Hunters Lodge Inn is the classic English country inn, warm friendly staff, great food, and a vine-covered setting to make anyone a tea lover and gush with, "Splendid, simply splendid, old chap."
We've named the sat nav "Francis" and though she occasionally tells me in her rather English school-marmish voice to turn when in fact I am not supposed to turn, she has been a great addition to the tour (and she costs nothing in food).
Broadhembury where Toplady ministered in Devon is one of the most charming English villages you could want to visit, thatched cottages and a beautiful 15th century church(glider planes soaring above in the blue sky and billowing white clouds). We read from my new biography of him, discussed his four guidelines for good preaching (some of his wisest words) and sang Rock of Ages, Margaret playing skillfully on the piano. Though duly warned by a relative of Margaret's, I did in fact flip over backwards on the rail, feet in the air, to date, not one of my more dignified moments. We met a Christian English couple and their niece from Canada and enjoyed some good fellowship with them.
Next we visited Harpford one of Toplady's earliest pulpits in a tiny hamlet with an early 13th century gem of gothic architecture. We read about some of his early fears in ministry and preaching. These were lovely though insignificant backwater places, many lessons in that.
Off to Brixham where Henry Lyte wrote Abode with me, Praise my soul the King of heaven, and where he preached at All Saints and started a Sunday School outreach in the community that grew to 800 children hearing the gospel of Jesus in this coastal fishing village.
A word about driving in Britain: the roads are narrower than you've heard, they drive faster than you've heard, and the streets in Brixham require mountaineering equipment and an able belayer. Seriously, I have never driven on more treacherous streets than here. We read from Mr Pipes and sang Abide with me where Lyte penned it (after I resuscitated the tour members who fainted dead away from sheer terror at my driving on the English roads).
They came up with an ingenious way of getting me to stop for necessary breaks: keep handing me water bottles while I'm driving. It worked. Exeter for a leisure dinner and restful hotel in the centre ville.
More pictures tomorrow, technical difficulties (where is shmalec when I need him!)