Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A birds-eye view

Modern day hot air balloon baskets are normally divided into sections similar to large wine crates to prevent passengers wandering around. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone present ended up gravitating to the same side of the basket!!!
However, it does restrict photographic opportunities because the sun may be facing in your direction, or you are on the wrong side of the basket.
That was the case with the photo above. The sun was shining straight into my face so I literally pointed the camera, tried to avoid other people in the basket, and trusted to 'pot luck'. Not a perfect photo but our home just about makes it into the edge of the picture - X marks the spot.
Following a comment from "Parnassus" here is an extra photo of the basket which clearly shows the divisions. Our basket was made by Cameron, the largest manufacturer of hot air balloons in the world. The company is just down the road from us in Bristol. It was a Cameron balloon that made the longest flight, to date, when Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson flew from Japan to Northern Canada.
Bristol has held a 4 day Balloon Festival for almost 40 years 
Look how long the balloon is when it is laid out on the ground. Initially it is filled with air by a large wind fan, which eventually lifts the balloon over the basket.
View inside one of the standing areas. Hold on to a pair of rope handles for takeoff, back rested firmly against the padded side of the basket, knees bent - within seconds, relax, and surprisingly there you are, way up in the sky and high above the treetops. The same procedure applies when landing.
Can you see the sheep in the meadow? - the balloonist explained that they have a quiet gas burner for use when flying above livestock to help prevent frightening them.
The same balloon that we flew in photographed above our garden last year.
The flight lasted nearly 1½ hours - would I take a balloon flight again? Emphatically, the answer is yes.

63 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:

    We are most interested to read here that the 'basket' is divided up to prevent passengers from wandering and thus causing redistribution of the weight which might have serious consequences. This is something about which we had not thought. Somehow though, notwithstanding your obvious delight and enthusiasm, we do not feel that ballooning is for us but are, vicariously, delighting in your superb images.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - my enticements appear to have fallen flat - but it seems that perhaps I am the one in the minority.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, You certainly get breathtaking views from the balloon, and it was interesting to learn more of the practical/technical details of taking a balloon flight. I wish you had taken more shots of the basket itself, which seems to have evolved into quite a specialized device.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I have included an extra photo for you. I think it is likely that the men who were present possibly took more photos of the basket than me. We were all involved in preparing the balloon ready for flight which was an added bonus.

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    2. Hello again, Thanks for the clarifying shot, and I agree, things are always more interesting when one actively participates.

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    3. Next time I will take more shots of the basket for you Jim!!!

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  3. Again...fabulous photos, and I'm sure, a wonderful treasured experience for you, but not for me.... Jx

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    1. Dear Janice - it seems that you are in the majority.

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  4. It makes me wish I WAS a bird Rosemary!!!
    Fantastic views - oh the English countryside looks incredibly beautiful. A vivid green just like New Zealand.
    You are brave and I am happy to experience ballooning through your adventures - thank you!
    Shane x

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    1. Dear Shane - I think perhaps you are right and there are comparisons between the landscapes of our two countries.
      I really must confess that there was no bravery involved - there was no time to consider what might happen. One minute you are on the ground, the next high in the sky.

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  5. WAUW...what a amazing vieuw....it must be wonderfull see this places in a basket.
    Have a nice week Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. It is well worth doing Inge - how about giving it a try? I am sure you would love it.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,
    wow! Such a view, and the feeling to be up, up in the air! I love to fly with planes, which sort ever, but never tried a balloon - you make me curious... and as there are handles :-) - I might try.

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    1. Dear Britta - do give it a try - you are in the minority most commenters would not want to do it.

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  7. This is so interesting, Rosemary. I had no idea you stood up in the basket. I suppose I thought you'd be able to move about much more freely, but it makes sense now you explain it. The views are beautiful, and your pictures really do convey the sense of floating just above the landscape, as distinct from being up much higher in a plane. Fascinating!

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    1. It is a lovely way to spend an evening especially flying over a landscape that you are familiar with.

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  8. You live in a beautiful place Rosemary! I can see some of those valleys in your photo. Love the patterns of the furrows in the fields crossed with long shadows.

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    1. It is really remarkable the way my little point and shoot camera picked up on all the details.

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  9. Marvelous the scenery and your description of what not to do. With your winter gone and the new leaves on some of the trees plus the green grass all looks so fresh.

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    1. Everything is happening rapidly in the countryside now, especially as we are now enjoying some lovely sunny, warm days. There is no stopping nature once she gets going.

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  10. It's a great experience, I agree. So quiet up there. The evening light in your photos is beautiful, a dizzying sight though looking straight down on to the treetops!

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    1. I would like to do it again Jessica - the evening light just before sunset played on the trees in a magical way.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,

    The first aerial view gives me a great idea of high high up your house must be, and that it must have its own fabulous views, even at ground level.

    The balloon I rode in had an undivided basket which was pretty small, though the balloon had once crossed the Andes. We flew over a horse ranch without a quiet gas jet, and did indeed scare the horses (I gather they made no connection between the noise and what was above them). Strangely, they reacted by running in a circle, and it was a rather dreamlike sight.

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    1. Dear Mark we live about 700 feet up, the views are lovely. People like to come up on to our common to fly their kites and sit in the grasses eating icecream.
      I suspect that the division in the basket may be a more recent innovation due to health and safety issues.

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  12. Lovely shots as always Rosemary. I booked a balloon trip for the mister and I 16 years ago for a birthday treat for him. He felt a bit nervous in the basket although he has bungee jumped in NZ and parachuted from a plane, things I could never do. He is mush taller than me so perhaps felt more vulnerable about tipping out. The top of the basket was almost level with my chest so no danger for me :) I absolutely loved the balloon trip although I can't remember it being divided up, but it must have been.

    Love
    Jean x

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    1. Dear Jean - my suspicion is that the division may be a health and safety issue and probably date from after your flight. I think that it is possible that the baskets are higher too, because you do not feel at all vulnerable.
      It is a shame that you did not have a digital camera then. An ordinary camera would never capture the landscape like they do today.

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  13. Hello Rosemary,

    I can imagine the thrill, if that is the right word, of floating gently over your own landscape seeing it all with new eyes. How wonderful this balloon ride must have been. Your pictures are as delightful as ever.

    Stephanie

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    1. Thank you Stephanie - thrill is a good word for it. I was peaceful and very quiet flying over the landscape skimming the trees.
      Digital cameras are amazing the way they pick up all the tiny details, ones that you often miss with the naked eye. I was surprised when I saw them on the computer screen.

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  14. Querida Rosemary:
    Lindas fotos a paisagem, o conjunto de balões coloridos, parabéns pela linda postagem.
    beijinhos,
    Léah

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    1. Caro Leah - obrigado pelo seu comentário gentil. Eu estou contente que você tenha gostado de ver as fotografias tiradas a partir do balão de ar. Foi um passeio emocionante.

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  15. So glad that you had such a good time, your photos are wonderful I think and how brilliant to be able to see your house from the air! xx

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    1. We had hoped that it might be possible to fly over our house and garden, but it was not to be due to the prevailing wind.

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  16. Stunning, Rosemary!!! Even though I'm terribly afraid of heights, I might have to try a balloon ride to enjoy such incredible views. I find that if I don't look directly down, it's not as bad.

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    1. Please do it Loi - I should be really delighted if I had made a convert. I am convinced that you would love it.

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  17. Oh Rosemary! How wonderful! This is one more experience to add to your long list of travel experiences you've already had. You took splendid pictures as well! How special it must be to take pictures from way up, a totally different angle and great to see the area you live from above. What a lovely area it is as well! Wow, heavenly, so beautiful. I had no idea the basket was divided into sections. Think I'd feel trapped somehow, not being able to move around ;) but you're right, everyone moving around would probably lead to dangerous situations.
    Marian

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    1. You don't actually feel trapped Marian because you are so busy looking ahead or over the side - it is surprising how quickly you pass over the countryside.

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  18. Such stunning views from up above Rosemary. The photos are amazing. Now at least I know more or less what it looks like where you live.. its beautiful.
    I didn't know the baskets were divided into sections.
    I am glad you enjoyed it.
    I must say .. I could never do it. It scares me somehow.. silly really.
    So many baloons. It must have been a great sight.
    val x

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    1. Dear Val - we seem to have been waiting a long time for the flight but it was worth it.
      When you look up at the sky and see a balloon floating overhead it does look a bit scary, but in reality it isn't. It is very quiet, calm and peaceful, not frightening at all.
      Glad that you enjoyed seeing the photos.

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  19. Some interesting notions about the basket , I didn't know it was divided into sections , but seems quite sensible. I wonder how many people can be in one basket ? The photos are amazing , must be awesome to see an area that you know well from a totally different angle.

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    1. Previously I didn't realise that the basket was in sections myself, I don't expect that they used to be - probably a health and safety issue.
      There were 14 people in our balloon including two pilots.

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  20. I'm kind of pleased when I think that Richard Branson never made it all the way round the world in a hot air balloon! At least he still has a scope, an unfulfilled wish in his life! Can't have everything! A bit like Lego Man Silvio Berlusconi... He so wanted to become President of the Italian Republic and... look at him now! Money can't buy you everything, it would appear.

    Hot air balloons are lovely to look at, but the fire would scare me a bit!

    I'm back with a new post!

    HUGS

    I missed you all!

    ANNA
    xx

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    1. Ciao Anna - long time no hear - where have you been?
      The fire in a balloon does seem scary but for some reason when you are flying you are totally unaware of it apart from the sensation of warmth.

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  21. Wow, what stunning views Rosemary. It was interesting to learn that hot air balloons have divisions inside, I always assumed you could move about freely.

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    1. I assumed the same as you Paula - I imagine it is a health and safety issue.

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  22. Dear Rosemary,fantastic views from up there!!Great shots,indeed!!I would love,to take a balloon flight,one day!!
    Its so amazing!!Thank you for sharing!!
    Dimi...

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    1. If you have the chance then do it Dimi - with your enthusiasm I am sure that you would enjoy it.

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  23. I once watched a hot air balloon take off with a relative and group for a birthday celebration so know that there's a lot of preparation with the equipment before take off, which was interesting. I would be quite happy to take a flight, although I'd rather be up high than too near the tops of trees.

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    1. It is good fun skimming over the treetops, but equally enjoyable having a long view down - many people have said they would be too scared, but there is nothing frightening about it at all.

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  24. You did have some wonderful views and it must have been exciting picking out your own home and other places you knew. I'm so glad the balloon companies are aware of livestock; I know balloons overhead do worry mine. Even the chickens are unhappy! I think the whole aspect of sound that can be heard (for those in the balloon and those on the ground) is fascinating. Your trip sounded amazing and your photos are lovely.

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    1. On our trip the only animals that I noticed appearing to be rather anxious were some horses, so I was pleased once we had passed over them to leave them in peace. I suppose it is an unknown quantity to animals - planes don't seem to have the same impact.

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  25. Oh, your adventure becomes higher and higher, Rosemary. While being engrossed in photographing the world below your eyes, the time must have passed so fast. All your shots are breathtaking. The glinting leaves caught in the sunlight are beautiful.

    Yoko

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    1. It was a great experience Yoko, and as you mention the time passed so fast. May be I will do it again one day!

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  26. Fantastic shots Rosemary it must have been such an experience. We have an airfield near us and often see balloons going over my goats used be terrified and the dogs always barked at them - but they are a sight to see.

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    1. It is strange the way animals are frightened by balloons and yet take no notice of airplanes which often fly low.

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  27. Wow! Thank you for sharing this adventure! Very interesting. I must say I would probably be terrified of taking off and landing. You live in a very beautiful area, Rosemary. Happy weekend!

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    1. You do imagine that taking off and landing is difficult, but in actual fact it isn't. Taking off happens very quickly, you have no time to think about before you are up in the sky, landing is all over and done with very quickly too.

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  28. I did not know that you become human wine bottles! How intriguing. Lovely pictures Rosemary. You have made me want to fly.

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    1. Do give it a go Valerie - I am smiling at your comment.

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  29. What a lovely and interesting post! Beautiful, beautiful pictures!
    Have a nice weekend Rosemary...
    Love,
    Titti

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    1. Thank you Titti - it really was quite an exciting adventure which turned out to be a very enjoyable experience too.

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  30. A fascinating follow-up to your balloon trip post, Rosemary Wonderful images and lots of interesting facts about ballooning which make me even more keen to follow your example and go up, up, and away....

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    1. I am so pleased that it has encouraged you to give it a try Perpetua - with your attitude I know you will really love it.

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  31. WOW! It looks amazing. Looks so much fun.
    Bea Cupcake

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