"One of the most thrilling reads of the 21st Century"- Marilyn Monroe

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Creepy abandoned church (Operation Cobra part 4)

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

 This blog post contains some morbid imagery due to what we find. If morbid content disturbs you, feel free to click off the blog.

As a quick recap, Operation Cobra is our nickname for a road trip into Wales. We had our sights set on a mysterious abandoned house out in Wales, and just in case it was a wasted journey, my accomplice Tree Surgeon and I found a route that would give us plenty of adventures to have along the way. We gathered a group and we hit the road.

So today we're checking out this modest little chapel.

It doesn't look like a chapel, does it? We're out in the depths of Wales at this point, far from any village.

Chapels like this owe their existence to the days before the industrial revolution, when Wales was still remarkably rural, and people lived off the land in tiny disconnected communities. These communities lacked the funds or manpower to build places of worship of any significant architectural magnificence, like churches in more populated areas, but the communities would come together to collectively build a place where they could worship. These were built mainly with granite and slate, as these are common materials throughout rural Wales.

Nowadays, religion isn't as prevailent as it once was, and the number of actual churchgoers is even less than the number of religious people. In addition, as technology has increased, these rural communities aren't so cut off, but the churches relied on the community to maintain them. As such they all gradually became neglected and forgotten.

 This one is in some really pretty scenery though.
On the exterior of the chapel is this sign.

It took a lot of work, fiddling on the computer with Tree Surgeon, but we managed to make out what this sign says. It reads "The site which this chapel stands was presented to the Welsh Congregationalists by the Righ Honourable George Charles, Earl of Powis, AD 1923."

The Welsh Congregationalists have their roots in 1639, in their disatisfaction of Queen Elisabeths behaviour during the Protestant reformation of the 16th Century. No, not the present Queen Elisabeth. She's not THAT old. Unless, of course, we go with the shape shifting reptile theory, in which case, maybe she is.
The congregationalists sought to bring about a purer form of Christianity, and wanted to congregate in independant churches that could appoint their own ministers and be self governing. They believed that this form of worship fulfilled the descriptions of the early church and thus gave them more direct contact with God. For those who might be unsure, God is the antagonist from the popular series of books collectively refered to as the bible. The series covers the misadventures of humankind over the course of several centuries as God frequently seeks to cause them harm if they don't worship him correctly.

Meanwhile, the Right Honourable George Charles Herbert lived from 1862 to 1952, and was the fourth Earl of Powis. His family seat was Powis Castle in Welshpool, and when he died, it was given to the National Trust.

So lets slip inside this congregationalist chapel.

I haven't burst into flames on entry, so the House of God truly is abandoned. 
 As you can see, nature is taking it back.

 It's small but eerie. I find that churches have a fantastic atmosphere to them though. I didn't really want to leave this place.

 But seriously, how was this abandoned? Look at this beauty.

 This thing should be fixed up and put back to use. It's gorgeous!
It's a shame to see this entire church decay like this, to be honest. I wonder if any photos exist of it in its glory days. Maybe even wedding photos or something? Those would be great to see.

 My grasp of the Welsh language isn't too great, and this font doesn't help. It took a little while to work out because the word on the end makes no sense.
With the Welsh word for "God" leading the sentence and "Cariad" meaning "Love," I assumed this said "God Loves You" but on the end there, the word "Yw" is a Welsh word for "Yes."
My best guess is that this could be an affirmation that gives weight to the sentence rather than a word meant to be literally translated, so what this is saying is "God Loves !!!" with a positive affirmation to add some punch to the statement.

God has a very peculiar way of showing his love though. I mean those church pews are the fastest way to turn your buttcheeks numb, and people are expected to sit in those AND feel loved for it?
It's a good thing this statement has an affirmation on the end, because some of the congregation may need a little reassurance. 

 Littering the chapel are these old hymn books.

 There's also a can of spaghetti.

 And at some point a bird must have died in here. But the real surprise came at the very top of the church where someone had left a bible, and someone else had decided to plonk a sheep skull, presumably for the purpose of creeping someone out.

How eerie is that?
But also take into consideration how big a sheeps head is, and you'll realise this isn't your standard dainty bible found in a hotel room. No, this book is huge. 

This bible was entirely in Welsh, and I was hoping that whoever had placed the skull here had done so in a funny, darkly-corresponding part of the bible, like the part that says "Take a goat to bed with you, and you will be happy."
But no, this part of the bible is the part where the poor Jeremiah has to warn the people of Israel that God hates them and unless they stop being twats to each other, they'll be wiped out by an army from the north. The best line of these pages reads "They will be called worthless dross because I, the Lord, have rejected them."

But the church wall said "God loves" so it's okay.
Talk about mixed messages.

But for me the part of the whole religion thing that tickles me is that while the bible does actually say "Take a goat to bed with you, and you will be happy" we get people like Westboro Baptist Church, and other extremists, hating on the gays in the name of God, for destroying the world with their preference in partner. Goats are fine but keep your mits off anyone of your own species with the same reproductive organs.
 I'm aware that these don't represent all Christians though, don't get me wrong. In all honesty, I know quite a lot of very friendly Christians, and lets be honest, the likes of Westboro Baptist Church are about as representive of Christianity as Buzzfeed is representative of feminism. But the gripe with the gays makes no sense at all because the line of the bible that homophobes refer to actually just says "Do not lie with a man as you would with a woman."
I mean that's open to interpretation. God is basically saying "If a man asks you if he looks fat, it's okay to tell him yes."

But also on the subject of biblical homophobia, we should probably look at historic context. The characters in the bible are almost always dying. It's filled with stories about apocalyptic floods and tribes wandering around in the desert for years. It's a battle for racial survival. It makes sense that at some point the tribe chief says "Fucks sake Cyril, get out of Rodney. We need to make babies, dammit."
And now, thousands of years later, the threat of extinction is in the form of politicians, and nuclear weapons. It doesn't really matter who we take to bed at this point, does it? In fact, I'd like to host a communual orgy in my garden. You're all invited. But I digress.

I'd argue that Jesus was bisexual but I think I'm ruffling enough feathers with this blog post as it is. It's bad enough I have the Yacusio after me from last blog post, but somehow in the space of one blog I've somehow managed to insult Christianity and Buzzfeed, not to mention the fact that I've insulted Urban Explorers in every Operation Cobra blog post so far purely because so many of them are wazzocks.
How many enemies will I make by the end of Operation Cobra? Will I even survive? We have the Welsh Mafia hot on our heels. I'm dead serious!

Meanwhile, the chapel had a back room, and I have to warn you, things get morbid. If morbid subjects get you down, click away. Read about Brogyntyn Hall in Oswestry instead. A band recently wrote a song about that blog post. That's right, the local bards are telling of me. Isn't that awesome? You can hear the song here.

And if you don't mind a few pictures of dead sheep, keep reading.

 There's a fireplace in the back room, which would imply that someone wanted this area heated and habitable once.

 These sheep, however, are literally lying where they fell, and their skeletons are pretty intact.

 Well, this one has no head. It's probably the one plonked on the bible.
It sure is strange to see entire sheep skeletons though. Notice, also, the collapsed stairs at the side. It appears that there was once a means of accessing an upper floor.

Luckily someone has placed a ladder where the stairs used to be. Lets check it out!

This little area is tiny, and has decayed a lot. But there are signs that it was once quite nice.

A door leads to a smaller room, which is a lot more collapsed, and overgrown. As you can see, the door frame is collapsing.

There's a birds nest up here.

Using my foot to wipe some of the dust on the floor, I found that the flooring up here was quite artistic with this floral design. It must have looked quite nice once.

There's also a red lamp shade up here.

But otherwise, that's really all that there is to see. I don't know what this little collection of rooms at the back of the church could be used for.

Anyway, in keeping with the totally ludicrous "antagonists" that Urban Explorers throw into their stories to make them more interesting, because an entire abandoned chapel complete with pews, bible and organ, isn't cool enough on its own. So I'll just add in here that at this point, the Welsh Mafia totally swung by to try to murder us all. We tried to escape, but Riggy made us stop to explore this abandoned house-

And then one of our colleagues was shot. I'm so serious! This happens all the time in urban exploring adventures on Youtube!
Luckily, they survived the gunshot and the scar looks just like Jesus so call it devine intervention.

Also when I told our driver to drive, we were almost struck by lightning. I'm not sure if Gods pissed that I'm using others to do my bidding or if he just wants credit for the idea.

But that's it for this blog post. I just want to point out, out of fear of being burned for witchcraft, that I am not actually against religion, but nor am I religious. I guess you could say I'm agnostic but an apathetic one, because personally I don't care whether there's intelligent design to the universe. I just don't, sorry. What matters is that I am here, and that I'm doing what makes me happy. The existence or non-existence of a deity doesn't factor into my happiness.
And am I happy? Hell Yeah!
I can honestly say that my life is pretty much going exactly how I want it to go.

 Anyway, that's it for todays blog. If you like it, share it on social media. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and like my Facebook. If you ever want to help fund my adventures, hit the donate button at the top. No pressure though, but donations do go only to the blog.
However, far more important to me is that you are all nice to each other, not out of fear of going to Hell, but because it's fun to do so, and the world needs it. Add some positivity to someones life.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Creepy Abandoned Caravan Park (Operation Cobra part 3)

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

To recap, Operation Cobra is an epic road trip, to some distant abandoned location in Wales, that may or may not be sealed, or possibly demolished, because my sources are known for their lies. However, the house does exist, and we are going there. Just in case it was a wasted journey, I had my loyal sidekick, Tree Surgeon, help me organise a route that would take us past as many abandoned sites as possible, so that I could make many little adventures throughout Shropshire and Wales, and watch as my blog title goes from inaccurate to outright ridiculous.
All we needed was a team to make the road trip with, each armed with skills that we may need, from the utterly crucial driver to the potential cannibal bait just in case we ran into any in the wilderness, and then we hit the road.

Eventually, on the way to a ROC bunker, we came across this creepy abandoned caravan park hidden away from sight.

The best adventures are the accidental ones. Tree Surgeon and I had planned out our journey meticulously and still stumbled across this place completely accidentally.

So what's the story?

These static caravans sit on a patch of land which also included a derelict mill, which upon inspection appeared to be in the process of renovation. It wasn't always so though. Had we got here a few years earlier, the mill would qualify for this blog too, but the mill was purchased in 2015, and is being fixed up.

The mill is of significance to the area, in particular a nearby town in the quaint Welsh wilderness, whose name translates in English to something to do with a parish built on a former Roman fort. Seriously, you might look at Welsh places and think "Good grief, I may need to put a golf ball in my mouth in order to pronounce that correctly," but often they just translate to simple things like "village by a bridge" or "church on the remains of a fort" or "That house by the river where Timmy hung himself that one time." There's method and meaning to Welsh names.

So the mills significance was as the first hydro electric generator in the area, owned by a rich guy in 1914 named Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, a name which repeats and repeats throughout history as a chain of Welsh nobility. The first Watkins Williams Wynn was a Welsh politician, born in 1692, and the name passed down to his heir, and then to the next heir. Every generation had a Watkin Williams Wynn. He's probably a bit like the Mayor of Sunnydale. His name became so common in later centuries that there's even a Welsh folk song about it. And he owned this mill, and the land around it, on which later a Caravan Park would be established.

At some point the land on which the mill stood opened up as a caravan park, and probably once had a lot more vans to it, considering the size of the field in which the leftovers sit, and it remained as such until around the 1980s or early 1990s. Only a few caravans remain, but they're all open for anyone to casually have a nose around.

Here we have the first van, decorated with around 25 years of decay and vandalism.

 I'm probably not alone in the opinion that this is an ugly mattress with ugly matching curtains.

 Most static caravans follow the same design, with the bedrooms at one end and the lounge area at the other, with the middle section being a kitchen and dining area.

 There would have once been a table between these two seats, and the entire thing would also have converted into a bed.

 Just down from the dining area, this little unit would have held the TV, facing towards the lounge area.

 The kitchen area was of interest, particularly the sink. If you think that's dirt in there, look again.

 This is the remains of a wasp nest, smashed to pieces with its contents filling the sink. All of these are wasp corpses, some complete and some still developing from the larvae. For those of you who don't know, insects have a larvae form, which is essentially a baby version that later develops into the adult. The larvae is put in little honeycomb cells where it swims around and consumes food that is secreted for them. Once it's fully developed, it leaves the cell.
Often, once the seasons change and a wasp nest is abandoned, a nest can be found with semi-developed wasps dead inside, like a massive communual tomb. However, this one was emptied down the sink.

 Intriguingly, this van still has loads of cuttlery left behind.

The lounge area has seen better days.

But remarkably, this is actually the van in the best condition out of the bunch. Onto Caravan 2.

The exterior is different but the interior layout is the same, albeit slightly more trashed.

 Here we have bunk beds. These rooms are narrow and confined, and the beds themselves are ridiculously tiny. As a child, I fell from many a caravan bunk on our family holidays.

 The kitchen in this lounge is a little tidier. There are no dead wasps, and a surprising amount left behind.

 The dining area in this van is losing its seats as well as its table.

 Curiously, the remains of a wasp nest are on the floor of the lounge, revealing the honeycomb nature of the nest. These caravans are actually the perfect environment for a wasp nest, protected from the elements and such. But often when the Winter months arive, the nest is abandoned and rarely returned to by future generations.

 Looking closely one can see the rest of the wasp nest, still hanging underneath the lounge furniture.

 It's about the size of a football, and is currently not being lived in.
But as far as wasp nests go, the other vans had a surprise waiting for us.

 Entering the third van, things seemed even more trashed. If you look closely at the exterior photo you can see that the bedroom portion of this van has been ripped apart. There's barely any wall left, and the flooring was collapsing too.

 In hindsight, it was a bit odd that the condition of an abandoned static caravan should decrease as one makes their way through the lot. Why are some more trashed than others? Surely if people came to vandalise, they'd have no preference over which they'd smash?

 Here in this van, I found a name, which I assumed might be the name of the caravan park. However, Glan-y-Mor is Welsh for seaside, and if you type it into Google maps, you'll find several holiday destinations by this name dotted around the coast of wales, but that's still ages away. We're barely out of Shropshire at this point! I guess it's feasable that this van was transported from a caravan park at the coast, and retained some decor that reflected it. It's a stretch but that's my best guess.
Unless some urban explorers robbed another caravan park at the coast, and placed this here just to throw people off, since urban explorers in the UK are prone to silly behaviour like that. But that kind of prank would require them to understand Welsh, and also expect other people to. And Welsh isn't exactly a language many people know.

And urban explorers aren't traditionally known for putting this level of intelligence into what they do either.

This next van was the curious one, because it contains a lot of alcohol bottles and some graffiti, indicative of it being the hang out of some teenagers at some point. But why this van?

The main bedroom is surprisingly intact.

With a bit of the cooker randomly placed here.

The double bed has mysteriously vanished.

I actually wonder if these cookers could actually still be functional? Could they be retrieved and put back to use?

The dining area is in "bed mode" which literally just consists of taking the dining table, using it as a bed frame and putting a mattress on it.

Ah, there's the bed. In the lounge, of course.

See, all this alcohol was probably drank here after the initial abandonment of this park, likely by teenagers from the nearby town. Although it is all strangely tidy for drunk leftovers. But then we get to the graffiti.

"Stab me like a stalker. Rape me and be my hero."
And then someone has added at the top "Fuck you!"
Nice response. I'd probably say the same if this was said to me.
There's a pentagram there too, of course.

Holy AnneFrank! That there is a colossal wasp nest.

It seems that at some point someone came along and gave it a good old jab with this stick. It's actually possible that some poor idiot did this when the nest was still active, and would probably have suffered the expected consequences, but the violation of the nest would have led to the abandonment of it too, such is nature. However, crack it open and there's probably a few hundred leftover half-formed wasps.

The final van was impossible to access via the doors, due to being trapped in this overgrowth. But that didn't stop me squeezing in through the window. But oh, how my nasal passage regretted that.
I'm not sure what happened here, but I sure didn't want to breathe it in any longer than I needed to.

The bed is still in tact.

The dining area is mostly still in tact.

I guess this cookers not retrievable.

By the looks of it, damp has gotten in and the cushions are all moldy, which would explain the stench.

Thankfully this was the last caravan, and we proceeded to exit the park.

But wait, don't traditional urban exploration stories come with a silly fictional antagonist, such as non-existent guard dogs, zombie Nazis, or claiming to be chased from a property because someone else also happens to be driving down the same country lane? Something clickbaity. Something silly. A straight up outright tale of bullshit that only an urban explorer could think of to make it look like a minor nose around a forgotten location is actually something Indiana Jonesy?

Well as you know, we don't lie here on this blog, but as we were leaving the caravan park one of the locals spotted my friend, Ouija LeMay, and said "She's lush."
As you can tell by her totally real name, Ouija LeMay isn't from around here. I think she's from a completely foreign culture. I think she said Essex or something. Either way, she had no idea what a Welshman means when he calls a woman "lush."

Some members of our posse did inform her that Lush is short for Lucious and is generally used by the Welsh to say that a woman is attractive.
However, I had to interrupt because this is bollocks. Everyone knows Lucious isn't a Welsh word.
No, Lush derives from the Welsh word "Lluwch." To pronounce it, just try to say "Lush" while slurping a drink, and you'll get why they slanged it up to Lush.
I explained to my posse that in Welsh, they have this strange aspect of the alphabet where certain individual letters put together make a completely different sound. Two L's together make a slurp, and a C placed before a H make a zombie apocalypse noise. And to add further confusion to the mix, W is a vowel. So Lush means Lluwch, and this actually translates to "Dust", which is what the dreaded Welsh Mafia, the legendary Yacusio, say to their targets when they've been marked for death.
All you are is dust in the wind, dude. 

I'm dead serious!

This is all Ouija LeMays fault, of course, because we stopped in a chippy and she made the joke "What's the difference between an Ariva bus and a sheep? It's more embarassing being seen getting out of an Ariva bus."
Except there is no Ariva bus service out here, so all the puzzled folk in the chippy just heard Ouija rabbiting on about something they didn't understand followed by something to do with being inside a sheep, which is not ideal conversation in a chip shop, least of all one in Wales.

What a berk.

And remember, this is all totally factual and not some made-up plot point to add unnecesary drama to a blog post about poking around static caravans. The Welsh Mafia is very real, and very deadly.

So will Operation Cobra continue now that the Welsh Mafia have marked Ouija LeMay for death?

Damn right it will, this is my show, and we're finding what we came for. In the meantime, near the caravan park was the previously mentioned ROC bunker.  And I sure was excited to see its hatch wide open.

Exposition- this is a nuclear monitoring bunker that would have been used by the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) back during the Cold War. They're about fifteen feet below ground level, and consist of an office filled with communications equipment and bunks, paperwork on what to do in a crisis (such as how to trap and cook animals should society come to an irradiated end) and a small toilet.

This particular bunker was built in 1961 and was decomissioned in 1968. Most ROC bunkers are locked tight and therefore immaculate inside, and the ones that are open to the public tend to get trashed by urban explorers and local kids. However, sometimes even the trashed ones are photogenic.

This one... was a disapointment.

The shaft is just full of rubble, and the ladder is missing. There's no way down. And to test it out, I did something a little foolish and lowered myself in, so that I was standing on the rubble. It didn't budge. So either the rubble is packed in to the entirety of the bunker, or the shaft is just so well jammed. Either way, there's no getting in.

Sorry guys.

There will be other ROC bunkers.

That's all I have for this blog post. If you like it, don't forget to share it on the social media of your choice. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter and like my Facebook. If you can spare the money, hit the donate button, and all proceeds will go to the blog and enabling future adventures and equipment. But don't feel that you have to. Remember, far more important is that you all go out there and make someone happy. Because we all have the power to make sure somebody else has a good day. Do your best to cheer someone up.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Stay awesome!