“Let’s go fly a kite…up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear”
These are lyrics to the famous song that is arguably one of the most uplifting moments (no pun intended) in the childhood classic Mary Poppins. While it would be unfair to deny that much of its appeal is owed to Dick Van Dyke’s effervescent charm and charisma, what really makes it one of the most iconic moments of this film is the subject matter: the kite.
A kite is an intrinsically simple object when you consider its construction and use. So how, then, does something so basic continue to inspire awe and wonder in all generations, centuries after its invention, and in a world dominated by multi-faceted technology?
The exact origin of the kite remains unknown, but it is believed to have been invented in China in the 5th Century and was originally made using silk and wood. Over time, different cultures have adapted it to fit with their traditions and leisure activities. In Bermuda, a tiny island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, locals make their own kites during Easter Week, and take them down to the beach to fly on Good Friday; a tradition much loved and respected by islanders of all ages.
In Europe, kitesurfing has become an ever-increasingly practised sport, since it was first officially recognised in 1977. It has gained popularity and these days is practised almost as much as surfing and windsurfing due to its exhilarating and addictive nature.
For must of us, though, the kite, with all its history and uses, represents something simple: the innocence and discoveries of childhood. There is something comforting about an object which can take you back to this time and make you feel free, with nothing more than a gust of wind.