Kiting is in my blood. From those heady days when summers were long, hot, and seemingly never ending I spent many a day with my father out flying together. We’d each make a kite from an old sheet and bamboo canes, and usually we’d do battle trying to get each one higher into the sky than the other. The addiction took hold immediately, and wherever I went a kite was never far away. From single strings to dual (two lines) and quad (four lines), I flew them all. Stunt kites, power kites and even flying works of art. The problem was that the bigger they became, the harder it was to find suitable places to fly, and little did I know where this would end up (hint: coastal flying is always the best).
Things slowed down a little when the children were growing up as there was never much time to kite, but the bug never left. Fast forward to the present day, Louise and I seem to have built a large and ever-growing collection of ‘show’ kites. These are giant inflatable kites that usually resemble sea creatures, animals and even spacemen.
Of course, finding the right location to fly even bigger kites creates more of a challenge. Being based just North of Colchester, we always head towards the East Coast and fly in areas like Southwold, Aldeburgh, Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-Sea, East Mersea and of course Felixstowe – which is our favourite location and where we can often be found flying up on the cliffs at Brackenbury. Visitors and local residents will be familiar with our multiple giant Octopi, (the largest of which is 32 metres long), a huge teddy bear, a very large sloth and even The Pink Panther to name but a few. Whilst flying we meet so many friendly people, some just happen upon us, and some even come along if they know we are flying (I know, amazing right?). It’s something we really enjoy, and the kites really do seem to make people happy. We love to see the children having fun around them and we just keep a cautious eye to ensure they are never at risk.
People chat to us for hours, and we get all kinds of questions from “How big?”, “How much?”, and our favourite of all “Why do we do it?” Our answer is always “Look around, see how happy they make people”. I know people think we are a little crazy, but hey, isn’t that better than being just plain normal? I can tell you, flying a giant stack of kites that stretch way up into the sky is massively good for the soul, especially when you have a crowd of people mesmerised.
Coming back to why we like Felixstowe so much, aside from the lovely people we meet – Kites depend on clean wind of course and if we can catch a good East North Easterly blow at Brackenbury, then we have something close to kiting Nirvana, and of course we have the best views and a fish and chip supper to look forward to once the dreaded packing up is done.
Show kiting has taken our kite friendships and experiences up a serious level and not only have we made friends from all over the world, but we are also often invited to fly at great locations. We have just come back from a kite festival on the humungous beach at St Annes on Sea in the Northwest of England and later this year we are visiting the Netherlands, to fly with Holland Kite Team. Time is the problem as ever, especially with some invitations coming in from as far away as America.
We are active members of the East Anglian Kite Flyers Club, who are a super group of people and with them we often put on kite displays at fun days, carnivals, and various other outdoor events across the region. The diary is filling up but please come and talk to us if you would like us to put on a display or contact the club directly on the following link, where you can also see a list of events.
With the dire situation that our Ukrainian kiting friends are in, we are ever conscious of how lucky we are to be able to fly with freedom. The motto of kite flyers worldwide is: ONE SKY, ONE WORLD. Never has this phrase been more meaningful.
We wish you all well, and please come spend some time with us at Brackenbury or together with the East Anglian Kite Flyers.
Jonny & Louise (AKA RedKite Crew.)