trivial, as it solved a long-standing problem I’ve been suffering for some time, (at least a year), I thought I’d pass on a hint at the solution.

I use a number of video/audio streams online, many of which are considered obsolete, but are based on a large archive of similarly old files which are not always available on newer formats. I find them handy as a source of titles which can be searched for on YouTube, and if I’m lucky, find the same content there – but not always, as some moron might have issued a ‘Take Down’ of the material with a (usually false) claim of ownership.

This hint relates to a problem I encountered with VLC, one of a small number of media players I use as they play just about any file format, including those considered to be old or obsolete. It also offers a number of features that make it into handy media player, and one I came to rely on when Winamp imploded some years ago, as it was (and still is) my all time favourite for online media streams. I’ve given the Winamp link as it recently saw v5.8 released, so may be coming out of years in the doldrums.

VLC had been completely trouble free for years until I updated it last year, after which it suddenly started crashing every time I tried to play video, regardless of whether this was a local file, or my more usual online live streams.

I couldn’t find a reason, and rolling back to earlier versions didn’t help either – any video caused it to crash the moment it started to play.

I tried all the online help forums, searched for similar complaints, checked versions and file locations, file dates, virus scanned the lot, but nothing restored video replay.

I even spent ages going through the configuration, step by step, looking for any silly settings, or something I may have set unintentionally with a careless mouse click. All I got was eyestrain.

Today, I spotted another VLC update, version 3.0.6, checked the update notes, but there was nothing related to my problem.

Completed the update – surprise… NO change, still no video replay of any kind.

While I was checking the ‘Preferences’, I noticed the big friendly ‘Reset Preference’ button on that screen.

I’d never thought about it, as I’d gone cross-eyed checking them all – but thought ‘What the heck, I can’t make things worse, and I’ve never clicked that button’.

If only I’d made that click way back at the first appearance of this problem.

Instant fix!

So, the moral of the story is just one of NOT ignoring any possibility when trying to fix an issue that refuses to be fixed – even if it seems unlikely.

This is probably yet another example of an assumption that went wrong.

Pointless button

26/01/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day

22 January is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day.

We’ve met this one before.

Guess what? We will again.

This is the day to spend some time with your cat, and find out what questions your cat is asking, and make an effort to fill in the blanks.

Or try…

Cat Question

Cat Question

22/01/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

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