Mirande 25th July 2009

I also had a pair of swallows make a nest in my garage.

Pica (my daughter's cat that lives here) wandered around watching them, making some very strange noises, presumably in frustration.  She's incredibly agile, but there was no way she was even going to get near to the nest, or their favourite perch. After a few weeks she seemed to accept things, and just watched them quietly.

I went to see some truck racing at a nearby race track.  There was also a truck display, with a 100 or more trucks on show.  Here's a couple of examples showing off some rather fine paintwork.

I've made 8 balloon flights in total this year, 5 with Bert, a balloon I bought in 1977, and 3 with Carousel 2, which is even older, being constructed in 1976.  This is Carousel 2, the photo taken just a few weeks ago.

So now we are back to the swallows.  I found some egg shells on my work bench so presumed that they had their babies and chucked out the egg shells.  I was able to see the babies themselves a little later.

Mirande has a country music festival.  I don't much like their brand of country music and I can't understand why so many people like line dancing, but they do get close to 200,000 visitors in total, not bad for a town of only 3,500 population!  More importantly for me, they have a small balloon meet.  Some people come a long way - the man in front below, with his back to us, brought his balloon from Lille for example, in the very north of France, a 2,000 km round trip.  Here is a photo of one of the lunches.

Here are some of the balloons.  I didn't take mine,  the plan is to fly every morning and evening for the 5 days, briefing at 7 am and often not finishing dinner after the evening flight until after 11 pm.  Too hard for me, I can fly gently here whenever I want!  They finished up flying 9 times out of 10 possibilities.  Someone worked out I was the oldest active pilot in France, but that's not true.  Olivier Roux Devillas got his licence about a couple of months before me!

Another lunch.  Luckily one of the pilots is a champagne producer, from Rheims, and bought lots of examples of his very fine product with him.  Look out for Salmon champagne, it has a picture of the original  Montgolfière balloon on the label, blue and gold.

A couple more balloons.

I did see one set of fittings on a tank that frightened me.  The owner said he had bought the balloon in the US a year ago, from FireFly, and that was how they normally supplied the tanks and fittings, and that he had had no problems with them, and was happy with them.  Note the length of those fittings and imagine the strain that would be put on the lower connection if someone bumped heavily against the cross piece.  It's not even protected by the shroud, since that has been cut away.  It is in the basket just like that, totally open.  And, as many on this circulation list know, it's liquid propane in those tanks..........Since it's US made and certified, then French registered and presumably certified, there's nothing I can do about it.  All I can say is, if it came to me like that for annual it wouldn't get one.......I don't think I'd want to fly in it.

Here's the stage, as seen from the VIP restaurant.

It was the 14th of July, France's most important bank holiday, so there were fireworks.

Communal lunches are superb.  Last Saturday we held another, for our hamlet which has 12 houses.  As you can see, most of us were there.  All my neighbours.  We went back in the evening to finish what was left after lunch.  Fortunately one of my neighbours has a restaurant in Toulouse, he produced the food, and it was delicious.

And the swallows?  The babies have flown.  Here are two of them.  The first of the three seems somewhat braver, he was the first to leave the nest, and rarely goes back into the garage.  These two have been returning for several days though and always sit close together.

If you wind back to the very first photo in this update, you will note that the adult swallows have reddish throats, the young ones don't yet seem to have developed their red throats.

Continue on.......          Get me outa here!