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Dieppe International Kite Festival 2018

As usual we planned to arrive on Wednesday, right in the middle of the festival. However this time one of us arrived at about 5:30 am, having taken the overnight ferry from Newhaven, whilst the rest of us arrived at a much more leisurely 6:30 pm having taken a late ferry from Dover and a gentle drive in the persistent drizzle. In total there were 13 KKF members attending, and our numbers were supplemented by two members from Essex Kite Group.

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On Thursday, the day started dull, but we set out after a hearty breakfast. Some went to look around the festival site, whilst others went off to fly kites on the beach. We were all registered participants, which meant we could fly in any arena, but playing on the beach means we get to interact with the attending public, which is always much more fun. Our local cafe had changed a bit, having changed all of their furniture, and their menu. The food looked fabulous, and a few of our party decide to make the most of it. All was prepared in the tiny kitchen on site. After the dull start, the weather had warmed up nicely, so after lunch a change into shorts was essential. The afternoon was spent playing on the beach and chatting with friends..

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We decided Friday would be a flotail day. Unfortunately the breeze was offshore, which always makes flying tricky, especially with close formation flotails. We did our best for a couple of hours. It gave me the chance to have a conversation with a very pleasant Indian gentleman, Deepak, who was one of the judges for the Manja club's world fighter kite championship. Then the wind shifted, and became very gusty. While trying to untangle 4 flotails, I heard what sounded like someone running along the beach behind me. Turning to look, I saw a stack of flotails coming my way with a rubble sack of pebbles bouncing along behind it. I grabbed the line, which stopped the kites, but not the rubble sack, which gave a nasty crack on the shin. Still tender a week later. Late afternoon there was a fly of many drum boxes. Several of our group went to assist in flying and 69 kites made it into the air. Unfortunately, we were to discover the following day that Dick Toonen's car had been broken into overnight and two bags containing about 32 kites were stolen. If anyone is offered one of these kites, please contact Dick via his facebook page, or the police in Dieppe.

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Saturday would be a free flying day, people flying their own kites or wandering relaxing having fun. Peter and Ernie were no doubt going to be flying inflatables on the beach, whilst the rest of us played with stick kites, or just chilled. The winds were very light so we were flying some very light wind stuff. Quite a lot of Sky Bums products were in the sky, which was appropriate as Paul and Helene turned up for a chat, and shared a lunchtime beer or two. As usual on Saturday, the ladies who look after us had been to market and stocked up to provide a veritable feast at the hotel, supplemented by a fabylous desert provided by Isobel.

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Sunday and again we were planning to fly flotails. Arriving at our usual spot, we were greeted by a contingent of manja members. As the wind was offshore, thye were going to hold the final eliminator rounds of the world championship where we would normally fly. They would be there for about an hour, so we settled in to watch with interest, and try to understand the rules. Each fight lasts a maximum of 3 minutes. If no result after that time, a coin is tossed, the winner having choice of high or low. They then fight for another minute. Only one game went into extra time. And the Brazilians seemed to be riding on a crest of the wave. The finals were to be held at 5pm in the main arena. We did manage to fly flotails for a while, but the wind was dropping, so before too long we put them away. For several of us, we spent the afternoon in the hotel courtyard, tucking in to the remains of yesterday's feast, chatting, drinkiing coffee, and rescuing the occasional fighter kite that found its way over the hotel. Returning to the front of the hotel, the semi finals of the fighting kites were under way. The outome was that the final would be between two Brazilian pilots, one of whom was in our hotel (and was world champion last time). The final was over three fights. After two fights it was one all. BUt the wind had dropped, and the conditions meant that the final round started with a long launch, something I've never seen with fighting kites. It was fascinating to watch, but unfortunately our co-resident was on the losing end. However, he was very proud of his achievement, and happy to take a selfie with me, Bill, his "manager" and, of course, his trophy.

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And so the festival ends, Monday it is time to say goodbye to firends old and new. As always, thanks to all of the staff at the Hotel de la Plage for looking after us so well. Some of our group headed off to the hypermarket, whilst others took a leisurely drive to Calais, and others waited for their ferry from Dieppe. But I think all agreed it was a pretty good year to be in Dieppe.

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