Here we are despite being rather dodging from pillar to post we have managed to get stuff done and have actually been very busy. Just in case you thought you had got the booking page of a balloon ride business apologies, you have actually arrived on the site of the business that keeps Ride Balloons in the air and looks after the needs of those that choose to balloon as a sport. That is a Part M EASA-type organisation which I have to say is something we would like to be rid of so that we can get back to ballooning for fun and support those that earn a living from it without all the nonsense and bureaucracy that goes with it never mind the outrageous salaries earnt by the Euromuppets that run it all. Rant over and back to reality. We are really lucky as we get to meet and inspect all sorts of balloons and people lovely. If you think this is being written under the influence of Hobgoblin you are more than likely correct. We have had a really mixed week full of sadness and hope. Sadness as in we heard that Anthony Smith, who has been the bastion of the British Balloon & Airship club and the face of ballooning for many a year passed away. To say he lived a full and fruitful life would be a serious understatement. His spirit of adventure will be sorely missed but, in fairness, should be reflected upon and an inspiration to others. We had a really good and meaningful meeting with Ian Chadwick and Mark Shortman, who we think may be our new CAA Surveyor, but of that, we are not sure. What became clear following a very long days’ visit was that Mr Shortman is nothing if not enthusiastic about ensuring ballooning gets back to a simple and reasonably unregulated sport. Initial impressions may be wrong but they seem positive and we await to see what comes about in the near future, especially with regards to de-regulating hoppers and the like. There is to be a meeting in Bristol with Andrew Haines and another chap who is now responsible for the GA (General Aviation) and we have been invited to attend. This could be good especially as Mr Haines is a former Great Western Railway man and we are involved with the restoration of 7200 a 2-8-2 Prototype great Western tank engine picture somewhere or other. He doesn’t know that! Bummer, he might now! On the home front this weekend sees possibly the start of the serious building of the new workshop. We had the last family party at the farm last weekend and the last ‘friends of the family’ party will be in August. We’ll have a big party in the workshop just before we move and be assured all will be invited. Then of course we’ll have to have another in the new workshop!
In the past few weeks we have had a great variety of balloons in not least a full Kubicek kit that included a new double burner the name of which escapes me but could have been an Ignis or something similar. It was far removed from the earlier Kubicek burners and was actually quite nice. With few mods here and there we reckon they could easily become a force to be reckoned with and we will post a bit of an article about the one we saw in due course. Another balloon that popped in for a bit of a mod was the Ultramagic Penguin built for Andrew Holly’s company. Now believe it or not it is a special shape albeit bits stuck on a balloon but a Special Shape nonetheless. What makes it so superduper is that it weighs diddly squit. When you come to think of it why aren’t all Special Shapes built as lightly as possible? We bang on about this enough but it transpires that it was down to the Ultramagic rep Richard Penney to suggest that it could be built very lightly. Come on the rest of the ballooning industry, get ‘lighter than air in your heads’. It is the way forward even if you only consider the duffers out there that don’t need a balloon to last 600 hours. They want to do 20 hours a year and chuck it in the boot of their Toyota Prius single handed. It ain’t hard, the Americans have been doing it for years. Personally we reckon the best candidate would be a re-working of the Cameron O-series. Lovely balloon all round and looks the dogs’ doodahs. Getting back to articles we have hinted at and not produced we will endeavour to get them out. Sorry, been nice weather so no incentive to sit indoors at an electronic typewriter! Despite that somewhere should be an insider piece about the Little and Large Meet and a thing on Bedale which we unexpectantly ended up at and very lovely and groovy it was too.
Over in the now overflowing roundtoit barn we have a pile of stuff destined for Ceylon or Sri Lineka as I understand it now is. Loved the stamps from there. All subtle hues of red and blue. We probably owned it then as they had the Queen’s head in the corner. Frank the Lorry gave us an adventure the other day when we checked the brakes down the yard prior to plating. They suddenly didn’t, so it is currently sitting with no wheels awaiting parts. He looks a little sad but there in lays the opportunity for a Biffa out. Truth be told we have forsaken projects with going to balloon meets and actually going flying again so it has kind of become a hangar. You heard right, we have got the old fashioned ballooning bug back and intend to do even more flying in the coming months not least attempting to land either on the Manor Waste in the High Street or in the Library car park before HS2 gallops along. A tad pretentious I grant but it has to be done. I’ve ridden me horse to the pub now I need to fly to it. Best I get John aboard even if I suspect he’d rather ‘boil his tongue and eat it’, an unfortunate statement I fear. I’m all for natural vegetation and dancing about for the summer solstice but this year we broke tradition and headed north so the picture at the top is the setting sun on the longest day on Coombe Hill courtesy of Wayne the Allotment bloke. At that moment I laying in field being buzzed by swifts opposite a castle a long way north. Surreal. The other piccie is no-wheels Frank only because it to doesn’t involve balloons. Thanks very much indeed for visiting and you may have to come back in a day or two to find further promised articles for which, once again, we apologise. Mind you Barry is on holiday from Monday so it may be a couple of weeks if I don’t pull me finger out a bit sharpish. Our very best regards Dotty, John, Alice, Jane and Chris