Sunday, August 31, 2008
1) We sign Tuesday instead of Thursday ( good news - the sooner the better in my opinion )
2) However the contract we've received has added 50€ per month for each of four parking spaces, when we thought that six spaces were included in the price we negotiated. It's the first we've heard of an additional price for parking. If the agency insists we just wont take the parking spaces.
3) The certificate of conformity for public use for up to 100 people has not yet been produced. Apparently the landlord has it, but we will need to have it before signing.
So keep praying !
Saturday, August 30, 2008
There was no mistaking it. Here we had a great group of the new intake of students from California at the language school. I had parked the car at Unitec to scuttle into town to meet up with Sammy and we all got on the tram at the same stop.
I said "Are you here to study at the DEFLE ? Have you just done your test ?"
We chatted about DEFLE and the test. "Who did the test ? Did they introduce themselves or were they just scary ladies ?" "Oh they were just scary ladies."
I said "Don't write in pencil and don't expect extra assignments to enable you to improve your grade. Use neat paper. Don't turn up late."
One lad likes football so I said that a gang of us goes to Bordeaux matches sometimes (I made it clear that I don't go!) and gave him my phone number on a student centre prospectus. He said he'd ring.
I ached to have some leaflets about the international services to give them but we don't know our dates and times yet. We don't even sign for the venue till Thursday. Anyway they have a student centre prospectus and phone numbers.
In town sat in a café with Sammy drinking coffee and talking about the future and stuff I kept saying "There's another !" as the students wandered back and fore past us, but not near enough to shout to.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Yes - but there's more to this problem than meets the eye, isn't there.
Because if we throw out the baby with the bathwater then that's a catastrophe. We get rid of the bathwater ( hooray ! ) but woe is me, baby is lost.
But if we keep the baby in the bathwater then we get to keep the baby ( hooray ! ) but sadly we also have to keep the bathwater ( yuk ! ) and what is more the bathwater will deteriorate and the baby will also be harmed by its ever-more-foul presence.
Of course it is always possible that we will opt for the worst case, jettison the bonny baby ( shame ! ) and keep the bathwater ( grooo ! ).
A surprising degree of acuity and life experience is needed to discern between baby and bathwater, to know exactly where the baby ends and where the bathwater begins, and to jettison all the bathwater and retain all the baby - especially because to begin with both smell the same - of Tesceaux Baby Bath. One however is precious and worthwhile ( baby ) while the other is worthless and noxious ( bathwater ).
May we develop more and more this essential discernment that our lives may be full of babies and free of bathwater.
1) it's a lot easier to sell a right-hand-drive car in Britain than in France
2) it gets something practical out of the way before we even come
3) we were told that second-hand cars are more expensive in France
As I look round it seems to me that they are more expensive here.
This is a Twingo I saw for sale in our local supermarket yesterday. They are small cars - about Ford Ka size. This one is 12 years old but has only done about 50,000 miles and the seller is asking the equivalent of £1500 for it.
Tied in with this is a survey I saw on the internet that had asked people in France how long they keep their cars. The average was 7 - 9 years ! Quite different from Britain but maybe understandable in the light of the secondhand prices.
( TBE stands for très bon état - very good condition )
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
You have to keep your wits about you. I had few real problems but I did have a little difficulty remembering what a lutin is. Gwilym needs two for Physics. ( It's worth looking that one up in www.wordreference.com ) Got it right, thankfully. Then finding oeillets, which I think Catrin needs.
On the way back from the supermarket, coming up the slip road from the rocade I saw a bird of prey just emerging from the grass very near the car. There was a small fieldmouse hanging from its beak. Amazing.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Ilya Ilin, the enormous guy on the platform, bent and siezed the bar, got into the crouch position, lifted the bar to his chest, above his head, straightened his legs.
But the wonderful thing to see was the reaction of his coach - a small, weedy, bespectacled man - who punched the air, danced, jumped up and down.
Other weightlifters took their turn. Some succeeded, others failed to lift their bar.
Then "our" guy again. His coach watched from the side. He siezed the bar, lifted it - and secured the gold medal for Khazakhstan.
His coach went berserk ! He jumped, he danced, he hugged and kissed his enormous pupil.
The weightlifter got the gold and its glory.
But there could have been no greater joy than the joy of the coach.
In Christian ministry there's always the danger of it being all about me, my service, what I do, what I've done.
Monday, August 25, 2008
We have been in Brittany in the gorgeous little town of Belle-Isle-en-Terre staying in an adorable little gite while attending our French association's Assemblée Générale and also preaching to a very gracious church at Guingamp yesterday.
I'll pop some photos on when I can get this phone to synchronise with the pc.
Belle-Isle is gorgeous and Brittany is wonderful in the summer - even when the weather is not brilliant. Also Gwilym and Catrin clicked extremely well with our colleagues the Hartiels' children, Joseph and Lydie. However it is 6 hours drive each way - dual-carriageway all the way - so we are not going anywhere for a while... please...
¤ in fact while we were away the church met at our house yesterday - 35 people by all accounts, which is too many for the number of chairs we have. Oops ! Just as well we were not there.
One minute it was emptying down, the next the sky looked like it didn't know how to rain.
Not that we've been to that many, mind. And we've never seen them anywhere other than in Brittany..
We wondered if the local inhabitants are called Grèvistes (strikers). The happy folk of Caste are known as the Castois and the cheery inhabitants of Grâce are called the Gracieux.
As you may suspect, grève doesn't only mean strike. It also means beach, shoreline, strand, so I think a better translation of this placename would be St Michael's on the strand, or St Michael's on the shore.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
about 30, counting the nippers - many of whom didn't use chairs anyway. It was a poignant occasion because we said goodbye to Heidi and Luc-O who are moving east with their three little ones. We put all our tables in a row on the terrasse and everyone fitted on fine. In the absence of last weeks pompier (fireman) to advise on the barbecue we had a scoute (you can work that one out) and all seemed fine. All was OK.
We sang unaccompanied because all our pianists are missing on holidays, but all was OK except for 'Before the throne' which starts very low then goes very high. Ooops.
We took a few hits afterwards on our natty black plastic solar lamps but since I got them ten for 5 euros at Auchan it isn't a huge loss...
I preached on Galatians 2:20.
We have 31 chairs when we really scour the joint hard.
Ah well. There's always the stairs, and one family we have counted may not yet be back from holiday and some other folks too, so I'd be surprised if we get to 31.
But if we do we're ready !
Saturday, August 16, 2008
We went to Dax to the feria yesterday. It's a kind of town fair with funfairs, bands playing in the street and bullfighting.
I was keen to go to see what it's like, though I was wary of the level of drunkenness and also unsure how much the bullfighting would dominate.
France has it's own kind of bullfighting where people try to avoid a charging bull either by side-stepping or by vaulting over its horns. But the Spanish kind is also done - at Dax.
Here we have a band (fanfare de rue) playing Guantanamera. My prof de trombone is in this group.
(There was more drunkenness than I've seen before in France, but still pretty mild by British standards.)
Tzatziki. ( ! )
Chicken and thyme.
Herbes de Provence.
Garlic and rosemary.
My favourite is olive flavour, but I got pesto. The weirder the flavour the longer the crisps last.
Friday, August 15, 2008
hmmm. There's a second-hand trombone outfit in Mont de Marsan but Bordeaux is awful for music shops. Worse than Cardiff. And trombones are expensive here in France. In fact I'd bought the Jupiter for £150 from Britain on eBay. ( It was a good buy too )
I asked in the local shops for the sake of form. Jupiter 636 large bore with F mechanism, three times the price they are in Britain ! Up there with the Yamahas and the American trombones. Second hand ? Dream on. All this about two months before we were due to go to Britain on summer hols, though.
So I thought 'OK - while we're in the UK I'll visit some of the trombone mongers. There's one in Bristol, one in Taunton, one in Watford. That'll follow our itinerary a bit'. I phoned Taunton. They had nothing. I visited Bristol. They had an old Conn that was great but expensive. I fretted about it but it was out of my budget and I knew it. Nobody had the Jupiters.
Then when we were in Swansea I looked on eBay. What's this ? An American Bach 42, second-hand, good condition, good price, nobody bidding, in Shrewsbury, the auction due to finish the day before we passed through on the way to North Wales. Could this be a providential trombone ? I bid and prayed and waited.
And won it. We called for it and the old chap who was selling it was very nice. A retired nurse, he plays for the town band and was selling his Bach and keeping his Conn. He said "I think you're getting a bargain. It's worth more than you've paid." I said that I knew - but he was happy with the deal and he threw in three mouthpieces, a waterspray and a new pot of Conn grease. And the horn is gorgeous. The bell section dates from about 1978 and the slide from about 1998. All works well and Renaud has given it his seal of approval. He said "C'est un peu vidé, mais moi j'aime bien un trombone qui est un peu vidé". He means that being old it doesn't ring quite as much as a new trombone would. ( I sometimes think I'm a bit vidé, too. )
And Renaud suddenly bought my old Jupiter. I said "You can't play a Jupiter, people will laugh" but he needed a cheap trombone for playing in the street. I sold it to him for 150 euros which is just a little less than I had paid for it.
Que du bonheur.
Now to master this Bach. Perseverance and patient endurance.
We sign on September 4th and get the keys straight away.
The agency has reduced their fees by a third and we can pay them in a couple of instalments.
Whoopeeee ! Here we go !
(Thanks for praying ! Sorry not to pass this on yesterday but I took to my bed with a sudden cold.)