Early Morning Balloon Chasing.


Saturday 1248  –  27.08.2016

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I got up this Saturday morning at 4.15 a.m.  I know it was bonkers wasn’t it, but it was for a good reason.  The British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) were holding the British National Ballooning Competition over the past week and was based at the Lakeside Lodge Golf Resort in Pidley  which is 10 mins from where I live.

Unfortunately I didn’t know it was happening until I got up on Weds morning, pulled back the curtains and there was one almost landed in the field at the end of my garden.  My own fault of course, as I never read the local papers or watch local news reports.  I rushed out and got a few pics and then did some homework to find out what was happening.   No ballooning Thursday as weather not suitable.

Luckily I was able to get up early Friday Morning to watch that morning’s launch, having been given a tip-off as to where the launch was likely to be : it varies depending on the wind direction etc, and also watched again on Friday evening. I was utterly, utterly hooked and fast becoming the unofficial ballooning groupie!   The “good ” photos you see above and below are from Friday.

Back to Saturday. I got up at 4.15 a.m, as I have already said, and drove to Lakeside. There was very thick fog and I nearly went back to bed but fog is always good for photos too, so I pressed on. I knew they were having a briefing at 5 a.m to decide on where the launch would be, if it went ahead, and I followed the teams when they came out. Of course it was hoped that the fog would burn off but it was looking doubtful because there was a cold front moving in.  

The trucks, vans and other trailer pulling vehicles all arrived at the proposed site, an airfield near Chatteris, but ominously nobody started to unload their baskets and balloons, which they had done immediately the day before as this picture below shows.

laying out the balloon (3 of 1)

 and this was what it was like at Chatteris Airfield on Saturday morning.





Some difference huh ?

I was told this is what ballooning can be all about; getting up early in the morning and often being thwarted by the weather, with no launch happening.  

I wandered about and took a few photos to show you what it was like, thankfully a few of the younger men decided to play frisbee so gave me something else to photograph. Thanks to them! 


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Click on any of the photos to increase size.

I have to say how much I admired the passion, exhibited by everyone, which enables them to get up so early, day after day, when competition is on.

For the next few days ( at least ) I will be posting more Balloon photos over on my photography blog Photomania  and you can find them by clicking this link 

A few links for anyone interested in finding out more about ballooning, but please be aware that if you do go to take photo’s, or view a launch or landing, you generally do so at your own risk unless the event states that it is open to the public with organised stewarding etc.




Of course there are always other photos to be taken and when the black flag was raised to indicate there would be no flight that day, everyone left, but I captured a few more photos on my way home.



With this one below being my favourite of the day! 


Your thoughts are very welcome as ever. 

Saturday Girl signing off.. 


Running to Hamlet !

Saturday 1250  –  13.08.2016

If you are new to my blog take a look at my About page here  

hamlet-rsc-2016-2 (1)

Photo: Manuel Harlan

I know it’s a bit of a shock ,for my regular readers, that I am posting 2 Saturdays in a row because it’s been quite a while since I did that! ( though this one is, in fact, a week late – ho hum )

This Saturday I set off in the morning for Stratford-upon-Avon to attend a matinee performance of Hamlet at the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It’s about 1 hr 45 mins drive and I allowed myself about 3 hrs just in case.  

It turned out the “just in case” was much needed.  

First there were problems on the infamous A14 road; about 25 mins of the extra time was lost there.

Then there were horrendous queues trying to get into Stratford-Upon-Avon, well it was a Saturday so I should have guessed that might happen and it is a huge Tourist destination being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Another 20 mins lost there.  I hit the centre of Stratford with about 30 mins to go.. the theatre is right in the centre of the town so I was thinking I should be okay, although I was supposed to be there 15 mins before to collect my ticket.

But…… yes there’s so often a “But”.

Could I get parked? Nope! Even though I know, what I thought, were a couple of less well known parking places. Not today they weren’t.  I eventually got parked quite a long way from the theatre and now had just 15 mins left before curtain up. It was hot and I cannot run because of my “fixed” ankle.. I must have looked a sorry sight; red-faced and doing the equivalent speed of an Olympic walk, but without any degree of athleticism!

I arrived with just 5 mins to spare, thankfully they hadn’t sold on my ticket and I even had time to visit the ladies before sinking into my seat with 1 min to spare; noting that I was still wearing my prescription sunglasses, having left my glasses in my car!! Nothing for it but to watch through them. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photos during the performance so I have just included a few from around the theatre and the header from another source. 

The performance was utterly stunning; being full of passion, colour, drumming and brilliant lighting. Simon Godwin’s interpretation of the play is set in a present day? militaristic African state and the majority of the actors are black; sadly this is still considered to be unusual and a talking point.

The role of Hamlet was played by Paapa Essiedu, the first black actor to do so at the RSC. It was surely long overdue.  Paapa was outstanding – madness, pathos, indecision – a very fine and physical performance. He handles Hamlet’s descent into madness with eloquence and brilliance.  The staging was clever, as you would expect from The Royal Shakespeare Company, every inch of the stage used, with smoke, rising stages, entrances from between the audience and even a rope descent, but at the same time with very minimal, if sumptuous, props.

I could not fault any of the cast, all played their parts with gusto.. gusto is a good word for this piece of beautiful, fierce, oddness.  The howl from Horatio near the end is utterly memorable for it’s powerful, haunting and blood curdling nature.

Class all round and as it was so dazzling, my wearing sunglasses was instantly forgotten 😉  

Click on any of the photos to increase size.

Who knew that so many of the notable phrases, still use in almost everyday speech, came from Hamlet and were written almost 6 centuries ago. Here are just a few of them :-

Frailty, thy name is woman!

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

This above all: to thine own self be true

Murder most foul

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so

What a piece of work is man

To be or not to be: that is the question

Get thee to a nunnery 

O, woe is me 

The lady doth protest too much 

Hoist with his own petard

There are lots more, as there are from every Shakespeare play.  Isn’t it wonderful that he still has such an influence on our language.

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever. 

Saturday Girl signing off.. 

Oh, and back in 2012 I wrote about one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s other attractions, The MAD museum. You can read about this fascinating place by clicking HERE  


If you’s like to you can take a look at my photography blog Photomania by clicking on the word.