I turned 32 this weekend past, and thought I would celebrate by getting out there and doing a little urban exploration. I was a little ambitious with how many places I thought I might get to go to, and very ambitious with thinking how I would cope with so much activity and so little sleep, but it was a great night and day.
At 10pm-ish on Friday I met up with a friend at Waterloo station and, after grabbing a coffee we headed out to a nearby location that I had seen the night before. It’s a new build that was hopefully to offer some nice high views of the beautiful London skyline. After a nearby cafe closed and there was a break in pedestrian traffic we headed into the construction ground and straight to the new build. 22 or so flights of stairs/sets of ladders later and we were on the roof with a good view around us, but nothing really to set up cameras on due to netting. We headed back down a few flights to find some clearer views (read: floors with no walls) and started snapping away.
I didn’t want to be here too long, as we had other places to go, but time seems to fly when you’re up high and before I knew it a couple of hours had passed. We headed back down and up to Trafalgar Square to grab a bus East.
Not too long later we were stood outside the iconic Battersea Power Station, and shortly after we were stood inside the iconic Battersea Power Station. I’ll report more on this another time, but when we were in the first thing I did after setting up the camera was to stick my headphones in and listen to ‘Animals’ by Pink Floyd. I remember that I used to have this on vinyl and, I guess as you did in those days, would just sit on the floor listening to it and looking at all of the detail in the cover art, which in this case was an image of Battersea Power Station with a large inflatable pig tied to it. I never for one second thought I would be standing in the middle of the place.
We disappeared from here as the sun came up, and trekked back into London for a well deserved fry up breakfast before heading out to Tower Hill to meet another friend and head off to our third location of some mills in East London.
What with stopping for coffee and checking out the movement of the security guard and such like we didn’t get in there until around 12.30 and I spent the next few hours snapping away at the derelict and quite obvious death trap that I was in. The building I was doing was only a tiny part of the complex and one which, when I looked back at it, was super small in comparison to the larger mill. The photo above is of one of the features in the mill, which I guess is an old grain chute. I will return and do the main section some other time, but at this point my feet were pretty sore, and I had pulled a muscle in my arm somewhere along the way – plus we were losing light fast. As such, we made our way out of there and grabbed some dinner.
By this time I was feeling pretty content, but tired, and was happy that we had made 3 out of 3 locations. The fear was always that we wouldn’t be able to do any of them! We decided to skip location number four and though one of the guys departed, the remaining two of us headed for a final destination that was another new build rooftop.
Unfortunately this one was locked up pretty tight and didn’t seem to be a place that we could get in, especially not easily and at 8pm at night. I called it a day and headed home.
It was a very long 24 hours, which made around 38 hours that I had been up and about, and a lot of that was being active. Sure the climbing and the walking and such all make it quite strenuous, but the actual focus and having to be fully aware of your surroundings is possibly what make it worse. The bath I had upon returning was one of the best ever, and I nearly fell asleep in there – it was only the thought of not wanting to wake up in cold water that encouraged me to get out and crawl into bed.
I had tentative plans to head out to West Park on the following day, yesterday, but pretty much figured whilst in the mill that this would be too much effort, and so I chilled all day instead. The asylum can wait for another day in the near future.