Folklore Balloon Landing at Derwent Barbecue

From: Robert Bunting

It was the summer of 1989, and Derwent barbecue was getting into full swing down on Campus. I say down on campus, because being a resident of Alcuin at that time, I was sitting at a bench on the patio outside Alcuin bar, enjoying a pint on a warm summer's evening, and surveying from up on the hill the goings on among the lesser types in the lower marshy bits. It goes like this...

During the evening, someone looked up and noticed a balloon going over head, not overly far up. The wind was very light, so it was drifting along very slowly, toward the general direction of Derwent. As it went over, it appeared to be losing height, and it's purpose was apparent... to aim for the space in the middle of Derwent/Langwith colleges and land inside the event. (Derwent Barbecue then, as now, had some sort of fencing around it to keep non-payees out. Don't think they had quite so many marquees in those days though.) Anyhow, it obviously wasn't quite on line, and with a burst of gas flame it rose up again to land in the fields beyond. A few minutes later, a car with trailer behind came along the university road, and turned up to the library. After some time (maybe half an hour, maybe less.. how long does it take to get a balloon airborne?), said balloon came over again, about the same height, slightly different line, in another attempt. This went on for a while, keeping the Alcuin drinkers not a little amused, until perhaps the fourth or so attempt, when a successful landing was apparently made inside the event.

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