Until last weekend, I hadn't been to a kite event since the end of November- possibly the longest gap for 25 years.
In mitigation, we have had our entire family back from various foreign parts over the Xmas period, and I do have very many toys which need quality time every now and then or else they get to feel unloved. Getting some help playing with my toys over Xmas.
But withdrawal symptoms eventually kicked in, so last weekend I fell off the wagon.
And nearly fell off the Telehoist too.
Well not really, but swaying around 10metres up in the air in a little bucket on the front of a farm machine designed for loading big bails of hay into high stacks is not my idea of fun.
Which is getting a bit ahead of the story.
Which sort of started with the kite flying event at Lake Wanaka (that I'd played truant from) two weeks earlier.
In 2011 and 2012, the first two years of the Wanaka kite festival (300km south of here ), there'd been no wind at all: zilch, zip, zero.
But the organisers there were very patient, or forgiving, or hopeful, or well funded, or something- and had another go this year.
Naturally all the kite fliers from here took only oversize pilot kites and ultra light maxi's.
And naturally it blew a gale.
Even the next day and after the drive back to Ashburton they were still looking a bit frightened.
But fly they did, and without serious incident- the principle around here being that neither too much wind, nor too little, (nor lack of space) is an allowable excuse for not having kites up.
On the other hand, the Edendale (500km south of here, about as far as it's possible to go that way, on account of this island not being very big) event that I went to last weekend, had impossibly strong gusty winds in 2011 and 2012. The surreal part of this is that Southland locals, not being that kite savvy as yet, laughed and clapped at my antics and made comments like "great wind for kite flying"- as my van was sporadically dragging towards the crowd and we were all having some difficulty keeping our balance on account of the 100km/hr gusts (well nearly).
But this year at Edendale there wasn't even enough to keep a pilot kite up- on account of the Wanaka event having used it all up two weeks earlier I reckon.
Or rather, there wasn't enough during our allocated arena time (this being a county fair type gathering with many different events all slotted into a pre-arranged timetable). There had been just enough earlier- and there was later too.
So, rusty as I was after such a long lay-off, I was trying to pump a Ray up while also keeping it's pilot from collapsing- which is basically impossible, and not the right technique at all. I should have been flying the Ray pilotless, would at least have been able to get it up for long enough for the announcer (who's speciality was vintage tractors) to say something positive. Edendale Flag Flying.
Didn't happen; instead, one wing of the Ray folded under and it side slipped onto an 11m light tower, where it hung up and flapped away in the gathering breeze for the next hour or so.
Which was probably the best entertainment I could have provided, given the wind conditions. And it will have made front page above the fold in the local rag by now I expect- which is a lot better than the others from here managed at the New Brighton (other direction) kite fly on the same day. They only made 50mm x 150mm, including a pathetic little photo, on page three.
And I hadn't been completely incompetent (good luck is universally regarded as competence by it's recipients) because parked beside the offending (offended?) light pole was a Telehoist with a cage platform on it's arm.
All we had to do was find the driver, and the key- which took the usual 30 minutes or so- and get up there to flick it off.
Which the crowd (70,000 over the two days apparently) thought was thoroughly entertaining.
Ashburton Kite maker Peter Lynn got his 45sqm dragon kite caught on a lighting tower at the Edendale vintage machinery club's 26th annual crank up on Saturday.
The pleasant young lady who then interviewed me for the local newspaper remarked that I seemed remarkably relaxed about the whole business to which I mumbled something inconsequential in the hope that she wouldn't twig she was talking to a serial offender and that I wasn't that unhappy to know that even after such a long lay-off, I hadn't lost my touch (for having kite whoopsies).
That evening (for the campers) and the following day, we did manage some sustained flying, even a bit of traction kiting- and I freely admit to really enjoying this event, not least because of the spectator responses. They had no particular expectations, and few of them had ever seen a large kite flying, so found even a boring old Ray and Octopus enthralling.
Back to the roots!- give me more of it- but for now it's back to the real world with Pasir Gudang, Satun, Uiseong, Weifang, plus hopefully Cervia and Venice coming up fast.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton, New Zealand. February 1, 2013