Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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


11/07/2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Inverkip landmark to bite the dust on July 28 2013

While the haters will no doubt be dancing (naked?) around the ceremonial fires and sacrificial altars where they probably consigned various offerings to a bloody death as they invoked various incantations, the Black Arts,  and any number of mystical spells to make the chimney at the former Inverkip Power Station disappear, I won’t be joining them.

For those who want to witness the loss, then they need to be in sight of the action which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 10 pm (22:00 just to be sure.)

Via Final part of Inverkip Power Station to be demolished – Local Headlines – The Buteman

Also Demolition date for Inverkip Power Station chimney

Caught with the Waverly passing, from Zak’s excellent collection of images from Bute: Zak’s Photo Galleries at

Described as Scotland’s tallest free-standing structure, and the third tallest in the UK (until the 28th, at least), it rose to 236 m (778 feet) and was described as having some 1.4 million bricks and 20,000 tonnes of concrete within its walls. All seemed good reason to for keeping it, and if we listen to the Green Loonies, then this act of mindless destruction will produce a mass of pollution, waste energy, and create a huge pile of spoil to be dealt with. A task that will consume yet more energy to grind the result of the demolition into aggregate, as seems to be the norm.

Come to think of it, I pass a large pile of such material every day I go to the shops. Created when an office block was demolished, the resulting pile of crushed debris has lain untouched on the abandoned site for months. Maybe they left it there for the next occupant, to save them transporting aggregate… to build another office block.

While Scotland has become a tourist industry in recent years, I can’t help but feel that there’s no real innovation in the thinking of those responsible for bringing increasing numbers of tourists – and their wallets of course – to the country. They call for a 50% increase in the money taken out of those tourists’ wallets by 2015 (sorry, that seemed to change to 2016 while I wasn’t looking), yet offer little new to attract them. And a look through this blog will show that they don’t do much to support existing attractions, as I think I write too often about places closing, generally due to lack of funding or investment. Whether that’s down to them being unpopular, or badly managed/promoted is a moot point – all to often the notice of closure seems to bring about a campaign and lots of complaints about the closure. Seems nobody cares until it’s too late, and the places are heading to the wall, then there’s outrage.

I sometimes consider the drive to get people to come here is driven by too many ‘Old Men’ (and women). I might add I don’t mean that merely in the ageist sense, but in the way their heads work. There’s a lack of innovation and a tendency to rely on anything that grows from ‘Heather and Tartan’, and drives visitors into hotels. Traditional tourism venues get promoted, and I seem to recall hotels were all adding aromatherapy and corporate event facilities in the mid noughties onward, only to find they were largely ignored.

We had news of a castle owner adding a mini-tank driving facility in the grounds of a castle he is trying to raise money to restore. Instead of support, he was criticised for bringing something “Out of character” to the grounds around the castle ruin. Presumably allowing the castle to continue to decay due to lack of funds until it becomes a pile of rubble is more acceptable to the locals, and “In character.”

I see the demolition of the Inverkip chimney as a lost opportunity.

To build such a thing today would be out of any attraction builders’ pocket (unless they were an American billionaire megalomaniac who thinks he owns Scotland and could build a golf course on it while abusing the locals).

But it would be ideal to turn into a viewpoint, with the view it already has along the Firth of Clyde and the surrounding lands – and unlike Glasgow’s embarrassing shame seen the shape of the Glasgow Tower, it’s not likely to break down and be deemed so unsafe that no-one could ever ascend it.

There’s also the extreme sports and adventure types, who I am sure could come up with ways to use it as a climbing tower. For those who don’t appreciate the scale of this chimney, it’s huge. Climbers could use the outside in good weather, while the interior could be kitted out for use when the weather wasn’t quite so good – a handy option to have in Scotland.

I can’t help but think that if this chimney was overseas, or in Russia or the Ukraine for example, then it would be turned into something productive.


23/07/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where did Boyd’s Tide Marker Tower model go?

(We’ve been informed, see Comment below also, that the model referred to in this appeal has actually turned up in the museum. Sadly, it’s reported to be a little bit the worse for wear after its years in storage, and has suffered from the damp, but it seems to be recoverable, and the builder has indicated its restoration will be a forthcoming project.

We wish both well.)

It’s been some years since we were first made aware of the significance of a white tower which stand on the southern approach to Irvine harbour, and how it was once vital to the town’s seaborne trade.

The tower is the last standing part of Boyd’s Automatic Tide Signalling Apparatus (not counting the associated float chamber in the nearby water), and is also referred to as the Pilot’s House. There is a more detailed description on the page given, but here’s a summary:


At the turn of the 20th century, Irvine was losing trade to the other Ayrshire ports. Unlike the competition, it had no railway pier, and the approach to its harbour was complicated by the presence of numerous sandbanks, necessitating careful navigation, use of tide tables, and careful timing to avoid grounding a heavily laden cargo vessel on the approach. The harbour master at the time, Martin Boyd, believed there was a better way navigate the approach and, in 1903, he was granted a patent for his design for an Automatic Tide Marker Station.

It took Boyd a further three years to finance and build his apparatus, which was officially commissioned on May 23, 1906, with the issue of a Notice to Mariners which informed them of its presence. At the same time, announcements were made in the local newspapers, and charts were issued to explain how the signals presented from the tower were to be read in order to determine the level of the tide at any given time.

In recognition of the value of his work, the sum of £60 was refunded to Boyd by the Harbour Commissioners.

Boyd's Signal Tower

Boyd’s Signal Tower Irvine Harbour © Brian Goodwin


During the day, the signal was displayed using a series of balls raised on a mast mounted atop a tower. At night, the same information was conveyed using a series of lights visible in apertures located in the seaward face of the tower. The lights were hidden, or eclipsed, in different patterns (and colours) to indicate the level of the tide.

The mast signal and the light signal were interconnected by cables, ensuring that both would always match, and were changed automatically by the level of the tide itself.

Their position was controlled by the movement of a float mounted in a chamber, located in the water and near the tower. Underground cables connected the float to the signals in the tower, thereby transmitting the level of the float to the signals directly, and setting them without requiring an operator to manually read the tide and set the signals by hand.

Only the tower building remains on the site, as the mast and signal mounted on the roof were removed after becoming unsafe after the signal fell into disuse in the 1970s.

Pilot’s House model

Purely by chance, we came across a picture of the tower, or Pilot’s House, online (while reviewing some other pics added to out Flickr pool), only it was not the original item, but a rather well executed model of the structure, complete with the mast, rigging, and signals which would have sat atop the original, as shown below:

Pilot's House Model

Pilot’s House Model © Brian Goodwin

We’re grateful to the model maker (Brian Goodwin) who provided the pics, and additional information regarding the history of the appratus, which we were able to add to our page (as mentioned above.)

However, when we enquired after the model itself, the news was not so good.

Having been donated to the Scottish Maritime Museum some years earlier, it seems a later request regarding its location brought only news that the model appeared to have been lost while in the museum’s care.


So, the bottom line is that this posting is really an appeal to anyone that may have information regarding the fate of the Pilot’s House model.

If you know anything about it, or can shed any light on its fate, you can leave a note in the Comments section below (which I might add is effectively anonymous.)

It would be shame if it really had been lost, or worse, destroyed.

And better still if it turned up under a dust sheet in some a dark and seldom visited corner.

Here’s a last look at the tower, as it would have appeared just after completion, as probably indicated by the presence of the crane to its right:

Boyd Tower

Boyd Tower courtesy of Brian Goodwin from a period photograph

29/06/2013 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clydeneuk House

Pictured below is Clydeneuk House, Uddingston.


Clydeneuk House fountain

Clydeneuk House fountain

Sadly, the fountain is almost all that remains of the once grand and fine house that oversaw the fountain in its garden, and the River Clyde beyond that. Built in 1857, it lasted for 106 years, so was demolished in 1963, during which time it was known locally as The Candyman’s House.

There are some more remains nearby, but these are little more than some pieces of low wall and steps that lay in the grounds.

More significant are the gates to the property, and a section of the original perimeter wall which still stand along a section of disused road nearby.

An early 1800’s map shows Threeneuk House in the area at first – Threeneuk being the name given to the area before it became known as Clydeneuk. Since the map was dated 1816, the date of 1857 may be queried. The later date came from a book about the area, in an explanatory note beneath a photograph of the house.

The Candyman name seems to have been down to its ornate appearance, which included turrets, rather than any connection to any of the owners.

No details have been offered, but it has been said that house once had a small zoo, and cellars that were used as shelters by locals during the war.

Discussions suggest the house ended its days as a nursing home, but again, no detail or records could be unearthed online to confirm this.

The fountain has fallen victim to attack, and had at least one more level above that now visible, until the local kids toppled it years ago.

The kids still like to cause damage to the site, and on the day I was there I found a number of sites on the riverbank where deliberate fires had been set using piles of waste paper and other materials, where attempts had been made set the undergrowth, shrubbery, and trees on fire.

Fortunately, things were still too wet along the banks of the River Clyde for this to work, even so, when I wandered along to the remains of the steps that once allowed the owner of the big house to wander down to the river, I found the remains of one of those fire-raising attempts was still burning, albeit it was also dying:

Clydeneuk fire

Clydeneuk fire

You can find a longer discussion with some more details about Clydeneuk House in the Forum, here:

Clydeneuk House – SeSco

Even so, information seems to be sparse, and the detail is not always clear, so any additional info would be welcome

30/04/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Appeal (successful) over blind arthritic cat found in Aberdeen

(Good news since the appeal went out, as Opal – Daphne’s real name – was reunited with her family only a day after the publicity given by the media.

Via Lost blind arthritic Aberdeen cat reclaimed by family)

No let up in news of lost cats appeals, and this is particularly sad.

The Scottish SPCA has ask for help to find the owner of a lost blind pet cat which was found bumping into things in Aberdeen:

A resident of Greenbrae Crescent in the Bridge of Don area spotted the white and black female struggling last Friday.

It is thought the cat – aged about eight – also has arthritis.

She has been named Daphne and is being cared from (sic) at the charity’s Drumoak rescue centre.

Centre assistant manager Debbie Innes said: “The person who contacted us about Daphne was worried as she kept bumping into things.

“A vet has confirmed that she is blind and possibly has arthritis in her back legs.

“She was wearing a collar with a cat flap sensor but, unfortunately, has no microchip or identification.”

Via Appeal over blind arthritic cat found in Aberdeen

Scottish SPCA

Aberdeenshire rehoming centre – Drumoak

Daphne blind cat

Daphne blind cat
pic from Scottish SPCA

Just in passing…

I noticed another cat story from the north (well, they’re all north of me) – with a good ending…

Cat rescued after getting stuck up Blairgowrie tree for three days | Dundee & Tayside | News | STV


If anyone is wondering how a blind cat gets on, then the answer is “Just fine with the right hoomins”.

This example comes from Oskar’s collection: Oskar the Blind Cat & Klaus – YouTube

05/04/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How did a lost pregnant white cat get found in a blizzard?

Time for another appeal, this after the rather amazing rescue of a white cat, pregnant, and ready to give birth to six kittens.

You couldn’t make this one up, as this white cat was reportedly found wandering about in the midst of a blizzard.

She was found on Mansfield Place in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

Christened Bianca by her rescuers, she gave birth that night to six healthy kittens, and the whole family is being cared for at Dunragit Kennels in Stranraer.

Alistair Hill from the Scottish SPCA is the one who picked up the cat.

He said: “It’s possible Bianca has escaped from home just before giving birth as she is in good overall condition.

“With the snow and freezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing, these kittens wouldn’t have survived for long if Bianca had given birth outside so we’re very glad she was found.

“She isn’t wearing a collar and isn’t microchipped so we’re hoping someone will recognise her. There’s every chance her owner is distraught that she has gone missing and we’d be delighted to be able to return Bianca and her six new additions home soon.”

Anyone who recognises Bianca should call the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999.

Via Pregnant cat found in cold weather in Newton Stewart gives birth | Scotland | News | STV

Scottish SPCA

Dunragit Boarding Kennels & Cattery: Dunragit,Stranraer,Scotland

Bianca lost cat

Bianca lost cat and kittens – pic via Scottish SPCA

02/04/2013 Posted by | Appeal | , , , , | Leave a comment

A cat called Tigger breaks our run of ‘Lost Cat’ posts

Making a welcome change from our usual reposting of ‘Lost Cat’ stories and appeals for information, a cat called Tigger was quickly reunited with his owner after his 130 miles trip to Aberdeen from the  Deldrige area of Livingston, after wandering into the back of a van while it was being loaded.

Fortunately, Tigger was both microchipped and recorded, so his owners were able to be traced.

After a meal and night in the cages at Aberdeen’s Drumoak Scottish SPCA rescue centre, Tigger was sent home:

The adventurous moggy hitched a ride to Aberdeen in the back of the vehicle from Livingston.

Two-year-old Tigger was handed in to the Scottish SPCA’s Aberdeenshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre after he was found by the driver following the trip.

Iain Binnie, 35, had been clearing furniture out of a relative’s home in the Dedridge area when Tigger jumped into the back of his hired van.

He returned to his home in Aberdeen but only discovered Tigger the following morning when he opened the van to find the cat sitting at the door meowing.

Mr Binnie took the feline stowaway to the rescue centre at Drumoak where staff were able to trace Tigger’s owner through his identity microchip.

via Stowaway cat Tigger hitches ride from Livingston to Aberdeen | Aberdeen & North | News | STV.

At least this one was fairly safe, unlike those that manage to jam themselves somewhere under the bonnet, close to the engine for some heat, something still quite likely during the ‘lovely’ weather we are enjoying at the moment…

Good advice to save a hidden cat

What a nice change to be showing one of the SPCA’s appeal pics as a happy ending, instead of appealing for help to find a lost cat’s owners:

Tigger found

Tigger found – pic by the Scottish SPCA

22/03/2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The end of UrbEx at Glasgow Zoo

If you have never got around to making that “One last trip” around the ruins that were once Glasgow Zoo…

Then I’m afraid the news is both bad and final, as you have now missed your chance.

There are no more opportunities to be had.

A wander up to what was the entrance was recently met with the sight of diggers working over the last remaining area that had not been included in the initial redevelopment phase of the land and the building of houses. Clearly, this work has now restarted, and last of the remaining undeveloped former zoo land will soon become a housing estate.

Those familiar with the scene as viewed from the entrance will still recognise the road into the zoo, but little else remains, and even that will soon be gone.

Glasgow Zoo final

Glasgow Zoo final

Glasgow Zoo final

Glasgow Zoo final

Not that it’s looked all that great in recent years, as this view from 2008 shows:

Glasgow Zoo entrance

Glasgow Zoo entrance – 2008


No more exploring, no more visits, no more photo albums.

See our little wander, which almost happened by chance in 2005, when we didn’t even know it had closed in 2003! (Serious problems at home in earlier years meant the last thing we were interested in were zoos, and when we had been able to visit the little weekend market that used to live in the area of the car park – the zoo was still open. And we didn’t know the animal activists were doing their utmost to undermine it and force its closure.)

Secret Scotland – Glasgow Zoo

If you search for Glasgow Zoo online, and in flickr, you’ll find a number of visits made by others over the years, and some videos too.

Much of the zoo’s original online material has been saved here:

Glasgow Zoo – Now Closed General intro

Glasgow Zoo – Now Closed – Information

06/03/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Appeal to find owner of elderly Aberdeen cat with half a tongue


Brownie – SPCA picture via BBC

That’s the elderly cat of course, with only half a tongue,  not the owner! (After all, if they knew the owner had that problem, then there would, of course, be no appeal.)

The cat was found in the area of the city’s Whitehouse Street on Friday (January 25th), weak and dehydrated and struggling through the snow.

Staff called out from the Scottish SPCA have named the cat Brownie, and estimate her to be about 16 years old. She is being cared for at their Aberdeenshire animal rescue and rehoming centre at Drumoak.

Animal Rescue Officer Amanda Clark said: “We think she may have been struggling outdoors on her own for a few days before being found.”

She added: “She’s an affectionate, friendly cat who has been well fed and cared for up until now, so we’d hope that she has an owner somewhere who is missing her.

“Although she was wearing a collar, there was no identity tag and she isn’t micro-chipped, so we’re appealing to anyone who recognises her to come forward.

“We’d be delighted to reunite Brownie with her owner, but if no-one claims her then we will find her a loving new home.”

Via: Appeal over elderly cat with half a tongue found in Aberdeen snow

30/01/2013 Posted by | Appeal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another travelling cat appeal

There seems to be more than the occasional story of a cat hitching a free lift in a handy vehicle, and them being lost when it arrives at some strange destination.

At least this one chose to travel inside a courier’s vehicle, and not in the engine compartment.

The white tabby cat pictured below was first seen when it jumped out of the van near the Killylour water treatment works near Dumfries last Thursday – but it eluded those searching for it for a week, and was only found and caught on the following Wednesday.

Christened ‘Brook’ by staff, the cat was taken into the care of the Scottish SPCA’s Ayrshire and South West Scotland Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre.

The staff is sure Brook has an owner as she was well cared for and fed.

Anyone who recognises Brook is being asked to call the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.

Brook lost cat

Brook – lost cat – pic from Scottish SPCA

Via: Cat hitched a lift in courier van to Dumfries treatment works | News | Glasgow | STV

And: Killylour water treatment works cat appeal

25/01/2013 Posted by | Appeal | , | Leave a comment

Maybe lost phones should just stay lost

No cell phone

I may stop being ‘nice’, and just leave any lost mobile phones I come across to stay lost, or be ruined.

Last year, while walking across a field and watching where I out my feet, I almost stood on a smart phone lying in the grass. I stuck it in my pocket, and soon began to regret the move after it started to ring… I couldn’t answer it as the screen and buttons all appear to be locked, demanding a ‘password’. Later,  a message declared that the phone itself was locked.

Unfortunately, I was just at the start of a 4-hour walk, and despite locking it, the owner insisted on ringing the thing every 5-minutes. Fortunately, I had a scarf to wrap it in, and shut it up with since I couldn’t find a power switch or battery to pull out – or I might have ‘lost’ it again. The endless ringing did begin to become a major irritation.

Worse still was due when I tried to get rid of it in the local polis station next day, as they wanted all my personal details – while all I wanted to do was drop it off and tell them where it was found, and eventually I just wished them goodbye and walked out.

I made the mistake of finding another one a few nights ago, this time in the darkness of the local main street.

Curiosity made me go back for a second look after passing it – sure enough, a black phone with a full keyboard below the screen was lying in the gutter, and was going to be crushed by the next car that parked there.

I was loaded with shopping, but managed to free a hand to pick it up. I knew I could get rid of it quickly this time, as I was only a few steps from the door of our local police station

I didn’t get the chance.

Out of the darkness a nippy wee sweetie of a young woman appeared declaring “That’s mah phone… Ah just droaped it” and almost knocked me over as she swiped it from my hand and didn’t even stop to say “Thank you”. She did say it… she just didn’t stop or even look at me as she almost knocked me and my shopping over as she steamrollered past.

Just to be awkward, I’d almost decided to hold on to it and take them both into the cop shop, and leave them to deal with it, but I was carrying too much and just didn’t have time to play. It had to be hers, as there was no way to see it, or what I was picking up from the gutter, as the nearest streetlight had failed – which was why I’d had to go back for a second look – a black phone in a black puddle is almost invisible. You never know, lying in a puddle might have ruined it anyway.

Maybe I’ll just step on the next one instead of avoiding it, or just leave it lying where it fell, and watch it being trashed.

Less hassle.

14/01/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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