Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

What’s odd about this pic taken in Kelvingrove?

Just a bit of fun, but it’s not completely silly.

Looks like an uninteresting pic of some people standing around in Kelvingrove.

It’s one collected during a bit of ‘peoplewatching’ during one of the lunchtime recitals.

Some people stare, some don’t notice, some look around, some take pics, some are phone zombies, and some raise their voices so they can carry on their conversation over the noise of the organ.

Kelvingrove Dr James Hunter

So, this view appears to be fairly normal.

Why does my post title suggest it’s somehow odd?

Well, you’re seeing someone who’s normally only seen from behind, so only the back of his head is easily recognisable 😉

Normally seen most Fridays, giving the lunchtime organ recital on that day (and taking the weekly free tours which is offered afterwards), the gentleman in the jacket is Dr James Hunter, musical director of Kelvingrove.

I’ve been on the tour (worth taking) and sometimes bump into him in the hall as he makes his way to the balcony.

It’s the first time I’ve spotted him in the central hall while a recital was underway and someone else was performing on the Lewis organ – wonder if he approved?

For what it’s worth, I think he is one of the better performers on the Lewis.


Being watched:

Organ recital

Organ recital

01/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Living dangerously in Kelvingrove (if it had a museum cat wandering around)

So, I must be a terrible person and will go to hell for this, but I couldn’t resist.

After finding myself in the Naughty Corner for the same ‘offence’ twice in a row at Kelvingrove, I thought it was time to tempt fate.

I seem to have been lucky, and not spotted indulging in the dangerous practice of using one of my cameras to keep track of items performed during the daily organ recital. I usually have the day’s programme in front of me, on top of the balcony, and move my camera down the list to keep place.

So, this was the view yesterday – Please note that no patrons were placed in danger by this setting (I posed the shot over the information desk, so that the camera would land on museum staff should a hidden cat suddenly materialise and swat it off the balcony 🙂 ).

Kelvingrove Balcony View

Kelvingrove Balcony View

If they did have a cat… (and it’s a pity they don’t – look up ‘Hermitage Cats’ to see what we’re missing).


So. as I was walking around I noticed there were more ‘offenders’, but it must have been my favourite lady’s day off, as she wasn’t to be seen.

She could have popped up for this (with the dulcet tones of “Excuse me sir…”):

Kelvingrove Balcony Offenders 1

Kelvingrove Balcony Offenders 1

Or even this, which I spotted while looking across the hall.

Kelvingrove Balcony Offenders 2

Kelvingrove Balcony Offenders 2

Just imagine the fatal paper cut if that booklet had ‘tipped over’ and wafted down to land on some poor visitor’s head, and sliced it open!

(Don’t have a meltdown – it’s just a fun post!)

13/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Interesting – Food and drink in Kelvingrove hall is now acceptable

It doesn’t feel that long ago (to me at least) that the very idea of food and/or drink being carried around by visitors to Kelvingrove would have been an unthinkable thought.

And to be fair, if you wander around the galleries you WILL see signs warning visitors that food and drink are NOT welcome in the galleries themselves.

Indeed, while the Coffee Shop was relocated to its temporary home on the first floor (while Dippy the dinosaur was in residence), I noticed orphaned signs on the pillars in the area around its normal home, telling patrons that only food purchased there (the Coffee Shop) could be consumed at its tables.

It’s less than a year since I was wondering if I could enjoy a snack in the general seating area when I spotted a ‘quiet word’ being had with someone who tried that very thing, and I saw another regular visitor carefully managing his sandwich (and even a flask) while staff were looking the other way.

There are at least two areas provided in the basement (why do I STILL want to refer to that as ‘new’ after the 2006 refurb?), with seating and in quiet spots, where visitors are welcome to enjoy their own packed lunch.

However, in this case my interest is in the general appearance of food and drink in the central hall, where I now regularly see people with trays of food and drink wandering, and indulging themselves during the organ recital. They can also be seen wandering around the balcony area too.

I merely find it interesting that something which was once evidently frowned upon has become common.

I’d started collecting odd instances of the inner man (and woman) being catered for, until I realised it was no longer the exception.

No point in wasting the pics, or the thought.

Kelvingrove Recital Food and Drink

Kelvingrove Recital Food and Drink

10/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove’s secret tunnel system tested for ‘Childfree’ days

If you’re looking for a reference to the real ‘International Childfree Day’ then look here

Otherwise, join me in a little wishful thinking 🙂

Those familiar with Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will (or should) be aware of its ventilation system, basically a system of tunnels built into the stonework, with the outlets, or vents, covered by large grilles, some of which are plain, and some of which are decorative.

Some say, they form a network of tunnels leading to the basement, and secret places, such as a nursery, or maybe even a restaurant (with a very ‘special’ menu).

I can’t hide the fact that some people’s ‘cute’ kids’ behaviour is quite the opposite for others, and screaming kids stamping their feet, or racing repeatedly from end to end the central hall as if they had OCD, do little to enhance the daily organ recital.

Few parents seem to care these days, afraid to do anything to curb theirs sprogs for fear of scarring them mentally, for life, and dooming them to years inside the social service, or even prison, system.

However, I did spot one particularly considerate parent testing Kelvingrove’s tunnel system recently – and one smart kid, who had clearly worked out what was going on, and making good their escape.

Kelvingrove tunnel grille size test

Kelvingrove tunnel grille size test

As the grilles are securely fixed in place…

It was necessary to carry out a practical test, to determine what size child could pass through the grille spacing.

Kelvingrove tunnel grille size test 2

Kelvingrove tunnel grille size test 2

The remaining pics of the test results weren’t pretty (if you think that opening in the grille is smaller than the kid, you’d be right, and getting it through wasn’t easy, neat, or tidy, so I thought it better not to include them.

However, we did receive this pic, claimed to show the exit of this tunnel (after a few interdimensional jumps).

Slide end

Slide end

Oh well, we can always dream/hope 😉


I wanted a pic of a complete/undamaged grille, but this isn’t possible at the moment, since the museum’s information desk was moved from the centre of the central hall, and set up in the corner across from the grille seen above, blocking the view.

However, the same grille appears on other vents fed by the same ventilation tunnels which run through the building.

This is one of a pair which lie on either side of the organ.

Interestingly, there are others nearby, but they are not in plain sight, and are simply made of a plain mesh, finished in gilt.

Kelvingrove ventilation grille

Kelvingrove ventilation grille

01/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aaron Hawthorne wins prestigious American music award

One of my favourite performers on Kelvingrove’s TS Lewis organ has been named the American Theatre Organ Society’s 2019 Young Theatre Organist.

He accepted the honour just weeks after graduating from the University of Glasgow with a Master of the Arts degree in Music.

In a short video, he describes how his love of the organ began on a family holiday to the English seaside resort of Blackpool, when his parents took him to the famous Tower Ballroom and he heard the sounds of the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ organ.

I have to say I made the same trip many years ago, although I’d have to say that was an away day from what was (back then) a fairly regular trip to Morecambe since it was slightly closer, quicker and easier to get to for a day trip, and didn’t suffer the yobs who unfortunately make Blackpool their home.

That said, Blackpool survives, while Morecambe has died the death of most resorts, having lost all its attraction, illuminations, theme park, pier, and interesting things to see and do.

Aaron’s success has also led to him being invited to join the team of organists at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem in the West End of Glasgow, where daily recitals are held all year round.

He has performed to tens of thousands of people over more than 50 recitals.

Scots graduate wins prestigious music award in New York

So, I guess we now know why there was a camera following him yesterday.

Videoing Aaron Hawthorne

Videoing Aaron Hawthorne

I may not claim any special musical education, but I do know there’s a special few amongst those who give the free recitals at Kelvingrove, and I’d have to say Aaron tops the list.

I used to think they all sounded the same, but over the course of almost a year have learned that they’re all different. I hesitate to say any are ‘better’ than any others, they’re all very good of course, but I have also some to appreciate the slight difference between them all, and found that there are differences to be appreciated between them.

I wonder where the video will turn up?

It wasn’t in the STV article I mentioned.

30/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Almost missed something interesting in Kelvingrove (or, can I have my mind back please)

I almost missed an Aaron Hawthorne day at Kelvingrove, even with the supposed help of a calendar/organiser.

I’m fairly lax as regards watching the calendar from moment to moment, but had noted Aaron was due back on the 29th – but hadn’t spotted how close that day was due to the page layout of the organiser. It looked further into the future, and I only realised my misreading when I was filling in some date-sensitive records at lunchtime. Cue another rapid departure to Kelvingrove, which should have got me there on time, unfortunately the bus took 20 minutes longer than usual for the trip, so I only caught the last ten minutes or so.

I wish it hadn’t been raining – had I jumped on my bike I’d have been twenty minutes EARLY!

As it was, I was in time to spot something different/interesting – there was a pro making a video using a Sony XDCAM (anything I can’t afford is pro 😉 ).

Videoing Aaron Hawthorne

Videoing Aaron Hawthorne

He disappeared – then reappeared to catch a different view.

Kelvingrove Video

Kelvingrove Video

Better than yesterday’s ‘effort’

Still, it was better than yesterday, when I totally failed to catch ANY of the longer Sunday recital.

Worst thing is, it’s not the first time I’ve made this mistake.

For some reason I can’t nail, I seem to get the departure time wrong for Sunday’s 3 pm recital (weekdays are 1 pm).

Instead of aiming for a notional 1:30pm departure (to catch the bus), I seem to fixate on 2:30 pm – which is useless, being an hour late!

I never even realise my mistake until I happen to look at a clock seen during the trip – and see 3 pm on it!

I really lucked out yesterday, as the bus got there late (it wasn’t late as such, I just caught the wrong one), and I didn’t fall through the door until 3:38 pm. While the Sunday recital often lasts longer than that, this one was done and dusted, with nobody in sight.


Cat Cannot Brain Today Has Dumb

29/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Did I just witness the birth of a new custom at Kelvingrove organ recitals?

I’ve been attending the daily organ recitals in Kelvingrove regularly for some time, probably not quite a year, and while I can’t be there on a daily basis (I have to travel there and back, for a nominal 30-minute performance) I have tried to make a continuous week, but so far, failed miserably.

However, it means I know the format, the pieces, and the performers, and even how the response (of the audience) varies over time.

But, today was different, and I have no idea why.

In the current year’s worth of attending, I have NEVER noted the audience to applaud when the performer arrives on the balcony.

I’m always there early (unless I make a mistake), so I know this is not normal. Even I would have noticed if this had happened in the past year.

In fact, normal generally means nobody notices, until the music starts, and sometimes (depending on how ignorant they are) even that doesn’t seem to be noticed by some.

So, did he pay them?

Or did he organise a bus to bring all his family and friends to cheer him on?

It was just… odd.

I wonder if this was the first of a new custom?

We’ll have to wait and see if there is a repeat, or if this was a one-off special.

This was William R Hutcheson at Kelvingrove today – organist of Clark Memorial Church, Largs. It’s a big church.

Kelvingrove William R Hutcheson

Kelvingrove William R Hutcheson

With the Linda McCartney exhibition is at Kelvingrove, many of the recitals include a Beatle’s number.

In this case, the selection was ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’.

I’ve come to realise that while any piece can be played on the organ, not all make the trip well – but I’m glad to say that this one did, and I hope it makes further appearances.

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove organ monitor problem – FIXED!

There was a certain degree of PANIC! in Apollo Towers this morning, as a quick glance at the calendar showed this to be one of Aaron Hawthorne’s recital days (if you attend these, you’ll understand).

The problem was that I was slumming around the house, casually dealing with small ‘problems’, with no intention of going out.

Now, it was after 11:45, I wasn’t dressed to go out, and the recital started at 13:00.

By some mysterious set of coincidences, I got changed, got to the nearest bus stop in a little under 5 minutes (usually a 10-minute walk – thank goodness I took up casual running a while ago) – and arrived at the same time as the bus, to end up standing on the Kelvingrove balcony at the unbelievable time of 12:50, a whole 10 minutes EARLY!

I must try that again – arrival there is usually 5 or 10 minutes AFTER 1 pm, and the stert of the recital, if I leave home after about 11:30.

I could have cycled and got there even sooner, but after seeing the various transport disruptions around Glasgow over the weekend (but more so because of on/off rain during the morning), I didn’t fancy that option.

I’m glad I panicked and made the effort – the organ monitor problem has been FIXED!

I was surprised to see this, as my ‘early arrival’ had let me see that the offending monitor appeared to be dead, or at least was showing a blank screen, while the other was showing the usual Glasgow Life videos. I thought they’d maybe had to give up on it.

However, come 1 o’clock, the remote control came out, a member of the museum staff walked out into the central hall, and BOTH monitors responded to the order to change to their respective organ views.

I still stay fairly firmly glued to the one showing the pedalboard (and there were a few pieces played exclusively on that today) as it’s fascinating to see how much of the performance originates there, but it’s nice to have both.

Kelvingrove Organ Monitor Fixed for Aaron

Kelvingrove Organ Monitor Fixed for Aaron


18/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove monitor problem – still

Maybe I shouldn’t have started posting this every time I see it.

But, I thought it would have been cleared quickly.

Oh well…

This was Sunday’s, as we were able to watch Christopher Nickol’s feet, but not his hands.

This time, the keyboard monitor was showing Glasgow Museum’s figure of 3.7 million visitors.

3.7 million? Just imagine if they were all held upside down at the door, and gave as much to run the museums as I do every year, through my Council Tax. That would solve the problem of the paltry £7.5 million needed to rescue the Winter Garden glasshouse at the People’s Palace.

Please don’t take my flippant remark seriously.

In fact, every time I stand at the balcony in Kelvingrove, I get to watch the visitors (many of whom are tourists), and am seriously impressed as they fold up £5 and £10 notes (and larger!) and shove them into the donation boxes.

So, here’s yesterday’s pic of the monitors.

Kelvingrove Monitor Problem

Kelvingrove Monitor Problem

Since the chandelier hides the camera, here’s where it’s mounted, above the performer.

Kelvingrove Organ Keyboard Camera

Kelvingrove Organ Keyboard Camera

The above is already a fairly close zoom, but I tried a look at the screen on the camcorder, in case it offered any clues.

While I could almost read it, I couldn’t get a decent pic in the subdued lighting of the museum, bearing in mind the focal length for this shot is just short of 800 mm, so not even two anti-shake systems are really going to help with slow shutter speeds and max aperture. This was the only ‘lucky’ shot out of a dozen blurs.

Kelvingrove Keyboard Cam Screen

Kelvingrove Keyboard Cam Screen

I had better luck with an unusual audience which settled down to enjoy the longer Sunday recital (I’ll try to mention them in another post).

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Folk Dancer Audience

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Folk Dancer Audience


There was one other notable ‘audience’.

Came complete with lunch 🙂

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Snack

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Snack

15/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove monitor problem – still there

I seem to be short on spare time at the moment, but I did make into Kelvingrove yesterday (as I noted, Aaron Hawthorne is not to be missed when he’s on), so I was able to check the monitor problem again.

It’s still there – this time I caught Riverside on the monitor.

Kelvingrove Monitor Problem and Aaron

Kelvingrove Monitor Problem and Aaron

Remarkable (for me at least), I even remembered to take a closer look at the camera itself, or rather, the camcorder they use to show the keyboards.

Unfortunately, it’s hidden behind one of Kelvingrove’s fabulous chandeliers in pics like the one above.

I took some closer pics to see if it was working.

It is, but seems to have reverted so some sort of preloaded sequence, as its flip-out display screen is just showing a rolling sequence of pages full of text.

Probably a power-on default, unless deselected, so somevody needs to reach up and press some buttons (soon).

Here’s the camcorder on its mount overlooking the performer and the keyboards, showing the screen.

Kelvingrove Organ Keyboard Camera

Kelvingrove Organ Keyboard Camera

14/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Oh oh, Kelvingrove’s organ monitor problem hasn’t ‘gone away’

Looks like the little problem I noticed with the keyboard camera/monitor yesterday, after the electrical outage of the day before, is maybe more than the simple ‘Power on’ button press I thought it might have been (assuming somebody has already tried that).

This pic shows the monitor still couldn’t be switched to show the keyboards today – caught while it was publicising the T.Rex exhibition across the road, in the Kelvin Hall. Don’t forget that end on 31 July, less than three weeks left.

Silly me – I didn’t think to zoom in on the camera and see if it was powered up, or not.

Maybe tomorrow – I should be there again (it’s another Aaron Hawthorne day 🙂 )

That’s Dr James Hunter performing today – he’s Kelvingrove’s musical director.

He also guides (free) tour around the great organs (after his recital most Fridays) – just ask/book at the information desk beforehand.

Kelvingrove Organ Monitor Problem

Kelvingrove Organ Monitor Problem

12/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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