IMAGES OF SCOTLAND
This month we feature old houses down by the harbour in Pittenweem.
The bright colours of these ancient tottering dwellings is a joy to
behold. Pittenweem, clearly, has one of Scotland's most scenic
COMPLETE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE
The dictionary definition of the word 'devolution' is as follows: 'a
modified home rule, the delegation of certain powers to regional
governments by a central government'. So, is that clear now... no?
It's like an independent Scotland, but not quite, and there is room
for much debate as to what powers you may be allowed. The power to
make your own laws or raise your own taxes is clearly very different
to the power that may be given to knit your own jumpers. I jest a
little. But not much.
The ordinary man in the street, the one who will ultimately decide
Scotland's future, does not fully understand what it's all about. He
can perhaps understand the need for the main question which will be
Aye or Naw, but he does not know what's going on where devolution,
or Devo is concerned. If not enough of us vote Aye, then what
exactly are we going to get instead? If things continue on this
current vein with the Scottish and UK governments trading blows in
public, by the time we actually reach a ballot paper scenario there
will be that much confusion that we risk a repeat of the voting
shambles a few years ago where folk were so baffled by the concept
of having to put more than one cross on more than one ballot paper
than the result was a phenomenally large proportion of spoilt ballot
We don't need words like Devo and Devo-max. We don't pay you
politicians to come up with abbreviations that merely give the
impression that you know what's going on and we don't. So let's stop
beating about the bush. Is it Aye, or is it Naw? Got to be an Aye
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
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I recently became a BT customer. Under difficult circumstances
in an old building with ancient wiring, the BT engineers did a first
rate job, and in no time I was connected.
The first call on my phone was to BT billing. I got through to a quietly
spoken Asian guy. I just knew he was in a call centre in India.
No matter how well folk in call centres in India speak English, there
exists such a difference in cultures that it can be quite difficult
breaching that huge divide to make yourself properly understood.
That said, we got there in the end and I was given the required
Later that day I received my first call on the new phone. It was from a
quietly spoken Asian guy. It actually sounded not unlike the previous
guy, although he remained anonymous. He was not selling. His call was
concerned with government matters, and when did I last have loft
Coincidence? Perhaps, but I am left with a slight worry about iffy
practises in BT call centres in India.
If ever there was a time to bring these jobs back to Britain, it is now.
British folk would have jobs, money to spend, and may even use that
money to make use of BT's fine telephone services.
GLASGOW HAS RECENTLY taken steps to control the numbers and activity
of street charity collectors. Not a moment too soon. These people
are more than just a nuisance. They hinder movement in main shopping
thoroughfares, and actually encourage Joe Public to take alternative
routes to avoid them. What you do not want, especially in this
financial climate, is something that might in any small way put
shoppers off from shopping in our High Streets. The next step has
got to be a total ban.
I WAS RECENTLY walking near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum when
a tourist stopped me. He pointed towards the truly magnificent
structure of the museum and asked if it had always been a museum. I
momentarily wondered if I should give him a stout scud across the
top of the head. Could such a stunning bit of architecture ever have
been anything other than an art gallery and museum? Perhaps it had
been built as a greengrocer's shop and someone with arty-farty ideas
bought it over.
'A'-FRAMED PROMOTIONAL street signs continue to annoy me. They sit
on the ground and generally get in the way. They are also totally
superfluous to requirements. There was a huge one outside a pub in
Partick, there just in case you failed to notice that there was a
pub right beside it. There was another one in front of the Riverside
Museum, there for anyone who didn't spot the very large sailing ship
at the rear, a sailing ship that one can see quite clearly when
inside the museum. I despair.
Under an old cottage in Scotland lies something very strange. It is a
series of stone passages and chambers whose original purpose remains a
mystery. Who carved them out of solid rock, and for what reason?
Was Gilmerton Cove built to hide someone? Or to hide something? The
secret lies under the ground.
CLICK HERE FOR SPECIAL FEATURE ON GILMERTON COVE.
TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION - THE ANSWER
Many towns in Scotland are struggling to hold their heads
above water. Out-of-town shopping developments have seen High
Streets in the likes of Paisley, Dumfries, and many other places
turned into wastelands full of charity shops and closed shops. The
shops that are still open find it difficult because, one - there is
not sufficient throughput of people to allow profit, and two - the
high level of rates makes it even harder, not just to make a profit,
but to survive. In some desperation town councils have taken to
painting shop-fronts on the deserted shops in the hope of making the
place look more interesting and to perhaps give potential
shopkeepers ideas of what could be done. But the situation remains
I, however, have the answer.
In many cases the vacant shops have equally vacant premises above
them. The answer is for town councils to buy these unoccupied
properties, renovate the structure and create flats, and to then let
out the flats. The rent would then be used to subsidise rates for
It may be thought that there could be a problem with this solution
in that it can be hard to determine the actual owner of the
properties, and some owners may not want to sell their property to
the council. Well, in the majority of cases these premises above
vacant shops have been lying unused for quite some considerable
time. Indeed, in many cases the actual building structure has been
left to decay, what with the growth of plants and water penetration.
The owners are clearly not that interested in their properties, and
it is their very lack of interest that is contributing in no small
measure to the decline of our High Streets.
It is, therefore, time to stop pussyfooting around. Legislation is
required to allow compulsory purchase of vacant premises above
vacant High Street shops. Councils can then purchase them, renovate,
and let out as flats. And to really attract shops back to our High
Streets, the rental from the flats could be used to subsidise shop
rates to such an extent that the rates could become almost
That is the answer to regenerating our High Streets and to
creating fine towns in a Scotland we can all be proud of.
for a monthly equivalent
of around £6.
* Approximate online visits
during the month of March 2012
We are now accepting advertisements to accompany a Special Feature
in our June News on the fascinating old library of Innerpeffray near Crieff.
Advertisements should be supplied as jpegs of 257px wide by 349px
(We can make the ad for you.)
Deadline is 23rd May.
BROADBAND & RAIN & DOGS
This is a photo of a street cable-junction box. As you may see, it
is lying open to the elements. Apparently folk break into them to
fraudulently connect their own house. Which kinda makes you wonder
why they can't be designed to thwart such attempts. Broadband and
dog pee do not mix.
ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT
- HERE ON OUR MONTHLY NEWS
PAGE FOR JUST £40.
(180px wide by 100px high. We can make the advert for you.)