The Streatley Nightglow Is A Roaring Success

Every August balloonists from all over the Thames Valley descend on Streatley Recreation Ground to inflate their balloons at dusk when they glow like giant lightbulbs for the enjoyment of the local villagers.

Steatley Glow 2011

The nightglow was orginally started as a way for the local balloonist to say thank you to the village for allowing us to fly from the Recreation Ground but, over the last few years, has grown in size, to a point where it is a real focal event for the village with hundreds of people turning out and a BBQ that always runs of out food.

This growth creates one issue though. The weather. In the past if it was wet and/or windy, the balloonists simply cancelled the glow and went down the pub. That is problematic now as it leaves a lot of people stood around a wet BBQ wondering where the balloons are! As a result, the decision to call the night go on or off falls on my shoulders as ‘the local balloonist’.

This year gave exactly that issue. The planned date looked very windy, well beyond the safe limits of tethering a balloon, but the following day looked brilliant. What do I do? If I called it off for 24 hours, would people find out in time? Would anyone turn up the next day?

Arguably the hardest night glow decision I’ve made, but moving the glow 24 hours was the only decision I could make. And so I did. The weather was exactly as forecast, perfect for tethering balloons. Hundreds of people turned up (I was later told a telephone round robin system had been set up to get the message out) and as always the BBQ ran out of food!

Steatley Glow 2011 01

The evening is usually a busy one for me, as I tend to use it as an excuse to give a large number of old balloons an airing. This usually ends up with my packing away some special shaped balloon at 11pm in the pitch black. Not fun. So this year would be different, I was only going to tether 2 balloons.

To start off I had to tether G-ODAD, a balloon owned by my father which having finally convinced him to let me fly a week or so earlier, I had got a little damp deflating it in a field still wet from the morning dew. So a quick tether to dry it out and then pack it away hoping I get to fly it again soon!

Steatley Glow 2011 02

Steatley Glow 2011 03

Once it was dry and back in it’s bag it was time to move onto my final balloon for the evening! I own an old but perfectly airworthy special shape balloon which doesn’t get to fly as often as it should anymore, and infact hadn’t actually seen daylight during 2011, so it seemed only fair to inflate it.

Steatley Glow 2011 04
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Steatley Glow 2011 07

Photographs © Bradley Lewis, Chris Dobson and Jonathan Harris

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning First Edition

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