Posted on Sat 3rd Dec, 2005, 7:45pm
Shutter speed: 1/30,
Camera: Canon EOS 20D,
Lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC,
Focal length: 18mm,
Captured: 3rd December 2005, 1:19pm,
Are you sitting comfortably? Good, because today's story is a mini epic.
When I was younger my friend Richard found an old disused railway line that runs/ran parallel to the main railway lines. There's a bridge where they used to cross the road and he found a way to get onto the lines just next to a footpath nearby. Being youngsters we went exploring and got onto the old bridge. Then we walked further up and found a derelict railway station.
This was quite a few years ago now and I'd forgotten all about them until a couple of months ago when something jogged my memory. It occurred to me that the derelict station might make for some nice photos so I made a mental note to see if it was still possible to get onto the lines when I had a day to myself.
Today was that day so I went up there and much to my delight it was still easy to hop onto the old lines. Unfortunately I could see straight away that it was massively overgrown. Much more so than when Richard discovered it. Nevertheless I decided I wasn't going to be put off and set about making my way through the brambles, bushes, trees etc. It was taking me about half an hour just to go a hundred yards (we're talking Ray Mears levels of vegetation here) but I got to the bridge reasonably quickly, considering.
The photo above is of the lines crossing the bridge, the only place where they weren't overgrown. I tried to take some with the sky in too (clouds were good) but the ground turned out pitch black so I went with the shot you see above.
I then pushed on to try to reach the old station. After about an hour of navigating through seemingly impenetrable bushes and getting my entire body scratched by thorns my heart sank as I got to the mother of all bramble bushes which I was clearly never going to get through/round/over.
At this point my hands (and also legs, although I didn't realise until later) were bleeding and it was starting to rain so I decided to abort the mission. But there was no way I was going to go back the way I came as it'd take me a similarly long amount of time to get back.
To both sides of the tracks were barbed wire fences and beyond those were gardens and houses. I hatched a slightly naughty plan to get over the fence and escape onto the street through somebody's garden gate. Not a great thing to do but it seemed the lesser of several evils so I went to take a look at the fence jumping situation.
On my left was an easy-to-get-over fence but the houses were all on some kind of estate, meaning the fences all joined onto the walls of the houses so the only way to make it to the street would be to keep jumping garden fences until I reached the last house of the row. Since the chances of me damaging someone's fence were high I decided not to do that and went over to the other side of the tracks (which took a few minutes and was no mean feat in itself) and try there.
The other side had 'proper' houses with garden gates and looked like a better bet but the fence was impossible to climb without cutting myself so I looked for a tree to assist my departure from the railway lines. I soon found one and began climbing.
About two steps up the person who lived next door to the house I was about to trespass on wandered into their conservatory, saw me and went straight back inside. I didn't fancy running around the streets so I jumped back down and made my way to a different part of the opposite side of the tracks as quickly as I could (which wasn't very quick).
In probably one of the luckiest things ever to happen to me, I spotted a bent-down piece of fence behind some garages belonging to the estate I mentioned earlier and managed to get out onto the street without any major dramas.
I then wandered (slowly and painfully) up the road and spotted a boarded-up, disused building with a sign saying "Amber House Hotel." There was a path by the side leading into the garden and I decided to make up for my lack of disused station photos by taking some disused hotel photos.
When I got round the back I took a few shots and then noticed that the back door was actually open, albeit partially blocked by a fridge, so I went inside. There was some graffiti in there and most of the old beds and mattresses. It was fairly obvious that the place was being used by homeless people.
Because most of the windows were boarded up it was almost pitch black inside and the whole thing was very spooky indeed. I was half expecting to find a dead body or bump into an irate sleeping homeless person but thankfully neither happened.
I did take a few shots but the lack of light made it quite challenging. I'm going to post one tomorrow so I won't talk too much about the place today.
After that I went into Croydon to get some keys cut (lost mine last weekend). The chap who cut them clocked my camera and suddenly pulled out a massive old camera from beneath the counter, the ones that had four lenses on a rotating barrel. He proceeded to ask me, in a heavy Scottish accent, how much I thought it was worth. I politely said I hadn't the foggiest, paid him for the keys and left.
On the bus home I was sat next to an incredibly annoying young girl who kept asking random people random questions and the told me to pull my trousers up (cheers love, not heard that before). Then when I got home I realised I had a thorn sticking out of my forehead and my legs were scratched and bleeding all over.
Now I'm off up to London for a house party. I dare anyone there to have had a more interesting day than me. It can't be possible.
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