Personal Essays

A family holiday in France

Kite flying is probably always going to be a solitary activity. There is never enough consistent wind, and so after a couple of minutes the rest of the family have got bored with the promise of having a go themselves and moved on to something else. So you stand there waiting for enough wind to lift the kite up from the ground. There are a couple of lessons you've learnt over the years:

Running backwards is a fools game. You can never run fast enough, and you soon run out of room. You have to let the wind do the work.

If there's not enough wind to lift the kite from the ground then there's not enough to hold it in the air. If you do get an assistant who can throw it up above the ground no amount of skill on their part can make up for the fact that the wind just isn't there.

The kite shivers in the wind, but doesn't lift up. You can wait though – after all it is a nice sunny day despite the breeze. The wind blows in the trees near you and you strain to hear if the noise is getting louder, signalling the start of some stronger gusts. Those trees are the reason this isn't so straightforward – they are blocking the wind lower the ground. If only the kite could rise up into the clear consistent winds then everything would be OK.

Then suddenly there's a gust and the kite is up. Carefully you pull both strings and guide it higher. Now all the waiting is worth it as the kite swoops and dances around the sky. You're too hot, the sky is too bright, there's no-one else to show that you've done it, but none of that matters. This is what you've waited for. Now to try and take a photo while both your hands are busy...