Blog archive August 2010
last week had some major ups and downs. the literal up was a balloon flight across central and south london, a birthday present from my brother and his family. i rose at 3.30am to be in hyde park at 5am. we [the passengers] helped set up and inflate the balloon, and rose into the air at about 5.45am. the timing and route of our flight was constrained by the heavy air traffic that passes over london, and the balloon pilot was in constant contact with air traffic control, giving position, height and direction of travel.
our flight took us over buckingham palace and westminster, and across the south london inner suburbs with superb views of the city centre to the north. the sky had been cleared by rain the day before so visibility was very good. having lost my camera the day before [one of the downs] my photos were taken on my phone - still they are not bad and give some idea of the awesomeness of the experience.
after about an hour we had to come down due to air traffic restrictions. the pilot looked for a place to land - a golf course had too many little trees, but just beyond was a small playing field. we crashed through the tree tops and landed in a space just long enough for the balloon to collapse without landing on a fence. it was barely 7am, so we had to wait for groundsmen to come and unlock the gates. champagne was drunk and certificates written. i had a traditional english fried breakfast with the crew at a nearby workman's cafe - 'greasy spoon' is not an adequate label when the food is done really well.
and then all the way across london to home, sleep for an hour or so and go to work!