Three ways to help you exercise more.

9,500 steps daily average was my pedometer reading until a few weeks ago.    Not very good if you are trying to get ready to walk 100 miles in 6 days.  Three weeks ago I decided to step it up, if you will excuse the pun. A new daily minimum of 12,000 please, Penelope. So I started to plan my walking. And to schedule it in the diary. Suddenly, my daily readout looked promising: 12,500; 15,750; 18,900 (wish I had run up and down the stairs before bed to get to 19000!).  A desire to beat yesterday's total began to creep in. Where else could I walk to get to my new target? And who else might come with me?

Here's what I have discovered that really helps:

1. Plan to walk and walk to plan.

By writing an appointment with myself in my diary, I find it's easier to do it.  It means I have a schedule; I know when I am to walk and I know when to do everything else . By putting it in black and white, it's one step further away from procrastination! The two rules of procrastination: 1) Do it today. 2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow.  SO: I am now planning my walking times - and my walking routes, and putting them into my diary - and doing what I plan.  And planning which way to go is now part of the anticipation and enjoyment.

2. Invite a friend - publically if necessary!

Walking alone is fine, it's something I quite enjoy, and with my new earphones which are actually comfortable to wear, I can listen to praise music and sing along  - even out loud if I am in the countryside!  But I discovered that if I only plan to walk alone I can still put it off.  So I issued a public invitation to friends on Face Book and on Twitter, inviting anyone to come and join me at 10am last Wednesday to walk from Muswell Hill to Hampstead Heath and back via Kenwood.  A 7 - 8 mile round trip.

And of course having invited people I had to do it - even if no-one turned up! They could have phoned at any moment to ask if they could catch up, join in. So off I went - and started to tweet with photos as I went, just to prove I was doing the walk.  

coffee stop at Kenwood House

It was inspirational for me! I repeated the exercise the next day - invited people to walk from Muswell Hill to Raynes Park, which is about 12.5 miles, as I needed to get to Raynes Park by about 3pm.  It began well - listening to praise music, tweeting the progress, taking photos of landmarks en route.

Reaching Finsbury Park via the Woodland Walk/Capital Ring path

But then came the rain and I didn't want to get soaked on that particular day, so I hopped on the Tube at Highbury/Islington (after some 4 miles on the Woodland Walk from Muswell Hill via Finsbury Park and up to Highbury Fields) and decided that with what I would do at the other end, I would be fine. I purposefully climbed up and down every escalator at Tube stations; and then went to Waitrose and back, in Raynes Park - ostensible to buy G & T and a lime, but really to add more steps.  Honestly!

Join me on a walk next week? Castle Combe and the surrounding area, on the MacmillanWay and local footpaths in an 8 mile circular walk - Thursday August 9th. Let me know if you'd like to come. Start and finish in Littleton Drew.

3. Set short term and longer term targets and goals.

Aim for nothing and you are sure to hit it. And that's what I was doing until now. It was rather a hit or miss affair.

But now I have a definite daily goal: a daily minimum step count. And a longer goal: being able to walk 100 miles in 6 days, in five and a half weeks' time. Please hold me accountable!

None of this is anything new - I have heard it all before. What IS new is applying it to yourself as opposed to simply reading it. Being do-ers of the word and not hearers only. Now where did I hear that before? The New Living Translation says,  But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (James1:22) Plan and schedule your time with God - whether daily, or a special time or retreat; join with friends to study God's word and pray together; set a target - maybe to read the Bible in a year, or to read a whole epistle in one sitting, for example.

As ever, life gives illustration to God's Word - or is it the other way around? The three ways to make myself walk and exercise apply equally as well to my relationship with the Lord.  You can hold me accountable in this one as well.

What have you found really helps you to exercise regularly and effectively - physically and spiritually? What makes a difference? Please do share - we all need as much help as possible in these areas!

I am regularly writing a blog  on preparing spiritually and physically to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September. For details of the Pilgrimage, click on the dropdown Cotswold Pilgrimage bar at the top of this page. We are full for this year - why not plan to come next year?

I plan to lead three Pilgrimages next year - the Cotswolds, plus 2 new ones: part of the Via Francigena in Tuscany, and the Mary Jones trail in N. Wales. Come with me?




I am writing a daily blog (Monday to Friday)  on preparing spiritually and physically

to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September.

for details of the Pilgrimage, click on the dropdown Cotswold Pilgrimage bar at the top of this page 



Might you be walking over the weekend? Strolling somewhere perhaps?

Maybe you might take a few moments to pray for someone?

Maybe someone who is struggling, or who is ill, or facing a difficulty.  Maybe someone you would just like to hold in prayer for no particular reason.

Someone you love.

Someone you met.

Someone the Lord brings to mind.

While you are out walking, pick up something you can easily carry in your hand – a sun warmed stone, a wild flower, a shell, a twig ……

Hold it.

Feel it.

Use it to remind you of the one for whom you are praying.


And maybe you pray aloud.

Maybe you pray internally.

Maybe there are no words but a silent holding of the person in your heart and your prayer.


When you are ready to release the prayer, the person, choose where to lay down what you  are carrying.


Knowing that the Lord continues to carry them in the palm of His hand.





  Can you do this? Can you walk with me?

He sets his face that way, resolutely begins to walk.

The road ahead of him is straight and narrow.












As is mine.

I walked along the Fosse Way this morning.

Song of birds

Azure skies

Bees and primroses

Blossom and cut grass










As I walk his voice calls.

Can you do this? Can you walk with me?

Yes, if it's blossom and beauty all the way.










Then Jesus told them Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you... put your trust in the light while you have it so you may become children of light (John 12:35)

Yes Lord.  I can walk like this with you.

Hand-in-hand with you.


Yes, he said.  You can.

But when it's hard when it's difficult when it's dry - what then?

Can you walk with me in those tough times?











As he approached Jerusalem he wept over it. If you, even you, had only known ..the days will come ... they will encircle you and hem you in on every side.  (Luke 19: 41)


Yes Lord.  That's how it feels sometimes. How it often feels these past months.

Tears and sorrows

Hard and dry days

But you understand that Lord don't you? You know what it's like to walk in sorrow.

You knew the worst lay ahead.


Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.

Therefore I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. (Isaiah 50:7)


You were resolute set determined.

Called by your Father to walk this way, determined to do his will.










Maybe you saw spring as you walked.

Maybe there was beauty all around.

But you knew.  You knew.


Can I walk with you?

So often I ask for you to walk with me.

But maybe that's the wrong way round.

I CAN walk with you: MAY I?


May I know that privilege, hear your voice calling as you walk:

Come walk with me.


Let him who walks in the dark who has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10)




Rain brushed my cheeks in the soft darkness of this nearly Eastern  city.

Strange sights and sounds assailed my ears. Scents of roasted meats, unknown herbs and spices, even different cleaning fluids, gave the night air a delicious fragrance.

I laughed delightedly. Clung to my husband’s arm. Stared wide eyed at the demonstration marching ahead of us up the İstiklâl Caddesi. Participants cheered and shouted, banged their drums, waved the banners high. A large group of young people, determined and vociferous, trying to make some point known to the rest of the world.

We dived down a side passage, unable to find space for our feet among the demonstrators. Unexpectedly found an old flower market, now full of restaurants. Were virtually dragged inside one by the persistent doorman, delighted to share his knowledge of England with us.

Turkish lira from our pockets were carefully counted. Just enough left for fresh grilled fish, baked aubergines, glasses of white wine.

What is the demonstration, we asked. He chortled at our ignorance. International Women’s Day. I raised my glass.

We laughed aloud at the adventure as the gypsy musicians loudly played over us. Commented on the dancing at a nearby bar. Savoured the flavours assaulting our senses.

Then back into the night air. Saw a tiny passage full of bars and locals. Turned into this one, twisted into that one, followed the sounds and the smells and the sights.

Emerged into a large modern square, full of police cars and deflated demonstrators. Realised we were lost, pulled out the map. Old eyes dimly perceived very little in the darkness. This square? That one?

Demonstrators dispersing. A home made white banner, pronouncing in large black wobbly letters: Women are not for decoration,  coming nearer, wavering over us, suddenly folded away.

Are you lost? asked its polite bearer, a young good looking Turk. He smiled at our ignorance, showed us our bearings, informed us it was too dangerous to walk back to the hotel, several miles away across the Golden Horn.  Did we look uncertain?

Come, he said. I show you the bus. My friend live in Plymouth. Nice city.

We followed him, high on the sense of adventure. He dodged the cars, stopped the traffic, waved us over, gestured to the waiting buses. This, he said. But wait, I get you ticket, I pay. We remonstrated, showed our remaining lira. He laughed, waved a card at a machine, ushered us on the bus. Enjoy your ride, please I help. Good riding. Like to help. Good night.

The bus lurched away, dimly lit. Ancient eyes peered again at the map, wondering how would we know which stop was the one he’d underlined. What did it say? The lettering was too small.

Please. A pretty young woman leaned forward. What you want? Where you go? She counted stops, waved us off the bus. An old man stepped off too, waved again. That way, he said as we deliberated in the traffic.

The kindness of strangers, young and old. Their politeness to foreigners. He PAID for us, we said. HE PAID.

I thought of the song my father loved: It’s being so foreign that makes them so bad - The English, the English, the English are best, I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest. (Flanders & Swann)

 And thought again of the verses I have read in the mornings so recently.

You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.*

Those young people were probably Muslim. If anything. They were certainly Turkish. And we must have seemed so old and crazy to them.

But they have taught me so much.

* Deuteronomy 10:19  Leviticus 19:34




The Fosse Way

The Fosse Way. Ancient, straight, unbending.

Full of old memories.

Roman soldiers marched it. Horse carts stuck in its mud. Cars still drive most of it.  My friend and I walked some part of it today, heads tossed about in the wind, hairfree, carefree, glad to BE.

We walked.  We talked.

Glossy black cows and speckled herds were over the hedgerows.

We found blackberries sweet, small, sun-kissed.

There was a sadness in each of us, a year or more of hard places.   Parents departed. Children making nests empty. Struggling spouses. Illnesses. Finances. Life.

And the book I recently encountered.  Eucharistic moments – the breaking of bread, the giving of thanks in the brokenness, the miracle ensuing. Looking for charis, gifts of God, so often unnoticed yet there for our accepting.

We strode on, the ground dry and cracked, the path hard to our feet.

And then.

The farmyard, horses, a tractor from which to stand aside.  The gate to the next field, always open – always there a puddle thick with farmyard mud to straddle.

More dry earth, more fields, more cows.  More sun and wind and glorious freedom in the views. And then that final wet stretch, teetering along its edge, trying to find a pathway through, and I knowing it to be always wet, “Perhaps it’s a spring, fresh water always leaching through.”

Hop skip jump and we are over and onwards.

Remembering later, I write to her.

Thinking of that cracked dry soil we saw in some places this afternoon; and the puddles which never seem to be dry - a metaphor of what happens when joy and grace and God's gifts penetrate our broken, cracked lives.  

And looking for the Gifts.  Searching out the Eucharistic moment. Allowing Him to leach into our crackedness.  Dry hardness becomes soft.

Life giving.

Life healing.

Life refreshing.

Life in all its fullness.

His life filling into ours.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  John 4:13.14