As we walked through Big Mead field I noticed something shimmering on the grass. As we drew closer I started to question how a plastic bag, or something like that, could have found itself in the middle of the field? It got me a little bit angry. Then I saw it was a helium balloon, which could have been let off deliberately, and I got really mad. But then I read what was written on it. All over the now deflated balloon we messages of love and memoriam to a grandmother.

We grabbed the ballon and carried on walking to the old barn. As we sat and enjoyed the warming suns rays we got to discussing the balloon. Over the last couple of years there has been a shift in public mood around releasing balloons, primarily led by farmers who are concerned about livestock eating them. But livestock are famously picky eaters, no sheep went anywhere near this one. The case of them littering the countryside and polluting the oceans is much stronger. However, and maybe we’re too compassionate, for some people writing a message of love to a recently deceased family member and watching it saw into the heavens can be a release and comfort them when they really need it.

Sky lanterns are a whole different thing. Even the paper ones that won’t be digested by livestock are dangerous. We realised that if one of those was to land in the Bottoms field with it’s brittle dry reeds then we’d have a fairly large fire on our hands. When we were in the lifeboat we were constantly called out to people mistaking a sky lantern for a flare!

We really don’t want it to be a regular occurrence, but don’t feel too bad if somebody in your family wants to write on a balloon and release it. Just try and get one the biodegradable ones and lets not make it a common thing!