Nostalgia by Robert Heaven

AS A boy, I often fantasised about what it would be like to be able to look down from my kite up at Minchinhampton Common.

I had some sense of what it might be like to look down from great height from my many trips up the Parish Church tower.

It was free at one time to ascend the tower; you simply had to find the verger and he would unlock it for you.

Further across the landscape, is another of the many views I enjoy around the Cotswolds: the view from the top of Air Balloon Hill; looking out across the valley towards the Severn and to the Malvern hills beyond.

The Air Ballon pub commemorates the first ascent of a balloon at Paris in 1783 when the first passengers were a sheep, a cock and a duck.

I remember the Balloon Festival held in Cirencester Park in June 1976 when about 60 or so balloons took off.

I don't know where they landed, but Cirencester Park has a rich history of air ballon take offs and landings.

In May 1868, the Standard reported a visit by Mr Coxwell’s balloon to the Cirencester Forester’s fete.

Despite the promise of it being quite spectacular, in the event it was literally, “a bit of a let down” as the balloon had insufficient gas and could only support Mr Coxwell in the basket.

After a great deal of effort he took off, but rising only about a hundred feet he crashed ignobly at Barnsley.

Inflation seems to have been a real problem back in those days. In 1895 a balloon at the Conservative Fete in Cirencester park couldn't be blown up at all for some reason; prompting the Hon B Bathurst MP to remark that "if a captive balloon does refuse to inflate and should linger too long flopping on the grass, just insert an MP in the car (basket) to orate”