I love surprise days out! Or in this case, a very early 4am surprise start to the morning..
As part of my birthday treat, P organised a morning up in the air in a hot air balloon. Such a fantastic idea! I have always wanted to go for a balloon ride but it’s just the sort of thing you don’t think of booking yourself. As a gift however, perfect. The company we flew with were Wickers World and they have a selection of flying sites all over the country. P decided we were going to fly from Worcester so we arrived at our designated take off point – the race course – at about 5:30am and were there just in time to watch them preparing the balloon.
Once the body of the balloon was all laid out and the INCREDIBLY heavy basket was on its side, two fans were positioned at the entrance to the balloon and began blowing air into it.
Once enough air had been blown in the pilot turned on the fire power. The heat filled up the remainder of the cavity of the balloon and once this was completely filled it become buoyant and lifted itself in the air and brought the basket upright with it.
As soon as we were given our flight instructions for take off and landing we were quickly loaded into the basket (which is surprisingly bigger than it looks, this one had a capacity of 14!) and prepared for take off.
I don’t know what I had been expecting, but something a little more dramatic than the actual take off turned out to be. I hadn’t even realised we had taken off until the basket was a few inches off the ground..the only way I can describe it is in relation to an escalator. Inch by inch the basket was lifted higher off the ground, until before we knew if we were 100 feet off the ground. Another thing I hadn’t been expecting was the cost of the balloons themselves. Our pilot informed us that this particular one cost £75,000, I was shocked. The burner alone was worth about £15,000.
In only a matter of minutes we were at full flight level and sat back and relaxed and took in the beautiful views of the morning light peaking out from behind the clouds in Worcestershire.
Every now and again the pilot gave it a quick blast of fire to send a bit more heat up into the balloon and keep us at the right height as we floated along with the current of the wind. It also kept my head cozy! No need for my big warm coat and scarf..
The hour passed unbelievably quickly and before I knew it we were making our descent and on the hunt for a place to park the balloon.
A meadow was spotted and it was decided we would make our landing there. We didn’t know at the time that this was Croome house and all the gates were locked as our intrusion was really very early and it would take a considerable amount of time to find somebody with keys to let us out. In fact, enough time to allow us to help pack up the balloon back into its bag and get the basket onto the waiting recovery truck. Not a quick or easy task. Unfortunately not long enough to have a look around, but I am sure we will be back to pay Croome a visit when we’re not intruding on their land!
Had a ballooning lovely time! Would highly recommend to all, as I’m sure would the delightfully funny 80 year old Nans on board with us who were grinning from ear to ear by the end of it!