Tuesday, 27 May 2008

PostHeaderIcon Road kill has its season just like anything else

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while (I wonder how many blog posts start with that remark – and then follow it with this!) so lets kick start things off again.

We got the campervan on the road again this bank holiday weekend, it was only its second outing this year and its second within as many weeks. Last weekends outing, being its first this season, was a bit of a test to check all was running OK and to see what areas might need a bit of attention before having its MOT last week. I fully expected the van to fail the MOT and so thought I’d get all the little niggles fixed at the same time it was in for any work to get it through the test. However much to my surprise and delight the van passed! So off we set this weekend confident that we had a good road worthy vehicle.

We headed off to Pembrey on Saturday - for those that don’t know, Pembrey Country Park is adjacent to Cefn Sidn sands our favourite beach and probably the best parakarting beach in the whole of the UK – with high hopes for the weekend, the weather was good (for Saturday at least), the tides were right and the wind was strong. When we were there last weekend there was no wind at all which was a disappointment.

When we arrived the weather was great and we headed straight to the beach to make the most of the good conditions. There were already a lot of parakarters on the beach as it was a CLSC Meet weekend and as I approached the flying zone I had a look out for what others were flying as it’s always a good indication of what the wind conditions are like and what kite to unpack first. Someone was flying a Flexifoil Viper which I guessed to be 3-4 metres (I later realised it was only a 2m) and so thought our old 4m Sky Tiger (the predecessor to the Viper) might be a good choice as it’s a good solid dependable kite and doesn’t give you to many surprises especially in the gusty wind we were experiencing.

So off I set down the beach and I hadn’t gone far when I was beginning to regret the choice, there were some very strong gusts that made it very difficult for me to keep hold of the handles and kept pulling the buggy sideways and almost tipping it. I was also picking up quite a bit more speed than I was comfortable with and after a kilometre or so I thought oh shit, I am not going to be able to turn this buggy at this speed so I slowly took the kite out of the power zone and when I’d slowed to a crawl I dropped the kite back into the power and turned to spin the buggy when a particular vicious gust of wind decide now would be a good time to teach me a lesson and I was ripped sideways out of the buggy and dumped onto the hard sand, the buggy flipped and landed on my legs before I was dragged unceremoniously down the beach whilst I struggled to bring the kite under control. It really was a struggle as well, I think the brake lines may be too long.

Anyway, I dusted myself down, got back into the buggy and gingerly made my way back up the beach. I was slowly coming to a stop at base camp when the wind died causing the kite to collapse and tie itself in a knot which then became a whirligig of a propeller once the wind picked up again and spun franticly out of control. I was again, rather embarrassingly, pulled out of my buggy and dragged across the beach right in front of everyone. The spinning kite was generating so much power that I just couldn’t hold on and as a last resort I just had to let go of one of the handles. I don’t think I’ve ever had to resort to that before as it really is a last resort resulting in one hell of a twisted knotted mess.

Again I gathered myself and the kite and tried for a while to untangle the mess when Emma joined me to help sort things out. We came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to sort out in the high winds on the beach and decided to pack it away and try later back at the campsite. It was then that we heard a shout from behind and turned to see an unmanned kite making its way rapidly down the beach towards the sea with just its handles dragging along the sand. Being the closest to the kite and also trying to recoup some street cred I set off at speed to try and catch it and after what must have been the fastest 100m sprint I’ve ever done and close to death (I’m not as fit as I should be) I was about to give up the chase when the kite slowed down and with an extra spurt of energy I managed to catch it just before it reached the water. I was left holding the kite for ages before anyone, including the kite’s owner bothered to come and help out and even then I didn’t get a proper thank you from the owner. Miserable sods the lot of them.

We didn’t stay on the beach much longer after that as the wind got even choppier and gustier which wasn’t very conducive to having a good time. We made our way back to the campsite and had a pleasant evening untangling lines, barbecuing and drinking.

Over night the weather broke and it pissed down with rain all night long and the following morning it looked like it was probably set in for the rest of the weekend so we decided to cut our losses and head for home. We set off and I managed to persuade Emma that we didn’t need to stop to do some shopping, so making good progress I thought I’d manage to get home in time for the start of the Monaco Grand Prix.

We were heading down the motorway when I remarked to Emma at the extraordinary number of broken down cars there appeared to be along the route. It’s a phenomenon you see every bank holiday weekend, whilst roads are busier than usual they are probably no busier than any normal weekday rush hour. The difference being the cars on the road during a normal rush hour do that journey day-in day-out whereas on a bank holiday you have a lot of vehicles on the road that are overloaded and have probably travelled a lot further than they normally do. I was discussing this with Emma hoping I wasn’t tempting fate (not that I believe in any superstitious mumbo jumbo) when the van started making a funny noise which at first sounded like a rough road surface but it then soon became apparent that it was in fact a blow out when it got scarily loud and the van started to lurch around. I steered the van onto the hard shoulder and got out to be greeted with a tyre that was in shreds with most of it littered all over the carriageway.

We fortunately stopped near an emergency phone and so I called for the RAC who came out fairly quickly and changed the tyre for us. I wasn’t happy doing it myself on the busy motorway and my jack probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to lift the fully loaded van anyway.

So all in all not the most successful of weekends.

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