Often while walking alongside the Thames you come across many of these Second World War built concrete guard posts-popularly known as Pill Boxes, but yesterday between Lechlade-on-Thames and Radcot, they literally seemed to be everywhere. I think I came across about 7 or even 8 just in that short 8 mile stretch.
The narrow slots in the concrete are of course gun slots through which to fire weapons. Thinking, however, about their supposed role in the second World war, it was so Dad’s Army it was untrue. They were supposed to be manned by the Home Guard, who for the most part were too old to fight, and which as everyone knows didn’t actually have enough guns in the first place to even train with, ( My Great Granddad served in the home guard and would typically use a broom to mimic a gun ), so the prospect of actually placing a gun inside each of these concrete bunkers was never going to happen. Still they stand today silhouetted magnificently against the skyline as a silent tribute to a different time.
Volunteers were busy cutting back some of the hedgerow along the Thames Path this morning which meant a delayed start, but once I was over the railway bridge at Bourne End, the walk very quickly settled down to an attractive mixture of riverside, and isolated wooded walks, passing through the village of Cookham (the home of the artist Stanley Spencer), then into the increasing suburbia of Maidenhead which incidentally contains a railway bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, through the attractive Boulters Lock, the villages of Bray, & Eton Wick before the final stretch leading to Windsor which contains fantastic views of the castle.
On the approach to Windsor, I could hear the sound of someone speaking into a loudspeaker. Students apparently were having a race on the Eton College Rowing Lake, which you could occasionally see glimpses of, through the trees. No matter what your views on their sense of entitlement and privilege are from attending such a World famous institution-just knowing that 19 Prime Ministers have been educated at this school, does set it apart as being very special. On hearing all the boys cheering as their scores were announced, I did wonder whether one of the voices would yet prove to be the 20th or 21st?
One of my favourite views during the day, was under the M4 bridge-yes, it surprised me too! It was the perfect symmetry I found attractive. Beauty it seems really can be found anywhere.