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Family keeps up kite-flying tradition

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Bermuda memories: Ethne and Geoff Dickinson (Photograph supplied)

Snow, sleet or freezing cold, none of it stops Geoff and Ethne Dickinson from carrying on the tradition they picked up in Bermuda 45 years ago.

The Calgary, Alberta residents fly kites with family and friends every Good Friday, no matter what the weather.

The event reminds them of the wonderful times they had here, said Mrs Dickinson.

“We arrived in Calgary in 1982 and started the tradition of flying kites and inviting friends,” she said. “Our once little kids, who flew kites in Bermuda, now have kids of their own.

“About 40 of us get together every year. We start off with hot cross buns and coffee and go fly kites and then come back to our house and barbecue, sometimes in the snow. We have been out there with parkas, toques, in minus degrees. We go out no matter what the weather is. We often get strange looks from people driving past.” The Dickinsons moved to the island in 1972. Mr Dickinson worked at Bermuda Business Machines Ltd; his wife was a nurse at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and volunteered with its blood donor clinic.

“We went on a three-year contract which ended up being nearly ten years,” Mrs Dickinson said. “All our three children were born there, Robert, Kevin and Estelle. Every Good Friday a group of us would fly kites. I remember a guy who worked [with my husband], George Trott. He and his father made fantastic Bermuda kites. We were not so adept at making them so we would usually buy from them.”

Although originally from the UK, the Dickinsons settled in Canada after Bermuda because of the job opportunities in Alberta. They arrived with “three children, no jobs, no family and no friends”.

“We didn’t want to go back to Britain and Calgary was a great place for somebody with computer skills, like my husband, and my nursing skills,” said Mrs Dickinson, who now works part-time at a medical clinic. “At that time Alberta was booming. The advice we got from [the immigration department] was that it would not be a problem getting employment.

“We had several places in Alberta we were thinking of going to but somebody at Bermuda Business Machines had a sister living in Calgary and she had a house for rent.”

The Dickinsons have returned twice since they left.

“I loved Bermuda,” she said. “[Whenever we visited] I always felt I’d arrived home which isn’t strange as we went there immediately after we married and all three children born there. We lived in Khyber Pass, Warwick and had the greatest neighbours. Of course, I loved the weather and I never felt I was on a small island because I love the sea. I also loved the colours, the vibrancy and getting fresh bananas, grapefruits, and oranges. But mostly it’s the people; the whole island had a sort of friendliness.”

The 69-year-olds have told many friends about their wonderful experience here, and even brought some of them for a visit.

“We show people pictures of kite-flying in Bermuda and they can’t believe it,” Mrs Dickinson said. “We try and tell them how awesome it is but it’s so hard to describe.”

Fortune favoured the family this Good Friday. Although the weather was typically cold, nothing fell from the sky.

“It was probably about 5 degrees Celsius,” Mrs Dickinson said. “We had snow the day before and snow the day after but Good Friday was sunny and we actually had wind this year. Our kites went up and stayed up and everybody was thrilled with it.”

Island living: Robert, Kevin and Estelle Dickinson heading to school in Bermuda when they were younger (Photograph supplied)