All posts by Sue Fernández

Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2018

Our second attempt at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta! This year we decided to camp overnight – well, I say camp,  but it was a lot more civilized than that – we spent two nights in this splendid vehicle

whilst all around us there were brave souls in tents  – not my idea of fun.  The campsite was actually Cotham rugby pitch, which meant there was a clubhouse, showers, toilets,  an outside tap for water and a bar to get beer and hot food all close by!

The Fiesta is run over 4 days and IF the weather had been more benign those four days would have been packed with exciting arena activities like wing walkers and  parabatix,  but as we all know, in the UK that is a big ‘IF‘.

This year’s programme included 6 mass launches – one at 6 am and one at 6 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – I’m not sure but  I think I may have witnessed the only one that happened  – the Saturday dawn launch. The organizers were at the mercy of the rain and wind for most of the weekend – a real shame.

This is what greeted me as I headed down the hill towards the main arena

 

I was not alone! It was like an army on the march

The first balloon we saw was this owl

 

although I don’t think he actually left the ground.

There were around 40 ‘Special Shapes’ balloons – I spotted 9 – this motorbike, the dog, Bertie Bassett, a fire extinguisher, a lion from Longleat, Paddy Power’s green Y fronts, a Minion, a Panasonic battery, a fish and even a Scottish piper!

From Friday to Sunday there were two mass launches planned each day of over 100 balloons – one at 6 am and one at 6 pm. There were all manner of food and drink stalls, bars, trade stands, a fun fair, huge inflatable slides all around the huge arena – lots to keep people happy – but 12 hours is a long time between launches even for your stalwart Fiesta fan – so my advice is to pace yourself! Or just plan to see one. Of course, this sort of thing is completely weather dependent and the weather wasn’t cooperating!

I watched the mayhem in the main arena – dozens of balloons jostling for space, inflating in a matter of minutes and taking to the clear blue skies over Bristol, watched by masses of spectators, cooking burgers and bacon on portable barbies! I wouldn’t trust myself to make a coffee at that time in the morning let alone be in charge of a barbecue.

I headed back up the hill in the general direction of our campsite but I noticed that in an area over to the right some of the balloons were landing – another photo opp.

By three o’clock the rain had set in so there was little activity in the main arena – we should have been watching the likes of Lee McCrory perform his aerial antics, but things were turning decidedly damp so we headed back up the hill (again! certainly got some exercise on Saturday!) and bide our time in the comfort of our mobile home. But nocturnal activities were also a washout, the Night Glow, where they tether the balloons and illuminate them, was cancelled. The firework display did go ahead, which went some way to ameliorating my brother’s disappointment at the Gin stall being closed!!

There was no improvement in the weather by Sunday and an air of despondency and resignation descended on the campsite as people decided to pack up and go home early.

 

I really felt for everyone concerned in the organisation of such a huge event as well as all the spectators who didn’t see a single balloon lift off, especially as we have had weeks of wall to wall sunshine!!

I didn’t feel for some of the food and drink stalls which were happy to charge outrageous prices (for sometimes almost inedible food – you know who you are!) My best buy was a disposable rain poncho from the Hospice stand – £1 – a bargain!

So ……….. here’s to next year. The Balloon Fiesta is a great spectacle – and no one can do anything about the weather…………

so let’s hope for sunshine.

Ephemeral Paintbox Colours

Photographers talk a lot about ‘the golden hour’ – those precious moments at sun up or sun down when the light is at its most attractive and everything you shoot seems to be bathed in a golden glow.
Well, we don’t get a lot of snow round here so recently when we had an unexpected overnight snowfall of around nine  whole  inches I had to venture out with my camera to record the scene.
I donned my wellies and gloves and  left my cosy, warm house.
 The images I captured were more  ‘snow glow’ than ‘golden glow’ but what a sky!  I started out at around 3.30 pm,  just before sunset, with the daylight reflecting back up off the snow.

I wasn’t alone! The snow attracted a lot of people out for a walk that day and dogs revel in it as much as humans!

The light on the horizon gradually changed from an orange glow

to the most fantastic band of deep blue, crowned by another band of deep pink.




– so beautiful – and unusual, and a tiny bit surreal.
Eventually the sun sank behind the hills and this magical light faded.

By 4.30  the ephemeral  ‘snow glow’ had gone.

Ewyas Harold Arts Fest 2017 @Temple Bar Inn

Once again I was kindly invited by Gill Jinman of the Temple Bar Inn, Ewyas Harold, to display some of my photos in  their cracking exhibition space which is also used for get togethers, wild parties and other stuff – the all purpose meeting place for the local community, in fact.
It was all over in a flash but while we were there it was great fun – setting up and taking down is all part of the exhibition merry go round and as much fun as the actual ‘show’.
       


        



       

Last time I was there it was a straightforward exhibition of ceramics, glassware, paintings and photos. This time the whole village was involved at 5 or so different venues dotted about the place and it became obvious that there is a lot of artistic talent in this neck of the woods !
Visitors were treated to a shuttle service provided by Dore Community Transport, whose drivers tirelessly ferried people from one end of the village to the other.

The local children were involved in a scarecrow building competition and on the ‘scariness’ scale they didn’t disappoint! I only captured a couple of them but here they are

The next two images show the beautiful facade of our venue –  the restored Temple Bar Inn, with a scarecrow on sentry duty (albeit sitting down on the job!) (in the right hand corner, in case you think that’s a local a bit the worse for wear!!).

This event took place over the 3 days of the Bank Holiday weekend, coinciding cannily with the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, which is a stone’s throw away. Graham Powell kicked off with the opening ceremony – one of his last duties as a local councillor,  and here ably assisted by Gill’s husband, Peter, chairman of the parish council.

During our exhibition, the theme of which was  ‘Inspired by Nature’, local water colour artist, Richard Bavin, unveiled a  four metre painting of Lea & Paget’s Wood, created with public participation during h.Art 2016.

Figuring out how to hang a painting this big, so that it draped well and looked resplendent, called on the ingenuity of those involved and Richard enlisted the help of Jill Barneby, printmaker and owner of the Print Shed in Madley where the painting took shape on the grass outside the workshop. Over a hundred volunteers (and one dog, apparently!) worked on it, each adding a little bit of magic, to create this stunning piece which Richard is hoping will raise lots of dosh for the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust – maybe by the time of writing this they will have achieved their aim – I hope so!!
See http://www.herefordshirewt.org/ for information.
So after the opening ceremony and the awarding of prizes to the scarecrow creators (everyone’s an artist in this village!!), proceedings being monitored by some local llamas whilst they chewed contentedly on some hay (there is a llama farm just up the road in Walterstone where if you feel so inclined you can load up your llama with packed lunch, waterproofs etc  and take a tour of this picturesque landscape)
http://www.oldkingstreetfarm.co.uk/llamatrekking.html


our visitors wandered this way and that to enjoy a fantastic display of arts and crafts, ranging from weaving to glass blowing to textiles to painting to furniture making.
The weather was mixed but that didn’t matter – there was good food on offer throughout the venues, live music at the Temple Bar Inn, story telling and lots of other activities going on. Below is a shot of  a talented duo called the Pyschedelic Hearts Club Band, who performed a mixture of Beatles’ covers and their own material – they were great! a real treat.

The Ewyas Harold Festival of Arts was very well attended, particularly on Bank Holiday Monday. It was made possible by a fantastic group of people who care deeply about their local village and community and were prepared to go the extra mile to make the event a success.
I am  delighted to have been invited to participate again and marvel at the spirit and energy of the locals – they must have two bowls of porridge for breakfast!!
Here is some of the work on display at this year’s event from these artists and makers: Julian Stanley (furniture maker), Sally Guest (oil painter), Jacky Edwards (glass ware), Jill Barneby (printmaker) Richard Bavin (water colourist) and Sue Fernández (photographer)




                     

     
Here’s to the next one!