les Davey de France

In 2005 Alan, Pat, Gwilym & Catrin Davey moved from North East Wales to 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)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Recording the messages

For some time I have been thinking that it would be good to record the messages.
Various things have stopped me :

1) the nature of our service.

We're a small group and so when I speak I speak in a conversational tone and not very loudly.
(Just the kind of level that works for radio, however. Radio doesn't adapt to people declaiming.)

2) bilingual.

We do English/French. While this is OK when people can see you, would it work for listening?

3) Where to store the recordings?

Online storage can cost a lot and we don't pay for our website or anything like that.

4) What about all the hassle involved in loading up the files etc?

Wouldn't we need a (shudder) webmaster?

Well I think Dropbox may have just answered questions 3 and 4.

I currently have a free Dropbox account which, by a combination of factors, gives me 55.4GB of space. I find it very useful for storing anything I might need to access from anywhere, especially now my pc has a very small hard disk. 55GB is quite a lot, and I could store several weeks of messages on there.

BUT Dropbox has now announced a plan where you can have 1TB of storage for 10€ a month.

That would be plenty of storage for all the family for quite a long time, plus storage for message files.
And all you'd have to do to put them in a blog, on Facebook, in a website, is put in a link to the audio file, something that's very easy to do in Dropbox.

I'm cogitating...

Last Summer Sunday

These summer Sundays we have enjoyed having the service at our home.
We can cook. We can be a bit more relaxed about timing.
And yesterday we had grills after the service :
courgettes/zucchinis, (bell-)peppers, sardines and merguez.
It was very convivial.

But next week we return to Dan, and to cold cuts. It'll be great.

Meanwhile something is brewing in my little bonce.....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book review : How Will The World End? by Jeramie Rinne

Recently a friend showed me a book that they'd been recommended to read on the book of Revelation. "I'm baffled", they said, waving the standard, respected volume at me.

It isn't terribly easy to find an accessible, straight-forward help to understanding the book of Revelation or the doctrine of eschatology, the last things. I like Sam Storms' "Kingdom Come", Wilcock's "Message of Revelation" and Bewes "The Lamb Wins", among others.

Now you can add "How will the world end?" by Jeramie Rinne. The book has immediate advantages over all the others, however.

Firstly, it is very short. Just 96 pages. And some of the pages have diagrams on them! It really won't take you long to read this book.

Secondly, the cover is a very pleasing shade of red. Perhaps the reddest book cover I have ever seen. Any more red and it might slip into the infra-red and become invisible.

More importantly, the book is surprisingly comprehensive. You'll find discussions of preterism, futurism, dispensationalism... the author really has been very skilful in saying a lot with few words.

Again he's been extremely fair. I don't think anyone would read this book and feel unjustly misrepresented. In fact you might be tempted to accuse him of being too fair, or of hedging his bets.

But as a primer on eschatology, this is an excellent little book, just right for starting to read about where the world is heading. Clear, helpful, short, red, what's not to like? Buy it and read it!

I received this book free from the publisher in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Photography, or rather, cameras

I was hunting for something I needed urgently the other day and made the happy discovery of my old, dearly loved Olympus mju 2 camera. It's a splendid gizmo. It still has a film in it, and I haven't used it since - well it must be at least 12 years.

My first camera was an Agfa instamatic thingy that I got to take on a school trip. It was as basic as basic could be, but the photos were OK. You remember them. Square photos from a kind of boxy clunky thing. 126 film cartridges. Typical 1970s contraptions.

Next I remember spending £30 on a Zenit E. It was a wonderful thing with a most splendid lens, but so heavy it was like walking with a sack of spuds round your neck. After a couple of years of taking LOTS of photos and sending them for developing to cheap labs everywhere I sold my Zenit for what I paid for it and bought a Cosina CSM.

The Cosina CSM was an aperture priority slr camera with TTL metering! Very high tech. This was traded in for a second-hand Nikon, which then got swapped for a Canon Eos SLR, which I still have, and ought to sell.

Meanwhile I was more and more fed up with slr cameras. You took them to weddings, but you had this massive bag or a huge thing slung round your neck and it always seemed to get in the way. Not only that, but if you went for a walk into town and saw something worthy of a photo your camera was almost always at home in its bag.

So I looked for a decent compact. My first was a treasure that I still have, bought in about 1981 by mail order and delivered to the office at Honeywell - my Olympus Pen EE-3. It's a half frame camera with the same mechanism as the famous old Olympus Trip, but taking 72 or more photos on a roll of 36 film. Excellent for weddings, you snap and snap to your heart's content. But for everyday life by the time you finished a roll of film you forgot what was on the start, or even sometimes where or when you took it. And then it became harder and harder to find labs that would process half-frame.

Next came the Mju II. It's the best camera I have ever owned. It's fully automatic and you have just one rule - turn off the flash. Once you've done that, and mastered the self-timer mechanism, there's not much you can't do with it. Wonderful.

Digital photography promised the end of developing costs, so we hopped on the bandwagon.

Firstly a massive Olympus C2020. It was HUGE. I got it cheap from Morgan Computers, and it was a wonderful machine, though anything in dim lighting had LOTS of noise.

Then followed a small Olympus Stylus 2 compact that I hoped would be the digital answer to the mju 2. It was great, but sadly the lens wasn't as good, nor was the exposure programme.

A tiny Minolta followed. Shaped like a packet of cards, this took some excellent photos in around 2004 before it yielded up the spirit. Then a tiny Sony compact that served us well till it, too died.

Then followed the best period of digital photography so far - the time of the Lumix. I bought, again I think from Morgan Computers, a Panasonic Lumix FZ3. Wonderful! A splendid lens that zoomed without distortion and was fast right through the zoom. Pat still uses this camera, though it has a meagre 3 megapixels. It was succeeded by  a TZ1, a smaller camera with again a wonderful zoom lens designed by Leica. I still use this camera with its luxurious and impressive 5 megapixels.

Then came camera phones. They say that the best camera is the one you have with you, and this is where camera phones win hands down. The Sony Ericsson i750 lasted for several years, followed by a Nokia N90. Then the iPhone 3GS, sheer luxury! Now a Samsung Android phone with Instagram, though I still would like to return to an iPhone one day.

I'd also still like to find the digital equivalent of the old Olympus mju 2.

What would it need?

No zoom, but a good quality, fast 35mm lens. F2 or faster, by preference.
A good sensor, but not necessarily a vast number of megapixels.
A good processing engine.
Robust construction, and small enough to slip into your jacket pocket.
A reasonable price.

If you hear that someone is making a digital equivalent of a Ricoh GR, Yashica T1 or Olympus mju 2, you know I'm waiting to hear about it!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

Well I got through to the appliance repair people yesterday and they said, "bring the oven along", so I reserved a car for this morning and we hauled said oven and ourselves off to the aforementioned place.

A kind chappie listened to our problem and then helped me carry the machine in and plonk it on top of one of those gas cookers with a folding lid.

"I can tell you now that we can't fix it;", he said, "it's a bit too old, they only carry parts for eight years, and by the time you track the spares down you just as well have bought another."

We surveyed the combination ovens they had in the store. All were too small.

We contemplated getting a small oven and small microwave separately. That would take up twice the room, the oven are particularly basic and in our experience don't last very long.

We contemplated getting a small electric cooker, sawing out the worktop to allow it to sit in the kitchen and getting a small microwave oven alongside.

Then we had had enough contemplation, so we went to Géant Casino to see what they had down there.

Not much, and all far too small, was the answer.

Home and the websites of Amazon, Conforama, Darty.fr, cDiscount.

Eventually we ordered a machine - it gets wonderful reviews, (apart from a handful of people who can't fathom how to turn the thing on) and will be delivered next Tuesday.

I just hope it's big enough...

Delfeayo Marsalis - sorry, I forgot to pop one on yesterday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Libération !

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bordeaux. As the Nazi forces were retreating they continued to struggle to hold Bordeaux because of its strategic importance as an atlantic port. However fighting broke out in various places in the city as people started to challenge the occupying forces. Shots were fired in the centre of Bordeaux. A soldier threw a hand-grande into the crowd at Talence. The city could not be kept.

The order came to leave the city, but not before destroying the port by blowing up the quays. The collaborationist town hall negotiated to try to save the city. Meanwhile, a brave German soldier sabotaged the planned destruction by blowing up the ammunition dump. He later settled in Bordeaux, took French nationality and died some years ago in the city he protected.

The port was sabotaged by another means, though, and a path for shipping was not reopened until 1949. Some sunken ships remain in the estuary and one can be seen in central Bordeaux at low tide.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A walk along the vineyards

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm and bright. So we ventured out for a stroll up the track alongside the Pape Clément vineyard up to the second-hand bookshop, where we found nothing of interest. It was good to see the grapes ripening.

Delfeayo Marsalis again

Monday, August 25, 2014

Aber Conference

The third week of our holiday was spent at the Aberystwyth Conference, where the main speakers were Don Carson and Joel Beeke. The main addresses are held in the Great Hall of the University and we were staying in a student flat in the Cwrt Mawr halls of residence. Our flat was shared with one Dutch couple, an Australian couple currently teaching in Kiev and, New Zealander and an English woman.

Don Carson was speaking on Ephesians, the other folks took various themes, passages, approaches. A search for "Evangelical Movement of Wales" in YouTube MIGHT bring up the conference addresses, etc, though there was a rumour that they would be taken down from YouTube and only made available through the Movement's website itself.

There's various seminars in town and a well-regarded missionary exhibition - I went to one seminar where Don Carson spoke on various matters to consider when thinking of preaching through John's Gospel. We also did the mishbish one afternoon.

The conference begins on the Monday, but on Sunday because lots of folks have arrived already the conference borrows a church for two Welsh worthies to preach and Geoff Thomas moves his services to a bigger chapel down the road. This year Geoff preached on Genesis 1, 2 and 3.

The plus points of the conference for me are:

1) seeing old friends (some of them are now very old indeed)
2) being in a big congregation
3) the teaching and preaching
4) the charm of Aberystwyth

We got to visit some friends who live in Aberystwyth, too. I was best man for John Harvey and Jacqueline Hooi's wedding some years ago. John is now Professor of Art at Aberystwyth and it was wonderful to slip into our old friendship again.

While we were at Aber, Gwilym was on camp at Tywyn, just a few slow, winding miles from Aber, and Catrin was in London staying with friends from her camp.

Porage in the slow cooker

Works fine, but it makes a TERRIBLE mess of the container you cook it in.

A short sequence of Delfeayo Marsalis videos

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Morning panic

Microwave and oven broken. Porridge in the slow cooker overnight.
Bleary-eyed morning. "You OK, Catrin, You're up very early."
"No, I'm not, it's half past eight."
Slow-cooked porage fine - different texture, more like rice pudding, but fine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Le groupe chinois

It was great to be back with the groupe chinois this evening. This week was John 14:15-27, and again helping them to be prepared for the JWs attempts to derail them.

I love the group so much. Where else could you ask, "And what else does the Holy Spirit give to believers?" and not have anyone suggest gifts?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Proms on iPlayer

Suffering from sensory deprivation as I do, I have a tendency to burst into tears at inappropriate moments.

Tonight's first occasion was during the Proms' Battle of the Big Bands, at a point during "It don't mean a thing" where the camera panned to show people in the circle of the Albert Hall dancing.

The second was during a performance by the Hallé Orchestra of Berlioz' overture, Le Corsaire, specifically the moment towards the end where the tuba and trombones blast out descending arpeggios, then scales..

Baaam ba baam baam baaaaam!    
Baaam ba baam baam baaaaam!
Ba ba baam ba ba ba ba baaam!

I'm sure you get the picture. If you know the piece you know the part I mean.

Sheer magic!

Oh, look, someone has put it on YouTube. The moment is at about 7 minutes in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How do people cope?

We had three motorway journeys to do.

Firstly down to Leicester - for this on the way down we took the M6 toll and we didn't have too many hold-ups. One the way back we took the M1 up to Derby, then the Toyota road across to Stoke and got horribly caught up in traffic afterwards.

Then we went down to Watford. Because of the time of day there were no real hold-ups and we pottered along at a decent speed.

Then to Cardiff. OH BOY! After congestion on the M6 we then hit huge road works on the M5 that added at least an hour to our journey time.

I don't miss the motorways. Not at all!

Deeside and environs

It was good to spend some time in Deeside. We had a list of things we wanted to do.

Conway Castle
Walls of Chester
Outlet village for pants and socks
Abakhan mill shop for wool etc.

Well we got to Abakhan and Pat got some wonderful wool to make Gwilym a scarf.

Seeing the folks

This year we were able to see all our siblings. Quite a feat!

We hadn't seen Pat's family for a few years, but this year we were in the UK at the time of a joint 40th / 65th birthday barbecue, so there was a general gathering of the clans of the Hodgsons and erstwhile Hodgsons. It was good to see Pat's three sisters, her brother and a good proportion of her nephews and nieces.

One of my brothers-in-law has been in hospital for a few months after suffering a stroke, so I was very keen to see him and my sister. Then that evening my other sister, her children and some of her grand-children were met for Friday Family Festive Fun, so we joined them and marvelled at how big all the children are getting.

UFM FamConf

UFM holds a Family Conference every year the last week of July, and missionaries who are in the UK at the time are strongly encouraged to attend.

It's no hardship. We love meeting with friends, colleagues and people who are concerned for the work of the mission. Not only that, but the conference is held at Hothorpe Hall, where the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the food is excellent.

The helpful conference addresses on James 1 were given by David Magowan from Reading and we especially enjoyed the presence and help of our friends from 100Fold, the finest pointy-headed geeks you'll ever meet.

Every missionary has a 14.75 minute slot to present their work and we decided to show our slides and stuff, then to have Pat interview me about burnout. Lots of missionaries suffer from stress-related problems and we wanted to try to be helpful. Anyway, we got through this by the simple expedient of me not thinking about it beforehand (quite Biblical - take no thought for the morrow) though afterwards I was glad that I could retreat to my seat and recover my composure before having to speak to anyone.

Travel arrangements for the Davey World Tour of Wales

The logistics for this three-week holiday were the most complicated yet. So much so that until we were on the plane home I was not sure the plan would come together. But we only had one modification to do, and that was due to a combination of the M5 roadworks and an unforeseen funeral.

The problem was that we were very rarely all together in one place. Usually three of us were at one event while the fourth was somewhere else. And everything miles, sometimes hundreds of miles apart.

Firstly Catrin, Pat and I flew Easyjet to Liverpool. Here our friend Rhys was waiting to meet us.

I fly quite often now and sometimes there's someone to meet me, but usually there's not. Whenever I land unmet I always look with envy at the people being welcomed by family and friends. There's even a book I'd rather like to read called "Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part" (I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere). So to see Rhys' welcoming smile was a blessing.

He then loaned us his car, a little Citroen C3 diesel, which was unbelievably economical and managed to swallow us and our luggage and hurtle happily on motorways and Welsh lanes. Never in the history of Davey motoring have so many miles been travelled on so little fuel. Without the loan of the car we couldn't possibly have done all that we needed to do. Or we'd have ended up paying hundreds of pounds for a hire car.

In addition to travelling with us Catrin made some journeys in friends' cars, and possibly a minibus? as well as being the first Davey to use a Megabus. I had my doubts when I saw that the fare from London to Chester was £6, but all was fine and we met her at 10pm as scheduled.

Gwilym was working in a clothes shop in Bordeaux so he joined us halfway through our holiday. We met him at Liverpool and then took him to camp in Tywyn on the way to Aberystwyth for the conference. Then he travelled to Swindon on Monday by rail. There is no Megabus service to Swindon, though I notice that there is now a service to Toulouse.

Chester to Toulouse by Megabus... Now that's an idea.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Been kinda quiet round here, ain't it...

Sorry about the prolonged silence - about 3 1/2 weeks I make it.

We have been away on holiday in England and Wales.

We flew to Liverpool without our lad, Gwilym and spent a few days in Shotton.

Then Catrin, Pat and I went to the UFM Family Conference.

Catrin then went to camp and Pat and I went up to Northop Hall.

Gwilym joined us, and we took him to camp, Pat and I went to the Aber Conference, while Catrin spent a week with friends in London.

Then a weekend in Deeside with us all together before sending Gwilym off to Swindon and returning to Bordeaux.

At present we have post-holiday blues and we feel like a three-legged dog without our lad.

Proper reflections will follow thick and fast.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gwilym's farewell Sunday

Last Sunday the church at Cenon said farewell to Gwilym, with a lunch, songs, sketches, a gift and with prayer for his future.

He'll leave Bordeaux on 7 August to be a Church Apprentice at Freshbrook Evangelical Church, in Swindon, working with youth, doing the South West Gospel Partnership Training Course, serving in the church and preparing for the future.

A wee bit more music

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A long, full day in Bordeaux

began at the Maison de la Bible where we met some fine people and had a nice long conversation with our friendly neighbourhood beggar and also with a lady who comes in for some calming influence and so on. Among other folk.

Then off to the hospital to visit a lady from Bergerac who comes down every fortnight at the moment for chemotherapy.

Then off to Gwilym's shop to take him some instant coffee, then a moment of quiet in a bookshop before tramming across the river to the first Conseil d'église that I have attended for a long time.

Tim got it sorted like a boss, with times allocated for each agenda item, and we only overran by about 1/2 hour.

Then off home via Auchan to pick up some essential supplies for the lad.

I took some photos on the way.

The courtyard of the hospital

The hospital chapel

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A year with the Macbook Air

Well there we are. It's over a year old now.
And it's by far the best computer I've ever had.

It's just as fast as the day I first had it.
Its battery life is just as good. I still get around 12 hours.
It still looks like new, too.

I have needed to fuss with applications far less than with PCs.
For word processing I use Pages. Comes with the Mac.
For presentations Keynote is more than adequate. Also comes with it.
I have Sunrise to present my Google Calendar.
Olive Tree Bible software, though I also have Logos loaded.
Skype, of course.

It's just great.

Book review : God's Story - a Student's Guide to Church History

History is not bunk. It is awesome.
It tells you the route that brought you where you are today.
It warns you of the mistakes and errors that others, wiser than you, made.
It inspires you with stories of heroism shown by people in worse circumstances than you.
And the history of the church is especially God's Story.

Dr Brian Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, and he has sketched out this little survey of Church History for students.

Here we hit our first snag. British people will think the book is aimed at university students, at kids of 18 - 21. If the book is aimed at university students of age 18 - 21, then I suggest it is aimed a bit low. But high school kids would appreciate the level of Dr Cosby's approach.

The book is the product of a pair of theologically safe hands. You can generally see where the author is coming from in his treatment of the reformation, of the puritan period, of Christianity in the New World, etc. On the other hand the Anabaptists get one sketchy paragraph and the twentieth century is skimmed over very quickly. Also it's very centred on Europe and the USA. We don't get anything about the faith in China or in the Middle East. North Africa disappears after Augustine. For information about the Missionary Movement and the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere the student will need to look elsewhere.

What the book does, however, it does pretty well. I would suggest that rather than it being a history of the church, really, it is a history of the theological roots of the reformed churches today.

There are some clangers due perhaps to sloppy editing - for example I googled "ad fonts" just in case, and got some fascinating information about typefaces, rather than the renaissance return to the sources, ad fontes.

And is it true that the Western Church adopted latin rather than greek because the latin language was not tainted by its use by the Roman persecutors, who spoke greek? I always thought that it reflected the historical use of the languages, greek in the eastern empire following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and latin in the western empire following the conquests of Caesar. Google and Wikipedia didn't help me and after all, what do I know? Gentle reader, can you help?

I enjoyed the book, and it could be useful for kids in their late teens to give them a quick overview of the road that got us where we are. But I would want them to move on to something more substantial and more thorough pretty quickly.

I received a review copy of God's Story free of charge from Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.

Here's a video promoting the book :

A bit of morning encouragement!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Naughty naughty !

Last night we were invited to our Dutch missionary friend, Harriette's place.
Some of her friends from Holland were visiting.

They came into the bookshop earlier that day, which was great.

The Dutchies and Daveys evening was spent in the usual European high-jinks, including :

: Making those wristbands out of rubber bands, you know the things...
: Trying to work out how to make a Dutch "r", by vibrating something deep in your throat that I am sure does not exist. Catrin is a natural at this.
: The "Sing a song that has this word in it" challenge. We failed on scissors. (There is a Dutch song about the dentist, would you believe...)

Then this morning, by unhappy coincidence, I discovered that some person or persons unknown in Germany and in Holland has been accessing my Hotmail account.
I have now set up two-step verification and a password SO ENCRYPTED that even I don't know it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crazy lunch!

Courgette cuppa-soup.
Sweet flat white peaches.
Cake with lychees.
Baby lettuce with balsamic dressing.

In that order...


At the end of the fete du vin they had planned a huge fireworks extravaganza, with thousands of wine-filled, sun-kissed festive throngs all over the quays watching the show.

But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.

(no storm came)

Then last night was the first night of the reenactment of the battle of Castillon, which ended the Hundred Years' War and returned Aquitaine to French rule. Also various open air music concerts were planned.

But météofrance forecast a nasty storm, so they cancelled it.

(no storm came)

This time we did have some brief downpours of rain and thunder rumbled a bit. But nothing that would make you batten down the hatches or cancel your stuff.

I hope météofrance doesn't swing the other way, though!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sans même râler!

Catrin wants to study voice with a view to singing professionally, and in the meantime she makes videos of her songs and puts them on Youtube.
But her camera is a bit... well... she could do better.
So she's been saving up. We said we'd pay half and so on.
So the other day we started looking seriously at what might suit her. We looked at websites and videos done by people who make videos.

Some of them - well they say "An inexpensive set-up" and wave this massive device at you that would cost thousands.
Yeah. Right.
One lady said "I use my iPhone."
Yeah. Right.
One person pointed out that for singing the important thing is to capture the voice well with an external mike, so that set us on a more helpful quest. So off to the Fnac we went to hunt for cameras that take an external mike.

I'd been fancying a Lumix FZ200 for her, really because I'd like one myself, except it's too big so an LX7 would be the best for me, but the lens on the FZ200 is a marvel... Our trip to the Fnac confirmed that it has an external mike socket and we mugged up on microphones, too. We didn't have enough money saved up, but we'd get there...
Then on the way out of the Fnac they gave us a magazine all about photography and cameras and I saw another beast, the Canon Eos M, at a very reasonable price. And it has an external mike socket.
I mugged up on it. It got bad reviews because of its slow autofocus, but they fixed that with a firmware update. I looked on the Fnac website and, yes, it was available at Bordeaux.

AND... there was an offer where if you bought gift vouchers in advance they would add 25% to their value.
Which means getting 25% off.
Then you use the vouchers to buy whatever - in this instance, Catrin's camera.

Consultations on every hand. Catrin was happy. Fnac staff assured me it was right and it would work.
Yeah. Right.
Well I bought the vouchers.
Waited till they were credited to my Fnac card.
Went into Bordeaux having printed off my account details showing the vouchers.
Fretted and prayed all the way - these things rarely work as you think and you often have to rant in the shop... :-(
Saw the same lady as yesterday in the camera department. Thanks !
She remembered me. Thanks again!
She remembered what I wanted to do. Many thanks!
She sorted it out and lo and behold off I walked with the camera at 25% off an already very good price!

I said, "Vous savez, je pensais que ça n'allait pas marcher, mais voilà, sans même râler!" (you know, I didn't think that would work, but there you are, without even having to rant)
She laughed and said, "Ouais, toujours souriante!" (yes, smiling all the way)

Bravo Fnac and bravo lady in the camera department.
Now we need to buy a microphone...

When it's HOT, HOT, HOT

Well yesterday Pat was in the Maison de la Bible all day and I was in with her in the morning.

At lunchtime I came out of the nice, cool, stone-built bookshop into the heat of the afternoon sun on the hottest day of the year so far, 38°C.

When it's 38°C in Bordeaux it's a bit like when you check the barbecue to see if it's nice and hot.
The sun beats down at you mercilessly and you need to drink lots of water and seek the shade.
Everyone walks very slowly. Very slowly indeed.

Thankfully there were nice breezes, but still the side facing the sun was getting nicely cooked.

I had an errand to run in town, then home on the nice air-conditioned tram!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats

While I was waiting at some office or other with our asylum-seeker friends I noticed that the next door office was entitled "The Office for Bulgarian and Romanian Squats".


Another thing that you can"t help but notice is the number of Ukrainian families seeking asylum in France.
Youngish parents, one family with 6 little children, all sat in a row in the préfecture. Imagine!

but it is God who gives the increase

Many years ago when the world was young and I was doing my ministerial training I used to preach in a church belonging to a denomination with an illustrious past but a somewhat faded present - the church was one of a few relict communities of evangelical life in what had become a moribund, formalist body.

I remember a conversation with one of the church leaders of the congregation where I had preached. He criticised another denomination because they had lost the truth, "gone rotten from the bottom up" because of their independency and democratic church government. "Our system kept the church pure", he said.

I thought, 'You don't get out much or go to your denominational meetings, do you?', but I listened politely, treasured up what he said and pondered it in my heart.

His answer to decline was having the right structure.

Even more years ago I was very keen on a strong independency myself. "Groups of churches go down the Swannee", I would say, "keep pure, keep keen, keep out".

Trouble is that individual churches go down the Swannee, too,  in all sorts of ways.

I read stuff now that says, "A confession of faith! Otherwise you'll go down the Swannee."
Or "Proper liturgy" or "simple dependence on the means of grace" or "expository preaching" or "seminary-trained pastors"... well the list goes on.

A robust confession of faith, good Biblical structures, expository preaching, simple dependence on the means of grace, strong, qualified leaders, well-trained pastors, expository preaching,

All these things are very important indeed.

But none of them works apart from the grace of God.
Nothing works, apart from the gracious influences of the Spirit of God.
Only he makes things grow and keeps things alive.

Let's pray, folks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I've always cut the family's hair, ever since the children were small.
Sometimes I try and encourage them to go to a hairdresser.
Pat likes to go to a stylist now, but the kids still prefer me to do their hair.

But I was a bit daunted when Catrin said she wanted me to cut her a fringe.
I resisted for a long time.
She found a video on Youtube showing how to do it.
My resistance weakened.
I found another video.
This morning my resistance crumbled.

So she has a fringe. And she looks fabulous.

Pictures from 14 July

The Fête Nationale festivities for Pessac were held in the park at the end of our road.
This was very good news for us, of course! Here's some photos.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's going to be the best 14 July EVER!

Well here we are just getting ready for the Fête Nationale, the 14 juillet, and everyone knows what's happening where.

In Bordeaux there are the Firemen's Dances tonight from 8pm to, I think, 3am.
Then tomorrow evening the military parade complete with parachutists and alphajets,
followed by fireworks.

In Pessac there is the 14 juillet extravaganza.
From 16h tomorrow the park opposite our house gets turned into a fair from the year 1900.
Everyone is invited to come dressed up. (I'll wear a cap and braces)
There'll be period burger stands and crepe-mongers.
There'll be a méchoui - a spit-roasted lamb stuffed with cous-cous.
There'll be singing and dancing and giant wooden games.
There'll be fireworks at the end of the evening.

Hmm.. Bordeaux or Pessac?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Self-help religion

(Please note that posting this extract does not imply approval of everything Paul has ever done or of the Anglicanism of which he is a part.)

Wedding and Groupe chinois

Today at 11 at the town hall Manu and Delphine are getting married.

Then their celebrations continue at the church in Auros at 4, but we're not going to that.
Auros is about 30 mins by car outside Bordeaux.
We were offered a loan of a car, but by then I'd been asked to preach for the Chinese group.

So at 6 I'll have the joy of preaching for the Chinese.
Last time was on the Trinity.
This time will be on Jesus, his person and his work.

Poor kids

Well Catrin's results were due at 17:00, but we encouraged her to look at about 10:00.
You never know.

All went quiet just after 10.
Then "Mum, come here..."
Then all went quiet again.

Then the silence grew deeper and more ominous...

Catrin had passed all her exams, with
a very respectable 15/20 in Science,
14/20 in Geography and History,
but 11/20 in français écrit
and 10/20 in français oral.
That was the first silence.

The deeper and more ominous silence was as she began to hear from her friends.
Some had got 7. Some had got 5.
7 is bad. 5 is the pits.
Some few had done better.

Still, she's accumulated 20 or 21 points towards her bac next year,
though it seems that some of her fellow students are starting with a negative score.


This song took a while to grow on me, and I'm still not sure about the balkan-style arrangement, though it makes a change from riverdance-praise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catrin has passed her bac français

with a mix of good and OK marks.

Some of her co-students have not done as well.
Post mortems are in process.

Oh well.

Today Catrin gets the results of her Bac Français

I did have a rendezvous at 10 in town, but the chap phoned yesterday to postpone.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

L'administration française - dans toute sa splendeur !

So I spent a happy afternoon with our friendly local asylum seekers getting their request for asylum completed and sent off. This experience was made wonderfully surreal by the following :

1) the charming Italian lady in the office whose English was better than her French, which meant I had to correct her spelling a bit.

2) the sheer glory of our friends' national calendar. It is NOT the Islamic calendar. It is another lunar calendar in which we are in the year 1393. This meant that working out the parents' and siblings' dates of birth was an exercise in complicated mental calculations. I KNEW algebra would be useful one day.

3) the application to join the French health scheme, a thick wedge of documents sealed in a plain brown envelope accompanied by colour photocopied instructions to :

1. take bus 15 direction Les Aubiers,
2. alight at Place de l'Europe,
3. find the tall building in the photograph, indicated on the map, then
4. enter, ascend to the second floor then
5. place the plain brown envelope into the hole in the wall pictured in the further photograph.

We actually laughed, but it was not a joke.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Evocation de la venue de Napoléon à Bordeaux

Napoléon came to Bordeaux last weekend. Here's a nice photo and a little vidéo :

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

In a strange coincidence...

On Saturday I shot briefly into town to meet up with one of our old Chinese students. Now working in a financial trust in a city of 10 million people in the heart of China, he came to faith in Bordeaux and we spent very happy years together, studying and reaching out and working with the Chinese group. It was a good time.

Now he's married to a super godly girl, and they have a little boy who is growing up fast. They are looking for a church, which is not so easy when you're in a Chinese city of 10 million people. It was an encouragement to me to work with these Chinese lads.

Book Review - China's Reforming Churches, edited by Bruce Baugus

This is a really good book. No, I mean a really good book.

It's essentially the story of Reformed churches in China (Reformed in this context meaning presbyterian) Bruce Baugus is the editor, with different authors for the different chapter, the book is organised into four parts :

1) The Story of Presbyterian Missions in China

2) Presbyterianism in China today

3) Challenges and opportunities in China today

4) Chinese appropriation of the Reformed faith

I don't know of that sounds all that appetising to you. What if I tell you that along the way you'll read discussions of :
how to conduct overseas mission such that strong indigenous churches result,
how to face up to doctrinal shift in ministerial training,
how to pastor in today's connected mega-cities,
the practical implications of covenant theology in church and family life,
ministry in times of social upheaval
as well as a detailed exegesis of Acts 15 ?

It really is a most stimulating book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you care about China, if you care about mission or if you care about the church, this book is for you.

I received the book free of charge from Cross-Focused Media in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.