Tali: l ON YOUR DOORSTEP Everything you always wanted to know about ALBA BALLOONING

Need to get away from it all? Looking for a different perspective? A trip in a hot air balloon certainly provides both. Alba Ballooning, the northernmost ballooning company in the UK, made its inaugural flight only last month and now regularly flies over Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The adventure starts at the meeting point, where you discover in which direction you \VIII be flying. Depending on the prevailing wind direction the flight could be over Edinburgh or the Pentlands, Moorfoots or Lammermuir hills. Alba also flies over Fife, or if you can fill the balloon (S or 6 passengers), there is the possibility of arranging a personally tailored trip. Peter Forster, the operator and owner of Alba Ballooning, instant!y puts you at your ease with his Michael Palinesgue sense of humour and quret confidence. Knowing that he has been ballooning for 10 years and flown several thousand people helps too.

Once the launch site is picked then it's off to set up the balloon. This is exciting in itself, and there is usually a crowd of interested bystanders by the time you're ready to climb into the basket and cast off (which also helps to removes any urge to wuss out). After some initial bumping while the balloon is finally prepared, the ground gently falls away. Ballooning doesn’t induce vertigo even the most nervous passenger on our trip was soon smiling and waving to onlookers. The basket is sturdy, the motion is incredibly gentle and the panoramic views are simply too absorbing to allow time for fear. The landing can either be very gentle or fast, on our trip the latter, which led to the most thrill-filled part of the experience. The basket literally bumps along until it has lost enough momentum to stop. However, a full briefing is given both before and during the touchdown, ensuring that any panic is only momentary.

When the excitement of the landing is over, the balloon is packed up (remarkably simply) and a couple of glasses of champagne round off the adventure in style. You also receive a certificate that commemorates your ’fearless courage and steadfast determination’: what more could you want? (Sarah Venis) Fun Factor Informative "/z. in an aerial, geographic kind of way.

Thrill factor 13/5 with a fast landing. Value for money ‘l/g expensive but unique.

How do you get there? Edinburgh and Lothiaii flights: meet at the car park at the entrance to the Midlothian Ski Centre at Hillend on the A702, bus no 4 terminates there.

How much it costs £130 per person, with a 10% discount if you have a group of 46 people.

When can you fly? All year round; however April—October is the main operating period With flights taking place at around 6am and 6pm.

5! A/ba Balloon/rig, Peter Forster, 72 Gladstone Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 7LT, 667 4257. Website: WWWa/baba/loon/ng.co.uk. Emai/ i‘nfo@a/baba//ooni’ng.couk


The Waterfront Weekend Sat 27 & Sun 28 May. various venues. Leith. 557 3990. Sat 1 9.30pm; Sun I lam-7pm. Free. A celebratory weekend of music with the main stage at .Vlalmaisoii Plaza featuring the likes ofTam White. Roberto P121 and his Latin Iinsemble on Sat. and The Felsoiis and the Peatbog Faeries on Stm. There will alsobe lots of free gigs in Leith‘s pubs and an arts and crafts market along The Shore. Meadows Festival Sat .3 & Sun 4 Jun. The Meadows. Argyll Place. 620 9108. A community festival featuring stalls

96 THE “ST 25 May -8 Jtiii 2000

and family activities including giant Scalectrix. drumming and displays from the Golden Lions Free Fall Parachute team.

Beer Festival Thu I—-Sat 3 Jun. Caledonian Brewery. Slateford Road. 337 1286. If you‘re a connoisseur of the ale then head along to this annual festival. featuring music and food as well as a selection of unusual beers.


Cruise Designer Clothes Sale Until Fri 26 May. Thu-Fri 1 lam—8pm. Free. Assembly Rooms. 54 (ieorge Street. 220 4349. Be sure to head down early as Scotland's best known designer-wear

specialist snips its prices at this special clothes sale.

Antique 8: Collector's Fair Sun 28 May. 10am—5pm. Meadowbank Sports Centre. 139 London Road. 661 5351. Scotfairs are the organisers behind this sale of antiques and goodies for your home.

Toy And Train Fair Sun 28 May. 1().30am—4.3()pm. £1.50 (children free). Royal Highland Centre. Ingliston. 333 3036. Take a nostalgia trip at this fair. packed with all sorts of collectibles. from old Corgi and Dinky models to the latest Pokemon items.

Gardening Scotland 2000 Fri 2 --Sun 4 Jun. Fri—Sat 10am—6pm; Sun 10am—5pm. £10 (£2—£8). Royal Highland Centre. lngliston. 333 3036. Major new Scottish horticultural show. featuring spectacular floral displays. show gardens. craft fair and cookery demonstrations.

3D/2D Craft 81 Design Fair Fri 2--Sun 4 Jun. 10am—6pm. Royal Highland Centre. Ingliston. 661 6600. The place to find an unusual gift orjust spoil yourself as the very best in contemporary and traditional craftwork is sold direct by the makers.

Charlotte Square Fair 2000 Sat 3 a Sun 4.1un. £1 (50p). Charlotte Square (iardens. 339 3148. A charity fair organised by 'l‘refoil House. featuring entertainment. music and stalls.


Edinburgh's Buses: Past, Present and Future Thu 25 May. 7.30pm. Quaker Meeting House. 7 Victoria Terrace. 447 8162. Neil Renilson. Chief Iixecutive of Lothian Buses. gives a historical overview of Edinburgh's btis network along with future plans. ()rganised by Edinburgh Friends of the Iiarth.

Mary Marquis Wed 31 May. Ipm. £3. Festival Theatre. 13—29 Nicolson Street. 529 6000. One of Scotland’s foremost broadcasters gives a talk.

Back to Nature for New Materials Wed 7 Jun. 5.30pm. Free. Lecture Theatre 4. Hugh Nisbet Building. Heriot-VVatt University. Riccarton Campus. 451 3444. Professor Christopher Viney gives a talk as part of the University's Inaugural Lecture Series.

Other Events

Holyrood Park Open Day Sun 28 May. 10am—4pm. Holyrood Park. 668 8830. Meet the Park Rangers and join in a host of activities.

Wild Fling Wildlife Event Sun 28 May. noon—5pm. Free. Hermitage Braid. Braid Road. Morningside. 447 7145. A celebration of wildlife at this event featuring birds of prey displays. wood carving. dry stone dyking and river dipping. The RSPB and other organisations will host displays and families can enjoy quiz/es. games and face- ainting.

Geo ogy Walks Sun 28 May. 3pm. £5.50 (£2.50--£4.50); accompanied children go free. IIolyrood Palace Car Park. 555 5488. Discover the secrets of Edinburgh‘s landscape. from the volcanoes and glaciers that have shaped the land to the people who have used it. in this informative walk on Arthur‘s Seat.

Beadwork For Grown-Ups Tue 30 May. 7--9pm. £10. Helios Fountain. 7 (irassmarket. 229 7884. Designer Kay Bruce leads a workshop in beadwork. Advance booking necessary.

15th Forth Bridges Raft Race Sun 4 Jun. I2.30—4.30pm. Free. llawes Pier and Hawes Car Park, Newhalls Road. South Queensferry. 319 I844. Raft race in which teams of eight rafters from local and national organisations compete to raise money for charities. The day also features lifeboat and helicopter I'Cs‘Cth

demonstrations. stalls. entertainment and bands.


Camera Obscura, Castlehill. Royal

Mile. 226 3709. Mon—Fri t 9.30am--6pm; Sat & Stiii 10am-6pm. £3.95 (£1.95--£3.15): family ticket

£1 1.50. Pick tip a pedestrian in your hand at this attraction. which gives visitors a real-time. 36000 image of the city. There is also an exhibition devoted to holographs and photography on the lower floors.

Dynamic Earth

IIolyrood Road. 550 7800. Daily 10am— 6pm. £5.95 (£3.50—£4.40); family ticket £16.50. With volcanoes erupting beneath your feet. a tropical rainstorm pouring down. earthquakes and tidal waves at every turn. the history of the earth has never been more interesting. Iidinburgh's latest visitor attraction uses stunning new developments in interactive technology to piece together the history of the planet. creating a thoroughly modern way to step back in time.

Edinburgh Castle

Castlehill. 225 9846. Daily 9.30am---6pm (last admission 5.15pm). £7 (£2--£5 ). Although much of the castle‘s medieval character was lost when it was converted into barracks in the 19th century. continuing excavations aim to redress this. Other attractions include James lV's famous cannon. Mons Meg. the ()ne ()‘Clock (iun with its own exhibition. lots of military silverware and. of course. The Stone ()f Destiny. used to crown Scottish kings since time began.

Museum Of Childhood

42 High Street. 529 4142. Mon—Sat 10am-5pm. Free. Founded in 1955. the museum has five public galleries with all manner of archive material and old toys relating to childhood through the ages. From antique dolls to 1980s computer games. there's plenty here to send you off on a trip down memory lane. For details of temporary exhibitions. see Iidinburgh Art Listings page 88.

Museum Of Scotland

Chambers Street. 247 4219. Mon—Sat l0am-—5piii: Sun noon-5pm; Tue

10am 8pm. £3 (£1.50): children under 18 free. Devoted solely to the history and heritage of Scotland. the building contains five thematically-arraiiged exhibitions. moving from pre-history. through the Industrial Revolution. to the present day. at which point national heroes such as Billy Connolly and Iilaine C. Smith get involved.

Royal Museum

2 Chambers Street. 247 4219. Mon Sat 10am 5pm; Stiii noon 5pm; Tue 10am~8pin. £3 (£1.50); children under 18 free. A 19th century museum housing international collections of natural history. geology. science. technology and the decorative arts. pltis two permanent exhibitions: Art A’- I/it/us'n'y and The Ivy Wu Gallery. For details of temporary exhibitions. see Iidinburgh Art Listings page 88.


Big In Falkirk Fri 26-Suii 28 May. Fri 10am-~l lpm; Sat noon 1 lpm; Sun noon~5pm. Free. Callendar House. Callendar Park. Falkirk. 553 1937. A

brand new three day festival featuring international theatre. live music. art exhibitions and children's activities.