les Davey de France

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Aix en Provence

Surely it MUST rain there sometimes ?
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Mérindol in the Lubéron





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More Mérindol in the Lubéron




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Yup, it's Mérindol in the Lubéron





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As the year draws to a close, and next year is sure to bring many changes

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Friday, December 30, 2011

There and back again

A while ago Pat received a small grant from a trust fund to enable her to take a break. It was never specified whether she should go alone or take us along (she wanted us to come too) and the holiday had to be taken by, I think, the end of February.

Meanwhile some friends had invited us to go down and visit them in their new place in Provence, in a wonderfully crazy house in the middle of a rural fertile valley not far from the Luberon. It's a long way, and fuel and motorway tolls would normally have been prohibitive (100€ in tolls alone) Aha ! But we have the grant to use.

So we just got back. Our friend is a Westminster PhD with a library to die for. He's a systematician in my opinion and has worked for some time training pastors in difficult countries. They have lots of delightful home-schooled children! and Provence was beautiful and sunny, though the mistral tried its best to blow us off a hill !

Photos will follow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Well the eight turned into twelve

We were due to be eight for Christmas lunch, having invited the students that were still in Bordeaux - but then this morning three anglophone students turned up and one of the Chinese students was at church, too, se Pat invited them and we requisitioned a table we'd previously put in the church to augment our seating capacity. In the immortal words of an old friend, "You can always stretch a chicken", and we had two chickens !

At 4 the Queen was on and it coincided with the end of dessert, so we made everyone watch it. Well Pat did really. There wasn't much resistance, if we're honest. "Is the Queen a christian ?", someone asked, and I gave the answer you'd expect. Hang on, she's starting... The commonwealth people were glad to see the bit about the commonwealth and then the Queen urged us to seek forgiveness in the Saviour. :O !

Games ensued : Scrabble, Othello, Jenga, etc... I had a nap. I woke up in time to ferry people to their respective tram stops.

One of the nicest things about this holiday season has been getting to know my kids better.

My favourite Christmas Brass Quintet

Happy Christmas !

Joyeux Noël !

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Driving lessons

It's time the boy learnt to drive. In France you can do what they call conduite accompanié from the age of 16. Here's how it works :

1) You sign up and do your code de la route training and test.

2) After that you get 20 hours minimum of on the road driving tuition.

3) Then you get to do 1000 km of accompanied drivign with your folks.

4) A meeting to review progress.

5) A further 2000 km of accompanied driving.

6) A final meeting to review progress.

7) Driving test.

There's good news and bad news.

Bad news first :

It costs a lot. However you can pay in four instalments at points 1, 2, 3 and 7.
The code de la route tuition. He can only possibly do classes on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Now the good news :

Both Pat and I can accompany his driving.
There's no reason why our British driving licences should prevent us doing this.
Insuring him for the car won't cost anything.
He'll get cheaper insurance once he gets his own car.

Jingle Bells in New Yoyk

Friday, December 23, 2011

Well that made her day

I was at the Mairie de Pessac this morning and while I was there I thought I'd register to vote. So I did.

The lady said "Vous n'êtes pas Français ?"

"Non, je suis Gallois, mais j'habite ici, j'ai le droit de voter dans les élections municipales, et puisque ils sont en train de réfléchir..."

She made a face showing that she thought it unlikely that foreigners would be given the right to vote in French national and presidential elections...

"Ben, je vous inscrirai pour les municipales et les européennes.. ben... la nationalité..."

"Oui, Britannique..."

"Il n'y est pas.. disons Grand-Bretagne... non. Royaume-uni... ah non... Gallois ... non"

"Ben il faut mettre Anglais, peut-être ?"

"Ouais, mais vous n'êtes pas Anglais..."

"Oui je sais, mais normalement..."

"Ah non ! On ne met pas Anglais ! Bon, Anglais existe, je le modifierai, voilà, Britannique..."

And is it yourself, shepherds ? Top of the dead of night to yer !

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hmmm.....

Christmas Kids Klub

Monday and Tuesday saw the first Kids Klub held at the church under the capable leadership of Harriette. Pat was helping on crafts and Catrin and Gwilym on everything. The first day one kid came from a non-church family and the next day he brought three friends. A good start.

Plastic trombones in a Christmas concert

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So far so good

Day one of Christmas Hols :

Kids Klub went well, Pat Gwilym and Catrin happily ensconced.

Tree bought and various other secret jobs done.

Lovely evening meal with Dik and Hetty. Raclette, green salad, fruit salad.

Day two - Town Hall, Christmas food shopping, sundery other secret jobs.

So far we're 10 people for Christmas dinner. I reckon 2 kilos of sprouts should do.

I know that I shouldn't laugh, really

Read about when le Père Noël turns nasty here.

Who among us has not wished to do the same ?

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

Monday, December 19, 2011

This isn't at all Christmassy but it's very beautiful

Championnat de France des Râleurs

I started to watch Direct8's programme, Le Championnat de France des Râleurs on Youtube but it's too long and there's too much strong language.

But râler is a phenomenon worth mentioning.

It's when you turn "Victor Meldrew" and it all comes out.
It's an adult tantrum.
It's when you throw a hissy-fit.
It's throwing your toys from thr pram.
It's when you say "Could you give me a hand with this, please ?" and suddenly World War 3 breaks out.

The fact that there's so many ways of expressing this in English indicates that the Brits do it too.

Club bonne nouvelle pour enfants en école primaire

Today and tomorrow there's a Club Bonne Nouvelle at the church for kids of primary school age. Led by Harriette, Patricia is in charge of crafts and is well-organised. Gwilym and Catrin are little helpers.

Meanwhile I am on a quest for a Christmas Tree. Ikea ?

There will be glue.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas tubabones






Here's some photos of the Christmas trombones and tubas at Bordeaux :

The final proof that duck is good for you

I was paying my monthly visit to Getafix to get my life-giving herbs and magic potion.
While the cauldron was bubbling I idly read the boxes of medicines.

Contre états grippaux - Trucmachinbidulle... (Against symptoms of flu - Oojamaflip)

Interesting, I thought. What's in it ?

Extraits de foie et de coeur de Anas Barbariae. (Extracts of liver and heart of Barbary Duck.)

Duck ? Duck liver and heart ?

So I asked Getafix, "In your opinon, does this work ? After all, it's duck."

He laughed, "Let's just say that there's hundreds of people who take it... Perhaps the effect is psychological but if it makes you feel better, who cares."

Friday, December 16, 2011

It looks like the children are having a wind day

It's windy here. Very windy.

Perhaps not as bad as the big wind of 2009 which entirely removed the garden fences, took off £600 worth of roof tiles and completely removed the roof of two houses round he corner.

But still very windy.

I slept through it all so I thought the forecast had come to nothing but in fact it's very windy.

Too dangerous for the kids to go to school and for Mrs Davey to go to the feminine circle.

Oh well. We still have power and the phone line still work

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bordeaux on Tuesday night


When I left the Couleurs Café there were CROWDS of people coming out of the Cathedral, so I sneaked up to the previous tram stop to get on before them.

Je suis FURIEUX !!!!

Patricia a écrit une lettre au professeur d'EPS ce matin pour lui demander d'excuser Catrin de la pratique de sport. Le professeur a lu la lettre et a obligé Catrin de le faire quand même !

EXCUSEZ-MOI !!!! C'est qui la personne responsable ???? Qui paye l'école (et donc en partie votre salaire) ????

J'ai écrit une lettre au professeur où je remarque que Patricia est la personne responsable ET qu'elle est infirmière avec une vingtaine d'années d'expérience !

Well I am TAMPING !!!!

(tamping - a South Wales word meaning furious)

Patricia wrote a letter to the PE teacher this morning asking that Catrin be excused from sport. The teacher read the letter and made her do it anyway !

EXCUSE ME !!! Who's the legal responsible person here ? Who is the one who's paying the school fees ?

I have written a FURIOUS letter to the teacher, pointing out that Patricia is not only the person legally reponsible but also a nurse with years of experience.

Catrin's singing debut

I was glad that no student event was planned for yesterday evening because Catrin had her first concert at the Ecole de Musique de Parempuyre. Her teacher gave us the address and we set off in good time to find a town plunged in utter darkness. One building was lit up - feebly - by emergency exit signs and a plaque said it was la maison des arts so we went in and Renaud prof de chant was there. There were lots of people singing, of varying standards. One guy was pretty good - singing a kind of Police - Walking on the moon style thing. After a while the electricity came and went, causing endless fun for those who sang with microphones or sheet music. It stayed on for Catrin's song which you can hear below. We left before the end because poor Gwilym has two days of tests today and tomorrow so we didn't want to be late home.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The week ahead

Tuesday evening is the FAC Café Philo Soirée de Noël. I am to give a short talk.

Tomorrow night is Catrin's singing debut - at the Ecole de Musique de Parempuyre.

Thursday night is the English Class Christmas Film Night.

Friday night last big band rehearsal of the year and also Christmas Service at Blaye

Saturday morning Gros Tubes de Noël in Bordeaux centre.

Saturday evening preaching for the Chinese group

Sunday am Last Sunday of Advent - Dik preaching.

Sunday afternoon - United Christmas Celebration with the Chinese, the English Service and the French Church.

'Tis the season for music

Monday, December 12, 2011

The morning after the evening before

So we were 22 for the English Service Christmas Meal and Message. This happened to be the exact number of places we had set at table and the most our lower room could accommodate, and we needed to be in the lower room as that's the one with heating. A number of folks brought friends and all was mighty fine !

There's a problem with the church electricity supply at the moment such that you have to be careful not to plug in too many things at once or the trip ... trips. Despite this constraint Mrs Davey managed to produce a turkey roast dinner with spuds in two kinds, runner beans, broccoli, sprouts of course and gravy. She was aided and abetted by myself, Gwilym and Catrin and the Chinese group's hostess tray.

People brought aperitifs and desserts, including pecan pie, pumpkin cake, mince pies and a kind of raspberry cheesecake.

Between the main course and the dessert I did my brief messagette, getting everyone to recount the visits to the infant Jesus and then talking about the responses of Herod, the religious leaders and the magi to his birth. Everyone responds - will you respond with apathy, with hostility or will you want to know more like a wise man ?

We said a fond farewell to Paul whose stay with us has been too brief but very happy. We'll miss you, Pole.

Now, looking back, it is hard to believe what everyone achieved in our embryonic kitchen.

I'm on a roll here

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Carol Service

We had planned to all go to the Anglican Carol Service at 17h on Saturday.

The logistics were complicated because I was in Mérignac till 16h30 for the Gros Tubes de Noël  rehearsal while the children and Pat were scheduled to be in Cenon till 16h at Club Lampadaire (the youth group). So the plan was that Pat and kids come by tram to Mérignac and I pick them up in the car to go to the Carol Service.

However the best-laid plans go oft awry, and a minor malaise meant that Pat and Catrin stayed home, Gwilym went home from the club by tram and bus and I went to the Carol Service on my own.

It was very different this year, with readings in Spanish, German, Italian, Welsh (hurrah !), Arabic and French - the text in English being printed in the order of service. The choir sang "For unto us" from Messiah, plus some Palestrina, Willcocks (Lord of the Dance) etc.. The middle of the service included a kind of western-style nativity tableau done by the kids and the christening of a lad. Afterwards I stayed behind too long to talk with my friend Didier, who is a devoted anglophile.

Everyone was agreed that the lady who read in Welsh was by far the best reader and - would you believe it - I was sat next to an elderly lady I had never met before who is from Newtown and a Welsh-speaker. Did we ? Well of course we did.

Music for this time of year

Commission des Ministères and the weekend ahead

Having spent a quiet two days in trains, plus a good old grilling at the Commission des Ministères - warm and friendly but all the hot potatoes came up - they voted to accept me as a Pasteur Associé. I told the chairman that they're madder than I thought they were.

I tell you what, Nîmes is a rum old place ! J-P drove me from his family home to the high-tech UNEPREF head offices - the nerve center - through a neighbouring ZUP. I have never seen so many huge blocks of flats in one place - ever. Astonishing !

Now it's the first nutty weekend of Christmas. Here's the schedule :

Now - headcount for Bordeaux Church Meal and Message

Then - order of service type-up for service tomorrow morning

Then shopping for Bordeaux Church Christmas Meal and Message.

Then lunch.

Then rehearsal for the Bordeaux Trombone Christmas Extravaganza.

Then dash to pick up family at tram stop yet to be decided.

Then dash to Anglican Church Camel Service. "Away in a Manger" and "Wahay Yule".

Then home, eat, sleep.

Tomorrow Church 10:30, me leading first part, Dik otherwise occupied.

Prepare room. Meal and message at 18h.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

As Christmas approaches my mind always turns to Chalcedon

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood;
truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body;
consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;
in all things like unto us, without sin;
begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;
the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ;
as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Nightime photos

Last night the church council finished at about 6pm and the café philo started at about 8, so it wasn't worth driving home and then getting back into the centre of Bordeaux. Instead I heated something up at the church then took the tram to the café.

Except that the square Stalingrad was so pretty I got off the tram to look and to take some photos. Then I decided to walk the rest of the way, over the stunningly beautiful Pont de Pierre and up to the café.

Honestly, every corner you hold your breath because you know that something lovely awaits you ahead. Bordeaux is a lovely place.


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Yet more seasonal music

I can't imagine that I'll be able to keep this up till Christmas !

Catrin's Brevet blanc

Today it's History and Grigraphy. Then normal lessons this afternoon.

Science tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Additional seasonal music

I have not yet perfected Porage Belle Hélène.

I know what it would take. A drizzle of very rich chocolate sauce over the top of the diced pear in porage.

Maybe for Christmas.

The music schools - the way ahead

Up till the 1970s in France I think music tuition was pretty much like it is in Britain today. Keen parents would look for instrument teachers for their kids and musicians gave lessons on the side to keep some bread on the table.

Since the 1970s France has institutionalised the teaching of music in various ways and at various levels. I won't bore you with all the details but you have music schools and conservatories. Music schools exist at town level. Conservatories at town, department, regional or national level. Some music schools call themselves conservatory when they aren't really - it's a question of recognised and assured standards of achievement, etc, teachers who have passed their civil service exams,...

Anyway, town music schools can be municipal (run by the town hall) or associative (or I imagine, private). Pessac being a big long narrow town, we have two music schools. There's the one where I am on the committee and where Catrin does her singing lessons and I play in the jazz band, and there's the other where I have my trombone lessons. Both music schools function in a very similar way, both are funded about half by a subsidy from the town hall and half by what parents pay.

For a couple of years, and for the foreseeable future, the subsidies the town hall pays have been frozen. No increases. However the salaries bill for the teachers goes up every year. A couple of years ago this provoked a BIG crisis. The music school had to think deep and hard (not long, there wasn't time for long). Essentially the problem was how to do as much with less money.

The answer found was to bring in group lessons. Firstly for intermediate levels. Then the following year for beginners. At present the advanced students still get individual lessons. Also prices for families rose. Also the time spent on each student has been reduced. (Incidentally, this led to me switching music schools.)

One of the music schools asked a government funded group to look at how we work to see what could be done to make things work better, to do as much with less. The group suggested looking at both music schools together, and last night the report was delivered in the presence of various officials from the Town Hall, both elected and non-elected.

The upshot is that we are doing what we do very well. There's no obvious way to cut costs or to raise more money. The only thing that could be beneficial is sponsorship by rich individuals. (I thought of one chap in Pessac who might be interested). Other than that the music schools could become municipal (which would cost the town a whole lot of money and also raise big issues with the staff because they would become civil servants and have to have passed or pass the exam so to be or be paid less and have fewer advantages...) The model of departmental music school was also mentioned, but in the Gironde, with all these big towns etc, that's something outside our power to do.

It's great to attend meetings like this. For one thing you learn a whole lot about the way associations work in France. For another thing, you're a Christian presence in town life. Again, the problems the music school faces we all face. Many churches are wrestling with falling incomes, the need to do as much or more with fewer financial resources.

Today's agenda

10h Pastoral meet-up in Bordeaux
12h Tracting somewhere (I hope to make this)
15h Church council meeting
20h Café Philo

In between I need to get to a railway station to get my train ticket for tomorrow, write and send several emails and also phone my JW friend to tell him not to come round this week again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

This week

has begun big and will continue in like fashion :

Sunday was the visit of the Comité d'Accompagnement when we spent pretty well all afternoon discussing the way forward for the church in the light of Dik and Hetty's decision to return to Holland in June 2012.

This evening a 41-page report is being delivered on the life of the two schools of music in Pessac. I am on the committee of one of the music schools, though the fact that I work evenings means I am not the committee member with the best attendance record. Still, we do what we can.

Café Philo on Wednesday night (subject silence), meeting up with Dik Wednesday morning, Church Council Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday morning we have our next Skype meeting for the UFM people in France. Thursday afternoon I leave for Nîmes by train (probably) for an interview on Friday with the Commission des Ministères with the aim of formalising my relationship with the national union of churches.

Also LOTS of email exchanges and maybe other Skype calls.

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

They've called off the strike...

Dare I go to Nîmes by train after all...?

The mock week

Catrin has her mocks this week, her brevet blanc.

In a way that I am incapable of understanding, it does count towards her brevet
even though the real exams will take place early next year.

She had a day revision leave yesterday and she has another tomorrow.

She's done her French this morning, this afternoon it's Spanish and English.
Then later she has Maths, Geog, Hist, Science, Tech, etc. etc.

Further seasonal music

Friday, December 02, 2011

What ? Again !

I love living in France, but sometimes it can be frustrating.

For some time I have been in the process of becoming officially recognised as a pasteur associé of the Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Réformées Evangéliques de France. There remains one step to take. An interview with the Commission des Ministères in Nîmes.

This interview was scheduled for early June. I got as far as the station in Bordeaux to find that all the railway ticket collectors had gone on strike following an attack on one of their number. So I couldn't get to Nîmes. I turned round and came home.

The interview is rescheduled for Friday 9th December. Then I just read this.

Infamy ! Infamy ! They've all got it in for me !

Some seasonal music

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Who wouldn't want an Irish Christmas !

Dress me in the green and call me O'Shaunessy ! We're jigging and reeling for Christmas here !