Day 459

Hot Air

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Today we fly to Italy for wedding week..

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I don’t know about you but I’ve never enjoyed packing. I spend half an hour going through clothes i haven’t worn in years only to revert back to the same 3 outfits I’ve been wearing for months. Not only that but there’s the added pressure of forgetting something. Before this wasn’t so much of a problem, as long as i had my passport anything else could be replaced on route. Now however i have a substantial list of medical equipment that has to be accounted for so my organisational skills have had a kick up the backside. Whilst i was laying everything out on the bed in military fashion yesterday, Lois proposed we head out for an early dinner as we had already emptied the fridge in preparation for going away.

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On the approach to Bath, Lois turned and handed me a blindfold…. don’t get me wrong there’s been plenty of times I would have quite liked a blindfold whilst she was driving but it still came as a surprise. I was confused but I just thought of the old adage ‘happy wife, happy life’ and put it on with no complaints.

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After five minutes of trying to work out the route we were travelling we came to a holt. Questions were mounting…Where are we? What’s going on? Does she have cold feet and is going to kill me? Then the blindfold was lifted and it all made sense.

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The Bath/Bristol area is known as the hot air balloon capital of the UK and I spent my childhood staring up in wonder watching the giant globes float over the house. I’ve made no secret of the fact that it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but actually getting up in the air is pretty tough. The waiting list is huge and more than 90% of flights are cancelled because of the weather so the dream had never materialised, until now.

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I entered immediate 8yr old mode. If I could jump up and down on the spot that’s probably what I would have been doing as the ground crew started to inflate the giant canvass. We were instructed to get into the basket as fast as possible once it was upright in order to stop it from floating off. Iff they hadn’t figured it out already, they were about to realise that speed is no longer my forte. A couple of reasonably comical attempts flapping around on the edge of the basket and eventually I was in. Lois gracefully entered along with the pilot, the tethers were released and we were off.

The weather was perfect; still, warm and clear. As we rose from the park, Bath began to sprawl out beneath us. The now setting sun was reflecting off the rooftops and windows of the large Georgian houses creating a shimmer across the city.

Once airborne you are very much at the mercy of the winds and as we ascended above the hill tops we started to drift slowly south and straight towards our house. Apart from the odd roar of the burners it was completely silent and amazingly peaceful up there. The sun was setting over the Brecon Beacons to the West casting a reddish hue over the rolling fields below. I had never seen the south west like this before and it was truly stunning.

Rob our pilot, was a recently retired from flying fighter jets in the Royal Navy, he was also a self confessed adrenaline junky. It wasn’t long before he said ‘we’ll drop down for some low level passes’. Ummm ok, he seems like he knows what he’s doing besides it would be nice to see if we can get a closer look at the house. What Rob should have said is ‘we’re going to drop down and fly into some stuff’…. Fortunately it turned out that he knew exactly what he was doing because I genuinely thought I was going to be back on Helena ward on at least two occasions.

After an hour and a half we came to land on a rugby pitch where we were met by the ground crew and taken back to Bath.

I have to say that it’s certainly not a pastime for anyone with a fear of heights or a nervous disposition. You are quite conscious that there is only a thin layer of woven basket between you and a lot of open air (or a tree) however that all adds to the experience. A childhood dream that certainly did not disappoint. Thank you @loisrideout8 , I’m still grinning thinking about it now…. 🎈

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