Another new experience to celebrate my 73rd birthday – however I was 74 before free time and weather conditions coincided and I took to the air over Lord Lichfield’s estate at Shugborough in Staffordshire.
A small balloon was sent up so the pilot could check wind direction and fortunately at 6am on July 8th, conditions were ideal. The balloon was inflated, safety instructions given and in we climbed – into a basket divided into 5 compartments – the pilot sat in the middle, and there were four people in each corner segment. A quick blast of the flame and we were off; off so gently and quietly that it felt as if we were floating on a magic carpet above the tree tops! It was amazing! A different aspect on what lay beneath us; looking down on the roof of Shugbough Hall, seeing the layout of the grounds like a plan beneath us; beautiful homes and gardens many with swimming pools or tennis courts and trampolines; farm buildings with cattle grazing; barges on the canal; dogs bouncing and barking at a sight they didn’t understand; a large balloon supporting a basketful of people passing over them; the M1 packed with early rush hour traffic. We viewed it all as if in a soundless box the tranquillity only momentarily disturbed by burst from the burner.
All too soon it was time to land; a large field newly mown; ideal or was it? It was large it was flat but it had been raked with silage so we ended our trip fantastic sightseeing trip, with the true aroma of the countryside!
A brilliant experience that I would love to repeat and would highly recommend as a different way to celebrate!