les Davey de France

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

Wednesday, 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.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our house is under offer

Thanks for your prayers. We are deliberating.

Some photos of Bordeaux Church @ Dan yesterday evening

Just so you can see how things are going - somewhere in the region of 25 people there.





Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

House sale

"They keep talking about work that needs doing..."

"Well it does, dear. When we bought it we knew it needed rewiring. Now it needs other things, too. We've never done it, we've never been able to do it and we never will, but it still needs doing."

Fireworks

Bordeaux is hosting an international fireworks symposium this week.

This meant that on Monday evening there was the most colossal fireworks show you ever saw down at Quinconces.

We had some friends visiting from Wales and Catrin was at the University till almost 8, so we high tailed it into town on the tram aiming to synchronise our passage through Montaigne-Montesquieu.

Hah!

We bargained without the DROVES of students who were all catching the tram at about 8.

Because we got on at Alouette we were comfortably seated deep in the heart of the carriage, but nearer the doors the students were snugger than sardines when there's a glut of fish and a shortage of tin. They have increased the frequency of trams between the campus and the city centre, but I am reliably assured that the evening trams are always stuffed like mama's cannelloni.

So our dreams of synchronisation vanished like bubbles in a greasy bowl of washing-up. Catrin caught a later tram. And ended up by the door. And travelled just a few stops before deciding that enough was enough and taking the gentle, empty, spacious and airy tram for home.

We, meanwhile, headed for the Regent Bistro at Gambetta - one of a chain of restaurants that is a kind of hybrid between fast-food and fine dining. There is a set price of 13€ which gets you huge bowls of chipped potatoes and of salad and a choice of grilled salmon, steak or duck breast. You can choose tartare of beef (raw mince) but I won't. The grills come with a special buttery sauce. There's a reasonably priced house wine which is good and there are desserts and starters, though after the main course you probably won't want that. It's a nice experience.

Then off for the fireworks. We caught some moments of it from beyond the statue at Quinconces and the photos are shown below. After our tram fun we decided to take the bus back!





The House Move

The blog has been quiet lately, mainly because of comings and goings.
So look out for a sudden flood of updates!

So what about this house move?

We're still waiting for that one special person with that one special chequebook.

Last weekend there was a flurry of activity with two estate agents from the same company vying to get their clients' second visit in first so that if the client made an offer it would block the other. This was very entertaining but has not yet proved fruitful in terms of an offer on the house.

Meanwhile Catrin has started at the university and we've learnt a bit about public transport to and from the campus. This has encouraged us to think in terms of attempting to rent on the Pessac side of the campus rather than on the Bordeaux side. I'll pop something on the blog about the fireworks soon and you'll see why!




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Joined-up thinking

Sometimes I just wonder, really I do.

Yesterday the news said that the Saudi ambassador at the United Nations in Geneva has been chosen to chair the Human Rights Committee.

Today the news is of a young Saudi man sentenced in Saudi Arabia to be publicly beheaded and then his body exposed till it rots because four years ago when he was 17 he took part in demonstrations against the Saudi regime.

Meanwhile Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 1000 lashes for criticising the regime on the internet is still imprisoned though his health has prevented him receiving more than 50 of the lashes of his sentence.

If I believed people capable of it I'd subscribe to conspiracy theory.
Instead I see it as proof of mankind's stunning incompetence.

Friday, September 18, 2015

From up and down

In the plane on the way back from Liverpool to Bordeaux we sat in a row - myself, Pat and Catrin - and drifted gently off to sleep as we hurtled through the thin air. When I woke I gazed across at the women in my life.

At Deeside we'd done a quick update about the Bordeaux project. Think of it! Us, planting a church! But we're too old, too cold, too worn, too weak, too staid, too flat - anyway, we're doing it. The last matter on the last slide was "Gwilym and Catrin at the fac", so then Gwilym bounded out and gave people an up-beat update about the three years of study he plans at LST. Then Catrin spoke about her Musicologie et Chanson Française. So different, so gentle, so womanly. I am amazed at them both.

There are 24 people on her course. There are no second or third years. They do an intake once every three years. She didn't know that when she applied, and she didn't know that she just happened to be applying in a year when there was an intake.

We left Gwilym in the UK again. We went to Liverpool airport and got into the bright orange plane for Bordeaux. Just Catrin, Pat and me.

They slept. I gazed. And just beyond, through the little window, I saw the clouds going by below us.

Liverpool had been grey and overcast, damp and dismal. But here we were sat in our cigar-tube way above all that. The clouds below were fluffy and white and the sun was shining sweetly.

But now they only block the sun,
They snow and rain on everyone.
So many things I could have done
But clouds got in my way.
I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down

I suppose that when you look down on the clouds that were making Liverpool grey and damp, then you get a sense of perspective. Clouds come and go. They're only made of Scotch mist, after all. But way up high, beyond all that, the sun is still there somewhere.




A flat on the right bank

Wednesday morning found me in the Maison de la Bible where there's a number of interesting new books been published, including "La foi chrétienne autrement" by one of my heroes, Paul Wells.

Afterwards we scuttled off to the right bank to visit some new folk in Bordeaux, Peter and Alison who work with Open Air Campaigners and who have found a super little flat just near tram A. we had a gorgeous lunch and talked churches, Bordeaux and stuff.

Visits and possibilities

A couple of prospective buyers have visited the house this week, two with some signs of interest.

We'll see.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A quick weekend in the UK

We just got back from a quick weekend visit to the UK where as part of Christ Church Deeside's 40th anniversary celebrations we visited for me to preach. They're having all the old boys visit with our bathchairs and zimmer frames. Next week is Peter Milsom. They've already had visits from Mike Leaves and Mark Rowcroft, and possibly Iwan Rhys Jones, too.

I was a little nervous about preaching in that setting. I am more used to small groups now, and to getting answers to my rhetorical questions, but folks are kind and it was good to be there. Another interesting feature is that the church has several retired pastors in the congregation now - on Sunday morning there was John Davies, Stuart Olyott and Bill Hughes. Still, after Banner it takes more than that to terrify me.

We are sat just over this left wing.
The weekend was quite full:

We arrived on Saturday and were whisked to a Church Officers' Social Buffet.

Sunday we had the morning and evening services as well as a Bordeaux update in the afternoon and a Church Officers' business meeting in the evening.

Monday found me at the local pastors' fraternal - it was great to see folk again - then invited to someone's home for tea to meet up with one of our old collaborators in Bordeaux, Abigail Matthews. Then off for supper with Gerry, one of Pat's old colleagues. Pat and Catrin then went off to an activity run for those with learning difficulties where Catrin accompanied a splendid song about vegetables.

Tuesday morning off at 8 to get the plane home, wherein we all slept, and arrived home safe, tired, but happy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Starbucks Bordux

So we went.

I had a CNEF33 committee meeting this morning, and you know what we boys are like, so I was a little later than usual returning the most excellent Clio to Pessac Centre and hopping on the No. 4 bus.

So it was at 13:10 that Gwilym and I joined the queue outside the brand spanking new Starbucks and waited in the blazing sunshine to enter and order our frappicaramelmacchiatochino.

We chatted with the couple in front of us, visitors from New York, whose daughter collects Starbucks Mugs from All Over the World, and eventually got to the counter. We'd rehearsed our Starbucks names - Gwilym was going to be Rhydderch and I was going to be Llewelyn - but we chickened out big time and became William (I know) and Alan. Which the guy spelt with two "l"s.

We had mangopassionfrappojuicicinos or something. I just said, "Same for me".

And we enjoyed the ambiance of a rather hastily prepared and decorated Starbucks Salon. In places it really showed, but overall it was OK. Comfy chairs. And the team was OK, as they yelled from time to time to each other. Bigwigs were in evidence, discussing stuff and now and again charging round wiping tables. We were also surrounded by photographers, one of whom looked just like the young David Tennant. But unless he really has cracked time travel I guess it was someone who just looked like him.

Basically a good time, though that place is expensive, and all the time I felt so guilty for betraying my faves : Books and Coffee (Sorry lads!), VerdeNero and Les Mots Bleus.


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Parc Majolan

We wanted to have an outing together, but we didn't have a lot of time, so I reserved the Clio and we went out to Parc Majolan. 
You can find on the blog that we first went there in 2005!








Starshipper

In Pessac I saw one of the new buses, Starshipper.com.


For 10 euros and in three hours you can be in Hendaye, on the Spanish border. From there a tram will take you to San Sebastian. Pretty good, eh!

When the tram breaks down

We got on the tram for Pessac Centre so I could pick up the Citiz car.

It didn't move.

"What's he waiting for?"

Eventually, "Please evacuate the tram so we can sort out the breakdown."

We walked up to the No 4 bus stop.

"At least when the bus breaks down there's another bus along. When the tram breaks down you've had it."

We passed three police in flak jackets carrying sub-machine guns.
What that was all about we had no idea. Any dignitaries in town?

Borducks Starbucks big bucks

Bordeaux already has two Starbucks concessions, both at the airport, one amazing origami coffee bar upstairs in the main terminal building and one coffee cart parked outside the low-cost terminal building.

Another outlet is planned in the prestigious Promenade Sainte Catherine in the heart of the shopping centre, just up the road from Macdonalds.

But suddenly on Monday we learned that a Starbucks salon is opening tomorrow next to the huge Post Office at Meriadeck. Yesterday after our planning and prayer meeting James and I sauntered up to Meriadeck where I would purchase coffee and comestibles from the Auchan Gigamarket, and we passed the Post Office en route.

"That's it"

"But it can't be!" They'll NEVER have it ready by Thursday!

The storefront next to the Post Office was littered with what looked like old tat from sundry offices: a sink, desks, large items of detritus of every sort, and a few people were milling around even as doth the ant.

Hard to believe that in the space of 72 hours a Starbucks salon would be open there. I have promised Gwilym that we will go there on Thursday afternoon, he for a coffee-themed milky drink and and I for some kind of tea or coffee beverage. Iced if hot.

Watch this space for photos.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The roller-coaster they call family life!

Yesterday at Bordeaux Church was encouraging, with some new folk including a pastor's kid and a missionary kid, some interest in helping with the English Conversation Classes and generally a good spirit.

However Catrin had to go home ill. Nothing serious. Just one of those things. In fact on Saturday she'd been taken ill in a shop in the city and then had recovered enough to come home OK.

So today being the first day at university, you can understand us being a little ... apprehensive.

And all went swimmingly. Her course sounds great. She starts in earnest on 21st. It all sounds like lots of hard work, but stimulating, interesting and engaging, and with a good bunch of students.

Meanwhile from September our allowance is being adjusted for inflation to put us back on the same level we were on in 2005. At the moment it's not easy to digest, but it's a huge encouragement for the next ten years.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

A visit to the home of Montesquieu

We took the Citiz Clio and made a quick visit to La Brède. At La Brède is the chateau that belonged to Montesquieu, one of Bordeaux's big three M's of literature (Montaigne, Montesquieu and Mauriac). It is is built on the foundations of a Norman period  fortress, but never subsequently played a defensive role. It was preserved intact through the Hundred Years War and also survived the French Revolution intact and furnished thanks to the local esteem for Montesquieu and his family.

Montesquieu lived at about the same time as Bach and Handel (1689 - 1755), managed his vineyard and his personal fortune and travelled extensively in Europe. His writings were published outside France to escape royal censorship as he turned a critical eye on France and its organisation first in the Lettres Persanes - an series of letters home from some imaginary Persian visitors to France, then more directly in Consideration of the Greatness and Decadence of the Romans and The Spirit of the Laws. His big argument was for the separation of powers, and he admired the British monarchical system.

The Chateau is charming, as was the guide.




Friday, September 04, 2015

TEN YEARS IN FRANCE

We made it through ten years!
By God's faithfulness.
It was often touch and go,
and it still is,
but we've made it this far!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Shopping for the fac

One of the most wonderful things about the kids no longer being in school is no more listes de fournitures scolaires. Oh, how those things tried your patience. Teachers specified different sizes of graph squares, different sizes of book and some specified what colour the book should be covered with. We would wander hopelessly hunting for that last elusive size of book, or for the bizarre indispensable whatnot whose name we did not recognise...

But that was then! This is now!

So today found us wandering hopelessly round the bag shops of Bordeaux looking for a bag for Catrin for the fac. She needs a big bag suitable for a cultivated young lady studying to be a singer-songwriter. A fluorescent yellow puma rucksack at only 15€ really appealed to me, but not to her.In the end our choice came down to a 50€ handbag / shopping bag cross, or a REALLY NICE thick leather bag from Magellan at 150€. The expensive bag would last her life, probably. The other MIGHT last a year or two... Anyway, I think she'll go for the 50€ one.

She also could do with a better computer. The ideal would be a refurbished small macbook air - which would last about 5 years - trouble-free years in all likelihood. We don't have money for that at the moment. So I will probably pass on to her my trusty iPad mini, which will do most of what she needs, taking notes in lectures...

Then there's her piano. She needs a full-sized keyboard, and an electric piano of reasonable quality costs around 1000€. We don't have money for that at the moment, either. We can buy either a computer or a piano on instalments, and I think it will be the piano that wins.

So no liste de fournitures scolaires, but though the shopping list is shorter, the bill is heavier.

Still, we enjoyed traipsing round the shops together and celebrated by getting some fruit juice from the fruit juice bar and then impulse-buying a hammock from Decat to sling between the trees in the garden.


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Public statement

I wish to state publicly that I have no public statement to make.

It helps to know the right people...

so the flats up above?

all old and decrepit...

and the landlords haven't upgraded things?

mice, cockroaches and bedbugs... the other side of the street is a bit better.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ne me quitte pas - the lyrics

Read these - the French is not THAT hard - and compare with the English version, 'If you go away' and you will go a long way towards seeing why French song is awesome.

The story behind the song is ugly, and Brel described the song as a hymn to the cowardice of man.



Ne me quitte pas
Il faut oublier
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit déjà
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
A savoir comment
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le coeur du bonheur
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Moi je t'offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Où il ne pleut pas
Je creuserai la terre
Jusqu'après ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D'or et de lumière
Je ferai un domaine
Où l'amour sera roi
Où l'amour sera loi
Où tu seras reine
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Ne me quitte pas
Je t'inventerai
Des mots insensés
Que tu comprendras
Je te parlerai
De ces amants-là
Qui ont vu deux fois
Leurs coeurs s'embraser
Je te raconterai
L'histoire de ce roi
Mort de n'avoir pas
Pu te rencontrer
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

On a vu souvent
Rejaillir le feu
De l'ancien volcan
Qu'on croyait trop vieux
Il est paraît-il
Des terres brûlées
Donnant plus de blé
Qu'un meilleur avril
Et quand vient le soir
Pour qu'un ciel flamboie
Le rouge et le noir
Ne s'épousent-ils pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas

Ne me quitte pas
Je n'vais plus pleurer
Je n'vais plus parler
Je me cacherai là
A te regarder
Danser et sourire
Et t'écouter
Chanter et puis rire
Laisse-moi devenir
L'ombre de ton ombre
L'ombre de ta main
L'ombre de ton chien
Mais
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas
Ne me quitte pas.