Defence of the Realm

The Leaving of LechladeDSCF0908

All along the banks of the Upper Thames, about every half mile, there are old WWII pill boxes. Had visions of the boffins trying to prevent the enemy from staging a sneak raid into the Lechlade megalopolis by storming up the river in fast RIBs, but they’re all on the Eastern side of the river. Apparently this was an attempt to protect the Midlands from an invasion force coming up from the South West, using the reinforced river as a barrier (presumably blowing up the very few road bridges in these parts).

Can’t help thinking that the narrow river wouldn’t have delayed a decent sized force with a Bailey Bridge or two for more than a few hours, but who knows. And the area is still so remote from villages that I guess no one has bothered to dig them up or find a use for them.

And this neck of the woods has remained a military stronghold: RAF Fairford just by Lechlade is active again (big American transport jobs around), while Bampton is very near RAF Brize Norton. Superb  – if you like that sort of thing – views of the RAF’s shiny new (or rather unmarked dull grey) Airbus 330 tankers spending the day doing visual circuits at less than 2000 feet, and the occasional sighting of the Red Arrows coming and going.

Bampton in the BushBampton in the BushBampton Levada

Mooring up again at Rushey Lock (bank holiday – no pile driving!), a visit to Bampton was in order: mind you, a two mile walk across open fields full of sheep and wheat to get milk and a newspaper is pushing it. No wonder they used to call it Bampton in the Bush. They seem to have levadas in Bampton too: thought we were in Madeira for a minute.

Fortunately,  freshly baked croissants, decent coffee, and a complete absence of Morris Dancers provided suitable refreshment for the walk back.

Preparing for a long-haul sector (1.1 miles) down to The Trout at Tadpole Bridge to meet up with some old friends who were travelling out for dinner, we saw the Arrows carry out a formation departure from Brize at 13:40 for a 14:00 display at Dunsfold Wings and Wheels. Obviously doesn’t take long in a Hawk.

And then they returned in Diamond Nine formation at 14:35, doing their version of a run and break arrival (a big smoke-on loop overhead the airfield, splitting up on the way down to separate out downwind), while Song & Dance’s first officer proved comprehensively that you can’t steer the boat down the narrow winding river and watch the Red Arrows doing aerobatics at the same time. Not so much Bampton in the Bush as Boat in the Bushes.

Tadpole Bridge

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