04.10.2009

I guess, being privileged to have a real life, living, breathing war hero in the family (in the shape of an ex.WW2 Lancaster pilot), that my perspective differs slightly from the norm – but it continually frustrates me how little attention we pay to those who fought for us in times still within living memory. Or what contempt we show for the relics which remain from those times. I know however that, whilst I may be in a minority, I’m far from alone.

I work with younger people and it staggers me how little some of them know about events in WW2. I sometimes wish I could sit them down with an ex bomber pilot, or a tail gunner and to make them realise that, quite often at a younger age than their own, these people set out to defeat the Nazis, all too often doing so in the expectation that they may never come home.

I don’t like the country I live in any more. I love the geography. I love the history. But the nation itself is consumed by this sad, anaemic liberalism which means that we seem to pay more attention to the views and rights of people covertly invading us than we do to those who died, or risked their lives to protect Britain and everything which it stood for.

I wish there was something we could do to reverse this trend but, sadly, I think it’s the case that WW2 is slipping from the collective consciousness – and the nation slipping into some sort of existential coma in the process. For those of you still breathing though, you could do worse than spend an hour watching these. The sad thing is, if the playstation generation were forced en masse to watch them and more like them, it would take very little to change the extent to which we remember and respect those involved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=L5ABH7aOcxE

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=4qYRbOrqcSQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=O4fiDEUYsRw

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=RXKbLZIq814

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=55QeB8_u_VQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=x-FZ9ro9tvY

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=uLKL1nlFAJo

26.07.2009

Finally found myself a cheap 4×4 to buy. I looked at everything from Discoveries and Range Rovers through to Troopers and Hiluxes. In the end, a cheap 2l diesel 3 door Freelander came up locally so I bit the bullet and bought it.

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20.07.2009

All my free time has been tied up just lately and if I don’t get out soon to explore somewhere new, I think I’m going to start going out of my mind. It’s funny, but I get this nagging stress in the back of my mind after a while stuck in mundane routine, which only goes away when I can switch off and go out to have some fun.

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Set out this afternoon to check out a local road culvert I spotted on FlashEarth a while back. It’s very modern so not especially interesting, but pretty long, as it passes below a two lane A road, then 8 lanes of trunk route. As expected, I found a nice convenient spot to park the car and access is pretty much unrestricted. The width of the dyke leading up to the culvert looked promising, so I scrambled down for a look.

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From what I can remember, I must have been in my early teens when I last visited Duxford with my grandparents.

My grandfather is an ex.RAF bomber pilot, who flew Lancasters in WW2 and was awarded a DFC for his efforts returning home from bombing Peenemunde. In my teens, I enjoyed Duxford, but more in the sense that it was as good a way as any to pass a day, rather than somewhere I’d especially wanted to visit.

Returning 25 or so years later, I found it far more compelling. In the meantime, it has developed from an old WW2 airfield with some interesting artefacts into a vast, fascinating and highly polished museum – yet still retaining many of its old WW2 features.

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It’s British Grand Prix weekend, so I’ve spent most if it at home. I like to watch Grand Prix when I get the chance. Normally, this means I’ll stay at home unless there’s something more interesting or important going on. Monaco and Silverstone are the exceptions to the rule though – everything stops for them and I won’t miss them in anything other than exceptional circumstances.

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Had a lazy weekend and avoided driving too far – mainly thanks to the car having eaten a wheel bearing which I need to sort out one evening this week before it disintegrates totally. Took a leisurely drive over to a nearby WW2 airfield for a quick nose around to see if there was anything interesting left, and also to try and locate an ROC post.

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It’s been another glorious weekend of sunshine, so I’ve spent most of it exploring – pretty unsuccessfully most of the way.

Saturday, I went looking for an anti-aircraft emplacement, which turned out to be a complete failure. So I headed off to Conington to have a nose at something interesting looking at the side of the old RAF Glatton site. Unfortunately, as is all to often the case, the apparently open access down a farm track on Flash Earth turned out to be a blocked and inaccessible route on the ground. I’m going to have to plan a different angle of attack, as I’m sure it’s something that might turn out to be an interesting explore. Read more

28.05.2009

This country annoys the hell out of me.

This evening, I nipped out for a quick explore at a track a couple of miles from home. It’s a public byway, so I have every right to travel down it. Unfortunately though, it’s massively overgrown, so I got my arms ripped to pieces by wild roses and brambles, and the odd nettle sting just to add to the misery. In the end, I had to turn back as the path became completely impassable.

So, I come home thinking that the way to tackle things is to go back with a machete to beat back the nettles and other rough stuff, allowing me to get to where I’m trying to reach. Only thing is, we now live in the Orwellian nightmare that is Brown’s Britain. So I end up spending 5 minutes finding out how much a decent machete would cost (only about a tenner), but over an hour working out whether I’m allowed to use one for a perfectly legitimate reason on a public byway.

In the end, it turns out that yes, you can carry one – but that you run the significant risk of being arrested and charged with possession of an offensive weapon if the Police decide that your reason for carrying it isn’t entirely worthy.

Where the hell did this country go wrong? I look back at life in the 70s, compare it to now and can’t for the life of me see how one turns into the other. There’s simply no common sense left any more – and every way you turn, there’s some draconian nanny state law or measure to block virtually anything remotely interesting or adventurous.

For all our modern creature comforts, the more time passes, the more I think I’d rather live in the early 20th century than right now. Coming Up For Air sure beats having to suffer the indignity of living in 1984.

I’ve had a hectic but enjoyable weekend, fitting 3 explores in around various other bits of more mundane life.

First up Saturday, King’s Lynn coastal defence battery at Ongar Hill. It was a hot and humid afternoon, and a bit of a treck down to the site, but worthwhile nonetheless. Originally built to house a pair of 6 inch guns, the gun houses, magazine and observation tower still remain.

King's Lynn Coastal Defence Battery

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