Catha's Seat

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Catha's Seat Launch Picnic Film by Funder Films

I am delighted to be able to share a wonderful film from the Catha's Seat Launch Picnic back in May that will hopefully warm the laurels as the longer nights draw in. For those that were there on the day you will have noticed Jasper Bouverie of Funder Films manning some serious camera equipment. 

He has managed to curate some lovely moments that capture the spirit of the day and Catha's Seat. Many thanks to Jasper for this. Note - music on the film by Arlet, who performed live at the launch.

I hope you have been enjoying Catha's Seat over the summer and make sure you secure Saturday 2nd May 2015 in your diary for the 2nd annual Catha's Seat picnic.

...also, in other news - I've been asked to do a talk next week on my cycle tour to Istanbul in Canterbury next Thursday 23rd October - see the flier below. The "Around the World with..." events are being run by Hattie Oliver (, who's raising funds to go on a month long expedition to Ecuador and the Galapagos with her school. She's been very entrepreneurial setting up events, bake sales and jobs as she's got to raise £4,420 - quite a feat for anyone let alone someone with full time school / exams to deal with - and a cause I was keen to get behind in the name of adventure!

It would be great to see you there if you can make it. Thursday 23rd October at 7pm. Eastbridge Hospital, 25 High Street, Canterbury.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Catha's Seat Launch Picnic hits the headlines

The Catha's Seat Launch Picnic hit the headlines last Thursday in the Kentish Express. If you are in the Kent area, pick up a souvenir copy and you'll find the article on page 14. 

For those further afield see the article below. Wyeweb have also covered the event and there's some great footage on Youtube from 1066 cyclist Dale Wheeler, which really captures the spirt of the day. 

<<BREAKING NEWS>> Suz from the Kentish Express just routed me to the article now on Kent Online as well, with more pictures!

Thanks again to everyone who has supported the project and the event. We look forward to seeing you next year same place, same time, where we will be announcing the first winners of the Catha's Seat award. 

Kentish Express - 8th May 2014 p.14. Many thanks to Suz Elvey for a fantastic article.

  Footage on YouTube, thanks to Dale Wheeler

Monday, 5 May 2014

Catha's Seat Launch Picnic - First View Photos

What a day! Catha's Seat was launched in style. Thank you to everyone who participated, helped and donated. See below for some of the photos I've collected so far. If you have any of your own please do get in touch and / or use social media - post on Instagram #cathasseat , post on twitter @cathasseat #cathasseat , or post on facebook #cathasseat .......

Walk from Wye leaves the Farmers Market at 10.30am, led by Daniel Wood

Cycle from Wye leaves Wye at 11.45am, led by Louise Laker. Thanks also to Paul Rees who led the SPOKES cycle from Canterbury and Pat White who led the very popular walk from Chilham Station

Locally sourced foods and drinks awaited. Produce from Ripple Farm Organics, Wye Butchers and Delicatessen, The Wooden Spoon, Wye Bakery and Perry Court Farm was put together by Alex Gow and his team of helpers, along with Catha's own Lemon Drizzle cake made by Patrick Keegan (Dad) and further cakes from Caroline Spencer. 

Merry go round! Punters took it in turns to have a nice sit down!

Site Manager Caroline Spencer and her team of ushers (Kit, Dani, Eliza, Yean, Phin and Hilary) prepared a fantastic festive site complete with bunting and the all important ribbon!

Paul, the photographer from the Kentish Messenger Group sets up a couple of shots to hit the press. Hopefully seeing this in the paper will inspire people out on their bikes or hikes for a visit.

Musical chairs. Local band Arlet serenade the masses, and are let out to roam free range in the woods!

Speeches aplenty. Councillor Andrew Wickham talks about the success of Route 18 and how his ride up to Catha's Seat has inspired him to do more cycling. Sheila Webb gives a moving version of the words she used at Catha's funeral service. And I say a lot of thank yous!

....and the ribbon is cut, Catha's Seat is officially open. The hard work doesn't stop here though - we need you to help us spread the word about this fantastic place and cycle route. Tell your friends, take them there for a sit down or picnic, share your photos and experiences on social media. We will be continuing too by raising money for our first annual Catha's Seat award, which will be announced at the 2015 event to be held as this year on Mayday bank holiday Saturday.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Catha's Seat Launch Picnic - one day to go and things are hotting up

Catha's Seat now complete with arms and plaque

.and more greenery in the view!

Scott models a "I cycled to Catha's Seat" sticker - pick one up at the Launch Picnic for your bike!

Write up in today's Kentish Express (p.14) - many thanks to Suz Elvey 
....and also on Jasper Bouverie's blog 

Don't forget to check the google map (see right hand side >>>>) and start times and locations for the organised walks & rides on the ePoster

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The story of how the Catha's Seat community came together to secure £1,000 grant from Ashford Borough Council's Single Grants Gateway

During the launch event for the new section of Route 18 back on 31st May 2013 I briefly met Ashford Borough Council's (ABC) Deputy Leader Michael Claughton, and left him with a copy of our flyer. As he arrived for the event on a bike I felt compelled to write him a letter to ask if the ABC could support Catha's Seat. Mum had put a considerable amount of effort into ABC consultations including the Ashford Local Plan and so it seemed like there was something there.

I set to work on writing a letter that explained background to Mum's work and what we were looking to do to celebrate it and promote cycling. To get the facts I enlisted help from Sue Powell (one of Mum's closest friends in Wye and a colleague on many of the Wye planning groups), Catherine Hughes (previously a planner at ABC when Mum was on the scene) and Sheila.

Upon reading my letter Cllr Claughton responded promptly and guided me to the Single Grants Gateway and the Council's funding officer Michelle Byrne.

Michelle was very helpful and explained the hoops through which we would have to jump. There were quite a lot of criteria and I thought it was a long shot at the time but considering Michelle's positivity for the project I thought it was worth a punt. So then we embarked on a journey....... 

  1. We weren't going to get anywhere without becoming a bona fide community group with a constitution and a community bank account so Alex Gow, Dad and I agreed the paperwork and rocked into Ashford to set up an account - it took Dad over 10 attempts to get his arty signature in the box!
  2. An initial expression of interest form got us through the front door with the Grant scheme, which unlocked a more comprehensive application document. I was glad for the practice I had in my professional life completing submissions for public sector tenders!
  3. You need support from the local Borough Councillor so I finally built up courage to speak with Cllr Doug Marriott. I had been nervous about approaching figures in positions like these - you only have one shot, what if they don't like it? Doug turned out to be a fantastic person, very easy to talk to and already a supporter of Route 18. He also is a mover and shaker in my preferred professional circle of energy efficiency so we had plenty to chat about. He promptly gave his seal of approval to the project and I ploughed on refuelled with confidence.
  4. Written letters of support are also needed from the local Parish Councils (PCs) - after explaining the project, Chilham and Godmersham PCs kindly gave their backing. I was even able to join Godmersham's meeting to give a short talk.
  5. After submitting Michelle came back to me very promptly to say that we had been successful in applying for a £1,000 grant towards the costs of Catha's Seat and that the funds would be transferred on receipt of the final invoice. As I wanted to tell the full story when publicising I am ashamed to say that, with starting my new job at the same time, I have sat on this golden news since 1st October - sorry readers!
I feel that this was one of the most valuable processes in the whole campaign. Not only is the money vital but the support and reach we have been able to achieve has taken it to another dimension. All these groups have now invested in Catha's Seat so it is really a community owned and approved project. Even though it has been challenging and took time to get through I couldn't be happier with this outcome.

The Board of the Catha's Seat Group agree its constitution

I would like to thank Cllr Michael Claughton, Michelle Byrne, Cllr Doug Marriott, Caroline Spencer and the members of Godmersham PC, Geoff Dear and the members of Chilham PC, as well as Sue Powell, Catherine Hughes and Sheila Webb for their support with the content and Alex Gow and Dad for forming the first Board of the Catha's Seat Group. 

Thanks also goes out to all of you that are supporting the project - your involvement, donors and readers alike, was recognised in the submission to show what we are made of. This is a community project, made to benefit the community and recognise the work of the members of our community that have facilitated our fantastic cycle routes.

What a team effort. Thank you.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Catha's Seat - planting for the hive of activity

Spring has sprung up at Catha's Seat! 

Friends and contributors to Catha's Seat, Piers and Jadie who work for Natural England and the Woodland Trust respectively have created a bee-licious offering, planting the following to reinstate the hedge / tree corridor behind the seats:

·       Guelder Rose – Viburnum opulus
·       Wayfaring Tree – Viburnum lantana
·       Whitebeam – Sorbus aria
·       Wild Rose
·       Apple Queen Cox
·       Apple – Sunrise
·       Cherry – Sweeheart

Many thanks to them for this and for humping the plants up there from the A28 in a wheelbarrow! I look forward to sitting up there in the Autumn enjoying the most locally sourced fruit I can find! 

....and it's not just the bees, Catha's Seat is already a hive of activity with cyclists and walkers. If you haven't visited yet, what are you waiting for!!?

Shelia Webb, inspiration for Catha's Seat and avid supporter throughout the project, takes her first visit with a small group, only to find that there is a hive of activity at their destination!!
Sheila was joined by Rachel, local handcyclist and cycle campaigners from Cambridge "You Can Bike Too" - check them out on twitter (@youcanbike2) [while you are on twitter why not follow @cathasseat as well!
Ruth from You Can Bike Too spots that the Catha's Seat Launch on 3rd May is already hitting the news! Featured in the Kentish Gazette
Phil Rutt from ARC Creative Design (the man who drew the Artist's Impression for Catha's Seat as well as many other things) visits Catha's Seat with his wife for a picnic. They went from Hythe to Wye, then to Catha's Seat for lunch, onto Chartham and then followed the old route 18 back to Sole Street across Stone Street to Stelling Minnis and back to Hythe.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Catha's Seat Installation - Day 3 (Nearly There!) - Photos

Day 3 on site at Catha's Seat and the meat of the work is done. Both seats are in the ground, a fresh covering of ragstone dust on the ground and the boards that retain the earth around the site are all in place.

The team will return to site at their next opportunity to attach the arms, finish and oil the wood, and fit the all important plaque.

See the latest photos below but better still get on your bike, or get your walking boots on and go and give Catha's Seat a test drive as soon as you can. Take a friend, take a snack and a drink, your favourite book or a newspaper. Don't let Catha's Seat get lonely!

Customers! - a group of walkers visit Catha's Seat

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Hand crafted - Jason sculpts the curve in the backrest of Seat #1

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The plaque - soon to be fitted

After three hard days on the trot the team get a chance to sit down (swiftly followed by a well deserved beer!). Many thanks to the team from Arc Creative Design for their hard graft and craftsmanship.

Catha's Seat - nearly there!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Catha's Seat Installation - Day 2 - Photos

I was delighted to be on site today as Chris and the team from ARC Creative Design pulled out the stops for another long day to get seat #2 in.

Morning view
After a gap of 700mm between seats is agreed work starts on #2
Jason - the wood sculptor
And then there were two!

Eliza and I road test Seat #1

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Catha's Seat Installation - Day 1 - Photos

Installation started successfully today, spring sprung and our frontline photographer (dad!) was on site to capture the action...

And they're off!
7am to 7pm - no 9 to 5 when you have a good weather window!
Putting together the Jigsaw

Day 1 - Bench 1 In the Ground!

Monday, 31 March 2014

The time has come - Catha's Seat installation work starts 1st April 2014

It's now just over a year and half ago since I was wondering how I could use my trip to Istanbul to raise funds to promote sustainable transport and my Mum's work when I spoke with Sheila Webb and she introduced me to the idea of installing seating with dedicated cycle parking on Route 18. 

So much has happened in that time - we have raised £10,000, built a group of 62 investors and many more followers, secured three Local Authority Grants with the fantastic support of the local Parish Councils and Councillors, kindly been granted permission to use the land, wrestled with design decisions, been featured in the local newspaper, had invaluable assistance from Colin Finch on the Kent County Council Public Rights of Way team and our chosen contractor ARC Creative Design, and been shortlisted for a PEA award ..... amongst many other things. 

Tomorrow, 1st April (weather permitting!), installation starts on Catha's Seat and is expected to be completed by the end of the week. I will be on site on Wednesday and Thursday so it would be great to see you if you are in the area or cycling by on Route 18. If you do drop by when I'm not there please note that whilst I'm sure Chris and his installation team from ARC Creative Design may be happy to have a brief chinwag they have a busy schedule to complete within their window of opportunity.

Look forward to seeing you at Catha's Seat soon! Don't forget to mark the 3rd May launch date in your diary as well.... 

gif maker online
According to Eliza .gifs are all the rage on the blogs these days. This is my attempt that starts with the last photo I have pre installation (taken on Sunday morning 30th March 2014)
gif maker online

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Catha's Seat Construction Underway

In the long drought of news since the last post (my apologies) there's been a hive of activity on Catha's Seat. The fundraising has been completed, the order has been placed and construction has started. We'll catch up with the details at a later stage but for the moment I want to do two things

Firstly... make sure that the launch date is firmly in your calendars (Saturday 3rd May):

We are planning something special so start oiling your chains and pumping your tyres. We will be launching from Wye but I understand that Spokes are also looking to run a ride from Canterbury, which you can join if you are a Spokes member . Also, if you prefer to walk - it's around 5 miles from Wye or 1 mile from Chilham.

The main event up at Catha's Seat is shaping up for around 1-2.30pm.

Secondly... show you some pictures of construction:

On Tuesday we took a visit to the company constructing and installing the seats, ARC Creative Design. ARC specialise in heritage installations and were behind Sheila's Crichton Family Seat near Canterbury, so were the ideal choice for the project.

Photos and comments below:

Jason the carpenter gets comfortable on some solid oak! Don't worry - it's not really going to be that high off the ground - the feet stick ~400mm into the ground so it's good and secure.
Keegan Senior tests out his Sunday newspaper reading position.

The arms give a nice comfort - allowing you to relax into the corners, and essential support for expansive gestures!

Chris from ARC shows there's plenty of room on the seats, which are designed to comfortably seat a small family (two adults and a child).

Arm design decisions were hotly debated by the team - honesty versus aesthetics. A slightly rounded shape got the final approval.
Multi Purpose Recreational Area - bike rack, yoga mat, picnic spot...