I was a little concerned about doing this task, it has to be said. On the day, I would have been more than happy if it had been cancelled once more (this was originally booked for last year) and when I found out it was actually on, my heart was in my mouth.
However I turned up at 6pm at Wollaton Park in Nottingham, along with another 12 people, not quite sure how I was going to cope with doing this task, but with the attitude, well I'm here now, I might as well deal with it!
The whole preparation of getting the balloon ready for take off is quite laborious. The crew ask for volunteers and everyone dives in to help unfold the balloon ready for it to be filled. Did you know the balloon is first filled with cold air? No, neither did I. I didn't realise I had to jump in the basket and hang upside down either, whilst the balloon was filled and then the burner is switched on.
We had three attempts of trying to prepare the balloon to take off, because of the high winds, but thanks to an excellent Pilot and crew who refused to give in, we eventually went up around 7:45pm. The experience was amazing! The ride is so smooth, you barely feel you are moving and the air is so still and calm, it feels like paradise! The views of the city are unreal. The castle looks incredibly small from the air, as does Wollaton Hall and the formations of the houses, makes it feel like you are looking down on a model village and I was okay the whole journey. I didn't particularly like looking straight down from the basket, but I was okay looking across and the fact that Mr M couldn't stop smiling the whole time we were up there, was more than enough to keep my mind off things.
We eventually came down in Thurgaton, near Southwell in Nottingham, just past all the mansions with the swimming pools and tennis courts, in a seemingly smooth landing. Altogether we travelled 18 miles and ended a perfect night with a glass of champagne. This was a fantastic and brilliant experience and one I hope to do again some day.