Philip Clarke spies on his neighbours’ gardens in style!
Throughout June 2006, BBC Radio Bristol broadcast a series called Through My Eyes in partnership with CSV, featuring recordings of ordinary and extraordinary people who live and work in Bristol.
The sound was exhibited at Watershed and in local libraries, along with specially-commissioned photographs by students from Filton College.
Following the exhibition, the recordings and photographs were put together by Bristol Stories staff and made available on this site.
Thanks to Vikki Klein and Debra Hearne from BBC Radio Bristol.
I’m Philip Clarke. I’m the Chief Pilot of Bristol Balloons. I’ve been flying balloons in Bristol now for over thirty years.
One of the amazing things about Bristol is how beautiful it is from the air. That’s the other thing you notice is how much Bristol changes. Nothing seems to stay the same.
One of the things which sticks out from the air which you don’t notice from the ground because it’s surrounded by a big roundabout is Mary Redcliffe. But it’s beauty from the air with a cross on the top and then, strangely enough, Temple Meads station.
You can see one of the really nice things is the original Brunel terminus ‘cause when the Great Western Railway was built by Brunel, it was a terminus – it stopped.
The lovely things about ballooning is you can drift relatively low over the city, compared with an aeroplane and also in an aeroplane you’re looking sideways out a window, but in a balloon you can look over the side and look straight down into people’s chimney pots, and you see the patterns of the roves. People who like symmetry and patterns will find that fascinating.
The thing I’m always interested in is having a look at what other people are up to in their gardens. Of course normally you can’t look in your neighbour’s garden, but I know what all my neighbours’ gardens look like.
Bristol is a lovely size of a city and it’s nice for ballooning. A lot of people ask “Why is Bristol the centre for ballooning?”. When ballooning started in Bristol which was just over thirty years ago, Bristol was one of the few major cities of sufficient size not to have a major international airport on its doorstep and so we were able to fly from Ashton Court. People often say “How big is Bristol?” well it’s about and hour across.
We like the same weather that fly fishermen like: very calm, very still, so it is the fantasy and I suppose for pure fantasy there’s nothing quite like going ballooning at half past five in the morning. It is a horrendously early hour to get up but, once you’re up there, you have got the world to yourself. Nobody else is about down below and you can just drift magically across the countryside with the world to yourself with this amazing ability to just float.
All photographs not otherwise credited created by Mike Klein, used under copyright licence.
All sound recording not otherwise credited created by BBC Radio Bristol, used under copyright licence.
Balloon sounds created by Martypinso, freesound.iua.upf.edu, used under copyright licence.