les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wedding garments

So for Gwilym's wedding Pat has a lovely pink dress with a kind of gauzy overdress with pink flowers. We modified it by removing a ribbon-belt which only served to slice her in half and it's now classy and just her colour.

Catrin is a bridesmaid so she'll be in a silver-grey skirt with a lacy bordeaux top. It all looks very nice.

For me it's modified american academic dress. I have a swanky grey blazer I got cheap from H&M teamed with blue trousers for the Thursday registry office wedding - I'll wear my wild jungle pattern Desigual shirt and a plain tie. Then for the Friday when I have to preach, mid-grey trousers, a white shirt and a floral tie.

Catrin says we'll all look very fancy!

Glad that's over!

Well the last audition was last night. The choir rehearses not far from Château Haut-Brion in Pessac and I was pleased to find that the number 11 bus gets me within about 1/2 mile. There were four of us being auditioned. A young soprano sang beautifully but was not very hopeful because they need guys, not gals. She got in anyway. I thought she would. Then me. Then two proper basses. After we'd all voiced our vocalises and pounded out our pieces we trooped downstairs to where the choir was amassing for the rehearsal. They start at 8:30, in the same way that church with us starts at 4:30... agreed and institutionalised tardiness.

After the rehearsal - sacred music by Fauré, most of which I'd never heard before, the choir director came up and said "pour moi c'est bon" then awaited my reponse. It was positive. I like the choir, I like his style, I like the discipline, I like the sound they make and I like the fact that they take a break for a sneaky drink and biscuit.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The search for a choir

On Tuesday I had my first audition, for Polifonia / Ensemble Vocal d'Aquitaine. I went out to Ambares for a sectonal rehearsal of basses and altos and we sang through pieces by Lili Boulanger and by Saint Saens. The couple who run the choir were very likeable and the rehearsal seemed to go well. The choir rehearses in the conservatoire, which is very near here, and it sometimes works with the chorus-master of the Opéra de Bordeaux, but I did look alarmingly young among my fellow-basses.

Next audition this evening, with a different group.

Brief intermission

We've had someone staying with us for a couple of nights. We can do this now that we have a (rather nasty) sofa bed in my study. I say the sofa bed is rather nasty because the design of it makes it astonishingly uncomfortable to sit on unless you curl your legs up onto the seat. Essentially the seat is too deep. Nobody has legs that long. We'll solve the problem by getting good firm pillows and good strong pillowcases and using them as cushions to reduce the depth.

When unfolded it makes a reasonably comfortable bed. We explain that our goal is to have something that is comfortable for short stays!

Of course, the drawback of this is that when folk are staying I end up just like in the bad old days before the move, wandering from table to table, looking for somewhere to park my laptop and work.

But it's still good to have visitors.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Friday, September 07, 2018


At the moment we get about three or four requests for help with accommodation each week, usually from students from the UK, the USA or France who have not managed to find a student room or flat and who hope that we can find a family they can stay with.

We can't, but we do give what advice or help we can.

Yesterday's call was special. The caller was a French woman.

"I have a family here from Albania, they have no shelter and since you are a pastor I thought you'd have some help to propose or some ideas..."

I suggested the emergency number 115 and the woman said she'd phone back.

When she phoned back we talked a little, 115 had been unable to help, and so I talked about the Diaconat de Bordeaux, the protestant support services in the centre of the city. It turned out that the woman was from another association next door to the diaconat, la Cimade, which works to support immigrants legally.

I thought, "they are phoning me for help 'since I am a pastor'!"

"But why have they come from Albania to France?" I asked. "Albania isn't at war, it isn't communist any longer, it's a candidate for the EU, what's their problem?"

"I don't know, they must have big problems to have come to seek asylum in France."

Yellow alert for storms

One of the nice things about being on the fourth floor is that we get a lot of sky, and so far this year that has meant a lot of blue skies. The sunrise is pale blue shot through with gold silk. The evening is indigo. But yesterday was grey all day.

I had a few errands to run. First a visit to the quackeroo who declared herself content. Then to the post office and to the bank. Google maps said the nearest branch of our bank was at Terre Neuves at Bègles, so I hopped on the tram, found the post office easily, but of the bank found I never a trace. Quick moment of cogitation. I knew the bus 11 would take me to Victoire and I knew there was a branch there, and bus 11 was due in two minutes. The decision was an easy one to take.

As bus 11 neared the railway station the heavens opened and the fountains of the firmament were poured on surprised scene. The rain cascaded from the sky quicker than it could drain away and within seconds the passing cars were leaving sizeable wakes. Nobody had a coat or an umbrella.

The bus braved the waves up Cours de la Marne as the massive raindrops lashed the windows. I was apprehensive about getting off, frankly, but at Victoire, just 500 meters further, the pavements were dry. I deposited my cheque, not without some fuss because every branch has a different procedure, no pens in the booths and insufficient machines, then took the same bus 11 home.

The monsoon hit us again at the station, but I could see our buildings beyond and all was dry. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Finding a choir

We both sang with Arianna, a Pessac-based choir that meets in the music school at Alouette. There's a BIG PROJECT on at the moment, a performance for the Requiem for Rossini, a massive romantic piece for huge choir, enormous baritone and colossal orchestra, composed by a gargantuan committee of romantic italian composers, with predictably melodramatic results. The performace is in October, I think, so I'll stay for that.

However the regular rehearsals are 20:30 to 22:40 on Wednesday evenings, and even when we lived in Pessac that was just a little late.

So I'm hunting for something in town, aided and advised by the conductor of Arianna. He actually proposed that I might consider joining his chamber choir that specialises in newly composed music. I was very flattered! They say that the choir is open to "musicians". However although I'd love to do that it would never work, their rehearsals are on Sunday evenings at 19:30 at Blanquefort, way out of Bordeaux. "There's a tram", he said helpfully...

So we'll see. I have an audition for one choir in mid September, and I'm awaiting replies from two others.

Pat, meanwhile, is not looking just now. Pity.


On Sunday night we were woken by a rather strange engine noise from outside. It didn't subside, so eventually we got up to see three cars doing fast circiles and handbrake turns in the lovely dust of the building site below our balcony.

Up and down the building people were looking out and children were being pacified.

After a couple of minutes of such high jinks, our aspiring rally drivers drove off at suitable high speed.

We were concerned that this might become a regular event, but last night was calm!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Silent noon, from the House of Life, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake and a woodland somewhere

On a different and possibly discordant note there's a Peruvian pan-pipe group that plays in the city centre and I'm sure that yesterday I heard them playing Jerusalem.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


the attentive reader - is there another kind? - will notice that I make very little comment on our glorious nation's political "life"

Stürm und Drang

there was no damage but we all gathered on our balconies to watch things blow by.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It's 9pm and the storm has hit

we have brought in the balcony furniture and closed the shutters, there's lots of dirt and general stuff flying round.

Orange storm alert

We're on orange alert for a storm today that will end the 36°C temperatures and plunge us to an autumnal 26°. They forecast high winds and hail for 3pm, so the parks in Bordeaux were closed, as well as one of the libraries. Since then the storm has been delayed progressively. Now it's scheduled for 9pm, but I'm starting to think it's one of these damp squibs we sometimes get that don't go off at all.

Meantime we turned the balcony table upside down and stacked the chairs on the lee of the windward wall where they're least likely to be plucked up by the wind and dashed to the ground so far below.

While we were away there has been little addition to the height of the tower

but it's good to be back and to see our big skies again!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We have just returned from holidays

We started in Bath, including a visit to Wells, then spent a little time in Cardiff, with a day at the Eisteddfod, then on to our Mission's conference near Leicester, then a weekend in Edinburgh.

Travel all worked out fine, by aeroplane, by train, by coach and by car, we saw some family and some friends, and also got to explore two cities for the first time: Wells and Edinburgh.

Here come some photographs, all via Instagram:

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Wow! And I just decided to preach through Titus in September.

Read here.

Life in the gloom

Shutters are down.
Windows are closed.
Lights are on.
We're hiding from the heat.

Friday, August 03, 2018

The sectional tower

This is the 9th floor going on. After this concrete sectional base there will be a glass area, then the rest of the tower in wood.

It's fascinating to see them build this.

Cigales (cicadas)

In 2004 we visited Aix-en-Provence in August. It was hot. Very hot.

One thing I remember was the constant chirping of the cicadas. It seemed to me that they sang all day and all night.

In 2005 we moved to Bordeaux. A couple years ago we visited some town about 50 miles south of Bordeaux in the summer and heard cicadas. We never used to hear them in Bordeaux. It wasn't hot enough.

Then last summer we heard them for the first time in a nearby tree from time to time.

This year we hear them in the trees just across the building site from our flat.

It's surely not a good sign, but I like to hear them nonetheless.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Jacob van Eyck: Courant, of Harte diefje waerom zoo stil

Capucins et Canicules

Today we are on orange alert for canicule. A heatwave (vague de chaleur) is as vague as its name implies. It just means it's hot. A canicule, however, is much more serious, implying that the temperature at night doesn't fall below around 20°C. The problem is that if the nights are cool your body can get some refreshment while you sleep. Also the walls of your home can radiate heat to the outside air, allowing the building itself to cool down. If the nights are too hot then the heat just continues to build up and the daytime heat has a greater effect on your health.

It is estimated that in 2003 during the extreme canicule it is estimated that between 14000 and 20000 people died of the effects in France alone.

Obviously it is important to drink lots of water. Also shopping centres and our local library are air-conditioned, so you can always nip out to get cooled off!

On a happier note, after 13 years living in Bordeaux at last we visited the Marché des Capucins, Bordeaux' most important covered market. Here's a picture of some plates of seafood, looking almost good enough to eat.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

I found this helpful on the subject of burnout

Gospel Coalition Podcast here

Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

Listening to this takes me straight back to Cardiff in the 1980s when there were series of chamber music concerts in the Reardon Smith lecture theatre attached to the National Museum.

Once I bought a ticket for a flute and piano recital. I was very excited because the programme included the Prokofiev Sonata and I was going to see and hear it live. On the evening I managed to park right by the theatre and I sat in the car waiting for the doors to open. They didn't. Eventually I went and found a notice sellotaped to the door saying the concert had been cancelled and the tickets would be refunded where bought.

After the refund I asked why the concert had been cancelled.
"Not enough tickets sold."
"Really? Do you know how many were sold, then?"
"Just yours."

In the Reardon Smith I heard Brandenburg No. 5 live. The (famous) harpsichordist got lost in the middle of the cadenza but carried on playing, making it up until he got back on track. We were all very impressed.

I heard these Symphonic Dances played by Richard McMahon and Martin Jones Piano (we used to reckon that that was his full name, we saw it in print so often). They played a bit more fluidly than these two fellows, and I remember being fascinated as the two men watched each other and passed the lead to and fro during the ravishing slow melodies.

Rachmaninov can really get the tears flowing.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Well that's not entirely bad news, what.

We received two emails yesterday. The first was our tax report. The second was our final water bill. The tax man owes us 156€, refunding us all the tax we had paid this year. The water company owes us 12€. Jolly good.

Here is the moon seen from our balcony on Thursday evening

Last night the sky was completely cloud-covered. We didn't catch any glimpse at all of the moon during the eclipse.

Oh well, at least I didn't rush out and buy that long-zoom camera. If I had done I would have been so disappointed.