By CleanSteve

Airheads flying their kites at Minchinhampton

Sorry, but I didn't realise that the  'Mono Monday' Challenge has a theme of 'Portrait' today.  So I've changed the angle of my subjects and am trying hard to re-qualify.  I have put my original Blip in the 'Extra photos" !!

I finally managed to do a bit of housework this morning by hoovering the upstairs rooms.  After yesterday's longish walk I haven't felt any pain, which is a great relief, and hopefully I can push on with more exercise and stretch my achilles further and further.

After I had eaten a delicious 'Craster kipper' for lunch, I headed for my desk and the first thing I did was look out of the window.  Earlier today I had been contemplating trying to do a 'Mono Monday' challenge for the first time and was wondering what sort of blip I might manage. In the distance across the valley I spotted some dark objects, just above the tree line over Minchinhampton Common, and immediately knew that they were kites flying in the strong breeze.

I immediately checked my camera, packed it in the bag and headed to the car. Kites are often seen at this spot near to Tom Long's Post right at the centre of the National Trust owned common.  When I arrived I found far more people than I'd expected and after parking I quickly checked with one of the flyers, who said that the small local kite festival which had been planned for Easter Sunday had been abandoned because of the bad weather but was put back until today.  

A lot of people gathered to watch the colourful scene.  As I stood standing back to try to catch the scene with my rather too long zoom lens, a small girl with her Dad started talking to me about what she had been doing with her kite. I felt really lucky to hear her excitement about how she'd flown her kite round and round in circles. I realised that it wasn't just the more professional and elaborate kites that make a festival, but all the local people's small but much loved kites flying at the end of their own line that brought everyone together.

Once they had left I walked a short way to where I'd spotted four of the professionals flying their sport kites in expert formation with sizzling whizzing sound effects built into their kites.  I took a range of pictures of them and once they had come to a well-earned rest, so they could warm their hands and take the strain off their bodies, I went to have a chat.

I used to know some very adept kite makers and flyers many years ago whom I met through a dear friend called Dave Turner, who started the Kite Store in Clifton, in Bristol, and then another branch in Covent Garden in London. Apparently today's group are called the 'Airheads' and they have performed at demonstration events and even at World Championships and other competitions. This formation flying is very skilful and many people today came up to them to express their admiration. Peter on the left of my picture also designs these type of kites, but he told me that they have stopped competing and only meet to have fun on days like this.  They can't easily meet to practice enough.  Have a look here at their 'Airheads' website, where you can see some videos of their aerial displays.

I have added a couple of other 'Extra photos' one of which shows them flying their four kites in formation.  Another image shows the more static displays of tethered kites which look so lovely as well.  While I stood watching them I could hear and then see several skylarks singing as they flew beside these kites, only about twenty yards away from them. This is the same spot where I regularly come to photograph the skylarks who seem to tolerate this human intervention quite happily.

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