Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Wish I was still passing Stonehaven regularly

One of the advantages of regular calls to visit Aberdeen for work was the option to drop into many of the nice places the road ran past, such as Stonehaven.

The trip home was particularly enjoyable, especially during summer, when the days were long and there was no hurry to get back home.

Unlike my colleagues, my demands were simple. While they would look for restaurants or similar for an evening meal on expenses, I was much happier to be on my own, find a decent chip shop, collect an excellent ‘coastal’ fish supper, and enjoy it in the sea front or harbour car park looking out to sea.

Seems I’d have something interesting to look at inland as well, nowadays.

Stonehaven seems to have attracted a ‘secret sculptor’.

Although the artist’s identity is a mystery, one local has been quoted as saying…

“Apparently the chap stays in Cowie, a village to the north of Stonehaven, but there’s no identifying features [on the artwork].”

The work has a unique style, is carefully made, and shows considerable attention to detail, as can be seen in the sample image below.

More examples can be seen in the news article covering the material.

Who is Stonehaven’s ‘secret sculptor’?

Stonehaven Mystery Art Pic Credit Martin Sim

Stonehaven Mystery Art Pic Credit Martin Sim

The story goes so well, until…

It seems the poor artist is regularly insulted by being referred to as “The Stonehaven Bansky” (sic).

And that’s not MY misspelling – that’s a ‘copy and paste’ of how it appears in the article.

Suits me, I’m really not impressed by any of that pains so-called ‘work’, so it avoids having the name in the post.

Where “Bansky’s” concerned, I like to think of myself as the one asking “Why does the emperor have no clothes?” as everyone else fawns over the stuff he slaps on people’s walls.


Jan 16, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

What is this helicopter equipped to do?

Writing the previous post about the Robust Vent reminded me of another pic I grabbed recently.

I was on the west side of the city, mostly lost in a park beneath trees, and had been intrigued by the sound of a helicopter which seemed to be working nearby, but I couldn’t see the sky so had no idea where it was.

Fortunately, when I left the park and broke cover, I also heard the helicopter getting louder (closer), so headed for a clear spot to try for a glance.

It was in transit, so not hanging about, but I did manage to get one shot off, and it was intriguing.

Oddly Equipped Helicopter

Oddly Equipped Helicopter

My first thought was ‘crop duster’.

But, having looked for pics of similarly equipped helicopters, I can’t find anything that matches the hardware attached to this one.

Far from being similar, all the crop dusters I could find followed the conventional patter of a row of nozzles along a frame, with nothing resembling what might be a single nozzle at the end of each arm.

It was also noted that there were no tanks fitted to carry the chemicals or pesticides it may have been delivering.

I doubt any regulations would allow bulk chemicals to be carried internally, in the passenger or luggage/cargo space, where the pilot could be exposed to a leak.

But that may be a red-herring, and it may not fly with the tanks attached if they are not needed, which they would not if it was in transit between sites.

Unfortunately, although the pic came out well for a long zoom of a moving subject, it lacks the detail to examine the kit in detail, or read the registration, so I can’t do any research on this one.

I/we would appreciate a proper identification of the kit if you happen to know, and will share.

Nov 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

What is this Rutherglen marker post for?

Rutherglen has thrown some interesting features, such as some fairly odd old benchmarks embedded in the pavement/footpath that don’t seem to match any listed on sites dedicated to such things, and even defied an enquiry to the museum service.

This one seems to be the opposite, and is so new (in relative terms) that it doesn’t seem to have been listed or recorded anywhere (at least not that I’ve been able to find online).

I’ve passed it for a few years now, and think it appeared while the ‘new’ motorway works were being carried out nearby, and the roads were being altered to suit.

It is an unidentified stone (or concrete – to my shame I have never looked closely) marker with unexplained writing carved on its face.

As some of the carving is already a little indistinct, I’ll describe what is shown in the pic.

I’m not even sure what is written on it, having first interpreted a ‘/’ character as a slash, then began to wonder if it was a stylised number ‘1’.

The top line is easy, that’s an ‘R’

But the next could be taken to be ‘/85/’ or ‘1851’, so is ambiguous.

There is then a horizontal separator line.

The next could be taken to be ’20/8′ or ‘2018’ – but it’s worth remembering this was placed BEFORE 2018!

Next line is a stylised ‘RHS’.

At the bottom is what I interpret as a stylised thistle.

Rutherglen Marker Glasgow Road

Rutherglen Marker Glasgow Road and Quay Road

Given the thistle, I had thought this might have identified ‘Royal Horticultural Society Scotland’, but a look around their web site does not appear to mention the placing of any markers.

The ‘H’ could also be Historical, but that proved too vague to come up with anything.

And the /85/ over 20/8 doesn’t correspond to anything such as any co-ordinate system that I’m aware of.

I tried the date pair of 1851 and 2018, but again, too vague to find anything with no other clues.

Thank to Google, I can say there was nothing but industrial units on the ground before the motorway changes, and that the spot for this marker was not there back in 2010, was prepared in 2012, and the marker itself was in place by 2014, so the idea of ’20/8′ being 2018 seems unlikely, being at least four years after the thing was put in place, and six years before the spot was set aside.


Does anybody know what this is?

I find it odd that something so obvious should be placed so carefully yet have nothing nearby to explain it.

This is how it looks on Street View, showing its location.

Use ‘View on Google Maps’ to see what this spot looked like all the way back to 2007.

Jun 25, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Green’s Penny Farthing Bike Rack (mystery?)

A while ago, I got one of those anonymous ‘hints’ (aka an email with no details) telling of a ‘Penny Farthing themed bike rack’ somewhere on Glasgow Green. I’m not sure if this was offered in light of my interest in Glasgow, or in things related to The Prisoner.

Over the years I’ve probably crawled over most of the Green, yet this came as a complete surprise – so I had to investigate.

After going online, I eventually came up with the following photographic confirmation, captured by the very helpful Thomas Nugent back in 2008 – all of 10 years ago!

Cycle racks in Glasgow Green

Cycle racks in Glasgow Green
Penny farthing shaped racks in Glasgow Green, near the adventure playground.

This at least explained why I hadn’t this rack over the years – I’m a little past the ‘adventure playground’ stage.

But I do know the place, so off I went for a look, TWO looks in fact – BOTH failed, although they were both late evening detours (kind of dark), and covered all the area around the playground.

What’s not clear from the above is that the playground lies adjacent to a Cycle Training Centre

I’d taken a few pics back in 2017, and when I examined them I got a surprise – I already had a pic of the penny farthing rack!

Penny Farthing Bike Racks

Penny Farthing Bike Racks 2017

So, they were still there, but I still couldn’t explain why I hadn’t seen them a few day earlier, hence the hint of (mystery?) in the title – I really did look at the cycle training area, this being the obvious place to look. Maybe it was just too dark, and they couldn’t be seen from the perimeter fence (the place was locked by the time I got there).

I checked the centre’s own pics, and found this view, bear in mind their pics are probably ‘old’ as it opened in 2011.

Detail From Free Wheel North Pic

Detail From Free Wheel North Pic

Note that the two ‘old’ 2010/2011 pics show the racks sunk into the block paving.

Fast forward to 2018, and my third visit – this time directly to the area in front of the Portakabins in the cycle training area.

There was no problem finding the racks this time (or even seeing them from the perimeter fence, which I checked before heading for them).

If not immediately obvious, it’s worth noting that the racks no longer lie in their original location – sunk into an area of block paving.

They’ve been lifted so their base is no longer buried, and now just lie freely on the ground.

That could mean they’re fair game for scum metal thieves.

It also means they may not have actually have been out on show when I was there earlier, and had been stowed in the training area’s containers for safety during the dark evenings.

Let the pics begin…

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Zoom

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Zoom

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 2

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 2

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 3

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 3

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 4

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 4

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 5

Penny Farthing Bike Rack Closer 5

Jun 17, 2018 Posted by | council, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The amazing disappearing lockbox

Well  THAT was surprise.

After two posts about an odd lockbox spotted clamped to a lamppost a few days ago – it DISAPPEARED!

Thanks to an unplanned detour resulting from some unexpected snow that joined the increasingly chilly wind last night, I ended up passing the same spot.

I thought I was in the wrong place after a passing glance at the relevant lamppost failed to show the expected silhouette in the dark, but when I checked the lamppost, it was the same one – but the box had gone, completely, including the hefty clamp that fixed it to the pole.

It didn’t even seem to leave a mark where it had been, suggesting it hadn’t been there very long.

Lockbox Lamppost - No Lockbox

Lockbox Lamppost – No Lockbox

Compare this with the previous view from only a few nights ago.

Between the pics, you should be able to match the clear tape at the bottom of the view, and the little reflective survey marker at the top.

Daytime Lock Box

Daytime Lock Box

So that’s that.

No chance of catching it ‘In Use’ some day.

But now I’ll have to be even more alert, to see if it turns up somewhere else.

Unless YOU know better.

Mar 18, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , | 7 Comments

Daytime view of the mystery box

Oops, sorry.

Didn’t intend to make two similar posts on following days, but forgot we had suddenly reached that time of year when ‘tomorrow’ is probably not going to be stormy, snowy, windy, and wet, so I can pop out for another pic without waiting for a week or more.

So, the odd lockbox I noticed a couple of nights ago gets its own daylight pics for a closer look, and no delay.

As can be seen, no indication of purpose or owner, and no sticker or labels.

Only other observation might be that it is mounted just above head height, so you have to reach up to it.

And, it IS locked.

Daytime Lock Box

Daytime Lock Box

There’s a reflective survey target on the pole, but this is unlikely to be related.

Mar 14, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , | 6 Comments

Recognise this lock box bolted to a lamppost?

Time for a mystery post.

Spotted last night, on a lamppost I have been passing for years, but never looked at.

It’s just too far away to be noticed as the footpath here is widened by a couple of metres of grass, separating the walking part from the road, and the lampposts installed next to the gutter.

I only spotted the box shown below when it was caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle, otherwise I’d still never have noticed it.

I’ve looked at some old pics of the road, and these show there was nothing attached to the lamppost back in 2015, so it’s been added fairly recently. And a little more substantially mounted than by a couple of cable-ties, it’s not going to fall off any time soon.

No markings apparent, not in the dark of night at least, so this one needs a daylight visit to check for any details or clues.

Lock Box

Lock Box

Mar 13, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Explain this Buckfast mystery

It’s hard not to look at abandoned Buckie bottles lying around Glasgow.

Having done this for some years I noticed something, and the recent contributions from The Abbot and his offerings in The Daily Buckfast have only served to confirm this, as I preview upcoming images to make sure they are… ‘safe’.

Even with its claimed potency, it’s not exactly cheap (if we assume the hordes of little boys that stand outside wee shops and plead “Mister, gaunnae jump intae the shoap fur us? We’ll gie ye the money“), and not all obtained by means of shoplifting – around here it all seems to be racked behind the counter now.


Why don’t they finish the bottle?

It’s not that rare to see bottles lying around with a good inch (more than 2 cm for millennials) in the bottom, and as can be seen from the two example pics I swiped from The Abbott’s upcoming efforts, there can be a lot more left behind.


Does it taste that bad?

Buckfast Half Half Bottle

Buckfast Half Half Bottle

And there’s a good ‘swallie’ in this one too.

Buckfast Bottle Drink

Buckfast Bottle Free Drink

Jan 7, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Now that’s an odd window blind

I’m beginning to get my eye back for spotting slightly ‘odd’ things, and while wandering home from the shops last night, the little alarm bell went off, and sent me back to retrace my steps after something odd set it off.

Not sure what this is for, as some old pieced of cardboard box wedged and taped over a window are hardly going to keep the place secure (so I’m assuming there aren’t broken or smashed windows behind, but there could be) and the nasties out.

There’s fabric stretched over the interior of the window too.

Haven’t really got a clue.

Just another mystery (and one to end 2017 with).

To be honest, I really just grabbed the shot to see how it would turn out (yes, still playing with the camera to see how well it works when stressed).

Odd Window Blackout

Odd Window Blackout

Dec 31, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Another car light mystery

Just in case anyone thinks ‘normal service’ has been discontinued in the Blog, it’s just been put on the back-burner so some Christmas fun can be had, and any interesting oddities spotted have been logged for future use.

That said, I did almost walk past this one recently, and it may echo a similar spotting made some time ago.

That one was solved after a while, with a handy hint that it was a Fire Service vehicle.

This one may be the same, or related, as there didn’t seem to be any further lighting, badges, or surveillance gear in sight – but it was dark (much darker than these processed images suggest).

As before, no way to guess since the LED lighting has no need of coloured lenses, so no colour cue.

Mondeo Illuminations

Mondeo Illuminations

And closer.

Mondeo Lights Detail

Mondeo Lights Detail

Dec 23, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A little optoelectronic surprise

I don’t usually get a surprise while I’m dismantling electronics, but have to admit to raising an eyebrow as I cracked open the remote control for my ‘vintage’ home cinema unit.

Little more than a (very) expensive pile of junk now, it only works with old video systems, and has no HDMI options – still, since I’ve managed to avoid wasting any money along that road, that doesn’t really matter. I really just use the box for all the amplifiers it contains. Along with its active sub, it can bounce stuff off shelves.

But there’s been a problem for some years – despite coming with a remote control that looks more like a passenger jet flight computer (anybody with a phobia about buttons runs screaming from my house if they see it), two or three of the most useful buttons stopped working reliably after a period of storage, then recently decided to ignore any pushes at all.

I did try to get inside once (problem is usually just contamination), but the enclosure refused to open even after removing the screws.

But patience runs out, and the dead buttons meant it was time to fix it, or break it. Fortunately, a little more force, and it popped open this time.

But I stopped for a moment when I saw this array of optoelectronic devices revealed – usually there’s only one (or two for luxury items) device to be seen.

 Opto Surprise Remote Control

Opto Surprise Remote Control

The two CLEAR LEDs are the usual IR (infra-red) transmitters for the remote control.

One red LED confirms a button press – these should be a LEGAL REQUIREMENT! There’s nothing worse than pushing a button on a remote control with NO LED and not knowing if the lack of response it due it being dead, or something more serious.

The black item in the centre reveals this is a ‘Learning Remote’, and is a photodiode (IR receiver). This means this remote can be programmed to replace others simply by pointing them at it, receiving/learning the code they transmit, and assigning that to a button.

The other red LED is used only for that programming function – it flashes to confirm receipt of the transmitted code from the other remote, and signal that programming has been completed. (I doubt the idea caught on – it was hard to remember anything other than a few basic ‘trained’ buttons).

As for the fix this all started with?

I’ve no idea what got inside the handset, or even how (since there is no trace of the contamination elsewhere), but there was an almost hard, sticky, clear residue on one corner of the keypad/PCB. This was preventing a few of the button contacts from making.

It wouldn’t wipe off, or dissolve in water – until left to soak overnight.

Strange – It’s a mystery as I don’t recall anything being spilled on this one, and there was no evidence of a spill anyway. I’ve ‘fixed’ enough remotes that enjoyed tea/coffee/juice baths to know what they look like, either fresh, or left for months.



Dec 7, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

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