DRIFTING AWAY (hot air ballooning)

My Sunday Photo hot air ballooning

hot air ballooning

hot air ballooning

I’d  heard through the grapevine that the local hot air ballooning group was organising a flight over the Easter weekend, so the girls and I went along to check it out.

Seeing the balloons fill and float away reminded me of a trip back to New Zealand about 10 year ago, when I surprised OH with a flight. We were in Queenstown so we took in the majestic sight of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, and the Southern Alps. The views were unbeatable – the ones my mind haven’t blocked out, at least, since I was completely and utterly petrified.

I love heights, but they don’t like me. I was fine with them until I was about 21 – I was in Surfer’s Paradise, on the Gold Coast of Australia, and stepped outside onto the balcony of our high-rise holiday apartment. All of a sudden the world began to spin and the ground seemed to rush up towards me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was going to slip and fall off the building. My brain told me I wasn’t being rational, but my body told me I was about to die, and the two just refused to agree.

While I’ve battled with acrophobia ever since, I refused to let it rule my life and have always try to push myself out of my comfort zone. For the most part I’ve managed to keep a lid on that constant thrum of panic that threatens to engulf me as soon as I get north of 10 floors high (wobbly knees, thumping heart and dizzy head aside).

Although there was an interesting experience at the top of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, when my body became convinced I was going to fall out one of the open window holes, and I had to go all the way back down the spiral staircase pressed up against the wall.

Anyway, back to the hot air balloon. We arrived at the launch area at sunrise and watched the balloons getting partially inflated before climbing in. It all started off so well: the propane gas ignited and we began to swiftly rise. But, I don’t think I realised just how high we’d be flying, and I quickly became aware that I was hanging from a glorified picnic basket thousands of feet in the air. And The Fear kicked in.

It was pretty awful for a while, but then I think I accepted that my fate was officially in someone else’s hands, and just let it go. I was able to enjoy the flight much more after that – it really was the most serene experience when burner wasn’t roaring – but there was still a little sigh of relief when we finally touched (heavily) back down.

Big Sis is now obsessed with hot air balloons, so it looks like I’ll have to get over my fear of heights at least once more. Gulp.


  1. Beautiful photo of the balloon against the blue sky. I have a fear of heights too, and never know when it will hit. I got to the top of a spiral staircase in the tower in York and my legs went wobbly, my head spun and I just turned around and went back down. It was one way and everyone kept telling me off for going the wrong way! I’ve also retreated on my bottom lol #MySundayPhoto
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  2. Aw this takes me back. I used to attend the Hot Air Balloon Festival every year for years at Northampton but I have been for a long time. It used to be such a big event, I don’t even know if they still do it but there used to be balloons of all shapes and sizes. It was a weekend event and would have the biggest fireworks display I have ever seen and my favourite was the Balloon Glow in the evening when the balloons would be tethered but they would light up the night sky like big lanterns. Happy memories xx
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  3. You are so brave to try this! I cant ever Im too chicken!

    Lovely colors of the balloons too! #mysundayphoto
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  4. Would love to go in one even though I have a fear of heights. Does it make your tummy flutter?

  5. Hello Jacqui,
    I would love to have convinced my wife to come with me. She bought me a voucher for my 60th Birthday and despite my best efforts I could not get here to overcome her fear. Hats Off to you though for making the trip. I took my Son and we had a fantastic time. I liked your photos too.

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