Issue 6: UK View

Hi Folks.

Well the season is over for me and it’s time to take a bit of time for myself and family. I feel like I need it as the last month was a very busy one. Sept’ started off with Bristol and Dieppe. Then it was off to Guernsey for a weekend and right after that it was back off to Portugal for a couple of weeks for the last kite retreat for this year.

Headed off to Bristol on the Fri’ night after picking my friend Wim up from the station. Wim was getting the last train in from Belgium as he’s had an exam that day and this was the only way he could make it. The car was nice and full again with two from Holland, one from Belgium and a couple of us from the UK. Tarrim had got in from Holland with his girlfriend sometime in the morning and had spent the day hitting the London shops. We got down to Bristol at around 1a.m. to find the gate to the site locked….Ooops. Off to the Red Wood Lodge to see if anyone was still up that would know how we were going to get into the site. Guess who was still in the bar? I’ll bet you who know them will have guessed by now. Yep, that’s right, the Decs’. Oh and of course Martin Lester was keeping them company; will the guy never learn? It was lucky for me that Martin was still there, not that he knew the combo’ for the lock, but he did know the tel # of the guy who did. Sorry for waking you up, whoever it was.

After a good night’s sleep in our tents, everyone was up bright and early to get a fly before the crowds showed up. Bristol is a funny place; doesn’t matter what the weather is like, they still come along to see the festival. As I walk around to say hi to everybody I keep bumping in to Americans. First it’s Mark and Scott from Prism, then it’s David Gomberg, next it’s Erez from Skyshark, John Trennepohl and his wife. Man there’s a lot of Americans here, seems more like Grand Haven than Bristol….Well maybe not, after all Grand Haven has a really cool beach and Bristol doesn’t.  I carry on walking around….Oh no, more Americans. This time it’s Richard Dermer from the AKA and then I bump into Megan and her husband (Sorry Megan, don’t know your second name). What are all these Yanks doing invading Bristol, I hear you ask. Well I got the impression that they were making the most of it on their way to the World Cup the next week in Dieppe. Good to see you all on this side of the pond guys; hope you all had a excellent time.

This year’s event was sponsored by Demon Internet. This was good to see an outside company putting something into kiting. I’m sure I’m only one of many that say thanks to Ade Brownlow for having the foresight of seeing how good a kite festival can be as a promotional event.

As the day went on you could see that everyone was having a great time. The weather forecast had not been as good as it could have, but the weather had held off and the day went with a swing. The guys from Prism didn’t have any kites with them thanks to their airline sending them off somewhere else. Didn’t seem to faze them too much as they still had their little single line triangles to play with. They seemed to be in the air all day apart from the time Roy’s kite decided to knock them out the sky…Oops.

Despite their late night the night before, the Decs’ were putting on a fantastic show. Can’t remember if they were all there, think there’s eight of them now. But there were quite a few and seeing so many Revs’ doing the things the Decs’ can do with them is an amazing site to see. My son was with us for the weekend and had his first try of a Rev’. I sat him down on my lap and helped him with the handles. After a while Mark (From the Decs’) came along with a Rev and did one of their joining moves with our kite. Man that made my son’s day. Thanks Mark.

Sunday comes round and it’s an other lovely day. Not bad considering the weather forecast was for gale force winds and heavy rain all weekend. Sunday was spent chilling out. This was to be the last major festival on the mainland of the UK for me and one of the last chances I’d have to see friends before the first festival of next year.

Spent a little time in the afternoon giving an informal class on freestyle flying. I tend to call it ‘my little pep talk’. A lot of the time classes tend to lean to teaching specific trick or maneuvers; this
class is more about getting people into the mind set for flying freestyle. It’s all about attitude.

The day passed quickly as usual and it was soon time to say goodbye and make our way back up the motorway to London. Boy it seems to take a long time these days to say goodbye to everyone.

The next weekend comes round really quickly and it’s off to Dieppe. Hans and I load up late at night and make our way to the Tunnel. I love the tunnel under the channel, it makes the trip so easy. You just turn up and drive on to the next train that comes along; think there are three an hour. Thirty-five minutes later and you’re in France.

We got in to Dieppe around about 4 a.m. and set the tent up next to the demo arena; well we didn’t want to be too far from the action now did we? Had a little fly and hit the hay for the night. Managed to sleep through till about 10 a.m. when Hans stuck his head in to the tent and told me I was missing the festival, better stick my head outside then. Hello Mark, Scott, David, Richard, am I back in Bristol? No can’t be,there’s David Brittain and Dodd Gross, I must be in the States. No everyone else seems to be speaking French, I remember now.

Well the weather wasn’t looking good, looked like the weather we were meant to have in Bristol was coming in quick here in Dieppe. Went round to have a look at the stalls and who should I see than Hans Peter Diez … “remember Chris, don’t go for a drink with Peter”. Now it’s not that I don’t like Peter. Far from it. It’s just that I spent a week with Peter back at the beginning of the year and he managed to get me drunk every night. The weather really started coming in as the day went on and I tended to spend the rest of the day huddling in different places with different people as the day rolled on.

Went for dinner in one of the little café style restaurants down by the harbour with some of the people that came out to Portugal in March. Almost felt like one of the group meals we had on the kite retreat, other than the food was def’ French and not Portuguese. After dinner we headed back out to the kite village and then onto the bar that we knew everyone would be at. For some reason the beers had been going down very easy that night and I have to say I was a little worse for wear before I’d even got to the bar. Everyone seemed on good form and the beers seemed to carry on flowing. Meet up with Pierre and the boys from Keops and congratulated them on their place (2nd) in the World Cup. The boys were happy, but I just know Pierre would have loved to have gone out at the top. (I hear they’re not competing any more.) Well they are the top as far as I’m concerned. Now I don’t mean I think they should have beat the winners. How could I, I didn’t see the comp’. I mean that they were the tops in the stakes of being the good guys. Thanks for all the great performances over the years guys. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Managed to stay on my feet till about 1 a.m. and then the beer started to take an effect on my coordination. Think it’s time to hit the hay, now if I could just remember where the tent is. Found a new way to stop the tent from spinning, try going to sleep with one eye open. Now normally I couldn’t go to bed with one eye open, but when you’re that drunk, it’s the only way to fly.

Sunday comes round and so do I. Looks like the weather is going to be as bad today as it was yesterday. It’s a real pity;there is a good contingent of people from places like America and Japan here that would only be here for the world cup and may have even been in France for the last time the World Cup was hosted by France. Well the last World Cup in France was a bad weather weekend as well. The winds that weekend were about 25 gusting 35mph and the rain didn’t so much come down as across. Believe me French festivals are worth going to, I’m sure it’ll be third time lucky for the French and the World Cup.

Time to pack up and head back to the UK. The car is a bit more of a squeeze on the way back. Along with Hans and me, we have David Gomberg, Mark and Scott. Scott bags the shotgun and we’re off. Now this feels strangely familiar, a car full of people and kites. Glad I got a bigger car this year, made it a much more fun thing to do. About four hours later and we’re back in London. Everyone is hungry so we head to a little Indian restaurant I know just up the road. Well the thing I like best about this place is not only do you not have to book, but you can eat all you like for £2.75, that’s less than $5 and I mean all you can eat.

David went off to stay with Hans for the evening and an early lift to the airport, while the boys from Prism stayed at my place. Decided to take the guys out to the airport on Mon’. I had my little boy and he likes watching the planes, two birds with one stone came to mind. After a little mix up with the terminals and a little trip round the perimeter of the airport and I get the guys to the right place. Pity I hear later from Scott, because of a dispute going on with the airline, they had to go to an other airport altogether….Oops.

Third weekend of the month coming up and it’s the third festival for me. Guernsey (Guernsey is a small Island off the northern coast of France) this weekend and I have to say after the weather of last weekend I’m not looking forward to this too much. Well I couldn’t have been any further from being right. The weather turned out to be warm, with excellent light breezes…..YES. Oh forgot to say, it was also my B’day that weekend. Nice place to spend it, huh?

The people who got us over really looked after us. My girlfriend and I were picked up from the airport, driven to a really nice hotel and told to start relaxing, with dinner on them. Most impressed, thanks Peter. After dropping us off, Peter was back to the airport ready to pick up

Skydance. Looked like the other person expected was going to be very late as their plane was still sitting on the tarmac in Guernsey, when it was meant to be in Gatwick (Near London) hours before. The last person was going to be David, but I was going to have to wait to say hi till the next day. Hung out after dinner and court the guys from Skydance as they got in from the airport. Skydance seemed on good form and I could see we were going to have a good weekend.

We all got up early to do a radio thing, then grabbed some breakfast before heading off to the festival. The festival itself was in aid of spinal research and my girlfriend’s job for the day was to drop teddies to help raise money. Now dropping a few teddies shouldn’t be that hard. Think again. She didn’t seem to stop all day, job well done. Skydance and I had been roped in to be the entertainment for the day. We got involved with everything, from doing demos, to doing the PA. During the day we got to fly just about every type of kite going from fighter kites to four line kites. A great day was had, the weather was perfect with sunny skies and light breezes.

Sunday was the day off and my B’day. Started the day out with a trip around the Island, but that soon turned into a fly on the beach. What a sad case huh, get a day off to go and play and the only thing I want to play with is a kite. Just couldn’t help myself, the wind was just how I like it, just enough to be able to feel it on your face.

I get back from Guernsey on the Sun’ evening and it’s time to get ready to go away again. I only have till Thurs’ morning and I’m off again to Portugal on a kite retreat for the next two weeks.

Thurs’ morning comes round way too quick and I’m up at 3 a.m. to get myself down to the airport. After a few hours we’re again in Portugal, going to the same car hire firm and hitting the same road to Burgau, the small village we stay in while we’re there. The rest of the day is spent settling in and checking out the village until early evening when we all meet up in a little bar on the beach to get to know all the new people who’re out to have some fun in the sun.

We have a mixed bunch as usual, some a little older than others, but with everyone looking forward to some good flying over the next couple of weeks. This time round though the people are all from the UK, no little international touch this time. The next couple of hours are spent drinking and getting to know each other.

The first day of flying is spent on the local beach in Lagos so we stop off at Ernst’s kite shop, one of the smallest but busiest kite shops I know. It’s strange isn’t it, you only have to show kite flyers a new kite shop and it’s hard to keep them out. During the next two weeks I pop into Ernst’s shop a few times and every time there’s at least one of our party in there.

We get down to the beach in the early afternoon and set up for the first trick of the day lesson. A couple of the guys had already had some experience of tricks, but a few hadn’t. While we were setting up a couple of people said that they would be happy if they went home being able to axel. Well I like to make people happy so I got them all axeling within the next half an hour and spent the rest of the retreat chilling out. O.K, so I didn’t manage to get away with doing nothing for the next two weeks, but it was worth a try.

If I go on to tell you everything that we got up to over the next couple of weeks I’d be typing for the rest of the week. Let’s just say that we had a great time with a chance to eat, drink, hang out and fly for the next two weeks and came home with a big smile on our faces and a tan on our bodies. Seemed to get a very positive feedback from everyone and I think just like this one, we’ll be seeing a few of the people back again for an other holiday with a difference next year.

Well that’s about it for my wandering this season other than I just found out I’ll be back in Portugal again next week for a photo shoot for a large company here in the UK. It’s a hard life, huh?

Catch up with you all soon. Hope your season was as good as mine, look forward to seeing a lot of you again next year.

Whatever,

Chris.

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Author:Chris Matheson

Chris Matheson is a top UK flier and builder. He is the designer of the acclaimed "Sandpiper" line of kites, among others.

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