Friday, 30 March 2012

81) Explore 10 derelict buildings: Part 3, near Tallinn Estonia

When me and Brandi were in Tallinn, Estonia, we went on a day trip that visited a few different sites. One of them was an abandoned Soviet submarine base.

I'm not entirely sure 'base' is the correct word, but we were told that it's function was to reset the magnetic signature of the submarines, so that they wouldn't show on radar or set off mines (or something along those lines). Apparently the submarines would travel through coils that would do this, before heading off towards the west.

 Walking along it was weird. It felt so Soviet and empty. That is about the extent I can describe things. There was also a shoe.

It was made up of lots of smaller buildings, all completely wrecked inside and graffitied. It felt like at any time I could slip and fall into the sea (which was full of jellyfish).

There were two other unattached platforms. Not quite sure how the people managed to jump that far.

Inside one of the buildings there was yet more graffiti. I couldn't at all picture the building being used. I couldn't see what function the areas had.

Above the one door there was some Soviet propaganda. I was told the hammer and sickle had been removed to just leave the flag. 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Achievement Unlocked: Lucky Driving

This was on the way to get the keys for our new house. I'm not superstitious, but* I think this means everything with that house will be extremely lucky.

*about to make a superstitious statement.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My First House!!

On Saturday I picked up the keys to mine and Brandi's house! It is a nice two bedroom house in an even nicer village in Worcester.

A few weeks ago Brandi was sending me the addresses of some houses to go and see. I saw a few, but I didn't love any of them. We quickly realised we would need to lower our expectancies or raise our budget.

I didn't have much money saved (for a deposit, at least), and hoped I would get a 95% mortgage. So on the one Saturday I had arranged to see a mortgage advisor with my mom and dad, as well as 3 or 4 houses Brandi saw, and one that they phoned and told me had just gone up.

The mortgage advisor almost laughed in my face when I said about getting a 95% mortgage in that area. I thought from then I would have to rent, making the rest of the day pretty wasted, but alas we were already there and would look.

The first house I went to see was the one that had only just gone on sale, and I was instantly in love. It was perfect. It had a conservatory, an en suite shower, and a big kitchen. It also was off the road, near a nice walkway and park. I couldn't believe it was the same price as all the others I had seen.

It turned out that the lady that previously lived there had unfortunately died, so her family were looking for a quick sale. They had also said that they were looking to leave things like the fridge, washing machine, etc.

It was perfect... but I couldn't afford it. But the second we got outside my mom was like "go and make an offer before somebody else does". I had no idea where the money would come from at first, but I am glad she convinced me.

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic as we have tried (and managed) to beat the end of the stamp duty limit. But now we finally have our first house, and will move in there as soon as Brandi comes over.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Bulgaria, Plovdiv: My Memoirs

- Flying in and being amazed with how it goes from completely flat to mountainous.

- Wondering around trying to find the apartment. I asked a Bulgarian man, and he (like every other the whole trip) was incredibly helpful, regardless of the huge language barrier.

- Walking around the crazy city. It seemed so derelict in parts. The pavements were very broken, and seemed quite in the past. The nicer buildings had their architectural features painted on.

- Climbing the biggest hill in the city, with a statue at the top of a man holding a Tommy Gun.

- Going to a restaurant. The most expensive dishes were £5. Liam asked for some kind of meat, and the waitress said "no... that is... no good...". Avoiding the 'pork knuckle'.

- Playing Ring of Fire. Liam and Ash being 'drinking buddies', and between them finding every single 'double up' and 'drink' card available.

- Drunken grappling.

- Craig's fry up in the morning. Sausages, 'meatballs', bacon, beans, eggs, toast. Awesome way to start the day.

- Getting the train to Asenovgrad. Asking for 5 tickets and being charged 6 Lev's (£3). I then had to ask twice to make sure that is really for 5 people.

- Driving to Bachkovo. The taxi driver being inches from every parked car, and reversing in the snow through the tiniest gap.

- Going into the Bachkovo Monastery. The Christians were taking it very seriously, crossing their chest as they walked in.

- Climbing up the snowy Rodopi Mountains in completely impractical shoes. I didn't think it would be snowy. Many snowballs were thrown. Liam ran, lost his shoe and fell over and we drank from natural springs.

- Trying to save a weird beetle thing that was walking really slowly because of the cold. I wanted to get it to a tree or rock or something.

- Going in the abandoned building on the way back down the mountain.

- The awesome cakes in the town. Liam had soggy doughnut things, and I had a weird chocolate cake. No idea what they actually were, and the language barrier stopped us asking, but they tasted nice and were cheap.

- Looking for Grill restaurant Craig saw on the way in. He said it would be a 15 min walk, but over 7km and many "it's just around this corner"s, a satellite dish that was no where near the building it went to, and a big metal entrance cut into a mountain (Soviet secret base style) we finally found it.

- Ordering loads at the restaurant because it was crazily cheap. I had a double whiskey for 55p. We pretty much ordered 5 plates of meat, a bit of rice and some vegetables. Including drinks it came to less than £1 each. It was so cheap that we gave a big tip, and the waiter loved us. We shook his hand and shared a magical moment.

- Getting a 5 man taxi... which in Bulgaria is a 4 man taxi with tinted windows. The 30km journey I think it only cost £2 each.

- Buying a bottle of white wine for £1.10, vodka for £3, whisky for £3.50, and a bottle of Morgan's Spiced for £10 (you have to push the boat out sometimes).

- Playing BattleShots (battleships but you take a shot when you are hit). Liam losing two boats almost instantly. The fear of your boat being hit, after already having too many shots. Chilling out after with drunken Charades.

- Not wanting to move the next day after hiking and drinking, so randomly wandering around the city, attempting to look for old stuff. They didn't seem to care that they had 2000 year old ruins around. It looked more like they just couldn't afford to move them.

- Finding Captain Vestman among the graffitied ruins of a Roman tower, overlooking the city.

- Eating the worlds dirtiest kebab. A wrap, dipped in grease, then rubbed against the kebab meat, then filled with a sauce, 'salad', and 'meat' dripping with grease. It was nice, but the guilt almost made it unenjoyable.

- Playing more Battleshots and Ring of Fire. Mixing shots of vodka with cheap white wine, and getting rid of the taste with cheap whisky and coke. Stopping midway to go and buy more alcohol. Buying another bottle of vodka and rum, which we found the next morning mostly unopened.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

81) Explore 10 derelict buildings: Part 2, In Rodopi Mountains

I have kind of been struggling to cross this off the list. I occasionally find abandoned buildings, but people I am with never want to go in. I am then quite easily deterred, as for some reason I find them overly creepy. Even smaller ones, where it is clear there is nobody there, I get apprehensive going in.

When I went to Newport towers (first for a photoshoot, then with Neil) I had somebody else who was eager to go in, but that seems to be rare.

Anyway. In my recent trip to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, we took a train out to Asenovgrad, and then a taxi to Bachkovo. After visiting the monastery we walked up the mountains. Along the way there were some abandoned buildings. I couldn't quite figure out what they were from the outside. Most of the windows were closed with bricks, but one was open.

I wanted to go in, but my friends wouldn't stop so we continued.

On the way back down the mountain I decided I wanted to go in. I climbed over the open window, and Mike followed me in.

The inside was empty, with rows of rooms with nothing but big windows and a glass door. I have no idea what they were supposed to be. The first room just had some pants and a condom (can't imagine how that combination came together). The second room just had some litter.

I wanted to look in the other rooms, and perhaps go upstairs, but I sensed my friends were getting impatient outside (judging by the snowballs constantly hitting the windows), so we took a few photos and left.

I may not have completely explored it, but the rooms were all very similar... so I'm counting it!