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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Whether the weather be fine or not


In 2002 we bought tickets for a balloon ride, to celebrate jointly reaching our half centuries. We were living in Sydney at the time but had chosen to fly over Canberra, because we liked the idea of looking down on the National Capital scenery, including its monumental buildings and central man-made lake, which I've blogged about previously. We drove down the night before and were up bright and early, arriving at the meeting point as required, around 5 a.m. I think. Unfortunately the weather wasn't looking too good, but the company remained confident in forecasts that the squalls and showers would clear in time for us to take off. The photos below include one showing my husband helping to tether our balloon while it was being inflated.

Up, up, up ...

... and away!  It appears from that fourth shot that we were aboard the first of the four balloons to become airborne.

Above and below are two rather gloomy shots of our view from on high, including the old and new Parliament House and the High Court. You can see rain approaching in the distance and after only half the scheduled flight time, our pilot decided that the safest and most advisable course would be to descend as rapidly as possible. We didn't complain, as there was nowhere to shelter away from the heavy rain streaming down the sides of the balloon canvas and funneling into the basket and its occupants, so by that stage we were completely saturated. We landed unceremoniously in a lakeside car park, feeling happy to have avoided ditching in the lake. Our tickets included a sumptuous hotel breakfast but we were way too wet to be able to enjoy that and instead we just headed straight back to my mother-in-law's Mary's place to get warm and dry.

 We were offered either a raincheck (!) or a half refund, and we did try to book again some months later, but that day turned out to be too windy to even take off, so that was it. We didn't try a third time as it was too difficult to arrange when we didn't live close by. By then we had left it too long to get that refund, but never mind. Our balloon adventure came to a soggy end, but it was fun while it lasted, sort of!

I took the following rather contrasting shots in 2006 during the annual week long balloon fest held in Canberra. We were again visiting Mary and enjoyed being spectators around the lake on that occasion. The building on the right is our National Library, with a balloon house floating above it, and you can see the Flying Sćotsman up there too, together with a bee and a few other unusual balloon shapes as well, their colours reflecting in the lake. Lake Burley Griffin itself appears blue rather than brown or grey on a blue sky day.

Here's the Flying Scotsman landing 

and going down, down, down, in a rather undignified fashion. 

We see early morning balloons floating over our house here in Melbourne quite regularly, but we don't feel tempted to join in. Mishaps don't happen often, but when they do they can involve near misses or worse. One had to make a forced landing in someone's front garden last year. It wouldn't have fitted into ours! For more ups and downs of various kinds, just float away and see what other bloggers are doing for Sepia Saturday #305. very possibly involving more sepia that you see here.

Perhaps there will be balloons of another kind at our son's wedding, which we're flying off to attend next weekend. I rather doubt I'll have a chance to post next Saturday.


  1. I love the flying bagpiper! My husband & I used to stay at a motel in South Lake Tahoe where balloon rides over the lake ended. They'd take off from the Tahoe airport & after drifting over the lake, would land on a boat in the middle of the lake! Tricky, but excellent pilots & no accidents. We talked about taking a trip in one, but never did. Fun to watch them though. The pilots would bring the balloon down to almost skim the basket on the surface of the lake, then rise again. Amazing. Reno, Nevada, holds a hot air balloon festival in early September & I remember one morning 11 years ago, driving around a corner on the way down to the hospital where my daughter was recovering from a serious boating accident, & seeing maybe 50 colorful balloons floating in the early morning sun above the town. What a sight it was, & what a boost to my spirit at that particularly difficult time!

  2. I don't think I'd ever be tempted to go up in a balloon. They look beautiful though.

  3. I have some colorful modern postcards of balloons & balloon festivals. I've never even been close to a real balloon. I would be afraid to go up in one.

  4. Full marks for a perfect match! All adventures need a bit of rain to add spice to the tale. But never too much.

  5. I love the image of the Flying Scotsman. I suspect there was nothing under his kilt.

    1. Ha ha, well there had to be a basket hanging down there somewhere for the pilot at least, plus a gas burner and a lot of hot air!

  6. I didn't know about the balloon festival! Thank you! I have put it on my "to do' list and will co-ordinate with a visit to the National Library :)

  7. What a great way to celebrate your 50th birthdays -- maybe when you hit 75, you'll have a chance to do it again! Have fun at the wedding!

  8. Love hot air balloons, love the picture of the piper and the little house!!!

  9. You got some great photographs. There is always something so appealing about balloons - in pictures only for me, though!

  10. This week’s prompt was tailor-made for you!