My main focus for my Blog from the get go was to document the training and events I take part in. However, as it is labelled “Adventures of Gemma” every now and then an adventure comes about that is sooooooo amazing I can’t help but share.
For 11 years I have worked for Red Letter Days, with the majority of these years spent working in Online Marketing. Therefore, during this time it is fair to say that I have had my share of “experiences”. The perks of the job have enabled me to attend many fancy Black Tie events, take part in Power Boating on the Thames, a Helicopter Tour of London, Sushi Making, Dinner at Mosimanns, Quad Biking, Clay Pigeon Shooting, numerous Afternoon Teas and Spa Days – this is just to name a few. Lets’ just say that although my employment at Red Letter Days has pushed me to breaking point at the worst times, there have been many, many opportunities where I have experienced things that many people my age would only dream of.
After 11 years and many experiences I never thought I would encounter an experience that would go so far and completely blow me away. But last night, I was.
A few months ago our CEO met with one of our biggest Affiliate partners, Voucher Cloud and decided that it would be great to have an evening in Bristol for a Hot Air Balloon Flight. Not only are they based in this lovely city but also the makers of our Red Letter Days Balloons and our experience Partner, Bailey Balloons are also in the area.
I never imagined that the flight would go ahead. Many, many Hot Air Balloon flights get cancelled due to our precarious English weather. In the lead up to the day I tried not to get too excited in order to prepare myself for the flight being cancelled. That did not stop me checking the weather on an hourly basis, paying more attention that usual to wind direction.
The morning of Thursday 26th May was bright, sunny and the sky was completely cloudless. We made our way to Bristol, still baring in mind that at any minute the flight could be cancelled.
At around 3pm, it was confirmed. The weather was perfect. We were going up in the Balloon. I was part terrified and buzzing with excitement.
Bailey Balloons picked us up from Bristol in their Land Rovers. When we turned the corner and saw them waiting for us I remember hearing people cheering with excitement. The Basket was attached to a trailer on one of the Land Rovers and the Balloon itself packed safely in the other.
We were driven 30 minutes away to Victoria Park in Bath. I had never been to Bath before, so the fact that the first time I will see it would be from a basket floating in the sky was so amazing.
On arrival at the park we were surrounded by Balloons – with locals hardly batting an eye lid. Apparently this is a regular occurrence in the area. Including the Red Letter Days balloon, there were three ballooons being prepared for flight.
Clive and his team immediately got us involved in preparing the Balloon. When we sell these packages at Red Letter Days, nothing is mentioned about this. But suppose it is optional to assist. Our group were more than happy to help. It was fascinating to watch the process.
After around 2o minutes the Balloon was ready. Clive had already briefed us as to how to get in the Balloon, the position we need to be in for take off and what to expect in between.
And the next thing we know we were going up. With so many people waving and cheering from below.
The fear left me completely as soon as we were able to stand. The feeling of floating through the air is something I can not describe. It is something that I recommend everyone experiencing for themselves. There is such a high from being so high up in a basket and open air. The views, the sunset, the euthoria………Within 10 minutes of being in the air I had reached the tranqulity you would get from having an hour long massage. The Spa Days and Afternoon Teas I had been on………..so mainstream, anyone can massage you. Ballooning is where it is at! How many people do you know can fly a Hot Air Balloon?
Clive was amazing. He certainly knew his stuff, turning the Balloon where needed to ensure that we can get pictures; he even had a camera attached to the Balloon that extended so we could get a “Selfie” in the air.
Before we knew it, it was time to land. Except, Clive had to find a suitable place to do so. Well known in the area, he has landed in many a Farmers field. Which is what we did. Apparently landing in Hot Air Balloon it is very common for the basket itself to land on its side – which I was very apprehensive about. However, despite landing on a slight hill, in a Farmers field, the basket remained upright!
Once we had been given clearance from Clive we got out the basket and before we knew it the Land Rovers had found us. Packing away the Balloon commenced – which is not for the faint hearted. A Balloon that carried up to seventeen passengers including the Pilot takes some work to pack away. Team work required! With the promise of bubbles the team got to work packing the Balloon away under instruction.
Finally as the sun was going down the team pulled out a cooler full of Beer and Champagne. Together, still buzzing and on a high, we toasted our adventure.
The experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. How many people can get to say they have flown in a Hot Air Balloon? It is definitely a “once in a lifetime” experience. Finding something that will surpass this in my lifetime will be particularly difficult – maybe I have to up my game on the adventure stakes………