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Having lived in the Waltham Abbey area for nearly 10 years now it seemed almost criminal that we hadn’t visited Copped Hall. So This weekend we put that right, and we’re glad we did.

It’s by no means the biggest and best stately home out there. There’s no glitz, no glamour and to most it’s just a derelict building. But then those that think like that also think Britain’s Got Talent is great entertainment, horses for courses I guess.

Copped Hall is more than just… “here’s a big, pretty house, give us your money and don’t touch anything”. It’s a work in progress. One that has so far taken years of hard work and cost lots of money (money raised by the people doing the hard work themselves, for free)!

If I’m totally honest Copped Hall is better than seeing all the glitz and glamour. It’s totally unique and far more honest than the majority of ‘open houses’ that you can visit. It’s a place you’ll go to again and again too, just to see how they’re doing. In fact when time allows I’d be happy to get involved and get my hands dirty myself.

Obviously on this occasion I took my camera along and made some images, whilst being taken on various guided tours by the very knowledgable volunteers. Copped Hall is a fascinating place and a project I hope one day gets the rewards it deserves.  

If you go down in the woods today it’s unlikely you’ll find a Secret Nuclear Bunker, but hey I did!

I’ve often seen the signs around Essex saying ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’ and was always amused by the irony of the sign. But one day I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and I’m really glad I did.

To say this place was unlike anything I’ve ever seen would be an understatement, it’s utterly bonkers.

A simple bungalow in the woods hiding a maze of tunnels and rooms that go on for miles! It was built in the 1950’s in the peak of ‘Cold War Mania’ and took just 7 months to complete. It could easily accommodate over 600 people if need be too.

This place was just unreal, plus it’s also almost untouched since the day the Ministry of Defence sold it on in the late 70’s.

Now this place was dark, very dark and there were abandoned Geiger counters and gas masks still on shelves along with state of the art Commodore computers on the desks. Every wall was adorned with either huge maps of the London area or various warnings of what to do in the event of a Nuclear strike, this was very real indeed. There were various rooms still showing original 50’s public information films and even accommodation for the Prime Minister if things went belly up, I just loved this place so much, it was my kind of crazy.

As luck would have it, I happened to have a camera on me at the time. So on purchasing a licence to actually shoot (yes, you read that right), I got to grips with the subterranean labyrinth with my Fuji X100s.

I hope you enjoy the images I made and if you get a chance why not visit, it’s bloody brilliant.

Feel free to share with friends an family.

Fuji recently announced the all black X100s and I felt this was my cue to buy myself one, for no other reason than I like black.

As a Fuji Pro user for well over a year now (XPro/XE1) it made total sense to have this little camera in my arsenal for general purpose and street photography. My switch to a mirrorless system from DSLR has been blogged on my business website here if you are interested.

So yesterday I got my first opportunity to give my new tool a proper testing in the real world, rather than just endless shots of the dog. So I headed off to London for a little bit of street photography and a trip up The Shard!

Now this is not a tech blog on how good the Fuji X100s is, others do those much better, and to be honest I’m not into the numbers and pixel peeking. Plus the X100s has been out a while now and the only difference is the colour.

To me it’s how the camera feels, how it acts and how much I enjoy using it. On the three counts that mattered to me the Fuji X100s is a real winner. The perfect balance for usability, speed an image quality, plus when not in use it fitted straight in my pocket!

If you get a chance and you’re looking out for a small street photography camera, I strongly suggest you give one a try for yourself. It’s definitely not for everybody, but those that ‘get it’ will absolutely love it.

Below are few images from the day out. I hope you enjoy my first blog on Exit Thirteen, you’re comments are always welcome.