My marvellous Kent Claret vine ... I bought it from Victoriana Nursery to keep my ever-faithful calendulas company. Friend Wendy recommends the grapes for grape jelly.

Happy harvesting … my Great Auntie Bee's watercolour of farming life as it used to be, painted in 1950.

The creative mind in action … Coppicing days, Pheasants Coppice, Bishopsbourne.

History …In the garden of Serre de la Madonne, Menton. Seems I wasn’t the only admirer.

Happy birthday! ... My 50th Birthday Party 9th September 2010 at Jenny's, also with Hilda, Becca, Vittorio, Robin and Yvonne and Bianca - Caprese Michelangelo, Toscana. A very special day.

Birthday girl ... Mrs G picking flowers on the morning of her 80th Birthday, a few seconds before she realised that I had arrived.

A chance to experience history, to taste the joy of a picturesque cycling route, on an historic way, a wonderful place to rest, to put the bike down and put up your feet and merge with nature's best.


Just below the long, wide sky,
Here Catha’s Seat, lark-level lies,
Where pilgrim clouds are moved each day,
Along this ancient, chalky way.
The Stour below with ushing trees,
Moves silvered to the seal-edged sea,
Where once across a bridge of chalk,
First hazels and then hunters walked.

Celt and Saxon, Viking, Jute,
Roman, Norman, pilgrim route,
Outlaw, tinker, Huguenot,
Many more have come - and go.

Two wheels, four wheels or wheel free
Three miles from walls of Canterbury,
River path for you and me,
Rambler, resident, refugee.
And fifteen kilometres more,
On Ashford’s long Green Corridor,
Stroller, roller, scooter, skate,
Walk to school, you won’t be late.

And in between on Route 18,
In forests first cathedrals green,
Courteous cyclists with compound eyes,
Like wingless insects beetle by,
As walkers in more mottled hues,
Share well-worn smiles, in well-worn shoes.

Catha, our own scouting swallow,
You went ahead, where we now follow,
So much joy beyond the sorrow,
For travellers today, tomorrow.
So ‘Thank You’ Catha, pathfinder, queen
Of Ashford to Canterbury, Route18.

- Robert Graham May 2018.

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Celebrate cycling, walking and local food at the Catha’s Seat picnic

- from

Cyclists, walkers and runners from all over Kent are getting ready for the fifth annual Catha’s Seat Picnic (Saturday 5th May 1-3pm).

Gathering at a peaceful rural spot in the Stour Valley overlooking Chilham Castle,

Image on healing gardens co dot uk to illustrate the article.
New Flying Horse licensee Steve Collins and poet Robert Graham pictured following the hanging of Robert's poem Window on Wye. His nostalgic poem looks through a stained glass window in h e[parish church destroyed by an aerial landmine in 1943.
all are welcome to join and enjoy live music from Ashford Folk, original poetry from Robert Graham and a locally sourced picnic donated by Wye Bakery, Wye Butchers, The King’s Head, Ripple Farm, Perry Court Farm, The Wooden Spoon, Wye Co-op and the Cheesemakers of Canterbury.

Local cycling and walking organisations – Spokes East Kent Cycle Campaign, Cycle Circle and the Wye Footpaths Preservation Society – have got together with Catha’s Seat to guide you to the picnic.

Friendly local guide

The nearest train station is Chilham, from where you can walk just 1 mile to Catha’s Seat with a friendly local guide.

For a longer walk (6 miles) meet at Wye Farmers Market. Cycle rides start from Wye (5 miles), Canterbury (7 miles) and Ashford (11 miles).

If you feel like running, join us at Wye (5 miles). The walks, rides and run are at participants’ own risk. All details and start times at

For the picnic food and drink, small donations will be invited, and proceeds will go to the Catha’s Seat Awards. The awards provide a total fund of £1,000 annually to encourage safety and increased use of National Cycle Route 18 between Ashford and Canterbury.

Local groups, schools and individuals can apply for funding for equipment and expenses.

For this year’s awards expressions of interest are open until 14th May. Find out more at

Get inspired

At the picnic there will be an opportunity to get inspired and discover what last year’s Catha’s Seat Awards winners have been doing to promote cycling in the area:

Wheel Potential CIC put their award towards vital spare parts to support them to provide bespoke bicycles and open-air cycling experiences for less able adults in the Canterbury district.

2nd Wye Scouts ran their second cycling treasure hunt on National Cycle Route 18 with funds supporting cycling themed prizes, refreshments and hi-viz vests.

Cycle Community CIC’s ReCycle project at Goldwyn School gets students involved in refurbishing bicycles that are then offered for sale at affordable prices and used by the School. Their award funded a pressure washer to help them establish a wash station, which saves time when recycling donated bikes and maintaining their fleet.

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