Looking for a Lent challenge?

St Mark’s and All Saints’ 2021 Challenge: Walk to the Cross

Are you looking for something different to do this Lent? Would you be up for a challenge that will help improve your fitness and raise valuable funds for our parish churches? Something that you can do even if we are still in lockdown?

‘Walk to the Cross’ is a virtual walking challenge from our parish to Jerusalem, a distance of 4,688km. To take part in the challenge, you will need to walk as many kilometres as you can for each of the six weeks of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday (17th February) and ending on Maundy Thursday (1st April). You will need to calculate your total weekly mileage in kilometres, starting on Ash Wednesday, and then send it to Rachael. You will need to let Rachael know your total weekly mileage on the evening of each of the following Thursdays:

25th February, 4th March, 11th March, 18th March, 25th March and 1st April.

Rachael will keep a running total of how many miles we have collectively walked and there will be a weekly update about how far along the route to Jerusalem we have reached.

To take part in the Lent challenge, you will be invited either to make a donation or ask for sponsorship (forms available on request). All money raised will go to church funds. For more information or to sign up to the virtual walking challenge, please contact Rachael (vicar@allsaintsandstmarks.com / 01270 582585). 

You can download a sponsorship form here:

Or donate here: https://givealittle.co/campaigns/37ddf78a-2ef3-4bc8-b0c9-867cc37fa75b

New Knit and Crochet Project

February Update from Knit for Peace
They are continuing to operate despite the national lockdown, as the need for warm clothes and blankets remains.

This week the first donation of completed items has been delivered to me –  hats, scarves and mittens.

If you need patterns, completed items collected or any other information please contact Margaret H (01270 841577 or email margarethodgkinson6@gmail.com)

It will cost us £8.42 to send 15kg in weight of items made for this project, If you don’t knit or crochet but would still like to be apart of this project we would be delighted for any donations to help cover this cost.

Now that we have finished making Christmas bells, we can look forward to supporting Knit for Peace with scarves, hats blankets etc.

Knit for Peace sends items they receive to wherever they are needed, some overseas and some in this country.

This is a picture of some things that I have made; If you have access to the internet and type into your search engine – Knit for Peace –  and on their site you will find loads of free patterns for items to make, so you can make a variety of items if you prefer.

Wondering what to knit?

This is the latest list from Knit for Peace, as you can see there are plenty of options, so take your pick and knit away!

The colder weather has brought a flurry of requests for blankets and warm clothes.
Especially needed are socks (all sizes) mittens or gloves, hats (grown up sizes mostly for men) adult sweaters or cardigans, slipovers.
Children’s clothes (from ages 2 to 14) – jumpers, cardigans, ponchos all sizes, hats.
large (80×90”/200x230cm or 70×90”/180x230cm),
medium (60×70”/150x180cm or 50×70”/130x180cm),
lap blankets (45×45”/115x115cm)
Toys – we have a special request for black or brown faced dolls, otherwise teddies and animals are ok. 
We don’t need twiddle muffs and premature baby clothing at the moment.

We never sell whatever you send us, we send them to where they are needed. We send out tens of thousands of items a year, giving to a diverse range of services, such as refugee centres, homeless shelters, and hospitals.

If you don’t have access to the internet and are stuck for patterns or ideas then let me know and I will let you have some printed options.

We have to send items made by carrier to their central depot so if you are unable to knit/crochet then you can still get involved by making a donation to cover the cost of forwarding items made to Knit for Peace.

We have already have a number of scarves and other items that have been made and in fact have sent off our first donation of items to them.

When you have any completed items you would like collected just give me a call and I will arrange collection. Margaret Hodgkinson 841577.

Remembrance Garden at St Mark’s

Thanks to the children & young people from Shavington Primary, Shavington Academy, Rounderbouts Nursery, Rope Green Nursery, Shavington Primary Nursery, 2nd Shavington Brownies, GLOW, St Marks Toddlers, Little Woodpeckers & the Home Ed children for their amazing contributions. 

You can see the garden until 27th November.

Top Marks!

St. Mark’s church hall kitchen was visited on Saturday 17th October by an inspector from the Cheshire East Environmental Health department.
It was in 2008 that the kitchen was last inspected and at that time we were awarded a Food Hygiene rating of 4 out of 5.
The inspector was generally pleased with what he saw – he made a few comments regarding some minor ares where we can improve but these are not onerous and will be easy to implement.
He awarded us a Food Hygiene rating of 5 out of 5 and a new rating label has been attached to the hall door – see the photo.
So well done and a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the running and cleanliness of the kitchen in any way.

Mind over…Everything

Some years ago I joined a group in church following the practice of Julian of Norwich who lived a life of contemplation. The idea was to sit quietly for half an hour. During this time it was important to clear your mind as much as possible and sit and listen for to see if God might want to say something. As I have always been told that I spend too much time doing ,and not enough time listening this appeared to the perfect opportunity. I tried. I really did. On some occasions I managed to completely relax and push aside the pressing matters of the day. Sadly at those times I was in real danger of falling asleep and not wanting to be the only person present who was snoring I immediately tensed and my mind the had to concentrate hard on staying awake and not listening at all!.

wild ducks swimming in calm water of lake in park

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

This week I decided to try again. I have no urgent things to do and nowhere to be so I thought it might be easier to let my mind become quiet. My home is calm and the garden a pleasant place to relax. I found a comfortable seat outside and let my mind become a blank canvas. I had been sitting for no more than two minutes when my washing machine discharged its dirty water into the grid nearby! Settling again I could feel the sun on my face and the peace of my garden and once more my mind drifted. Just then a robin landed in the bird bath and proceeded to splash happily, and noisily,around . I was completely distracted and spent the next few minutes watching his antics. Not to be deterred I moved to the bottom of the garden and made another attempt. Within a few minutes my neighbour, who had noticed me sitting very still, came out to ask me if I was alright or if I needed some help. I gave up! I have resigned myself to thinking that if God wants me to do something he will let me know some other way.

On Tuesday I noticed that one of my tyres on my car looked very soft so I drove off to the garage to check all my tyres. Two days later the warning light was showing again indicating I still had a problem. This now involved a trip to the local tyre garage. I always feel out of my comfort zone in these places as generally speakingI have no idea what Im talking about. The first thing I was asked was where was my locking wheel nut. I wasnt sure whether this was a joke, a bit like the apprentice bricklayer who is sent to the builders merchant to buy sky hooks! Yes that really does happen. Anyway it appears I am supposed to have one of these nuts but a futile search of the car proved that I hadnt

And without it they were unable to change the tyre. This resulted in a visit to the garage where my car is serviced and after another search of the car they agreed that they must have lost it. I arranged a second visit to give them time to get another nut and at the agreed time arrived for the work to be done. I was given a curtesy car to use for the day as the work involved breaking the nuts on all four wheels and replacing them with new ones. On returning I was told the work and what turned out to be a slow puncture had been repaired free of charge. I am so glad I didnt go in with all guns blazing! They apologised, did the work without charge and gave me a brand new car to use while I waited. Its probably the most excitement I’ve had since the lockdown.

I have had visits from friends this week. Roger and Gaynor had a socially distanced coffee at the front door. Two other friends visited separately and I had coffee with one and lunch with the other. How conversations have changed. No longer are we describing lunches out, theatre visits or recently taken holidays. Now it is all about whether we have managed to get a shopping delivery or had a video call with other friends and family. It was lovely to see them all in almost normal circumstances. It did however make the house feel very empty when they had gone and I had to tell myself sternly, how lucky I am to have friends who have taken the time to see me. When I think of the millions in the world who dont have fresh water or soap to wash their hands I realise I am not only lucky but also very blessed!

Tears and technology

I dropped Lindsey off at the station with her many bags and I was allowed to go down to the platform with her. There were no other people on the platform which made it seem very surreal. Very few people were on the train and accommodating her baggage was easy. At the other end she was picked up by a very kind taxi driver who helped to carry her luggage to the door of her flat where she was met and assisted by her new flat mates. I’m not ashamed to admit that there were more than a few tears as the train pulled away from Crewe but then I remembered Gaynor telling me that when she left for university, she had a trunk and the promise of letters as nobody had their own phone and I realised how lucky we are now to be able to keep in touch in so many ways and able to see each other on video calls too.

There were tears of laughter when I saw what Lindsey had done to Daves dog (see photo). As you can see Wellie sat through it all with his usual good grace. He is such a beautiful dog and I defy anyone to be sad in his presence.

pretty dog

Online shopping is the norm for most people now and I am grateful for the technology which allows us to purchase the items we need while staying safe in our homes. When parcels arrive I always thank the people delivering and their reply is almost always that they are grateful to be kept in a job.

I know that many people have been binge watching box sets and I too have enjoyed watching a whole season of a TV series. However, is it only me who reverts back to watching old favourites such as Morse,Endeavour and Midsommer Murders? I find that there is such comfort in seeing these old friends previously watched when the world wasn’t quite so chaotic. Again, what would we do without this technology?

An important part of my week is watching and taking part in the lovely, thoughtful church services lead by Rachael. I love the ‘action’ songs and again it is impossible not to feel better when Rachael puts so much enthusiasm into the routines! I would love to be a fly on the wall ,when,in the future, these services are watched by her grandchildren!

Now the weather is colder and it’s not so pleasant working outside, the technology which allows me to work at home is proving invaluable. My days are still going really quickly now that I can carry on doing my job and the house doesn’t feel as empty when I can message the people at work and still feel part of a team.

As the weeks go by it is difficult to imagine that life will ever be normal but part of the wonderful technology we have also means that we have access to the daily updates on the terrible loss of life in such a short time. Each life lost means that there is a family grieving and I am praying to God that he will give comfort to all those who are feeling bewildered and bereaved.

My prayers this week are also for you, that you and your families stay safe and well and hope that we can all be together again soon.


All Change!

As you are probably aware Dave and Lucy’s wedding was postponed and they have provisionally rearranged it for October. They dealt with the news incredibly well and on the actual day we sneaked a visit to them and sat socially distanced in their garden. They had champagne, and flowers arrived from their chief bridesmaid, and the Crossfit club they belong to set a wedding quiz in the evening. They had also arranged for a video message of support, from an international Crossfitter to be sent to them. It’s good to know that they have such incredible friends!

Last week Lindsey came home to start her induction with the charity she is going to work for. This week it has been decided that all new trainees should work at their allocated shelters so we have spent the last few days packing up her belongings. She only found a place to live on Friday and she had to make the decision after doing a virtual walk round of the flat and a video call with her proposed flat mates! Not what we envisaged when she made the decision to work in London. I had thought I would be able to visit regularly and looked forward to exploring London with her. Instead I have no idea when I will see her again or what restrictions will be placed on any time we have together! Originally I was going to drive down with her stuff but now she is travelling alone by train hauling a large and small suitcase, a rucksack and a holdall!  What should have been a pleasure to see her doing a job she really wants to do is tinged with sadness that we are probably faced with months of being apart.

There are so many calls in the media for help in supporting charities who are unable to fund raise so in the last few days I have looked closely at my finances to see if I can help at all. My first thought is that I should try and help my own church. I gain so much from being part of this church community. I have received friendship from so many of you, spiritual guidance whenever it’s needed not to mention the many social events which have helped to fill the days with pleasure.  I’m not spending money on going out for coffee or lunch and not spending money on petrol so I am easily able to give something extra even if only for a short period to help fill the shortfall in a bid to keep our church solvent and ready for our return!

 My hair obviously doesn’t realise that there is a lockdown! It continues to grow at an alarming rate so this week I gave in and chopped my fringe and bits at the back in a bid to not be mistaken for an entry in the Wybunbury scarecrow competition! I’m not sure that I have been entirely successful!

The garden too is changing!  Gone are the daffodils and tulips and in their place the more vibrant azaleas and rhododendrons and the smiling pansies are showing us the way forward! The colours are getting stronger urging us to remain hopeful and quietly anticipate a more normal future.

I have felt during the last few weeks that we are on hold! Our lives standing still while so many brave and wonderful people fight this awful illness on our behalf! I now realise that the world keeps turning albeit in a gentler way and we must embrace all those changes which are happening. We may not always like them but good or bad God is with us every step of the way and with his help we can face anything!

Can you hear the bells ringing?

Across the parish bells are being knitted and crocheted and now we have the tingling bells to go inside – let us know if you need them and we’ll arrange safe, contact free delivery to you.

Please let us know how you are getting on so that we can keep a running total. Margaret Hodgkinson has transformed this:

into this:

creating, more than 50 bells:

Reading, writing and …….gardening!!

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

This week my daughter Lindsey came home! She has been living with my son and his fiancée to try and protect me but she has now been offered a job in London and to to begin with, will be doing her training from home. As Dave and Lucy are also working from home they are limited for suitable space for her to work so as she has been self isolating, we decided it was worth the risk for her to come home. Its been lovely for me, having someone to talk to, and not at the end of the phone! I am so pleased that she has a job but have many concerns as she is going to be working for a charity, looking after the homeless, in London. However, I am so proud of her because I really believe she will be doing something very worthwhile.

I am now working from home too! A laptop has been delivered and I am just doing a couple of hours a day. Suddenly I find I have quite a lot of structure to my days!  Mornings are spent catching up with friends and family, and a work session in the afternoon, when its been too warm outside. As the weather is still so good I am doing very few household chores, just the bare necessity, choosing to spend my time outside in the garden. I’m not always working though. I’ve read a considerable number of books in the last four weeks which has been an absolute pleasure for me. I still find that doing some kind of chore then rewarding myself with a period of reading is the only way I can get anything done, otherwise I would remain completely lost in the world of fiction. We are very blessed to have such wonderful writers in the world who are able capture our attention and take us away from the difficult challenges we all face.

My crafting skills amount to covering shoe boxes with Christmas paper ready for our appeal later in the year but I must say I am tempted to have a go at a Christmas bell that Margaret H has put on the web site! Bearing in mind I still have knitting on the go from about ten years ago and can’t crochet, this will be a major achievement, but they are so pretty and are such a symbol of joy and hope for the future that I feel I must at least try!! So is there anyone out there who knows of a simple ‘learn to crochet in five easy steps’ video please let me know. Also going back to the shoe boxes (with removal lids), this is an ideal time for me to ‘get covering’ so all of you who have been tidying wardrobes and are throwing out boxes please let me know and I’ll try and collect.

This week I have been thinking so much about the small businesses in our area which have given me so much pleasure in the past. The specialist gift shops where a last minute present is always available and the coffee shops where I have had such lovely times with friends. As soon as we are allowed, it is my intention to shop locally wherever possible and to definitely buy British. I am going to do my little bit to boost our economy and ensure a future for my children.

The highlight of my week is spending time watching and listening to the online service. Some of my friends who don’t have this facility at their own church are joining in and I feel really close to you all at these times. I particularly enjoy the zoom coffee after the service and it is so good to be able to see your faces and I pray that it won’t be too long before we can meet ‘for real.’

Smelling the coffee

I’m still staying in and away from the supermarket, spending as much time as I can outdoors, taking advantage of the glorious weather. A new toy has arrived via post, and I’m now the proud owner of a pair of cordless hedge cutters! The first time I used them I pruned everything I could see that was slightly overgrown! The following morning I could barely pick up my arms they were so stiff but in compensation there is much more daylight in my kitchen after reducing the height of the ivy growing nearby! There is a lot to be said for everything in moderation!

Spending so much time in the garden has been the perfect opportunity to use an app on my ipad which allows me to point the pad at any passing aeroplane and it will tell me the type of plane and where the plane has come from and where it’s going. It also tells me how far away it is. I’ve been having competitions with myself guessing the distance and country of origin. Sad, I know, but it keeps me good!!

I hadn’t realised how boring my food shopping habits have been! Anybody who knows me will say that shopping is my least favourite chore so having someone else to do it for me has been a blessing! When I shop I tend to put the same kind of cheese, bread, grapes and other items in my trolley every time. Now, because someone else is shopping, and not all of the products I use have been available, I have tried several different products all of which have been delicious! I have made a note to myself that when this period is finished I will make more effort to look around and try new things, and I will do this in other areas of my life and not just food choices!

Years ago I read a very short book called The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson,  which made a very big impression on me and I still read it occasionally as a reminder to slow down and smell the coffee!! These days of marking time are allowing us to make the most of the time now! We are no longer wondering how to fit in all the things we have to do next week. Nor are we looking back, feeling guilty about jobs that weren’t finished or the calls we didn’t make. Instead the weather is dictating whether we are in the garden or exercising and the hours of isolation are allowing us to spend time on the phone talking to people, checking on their welfare and not just asking the cursory question of ‘are you OK?’ when you don’t really want an honest answer! Now people passing are happy to chat, obviously at the required distance, as nobody is in a rush to be anywhere. Isn’t it great!