Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Often overlooked, the Isle of Wight has a lot going for it: great beaches, lots of walking, plenty of space – and dinosaur fossils. Sunsets are easy to track down and you're never far from the sea, so there's ample opportunity to get some decent photographs.

I'd wanted to fly in a hot air balloon for many years, and eventually achieved it as a birthday present. It was no disappointment: the mix of complete peace, interrupted only by the gentle creaking of the basket's ropes – and then the enormous roar of the gas burner – is very sensual. And looking down on the landscape in such a totally different way is a remarkable experience.

Best of all is the lack of any certainty of where you're going to land. You may have a good idea of where the wind's blowing, but that can change from one minute to the next, so where – and how – you actually land is an exhilarating unknown.

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Chairlift

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Brighstone

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Isle of Wight

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Flowers

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Sunset

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Hot air balloon

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Hot air balloons

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Hot air balloon

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Hampshire

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Balloon shadow

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Hot air balloon