Urban exploration in Lancashire

Today was a little less remarkable compared to other explores, but interesting nonetheless. First up was a garden centre near Phill’s house, abandoned in 2013:

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According to the Warrington Guardian, the 66 year old bipolar co-owner attacked his business partner during a psychotic episode, choking him before attempting to topple a statue on top of him – before abducting the manageress. Because of his age the courts decided not to whack him in prison. DRAMA.

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The place appeared to have been abandoned around Christmas time, with broken decorations scattered about.

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The manager’s house was on-site, but we didn’t get many photos in the darkness; here’s a record of someone else’s visit. Phill showed me a photo from a previous visit which quite clearly shows a human silhouette and proper gave me the heebie jeebies.

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According to Phill, the place had deteriorated a lot since that previous visit; copper piping  ripped out, no  fish left in the pond. I found this video of it in a previous life.

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Next we found a bar-hotel which had only been abandoned a year or two. We had a good explore around the exterior, but climbing up the fire escape we seemed to trigger a motion sensor and had to scarper.

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Next, Phill wanted to check out this cottage along his daily commute he’d been keeping an eye on it for several months. We didn’t attempt to get inside. Isn’t it pretty even in this condition?

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Another location he’d previously visited was Daresbury Hall, a former Georgian country house in the home village of Lewis Carroll. During the second world war it was used as a military hospital, and then by a charity (now known as Scope) as a residential home for the handicapped.

It had recently been ruined in a fire (STOP BURNING STUFF, FUCKWITS), so here are photos from his previous visit:

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We didn’t spend much time at the hospital, which had two security guards’ offices attached. We didn’t even see security guards, never mind have to outrun them!

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Inside the hospital were the remains of a £750,000 cannabis farm, complete with police tape and evidence bags.

On the hospital grounds, a huge home had been semi-built on the sly by the dealers. According to Phill, the previous security guard had been in on the farm and alerted the family to a raid, who were able to slip out and never identified.

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It was too dark in there to bother taking many pictures, but believe us that no expense had been spared. Sauna… Dressing room… Marble… Elevated beds to make the most of countryside views…

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Here are pics Phill took on a previous visit:

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Hopping over fences on our way back to the car, we unexpectedly came across a series of miniature train tracks:

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I would love to hear about your adventures in the comment section. In the meantime, you can follow our adventures on Phill’s Instagram.

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How a Flirty Photoshoot Improved my Confidence

A couple of years ago, never would I have considered getting my kit off onstage or in front of a camera. I would literally rather make love to a cactus.

I’ve become somewhat desensitised to topless women over the past couple of years thanks to having them shoved in my face whether I like it or not.

I felt pretty having had my hair and makeup done professionally – that was, until my friend Rachael emerged after her makeover looking a right bird.

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As an actress, Rachael knows how to rock the camera. I wasn’t nervous about getting my kit off, but I was bricking it about the actual posing. I HATE photos. I don’t do seductive or sensual, it’s either smiling or no photo. I was literally shaking with nerves despite the glass of fizz and the photographer had to help me fasten my suspender belt.

The shoot was less terrifying than I’d expected. The photographer told me exactly where to place each limb, so I slowly relaxed.

Going back to view the 40 or so photos a week later was nerve racking. What if I was the exception to the rule and they really couldn’t make me look attractive/thinner/etc etc?

Some were terrible. Of the 11 I chose, I still wasn’t keen on them all. But I blown away by these two in particular:

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A few others were nice too, although they have a vague brothel vibe.

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I was so, so excited to get home and post the photos onto Facebook. I never thought I could look so nice.

For the most part, comments were positive. It was a huge confidence boost hearing how lovely I looked.

But by the next morning, I was contemplating taking them all down because of messages like ‘I just wanna take those god damn tassels off your nipples and lick them crazy!!’

Maybe I was asking for it by posting them. Becoming interested in burlesque has made me very liberal towards bare skin, but despite that I’m actually a right prude and too polite to tell anyone they’ve offended me in case I hurt their feelings.

People can appreciate my photos, but that doesn’t mean they’re entitled to me.

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People also commented that they were unprofessional and I would never be able to write for children’s television. My answer to that is: right now, I do not write for children’s television. Maybe I’ll get there someday, but I’m not going to avoid doing things I want to do now on the off-chance I’ll do something else great in the future.

An old (male) friend unintentionally upset me by asking what I got out of posting the photos online. Wouldn’t keeping them for myself have “fulfilled” my hobby?

I am personally not that interested in seeing them, therefore I’m not that arsed. You’re free to do as you please with your own Facebook. I appreciate that it’s part of what make you a more “free” spirit than most women… you seem to give the impression that you want other people to validate what you do, and am curious as to why.

Wasn’t it enough for me to know in my heart of hearts that I looked good? He was like a dog with a bone and I felt terrible about myself. Was everybody secretly calling me a slut? Or snickering about the airbrushing and how disappointing I looked in person?

After a pep talk from a friend, I decided: screw them. They weren’t there to see the 30 photos where I looked like a beached whale and wanted to die of shame.

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I am proud of my photos. I did something that scared me and felt empowered. I am 24 years old and probably not going to look this good again, so why should I hide my body? Why are women – who make up 50% of the global population – made to feel like their bodies are something to be ashamed of?

Showing off my figure doesn’t mean that I’m promiscuous and welcome creepy comments. It means that I can celebrate myself despite my flaws, and the only thing I would go back and change is to put a smile on my face – because regardless of spots, stretchmarks or cellulite – everybody is beautiful with a smile.

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Another Wednesday, another explore

Plan A was a convent in Lancashire, which had been knocked down by the time we got there and replaced with fancy houses that stood empty because nobody could afford them.

Plan B was St Joseph’s seminary down the road. Opened in 1883, its grounds boast a large greenhouse, cemetery and gorgeous lake.

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The building itself is riddled with cameras and alarms, and we staked it out for a long time.

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Can you spot the guard?

There appeared to only be one security guard…

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We crept up on him. Notice how he’s no longer in his chair. He’d somehow managed to creep up on us – literally about 25 ft away – without even spotting us. Amazing.

Eventually we just risked it and walking right past the cameras. Still nothing. All previous entries had been boarded up. It’s such a stunning building and we were desperate to get inside, but my climbing skills weren’t up to scratch. Here’s a report from someone who did make it in.

From then on, we were on the lookout for some TOADS (Temporary, Obsolete, Abandoned and Derelict Spaces).

We found an abandoned cottage near the car and went to investigate. The view was phenomenal and I got the obligatory corn field shot.

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I even saw my first swede field! A swede, growing out of the ground! Day = made.

We scrambled across the overgrown garden to have a gander through the windows. What we saw was mostly furnished, which is my favourite kind of discovery. At first we wondered whether it was actually abandoned. Maybe someone just really hated gardening? No photos exist of the back garden, but the brambles were taller than us.

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An adorable old lady came to greet us, excited at the porspect of someone finally moving in. She explained how many people had stopped to ask about the cottage over the years, which had once been owned by an old man with a “strange son” who died approximately 20 years ago.

Onwards!

On our way to an abandoned garden centre or Camelot we passed an abandoned mansion. Searching for a parking place, we were distracted by a high-walled bridge, and on peeking over the edge on our tippy-toas because we’re both short stuff, spotted an abandoned mill.

Upon further inspection it appeared impossible to reach, so we embarked on a mission to find an alternative route.

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After half an hour’s clambering through plants taller than us and plenty of brambles (just for a change), as well as completing other obstacles, we were there. The mill looked beautiful alongside the river.

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Although the door was wide open, our guards were up in case we encountered squatters. A poster suggested the place had been out of action for around a decade.

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There was roll upon roll of herbal supplement stickers unravelling all over the floor, leading us to gather that the place had most recently been used as a factory.

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We’re pretty sure we were the first people to rediscover this place. Although some buildings had suffered the general deterioration that occurs with lack of central heating and whatnot, there was no vandalism or graffiti and even the copper pipes remained intact. Exploring always gives me the heebie jeebies, so it was easier to relax knowing there was no security or anyone else here.

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We found a pair of overalls and a cute woolly jumper on our travels…

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We sat up here, listening to the river and watching the rain for a long time.

Then we found a dead pigeon.

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We figured that this path was to keep visitors out of harm’s way.

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This was labelled the printing room and had yet more stickers.

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*Someone* couldn’t resist giving the fire extinguishers a go.

Although it was a brilliant find, despite the brambles, trying to find a way in is often the best part. Not so much out though. What I learned: it’s really scary climbing over a spiky fence that is alarmingly close to your vagina.

Back at the car it was getting dark, but we decided to quickly check out the abandoned mansion which we’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately the phone had died we didn’t get photos.

On a huge plot of land, there was a winding driveway with an overgrown garden which was probably gorgeous way back when. The home’s architecture gave the place an Addams Family vibe.

Inside was  little disappointing, having suffered extensive fire damage and vandalism. Most of the floors had collapsed.

However, some period features remained including arched windows, stone pillars and a carved staircase. What made the visit worthwhile, though, was a huge antique fireplace adorned with a carving depicting a ship at sea. Such a tragedy that only a cartoon enjoying a biffter was there to appreciate it full time.

Images by Phill Gaffney.