Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

My worst nightmare – a Scottish ‘House Doctor’!

There are a few types of people I hope end up in their own ‘special hell’.

Here’s one of them (but it turns out there’s a whole army of them, so the rest of us will have to organise a bus).

Some years ago, while ‘enjoying’ one of my periods of insomnia, I always seemed to be awake around 5 am. Rather than watch dry paint drying further, I turned on the TV, and was introduced to some harpy known as the ‘House Doctor’. On the one hand, pretty good at fixing people’s unsellable houses so they sold for a good price, on the other, some sort of evil spawn of Satan that forced them to dump much of their past into the nearest skip.

It was really sad to see her twist their arms up their backs, and throw away items which meant a lot to them, in the name of ‘decluttering’.

I never understood why much of the stuff had to be skipped (not counting broken or disgustingly decaying and rotten remains), since the victims often took on temporary storage to get larger items out of the way for house viewings.

Nor are we visiting the homes of people who have never thrown out the smallest piece of wrapping paper, kept every newspaper or magazine they ever bought, bagged and tagged all their rubbish (including human), need to get around their house through tunnels, and sleep in a chair because their bed is piled to the ceiling with ‘stuff’. They probably DO need some help.

One of the ‘rules’ was to discard items not touched for a period of something like three years, which deemed them to be unnecessary, so they had to be disposed of!

Do that in my house, and you’d be as well just getting a shovel and tossing everything.

Thank goodness this story is from Edinburgh!

The Edinburgh-based entrepreneur behind a business specialising in decluttering, home organisation and minimalism coaching has seen a notable jump in bookings and income after focusing on her digital strategy.

Claire Birnie is the owner and head organiser of The Tidy Life Project, which launched in March. Dovetailing with an interest in decluttering popularised by the likes of Marie Kondo, she has seen strong demand from consumers who want to bring more order to their homes, also offering specialised services for people moving house, for example, and working with hoarding disorder cases. “A lot of people just can’t do this by themselves,” she explained.

Tidy Life Project looks to grow with digital push

And. it’s getting worse, as this sadistic fetish for decluttering spreads…


Lizzie charges about £40 per hour per session, with each session a minimum of three hours long, with the hope that one day she’ll be able to match her previous salary.

“When I’m in someone’s home, we’ll go through their belongings together. We work through it all practically. We’ll pull out items, usually by category and then, depending on which items are causing the most stress, we’ll discuss what they want to keep in their lives, what is serving them now and what they want to let go of.”

Lizzie Grant gave up her £60,000 job in London and six-year career as a family lawyer to become a professional declutterer. She says her legal training has provided her with lots of transferrable skills.

“I’ve always loved decluttering and raved about the mental health benefits of doing it. However, I didn’t realise it was a job until I Googled it and discovered there was a whole industry out there. I took a calculated risk and if it doesn’t work out, then at least I tried,” she says.

The real-life Marie Kondos who will come to your home

I dread to think how one of these clearing demons would react to my current ‘clutter’.

I started a tidy of one room where I’d been keeping stuff for recycling (I like to make/build things rather than buy) as I’d gathered more than intended – but had to stop as the room got too cold during winter.

They’d have a fit if they saw that.

Then I got rather serious about cycle maintenance, having jumped from a few hundred miles, to a few thousand miles after changing from ambling around by local streets, to regular commuting from home to Glasgow and beyond.

The kit and tools to keep the bike in trim over the new mileage now take up half a room! Organising that also stopped for winter.

But the decluttering demons would probably have me get rid of all the stuff I seldom use, since it’s not organised tidily at the moment.

How I see the day beginning the day the decluttering harpies arrive…

I may not be a hoarder, but I AM a dedicated collector.


09/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Project Yuk 2018

Project Yuk

Project Yuk

As usual, a warning for the squeamish to avoid the pic below 🙂

Project yuk is still going strong – and no closer to an answer.

Recalling previous results (2014 and 2015 numbers were mislaid/lost):

2012 was 2,129 g (5.58 lb)

2013 was 2,542 g (5.60 lb)

2016 was 1,050 g (2.31 lb)

2017 was 1,197 g (2.64 lb)

2018 was 987 g (2.18 lb)

That’s STILL about 19 g per week, or 3 g per day.

Although the number APPEARS to be falling over the years, this is a false trend which reflects a change from DAILY vacuuming (which was indulged at the start of Project Yuk), to WEEKLY, mainly to save electricity after noticing how long it took to complete this task while burning around 1.5 kW.

After 6 years I’m none the wiser about where this stuff comes from.

It arrives steadily whether I’m tramping muck into the house while gardening during the summer, or laid up ill in bed for weeks with nobody crossing the threshold.

It doesn’t even include stuff tidied up if I’ve been working and making a mess. I collect and dispose of that separately, otherwise the number would be even bigger. But, since I know that source of that material, I avoid its inclusion as far as possible.

And, it still does its ‘party trick’ whereby I can vacuum the place clean, repeat the process immediately and collection almost nothing, then repeat it 24/48 hours later and collect anything up to 10 g of Yuk, even if the house has been unoccupied for all of that time.

Don’t worry about the little round things, they’re not something REALLY horrible like insect eggs or similar.

They’re just polystyrene grains from cushions, and are too light to remove easily.

Project YUK 2018 end

Project YUK 2018 end


08/01/2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Where does the real problem lie?

I saw this story a while ago, but it has lingered in my mind after initially deciding not to bother mentioning it.

Then I saw the Comments Section after it (which you probably know I prefer to refer to as the Moron’s Section), and it changed my mind.

Being in Glasgow, I have to confess to having no idea, or experience, of this business, which I probably wouldn’t touch, but only because it’s a private venture with no accountability, and appears to want lots of ID and personal data.

But I read through more of the ‘comments’ than I really wanted to, and began to wonder what’s wrong with the British (or those that are motivated to spout their bile in comment sections. Has our climate, and ‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ mentality made it almost impossible for us to regard a lack of clothes as meaning only one thing?

I know quite a few people from Continental Europe, and as a cold Scot in a Cold Scotland, I do get surprised with the ease at which they shed their clothes. I’ve become used to it (so this Edinburgh thing didn’t really catch my eye at first, until I saw the comments), and I suspect our Continental cousins would think it a little silly.

In light of that, I think I’d be more worried about being alone with most of the commenters who expressed their ‘shock and horror’ at this Edinburgh novelty business, than with anyone from the business.

As for the business?

Well, I did use the word ‘novelty’ for a reason.

If the initial interest in its novelty aspect wears off, it will disappear since it won’t be sustainable, and all ‘shocked and horrified’ people can trawl the news for something else to comment on.

Otherwise, it will be interesting to revisit the venture in a few years, and see if those expansion plans for Glasgow (seriously?) and Fife have materialised.

The idea is hardly new, but I don’t know if it’s been tried in our chilly and poor land. Hasn’t she read the news, most of Scotland is reportedly queuing up at food banks, and the kids are living in poverty. Unless… the media and politicians are making it all up.

A new naked cleaning business has launched in Edinburgh offering services in the buff for up to £80 an hour.

Glimmer strips back the hassle of household chores by supplying cleaners to carry out tasks such as ironing and hoovering while completely naked.

The company, set up by 25-year-old beautician Victoria Murphy, also has a lingerie and topless option, and has a number of male and female cleaners on its books of all age, shapes and sizes.

Clients are not allowed to touch the cleaners, take pictures or videos or have anybody else in the house for the service, with the price depending on how many clothes the employee has on. The nude cleaning service will set the client back £80 per hour. A cheaper alternative is for the cleaner to be wearing lingerie (£55) or be topless (£65).

Victoria told the Evening News: “There is a certain element of this business that is sexual. But there is a fine line of being in the adult industry and not. There is no sex involved. Glimmer is primarily a cleaning service with all our employees having past experience.”

Clients have to fill out a form and give photo ID before arranging a date and time for a cleaner to attend to their needs. Terms and conditions also need to be accepted ahead of their visit with the cleaner having the option to leave if they are made to feel uncomfortable.

After a positive start in the Capital, Victoria, of Murrayfield, is hoping to expand the business throughout Scotland.

She added: “I’m enjoying establishing Glimmer in Edinburgh and the Lothians but I see huge potential in this and I’m looking to push into Glasgow and Fife in the near future.”

Edinburgh woman, 25, starts up new Scottish naked cleaning business

Groundkeeper Willie

24/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Clean Your Floors Day

03 August is Clean Your Floors Day.

Slightly unusual, I wouldn’t normally mention this one as it was founded by a company that manufactures a floor cleaning product, so could be seen as a glorified advert, or just touting for business (but I won’t be dropping their name).

On the plus side, The history of Clean Your Floors Day is more like the history of floors and their cleaning. Floors were covered with rushes (a grass like plant) in bygone days, and this covering was renewed every year.

Then we got rugs and carpets, and things like brooms weren’t all that effective, so those items had to be hauled out and beaten (ever heard of a ‘carper beater’?), to persuade the accumulated dust and dirt to leave.

This led to numerous attempts to create a carpet cleaner, some good, some bad, until someone came up with the concept of the vacuum cleaner, which eventually led to sucker we know so well today.

The reason I couldn’t let this day pass is down to my own little ‘Project Yuk’, an annual review of all the dust and dirt my vacuum cleaner collects in the course of a year.

No matter how much effort I put into vacuuming Apollo Towers, or how imaginative I get regarding the quarantining of dirty shoes being walked into the house from the street, somehow this annual review of my vacuum cleaners’ contents always stays around the same. And this remains true whether I vacuum the floors only once a week, or the more extreme once a day.

I really don’t understand this one – even if I don’t leave the house for a week, if I vacuum at the end of it, I still collect enough ‘Yuk’ to average close on 10 grammes of ‘Yuk’ per day, resulting in a bucket load like this – every year!

Search the blog for the word – Yuk – to see the result found in other years.

Project Yuk 2013

Project Yuk 2013

03/08/2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Project Yuk 2017

Project Yuk

It’s that time of year, when the squeamish probably want to avoid scrolling down and seeing today’s pic.

Project Yuk started back in 2012, when I posed the question Where does the muck come from?

It’s carried on, although I seem to have lost some result somewhere, and despite regular cleaning, and even minimising the wearing of outdoor shoes indoors, in particular quarantining shoes worn while gardening so they don’t walk mud or soil indoors, the phenomenon of muck steadily accumulating indoors continues to manifest.

While I’ve given up on daily vacuumimg (to reduce noticeable electricity use), this still happens at least weekly.

Recalling previous results (2014 and 2015 numbers were mislaid/lost):

2012 was 2,129 g (5.58 lb),

2013 was 2,542 g (5.60 lb).

2016 was 1,050 g (2.31 lbs)

2017 was 1,197 g (2.64 lb).

Interesting comparison to be seen between 2012 and 2013 with 2016 and 2017.

The first pair saw daily vacuuming, while the second pair were closer to weekly tasks.

Project Yuk

Project Yuk

There is one handy aspect this strange custom – being able to check the yearly accumulation for any small objects lost during the year, which might be recovered as the material was not disposed of.

Most, but not all ‘lost’ items seem to be ferrous, so it’s easy to drag a magnet through this stuff and find any goodies that have tried to escape.

Can’t think of anything else (practical) that might cut down this ‘invasion’.

05/01/2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Project Yuk is back – 2016 result

Project Yuk is back is back after a lapse in attention, better described as me forgetting to note the results for the past couple of years.

It started back in 2012: Where does the muck come from? – or ‘The sure bet’

I managed to remember in 2013: Project Yuk – 2013

Somehow, although the ‘collection’ for 2014 and 2015 was recorded, the weights (which were really the more relevant metric) went astray before the posts were made, and so the posts were never made.

recalling the two results:

2012 was 2,129 g (5.58 lb),

2013 was 2,542 g (5.60 lb).

Qualitatively at least, those two years seemed to collect as much as the first two, at least to the Mk I eyeball:


Project Yuk 2014

Project Yuk 2014

Then 2015:

Yuk 2015

Yuk 2015

As per the first post for 2012, I remain as mystified as I was then regarding the source of all this ‘goodness’.

I don’t have herds of people flocking through my home, kids, or even pets now, yet it continues to collect.

I’ve given up the regular vacuuming too, simply on the basis of it being a waste of electricity.

I don’t even usually wear outdoor shoes indoors, and keep separate shoes/boots for working outside, so never walk mud or earth inside now.


Back on track, and the numbers are in for 2016…

1,050 g (2.31 lbs)

Half as much as found in the previous years (with results), but also for a year when there was considerably less vacuuming carried out AND outdoor shoes being largely kept outside – so, not completely conclusive since we have 2 variables.

Well, here are the pics, still looks ridiculous for a house with virtually no through traffic:

Project Yuk 2016 a

Project Yuk 2016 a

Still never found anything ‘lost’ in this lot during the year:

Project Yuk 2016 b

Project Yuk 2016 b

Oh well, roll on 2017.

17/01/2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Project Yuk – 2013

Project Yuk

After the success of the original Project Yuk in 2012, this was carried on into 2013.

It’s hardly as if it takes any effort, since the place has to be vacuumed to keep it kind of tidy, and the biggest advantage – being able to go look for anything small that’s been lost on the floor – continues to be an ongoing benefit. Now, it just seems silly to empty the bagless container straight into the bin, knowing that there’s a chance something I might want/need to find in the near future might be in there, and I would be throwing it out.

No real changes to the plan during 2013, although after the first diligent year where the job was done daily, if possible, the frequency was dropped to reduce this to merely being as often as possible. Apart from reducing the workload and time spent, this notably reduced the cost of this game, as the vacuum’s power demand is over 1 kW, and a thorough job could take 20 to 30 minutes. I’ve got this down to about 15 minutes total, including fetching and tidying the vacuum, so that’s less than 2 minutes per room.

Unexpected cable problem

I found an interesting problem arose during the year.

Rather than plug and unplug the vacuum, and allow the cable to recoil into its housing inside the body, I had taken to leaving it plugged in, and just tidying the cable away.

Turns out this is a BAD IDEA!

Over time, you tend to favour turning left or right as you work, and after a few months I realised that as had been working, the cable had become twisted in one direction due to the net effect of the daily favoured turns as I worked.

It took weeks of leaving the cable free and extended to let it relax and lose the twist that had become locked into it due to this bias. Most has now gone, but I will have to repeat this process once the warm weather returns, to get rid of it all.

Moral of the story? Simple… always unplug the cable to let it relax to get rid of the slight bias that will exist after dragging the cleaner around.

The results for 2013

The total amount of ‘stuff’ collected in 2013 was 2,542 g (5.60 lb).

Remarkably, that was 413 g (0.91 lb) more than 2012, when the total was 2,129 g (5.58 lb), and that was collected after arguably more fastidious and frequent cleaning!

The six month figure for 2013 was 1,310 g, which was 51.5% of the total, so no great surprise there.

Roll on the end of 2014.

Project Yuk 2013

Almost filled the bucket this time – maybe next year

Careful tip and turn:

Project Yuk 2013

Didn’t spill (much)

Not all that different from last year.

Project Yuk 2013

Shame – didn’t find any lost gems, not even with magnet

Where does it come from? Dust elves, dust gnomes, or dust bunnies?

Haven’t had a pet for years now, generally don’t wear outdoor shoes in the house nowadays, and I don’t have any through traffic.

21/01/2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Project Yuk 6-month update

Project Yuk

After a few discussions about the discovery that a house with virtually no through traffic can have, on average, 10 grammes of “something” collected by a vacuum cleaner every day, the exercise was christened Project Yuk, and carried over from 2012 into 2013, with perhaps a little more alacrity. This time round, we’ll be whizzing round the house on a daily basis whenever possible, and have also switched all suction to the head. Last year, the head was adjusted to make sure some was always bled off to keep the brush turbine powered, but this is not really necessary, and the change actually brought a 20% or greater improvement in cleaning.

Last year, we ended with 2,129 g of “stuff” collected.

6 months into 2013, we have reached 1,310 g already, and that’s with no trailing of stuff from working in the garden, although I do change shoes for this, as I’ve seen the effects of not noticing earth stuck to soles and recesses, and the mess this makes when it dries up and falls off.

Vacuum 2012

The 2012 collection

While I don’t discount the effect of anything I walk in from the street, since this is probably one of the main sources, I do knock out and exclude anything that appears as an extraordinary contribution, such as cleaning up a spill, or tidying up behind something like woodwork or similar, where sawdust and the like is produced not as a result of “daily living”, but of some non-repeating action.

This silliness has actually turned out to have a useful side-effect.

Usually, if a small part (of a model or computer or similar) is found to have gone missing after a few days, and can’t be found on the floor, the usual assumption would have been t

hat it was gone for good, having been swept up and thrown in the bin when the cleaner was emptied.

Now, since I dump everything in a waste bucket, I no longer lose things like small springs, screws, or parts, as these can be recovered using a magnet if ferrous, or by a little poking around if not.

06/06/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Where does the muck come from? – or ‘The sure bet’

Project Yuk

I can’t remember the details, but I recall an American vacuum cleaner manufacturer who provided a ‘free’ extra bag with its horrendously overpriced machine. From what I remember, the idea was for new owners of the machine to vacuum their carpets (as many time as they wanted to), then immediately use their new American wonder machine over the same area – and cut open the ‘free’ bag to see what it had collected.

The idea was that the company would cough up some ridiculous payout if the new owners was not impressed by what the miracle machine collected after their old one had presumably stopped collecting anything

As far as I know, nobody ever collected – but I could be wrong.

However, I suspect the truth is simply that you can always collect something, simply by using a different vacuum cleaner, or brush head, on the same area, hence the bet was a sure thing for the American, and their money was safe.

I discovered this a few years ago after a problem at home, and the chance acquisition of one of the then latest Dyson ‘Animal’ cylinder vacuum cleaners with their ‘Root’ technology and updated motor units.

I didn’t believe the Dyson advertising blurb either, about how powerful it was, but on the basis of something rather unscientific – how it lifted not only carpet tiles, but normal carpet, when I tried and lift the cleaning head off the floor, I have yet to find anything else that creates the same ‘lift’ as this one. And I say that as someone who was disappointed by the first two Dyson machines (the upright and the cylinder: DC01 and DC02), described at best as rather ‘asthmatic’ and weak. Their only real advantage was being truly bagless, and that did work – but was wasted by the need to renew their filters, which were not washable. I eventually swapped the DC01 for 14″ TV. The DC01 broke its drive belt far too easily of the brush caught on a bit of thread, and those filters were a nuisance. I still have the DC02 – now with aftermarket washable filters. It comes in handy for dirty jobs which I don’t want to waste my good cleaner with, and ruin the HEPA filter (which is hard to get at, although it can be replaced even though it is a ‘lifetime’ filter.) I used the ‘good’ on some soot once, and ended up having to dismantle the whole thing to clean it. Moral of the story: NEVER use a good vacuum cleaner for soot, or anything like it. Keep an old one that can be stripped down and cleaned once it has been used for such a fine contaminant.

Habitually, I empty the clear container every time I use it, and clean the (non-disposable) filters regularly. And this got me thinking, as it occurred to me that even when there was no through traffic in my home, and I had not been outdoors, I was always collecting somewhere up to 10 grammes of ‘stuff’ every time I used it. I might add that I no longer have any pets running around either.

A year ago, I decided I was either imagining this constant collection of ‘stuff’ every time I used the vacuum cleaner, or it was real, even though I don’t have an endless stream of feet through the house – in fact, I seldom let anyone in, and have even started having outdoor and indoor shoes, thanks the amount of dog muck lying around.

With the end of 2012, I placed the bucket where the ‘stuff’ collected over the year had been accumulated, the total collected (which does not include spills and clean-ups, which were discarded separately)…

2,129 grammes, or 4.7 pounds weight!

I can’t wait to see what 2013 delivers, and compare the end result.

I grabbed a couple of pics to give an idea of how much this represented – and would not be too pleased if I was still kicking this around my floors/carpets (the can of soup is just for scale, it wasn’t vacuumed up with the rest, and the 24-inch ruler is just for scale too):

Vacuum 2012

Vacuum 2012

Just out of interest, I threw the bucket on the scales after the first round of vacuuming in 2012…

Although only a few days had passed, and I had only been out a couple of time, a remarkable 23 grammes was collected.

As I said at the start – “Where does it come from?”

06/01/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment


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