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Ray's World Adventures 1999

UK Adventure 1999 (Part Two)
Brighton International Kite Festival, Stanmer Park
July 10-11, 1999


Well Sunderland festival was a great success; next I was off to Brighton. But first I stopped in the beautiful town of Hereford to relax and spend a few days with my UK Sport Kite sponsor, Peter Taylor, of Airdynamics. During the next few days I checked out the new kite Peter had been working on. Very nice, but he had yet to name and put the finish touches to it. I also enjoyed a couple of days flying on Black Mountain, Hays Bluff I think it is called, about a one hour drive through the picturesque and diverse landscape of the English countryside. As I took in the sights, my mind reached back to those bygone days of my youth when this was my playground. Who would have thought that I would be back one day to fly kites? I have traveled from one end of the globe to the other many times yet nothing gives me greater pleasure than to wander through England's countryside. Maybe it is my heritage, who knows?

Hays Bluff is a perfect place to fly kites. Acres of open ground! Peter and I spent many happy hours flying there. I gave my Prism Prophecies and Peter's new kite a good test, and checked out my other kites and lines, to be ready for Brighton. After 4 days of relaxing we were on our way, reaching Stanmer Park at 10:30 a.m. where the two-day festival was being held. It's a beautiful park with lots of room but a little hilly. But when in Rome do as the Romans do - "grin and bare it." Everything was set up, including a Pukka beer tent that was put as close as possible to where I was going to fly. I think Toody Oakhill had something to do with that, bless her heart.

The wind was up and down and very gusty but the weather was beautiful. Brighton was celebrating its 21st kite festival. This would be the last one of six organized by Ray Oakhill and he has done an awesome job for these many years. Many of the international kite flyers who were there, including myself, had shared the flying arenas at the Sunderland festival the previous week: Iqbal Hussin from Switzerland, Mathias Rosbund from Germany and Marla Miller from the US?. Hey Marla, we have to stop meeting this way, or people all over Europe will be talking; we are already a hot conversation piece in North America. Anyway, shshsh?.. see you in Germany next week!!!!

Barry Pitman helped me set up for an interview and video for the media, and after we got that away, Toody Oakhill waltzed over with a nice pint of cider, which went down very well, I must say. Bless her heart.

The park steadily filled up with spectators, families, and children running around flying the kites that they had made at the free kite shop, which was run with great success by Mick & Norma House. The beautiful blue sky was a great backdrop for the endless single line kites of every description. Awesome colors filled the sky over Stanmer Park: Iqbal Husain's kite train plus his many other kites, Jim Rowland's giant clown and frogs, Jerry & Carolyn Swift's Cat Man and Mantis Man kites, Mathias Rosbund with his Edos and many of his Japanese face kites, Karl & Sarah Longbottom flying their George Peters kites and inflatable, just to name a few. Oh, and I must not forget to mention Ray Broadley's huge Cobra -- it looked like it could eat every kite in the air!

The sport kite flyers also did a great job keeping the spectators entertained. Ray Oakhill and Simon Hennessey flew pairs with a stack of 12 Hyperkites each, Bob Cruikshanks flew 30 of Tim Benson's Mini Fizz kites, Paul Thody showed his skills with his stack of 10 Flexifoil Prospeeds?There were some great flyers competing in the Trick Out competition: the famous kite flyer and sport kite designer Tim Benson, Sam Eaton, "Dan the Man" Maroni, also Patrick, Chris, Sean, Animal, Wink, and many more? This competition, by the way, is spreading to California -- Brian Champie, one of the best trick flyers--if not the best--in California, is working on incorporating this competition event in California.

My friends Harry Douglas and Richard Nourse from Poole were there and volunteered to be my official ground crew. They were a great help, especially on the Sunday with the Mega Team Fly, which I am pleased to say was a huge success. This was their first and I am sure it will be the grand finale for many of their future festivals. The Saturday evening barbie and liquid refreshments was a smash hit; nobody was feeling any pain by sack time! Toody was in charge of the bar and she took good care of me, bless her heart.

Sunday arrived before we knew it, another awesome day, but the wind was just as fickle. However, it didn't prevent the sky from even being fuller with kites than it was the previous day. Word must have traveled far and wide as there were twice as many spectators to entertain, and entertain them we sure did!! Even with the "morning after the night before feeling" L which, by the way, Toody soon cured with the "hair of the dog" -- bless her heart -- but I think she needed it more than I did.

One of the best things about the European festivals, which I have not seen in North America with the exception of the Washington State International Kite Festival, is kite vendors. Literally dozens stalls stocked with kite-related merchandise are always packed with eager buyers still on a high after what they have witnessed. I would like to say a few words about Steve Michael and Linda Howard, owners of Force Nine Kites Stores. Wherever I perform in the UK, they are always there ready to help out replacing spars or whatever. Every time I ask, "How much do I owe you, Mike?" I always get the same answer, "My pleasure, Ray. Anytime," and his wife Linda joins in with, "How about a cold one, Ray?" This is another aspect of kiting that is not often mentioned, the harmony of kite performers and kite store owners. Good Stuff!!

As in the Sunderland Kite festival I was again very proud to be part of yet another great International Kite Festival at its very best. I was given two wonderful surprises on the Sunday: one was a heartwarming reunion with two of my brother's daughters and their families, whom I had not seen nor heard from in over 20 years. Toody had something to do with this, also. Man, can she keep a secret! The other surprise was being awarded the Brighton Kite Flyers Shield for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport of Kite Flying; I was very honored. Looks like I've got to come back next year to give it back.

I would like to thank all the Brighton Kite Club members for sponsoring me, plus Toody and Mik, and also my hosts, Ray and Doreen Oakhill for letting me share your home. It was indeed a home away from home, especially your cooking... Yum. Doreen, you have the wife beaten by a long shot? but I must admit, after a month away, I was kind of missing the screwed up fried eggs soggy chips and burnt toast.

Thank you for listening.

Ray.




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