I travelled back down the motorways to the Midlands and spent a few days with my brother Mike, who once again was wonderful and helped me sort out lots of little niggling things as well as liaising with Martin the Metalworker who did a sterling job of altering the scooter lift and enlarging the platform. When it was finished it was painted black to match in with Thebus’ back end, and joy of joys, I managed to locate a travelling cover in black rather than the bright, royal blue which had always offended my artistic sensibilities. Everything looked great, all it needed was some final wiring and once again I could hit the road and maybe get to see some things before the summer finally disappeared.
The scooter platform was in Stourport and Mike came over before work the next morning to wire in the automatic lifting mechanism, then headed off back to his offices before the traffic. There was only one fly in the ointment, and that was the wiring for the rear light on the number plate had rusted out and was beyond repair. Mike could do nothing as nowhere was open, but I hoped that Karl, Sally’s brother might be able to help: so it was off to the transport yard. Karl was a star and as soon as we had located the right part he wired it in and once everything was checked I was ready to start for Bristol where the four day Balloon Fiesta was being held.
This was something I which had been on my list of things to do for some time and earlier in the year I had contacted the farm just opposite the main entrance who open their fields during the balloon festival for folk to camp and park.
It had been touch and go as to whether I would make the Balloon Fiesta as I knew without a scooter I had no chance whatsoever of making it to the Fiesta grounds from the parking site. Then as the time drew nearer I had been uncertain as to whether to go at all as the weather forecasters prognosis had been dreadful – pretty much of a washout on Thursday, possibly marginally better on the Friday and Saturday and back to abysmal on Sunday. The idea of sitting in the rain in a field for four days was not appealing, even with the use of the scooter.
The Thursday had dawned grey and pretty windy, another weather condition which made it likely the balloons would not ‘go up’. But as the day drew on and everything was finally in place for me to travel it looked at least a bit more hopeful and I decided to risk it. Karl finished the tail lights just after lunchtime and I wished everyone a hasty farewell and hit the road.
I am trying out a new Sat. Nav. It is a specific truckers model, and has a larger screen, plus the lady does not sound quite so cross as Strict Lady, and is a little more chatty. Mind you she still decided to take me through the centre of Bristol during the rush hour, which was interesting, but I must say I take these things more in my stride than in the past.
We arrived at the pleasant farm situated literally across the road from the Fiesta Ground entrance and at ten pounds a day to park I thought it was excellent value. The Fiesta itself is totally free, and as the weather had improved again I decided to take the scooter up to the main arena for the first evening Mass Balloon Launch at six o’clock.
It was fascinating to see the many and varied balloons being inflated.
One was sent off early to assess the wind conditions as it was still pretty breezy and once he reported back the all clear was given for the ballons to take off as and when they wished and it was exciting to see them rise and be taken by the winds away towards Bristol
While I waited for the Night Glow I wandered round the largest funfair I think I have ever seen. This was certainly one ride I had no intention of trying out!
As darkness begins to fall about fifty tethered balloons are inflated in the main arena and then perform a giant light show using their burners in time to music. Just as I thought it was all over for the evening a huge firework burst in the sky from the ridge behind us to signal the start of a stunning fireworks display.
Once that was over I decided to head back – as if the weather, held I intended to return for the morning Mass Accent, which was scheduled for 6 am. Finding my way back through the show ground and massive funfair in the dark it was quite easy to get lost, especially when one had to take detours round the massive queues for the public facilities.
Once back to the campsite I strapped the scooter securely onto his rack and hoisted it back up to travelling height – normally I wouldn’t bother if I knew I was needing it the next day, but I have heard of folk having electric bikes and generators stolen at rallies, and I was taking no chances.
Then into the warmth of Thebus – even though I had taken the precaution of thermal underwear two jumpers, a scarf, furry hat and thick lined gloves – and it was August – I was still feeling the cold