Urbex: Glass Houses


When I was a child, I was obsessed with a series of books called “Adventure”, by Willard Price. They followed two brothers, both zoologists, as they travelled the world collecting creatures to study and display, getting into brilliant scrapes involving shipwrecks, evil villains, dangerous creatures etc etc*.
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Oh, so GLORIOUSLY cheesy! <3

One of the places they visited was the Ruwenzori in Uganda (aka “The Mountains of the Moon”). There is still comparatively little scientific research on the place but due to freak climate conditions, the effect is of a giant greenhouse- giving the plants there unusual amounts of sunlight and rain. Many of these plants- like heather and lobelia- have grown enormous. It is, I think, only recently that human activity has begun to affect the Ruwenzori so until recently, the plants were left to grow as they wanted. Triffids! Awesome, right?

So why am I banging on about Africa and its crazy plants?

Well, I was in this incredible overgrown greenhouse in Belgium and suddenly had a flashback to reading my beloved adventure books. The place I was in was a literal representation of the effects in the Ruwenzori (which I would love to see one day but so far Africa isn’t a continent I have reached).

It’s abandoned of course- I don’t generally sneak into working greenhouses- but the structure is partly attached to an occupied house. Getting in without being noticed required some military crawling through nearby woodlands, a mad dash across the driveway and then simply walking through the open door.

It’s mostly untouched inside. There’s broken glass and a few shattered windows which could have been from vandalism, storm damage or cracks widened over time with the relentless growth of the ivy inside. I couldn’t help but wonder if it will completely envelop the structure and if so, what then? What would happen within this ivy cocoon? Even half-covered, the building already had its own microclimate- humid and still. The noises from outside muffled.

This is as close as I can get to a proper panorama as I took this trip just before I got my beloved S7 which I film everything on.
It was also one of my first trips which I took more of an active role in- climbing things, hiding, sourcing food etc. I was by no means as resourceful as I am now and even now I actually prefer visiting locations I know I can walk into openly. I would also have taken more photos of some of the details but at the time I had one aim- get a shot and show you.

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Getting a shot is still important to me (I mean, I could describe a place for you but sometimes a picture really should replace my 1000 words :P) but finding a story and telling it is, for me, even more important. There are a lot of pictures out there but stories are what keep people reading- and also what connect the seemingly meaningless little parts of our lives. Like the way an overgrown greenhouse in a Belgian village can take me to a mountain range I’ve never visited, via a series of books I thought I’d forgotten. 😉

I’m off for the weekend and I’ll see you when I get back… but I’ll post on my facebook and instagram while I’m away.

See you, and stay adventurous…

Faith x

Photo by Laughing Orc Photography

*They were mostly written in the 1950s. As far as I remember reading them, there was quite an open minded attitude and less whitewashing than most of Hollywood but they are still a product of their (colonial) time- capturing wild animals for zoos is rightly considered horrendously unethical today and isn’t practised. Animals for zoos are generally bred in captivity. The series was continued in 2012 with updated characters. 🙂

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