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Walking Back to Happiness by Penelope Swithinbank - Book Tour

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Two vicars, their marriage in tatters with wounds reaching far back into the past, set out on a journey to find healing and restoration. Their route will take them from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but will it help them find their way home? Along the 320-mile route across rural France, burdened by backpacks and blisters, Kim and Penelope stumble across fresh truths, some ordinary, others extraordinary. But will they be defeated by the road ahead or triumph over the pain of the past? Is there a chance they'll find themselves in France and walk back to happiness? In this simple but enchanting book, part travelogue and part pilgrimage, Penelope invites you to walk with her and her husband on their epic journey as they encounter new faces and new experiences, and reconnect with each other and with God. Every step of the way, you'll discover more about yourself and what's really important to you.


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ExcerptRuby Wedding Celebrations
We eventually moved house a whole year later; two weeks after that, it was our Ruby Wedding anniversary and we planned to start The Walk in late August at the Atlantic and walk to the Mediterranean, as a celebration of our anniversary and new retirement. But Kim played tennis with our son at our anniversary celebrations and tore his Achilles tendon badly. The Great Walk was put on hold yet again.
Recovering from torn Achilles takes a long time and a lot of  patience and weeks and weeks in specialist boot, which had to be worn twenty-four hours a day. Kim showed amazing fortitude to begin with but became bored and frustrated when ill health was compounded by a diagnosis of both flu and pneumonia over the Christmas holidays. I am no nurse; my patience is limited, my frustrations and lack of understanding
are shameful. He had little to do; I had no consideration for what he had had to endure for some time.
All this on top of the previous dreadful year. And several tough years prior to that. There were failures and bad decisions. The strains of life and ministry had led Kim to a dark and very unhappy place, putting enormous pressure on our marriage. Some years previously, he had had what used to be termed mental breakdown; now, there was physical illness to deal  with as well.
We drifted apart in every way, including time of actual separation. After the affectionate and joyous renewing of our wedding vows on the  day of our fortieth wedding anniversary in the presence of our family and the bishop, we had turned our backs on one another instead of supporting and helping one another. I sent him away; told him it was a six-week  period for him to sort himself out and for  me to learn to forgive a whole lot of pain caused over the past several years of his dark places.

Penelope is an avid walker and spends a lot of her time stomping in the hills and valleys near her home outside Bath. She is a chaplain at Bath Abbey and a spiritual therapist and counsellor for clergy (and some normal people too). Since becoming a vicar nearly 20 years ago, she has worked in churches in the UK and the USA, and has led pilgrimages in the UK and in Europe. She and her husband Kim have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Penelope rarely sits down, loathes gardening and relaxes by reading, going to the theatre or playing the piano. She is the author of two books, Women by Design and Walking Back to Happiness and is currently working on her third, due out in 2020: Scent of Water, a devotional for times of spiritual bewilderment and grief.

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