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)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When the pharmacy thermometer says 41°C

We're on heatwave alert here. That's when it's over 30 in the day and still in the 20s at night. It means you heat up and you never cool down. Not never. Not at all.

Our secret weapon is shutters, so we open the windows ni the morning to change the air in the flat, then we close everything down and live in the gloom till the sun has shifted from the terrace. Then we can afford to open the shutter on the big window to the terrace and let some light in.

Yesterday when Pat got back from her trip to the doctor (routine, nothing serious) she found the firemen attending to one of our elderly neighbours, a man who lives on the second floor. We've never been able to have a chat with him and he keeps himself to himself, so we don't know which flat he lives in, even. He had fallen on the path outside the flats. The firemen had brought him into the cooler corridors.

Pat took some water out and also gave him our phone number so he has someone to ring, just in case. If we knew which flat he is in we'd dare to knock now and again, just to check he's OK.

The heat is forecast to stick around till Thursday.



Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm sorry but this time we can't help

Escape and Pray sent people to Bordeaux again on Friday and they phoned me for help.

The idea, I think, is loosely based on  Luke 10, and consists of sending folk out with a return airline ticket to a city to meet people, to find out about their situation and to pray. The folk sent don't take any money, credit cards or whatever. They depend on the people they are sent to, who don't know they are coming.

Generally the folk don't know where they will be sent, and don't speak French, so they ring my number, which is on the Bordeaux Church website. At the moment.

Last time it was a group of Dutch guys who arrived on the weekend of the 18th December last year. They joined us for a meal and ended up staying at James' place.

This time two Dutch guys phoned while we were waiting for the judges' deliberation in the music exam.

"I can't speak now, I'm in an examination."
"Is there a meal in your house? Can we come?"

I sent them the address, but it was too far for them to come. They explained who they were. My heart sank. Everyone in the centre of town who could conceivably accommodate them was away from home for the weekend, and we already had a young woman sleeping on our couch.

"Can we sleep in the church?"
"We don't have a church."

In the end I gave them a list of numbers from the www.eglises.org website and hoped for the best.

In the worst of cases they'd be OK sleeping in the streets with the homeless.
It's hot, the city has lots of safe places and there's drinking water available in the squares.

I also contacted the organisation that arranges "Escape and Pray" to ask them not to send people to Bordeaux, or at least to suggest that they please don't phone Bordeaux Church. You know, we're not a big group of people in a country area with garages, barns and spare bedrooms. We're a small bunch of folk on modest incomes living in small apartments in a very expensive city, and we can't do this.

It's pretty lethal out there

but we're hiding inside behind our radiation shields and keeping well hydrated!

Temperatures are set to hit 39°C today (that's in the shade) and we are on heatwave alert, so we're keeping the shutters down and drinking lots!

Heatwave alerts are issued when the temperature is set to reach above 30 in the daytime and stay above 20 all night for at least.three days, I think, which means that you never get to cool down at all.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It's strange what we Daveys do for fun

So on Friday evening we all took a singing exam.

It made for an exciting Friday because we had rehearsal with the (excellent) accompanist at 15h30, Charlotte from OM was arriving at 16h, then I had a meeting at 17h, then we had the Home Group at 19h, then the exam at 20h.

We reserved a Citiz car, and that made it all go surprisingly smoothly!

The exam?

Well there were 9 singers and two examiners; the director of the local music school and the conductor of the choir I sing in. (I was HORRIFIED when I saw that it was him!)

People sang a wide range of song, from a Stromae rhythm and rap number through Fauré songs through to Mozart opera. It was an entertaining time.

Of the Daveys Pat sang first. She sang a popular song in French called Syracuse, which is a kind of nostalgia for travel. "I'd really like to see Syracuse and various other places before I get too old to store up memories for when I'm in Paris." Rough translation.

Then me. I had a recital and aria in Italian from the Marriage of Figaro, where Figaro is sore vexed that the Count is planning to have his wicked way with Susanna, Figaro's fiancée. It's great fun, with quiet bits, fast bits, loud bits and soft bits, and I quite enjoyed singing it, though I didn't at all enjoy watching the video that Pat made of me.

Then Catrin with a difficult aria I know nothing about in Italian by someone called Giacomo Carissimi, "Vittoria". She sang sweetly and with great fluidity.

While you sing everyone is in the room, candidates, examiners, kit and caboodle, and once everyone has sung you are chased out while the examiners deliberate. Then you're all called in and you stand in a row to hear the examiners' verdict. It's all quite theatrical, but done in good humour.

We returned, relieved, to the home group where people had been discussing why we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, a subject I suggested we discuss in the light of Gwilym's good mark for an essay recently on the subject.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

When the insurance man comes

So the Expert from the insurance company came at 9 on Monday. He may have been a couple of minutes late. At any rate he apologised for his lateness. Then we got to work.

I gave him the list of things taken and all the receipts that I had dug out.

He then added, converted pounds to euros, applied his depreciation rate and ... wrote a cheque.

I hadn't expected a cheque to come straight away. I scuttled off to the bank and paid it in quickly!

Now we're almost back to where we started. We are equipped as regards computers.

The big question concerns what we do about cameras.

Pat had a 2005 FZ3. An excellent camera, though it had only 3MP and is now worth nothing.
The equivalent would be about 300€ for a FZ300.

I had a 2007 TZ1. Again an excellent camera, it had 5MP and again is now worth nothing.
The equivalent? Who knows!

Both of us generally use our phones for photography now.
The best camera is the one you have with you.

Neither of us fancies lugging a big super-zoom on Easyjet back and fore to Blighty.
At the same time a long zoom camera is very useful for weddings, for city photography and so on.
But why pay lots of money for something you'll use very little?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Antony Gormley has come to Bordeaux

Well, his bronze men have.
I'll take a photo some time soon, but meanwhile here's an article about it.

Back on track - well kinda

First a word of explanation.
Hot.

It's hot here.
Very hot.
The kind of hot where you just cat-nap all night, skimming over the surface of sleep like a stone on a lake.

But I thought, if not now, then when.
So I donned my special running socks, my special running trews and my special running shoes, plus yesterday's tee-shirt, and ventured out.

Boy was it hot. Not only that but the first drops of the approaching storm were falling.
But I made it to the château and back, and next time it will be easier.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The hire car

We agonised about hiring a car, mainly because I hate pretty much everything about it. I hate driving in the UK now. I hate the busy motorways. I hate parking in supermarket car parks. I hate driving down rough lanes and driveways. I hate the little stones that fly up on the motorway and knock against some part of the car.

We hired a Kia Rio from GreenMotion - diesel, comfortable, nippy enough and plenty of room. As we picked it up the guy said he'd checked the tyres. We loaded up and set off.

Two days later the tyre pressure sensor told us to check the tyres. We did. One was going down. So we topped it up every two days till we were within reach of the excellent Buckley Tyres, who removed a nail and repaired the tyre.

Apart from that our time with the car was uneventful and we returned it safe and sound.

I've never had a problem with a hire car. In fact, this puncture was the worst problem I've ever had. Pretty good really, eh? But still I hate hiring cars!


Getting back in the swing.

My week is calm, but the weekend is nuts, especially Friday.

Of course, there's a reason for that.
Two conferences to which I am not going, at Bala, and at Evian-les-Bains.

But it means I can catch up a bit.


Arriving back

We left Liverpool on a grey day.
It had rained. It was not raining, but it would soon rain. It was about 14°C.

We arrived in Bordeaux to scorching sunshine and 35°C.

And the lime trees are still fragrant.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

What happened to June?

I packed lots of shirts, two light sweatshirts and a thin nylon pacamac.

Big mistake. We needed thick sweaters and fleeces!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

We're back!

Hi all!
Sorry for the unannounced hiatus.
We've been in the UK for two weeks.
Two cold, wet, hectic weeks.
I'll post a few trivia soon.
But we're relieved to be back in France and WARM and DRY!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Those lime trees

Yesterday I smelt their scent as I walked up the road.
It's wonderful.

Sweet, honeyed, but not strong and insistent, like the honeysuckle, the mock orange or even the roses.
It's more delicate, and the butterflies love the trees.


























I've never seen a French-style CV

but I'm told it is very different from a UK one.

It is bad form to take more than one page. You cram everything into one sheet of A4.

I look forward to seeing one one day!


Ah non!

at the bookshop:

Alors, vous êtes Québécois, monsieur?

Non, quoth I, smiling.

Non, il est Anglais, said the first guy's friend.

Ah non! je suis Gallois.


You could say that

The lady opposite me in bus 4: Il fait pas froid...

It was 40°C.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Oh boy it's hot!

34°C.

It was hot for Ali and Pete in the Street, but not unbearable in the shade of Sainte Catherine.

Then we sought refuge in the air-conditioned Auchan supermarket before hauling ourselves home on bus 4.

Thankfully it cooled off enough overnight to be able to sleep comfortably.

Meanwhile, in the street outside, the lime trees are just bursting into fragrant blossom.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

BWV 11 Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen

for Ascension Day:

So annoying! Really very irritating!

I've gone and booked myself to speak at two churches this Sunday morning at the same time, and separated by about 150 miles (not that the distance is all that relevant, I can't be in two places at once, even if they are adjacent.)

Strangely I was speaking to someone just the other week about how they handle someone's diary when they're in the UK and thinking how wonderfully useful that would be. They can then avoid the cross-country high-speed dashes which are becoming less and less feasible these days, and try to optimise the whole thing.

What's worse is that the agonising decision to hire a car was largely because of a long journey that would have had to be done this coming Sunday and which now I can't do, and don't need to do.

Oh well. A mix of convenience and inconvenience.

But most of all annoyance! What a clown!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Let's have a little season of Fauré songs

You can't always get sublime interpretations on YouTube, but here's Clair de Lune, a song of a poem of a painting of people who "don't seem to believe in their own happiness".

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pessac is all flowery

Mock orange.

Scrambling roses.

Honeysuckle.

You name it, it's flowering in the hedges and on the walls here. It makes the whole town a riot of perfumes night and day.






Saturday, May 20, 2017

Après un rêve, Gabriel Fauré - LISTEN EYES CLOSED

Listen from 1 minute, with your eyes closed.

Conseil National des Evangéliques de France

At the Luther 2017 meeting I bumped into some good friends from a charismatic church on the west of Bordeaux, and we were able to discuss the local CNEF group together and plan to get people to meet up. I followed up with some emails on Friday and we're all set to meet on Monday afternoon. Great!

Luther 2017

There was a meeting on Thursday evening to add some more details to the planning of the Luther 2017 thing. Some things to note include that there won't be any stands representing any churches. Stands will be held by associations, like food banks, etc.. The Maison de la Bible will be there, sharing a stand with the Gideons.

A quiet Saturday catching up

Well that was a helter-skelter few days. Today has been quiet, and that's been good because after the travelling, the evaluation conference and the various things going on on Thursday and Friday we needed to catch up with ourselves.

Now Catrin has a concert this evening. She's doing the first half for a colleague who sings in a completely different style. So at 9pm we'll be at Victoire listening to her. We'll leave at the interval, though. (Sorry Alice.)


Friday, May 19, 2017

Acts29 evaluation conference

took place at Lagny church, locally pronounced by French people as if spelt Langy in English, to my great surprise.

We travelled up by TGV, getting to the station in good time, having a nice drink in a café, being charged "eleven" proudly in English for two 3,50€ drinks by the waiter. And because we had plenty of time we ended up rushing to get our train!

We were lodged with a charming international family and enjoyed seeing these 1970s Paris satellite towns. Milton Keynes à la française? The evaluation conference was intensive and tiring and the weather suddenly became glorious and hot, so when it was time to come home we were glad of a chance to rest before our train, and then to be able to doze on the train.

Sat opposite us were Paul, 1 year old, and his father. They were a most charming couple. Paul was happy and very sociable and his father was patient, gentle and attentive. We were charmed by them both.

Back in Bordeaux it had rained, it was not raining but it would rain. There was no train from Bordeaux to Pessac till the next morning, so we hopped on our buses, 9 then 4, to regain our waiting flat.

Home, sweet home!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Racing a bunny

This morning I got out a little later than usual and was surprised to see my neighbours still waiting at the bus stop. Just after I passed them their bus came, but it did mean they watched me totter up the hill in my startling grey, navy and fluorescent yellow running gear.

All went OK. A noisy bird yelled at me as I passed. When I came to the vineyard I spotted a bunny just a few yards ahead, a sweet little young bunny. He scarpered. There was no hole in the fence. I galloped, the bunny galloped, we galloped together. He had an admirable turn of speed, but little endurance. He kept stopping to rest. So I caught up with him a couple of times. Then he hid behind a waste bin and rejoiced to see me hurtle past.

Ha! When I came hurtling back he bolted and scarpered again. He galloped. I galloped. As before, but in the opposite direction. This time we went all round the vineyard in our somewhat unequal relay race before he found a couple of bushes he could dive headlong into.

Bye bunny!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The café philo

We're on the hunt for neutral venues in the city to hold English conversation evenings, discussion evenings, etc. Some cafés close at 6 or 7. Others become restaurants and really want to serve meals. One of our chaps is looking for places, but I spotted a couple of possibilities that seemed promising.

One is a café run by an association, a club. You have to join the club at a annual membership fee of 5€ before you can buy a coffee, but once you do then coffee is 1€, tea is 2€ etc.

Some days of the week they run a working café, where you pay by the hour and then drinks and snacks are free.

Then there's the workshops. There's vocal workshops, yoga, and a café philo run. I wanted to get the measure of the place, so I went along.

The Café philo ran from 7pm to 8:30, cost 3€ entrance fee, and water was provided to drink. There were about 15 to 20 people present, all ages, though mostly student age. It was set up as one big group with the teacher in the middle keeping the discussion going mostly by asking questions. He was helped by a young woman. The topic under discussion was "Are beliefs always contrary to reason."

I don't think any one person dominated the discussion (he said, rather too hurriedly) though there were a couple of people who didn't say anything at all. The leader said that he would not make everyone contribute.

As evenings go it was OK. It would not be impossible to imagine running an English evening there, though numbers would be limited.


Running this morning had an inauspicious start

I looked out of the kitchen window. It was not raining.
It had rained. It would rain. But it was not raining.

Of course, but the time I got outside, it was raining.

As I walked up to the vineyards I got one of those severe, sharp, stabbing pains that shoots directly up your leg and threatens to make you fall over. It meant nothing. There was no real problem. It just hurt. I stretched and the pain went away.

I got to the vineyards and decided to use my inhaler before setting off.
And I gave myself a coughing fit.

Such are the hurdles to be jumped by the morning runner, before he even begins!

There were nice flowers, though.









Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Le 8 mai

It seemed ironic to me that on the 7th May 1 in 5 people in my town voted for the presidential candidate from the far-right Front National, then the next day we gathered at the Monument aux Morts to commemorate the victory over the far-right Nazi invaders in 1945. Go figure.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Music for the eve of the election

Would you believe it?

So I saw a video of Mad Genius Tips that said that you can make meringues using, instead of egg whites, the liquid from a tin of chick peas.



I remarked on it on Facebook and got some varied reactions, from "Eew!" to, "Yes, and you can make chocolate mousse with them, too".

Well on Thursday Patricia and I saw some cans of chick peas and.. well...

The meringues worked fine! Absolutely fine! Not only that, but a can of chick peas is MUCH CHEAPER than eggs, and they don't come from miserable chickens. And you get the chick peas to use in a tajine, in a curry or in some hummus.

Then the chocolate mousse - essentially it is 150g melted then cooled dark chocolate with the juice of a can of chick peas and 60g of sugar whipped into soft peaks then folded in.



It was absolutely delicious! Really! And so much more convincing than eating raw egg whites, even if they are beaten to peaks.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

French presidential elections

So we're voting on Sunday for either Marine LePen, from the National Front, or Emmanuel Macron, independent.

One wag said it's a choice between Oedipus who killed his father (Madame LePen expelled her father from the party he founded - because of his anti-semitic remarks, I think) and Oedipus who married his mother (Monsieur Macron married his French teacher, 24 years his senior).

The televised debate between the two last night was lively and conflictual.




Last week's frosts

have hit the vineyards hard. Some chateaux say that there will be almost no harvest this year.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

DEntry

Patricia and I went to the Alliance Française today to collect her results from her TCF ANF examination.

She passed, with level B1 in one skill and B2 (higher than B1) in the other, so plenty good enough to submit to the préfecture along with lots of other documents for consideration for French nationality.

Now to amass the documents necessary, get some translated, and submit all to the préfecture.


Crime wave Koralli

Some more details have emerged of the little crime wave that has rocked our block of flats to its very foundations.

A neighbour's mother had been staying in their flat. When she left she popped the key into their mailbox.

She was observed by a person or persons unknown, who then forced the mailbox open and stole the keys.

Our neighbour changed the door lock immediately, but the mailbox remains unlockable for the moment.


Brunch at the weekend in cafés in Bordeaux

No way.

No poached egg on toast is worth those prices, not even at 11 am and with paprika, chives and bacon bits sprinkled over it.


Monday, May 01, 2017

Assemblée Générale

Last night was our AGM. We only have one "official" meeting a year and it's a legal requirement.

We did the usual essential things like the president's report, financial report (that's always a good laugh, our budget is risible) and re-election of officers and stuff.

Then we talked about where we are and how to move forward. And it was a good, positive time.

I always get in such a tizz beforehand. And afterwards just thankfulness.

Well, better than the other way round, I suppose!


Friday, April 28, 2017

It's all a hot mess

Over the brief years of my life I have been too often horrified by the way that preachers can live in a way that is deeply inconsistent with their calling and ministry. Like the bent copper, the abusive teacher, or the politician whose real interest is to line his own pocket, there's something specially abhorrent about it.

My blogging about this is sparked by another scandal AND by the furore in the USA about Mike Pence's espousal of the Billy Graham rule - never to eat dinner alone with a woman who is not your wife.

I got into a little conflict a couple of years ago with a colleague, a woman, who was fitting out a small office at the back fo the church building where we then were based. She looked forward to us sharing the office and working there together day by day. She was very disappointed when I told her that it wasn't going to happen. "You are very strict, too strict", she said. "My mission would never allow it", was my reply. When I spoke to the mission about it later they confirmed that they would not allow it, at least if I was concerned.

Look, the people who have ended up having an affair - or multiple affairs, or looking online for women to date, or leaving their wife and family to set up home with a man, or lying about attending conferences and really meeting up with people in hotels - these people have been amongst the most intelligent, the most gifted, the most praised, the most promising people. If that tells me anything it tells me that anyone can fall. It might tell me a whole lot more, but I don't want to explore it too much. Not here. Not now.

I don't follow any Billy Graham rule, not to eat dinner alone with a woman who is not my wife. Rules may help some people. I don't think they'd help me. You set up a rule and you can always find a way around it. "No, I can't make dinner, but let's meet for lunch..." But it's more than that and less. I want a horror of it all. I want to see it as unspeakably grotesque, sordid, dirty, low, mean, dishonourable.


A church website ... perhaps

It was recently remarked that the 1000+ member church in Bordeaux has a better website than we do.

I replied that the site had probably cost more an 1€ per member, and that good websites do not come cheap. Once a friend in the UK who is a website designer proposed to do us a good price. The excellent price he proposed was £500, which was, obviously, far too much for us to pay.

Anyway it so happens that one of our students is doing a course in human-systems interfaces - kind of - and they have a sort of small business associated with their school of studies. So yesterday I met with another student to sketch out a projected website.

We should get a quote for it this weekend!

Maybe it will be within our means!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Back on line

Well here I am back again.

This morning's run was fresh!!! As in "running through the clouds of your own breath" fresh. And because the trees are still trying to sabotage me, I had to stop to use my inhaler twice. But apart from that it felt good.

One drawback of these lighter mornings is that there are more people about. On Tuesday morning I passed someone running the other way. We waved to each other. This morning I passed various people and a somewhat gasped "bonjour" was necessary.

I was a little perturbed recently to discover that regular running will add on average three years to your life. This all sounds great, except that you then remember that it adds the three years on to the end, the bit where you're ill and immobile and so on... If I could add three years onto my thirties, then that would be great. Except it's too late.

But I suppose it doesn't work quite like that. I hope that as well as adding three years, it will make the last years a bit easier, less ill, less immobile or something. Improved quality and not just increased quantity. Anyway.

Then I was off into Bordeaux to the Fnac, my favourite shop.

The mission financial man had suggested they loan us money to get a laptop to get going again. It's a bit awkward having money travel back and fore to the mission, however, because the chap who does our payslips calculates them from the emails that accompany our money transfers and each time I have to remember to tell him that a reimbursement, or whatever, is not additional salary. Ebb and flow of a loan would be complicated.

However, each time we pay for travel using our French account, we get reimbursed into our English account. This was building up a little sum ready for when we come over in the summer and have to hire a car for three weeks in August! So I decided to use that to get another computer.

My heart was somewhat heavy making this big purchase AGAIN, but the Fnac had a special offer on one particular capacity of computer, so that helped a bit.

And I'm back online. Now to listen to some Banner of Truth Conference sessions.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Burglarized! Burgled! Cambriolé!

We got back from church at about 22:15 on Sunday to find the French door forced and several things missing, including our computers and cameras. The burglars were very clean and made no mess whatsoever. The police came round straight away and next morning the scene of crime unit came. The burglars wore latex gloves. Oh well. I was able to give the police the serial numbers of the computers and we have receipts for all the computers but nothing for the cameras. Thinks : must buy more by internet...

We're OK. We don't feel violated or anything. We feel frustrated because, obviously, we use the computers for work. I think I can still prepare to preach on Sunday even though my office is my computer. It will just restrict the range of books I can refer to.

Meanwhile someone in the church has offered to produce the song sheet, and who knows - maybe this will be a good way of bringing in delegation!

And the police have all been charming, the insurance company have been sympathetic so far.
And the mission have said that if we need a quick transfer of funds to get a computer to get moving again it can be done. I am hanging fire on that for the moment.

Also, and we are SO thankful for this, the burglars didn't even open the door of Catrin's bedroom, so all her equipment is there and intact, including her computer with all her recordings for her degree work this year on it.

Incidentally, these two weeks have seen a spate of break-ins in Pessac, coinciding with the school holidays. Not only that bu the tobacconist just two doors from our insurance office was held up at gunpoint. Our insurance agents are concerned because people do not always realise that insurance offices do not hold large quantities of cash.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Getting back to it

after the Colloque (where I didn't take my running shoes, trews or sweatshirt). A gentle start this morning, sabotaged by the trees with their shedloads of pollen:



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Getting to and from the Colloque

Easyjet flies to Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport, which is a LONG WAY out of the city. There's a special high-speed long distance tram that takes you from the airport into the city, called the RhonExpress. It's 16 euros per journey. On the way to the colloque I looked for a cheaper way - bus, coach, whatever - but there was nothing like that. There is a railway station, but the train fare was more expensive. Oh well..

Coming home was interesting. My flight went from Terminal 3 at 19:15, so I had lots of time to get to the airport. Paul Wells found someone to take us to the airport on his way to Switzerland, so that was great. When we got to the airport we saw signs for Terminal 1 and for Terminal 2, so we wandered into one of them at random. We were staring uncomprehendingly at a notice board when a member of staff greeted us.

"Oh, Terminal 3 no longer exists, but Easyjet flies from this terminal."

OK. Paul Wells' flight was leaving from Terminal 1a (?) so we sais goodbye and separated.

Later that evening, at 21h, I got an email from Easyjet telling me that my flight would leave (= had left) from Terminal 1. Are things always better late than never?

The flight was delayed about 30 minutes because of sickness earlier in the day. After boarding I chatted happily with the person next to me, a Frenchman with a Berber background and a PhD in medical biochemistry who was on his way to a fun weekend in Bordeaux.


BWV 42 :

This is lovely for just after Easter in the context of attacks by violent thugs and of a presidential election.

The Colloque Biblique Francophone

There were four main threads to the Colloque:

1) Alain Joly, from the Evangelical Lutherans, gave us an outline of Luther's life and thought.

2) Paul Wells, ex-Dean of John Calvin Seminary in Aix-en-Provence, gave a comparison of the thought of Luther and of Calvin with regard to Free Will

3) Edouard Nelson, Baptist pastor from Paris, preached from Luke's gospel

4) Charles Nicolas gave us a very warm and encouraging comparison of the pastoral role in the 16th and 21st centuries.

It was a good, intensive time and super to spend time with friends and heroes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What an exciting day!

Well, after an early night and somewhat light sleep I rose at about 4:15 to shower, eat my porage and hie me away to catch the 5:17 Number 4 bus to Bordeaux. My doubts about it coming were unjustified. It hove grandly into view and I was surprised by the number of people aboard.

I was also surprised at Palais de Justice, where I had to change to the bus 1 for the airport, to find there wasn't one for almost half an hour. This put the whole project at risk. Last boarding was 6:35 and the bus didn't come till almost 6.

The driver made a gallant effort and we got the the airport bus stop at 6:28. I walked smartly into the departure area to find a HUGE QUEUE for security. However we were encouraged to take our trays and fill up spaces in front, so I did. I had removed my belt and stowed everything at the bus stop so I was ready!

I found myself behind another passenger for Lyon who was in a slight flap and was not ready. He had concealed large aerosols in his bag and wanted to argue adamantly that they should be allowed in the cabin with him. I thought, "Shut up man, we don't have time for this" but I uttered never a word. Eventually he gave up, I was nodded through and while he put his belt on I waddled to the departure gate and got on the plane with seconds to spare!

Lyon is a very big city and very technologically advanced.
You can pay to use the public toilet by card!
I was grudgingly impressed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A quiet birthday

After a HECTIC Easter weekend, yesterday we made the best of the beautiful sunshine by going for a nice walk over the new Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, along the right bank of the river and then back over the Pont de Pierre. It really was a beautiful day and we got rather hot, so we stopped off at a cafe for a cold drink.








Today, my birthday, we spent making rolls, cakes and a trifle and eating on the terrace - at least until the wind chased us back indoors.

Tomorrow I have to get up very early to get to the airport for an early flight to Lyon, so I'd better have a quiet early night, too.


The French election process explained

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What a BIG Easter

Thursday we were in he centre of town with Ali and Pete and their sketchboard.
It was a good time, one big crowd stayed to listen. Good chats. Happy people.

Friday was Good Friday meal with message and songs at our house.
Pizza, Psalm 22 and Christian Hymns.

Saturday was preparation day. Pat was baking with some of the folk.
I was reading, thinking and also watching some detective tv to relax the old brain muscle.

Then in the evening up to the vineyard to watch the marathon runners pass.
14000 signed up to do the half-marathon round the quays.
3000 marathon runners came by us and we were delighted to spot:
Firstly Jian, who came and gave us a great hug.
Then Julien, who waved like a crazy man.
Both looked in good form and were around the 4 hours 15" marker.
Read about the marathon in French here.
Note the word frisquette, in Bordeaux this means nippy, chilsome.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Christ lag in Todesbanden

In either 1977 or 1978 I joined a choir in Aberystwyth, the Bach Society Choir. It was by audition. You had to sing for the conductor and there were three possible outcomes: you got to belong to the excellent and famed Madrigal Singers and to the Bach Society, to just the Bach Society, or not at all. I have an awkward voice. I'm not really a tenor and I'm not really a bass, so when I'm singing well I sing with the tenors and when I'm out of form - or I just can't be bothered - I sing with the basses. Nobody has ever told me which line to sing. I've always decided for myself. Anyway... I sang with the Bach Society Choir.

So I got my copies and found a friendly bass and found we were singing two pieces: the Pergolesi Magnificat and Cantata no. 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden. I've loved both pieces ever since, but especially the Bach.

A couple months ago I decided to join a choir. There's one that rehearses a 10 minute bus ride or 30 minute walk from us, at the Alouette school of music. I emailed them. You don't have to audition. They rehearse on a Wednesday, an evening that suits me. I went along.

I got my copies and saw that we're doing two pieces, the Vasks Mass and Cantata no. 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden. "What voice are you singing?" "For this I'll sing bass. I sang it forty years ago and I still have a vague memory of how it goes."

"Christ lag in Todesbanden" is a hymn written by Martin Luther, both the text and the tune, though based on earlier material. The text recounts the gospel story very simply. Because it's difficult to translate poetry it isn't easy to find a version in English that sticks to the meaning of what Luther wrote, and I have almost no German, so I can't translate it. But I can tell when someone has made a total hash of it! Here's a translation that I think captures the meaning:

Luther's hymn was published in 1524. Bach's cantata in 1707. It isn't easy for a movement to keep its vitality for 200 years, and sure enough, the lovely earthy energy of early Lutheranism soon fossilised into just another religious system. But in the late 1600s a movement called Pietism was born through the work of Philipp Spener, who emphasised personal conversion and renewal within the structures of the Lutheran church. Bach seems to have been influenced by this renewal.

His cantata is scored for four part choir, strings, cornetto and trombones, the brass doubling the voices. It starts with a short sinfonia just for the strings which is a kind of variation on part of the hymn tune.

Then follow seven movements, one for each verse. The writing is polyphonic and in each movement Luther's melody is the raw material that Bach uses. Three movements, verses 1, 4 and 7, are for full choir, and they are not at all easy to sing. Even though Bach was only in his twenties when he wrote the cantata, he had lots of inventive skill and the music suits the text really well.

Performances vary in the size of choir used. At Aberystwyth I think we were no more than thirty. At Pessac we're between 40 and 50. Some recordings use just the soloist's voices. At Aber and in Pessac we have no soloists, and the tenors will sing the tenor verse together, the basses singing the bass verse.

I'm both touched and thankful to be singing the Bach again. Meanwhile the Vasks Mass is written by a Latvian Baptist pastor's son, Pēteris Vasks, who had to study in neighbouring Lithuania, apparently, because of persecution against Baptists in his home country. It's good to discover a composer new to me.


When your lunch guests don't turn up

It wasn't the best plan ever made.

They didn't know our address.

We don't know their phone number.

"We'll ring you when we get to Pessac."

Came neither call nor caller.

So at 1:30 we had nice bread, blue cheese, strong cheddar and little Bonne Maman cakes.


Monday, April 10, 2017

A splendid day off!

We reserved a Citiz car, my favourite Yaris hybrid, and planned to go on the razz to the lake.

But first I had to run to the pharmacy because I had left only one dose of my life-giving compound. They have turned our pharmacy into a huge chemist-supermarket with high shelves stocked floor to ceiling with quack remedies of all sorts based on every kind of pseudoscience imaginable. I had a prescription for my life-giving compound, but to get it I had to sniff my way through the shelves like a rat in a maze. Eventually I found the counter and got what I needed.

Ha! Another month of life, buses permitting!

Then I collected Mrs Davey and we hied us off to Ikea. To begin with we sniffed our way through the upper floor like rats in a maze. I felt that the kitchens looked so clean and clinical that I would be scared to spend too much time in one in case someone appeared to give me an injection. Too shiny. We examined a marvellous rucksack that was on display but that had no price attached and no relatives in sight. Poor, lonesome article.

Then off to feast in the Ikea restaurant. Mrs Davey had some kind of vegetable preparation while I had leg of duckling in pepper sauce, which was very good indeed.

Then off to find the various things we needed: a proper chopping board, a pillow, some plants, some potting compost. We successfully nosed our way through the labyrinthine lower floor after the fashion of laboratory rodents and thereafter made our hasty retreat to an ice-cream emporium, calling at Decathlon on the way for shoes.

When I first arrived in France I invariably wore Clarks shoes which I bought at the outlet village in Ellesmere Port, usually for £35. In France I stood out like a sore thumb. Here two kinds of shoes are commonly worn. Everyday shoes are like training shoes but in subdued colours like dark brown or light brown. Any kind of brown, in fact. Shoes for special occasions are called chaussures de ville. They are black and they have very long pointy toes like you find on fifteenth century armour. I have never worn and shall never wear chaussures de ville. My feet are not that shape and it's too late to try and squeeze my toes into a long point. Forget it.

So - everyday shoes, well I asked someone once where those shoes were to be bought and the reply came back, Decathlon. So for a while I have gone there for my everyday shoes. Clarks shoes are too expensive here, even in the outlet shop, and I do want to try and blend in somehow. Decathlon used to have a whole section of shoes for La marche en ville - walking in town - where somewhat paradoxically they never had chaussures de ville - so we went to try and get some everyday shoes. I'm rambling a bit here, aren't I.

Long story short, they now do shoes for La Marche Sportive, which seems to be speed-walking - you know, that thing where you swing your hips and waggle your arms to go along faster, or for La Marche Nordique, which seems to be a special kind of gait that comes from Scandinavia. I have had several Scandinavian friends over the years but have never noticed anything particularly unusual about the way they walk. Honestly. I am SO unobservant.

So as a Welshman who aspires to walk in town at moderate speeds I came away unshod. Swiz.

The ice-cream was nice though.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's very clear

that the trees are out to get me.

The birds cheer me on.
The sun smiles down as I puff and pant.
But the trees shower dust, carefully planned to shoot straight up my nose and set me wheezing.

Still, a quick burst of the inhaler and off I go again.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The forthcoming presidential election

OK, Emmanuel, I need you

I cut our grass last night, and the neighbour's, too. Her mower was stolen from her patio a couple of months ago after a car demolished the fence.

Anyway this morning she popped round with some money in an envelope. She doesn't want to bu another mower for fear of it being stolen again, so she prefers to pay someone - me if I want the job - to mow her lawn. It's not a big lawn. It takes ten minutes, perhaps, to cut it. I'd happily cut it for nothing. For a piece of cake from time to time. For neighbourliness.

Now comes the dilemma. Can you politely refuse payment like that here? Or should we save up the money and buy really nice food when we get the neighbours round for cake and coffee? (I suppose I could put it towards a trip to Evian in a couple of years' time!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

You know that thing about closing doors and opening windows

Shortly afterwards an email arrived from Vaughan inviting me to go to EMA and to take a friend at a special buddy rate.
Time for quick reflection.
Could we stay anywhere with friends in London?
I messaged someone and the instant reply came back that we could.
What about flights?
Yes, three a day to Gattewycke.
We booked quickly before we could think twice. Patricia is my "buddy".


More harsh realities!

I reflected and remembered that I decided not to go to the outstanding EMW Ministers' Conference this year because of the Evian conference, so I thought I would investigate the possibility of attending that.

Ha! Flights to Liverpool are on Saturdays or Tuesdays. No good whatsoever.

And frankly the idea of flying to Bristol and then somehow trying to get to Bala was most unappealing.

Meanwhile Mrs Davey considers that I need to get away from Bordeaux a little.

Hey! I'm trying!


The harsh realities of life!

There's a conference in June that Pat and I ought to go to. Two days in Evian-les-Bains, on the French side of Lake Geneva. We could prolong it by a day in an AirBnB, perhaps, and breathe the mountain air and gaze at the scenery.

Easyjet would get us to Geneva slightly late for the start for 300 euros.
There's no public transport from Geneva to Evian, so it would mean hiring a car. 250 euros.
The conference fees come to another 300 euros for the two of us.

So we're talking 850 euros for a two day conference.

We have a little fund put aside, 100 a month, so that we can afford to go to conferences and pastorales. That gives us 1200 a year to play with. But we've already spent out for the colloque in Lyon and there's another conference in October which will take place in Germany. Plus we'll need to travel back and fore to Paris a little in the year ahead.

We can't do it.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Gideon Dinner

We were very kindly invited to a dinner thrown by the Gideons in the local Mercure hotel. What ho!

I'd previously asked one of the Gideons what one wears. You know that in France we're not quite as formal as in the UK. I can still remember how shocked I was the first time I saw a funeral, where people in their 50s turn up in jeans and leather jacket. Now I'm so well adjusted that doing "formal" has become frankly rather a headache.

"Oh no, whatever," was his reply.

Yeak. OK. So Pat got out a nice dress and a kind of lacy long cardigan thing.

I dug out my nicer black trousers and decided on a grey shirt. No tie. There is a limit. But I'd wear my navy blazer I got in Asda.

Well it was AWFUL!

The thing is now much too big for me. I look like I've had consumption or something. I just couldn't wear it. Instead I have an old leather jacket that I got over ten years ago and which was a much better fit.

The meal was very nice. Ham with some salad to start. Then roast chicken with a sort of hash brown. Then a kind of chocolate, strawberry and speculoos dessert.

One of our Bordeaux Church folk was telling how she'd been converted after receiving and reading a Gideon's New Testament. It was good to chat with the other folk.

So that was last night sorted.

The Gideons were well dressed. Other folk came in a variety of outfits ranging from jacket and tie to jumper and jeans. We done fine.

But we're going to a wedding in the summer. Yay!

Do I have to find a new jacket, one that fits, or can I get away with a navy cardigan?
Do I still have a navy cardigan?

Pat's exam day

Pat had her TCF ANF (Test de Connaissance de Français - Acquisition de Nationalité Française) at the Alliance Française yesterday. We decided to make it a little special by going into town for lunch. It would have to be a hurried lunch because she had to be there for 13:15.

We messed up our plan by leaving the house too late and just missing a number 4 bus, so we arrived in town with just an hour to eat and get to the exam centre. OK. Subway it is. Two mega sandwiches eaten in the street later I waved her goodbye and went off to explore Bordeaux.

Pat stared at cartoons and strained to hear recordings before ticking random boxes.

Meanwhile I scoured two stores in Bordeaux looking for a pale yellow top for her before finally giving in and having an ice cream.

After her "chat with a friend about preparing for a job interview" we met up and looked at the yellow tops I'd found. She bought a pale blue one as well as a surprise birthday present for me. We then went to one of the new posh tea-rooms before heading home.

So far so good. Now three weeks for the results to be available.

Meanwhile, on the physical front, yesterday began my run round the vines, 3km through the fog. Then as we walked back to the flat in the evening I checked how far I'd walked during the day - 18000 steps, about 10 miles in total.

I slept well.

Monday, April 03, 2017

You can tell

that I've had a busy week when the blog is quiet, very very quiet.

Anyway it's been a busy week, but an OK week.

Some highlights?

Well an evening with the students talking evangelism and apologetics. Tried to emphasise a holistic approach - people need to believe with their hearts as well as their minds - they won't believe till they want to believe, till they choose to believe.

An evening with our car share scheme hearing about their new plan for a "pick-up anywhere, drop off anywhere" fleet of shared cars in inner Bordeaux. Sounds great, though not too relevant to us, living in "outer Bordeaux".

A morning distributing gospels in the big market in the middle of Bordeaux. Great people, very friendly. It was a nice time.

Then yesterday we started the service VERY LATE INDEED because people had been held up by antifascist demonstrations (the full monty, broken windows and cash dispensers, tear gas, riot police and everything) that took place in response to a visit from Marine LePen, who could well be our next president if recent events are anything to go by. Then we can look out.

I just switched mobile phone operator. I have been with a rather expensive contract because it gave me included data cover in the UK, very useful for church visits, etc. It also included premium Spotify! Wonderful.! Then a couple of months ago they lost Spotify. And from July the hated European Union is abolishing roaming charges, so all operators will be forced to include data cover as long as the UK is part of the EU, at least. So I've switched to a scheme that gives me all I need for just 3 euros a month. Yay!

Today Pat has her TCF ANF exam which she needs to take to become a French citizen (keeping her British nationality, of course).

Music for Monday

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A varied evening

So yesterday we Daveys went off to our different rendez-vous.

Patricia to the Alliance Française for her preparatory workshop before her TCF-ANF next week.
She had a wonderful time listening to the recordings (just once) and ticking the boxes according to the conversation she thought she heard. Then discussing the discussion section.

Meanwhile Catrin and I were at James' flat with the GBU bunch for an evening discussing evangelism and apologetics. It seemed to go OK, and James cooked us an excellent spicy pasta meal!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Some more Stravinsky

After the concert

the other Saturday a little group of us headed for the nearest tram stop. We got talking. As often happens the subject got on to how long I've been in France, whether I came directly to Bordeaux and stuff. It comes up because I have an accent (American? Canadian? Belgian? Martian?) but I do pronounce things like what we do in Bordeaux.

One woman said, "Ah yes, I am from north of the Loire and it wasn't till I came here that I had any idea that in and un could conceivably be pronounced differently."

So for her there were just three nasal vowels, and in un grand pain rond, un and ain sound exactly the same. As do un and in in un bon vin blanc.

I'd read about this in the unique and unparalleled Harriette Walters books. And all of a sudden the penny dropped on something that I'd not thought about.

A friend who is very cultured, well-read and a professional story-teller did some workshops on the use of the voice. We went along to some. She insisted that en and an are pronounced differently in (subtly) different parts of the mouth. We all shrugged and tried to humour her, but Harriette Waters points out that in some parts of France there are actually 5 or 6 nasal vowels, and a clean distinction is made between en and an.

Ah bon.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Time for some Stravinsky!

Hmmm

When I had my eyes tested the ophthalmologist said, "Now I don't know if your additional health assurance will cover your new glasses. Some of them have gone to once every two years.

So I watched out for the reimbursement.

On 14 February the state scheme reimbursed 14 euros of the cost, and the message said that the bill had been passed to our additional health assurer.

Since then nothing.

So I called it at the local office armed with every possible relevant piece of paper.
The lady at the desk phoned head office.

"They say that it's every two years now, unless your eyesight has changed", quoth she, holding the phone in her hand.

"And what does this prescription say?" asked I.

"Ah yes. ... But his eyesight has changed", she said down the telephone.

So today I was glad to see that I have been reimbursed.

Should think so too!


When you have la crève

I haven't looked up this word, I warn you, so I've just worked it out from context but:

when you have a flat tyre c'est crevé.

when you want to tell someone to drop dead (I know you don't, of course) Crève!

when you feel under the weather, exhausted, generally below par, j'ai la crève

when you are exhausted and desperate for sleep, je suis crevé

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Yay! A day off!

I knew there'd be one around here somewhere.

Morning run round the sodden vineyard and through the damp streets.

Maybe shopping for cotton trousers later.

And music, music, music.

Some music for Thursday

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dialogue Véritas

Well there we are. Two evenings that went OK.

On Monday evening I had to deal with "Is there life after death", and the pastor from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Florian, had "Does God exist". There were 37 folk present, about 1/2 unknown to the GBU people.

On Tuesday evening my subject was "Does life have a point?" and Florian got the biggie, "If God exists, why is there evil?" There were fewer people present but again about 1/2 were folk unknown to the GBU types.

I realised how far out of my comfort zone I was. "Philosophical" style subjects. A Lecture hall setting. Questions and answers after the talks. Very short talks, 15 mins maximum. And, of course, everything in French.

Today I was a little bushed, but we had a prayer date and a lunch date with some friends and colleagues, then Pat and I went and booked her in for a preparatory workshop for her French test, then went and had an excellent coffee from Café Piha before she returned home and I went to a free workshop at the Apple Store.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Today I was brave

On Friday morning as I tottered out for a scamper round the vines I saw that there were two people waiting by the bus stop. I don't wear my glasses to run and sometimes I have to squint to decide whether the animal in the distance is a sweet little pussycat or a ravaging dobermann pinscher - this morning when the thing began to move I could tell it was a cat - so I didn't recognise the people at the bus stop. Not until they both said a cheery "Bonjour" and I realised it was our neighbour and her daughter....

So early this morning, perhaps it was knowing that all was revealed and my feeble attempts at secrecy were all in vain. Or perhaps it was that my back was aching and I was hit by one of those early morning existential crises, so eloquently sung by my neighbour on a Welsh language camp all those years ago - "ffili gweld y pwynt o godi, ffili gweld y pwynt o gwbl" - I don't see the point of getting up, I don't see the point at all. Anyway the clock said "6:30, time for your run" and I said to myself, "time to roll over".

At 7 I thought, "it's now or never", so I got up and ventured out. The morning was overcast but mild. I have these navy cotton running trousers - well, they are designed to wear for loafing round the house, really - yes, they really do make trousers specially designed and made for loafing round the house - can't you just hear people saying, "Oh, it's too bad, I have absolutely nothing to wear while loafing round the house, I'll just have to do the garden instead" - and they are cut quite tight to the calf. I wear a grey sweat-shirt which is just big enough. I imagine it gives the effect of the cart horse who somehow got into the corps de ballet by a fluke. I warm up by gently moving anything that can move as I slowly ascend the hill to the inappropriately named Rue Profond.

I needn't have worried. Except for one small pussycat - "or is it a rabid dobermann pinscher?", he squinted - the streets were deserted.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Here's something a tiny bit more serious on Patrick

from the website of the Gospel Coalition - click HERE

and from Wales Today - click HERE

Here are some things that made me smile


Bobo = bourgeois-bohème (the rich and trendy)
Facho = fascists (the extreme right)

Beer for Patrick's Day,
Leffe, Desperadoes and Hoegaarden! 
Figures, I suppose:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

24th anniversary

On Tuesday, having discovered new reserves of energy, we decided to go out for a meal to celebrate our anniversary. This means lunch, for reasons I won't go into. Now Bordeaux has an embarrassment of wonderful eating establishments, but at the moment we have a little project of eating our way round the world near the Place de la Victoire, so we decided to eat at Nobi Nobi Japanese restaurant. Pat had a predictably cool curry while I had some chicken thing with rice. We ate in the sun, quaffing San Pellegrino, then went to the nearby Banana Café for dessert and coffee. It's a grand life!

24 years of photographs

I'm pretty sure that when we got married and went on honeymoon I had an Olympus Pen EE3 half-frame camera. It was great. It took no batteries and was as reliable as can be. It took great photos, though the processing was expensive!

After a while I bought the best camera I ever had. Now I had slr cameras over the years. First a Zenith E that I bought as a student and sold on. That was followed by a Cosina CSM - really good! Then came a Nikon FE, I think, bought second-hand, and then a Canon Eos 300. That was my last slr.

No, the best camera I ever had was an Olympus mju2. Quick, easy to use, a splendid lens, a good focusing and exposure system, some of my favourite photos were taken with this camera.

Digital cameras became cheaper, with the prospect of immediate photos and no processing charge. There followed a little list of cameras like the Olympus C3000 (refurbished from Morgan Computers!), a compact Olympus C2/D230, a really natty little Minolta X20, which was very good at foliage!

Soon after that came the camera-phones, and separate cameras were never quite so convenient, though we enjoyed our Lumix FZ3 and our TZ1 - with splendid fast lenses. Indeed, we still have them.. But the camera-phone is always in your pocket.

I still pine after that mju2. If someone would make a digital camera with a good, fast, non-zoom lens - preferably 35mm equivalent - and a good focusing and exposure system at a reasonable price, I know they would sell at least one.

Perhaps they have. Perhaps it's the camera-phone in my pocket.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I went to a concert on Saturday evening

in the Eglise Saint-Nicolas, a big 19th century heap with lots of trompe l'oeil swags and bows in the interior.  The concert was given by the amateur vocal ensemble, Stella Montis, which specialises in singing stuff by living composers, or at least those not long dead, and in which the bass player from the Pessac Jazz Band sings.

I wasn't sure what to expect. We are going through a period in music where living composers are writing music that is pleasant and accessible - in the UK people like John Taverner and Paul Mealor, and internationally with people like Arvo Pärt and the American minimalists. But you never know, do you.

Well I was blown away by their repertoire. The theme of the concert was Bach's influence, so they began with a quick and simple chorale, then another by Mendelssohn, then we were into works by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Knut Nystedt and David Lang. And one from Arvo Pärt.

Here's one of the David Lang pieces, "Again". He's Jewish and the text for this piece is taken from Ecclesiastes.




Running

One problem with being a creature of habit and fitting a 6:30 run into your life is that when your life is disrupted in any way - late nights, for example - your habits go out of the window and take your early morning runs with them. I cannot go to bed at 1am and then get up at 6:30 to run. Others may be able to. I cannot.

So for some time I've been intending to add in a 1km loop to my morning circuit. This morning I did it. Hurrah! And what a morning for a run. Light, for the first time this year. A haze over the vineyard. The local rowdy birds yelling their heads off again. Some young lad about 30 - 40 years old running the other way looking all wiry and angular, a proper runner, while I oozed in the opposite direction. But I like to think I encouraged him as he did me as we puffed "bonjour" to each other.

My "fitness band", a Xiaomi Band 2, receives frequent updates to its firmware and to the application on my iphone that goes with it.

One recent update gave it the capacity to track my route, though to be honest I think the birds can track my route now as it's always the same. There's a little rut in the tarmac where I habitually trot.

It also likes to tell me every 100 metres how fast I am running. "You're going dead slow." "You're going even slower." "Wow, are you sure you're not running backwards?"

It also tracks your heart rate.

Now tracking your heart rate is a mixed blessing. I mean how fast should it beat? Is it beating too fast? Do I need to try to run faster? Slower? See a doctor? Have a stent? A by-pass? However at least the wretched thing is beating, and though these wrist-based heart monitors are notoriously inaccurate, it does at least show an increase when I run and a decrease when I stop.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary

so we decided to go out for cake and coffee.

There is now an embarrassment of cafés in Bordeaux that I really like and want to go to. It took us just a little time, however, to decide to go to the very posh café near the Opera House, la Librairie de la Comédie. It's a bookshop with a posh café, and they have REALLY NICE cakes.




Some music for Monday



"Komm süsser Tod" by Knut Nystedt after Bach.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring has arrived in Pessac

It's glorious here. Sunshine. Loud birds. Flowers everywhere. Wonderful running weather.

And LATE NIGHTS, so only one bout of early morning running. Oh well.




Some music for Saturday morning

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Today I had LOTS of emails to catch up on and some conferences and flights to book.

Emails was OK.

Some were replies saying sorry, this year I cannot come because our dates for church visits are booked up now. :-(

One was a reply to someone who'd like to come and help for a couple months.

Some were to do with Dialogue Véritas. I'll need to do another post about that.

Booking conferences was another thing.

Essentially every year I have to choose between attending the Colloque Biblique Francophone or attending the Banner of Truth Conference. To go to Banner I schedule church visits near the dates of the conference and that works out OK, except that really church visits are better done later in the year, in June. Anyway.

So this year I thought I could try and attend both. They are on consecutive weeks, but one is only three days and the other four. We even planned that Patricia would come with me to the UK and while I was at Banner she would spend the time with church folk in North Wales. HOWEVER.

Banner is held in the UK near Stoke on Trent in April.
There are no Easyjet flights to Liverpool in April.
There are no Easyjet flights to Bristol on suitable dates.
Easyjet flights to Gatwick are extremely expensive.
Ryanair could get me to Edinburgh, but not on good dates, or to Stansted!
Air France could get me there, but at great cost and via Amsterdam.

I'm not sure of the wisdom of spending £600 - £800 on going to the Banner Conference, so we decided to forget that one.

Now the Colloque. It's held in Lyon and you can fly there or take the train. It starts on the Wednesday at 5pm.

Easyjet has several flights to Lyon, but to get me there for 5pm I'd have to take the 7am flight, which means catching the N°4 bus from Pessac at about 5am.
Alternatively there are several trains but much more expensive, and the journey time is 7 hours.
Oh well, just as well I'm good at getting up early!


The French President

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Public transport in London

To get from Victoria to the British Museum I could have taken the Underground, but before committing myself I thought I would check with Google maps and it told me that I could take a bus directly. Buses are MUCH better. You can see the city as you travel through. So off I went to find the stop.

Well the Victoria area is being redeveloped, so the whole place is a little difficult to negotiate. Added to that it wasn't obvious to me how the bus stop functioned! But despite my uncertainty I managed to find the stop, wait for the bus and hop on it, and I was pleased to find that it was one of those redesigned Routemaster Boris buses.

To pay for public transport in London you have several options. You can buy a ticket from a machine. You can load money onto your prepaid Oyster card and present that at the turnstiles. Or you can simply use your contactless credit or debit card. I have an Oyster card, but I didn't want to load money onto it unnecessarily, so I used my bank card.

On the buses you scan it once when you get on. On the trams you have to scan twice - once when you enter the station and once when you leave. I was a little perturbed by the way it doesn't tell you what it's charging you. In fact I think you don't get charged until the end of the day when a complicated computer algorithm works out what tariff to apply.

Anyway, the bus went along the back of Buckingham Palace garden, along Hyde Park, up to Marble Arch and along Oxford Street. It was great to see some of the sights.

Later, to get to Child's Hill, I took the tube. Boring, but much quicker further out of the city.

Oh la la la la - The French Presidential Election

OK. So back in the autumn there was a plebiscite to choose the candidate for the centre-right party, which at the moment is called "Les Républicains" in a fine show of resistance to the inexorable march of American culture. The greatly loved mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, stood alongside François Fillon, considerably more right-wing, but who presented himself as the squeaky-clean candidate, resolutely and traditionally Roman Catholic and with a Welsh wife, Penelope.

Fillon won.

Then came Penelopegate. French politicians are allowed to use parliamentary money to employ their family members as aides, secretaries etc. BUT it has to be for real work really done. M. Fillon had paid his wife a generous but not unreasonable salary amounting to something approaching a million euros over the years. Unfortunately an interview emerged where Mrs Fillon, who comes from the disputed territories of Monmouthshire, was asked if she helped François with his work.  Her reply went something along the lines of "Goodness me no, I don't get involved in all that!".

Problem.

M. Fillon says she had worked, and they could prove it. His accusers say that she had already proved that she had not worked. M. Fillon says that if he is investigated by a judge he will pull out of the presidential election. M. Fillon is duly investigated by a judge. "I will fight to the end", quoth Fillon. M. Fillon could face criminal charges. "I will fight to the end", quoth he once more. His allies, advisors, spokesmen, campaign chairmen are resigning from his campaign. His response? "I will fight to the end."

So the Republicans face the prospect of losing the presidential election.

Enter Madame Marine Le Pen. She is the candidate for the right-wing National Front, counting among her policies the abolition of the euro and the return of the franc, alongside other very popular anti-Brussels rhetoric.

Madame Le Pen is accused of using European Parliamentary money in a similar way to M. Fillon. She has been summoned to be interviewed by an investigating magistrate. "I'm not going!" quoth she, and went she not. She will be summoned again at a future date. "I'm not going!" came the ready reply.

As in the UK, the left wing Socialist Party is in disarray. I ask you, are we living in left-wing kind of days?

Thus far this leaves the field clear for an outsider, Emmanuel Macron, who says he is neither of the left, not the right, nor of the centre, but he wants an eclectic programme of measures including the best ideas of left and of right. He wants to stop us paying Taxe d'Habitation, which is the only direct tax we qualify to pay, so he can't be all bad, can he?

With the general hoo-ha our fine and funky French friends have found a rich comedic vein to explore.

Amongst them a video of policemen catching people in flagrante delicto shoplifting or committing other infractions.

"Excuse me, Madame, you have stolen all those goods from this store."
"And I'll carry on and take them home!"
"Oh, OK, have a nice day."

"You are under arrest. Come with me to the Police Station."
"I'm not coming!"
"Oh, OK, have a nice day."

The one bright spot is that it could turn out that we end up with M. Juppé as president after all.

He has maintained through the whole sorry mess that:
1) the French chose Fillon in a plebiscite
2) Fillon is entitled to the presumption of innocence just like anyone else
3) therefore he, Juppé, would not even consider taking his place as candidate

He now says he would consider replacing Fillon as candidate if
1) Fillon withdraws from the election
2) the Republican party backs him (Juppé)

What a palaver, eh?

Affinity Theological Studies Conference

On Tuesday I took flight to go to the Affinity Theological Studies Conference.

This is held every two years and takes the form of six papers exploring a theme in theology, these papers being sent out beforehand accompanied by a series of discussion questions. During the conference each expert delivers a synopsis of his paper, or homes in on sections they feel particularly relevant. The assembled company then divides into groups of about 10 people to discuss the paper and the questions set by the speaker. I had agreed to lead one of these groups.

I set off from a tempest-racked Bordeaux having weighed the misery of catching the 42 outside our flat, then crossing the road at Mérignac to wait for the 1 to the airport against the misery of trudging to the centre of Pessac to catch the 48 directly with no change. I decided on the latter and made it to the airport not entirely drenched. Some of this water came from my trek to the bus stop. Some of it fell INSIDE THE BUS. I consoled myself with the thought that just last week there were concerns of drought in the summer. Our aquifers were being refilled.

The airport at Bordeaux is easy. Easy to get to. Easy to get through security. Easy to avoid the duty-free shops. Easy to find a coffee is you want one. Easy to find the toilets. Easy to find the departure gate. We are very spoilt.

Boarding the flight wasn't quite so easy. Because of the weather, for the wind wrought and was tempestuous, they decided to embark with only one set of stairs, and I entered the plane to find the steward drying the seats with paper towel. "It's raining INSIDE THE PLANE?" I asked, and he said it was.

Having seen videos of aeroplanes shimmying and sashaying down the runway to land I was, perhaps understandably, a trifle apprehensive but my fears were banished when I heard the steward address the pilot as "Maverick". With Tom Cruise at the joystick, with a few unusual manoeuvres and with bated breath, after a few short minutes we were above the wind, which indeed wrought and was tempestuous and into the brilliant sunshine and peace that you find above the clouds.

I was sent into a revery about the difficult periods of life, which has so often wrought and been tempestuous, and how, if we can find out how, like Maverick, to rise above we can nevertheless find brilliant sunshine and peace.

Oops - here we are in Gatwick. A bit of argy-bargy with shuttles and I was soon on the train opposite two chatty young ladies who had just returned form a fortnight's adventures in Cuba! What experiences they had had! Now it was back to work but with their secret weapons - their memories of their Havana experiences, and not a few bottles of real rum, the good stuff.

As for me I took the 73 bus through the potholes and pneumatic drills of the capital of the rebel kingdom to the British Museum. I was headed for the Greek and Roman rooms with my copy of "Through the British Museum with the Bible". Or is it called "Through the Bible with the British Museum". One or the other.

I first visited Sargon II's Winged Lion Gates. I love those things and if one day I can have a house built for me then that's what I'll have for my garden, perhaps a trifle smaller. I was thrilled to find Sargon II's Winged Lion Bookends in the gift shop later, but at £55 each they stayed there.

Past the Parthenon Frieze, a quick visit to the ever-youthful Alexander the Great, then down to the inscriptions that demonstrated Luke's scrupulous trustworthiness in his travelogue in Acts, a quick sideways glance at the mummies, then off to the cafe for a cup of ... what-do-you-call-this ... coffee. Then lunch I suppose. I found that London shares the current vogue for eating raw fish wrapped round little balls of rice, but adds a plethora of Korean cafes. I ate in Macdonalds. Of course.

Then on the Underworld Railway to Golder's Green where I was to stay overnight with my old friends Gary and Eleri Brady. We would travel up together the following day to the conference.