They came, they worked, they were unsung heroes

Over 125 people nights in our first five weeks of living at Mays Farm. 550 meals served. And still no hob or Aga.

From not a single shower (or loo) working the first night, to 6 full working bathrooms.

Arriving on Thursday July 18, moving in that morning - and our first brave retreatant arriving that afternoon.

She unpacked the kitchen china.

5 communion services.

Many lovely sessions of Lectio Divina and Imaginative Prayer.

Compline in the garden. In the Library. By candlelight. In silence or aloud.

God here.

Blessing people as only He can.

*  *  *  *

Some were old friends; some we had never met before.

They were young and old, ordained or not, local or far away.

Africa, America, Nepal, London, Birmingham, Oxford, Huntingdon, ..... Some had flown from overseas specially, just for a Preview Retreat.

They stayed for free, took part in retreat life morning and evening, but helped for hours each afternoon.

Gardening, decorating, unpacking, creating ....


*  *  *  *  

This last week has been another walking retreat. This time we were all fast walkers and the walks of 6 or 7 miles each morning were a delight in the late summer sun. Castle Combe, Norton, Gorsey Leaze, Surrendell, East Dunley, Lower Dene, Ford - we strode across  fields and through woods. Until the moments when we went slow, slower, slowest, to appreciate that we are 'fearfully and wonderfully made.' (Psalm 139)


Something else was fearfully and wonderfully made - or wonderfully complex, as one translation says. Peter and Richard, two enthusisatic and gifted amateur carpenters, decided to make the communion table for the chapel, from wood found in the house. They had never met before, never worked together before. But the American and the Englishman have created a thing of great beauty which will be used for many years to come in our little chapel. It was amazing to see it take shape over the days.


While they were hard at work as carpenters, others were decorating the sitting room. Ready for future retreatants to sit in comfort to read, relax, reflect.

Or clearing the ivy on the drystone walls in the newly refreshed courtyard.



And further up the garden path, the gazebo gradually take shape in the wild flower meadow.


And so the Preview Retreats have come to an end.

The house is quiet and at rest.

But already we have some bookings for retreats in the Autumn.

When are you coming?

Come alone; or with your small group, your leadership team, your family or friends.

Come for some peace at this place of spiritual sanctuary and sweetness.

Come and take time to abide in the Vine. 

Jesus said, "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

*  *  *  *

We have been blessed by those who have come on retreat and given so much of their time and energy.

Our prayer is that The Vine @ Mays Farm will be a blessing to many over the months and years ahead.

The Vine @ Mays Farm

for retreats, 

quiet days, 

quiet spaces,

Spiritual Direction

leadership training

& mentoring


come alone

come with a group

bring your friends

your small group

your leadership team


The First Retreat ... and more photos

They came. And almost unbelievably they stayed. Mays Farm is still a building site and the outside is a mess.

The inside is not much better.

But four guinea pigs - sorry, wonderful retreatants, came and stayed. They glamped; slept on mattresses on the floor. Put up with windows which not only had no curtains but often had no glass; one even has no window. Ate in the garden for there is no table yet in the house. And they smiled and remained pleasant. They had time to be, rest in the hammock, read, pray, relax. They also helped, mostly in the garden, or helping unpack kitchen boxes. We had compline by moonlight, lectio divina in sunlight. The water flooded and was turned off. And on. And off.

A weekend of Preview Retreat. Now they are gone. Tomorrow, four more arrive this time for a guided silent retreat.

I pray that each woman goes away saying, "Surely the Lord is in this place" (Gen 28:16) because they have met with him in some way in this place of sanctuary.











Another month of preview retreats and the house will be very very nearly ready.

Make sure you book your retreat for the autumn - details on the Retreat page






Leave a mark - and win a free Retreat!

Time capsules. Weird or wonderful? Worth doing or will they rot  - or be unintelligible in decades to come? We are thinking of burying one beneath the floorboards. And as the floor boards are about to be refurbished and relaid, it's time to think of what might be encapsulated.

various rooms as they are at the moment! 

Photos of how it was before we started? they might fade.

A Memory stick? it might be unreadable or uncomprehensible.

So what would you put into our time capsule - what legacy might we leave to be discovered in another 100 years or so? Things that would show future generations that this is a special place, of spiritual sanctuary for those in need of space and solace, of finding time for God again, for rest and renewal and refreshment? 

Scripture verses? Maybe a Bible? Descriptions of the Retreats?

Have a think and leave a comment!

And while you are thinking, think too about our Preview (free!) Retreats for this summer - we have had an amazingly high number of enquiries and application forms are coming thick and fast so if you want to apply, send yours in very soon! Here are the details in case you missed them: an invite to join us as our guests.

The Vine @ Mays Farm will be opening September 2013. We want our Time Capsule filled and buried next week though - so jot down your suggestions and we will let you know what we choose, and post some photos!

And, the best suggestion will win a FREE NIGHT OF RETREAT, to be taken during September this year, as one of our first retreatants! (Entries will be judged by the Ministries by Design Board of Trustees and staff) Competition closes on April 2nd 2013.

We'd love that you be YOU - so get creative and think of what to put in the Mays Farm Time Capsule!