I flew 1200 miles to inflate 12 balloons.

April 13th 2012
It all started back in April when a company call me enquiring about 8ft Chloroprene balloons. They needed 15 balloons and a bit of help. A meeting was set up and they visited my offices, a demonstration was given, 15 balloon were purchased and off they went, quite a normal day and nothing out of the ordinary there.

Saturday 5th May 2012
I arrived at the office and went about my usual tasks for the day. At 1.30am I had a phone call on my mobile which went like this
” Hi Matt, do you remember those 8ft Chloroprene balloons you sold us”
” Well we have a slight problem, we have lost them, do you have any more”
” Can you get them to me tomorrow”
“Yes no problem, where are you”
Now at this point I have to tell you all that I am not allowed to mention what country I have to fly to but lets just say it was Eastern Europe, I am also not allowed to tell you what company I was working for or what I was doing but please read on….

The next thing I know is that I am booked onto a flight on Sunday afternoon from Gatwick Airport, I was chauffeur driven to the airport which is about 160 mile away. I arrive at Gatwick, checked onto my flight and then the fun began…

I had packed a lot more balloons that I required and split them between my suite case and hand luggage just to be on the safe side. My hand luggage went onto the scanner as well as all other objects on my person. I took my glasses off and put them on top of my hand luggage and off it went to be scanned, I passed through the scanner and all was well, collect my bag and personal object but could not find my glasses. The hand luggage scanner came to a grinding halt and after a few minutes an airport official retrieved my glasses which had fallen off my bag and had been crushed and bent in the rollers. The glassed were chipped and bent but after about 15 minutes I managed to straighten them out and Gatwick Airport staff were great and offered to replace my glasses.

My transport to Eastern Europe

After two flights I eventually arrive at my final destination, checked into my all expenses paid hotel room and meet the crew I would be working with…At this point I still had no idea what I was doing apart from inflating 8ft chloroprene balloons…

It was and early start the very next morning and over breakfast I meet the rest of the crew and found out what it was all about.. WOW, this is and experience of a life time but I have been asked by the crew not the mention anything about this till much later in the year so mums the word but I can tell you what happened so read on…

We all gathered in the hotel reception and waited for out means of transport and out interpreters and each member of the crew was allocated a various task. and then it was off to our chosen location

Location Location Location
I was transported with Alex from the production crew, a driver and an interpreter to our location which turned out to be a remote Gypsy village, It was like bloody Beirut and I would of taken pictures but the locals would have more than likely killed me and stolen all my belonging, I was frightened, bloody frightened. The interpreter had the pay off some of the locals to allow us to pass through the village to the location where we were to fill the balloons. It was only 9.30am and the temperature was up to 33 degrees, it was going to be a long hot day.
The first location could not be used because of its close proximity to the village so we once again set off this time with the lorry driver who had the helium and who could not speak a work of English but he was very friendly and drove us to a remote location overlooking the village.

Away from the natives but not out of sight

The helium arrives

The Helium is dropped off and I mean literally DROPPED OFF the back of the lorry

Once the lorry driver had gone we set about making camp and sorting the helium out. I went to move the first cylinder and right in front of me there it was, a bloody SNAKE in the grass, no one told me about the snakes and me and snakes do not get on. The interpreter told me not to worry because not all the sakes in this field are poisonous.. GREAT I thought, then could you please point out the ones that are…

Luckily for me this one was dead

The temperature is now rising and I decide to crack on with the job, I hook up the hose and gun to the cylinder, open the helium bottle and BANG, blow a ruddy great hole in the hose. How was I to know that unlike the helium bottles you get here in the UK these did not have and internal regulator.

Broken hose and not even one balloon filed yet. GREAT

I managed to solve this little problem and just use the metal hose from the cylinder and use the open and close valve on the bottle to fill the balloons. I had to concentrate and get the pressure right but at least it took my mind the those snakes.

Filling the balloons with no regulator.

Once we had mastered the control of the helium it all started to take shape and each balloon was filled successfully, it was turning out the be a beautiful day but very very hot
The first balloon is up

A quick call from the production manager to see if we were all OK and to tell us to keep a low profile as news had spread around the village and we may get a few visitors. Have you ever tried standing on a hill side over looking a remote Gypsy village , filling twelve 8ft Chloroprene bright coloured balloons and trying to keep a low profile, we failed and we started to attract the locals.

Keeping a low profile on this job was not going to be easy

It was now just before mid day and the temperature touching 36 degrees + and we need to find some shade

Luckily these 8ft balloons give the perfect shade

The Locals
Far off in the distance we saw movement in the long grass, the locals were on their way. At first it was just children then some teenagers followed by adults but I felt quite as ease, we struck up a good rapor with them and overcame the language barrier with modified sign language and eventually they began to help us. After about a hour a horse drawn cart pulled up with a young boy on it of about 17-19 years of age, he started to point at our balloons, food , water, watched and phones. He wanted them. At this time I need to tell you that the interpretor had gone missing so it was just Alex and Myself. The young boy became quite violent in his manner, went to the back of his cart and took hold of a scythe and started to cut the grass around where we were working. I at first thought he was cutting the grass to feed to his horse ( Tim nice but dim moment)  but all of a sudden he lunged at Alex with the scythe thrasing it backwards and forwards. We both dived out of the way and ran for out lives followed by about 30 children. He did not chase us but just stood there shouting at us and eventually got back on his cart and went away. Alex called the rest of the crew to get to us ASAP, they arrive within half an hour. The shock of the whole event did not take effect till about an hour after it had happen. We were told he was a local nutter on drugs just try to intimidate us. He succeeded.
And for those of you who do not know what a scythe is see picture below

One swipe from this would easily take a limb off

Once the crew arrive we had lunch them moved to balloons to the final location

Well that’s it, that’s all I can tell you, but once given to OK I will reveal all

A quick flight back home on a very pink plane and once again I was chauffeur back home were normal service was resumed