Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ 1st August 2015 AM

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

It feels like I’m getting rather good at this precision flying. Once again I’ve manage to mirror a flight I’ve previously made – taking off and landing in exactly the same places – because, almost a year to the day that I flew from Hungerford to Chieveley, I’ve done it again. However, this time I even manage to predict it before I took off.

Conditions weren’t as good as the previous morning. Rather than light winds, blue skies and a warming sun it was a little grey, misty and with a marked surface inversion meaning any wind on the surface had yet to appear but also, any sign of summer temperatures, I took to the skies trying to convince myself that it really was August and not October. Read more

Film Review: Southpaw

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s been very nearly a month since I saw Amy, the last film I’ve watched. I think I’d literally reached a point where I felt saturated by the concentration they demand and the subsequent pressure to write these reviews. However, over the past week or so I’ve started to feel a natural draw back towards them. I’ve started to feel like I want to lose myself into their worlds, to debate their stories and feel their emotions once again.

I knew nothing about Southpaw until I saw the trailer before the screening of Mr Holmes and yet, that brief tease was enough to worm the film into my life and make me want to see it. The trailer did it job and I’ve been patiently waiting for it to arrive. It’s pull was strong enough to get me back into the cinema even though the general reviews I’ve heard, including an interview with lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal, did little to suggest the film was actually any good. Read more

Book Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Posted on by 5WC in Book
Disclaimer by Renee Knight - Header

Picking what you read from pictures on Instagram must be the most blatant example of judging a book by its cover. I lurk on Instagram, posting occasionally, but more often than not spending my time browsing pictures of food, cats and piles of books. But it was when a friend shared a combined picture of a book and a cat that I took notice. The book in question was Disclaimer by Renee Knight.

I trust my friend. She reads a lot more than I do and also shares my interest in film. In fact, she has often recommended some of the best independent and foreign language films I’ve seen. So that, tied to the fact that the plot – a thriller based on the premise of what you would do if you discovered a mysterious book only to realise it was actually all about you – seemed wonderfully open ended to the twisting, dark possibilities it could contain. I was sold. I bought it electronically and set about reading it. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ 31st July 2015 AM

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

I should have been in France, flying with the team from Lindstrand Technologies at the Lorraine Mondial Air Ballon event. Or Metz as it’s known to the British ballooning community. Sadly though, a misbehaving fuel cylinder and my own mental health meant that my time in France was cut down to a measly 36 hours.

It had been a trying week since I arrived back in the UK, watching pictures of record breaking mass ascents, knowing that I should be there, that it should have been 434 balloons not 433 that took to the sky. Plans were even imagined of driving back out for the final 4 days. But however much pain I was in mentally, I needed to protect myself and be fair on those around me, and so I decided that rather that charge back out there and back into the issues I’d previously failed to face, I would stay at home and with the weather becoming flyable, have my own “Mini Metz”. Read more

Book Review: The Shock Of The Fall By Nathan Filer

Posted on by 5WC in Book
The Shock Of The Fall By Nathan Filer - Header

I have finally read enough to realise the type of books I like. By that I don’t mean the genre, I’m still a firm believer in not condensing yourself into one specific group or another, it is such a rich and imaginary world that it seems beyond foolish and narrow minded not to keep your eyes open to it all. Rather, I have realised that I like a novel with a beginning, a middle and an end. I like a story that feels in motion and in which A leads to B and concludes with C.

When it comes to choosing a book to read you can obviously place weight onto recommendations from friends, previous works you’ve read or simply looking at the “best seller” charts to see what’s popular. And sometimes you just have to judge a book by it’s cover. That’s exactly what I did for The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer. I’d never heard of it but it seemed popular and well received online. It’d won the 2013 Costa Book Of The Year Award and more importantly, of course, there was something about the cover that grabbed my eye. Read more

Book Review: The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Hugh Laurie went from quirky British treasure to international superstar thanks to House MD. A programme into which I fell completely. I rowed every episode and still, to this day, have a complete soft spot for the characters, actors and anything related to it. It’s therefore, unsurprising, that I have an unfaltering faith in Hugh Laurie as a result, if he suggesting jumping, I take note and look to see if he’s dictated how high.

It’s this interest in his celebrity endorsement that firstly lead me to read The Night Manager by John Le Carré, a book I must admit I hated, but it was while putting together my review of it for this blog that I discovered that Laurie, has in fact, written his own tale of fiction – The Gun Seller. And so, with blind, and untainted faith, I put it in the “to read” pile of my ebook collection and waited for it to reach the top. Read more

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest By Stieg Larsson

Posted on by 5WC in Book
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson - Header

After I read The Girl Who Played With Fire I went out and I purchased the original Swedish film version of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I wanted to see how the second and third books had been turned into films (Hollywood as of yet has only tackled The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), I wanted to relive the story. But this gave me a problem. I hadn’t read the final part. If I watched the films I’d spoil the last book, and while I could watch the opening pair, taking me up to the point I’d read, I didn’t know how the films compared, and/or how much story cross over there would be. I could unwittingly be unlocking the plot without knowing it.

I decided therefore that the only thing to do was to sit the films on the shelf, and read the final book first. To learn how the story ends and then watch the trilogy in its whole. So that’s what I’ve done and while it’s taken me a little longer than planned to complete Lisbeth Salander’s tale, I now have and I now cannot wait to watch the films. Read more

Film Review: Amy

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I saw Amy Winehouse live twice. And while not technically accurate, I surmise it as: once when she was sober and once when she was drunk. To say there was a marked difference between the two would be an understatement. When Amy Winehouse wanted to sing, you stopped and you listened whether you liked Jazz music or not. Talent overrules all else.

I don’t mind Jazz from time to time and so was already drawn to her music, but with the media frenzy that hounded her very public battle with drink, drugs and mental illness you couldn’t help but be sucked along on the implosion that was her life. I can still clearly remember seeing her first ever appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks with her hair down and friendship in her eyes, a million miles away from the transformation to beehives, tattoos and eyes that held contempt that is now the image of her held in statue. And I will, for the rest of my life, remember working at my kitchen table when Radio 1 interrupted their schedule to announce she’d died. Read more

The 15th “Fly Trap” : G-CEGG Flight Report

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning
G-CEGG - 9th July 2015 - Flight Track

People often joke about how a hot air balloon, especially when landing, appears “out of control”. Talk often turns to how landing in a balloon is essentially, crashing and how it is nothing more than a planned accident. That isn’t true, however, because whilst balloons travel with the wind, going where it blows, you can use the subtle variations in direction at different heights to steer a balloon’s general track (see my previous flight report for an example of extreme change in wind direction at varying altitudes) and of course, we have millimetre control over the height, and rates of ascent and descent of the balloon throughout.

All this means, that we can decide how and when we chose to land. the choice of site thought out and planned long before we ever touchdown. Is there livestock around? Is it arable crop? Where is the nearest road? How easy is vehicle access for retrieval? All questions answered before we arrive back on terra firma ensuring that everything should be simple, safe and with the minimum of disruption for the landowner. The perfect end to the flight. Read more

From Rugby To Golf : G-CEGG Flight Report

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last flight report. And in fact, the last aircraft I flew was actually of the fixed wing variety. The reason for this is very simple. Read my website and it’ll become clear that I am fighting, and winning, a battle against anorexia. An illness that demands control, and when ballooning is essentially all about giving up that control, things don’t lie easily. Unfortunately anorexia also has an ally in keeping me out the sky – PTSD – the result of a number of flights combining where landing sites and angry farmers left me feeling so panicked and anxious about being in the sky, I would end up shaking and petrified at the prospect of what lay ahead before I’d even got near a launch site.

And so I’ve shied away from it. Routine times for breakfast or dinner, acceptable excuses to miss flying slots and stay away from the sky. I’d sit there and munch through corn flakes or slicing up steak while the sun shone, the trees lay still and my heart and head went to war with each other. I was desperate to fly but distressed by the thought. So I stayed on the ground.

But things change, minds rewritten and desire can overcome fear. So with the weather looking good and the chance to fly from a new launch site over a town I know intimately I decided to set the alarm clock for 4.15am and go for a flight. Even if I did come very, very close to cancelling it the night before. 4.15am really? Read more