The Bristol International Balloon Fiasco

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta © Robin CM Google Maps

Tess dragged Simon with one hand, pushing the stroller with the other. Simon gaped at the balloon-seller, clasping a rainbow-raft of balloons in one white-gloved hand.

“Mummy, I want one.”

“In a minute, Lambkin.”

She needed a quiet spot to change the baby—away from the throng of festival-goers. She squinted toward a shady copse beside a hedgerow.

Simon stomped his foot. “I want a balloon.”

She fished a fiver from her front pocket. “Emma and I will be right there. Come back when you’re done.”

The boy darted off, and Tess finally relaxed as she changed the fussy baby.


Tess squinted toward the crowd.

“MUMMY!” Simon yelled again.

This time, the voice came from higher up. She tilted her head back. Simon. Waving gleefully from the basket of a hot air balloon. His little face grew smaller as it rose above the crowd.

“I got the biggest one!”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.


  1. Wonderful, Karen. This made me smile. Such simple yet effective language. Loved, Lambkin. And that fiver! The lightness in here makes me want to float.

  2. I wonder if she felt guilty relief. Great stuff.

    1. Or if she ever considered putting him aboard before or since 😉

  3. Haven’t we all done it, though? Let the older one be independent for a minute while dealing with the younger one – and then regretted it! I hope Simon returns safe and sound!

    1. For sure–it’s still a regular occurrence around here!

  4. Oops! I got so carried away by the story, I forgot to comment on the writing – which is lovely. Really smooth and totally unforced. Like Kelvin, I love Lambkin – a very English touch. And I love your punchline!

  5. Hopefully the little guy just bought himself a ride (I’m sure they’re more than a fiver) and isn’t sailing into the heavens alone.

    1. Hehehe I’m sure they are more than a fiver, and I’m not sure how he managed to get aboard. But what comes up must come down, right? Thanks for reading.

  6. Dale

    Please, bring me to a festival where you can rent a ballon for a fiver! She can’t worry too much, there’s no way the little guy can fly that thing himself. I say she enjoy the few minutes of peace! So well done, Karen.

    1. Bring me too! I’m thinking he either stole it or stowed away. I hadn’t put much thought into how he’d fly it. I completely ran out of words 😉 As long as the kid makes it back, she deserves the peace. Thanks for reading Dale!

      1. Dale

        Oh lordy! Let’s hope he charmed the owner of the balloon to give him a ride. I love how it turned out… the rest is just semantics, right? 😀

  7. Okay, I’m wondering if Tess fainted away right then and there. I have a feeling when she got Simon back he got a spanking he’ll never forget. Brilliant story idea, Karen. This was an excellent read.

  8. Funny and cheerful but also scary. Hard to achieve – nice writing!

    1. Very kind of you. Thanks for reading!

  9. Uh oh. I hope he’s not up there all on his own 🙂

    1. That would be bad! Thanks for reading.

  10. and this piece brought me back to my days of managing little ones at events- thankfully never had a child take a ride like that – ha – nice fiction

  11. Dear Karen,

    I’m guessing Simon won’t be bringing her change. I can see him flying overhead with a handful of balloons. Love the story. It made me think of this song from the early 70’s recorded by a dear friend. Enjoy.



    1. Oh, that’s the perfect song!

  12. You would not believe the crowds there when the weather’s lovely – would be so easy to lose kid in that throng!
    Such a lovely tale and so well written – liked the hassled, tolerant air coming off mum and the excitement pouring from young Simon. Beautifully written as always. And balloons there are about a fiver!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I’m most excited I got the price right for balloons (the sort that come on a string, right?). It was not an easy thing for me to uncover from over here in the states, so in in the end I guessed. Thanks for reading!

      1. Yep, spot on, though as you say, riding in a hot air ballon is a lot, lot more. A lovely tale Karen

  13. You create such a clear sense of the event, and the little family group, busy mother. The ending is a delight ! I can just see Simon ascending upwards. An excellent story.

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