Jeanne had this idea of doing encouragement visits. She thought that since we were going to be in England, it would be really fun and good ministry to drop by and visit some extended family members like Elizabeth (our daughter-in-law Noemi’s sister) in Brixham along the coast then spend the night in Plymouth with a visit to Jeremy (our son-in-law’s) grandmother in the little village of Beres Ferrers. Good idea and easy enough, I thought! We had missed a connection with Elizabeth because of time constraints, so we really wanted to make this second connection if we could.
After saying our goodbyes to Suzy and James, we drove off to Plymouth where we found a nice little Bed and Breakfast, “Mia Casa” which is located only blocks from The Barbican, a famous waterfront area from which the Mayflower sailed to America.
It was raining when we arrived in Plymouth, so we spent the evening mostly in our room. Invigorated, the next morning we were up and ready, and after Jeanne’s thrilling first encounter with “the full English breakfast,” we were out the door. After several hours of walking and taking in the quiet Monday streets, we loaded up and raced off for Bere Ferres, only what appeared to be a “hop, skip and a jump” away. Surprise! True, it may have been less than twenty-five miles away. But there was no simple and straight way to get there. I tried the most sensible route but wound up having to back track, go across a six pound round-trip bridge twice, drive across a hedged in, single road surrounded by hedges for ten miles, to wind up where I started three hours earlier. So I made a decision! I was going to go the long way around or give up on the idea completely.
After another thirty minutes of pretty sensible driving we saw the sign: “Bere Ferres.” What a relief! We were going to make it to Jeremy’s grandma’s house after all! Here is some advice. In all of England, there may be no such a thing as a “short cut.” It pays to go the hard way.
Arriving at around noon we were surprised to find this ninety-year-old gal not at home. We had met Betty on several occasions, so, especially after this investment of time, emotions and petrol, we were pretty intent on seeing her. Now in Bere Ferrers there are no addresses. You find where you are going by the name of the cottage. Once we had asked around and found it, we went on to the pub to wait for a while.
After a half an hour or so, I suggested that we just drive on. So Jeanne wrote a note of regret that we’d missed her and we drove by to put the note in her mailbox. But this time we saw a car in the driveway! Happily, we jumped out of the car, went to the door, and were warmly received by Betty and her sister, who also lives in Bere Ferres. Once inside, we enjoyed a good visit over a cup of tea in her cheery little house. It was definitely worth the anxiety to get there.