Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

First Christmas tree got an upgrade

Well, if the first Christmas tree I spotted gets an upgrade…

The least I can do is feature the effort…

First Christmas Tree Upgrade

First Christmas Tree Upgrade


December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

An interesting Christmas

I like to collect some of the (illuminated) garden displays that pop up around ‘my’ streets at this time of year.

Pickings have been a little sparse, thanks in no small part to me being grounded, but also due to the extreme cold snap that hit (and presumably scared folk back indoors for a few days).

This one appeared during that period.

Interesting Christmas

Interesting Christmas

One of a pair of nearby (to each other) houses that sold recently, and were extensively modified – the other was a bungalow that had its roof removed and a whole upper story added, an intriguing process to watch.

But this one was probably more interesting.

I knew it had been owned by the owner of a business I/we had done one job for.

A chance remark to a neighbour revealed (if true) that he was ‘Worth a good few million’. No reason to doubt this, knowing his business in our industrial estate, and others he had elsewhere. In a way I was impressed by his ‘normal’ house and car(s). The last genuine millionaire my work took me to had a huge house in a select area, and a Rolls heading the fleet in his private driveway.

Anyway, this one threw us out as ‘incompetent’.

We weren’t, but I reckon it suited him to be able to shift the blame for failure to complete a contract he started for a major manufacturer of electrostatic air conditioners. That job had been to provide monitors for the inline testing of every unit manufactured, and required a jig to measure multiple power supplies in the order of 20 kV.

His unit was fine, apart from a small problem – each of the five LCD digital voltmeters (DVM) used would fail catastrophically after a few minutes operation. Not cheap after a while as they were around £50 (trade) apiece.

We were called in to look at the problem, but found that the DVMs failed so fast we couldn’t test anything. A MKI eyeball on the design seemed to show the proper voltage dividers etc in place, but after we had burnt through a set of DVMs he just took the jig back and told us we were useless. The two businesses fell out at that point, we wanted paid for work to date, and he wasn’t paying ‘For nothing’.

Some years later I came across the same DVM modules being used happily in another job (‘normal’ volts this time, not kV), and when I pulled up the ‘Design and Use’ notes for the modules, guess what?

They had a specific design note advising against use in ANY HIGH VOLTAGE APPLICATION as they had been found to be highly sensitive to electric fields and would break down under such stress.

I guess our advice, had we been allowed to get that far, to “Use different indicators” would have been right.

But, on reflection, I think the speed with which we were thrown off the job means we were just used as mugs, and thrown to the dogs so his company could say ‘Not our fault, the contractor screwed up (so give us our money please)’.

Back at the house…

I’m always amazed at how much work ‘New Buyers’ will do to a house, even one owned by a millionaire.

In this case, the roofing was discarded and new tiles fitted, then all the windows were ripped out and new units fitted, the front porch was torn out too. It had been closed and glazed, it now just has two glass panels and is open. The tiling was smashed off the steps and renewed too. The wall around the property was stripped, re-rendered, and recapped. New block paving was laid to replace the existing. Some new fencing went up, and although it’s mostly hidden from the road, I could see that an extension to the rear was extensively stripped and refurbished as well.


Many thousands spent on a house that was, or should have been, in near ‘walk-in’ condition and I would have thought needed only redecoration, carpeting, and furnishing to taste.

I can understand this extent on a ‘fixer upper’, but in this case I’m left wondering why.

That said, it seems to be the norm nowadays – I’ve watched a number of housed sell nearby, and if they sell again, even if only months later, the first thing that arrives is a series of skips, and most if it is carted away each time.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

The Legacy Hub at night

This is unusual. Evidence of life here.

I generally walk past this – The Legacy Hub – during daylight hours, but must do so on the wrong days as it always seems to be closed and deserted. Which is odd, given it houses the area’s Medical Centre.

While that appears to be open (the section to the right), I still don’t see anybody using the seated area to the left, signed as a café.

I’ve read that this smaller building/extension was part of a deal done to be allowed to parachute the big empty Emirate Arena that lies behind. I guess the name is a sop to the once often repeated ‘Lasting Legacy’ promised to residents in the wake of the silly 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Legacy Hub Night

Legacy Hub Night

Apart from taking this shot just to see if I could (remember, I don’t use a tripod, all shots are handheld), and test a lesson.

The night shot part is interesting in this case, as the sky, almost black when the pic was taken, is almost a match for the façade.

I did knock back the brightness in the café area, as it was so bright it almost blew out the internal detail.

The lesson?

Normally I insist on catching whole buildings, and avoiding cut-off roofs, corners, or ends.

That usually means having to correct the perspective later, as the camera has to be tilted.

This time, I tried to avoid my natural instinct and hold the camera level (almost – that missing upper vertex was killing me).

Well, what do you know? It works, and no perspective post-processing needed.

I left in a little converging perspective.

I see many pics that have had ALL the perspective edited out, and have perfectly vertical building edges.

I think these look horribly unnatural, as the human eye is used to seeing buildings with at least some perspective, and all natural views (what you see for real with your eyes) demonstrate converging perspective as verticals lead up to a natural vanishing point.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restored Campbeltown Picture House reopens on 22 December 2017

I’m tempted to be naughty and say the picture house will open just in time to close again, for Christmas holidays.

However, I’m sure they want to give the fixtures and fittings, and all the toys, a trial run without any hiccup causing them to close for a day or two for snagging.

Not being negative, just practical.

The Picture House in Campbeltown was first opened in 1913.

The art-nouveau building closed in 2014 and has now been fully restored, with the interior based on its appearance in the 1930s.

The cinema will reopen 22 December with a screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A number of other new releases will be shown in the following weeks.

Via Date set for reopening of Campbeltown Picture House


Campbeltown Picture House

Campbeltown Picture House

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Wonder if Bill’s Tool Store has these ingenious new adjustable wrenches

The Interwebs – a wonderful place to find gadgets. And Christmas presents.

Take this cleverly designed shifter (adjustable wrench), able to fit both metric and imperial nuts.

No need to carry around one shifter for each type. Save weight and space with this clever double-ended design, able to fit both with the same tool.

MetrImp Shifter

MetrImp Shifter

I’ll have to try to remember to drop into Bill’s Tool Store next time I’m passing through The Barras, and ask if they have these in stock.

This is a (very) recent pic, and was something of a surprise when I took it.

I NEVER noticed the cartoon above the shop when just walking along Bain Street.

Thankfully, this isn’t just because I’m thick, but because I never normally pass the shop on the opposite side of the road – I’m always on the shop side so I can check out the windows.

I’ll maybe pop them in a post of their own later. They’re too small in this one.

Bills Tool Store Front

Bills Tool Store Front

The tool show carries on around the corner.

This used to be a good place to find cheap surplus or clearance, esp ex-MoD items, but this source has largely dried up, and the shop (to its credit) tends to avoid what might be called ‘cheap rubbish’, so prices have crept up over the years. That’s not really the shop’s fault, and having tried some ‘cheap rubbish’ from others, they’re probably wise not to go down that route.

You can still find some odd goodies there, if you just keep a regular watch on the windows.

Bills Tool Store Corner

Bills Tool Store Corner

Although the shifter is an online spoof (you did know that, didn’t you?), there are spanners (and sockets) that fit both metric and imperial nuts and bolts.

Known as Metrinch (a trade name, hence the reason I didn’t use it above for the shifter), they are surface drive spanners (and sockets).

Rather than being sized so the distance across the flats corresponds to the distance across the flats of a nut or bolt, they have a form of curved drive surface, convex, and able to fit any fitting that the curved surface can lock onto, like a cam.

This makes them good for poorly sized fittings, and those that have been damaged or rounded.

18mm Metrinch

18mm Metrinch


I thought this pic was… illustrative. It’s not mine – I wouldn’t exert the amount of force needed to do that damage, even on a rubbish bit.

Chinesium Drill Bits

Chinesium Drill Bits

I recently NEEDED a small drill bit urgently, but had none left.

I ran round to a big general shed that opened a couple of years ago, and had a DIY aisle. Since I was only drilling a tiny hole in plastic I just grabbed a small set of anonymous bits for a couple of quid.


Half of them were unsharpened, while others were so poorly formed the tips were ROUNDED.

Few would even drill a hole.

Fortunately, they were too cheap even to be worth the effort of returning and complaining – but I pity anyone who does not understand drill bits who might buy the same rubbish, and then wonder why they can’t drill a hole.

It reminded of a mistake I made a few years back, when I spent £40 on a set of supposedly “Last drill bits you’ll need to buy” from Ideal World.

You may have seen them, they’re still repeating the offer every so often, despite a shedload of NEGATIVE reviews from unhappy buyers as reported on their own web site.

Supposedly indestructible, and tipped by an insert that will drill through ANYTHING (they love showing it going through files and brake disks, then glass and ceramics), the first time I used them…

The insert BROKE out of the drill shaft, or the shafts snapped, on all the small bits.

The replacement guarantee is rubbish too.

While they offer to replace any broken bit for free – you have to pay the post and packing, and that’s £4 or £5 PER BIT!!

December 13, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , , | 2 Comments

My neighbours are weird

So, it’s almost the middle of December, we’ve just enjoyed nights that have gone down to at least -9 deg C (no snow so far though), and…

My neighbours are sitting in their gardens sunbathing!

Bear In A Chair

Bear In A Chair


Bear In A Chair

Bear In A Chair

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Colder than last year or before

No fun, but this year seems to have become colder and got there faster than it has in the past few years.

The last time it got really cold (I think I saw -12 deg C and lower at times) it happened gradually, over the course of some days, and on that occasion I didn’t find any frozen pipes for about a week. And that was unusual. Even my hovel hadn’t seen frozen pipes before that.

This time I saw the temperature plummet to -7 deg C one night, and almost stayed there for the day, and I saw -9 deg C the next.

When the temperature rose after a couple of days I thought I might have cleared the condensation on a couple of large windows, but instead found they were covered with sheet ice – well, at least that was different from previous freezes.

I thought I might as well collect the ice (slush really) since I’d disturbed it, and collected the pile seen below from one of the windows.

Window Ice Slush

Window Ice Slush

The good news didn’t end there.

Also new for this year was a lump on the radiator under the window – a lump I hadn’t seen before (as in last week).

This turned out be a leak, and the lump was ice which had formed as it developed.

Oh well… I guess I needed something to do.


Personal item first…

Now that the indoor temp has crept above freezing, I got the opportunity to look at my leaking radiator once the lump of ice melted.

It’s not simple rot, but is a failure around one of the spot welds that holds the front and rear sections together.

I had thought a quick screw/plug repair would have worked, but instead had to go for some reinforced gunk intended for roof repairs, which supposedly adheres and sets against running water. We’ll see.


Confirmation of my own numbers, and I stopped short of suggesting 2011 was the last PROPER cold spell – the media claims it was 2010.

Their weather stations didn’t manage to get quite as cold as mine, claiming only -8 deg C for Glasgow and Edinburgh. But this can be influenced by positioning, so a difference of a few degrees will always be seen, even from identical systems in the same place.

Edinburgh and Glasgow have experienced their coldest day in seven years.

Temperatures plummeted to -8C on Sunday, the lowest since 2010.

Dalwhinnie in the Highlands was the coldest place in Scotland on Sunday at -12.4C while Braemar in Aberdeenshire recorded -11.9C and Altnaharra in Sutherland dropped to -11.2C.

STV weather presenter Sean Batty said: “This has been a fairly significant cold spell, with some areas having their coldest weather for seven years.”

He added: “On Sunday evening after a mostly foggy day in Renfrewshire, the temperature dropped to -8C at Bishopton, which was the lowest temperature observed here since the very cold weather of 2010.

Via Scots cities endure coldest temperatures in seven years

It was so cold – the apostrophe fell off the headline!

December 12, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

It’s all fun… until Murder Mittens arrives

Police cordoned off a house in Tollcross after evidence was found that ‘Murder Mittens’ had apparently gone mad around 3 am and devastated the house and it occupants.

Media reporters and photographers were banned from entry, with suggestions that scene was too terrible to be pictured, and pointed to the first piece of evidence removed from the scene, the remains of Mittens savaged scratching post.

Dead Scratching Post

Dead Scratching Post

Authorities warned that when not running around mad about 3 am, Mittens could appear perfectly normal.



But could be completely transformed at 3 am.

Wanted Cat Photofit

Wanted Cat Photofit

December 12, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Shawfield footbridge pair

I’ve been trying to evaluate some smaller cameras, suitable for carrying around when the ‘monster’ can’t be carried, or I just want to feel a little lighter when out walking.

Trouble is, I’ve got used to the game of shooting low light and high ISO with minimal degradation thanks to the sensor a big camera uses.

And, while the same CAN be had with smaller cameras, at the moment that option comes with a silly price tag, easily twice the price of a dSLR and lens that it might come close to (as regards analysing the image at the pixel level).

I asked for a recommendation while in Glasgow’s last real camera shop – the answer presented came with price ticket of £529 attached.

I was running around with a really silly small compact, but it suffered an accident, and I’m not sure if the focussing works properly – the pic quality is not good enough to be certain if it’s the focus now being ‘off’, or the unreasonable demands I’m making. The trouble is, I just accepted what it did before it took its short ‘flight’, but since that incident have started looking (too) closely at the results.

I usually ditch test shots, but this pair collected as I noticed the lit view of the Shawfield footbridge (I usually don’t see this as I arrive head-on) came out with some surprise lighting, as the camera(s) saw light in the sky that was not perceived by the naked eye.

Shawfield Footbridge

Shawfield Footbridge


Shawfield Footbridge

Shawfield Footbridge

I’m not interested in fuelling arguments about camera makes or similar, so am deliberately not giving any data regarding the pics.

Suffice to say both received the same processing, but not applied with the intent of matching them or making them look the same, exactly the same tweaks were applied to each simply to wake up shadow detail.

I only wish I had also had my ‘silly wee compact’ in my pocket – I’d really like to know how it would have stacked up against two fairly respectable big name boxes with huge sensors compared to its tiny effort. A tiny effort which I might add has surprised me in the past!

December 12, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

Still no blue from blue lights at Shawfield

Following on from ‘What happened to my colour?‘ I keep poking at this to find an answer.

I grabbed some more pics when I was passing the same place, but this time later and darker.

Another wide shot of the lights in question, although taken with a slightly longer exposure, didn’t really pick up on the blue tips on the lampposts, although they still appear a fairly vivid blue to the naked eye.

This time, a glance to the side showed the recently completed police HQ nearby, topped with a nice blue/white illuminated sign.

A few shots were taken of this, but even though it is further away, the blue background to the white lettering is rendered with similar colouring to that seen by the eye.

So it’s not just a simple case of no sensitivity to blue – which was never thought to be the reason since we’ve never had a problem with blue Christmas lights, even recent tiny blue LEDs photographed from significant distances.

Investigation continues.

Shawfield Blue Light Oddness

Shawfield Blue Light Oddness

Compared to…

Shawfield View Dalmarnock Police Admin HQ Blue

Shawfield View Dalmarnock Police Admin HQ Blue

December 11, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

UK response to snow

And here we see a gritter in the wild, assuming its normal position the moment it sees some snow or ice:



Not my pic (obviously), but I was amused to see someone get really hot under the collar when it was noted that we generally don’t handle cold weather, snow, ice, and transport very well in this country, and seem to respond in a fashion similar to startled rabbits caught in headlight beams, as if we had never seen snow on our roads before.

I suggest this is not the local authorities’ fault, the usually have the resources in place, but is down to the public, more ready to mock the response than muck in and help.

Thanks to the web, I’ve followed a number of Russian bloggers, and we live at similar latitudes to them (so similar weather), but they seem to be able to publish pics and videos of people dealing with the problem, getting on with things, and not having a laugh.

On the other hand, maybe I just liked that pic!

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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