Jolie Brise - twigs toss, dust flies

October 17, the "Windguru", forecast was wind strength 4, gusting 5. "Ideal flying conditions", according to my Rush Trainer Kite Guide.

4.00 pm I parked the car in Top Street, North End, got the kite bag from the boot, and walked up the bridle way to the top of the hill in the Burton Dassett Country Park. The hill was deserted, apart from a large 4x4 vehicle parked overlooking the village.

Preparing to launch

I choose a flattish pitch to the right of the car; got the kite out of its bag and started to rig it. The wind was a bit fresh, so to be safe I decided to launch the kite at the edge of the wind-window, ie, at right-angles to the wind. There were some lumps of the local Hornton stone lying about which I used to weight down the trailing edge of the kite. Then I attached the control and safety lines, walked back to the control bar and attempted to get the kite into the air.

The Hydra Kite is different

The Hydra is not constructed like most aerofoil kites as it is designed to float on water. It has two vents to let air in and flaps to prevent the air getting out. For this reason it takes a little while to inflate and until it is plumped up, it does not fly well. Also the kite can be a bit unruly when you want to land it, as it does not collapse when it hits the ground.

Houston we have a problem

I made a couple of launch attempts and in the process the kite worked its way round to the centre of the wind window directly in front of me, where the wind was at its strongest. The kite now started to rise of its own accord.

As the wind was a bit fresh for a frontal launch I decided to drop the kite before it got any higher. I could then try to launch it from the edge of the wind again.

The Rush Safety System

The Hydra 350 has two lines attached to a bar for controlling the kite and a third line which attaches to the wrist for braking. If the bar is released the third line pulls on the trailing edge of the kite. This takes the wind out of the sail and effectively turns the kite into a flag and should bring it to the ground.

Zing Zing went my kite string

The kite shot forward; there was a sharp stinging sensation and a strong tug on the safety leash.

Ignoring the sting, I concentrated on getting the kite under control.

Exit the Lone Range Rover

With my arm still attached to the kite, I let it blow forward, looking to drop it, out of the wind, over the lip of the hill. This meant crossing the dirt track that lead to the car-park. Meanwhile, the Range Rover had left the carpark and driven up. The car stopped, and the driver, watched and waited for me to get the kite lines clear of the road. He then drove off and left the hill to darkness and to me.

Short Thumb

At the edge of the road there was a wooden post. I wound the safety line around the post then detached it from my wrist. Glancing at my hand I noticed my thumb was much shorter than usual and it was dripping with blood!

Rush job packing up kite

For the moment I put the thumb out of mind and walked to the kite and sat on it. There is a zipper on the back of the sail to deflate the kite. Having let the air out I detached the lines and stuffed the kite covered in blood into its bag. Then keeping my right hand in the air to lessen the bleeding I poked the lines and control bar into bag, zipped it up and shouldered it.

Handy hanky

Fortunately handkerchief in my left pocket was clean. I wrapped it tightly around the thumb to act as a turniquet, and stuck the arm up in the air again.

Fruitless search

I started making a systematic search for the missing piece of thumb. but after 10 minutes, gave up as it was getting dark and I was worried that pain or shock would set in and incapacitate me.

The car was half mile away, but good news - it was all downhill.

Home James!

I put the kite in the boot, got into the car and with a bit of difficulty, started it with my left hand, then drove to Gaydon. I knew that my wife, Julie would not be in as she had gone to Sainsbury's. So I walked along to "Tony G's" as I knew my daughter Jane was working there on this Monday.

Warwick Hospital A & E department

Jane paused just long enough to put her work in "dropbox" then drove me in to the Accident and Emergency department of Warwick Hospital.

While waiting in the hospital there was time time to examine and photograph "the thumb". It looked as if it had been chopped off just below the nail. The joint was intact and I could wiggle the small white piece of bone that remained.

A nurse from A&E cleaned and dressed the thumb stump and arranged a appointment for 7am the next day at Warnford Hospital, Plastic Surgery department. Then I was given a packet of Cocodamol and sent home for the night.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Now that all the action had stopped I began to think about the consequences of the accident. I would have to ring my racquet ball opponent and cancel the next day's game. If I ever played again it would have to be left handed as the grip of the right hand would not be secure. Rock climbing; using scissors, chainsaws, playing the guitar, all manner of things were going to be difficult.

Thumb texting on the mobile phone! ... how could the surgeon mend the damage?.. would it hurt?... It didn't bear thinking about... it had been a busy day ... I set the alarm for 5.30 for the next day's appointment ... took two paracetamol and codeine tablets ... went to bed, and all things considered slept like a baby.