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)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Something to sell to ex-pats in Aquitaine

We're filling a few bottles to take with us. I don't think they'll weigh much in the remover's boxes.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/31/welsh_air/

that feeling of impending doom

You know when you can just foresee what is going to happen...?

We have now packed vast numbers of boxes, about 90% of which are destined for the garage.

It's a good job we have a garage. And it's a good job the garage has a door at the front and the back.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Conversion certified!

The garage conversion has been certified and the certificate is in the hands of my solicitor who, somewhat worryingly, did not seem aware that we are now ready to go and hoping to complete in the next few days.

Still, her colleagues know and I am sure that they are all on the ball together.

Teamwork - that's the stuff!

Meanwhile Pat has packed the kitchen. No more dinners for us Daveys till further notice.

Progress report - and a word of warning (Prov 30:28)

Hi there! Today we've been packing again. (This will continue till Thursday. Hopefully not beyond!) But also:

1) Redirecting the mail. The Post Office will send it on to France.

2) Giving a map and an insurance inventory to the removers. (We couldn't add it up because we've packed the calculator. Well that's our excuse, anyway.)

3) Chasing up the certificate on the study. It's been typed. Now we need the inspector to sign it and I'll scuttle off to the solicitor with it.

4) Delivering the children to a friend's house to play for the day.

A word of warning

When you move stones on the mountainside you find all sorts of creatures lurking beneath. When you move house you find - SPIDERS. Big ones. Pat and Catrin are not exactly phobic, but they don't like spiders. I love them. The bigger the better. They are our friends and they keep the house free of nasty insects. I'm just impressed that we have so many and such BIG ones. Proverbs 30:28 The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces. (NKJV)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Today is admin & packing & ferry-booking day

1. Phoned the school to explain that Gwilym & Catrin are not there (I think they noticed) because we have not yet left Wales - and that we hope to travel this coming weekend.

2. Tackled the forms to say that we are leaving the country and will no longer pay British tax. However they require our P45s, which we don't yet have.

3. Tackled the form to tell the bank to pay our interest tax-free because we are not UK-resident any more. However, the forms the bank sent us all say "DO NOT USE THIS FORM IF YOU ARE NOT UK RESIDENT" on the top. I suppose I could fill it in quickly before we leave!

4. The form for insurance cover for the removal. This one was easy, except for guessing values.

5. On Saturday ordered a telephone line on the France Telecom website for the Villenave house. This morning got 2 emails from France Telecom (FT).
1) Please send a photocopy of your id card (=passport) and your bank details to your local FT branch
2) Your order has been cancelled. (Is it me or does that seem curt?)
Maybe it will take longer than I hoped to get our phone.

6. Booked the ferry for 18h15 on Saturday from Dover to Boulogne. We'll stay in Deeside overnight on Friday. Then from the ferry we'll drive as far as we can in the Bordeaux direction and stay in an Etap overnight on Saturday before continuing the next day.
The ferry cost £25. (It's £25 for a car up to 1.85m high. Our car is 1.849m according to the brochure.)
It feels rather final to buy a one-way ticket, but it's WELL under budget!

Next job - standing order for the rent. Pat's busy packing.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Oops! Spoke too soon...

Our buyers' mortgage company MAY need a full week to release the funds for them. So we MAY not be able to complete this coming Friday.

Ho hum!

But our solicitor has assured us that we don't need to be in the country to complete a house sale. We've signed everything anyway, so we'll leave them to get on with it.

What a day! But we're off..

10h00 Buyers came. They wanted to measure up for sofas, and to find out how things were. We told them we hope to complete next Friday . Their solicitor had not been in touch with them. Every time they come they seem to like the house more.

10h30 Builders came and started knocking out the old window with a hammer. Then they put in the new one.

12h00 The inspector was due to come - but he was unavoidably detained.

14h00 An inspector calls. He's happy. He'll issue the certificate on Tuesday, but I must squirt some fire-retardant foam into some gaps and crevices.

15h30 I find the foam at Jewsons in Chester, return home and squirt it in the gaps and crevices.

Next job - BOOK THE FERRY!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Building inspector

At 10h30 tomorrow the builder comes to fit the grill to the vent in the door and to replace the window with laminated glass.

At 12h00 tomorrow the building inspector comes to certify that the study conforms to the building regulations in force in 1997, when the conversion was done!

Some time tomorrow (I can't remember when!) the buyers are coming round to measure things.

But we hope and pray that by lunchtime tomorrow we will know that we can complete the sale next Friday and be on the ferry that night.

Here we go.

Packing books

Spare a thought for Pat and the kids. Packing with Alan is not much fun. All books have to be sorted by size, and the largest books put in the boxes first - then once the piles have reached the top of the box they are wedged in by small, thin books acting as shims.

So Pat and the kids have spent most of today sorting books by size. But at least now all the books are packed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Packing boxes

Matthew, Britannia's International Removals Manager, called this afternoon with LOTS of boxes, all folded flat. There are small ones for books and heavy stuff, flat ones for clothes, and tall ones for toys and light things.

The small ones for books are still pretty big. About four times the size of a standard, 5-ream photocopier paper box.

And when you fill one with books - OH IT IS HEAVY!

So it's important to fill it where you want it to stay till the movers come! And to get it round the right way for writing on it that it's books and needs to go in the garage.

Google software

I have talked before about Skype. It's really useful for talking free of charge to people all over the world over the internet.

Well Google have launched their software for doing the same thing. It's called Google Talk. The big difference so far is that you cannot call ordinary phones or mobile phones - only people with a Gmail account.

Google have also produced an amazing mapping program which links to satellite photos and road maps, called Google Earth. It shows us the house we've rented in Villenave d'Ornon, though I am not clever enough to be able to tell which house it is exactly! But I found aerial photos of DEFLE (the language school)and the children's school.

They also have a great program for cataloguing all the digital photos on your computer, called Picasa. I'm sure lots of you use Desktop search, which finds information on your computer disk, and also Gmail, which I find very useful indeed.

Today's latest

Builder - sorting out works for certification.

Building Inspector - happy to come inspect and certify as soon as builder is ready.

Removal firm - booked for Friday 2nd Sept. Official standard boxes coming this afternoon.

Completion of house sale - also scheduled for 2nd Sept.

Jabs - Gwilym & Catrin to have TB injections today (I think they have forgotten whether they get the injection if their heaf test is inflamed or not inflamed. Just as well! They both need the jab)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Moving date

The removal men are picking up our stuff on Friday Sept 2nd. Maybe we can complete the house sale and set sail for foreign shores that day, too!

The builder comes up trumps - but we pay

(That'll have any non-British visitors baffled!)

Our builder came to our rescue this morning, accompanied by Simon the joiner.

My good friend Hubert and I added more insulation to the loft. The builder exposed part of the wall showing the damp proof membrane in the floor and the insulation in the wall. Simon has fitted the fire-proof door, and we are waiting for advice from the building inspector about toughened glass and whether we can use safety film.

So today looks much brighter than yesterday did!

The drawback is that we have had to pay over £700 to get it sorted. But at least we get moving.

(to "come up trumps" is to do something very positive and helpful in an awkward situation)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Progress from Flintshire County Council

The building regs man came today. There's a list of jobs to do to make the garage to study conversion meet the regulations in force 8 years ago when the work was done.

There's a few days' worth of work. It will probably delay our departure for Bordeaux by a week, I should think, PROVIDED:

1) we can get a joiner to fit a new fire-retardant door within the next few days.

2) that the builder laid the damp proof membrane to the floor properly.

Course of action:

a. Contact the builder. We should give him the opportunity to put things right.

b. Contact the buyers. We need to inform them of where we are up to. We COULD sell the house to them with the conversion uncertified, but it just puts off the agony, really, and it may affect the price!

Progress from Pickfords

Pickfords' price is over £1000 more than Britannia.

I think we have a clear winner.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Washing machine repair man

Our excellent washing machine repair man came today. We are leaving the machine for our buyers, but for a while it has had an intermittent fault where it begins to spin, then shorts and blows the fuses in the whole house. We decided we ought to get the man to come and look at it, so he came this morning, found a loose wire and sorted it out.

We paid him £5, a hand blender, a tray for the cat food and a child's game.

North Wales is great.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The utility room? The memory room!

We have a utility room. It has the washing machine and lots of cupboards. So today I've been sorting it out (more like throwing it out!)

What fun! If I'd known it was going to be this much fun I'd have done it regularly over the years!

I found lots of my father's old things. His cap badges from Rhondda Transport. A ROSPA safe driving award from 1947. A swastika badge (really badly made)but surely genuine. An knife with can opener, army issue, with the MOD arrow on it dated 1944. We owe his generation so much. Dad fought in France (he was at Dunkirk), in Italy and in the Middle East. We have some super photos he took in Egypt and in Israel.

I found Dad's old watchmaker's eyeglasses. He loved fiddling with watches. Lots of his old tools, and some of mine, too. But life is so different for us now. A small illustration - I found my old feeler gauge! Oh the many happy hours I spent under the bonnet of my Peugeot 104 adjusting the points and setting the gap on the plugs.

One day Gwilym will be really pleased to have his grandad's knife. The kids never knew any of their grandparents, though Pat's mother knew Gwilym and saw Catrin, I think.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Britannia removals quote / Tuberculosis jab

We got it this morning. It is approximately double the figure in the budget, though less than I feared it may be. And that without taking any wardrobes, without the kids' beds, without cooker or washing machine, dining table or chairs, etc. We await Pickford's quote tomorrow or Friday.

Meanwhile today the children have their heaf test for tuberculosis inoculation. They seem very unruffled at the prospect.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Our snag

You know our snag - it's the lack of building regulations approval on the conversion of our garage to a study.

Well I had a letter from Flintshire County Council this morning acknowledging our £200 fee and asking us to tell them when we start work. So I rang them up and reminded them that the work had been completed 7 years ago. "That's right", they said, "It's a standard letter, and a clerical error on our part."

The upshot is that I have to ring next Monday morning and speak to the buildings inspector. Please pray that Monday morning will find him in a happy frame of mind, having just returned from his holidays, and that he will quickly agree to pass the conversion and thus permit the sale to go through!

Then we will need to set a completion date pretty snappily and arrange removers. The good news is that they can move us out before the completion date and get the load on its way.

The man from Britannia removals

He came today. We had quite some fun as we wandered round the house adding up the volume of the various items of furniture, while the children moved things from one room to another to try to catch us out. We became even more ruthless as we talked. Now grandmother's table and corner cupboard is not coming with us.

We talked about the logistics of removal. There are two scenarios.

One scenario is that you fill a van. In this case you have to race the van from your old home to your new home, waving it off and welcoming it at the other end.

Then there's our scenario. You form a part load (we have about 1/3 of a vanload). In this case you wave the van off and some time later (and it could be as little as a week!) the van arrives at your new home (and gives you someone else's antiques...?) I like this better because a) it is cheaper b) you can move out before you absolutely need to c) you don't have to race the van. The drawback is that you end up camping in your old home and/or your new home for a while.

You have to pay for the removal about 5 days before you move out. This is Bad News as I was hoping to pay using a small part of the proceeds from the house sale. Thankfully we have some leeway in our bank account at present!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

St Bartholomew's Church, Blackburn


This is St Bartholomew's, Blackburn, right next door to Blackburn Rovers' football stadium. We were there on deputation this morning. The minister's name is Richard Marshall.

Church of the Saviour, Blackburn


Richard is also minister at Church of the Saviour on a nearby housing estate in Blackburn. We spoke at St Bart's at 9:30 and at Church of the Saviour at 11:00. Both churches have building projects on the go! St Bart's has a big problem with subsidence, so a new church is being built about 1/4 mile away. Church of the Saviour had a huge Victorian barn, which will be replaced by an efficient building behind the porch you see in this picture. Meanwhile we met very comfortably in the porch and had lunch together in the huge adjoining church hall.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Farewell to Asda!


Today I had a farewell lunch with the other Asda chaplains. Then I had to go and bid adieu to the Personnel Manager at the store. They presented me with two farewell gifts! Here's some pictures of them. I think Gary the store manager suggested the shirt. (I'll wear it always).

Farewell to Asda 2


Isn't this the coolest picture you have ever seen? It's a photograph of our Asda store, presented to me by the Personnel Manager today. There could be no better reminder of Asda Queensferry. How often I have trudged through the carpark in the pounding rain..

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tuberculosis - the unfolding story

TB inoculations (BCG) are generally given in Britain at age 13 (though some people tell me they are being phased out). In France kids have them much earlier, and Gwilym & Catrin need to be inoculated to start school.

Well they have their appointment for the heaf test on 17th August at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. In theory that means their scabs have to be inspected on 24th August, again at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and injections given as necessary.

School starts on 29th August, at Pessac. So if all the timings work together we'll move on 25th?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Please pray for Pat

We don't have a removal date yet, and I just phoned a local charity and told them they can come and take our wardrobes and dining table away this Friday.

Aren't you glad you aren't married to me!

Still, at least when the men from Pickfords and Britannia come, they'll see how little furniture we are taking with us.

And how many clothes.....

Monday, August 08, 2005

A good day of packing and clearing

First day of full-time getting ready to move (i.e. not at work). It makes a big difference! Four crates of old books (all sorts - plant books, novels, etc.) went to the "book bank" for sale in charity shops. Three bin bags of clothes to charity shops. First of our many old MFI bookshelves to the dump. The big old TV should go this evening. The dining table will go soon, too, as will the chairs. (These have found new homes).

If we carry on like this by the time we actually move there'll be almost nothing to go!

Also filled in the "unregulated development" form to get the garage -> study conversion approved by the council (with attached £200 fee!). Please pray they will deal with it swiftly so that it doesn't hold up the move!

Hi-tech removal firms

There are all sorts of firms now who will take you and your stuff to France. Many advertise on the internet. One firm has this amazing volume calculator, where you put ticks against a list to show the furniture you are taking, then estimate the volume in cubic meters of the rest of your clobber, and they tell you you are taking, for example, 67 cubic meters and it will cost such and such.

Now then. The house we are moving into is (I think) just under 100 square meters. Therefore, if we take 67 cubic meters of clobber then that means covering 2/3 of the entire floor area of the house to a depth of one meter. That CAN'T be right, can it?

So the man from Pickfords is coming to look.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Keswick

This last week we were at the Keswick Convention. Our first time ever.

Keswick offer grants to serving missionaries or to those about to begin their service. Some friends at church told us about this and said we should apply. I said "yeah, yeah" as one does, thinking of all the people from Really High Stress Situations who needed to go. Then UFM emailed people about it, too, so I thought I'd better ring up. We were only free to go this last week (the 3rd week), but that was fine.

We were SO well cared for. They sorted out accommodation for us in a lovely little two bedroomed cottage right by the Rawnsley Centre where the children's meetings are held. There was a mini-bus to take people to the convention centre. Going on the bus meant you met other parents while queuing (like Peter the curate and John the MK who grew up in Brazil) but after two days of that we felt in need of some exercise so we walked.

On the Wednesday afternoon there was a special meeting held for missionaries, talking about transition - coping with change from one situation to another. It was a really helpful time, and we met some super people who knew the France scene, including one chap who had actually worked in Bordeaux. He's given us some really good contacts in the suburb where we'll be living!

In the mornings Dominic Smart from Gilcostom South aimed to give us an Emmaus Road experience, explaining how the Lord Jesus fulfils all the genres and situations of the Old Testament. This was a Really Ambitious Aim, and he tackled it manfully and admirably. In the evening Joe Stowell from Chicago was expounding inclusion into Christ. He had a very different style from Dominic's, but very helpful things to say.

Thanks, Keswick, for this week. It may well be "the calm before the storm" for us as we get ready for the off.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We signed for the house today..

.. while at Keswick. I know that sounds improbable, but we gave authority to Carol Liddiard in Bordeaux to sign for us, left cheques with her for the agent and for the landlords - and Bob's your uncle. Sorted!

Now to:

1) Get the building regs problem sorted out

2) Get rid of various bits of furniture - we have homes for some, but not yet for all

3) Engage a removal firm

4) Finish packing the things we need to pack, and get the removers to pack the stuff they need to

5) Get a removal date

6) Inform everyone

7) Go!