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GES060 - Gas Turbine Test Plant, Hampshire - Trip 2

February 2010

A History of the site can be found on my previous trip post.

You know when you start a day and it just has fail written all over it? Well today was that day. Pyestock is such a huge place you can never hope to do it in one trip, I made plans to go back. A friend, Tom, had shown interest in going so we organised a trip. I met him at a friends birthday drinks the night before with his friend, Ed. I made it clear what was involved and how there would be barbed wire fences and dirt.

The next day Tom pulled up late with Ed. As we pulled off Ed's barrage of unflinching obscenities was made prominent in the car. However that was not the main problem, all of the wheel's on Tom's car were low on air, so we had to look around for a petrol station. The first one we found didn't work, the next one didn't have air. Finally the third had the O2 we needed. The tyres mostly full, we set off out of London up the M3. Tom had snapped at me over my dry sense of humour in the car at the petrol station, which left the air between Tom and I a little strained for the rest of the journey.

We got to Fleet much later than planned, and headed across the fields to the high fence that surrounds the site. I showed the others how to hop the fence, and waited inside, and waited. They decided to try a different route in, but didn't succeed, so came back to the where I'd got in. Tom managed it fine, however Ed got stuck at the top and snagged his expensive puffer coat on the barb wire. Trapped he started shouting and swearing at volume. I sat cringing in the undergrowth. I'd made a big mistake inviting a mate. Once all inside we headed to Cell 3 West, where I'd taken a couple of shots and Tom & Ed got bored, and after another tiff, off they went. Somehow I knew today wasn't going to be good.

Nitrogen bottles next to Cell 3 West, used for creating icy conditions for tests.

Inside and looking out of Cell 3 West.

It turns out Tom & Ed walked through the whole site unable to get in anywhere and ended up arriving at the security hut, where they were asked to leave by the surprised security. There went my ride home.

This was my first real test of my new Canon 7D, so I was curious as to results. I didn't realise that by leaving it on auto ISO, it would choose anywhere between 100 and a whopping 3200 ISO. My old camera didn't go above 800 ISO without warning you. This camera had no warning. So some shots were pretty noisy. This one wasn't, walking underneath the famous blue pipes.

I got to Cell 4, and looked across at the far end of Cell 3 West (darker structure bottom right), and Cell 3 itself (taller structure in centre of photo with light blue strip near roof).

I got into Cell 3 the way I'd done the first time, and set about using my wider lenses I didn't have before. Cell 3 in all it's glory.

I went to leave, but stumbled upon a passage that lead into Cell 4, I couldn't believe it was so easy to get between the two. As I entered Cell 4, I was aware of another group of about 4 or 5, some drinking beer, others toking on reefer. It was only around 2pm! I didn't really feel like socialising and set about climbing up to the crane and gantry that goes around the top of Cell 4. One of the party who's name I forget took this pic of me. If I find out who it was, i'll credit them.

I put Sammy Fisheye on, and got a shot of the front of Cell 4, where the engines were loaded in. It's hard to appreciate the scale here, but it's frigging huge.

A fisheye shot of the back end and exhauster pipes.

The group had left the building, so I descended down again, and went for some close ups. A worrying sign on the door of the test cell.

Operational book

I tried to capture the inside of the Cell, but it's so cavernous and dark, it's a tricky task. I've yet to see anyone capture it fully. The cell goes above and below the photo, it really is huge. This is where Concorde's engines were tested.

I left Cell 4, near to piles of crap that had accumulated, and had an incessant drip hitting it, making it sound like people were working there.

One thing Pyestock does well, is colour. I love their use of it to group similar parts together and make different functions obvious. From the blue pipes, to orange cranes and these green valve thingamies.

Exhauster No. 9 sits right next to Cell 4, and involves a simple walk between the two. The Exhauster sat in a darkened corner of this shed. The makeshift portacabin like control room sitting on the right.

The GEC Field Control, at least I think that's what it was called, in the control room.

The control desk for Exhauster No. 9, No. 9, No. 9, No. 9 (hilarious Beatles joke there!).

I went back through Cell 4 and found someone had kicked half a door away, so crawled out. I turned a corner and could hear voices. As I climbed the stairs I saw a face I'd seen before. Unkempt Noel Redding like hair, 13 year old non-plussed expression and the world's tiniest camera on a large tripod, It was a guy who call's himself Mookster I'd met before. I didn't bother to acknowledge him, as I had had a run in with him before. He'd referred to a friend of mine, a single mother with an unpleasant ex, and her child as 'thieving chavs', with no idea as to who they were or what they were up to. That kind of single mindedness annoys me, also the free-wheeling I'm better than you use of chav to put others down is just pathetic. So I felt irked to have run into him. A problem at a site as popular as Pyestock.

Behind Mookster was another group of people I'd not met before, and sadly don't remember their names. At the back of the group a guy raised his head up from beneath a familiar little woollen dark hat. It was GE052. A welcome hand shake and acknowledgement, with bewilderment from me. I was amazed he was here, as it's surely a place he'd have done thousands of times in the past. We set a bit away from the group, because on-line we'd been talking about OP (Olympic Park) and getting in. While we were talking, a shout of "Oiiiii" went up from not far away, followed by 'security' and everyone bundling down the steps into Cell 4 like a group of Meerkats.

I'd been caught completely by surprise, and still had my camera in my hand attached to it's tripod. We'd been talking for about quarter of an hour, and i'd forgotten we were on a live explore. I was also surprised at GE052 as well, someone who'd done countless explores chatting away in the open. Because GE052 and I were chatting away from the other 4 or 5 people, we didn't have time to get down the steps, and GE052 went behind some low lying apparatus or other. The Security guard was almost exactly where i'd taken the 4th Picture above, We were on the other side of the small gap on the centre left of the 4th Picture. The Security guard was on a bicycle. So me thinking I was clever (I'm not, clearly) I went towards the corner of the small white building in front of me, thinking I could creep round as the guard went past. However the guard went up Weir Road, which rises above where I was on the other side of the building than I expected. He shouted to me to stop, and I looked up. I had never been caught exploring before, and was a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights. My English Middle class came out, and the first thing I said was 'Sorry'!

I climbed over a barrier up to him, and he asked where the rest were. I said I didn't know about anyone else, and looked over the side pretending to look for others. I was actually wondering where GE052 was, but he was really well hidden somewhere. The guard bizarrely satisfied that I was alone, even though he'd clearly seen a group, walked off with me back across the site, me doing the walk of shame. I chatted about him being a Gurkha and whether he'd got the right to stay here, life in Nepal etc. When we arrived at the security hut, an older guy said how they were bringing in dog teams soon, as they were fed up of people continually getting in.

I then walked off, still with my camera sat on the fully extended tripod, and walked along the fence back into the woods. I called GE052 and told him that the security guard was on his way back to Cell 4. As I walked along the fence, I was gutted and embarrassed i'd been caught, and so easily. I got back to where I'd originally got in, and saw the group with GE052 hopping the fence. They thought I'd managed to get out without being caught, but I explained I had been caught. A few jokes and finished off the conversation with GE052 I'd been having before being rudely interrupted and went our separate ways.

I set off to Fleet train station, walking around the very picturesque Fleet Pond, it was now late afternoon and the colours were dark and broody, and then it rained. Just when I thought this day couldn't get any worse, I got to the train station to find all trains cancelled, and a bus service running. The bus ran to  Woking, where I had to wait for a train, and into Waterloo, then a tube back out to West London. It had taken 45minutes to get there, 2 hours to get back. I was knackered, tired and in a foul temper.

This was the worst time to go online on the 28DL website where I was a member. I spouted off about GE052 (the owner of 28DL forum) leading a tour group around, and slatted tour groups. All ludicrous of course. I annoyed a number of people, and apologised the next day, but the damage was done. I was removed from the Members section, mainly due to the fact I'd begun posting on UER.com now. Friends on 28DL had also told me I was getting more like GE096 (A keyboard warrior and enfant terrible on 28DL) every day on 28DL, which I hated the thought of. I asked  GE052 to remove me and everything i'd posted on 28DL, promising not to join again. Something i've stuck too. Ego's are dangerous things, as is being dumb!