12 June 2010 (Saturday) - Teston Kite Festival

I was woken by the sound of voices outside the tent at 6.20am. I realised I could lie in bed, or join in with what was going on outside. I was glad I’d got up. What was going on was first breakfast. There are several breakfasts at kite festivals, and if you time it correctly you get to join in with several. First breakfast today was pancakes with sugar and lemon. Very nice! Second breakfast an hour or so later was black pudding, and third breakfast (the “official” brekky) was bacon, egg and sausage sandwich. It was during this breakfast that we received reports of our broken “camping virgin” who wasn’t feeling quite up to a morning meal. In a spirit of well-wishing we sent her our best wishes and a box of wine.

Having washed up and played a few games of Blokus we dispatched shopping parties. The women went off for proper food shopping, whilst the blokes went hunting beer; we’d got through rather more than I was expecting during the previous evening’s festivities. Sainsbury’s was fun – we managed to scare quite a few of the normal people, and really wound up the staff by putting several gallons of ale through the self-service checkouts. Those machines don’t like you buying beer, and they set off an “authorisation required” alarm for every single bottle of beer you put through them. We also managed to get bread and cheese and more port, and rewarded ourselves with cream cakes which we scoffed before driving back to camp. After all, our fellow campers wouldn’t believe we deserved the cream cakes.

Back to camp, and more kite flying. On Thursday and Friday I’d flown without a problem. Today I demonstrated why I rarely fly kites at kite festivals. With other people’s kites around, I do very little but tangle up with everyone else, and crash everyone’s kites. Whilst people understand this goes with the territory, I feel I’m always apologizing about doing this and so don’t usually fly when everyone else is. But today I did, and within five minutes I was two fields away retrieving the kites I’d made crash. But it could be said that this was a blessing in disguise - having found a field where no one else was flying we took a power kite and a nephew to educated said nephew in the mysteries of power kiting. Or that was the plan. The wind died down, so we gave up and decided to have lunch instead. Bread, cheese and a bottle of stout. Very nice.

Jose then arrived with a couple of power kites, so we thought we might have another go. So we tried, and tried, but gave up. The wind wasn’t happening, so I thought I’d have a look at some kites I’d bought from Tesco last year and which have lived in my kite bag ever since. And I was disappointed. I’d bought three inflatables. In kiting circles an “inflatable” is a three dimensional kite which fills with wind, such as the bears pictured above. And thus inflated flies as a kite, or from a kite line as line laundry.

However it would seem that in Tesco circles an “inflatable” is something which inflates. According to the instructions one inflates it with warm air from a hair drier, and then watches it float for five minutes until the air cools. I obtained the services of a powered air pump, but the thing was a disappointment. As presumably were the other two so-called inflatables that I couldn’t be bothered to get out of the kite bag.

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed from the section on the right of this screen that I follow the blog of the Ursus Volans Parachute Co. Over there, Guy describes his progress in converting a white van into a camper van. I’ve been following this with fascination for months, and today I got to see the van. You can click on the link and see the progress for yourself, but to actually see the van itself was quite something. Converting a van isn’t something I’d take on myself, but I have the utmost admiration for Guy for doing so. And he’s doing such a good job of it. I can’t wait to see the van as it progresses over the summer.

Back to camp, where we heard rumours that our broken “camping virgin” was thinking about surfacing. Whilst some played outdoor twister, I got embroiled in a quick game of “Donkey” which has some rather complicated rules involving large piles, but in a triumph of pot luck over skill I managed to achieve second place.

Dinner time – sixteen of us enjoyed stir-fry which I nearly (but not quite) knocked all over the floor. And then we sipped spirits. Bramble whisky, sloe gin and B&Q’s paint stripper mixed with toilet duck. A lovely way to pass the evening whilst the rest of humanity was screaming abuse at their televisions whilst football was on. And as the clock moved towards 9.15pm, so we moved down the field. Two years ago, the Grumpy Old Gits had put on a cultural event for us, and this year they promised us an encore. The 1812 overture with cannon, or exploding balloons, to be precise. Oh, they were loud. And then having detonated half the county we went on a bat-hunt. Which was rather a waste of time bearing in mind the noise that had just been made. So we retired to camp where we had an impromptu port and cheese party until the cold forced us to bed shortly after midnight.

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