Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Compulsory Sales Orders – Solving a problem, or just moving it along?

I spotted earlier news about Compulsory Sales Orders (CSOs) recently.

Wasn’t particularly impressed then, still not.

Forcing someone to sell a property (assuming it even sells at such a forced auction) could just shuffle an empty property from one owner to another, unless the CSO is made complex and has many requirements to be met. And I note the proposal even suggested returning it to the original owner if it is still empty after 3 years.

Sounds like another scheme to make lawyers/solicitors/agents/auctioneers rich – but not really tackle property/housing issues.

Maybe making it easier/cheaper to sell property would be a better idea, perhaps along the lines of…

Shaheena Din: How to get empty homes onto the housing market

More ‘carrot’, and less ‘stick’?

Edinburgh would seem to be getting ready to make a pre-emptive strike against vacant properties before this arrives (if it ever does) and serve Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) on owners of empty houses.

Sounds better, at least they’d be obliged to pay a decent market price.

And then the council would own the derelict, and have to find the money to make it habitable or worth renting, AND be responsible for its upkeep.

That should be fun, since most councils are cash-strapped these days – or does Edinburgh have a magic money-pot?

I’m always impressed by the people who jump up and down and whine about empty properties and demand someone do something.

But they never do anything else other than make a noise, threaten others do something ‘or else’, nor do they turn up with the bottomless purse that most empty property owners wish they had.

Oh well.

Owners to be forced to sell empty homes in Edinburgh

One to watch.

Council set to seize empty homes from owners to tackle Edinburgh’s housing crisis

Derelict House

Derelict House

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September 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake up Calton Hill

Ever since I ambled along to Calton Hill in the mistaken belief that I would find The Royal Observatory there (so, in those days, writers about such things were not so careful), I’ve always felt Calton Hill was a slightly disappointing place to visit.

That’s not to be interpreted as a call for development there, and it has some interesting features, and a great view that should always be protected and preserved. Rather, it’s just that you get there, and… not a lot of reward for your effort. You don’t feel as if you have ‘arrived’.

It’s hard to describe really, as there’s the National Monument, notable, but also notable for being started but not finished, Nelson’s Monument, also notable, but only takes a second to look at, and the site of the City Observatory.

The latter being what made me glum when I found it, more or less abandoned, closed, derelict some might say, and the repeated target of vandals and thieves, who apparently kept stealing the roofing materials.

I have memories of reading that it later became a holiday let – if that saved it, then that’s possibly a sad fate, but worth it.

So, plans for a new site on Calton Hill – to be called Collective – which will incorporate the City Observatory and City Dome as well as offering a new purpose-built exhibition space called The Hillside can’t be bad news.

Built on a cantilever partially suspended over Calton Hill, diners will be treated to breathtaking views of the city in The Lookout.

The new restaurant will be launched in partnership with Collective – the organisation in charge of the complete revamp of the City Observatory on Calton Hill.

The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage will feature floor to ceiling glass windows and promises panoramic views across Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.

Further details including the menu and an opening date are yet to be revealed.

The best view in Edinburgh? Designs of new Calton Hill restaurant revealed

City Observatory Calton Hill

City Observatory Calton Hill

I’m so used to seeing drone pics these days I had to look twice at this one.

In fact, it was taken back in 2010, from the aforementioned Nelson Monument.

And it confirms my comment about the view – if for nothing else, it makes the (short) climb up the hill worthwhile.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Museum of Childhood set to reopen

Having closed towards the end of 2017 for planned refurbishment and expansion, Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood is set to meet its predict reopening date of March 2018.

It is scheduled to reopen on Saturday 03 March 2018.

Via Date confirmed for Museum of Childhood re-opening

In what is the first major change since then, the refurbishment will see new cases, floors and lights installed and objects displayed as the ground floor is opened into an interactive space, with dedicated zones focusing on memories of life at home, in school and at play. An area for film and a digital photo album will also be launched, focusing on how children have grown up in Edinburgh over the decades.

Find out more at Edinburgh Museums

Museum Of Childhood

Museum Of Childhood

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Well, that’s Edinburgh off my list!

Just kidding of course, but it was interesting to see Edinburgh chosen as the setting for the assassination sequence in this campaigning video fantasy.

It’s also a shame that those who think a simple ban is the solution to emergent AI technology and the dangerous uses it can be turned to.

It’s rather like the near total ban we now have on firearms in Scotland – yet for some strange reason reports of firearms being used in crimes continue to appear in the media, and our police are now carrying more guns as a matter of course.

Calls for a ban on AI are about as sensible (and effective) as the firearms ban, and represent the ill-informed knee-jerk reaction to a real problem, which needs a properly thought out system applied.

This chap has a better approach, but I doubt anyone who has an agenda to win votes, or be ‘liked’ will pay any attention to his words:

I’m a pacifist, so why don’t I support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots?

This video has high production values, but still reeks of fantasy and exaggeration intended to evoke an emotional rather than considered response.

Still wonder why they framed their shots to make Edinburgh clearly and easily identifiable as the setting.

 

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

Good news for cat people in Edinburgh

The sort of temporary cat café in Edinburgh is set to become PERMANENT.

Edinburgh’s first cat cafe has announced it will be moving to a permanent home in the Grassmarket next month.

Maison de Moggy, which opened in a temporary location in Stockbridge back in January, will set up shop on West Port in a former bridal store – and its owner insists the new location will be bigger and better than ever.

The cafe, which is inspired by similar ventures in Japan, offers visitors the chance to enjoy a cup of tea while cuddling up to a host of different moggies including a bushy Maine Coon and a rare Norwegian Forest cat.

Via Edinburgh cat cafe gets permanent Grassmarket home – The Scotsman

Glasgow is still playing catch-up with this major advance in well-being.

Wake me when it opens…

No, wait – DON’T wake me, I’m a cat!

Sleeping Persian

Sleeping Persian

Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

 

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Little 7-week old kitten found on Edinburgh bus

I usually mention ‘lost cat’ stories on the off-chance that the owner or a friend might recognise the subject, and be reunited.

But that’s probably not so in this case, as the subject is a little kitten, said to be only 7-weeks old, and which turned up in a number 3 Lothian Bus headed to Longstone.

This one’s just included on the basis of massive amounts of cuteness.

Named ‘Ticket’, this one is possibly too young to have an owner, and somehow strayed onto the bus – although it’s reckoned that the platform is just too high for it too have jumped on by itself.

So it’s a bit of a mystery.

Ticket was taken to the Scottish SPCA‘s Edinburgh & Lothians rehoming centre.

Seven-week-old kitten found on number 3 Lothian Bus in Edinburgh | Edinburgh & East | News

Bus kitten Ticket

Bus kitten Ticket pic via Scottish SPCA

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Wonderful Edinburgh lady taxi driver

I have something of a soft spot for Edinburgh taxi drivers – the mush some of them have for brains, and their ability to get their colleagues a bad name.

I like to give them a wide berth and stay away from them, as the few I get close to are usually not very nice.

Probably the worst example I encountered was when trying to park just across from the Government offices in Spittal St/Castle Terrace, where the building has a pair of relief panels mounted above its doorways.

I had just pulled up and started to reverse into a single parking space, the rest of the traffic had been obliging and passed me with no problems, yet when a black cab came along the road – the driver chose to drive right up against the back of my car (as I was reversing, complete with white reversing lamps illuminated) and just sat there sounding his horn, giving the appearance that I had somehow forced him to stop and was about to back into him.

I’ve no idea what provoked this response from this particular driver of a black cab, but he just sat there with his hand on the horn button, and ignored me waving him past. As he was an inch from the back of my car, and had brought the traffic behind him to a halt, there was little I could do other than drive on… or get out and confront him. The latter was not going to happen, since he was clearly deranged. Maybe he was jealous of my car and just wanted to wind up the driver.

Since that day, I’ve never given an Edinburgh taxi driver a break. If they’re stuck in traffic or trying to get out of a jam, then they do it behind me, after I’ve passed.

That was a few years ago, but I see they’re no better, and the supposedly better female versions seems to suffer from the same attitude problem too.

Lady taxi driver blocks trams to have lunch

There’s been some media coverage of a stupid female driver of a black cab in Edinburgh who decided her meal was more important than the free flow of the rest of Edinburgh’s traffic – must have been related to the clown I was unfortunate enough to meet.

She parked on the tram route and headed into a fast food (so now we know how much she cares about her guts) outlet, and waited inside, blocking the route for about 10 minutes according to witnesses.

Amazingly, instead of running away embarrassed at her demonstration of brainlessness, she simply pulled a U-turn and parked on the opposite side of the road, blocking the route on that side of the street.

The media published the pics of this brain-dead behaviour with the registration number blanked out, but the pic is available online with the number in plain sight.

See Hungry cabbie brings Edinburgh’s tram system to a standstill | Deadline News

So why did they obscure it? It’s in the public domain, as seen below:

Taxi locks Edinburgh trams

Taxi blocks Edinburgh trams

Pic credit to Cabbie makes Big Mac-stake – Edinburgh’s Worst Drivers

April 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh sword maker seeks apprentice

Mounted sword

Mounted sword

Another slightly odd or obscure job has surfaced in Scotland, namely that of apprentice to a sword maker.

But if you’re interested in taking up his offer, you might find yourself at the back of a long queue of hopefuls – far from failing to attract any interest, the opportunity has attracted numerous applicants from all around the World:

Edinburgh sword maker Paul MacDonald advertised the position a week ago, but 600 people from 24 different countries have applied.

He is one of just a handful of people left working in Scotland and wants to hand his knowledge on to the next generation.

His main business comes from people still using the swords for martial arts, such as fencing.

But he also sells to collectors and and (sic) film producers.

Via Paul MacDonald seeks apprentice swordsmith in Edinburgh | Edinburgh & East | News | STV

While a small example may take only a few weeks to complete, it seems that the more ornate and larger examples can take anything up to 6 months before they are ready to be handed over to their new owners.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy exhibition opens at Edinburgh Castle

A reminder that the War Museum at Edinburgh Castle is hosting a special exhibition about the Arctic Convoys – admission is included with admission to the castle.

The date seems to have changed slightly compared to the advance news of the exhibition, when the opening date was given as May 24, 2013, and the date given now is today, May 29.

The museum’s web page does not indicate when the exhibition ends, but it was previously given as March 2014, so you don’t have to rush.

Then prime minister Winston Churchill admitted the mission to keep the supply lines of munitions, tanks, lorries, fuel and food open was “the worst journey in the world”, and they were dubbed the “suicide missions” by many of those who served on them, as the convoys had to run the gauntlet of submarine, air, and battleship attacks in harsh sub-zero conditions through the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic Convoys: 1941-45

Open daily 9:45–17:45

Material has been gathered from numerous sources, including private collections, loans from the Imperial War Museum, and museums in Russia. The exhibition will also include recordings of personal testimonies from surviving veterans of the convoys. It is often forgotten that many of those who took part in the convoys were not actually in the Royal Navy, but were simply merchant seamen or fisherman who had been called up for duty.

Those involved with efforts to establish a permanent museum to the Arctic Convoys, to be located at Loch Ewe, where many of the convoys formed and departed from, have also helped with contributions to the Edinburgh exhibition.

Jacky Brookes, manager of the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project in Loch Ewe, said: “We’re delighted the exhibition is happening and hope it will help raise the profile of getting a permanent museum”

We have had occasion to mention the museum project at Loch Ewe before:

Ross-shire museum call for Arctic Convoy veterans

HMS Scylla, a Dido-class cruiser of the Royal Navy, served with the Home Fleet on Arctic convoy duties, and is seen below while anchored on the Clyde:

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

Click on the image below to see a British Pathé short, shot in Scandinavian waters, and showing various shots of ships in a large convoy en route to Russia where:

Aboard the cruiser ‘Scylla’ Lieutenant-Commander McKean in a fur hat keeps a running commentary on the battle for the benefit of the ship’s company.

A column of black smoke rises into the sky after one of the ships is hit. The Scylla draws alongside the minesweeper ‘Harrier’. The two ships are lashed together while travelling at speed as the Scylla and takes on survivors of a torpedoed freighter.

The escort Commander, Rear Admiral Burnett, is put in breeches buoy and slung across to a destroyer so the Scylla can go ahead with survivors. C/U of Burnett on a ship, smiling and looking through binoculars.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exhibition to give front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoys

Ship steaming at seaVeterans of the notorious Arctic Convoys from Scotland to the former Soviet Union are to be honoured with a major exhibition being held in Edinburgh, and beginning in 2013.

Edinburgh Castle’s War Museum will be staging the first major display in Scotland dedicated to the 3,000 men who lost their lives on the convoys from 1941 and 1945.

Rarely seen photographs, uniforms, diaries, letters and other personal possessions from veterans will be going on display for almost a year at the attraction.

Plans for the exhibition have been revealed just weeks after it was confirmed that veterans of the Arctic Convoys would finally get military medals following a lengthy campaign to see them recognised.

The supplies and ammunition they transported were vital to the war effort, as German forces had completely blockaded any access by land.

The operation was launched to help ensure vital supplies could get through to the ports of Murmansk and Archangel after Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, to ensure that the Nazis would remain occupied on the Eastern Front.

But they were dubbed the “suicide missions” by many of those who served on them, as the convoys had to run the gauntlet of submarine, air and battleship attacks in harsh sub-zero conditions through the Arctic Ocean.

Then prime minister Winston Churchill admitted the mission to keep the supply lines of munitions, tanks, lorries, fuel and food open was “the worst journey in the world”.

Of the 78 convoys from the UK and Iceland over that period, 19 departed from Loch Ewe, in Wester Ross, in the north-west Highlands, with others leaving from Oban and the Clyde.

About 20,000 Royal Navy and merchant navy sailors were involved in the missions to transport almost four million tonnes of supplies, with 16 warships and 85 merchant vessels being lost throughout the campaign.

via Exhibition gives front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoy – Scotland – Scotsman.com.

The exhibition, Arctic Convoys: 1941-45, is due to run from May 24, 2013 until March of 2014.

Material has been gathered from numerous sources, including private collections, loans from the Imperial War Museum, and museums in Russia. The exhibition will also include recordings of personal testimonies from surviving veterans of the convoys. It is often forgotten that many of those who took part in the convoys were not actually in the Royal Navy, but were simply merchant seamen or fisherman who had been called up for duty.

Those involved with efforts to establish a permanent museum to the Arctic Convoys, to be located in Loch Ewe, where many of the convoys formed and departed from, have also helped with contributions to the Edinburgh exhibition.

Jacky Brookes, manager of the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project in Loch Ewe, said: “We’re delighted the exhibition is happening and hope it will help raise the profile of getting a permanent museum”

We have had occasion to mention the museum project at Loch Ewe before:

Ross-shire museum call for Arctic Convoy veterans

January 8, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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