Tag Archives: Featured

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.

Homage to the Dandelion

The grass and fields and hedgerows around where I live are awash with dandelions –


– they resist any attempt to eradicate them, keep the pesticide industry going almost single-handed and seem to mock us as they pop up on our manicured lawns, flaunting their bright yellow petals.

The name ‘dandelion’ comes from the French ‘dent de lion’ or ‘lion’s tooth’ , used to describe the marked indentations along the edges of the leaves and the ragged appearance of the tips of the petals.
But why do we so begrudge their presence?
Every part of this plant can be used:
the roots can be ground and roasted to make a caffeine free beverage, although more palatable to my mind are dandelion and burdock (or dandelion wine for an extra kick!)  made from the petals. The leaves can be blanched or sauteed in a similar way to spinach and added to salads and soups; the dandelion is also used in herbal medicine for liver infections or as a diuretic. It is even used as a dye, although the resultant slightly muddy brown colour (called ‘caramel’ by the more charitable) is disappointing, given the original glorious yellow of the petals.
Its colour alone would persuade me to rebrand it! It’s a flower! Let’s cherish it! We love the colour yellow! All the best things in life are yellow! Gold! Saffron! Buttercups! Butter! Egg yolks! Sunshine! Submarines!
Think how many songs have the colour yellow in their titles – you should be able to think of at least TEN. This is one of my favourites
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICkWjdQuK7Q
My dad was never a gardener. His idea of keeping the place tidy was to sally forth, scythe in hand, once the grass was knee high.  Dandelions thrived! And so did lots of other pretty things like these:

And so did dandelion clocks – the fascinating, spherical seed heads which appear after the flowers and use the wind (or excited little children ! – the hour is however many puffs it takes you to blow all the seeds off the ‘clock) to scatter those seeds to the four corners of the garden, producing masses more dandelions the next year! So Dad was nurturing a wild life garden long before our present  ‘crop’ (oh!dear!) of TV celebrity gardeners advocated them!


But the real reason they are there is for these little guys:

……….the army of pollinators, buzzing busily from bloom to bloom – they don’t care whether we think it’s a weed or a flower!