Eat volcanic ash, sucker…!

Thank goodness for that, our worrries over flying to the continent and trek across glaciers are over. None of this two-hour check-in, strip search at security and peevishness over a the weight restriction which means we have to wear our rigid boots, pretend our ice axes are specialist walking sticks and argue that the 60 metre rope is a giant cats cradle to amuse us on the flight. No more online booking where every step is attempt to separate us from our hard-earned cash for no reason at all. No, I DON'T want your your stupid insurance at vastly-inflated prices, no, I DON'T want the three-course flavour-free meal served in foil and eaten with plastic.No, I DON'T want to pay extra to choose a seat that you'll allocate to me anyway. No, not me. I'm taking a leaf out of  Jonathan Trappe's book. I'm going by balloon.

Trappe is a cluster balloonist par excellence. This weekend he crossed the English Channel on a chair suspended below 54 helium balloons armed only with a GPS to keep him on track and a very sharp pin to control his descent by bursting the balloons one by one.

The 36-year-old American, a qualified pilot, made Guinness World Records in April last year for his 14-hour 109-mile flight over his native North Carolina in an office chair. He liked the chair so much, he returned the seat to his office, undamaged afterwards. I wonder if it had cupholders and a place for executive toys?

The Channel flight was a walk in the park compared to that. He even had time to chat with a startled walker who'd stopped to take in the view at the White Cliffs of Dover. He reached an altitude of 3,300metres where I imagine it was a little parky, then, after popping  a few of the balloons he landed at the roadside near the Frano-Belgian border. Result!

So Noel and I, keen to thumb our noses at the cheapo airlines and hedge our bets against the volcanic ash, have invested in a job lot of extra-large balloons and a couple of helium tanks to take us on our summer holidays, I'll take the orange and red balloons, he'll take the blues and greens. What a sight for sore eyes we'll be as we land on the Mer de Glace just outside Chamonix, already wearing our boots and crampons ready to trek across the glacier and arrive at the hut in time for tartiflette.

The only thing I haven't worked out is how to get home. Still, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, eh? 

Jonathan's website's here

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