It has been a while, and it has been a rather peculiar summer, most weekends the wind has been "tricky", certainly not conducive to kite flying. And, of course, we lived through the hot spell, when there was little or no wind. A few of us tried flying, but often it was so hot, we just sat melting and chatting. But we have had a couple of events to pop along to.

Margam Park Kite Festival

A few of us attended Margam Park kite festival this year, which was held over the Queen's jubilee weekend. Unfortunately, once again, the weather was the major talking point. The Thursday, the first day of the event was pretty good, warm sunshine and a good breeze meant that kites were in the air all day. Friday was a different matter, It was hot and calm, making kite flying difficult and strenuous. Some brave souls tried their best, but the day was really written off. Then on the Friday evening and through the night a storm hit. Waking up on Saturday there were scenes of destruction in the camping area. Tents, awnings and gazebos had all suffered damage in the overnight wind, and the winds continued to build through the day. Several people left on Saturday. Sunday saw the wind drop away, but rain was forecast all day. As we were due to leave on Monday anyway, I decided to hit the motorway early, and headed home on the Sunday afternoon.

Hythe Green Preservation Society

We had been invited to fly kites as part of the opening of the green. We had an area marked out, but at the start of the day, the wind was non-existent, but climbed steadily through the day until it was too strong for most of us. The event only lasted a couple of hours, but a good natter was had (no change there) and we may well be invited back for more events in the future, so it was a good contact to make.

Cardigan Bay Kite Festival

A couple of our members attended this event this year. Unfortunately, once again the weather was against them, strong winds and rain made for an uncomfortable couple of days under canvas!

Kites on the Beach

Once again we had been invited by Walmer Town Council to participate in their kites on the beach event. Once again the wind was tricky. Coming off the castle always seems to be the worst direction at this location. But we kept kites in the air for the whole event, though that was more by luck than judgement I fear. The cub flight of flotails were getting an airing, but the turbulent conditions made keeping them in the sky extremely difficult. I believe we sold out of kites on our stall, so that was good, and we have been invited back for next year's event.

Betteshanger Wind Festival

Back after a couple of years hiatus. The site is now under new ownership, the visitor centre has been completed to a very high standard and there is a nice cafe. A few of us camped for the weekend, Including Mike and Chris all the way from Northampton. Once again the wind was playful, and the ground was rock hard making anchoring quite difficult. But there were a lot of people about enjoying the fine weather, and being (re)introduced to kite flying. The conversations I had with several enthusiastic members of the public were most rewarding. So far the feedback has been positive, so I expect the event to happen again next year

Bognor Regis Kite Festival

Several members attended this event staged by Dave Mitchell. A good time was had by all, and we were once again made to feel very welcome by the locals, who seem very pleased to host the event. The weather was pretty good throughout the weekend, though once again, the wind dropped away on the Saturday afternoon. This meant that the night flying was not really possible. Fortunately, Dave had arranged for aerosparx to put on a display with powered gliders of precision flying with LEDs and fireworks. They did a fabulous job. It was a great opportunity to renew acquaintances and make new friends, and spend some money with the traders on site. This festival is getting pretty big now.

 

Regular readers may remember that way back in October we were contacted about taking part in the filming of a documentary being made with Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. Filming took place in mid-October. You can refresh your memory here

I'm pleased to say the documentary has now aired on BBC4 and if you missed it, you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer. KKF are featured early in episode two. We get some good screen time, and mentioned in the credits. There is some really interesting science in the two episodes, so it is well worth a watch, even without our participation.

We finally managed to get out and fly some kites! The weather for most of December has been decidedly uncooperative. It has gone through just about every type of weather that has been unconducive to kite flying, ranging from high winds, to no winds, fog, light rain and occasional downpour. Whilst we wanted to fly between Christmas and New year, we were completely defeated. But New Years day gave us the opportunity to get out and put some colour into the sky.

Our venue was Walmer, on the beach behind the borrow pit carpark. Whist the winds were strong and blustery, we all managed to fly something during the afternoon. Some new items were on display, but we had to be careful because of the strong winds. Most of them had been acquired from Rob Brixton, ex kite flyer, who was selling off most of his collection There were a lot of people about out walking, as testified by the full carparks and on street parking. The occasional sunshine kept us warm and we had some pleasing comments from the passing public.

Next weekend, we plan to try again at Walmer.

Well it has been a while, and has been quite a strange start to the year. We have had a couple of good flying days in the first 4 months, but we have had just as many days blighted by rain or lack of wind or far too much wind. Enthusiasm for standing out in the cold freezing aging bones seems to be waning somewhat, although that being said, a couple of our members regularly meet up at Palm Bay (Cliftonville) for a fly on top of the cliffs. Usually on a Thursday afternoon I believe.

We now have two spectacular dragons in the club, a green one called Lloyd (I'm not sure why, you will have to ask his human - Steve) and a red one called Puff (with due deference to Peter, Paul and Mary, for those of a certain age). Meanwhile, Rob Brixton from Essex was selling off much of his kite collection to raise funds to live on. As a result, we now also have a blue meanie and a red devil in the club, and the club also decided to buy Rob's igloo, polar bears and seal cubs. I'm sure they will add impact to any events they attend.

Not only have we been struggling with the weather conditions, but in early April, P & O decided to sack 800 sea faring staff from their ferry operations. This resulted in the cessation of P & O crossings from Dover resulting in traffic chaos in the county, as Operation Brock, and Dover Tap were quickly overwhelmed and turned back into operation Stack. This effectively made the M20 corridor a no go area for several weeks. We did manage to hold the AGM at Challock, and fly some kites briefly on the cricket ground adjacent to the village hall. It is a nice hall and area, so maybe we could use that again for indoor events.

A few of us met up for a fly on Easter Sunday on the sports ground in Tonbridge. Our first fly inland for some time, and a chance to catch up with some members we haven't seen for a while. It was a pleasant afternoon, though the wind was a little playful, but we did get the chance to experiment with some bits and pieces.

As I'm writing this, my thoughts are turning to Berck RICV next week. 10 members are attending that I know of. We're hoping for some good flying weather. The organisation is different this year. Gerard Clement who organised the event for many years has decided to step away, due to a disagreement with the Mayor over the dates. So R-Sky have taken over the organisation. I know a lot of traditional attendees are attending Cervia instead, so we will have to wait and see the impact on the event. It could be that fresh ideas bring a refresh to the event, or it could be otherwise. I will try and post at sometime from Berck, hotel wifi permitting.

Today, the club held its fly-in at the Lade, Lydd-on-Sea, and what a splendid afternoon it was too. The weather this year has been a bit unpredictable. Often we've had good weather during the week but poor flying conditions at the weekend. But the weather gods decided to play nicely today. We were blessed with warm November sunshine and a gentle offshore breeze. But all was not perfect. Being an offshore wind, the houses along Coast Drive caused a fair amount of turbulence, however we managed to keep kites in the sky all afternoon.

Peter, Simon, Len, Laura, Steve Sue and Gareth were there to soak up some autumnal rays and keep the public entertained, and what a lot of public there were. Lots of people stopped for a chat or to photograph the kites and line laundry. We were even joined by a couple who had last flown kites in the mid 1990s. They didn't realise that people still flew single line kites, and have a loft full of them. Hopefully they will come and join us for a fly sometime in the future.

For me, I decided to give my KAP gear an airing. I can't remember how long ago it is since I last tried KAP. But during the week, I had replaced the batteries in my autoKAP rig, charged the battery in my camera, and hoped that I could remember how it all worked. The rig is a simple one. A piece of bent aluminium sheet that carries a small motor and gearbox, courtesy of now defunct Maplin. The motor is powered by a pair of AA batteries. The camera is an old Pentax Optio W80. Not the best bit of kit I've ever used, but it does have an intervalometer that allows me to set it to take photos at timed intervals. The gearbox means the camera does one complete revolution about once every minute. The kite of choice today was a sled delta from Skybums, which was more than adequate for lifting the camera. This is where you really notice the turbulence, walking along the beach I could really feel the kite bouncing and the camera was being tossed around in the sky. The outcome was that from about 50 images, only a few were useable. But it was good fun.

After that I settled down to just fly the kite without the camera, and a bit later, put a rabbit on the line as laundry. Meanwhile, there was an array of other things in the sky. Steve had his teddies flying under a new lifter provided by Monica at Weifang Kites. It seemed to perform very well. Peter had his three witches riding the line in keeping with the season, and Simon had a whole stack of things flying under his manta ray.

A jolly good time was had by all, but sunset came along so we had to pack up and leave.