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)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas viewing

Agatha Christie, Hinterland and a brilliant documentary on the iPlayer about Catrin Finch and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales visiting Patagonia. Just MAGICAL!

Christmas in our flat

It has been an IMMENSE blessing to be settled in our flat before Christmas.

We have light fittings set up, we had our kitchen sorted out, everything was pretty well in place.

It's true that Gwilym has to camp on the sofa, but he doesn't seem to mind, and this week we have taken time off from all duties so we don't need to get up too early and we can all catch up on sleep.

Our living room is a fine size. We have kept our nice big table and we can sit perhaps ten people round it. Comfy seating is a bit more sparse, with my nice pink swivel and tilt armchair and our huge four or more person sofa dominating the other end of the room, but with a bit of creativity people fit in.

It has been wonderful. Just wonderful.

And to have signed on the house sale before Christmas, too, is just a huge load off our mind.


Talking to yourself - the first sign of wisdom

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Too radical just before Christmas?

Well we have been having fun with our new oven and dishwasher!

Patricia has made scones and I have made a birthday cake for Gwilym's 21st and a pavlova base for Christmas Day.




Meanwhile our glasses have never been so clean!

Now Patricia is wondering where we keep the roasting tins.

Well she was. It started like that. Then quickly turned into WHETHER we kept the roasting tins.

And we have concluded that we did not. Oh.

Slow-cooked turkey it is, then! (Better, really...)

Ecoutez le chant des anges

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I can confirm that it is JUST as stressful in France

So I told the estate agent that we couldn't let the buyers start work before the transfer of ownership, and she accepted it sweet as a nut. Then I said, "So in principle I'll see you on Tuesday. We have a provisional rendezvous."

"Why provisional?"

"Because the notaire still doesn't have the papers from urbanism"

"Codswallop! It was sent on Monday." (codswallop - n'importe quoi)

"Listen, everyone is telling me different stories. I don't know. I'm just telling you what she told me yesterday."

"I'll ring her."

I think I'll have a nap...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

OK, now it's getting complicated

So the estate agent phoned today.

1) We now have all the documents, and a date for signing the acte de vente - next Tuesday 22 December at 9am.

2) Meanwhile the buyer's father-in-law would like to begin work on the plumbing this weekend.

3) Therefore would we mind giving them the keys before we sign on the sale.

I said I knew that it was strongly discouraged, that I would take advice and get back to them.

So I phoned our solicitor.

1) The solicitor does not yet have all the documents, the date is provisional, conditional on getting the missing document from the Pessac Town Hall.

2) It is indeed strongly discouraged to allow the buyers to begin work on the house before signing.


Wrap up well

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Alors, nous sommes venus

Well Monday passed and there was no call from the notaire's office. This left us with four possibilities:

1) Go along, the papers are ready, we sign and all is well.

2) Go along, the papers are not ready, we have wasted a journey but hey, that's life...

3) Not go along, the papers are ready, we would have signed but we didn't show up. Catastrophe!

4) Not go along, the papers are not ready. No pasa nada.

Not going along could be a catastrophe. Se we went.

Alors, vous aviez dit que vous alliez appeler hier. Vous n'avez pas appelé. Alors, nous sommes venus.

The papers are not ready. The buyers are apparently camping in Pessac Town Hall.
But we will not be signing this week. The earliest is next week.

This means no big oven or dishwasher before Christmas.

It's not a big problem. We've lived 9 years without a big oven and we've never had a dishwasher.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

So we locked up the house and headed off to the Bordeaux Church at Christmas Extravaganza

which was a Christmas buffet and share evening.

Various folk brought a varied contribution of songs, poems and funny routines, and we ended with some Christmas carols and a very brief word of application of Jesus' birth.

Again several folk there for the first time. People invite their friends.

Today we have a morning of calm before the service at 5 (James is preaching) and carol singing in the Place Saint Pierre.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A series of remarkable providences

I mentioned above how by a series of remarkable providences we would be ready for Monday.

Well here we go.

We had a problem with a damp wall in our back bedroom, so I asked a friend who had left pastoral ministry to set up as a handyman if he could sort it out for us. He did, and did a very good job. The house insurance paid for it, more or less - perhaps a bit less, and we were all happy. During that time we chatted about all sorts of stuff and he expressed interest in our old wood-stove that we replaced a while ago.

On Wednesday he came into the Maison de la Bible, to inquire about some work on the toilets, and I asked him if he was still interested in the wood stove. He said he was.

So on Thursday he came to collect it, and he was there when I discovered that we were signing on Monday. "I'll come round tomorrow and give you a hand." quoth he, "I can store things at my place, sell them on the bon coin and we'll share the proceeds."

Thus it was that we had a merry time sorting, carting to the dump and loading into his Kangoo so he could use, sell or whatever.

Today we have just a couple of loads for the dump and a quick clean for shame's sake, and then we'll be ready to sign!

Friday, December 11, 2015

It won't be Monday, but we will be ready

Well by a series of remarkable providence we'll be ready for Monday.

The notaire, however, won't be. We're still waiting on a document from the town hall.

So it could be Tuesday.

I have a Maison de la Bible Christmas Evening this evening, but I made the fatal mistake of sitting in an armchair while waiting for Pat to get changed, and I am far from sure I'll be able to get out of it again!

O Come Emmanuel

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What? When?

I was on the way to the old house to do some sorting ready to sell or to dump, when my phone rang.

"Hallo M Davey, it's Isabelle, just to say we're calling in this afternoon to read the meters."

"Funny", I thought, "What's the point of reading the meters now?"

Anyway, all of a sudden we had three rendez-vous this afternoon:

1) the plumber to fix the dripping hot tank

2) the buyer to read the meters

3) a friend to collect an old dead wood-stove.

The plumber looked and reflected and proposed a solution and will come and do it on the 30th. That's fine. The latest date for completing the sale is the 2nd January.

Next to arrive was the buyer. We talked about this and that. Then I said, "There's no news of a date for signing the act of sale?"

"Well yes, next Monday at 14:30."

"What?"

I digested this information quickly. Then phoned my solicitor.

"Any news of a date for signing the act of sale?"

"Well, no, I am waiting on a reply from the office of urbanisation, but there is a possibility of next Monday, but frankly I can't see it happening..."

OK. So it's all hands on deck to clear the remaining stuff from the house!

Meanwhile, the good news is that we don't need to clean too thoroughly because they are renewing EVERYTHING. Floors, walls, even ceilings!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

It happens every time

Every time you put your little magnetic bus and tram card against the reader it beeps and flashes up the date that your season ticket expires. And so every time you don't notice it.

Until the day (today) when you get on the bus, offer up your card and it says "Titre Périmé" (ticket expired).

"Oh yeah? But it can't have. I have a season ticket. I pay monthly. Anyway they send you a letter when renewal is due."

I tried the other machine. Same result. I was on the tram gliding along happily through the streets. Perhaps it's a computer failure. Perhaps the readers are going nuts.

Anyway I arrived in the centre of Bordeaux, tried to phone the bus and tram company to no avail, so I sent off some emails left, right and centre (in French, à droite, à gauche).

The reply came back. Yes. It ran out yesterday. To renew you have to come to the office.

Grrr. So this morning I spent a happy hour going to the office to renew my bus and tram card.

And I set a reminder in my diary!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Two things that were very good to find

Sat on top of a box of sundry odd articles:

1) My pocket NIV Bible in One Year.

Oh, I have HUNTED for that book.
It's JUST the right size and I am very glad to be reunited with it!

2) A CD of Franz Bruggen et al playing Telemann Methodical Sonatas on baroque instruments.

Again, I have SEARCHED on Spotify and elsewhere for this recording to no avail.
Now I am listening to it as I type.


In the loft

So yesterday Pat convened a small gathering of the strong and the brave and we ventured into the darkest recesses of the loft.

At rue Pérès the loft is accessed by two standard doors, one off the landing and one off the front bedroom. This easy access means that it is a simple matter to store all manner of large items and forget about them for nine years or more. Our plan was to get everything out and assess its usefulness, its saleability or any other destiny.

Thus we extracted various treasures.

1) Our posh crocks, a wedding gift from my aunt and uncle, we have some really nice china that we'll use on high days and holy days.

2) Slightly less posh crocks, wedding gifts from other people, we have a Portmeirion tea-set which will give joyful service, too, especially now that we have a really good recipe for scones.

3) Unusual crocks, a handmade pottery coffee set that my mother got from Cornwall on holiday years ago, with an unusual design somewhere between a shell and a flame.

4) My tripod. Catrin needs this. I was glad to find it.

Then:

a) the Aiwa hifi system. Originally I thought this could be sold, but is an Aiwa hifi system - the kind with flashing lights - really that saleable after spending nine years in the loft?

b) a good Pioneer amplifier and Wharfdale Lynton II speakers. Again I intended selling these, but really...

And also:

A) A large number of wheel trims for 15" wheels. Testimony to our period of adjustment to driving on the right!

B) Sundry piles of papers and school work, including my A level French project on the Islamic veil. This stuff is for dumping.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

There's a hero in my story, and it's not me

I started watching a sit-com the other day and got as far as one and a half episodes before I was pretty well sick of it. Now I quite like sitcoms, the scenario was promising and the writing wasn't bad, so what was my problem? It took me a while to work it out, but I think I got there.

The protagonist was a hero, and not an anti-hero.

Think of the majority of sit-coms you see or remember, and almost always the chief character is an anti-hero. Albert and 'Arold Steptoe, Frank Spencer, Tony Hancock, Victor Meldrew, Hyacinth Bucket (couldn't BEAR that one), they're almost all well-meaning people trying to cope with the crazy things that happen and battling with their own inadequacy.

Not this other series. The chief character is a good guy, omni-competent and well-adjusted. Every else in his life is nuts, that's all.

I think for the Christian honesty dictates that we see ourselves not as heroes but in a way as anti-heroes. We may often have good intentions, perhaps, but usually we find our own motivations and desires almost unfathomable. Are my motives pure or mixed? What about all my self-interest? Do I or have I ever loved God with undivided heart? Do I even really know what love is?

I think that's why the old advice is given to preachers - it's OK to tell the odd story about yourself as long as it is not too odd and you are to the hero.

There is a hero, though, and it's not me. It's the one who does know what love is, and who loved me and his heavenly Father with undivided heart and who even now is watching over me, guarding me and keeping me safe through all the crazy twists and turns that life takes.

Quarts and pint pots come to mind!

Well we did very well with thinning out our books and other stuff.

The major problem we have now is chairs. We just have too many chairs.

Then there's a minor problem related to my workspace. It's the side of my wardrobe, and I currently have a small white plastic table, but it's too small really. Now lots of the time I'll work at the kitchen table or the dining table, so it isn't a huge issue, but I am thinking it though, you know...

Now the major job ahead of us is learning and cleaning the old house ready for the sale to be finalised.

Tally ho!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Well, there we are, gone!

Our neighbour paused in the driveway. "That's it? It's today?"

And it was. I traipsed off at 7:30 to get the Citiz car and discovered that our mound of books for disposal had collapsed, so before the men could arrive I had to fight my way into the lounge and re-erect the pile, then clear the big table, seal up a few boxes and bags etc...

The chaps arrived and were surprised at how little we were taking. I explained that we were quite severely downsizing and they got to work loading the van. They were a nice bunch and we chatted about working in MacDonalds, work in the USA versus work in France, and so on and so forth.

By about 10 the vans were packed and we set off for the flat. By about 11:30 the first van was empty and it was time for a lunch break. The rest was completed by about 14:00, I wrote a rather large cheque and suggested that the chaps head for the Spanish border. They said that they probably wouldn't get all that far on it, and I had to agree.

Now we're slowly unpacking mounds of boxes of books and resting weary joints in armchair and sofa.

We love our flat. Our furniture fits great, though we do have rather a lot of chairs. Our little kitchen with its cute table is just wonderful.

It's the apotheosis of cosy.

Moving day

Blue skies!
Nice temperatures.
Pleasant team.
Savage thinning of books and stuff before packing.
Thankful!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Well if I hadn't seen it myself I would never have believed it.

I have dramatically reduced my library. In sorting and packing books I have put about 2/3 for resale, perhaps by the Anglican Christmas Fate, and just about 1/3 of them for keeping. We should have lots of space on our bookshelves.

I have also decided to jettison all my CDs and DVDs. Almost all are in my iTunes library anyway. Other music I can obtain by streaming.

There we are. The decision is taken. I do not regret it and I shall not regret it.

Well I am totally baffled

I gazed long and hard at the election posters outside a local school, but I can't make head nor tail of the parties any more.

There seem to be about four different parties that include the word "Republican" in their name, so I couldn't even be sure which party was Alain Juppé's.

I was puzzled by the presence of the gaullistes - surely that's Juppé's party?

And as for the party for the Spirit of the Resistance...

I am so confused that I am very glad that I don't have a vote because I'd be baffled.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Positives, negatives and not sures

Positives
12 people at the Bible Study last night and that worked fine. Every chair taken.
Also we don't hear the cars leaving from the subterranean carpark.
We don't hear the traffic either.
Also SFR really pulled it off and came up trumps.
We signed up on Wednesday and the modem arrived and the internet was working on Thursday.

Negatives
We do hear the water flow from upstairs' shower.

Not sure yet
It's weird having a doorbell.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Getting by with a little help from our friends

James recently constructed the same bed as Catrin's and is coming to finish it off while I pack books in boxes.

Michael has been appointed chief of dump team, and will ferry rubbish to the recycling centre.

Sally is coming to help with packing stuff in boxes.

Others have also volunteered and will probably be organised into their ranks and brigades this evening.

What a difference!

We bought a new mattress and duvet. Or mattress was about 11 years old and our duvet perhaps 23. 

It made an unbelievable difference!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

And another one!

So the day began with prayer and planning with the three wise men at Nico's flat, then quickly, hop on the bus to Grangeneuve to be at the flat when the chaps deliver the Ikea fridge-freezer and Catrin's bed.

I had not long got on the bus when they phoned me to say that they were running early and would arrive in about 20 minutes. I told them that I wasn't and wouldn't, so I got to the flat just before the scheduled rendez-vous of 13:00 and they arrived soon after.

They got the stuff into the flat and I then proceeded to change the hinges on the fridge-freezer so it opened from the correct side, then I started to build the bed.

RATS!

One of the screws was so hard to screw in that the head got mangled...

Oh well, I can put the one from the centre in its place and leave the centre without a screw.

RATS!

The screw from the centre was just as tough and the head got mangled.

Oh well, there was nothing for it. I'll have to take a trip to Ikea to get new screws before continuing with the bed.

I constructed the Ikea lampshades that we had bought and found that we have a funky new system of sockets and plugs for connecting light fittings. To connect the Ikea lampshades I will have to do some jiggery-pokery with wires.

Went home, arranged for internet access, hopefully from next Monday or Tuesday, then packing boxes as well as doing some important message sending and Facebook event putting on for Bordeaux Church.

Monday, November 23, 2015

That was a day and a half!

So the removal men are booked for next Monday.
Meanwhile I tried to master the heating system in the flat.
We also moved one or two things over.
We collected LOTS of boxes for books.
We took a load of stuff to the recycling centre.
W collected some more fire wood for the wood-stove.
I cancelled my eye-test, due the morning of the house-move.
I made another appointment for an eye-test for a week later.
Now I'm having a cup of tea.

How do you know when it's time to move?

Well one clue might be when the hanging rail of your wardrobe collapses, dropping your clothes onto the shoes below.

We do not plan to take the wardrobes with us or even to sell them.
They were bargain basement chipboard wardrobes.
Just as well.

It's junk

Lots of things that you bought over the years become utterly worthless.

DVDs! Nobody buys second-hand DVDs any more.
Books! Many of them are worthless and unwanted.

You have to steel yourself to just throw them away for recycling.

It's a strong argument for streaming, for rental and for libraries!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mrs Davey's birthday meal

When we move - and we hope to install ourselves in the flat by the end of this week - we will miss our local parks, that's for sure. We'll have the Pape Clément vineyards in exchange, but they aren't quite the same.

We'll also miss one particular local restaurant.

Not that we've been there often. Perhaps three or four times in nine years!

But each time we've been there it's been pretty special.

Binh Dong is a Vietnamese restaurant, and until recently was the number one restaurant in Pessac according to TripAdvisor. It's REALLY SMALL and for the evening you have to book in advance.

We hadn't realised just how popular it was, but when I phoned yesterday we were told that we could have a table for three at 9:30, so that's what we did.

The proprietor is a warm, friendly man and he greets you like long-lost friends. We were installed at our table and they brought us some little bruschetta while we waited for the waiter to come and take our order.

Pat and I had starters, but Catrin didn't want one, so they brought her a little salad while we ate our pancake rolls. The main course was delicious and beautifully presented. I then had a deca gourmand - a decaffeinated espresso with some little desserts - there was banana and cream, crystallised ginger, a kind of nougat thing and a super little chocolate mousse. The girls didn't want dessert, but the waiter brought them some amaretti with cream so they didn't feel left out. While we waited for the bill the proprietor replenished our wine glasses.

In the end we paid 54 euros for a super meal and for probably the warmest welcome you'll get in Pessac.

Star Wars Cantina

No, not that one

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mini Clubmans everywhere! (or should that be "Minis Clubman everywhere"?)

On the way back from the tram stop we saw a Mini Clubman somewhere infelicitously parked on top of the traffic island, it's rear wheels off the ground, its weight resting firmly on the underside of the bodywork. I'd like to hear the noise when it tries to drive away. Come to think of it, I probably will, even though it is a few blocks away.

50 yards further on was another Mini Clubman in the same insistent colours. Mrs Davey was surprised.

100 yards further on, yet another. Mrs Davey was unnerved. What's going on?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guillaume Bignon was an atheist rock musician. He is now a theologian living currently in New York.

Theologian Guillaume Bignon used to be an atheistic Parisian. He explains how his Christian faith makes sense of the attacks
When the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris reached New York where I currently live, I started receiving many touching messages from my American friends. I realised that as a French citizen now living in New York, I was very much the lens through which they see my people, and I was pleased to see how much they cared for me and hence for France. I was also pleased to announce to them that my family and friends in Paris had been spared, but that my country had been seriously hit.
This is a time to grieve and process events emotionally, but as a theologian, I was also asked how, intellectually, these attacks would be processed in such a secular (and thoughtful) culture as that of my beloved France. In fact, within hours of the attacks French atheist and Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar attacked religion and disparaged the '#PrayForParis' hashtag that soon emerged. 
The way I see it, there are only a couple of ways to think through this evil. 
The only option for French atheists (among whose ranks I used to count myself), is to maintain that there isn’t really any such thing as evil. When one denies the existence of God as a transcendent creator of the universe who ordains how humans ought to live their lives, one is left only with conflicting opinions about what individuals like and dislike. If there is no God then there is no objective truth about the good and the bad. 
In the end, to deny God is to deny objective good and with it, objective evil. In fact, this is the route explicitly taken by popular French atheist philosopher André Comte-Sponville. In his book L’esprit de l’athéisme, he says: ‘good and evil do not exist in nature, and nothing exists outside of it’. 
The French atheist contends that the only morality that exists is a human construction, and one must keep in mind that it is ‘illusory’. He concludes: ‘This is what I call relativism, or rather, its positive side: only reality is absolute, every judgment of value is relative.’
In all likelihood, few ordinary French atheists think about where their denial of God leads as thoroughly as Comte-Sponville impressively does. But in reality, to be a consistent atheist one must affirm that the Islamic terrorists in Paris didn’t do anything 'wrong', as such. They only acted out of line with our personal preferences, (and in line with theirs). If there's no ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, that's all we are left with.
Maybe that way of reasoning about good and evil strikes you as crazy. 'Of course the terrorists were wrong and their acts were evil' the atheist says. I agree, which is why I think the reality of the evil we just witnessed makes atheism so implausible. 
Instead, we all sense there is something really, deeply, objectively evil about this. That intuition can only be true if there is a transcendent God, a moral lawgiver, who gives good and evil a moral reality. Even André Comte-Sponville himself, in the very same book, says that one of the reasons he doesn’t believe in God is that men are too evil, (which presumably isn’t worthy of a divine being’s creation)! I leave it up to Comte-Sponville to harmonise those two beliefs, but for now, let’s just note that denying the existence of God, and with it the objectivity of evil, isn’t attractive.
But of course, maintaining the existence of God in the face of such evil isn’t without its difficulties. If he exists and is perfectly good, why didn’t God prevent this evil? More than that, on the Christian view, God isn’t just passively letting history unfold - he is in providential control of all that happens, both the good and the bad. While my sweet Paris is grieving, the Bible states that God 'works all things according to the counsel of his will' (Eph 1:11)
What this means is that the biblical God, if he exists, must have righteous and just purposes behind even the evil we witness. That is both an entirely challenging and entirely hopeful thought! Of course what these purposes are we rarely get to know, but the positive side is that one can trust that God is good even when it hurts, and one can truly ‘#PrayForParis’, knowing that God is in control and can in fact bring justice in response to our deepest longings.
In the end, neither option is easy. Hearts are heavy, and thinking objectively is difficult when it hurts. But ultimately, as the French face this seemingly purposeless evil, one side must deny that it’s evil, and the other must deny that it’s purposeless.
As a former-atheist-turned-Christian-theologian there’s no hiding which option I favour. I’m hoping enough Christian believers will be found in France, ready to offer the biblical option, so that my fellow French would, as I did years ago, find life in Christ, repenting of their sins and placing their trust in Jesus. In a culture that is so post-Christian that the Gospel is almost entirely foreign and hardly ever proclaimed, I say ‘the harvest is plentiful, and the labourers are few’ (Lk. 10:2).
Guillaume Bignon is a French theologian currently living with his family in New York

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just to elucidate...

I am not sure that our politicians are on the right track...

M. Hollande speaks about France being at war, and about armies of terror.
We've launched sizeable attacks on particular sites in Syria.

However, wars are conducted by states, nations and governments.
They send armies of soldiers, trained and organised, into battle for well-defined aims.

The terrorists who shot innocent people indiscriminately or exploded their suicide vests were not soldiers. They were not armed representatives of a hostile state.

They were ruffians, criminals, with their courage apparently bolstered by amphetamines, they were sent by gangs of brigands and pirates to wreak havoc in the streets of Paris like some gang of berserkers.

They have no legitimacy. They have no right to be dignified with words like army or soldier.

Let's call a spade a spade and a cut-throat gang-member a lout and a criminal.

Let's pursue them with all the force of the law, but don't let's speak of armies and warfare.
That's exactly what they want, to be seen as soldiers of Allah.
And they're not. They're a gang of violent louts. That's all.

Today as I went into the FNAC and into MacDonalds I was searched by very polite security guards.
They were clearly of North African origin.
I was very glad of their presence and their vigilance.

The victims have faces

Our local newspaper is the Sud-Ouest, and it is a very fine journal. I get its headlines sent to me by email and I follow it on twitter, too.

One current thread of tweets is very heartrending. With the hashtag "The victims have faces" #lesvictimesontunvisage the newspaper is identifying those killed at the Bataclan. Of course, it was a heavy metal concert, so the dead are young people, and each photo tells of a life cut violently short.

Meanwhile one of the dead was a lecturer in Fine Art at Catrin's university. He taught in the same building where Catrin studies, though on a different floor.

Today is the third of three days of mourning, and yesterday at noon a minute's silence was observed across the Gironde before singing unaccompanied the Marseillaise.

I find it hard to love the Marseillaise as a tune or as a poem, but some of its words seem very apt just now:

Allons enfants de la Patrie,Arise, children of the Fatherland,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !The day of glory has arrived!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,Against us tyranny's
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)Bloody banner is raised,(repeat)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnesDo you hear, in the countryside,
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos brasThey're coming right into your arms
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !To cut the throats of your sons, your women!
 
Aux armes, citoyens,To arms, citizens,
Formez vos bataillons,Form your battalions,
Marchons, marchons !Let's march, let's march!
Qu'un sang impurLet an impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons ! (bis)Water our furrows! (Repeat)

Man, everything is so FRUSTRATING!

Still...

So we have the keys to the flat.

We have the Electricity supply in our name.

Yesterday morning we put the water supply in our name.
Thankfully I had photographed the meter, because there's a code on it that Eau de Bordeaux needed.

Next job was to talk to the removal firm before going to Ikea for bedding.
A friend had used a super removal firm and highly recommended them, so I phoned them.
And got no answer.
Their website had a facility to leave a message, so I did that.
We had lunch. We decided to go to Ikea.

On the way back from Ikea, in the Citiz car, my phone rang in my pocket.
We were stuck, I couldn't answer it.
It was an unrecognised number and they didn't leave a message.

Oh well. This morning was prayer and planning morning.
So this afternoon I tried the different office of the same removal firm, the further one from the other side of Bordeaux.
They'll come to do a quote next Monday.

Phew!

Meanwhile we are considering shipping over the bare necessities and camping at the flat! :-D

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris attacks

Last night I preached again for the Chinese group. A much smaller group this time. They must have told them I was coming.

One of the girls there has a friend who was shot in the Paris attacks. She went to the rock concert at the Bataclan. When the gunmen started firing she at first thought it was part of the show, but she quickly realised that it was very bad, so she tried to flee but was hit with two bullets in the abdomen. She is OK. They removed the bullets in hospital and she's physically fine.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris attacks

We went to bed early after a few late nights recently, and I woke up to questions on my phone, "What's the latest on Paris?"

Please pray for wisdom for the government, efficiency and insight for the security forces, for defeat for evildoers and for peace for the city of Paris and for all of France.

A Prayer in the Time of War and Tumult:
"O ALMIGHTY God, King of all kings, and Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." 
The Book of Common Prayer

EDF

EDF, the electricity company, have a splendid showroom in Pessac, so rather than speak on the phone to someone in a call centre in South America I thought I would just go along there. They have these marvellous cubicles with sprawling, curved sofas and hi-tech screens and a super reception area.

I entered. An older man and a young woman were stood in the reception area shuffling papers.

"Hallo", we all said. I explained that were moving house to a new apartment and needed to keep the contract for our house till the sale goes through. It was no problem at all. I was equipped with my customer number as well as the Electric Meter number for the flat. They were impressed.

All in all it took about an hour of discussion, of form-filling on the hi-tech screen, of discussion of insurance, power ratings, the size of the water tank and so on.

The energy study of the flat estimated an electricity bill of 43€ a month. EDF estimates 98€. I think the real figure will lie somewhere in between.

"You have a wonderful showroom here. Do many people come here?" The young woman shook her head sadly. "And you've invited people by letter, too."

Friday, November 13, 2015

So why didn't he write you a prescription?

I am not sure that this shingles has gone away. Which means no flu jab. Apparently this year's vaccine isn't that good, perhaps 23% efficient. And a friend recommends a complicated homeopathic reinforcement of the immune system instead.

Oh OK, then. So he wrote out again the three remedies you need, and the instructions. He's a retired doctor, so I can barely make out any of the letters in his handwriting, but he explains to me as well. And off I went to the pharmacy.

The pharmacist looked at the list. He, of course, could read the scrawl perfectly easily.

"So why didn't he write you a prescription?"

"Uh, I don't know." (I did really. He's retired. He's about 80) "What difference would it make?"

"It's completely refunded by the health service."

"Really? It wouldn't be in the UK. The NHS has no faith in homeopathy."

"The NHS also does not have an 8 billion euro deficit."

I'm not sure what the NHS deficit is at present, but I'm pretty sure it isn't counted in euros so I felt OK to just agree.

He went off and got the stuff and explained again what to do.

"That's 6 euros please."

"Oh, it's not expensive, is it? Though of course we know that there's nothing in it"

He shook the little tubes. "Oh yes, there's something in it OK."

After we move we'll be substantially further away from our pharmacy, and I'll miss it.
Perhaps I'll keep going there.

When the rock star comes to the Bible study

"We're just passing through Bordeaux on mission and we'd love even to meet up for a coffee", said the email. I reflected briefly. No. No time to haul myself off for a coffee. But we did have the Bible Study yesterday evening, so I invited them along.

Later that day Patricia sent me a message: "Guess who just came into the bookshop." I guessed in one.

So at seven three fellers turned up. Andy the rock star, along with Jeff and Rick. Basically from Calvary Chapel with a smidgin of Assemblies of God mixed in, Jeff is seriously considering moving his family to France to serve here, perhaps in Bordeaux.

They were fun, serious, lively, sober, just great. The Bible study went fine. We spent longer than we intended and didn't finish all the set passage. It was Ephesians 1:15-23, however, and an ambitious mine to plunder in one evening. Afterwards us other guys chatted while the girls mobbed the rock star and he showed them photos of his family. Again, I reflected how stereotypes don't spontaneously generate out of nothing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

La remise des clés

November arrived today, 12 days late but foggy, chilly and grey. I got a Citiz car and rolled along home to pick up our new bathmat, shower curtain and stuff. Oh, and Patricia. Then we hied us away to the new flat.

A bit of hanging around because we got there early, then we tagged on to the previous new tenant as she was shown the underground carpark, the bike cupboards and the bins area and stuff. Then we went to see the flat. All nice and new, the kitchen fitted and ready for washing machines, ovens etc. Cupboards so clean and empty and so on.

We turned on all the heating and it all heated up.

We turned on all the lights and they all worked except the one outside on the patio.

We found out that the gardeners will cut the hedges but we have to cut the lawn so we'll need to get a small mower and to take our garden cupboard to hide it in.

We put up the shower curtain and put the towels in the drawer.

Then we signed here, there and there, got the sundry and divers keys and scuttled off home.

They reckon our electric bill will be about 450€ per year. About 35€ per month. For all our energy consumption.
Yeah. Right.

Now to:

1) Contact EDF and Lyonnaise des Eaux to set up our account for the flat

2) Buy bed and fridge-freezer from Ikea and get them delivered along with sundry and divers other items.

3) Phone removal people and arrange a date.

4) Arrange internet access at the new flat.

5) Pack and move.

6) Hold a "Vide maison" and empty the house

7) Clean the house

8) Sign on the sale

9) Cancel the insurance on the old house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book review - The Secret Life of a Pastor

I received a kindle format review copy of "The Secret Life of a Pastor (and other intimate letters on ministry)" by Michael A Milton published by Christian Focus.

Reading this book reminded me that the Atlantic Ocean is very deep and wide. It is written in the guise of letters from an experienced pastor to seminarians and adresses a wide range of questions in pastoral ministry. Things like training, the biblical languages, priorities in ministry, family life, preaching, infant baptism, rest, dryness and burnout are discussed. The advice is always good and given graciously. Some of the chapters will do European pastors a whole lot of good!

Some things surprise, however. I had never thought of infant baptism as a major way of fulfilling the Great Commission, and even now I struggle with the removal of half of the "Go. Teach. Baptise. Teach". Sometimes it is not so easy to see how the book applies in a European context. We're in the world of "boards", "programs" and "ministries", a world I have never visited or seen and which seems very different from mine. Now and again I had to read a sentence two or three times in order to be convinced that I understood. That may not be a bad thing, perhaps.

Recommended.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Chick-Fil-A has come to Lyon, apparently

No! No! No!

Videoprojector

We're shopping for one. Woohoo!

Now we need something portable and kind of robust and stuff, because we don't have our own place.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Another step in the culture of grace

One of the things we need to be at Bordeaux Church is a training ground for future workers.
Of course, this happens in various ways and at different levels.

Preaching through John should encourage us all to hone our skills at explaining the gospel to people.

Reading, discussing and praying together in pairs and small groups is like little seminar groups.

The list could go on, but we need more focused training opportunities, too.

Some of our guys could do with preaching - perhaps for the first time. To preach with us would be much less daunting than in their megachurches with the stellar pastors back home.

And our women have real potential, too. We need to provide appropriate next step training opportunities for people, with the understanding that it's OK to mess it up, though I think they know that already from our example :-D .

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Ikea Bunks

When we arrived in France we bought two sets of Ikea Svârta bunks, so that the kids could have friends to stay overnight. They have been great over the years - as solid now as the day we first put them together all those years ago.

Now we want Catrin to have a slightly more conventional bed - we're getting a single that transforms into a double, so it's time to sell the bunks.

The first set went a couple of weeks ago.

The second set is scheduled to go this afternoon, but last night as I took them apart I realised that several of the screws were missing - some that held the mattress-bed to the frame and all the attachments for the ladder. I indicated this in the advert and lowered the price a bit.

Anyway, this morning I scuttled off to Ikea to get mattresses for Catrin's bed (the bed will wait till we move into the flat) and remembered that they used to stock spare screws. I asked the lady. They still do. Bruno at the customer service counter was very helpful. He brought up the assembly instructions on his screen and identified the screws. He went off to get them and ... there was no charge.

Bravo Ikea!

Selling things on the Bon Coin

Next phase in furniture reduction : put sofa, bunks, wooden garden table and chairs and doll's house on the Bon coin.

Problem. What price to ask...

Well the bunks are solid and come with mattresses. There are always lots of bunks on the site so you can see what they are going for. In addition our bunks have some of the screws missing, so we knock off a bit for that.

The sofa is American and very solid. We have had it about twenty years, however, and there are places where the cloth has lost some of its texture. OK. Finger in the air on that one.

The doll's house is solidly made and in very good condition. Finger in the air.

The garden table and chairs. Well this we bought in a sale when we first came to France because we needed something quickly. However I have never loved it, the chairs are those funny angled uncomfortable things and the table legs are awkwardly placed, too. OK. Finger in the air.

The adverts go live:

We could have sold the salon de jardin six times over! Maybe for six times as much?

The bunks - OK. A serious buyer.

The sofa. Zero, thus far.

The doll's house. Likewise, no response.

Still. Early days. And we still have lots of fine junk to sell!




Thursday, November 05, 2015

OK - A week today we get the keys of the new apartment!

Meanwhile I still don't know whether we should just switch internet provider to the cable company whose cable/fibre optic is installed in the flat, or whether to order a phone line and get our current provider to move our connection over.

Also meanwhile our buyers came round yesterday with a window guy and a kitchen fitter to measure up for new windows, a new opening into the back garden and a new kitchen.

They're ready to go mid-December.
We can be ready to go mid-December, but will the lawyers be ready to go mid-december?

Good question!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

OK. Time to get our skates on!

I popped into the insurance agency today to make an appointment to insure the flat.
One of the folk was available, so we sorted it out on the spot. Bang. Wonderful!

Then off to the flat to see what has been done to the garden. They appear to have seeded it all with grass. I took some photos.

Then home where I discovered a message from the estate agent.
The buyers are ready to exchange, so could we bring the exchange date forward to 15 December.
I said we could, then phoned our notaire to see if they can!

This means lots of dumping and selling, booking a removal firm and various other little jobs to do.







GBU Weekend

From Friday to Sunday I was at the weekend of the GBU, speaking three times. The theme was "Love your neighbour as yourself" and I took three passages - John 13, then John 4, then 2 Corinthians 5. It was a great weekend with 30 or so great students from Bordeaux, Toulouse, Pau, Agen and Rodez.. About 8 of them are regular Bordeaux Church people and perhaps another 3 or 4 come occasionally, so "we" made up a quarter to a third of the folk there. And the weekend was held in beautiful surroundings.





Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

GBU Weekend

Thanks for your prayers. This weekend I am at the Student Movement's weekend for South-West France. I've been before and greatly enjoyed it. It's great fun and the students are always great people. This year I think about 10 of them are from Bordeaux Church, too.

The theme of the weekend is "Love your neighbour as yourself, and I have three messages to give : on John 13 - Loved to love, on John 4 - Loving across barriers and on 2 Corinthians 5 - A Life of Love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Windows drives me nuts

So the old laptop is now on Windows 10, and what gets me about it is that they've changed the whole thing all over again. I can't find anything! Thankfully they've put a search box in the bottom left hand corner because that's 70% of all I've done on the thing - search for how to do one thing or another.

Meanwhile since I bought this Mac the operating system has bene upgraded about three or four times. And everything is still pretty much in the same place. It means there's less radical changes and the screen tends to look more or less the same, but that's a good thing. It means you don't have the feeling that you are learning the whole thing all over again.

Shingles update

rash subsiding

Sunday, October 25, 2015

So no flu jab for me...

I arranged an appointment with Pat's doctor, just round the corner, to have a flu jab.
Went to the pharmacy next door to pick up the vaccine.
Into the waiting room to commune with Spotify for a while (currently Fauré songs).
Went in about 1/2 hour late - not so bad - and he asked, "anything else...?"
"Well I do have a little rash on my shoulder. It's round, so I wonder if it's fungal..."
"Let's have a look. Oh no, come over to the light. No, I think that's a zona."
A quick discussion of symptoms and causes and a confirmation search on google and it transpires that I have shingles.
So no flu jab for me unless and until it clears up.

Another brief visit to the flat, and one here

Yesterday we made a quick visit to the flat to see how things are coming on. It seems to me that they have prepared the gardens for turf and we can see now where the trees are planted.

Meanwhile our buyers called round with some friends to show them the garden and so on. They noticed that the bunks were gone from the downstairs room and Pat explained that we were getting ready to move and should be out before Christmas. They said they'd be ready before Christmas, too, so all depends on the speed of the notaires.






Saturday, October 24, 2015

Preaching for the Chinese

Nice people. Good interpreters. Great food.

and a rather odd character who wanted to heckle...

I explained politely, "Excusez-moi, monsieur, mais vous avez remarqué peut-être que nous faisons un culte en chinois. Le culte en français se passe demain matin à 10h30 et vous serez le bienvenue pour cela, mais je dois vous demander de ne pas intervenir ce soir."

(This is a Chinese service as you can see. You're welcome to come back tomorrow morning for the service in French, but please don't try to contribute this evening.)

He more or less kept the deal, I didn't have to ask him to leave, but at the end he said, "It's a protestant church, isn't it?"

"Yes..."

"So you're the ones who marry homosexuals."

I thought, "They had to do that, didn't they"...

The Eglise Réformée de France is the historic reformed protestant denomination in France, mixed in theology but with some evangelicals in it. Some years ago it merged with another denomination and took the name "United Protestant Church"

Now that was some coup. Of all the words that exist in French: Reformed, Evangelical, Baptist etc... it was Protestant that was respected, because during years of persecution and war, the protestants suffered for what they believed in and didn't give up.

Then, this year, the United Protestant Church voted to celebrate same-sex marriage.

In one sweep the way people view the word "protestant" has been changed.

Friday, October 23, 2015

There's no fool like an

My old windows laptop was sitting in a crate. It brought back painful memories of those days when I would turn on my laptop before heading into the shower, and maybe, just maybe, once I was dressed and breakfasted it would be ready to go.

UGH!

But there's this new super-duper Windows 10 out now. It's super-duper, optimised and stuff, and the upgrade is free. Not like in the old days when you had to buy a cd, you just launch the upgrade process...

Well I started the old tug, found the upgrade site and launched the process.

A day later all the updates were done and the laptop is now on Windows 10.

I wouldn't like to say that it is snappy.
I can't imagine doing any serious work on it, but it might do watching videos or something.
And apparently Windows 10's constant updates are just as annoying as were those of Windows 7, XP, etc...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tonight we have our first group Bible study for everyone

We're going to go quickly through Ephesians, mainly because you get a great gospel overview in a short book. After that we'll probably veer into the Old Testament.

We're holding the Bible Study at Nicodème's flat. He lives in probably the nicest place possible in Bordeaux and I am personally gutted that in a little over a month he will be leaving to go and study in the USA. Which means losing his flat as a venue. Oh well...

Mise aux normes

Yesterday one of the students and I zoomed off to take a nice tea at Books and Coffee and talk about a book we're reading, only to find it closed!

Closed till 28 October.

For a mise aux normes (bringing up to standard).

They're making the toilet accessible to people of reduced mobility and putting in a ramp to get in.

The sort-out continues

Yesterday one of our sofas went to furnish a student's flat, as well as a kind of trolley thing we used in the kitchen, some hard plastic chairs and a little metal shelf unit. Our living-room is looking as if something is happening!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A quick visit to the new flat

First job, to time the walk from the bus stop and tram stop to the flat.
To Grangeneuve: 5 minutes. To Pessac Centre tram: 10 minutes.

Then to see what progress is being made with the grounds. The hedges have been planted and watering hoses laid round them. As I watched various trees were being put in.

Here are some photos:

Straight on to the terrace. Kitchen window at left.

Diagonally on to terrace. Living room window then our bedroom window at right.

Showing the hedge round our patch of garden.

Our garden extends under the living room window and our bedroom window.

Sunday evening at Bordeaux Church

We were full. Very full. Every seat taken.

Exterminate? Exterminate?

The Gironde has a small population of raccoons, introduced from America for their fur or as pets, but since escaped. Just like the minks of East Anglia, or the coypu that you commonly see in the lakes and waterways around Bordeaux.

The raccoon is not a native species and has no natural predators. So, what to do?

http://www.sudouest.fr/2015/10/20/indesirables-rato-ns-laveursun-cousin-venu-d-amerique-2159824-3220.php

Saturday, October 17, 2015

International Thanksgiving

Last night we had perhaps the last big gathering in our home before the house move. I didn't count people, but the living room was pretty full and I don't think we will be able to contain all those people in the new place. Nico spoke simply on thanksgiving with illustrations from his home village in Austria. There was a huge variety of different dishes to eat and I had a piece of leftover apple tart for breakfast. Not bad, eh.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Papers delivered to the Notaire

The lady on deception checked them and said "Impeccable" so that's OK.

Then off to buy 3kg (six and a half pounds) of chicken drumsticks for Cawl Ciw Iâr for the International Thanksgiving Meal this evening, along with an excessive quantity of leeks and other stew-type vegetables.

Then a quick lunchtime concert at the Opéra - David Bizic - Bordeaux' impressive young Serbian baritone singing various arias from Giovanni, Figaro, Faust and Carmen.

Then home. Now just sitting and warming the place up before this evening.

It has bene unseasonably cold here - about 10 degrees less than the usual for mid-October. Normally we don't start heating till the 1st of November, but this morning there was a frost! Imagine it!


It's so EXCITING!

I'm off to the notaire this morning to drop off:

1) Titre de propriété - our title deed

2) Avis d'intention d'aliéner - forms for the town hall in case they want to preempt the house sale

3) Details of our mortgage so it can be redeemed

Meanwhile once we have the keys we can order :

1) Catrin's bed

2) the sofa bed

Thursday, October 15, 2015

One set of bunks and my big trombone gone.

Way hay! Shall I put the sofas on the bon coin now?

Meanwhile I drove past the flat today and they are planting the hedges and trees.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Taking apart the bunks

to sell tomorrow, assuming the person comes.

Easy peasy!

Mission exists because worship doesn't

There's a little discussion brewing in my heart at present, centred on this wonderful soundbite and the possible ways in which we misinterpret it and misapply it.

It has to do with how we read and understand the word "worship".

Many years ago when I was a handsome, young pastor in North Wales some cheeky people put forth the proposition that Christians do not gather to worship. (Even to recollect this now seems quite amazing, in our context.) Christians meet, they said, to encourage each other. They then part to worship God in their daily lives because in the New Testament the whole of life is worship.

Now we find ourselves in 2015, and I am have become a wizened, old pastor in Southern France. Virtually every church in our city organises it's Sunday meetings into "Louange" and "Enseignement". The time of Worship and the teaching. I imagine this is the case in other countries, too.

Those of us of a crusty, old, reformation-heritage character will sometimes say "but listening to God's word is surely worship", and of course, this is true. But sadly, because of the way we use the word worship, or louange, or "time of worship", etc... we can give ourselves the following impression (forgive the simultaneous equations / syllogism)

A. Mission exists because worship doesn't.

B. Worship is singing songs to God with a band for half-an-hour before someone speaks.

Therefore

C. Mission exists because people don't sing songs to God with a band...

Do people really think like that?

Yes, I believe they do. This is why I think that.

When we lose the perspective on worshipping God together we produce "Christians" who are entirely horizontal, who have no ongoing relationship with God, who never pray, never meditate on his word and think that being a Christian is only about applying through the week what they hear on Sunday.

Know anyone like that?

When we lose the perspective on worshipping God in your daily conduct, we produce "Christians" who are entirely vertical, who are lost in wonder, love and praise on Sunday and who are amazed at his word and who adore him in prayer, but who do not grow in holiness and good works and who frankly don't see the need.

Know anyone like that?

By God's grace we can avoid swinging to extremes, we can keep our focus on worshipping God together with heartfelt humble praise AND live for him and walk with him every moment of every day.

We ought to do the one without neglecting the other. And mission exists because worship (in both senses) doesn't.

We are constantly reimagining how to improve the ministry of the church as God opens doors for us...

Over the summer we thought, prayed and discussed lots, and came to the conclusion that we should aim to begin a French-language congregation in one to two years, hopefully with a French pastor at its helm and part of our team.

Meanwhile it is possible that in not too many months' time we will be able to meet in a bigger hall. If this comes to fruition, maybe we can put in place a step on the way, which is simultaneous translation via a smartphone application. The translator sets up on his phone a little local wifi network to which his hearers connect. He speaks into his phone, and they listen via headphones to theirs.

If this happens we could conceivably offer simultaneous translation into not just French, but also Mandarin.

Selling the trombone

Yes. I know.

But don't panic.

Well, you know, it's a big hefty thing that's worth lots of money.
I'll still have the plastic one, and once we move I can decide what to do about getting something cheaper and smaller.

Getting the keys

The company we're renting the flat from phones yesterday to say that we can have the keys early, but they'll still charge us from 1 December. So that's great! It gives us even more time to sort out what we put where and what we need to sell and buy.

Dancing on the tram

I'm sorry if anyone in the tram was alarmed yesterday, but I did have Sinatra singing "Under my Skin" in my headphones.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Well the great sort-out has started

One set of bunks and an oil-filled radiator are on a second-hand goods website.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Preaching for the Chinese

Last night on Isaiah 40. They needed encouragement. They are all excellent students, top notch, but the challenge they face is ENORMOUS. And the pressure to succeed is immense.

And of course, we so want to be successful, and God so wants us to be holy - and sometimes the path to holiness is paved with failures... Some, at least.

Anyway. There was an excellent gang of people there including several children, babes in arms and babes in wombs, too! The Chinese group is turning into a church before our every eyes.

Afterwards an excellent Chinese buffet, including very good honeyed chicken and beef with ginger.

I'm preaching again for them next week. :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Working hard on getting rid of stuff!

Pat is decimating the DVDs and CDs.

I am plotting and planning for bulky musical instruments.

We're making lists of furniture that we keep, furniture that we sell and furniture that we dump.

It's all go!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Book review - Martyrs of Malatya - "James Wright", published by Evangelical Press

This is probably the hardest book review I've ever done. Not because there aren't things I could say. There are, about the book's structure, style, content. But somehow the story line of the book makes all that seem somehow nitpicking, secondary and frankly pointless.

The book tells the true story of how three men were murdered in the Turkish town of Malatya on the 18th of April, 2007. These men were targeted because two of them worked for a publishing house and the third shared an office with the others. The publishing house was targeted because it publishes books about Christianity. The five murderers were caught red-handed - very literally - having trussed up their victims before torturing them with knives, then slitting their throats. Two of the victims died at the scene of the attack. The third died later in hospital.

The trial of the assailants has taken years, despite their being caught at the scene of the crime, four in the offices and the fifth unconscious on the pavement outside having leapt to try to escape the scene.

As far as I can ascertain, the assailants are under house arrest. The book portrays the events leading up to the murders as an example of religious fervour turning young men into murderous hotheads. The internet suggests larger and more political forces at work. Who knows. I think the hothead theory is much more plausible.

Writing from France certain comparisons are obvious. Millions of French people took to the streets to protest against the shooting of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. There has been no comparable public outcry at the bloody murder of the three men of Malatya.

But these are the dynamics of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus spoke in his day of those who prayed on street corners to be seen by men. "They have their reward", he said. "But when you pray do it in secret in the store-cupboard of your house, and your heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

The book is entitled "Martyrs of Malatya". People who are targeted, attacked, slaughtered simply for their Christian faith - and we know that there are many like that in this enlightened age of tolerance - are referred to as martyrs. It means "witnesses". People who testify by their death that they value Jesus Christ more than life itself.

I recommend this book. It is for us in our Western countries an extraordinary story. But for many in this world it is very, very ordinary. How we long for the day when men will no longer believe it is appropriate to kill in the name of their god. Or politics. Or money. Or ideology. Or...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

OK, here's some photos of the flat where we'll be living soon


Our flat is the ground floor one just behind the tree

Our bedroom




The living room


The terrace and garden

The Kitchen




Catrin's bedroom




The terrace and garden



The floor plan

And when the ship to Tarshish won't start?

We had to go and sign for the new flat, and give a cheque for the deposit, and a month's rent, and agency fees - GULP! Still, all that will be OK.

The agency is at Mérignac, near the ring road and quite accessible by bus with various options suggested. The best was the 48 from Pessac Centre, so we presented ourselves at the stop to see the petite bus driver opening the engine canopy. She didn't look all that proficient in the maintenance of large diesel engines, but you never know.

"It won't start", quoth she. She pressed a button, looked at some gauges, then closed the engine cover and went to phone the control centre.

"It won't start", she repeated to me.

"They'll send another bus?"

"Not very soon. You'll have to take the 35."

As we walked off I thought, 'and if we can't get there does that mean we miss out on the flat? And if we miss out on the flat we'll accept it as God's will. But does that mean we shouldn't bust a gut to get there, or that we should?'

As we walked I looked at the magic mass transit app on my phone. We could take the 35, but we could also take the 42 or some other bus. With them all we'd have to change for the 1. We opted for the 42. The app said it would be there in 5 minutes. The bus stop said 20. We hummed and hahed, then strode off to the stop for the 35. It came directly.

Where to change for the 1. The app said at Mérignac Centre, but at the stop before there was a 1 waiting for passengers to get on. We crossed the road and hopped on. Shortly afterwards we arrived at the agents' office, ten minutes early.

We signed the forms. We signed the papers. We signed the cheque. We signed the agent's son's plaster cast on his broken leg just for good measure. Well, OK, I made that up...

And we walked away contented. Now, buyers, don't use this period of reflection to pull out. All the way, buyers, all the way!


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

La DS

The apartments

So we went to see the flats. The nice gentleman greeted us with the sombre news that all the T4s were gone - that means that there were no three bedroom flats available. Bu there were two T3s, two-bedroom available, one on the first floor, one on the ground floor.

We looked first at the first-floor flat. It was very nice with a rhomboid living room, nice square bedrooms and a large wide terrace facing due south.

Then the ground floor. It had a covered terrace, a small garden beyond and a separate kitchen as well as a rhomboid bedroom. The irregularly shaped bedroom would provide room for Catrin's keyboard. The covered terrace is a great idea when it's raining. The garden - well we weren't looking for a garden, but it would give us extra space if we had folks round to eat in summer.

So we'll go to the office tomorrow and sign for the ground-floor flat. The rent is well within our budget and will reduce the outgoings on our support account nicely. The only drawback is that we have no spare room or office, but if and when Catrin leaves home, then we get a nice sized office.

The flat will be ready on 1 December. We should have to be out by 2 January. It gives us a nice overlap for sorting out stuff like buying a bed-settee, an oven, etc...

Oh the JOY!

There was a LARGE mosquito on the shelf in the kitchen.

WAS.

I grabbed the shelf, then washed the beast off my hands.

It's such a long time since we had some music on the blog

So here we go:

Monday, October 05, 2015

OK, I have my dossier all ready and we have clearance to rent.

Please pray that tomorrow's visit is good and that we will find favour in the sight of the company!

Monday Morning Misery

There'll be Monday Morning Misery in Bordeaux today.

It's grey and damp.
It's Monday morning.
The lifting bridge is up for a boat to pass through.
The buses are on strike, so there's more traffic on the roads.
And tram A has just gone out of action in the centre of town.

City life, eh? Nothing like it!

Google photos crisis-ette

My Gmail account is full? How come?

If you go into Google Drive online it will tell you how your space is being used.

What's that? Several GBs of photos? How come? I thought we had unlimited space as long as you allow Google to optimise the file size.

I deleted all my photos - do it in Google Drive online - and now they're all being loaded back on "optimised".

Saturday, October 03, 2015

OK - we have till the 2nd of January to get out

We just signed the agreement to sell the house to the charming young couple who came round last weekend.

I spoke to our neighbour about the sale. I also asked the estate agent if he knew of the company whose flats we're booked to see on Tuesday and he said they're OK, no problem, he's worked with them himself very happily.

I've got most of the documents together for the dossier they ask for rentals. There's just our latest payslips and a letter from UFM confirming our "employment".

The sale should go through on 2 January, but if can we get a rental sorted out there's no reason in principle why we couldn't move in before Christmas and have Christmas in the new place.

Problem!

We have the first of our planned English Conversation Afternoons tomorrow from 3:30 till 4:30 at Dan.

By the magic of Facebook the event has been publicised widely.

So widely that 70 people say they're coming and there's 30 more who may possibly come.

And Dan holds 30 maximum.

"No problem!" we thought. "We'll overspill into the local park."

But the weather just broke and has become wet and thundery.

So I think we'll have to cancel.

I believe there is a way of limiting the number of places available on Facebook and for our next attempt we'll do that.

You live and learn, eh!

Confirming the sale and finding a flat to rent

So yesterday our buyers signed the "compromis de vente".

This is the formal agreement to buy the house, with the price stated and the names of the notaires who will handle the legal aspects.

At the time of signing this the buyers pay a deposit to the estate agents. The sale is binding from this time, except in case of force majeure. Force majeure may include inability to get a loan approved, a severe change in health, the discovery that the house is next to a source of great danger, etc. Or at least this is my understanding of events.

The notaires take about 3 months to do all the searches and legal niceties, and then the deal is done and everyone moves.

Today the agent will call at our house with the compromis de vente and we will sign it. Then we're under starters' orders. Or should I say, notaires' orders.

Now then, that means we need to find a place to rent. Either in the centre of Bordeaux or in Pessac. We've been torn between the two. The overcrowding of the trams between Bordeaux and the campus has persuaded us to choose to be on the Pessac side of the campus.

I applied on Tuesday for social housing and yesterday got the notification that our application has been checked and put on the list. Now I can call at Aquitaine, Domofrance and Axanis to see if there's any hope.

But there's another possibility. Each time I take the Citiz car back to Pessac centre I drive along the Pape Clément vineyards and at the far corner of the vineyard you turn right to head for the tram stop. On that corner there was a big old house which was demolished to build a small block of flats. These flats are just being completed. And they are being built to be let out.

I emailed the company and a nice lady phoned me back. The company has a website which outlines the responsibilities of tenants and the documents you have to provide to rent a flat. I can give them everything they need (tax returns, salary slips, electric bill, etc.) I just need a letter from UFM saying that I am not on a permanent contract and out of trial period.

So we're going to see the flats on Tuesday. There seem to be two options:

1) A two-bedroom flat with a balcony. Built-in wardrobes, fitted kitchen with hob, but not oven. About the minimum size we need. I wouldn't have a study and we wouldn't have a spare room, but we could get a bed-settee for when we need to accommodate people.

2) A three-bedroom flat with a big terrace. Equipped as above. I would have a study which could double as a spare room, and we would have space for barbecues for quite a lot of people. But at a higher rent.

So there we are. Time for me to get the info we need from the various internet accounts, to talk to the mission about acceptable levels of rent, and to go and see the flats.






Thursday, October 01, 2015

We're off to see a flat

A company is building a very interestingly shaped block of flats right by the vineyards of Chateau Pape Clément. It's about 1km from the Pessac Railway station, tram stop and coach service for Lyon or Hendaye. They have two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats. We are booked to go and see next Tuesday afternoon. I'm very excited!

At the piano shop

Catrin needs a new piano. One with 88 keys.

Frankly, it's about time. She's been working with an electric piano that must be about 20 years old or more and only has 76 keys. More than enough for Bach, but this is the 20th century.

So a while ago I sent her with a friend to the Piano Shop in Bordeaux. She talked to a young salesman with an amazing piano technique. "This is what you need, this is what they use on that course", said the salesman, smiling as he showed her a model that cost almost double our budget limit.

I looked at the thing on the internet. It did look very impressive. It was also very expensive.

I contacted a friend who knows these things. "I would find your budget very restrictive", he said.
No sweat. There's a knack.

OK, listen, this is what we'll do. We'll wait till you start your course and see what they use.

Catrin has discovered that they use a miscellany of rag-tag and bobtail keyboards and pianos, some traditional, some digital, most in a worse state than our old one.

So back online I went. What could we get within our budget that would do what we need and have a good piano-style keyboard? I found a model by Yamaha that seemed pretty good.

Off I went to the other piano shop. It wasn't there. The guitar shop across the street was still there.

Where's the piano shop now?
Gone. Closed.
But you still sell keyboards on the quays?
No. The shop on the quays has closed too.
Oh! So now it's just guitars and winds?
Yup. That's it.
But you guys are doing OK?
Yes, we're fine, though it's tight.
Who sells keyboards in Bordeaux, then?
Well you could go to the piano shop or to a keyboard shop near the Pont de Pierre.

I went to piano shop number one (see above). There was the model I had identified. I poked it and prodded it. A salesman appeared, smiling.

"It's a good one, this. Let me show you what it can do."

He gave me a ten minute recital including:
some piece or other by Chopin on piano,
Bach's toccata on Organ (sounded ghastly, but I didn't tell him that),
99 Red Balloons played by a synth band and
The Girl from Ipanema accompanied by a funky bossa-nova rhythm section.

I am sure that you get the idea. He obviously had quite an accomplished piano technique.

"And the keyboard?"
"Yes, it's good."

I thought that the quality of the keyboard was probably of more importance than the multiple speeds of bossa-nova that were available.

"Now tomorrow is the first of October and all the prices go up."
"Yeah, yeah", I thought. Usually my reply to that is, "Oh dear, now I CAN'T buy it. I promised my father NEVER to respond to that tactic."
"So what is the price now?"
"Come with me and we'll see what we can do."

He looked at his price, then at what Thomann, Amazon, etc. were selling it at.

"I'll match their price", he said.
"Done", quoth I.

So today I hied me away into the heart of Bordeaux in the Citiz car to collect it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our house is on the way to being sold.

They offered.
We deliberated.
We accepted.
The compromis de vente (agreement to sell) will be signed on Friday by the buyers and on Saturday by us (because I am tied up on Friday from 15:30 till close of play)
I need to make an appointment with the notaire as soon as possible.
We are now looking actively for something to rent.

We were wondering whether to move further into Bordeaux and try to find a flat in the centre of town, or whether to stay in Pessac where the living' is easy and stuff.
This past week has greatly helped in our deliberations.
Catrin takes the tram from our home to the campus, and from here to her department at Montaigne the tram is nice and clear, you can get a seat and it's all very civilised. From Montaigne into the centre of town it's AMAZINGLY crowded! I mean you're stuffed in like neaps in a haggis when the oatmeal swells. It's tight. Very tight.

So we're going to look in Pessac. We're not guaranteed to find in Pessac, but we'll try.

Meanwhile I have applied online for social housing in Pessac. It's allocated on a priority basis, and we wouldn't be top priority, plus there are extra refugees and asylum seekers to house now, but it's worth a try nonetheless.