Chapter Four sees our intrepid explorers gathering their rations and heading up to Oughtonhead Common. It sounds like a place where lots of people walk their dogs, and sitting here as a 43 year old, it is exactly that, and it caters for those people very well. But in the late 80’s, it was just a big bit of land with trees and a nice river running through it. Here’s an OS picture of it:
It is situated to the west of Hitchin and was used a lot by the boys when in the army cadets. They would do weekend manoeuvres with Lee Enfield 303 rifles.
This is the river that runs through the common. You can see it on the map above.
And this is the log on which one of the pistol fights took place in the book.
Have you ever slept in a bivouac before? This is what one looks like:
Well, this is a modern version of the sort of thing Darren and Mick used to make. Their version of this looked more like this:
And another angle can be seen here:
But usually they were as bad as this:
I’m sure you can see the difference. The boys would also have their sleeping bags under there, and if they remembered it, they would have put up a camouflaged poncho as an extra rain protector.
If you’ve never seen a gin trap, as mentioned in this chapter, then here is a picture of it. The boys hated finding this in real life, and took great delight in taking it out of the woods so no other animal would get caught in it and suffer before dying.
It’s not a very big picture, but you get the idea. Horrible terrible things. Why would people trap anything in the UK?
Have you seen what clay pigeon shooting is like? Here are the two boys having a go. They’re all grown up here. Well, at least in chronological terms…
Whilst you’re pondering that question, take a look at the next chapter.