Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another Article on Atlas Obscura: Longbridge Tunnels

So I scribbled a little more for the wonderful people at Atlas Obscura. If you want to peek, look here.

See the other bits I have written for them here.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Return to the UK: Brief Urbex around Kent Pt. 2

So first off, a confession to make, this isn't an urbex in the sense that we were exploring forgotten about and neglected tunnels. Though they were neglected until earlier this year, the locals of Ramsgate have opened them to the public as a kind of museum, despite this it was good fun. It did, however, mean I couldn't spend long taking pictures, had to contend with bright overhead lights in some places and avoid getting in the way of other people/lagging behind so much it bugged everyone else.

The old signs taken from the entrance, I kinda want them in my non-existent living room with fairy lights poking through the holes... 

For a split second (and at a distance) I thought the horse was real. I blame it on being gloriously over fed and flustered by the weather. We picked the perfect day to visit the British coast, practically December and constant rain. Beautiful. It did make hiding in the tunnels all the more glorious, even if I did try to convince myself that they had sedated two horses for our benefit.

Mmmm, I like textures. Decaying. Old. Brick. Words. 

At this point they sat us all down, gave us a short film about the history of the tunnels and handed us hard hats and (I have to say it) TERRIBLE torches. Though I do get that 12 powerful flashlights would be too much. I was rather gutted to only rediscover my head torch from the previous day hiding in my pocket as it would have been handy for taking pictures.

They also gave us hard hats. Second confession: I never wear a hard hat when I am exploring. YES its dumb, YES I get lectured by more experienced friends A LOT on this. But A. It was dam hard getting it on on top of my dreads (I know someone who shaves his head reportedly solely for this reason--- I ain't that dedicated), B. (and this is actually the main one), I never seem to have the spare money for it, I've been meaning to buy a tripod for months, but Paris is just lethal for living costs. 

So with my hard hat, my frankly useless flash light, and a lot of warnings about uneven floors and low ceilings, we set off, ridiculously excited to be back underground. I couldn't help but think of my night in the catas a bit and laugh, thinking of the floors (the water!!) and ceilings in there-- sans hard hat and at one point sans full self awareness (too much cheap rum). Though by the sounds of it, if we had been given full run of the network, it could still be possible to get lost- though maybe not quite so dangerously lost as you could get under Paris.

This REALLY reminded me of the catas (we found a velib down there- quite why someone would take a rental bike down the Paris catas I don't understand). This made a little more sense, at least it was flat down here.

There was also a lot of graffiti, mostly authentic, but there were some obviously newer scribbles.

Of course I took a picture of the toilet, a fairly un-artistic photo (not as good as this toilet photo in Longbridge). I did momentarily consider sitting on it. Decided against sitting on the WWII era poo can.

Some odds n ends.

Haha this was funny, the leading guide said something along the lines off "normally we invite you to have a look in here but due to the rain we won't as you will just get wet". I let out a loud "awwww!!" without realizing, the other guide took pity on me and my mate, who by this point knew we had a tunnel fetish, and let us look. I'm telling you it was hard work sticking to the rules...

On the subject of sticking to the rules, I REALLY wanted to go down there.

And down there.

There was another tunnel/hole I saw which I asked about, apparently it leads to someone's kitchen above ground. That would have been too funny.

At the end of the tunnel tour they showed us some example settlements that were built by those who set up semi-permanent residence down there. Due to the poor light I wasn't able to take pics worth sharing with you all.

This was pretty much the end of the mission, I gladly removed my hard hat (I had a severe hat hair n dreads situation going on due to the rain prior to the enforced hat wearing). It is possible that myself and my accomplices were among the most enthusiastic of the lot, I had been reunited with my buddy from Paris whom I initially "discovered" the catas with and he is just as bad as me with this kinda thing. But it seemed that everyone else enjoyed it!

I thoroughly recommend the Ramsgate Tunnels, it was good fun, and actually if you are stuck in the rain in this area then you should deff head over. There is a cute little cafe at the mouth of the tunnel which was a good place to warm up and dry off with a mug of tea (though rather hilariously we had to venture back out into the rain after too much tea as the tunnels don't  have functioning toilets- I hadn't yet encountered the WWII tin buckets). Their site is here. Make sure you book though, we have passed by before and it was fully booked, same for that day as well. 

They probably also cover the history I haven't, frankly they know it all much better than I, so you should go just to hear the stories! 

As always there are a few more photos hiding out on my instagram here that I can't for the life of me actually show you directly here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Return to the UK: Brief Urbex around Kent Pt. I

I left the beautiful (and at times grimey) Paris for a few days for the rather grey, wet and cold Canterbury. The trip was primarily for graduation, and because I feel I deserve bragging rights for my feat I'm going inform you all- I got a distinction in my MA, yeahhhh. I did it. Despite the distractions of living in Paris. Anyways, I couldn't not go back without breaking out the cameras, boots and thick jumpers, and calling up a mate or two to go do some exploring. The latter was only figuratively, I can't call anyone up in England since my phone has decided not to accept any calls whilst I am in the UK and only occasionally lets me receive texts. Joys of technology. But here are some snaps.

I don't know why I like this one so much, but I do. This place had a lot of (sometimes idiotic) words on it. Look at my instagram feed for some of the more dumb phrases I found. These willl be gradually posted.

These stairs were a tad mysterious I feel.

"Stay Down Stairs!" Ehhh, no? Instead we carried on, hopped the wall and got on the roof. 


Jelly fish?

"Come Live with Me" ? Not entirely sure. Looks like "Line" to me but that makes little sense. But nor does it make sense to leave threats to stay downstairs followed by something that amounts to "stay here with me".

"Hail Discordia

Just some outbuilding I wanted to peek in.

Some more interior shots.

We went on some more missions in Kent that day before the sun ran away, but I will save them for another post, so stay tuned....

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Day After the All-Nighter in the Catas: La Petite Ceinture

So because I have absolutely no respect for my legs when they wake up and say "Nope,  not today. Not after you spent all night crawling in the Catas, you can't surely expect to be able to walk four hours down la petite ceinture". Well apparently I do. And we did. After not very much sleep we set off to knock another chunk off the map, and I am so glad we did. Maybe this is one of my favourite sections, it was certainly the most interesting, and worth pushing past the achy-ness for. Even if I did get stuck on top of a fence when my legs TOTALLY gave up on me.

This seemed like an appropriate photo to start with, because I really can't get away from the LPC...!

Some close up details of the sides of the station (pictured further down).

 The station, now La Flech d'Or, a music venue.

My companion for the weekend (who agreed to join me on his only spare day in Paris trekking down the tracks!),

Another close up.

I found the way this part had been decorated really interesting, and as a result took way too many pictures! However, moving on to the next station...

This bit was full of people practicing street art, so we didn't hang around long. My appalling French is not up to par with engaging in conversations about such things.

This guy had a pretty spiffing hat, shame he moved so fast I wasn't able to get a decent shot.

We then seemed to hit a section full of pandas, and love and clovers. And "Rain is Pink". I am not too sure what they were on when they wrote that.!

I leave you with one such panda: Be Lucky he says.