7 january 2010

Here's Gilbert White on January 7th, 1785:

Shook the snow from the ever-greens, & shovelled the walks. Snow-scenes very beautiful! On this day Mr Blanchard, & Dr Jeffries rose in a balloon from Dover-cliff, & passing over the channel towards France landed in the the forest De Felmores, just twelve miles up into the country. These are the first aeronauts that have dared to take a flight over the Sea!!!

Here's an extract from Jeffries' account:

When two-thirds from the French coast we were again falling rapidly towards the sea, on which occasion my noble little captain gave orders, and set the example, by beginning to strip our aerial car, first of our silk and finery: this not giving us sufficient release, we cast one wing, then the other; after which I was obliged to unscrew and cast away our moulinet; yet still approaching the sea very fast, and the boats being much alarmed for us, we cast away first one anchor, then the other, after which my little hero stripped and threw away his coat (great one). On this I was compelled to follow his example. He next cast away his trowsers. We put on our cork jackets and were, God knows how, as merry as grigs to think how we should splatter in the water.

A grig is, among other things, a cricket.