Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Devon, Part 1

Sunday morning we drove to church in Cheltenham. We missed the first hour but were there in time for Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting. Afterwards we were talking with one of the leaders and he suggested we go to Gadfield Elm. We had a couple of sites in Wales on the agenda for that afternoon but decided that we couldn't miss the only LDS church history site outside of the United States so we adjusted our schedule accordingly.

Gadfield Elm Chapel
As we were driving Mom told us a little about when her family moved to England in the 60s and my Grandpa Carter had to drive all over the country to different church building sites that he was supervising. She talked about how difficult the driving was for him and how he would come home after a day of work exhausted. He didn't have things like GPS or Google Maps to help him. He just had to rely on a regular road map and lots of prayer. She said she thought he must be tickled by all the things we were doing and seeing and that she was sure he was proud of me for being brave and driving. That meant a lot. I always felt close to my grandpa and I have missed him ever since he passed away my freshman year of college. We hadn't been there a week yet so the driving was still pretty nerve-wracking and it made me emotional to think that our ancestors might be watching over us, protecting us and delighting in our adventure.

The sat-nav worked it's magic and we got to Gadfield Elm without too much trouble--just one wrong turn down a little narrow road that I had to back out of because there were fields on either side and no way to turn around. There was a missionary couple at the site that was thrilled to welcome us. They told us all about the history of the place and how it came to be restored and officially designated as a church historical site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Read about it here. The entry isn't long but it is quite a remarkable history. If you have ever seen the movie "17 Miracles" (it's on Netflix) several of the miracle stories were experiences of members from the Gadfield Elm congregation. There was such a good feeling at that place. We were so glad we had the opportunity to visit.

We had a long drive to Devon ahead of us so we ended up having to cut Wales from the trip but we all felt good about the way we spent our Sabbath. Most of the drive to Devon was on major motorways. We stopped for a late lunch of Cornish pasties (one of my new favorite foods) and apples  and crisps and got some Krispy Kreme donuts for the car ride (they taste the same there as they do here--delicious!) at a service area then carried on our way.

Our plan for Devon was to stay in the town of North Molton at a bed and breakfast called Sannacott where my great great grandmother had been a servant as a girl. It is right on the southern edge of Exmoor National Forest. North Molton had some steep hills and narrow roads but we weren't prepared for driving through the hedges once we turned off the main road through town.

The road to North Molton.
Anne showing how wide the road was.
 The roads were only wide enough for one car and closed in by hedges. The hedges were planted on top of stone walls so some were rather tall. Occasionally there would be a wider spot in the road in case a car was coming the other way. Who ever was closest to the wide spot would have to back up to let the other car pass. You know what it's like to drive through construction when there are those orange barrels on one side and no shoulder on the other? I hate that. It always makes me feel claustrophobic. At first this was about a bajillion times worse than that. The roads were paved but I topped out my speed at around 10.7 miles an hour. We stayed in Devon for three days. By the last day I decided that I quite liked the hedges and they made me feel safe, not suffocated. I still didn't drive very fast though.
Sannacott was a beautiful place and our hostess was a lovely woman named Clare. She was so accommodating and made us feel at home immediately. She offered us each our own rooms but Anne and I decided to room together. We loved looking around the place and imaging what it would have been like when Grandma Blake was a girl.

View of Devon from the moor.

Other than the skittles tournament in the other room we had the whole pub to ourselves.
I had a steak and cheddar burger with real cheddar from Cheddar. I had high hopes
but it was really dry and one of the most unfortunate food choices I made the whole trip.
Mom and Clare had whitebait, Anne had a lamb and mint burger.
I think Clare understood how daunting the hedges could be at first because she offered to drive us to a pub for dinner after we had a chance to settle in. Before dinner she drove us up to the moor for an amazing view of the countryside and then to a traditional English pub called The Sportsman.

There was a skittles (like bowling) tournament going on at the pub so all through dinner whenever some one played well we could hear people in the other room cheering and chanting. At first we couldn't make out what they were saying but we eventually puzzled it out:
Oggy, oggy, oggy
Oi, oi,oi
Whoooooose afraid of the big bad wolf
The big bad wolf, the big bad wolf.

I decided to be brave and go and see what was going on so I ventured to the other room to have a peek and met a friendly older gentleman. When he learned that I was "on holiday" from the states he was quite interested and he explained the game a little and told me about their team's best player, Mike. I think Mike's team must have won, because that older man was sitting at a table having a pint and looking quite happy as he waved goodbye to us on our way out.

I wanted to stay up late and see the stars--Exmoor was Europe's first dark sky preserve--but it was overcast and we were exhausted. At 10:30 it still wasn't completely dark so we decided to try again the next day.

To Be Continued. . .

1 comment:

Tanya said...

I seriously love this post! What a beautiful little chapel and I love the connection to your ancestors. You made me sniffly! I do that too and wonder what they think when I visit their hometowns. :)
The Skittles cheer cracks me up. And, you avoid driving in Utah, don't you? :)