Thursday, 7 August 2014

In the sky

Today is the beginning of Bristol's annual Balloon Fiesta, a tradition that sees hundreds of hot air balloons rise high in the sky above the city.

As a child, the Balloon Fiesta loomed large over our summer, a focal point for fun and excitement. We'd watch them glide by from the flat roof of our childhood home, sometimes waving (slowly, with both hands), or alerted to their presence by the urgent whoosh of the gas filling the material. Each of us had our favourite balloon, those special shapes being the most thrilling of all.

There was that one year a balloon crash-landed on the zebra crossing near my house and we all rushed out as we saw it lose height. Down, down it came, our small, wide eyes incredulous as the basket bumped to the ground. My dad photographed the scene, the pictures later making the local paper.

And there was that time my primary school teacher asked me what my father did for a living. Not having the slightest clue, I made up what I really wanted him to do: hot air balloon pilot. In Bristol, that's not so far-fetched.

And there was that time last year we got the kids up early to climb to the top of the hill in the park, packed breakfasts by our sides, to watch those quiet giants rise up into the sky over our heads in the pale, milky dawn.

And there were endless times we'd just go to Ashton Court and sit on the grass and watch. Much like this video of just such a time, shot in the early eighties (I'd guess 1984 or thereabouts - I think I must be about eight years old). Only of interest (probably) to people who know us or balloon enthusiasts. But, hey, this is Bristol. There's a fair chance of a few of both out there.

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