, , , , , ,

12th time lucky! Two years ago, Barbara was given a voucher for a balloon flight for her birthday. She suggested that her daughter, that is my cousin Teresa, and I join her, and as I had been longing to go up in a balloon all my adult life, I was thrilled to agree, as was Teresa. So for two years we have been making reservations on flights, and 11 times these flights have been cancelled, either for bad weather conditions, or, once, because they had not enough passengers booked for the flight.

This morning, at last, it happened!  It was perfect weather.  Arriving at 5.30 at a field belonging to the Berkshire College of Agriculture, in Burchetts Green, the sun was rising over the horizon, and there was a little mist around which burnt off over the next couple of hours.  After a short briefing with us all actually in the balloon basket, we all clambered out and watched the balloon being inflated. This didn’t take long and we all climbed in again.  P1320903001P1320905001P1320906001P1320908001P1320909001P1320913001P1320916001


To begin with, just hot (I presume) air is blown into the balloon. (Later edit: I now understand that the balloon is filled with cold air to begin with.)


Then the burner comes into action

P1320921001P1320923001Take-off was imperceptible and we were up and away before we knew it.


“It’s actually happening!”


Before long we were at our maximum height of 900 feet plus.  It didn’t feel like it – though how would I know?

We saw animals. P1320957001


Mostly I didn’t use zoom on my camera, to retain the impression of height, but this is an exception. I loved the early morning shadows of both animals and trees.


P1320965001P1320966001P1330012001P1330021001At last some wild animals – running deer, tiny specks here.

We saw expensive properties (this was the Henley area).


I really was not leaning out of the basket to take this.



Presumably a dressage arena




P1320997001P1320998001We saw fields with patterns.



We three were facing the sun.  I think we got the best of the deal.






Why was this field so exquisitely green, when all around had been affected so badly by the lengthy drought?


Perhaps this aircraft is the clue.



A golf course


The greenkeeper?

And of course we saw views.  P1320946001P1320949001P1320961001P1320963001P1320978001



The Thames with Henley in the distance



P1320986001P1320991001P1330006001P1330011001P1330012001P1330013001P1330015001P1330019001After some 50 minutes it was time to start descending. P1330023001P1330024001P1330026001


I didn’t turn round to look at the views behind me much, for obvious reasons.






We have landed, in a field at Sonning Common.


The ‘plughole’ at the top is opened to let out some air

P1330048001Once the balloon had deflated sufficiently we were allowed to get out.


83-year-old yoga-loving Barbara didn’t really need help,


but she seemed delighted to accept it.


Teresa and I used the same method as each other.

P1330057001P1330058001We were invited/encouraged/cajoled to help push all the remaining air out of the balloon, then to roll it up and put it back in the basket.  P1330060001P1330062001


Barbara helped squeeze the air out…


… by rolling in the hay with her young man.


The balloon was tied into sections


All helped lift it towards and then into the basket

P1330083001It was some time before a minibus arrived to pick us up. The interval was very pleasantly spent sipping champagne and chatting with fellow passengers. P1330084001P1330085001P1330086001It had been worth the two-year wait!  Thanks Geoff for kicking off the whole adventure!  And Adventure Balloons, we’re sorry for all the evil things we said about you every time you cancelled – we really do understand that you couldn’t take the risk.  And you served up perfect weather today.