How to Feast and Fast during Lent

Forty days to go deeper.

Apparently it takes 21 days to confirm a new habit and 42 days to make it a lifestyle.

What new, or re-newing, lifestyle would best help your current walk with the Lord?

What might help you to go deeper in a relationship with him?



A few weeks without chocolate.
And maybe alcohol.
A few weeks of abstinence. 
Of giving up things we like.

Or maybe for Lent this year - just giving up.


Hurry up, Easter. And spring. And chocolate eggs.

But maybe there's another way.
A way of feasting as well as fasting.

A way of drawing near to the Lord in and through it all. 

Fast from a gloomy outlook on life
Feast on what is bright and cheerful.
Fast from always being right
Feast on seeing another's point of view.
Fast from always pointing out differences
Feast on what unites us all.
Fast from words that pollute
Feast on those that purify.
Fast from complaining
Feast on appreciation.
Fast from self-pity
Feast on goodness in others and self.
Fast from self-concern
Feast on going out to others.
Fast from overdoing
Feast on time for prayer.
Fast from worry
Feast on God's love.

(Father Kerry: Our Lady Queen of Angels
bulletin Lenten Reflection: Feb 2010.)

Come swiftly O Lord, to the dark moments when we are lost.
Make us aware of your presence.
Strengthen us to resist the urges and pulls to deeper darkness.
Stir us to move away from the dark moments of sinfulness
towards the light of your forgiveness.
Come quickly O Lord as we call – or forget to call – and
keep close to us and keep us close to you this day and night,
and as far as the days and nights stretch before us.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,


Walking slowly through France - 230km done, 300 to go


There is a rhythm to our days. We rise. We walk. A cafe is a bonus. The countryside is beautiful. Wild flowers and vineyards give way to rolling hills, sunshine gives way to rain. But it’s the people and the world we live in that fascinate me.


Dinner one evening with a couple, he Italian, she Flemish, with our French Algerian cuisiniere. We talk about faith, Trump and Brexit in my broken French. Our host at the B&B has one Catalan grandfather and one Basque (as well as a magnificent moustache). The great European experiment! C’est un melange, they say.

The next night we stay with a German couple, another wonderful chef. He is giving up on the French and returning to Germany as the French never turn up as arranged! A marriage made in ...?

And then a young English couple who moved to Carcassonne. He’s now very grateful for an Irish parent and that their 18 month old was born in France. 

Yet as I read a novel set in occupied Nazi France, I reflect. It’s a mess - Europe. It’s not the ideal I believed in when I voted to join as a young man. It’s overladen with bureaucracy and senseless rules. But what is the alternative? Are we really better off on our own?

And then the kindness and the warmth of the hospitality surprise me. What happened to the French disdain for foreigners?


I’ve lost my addiction to The Times and today’s news; but even here Trump’s attempts to destroy the Western Alliance send a shiver down my spine. Have we forgotten the lessons of history? My father turns in his grave.

It was our generation that voted for Brexit I’m ashamed to say. What world are we leaving for our 6 grandchildren? Isn’t it better that we live with uncomfortable compromises than with a certainty and nationalism that isolates and separates? 

just a few thoughts as we walk slowly across France .....




Finally, after nearly 20 years on my bucket list, the big Walk Across France is about to begin! On June 1st, we fly to Beziers, and the next day, June 2nd, we will be on the Mediterranean beach at Portiragnes Plage.  There, we will turn our faces west, and begin the 500km walk to Cap Breton on the Atlantic. (20,157,480 inches, or 318 miles)


We will be carrying everything we need, in our large backpacks, so living simply and carrying as little as possible! And we will be staying in B&B and similar accommodations. Some of the walk is relatively easy along the Canal du Midi. Some is more challenging, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

After the ups and downs of married life, especially recently, and to celebrate the end of our gap year of travelling during the first year of retirement , we will be Finding Ourselves in France…..

We are obviously funding the entire trip ourselves, and going anyway; but then we thought it might be lovely if some people could follow our progress, pray for us,  and maybe support a couple of worthwhile causes to sponsor our every step!

There are two Christian charities for whom we would like to raise £2000 each – a total of £4000, which is £1000 for each week of walking. We will actually walk for 6 days and then take a rest day, so it will take nearly 5 weeks all together.

The International Justice Mission (

IJM is an international, Christian, organization focused on human rightslaw and law enforcement, and in particular to work towards the end of sex trafficking. It was founded in 1997 by lawyer Gary Haugen and is based in Washington, D.C.. There are field offices in AfricaLatin AmericaSouth Asia and Southeast Asia, and five partner offices in North America, Europe and Australia. 94% of IJM employees are nationals of the countries they work in. Gary was a member of the church in Virginia where we were on staff.

People against Poverty (

in Romania

In September, a group of men from our church (Holy Trinity, Combe Down, Bath) will be going to Transylvania to work with a local pastor who has an outreach ministry to Romany people. Kim will be part of the group!  The men are self-supporting for their own travel; but need to raise the money to build a barn, and other buildings, to help provide farms for those who have no other means of livelihood. The church has a strong link with this ministry and teams have been before.

The fund-raising direct links are below - please join us on the adventure of a lifetime and follow the journey. Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin will each have the occasional photo/update. 

We fly back from Bordeaux on July 3rd.  and would love there to be some financial aid for those charities. Thank you so much for all your help, your prayers,  and your support in every way.

      with love,    Kim and Penelope

People Against Poverty:


Architect's design for the barn. They discovered the ground is seismic and had to redo the plans - pro bono all the way.

Architect's design for the barn. They discovered the ground is seismic and had to redo the plans - pro bono all the way.






- the mediaeval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, through the heart of Europe.

We walk part of it in Tuscany, from San Gimignano to Montalcino.

It's very special, beautiful in its simplicity and peace, as we retrace the ancient ways.


So maybe it will work for you to come after all 

NEW DATES  are September 1 - 8 (Saturday to Saturday)

There are  just a few places still available - full details here:


IMG_2737_2_2 copy.jpg

How much does the perfect Christmas gift cost?

In about half a second, Google will refer you to

388,000,000 ‘free gifts’

But do we trust freebies?

After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Is there?


How much does the perfect Christmas gift cost?


is what we will spend between us all

in the UK this Christmas

according to The Retail Gazette


But there is one gift this Christmas

That is both

Priceless and free


It can’t be:



bartered for,


found on an app

or delivered by Amazon


It’s already been

paid for in full.






This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”

John 3:16 (The Message)


How to come on A Pilgrimage In 2018

 What you are planning for your vacation next year? Could 2018 be the year to do something exceptional and special? Something that will refresh and reinvigorate you physically AND spiritually?

Most of us, most of the time, long to get away from it all: away from the rush and the stress and the busy-ness of our everyday lives. Time away to spend time with the Lord. Time to get fitter and leaner in every way. AND in a beautiful and special place.

So here’s a great idea for you. Come on a pilgrimage! It’s a vacation with a difference, and  many people are now discovering that walking on ancient pathways, surrounded by beauty, in peaceful quiet places, helps you get into a rhythm that often makes it easier to hear from God, to shed the burdens, to rediscover who you are and who you are meant to be.

Kim and Penelope, both clergy who are experienced in leading pilgrimages, are planning to lead two special walks in 2018.  

-       Come to Cornwall in mid May 2018 and walk the ancient coastal pathway from the most westerly point to the most southerly point of England. A land of wild seas, Celtic saints, clotted cream and Cornish pasties! You might spot seals, eat a cream tea, enjoy local fresh fish, learn about Celtic saints, worship in a 6th century church. And along the way, have plenty of time to be refreshed and renewed in your walk with the Lord. In May, the coastal path is fringed with glorious wild flowers - bluebells, thrift, gorse, campion and many others. For more details click HERE.

-     Or come to Italy in early September 2018, to walk along some of the Via Francigena in Tuscany.  Part of the long Pilgrim route which stretches from Canterbury to Rome, it offers glorious scenery, fabulous wines (!) ancient frescoes, hill top mediaeval villages, and a true sense of doing something different.   The ancient route was supposedly first travelled by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric, in the year 990, as he travelled between Rome and Canterbury. The archbishop described the 79 stages of his itinerary in a journal.  You will follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims who over the centuries have travelled across Europe and down the Italian peninsula, and we will spend time enjoying the route and all it has to offer as we travel through a very special part of Tuscany.   For more details click HERE.

Both Pilgrimages offer special things; both will include days of glorious walking (some of which is demanding, but we help you prepare for that!); both will have daily times of worship, meditations and spiritual ‘exercises’ to help you to focus on what the Lord might want to say to you.

Take a look at the information,  pray and think about whether 2018 is the year when you do something very different, something that many people have found to be absolutely life changing. You won’t regret it! (except for the end of day one, but that’s another story….)

What previous pilgrims have said:

I have just started seminary…. I will ALWAYS think of that experience (ie the Pilgrimage)  as one of the tops, and it was the catalyst to begin this whole other chapter of my life — it sure was  amazing!    Meg

The Cotswold Way Pilgrimage was formative for me in so many ways, Penelope…thank you for providing this catalyst for transformation in my life.  Shelly

It was great to have devotions each night…they were really helpful talks.  Rick

It truly was a life changing experience for me; and I met with God in a way I’d never done before.  Roy

It was fantastic! I haven't had a group vacation in a long time and now that I know how much fun I had with others, hiking through the hills, I'd be willing to take more vacation time and do a longer or equally long trip/hike again. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have joined you and the others on this trip! Thank you!  Ann

I loved the Scripture memory especially the day we passed the verse around verbally, phrase-by-phrase, through the  kissing gates and along the trail. :)       I loved learning the morning collect too!  AJ

 Your information ahead of time was extremely helpful as to what to bring, wear for hiking and in the evenings, and what the terrain was going to be like. Colin

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer. 6:16

leaning into the wind in Cornwall!

leaning into the wind in Cornwall!

So NOW is the time to begin planning to come! If you are at all interested, please contact us to register your interest. This does not commit you, merely registers that you might well like to come and would like to receive full details when they become available. Each Walk is limited to just 12 people, so register your interest soon!
Couples and singles are all welcomed; please note that accommodation is in shared rooms of 2.

Please email with the following details:

 - Your name, address and home church

- which pilgrimage you are interested in (Italy, Cornwall or the Cotswolds)

- whether you plan to come alone, with your spouse, or with a group

This is a wonderful opportunity to take some out in a beautiful place - for time with the Lord, for seeing new places, for learning a new rhythm of life, for making new friends, for being refreshed and renewed. Why not pray about whether this is right for you for now?

Come walk with us - we look forward to seeing you next year!

- The Revs Kim & Penelope Swithinbank


"The idea (of pilgrimage) being that sometimes, in order to see clearly, we need to separate ourselves from the daily grind, from our everyday work and responsibilities. On a long (and sometimes arduous) hike, things often fall into perspective. Answers to tricky questions can break through when your head is free of the internet and the news.  With the wind whistling through your hair and the sun on your face, life suddenly becomes far more simple. You have time to think, maybe even to pray – and sometimes answers break through like a shaft of sunlight glancing down into a clearing." Jane Alexander, writing in The Telegraph