I've told this story many times before. The building in Shrewsbury that is currently Waitrose was the gateway drug that led to my addiction to exploring. It was on a night in 2010 that I overheard a bunch of teenagers discussing exploring the abandoned Burger King building. I asked them to show me the way in, and as a result I got to explore the entire building, from its cellar to its roof. It was labyrinthian, and full of photo opportunities. I didn't know well enough to get as many photos as I should have, and due to it being so well known to the younglings of Shrewsbury, it didn't last that long.
A lot of security measures were taken to ensure it wasn't explored again. When it became Waitrose we did utilise the scaffolding to once again get a rooftop view, and also expansion down the rest of the street, but it was never a consistent place to explore. I was quite happy when I found out it actually was climbable, but the bad news was that all this time I had been blind to it. I had fallen into the sneakiest of all mental traps, the dreaded comfort zone.
And that to me was a real buzzkill,given that when I first started this whole thing, my mind was blown open. Suddenly everything was a ladder. The world was full of potential, and I set about seeing my home town from just about every angle imaginable. The trouble was, I gained my little collection of frequent rooftops, and fell into that comfort zone where I could look at a building and say "I can get up there," and stopped looking at other buildings and asking "... but can I get up there?"
Well I sure showed myself. Never question your own potential. Unless you try, your chances of success are always going to be zero, but rest assured, if I was to write a blog about the places I tried to explore but couldn't, it would have twice as many articles as this one in a matter of months. But trying and failing isn't defeat. Failing to try is defeat.
I don't force entry, vandalise, steal or disclose means of entry, and the view from Waitrose is pretty goddamn epic.
Too epic to turn down, you see. I am addicted to existence. I'm in love with existence. If I just stayed in and watched TV, I feel like I'd be being unfaithful to existence. Existence itself wouldn't mind. Existence is a polygamist. Everyone can love existence.
Click a picture to see it big.
I'm not sure what caused the light anomaly to the left of the clocktower, but on a long exposure it could be anything! It looks like a meteor falling from space, which is pretty cool.
The corner of Barclays. For this shot, I actually sat there for ages. Since it's a long exposure on a busy street, it actually took a while for there to be a trafficless thirty seconds. Thirty seconds doesn't sound like much but when you're waiting for a camera to go "click" and you can hear an approaching vehicle, it's the longest thirty seconds you'll ever sit through.
On a long exposure, any traffic will appear as twin-streaks of light, of which I now have about two hundred of this street corner.
Further down Castle Street, you can see St Mary's graveyard on the left, and a big modern building on the right. I'm not sure what that is.
Here are the familiar St Juliens and St Alkmunds Churches. In the darkness I could barely see them but a long exposure works wonders.
But my favourite shot is of St Mary's!
Overall, I'm really glad to have rediscovered access to this rooftop. Of course, the full explore is no longer there as the building is no longer a giant derelict fast food outlet, but the view is amazing and for me it's very nostalgic as its accessibility over the last five years has been very inconsistent. But given that one of my favourite rooftops, the flag tower, has now been made inaccessible, I feel like some kind of balance has been restored by the rediscovery of this one.
In regards to life itself, it occurs to me that this is likely to be the final blog post of 2015, so let me review it over a couple paragraphs. I want to point out also that January 8th will be the two-year anniversary of "Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not." That is, exactly two years since I decided to document my adventures here on the internet. When I started, it was just a side project, while I dabbled in other areas of creative expression. I wasn't sure where I was heading, but if you're a creative mind then you'll know, I had to head somewhere! I wasn't expecting the blog I had on the side, the hobby of exploring, to explode with the popularity that it did. A lot of my readers tell me that my own writing style has improved since the earlier articles, but honestly I think that this is because I care more.
In regards to my personal life I feel like my life is now entering into a golden era of sorts, and that is odd because so often golden eras are only noticable in hindsight. 2015 is the year I initiated a social reboot, leaving the negative and the toxic behind me. It was especially difficult to start from scratch because, and this brings us full circle with what I was talking about earlier, toxic people do provide a comfort zone. When one faces absolute solitude without them, it becomes very easy to just stay put. And yet with the people of the past left in the past, absolute solitude actually equated to being less lonely. Life is strange like that. And gradually, with the absence of negative influences, my mind was able to evolve in the direction it should always have been evolving, and I was able to surround myself with positive people and experience life among my fellow human beings on a level I had rarely experienced.
It's strange now to think of "Me" in times gone by because that isn't me anymore. It feels like I'm writing for a fictional character that I was portraying. I feel that all the tragedy of early 2015 was a doorway to unlimited potential and growth after years of stagnation.
I have never felt so alive.
And in just two years of writing Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not, I've experienced the world in a way few do, I've discovered things I didn't realise were out there, my entire perspective on life has done a 180 degree turn. I've been on the radio, I've been mentioned in a book about Shrewsbury, I've had my readers donations pay for my camera, the product of which has been published on this blog since July of this year. I've seen my post views rise to such high numbers that I have been left speechless, and support for this blog from my readers has been tremendous.
And I can't help but have high hopes for the future, because if this is how far I can go in just two years, then where will I be in three, four or five years? I'm talking of the blogs success as well as my own personal growth. Future Me is going to be awesome. I'd so sleep with Future Me... (but I doubt I'm Future Me's type...) But regardless, the future is bright for me. I hope it is bright for you too, whoever you are, sat there on the recieving end of my verbal rubbish. We're all capable of initiating the change we want in our lives. My friend summed it up in a brilliant metaphor- "If I stop to scrape dog crap off my shoe, it doesn't mean that the dog crap won. It means I'm smart enough to scrape dog crap off my shoe."
Think on that. What do you want from life? Is anyone really stopping you?
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My next blog will be facing the world with the knowledge that I was trapped in this comfort zone. There is one place in Shrewsbury I've always looked at and thought "I wish I could climb that." And at long last, this itch will be scratched.
Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!