Ray's Exploration Rantings

Conquest 2002 - Part One:
The Forage Of May 2002

Having been dropped off from my helicopter at the side of the road, the forage began once more opposite the quite marvellous Winkipop Cottages. A quick and well-timed leap over a barbed wire topped fence got me to the path leading to the fields to the West. I ignored the warning signs on the fence, which are of course there for common people like you, not for those as important and distinguished as myself. I mean, I practically own the entire country, so naturally I can roam where I please - though don't take this as an invitation to do so yourself, because you're not allowed, or indeed worthy.

Turning to the North, I ducked through a gap in a small wooden picket fence and...No. I shall not discuss the tricks of my trade. But let's just say that I encountered and conquered many obstructions not meant to be seen by mortal man (except for those working on the site, but when have builders ever been truly human, eh?). And thus, along with my trusty servant Dolmal Filfan Carrond (who carries my foraging basket at all times), I slipped into the true grounds of the Hospital itself.

Immediately, the sounds of the world outside the CRCMH were diminished, mostly because of the glass-tipped wall, the treeline and the perimeter defences, but also because of the focused awareness the hospital brings. Wandering around twenty feet through scattered trees, the scene unfolded: stretching to the north the pathway had been severely dug up, long piles of earth rising to around seven feet in places stretched out for around fifty metres, the tall trees surrounding the staff accomodation lay far in the distance. Here, instead of heading straight for the front entrance, I turned and headed west along the Southernmost end of the hospital. Plenty of new graffiti adorned the walls. A fair few of the walls I passed as I began skirting the Southern side had been partially demolished, some of it obviously on purpose, and some seemed to be accidental - as if a huge JCB or somesuch had clipped a corner as it turned. Which, judging by the tracks in the soil, it had.

The first area explored was the now-ruined end of the most Southeasterly building - one of the maternity wards. This was the building that seems to have been hit by a large construction vehicle, crushing and demolishing a corner of it entirely. Main access to the ward was blocked by one of many iron grills, but the view through the barricade was delightful. One groovy piece of graffiti stuck in my mind - a few words reading The Green Lady Comes If You Knock. I'm unsure whether there is a documented 'Green Lady' or whether she is simply the creation of fellow explorers, doing the freakin' thang, but come to think of it, that ward is right at the end of the Flincher Zone, so anything is possible. I had a ramble inside there, but no, I didn't knock. Maybe next time, just as I'm leaving, but probably not - you know how unpredictable the Otherworlds can be. So I'll leave it at that...

Very doomy, very groovy. Adjacent to the Demolished Ward (shown on the map as a small nodule just to the left of it) is a small storeroom, which contained plants, a couple of trolley parts and several boxes containing sealed bottles of glucose solution. I considered foraging some but realised that a container with sugar and water in it wouldn't be that exciting. Unless yeast had been added I suppose. I left them there for when war breaks out and we hole up in the haven of our Fortress-Hospital. Logistics shall be the key to victory, as always, and with a bountiful supply of energy-donating fluids, we shall prevail and win the war 'for you'.

Moving West along the Southern Path, the next landmark was the Library and Lecture Room, which was in a rather sad state of affairs, having collapsed somewhat severely over time. A few glances through the windows revealed nothing much of WOW, and mostly bits of roof on the floor. Once again doomy, and a testament to lack of funding and furtive behaviour (there must be some kind of weird reason why the CRCMH closed in such a hurry, wonder if the Truth will ever come out. Maybe Mulder is in there somewhere, having his face pulled about by mischievous quasi-aliens). Good for a quick look and a few classy shots but by now I was getting the urge to walk on - the Black Room was calling. Also, on the floor by the second entrance was a wrecked guitar amp lying exposed to the elements, one of many out of place items strewn around the outside of the buildings, that hints at the CRCMH site being used somewhat for a public tipping area in the not so distant past. Los Bastardos, as Mr Claypool would put it. Onwards...

The Animal Lab (aka The Black Room) was in pretty good condition for a burnt out Deadhouse, even though it was pretty grotty with peeling clammy paintwork, it was structurally rather sound still. Decorated with a selection of new plant life, and ignoring the decaying plasterwork, it almost looked appealing. Until I got inside. Skirting the swinging mini Doomlamp, I sidled through the manky doors and moved immediately to the site of the final shots of The Harrowing. The Black Room seemed to have been untouched since my previous visit, which, judging by my mark left on the wall (when I had signed myself as The Moose Squad Dec97), was probably 1997. The Large 'T' shaped pole/thwacking stick was in the exact position we had left it in 1993 during the final scenes of filming The Harrowing footage (you will of course remember that I had an acting role in these Pwürg produced films). I did a thorough forage of the place but only found burnt out beds, walls, doors and entire rooms. There are a good few rooms in there, connected in a loop. The locked animal cages, around 8 feet by 6, are quite delightfully forbidding. Strange and freaky noises were heard from the other side of the new fence whilst in here - are these the same sounds heard in other encounters documented on the website..? Altogether tho, I felt totally comfortable in there, it was actually quite relaxing - possibly due to the walls resembling a Pollock in places. Yeh the atmosphere was that of funky imagery, techno-goth-industrial heaven with added Casiotone in the form of hospital beds cavorting wildly in random storerooms. I got some shots of inside, but as light was very very low in there, they are quite dark. Useable yes, but dark. I also wandered into the other part of the Animal Lab, opposite the Black Room entrance with the sign on it. This had a few rooms with empty cupboards and drawers, and, curiously, a shower area. Perhaps all the dissection and vivisection left the 'scientists' rather bloodstained and sweaty...

Leaving the Black Room behind me, I ambled to the Western corner, passing the back of the Winnie The Pooh® Ward on the way. The views through that ward's windows were too dim to take any shots, but I would return there proper later, when attempting to face the Flincher. Now the direction was North. Sounds of human activity emanated from the other side of the Metal Perimeter, accompanied by chopping and clunking sounds. I expect it was simply Cliveden gardeners doing their magical work, but as per usual with a bit of imagination, many groovy pictures started flowing through my cranium. For the sound reflected strangely from the hospital walls, making it appear to be in several places at once. Not eerily, as it was plainly identifiable, but just enough to make the CRCMH seem alive in a way.

The most noticeable aspect of the Northern Trudge was the amount of crap dumped around, ranging from vast amounts of off-white peeling timber (obviously foraged from the hospital), to cars, broken gardening equipment (naughty National Trust people, dumping crap and littering is a bad thing.), a caravan, window frames - you name it, bits of it are there. All the time I was thinking about the wonderful overviews I had pictured in my dreams (both waking and nocturnal), but they were proving to be frustratingly evasive. The amount of overgrowth was astounding in places - spring at the CRCMH is definitely filled with life. On the occasions that the towers revealed themselves I snapped away, but most of the time they were obscured by trees and collapsing roofs. I was not going climbing collapsing roofs - well not yet. The first half of the Northern Trudge was uneventful, apart from becoming more confused by the ever-weirder selection of dumpings. Than came the back of the Chapel, which I had high hopes for - I was planning to get a few groovy 'peeking-in' snaps.

Unfortunately the window has been boarded up quite securely. It must have been boarded up some time ago, as there was a fair amount of ivy festooning the hefty anti-entry board. The next stop was up around ward 9/10 - The Investigation Of The Strange Shed. I captured my preliminary scouting on an MPEG video, passing a sleeping caravan, more gardening equipment - this time with added seating bonus - and scrunch scrunch through the undergrowth to the rounded roof of the possibly-thrilling room. Although it looked extremely inviting and esoteric, in fact it was quite plain and empty inside, but worth looking in just to say 'Ahh... that's why we never spent much time in the funky shed.' After this I thought the final stage of the Northern Trudge was going to be uneventful, until at the gap between ward 11 and 12 something new was spied. And this time it had legs. And wasn't a table. Some creature, possibly a wild dog, maybe a discoloured fox, too large to be a domestic cat. Low to the ground, large and fast, maybe a mutant leopard or something. You know the type. Sandy in colour it seemed - a kind of dark tone of lion, and it darted for cover in the now-thick undergrowth quite noisily just after it had been spotted and it spied us. Damn thing was too impolite to pose for a photo. I decided against going 'here beasty beasty, let me get a piccy.' Typical. But now you know the exact location of where I encountered the infamous Taplow Beast.

I wandered on to the Northernmost area of the CRCMH site. Along the entire Northern path the area was littered with loads of randomly dumped crap, plenty of demolished wooden furniture (I suppose the timber place may have used it for firewood or something, it seemed to be laid out by size, and there were piles of chopped logs amongst the general hospital junkulage) and not really much else. In fact there was so little there, only about 4 photos were taken, because we all know what trees look like, and the perimeter fence had been starring in too many shots for my liking.

The next area of Good was when the path brought me out at the Northern end of the Stage complex / Deadfiles / hydrotherapy pool zone. The stage itself is very, very, utterly dead and the Buxton Chair undoubtedly lost somewhere within the rubble. A lot of the floor has caved in as well, making traversing the stage area quite dangerous. The piano by the entrance has taken a fair amount of water damage and is rotting in places, although it still stands. Upon attempting to play a couple of Pwürg doomy piano riffs on it (if riffing on a piano is truly possibly, mayhap I was qunfing, prooling or something), I disappointingly found that there was no sound, even the harrowing thrumm whannng had long since left the building. The small (store) room to the left of the stage as you enter it has also collapsed, all that still stands is a slightly teetering 15-foot chimney stack. Unfortunately this new collapse has left all save a few of the 1979 booklets either destroyed or far too slime/waterlogged and manky to be of any worth. I salvaged around half a dozen only, which were saved from the elements by a handy square of asbestos.

The true location of the DeadFiles is not the building viewed horizontally upon the map, but in fact the vertical corrugated hut just below. There are two entrances, the Northern one is the only one that actually lets one into the Deadfile area, for the Southern entrance opens into a mankified office with a well-locked door preventing further foraging into the Deadfiles room. The ground by the Deadfiles entrance is encrusted with weather-damaged paperwork, to the point that it no longer resembles earth, but a bizarre ground/paper hybrid strewn with random words. These rotting texts leave a trail inside, where thousands of sheets of ancient paper still exist, partially protected from the elements. Apart from the obvious treasure that is the post-mortem collection, there are the x-rays, of which I salvaged many, but all were too damaged by the damp and were stuck together in a stenchy sticky mess. They all tore to pieces when I attempted to seperate them, which was probably a Good Thingas they sure were stinky. I thought the x-rays I had foraged in 1993/4 were a tad on the whiffy side, but these... eeew. Also inside the Deadfiles Shack were a selection of bizarre metal contraptions, some resembling outlandish wine racks, purpose unknown (I did not see any outlandish wine lying about I am sorry to say, nor any Outlanders themselves. Or Inlanders). There were two decidedly rusty typewriters though, and cupboards and filing cabinets packed full of outdated data of pure and impure joy.

And it was here, upon the mung infested floor of the DeadFiles hut, that trusty Dolmal set up my tartan picnic blanket. I indulged in a most satisfying luncheon comprised of four large scotch eggs, anchovies & lemon curd on cold toast, a marrowfat pea & caviar-filled Cornish pasty (courtesy of my dear wife), and a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch. This I topped off with a fine bottle of Jacobs Creek Chardonnay 1992 and a slightly stale bakewell tart. Dolmal just tucked into a small bowl of dried oats and parsley, which he appeared rather impartial to, but at least pretended to enjoy all the same. And then it was time to put our litter back into the foraging basket (Keep Britain Tidy folks) and head back into the competitive realm of hospital exploration.

Never To Be Continued...

Peace, Love, Digits and Widgets,

May 2002

Although Ray chose never to complete the account of his May 2002 visit, fear not - because you can read on with the further adventures of Ray Hurley-Castle on the next page as he talks you through Conquest 2002 - Part Two : 'They Have Come For Us': The Forage of Saturday 30th November 2002 - and this is where the adrenalin rush truly begins. So, what are you waiting for?

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