Monday, 24 January 2011


To celebrate my friends birthdays and for a break from the foodfest, Saturday night's activities saw my trusty mates and I light up a Chinese lantern and watch it drift off into a still, moonlight night. I have to say though that my heart was in my mouth trying to recall if I'd set up a direct debit for buildings contents insurance as we watched with baited breath as the lantern drift towards my roof before floating off skybound. An article in today's Guardian has farmers and the Air Authority calling for a ban on Chinese lanterns. It seems that the lanterns which are paper and wire hot air balloons fuelled by a naked flame dating back to 3rd century China are now a hazard due to their increasing popularity. 
Farmers say that cows suffer stomach damage from eating the wire from falling lanterns and that crops are at risk from fire risk. In a rain-soaked country not ordinarily prone to bush fires, it seems a blaze from a lantern destroyed a 2.5 hectare field of barley. The Coastguard Agency report lifeboats are sent out needlessly due to responding to false alarms for distress flares caused actually by lanterns. And just for good measure, the article recalls a three year old Wrexham boy whose face was badly burned at last year's bonfire night when a lantern broke and spilled hot oil. The final quote goes to Helen Bower, president of The Women's Food and Farming Union.. 'We hope people see sense and they are banned. We don't want to be spoilsports, but this is not a British tradition'. 
Perhaps not. For it seems the only British tradition these days is a knee-jerk safety conscious Health and Safety culture where bans are called on anything which poses a risk to UK citizens. Not to mention the UK's cattle population...


  1. How about Vietnamese water lanterns as an alternative? I believe there a quite a few lakes in your part of the world.

  2. Are they also known as depth charges? If they are then now you're talking! Indeed I am within close proximity to the Lake District and just to complete the picture of idyllic English country living, I even live across the road from a fishing pond. It's coming up to frog season when they all route march across to my garden so I've got the brown paper bags ready for the impending hyperventilation. It's very sad