"One of the most thrilling reads of the 21st Century"- Marilyn Monroe

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Rooftops of Shrewsbury- Pride Hill

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

Hello readers. And hello Schurkettes. (some of my readers started calling themselves Schurkettes and I'm rolling with it because I'm quite possibly a gigantic egomaniac)
Today I have a rooftopping blog!

As some of you may know, this blog started out showing my adventures on the rooftops of Shrewsbury. It was very nearly named "Shrewsbury from higher up than you," but this proved inaccurate due to my exploring of places like Burger King and Future Physique, which took the blog beyond rooftopping. The current title was a lot more accurate, until I went and explored everywhere else in Shropshire too. Oopsie.

While this blog started in 2014, the photos used in the old rooftopping blogs date back to 2010 and 2011, and on a recent coffee date with my close friend and confident, Ouija LeMay, she pointed out that some of these could be considered historical photos of Shrewsbury. Anyone who was, say, ten in 2010 will be in their eighteenth year in a matter of months. An entire generation has grown up since these photos were taken, and that gives them a nostalgic value of sorts to the locals. At least that's what Ouija LeMay says, as she sips her coffee.
I searched over my old photos and sure enough, there are things going on that have changed significantly since the photos were taken, and in the past I have revisited these rooftops to capture the present view. In December 2015 I published "Shrewsbury from higher up than you" as a stand alone blog post that showed the modern day view from older blog posts. On it is the view from the roof of KFC, with a link to the original blog post published a year earlier but depicting photos from 2011, when Claremont Church was still under redesign.

Also featured on the revisit article was the view from Princess House, the original article showing the Music Hall wrapped in scaffolding, and the square as it looked in 2010. And of course there was the view from the flag pole at the bottom of Pride Hill.

Places like Future Physique and Waitrose, which were previously documented here and here, were redocumented here and here.

But then Ouija LeMay asked me why I hadn't redone the Rat Run yet? The Rat Run is an old name for the route from the top of Castle Street to the bottom of Pride Hill via rooftop. My original article depicts Waitrose empty and derelict, among other things. So the photos were out of date.
And Ouija LeMay was right. It was time to revisit my roots, take to the rooftops of Shrewsbury, and show everyone what the town currently looks like from the rooftops of Pride Hill.

 Over in the distance is St Nics, and just poking up beyond that is Laura's Tower.

 The Rat Run actually starts at this point in Castle Street, right above Hawks Cycles. Looking towards Pride Hill, there's the old Natwest building that I explored last year. It's covered in scaffolding in this picture but that's still fairly recent. Also visible is Barclays, which I did take photos from the top of, but then so has everyone. Whereas the rooftops of Pride Hill are a lot trickier. There are some easy ways up, and there are some more challenging ways up. When rooftopping became a fad, most of the easy ways up were discovered and blocked off by the powers that be. Luckily for me, I don't need the easy route. In fact, I feel like I've earned my place up there by taking the challenging, death defying route. It is difficult but I see it as worthwhile for a variety of reasons. It keeps me fit, and I see worth in my total enjoyment of it.

And you're being treated too, because I almost NEVER go up during the day, due to the amount of CCTV and security presence up there. The majority of my shots are night time shots, so excuse me while we switch between day and night at my whim.

 All the scaffolding has been taken off the old Natwest building now.

This view is actually behind Castle Street. These little rooftop courtyards are for the flats above the shops, which lead off from Castle Court, the alleyway from Castle Street to the bus station. The building with the blocked windows is the old police station.

Regarding what I said about my total enjoyment of rooftopping giving it a sense of worth, there was a study into human happiness by a chap whose name I forget because it was seventeen syllables long but somewhat lacking vowels in between letters that really could have benefited from vowels in between them. But he wrote "The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a persons body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."
Translation- Lose yourself in something that you're passionate about and you will be happy.

It's important to me, because my blog brings me happiness. Comparing these new photos to the old ones has made me realise that photographs are a time stamp on reality. 100 years from now, nobody will care how these photos were taken, only that they were taken. 100 years from now, nobody will care that I sat on a corporate roof without permission, but 60 years from now, when I'm old and decrepit, it will mean the world to me that this is how I spent my youth. It's important to think bigger picture with the world. Will the "you" that's lying on their death bed look back on life fondly and think "That was pretty awesome?" If the answer is no then now is the time to do something about it.

 When on these rooftops, one can venture away from street view and see the modern shopping centres contrast with the older architecture. The churches in particular stand out here, with the modern shopping centre roof sprawled out in the foreground, and the slightly less modern Barclays and Waitrose there too.

 Here's a nice shot of the library, with the casle on the left of it, and Lauras Tower protruding on the right.

 And once again, there's St Nics. But seriously, this would be taken from the roof of what is currently Burger King, and look how grey it is.

 There is security presence up here on the roof, seeing as there are doors that connect directly to the shopping centres, so I always proceed with caution and have a plan of where to run to if things get hairy.

 One of the more curious features of the roof is this tower. It looks like brick but it isn't brick. I did hear a rumour that there's a military radar dish hidden in there, but I highly doubt I'd be able to get this close to one of those.

 But apparently this rumour was false. This fake brickwork is hiding a huge electric fan, and the walls are special soundproofing panels designed to blend into the surrounding brickwork.

From around here, it is possible to carry on and get a view of the bus station.

And look how high we are compared to the multistory car park!

 There are glass pyramid windows on the roof, which let light in to the Darwin Shopping Centre. Peering down, one can see inside.

This photo was taken at night to avoid alarming the shoppers. I'm a considerate villain.

Moving back to street view, it is possible to get on top of W H Smiths and Tesco Express, which are two halves of an older building, previously Morris Cafe and Stores. It's actually modeled after Blickling Hall in Norfolk, although it's tiny in comparison. Morris obtained the building in 1926, whereas before that it was a popular ladies clothes store. I've heard people lament about how a lot of older buildings were destroyed in the process of creating Shrewsburys shopping centres. The Raven Hotel is most notable, currently the site of Marks & Spencers. But W H Smith survives, albeit modified to be an entrance to the shopping centre.

Rumour has it there's a disused ballroom underneath this building, and some say that it had a rotating floor. I have seen one photo of a group in this ballroom in 1933, and it looks pretty incredible. If it still exists I would love to see it. I've also seen photos of the cafe portion of this building, which was on ground level, and now destroyed for its retail purpose. But it sure looked like a great place to dine!

While the underground ballroom escapes me today, it was still great to get a view from the roof.

 I only have a night photo of the front of Barclays.

Hey, is that pigeon trying to start a fight?

Pigeons and I have a long standing rivalry since I was trapped in an abandoned brothel with eight of the bastards.

Whats interesting is that behind the WH Smiths building is a little staff chillout spot, with some attempt at decorating, to add some green to the dull grey.

 And it is pretty bleak up here. Check this out.

 From the tallest point of the roof it is possible to get a view of the landscape, only recognisable as Shrewsbury because of those towers in the background, St Chads and the Market Tower. The market tower is considered hideous compared to its predecessor but right now it's comparatively pretty.

Of course, this isn't a view that the general public has to look at, so it doesn't really matter if its pretty. I just love the contrast of street level to here. It's the same town but completely different.

 In the distance is the Welsh Bridge.

 Next to this is the theatre and the disused antiques market.

 And here's the footbridge from the Riverside Centre to Frankwell carpark.

 Its quite surprising really because on ground level Shrewsbury is a really pretty town. Up here is such a contrast, and it covers such a vast space.

At the very end of the shopping centre is a pretty good view over the carpark, with a pretty huge drop. But the Rat Run doesn't end there!

There's a view over Seventy Steps, the alleyway that connects Pride Hill to Raven Meadows. Anyone who cares to count the steps on this alleyway will count a lot more than seventy, and that's because it was extended during the construction of the shopping centres. Someone even suggested that this isn't the real Seventy Steps, and that the original stairway was incorporated into the cellar of McDonalds, and this alleyway between the shopping centres was built as a replacement, with the old Seventy Steps signage put over the entrances. But of course, that's just a rumour.

Access further down the street is achievable via the entrance to the shopping centre, returning once again to the street view.

Intriguingly, there's a circle on the floor next to those benches over there, noticable by the colour change on the floor. I never notice it from ground level, but it marks the spot where big circular flowerbeds used to stand. I actually miss them. They gave Pride Hill some character.

The last time I got a photo from this angle, Cotswold was a boarded up Burton, and Waitrose was a walled off former Burger King, ready to be made into its current incarnation.

Incidentally, this part of the Rat Run was the easiest part to get to due to a ladder thats now been blocked off. Being a completist, I usually ignored this route, prefer to start at the top or bottom of Pride Hill and work my way to the end. However this half-way point did come in useful when there are street performances.

Here's the police station. Needless to say, I proceed with caution at this point.

At this point one can see the top of the Pride Hill Shopping Centre! Doesn't it look cool? I actually prefer the top of it to the Darwin Shopping Centre. It just looks a lot prettier and more modern.

This chair has been here for as long as I've been doing rooftopping in Shrewsbury. I wonder who put it here.

As you can see, we're approaching the end of Pride Hill. There are a few good vantage points along the way.

Hey, look, its Greggs. The store on the left used to be Virgin, back when CDs were a more relevant music format.

Here's a close up of the top of the Pride Hill shopping centre. An odd addition are the stairways purely because they dont line up. I actually did once walk up these steps, which are visible to the public by looking up when one is on the top floor of the shopping centre.

From here there's another circle on the floor of Pride Hill visible, where another large brick garden once stood.

At the end of Pride Hill, we have this view of other rooftops I've sat on. This grey tower is part of what we called the Rooftop Maze back in the day, for its endless paths, and I've done photoshoots with models on it, which I'm dying to show you all in a future blog post.

In the distance is St Julians church, which I had the opportunity to sneak up a little while ago.

Here we see the flag pole that sits on top of the Royal Insurance Company, which currently isn't that, but still carries the engraving of its former title. The flag has long since stopped being hung here but the rope did remain for as late as 2011. The little dome is covered in the signatures of anyone who has managed to get to it.

From here it's possible to see Montys and various businesses over in that general area.

Here's the market tower and St Chads, both of which I've been right to the top of. This photo is taken from the bank at the bottom of Pride Hill, where the Rat Run ends. It is possible to run and leap the alleyway onto the roof of Cafe Nero. In fact I did this back in 2010.
I can't do it now though, and it's not a physical thing, but a psychological thing. I did it then because I was depressed, although it wasn't that I wanted to die, I just didn't care whether or not I survived. And in not caring, I discovered a new love for life. Funny how things work, isn't it?
Depression is an odd one. I don't like to say that I have depression, because it feels a bit like I'm putting a cap on my potential. People aren't fixed, they're forever growing and learning, and I think that once I start defining myself by what would be considered "wrong" with me, it's just a downward spiral from there. I want to learn through challenge and through struggle, and become a happier, more productive person simply because that is who I want to be.
No wallowing in self pity here! No blaming other people either. And certainly no excuses. I like to think I'm responsible for my own happiness, and right now in 2017, if wealth was measured in happiness, I'd be a millionaire.
And I'm not saying anything like this to mock anyone. I guess I'd like my personal thoughts on the whole thing to maybe inspire someone.

And here's a nice parting shot from the bottom of Pride Hill. That's about all I have. It sure was nice to return to the rooftops. I do believe that simply doing what you love is the best kind of therapy, and the rooftops, as well as this blog, have been somewhat neglected of late.

When priorities in life start to get a little on top, its easy to feel like one is in a boat filling up with water, and one is struggling in vain to empty the water out. I dislike the analogy because it implies that my priorities are bad and that the objective in life is to get to a point where I have nothing to do.
I read in a book recently that a fun activity for managing priorities is to imagine my priorities as characters, coming to visit me in my office. This is not only good for managing ones workload but it's also great fun to think up characters that fit a metaphor of what they represent.

This blog, of course, is a fairly consistent priority, as are the adventures that sustain it. So Blog Guy and Adventure Guy are there in my office. They're two minds in the same body. Job Guy comes in sometimes when its time to earn a living. He's featureless. Social Media Guy has really bad acne, and I imagine each pimple as an independent face talking to me all at once, and yes, I must treat this guys acne because I like talking to people too. And the metaphor continues so on and so forth, and its quite fun to play with and come up with characterisations for my priorities. My home, for example, would be an attractive but dominant woman, who comes into the office to demand an explanation for why I haven't done the walls yet. Its a new flat, it needs work, and right after I publish this blog post I will proceed to obey my homes requirements. My relationships also fit into this analogy too. I like to picture my last relationship as having someone hanging out in my office who is pretty good company, but if I take my eyes off them for five minutes, I'll look back and find them photocopying their ass, sticking a fork in a plug socket, or pissing on my Japanese Peace Lily. I can turn being cheated on into a fun analogy if I want. Metaphors can be hilarious.

That's it for today. Next blog post I'm heading out to another abandoned house. In the meantime if you like my blog, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and like my Facebook page. And if you really like it, share the blog on your social media of choice.
A final thing I want to raise awareness for is a group in the West Midlands called Riders Battling Bullying, a group of bikers who try to raise awareness about bullying by visiting schools and also going out to meet and support victims. They want to hold events as well, but require awareness, so check out their website to see how you can help out.

And always remember to be nice to each other, guys. The world can be a shitty place, and we each have the power to make someones day better. Compliment a stranger, and tell your loved ones how much you love them. Give someone a hug while you still can, because someday we'll all be minds uploaded onto a computer.
Have a great day.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Rabbit House and Monewood

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

For some reason Telford is an untapped resource, although I'm not sure why. It's easy enough to get to by train, and there's plenty there to see if one knows where to look. I did do some rooftopping in Wellington once, when I was walking along and a water balloon was hurled at me by some kid on a roof. Silly kid messed with the wrong person and within minutes, I was up there tapping him on the shoulder saying "Excuse me, hand over the water balloons." He did so, and someone called the police, they saw me up there with the water balloons and thought it was me that people had reported, so I had to dash.

And then of course, I have my frequent visits to Ironbridge, including the nursing home, the Fat Frog restaurant and most famously, the power station. On my latest visit to the power station, I was joined by my faithful sidekick Tree Surgeon, and a guy who I'll call Riggy, as a cute twist of his actual name. For a while, prior to an odd social media suicide, Riggy was running a blog very similar to mine. I say very similar as an understatement since sometimes he just flat out copied and pasted my wording. This didn't bother me though, because I think it's rather complimentary. I quote people all the time. If somethings been said as best as it's ever going to be said, there's no point rewording it, is there? And in that light, my words being quoted is a collossal compliment. Hooray!

So Riggy didn't piss me off by doing that, but after several adventures he did annoy me with some of his flirtacious messages to Raptor, who was my girlfriend at the time. This was before I broke up with her for reasons I won't go into in the public domain, but it's why the narrative of the last blog had a somewhat angry tone. But regarding Riggy, even though my reasons for being annoyed at him are no longer present in my life, I won't be promoting his blog any time soon, just out of principle. But prior to him pissing me off came a new era of adventure. He was from Telford, and he knew places. There was one abandoned house he was very passionate about, which he called Monewood. I just had to see it, he said. It would make a fantastic blog post, he said.

So I headed out once again to Ironbridge, where we met and I walked with him to the abandoned house called Monewood. Monewood wasn't much, but we did find this place on the way.

We nicknamed this place the rabbit house, because of what we found inside.

No, not that kind of rabbit. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Allegedly the Rabbit House was built in the 1960s, and was last occupied from 2004 to 2014. In 2016, planning permission was granted to demolish it to make way for loads of new houses, because this one is taking up too much room, apparently. It wasn't a planned adventure but we decided to slip inside, easily evading the builders on the site.

Seriously, I hear so many stories of people being caught while doing this, and I just have to ask, how? I've only been caught a handful of times. Avoiding people is the easiest thing ever.

 And it's surprisingly quite refined. I can imagine this place being occupied by quite a well-off family.

Why are they demolishing this place? It's gorgeous!

Even the downstairs bathroom, as far as abandoned bathrooms go, is pretty nice.

This would have been a downstairs bedroom, maybe. There was an odd vibe about this place though. I definitely felt like I was being watched. Hope Everybody Likes Pancakes!

As we entered the lounge we discovered that we were far from the first to check this place out, but even with the graffiti it was still gorgeous.

At the back of the lounge was a rather spacious kitchen.

This table with the dropped sides means that this might well have been a small dining area attached to the kitchen.

Moving on upstairs, this appears to have been used as a teenager hang out. And why not? A structurally sound, uninhabbited but accessible house makes for a perfect teenage hang out, doesn't it?

 One bedroom was completely bare except for a few bits of junk on the floor.

 This appears to be a badly focused image of a key for a "sanctuary." Its probably left over from an old board game.

 There's some leftover jewelry too.

 There's a cupboard, which is ominously labeled the "Play room."

 Clearly written by the teenage intruders, which gave me ominous thoughts of the events that took place in this cupboard.

 A few names are scribbled among some stickers. Are these former child occupants, or former trespassers? When I was a child, I wrote on the walls of my bedroom too.

Here's the aforementioned rabbit. This cuddly bundle of joy was actually tucked away in the cupboard next to it, which we opened while we were exploring. It's possible that it remained undiscovered even by the trespassers who wrote on all the walls.
It's possible, quite sadly, that some kid in the family who originally lived here, is missing their childhood toy that got accidentally left behind.

 The bathroom is trashed. There are shards of glass everywhere, and the curtain pole has been pulled off the window.

 Someone has kicked the bath in.

And the toilet is in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.

 Oddly enough the vast majority of the graffiti was in this room. These teenagers had access to the entire house, and all they did was write "Beware" in the lounge, and then focus all of their time and energy on one room. It seems like a waste of a perfectly good abandoned house, not that I'm condoning vandalism or anything, but it struck me as odd.

 For me, the graffiti really added to this places character. Obviously the family who grew up here, particularly the children who might be more sentimental, probably wouldn't want to see their former home messed up like this, but I actually enjoyed some of this graffiti, in particular the face on the wall with a gunshot wound in his forehead.

Poor Faith...

Onto the outbuildings!

 The outbuildings seemed older than the main building. Its clear to me that this little shed would have been a privy to a previous building on this site, although the toilet has long since been removed.

 The green house was completely overgrown.

 And then of course we have this shed. This shed intrigues me because, as with the upstairs bedroom in the house, it's a focal point for the graffiti.

 It's also being used for storage.

 Does that say "Ass like Rhianna?"

 Oh look, someone is watching me. And I'll say what I said in Chaos Manor- that sort of stuff isn't scary anymore! We're being watched every day, the minute we step outside, by hundreds of cameras. I don't care about you watching me too. You don't scare me, Pencil Kid.

 I almost missed this, but "Hello" is written on the ceiling.

I sure hope that this star wasn't meant to be a pentagram, or someone sucks at intimidating graffiti.

 And finally we have the garage, segemented into two halves, and filled with mattresses, graffiti and other junk.

 But with the graffiti, and this goes for the other building too, why focus it on these smaller buildings when there's an abandoned house right there?

 It seems that whoever lived here was a darts fan.

And this appears to be written here prior to the place becoming abandoned.

But that was all from Rabbit House, which was my preferred abandoned house on this particular adventure. We discovered it by accident, and it was easy on the eyes, and filled with little clues about its past.

The next house, the one we actually had planned to check out, Monewood Cottage, was very photogenic, especially on the bleak day.

 Isn't it beautiful?

Monewood has been on maps of the area since the 1600s but the first map to feature the cottage next to it was produced in 1902. And it truly is a shell.

 Oddly enough, this looked like a garage, suggesting the house had some sort of automobile access, although where to is anyones guess. You saw the exterior shot, right? It's hard to imagine getting a car to it.

 The bath has come crashing through the ceiling, although I've heard previous visitors say that the bath was upstairs, so this is a relatively new development.

 This appears to be an old beer crate. It says "Beer at Home" faintly on it.

 As you can see, there isn't much else left. The ceiling has gone. Most of the roof has also gone. This is actually good for safety reasons. A roof cant collapse on me if I'm walking on it.

 There's an old fridge in a back room.

 Judging by these wires, it did have electricity. I wish I knew more about it. When was this abandoned, and why?

 Here are the stairs. It doesn't look like they're possible to climb, even if there was anywhere to go.

 Okay, so contrary to what I said, here I am upstairs. I'm standing on literally the only stable and accessible piece of the upstairs floor. As you can see, there's a tree growing on the rest of it.

The rest of the floor has gone.

And that's it for todays blog. Really, my trek out to Monewood was merely ticking one off the list. But it was not to be my last trip to Telford, or my last adventure with Riggy before he annoyed me. The Rabbit House was perhaps the real treat, because we found it accidentally, and because while Monewood House was pretty, it didn't inspire a blog post on its own.

Next blog post will be back in Shrewsbury. As always, share this blog on any social media platform you want, and if you want to see more and get regular updates, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and if you can spare the change, donate to the blogs growth using the donate button in the corner.  The money literally just goes on more adventures, increasing the life of this blog. But far more important is that you all go out there and make someone smile. There's a lot of misery in the world, and we each have the power to turn someones day around. The moment you see another human being, you have power over how good their day is. Even a friendly smile as they pass you on the street could lift someones spirits if they're feeling glum.

Equally as important to making people smile is doing what you love. Miserable people will poop on you for doing what you love, but when you reach your final moments on this planet you will look back and regret it if you let these weirdos get to you. Miserable weirdos who, if they could stop looking down their noses for five minutes, might be able to learn from the happy people how to be happy.
We all deserve to be happy if its not at someones expense.

Thanks for reading! Stay awesome!