Event reports

Page 1

Dream night


    Dreams came true for more than 200 people when they attended a magical evening at Colchester zoo for chronically ill and disabled children and their families.

The zoo, in Essex, hosted its annual Dreamnight event on Friday (June 14th). Dreamnight is a charity event which takes place around the world on the first Friday of June. Each zoo organises the evening in their own way but in all cases the children are welcomed as VIPs and get to meet the animals.All the staff volunteer their own time to help on the night,some come as fairies,batman,snow white,captian hook and loads more and I was there as Honey the bee from the kite den.






The evening included a special guest appearance from dancers, magic, mascots,music and lots more.There were also close animal encounters,rats,snakes,skunk,goats and parrots were just a few animals the children could touch or hold and a rare opportunity to see the animals after hours with special extra feeding times,seeing a young girl feeding the giraffe was very special for me.

  Julie and myself arrived about four thirty and I set up some kites on banner poles and displayed the cat and tweety bird on a lifter the wind as always at the zoo was not great and when the doors opened for the guests I packed away the lifter and changed into the bee outfit and headed inside to meet and greet the children and adults,all the way up the first path was all kinds of things to see and do,and a special map and program showed everyone where and what will be on at what time.

   This evening has made my wife think about her illness M.E and even though it is a horrible condition to have its nothing that some of these brave young children are going through,we both felt very humble to be part of tonight.

  I greeted all the folks in the entrance until the last one came through and then walked the yellow line round the zoo,somehow overtaking all the guests and finding ourselves alone on the path,this gave me a great time to mess around on all the things in the zoo for the kids to interact with(well I am just a big kid at heart).We got back to the start with an hour or so before the big ending party and food so we went out to the car for a rest and (a few fags) I tried to have a fly of the rev but the wind had died off so with the banner items just hanging down I put those away.

  Back in the bee suit and headed for the party area,Jez showed me where us mascot could take off our heads and enjoy some food and drinks the zoo laid on,while sitting at the table with Captain hook(a member of the staff) we spoke about a lot of things the zoo does and what the kite den was all about.Back outside the rest of the guests had arrived at the party area and I could hear Jez on the mic,head on and back out to dance away the next hour and watch the party happen,it was a superb experience and I hope I can be part of next years Dreamnight.


 Jez Smith said: "It's been another fantastic evening and we hope that all our guests have enjoyed the evening as much as our staff.Everyone has volunteered their time and services to bring about this special event".

"We have also had a great deal of support from local businesses, suppliers and other individuals for which we are extremely grateful, including Honey bee.

"We are delighted to be able to provide this opportunity for children who may not otherwise be able to visit the zoo during our usual opening hours."

Each child also received a zoo goodie bag as they left being waved off from the mascots.


"It is just a wonderful evening and people feel like they are special."

Thanks to Colin he had quite a lot of video from over the days at the zoo and put together this nice reminder of our time there.




Sunday 2nd June



  Last day for the zoo's 50th birthday week and today was the birthday day itself so I was thinking it was going to be the busiest day so far,not only for the zoo but for my kiting display guests as well.With that in mind and with all the items in the zoo to collect at the end of the day as well as the tent I had to cut back on the kites and make room for the trip home with all the other stuff.

  I had told the group what I was going to do and that was bring some of my kites on banner poles,the night before I had twelve poles all set up with items taped to the pole ready just to slide onto the steel rods in the morning,as well as the bee suit and bee theme and my zoo friends 'Leo the lion and Mickey the monkey' to fly there own kites.



   Today we had the pleasure of Gareth,Pete,Lyn,Martin,Colin,Roger,Margret and Amanda and her family and friends,I even met Carol for the first time....One of the little girls had her fourth birthday today and had cake and presents(a lovely pink camera) she was dressed in a delightful dragon costume and was flying her Mickey mouse kite all day and was loving every minute of it,Aleyshia and her friends dressed in the bee outfit and went for a walk along where the cars were parking waving at the public,and I presented Amanda with her new kite stake 'the bus' (as thats her job,bus driver) she loves it.Carol had spent the night before preparing a picnic for an army I think it would have fed the public in the zoo not just the kiters.. lol It was great to meet all her friends and family and although I was not putting up the big kites I had plans to take them all into the zoo in the afternoon.






But back to the morning and as it was such a easy set up I got in the bee suit and Margret and 'the bee' went to welcome the public in the zoo,doing what I do best messing around waving,hugging and just general tomfoolery we had a great laugh,but the real public did not really start to come in until around ten,but when they did it was a never ending line of cars filling up all the carparking spaces but for our field,this allowed us to get the quads out and have a fly.

  The zoo had big things planned for todays special day not just for the public but some of the animals as well.Out side was a group of Mid Essex  car fanatics with cars from the 70's onwards,for me a car is to get me from A to B and don't interest me that much I was more impressed with their shelter and banner flags :)  but each to his own hobby I say.

  Later on I got redressed in the bee and got the big inflatable honey pot out and Roger and the bee went back to the incoming cars to welcome some more in and more photos,it was a bright hot sunny day today and so little thirty minute outing in the bee was enough before getting too hot.''I got an idea Pete'' giving him my camera I got on my car windscreen in the bee for a photo later for Facebook the title, 'On the way home a bloody big bee hit my windscreen'  LOL ... but Pete and the others thought it was funnier when I slipped off the car down the bonnet to a bee heap on the floor.O yes I forgot Pete did fly something today but I will let you guess what it was ........  but today it got ripped on some wood with nails it when Pete tried to pull it free when it come down,get the needle out Lyn.

  Dinner time and Carol got all her picnic set up offering all to help themselves,the girls got platefuls of grub and went in the tunnel tent to eat out of the wind while I nibbled on some little sausages and pork pies and cake and more cakes.

  Wendy one of the zoo staff come down the field to say how she loved the kites and gave me ten passes for me and my guests to go into the zoo later,Jez was obviously rushed off his feet today and it seemed that most of the zoo staff was called into work today there was loads of them.

  The car parking teams know their stuff and got the cars in and parked in a regimental order not wasting any spaces on the fields.

  After lunch it was time to pack everything into my car including the tunnel tent so we could have a few hours in the zoo before it shut,this also allowed some of the early vistors to leave making it a little less crowded inside.with the help from all ,my bits were all in the car and we were ready to go and have fun in the zoo.

  Pete,Lyn and Martin left to go home,Martin is in no shape to walk around the zoo with all the steep hills and we said our goodbyes,the rest of us bar a couple from Amandas group all met up by the big silver giraffe.I pointed out the items of mine in the zoo and then we followed the yellow line that guides you round the zoo,only today did Roger explain to me that the solid yellow line is the main one that takes you round the zoo and back to the exit and the dotty yellow lines are ones that lead to dead ends and you have to come back to the solid one again,that would have been useful the other day when we got lost.

  Aleyshia and her friends led the way rushing along like the zoo was shutting in a few minutes,I bet they were tired by the time they got home,we see much more today and spent time at the bird show with vultures swooping low over our heads and other great birds of africa.

   As we reached each fibreglass 'kids' things that are dotted around the zoo  I pushed the kids out the way (not really) to have a go,seeing a big fat man trying to get into a turtle shell made my guests laugh their heads off,soon I saw the egg and a kangaroo but decided that I would get stuck in the kangaroo I was looking forward to getting in its pouch.







  Amanda and her family had to leave a little earier than us but said what a wonderful day that they had and thanked me,my pleasure folks.Meanwhile the trusty three and Mr G carried on around the zoo till it come to the giraffes I left for the area of my items to take down meeting Jez on the way and grabbing his knife as I forgot mine,he too was so pleased with my displays and antics around the zoo and said anytime you want to come just ring.Gareth  headed home to his lovely wife Kel and I set about the banner poles in the decking area with the knife just as I got the last pole down the three amigos arrived to help carry the stuff over to the garden area to collect the parrots,fish and windturbine and Petes balloons,getting out the zoo with handfuls of stuff was hard as you had to go though the shop and it was packed with public buying souvenirs and gifts I could see them looking at us with all our bits with kids saying where are those parrots dad I want one of them,hard luck kids these are mine.


  A walk back to the car and a last cup of tea and chat and that was my four days doing the kite display over a big thanks to everyone that helped but for the three real troopers I tip my hat to you,enjoy your two weeks away on holiday you earned the rest.Thanks to Jez Smith and the zoo for letting me help out on your Birthday week and look forward to the special night for the children in the coming weeks.A lot of folks think that I do this for money but kite flying is my hobby and unless its for a charity or workshop I do not charge its what I love doing on my days away from work.


Saturday 1st June

   Third day for the zoo event and today was the biggest display so far and with just five of us there,Colin,Margret,Roger,Daz and me.As normal I was eager to get started and arrived early and started to put up loads of ground displays,Ladybirds,cows,ducks,banners and just after I got things done Colin drove across the field,'wow you've be busy Rob'.

   It was not long before the rest of the team arrived and soon lots of lifters and items were put on them,huge lobster and fish were done by Daz and the big Premier fish and Ray were flying on their own lines,in the field before the shelter was the Ice age and all the ground stuff it was a mega display with things being added or changed thoughout the day.

  The wind was much the same as all the other days and I think that its the direction of it that makes flying so hard in both fields,Roger was hoping it blew in from the right of the field so that it was a cleaner way in and would be better I have to agree but the wind over all four days stayed in the same direction until we packed up on Sunday and it changed to the way we wanted to see it coming from,typical.

   Even though there were only four others it was a superb day with lots of flying and chatting but it was overcast and the temperature was down to a hoodie being worn by me and I don't feel the cold that much.We all had no reason to go into the zoo today but when things were all flying nice I said I was just going to get some zoo pictures for the write up or it would be all kites and no animals,not that thats a bad thing.

  The kite den tunnel tent had been there for the whole week and was still just how it was set up,and today we all sat in it for breaks out of the chilly winds whipping across the fields so it got some good use today.Seems at the zoo the less busy days we get more public over to look at the display and mess around in the caterpiller or igloo and today was one of them days.


 I went home today pleased as punch with the display that we all put together it looked great from the zoo and even though some kites still came down now and again it was one of the easiest flying days so far and the company as always superb.


Inside the zoo

    I had some idea of what I was going to put inside the zoo and on Sunday 19th I got there at nine to meet someone to let me in before the public flooded in,it was a shame that it was Jez's day off and the other people that were there didn't know much about what I was there for and after explaining what I was going to do it all went pear shaped with health and safety rules,so I had to only do the things on the ground.The new KIWA KOI area was a no go for me as there was no power point in the koi room and the kites just would not sit right in the small spaces outside,this was the area I had my heart set on doing up,but I still had plenty of other areas to do.

The garden area


    Parrots on bikes rode round the tree while the wind turbine spun round happily away from the public's heads,and to finish off my four fish banners were taped to the railings.Less is more in this case for the area and just added a nice splash of colour as you entered the zoo.

The decking area

This was the largest area to brighten up but with six four metre banner poles it was done,penguin banner,fish,rhino,ladybirds,flags all were added to the poles,making them out of reach to the public but giving them some fun items to look at while they ate and drank through the day.In the middle was a huge silver giraffe which was going to be lit up at night(not that we got to see this as it was still light at nine when the zoo shut).

   That was all I could do today as the next bit involved a ladder so I had a nice walk round the zoo with Pete and lyn who had joined me later in the day.

The zoo animals

















Thats just a few  of whats there!!


The cafe 

  Friday the 31st the day before the display weekend and it was pouring with rain but I had to get the tunnel tent up in the field for the weekend so we could all be in one place to chat and eat,and finish doing above the cafe.I went with Julie (the wife) and later Daz came along.It had been five days since I set up the other areas and some of the pole items had come away in heavy winds the day before,so with some very strong waterproof ducktape I set about beefing up the pole items.Then it was off to the cafe area to go up on the walkway and anyone who knows me knows I hate heights,the rain had nearly stopped and after some time I had got the poles on with the jelly fish and a seahorse,we were all soaked by now and I was not looking forward to the next task,the tent.


  Daz had to leave and get ready for work that night but just had time to help me fix my banner to the fence outside the ticket office (good place for all to see) then I thanked him for coming to help in such bad weather,I looked round at Julie and said ''well its got to be done dear'' and got a look that could have killed.We drove over the the bottom field of the carpark and got the tunnel tent out the car,just at this point it hammered down with rain,I was soaked anyway so I didn't care,what I did care about was that the wind had picked up as well and we struggled for nearly an hour getting that sodding shelter up(so you all better bloody use it lol)the wife was nearly in tears by the time we got back in the car and said one thing "I am never coming to help you again"....It was all done ready for the next days kite display and my fingers were crossed that this storm would blow out by the morning and everything would be where I set it up tomorrow.

The saturday 25th May


  Let the fun begin,Saturday the 25th and its the first day of the zoo display by the  kite den.The living room was full of kite bags ready to pack in the car and after acup of tea the car loaded and a fag I was ready to head off to  Colchester zoo after weeks of planning.Arrived at 8.15 to find Daz had arrived a little while before I got there,the tent was still in place and the weather had cleared for a nice sunny day with some odd winds throughout the day.

  Today my guests were Daz,Margret and Roger,Colin,Lyn and Pete,Martin,Gareth,Mark and Special guests Alan and Keith(Purpleman) and before I go into the day a big thanks to all of you for coming and helping me out.

  We were set to use the back field that some horses stay in (not there today) but we used the smoother ground in front and said if the carpark filled up we would move,lucky for us it didn't.Soon my lines were up with lots on them and the others all started to either help me or fly some kites that there brought with them.

  Octoman (Pete) did what he usually does and flew his small octopus,while I went full out to get up as much as i could to give the kite den a good name for displaying kites,today was the best day for public coming over to see us and the kites,and loads went into the catterpillar or flew my kites.





  The worse thing about today was the wind,we had broken lines,kites in bushes and puddles or just coming down,I still can't say if its the venue or just bad wind but if it happens next week it must be the venue itself.The best bit of the day was the mascot race after we packed away,but I will come to that in a bit.The wind made it very hard work for all and I did not get up all I wanted as I was wasting loads of time sorting out all the problems with the kite I did have up.

  Through out the day we had some nice tea breaks (and cake from the kite den) this gave us time to chat with the kiters I havn't seen for so long and catch up with the kiting world news.Keith as always put up some lovely bits and him and Alan tried to do a bear drop in the afternoon but the wind got the better of them and after a few attempts gave up,nice try my friends.






  Today was the first day of the zoo's 50th birthday (as well as one of the lions) and it was a late night opening for them,it was staying open till nine but we had to be packed away by six so that I could get ready for the mascot race,this is when Margret and roger pulled out all the stops and helped collecting in the kites,lines,stakes in fact most of my stuff not saying it was only them but I really did notice the effort that they put in to help out for the day(maybe the medal I won should go to them) yeah not on your nelly the elephant will it.











  So the day was great other than the wind and it got hotter as the day went on,in fact by the time I had to go and do the bee thing it was the hottest part of the day,typical.Daz,martin and mark all had to go before the evening fun but the rest of us went in the zoo to find the area were I was to meet the other mascots,we went a really long way round to find it as we got lost in the zoo but I was still in plenty of time when we did find it.The others all took their seat at the place of the races Keith and Alan had a great view from the disabled area as it was head on looking at the races,I meanwhile went and got changed and met the other mascots,eddy the eagle,turtle,giraffe,two lions,bear a kangaroo and me the bee.


  We had 20 minutes before the race and some of us went out to have the public hug us and get photos with us,and even in just that time I was sweating and overheating in the mascot outfit,lucky there was plenty of water to drink.The build up for the races was great and soon we was headed on to the area to cheers from the crowds all of us got introduced and what companies we come from and then it went to hell from there.


The warm up,''WHAT'' I was already warm enough thanks but no we had to star jump,jog,knee squat and all manner of things my heart was pumping out my chest and then came the dance....''DANCE''  I though this was gonna be a small run to a flag and back,but no Jez had arranged for us all to do the gangnam style dance to the full track...OMG I was finished before I had even run and as I knew it was going to be in knockout races first four,then the other four then the first and second from them in the finals,I had to make sure I lost before I had a heart attack(well thats my excuse for coming last).

  READY,STEADY,GO and we was away,oh I forgot to tell you it was also an obstacle race bales of hay to get over cardboard boxes and tubes to run through,in and out of poles and round the cone at the end,... and sodding back.So there I was running got to the hay bale over stepped the thing it rolled and I landed on my bum sitting on the thing seeing the others getting to the boxes before I had got off the bale,thinking what I had to do through the boxes in and out the poles forgot the cone running back by myself with kids throwing balls at us all,getting to the finish with a big hug from eddy the eagle...we were lead out for the next race of four,wheezing,sweating I pick my heart up off the ground drank a bottle of water and waiting for my heart to get back to it's laid back rhythm that it likes.


  I was thinking well that was fun and I did it for that reason but after the finals and the lion won, it was back to the area for a bloody conga,more photos and once again my heart was trying to claw its way out of my chest like the alien from ''Aliens' but it was all for a great fun end to a superb day at the zoo with some very very special kiting friends and I got a medal for the race ''Woop Woop''....... Just the drive home and I can relax until tomorrow!!!


The  Sunday 26th May


Todays weather was much the same as saturdays and from the same direction,as I headed for the field there was Colin,keen as always we got all the ground stuff set up on top of the hill knowing that it might have to be moved later if the carpark filled up.The turtles,ostrich and cows all blew in the wind and looked great from the zoo.Colin put up his pole of flags and soon my other guests had arrived much the same as Saturdays ones but to replace Keith and Alan with Amanda and Aleyshia.

  After a quick rest and cuppa it was back on the field for more items,Pete put up the Big panda and  Big octopus and nemo on the horse field,I had a sled with the polar bears,penguins,seals and killer whale on,later tried to get the bears on a line but got frustrated with the wind in the bottom of the field and ended up giving up trying.

  From nine in the morning a steady flow of car came into the carpark and by eleven we was asked to move from the top field as they thought it was going to be needed,this was not a problem as I organised my helpers to all grab a item or two and put the at my car,the kites fly so much better in the top field and when I tried to get another line up down the bottom it was nothing but hassel with me in the end given up with all the bears and the lifter.The cars just stopped parking after a couple of lines in our field so we could get back to the top and put up the catterpiller for Amanda and Aleyshia to go in,also Aleyshia had the quick chance to sit in the igloo before we went home.

  There was a lot more public here today but the funny thing was less came over to see us and the kites thoughs that did enjoyed themselves flying a penguin or going in the catterpiller,today was better for flying a lot less tangles or kites dropping out the sky so it was good for that and the display looked better in the morning when we had the top field.

  We had a bit of fun when I put the cat,cow,frog and dog on banner pole and Colin,Lyn,Pete and me walked them round the carpark to outside the zoo,I see an old friend today and went into the zoo with him for me to buy Aleyshia a present that I had seen the day before.When I got back to the group and the next tea break I sat down and asked Aleyshia if she remembered the flying monkey I had on the beach that she played with for ages...''Yes'' SHE SAID ...well look what I found for you :) it was the same money but in her favourite colour pink,she looked pleased as punch to get it and later named it ''Candy floss'' I expect you will read lots about Candy in future stories in the kite den.

  So that was day two at the zoo and so far I have been really happy with what the kite den has done,facebook comments on the kite display have been great,and a couple of nice e-mails from people I meet and talked to about my hobby,I am back there next weekend to help end the zoo's 50th birthday and on the Sunday lots is going on so till then I can rest at home and do my report for you all to read.

  Thanks again crew you all done great today and I hope your enjoying it as much as me.




Robs birthday fly

   Well it was planned that we meet for a fly on Sunday the 7th for my forthcoming birthday (9th) but looking out the window on the morning and seeing not much else but fog got me thinking it would be a no go.The meet time was for ten and still outside my house it was thick fog but I thought as I was the one that arranged the fly I had better show up,things looked good as I drove the 5 miles to the martello tower, after the first two miles in the fog it then just went clear and the sun was out...looking good I thought.





   I got there at 10.20 and already some flyers were there,we all greeted each other and said how long it was since we got out for a fly let alone together,it wasn't long before Amanda and Aleyshia arrived with a nice birthday card for me and said she was hoping I had the food theme with me...sorry no.

  In fact I had got loads wrong for some reason,maybe the excitement of getting out flying had something to do with it.I had told Pete I would bring my big parrot delta so he could hang on his inflatable parrot to see what it would be like for the zoo venue,the bag I picked up was always my parrot bag but somewhere along the line I had moved it to another bag so I had a rok with me instead..dohhh

  Not only that mistake but I had left a bag on the settee which was the komodo dragon,forgot my camera which I went back for only for it to take one picture before the batteries died on it....Damn what else is gonna go wrong.

  The wind thats what else,until around 2.30 the wind was too light for most items even the lifters wouldn't stay up for long,it was frustrating to say the least,I had the bol going and got up the gecko and a dog but that was about it and even these items were hard work in the wind conditions.So in the end by midday I packed it all back in the car and got out my trusty rev 1 non vented to have some fun with,and it was fun as well.Landing and walking on the tower to Amanda's amazement and hanging the toy monkey from the kites got friends laughing,it was great to have the rev in my hands after so long and did forget just how much I love this kite.


   3pm and we decided to head off to the Toby for our carvery but this went wrong as well as there was a two hour wait for a table the place was packed out to the brim and after some discussion with fellow flyers we decided to go to Marks cafe instead,the breakfast was nice but nothing like the food at the Toby would have been.I know some friends were disappointed with the outcome but for me it was a great time with all that went wrong,cos I was out with my kites flying with my kiting friends and thats what its all about for me...

   Thanks to Pete,Lyn,Daz,Colin,Martin,Amanda and Aleyshia for joining me on the beach and the cards,best wishes...... And a very special part of the day when Aleyshia flew Amandas quad making people see that even young girls can fly this type of kite with grace and style :) 








Planning Colchester zoo

   After an e-mail to the zoo telling them that I would like to put on a free display for them I soon had a reply saying that it sounded great as it was their 50th anniversary this year and that they had lots of different things going on between the 25th May to the 2nd of June to celebrate it.

   A trip to the zoo was arranged to meet Jez Smith the events co ordinater to show him photos of the kites and to see where in the zoo it could be possible to put up displays,his first reaction to the photos was good as he had never seen kites so big and with all the animal kites it would be superb to have me there.We walked around the zoo while Jez was pointing out some places he thought might be ok,at each place I took photos for when I got home to remind me and so I could plan what to have where.

   There were three or four places that I knew I could do something with,mostly banners or small inflatables but inside the zoo there was nowhere near big enough for the main display,I said to Jez that I saw a field on the far side of the car park that I would like to have the main display on,we walked over to it and he told me that it was used for a couple of horses that could be moved on the days of the event.So that was it the venue had been arranged and I could get the car right to it making it easy to for me to do a display,we discussed the days I would do for him and also talked about some other up and coming events that he said would be good to have me back for.

Google earth is a little out of date with this photo but shows roughly where I will be doing the main display for the zoo

  Below is a photo of the actual field that I will be using for the event.There is a line of trees but hopefully on the day the wind will be blowing from any of the other three directions.


   Once back home I could look at the photos and think about what would be best at each place in the zoo,there is a nice big decking area with wooden tables the type with a hole for a sunshade these I can use for banner poles with items on them leaving a few for sunshades as well.


     Another place I saw was on some of the buildings some had walkways on them and again with banner poles it would put items above the buildings to catch the wind so these will be used as well,being harder to get to I am thinking of leaving these items up for the whole week and hope that nothing breaks free.







   There is a new koi area being built and should be ready for the week I am there and it would be superb if I can sort out to get my koi there on display,trouble is its not very big and in quite a sheltered area but I will have a go at doing something for this area


Other possible areas are the penguin entrance and a few other places around the zoo but until I go and try out different things I will not know if they will work,I intend to go up to the zoo a day or two before the event to place everything in the zoo that will then allow me to go straight to the main venue on the day to get the big display up and running.I have once again invited Sky art to join me we often have each other at events we get as this allows more to be shown and for us to get a break to go look around the venues,Pete has some very nice parrots and other 'zoo' items that will help make a great display on the day.

The kite den display will be at the zoo on May 25th/26th and June 1st/2nd to be at the start and finish of the 50th celebration,so come along and see all that the zoo has to offer and enjoy a great day out for all the family.