Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Job sign is blunt and to the point

I first spotted this sign on April 1, and given the significance of that day, and the fact that I had never seen it, or come across another one before, was not sure if it was real.

While I approve of its simple and blunt message, I’m also usually dismayed by union approached to such things, and would not be surprised to find strikes being called to have such a sign banned on the basis that it was somehow ‘unfair and threatening’ to the poor, persecuted union members.

But after looking closer at the site concerned, I saw more of these signs posted around the perimeter, and a pile of them lying beside the… tea room.

I’ve also checked my own industrial sign supplier, and see that it is fact one of a number of such blunt signs that combine various equipment omissions that will lead to employment problems.

No Job Sign

No Job Sign


April 15, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | 3 Comments

Sir jackie Stewart chosen to advise on motorsport safety

I was pleased to see that Sir Jackie Stewart was chosen to assist with a review of motorsport safety after the recent tragedy in the Borders:

MOTOR-RACING legend Sir Jackie Stewart is to give expert advice to the Scottish Government’s review of motorsport, set up to examine safety after the loss of life at the Jim Clark Rally last month.

The former Formula One world champion has spent much of his life fighting for improved safety at motorsport events.

Sir Jackie, 75, began his campaign after witnessing the deaths of fellow competitors including Scot and world champion Clark, who died at Hockenheim, Germany, in 1968.

Via Jackie Stewart to advise on rally safety review – The Scotsman

(Apologies if you see a blank box below, it seems that Getty has changed its coding, and their shared library images are no longer appearing as expected.)

While Sir Stirling Moss is often the name quoted, even today, when motorsport is referred to, his views are generally less than relevant or sensible, as he seems to be stuck in some sort of male-dominated macho past, where risking your life is essential to the nature of the sport, and he has also managed to put his foot in his mouth on at least one occasion, when referring to women’s place in this venture.

While I wouldn’t be too interested in taking his (Sir Stirling Moss’s) safety advice – if he were to offer it – Sir Jackie Stewart has been noted for is relevant views on the matter, and his own move out of the sport while he was still alive, and it was possibly at its most dangerous.

As regards observing at rallies, it’s something I’ve had the opportunity to do on few occasions, not because of lack of interest, but because I always thought I could see more by watching the televised reports. Being there in person may offer the experience, but is also limited to the spot you can visit, while the stages cover a much greater distance.

I did visit Ingleston to see the last appearance of the Group B cars before they were banned, and where they put on a great show of their power.

And I watched a stage that took place in Strathclyde Park, where I was reasonably close to becoming a victim in a corner incident – one car failed to negotiate a turn and came of the park road, spun, and took out the 4×4 wooden barrier which marked a pedestrian crossing, where a photographer had set up his tripod and had to run for his life. I was standing a few metres behind. I even got some pics of the aftermath, but they’re on film so I can’t slip them in here. On the other hand, they don’t show much, just the broken barrier stumps in the ground.

I never liked attending rallies, and did so only a few times, as the way many spectators ignore their own safety (and that of the drivers) by getting onto the road until the last moment (possibly in order to get a ‘great’ pic) was very off-putting, and I was always worried by those antics. I much preferred Knockhill.

However (and this is no reflection or comment on the Borders incident, of which I have no knowledge), it’s hard to see what you can do to protect people from themselves, without being overly protective, or even closing the stages.

The outcome will be interesting.

June 21, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Contact Form now available online for hillwalkers and climbers

Interesting to see a form being placed online, making it easy to download and print, and aimed at hillwakers and climbers.

Referred to as the Going to the Hills contact form, it contains details that would be useful to police and mountain rescue teams in the event of an emergency.

Let Us Know

Prior to being made available on-line, users had to pick copies up in person.

The idea is to fill out the form, then leave it with a friend or family member. In the event of an emergency, if someone fails to return as expected from a trip perhaps, it provides details which the emergency services can use, such as vehicle registrations, mobile numbers, and information on the route of a planned walk or climb.

Here is the link to the form:

Let Us Know – going-to-the-hills

Supt Gus MacPherson, of Police Scotland, said: “The contact form is not a new idea but as we approach the autumn and winter months it is the ideal time to encourage its use by all those who enjoy the outdoors.

“This information can provide an early alert if you or your party fall into difficulty and early notification can make all the difference to your safety especially during poor weather and low temperatures.”

Via Hillwalkers and climbers urged to use contact form

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Appeal | , , | 1 Comment

Sound advice to save a hidden cat

There’s not much to add to this – it’s sound advice.

You really don’t want to be visiting the vet for help to extract a body after something like has happened.


It was only a matter of some two weeks until we had a story that could have been averted by following the advice given above.

It seems that a van driver picked up an announced passenger while working somewhere in the area of London Road in Edinburgh.

He only discovered he was not alone after noticing a burning smell… and then finding the cat when he stopped and took a look under the bonnet.

While the cat – named Penelope by the Scottish SPCA – had suffered burnt pads and fur as a result of her journey, she was also found to have a broken jaw and cut under her chin, together with a missing tooth, suggesting she may have suffered a fall and then crawled into the van’s engine compartment for shelter and warmth.

The good news is that she was treated for these injuries, and was described as “Doing well.”

Described as a very friendly and good natured cat, ‘Penelope’ was probably a house-cat and has owners who are wondering what has happened to her.

In the hope of finding her owners, the SPCA released the two pics below:

Penelope, Scottish SPCA pic

Penelope, Scottish SPCA pic

Penelope rescued from van engine

Penelope, Scottish SPCA pic

It seems that there have been a few of these in the past (but not local, like this one)…

Kitten rescued from engine ordeal

Cat stuck in engine for 30 miles

Cat-in-engine fire crew get award

American update

The original trigger for this post was clearly American (yet to see a British version), and it seems the cats have not been reading the poster, or if they have, they’re still being cats… and ignoring anything said to them.

When Harrisburg, Pa. resident Damon Walton tried to start his Volkswagen Jetta for his daily drive to work the other day, he wondered why the car was running so rough. It turns out that there was a cat somewhere inside the front of his car. So he kicked the side of the car and assumed the cat ran away.
Only it hadn’t…

Cat has eight lives left – KSN TV, Kansas News and Weather

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Dark Sky Parks

Dark Sky Scotland

Dark Sky Scotland

Dark skies and light pollution have been mentioned here before. and it looks as if the issue is being taken seriously, not only here, but across Europe. This is particularly significant at the moment, since in 2009 the world will celebrate the International Year of Astronomy to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the night sky. 2009 is also the anniversary of many other important dates in the history of science, such as the publishing of Kepler’s Astronomia Nova, Huygens’ Systema Saturnium, and the first moon landing.

Dark Sky Scotland has local features on the campaign to cut unnecessary light pollution, and observation events which are held around the country.

The most interesting of the current activities is the work underway to establish Dark Sky Discovery sites and create the first Dark Sky park in Europe in Scotland. Astronomers from the Dark Sky Scotland programme, based at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh are working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the John Muir Trust to help communities and outdoor learning providers find the best local spots for stargazing. America has two such areas, and Canada has one, but Europe has yet to have such an area internationally recognised, and some of Scotland’s more remote areas, well away from towns, cities and population centres are uniquely suited to such a venture.

While there is a definite move on some developers and authorities to use lighting fixtures and features that minimise light spillage and pollution, not to mention more efficient use of energy by doing so, there still seems to be a die-hard core that loves to use inefficient floodlighting that throws as much light skyward as on the subject structure, and although they may be small, many private homeowners seem to be hypnotised by a fashion for installing numerous uplighters in the ground along the perimeters of their paths and driveways. These shine straight up into the sky, and throw no light on the ground or path they outline, and would seem to be for little more than vanity or one-upmanship. It would be nice to see a by-law consigning them to the skip, or obliging owners to point them parallel to, or down towards the ground. Better still, use downlighters to light the actual path, rather than the sky.

Our local tennis court had some of the most recent floodlighting installed a few years ago, and was in use into the early, but completely dark, evening only a few weeks ago. The remarkable thing is not seeing folk playing tennis outdoors at 9 pm in November, but the fact that the fixtures  used throw light only on the courts, and not outside, and from the street outside, there is almost no overspill of light, and almost no direct sight of the light sources themselves. It can be done.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New alert system saves fisherman

mob guardian dongleWe picked up the story of a tourist being saved when using a personal position indicator and alarm system to alert rescuers to his distress.

In a similar sort of situation, a fisherman and his crew owe their lives to a new RNLI designed system which automatically alerts rescuers when its owner enters the water. The device is currently either fitted, or due to be fitted to some eighty Scottish fishing boats, and can be used to kill the vessel’s engine if a lone fisherman falls overboard.

The MOB Guardian unit used satellite technology to give rescuers and up-to-date position of the vessel in distress – and I’m not going past that quote of how the system is reported to work this time, right or wrong, the Beeb’s account is all you get unless you want to study it in depth: the MOB Guardian. Well, keeping away from the satellite side of things, you wear the dongle shown above and, if you fall in the water, the radio link it maintains with the onboard base unit is broken, and the alarm is sent to the rescue services.

Suffice to say that the RNLI found the crew fifty minutes after the device activated, treading water as their boat had gone so quickly they were unable to deploy the life raft.

Yours for as little as £315 + VAT

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Maritime | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warning issued to ferry troublemakers

In the face if increasing instances of threats issued to passengers and crew by an element intent on making the best of a captive audience to inflict their anti-social behaviour upon, ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has  called in the Marine Policing Unit of Strathclyde Police to look into the matter, affecting the service between Wemyss Bay and Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.

With the support of the island’s Ferry User Group, the carrier has noted that while it is a Lifeline Service Operator, and has a duty to ensure that people’s right to be transported is upheld, their Conditions of Carriage will also be adhered to, and those who cause trouble will not be carried. Dossiers and records will be kept to identify repeat offenders and abusers of the service, and the services of the police employed as necessary to ensure the comfort and safety of staff, pier staff, crew and passengers.

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Time and Tourism

clock1Your scribe admits a peculiar Sunday morning, having been out all day Saturday, then arriving home late and heading to bed without seeing papers, computers, or even television. Still, when you then get up so late that most of the day’s gone, missing one of the year’s two ‘Crazy Clock’ days has little actual impact.

It was interesting to see that Dr Mike Cantlay, convenor of Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, has made a call for clocks to go forward one hour in February, rather than March.

The move is said to be one that would make the streets safer for children in the evening, and is backed by local police, tourism workers, and farmers. It is also suggested that it would be a simple way to gain energy savings, noting that at sunrise, most people are still tucked up in bed.

He specifically notes the daylight hours in the park, with sunrise before 06:00, daylight is already present before that. By the evening, darkness falls by 19:00. Moving the clocks in February would make little difference to the morning, but would yield and extra hour in the evening, benefiting outdoor activities.

Another local activity owner noted that at this time of year, families arrive in the afternoon, but are forced to leave early as darkness falls.

A local farmer observed that the move would allow more time to work with stock in the evenings.

Central Scotland police commented than they believed that more daylight in the evening would cut crime and help reduce anti-social behaviour.

One might wonder why the suggestion stops at February, if the idea of additional daylight at the end of the day, rather than the start, has so many clear advantages. January might be better still, and it may be that shifting the clocks back in October is also too early, and November might be better.

Perhaps it’s time to forget clock-shifting altogether, which was actually introduced as a productivity measure during World War II (and there was even double summer time once). Is there a smattering of smugness on the part of those who hold some sort of pious virtue in boasting about how early they are up and at their work in the morning, and pour scorn on those who don’t do likewise?

Regardless of the reasons, serious or otherwise, it is interesting to see traditional practices, possibly with little reason other than years of adherence, being questioned, and it will also be interesting to see if there is any future result.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Driving worries on nuclear site

hikeI don’t usually get worried about most reports of incidents on nuclear sites, generally over-emphasised to sensationalise them and make sure they get noticed. However, a recent news item had my collys wobbling a little more than usual.

According to the report, management fear that someone could be injured if driving standards are not improved, with staff observed to be speeding, using mobile phones, and ignoring pedestrians at crossings, with 30 Highway Code violations reported in the past year.

The company’s newspaper noted staff and contractors were not meeting the challenge of driving responsibly, and that offenders were to face a one month ban for their vehicles from the site, meaning a long hike from the site car park.

This worries me deeply because I happen to have worked on many large industrial sites as a contractor – though I’ve largely avoided nuclear oddly enough.

Visiting the likes of shipyards and docks (including active military sites) and fabrication yards, and needing vehicular access to get test equipment in place, I’ve never been unclear as to what action would follow if it I didn’t follow the site driving procedure, which in some cases meant driving at walking pace only, with headlights and hazard lights on at all times. I’ve also driven into pharmacological factories, and explosives manufacturing facilities, both if which allow only diesel vehicles, and reserve the right to search you for matches, lighters and the like.

I’m both amazed and worried that on a site dealing with nuclear materials and processes that this article even needs to be raised, and it signals basic failures in both management and employee mindsets simply by existing at all.

I’ve never favoured the option of sacking people to solve a problem, people only learn by making mistakes, but I think there should be heads rolling on both sides of the table at Dounreay over this, and be seen to be rolling too.

If this is truly an example of how some people are prepared to behave within the grounds of such a facility, then I think a phrase like ‘Be afraid, be very afraid’ come all too quickly to mind.

March 4, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Night sky pollution almost reduced in Highlands

Milky WayWhile no-one would argue against street lighting in populated areas as an aid to safety and security, it can be a bit strange to travel around Scotland and find roads with lighting, but no apparent population. At a guess, they’re there for safety reasons, but one might wonder as to their true value, as driving through such an installation can have an effect akin to the inverse of driving through a dark tunnel on a sunny day, leading to a period of impaired vision thanks to the change of light intensity.

Highland councillor Robert Coghill has suggested that reducing lighting by at least 50% would reduce the region’s energy consumption, costs, and carbon footprint, however local council convenor Sandy Park has ruled out such a cut, stating that the energy was already being saved, and that purchased for street lighting was ‘green’. (What’s wrong with saving more though?)

The area already uses light sensitive switches to control street lighting in response to available natural light, and is installing more efficient, electronically controlled lighting in all new and replacement installations, and its Technical Services department is also carrying out trials of system to dim the lighting to make further savings.

The Campaign for Dark Skies has been running for a number of years, and is trying to educate everyone with regard to striking a balance between the necessary lighting required to ensure safety, and the damage badly designed and/or installed lighting does by spreading unnecessary light skyward, and obliterating any clear view of the night sky. This something we suffer to a lesser degree in Scotland than in England, but the difference in populated areas, or those near to cities, can be negligible, and visiting an area such as the Highlands and sampling the clear sky view can be eye-opening, literally.

March 2, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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