The train from Lewisham to Blackheath was not due for another 25 minutes so we walked up the hill to the heath from Lewisham accompanied by unexpected light rainfall from high clouds.
Arriving on the heath we found from other fliers that what had been a good breeze for standard 1.5 sails (race rods) had faded some time before we arrived. A mix of CR1s and Zens were put up under the increasingly unusual cloud formations. It was not long before it was evident that the next approaching cloud would be thundery and this duly proved to be the case with some elaborate forked lightning across the Greenwich Park skyline. By the time we saw this, we were, of course, safely off the flying field and watching from a local hostelry.
The sky cleared and we set up the CR1s and Zens again but there was mostly very little air movement. It was a surprise, when for a short time, there was sufficient air to start a routine. Inevitably it did not get finished but it felt good to have started...
The weather forecast for Portsmouth looks very normal, unlike this weekend!
picture added, thanks Maggie...
The journeys to and from Blackheath were the same as last weekend apart from slight details. (277 not D6 on the return leg)
The weather on the heath was much more settled today with no thundery shower concerns.
1.5 vented with race to start but soon full sail race. Later almost back to vented.
A clear 90 degree shift from East to South took place and we saw the A2 Shooters Hill Olympic bridge in use as spectators arrived for the Modern Pentathlon (I think).
Thoughts turning to Portsmouth where a Rev Field with PA has been confirmed by the organisers. With 11am, 1pm & 2pm Rev slots for the main arena it looks like we should have plenty of time in the afternoon to take advantage of the Rev Field facilities.
Bus, Docklands Light Railway and Train delivered us to Blackheath today but it was raining as we arrived c11:00am and it proceeded to get heavier with peals of thunder over the following hour.
Soon after 1:00pm there was a gap in the clouds and in slightly steamy conditions we broke out a mix of Rev1, Zen and Robertshaw sails and assorted spar sets.
Another storm appeared to be drifting in from the SW some 45 minutes later so we packed up and headed for home only to see the dark clouds dissipate as we walked towards Royal Hill. Olympic traffic meant a diversion for us from Greenwich to Deptford Bridge to get the DLR back to north of the river.
Not much flying today, seven hours door to door...
By way of the D6 (bus), the DLR (docklands light railway) and a 20 minute walk up Royal Hill and Hyde Vale we did get to our usual site. It is currently protected by some military hardware as well as police with automatic devices. A bit surreal really given how quiet the roads were in East London on the way over and how little traffic was passing on the A2 up on Blackheath.
Vented kite with race rods was the choice on arrival at c11:00am. It soon became apparent that there were some heavy showers drifting in from the south west. The first one drifted to the north. The next one looked like it would pass to the south but we did get caught as we ran through a routine. When lightning was seen in the rapidly approaching third shower we quickly wrapped up and retreated to a local hostelry. Heavy rain and further lightning confirmed that this was a good move.
An expanded bright spell gave us the opportunity to fly the kites again for long enough to dry them and the lines. A timely wrap saw us on Blackheath railway station before the rain from the next, even bigger shower, hit. The DLR and a different bus route took a bit longer getting home to a sunny Hackney.
<image added, thanks Maggie>
A bright start today but the clouds gradually thickened.
Full 1.5 sails with race rods were fine with the changing NW to SW breeze.
Drachen Foundation will be putting out a message soon regarding JMH.
I set off for Blackheath this morning in a deluge and did not expect to get much flying today.
On arrival the rain was settled but there did appear to be some brightness to the north and west. Half an hour later wandering across to look at the temporary 'footbridge' at the entrance to the now closed Greenwich Park the rain eased. A quick fly seemed in order; standard 1.5 sails with race rods and full brake worked today.
It wasn't long before the rain started again and it became evident that the showers were potentially thundery. I am particularly risk averse in these circumstances and even though the sun shone again as we left Blackheath the bubbling cumulus formations were a clear warning.
There was some activity on http://www.isleofwig..._storm_data.htm but at the time of writing things seem to have calmed down somewhat.
"Race for Life" dominated Blackheath today with 10:30 and 14:30 events. The very limited parking usually available was obviously off limits so we resorted to pay and display in Greenwich Park given that parking restrictions are already in place around Victoria Park near the Olympic site, our usual fall-back site if Blackheath is not available.
It is obvious that during the Olympics we will have to find a different venue for our weekly fly. The TFL site is suggesting that a 15 minute journey, from Hackney to Blackheath currently, would be 50 minutes during the Olympic events. Maybe we should go to Dunstable instead?
Anyway, having braved the pink line we set up on the cricket field opposite Greenwich Park entrance with JB 1.5 vented (race and 4 wrap) and watched the light showers speeding through with the swifts, apparently indifferent to the kites, occasionally distracting attention while flying in the same airspace.
The runners/joggers/walkers occasionally drifted towards our flying area as their line meandered from the designated route and the wind switched direction as the showers approached and receded.
The temporary footbridge over Shooters Hill Road (the A2) now spans onto the north edge of our usual field.
After heavy overnight rain conditions were blustery on the heath this morning. The 1.5 Xtra vents proved to be just right for some informal flying.
I set up the CR Rev1 again this week with additional brake settings and was very interested to find how viable it was in the relatively extreme conditions. Not something to set a novice loose on but an interesting pointer to situations where we might want to present larger sails. Totally not viable for the 'fast forward' style of flying, of course!
We are wondering how much the Olympic events will impact on our usual routine. The Blackheath site is covered in tents and has expanded to the south side of the A2.
Today was vented 1.5s with race rods for most of us. I set up the CR Rev1 as well with four wrap and it did not feel over powered but I do want to extend the brake options for this sail. The wind speed was sufficient to fully engage the top line to LE attachment point line with the resulting LE curve. I'm wondering if the bridle experts in the USA have tried Carls's set-up yet.
We rolled the four kite ball and it was evident that skill levels are moving forward as with 'free' flying where spacial awareness seems to get better every week.
Gentle breezes from the South East on Blackheath today. The light rain forecast held off until later in the afternoon but while we were on the site the cloudscape looked increasingly inclement.
I flew the Carl Robertshaw Rev1 with 4 wrap centre and 3 wrap the rest switching to the JB 1.5 with Green Race rods when the CR was 'borrowed' by other fliers.
We learned during the week that the event at Margate will not go ahead in 2012. Our schedule is somewhat reduced as a result of this and the demise of Sunderland and the pause at Bristol. We may have to explore different possibilities next year...
The holiday weekend in the UK, steady light drizzle with a cold (12C/54F) NE 9mph breeze.
With a wet 1.5 kite with green race this is just fine for a while. And then, solo flying today, I become aware that the foam on one of my handles is rotating on the handle. This would have been bad news at a team event but a simple fix would be available using 'brown parcel tape'. I will now have to figure out a more elegant solution and decide which adhesive would be best and how to apply it!
The Canary Wharf towers had their heads in the clouds as I travelled back to Hackney. The new cable car Thames crossing was hardly visible in the murky atmosphere.
We had to re-arrange plans for this event rather late in the day but everything came together finally and we had two very different days in terms of flying conditions on this very scenic site.
Saturday was clear blue skies with a strong blustery easterly breeze. Initially we used the JMH vented sails with four wrap spars but then switched to race rods. Later in the day we ventured out onto the estuary sands for some 'relaxed' flying. Geoff Strangeway had joined the five regular team fliers after the first performance at 10:15am.
On Sunday winds were light and switched direction during the course of the day. We flew the JMH Rev1 kites and once again Geoff flew in with the team and, given that he had little experience with the Rev1, did a great job.
We very much hope to be able to attend this event next year! <grins>
A dull grey day with an unseasonal chilly north easterly breeze but finally the weather forecasts are mentioning warmer prospects.
The tents in the fenced Olympic encampment on Blackheath are nearing completion.
Mid vented with shiny white spars today felt smooth in the forecast c8-11 mph breeze. I'll try a definitive comparison of all the Race Rods, sometime/never, but...
Exmouth next weekend is a new event for some of the team, me included. I get the Friday evening train ride to catch up with the rest of the team soon after 10:00pm Friday evening, all being well.
Back to the home site today after four weekends away. The Olympic preparations are well under way here on Blackheath but no sign of those 'pointy' things today.
A typical early summer breeze accompanied by swifts today. Standard 1.5 sails with race rods were only slightly stressed as the thermal gusts blew through. There were a few moments when the breeze dropped away completely before or after 90 degree, or more, shifts in direction.
We did not quite match those moments to getting the team kites out to dry any remaining moisture and de-sand them after a month of beach flying. We identified a few sails that need some TLC and made sure that the various rod sets were returned to the correct sails.
I left the laptop at home for both events...
Cervia was great in the special way of that event. I certainly hope that we will be able to get back next year. The c160ft circular arena with a hard barrier perimeter was interesting and occasionally challenging.
Weymouth was very good as well, not least because of onshore breezes on Saturday and some of Sunday. On Monday we had the usual prevailing winds over Nothe Gardens and the town but the rain on Monday morning cleared by 11am followed by a great skyscape towards Ringstead and White Nothe with the relief clouds forming over Portland and extending across the bay.
The team flew Thursday 12th and Friday 13th April prior to my arrival on Friday evening. They had been flying the Rev1s but on Saturday morning it was evident that conditions had changed and Rev1.5s in various configurations were used through the rest of the weekend and on Monday when the four remaining fliers were on Xtra-Vents for most of the day concluding with a final arena spot before the close of the event at 4:00pm. (Just as well we took delivery of some more of the Xtra-Vents kites a few weeks ago; thanks Lolly and Bazzer)
Thanks especially due to Gérard Clément for another great Berck-Plage event.
Next up is Cervia and we are set to travel on Friday 20th April returning on Monday 30th April. I think that I might leave the laptop at home and make a real holiday of it! <grins>
Another late start but there is no point in making kite flying a chore.
A light wind day with lowering dark grey clouds and occasional drizzle lifted by lighter spells and the greening of the trees in Greenwich Park.
I'm still puzzling over the white spars. They certainly seem to work for me in terms of flex and weight in the standard 1.5 sail.
Later today I pulled a spar from a bag with a view to marking it ahead of Berck. When rolled across a flat surface it was obviously curved. With a bamboo spar in a fighter kite the ability to fine tune the curve of spars is a great advantage. I wonder with the Revolution spars if it actually matters...?
It looked a bit grey on the Agora camera this evening but I am sure that everyone over there will be having a great time. I'm certainly looking forward to next weekend and the first event of our year...
A late start, something after 11:00am on the heath, no clock change excuse and the fuel gauge light came on as we came out of the Blackwell Tunnel. Note to self, must fill up before setting off for Berck...
And..., then there was very little wind. Zens occasionally grouped for figures but otherwise taking up a lot of space in 360s. A family group stopped 'downwind' and some of the kids followed my kite. Afterwards I explained that I did not really approve of such activity. There is a significant risk involved which may not be immediately apparent to the flier or those engaging with the kite even in light wind conditions. We do not want that accident to happen!
Mostly northerly breeze so flying into the sun reminded me that sometime I must get some prescription shades. It helps to be able to see.
Greenwich S*******s did have petrol and only a short queue so I am all set for the Easter weekend and departing for Berck on the 13th April for the first weekend of our initial 2012 four week tour to Berck, Cervia and Weymouth.
Clock change weekend so late on the field. 11:00am not 10:00am!
First green hints in Greenwich Park beyond the fenced Olympic preparation area where temporary buildings are going up.
Checked out new Xtra Vent sails today although wind speeds were more in line with standard 1.5 sails with Race Rods. The new sails with red or purple flashes look neat alongside the production grey fades. Thanks Lolly and Bazzer for delivering these in time for Berck.
Tried some 'in linear' odd/even opposing 180 and 90 degree turns in vertical, diagonal and horizontal line-up which looked cool especially when the fliers hit the same turning interval.
Otherwise some more increasingly elaborate close form free flying and a successful attempt to plait four flier's lines which obviously resulted in kites on the ground and little further flying control. I had to direct the fliers to 'unwrap' themselves physically 'step by step' from the knot that they had woven.
It is only 3 weeks to Berck which will be the first occasion for the 'whole' team to fly together this year. As the rest of the team will have two days on site in Berck ahead of my arrival I am hoping that they will have plenty of new material to develop over the weekend and for the following Cervia week.
Flew the standard 1.5 sail with the new white Race rods today. All felt very good but I'm not sure that I could finger precise differentiation just yet. The kite did pass the the top of the window on a couple of occasions but that may have been down to rising air rather than revolutionary rods.
The Canada Geese flew across a couple of times c10:00am today as a reminder of their previous presence on our regular pitch.
Just across the A2 the Olympic fence has now been firmly established.
Casual flying only today switching from green race mid vent to standard race full sail. The white race rods in Maggie's mid vent felt very light and responsive. Removing momentum from the flying equation will demand further specific input from the flier so it will be interesting to see how the very light sail/spar combo develops.
The forecast weather duly arrived and so we were able to fly white kites in respect of the event in Japan on the 11th March last year. During my last long visit to Japan we travelled to Sendai in NE Japan and on to Matsushima and saw the islands that are the inspiration for the placed stones in the raked gravel gardens.
(NB copy the whole of the above URL to your browser)
Today on Blackheath was a two kite day. The 1.5s with Race Frames (white for Maggie) alternated with the Zens. Happily we all had two line sets so switching was not a chore.
The early cloud cover eventually burned off and fortunately the generally northerly breeze switched direction (c180 degrees) often enough so that we were not always flying directly into the sun.
Berck is just five weeks away <grins>
The weather did not look promising this morning, it was raining lightly and the forecast was for more rain.
On the way to Blackheath I saw two cyclists doing the Blackwall tunnel. Crazy people!
I was not quite sure which 1.5 kite would be best today but the bag that came to hand was the mid vent and with green race rods it worked very well. As the team do not all have mid vents it is not a kite that I fly very often. There were only a couple of moments when the gusts stressed the frame to any extent. The rest of the time it was just the right kite to be flying.
After a couple of bright interludes when the sun almost broke through the clouds the southern horizon turned very dark and the rainfall increased. Later, after much more rain, the southerly breeze switched to a stronger north westerly but that was seen from home.
I wonder how things have progressed in Gandia today?
Not many isobars on the map and the projected 4mph did not materialise in a consistent direction for more than a few minutes during the time we were on Blackheath today.
Mostly it was a shifting 1mph perceptible only as a directional cooling effect in the warming sunshine.
It was occasionally possible to get the Zen/CR1 to the top of the window and hang on the rising air but the cumulus effect only became fully evident later in the day.
I am looking forward to hearing reports from Spain next weekend. Sorry not to be there in person...
The 'half term fair' was still in place today but the prospects on Blackheath were altogether brighter than last weekend with sunshine and a variable NW breeze.
Full vented 1.5s with 4 wrap were occasionally struggling in lighter moments but Race Rods felt over stressed in the gusts.
Six up today so it was entertaining to visit the 'sprockets' once again. This move demands a special level of concentration as even an experienced caller may get the sequence wrong at the critical moment. Properly colour co-ordinated kites make all the difference in providing visual clues. <grins> We did not have that luxury today but survived...