Melbourne from a Balloon. December, 2008
Probably the best birthday present ever.
I turned 40 in 2008. As with many people, turning 40 was a big thing. At 39 all these cathartic things happened. I got a job I liked. I'd fallen in love. I'd lost a bit of weight. I'd made new friends. For the first time in my life I remember being pretty happy.
For my 40th, I had a party, which was great. I wasn't expecting presents, but said that if people wanted to get me something, a bead for my Pandora bracelet would be appreciated. This was before Pandora bracelets were de rigeur. I cherish that bracelet, now one of three, the beads received filled a full bracelet.
The other surprise on the day was the guys I worked with sent a hat around and I was presented with a voucher to go on a balloon ride. I'd made a joking reference to Glen Waverley that I'd love a balloon ride for my birthday. It's like going in and saying you'd love a Tiffany bracelet or trip to Paris or a pony. I'd never expect or demand such a gift. But as I'm learning , but it out there, you never know what might come back.
Serious wow factor. It was on my bucket list of things to do and the guys from the Integration Engineering Team at Tin Can, String and Whistle made it happen. Like the Pandora bracelet, it was a wonderful gift which I will cherish always. (Thinking about it, those boys really spoiled me over the three years I was there)
It took a few months to arrange, but on a crisp December morning, six weeks after the first attempt at taking the flight was aborted due to bad weather, three months after my birthday, I made my way to a local hotel in the week hour of the morning where a van took us out to the launch zone. As the sun came up, we unpacked the balloons, inflated them, climbed in the basket and went for the ride of my life.
It was one of those unforgetable experiences, silently floating over the city. After my initial nerves were quelled (as I said to the pilot, I have no problems going up - it was the thought of landing that scared the bejesus out of me) I really got into the whole experience. It was magic.
This photo was taken as we floated over the Melbourne CBD overlooking the strip between Lonsdale and Bourke Streets, overlooking the Fitzroy Gardens (that I walk through on the way to work). I can also see the tower blocks which I live behind, the brewery nearby, and tucked away, the building in which Tin Can, String and Whistle resides.
Seriously, the best birthday present I've ever received.
The only thing I would change about the whole experience is that I would have loved to have somebody to share the whole thing with.