The time of my life!

You are about to see penguins fly!

You are about to see penguins fly!

There must be something about August!  Apart from it being the height of an English Summer and my wedding anniversary month, I seem to have some of my very best memories from then. You have no idea how ridiculously excited I was to be going to the Bristol Balloon Festival!  And I wasn’t even flying (maybe someday?)

I won’t share with you the whole saga right now.  Sufficient to say that it was a very long walk home (even by Restlessjo standards), and that the people of Bristol are some of the nicest folk I’ve ever met.  Are you ready for this?

It all starts with the moment that life is breathed into these beauties

It all starts with the moment that life is breathed into these beauties

Look Mum! I'm surrounded by balloons!

Look Mum! I’m surrounded by balloons!

Even a square one!

Even a square one!

I had arrived at the showground early, and been royally entertained with flying model aircraft and the beautiful gardens at Ashton Court- all in radiant sunshine.  But there was no doubt of the spectacle that everyone wanted to see, and excitement began to build as the teams drove out onto the field.  The baskets were tipped inelegantly on their sides and the balloons draped around them.

As the first one juddered and stammered to life, a thrill went through the crowd.  And then it was proudly erect!  Pink, white and perfect, it waited patiently while all the other balloons performed their own ballet.

Faster and faster they rose!

Faster and faster they rose!

As the baskets were righted and the excited passengers climbed in, it was the job of one man to hang on to a rope for dear life to stop the balloon plunging away.  In moments they were airborne, one after another, amid the gasps of spectators.  Necks craned and we waved as the passengers waved back.

Against a mackerel sky

Against a mackerel sky

Who could help but smile?

Who could help but smile?

And wave!

And wave!

Although the skies were clear and bright there was still some doubt as to how many balloons would be able to take off.  The occasional gust of wind across the airfield gave no real sense of how breezy it might be in the skies overhead.  But one by one they pulled away, and the excitement never faded.

A certain twosome were eagerly waiting

A certain twosome were eagerly waiting

And then there was Swatch

And then there was Swatch

Anyone know these guys?

Anyone know these guys?

Airborne at last!

Airborne at last!

Don't forget the polar bears!

Don’t forget the polar bears!

In minutes they were clear of the trees and gone, in the direction of the city and Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Part of me wished I was waiting by the bridge, but there is no guarantee in which direction they will head, air currents being vital to this.  On the field, the numbers of balloons dwindled, but I remained rapt.

Two red letter days?

Two red letter days?

But look whose turn it is next!

But look whose turn it is next!

Totally adorable!

Totally adorable!

'Balloons' was one of the last to take to the sky

‘Balloons’ was one of the last to take to the sky

And then it was over, for a little while.  Wilkinson Cup began to be deflated and the balloonists were off being collected from their respective landings.  That would be fun to see too!  Then began the wait for evening and Nightglow.

The cup takes a curtain call

The cup takes a curtain call

Without ever seeing Paula’s Guest Challenge this week, I knew that the subject was Time, and that with Debbie in the driving seat there wouldn’t be much of it to spare.  Mine is rather a large ‘snippet of time’ but a very special one, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it with me.  Please click on the links to see Debbie’s wonderful post, and Paula’s interpretation of it.  I hope I can play my part in making Thursday special.

And I musn’t forget a mention of a very special friend, whom I was lucky enough to meet in Bristol.  Viveka, this one’s for you!


  1. Love, love, love those balloons…especially since I am viewing them at sea level from the comfort of my boat and not riding in them enveloped in fear in the sky. The penguins were my favorite. Love them. The balloons reminded me of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I was a balloon handler in the parade for three years (which I cared about photography at the time….I could have taken some amazing shots). “twas a treat..

    1. The penguins were my standout favourites but I just loved the whole excitement of seeing them blown up and then take off into the heavens. Thanks so much for your company, Lisa (and for the tweet too). About to watch Rafa at Cincinatti but will join you and your boat tomorrow 🙂

  2. That was certainly a very special snippet of time. One I would have loved to share in person, but you have portrayed it very well Jo. I love the posts where we get some of your verbal description as well as photographic. You have a great way with words.
    You have most definitely captured the excitement in your shots – I think the minion is my fave (I do have a soft spot for them) but Balloons is a clever idea.
    Most definitely added to my bucket list!

  3. What a joyful post! So much happiness spread from you to your followers and back to you again. That’s one of the reasons I love following you, Jo…you throw the best blog parties! 🙂

    1. Elisa, I stayed part of my weekend with a friend for over 40 years, who I hadn’t seen for 20. How could I not be joyful? And then I met Viveka! Time of my life seemed wholely appropriate 🙂 And here you come and make it even better! 🙂

  4. Last Sunday, I packed up clothes snd moved in with my son, wife and their combination family of 4 children. Monday, baby Hendrix arrived in a big way and on Wednesday, first day of school for 3 of 4 grandkids. My week allowed a few peeks, even a poem of Arrival and my pre-planned doors post. But here I am checking out and getting my “Jo” fix 🙂
    I showed the multiple hot air balloon to grandkids and of course, their favorites were Minions and the Penguins. Thanks for sharing all the joy of this fun event!

    1. What a lovely thing, Robin! So glad to bring a little fun into the household. Had I known you had company I might have posted my Shaun the Sheep photos. They would have loved those. 🙂 Many congratulations on the new arrival. Hugs all round!

  5. I love all of these, Jo. Is there one there that looks like ‘hundreds and thousands’ or is it a whole lot of coloured balloons together? Whatever it is, it’s my favourite! The minions are so cute and the Swatch very clever. Happy Anniversary month to you! 😀

    1. I have since had my education broadened. Am I the only person in the world not to be familiar with minions? (sorry, capital ‘M’ 🙂 )
      You would think so, wouldn’t you? (house 🙂 ) Sorry, Heather- I’m full of good intentions but getting to yours is a rarity. 😦 Be there in a day or so 🙂 Nice to have your company.

  6. Absolutely adorable! I love everything, but the minions are my favourite. LOL! What an exciting time you had Jo, and I can see you had lots of fun. Even I am tired after this lovely walk. 😆 Great shots too! Thanks for sharing. 😀 ♥

      1. I can see you enjoyed Jo and I am glad it didn’t. I am glad you were there to share the beauty with us. I just love my virtual travelings with you. 😀

        I have no complaints whatsoever darling. Thanks for asking. ♥

  7. Wow! I love the minions, the penguin and the one that looks like a bunch of balloons. So bright and colourful, our dogs would go absolutely ballistic if they could see them all. What a fun day Jo, thank you 🙂

  8. Your exuberance with the balloon festival was a delight, Jo. The photos of the balloons in their before and after stages is really cool. The sky was gorgeous, the balloons wonderful. What a thrill for you and for us. Thank you!

    1. Viveka just posted her version today, Jet, and she points out that they had the best weather for 20 years! We were SO lucky 🙂 And yes, I did have a fabulous time and it was a pleasure to share it. Thank you so much for enjoying it with me 🙂

  9. happy Anniversary Jo! Ohh I love balloon festival, they are so unique to see and always colorful! Thanks for sharing your adventure, it reminds me of my first time seeing the Balloon festival in the Netherlands – I was super excited 🙂

    1. I’d probably be like jelly if I got my wish but it’s something I’ve always fancied. Brave and me never appear in the same sentence, believe me! Thanks 🙂 🙂

  10. You took such gorgeous photos, Jo! The balloons are so colorful and perfectly clear against that beautiful blue sky. With all the enthusiasm that you have for the balloon festival, I hope that sometime you’ll be able to find a way to hitch a ride! 🙂

  11. I’m in love with the penguins too, they are the cutest thing ever, who said penguins can’t fly? What a lovely time you had and perfect weather, it would be a bit different this week. Did you see much of Bristol? And do yo have photos from the evening? I think I would have got a sore neck looking up so long x:-)x

    1. See my video comments, Gilly? The whole Nightglow and getting home was a saga! I walked my socks off in Bristol on the Monday (didn’t fly home till 9.30pm), Thursday and Saturday, so yes- I saw a fair bit. I will attempt to show some of Nightglow if I can work it out. 🙂

      1. Ahh I see now. Can you edit it on your laptop/pc? About 8 years ago I joined together a few clips of my granddaughter in utero from her mummy’s scans, even added sound but I have no idea how. It must have been windows media player thingy as I’ve never had anything sophisticated, good luck sweetie 🙂

  12. So much fun! The night before the Thanksgiving Day Parade here in NYC, you can watch all the balloons being inflated in Central Park. That’s a little bit like this, but not nearly as exciting as watching them take flight.

    I never knew that hot air balloons could come in these different shapes. Of course my favorite are the two penguins. Too cute! 🙂

  13. Love the penguin and the balloon balloon! So much colour! You must have got a crick in the neck getting all these shots Jo, but thank you so much for the adventure 🙂

  14. Thanks for this post! I love the pictures from balloon festivals, and have always wanted to go. Seeing your pics led to me looking for one around here. (I’ve never seen one in Calgary itself.) Found one that’s happening at the end of September just south of the city. Yay!

  15. Wow, fantastic images !!!! I didn’t see any penguins and the dragon never made it up when I was there, but he were very cute – but what a show it was … and the weather couldn’t been better for us.
    Thank you so much for the dedication … my heart are feeling so good right now.
    The pleasure was all mine – we couldn’t had a more pleasant date anywhere else.
    Have to start working on my images now.
    Late summer hugs .. from Sweden.

    1. Hi sweetheart! Saw your email but haven’t had time to respond yet. We were making the most of the lovely weather to go down the Moors today (restless, remember? 🙂 ) The rain and thunder is coming in from the south but haven’t got here yet.
      Thank you so much for your company. I couldn’t have had a warmer welcome. Looking forward to your sunrise images. 🙂 I made a video of Nightglow but it’s short and sweet and I’m not sure how to load it. Hugs, darlin’!

      1. Hi there, I wish I knew how to add a personal video to WP – but I don’t think we are able to … only YouTube. I could be wrong. Would love see your video. Next year I will go in the evening. I will start to work on my images tomorrow. My ass is sad today after all sitting down yesterday. We have lovely weather too, please don’t send any thunder storms our way.

      2. Sorry to hear about your ass! I think when I’ve used a video before I’ve just put a link in, but only to YouTube. No idea if I can do it with mine but I’m pretty sure you and Jude are right. Will just have to go back 🙂 (sorry- the clouds are here 😦 )

      3. Good Morning, my morning is warm and sunny …. and been full of laundry. I hope the cloud has passed and that the sun is in your Friday too. Coffee break hug ….

      4. You have to have a space upgrade or premium blog to upload videos on your site, otherwise you can upload it on YouTube and link to it. But don’t ask me how to do that!

      5. I’ve linked to a YouTube vid before Jude but not one of my own. Come to think of it, this is the first I’ve ever made (deliberately, anyway- I do sometimes have the camera set to video accidentally 🙂 )

      6. Ha, I am always doing that. The video buttons seem to be in the entirely wrong place on most cameras! I usually end up videoing my feet.

  16. I had never thought of hot-air balloons that aren’t shaped like balloons. It’s been too long a time since I’ve been to a festival. Especially love that dragon’s tail wrapped around the underside. Lovely.

  17. Hi Jo,
    I had no idea that hot air balloons came in so many shapes! What a blast! I was in Bristol this summer–my cousin is living in Chew Magna and we stopped by for a quick visit on the way in and out of Eastern Europe. I hope your summer is going well!

    1. I remember seeing signs for Chew Magna on the way to the airport, and thinking ‘strange name’ Naomi 🙂 Fancy us passing so close! Yes- it’s been a good summer so far, thanks!

  18. This is really neat – love seeing the animated balloons. I can see why you were so excited! Amazing the numbers of people that showed up to take it all in.

    1. I was glad I went on the opening Thursday, Mary, because the traffic was gridlocked in Bristol for the Saturday evening. I had the loveliest time and was so glad I finally made the effort after all these years of wanting to go. 🙂

  19. I’ve been anticipating this post and Wow!, Jo, what an amazing show. That mackerel sky is tops. I ballooned over the Serengetti, an incredible experience in a camouflage colored one; nothing whimsical like these darlings of the sky. 🎈

    1. They certainly delivered, Lynne! The last thing my husband said to me at the airport was ‘if you can get a flight, do it!’ I truly wished I’d planned ahead better and took a ride, but I still had a stupendous time. 🙂

  20. Some of these balloons are absolutely amazing in originality. You truly should fly in one as it is quite a lovely experience. We have done it twice: once in Palm Spring and one in Turkey in the Cappedocia area. Both time were totally amazing…Nice pics. (Suzanne)

  21. How fun is that?! I can’t imagine how many photos I would have talent! The unusual shaped ones are my favourite but I especially love the dragon with its tail wrapping around the bottom of the ballon!

    1. I had 700 from the long weekend, Sue, but only a fraction of those are balloons. If I mention Shaun the Sheep, will you know what I’m talking about? Let’s just say it was a fabulous weekend 🙂

  22. What a fantastic sight and I looked at all the small, small people in the background of your photos of the big, big balloons, that gave such a marvellous feeling of how huge those balloons were. Happy anniversary to you both, that is a great way to celebrate it.

    1. Thanks a lot, Pauline 🙂 I actually went to Bristol on my own and was staying for part of the time with a friend from long ago. We did our celebrating yesterday, on the day itself (and today on the Moors 🙂 )

  23. What an amazing array of balloons, and perfect weather for it too! So glad you had the time of your life Jo, and with a lovely friend too. August is a great month 🙂

    1. The weather was fabulous, Sherri! I did think that I could have met up with you if you’d been able to make it to Bath on the Monday, but that was the one day it rained. I wasn’t sure what my plans were. Viveka was going to Bath for cream tea at the Pump House and I was invited along but I had so much else to see in Bristol. You’ll be surprised to know that I walked my legs off! 🙂 🙂

      1. Ahh…that’s so sweet of you Jo, I wish we could have worked it out, but we’ll have to next time!!! Is this your first time in Bristol? To think it’s only an hour from us and we rarely go! My eldest son has a lot of friends there and I keep trying to pursuade him to move there, he’ll be so much closer than Brighton. And I am not in the least surprised about that, not at all 😉 🙂 Have a lovely weekend Jo. I’ve got middle son home for daughter’s birthday on Sunday, so will be signing off blogging until Monday in a short while. Look forward to catching up with you as usual then! xx

      2. I was last there 20+ years ago when our son was small, Sherri, so the changes are immense (and I was more focused on entertaining James than sightseeing. He was in love with my friend’s Siamese cat at that time 🙂 ) Have a lovely weekend!

      3. I went there too when my eldest son was three! I have a lovely photo of him eating a sausage roll (his favourite then) in the cafe on the SS Great Britain! I have yet to see the new docks, immense changes as you say. So glad you got to go and have such beautiful weather! Thanks Jo 😉 xx

  24. Wow, Jo! What a spectacle and a wondrous event!! I would be thrilled by the balloons too! I rode in a hot air balloon in Turkey in 2010, and it was one of the highlights of my life. I will never forget it. I love so many of your pictures, especially the smiling one, the cup taking the curtain call, “faster and faster they rose,” the two penguins and that fabulous “Balloons.” Wonderful all around! And happy anniversary. What a way to spend it! You feel about August like I feel about October! Hugs to you and Mick. xxx

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! I’ve wanted to go to this event for years and I was thrilled to eventually make it. Mick stayed at home (though he was invited) so we did our celebrating yesterday and today. Another Moors walk, whenever I have the time to post it! 🙂

      1. I’m glad you got to go so we could share in your adventure. Sorry that Mick missed it, but at least you celebrated your anniversary in style upon your return! 🙂

    1. I’ve wanted to go for years, Andrew, and it more than lived up to my expectations. My Bristol friend, Joan, is always saying she moved down there for the weather. I’m inclined to believe her 🙂

      1. Wonderful! As a matter of interest, how long was that walk…..I know you are a fit lady, with much walking under your belt, so I reckon it must be miles…..

    1. I couldn’t tell you in miles, Sue, but it took 2 hours, with quite a lot of it uphill. Some was in the dark and I had no idea where I was going so I had to keep asking kindly Bristol folk. It was at the end of a day that started at 5am for the airport and I was tired. Nuff said 🙂

  25. Fabulous – have yet to make this festival but must do one day. Another must is to go up in a balloon again – it is the most amazing experience Jo, so if you do ever have the opportunity grab it!

    1. I wished I had, Becky! It was very expensive and I didn’t know if I could push the boat out that far, I have been up in a tethered balloon over the city of Krakow, but that’s not quite the same as flying free. 🙂

      I’m back in the Algarve at the end of this month. When do you start your winter visit?

    1. The penguins were my favourites, Meg, but the whole thing just had so much atmosphere. Nightglow was amazing too but my little camera wasn’t up to it. I took a video on my phone so I just need to work out what to do with it! 🙂 Thanks, darlin’.

  26. Wonderful balloons Jo but I can’t believe there were people brave enough to fly in the balloons?! Looks like they had a great day for it though with the clear blue skies! I was just thinking of you when I saw this as my daughter has sent me the photos of the Alice In Wonderland prints from the markets in Portobello Road (don’t know if you’ll remember but I didn’t have any photos of it when I published the article). Anyway I may do a quick postscript next week with the Alice prints included. Apparently they are quite rare these days! Hope you’ve had a good week and have a lovely weekend! 🙂

  27. I think it answers well the challenge, and I love different interpretations that bloggers come up with. A lovely post. Good to know you had fun.

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