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About this blog

My personal observations

Entries in this blog


25/10/2015 Blackheath

There was no discernable air movement when we arrived on Blackheath today. The grass was dew saturated and the boots that I thought were on their last legs almost a year ago finally leaked.

We set up with diamond rods in the assumed direction of the breeze with the usual magic wrapping of wet lines. I actually had to add more brake to get a comfortable grip on the little air movement that was occasionally evident. The 9 degrees Celcius did not feel ‘cold’ at all…

Ashley did call a few sequences but mostly we were working on keeping the kites in the air with no enthusiasm for 360s. That would have been too much like hard work. As the air was moving from the SW there was a limit to forward movement as well. Best not to overfly the road <grins>



18/10/2015 Blackheath

I was a bit late arriving on Blackheath today. Maybe it was in anticipation of the clocks changing next weekend. The daily homebound cycle ride commute is already almost completely dark…

The anticyclonic spell continues so there was a light NE breeze mostly good for full sails and Race frames.

Some good ‘no call’ interaction with the kites close in the sky and we had complimentary remarks from one of the Sunday footballers.

Talk was about impending change at the ‘office’ and the possibility of a ‘meet’ during the winter months. The gamble with the weather makes for a difficult call especially as we have been lucky in the past. Mostly it will depend on the enthusiasm of potential participants <grins>



11/10/2015 Blackheath

Another sunny anticyclonic autumn day today as the remains of a hurricane dissipated over Portugal. The easterly breeze was less than forecast earlier in the week and was about 7-15 mph.

Full vented and race frames felt mostly relaxed except when attempting to stack the kites in the air when it was a bit light…

At least this year we did get to fly on the OSOW date. Jade had put up a selection of SLKs to mark the day before we arrived and they mostly stayed aloft with only the occasional tangle…

I was intent on investigating an un-equal line length and made and then un-made some adjustments realizing that the bridle of the kite that I was flying may actually be at fault. That is, of course, quite apart from any ‘learned’ ability to compensate most of the time. <grins>



04/10/2015 Blackheath

On arrival at 10:30am the sky was cloud free and there was a very light southerly breeze.

Conditions were just right to follow on from last weekend and to try and see if we could really feel the difference between the diamond and green race verticals. The simple answer is that we could but that once the windspeed was making the diamond frames ‘feel’ fragile there was no reason not to switch.

This obviously follows for stronger winds making the green race rods in vented sails ‘feeling’ fragile compared to the more relaxed feel on switching to the 4 wrap option.

Curiously, while on the field today I remembered an Autumn day last year when it was almost t-shirt weather like today. On checking I find that it was Sunday 5th October 2014. It seems that the weather was not so good on the following weekend last year. We did not fly…

I would expect to be on Blackheath next weekend for OSOW but that will, as ever, depend on the weather <grins>



28/09/2015 After Vienna

It was very wet in Vienna on Friday afternoon and there was the prospect of further rain on Saturday morning. A quick stroll to St. Stephens and after that, a pause for coffee and cake set the tone very well indeed, especially for Saturday when the hospitality was almost overwhelming…

It was occasionally damp on Saturday morning but six fliers set up with the JMH re-made sails and stress tested the diamond rods again in the light but occasionally gusty NW breeze. After snapping one vertical we decided to swap them to green race leaving the Diamond leading edge. This felt like a much stronger option and we will have to compare the configurations closely in lighter conditions.

Sunday was brighter, occasionally full sunshine and after a ‘fliers breakfast’ on the site we set about further developing various flying sequences. There were more visitors to the site than on Saturday but most were actively flying kites rather than ‘spectating’.

It was a late flight back to London but after the train from Gatwick, Blackfriars to home was relatively quick on the night bus…



20/09/2015 Blackheath

A ridge of high pressure had arrived to provide a dry weekend just when we needed one. Bright sun and a light slightly variable breeze from the SW so full 1.5 sails with various flavours of race rods.

It seemed as if every time Ashley decided to call some moves the breeze dropped out or shifted but despite that we did run through some of the longer team sequences nominally in preparation for next weekend, of course!

We had to prepare the flight box for the Vienna event with a lower weight limit than we have managed previously. This turned out to be easier than anticipated as we are only going to be six fliers and apart from the Xtra Vents we will only be carrying JMH sails.

Just need to finalize the transport logistics now…



13/09/2015 Olympic Park

blogentry-1810-0-98444500-1442157806_thumb.jpgToday was one of those where nothing quite works. Blackheath was off limits because of a music event. Our fall back site at the north end of the Olympic Park was, we found, all too late also unavailable due to an event yesterday. There was a slight breeze on the remaining ‘lawn’ but little room to manoeuver.

We could have gone to the east end of Victoria Park but somehow the prospect of finding a route home around Hackney Carnival put paid to that as well. Some times it’s best just to ‘go with the flow’.

We should be back on Blackheath next weekend and will have to prepare the kit for the Vienna event the following weekend…



06/09/2015 Blackheath

We did a brief detour to Stratford station today so arrived on the heath just after 11:00am. No breeze at all to start with so we set up 1.5 sails with diamond rods assuming a SW wind direction.

On taking off I quickly found that there was air movement from the NW, that being the forecast direction, but it remained intermittent and light.

High cloud was moving from the NW and eventually cleared to blue sky but the cumulus clouds then established quickly.

There is a music event on Blackheath next weekend so we will probably try the QE park. We will also have to negotiate the Hackney carnival which takes place close to home on Sunday afternoon.



30/08/2015 Blackheath

We flew the new 1.5 JMH sails on 100ft lines for a short while on Saturday in a light southerly breeze at the Aquarius event. Jacob then had to go and play his set with Jonah’s Raft. By the time he came back onto the flying field the rain had set in and wet lines and kites were not going to work.

Today on Blackheath there was a consistent Easterly breeze, about 6 – 7 mph under featureless grey cloud cover. After the disappointing conditions over the last few weeks it was a real pleasure to ‘free fly’ the kites without having to work too hard.

Some urgently needed ‘kite drying’ and a little further ‘spar swapping’ had the team kite sets arranged ready for Vienna at the end of September. We should get to Blackheath next weekend but the one after we will be elsewhere, maybe the Olympic Park.



23/08/2015 After Bristol

We arrived on Friday afternoon at the new site and set up the vented JMH 1.5 sails with 4 wrap as the wind was blustery. At ground level, though, there was often very little consistency and it was difficult to lift the sails. All rather frustrating!

Saturday was very warm and the southerly breeze was often very light. Our first team demo opened the event at 11:00am and this was flown with Rev 1s with our standard 4 and 3 wrap configuration to music selected by the ‘event’.

We switched to 1.5 sails with diamond rods later and eventually attempted a mini mega fly with TFS but at the allotted time the breeze basically failed completely. Light wind flying often involves very little physical feedback down the lines and so ‘crossed line’ can prove to be ‘fatal’.

The weather forecast for Sunday was not promising and after raining all morning heavy showers followed close behind the ‘front’ that passed soon after 1:00pm. We noticed the temperature shift and the change in the wind direction as the ‘front’ passed over.

The public attendance on Saturday looked very good but obviously was minimal on Sunday. Hopefully the auction on Saturday night will help prospects for the event in 2016…



It was very wet on Friday afternoon when we arrived in Portsmouth but the weather on Saturday was good.

We had a film crew in tow on Saturday morning and our warm up session was interrupted by the researcher phoning wanting to know where we were! The preparation for our first demo went quite smoothly considering that we had the full crew trailing us onto the field and asking questions ‘on camera’. We had to deal with an abrupt wind shift during the first track but the second one was better… flying both to music that was ‘rights cleared’ according to the production company.

We started on full sails with green race but switched to diamonds at the end of the afternoon.

Sunday started bright but the cloud gradually thickened. Breezes were light so arena presentations were challenging though we mostly succeeded.

The event seemed at least as busy as it had been on the August Bank Holiday weekends in the past with possibly more ‘public’ flying taking advantage of the extra space previously occupied by the circus and funfair.

Bristol next weekend and we are still hoping that the new 1.5 sails will arrive in time…



09/08/2015 Blackheath

Mostly clear blue sky on arrival c11:30am today.

Light SW breezes so full 1.5 sails with race rods. Typical summer breeze so no consistency in strength or direction. Making the best of it free flying was fine but putting the five kites into formal team figures was just tedious.

Cloud cover eventually arrived from the NW with some curious ‘lenticular like’ features.

No news on the sails but we are all set for the next few weekends away from Blackheath



02/08/2015 Blackheath

A bright start to the day but a sports event meant that the Blackwell tunnel was closed first thing in the morning so there were a few anxious moments looking for confirmation that the route was clear before setting off.

A light southerly breeze switched direction and strength periodically but 1.5 full sails on race and diamond were OK. I realized that one issue with the diamond frame is that it is possible to fly the kite ‘out of the wind window’ to the point that a reviving breeze will flip the sail. It really is unlikely that recovery will be possible in these circumstances…

We hope to have new 1.5 sails ready for next weekend and then we have Portsmouth, Bristol and a slightly formal event in London to see us through August.



19/07/2015 Blackheath

The overnight front that had shown thickening high cloud on Saturday evening was still just evident retreating to the SE as we arrived on Blackheath. We had a period of mostly clear sky before the cumulus set in but there were some curious lenticular clouds to the NE in the meantime.

The westerly breeze was variable, mostly towards 20mph but often dropping to 10mph or less so we were flying Xtra vents with race rods mostly.

Not really conditions suitable for team flying so we made no effort in that direction. We’ll be at Portsmouth and then Bristol during August so plenty of team flying coming up soon.



12/07/2015 Blackheath

Morning rain interrupted our routine last week and threatened the same today. It did, apart from a few spots, hold off and so it was 1.5 vented sails with green race which were just occasionally a little over powered under a grey sky.

The heath was looking very brown apart from the plaintain plants but we avoided any significant snags during an informal flying session.

In the scheme of things the breeze which was around 15-17mph was just a bit too strong for the sail/spar configuration, we might have gone to four wrap but somehow that did not happen. I note that a few weeks ago we had opted for the Xtra vents in a very slightly higher wind speed. The incremental steps are the interesting ones…



28/06/2015 Blackheath

Driving towards Blackheath from Hackney it was apparent that the early morning sunshine was being overtaken by dense high cloud approaching from the north west.

The WSW breeze was fairly consistent under the scenic grey sky with only the occasional slow developing lulls. Standard vented 1.5 sails with race rods were just right with very slow ‘pulls’ taking the kite to its maximum forward speed. This may actually be my personal definition of ideal ‘kite/wind speed’ match.

Eventually the forecast rain did arrive, chilly drops from the high altitude source, so we wrapped early. Next week Blackheath has a ‘Pink Ribbon’ running event so we may just take a break and go to http://www.sydenhamarts.co.uk/event/festival-in-the-forest/ instead.



21/06/2015 Blackheath

A late start for me today, I arrived on the heath at about 11:30 am.

The breeze was basically from the west and some of the time it was about 17mph. Xtra Vents were the kite of choice and by default 4 wrap spars. It soon became evident that these were too heavy during the persistent lulls so we switched to Race Rods. Temperatures were sometimes summerlike but the thick broken cloud kept everything variable, including the wind direction in a typical summer Blackheath manner.

The swifts were performing low down today sometimes circling our position with dizzying speed, other times high aloft in their more familiar location.



14/06/2015 Blackheath

While other sites might have been in the low clouds today the drizzle mostly held off on Blackheath but the temperature was not summer like. The mown grass reflected a normal season, as in somewhat brown, but the low grey clouds suggested an entirely different time of year!

The northerly breeze mostly held up the 1.5 vented sails with green race and was good for ‘low wind’ flying in that respect.

Last year we travelled north in mid August and the conditions were Xtra vent windy. We may plan another such trip this year but maybe a couple of weekends earlier as the Portsmouth and Bristol events have shifted to earlier dates. Watch this space!



Etienne and Veronique Veyres put a small bamboo and paper kite into the Cervia auction which I bought. Pauline and Frances very kindly agreed to transport it back to the UK and Basingstoke was the earliest venue where we could meet so today we didn’t fly on Blackheath but arrived at the Basingstoke event just before midday.

There was a light variable breeze and as there was no designated space apart from the demonstration arena we limited our flying efforts to a short session with CR sails with race spars. I immediately recognized the need for longer handles, if not longer lines, there was not ‘enough’ reverse for ‘gliding downwind’. We were flying our standard 120ft lines with the usual handles for 1.5 sails.

The next two weekends are short ones for me, Saturday working, but I am sure that we will get to Blackheath as usual…



Driving west out of London on a sunny late May evening can be a bit dazzling. Turning left at Bristol was a relief!

The slightly re-modelled Exmouth site was the venue for a complete presentation of the team kit, from 1.5 diamond framed to xtra vents with 4 wrap spars.

Along the way we did fly the JMH vented kites with diamond frames which were really OK at about 17mph but we lost a vertical at about 24mph. <grins>

We were mostly six fliers. The northern contingent had to catch a train soon after 3:00pm on Sunday so the final presentation was four fliers with the xtra vents. It was a neat conclusion to an instructive weekend’s flying…



A lighter westerly breeze today and given a level of variability it was difficult to choose the most appropriate sail. Mid vent was about right and race rods made sense but full sail and full vented were also in the mix.

Rowan was back on the line today after the conclusion of the university examination season. We did a couple of runs through Plan B – A as a five person team.

Next weekend is Exmouth so logistics were part of the discussion today as well as shuffled line sets.



Another somewhat blustery WSW airstream today and although it was mostly sunny there was a chill to the air which felt a bit unusual for the middle of May.

Vented 1.5s with green race today. The closest that I got to re-visiting the longer lines was to locate them in the kite bags. We were still shuffling old line sets after the Cervia event and it was good to find another set of ‘close knotted’ leaders that I had forgotten about. Although it is fairly trivial to prepare a set I have not got a ‘tying jig’ set up so every pair is ‘unique’.

We had some discussion today about the ‘fast forward’ set-up of the kites as configured by Revolution. I am always bemused by the need to add brake for high wind and also for low wind conditions ;-) I must get some more time with the longer handles on the Rev 1 just to square the circle…



The Hackney ½ Marathon meant that there was only one route out this morning which happens to coincide with the way to Blackheath, more or less.

A bright morning with a southerly breeze that was mostly just enough for 1.5 vented kites with race rods. A brief team demo for an ‘interested’ passer by was all the formal flying that we did today.

Re-organising line sets, handles and de-sanding kites was a priority as we get set for the UK based events during the summer. Exmouth is next followed by Portsmouth and Bristol.

Having put some time in on the 100ft lines at Cervia it may be interesting to re-visit the 150ft lines with the Zens in the next couple of weekends, paired of course, with the ‘even longer handles’. <grins>



I travelled to Cervia on Wednesday 29th April arriving in time for some late afternoon flying. Four full days followed with varying conditions, the highlight day being Saturday 2nd May when the onshore breeze started early and firmed up sufficiently for a very well received arena performance towards the end of the afternoon.

Along the way we entertained the local audience and ourselves at the north end of the festival site.

The invited fliers from ‘up north’ contributed to this event as well as an Italian ‘ringer’ and there were plenty of other fliers who were keen to join the line. Team 4 Fun were also in attendance and so a 16 flier grid was flown on Thursday 30th April.

A great event all in all and we hope to be back next year with a full team line-up, the same for Berck…



Blackheath was unavailable today because of the London Marathon so we met at the north end of the park just to the west end of the cycle circuit. There is a small area of ‘lawn grass’ rather than the plantain infested area that we had used previously and as line preparation was on the agenda this was the better site.

It just happened that the NE breeze meant that the limited space between the rows of saplings was just viable.

I ran out a new set of lines and topped them with a new set of leaders with ¼ inch steps.

I am looking forward to joining the rest of the team in Cervia on Wednesday afternoon. We will be eight fliers for the final weekend of the event which we have not managed for a number of years now. After last weekend in Berck this will be a very good start to the year!