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)

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

She got mention Bien, with an average of 72%

85% in Chinese.
90% in Music.

Graduation tomorrow at Lycée François Magendie.

Next stop, the Fac.

A big day in the Davey household

Catrin gets her bac results.

It doesn't quite have the stress-factor of results day in the UK because to get into university all you need is to pass, and she's pretty sure to have passed.

but still... it's good to have a mention (assez bien, bien, très bien) and if you get très bien, which means an 80% average or more, then the region will give you a small scholarship.

Catrin has done a very difficult bac - for example she did French (of course), English (of course); Spanish and Chinese. She also added in the music option.

Whatever her result, it would be hard to be more proud of her than we already are.

On another different note, today is the day that after 9 years of active participation in the UNEPREF I have asked for my name to be removed from the list of pasteurs associés. We don't work in UNEPREF circles any more, we aren't members of a UNEPREF church any more and I think it's unlikely we'll ever return to the denomination.

Not only that, but I have three pastors' conference to attend this All Saints' Holiday, and I have to simplify things.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The good news - and the bad news

The good news

I saw the lawyer lady and she explained stuff and answered my questions and it turns out things are not quite so complicated as I thought. Good. Gwilym can stay attached to our family for financial purposes, which means he counts against our tax etc... but because he lives in London we don't have to pay council tax for him.

The bad news

While I was out Patricia was cleaning up the patio ready for the arrival of the ladies for lunch, and the handle of the broom broke and gouged her finger. Harriette came racing to the rescue and took her to the local hospital's hand unit where they are currently operating to see what the damage is and what needs to be done, if anything.

Much later - the latest news

Pat just got home.

They made her shower in betadine and prepared her for surgery.
She got a telling-off from a nurse because she had eaten while waiting at the hospital.
They took her into the operating theatre and made her lie on the operating table.
Everyone was scrubbed-up, gowned and masked.
Then the doctor came in, looked at her finger, numbed it and put in seven stitches.


She's home and lying down and feeling fine but a bit tired out from all the hoo-ha!

Off to get legal advice about house sale and finances for the coming ten years

Now that we have two adult children studying at the university, and now that we propose to sell our house and rent a small flat and now that Catrin also has a project of living independently of us while at university we need help and advice on how we could conceivably achieve this.

So I'm off to see a lawyer recommended by a friend.

Lawyers in France are still in the ancien régime, before the revolution, so I have to address her as oui maître, non maître, trois poches pleines maitre.

I'll practice on the bus.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

When you only listen with half an ear...

"...et Cécilia Bartoly qui, dans ce rôle, est étourdissante, ainsi que..."

Me to Catrin, "doesn't that mean deafening?"

Catrin, eyes gazing upward, "no, that's assourdissante"

Me to Catrin, "oh yeah..."


Why I preach from a Mindmap

The excellent folks at 9 Marks have sparked a little discussion about preaching from manuscripts or from notes.

Jason Dees, writing in the 9Marks Journal on page 34, here, says we must manuscript our sermons because we are not as smart as we think we are.

His good friend, Doctor David Prince, writing here, says that we must NOT manuscript our sermons because we are not as smart as we think we are.

I long since gave up all hope of ever being "smart" in any sense whatsoever, and I note that Doctor David Prince has a doctorate, so perhaps this is a moment where the smart man holds his tongue, caps his pen and twiddles his fingers.

But hey...

I preach from a Mind-map. I've now done it for probably almost 20 years. Firstly I'll tell you how this came about, then I'll tell you what I think the advantages are.

How ever did you think of preaching from Mind-maps?

Well it all came about on a British Telecom Management Training Course way back in the 1980s, when everything tasted better and Britain went to work on an egg. During this training course a jolly afternoon was spent teaching us to draw Mind-maps, a technique popularised by Tony Buzan.

"MindMapGuidlines" by Nicoguaro - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MindMapGuidlines.svg#/media/File:MindMapGuidlines.svg
This Mind-map is taken from Wikipedia.

I immediately liked the way that quite complex information can be expressed on one sheet of paper, and then used as an aid to recall. I also liked the way that you are almost forced to organise your thoughts logically and in a structured way.

When I first served in pastoral ministry my sermon prep took this kind of route:

1) Tuesday - read the passages for the week and, if possible, print them out for carrying with you.

2) Later in the week, look at interlinears, lexicons, commentaries and whatever aids I could. Remember that we did not have fast internet in those days. It was books!

3) Work out my main point and my structure by producing a Mind-map. My main point should be a sentence with the main verb in the imperative - Depend Consciously On God's Holy Spirit, for example.

4) As late as I possibly could, type up my manuscript with the Mind-map propped between my keyboard and the computer screen.

I did this for some years, discarding the Mind-map after it had done its work of clarifying and structuring my thought...

The one day I thought "I type up my preaching manuscript from this Mind-map, and I type as fast as I possibly can, and it takes me three hours to type it. Then when I preach I try not to look at it. How sensible is this?"

The answer that came to my mind was, "Not very sensible at all!" so I decided to try cutting out the three hours of typing and to preach from my Mind-map.

I told close, trusted friends what I planned to do and asked them to tell me if my preaching got noticeably worse, noticeably better, or if there was really no discernible difference.

The replies were that there was a slight improvement, mainly because there was much more eye-contact.

So I stuck with Mind-maps and now I very rarely use a manuscript.

My Mind-maps are hardly worthy of the name. I use very few symbols - just big ticks and crosses for things that are right and wrong. I use colours just to mark out different sections and I hardly ever draw anything. But I do avoid sentences and long phrases. Just one word or short expressions that are easily read at a glance.

What are the advantages?

For me one advantage became obvious pretty early on, when I led some Bible studies in Welsh. I didn't have to bother about typing in Welsh or even trying to produce a Mind-map in Welsh. I could fairly easily speak in Welsh from a Mind-map in English. There's very few words, you see. Hardly any translation is involved.

Another advantage is that my Mind-map is usually on one piece of A4 paper sideways. That means that I can see my sermon at a glance. All of it. No turning the page. No getting things out of order. No dropping your notes and ending up in a terrible mess. Just one sheet. You can fold it in four and put it in your shirt pocket, then whip it out and off you go.

Another advantage is that as you go round clockwise it has a fairly obvious relationship with time. You can see how far you've got and how far you have to go. And this enables you to speed up and slow down. You can skip a whole section if you need to with no fear of losing your place.

The last advantage is that the Mind-map encourages you to use simple oral language. Because you just have a memory jogger and from that ... you speak.

In April I had to speak at the Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference. I had a subject that did not excite me, but that I felt needed to be addressed and addressed seriously.

The Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference is perhaps the most august body I have ever addressed. I know that the local church has a dignity and worth to which no ministers' conference can ever attain, but for me to address all these learned, experienced, serious men was fearsome.

I was helped by the fact that the worst sermon I have ever heard was at a Banner Conference. But this did not completely dispel the overwhelming sense of occasion.  I contemplated writing out a manuscript. I started writing out a manuscript.

Then I decided that a situation of pressure is exactly the moment NOT to change your usual habit, so a Mind-map it was. Here's one from a couple of years ago that breaks my rules!







Planning together ... and being together?

I can't tell you wonderful it is, how exciting it is, how amazing it is, to sit together and plan.

We start with one idea, and discuss freely, and we finish together with something else, related to what we started with, but better, more cohesive, more realistic, more ... just more better!

Yes, I know it's normal, but it isn't always like that, is it...

One thing though.

I MIGHT be being just a little bit stubborn, and I MIGHT be giving some folk the wrong impression.

The question concerns a group in Bordeaux that some think should fuse with us at Bordeaux Church.
The idea of fusing the groups was mentioned perhaps two years ago. I was not against the idea, but I wasn't really for it either, because the other group has a clear, definite and quite strong identity that I think is worth keeping. Other ways of preserving that identity have been mooted, and it could be done.

Anyway the idea of fusing the groups has been mentioned again by a couple of people, and I just wonder if I am giving an impression of stubbornly saying no, because I don't want it...

Anyway, we hope to do something to create a forum to talk together between the two groups, to get to know each other, to build relationships and opportunities for communication.

Friday, July 03, 2015

This morning is the great wardrobe clear-out

If I have not worn it in the last year,
and it is not clothes for special occasions (jacket, etc.)
then out it goes.

A night at the Opera

To celebrate the end of Catrin's exams on Tuesday she and Pat went to see Far from the Madding Crowd, and last night she and I went to see Cecilia Bartoly in Rossini's Le Comte Ory at the same cinema.

Bus or tram?


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pessac, China - and beyond!

Yesterday we invited the internationals for a barbecue to say "see you soon" to the folks who are leaving now. It was a good time with perhaps ten folk present, and afterwards I reflected on how some years ago by Easter everything was pretty well over, whereas now things are reduced, but not over.

It was the same with the Chinese group where I met some of the new folk who have just arrived, including one chap from Jiling province, bordering North Korea. It's easy to find a church in my province, he said, everything is very open. I asked about North Korean refugees, and he said, "Of course, all the North Korean girls want to marry a Chinese guy." He didn't know how that would work or how it got set up, but he said, "and in North Korea they don't realise they are poor because the government controls everything. Everything."

Meanwhile the Commission des Ministers were meeting in the afternoon to finally decide whether Tim Mitchell can be admitted to the hallowed ranks of the UNEPREF pastors. As both their prior communications suggested a final negative response, Tim does not anticipate a positive outcome.

This morning I fly off to Geneva with some of the folk from Maison de la Bible for the big annual shindig in Geneva. We are supposed to take volleyball kit and boules, but I am uncertain whether Easyjet would really allow boules on the plane. So volleyball it will have to be, then. Bordeaux Church is in the capable hands of James.

Friday, June 26, 2015

"RE-inscription" for Catrin at the music school.

I had said, "I'm here for pre-inscription for Catrin for next year."

But no, it is RE-inscription when you've already studied at the music school.

"Oh yes", said the director, who had popped into the office on the way out for a quick cigarette, "sign her up quick, she sings well, Catrin."

Whatever. The effect is the same. I wrote the cheque and promised to scan and send my electric bill (justificatif de domicile - I forgot it to take it for some reason.)

Well, for two reasons. Firstly Catrin has been singing in the music school just round the corner from us for about four years now, and she walks there each time and so on...

Still, one's domicile has to be justified. And after all, we are intending to move house.

Secondly, it is so HOT that my brian has ceased to function.

Sorry. Nothing computes. The circuits have closed down because of over-heating.

But I still remembered to ask, "Alors, elle est dans quel cycle, finalement?"

We were deeply confused, because when she applied to the University she was given an attestation de niveau that said she was premier cycle, but after her music exam they gave her a diploma that said "Deuxième cycle", so what did that all mean?

Well, it meant that at exam time her teacher said "There's no point giving Mathilda and Catrin premier cycle exams. Their level is deuxième cycle."

So she did the deuxième cycle exam and rocked it awesomely.

Which means she is now in troisième cycle, and that is an entirely appropriate level for proceeding to the conservatoire next year.

Confused? Just wait. It will get even more baffling, I am sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rendezvous made

1) with a lawyer to talk about selling the house, renting or buying a house/flat, having grown-up children who are studying in France and the UK, property taxes and income taxes and stuff.

2) with a notaire to sort out selling the house.

John Edmonds is visiting us at the moment

Here he is with James at Quinconces.
I'm on the way to the Ivorian Consulate.

David Murray explains how to self-publish

here

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's here! It's here!

So yesterday morning found us up ladders, down ladders, climbing on worktops, finishing off the painting of the kitchen. Then, at 11:30, we set off for the inauguration of the tram to Pessac Alouette.

We took the 4 to Pessac Centre, then walked down the lovely wooded walkway to Bougnard. Some event tents had been set up and a little crowd was milling. A small jazz group played New Orleans style. A man was carrying a velvet cushion and a golden scissors. The press and the radio were there.

M. Raynal, the Maire of Pessac gave the first speech, followed by the Chairman of the Hospital Group of Haut-Leveque, then M. Juppé, Maire of Bordeaux, Chairman of Bordeaux Métropole, Future Candidate of the Républicains and Future Président of France.

After the speeches M. Juppé cut a ceremonial ribbon with the golden scissors, and cut pieces of ribbon for the little girl who served as scissor-bearer, then we surged into the waiting tram (which, incidentally, was not at a tram stop). A wooden ramp had been set up for wheelchair users.

The tram set off and took us, non-stop, to France-Alouette where some more event tents were waiting with fruit juices, fizzy water, delicious sandwiches and little wedges of tortilla española. The sandwiches had alarming colours - some were the colour of Oreo cookies and some were orange, but they were all very good indeed.

At my left was stood a man from Radio France. He caught my attention and interviewed me about the arrival of the tram. Then I spotted the Maire of Pessac, M. Raynal. I asked him if we could please have some Citiz cars posted here. He seems to be more in favour of Bluecub - little electric cars. Maybe they would do...

Later that afternoon we went for a celebration trip by air-conditioned tram into town and ate ice-cream in Macdonalds.

It's here!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ooh la la la la la la la dance.

So the Château's name was Augey and it was off a quiet road near Blasimon. It didn't appear on Google maps, but I found it on Apple maps and getting there seemed relatively straight-forward. You took the old Bergerac road and turned right at Rauzan, but not on the main Agen road, on the road before, the D123.

All went well till I got to Rauzan. But there was no signpost D123. No signpost to Augey No road. No nothing.

My phone's GPS is based on Google Maps, so it was no help. My printout from Apple maps omitted some new roads and a roundabout. The excellent automatic Golf that Nico loaned us while he went to America had no built-in satnav. But there was a group of folks eating outside a restaurant.

The guy looked at the address, at my directions, the print ... then pursed his lips. Then he said, with a sudden certainty that was strangely unreassuring, "You need to take the Blasimon road. The Chateau is on that road before you get to Blasimon. Yes. That's it"

It wasn't. I got to Blasimon. There had been no Chateau.

I stopped the NicoWagen and reflected. I had left Bordeaux at 1 for an hour-long journey to the Chateau, aiming to arrive at about 2. The wedding was actually at 3. It was now 2:30 and I was in the centre of Blasimon, not far from the Chateau but with no idea how to get there. Obviously, the best thing was to ring for directions.

I took out my phone. There was 25% charge but no mobile signal. Blasimon was enjoying its siesta. Nothing was open. Nothing except - a pharmacy.

"Hallo! Excuse me but I wonder if you can help me. I'm looking for this Chateau."

The woman pursed her lips. "Sorry, no idea. And the bar is closed. That's where the grandpas hang out. They would surely know."

"Oh dear. And my mobile phone has no signal"

"You have to stand in the middle of the square to get a signal here."

I went to the middle of the square and tried to summon up a suitable phone number... As I fussed I spotted a grandma sat in the shade by her front door.

"Hallo! Excuse me. I don't know if you can help me but I am looking for Chateau Augey, I am on my way to a wedding."

She reflected. "Chateau Augey. Chateau Augey. Oh yes! It's only about 3 or 4 km away. I know it. I'll call my son. He'll be able to give you directions."

Out came her son. It was now 14:40. "Chateau Augey?" He pursed his lips. "No idea!"

"Yes, you know it! It's the one that recently changed owners"

"Oh yes! oh, it's quite easy. You go down that little road, then at a certain crossroads you turn left just after Chateau Bel-Air, then through a hamlet called..."

"You'd better write it down for him"

He drew me a map and I set off through the winding hills of the Entre-Deux-Mers, past a hamlet so small they called it Petit.

I turned left just after Chateau Bel-Air. "After perhaps 500m it's on the left"

Ahead on the left was a copse. In front of the copse was a gate. At the side of the gate was a pillar. The pillar said "Augey".

I rolled up in style at 14:54. A group of Chinese watched me arrive with no sense of expectation, urgency or even interest. Further on another group of folk was hanging around with an aimless elegance that was perfectly embodied by the straw boater one of them was wearing. I parked the NicoWagen, changed into my special ceremonial shoes, tied my tie and put on my jacket. My surplice I left in the bag. I'd get it out if folk insisted. (They didn't.)

Nobody seemed in the least stressed. Over by a group of chairs JunYang, Ruru and some other folk were practicing the songs. Ruru asked about some awkward words in Amazing Grace. "Twas". "Bright shining".

Ah, here comes one who's stressed. Ruth, the Master of Ceremonies and Wedding Coordinator, who was charged with ensuring that everything went smoothly, hove into sight.

"Hi Ruth, sorry I'm late, I got hopelessly lost."

"Oh well everything's running about 30 minutes late anyway."

"Well it's in a lost corner of darkest France"

She nodded and scuttled off to solve another problem, while I enjoyed the blazing sunshine, drank fizzy water and chatted with some charming guests: Americans, French and Chinese.

...

Later that night I drove Ruth back to her hotel in Bordeaux. She had had a day of intense fire-fighting. In the end, despite the blatantly scorned timetable and the grave error of producing the apéros with the dessert ("we didn't know there were any") the day had been a wild success. The couple were handsome, elegant, charming and sweet. The gentlemen far outshone the ladies in elegance - there were enough bow-ties to stock a butterfly farm, a splendid example of a late Victorian waxed and curled moustache and one man from La Belle Epoque. Where he got his clothes from and how he pulled it off amazed me, but he did. The bride's father's speech had been delivered with exceptional rigour and energy in Mandarin, punctuated by beautiful bowing to the gathered assembly. In China they don't do speeches at weddings and he was determined to follow the western style, but turned it into something wholly other, beautiful and quite remarkable.

As I drove to the wedding, round and round, in ever decreasing circles, I vowed never to do another. It's time to encourage the younger guys here to do that, I think. But as I drove from the wedding I thought how much I love the life God has given me here. This crazy, bizarre life, full of linguistic minefields, errors of etiquette, multi-cultural fault-lines and ...

well, and charm.









Friday, June 19, 2015

Assemblée Générale de l'Association Maison de la Bible

We began with a committee meeting at 5:30. The Friday afternoon traffic meant that I was 1/2 hour late, and one of the first to arrive. (We HAVE to avoid using the rocade on Friday evenings in future.)

The committee meeting proceeded very happily, though, and we are very aware of God's blessing on the bookshop. There are a couple of very needy people whose visits are unhelpful - we can't give the specialised help they need so we all need to apply strict and consistent limits. But it's a small blemish on a happy and fruitful work.

Later followed the Assemblée Générale where all the volunteers came and again it was a happy time, all except for saying goodbye to our excellent First Président who, for some heinous crime as yet unidentified, is moving to Dunkirk. Gasp... I was introduced as the new président and Pat was told that now that makes her the Première Dame. I said "Il n'y aura pas de deuxième."

Then came the barbecue, ably cooked by all the men present - everyone has to poke, discuss, adjust or whatever.

Thankful for a happy and effective team.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

On the complications of garment repair

My best jacket I bought in a Next sale some years ago.
It's really nice. Dark navy-blue wool.
Very chic.
And it has a moth hole on the left sleeve just below the shoulder at the front.

I could really do with getting it repaired somehow.
I can imagine how one might do it, by snipping a small piece of fabric from a seam, for example, and sticking it behind with wonder-webbing, for example.

So this week I called into a shop that does garment repairs, recommended by my friend, Marcel.

Hallo, you do garment repairs.

Yes, let me see. Oh, it's a burn?

No, a moth, I think.

Ah, yes, but for that you don't need a repairer, you need a stoppeuse.

A stoppeuse?

Yes, a stoppeuse. Here's the card of one, but she's only open on Thursdays and Fridays.

I worked it out later - it's someone who will darn it. Oh well - I'll call there tomorrow.


A strike is announced!

Sunday is La Fête de la Musique, when France erupts into song.
I've talked about this before, but this year in Bordeaux there's a difference.

Several tram and bus unions have called for a strike.
If our buses and trams are affected then we won't be able to get into Bordeaux to church.
However the service can still go ahead whatever happens because James is due to preach!
Hurrah!

Blest

Well the girls managed to find somewhere to stay via someone they kinda knew who comes sometimes to church, and they came along to MB yesterday morning.

They were really nice and enjoyed a croissant with nutella before passing on their pictures.
I got a picture of a clothes peg and Pat got a mountain and Nehemiah's city walls.
I don't want to comment on this and I invite you not to read anything into my lack of comment.

Then they were off with a map of Bordeaux and a list of church addresses to prayer-walk.

Cry "woo!" and "hoo!"


Bac Philo, the actual questions

Catrin did the one circled :

Review of Mike Reeves' "Life in Christ" ("Rejoicing in Christ" stateside)

Readit here

200 years since Waterloo

Lire amdano fan hyn

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Today : Bac Philo four hour exam

Bac L (coef 7)
Probable : la vérité, la liberté, autrui, la démonstration, le devoir, la culture et l'art. Exemples : "Perd-on sa liberté quand on reconnaît le vrai ?", "Le désir de bonheur est-il compatible avec la recherche de la vérité ?", "Faut-il se libérer du désir ou libérer le désir ?"
Possible : le droit et la justice, l'Etat et la société, le bonheur, le désir, la matière et l'esprit. Exemples : "Le légal peut-il être identifié au juste ?", "L'étude de l'histoire doit-elle conduire à désespérer de l'humain ?"
Depuis 2010, les notions auxquelles les sujets de philo faisaient le plus souvent référence en L (certains sujets pouvant faire appel à plusieurs notions) : la liberté, la perception, théorie et expérience.
Vous avez quatre heures.

2014 : "Les œuvres d'art éduquent-elles notre perception ?" ou "Doit-on tout faire pour être heureux ?"
2013 : "Le langage n'est-il qu'un outil ?" ou "La science se limite-t-elle à constater les faits ?"
2012 : "Toute croyance est-elle contraire à la raison ?" ou "Que gagne-t-on en travaillant ?"
2011 : "Peut-on prouver une hypothèse scientifique ?" ou "L'homme est-il condamné à se faire des illusions sur lui-même ?"
2010 : "La recherche de la vérité peut-elle être désintéressée ?" ou "Faut-il oublier le passé pour se donner un avenir ?"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"We're coming to bless you!"

said the three girls, phoning from Bristol Airport on their way to Bordeaux,

(Ah!)

"but we don't have any accommodation arranged."

Catrin has her bac philo tomorrow.
She gets up at 6am to go in for a four-hour exam.
No, it wouldn't be fair.

I emailed everyone quickly to see if anyone could suggest a suitable place for three girls to doss down. And found the address of the youth hostel.

"Look, I have a meeting tonight with some folks who are getting married on Saturday.
Come to Maison de la Bible tomorrow morning."

What a palaver!

It did seem a bit convenient. I left our Chinese friends' apartment to get the bus home and found I had just enough time to take a little look at the Halle des Chartrons with all the tables set out round it and happy people munching their magrets and tartares and to get back to the stop before the bus 4 came to take me all the way home. I took a nice photo, then got to the stop and hey presto, bus 4, right on time, to take me home swiftly and conveniently.

Yeah. Right.

The first bad sign was when the bus driver at Palais de Justice contacted the control centre to ask whether she had missed a detour. After some discussion it was decided that she'd have to go via Victoire and the boulevards - several miles off route - to get back onto the Rue de Pessac.

So we were haring through Nansouty, where the bus 4 never goes, and then she turned right into a little road that led to the boulevards, when.

Ah Non! Ah Non!

A lorry had caught fire just 50 metres ahead and the police had closed the road. By now the control centre was getting shirty.

"Ne bouge plus, ne bouge plus." (Don't move any more, don't move any more)

De toute façon je ne peux plus bouger. (I'm going nowhere, anyway)

About 12 of us needed to get to Pessac, so she advised us to walk to the boulevards - not far - then take the 9 to Barrière de Pessac, then the next 4.

One of the passengers, a tall, blond, non-French type, was a bit bothered that with his little French he didn't really understand what was happening. He said he spoke English, so I explained to him and we set off together.

He was tall, but his legs didn't move very fast. Still, we got to the next stop where we learned that we had a 20 minutes wait for the next 9.

"Let's walk", said my Czech companion. So we walked.

"I really need to pee." He stopped between two cars and behind a tree.

"I'll walk on. Catch me up." I wasn't keen to stop and watch, so I trotted on.

At Barriere de Pessac, still far from the bus stop I saw a bus 4.

I hailed it. Hurrah ! It stopped!

I explained that I had been on the bus 4 stuck in Nansouty.

"Ah ouais, celui-là!"

I still feel a bit sad about leaving the bus driver alone stuck behind the burning lorry.
And I feel bad about leaving my Bohemian friend weeing behind the cars.
But getting on that bus 4 felt GOOD.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hurrah! At last !

Look!

The tram starts running from the 22nd June - next Monday.

Not only that, but bus 36 will also pass by the Alouette on its journey to the massive shopping centre at Bègles.


Thanks, Matt, for sending this


Is there no limit?

I was impressed by our visitor, David Sercombe, and his trip round Europe on the trains using an internal ticket at the age of 81.

Then this weekend we had a brief visit from another friend, Rod Thomas, who is slightly younger than David but has embarked on a month-long tour of France in a small caravan.

He hitched up on Friday at Gradignan, coming down to us from scenic Sarlat in the Dordogne. On Saturday we went to inspect the sights of Bordeaux and on Sunday he came for lunch and then to church.

Today he'll make a quick raid on the Dune de Pylat before heading off to the Lot et Garonne and its bastide towns.

Bravo, chaps!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Some thoughts on the kids' study next year

There's so much we could say. On so many levels.

When we came to France Gwilym was 10 and Catrin 8. We knew we were asking them to do something very difficult, but we also believed it would be incredibly enriching, rewarding and blest. We think it has been and is enriching and blest, though Gwilym was very determined to return to the UK and to study there, despite the student loan he will accumulate. Catrin is content to return after doing her bachelor degree, though she has her sights on a masters in Wales afterwards.

Not all missionaries' kids come to faith. Not all grow up straight. Some grow bitter. Some have very complicated or disturbed lives. We are so aware of so many threats to our kids, but God has been so kind to us and to them. Can you imagine what it does to a dad's heart to see his son posting scripture on Facebook?

You never know what is going to happen with your kids. Not all can go to university and not all should. For some kids, to bring honour to God means getting a 1st class honours. For other it means being a really diligent employee. Some will be appreciated and get on in the world. Others will have a tough, hard road and will glorify God in that. So we never assumed that our kids would go on to tertiary studies. But both are.

Gwilym is going to the London School of Theology to study Theology, music and worship. Yes, I know he's not going to LTS to learn to be a preacher. He doesn't have any sense of call to preach. We've talked about it. Yes, I know that West is doing great things, and I have friends at West, at Highlands and at Westminster Philadelphia. But he doesn't have a call to preach, he is musical and wants to study theology and music. I think that's great, and I am very excited to see what the next step in his life will be. And yes, maybe as time goes on he will have a sense of call to preach. Maybe. Whatever happens he will study the Scriptures and music with Christians. It's a dream.

Meanwhile Catrin has been accepted to study Musicology and French Song at Bordeaux. She'll learn about lyrics, music, harmony, structure, arrangement, accompaniment, recording, performance, sound, concert programming... She'll learn to be a singer/songwriter. Like her dad, she's not very keen on what people call "Christian music". (Gwilym loves it.) But she is very keen on songs that communicate and on singing to convey something. Maybe one day she will write "Christian songs". Or maybe she will be a Christian who writes songs. Or maybe her life will take some other turn. Again, it's a dream.

Both Gwilym and Catrin have worked very hard at their music. Gwilym had a couple of years of guitar tuition at the music school. We stopped it because his guitar teacher was not very good. Catrin has done a little flute, then changed to singing. We couldn't give her regular piano lessons, but two friends helped her tremendously. The first was Jenna, who did elementary piano with her. The second was Judith, a student who taught Catrin to improvise with confidence from the chords of a song, so she could learn to accompany herself or others. And so Davey family evenings meant Gwilym singing to his guitar in the bedroom above and Catrin singing to her piano in her room along the hallway.


Chez le cardiologue

My doctor's great. I approve of her so much that I still go to see her in Villenave even though it means reserving a car and all the malarkey that goes with it, rather than just sloping round the corner where Pat goes.

Anyway, last time I was there she said, "What about doing a little examination of your heart, eh? Never hurts at your age..."

...

It has to be said that I was less enthusiastic about the idea than she was, but the doctor's word is law, unless they tell you to give up chocolate. And my father did have a heart attack well before my age.

So it was that today, many months after the afore-mentioned consultation, I found myself dressed like a navvy, navel to the winds, riding uphill to nowhere on a reclining bicycle, wired-up with about 30 or so electrodes stuck in fancy patterns over my torso while an echographist poked his wand into my ribs.

After about 15 minutes of this absorbing diversion they said, "All normal. If you did more exercise you'd recover quicker. That's 200 euros please, your health insurance will reimburse you."

I filled up my water bottle at their chilled spring-water dispenser, then celebrated by stopping off at MacDonalds for a hamburger.

Oh look, I know - but sometimes a man needs beef.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Now it's official

Catrin has seen it on the French equivalent of UCAS and has let it be known on Facebook.

She has been accepted on the course she wanted - Musicologie and Chanson française, jazz and musique actuelle, etc.. at Bordeaux Montaigne.

It's great to know that our kids are sorted out for next year.
We're obviously very proud of them both.


La spectaculaire poussée des évangéliques

Read in French here

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Formapré

It has been HOT these past few days.

And today was Formapré. Formapré is an initiative taken by the three seminaries in France - Vaux-sur-Seine, Nogent-sur-Marne and Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence - to bring theological training within reach of those who cannot for whatever reason go and live on campus for three or more years. The idea is to run weekend schools of theology in regional centres five times a year, with a cycle of training taking five years to complete.

So last night found me hurtling into the Maison de la Bible to collect a box of books - the Institutes, Grudem, Stott, MacLeod, Blocher, Hameau and so on - and then to sit through about ten hours of lecture on Christology given by a charming English France Mission pastor called Jonathan.

The course started with defining our terms : ousios, substance, person, hupostase, essence, attributes, idioms... Then into the centuries of definition, clarification and dispute...

It all seemed to go pretty well. There were almost 30 people there.

I got co-opted onto a committee that was suddenly meeting at the end of the day, but I had to get the box of books back to the Maison de la Bible, so I sneaked off and emailed my explanation to the coordinator.

I probably won't go again. Not for the whole thing, anyway. After all, I got home after 11 last night and had to leave before 7:30 this morning. And it was all rehearsal of things that I could probably teach, and have, and do.

James probably will go again, though.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Pastorale CNEF

The CNEF pastorale (Conseil National des Evangéliques de France) was to be held at Eysines with lunch, a colombo, and there were two big items on the agenda: firstly a report from Maison de la Bible and secondly feedback from the March for Jesus that took place last weekend.

It's nightmarish to get to the Eysines church by bus, so I took the Citiz Clio and enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort, the built-in sat-nav and the classical music playing from the radio. The rocade was crowded but moving and so I arrived on time. The temperature was rising fast outside. It got to 35°C, but in the Clio I was doing great!

I was the only one of our merry band to be present, James Hammond was too busy reading Calvin. The Mitchells had had big decisive meetings on Wednesday.

Catherine Gaufrès, our very capable manager, outlined the work of the bookshop and there followed a very fraternal discussion about how churches can be more involved and identify more closely with this city-centre witness. Everyone was moved by the thousands of Bibles that we sell each year - literally thousands - and by the stories of different people who come in wanting to talk about their situations, etc.

The March for Jesus this year was marked by two things. Firstly as the group came up Cours Victor Hugo, the people who came out of the middle-eastern shops and boutiques to ask for New Testaments. Over a thousand New Testaments were given to folk on the streets of Bordeaux. Then, secondly, the number of people who stopped someone and asked for prayer on the streets.

March for Jesus seems much more normal here in France than in the UK, where people march for all sorts of things quite regularly.

The colombo was excellent, and I got to know a new face on the Bordeaux scene, a splendid Brazilian brother who is the new pastor at the Baptist Church in Latresne.

Then back in the Clio, drinking my bottled water which I had left in the car (big mistake) and was now tepid. I drank it anyway and delivered the car back on the stroke of 2:30.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

End of Bac Music classes

Catrin took her Bac Option Musique exam today, which means no more Bac Music classes. Voilà!

Season of sniffs and nasal gloopiness

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

University entrance

Catrin just had an email indicating that she's been accepted for her course.

Bègles - town of mystery

Yesterday I had to go to Bègles to meet a friend.

I never much like going to Bègles because it is one of those places where you have to go all the way into Bordeaux and out again to reach. And it is a town of many centres and none, so you never know where to get off, where to meet, where you are... I am always lost in Bègles.

I have never really understood Bègles either. It is a post-industrial town which borders the railway sidings of the main station in Bordeaux, the Gare Saint-Jean, but it has banned genetically modified crops.

Why?

Well I can tell you why. Because the mayor of Bègles is the flamboyant Noël Mamère, moustachioed member of the Green party and the first to conduct same-sex marriages at his town hall, way back when it was illegal.

Another thing I didn't quite understand is that Bègles, on the Garonne river, and about 50 miles from the sea, holds an annuel "Cod Festival" - la Fête de la Morue.

Why?

Yesterday a lady explained it to me. At Bègles, years ago, there were factories where cod was dried. So at the Fête de la Morue, Bègles is celebrating its past.

Anyway I met my friend and as is his habit he invited me to lunch in a restaurant. He has an eye for a bargain and so we went to a place where the decor is not the main attraction. You enter a rather plain looking shop-front and pass through the kitchen to the main dining area, which is a kind of marquee out the back that could hold perhaps 50 or 60 people seated, and where you lunch on:

Soup (vegetable)
Starter (I had champignons à la grecque, he had charcuterie)
Main course (the dish of the day was tendrons de veau forestière et frites maison (belly-veal, mushrooms and chips)
Dessert (I had ice-cream, my friend had nothing)
Unlimited wine (I had a glass and a half, my friend was not counting)
Coffee

And all for 13€ - about £9.50.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Bunfight at Place de la Comédie : Top Chefs Face-Off At Bordeaux

Gordon Ramsey is taking over the kitchen at the Regent Grand Hotel in Bordeaux opposite the Grand Théâtre.

Philippe Etchebest is taking over the kitchen at the Café de l'Opéra in Bordeaux opposite the Regent Grand Hotel.

Stay safe, people. Stay safe.

Ca s'appelle "l'obsolescence programmée"!

So a couple days ago our beloved inkjet printer/scanner/teasmade said "B200 - this is serious - please phone my creator" and refused to do anything more.

I hinted for the message on the internet. Either:

1) the print head is stuck and you just need to remove the dead spider that is stopping it from moving

2) the print head is kaput and you better phone the manufacturer

I examined the printhead for dead spiders. There were none. I gave it a poke. It moved freely.

After my rendezvous with my friend today I called at our local printer-cartridge-monger.

"Hallo!" quoth he, in his best Bwitish accent.

"What ho!" I replied. "J'ai l'erreur B200 et la tête d'impression nest pas coincé"

"Eh bé, ça se répare et la tête coute aux alentours de 70 euros, MAIS parfois il y a un autre souci et elle casse trois mois plus tard. Ca me fait mal de dire que c'est foutu, mais c'est ça."

(I can repair it, but it will cost 70€, and it may go again in a couple of months. I'm sorry to say that it's shot-at, but that's the way it is. I looked up foutu, and it's populaire rather than vulgaire or impoli)

"I thought so", I said. "Now what about this super-duper offer where you buy a printer, pay 50€ up front and get a year's worth of unlimited black printer cartridges?"

"How much do you print?"

"About 200 - 300 per month..."

"Not really worth it. Just buy a printer and the cartridges. I tell you what. Buy a printer, see how much you print this month and we'll judge it from there..."

"Roger."

The printer cost a little more than it would from Amazon, but my local printer-cartridge-monger is a good bloke and useful types like that are worth every penny.


Monday, June 01, 2015

Oh, it's good to have the buses and trams back!

So David, our friend from Wales, arrived on time at the station and we had a quick coffee, then got on the train for Alouette-France. A 15 minute walk for me without luggage took rather longer wheeling a suitcase and lugging a backpack. But we got home safely and then began the gabfest.

David is a talker and we had a lot of catching up to do. Thankfully I had somewhat foreseen that, and I had prepared the song sheet and the message notes for Sunday, so I was relatively stress-free!

On Sunday bus 4 then tram B and C took David and I early into Bordeaux to explore the waterfront before going on to meet with about 20 people in Dan. It was a rather emotionally charged time as we said goodbye to Jonathan, from Canada. One friend from Mexico who said goodbye last week seemingly left his place to a new friend from Mexico who came for the first time this week. Our usual French friends were absent, but a new French friend kept the side up. It seemed to be a good time.

Then trying to find reasonably priced accommodation in Geneva and Interlaken for David's onward journey. We eventually found an AirBnB in Geneva, but for Interlaken David will go to the Tourist Information Centre.

Today I accompanied David to the station and saw him onto his train for Marseille.

It seems very quiet in our house today.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Life without bus 4, bus 23, bus 44...

Well the tram will not be running to Alouette in May, and for yesterday and for today the buses have been on strike, too. But we still need to get places.

Yesterday morning Pat and I took the 8:45 train to Bordeaux. Our meeting started at 10 and we had a choice between arriving at 8h55 and being really early or at 9h55 and being a little late. We chose the early option giving us an hour to do a 10 minute tram journey, so we decided to stroll through parts of the city we'd never seen before, passing along roads where we've seen flats advertised, then going in the general direction of where we needed to be, through the more North African parts of the city.

It was great.



Our only frustration was a half-hour wait to get the train back to Pessac, which forced us, obviously, to get a coffee (well, OK, an ice-cream) at the station's MacDonalds.

Yesterday evening Catrin needed to get from one music school to the other. Normally I get the no 4 bus and pick up a pool car, returning the same way. Last night I used the train from Alouette-France to Pessac, a journey of some 4 minutes. The station Alouette-France is about 15 minutes walk from our house.

In the evening, both ways, the SNCF decided to shake us up a little. The train I was waiting for was announced on the indicator board. Then at the time it should have arrived the board switched to announce the next train. But mine had not come. Oh no! But it still arrived, just a few minutes late, and all was fine.

By the end of the day I had walked almost 12 kilometres, according to my phone, or 7.5 Miles.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Today will be ... interesting

There's a bus and tram strike. Our trams are not yet operating due to technical problems that are being ironed out, but the website of the tram and bus company shows no buses coming within a 40 minute walk of our house. No bus 4. No 44. No 23. No nothing.

Meanwhile:

1) Catrin has her last day of school. Two hours of class, for both of which she has finished all the course. Oh well, too bad.

2) Pat and I have a meeting in the centre of town. Ha! We can go by train! The station is a mere 20 minutes walk.

3) Catrin has a mock exam for bac music this evening. For that I've booked a car (40 minutes walk away), and I think it will mean some long evening walks on my part this evening.