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About Gambit

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    Oblivion State Member
  • Birthday 11/13/1966

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  1. Thanks for the comments all. Yep, certainly count myself lucky and fortunate It is a cracking location, not sure I will see anything quite like it again... But who knows
  2. I had seen a number of reports from this site and knew that I really wanted to get to it. Although it has been around for a few years and relatively unchanged, there were the ever increasing rumours that it had been bought and was soon to under go some renovation. So a quick trip was called for, fly out on the Saturday and back on Sunday. Yes I was really keen to get to this place. So a trip was arranged and booked. My first (and to date only) solo explore. With the help of friends, a couple of other locations were added to the route so that it was a bit more fruitful. When I landed in Malpensa (Milan - which is important as you will read later) I got a text from a friend who was already in Italy and was hitting NPU that morning. The text didn't read too well. He had found his way in, and heard some people arriving, so made his way out again. Turns out the builders had arrived... FFS!!! Could I be too late? With a couple or so stops along the way, I finally arrived at the location late on Saturday evening. My plan was to park up, sleep in the car (note to self, once again, I hate sleeping in the car) and then hit NPU early light. I got my sleeping bag out and reclined the front passenger seat. Not exactly even a 2 star bed, but OK for the night. Clearly I dropped in to a deep sleep, as I was woken up with a bright light through the window. WTF!! Yes, I was somewhat perturbed to say the least. Rather than some Italian rapist, it was the police. Phew. I gave them the thumbs up and proceeded to get my head back down, wishing they would turn the bloody light out. The next thing was a knock on the window. WTF! I turned on the ignition, all the lights came on and wound down the window a touch. Request for papers. Bloody hell. Really... Oh well, I was legit, so no dramas. As the papers were being checked, questions... What was I doing, where was I going. Sadly, when it comes to an explore, I rarely (well at that time) make any note of where I am going, in terms of proximity to towns, just plug in the co-ordinates and drive there, stopping where I need to. So where indeed was I going. Hmmm... Milan. Yep, that rang a bell at 4 a.m. from a deep sleep. Yep, I was trying to find Milan and got lost, so thought I would sleep in the car as I couldn't find a hotel. More questions, clearly not believing me. So, even more convinced my story sounds not only plausible, but totally legit... I landed in Malpensa, tried to find Milan and got lost. Seemed pretty simple to me. Clearly the policeman didn't think so though. Idiot. It was only when he indicated that I was around 300KM from Milan that I realised. Malpensa was ... Oh shit... I was not fully awake, racking my brain for some of the recent town names I had seen... Changed my story and hoped for the best. The more I said, the less I believed even myself. I had landed on Saturday, got lost, was leaving on Sunday, had a SatNav and sleeping bag and somehow didn't bother to call the friends I was meeting to get directions. If I had heard that, I would call Utter Bullshit... Fortunately the papers checked out and my things were handed back. I didn't get back to sleep, spooked by every little noise I heard. At around 5:30 I decided enough was enough and I moved the car to then make my way up to NPU. It took bloody ages. Eventually though, I was there. Getting in was pretty straightforward, at the time at least. It was still pretty dark as the sun was not fully up, but enough light to make a start. I had to admit I did smile when I saw the NPU sign I was very pleased with myself. I had decided to limit myself to a time, rather than leave when I was done. I didn't want to get caught by the builders, or worse the police. I had visions of the same police turning up again and then allowing me to explore the inside of a police cell just long enough to miss my flight. Every noise spooked me. Bloody birds flapping in the gap between the window and the shutters being the worst. The racket. I did think that my favourite room was going to be the "Peacock" room But the place has so much to offer, in terms of visual feast. I don't think I could live with that much decor though, but as a visit, it is great. I can't imagine what the place is going to look like once the renovations have been complete. Personally I think that putting anything in any of these rooms will be too much. But as empty rooms, I also can't imagine a corporation wanting to leave such valuable floor space unused. As I continued with the rest of the explore, every shot I set up, I checked my watch. The hour was disappearing too quickly. I ran out of time for the ceiling shots I wanted, and didn't see everything I wanted either. But this is my favourite shot of the visit Time up and I headed out. Fear being the driver for my discipline and I was very glad to find myself looking at this view and not being surrounded by pissed off builders and policemen As I returned to the car, there were some builders working on the construction site near where I had parked, a new set of flats or something. So, with that, I was even more pleased that I had completed my all too short visit undetected. Back in the car and on to the slow(ish) trip back to the airport - a couple of stops on the way. Generally I was and am pleased with my visit to NPU. Absolutely could have done with more time, much more. Wasn't to be for me, and I think a return visit is out of the question now sadly... From what I hear, blocked entrances, and PIRs await folk these days As always, more images on Flickr
  3. Thanks for the comments Just noticed one of the image references was wrong, so corrected that for the image to show through
  4. This was the main site on a mini tour - and the furthest location we intended to get to. Ever since seeing the images from other explores, this site has been on my list. We finally got to the location towards the end of a fairly long day, but there was still a bit of light, so we decided to see what access was like. Once inside, we were soon in the main atrium - if that is the right word? It is a very impressive building, and the architect clearly had an excellent imagination. I don't think I have seen a similar design anywhere else. The way the light can stream in from the roof to the ground floor is an inspired design. With the light fading, we were discussing the options of where to sleep. Hotel Derp Lumiere was looking like a great option to me. A short trip back to the car to grab sleeping bags and we would be pretty set. The upper floors were really warm - well at least they were in the early evening. We had more or less agreed that Hotel Derp was going to be the option for the night when we heard voices. First instincts were to freeze, no movement or sound, then slowly shrink in to the shadows. It was at this point that we realised the voices were too chirpy for security. It turns out it was a group of four or so, clearly intent on having a party or something similar. We said Hi, then left, it would be an early start in the morning to hit this site. When we returned the next day, we were relieved to find the place to ourselves. Although the atrium is the main feature of this fabulous house, it is the way in which each floor is different and adds to the design. The ground floor, with the dare I say, iconic mirror and red carpet. I was quite upset when I heard that the mirror had been smashed. Such mindless vandalism. Although now, with the mirror gone, some of the charm of the place is forever lost, I still think it is a worthwhile explore From the first floor, over the balcony. It was getting nice and light now, and the design of the atrium was really coming alive with the sunlight streaming in from above. From the second floor, what struck me here was that rather than just continue the theme of the balcony and an open space, the architect has included a latticework. Certainly for decoration, well I wouldn't risk walking out on it... But it does add interest when one looks up from the ground floor Up in the attic, this "room" is how the architect's design and vision is finished off - and how the sunlight pours in and illuminates the atrium on the floors below. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. There was a small lift in the building. Other little details, in one of the rooms there was a large wardrobe. I know, nothing unusual there. I wanted to get a shot looking in to the ensuite, only the wardrobe door was slightly agar and didn't do a lot for the composition. Yes, I know, close the door... It was when I went to close the door that I realised that this wardrobe wasn't a normal wardrobe. The door was very heavy and it was then that I noticed the locks. This wardrobe was in fact a safe in disguise. Awesome. Had it not been for wanting to shut the door, I would have totally missed this feature. In the room was another safe which was unusual as it had a combination access comprising of 4 dials - all with letters on. My french isn't good enough to come up with any words or options for the safe. I tried a few options though... Neither "SHIT" nor "PISS" were right and the safe stayed shut. Even some of the radiators had some amazing detailing Downstairs, in a sort of lower ground area I am guessing servants quarters - or at least the showers for them? I really liked the detail in the windows We had spent the best part of four hours exploring this mansion, and I would still go back, even though the mirror is now gone. By now the place was getting over-run with people and we no longer had the luxury of having the place to ourselves, so content with our explore we decided to head out - and I hoped the car was not clamped, towed, or otherwise incapacitated... Oh, the car was fine Over on my Flickr there are some more photos - I thought I had put enough on this post... Thank you for viewing
  5. My first, and to date, only explore underground is a trip to the Catacombs under Paris. For those that aren't aware, a little history... The rock beneath Paris is largely limestone, and since the 11th Century, mining of this limestone has taken place - to build the city. In many ways, Paris is built on a latticework of tunnels and caves. Collapses of the tunnels created were becoming more and more frequent, so in 1777 the Inspection des Carrières was created. Their role, to inspect the quarries, map them, and where necessary reinforce. By 1786, with progress being made, another problem for the City needed solving. The graveyards were becoming overcrowded, and there were concerns, the Parisians were convinced that their drinking water was being contaminated by the decaying bodies. The solution - to move the dead to the underground caverns beneath the City. So the task of moving 6 million corpses began, and the Catacombs were created.... I had heard from a friend that a trip was being organised, so I got myself on the list and started to make plans. The thing with this sort of trip is that although it lasts a couple of days - or thereabouts, your survival depends solely on whatever you take with you. Well unless you are a seasoned visitor and know more about how and where to exit the Catacombs without issues. The plan was to enter the Catacombs on Friday afternoon and then come up on Monday, late afternoon. Going on the basis of 2 litres of water a day, and having not wanting to go short, I ended up taking 6 litres. By the time I packed in enough food, the water, sleeping bag, bivvi bag, inflatable mattress, spare clothes, mini stove, pans, a couple of torches, spare batteries, a couple of copies of a map - there was not much room left in the 60 litre rucksack, and it was bloody heavy. We had arranged to meet some of the group in a car park near the main access point. The "rooms" and some areas are named, and the tunnels also have names - well some do. Our first port of call was "La Plage". Getting there involved something called the Sand Crawl. It was the first time I had to crawl for years - a long forgotten skill I have to say. Made all the more "interesting" as I had left my climbing helmet and head torch at home. My only light was the from the people in front and the P7 I held as I crawled along. Luckily it wasn't so low that I had to take my rucksack off, but it was low enough. Some people were managing an odd sort of low bent over walk, but for some, including me, it was easier progress on all fours. Before long La Plage opened up. It was pretty cool I have to say. There was a lot of street art, and the reason it was called La Plage - well I can only guess the sandy floor and the large wave mural... I had a wander about. Before too long, some French lads turned up. They seemed friendly enough, quite chatty. However... We had already discussed that we weren't going to tell anyone we met where we planned to go. The Parisian youth tend to have parties in the Catacombs and the odd day trip. The people we met weren't prepared for a multi day visit, but then again they didn't have to be. With the network under their feet, multiple visits were pretty straightforward, so no drama coming down for a few hours every other weekend or so. After a little while they left. About 5 minutes after they had, a strange purple haze started to fill the room. We had no idea what this smoke was, probably a harmless enough smoke bomb, but frankly none of us wanted to hang around and find out if it was or not. Deep beneath Paris, no mobile phone signal, no means to call for help, not easily accessible - even if people knew where you were - nope, it wasn't a good plan to stay... So, like the stork - we flew that place We decided to head towards "Lanterns Room". This was a bit of a trek but a safe place to stay the night. Safe as in it was a blind tunnel, so we wouldn't have to worry about people walking by or wanting to get through. I don't know if you have ever been underground for a period of time, but the strange thing is that all sense of time is completely lost. There is no day or night, hours just seem to blur. In the "morning" the mini group I had travelled down with decided that we would go our own way, explore the network as we wanted. We knew where we were, where the exit was and with around 4 maps between us, we were sorted. Oh, another thing I hadn't counted on - wearing waders. Don't get me wrong, they are essential. There are parts of the Catacombs which are partially flooded, not massively deeply flooded, but enough to breach over normal wellingtons. Walking around in wet wellingtons is not good fun. But wearing waders all day long - that really isn't pleasant. There is a heat build up, which is great all the time you are dressed, but when you have to put on wet socks, trousers and waders the next morning - man that is gross. As we made our way through the tunnels, along the route there were a number of ladders leading up to manholes. The issue is, one has no idea if these are sealed or not, so it may not be a case of using one of these as an emergency exit... The pin prick of light in this image comes from the manhole cover - so it must have been daytime The weird thing is, the speed at which light just falls away. It is very eerie to say the least and very easy to get lost as a result. I wouldn't want to be down here on my own that is for sure. At one point, we - there were 5 in my little group - were talking about the poor girl who died in the Odessa catacombs. Short story - a 19 year old girl got separated from a New Years Eve party and couldn't find the group or the exit. We agreed to turn our torches off for a few seconds to see what it would be like. I know - pitch black. But honestly it was worse than that. We were all standing very close to one another, and as I am sure you all know - when one is standing close to someone, you can always feel their presence, even if you close your eyes - think crowded underground train - one doesn't ever feel alone. The thing is, here, with no light - I felt no one's presence. Nothing. I knew that everyone was still there - there was no sound - so no movement - but the blanket of silence and darkness was smothering, absolutely horrific. That poor girl, to be that alone, no ability to find anyone, no one answering your screams, not knowing where the walls of the tunnel were, stumbling in the dark, knowing that death was beckoning - just horrific. I was very relieved to see that our little group was intact after that little interlude. The Mineralogical Office Of course, no trip to the Catacombs would be complete without bones... and skulls too Parts of the tunnels were used as a shelter, and one of these was where we decided to spend the night. We ate in the Flag Room After a second night, we decided that actually a third night was going to be an adventure too far... We were fatigued and were ready to make our way out... More bones... Part of the network was used by the Germans in WW2 as bunker A word of warning - don't get lost, or you would end up looking.... Our final location to visit was the Castle Room - couldn't resist using the spare candles and making the place a little more interesting Apero's Room - well the entrance at least Although this wasn't in La Plage - it is similar to the one there, although can't remember exactly where this is, but it was up by the Bunker and Apero's Room I think... And with that, thank you for viewing - as ever, more images on my Flickr
  6. Mate great report. Don't blame you for not going out on the ledge with all that ice about. When I went, although I did go on the ledge, it was a glorious sunny day. To be honest, I didn't actually see the view in my image, just dangled the camera over the edge and clicked. I can only imagine how cold it must have been there when you went. It was pretty chilly when I was there and the wind picked up along with the low cloud. Looks great with the ice though, especially that shot looking up at the Hammer and Sickle. Mosaics look good too
  7. Cheers for the comments guys - appreciate you taking the time
  8. Our first visit was late in the afternoon. We were keen to find out if it was worth going there early the next day. After we had booked our flights and car hire, we heard rumours that the weekend of our trip was also the weekend of a large Socialist gathering. If there were loads of Socialists, although the "documentary" style photography would be good, in reality it would be a total let down. We all put a brave face on it, but in reality it would be a waste of time going there and not being able to even attempt to get in - maybe not even get near. As we approach the access road, we noticed a lot - A LOT of coaches coming down the hill. Great. Eventually we found the other route, this time, no coaches, in fact no one at all. When we got to the top, it was bloody windy. Very cold too. After walking around the monument we spotted what looked like the way in, and decided to make the most of being there with some exterior shots. Around this time a lad arrived and asked if we were going in - errr... no, of course not... He then asked if we knew how to get in, we said we had a good idea and just carried on doing our own thing. "Well I am going in, [email protected]#k the police" he said and sprinted up the stairs. We all looked at one another and decided to follow. So, even though the light was fading fast, we were in. I won't lie, it was great being in the monument, although it was howling a gale, pretty cold and the light was rubbish, it was still awesome. No sign of any Socialist gathering, no security lurking about, just us - oh and the local youf. We decided to make tracks and return for sunrise. Although we waited around in the main area for the sun's rays to create shaft of light - there wasn't enough in the atmosphere to give that effect, so off we went to document this quite amazing place The main area is surrounded by mosaics and above the centre is a large Hammer and Sickle The detail in the craftsmanship is amazing There were all sort of rumours some French explorers falling to their death on the rickety ladder leading up the tower which is to the side of the "dome" Looked around for the supposed memorial, and found nothing. As it happens, the ladder up is a series of flights of stairs, totally sound. The stars in the side of the tower are, 12m high, I think. The wind through here was fierce, and I wasn't too keen on the idea of stepping out at the top. I figured that if it was as windy there as it was walking by the stars and the broken windows, I wouldn't bother going out. As it happened, it was totally calm. Just as well, as the shot I really wanted was this one Of course I could tell you that I got my tripod out, lined it up, double checked alignment, took a couple of shots and moved forward a little until I had the perfect shot... Errr.... OK, it wasn't quite like that. I did climb over the low railing on to the platform, lie down flat and edge forward so that my arm was able to dangle the camera (strap still around my neck) over the edge. Fired the shutter and checked the image. It wasn't quite right so out went the arm again and fired off another shot. Nailed it. Good. Edged back and having lost some weight (heights not so great without a harness), over the railing and double checked the image again. It would do. After 4 hours inside, it was time we headed off and on to other adventures, but we are all glad with the explore. It was a glorious day and, I for one, didn't really mind where else we went, Buzludzha had been epic Thank you for viewing - yep, more images over on Flickr
  9. Thanks guys Didn't know it was sealed now. Shame. Although I don't tend to go back to places, I wouldn't have minded a second visit to this place...
  10. This place, as I am sure a few of you are aware, is in the middle of nowhere. If you can call the Welsh countryside nowhere that is... I have to admit, I felt quite smug, driving towards the location in my Land Rover Defender - perfect camouflage for the area. And, no, contrary to some published photos - this is not my Landie The house is a little set back from the outbuildings, and at first I didn't see the house at all. With eyesight this good, it's no wonder that my research, is on occasion... bloody hopeless Once inside the house, I spent far too long photographing the Harmonium and the Clock next to it. One thing I liked about this location is that, although it is filled with lots of little artifacts, I do not get the feeling of intrusion - perhaps because I get the impression that it has been abandoned for quite some time. I don't know if this is true or not to be honest, but that is the feeling I get. Both upstairs and downstairs, there was so much to photograph and document As well as those personal items, the view out the back has a peacefulness to it I could quite happily have spent several hours at this location, both inside and out. As we were leaving I spotted an old cart in what is left of an outdoor shed - of sorts. It looked quite photogenic, but I wasn't sure I wanted to get the tripod out and take my time. One of my fellow explorers was getting a detail shot though, so after wandering about I decided to get a bit closer to the cart. Of course, the grass had grown quite a lot and I was careful where I was treading. Or so I thought. As it happens, I stepped forward, and my foot went straight on a large nail. Nail, which was attached to some wood/fence/whatever went through my boot and in to my foot. Bloody marvelous. Actually it wasn't, it was bloody painful. The nail was gripped quite well by my boot, so in traditional comic book fashion, I slowly lifted my leg up to pull the nail out. The general call was to take my boot off and see the damage. Well I knew the nail had pierced my foot and I saw no point in taking by boot off until I got back to the car. I hobbled away from scene, and then decided, actually, bollocks, I was going to grab a shot of the bloody cart. As it goes, I am quite pleased with this grab shot When I got back to the car, boot and sock off, there was a nice neat puncture hole in my foot, just shy of the middle of the arch. Luckily, the boot gripped the nail quite firmly, so any lose rust or muck was "wiped" off the nail before it went in to my foot - well at least that is what I reckon. Thanks for viewing - there are some more images on my Flickr A couple of detail shots, portraits, that sort of thing
  11. Thanks all - always appreciate the comments
  12. Great set. I really like, 4 and 5 - oh and that blackboard Thanks for sharing
  13. Really like the O2 shot at the beginning of this set. Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing
  14. Nice set mate - a lot more than the usual (albeit epic) ceiling shot. I really like the 8th one down, with the light coming in from the window behind you. Thanks for sharing