You learn something new every day. I didn’t know for example that you could open a bottle of champagne with a glass. I’ve seen it done with a sword and even a butter knife but never with the base of a champagne flute. All it requires is someone with the know-how and a quality bottle of wine. Luckily, we had both.
Taking advantage of the Australia Day holiday long weekend we headed to the Hunter Valley to get some flying in. This was the first opportunity we’d had since October last year so we really needed some good weather. Friday looked good at 5am with clear skies but it soon clouded over. Although it wasn’t a pretty morning we managed to get a flight in and have everything packed away before the predicted 30% chance of light showers arrived. Hard on the heels of this was a 70% unpredicted wall of solid rain. The silver lining was that for the first time in over a month we weren’t being subjected to temperatures well over 35˚C.
Saturday morning dawned clear and warm. Dan came out to crew for us and brought with him another pair of hands and a bottle of Taittinger Champagne. A large fog bank worked its way through the valley after we took off so we spent most of the flight looking for some high ground to land on. Gretta found it in the form of the start point to Slideapalooza at Calais Estate.
Gretta was angling for a free ride on the world’s longest water slide as well as a good place to land when she put it down, but nobody paid us any attention. I thought for sure some body in a hi-vis vest and armed with a clipboard would be onto us. But no. So, with the basket on the trailer and bulk water trucks reversing uphill beside us to the slide we cracked a bottle of bubbly.
Cracked quite literally that is. Anna took hold of the bottle in one hand and with the base of her glass gave the neck a few light taps and then with one swift swipe, which I thought for sure was going to end with broken glass all over the ground, she knocked the top clean off. Not a drop was spilt. The elusive clip board wielding safety officers would’ve had conniptions had they seen us. Eventually the owner of the winery drove buy and Gretta, glass in hand, sauntered over to ask if he wanted to join us for a drink; on his own property!
None of us got a picture; so we had to do it all again on Sunday. After landing at Hope Estate and dragging the balloon across a paddock to dry ground we packed up in sweltering conditions. Once again Anna was pressed into service as our bottle opener and with camera ready I still didn’t get a picture.
I guess we’ll have to go back and try again.