Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cloud 9

For as long as I can remember I've dreamed of having a ride in a hot air balloon, and amazingly, on this cloudy Monday in October my dream was about to be realised! We had won two tickets at a raffle at the Jennifer Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy annual conference and Candice was up for being my flying companion. Rolf and Tilly were only too happy to be 'balloon chasers' - with heights not being high on their list of things to enjoy!

We had a stunning ride though the autumnal colours to the Showground in Bakewell and all joined in the task of getting the balloon ready for flight. We were all struck with the enormous size of the 'envelope' and the incredible noise of the flame as it heated the air that had been blown inside it. I have to confess to feeling a little heart wrench as we kissed and hugged Rolf and Tilly goodbye and scrambled into our seats inside the basket. It was rather emotional as we effortlessly drifted away, soaring high above the ground, with Rolf and Tilly becoming smaller and smaller.

The silence was actually golden in the seasonal light, with the sun setting slowly behind us, lighting up the October leaves. Over the highest ridge, Chatsworth came into view, and I felt as if I could cry What a privilege to be witnessing such splendour, taking part in such a unique activity, with my little girl's eyes shining bright in awestruck pleasure, her smile dazzling, and her little gloved hand tight in mine. I can't imagine being eleven and being up, up and away. I used to watch the 'Nimble' advert on television when I was eleven and wondered.....

Candice's 'best bit', however, was the landing. It was very, very exciting and filled with an anticipated 'rollover' of the basket! The pilot was brilliant. He descended to a suitable spot and the balloon bumped and dragged its load across the chosen field until we came to a stop at an angle of about forty-five degrees. Four strong volunteers were drafted out of the basket to anchor the balloon and stop it being blown onto the road. Once secure, we all scrambled out and began folding the balloon up into a long sausage shape ready to be repacked away. Astonishingly, I heard the pilot speaking to the balloon chasing team and he said that a blue vehicle was already at the gate - I looked up and saw Daddy and Tilly had already found us! Candice and I sprinted across the field and leapt the gate for big hugs and cuddles. It was wonderful to see them again after our lofty experience. Tilly said I must call the Blog 'Cloud 9' because it had been so exciting for everyone and Mummy and Candice actually had been on Cloud 9! Such a wise little girl!

We scooped up fish and chips for the girls which they ate at home with their favourite 'Aunties' from the Children and Airways Support Team. Tilly surprised us with a serious choke that required demobilising the cough assist machine and the suction unit. Sue and Eileen are both experts in respiratory health and it's so brilliant to have their help. Once recovered, all four girls went on to get ready for bed, have false nails applied and then play The Great British Game of Steam Trains. (Sue and Eileen are now hooked and are looking forward to the next game)! It's fantastic to hear the girls having such fun with such special 'family'.

Rolf and I caught up with the jobs and enjoyed a delicious supper of Coquilles St Jacques, with ice cold white wine. I wonder if there is a Cloud 9.5?

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