Sometimes things that are very sophisticated can be created very simply, without expensive materials – so long as you have a little imagination. Four Fothergills under one roof certainly means no lack of imagination, and I have two examples of this from a weekend at home with my family – a weekend of much jabbering, excitement and creativity – a magic spark happens when we all get together! My mum’s birthday was one reason for our gathering and she ummed and erred about what we should do together for the day, before settling on Kite-making, further to her holiday experiments.

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Not an entirely normal thing to do, I know. But we like a challenge… and kite-making takes not only imagination, but also some physics! Oh, and a lot of determination. But more on that later. Here we all are gluing, taping, and binding pieces of bamboo/doweling/thin pieces of molding together for our chosen kite designs, thanks to some instructions and advice from my more kite-experience mother (apart from dad, who used google to make a box kite, but he just always has to be different).

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Perhaps a slightly more popular way to spend the weekend just gone, not because it’s more normal but inspired by the Great British Bake Off semi-final, was to replicate the bizarre and slightly brain-like ‘Charlotte Royale’ from the program. Well we went one step better than that (the word ‘better’ is debatable here i realise). My dad wanted to make a super-cheap and quick version (well it had to be… it was a packed weekend!) for mum’s birthday cake for a laugh… and really just to see if we could, using Angel delight, Co-op swiss rolls and some bought glaze!
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For something which took less than 20 minutes to bung together (it was definitely a ‘bung’ job!) it wasn’t half bad! Quite the simple, naughty way to recreate a sophisticated party piece. I added some gelatine to the angel delight to help it hold together… and I like my personal touch of mixing chocolate among the jam swiss rolls! It tasted like kids’ party food… but then surely a pudding of this nature will always have that kind of feel, whether made with 12-egg posh custard or a packet mix?

Let's go fly a kite!

Well now you’ve had a tea and cake break, back to the kite making. It’s a frustrating business. So many factors meant that our kites, made from shopping bags & packaging, were difficult to fly. Here’s a typical first-attempt, when we took them to the Rollright Stones, and found very little wind. Truffle liked this game, even if she couldn’t quite figure out how it worked.

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So then we moved on to pastures new and found ourselves a hill-top, with a good strong breeze. And suddenly, a couple of the kites flew! However mine, as you can see above, had issues. And while everyone was laughing and flying their kites, I crouched in the mud for 20 minutes restringing it several times. Such is the frustrating nature of trying to make something which actually flies. What a stunning big Cotswold sky though!

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Speaking of skies however… eventually the heavens opened and we realised that the wind we had found was carrying a storm… so after fun with kites & our friend Chloe for company we trudged home in the most enormous downpour, with thunder rumbling above us.

But I was ecstatic. Why? Because I did it… sheer determination, helped by my long nails for unpicking & retying knots of string, meant that I finally got my kite into the air! And for a good amount of time before the storm started. But not long enough…

Here is my warning to you… this business is seriously addictive. The frustrating time fiddling with string in the mud made the end result so much more exuberant. Similarly, a 20 minute walk through a storm made drying out by the fire, with beer and dressing-gowns and take-away, all the more satisfying.

Let's go fly a kite!
Whoever said birthdays are about buying things for people? Here’s the eternal proof that the packaging can be far more fun that the present itself. Seriously people, go out and make things. It’s so much fun.
Let's go fly a kite!
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