It has been a good year. By the late spring I was flying Kent covering for local pilot Celia who had yet to learn that balloon pilots cannot take holidays. Because Murphy’s Law states that when you do so the sun will shine, the winds will be light and who ever is covering your patch will earn loads of dosh. She did learn and that was the end of my love affair with the beautiful Kent Weald.
On to summer and a trip to York. First time there which was great but gee the countryside is flat. After last season in Wales and the Derbyshire Dales I guess everything looks that way. Except for the Lake District but I never got there. It was windy and wet so flights called off. Having driven through there numerous times over the years isn’t it always that way?
Spring turns to summer and I am in Cambridgeshire. Flat land again but the second cut of hay is in and there are grass fields to land on. Then the winter barley feels the edge of the combine harvesters blade followed by the now golden wheat. Ballooning heaven. But hot air balloon pilots don’t relax too much because experience says if we do, when its time to land all the cut fields are behind us.
The farmers are still cutting crops and the harvest festival is some time away when Cambridgeshire is left to a good colleague and I am moved to Essex. Very willing to do so because I am flying my old mate Nigel’s Horizon 275,000 cu ft balloon (12 passengers). Called Horizon because that was the name of the Hampshire based company he owned before he sold out to my employer. Old mate because he taught me how to fly.
Chipping Ongar, Epping Forest Chelmsford and all it’s great to see them from on high. As a young teenager I used to ride out at weekends on my push bike through this countryside. And later, on a motorbike, I went a courting.
That was my summer. Flying rides balloons down the east side of England. I appear to have flown full circle. In 2007 I was in Dorset and the West Country initially doing charter flights with my own balloons. A year later and it’s the Midlands from Northampton through the Heart of England to Kettering. Great countryside but its important to avoid Birmingham’s air space. As already said Wales and Derbyshire last year followed by the East side of England this summer.
Not planned but means I have spent four years flying gradually clockwise around this land. Seems natural to complete the full circle and come back to my home of the last 30 years, Hampshire. And as flat land is boring fly the South Downs. See http://www.southdownsballooning.co.uk