For the first time since covid lockdown Pete our events organiser was contacted by the manager of the Essex Wildlife Centre at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex to enquire if we could do a two day kite event over the weekend of 30th and 31stof July, although this clashed with the Portsmouth Kite Festival previous event at the Naze have been very popular we are always keen to help promote local events so we as a club said yes and the planning began, we would be doing a kite display, kite workshop and sweet drops both days.
Saturday 30th was hot and sunny with a SSW wind in the teens ideal for a fly at the Naze, Jonathan and Jonny took on the task of doing the kite display, cars are not normally allowed on the Naze but we had special permission so they could anchor large kites to their cars, just as well as after weeks of hot weather with no rain the ground was parched dry and rock hard so not having to hammer in ground stakes was a bonus, they soon had up a Manta Ray, large Trilobite, Octopuses, Bears etc. and some ground items, Ladybirds, Parrot banners and a spikey ball etc.
In the education room of the centre Lyn set up the kite workshop with help of other members of the club, every child would have the choice of decorating either a diamond or delta kite, they could do their own design or use one of the many stencils provided, each child was also given a lollipop and were provided with a protective apron so parents didn’t go home with a multi-coloured child, however some managed to get permanent marker over their faces probably a good job school is out, we were constantly amazed by their ingenuity and artistic skill, some went for the minimalistic design while others did the whole kite that would not have been out of place in an art gallery, it was pleasing to see several Ukrainian flags being drawn along with the usual fairies, horses, spaceships, tractors etc. some parents admitted they were using their child as the excuse as they were the ones who wanted to do a kite, both days a lot of oohs and aahs could be heard as the kids could see the big kites flying from the education room, the workshop was busy all weekend, word had got out via social media several folk had pre booked a time slot others just turned up, 96 kites were made on Saturday and surprisingly the exact same number on Sunday, it was brilliant to see the nippers outside flying their masterpieces.
When myself and Pete went outside to assist with the sweet drop we found that it was very busy with lots of folk having picnics etc while enjoying Jonathan and Jonny’s magnificent display many of the public had turned up with their own kites or had purchased one from the shop at the Naze, over the weekend they answered lots of questions, the sweet drops as usual were popular we did two each day up to 7’s and over 7’s, a few adults asked if we could do an alcohol drop for them, not sure bottles and cans of beer would be in line with health and safety.
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday except that the wind was terrible, it was a strong and gusty westerly blowing in the high twenties and a westerly meant it was also blowing out to sea, Jonathan and Jonny did an amazing job flying their large kites in the conditions with a different display to the one they had done on Saturday, Dragons, Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry and Jonny’s new Tweetie Pie were some flown, they also had to ensure that they were extra attentive so the public were kept safe at all times, even though safety signs had been put up some folk were oblivious to the risk of having a picnic under a lively big kite, they were politely informed of the danger and told to move.
Surprisingly only a couple of the workshop kites had been let go of by a little hand and had disappeared over the cliff edge, after doing another two successful sweet drops we did notice a kids pushchair heading towards the cliff edge on its own ! A parent who had been flying a delta stunt kite had put the kite on the back of the chair still made up while he wound in his kite lines, the kite was acting like a sail, thankfully the chair was grabbed before it went too far.
The weekend had been hard work but very enjoyable with lots of people saying what a great time they had had seeing the kites and were looking forward to the next time, the manager of the centre was also very pleased with how many folk had been to have a look round their superb facilities.
Videos of the weekend can be found here