Saturday, 13 August 2011

balloons - by Theo

It's the Balloon Fiesta at the moment, an annual event in Bristol that sees hundreds of balloonists and many more enthusiasts descend on Ashton Court. The English Language College where I'm teaching this month has been very good at organising a summer social programme for the students, so it was only natural that the Balloon Fiesta would feature. So on Thursday night I and five other teachers found ourselves leading around 100 foreign students on a trek from Clifton to Bower Ashton. I was at the front, initially with a bunch of Turkish students, which was very dull for me, but then later with a group of Spaniards, which was fine. The students aren't meant to speak in their own languages at all, and by and large then don't as they hang out in mixed groups. The Turks and Spanish however, don't and are notorious for this. Well, they are all adults, so there's not much we can do about it - and at least I got to practice my Spanish!

We were taking the students to see the Nightglow, which entails grounded balloons lighting up in synch to music. I'd heard it was spectacular but had actually never been before. Actually I found it quite dull. At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I thought the choice of music was abysmal (movie soundtracks - Celine Dion and Aerosmith), the balloons out of time, and there was too much ambient light from the fairground and food stalls for it to be really impressive. Far more impressive are the ascents, which happen daily, weather permitting, at 6am and 6pm throughout the weekend. Walking to work on Friday morning down Church Road offered a spectacular view of them as they drifted overhead from Ashton Court, while this evening we've been offered a great show from our bedroom window, with all Berry Salisbury family members leaning out to get the best view.

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