Before we start, I want to write briefly about a friend of mine, Becky Wood, who recently passed away. She was in her twenties and news of her passing was entirely unexpected. I first met her in 2006 back when I was a spotty teenage imbecile venturing into Shrewsbury to get drunk with other teenage imbeciles. Since then, thanks to the wonders of living in a small town, we ended up as work colleagues for a brief period, before she moved on to better things. It was care work that we did together. It's an occupation which we both agreed, generalising somewhat, tends to attract a lot of people who are woefully unintelligent and boring, and so Becky was actually a breath of fresh air to work with because she actually had depth.
I found her inspiring. Becky posessed a rare beauty of character that is lacking in so many. What made her beautiful was her indomitable attitude to life. She was her own boss. She didn't follow anyone. She voiced her own intelligent opinions that she constructed all by herself. On top of that her potential knew no limits. She had the power to reach beyond her grasp, and continously push on to expand her horizons and possibilities. To see this in anyone is to see greatness. Whenever I saw her, she had some exciting news, a new road that she was taking her life down. She was also a talented artist. And I, with the social skills of a yak, find it a miracle when I keep a friend for even three years. Becky knew me for eleven.
I last saw her a month or so ago. She was pretty happy and enjoying life, and carrying a baby, who now has to grow up in a world without her mother. I guess if there's a lesson there it's that we should be appreciative of those around us, as we never know when it will be the last time we see them. This has come as a huge shock to me. RIP Becky. You will be missed.
But on with the blog post, although my tone might be different, such is grief.
Today I'm rewinding back to the summer, when I was working with a client. In this case, we're using "client" as a term for a guy I dragged into an adventure for therapeutic reasons. Adventure Therapy! Isn't that a great idea??? My clients name is Brother Michael, and he was a monk. Or at least he pretended to be.
He told me one day that he was feeling rather lost. He's just come out of a 22 year relationship, having moved in with her after living with his parents, and now he's alone for the first time in his life. I honestly feel for him. 22 years is a long time, and after any relationship there is a sudden void where time ordinarily spent on a partner is suddenly empty. Loneliness is an awful thing.
But you see, Brother Michael had booked off some annual leave from work, and with a lot of his spare time being spent in solitude for the first time ever, he suddenly found himself reeeally bored, and told me that he was considering picking up more shifts at work during his annual leave. What a travesty.
Now I'm all for working for a living. I'm in full time employment myself, and it's very much a necessity for survival. However, I think that there is more to life than work. More importantly, there is more to the human individual than being an obedient little worker for a corporation. I think it's important to have things that define your life beyond the means in which one drains their soul for a monthly payslip. I don't want to meet people and introduce myself only to go on to say"I work in a lamp factory. That is my life." Although if I were to say that, I'd also go on to joke "I used to work in Auschwitz but I got sacked because I couldn't concentrate."
But no, I would not want to define myself by what I do for a living. I do believe that humanity has somehow hi-jacked its own existence. As children, we seek happiness, and the world is full of possibilities to have fun. It's all huge and exciting. As we grow older, the world shrinks in our minds as we're encouraged to fall into the safety of patterns. We're told that if we simply follow all the little rules, and be obedient little employees just doing what we're told to do then everything will be okay. But human nature hungers for more than just the rat race. A child is one who is able to instinctively create their own worlds. When children play, they're constantly experiencing their own reality through their own imagination. This isn't a learned process. This comes completely naturally. The problem humanity faces is that we're encouraged to grow away from this ability, or more horrifyingly, grow to accept the reality imagined by those in control.
We weren't meant to be fed through some
I told Brother Michael to grab his car keys. You're not going to pick up shifts during your annual leave. We're going on an adventure!
This abandoned bungalow was on my radar for some time, quietly tucked away in the Shropshire wilderness, only a few miles from a second abandoned house that we'll cover later on. It reminds me a little of the last bungalow, but then don't all bungalows look the same? Of course I should be careful throwing statements like that out. Someone on Tumblr might take offence. It's about time someone called me out on my house privilage...
Anyway, I'm not sure what the history of the place is, or why its abandoned. Typically this happens when the occupant passes away, and as such when one ventures around them it is with complete respect. These places are like museums or gravestones of the former occupant. It is important to change nothing.
However, the majority of abandoned houses, like Calcott Hall, Cloud House and Christmas House all have a vintage look to them, like they've been abandoned for decades. This one is comparatively modern, which gives it a creepy vibe of its own, more reminiscent of the Travelers cottage. I felt like the owners had nipped out for a bit and were about to come in and find two trespassers.
But the lack of clothing and personal posessions such as books, toys and whatnot indicates that it is indeed unoccupied. But why?
The garden is overgrown, and littered with relics belonging to the former occupant.
And of course, the door is padlocked. Fortunately the windows were not.
But check this out! The coats have been hanging up for so long that cobwebs have formed on them.
As far as exploring abandoned property goes, Brother Michael took to it rather well. Sure, he's not as badass as Ouija LeMay, facing off against the Welsh Mafia, but then I'm not that badass either.
The bungalow is still fully furnished.
Here's the kitchen and dining area, although it sure is rare that a family might position their dining table diagnonally across a room, but who am I to judge? It looks kinda good like this.
There's a calendar here thats dated January 2006. While it's not 100% precise it does give an accurate idea of when this house was last occupied. This indicates that the house has been abandoned for around a decade.
There's a Christmas card here for someone called Josh, who we'll assume is a young boy who used to live here. It's from Dad, Colette and Chloe. Curiously it's lacking the mother, which would indicate maybe that the parents in the family are split up. Either the mother is absent and Josh lived here with his father, step mother and sister, or Josh lived here with his mother, and the card is from the father who lives elsewhere and perhaps his partner and step daughter? I don't know. For all I know, Josh, Chloe and Colette could be three unrelated adults sharing this house, but I doubt that.
In the kitchen cupboard are tins of sugar, coffee and tea, all still there and waiting for someone to come and make a cuppa.
I'm not sure about the expiry of coffee granules, but I'm pretty sure that when they look like tiny pieces of coal, it's probably not fit for consumption.
The tea and sugar are much more deceptive.
Onto the lounge!
The lounge is still furnished with two sofas and a rather dated television. There's also a hatch that leads through to the dining room, just in case anyone wanted to eat while watching TV.
Nature has started to creep in through the corner there. In spite of the cleanliness, and the modern vibe to the place, we all know that once nature gets in, it's all downhill. It sure would be interesting to see how this place looks in five years once the mold gets in.
The firepoker and brush is all still there.
Moving on to the bedrooms... There are three. The first one is presumably where the parent slept, and it is curiously the only room to retain any personal belongings of any significance. The bed is still here.
An alarm clock!
This just rather hilariously reminds me of Cloud House. When urban explorers first discovered it, they mentioned that there were a lot of clocks in the house and concluded that the former occupier had a "fascination with time." Such is the habit of the urban explorer, to read between lines that aren't there, take 2 + 2 and somehow make 6, and come out with some bizarre backstory for a house to make their story seem more impressive than it actually is.
Personally I think abandoned houses are exciting enough without that sort of sensationalism. We can make up fancy stories about the former occupants all we want, but chances are they were oridnary humans like you and me... well, maybe not me...
Here's an alarm clock. Oooooohh!!!!!
This small room was possibly the bedroom of the child, Josh. The majority of bedroom-related items have been removed.
I'm not sure why there's a wooden board with numbers written on it, but the colouration seems to imply that something was once on display on it.
The only indication that this was even a childs bedroom is a Mr Men sticker on a window. Of course, it doesn't necesarily mean that this was a boys room, since the evidence is fairly non-gender specific, although even something as simplistic as childrens books about anthropomorphic blobs subscribes to gender roles too, with the Little Miss series. But so far the only thing that's obvious is that a child lived in this room. The window actually opens out onto the interior hallway of the bungalow, for observation purposes.
The third room, with its remnants of pink and purple wallpaper, and a Winnie The Pooh themed height measure, indicates that a girl lived in here.
The bathroom is also very pink, but has seen better days.
There used to be a shower curtain in this ridiculously tiny corner.
Moving out of the bungalow, the garden was overgrown, and hidden in the jungle was this garage, which seems to be a dumping ground of excess furniture and an abandoned vehicle.
Over in the corner of the ceiling is a wasps nest, which appears to have fallen from the beams and gotten caught in something, leaving it dangling.
As far as the bungalow goes, that's pretty much all that there was to see. But what is one to make of all this?
The bungalow was eerie, isolated and cut off from everywhere, with a very real vibe that the original occupiers would arrive at any moment with the groceries, hopefully with fresh coffee included.
It seemed that a family lived here, with at least one boy and one girl. I guess we can conclude that the young boy was called Josh, and if the birthday card was given to him by people living in the bungalow, then we can assume that he lived here with his father, Collette and Chloe. One of the womens names could possibly be a step-mother, and in this scenario all of the bungalows occupiers are named. However if we work on the theory that the card came from a father who didn't live in the same house as "Josh" then we're back to square one and I'm talking rubbish.
Less furnished but far more historic was another abandoned house only a few miles away.
Interestingly, this one was more appealing to my accomplice, Brother Michael, who loves his history and dived straight into detective mode, which was quite nice to see. It's an interesting aspect of the adventure that different people appreciate different kinds of locations.
This particular house had a privy in the garden, which is basically a toilet, prior to the internalization of toilet facilities in houses. It's overgrown, and basically one pooped in a hole on a bench. It's still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.
Access to this house was through the rear entrance, which had an extension added on at a relatively later date. Of course, this entire building is ancient, so the addition of this extension isn't too recent. Nevertheless the main house predates this bit.
It's obvious, because the main wall of the house inside the extension still looks like the exterior wall of a house.
The extension had this mighty brick structure which Brother Michael theorised may have been a bakers oven, and this house may well have been the village bakers centuries ago.
Until the modern era, with machines doing everything, bread-making technology was more or less consistent from the middle ages onward, and I guess this could easily be an old bakers oven.
But we are, as always, open to second opinions. I'm no bread expert.
There's a shelf in another part of the extension.
Slipping inside the main house, the stairs are right there on the right as one enters, but we won't be looking up there just yet.
There is a lot of age in this place, and one can see the varying levels of its history through the decay, from the peeling vintage wallpaper down to the brickwork.
This particular brickwork is along the back wall, and its indicative of a complete redesign taking place at some point.
There's junkmail dated 2010 but none of it is addressed to anyone personally. Whoever lived here vacated a long time ago.
Next to the stairs is this curious cupboard, which is really just a really narrow door, lockable from the outside, and leading to a very tiny compartment under the stairs.
As you can see, there's not much in there, and the door itself being so unconventional meant that I almost missed it.
This room has an unattractive vinyl flooring.
This poor little guy possibly got trapped in here years ago and starved to death.
Under the flooring, one can see the original vintage floortiles. I'm not a huge fan of this ugly vinyl flooring but it looks to me like it might have once been more colourful, but years of exposure to sunlight through the windows has faded it.
This area seemed relatively more modern, and was less decayed. Given some of the wall fixtures and the colouration, I assumed that this was a kitchen, and had once had counters and work surfaces.
Moving onto the stairs, theres an old, worn, floral design on the steps that indicates a time when this house was quite pretty.
The upstairs has three rooms, consisting of a central room and two rooms leading off from it.
Given that the brickwork in the chimney has been replaced, it's possible that there was one a fireplace up here too, which has since been removed.
This room has actually had quite a bit of modification, containing the most modern brickwork in the entire building along the back wall. It's quite sad to see that this house has had so many modifications throughout the ages, only to be left the way it is now.
There's still the remnants of wallpaper here.
At the other end of the house, above the kitchen, the floor and ceiling were slowly collapsing. It's in contrast to the "kitchen" area below which felt more modern, but given that this house has undergone various modifications, it doesn't surprise me. The ground floor typically gets fixed up prior to upper floors, due to being the part of a house that guests and such see.
What is interesting is the presence of a fireplace here, while the downstairs floor lacks one.
But that's all that there is to see from this house. It's just left to crumble away in the Shropshire wildnerness, and no doubt has a considerable few years of a head start on the other building.
And someday it will all be rubble. Someone somewhere could have fond memories and photographs of these buildings, and it goes to show that everywhere we turn we are faced with impermanence. Our posessions, from the smallest, simplest items, to our entire homes, will out-live us, but they too decay.
A human could maybe live for around 85 years, maybe even make it to 100 or past that, but the entire species has been around for 100,000 years, give or take the occasional century or two. So in actual fact, a human individual exists for around 0.00085% of their species overall history. That's pretty diddy. And then consider humankinds existence in comparison to the existence of Earth, which has existed for around 4.5 billion years, and our lives become even diddier. I have a decorative sign that hangs up in my office that reads my favourite quote ever- "Life is too important to be taken seriously." Because it is! Here we are worrying about being five minutes late for work and being told off by our boss, or missing an episode of a show on TV because it'll ruin the story arc, and around us life is passing us by. People ask me why I do what I do, why I laugh at the world as a means of coping with it, and why I go galivating on rooftops and poking around the forgotten places. It's because of death.
However, we live in an age where information is our key to immortality. The internet is the single greatest creation humans have ever come up with. It's less than a century old, and it's only the younger generations who don't remember life before its existence, and as such we haven't yet seen the long-term potential of such an invention. Humanities means of recorded history is forever changed. Whatever we stick online, photo, video or otherwise, is there to stay. And with it an entire era is captured and immortalized.
You could, as an example, record live music at, say, Alberts Shed (great place), and stick it on Youtube. And a decade from now, those who were there that night could watch this and their minds would be taken back there through the power of nostalgia.
And thats why cameras are another one of humanities greatest inventions, the literal harnessing of light particles, along with music, the ability to communicate with the soul in a way that speech can not.
Humans with their love of history will use the internet, particularly social media, to study this era centuries from now. (Hello, if you're reading this.) And with social media rapidly descending into a species-wide battle for relevance, I sure hope the future isn't too judgemental.
We must try to look our best.
And as for Brother Michael, he enjoyed his adventure therapy. He was so happy to be given something new, something other than performing in the rat race more than he needed to, where he would have just spent his day miserable, wishing he was somewhere else. He'll be in future adventures, along with my usual accomplice, Tree Surgeon. The supporting cast continues to grow. I even have another rooftop photoshoot with a model on the horizon, so make sure you keep watching.
Follow my Instagram, my Twitter and like my Facebook page. And if you like this blog post, and certainly if the narative resonates to you, share this anywhere you want.
And if you know anyone who is miserable, or anyone who is struggling, give them a hug. It costs you nothing but it means everything to them. And be nice to retail workers. It's their Christmas too!
That's all I got. Thanks for reading.