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 20, 2017

The hazards of running

Falling over : Mrs Davey fell over this morning. She thinks there is only superficial injury, thankfully.

Episcopal visitation

We have had an episcopal visitation from Rhys and Jane Morgan over the past few days:


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Back to running

It was good to be back pouring the paths again...

A little punctuated by my unsettled asthma, but it'll improve.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

New academic year, new printer cartridges

For some time I have been using "compatible" printer cartridges.

Everything I print in colour has been less and less well rendered over time, to the point where everything had an unpleasant blueish tinge.

It was time to splash out on some genuine Canon printer cartridges and see what that does.

And I am happy to say that the results are positive. We have yellows, reds and greens once more!

Now I need to stock up on paper.




Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Some pretty music from Praetorius

Let's hope I can just be ill and get it over with!

For a little while my asthma has been unsettled... Noisy breathing, especially at night...
In the meantime I've developed a chronically runny nose!
Then I THINK I have a little outbreak of shingles - little itchy spots here and there.
(When I had some before the doctor said it was that.)

I think I know what the problem is - too many evenings out doing this, that and the other.

I can't work morning, noon and night any more. I have to take a break now and again, and sadly at the rentrée it is sometimes not possible.

Usually when I have some little health niggle I do what British people do all over the world. I ignore it and hope it goes away. But yesterday I decided to mention it to a couple people.

"Ah, you need a break", said one person.

Well we might take a little breakette, perhaps, at the beginning of October, just after Mission Week.

Meanwhile, ha!

Last night Pat and I had an evening in alone. Yay!
We decided to have an early night. Yay!

Then at midnight she received a text message which woke us both up.

Pat slept fitfully after that.
I eventually got up, drank some camomile, ate an apple and went back to bed and to sleep at 4:30.

This morning the good news is that I have a headache! So I'm hoping I can break out in a good old cold and have done with it.

Meanwhile the morning, noon and night thing should come to an end soon, and I'm boosting my vitamin intake in the meantime!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Preaching the incarnation

It's not easy, is it, and the beginner preacher can get into some rather sticky situations.
Here's some thoughts:

1) It isn't easy and I don't think our task is necessarily to make it look easy to talk about the incarnation. The degree of unease and discomfort that people see can reinforce what we're talking about; people can see and hear that we are somewhat outranked by the truth that we're struggling to convey.

2) Be familiar with the classic systematic formulations. For example, the definition of Chalcedon really helps if you will think about it and master it, or rather allow what it expresses to master you:

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

The vocabulary is a little challenging, but the basis of what they are saying is pretty clear:

One person, one soul, one body, just like us. But with two natures.

He is a real 100% human being, a man just like us but without sin.

He is also God, really 100% God, still being all that God is.

But there is just one "he", and it isn't like playing roles or transforming from one to the other and back.

There are no analogies because nothing else is like this.
Just like for the Trinity, there are no analogies because nothing else is like this.

We can find illustrations. For example I am Welsh and I live in Bordeaux. When I speak French you can tell there's something different about me, but you may not know what it is. From time to time, though, you can really tell that I am Welsh. But I'm always Welsh, whether you can see it or not, and my Welshness is not something I turn on and off. Usually. Anyway, as I said, there are no analogies, but sometimes we can find illustrations that may perhaps help a little.

3) Think about what he left behind when he became man. What did he leave behind, really?

4) Think about what he took on when he became man. What did he add in his humanity?

5) Think about words that we use. Some words can provoke a strong reaction. Don't necessarily avoid them, but be ready to explain what you mean and why you use that word.

for example, weak. It is clear that Jesus took on human weakness. What is weaker than a new-born infant? What is weaker than a thirsty man sat by a well with nothing with which to draw water? But ordinary, human, physical weakness does not necessarily imply moral weakness, weakness of character or weakness of judgement.

6) Remember that making a slip doesn't make you a false teacher. We learn from our slips and errors and struggle to try to find the right words to explain the inexpressible. False teachers deliberately try to gain a following for their novelties. It's different.

7) Don't get hamstrung by your own inability to fully understand. Luke records Paul saying "(ESV) care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood" while warning against false teachers. I know that among the elders listening to Paul there were probably none of the heresy-hunters that might take you on, so perhaps you do need to exercise care, but it would be a crying shame to fall short of preaching the wonder of the voluntary self-humiliation of the glorious Son of God because you are scared of accidentally tripping up.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Prosperity Gospel

I had a colleague years ago who attended a church where you could be healed of your money worries. Needless to say, the queues for this were long, and never seemed to diminish.

I've read stuff about the prosperity gospel and encountered the edges of it in the pressure put on folks from some backgrounds to succeed in their studies and so prove their faithfulness to God. In fact, years ago in a Christian bookshop in Wales I overheard a conversation where a student's first class honours degree was hailed with "What a testimony!". Well maybe, or maybe not...

Anyway it's been a very different experience to talk recently with someone coming from a prosperity gospel background and to discover what a full-on culture of that produces in your life.

The person concerned summed it up under four headings :

What did Jesus die to secure for us? Did Jesus go to the cross to buy us wealth, health and worldly success, or to secure our holiness and fellowship with God?

Salvation by works. Is salvation a free, unmerited gift of God, hard-won for us by the Lord Jesus Christ, or is it something we must fight to obtain, conquering our own sin and failings in order to earn a salvation that we can never be sure of having fully achieved.

Faith and devotion spoiled. Is faith the happy, confident trust of a child of God in his wise and living heavenly Father, or is it a tool that we use to obtain from him the things we really want, like a good job, a nice house, a smart car and a desirable marriage partner.

Corrupted service. Is my Christian service my chance to prove myself by having a wonderful and successful ministry, or is it my opportunity to be involved in my small way in the wonderful things my Heavenly Father is accomplishing?

I want to emphasise that this is not my caricature, but my summary of the unprompted testimony of someone caught up in the prosperity gospel movement and who saw through it.


Bordeaux Church Sermon Podcast

From time to time people say that our church's sermons should be online.

I have a couple of issues with this:

1) I see myself as a housewife rather than a TV chef, someone who is called to feed a family rather than to run a classy restaurant. This means that I aim to preach domestically rather than globally.

2) The Interweb is stuffed with sermon podcasts from every kind of style and stream of Christianity imaginable, and several more that defy the imagination. You need a very good reason to add to this.

But when people ask you to it makes you think. And then came Anchor, an application for iPhone which makes it easy to make a podcast and even to publish it via Apple and Google.

I have a good recorder. Or rather Gwilym does, but it's here in France and he's in England.

So we launched it. The Bordeaux Church Sermon Podcast.

We do have a bijou problemette... we cannot accurately predict when people will be unable to follow adequately in English, so that means that sometimes our messages are ... inflated in length ... by the résumés we give in French. As of yet I don't know how to tackle this.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Finding accommodation in Bordeaux

Lots of people are finding it hard.

Here are some links that may help: http://www.bordeauxchurch.info/p/coming-to-bordeaux.html

A Helter-Skelter Couple Days

It's the rentrée scolaire this week, back to school week. And every year it's nuts.

I don't know why. We haven't had kids in school now for three years, but still back to school week is nuts.

Still, today I have a chance to catch up with myself and with things, just a little.


Thursday, September 07, 2017

They didn't ask. I didn't tell them.

So I joined this choir, right? I did tell you?

Partly to meet folk, partly for therapy. I like music. I like singing. It's good for me, though less good for my family...

Anyway I joined the choir, I think, in February. They were in the throes of preparing two choral pieces for a concert in October. The pieces are the Mass by Peteris Vasks, a living Baltic composer who's the son of a Baptist pastor, and Bach's cantata no. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden.

I have had a ball. The Vasks is dense, swirly, a bit complex harmonically and rhythmically, you have to read and keep your wits about you. The Bach I have sung before, in 1978, when I was a student, in the Aberystwyth Bach Society Choir. It's great fun. Easier harmonically but still you need to read is well and keep alert. Non-trivial.

The conductor is great. He's cheerful, happy, appreciative, musical, disciplined without being too severe and generally extremely likeable.

And the choir has been glad to have me. I'm probably the youngest baritone by several years, and men are scarce in choirs in France. Not only that but I can read music, sing more or less in tune and understand and obey a conductor's instructions.

Then I saw the date of the concert. Sunday 1st October.

It's a Sunday. And it is the last Sunday of our mission week.

Oh well, maybe after the service I'll be able to scuttle up to Mérignac where the concert is taking place and it'll all work out OK. I had to do that once in Aber, though I did feel a ninny attending church in black bowtie and jacket.

Then I saw the time of the concert. It starts at 5pm.

5pm is the time of our service.

We had rehearsal last night - working on "Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg".

They didn't ask. I didn't tell them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Horace

One of our old meet-up places, Les Mots Bleus, is under new management and has a new name.

Horace.

Yes, I know. I spotted it one day back in the summer and yesterday walked past to see what gives.

It's open. It's being run by the guys from the best coffee shop in Bordeaux and they have kept on some of the staff from Les Mots Bleus.

This morning Pat and I had arranged to meet some workers from the USA for a coffee, so we met them at Horace. It was great!


A free concert on the steps of the Grand Theatre


Monday, September 04, 2017

C'est la fin ... des saucisses

The meeting room of the brethren assembly has been closed for refurbishment since the end of June. They've had an architect in who has done some major remodelling, indulging adding a new vestibule, a staircase and an upper room for children's activities.

Scheduled to take the month of July, the works have expended to fill July and August, but next Sunday we are dur to be back in the premises once more.

Meanwhile we have met in our flat or in James' flat. The drawback is that there is obviously less room and, to avoid annoyance, we have not belted out our usual rowdy songs. However there have been fewer people present these summer months and we have been able to eat together after the service.

So last night was the night of the end of the sausages. Merguez, to be exact. A spicy mix of lamb and beef, I think they are the morrocan answer to the ubiquitous pork chipolata. Still the amount of fat that comes out of them is alarming and the indigestion in the wee hours makes the end of the sausages sound like not such a bad thing.

Last night we were 24 or 25 people. Five people crushed onto our sofa. No-one was left standing or sat on the floor, but every conceivable chair was occupied.

This morning began by degreasing everything in sight, then rearranging the furniture to its usual position. It will be good to be back in our old meeting room!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

In the kitchen

Today marks the end of four weeks of sleeping on the sofa. The sofa is OK and we sleep as well on it as in our bed, but it makes getting up awkward. I sneak into the kitchen and prepare my forage in the half-light of the window and the light from the cooker hood.

Today we take Gwilym to the airport. It may be the last long holiday he takes with us. Next summer he'll be preparing to marry. It's been a very happy time together, with adventures in Toulouse and in an open top Mini.

Tomorrow morning I'll be able to get up and put the lights on, change and go running, come back and get on with my day like normal. It'll be sweet. Bittersweet.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Coffee shop adventures

It's such a long time since I frequented any of Bordeaux' coffee emporia.
Not only that, but certain of them closed for the whole month of August.

So on Thursday morning I high-tailed it into Bordeaux to visit Café Piha. Family members declined my invitation to come protesting the extreme heat (we are well into the thirties just now).

I arrived to find the place buzzing and got my nice Americano. Then the second man, whose name I forgot, appeared and invited me to join a group coffee-tasting session.

The idea is that when a batch of coffee beans comes in you have to work out how long to roast it for. Coffee is a natural product. Every batch of beans differs. Each batch reacts differently to the heat. The roasting has to be fine-tuned to achieve the optimum conversion of sugars for the optimum release of flavours.

Friday morning found me charging into town once more as a new Anticafé has opened right by the cathedral! The Anticafé is a place where you can go and work and you pay by the hour, by the day or by the month. The price you pay includes a workspace, fast wifi, access to printers etc. and also unlimited drinks and snacks.

It's a great idea for me, especially in such an accessible place.
Also the hourly rate is not excessive.
I joined straight away and I'll start working there this week.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Some more adventures

Gwilym's fiancée, Beth, returned to the UK on Saturday and on Monday and Tuesday we reserved a Citiz car, a Mini convertible. It is stationed at Gambetta in the centre of Bordeaux so on Monday morning I scuttled in on the N° 4 bus to get the car.

What fun! The new Minis are very plush, but really quite small. Just room for two small people in the back, a tiny boot and not very practical, but for swanning around in the sunshine it was wonderful.

We went off to Bazas. It is a small town with a cathedral well known for it's façade, and we took the small roads to get there. Driving in a convertible in blazing sunshine and 34°C down French roads lined both sides with poplars is just wonderful. We did get rather more brown than one should, except Catrin who could sit in an oven at 250° and still not brown, but sunscreen helped a little.

On Tuesday it was even hotter so we swanned around on local roads instead, going for the shopping, then visiting a local air-conditioned shopping centre for smalls, etc. Large things would not have fitted in the boot, anyway.

We were very happy to use it and very happy to give it back!






Some Toulouse photos
















Saturday, August 19, 2017

We just got back from a short stay in Toulouse

We looked for somewhere easily accessible from Bordeaux, somewhere to explore, somewhere we didn't know too well. The buses to Pau and to Bayonne from Pessac are not running at the moment, but there were really good fares from Bordeaux to Toulouse, and we found a nice flat for 5 on AirBnB available when we needed it.

The bus was as OK as any of these kinds of things are. Long train journeys, flights, bus trips, they're all a bit awful, but if you have music and something to read then they're OK.

The flat was super. Very stylish. Two bedrooms, so Pat and I had one and the two girls the other. Gwilym slept on a sofa bed in the living room. There were windows onto the street (see below) and a nice balcony over a private little courtyard with a big-leaved catalpa and a nice, black cat.

The flat was very near the Palais de Justice and not far from the river. There were supermarkets, bakers and cafés all around.

The one drawback with the flat was the way the front windows faced the street. During the day it was quiet, almost traffic-free. At night it was NUTS! The early hours of the morning had loud drunks, rubbish collectors and something I can only imagine to be a street washing machine. Why so early? I mean like 3 or 4 am.

We visited the tomb of Thomas Aquinas and some of the Toulouse parks, as well as the Japanese Garden and the Basilique de Saint-Sernin. We also used a Citiz car to go to Carcassonne, which was very hot and very crowded indeed!

I'll pop some photos on over the next few days.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Fixing the patio door

So the man came to fix the patio door.

It turns out that with a dirty great heat gun you can soften the uPVC of the window frame and it will return to its previous shape all by itself.

For those areas where some uPVC has been broken off there is a resin based filler that you mix up and mould to the shape required and after some minutes it is hard and set.

A couple hours work and the window is pretty well good as new.


Monday, August 07, 2017

HOLIDAYS!!!

Our holidays are beginning with the visit of an elderly friend from our home church in North Wales.

On Sunday Patricia spotted one of our next-door neighbours, the lads whose door is opposite ours, putting something in the big bins. She scuttled over for a chat. We're looking after their cat at the end of August and we talked about doing another apero or something to invite all the residents of the apartments. They suggested that if we do it at their place we could have a barbecue, so it's arranged for the latter part of August.

Today we scuttled down on the tram to the quays and took our ease, eating extortionately priced ice-cream on the terrace overlooking the river, and running the gauntlet of innumerable cyclists, skateboarders, uniwheelers, roller-skaters and other sundry light rolling-stock. As we staggered back to our flat we bumped into another near neighbour, a teacher from the language school who is also a travel writer and poet. We'd bumped into her before on a walk round the vines years ago, and she told us where she lived, so a while ago I looked out for her house and ... somehow ... just spotted it. We'd intended popping a card in to invite her round for a tisane, but we intend so many things.

Anyway she rounded the corner and did a double-take. Then she slowly remembered who we were. So now we have to pop that card through and invite her round for that tisane.

Sunday evening was very pleasant. We were lower in numbers, barely twenty, but super folk, some new folk, some not used to church - the service in our home won't have helped with that much - then hot dogs and Uno and music on the terrace. Two jazz pianists. Chinese and South Korean exchanging phone numbers. One chap's prayer that almost had me blubbing. Ages from 80s to 20s. Almost everyone was resident in Bordeaux. No holidaymakers this week. And one chap said it was the best evening of his life! (I didn't think it was that good, but hey...)

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Picking up an elderly visitor from the railway station

An older lady (like 80?) is visiting us at the moment from our church in North Wales. She has brought a wheelchair, but is able to walk short distances, and she came by train from up in the Vendée.  We were to meet her at the central railway station in Bordeaux.

So yesterday I went in to recce the situation. The station has a special desk for these things. I asked the charming lady what she would advise, to drive in from Pessac and, if so, where we could park, or to travel out to Pessac by train.

"You can stop in the pick-up area for a couple minutes."

"And if the train is delayed?" She made the pursed lips sign that says you have made a valid point that has no easy solution.

We decided not to travel in by car. The train was delayed. An hour. I took my life in my hands and drank an iced frapperooni from MacDonalds while Pat drank a big coffee. We shared a cronut. I won't eat one of those again.

The train arrived and a friendly man from SNCF helped us get our friend from the train, then pushed her across the tracks to where the Pessac train was waiting. The Vendée train, in which she had spent five hours, was an old, bouncy thing from the 1970s. They're OK, but you have to clamber up and down into them. The Pessac train is a swish, modern affair that you enter on the level from the platform. We were glad we took that option.

Then the Citiz Clio estate to get us to the flat and, hop, we're installed.



Refurbishment retarded

The refurbishment of our place of worship has been held back by a delay in delivery of a staircase, so now it's scheduled to be finished for the end of August.


I was going to, honest

Yesterday I gazed out of the window at the blazing heat and longed for rain.

Yesterday I looked at our dry, crisp but patchy lawn and vowed to mow the small area under the windows which is not only not dry and crisp, but also has broad-leaved weeds like plantains.

I thought, "I will mow that section tomorrow morning before the sun is high and melts us all."

Tomorrow has come and it is raining.


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Fermé aux automobilistes

Slowly the strong currents of the Garonne erode the foundations of the Pont de Pierre, so from time to time work is needed to reinforce them. In the city's tradition of making a virtue of a necessity, this has led to the Pont de Pierre becoming a great big cycle-path right in the heart of the city for the months of August and September. Trams and buses can use it, as well as pedestrians, but no cars, vans or lorries.

A group called Vélo-cité held a quick party in the middle of the bridge to mark the beginning of the two months. The Mayor of Bordeaux says that if traffic is paralysed then the bridge can be reopened, but I should think that for August all should be well. It's holiday month anyway, and the bridge only allows single-file traffic in each direction.

In effect cars, vans and lorries are diverted upstream to the Pont Saint-Jean or downstream to the new lifting bridge, the Pont Chaban Delmas. Maybe we could foresee a day when cars are diverted away from the riverside altogether, and around the boulevards ring-road. This would make the riverside promenade safer and more peaceful. It would make Bordeaux effectively a town centred on a huge, riverside garden.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bordeaux at War, free walking tour

We decided to go on a free walking tour of Bordeaux from 11 till 1 on Saturday. Run by a group that advertises on Facebook, it promised the story of how Bordeaux became three times the capital of France.

The rendez-vous point was at the base of the cathedral bell tower, and we arrived there about 25 minutes too early. Just the right amount of time for a quick 1€ espresso at the café Cheverus.

The tour was conducted by a charming guide called Hubert who alternated between French and English as we were five tour members, two French, two Brits and a Canadian.

The tour included:

The monument to the defeated of the Franco-Prussian war - GLORIA VICTIS

The Hotel de la Préfecture where the government was housed during the First World War.

The Grand Théâtre, seat of government during the first few days of the Second World War.

The Girondin Monument, sold to the German occupying forces to be melted down for munitions during the closing stages of the Second World War, but which never made it out of France and was brought back to Bordeaux and re-erected during the 1980s.

The Place des Quinconces, which hides a substantial German bunker.

The site of the Portuguese consulate where we heard the story of Aristide de Sousa Mendes, who illegally issued 30 000 visas to whoever applied and so saved thousands of lives, including 10 000 Jews. Condemned by Salazar, he died in penury. Also of the Frankton raid by British commandos, who paddled up the Gironde in collapsible canoes to mine ships in the port of Bordeaux. And of the German commandant tasked with blowing up the waterfront but who instead ignited the explosives in their bunker to save the city. And the submarine base which brought supplies from Japan.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

Classy weeds

We have a little lawn. Well, what passes for a lawn in Bordeaux. In winter it's water-logged, in summer it's dry as a cracker. But it does have classy weeds.

The other day when I was cutting the grass I got a distinct whiff of mint. Strange. When the château's tractor was cutting the grass in the ditch next to our residence, that smelt of mint, too. I hunted a bit and, sure enough, we have little clumps of wild mint. This is good news, because I have never been able to grow mint deliberately. It just never works. Other people are inundated with it. I can't get it to survive. Well until now. So in our lawn now there are little unmown clumps where the mint is.

But that's not all. We also have various flowers. Amongst the usual clover, daisies and dandelions we have a couple of plants of this charming little centaury.


We now live in a quite small two-bedroomed flat

but still I manage to lose things and find them again by accident.

Like this hat, which I found when looking for a small backpack.



(I didn't find the small backpack)

Am I sleepwalking, perhaps?

We have these wristband gizmos that do all kinds of things.

If you're indoors and can swivel your arm at the right speed or poke a receptor successfully it'll tell you the time.

Not only that, but coupled with an application on your phone it will tell you how many steps you've taken, how far you've walked or run, your average stride, the distance travelled, your maximum heart rate while exercising and your heart rate at any given moment. It's wonderful. If you wear the thing overnight it'll even detect when you fall asleep and when you wake up and tell you how long you spent in deep sleep.

Every now and agin they update the software on the phone and on he wrist band.

Lats time I went to the UK, because I'd be spending all day sat in a conference and travelling lots by underworld railway and bus and stuff I left the thing at home. When I cam back I charged it up, updated the software and since then it's gone nuts.

Apparently I don't do deep sleep any more. In fact I hardly sleep at all. Instead, overnight, I trot about doing something in the order of 1 to 2 kilometres.

I asked Patricia if I sleepwalk. She's fairly convinced that I don't.

Well I have no other explanation except that the thing has gone wrong.
Still works for my morning runs, though.



Politics!

I'm not saying a lot about it.

For one thing there's so much one could say: about Brexit, Trump, May, Macron, the whole kit and caboodle.

For another thing there's so much rancour and aggression: about Brexit, Trump, May, the whole kit and caboodle.

So I'm keeping my trap shut.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pat's new passport has arrived

and we are thankful.

We have no plans to use it until October, but we can now book those flights to Munich for the International Churches' Pastors' Conference - with Glen Scrivener.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Retreat! Retreat!

Well that was funny. I could see that it was raining a little before I even put my shoes on, but by the time I got to the corner of the vineyard it was clear that the rain was too heavy and that it was increasing. So I turned round, went home and ate my porage.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

The French café, becoming extinct?

If you're a bit confused about cafés, bistrots, brasseries, restaurants, this won't help at all.

There is a version of this film in English, too, below the French version.




and in English:

Excuse my French

Today the new "Excuse my French Café" was advertising a brunch at 8,50€, so I suggested an adventure to Mrs Davey and at about 12:30 we set off.

Tram B is now repaired and all is well, so we hopped on the tram to take us to the Musée d'Aquitaine where we'd walk down Cours Victor Hugo to the street where the café is situated. 

At Peixotto we were told that the tram in front had broken down. The helpful public transport app on my phone said that to get were we wanted to go we could either take tram B or walk for an hour. So we started to walk.

Two stops later along came the tram, so on we hopped - or rather on we squeezed. We were many, and packed in tight. We didn't fall down but at every stop as the doors opened we popped out and had to press ourselves back in. It was good to arrive at Cours Victor Hugo.

Well the café was charming, run by an Anglo-French couple, brunch consisted of scrambled eggs with feta cheese and red peppers, porage with nuts and raisins, and strawberries and cherries to finish up, all served with a nice big pot of Earl Grey tea and lots of good humour. 



We sat in the window and watched the world go by. The café is in the street that leads down to the Place Saint Michel, and on Saturday mornings there's a huge market, mostly run by North Africans. You can by Moroccan mint, coriander and parsley in huge bunches, freshly picked that morning in the herb fields of the Atlas Mountains.  You can buy a live chicken and have it dispatched and prepared while you watch or take it home trussed up and sort it out yourself. 

Then off home to cut the grass and finish preparing for tomorrow.  

Those Antony Gormley statues

are everywhere. There's one perched right at the edge of the roof of the town hall building way up high above the city. A friend posed his children for a fake family foto with one, but you do have to position the kids carefully if you do that.

Meanwhile:


Works everywhere!

So it's the Grande Braderie, the long weekend at the end of the sales where there are stalls in the street, some selling end of line bargains from the shops behind, some selling varied ranges of clothes, toys, gadgets of varied quality at attractive prices. Best avoided, frankly, but this is not the general opinion because the streets are flooded with torrents of people.

Meanwhile yesterday I had a solid and weighty parcel to take to the Post Office. I dread it, then rise to the challenge, vigilantly looking for the little gaps you can slide through to get where you need to be through the slowly moving crowd. But I still took the long way back, avoiding the shopping street, weaving through the back lanes.

Meanwhile in theory today Tram B is back in action. At the same time there are major roadworks in Pessac that have resulted in most bus routes being diverted. Much confusion. Also Place de la Victoire has been closed to traffic so it's completely inaccessible to buses and trams.

In short, chaos.

But we went to visit the brethren meeting room and see how the works were progressing. The key was not in place so we couldn't get in, but looking through the windows it's clear that some major works have happened. It is not inconceivable that it may be open for August. If not, then we'll continue to meet here until moving back in in September.




Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tram B, Bus 15, Bus 24 ... oh boy oh boy oh boy

Last week poor tram B broke down NUMEROUS times. So this week they're working on the rails from Musée d'Aquitaine to Peixotto - a distance of some 5 km, it must be.

This means that no buses or trams can pass through la Place de la Victoire, one of the hubs of Bordeaux. One poor elderly man was trying to get from Palais de Justice to Victoire today, and there was no way he could do it, except by walking.

Then there's the impact on the buses - bus 4 has been STUFFED with people. Absolutely stuffed. I switched to bus 24 and came home that way. Pat managed to get on a bus 4 later.






Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New trews!

Some time ago I got these new chinos, very racy (for me) a kind of terracotta colour. To me they were a daringly reddish colour. To anyone else in the whole world they're brown. Anyway, I have loved these trousers, but now the sun has faded them to a kind of comfortable colour of wet sand. I still love them, but they are not a uniform colour and they look... old and loved.

So for some time I have known I must get some new trews.

Not only that but running has taken a few centimetres off here and there, so my trousers now often remind of old curtains that never had the tapes adjusted - they kind of hang from my belt in irregular, scruffy swags. If I want to avoid this I can slide the excess round, gather it and have a kind of pleated area at the back. I can't imagine what this looks like but until my neck is a whole lot more flexible I will never be confronted with it so hey...

Alternatively I can just let the belt go with the trousers and have a kind of low-slung look, a bit like those off the shoulder blousey gypsy bodice things... I was forced to do this at the airport when I took my belt off to go through the scanner, but you can't walk far like that, especially not carrying something. Enough said.

So I went by bus to Carrefour, my preferred trews emporium, and I went down a size. I found three pairs of trews that would do. A nice quality navy pair that was too big, and a khaki pair and a beige pair, both of inferior quality but the right size and significantly cheaper. You gotta get the right size, haven't you, and the khaki pair looked like I'd fallen in nasty, sticky mud, so I've gone beige.


The threatened storm came,

set fire to a house in Saint-Médard and needed 30 calls to the emergency services to deal with fallen branches etc.


When things come together

1) ‘The degree to which people are self-absorbed is pretty shocking’: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. in the Guardian

2) Blog posts that begin - the first words: "I have...", "I am...", "I am...", "I was...", "I'm going to...", from the front page of a popular Christian blog.


3) Contemporary Christian Culture with its big conferences where guys are up talking about big stuff.

4) I read recently that sanctification consists largely in thinking of oneself less. 

5) C S Lewis famously said that humility is not thinking less of yourself so much as thinking of yourself less.

6) B J Thompson (who's he?) recently said "the most obvious sign of pride isn't boasting, it's lack of prayer."

7) Jason Meyer : The Bible’s answer to our fallen self-obsession is a great work of grace in the gospel that creates a worshipful obsession with God. Pride is defeated decisively at conversion, progressively in sanctification, and totally at glorification — where we experience ever-increasing, everlasting, white-hot worship of God. The day is coming when God alone will be exalted. It will be the worst day for unbelievers and the happiest day for all Christians.

The more I fall in love with Him the less I am in love with me!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's so HOT

They forecast 38°C for today, and as I wended my weary way homeward from the Maison de la Bible this afternoon, sometimes it felt like much, much more.

The thing I noticed was that if you kept in the shade then you were well hot, but there was a cooling breeze. 

However, if you strayed into direct sunlight, then not only was the atmosphere hot, you also got the direct heating effect of the strong sunshine AND even the breeze seemed to be hot as a hairdryer.

Anyway, they forecast storms for 7pm, followed by cooler temperatures. 

As I type, at 8:15pm, the sun is still blazing down and there is no sign whatsoever of a storm, of a weaker sun or of lower temperatures.

These forecasters, they know nothing. 


Monday, July 17, 2017

Our new barbecues

When we moved we got rid of the Griffin Memorial Barbecue - a massive structure resembling half an oil drum that the Griffins had bequeathed to us when they left Bordeaux;

To be honest we seldom used it - it was so huge it took the best part of a sack of charcoal just to cover the bottom and once you got the thing lit it would take days to go out.

So we found an electric barbecue, very posh, wooden handles and a grill in cast iron. It weighed a ton, but it worked pretty well. We used that when cooking for small numbers of people and the Griffin Black Hole of Fire when feeding the forty thousand, as my mother would say.

As I said, when we moved to the flat we got rid of the Griffin Memorial Barbecue - I remember the satisfying CLASH as it plummeted into the scrap metal skip at the dump - but what happened to the electric barbecue nobody knows. We must have sold it. But why? Why?

Anyway last Friday we needed to make good this error because we told folk that the service at our flat on Sunday evening would be followed by a barbecue...

This means a trip to the hypermarket in the centre of town.

I had surveyed the range available on Amazon and fancied a couple of nice ones. Of course, at Auchan they were MUCH cheaper, so we ended up coming home with an electric plancha and an electric barbecue grill.

Sunday night saw the grill loaded with sausages and the plancha laden with burgers.

Good times, eh.


Tram B bother

Tram B had a bad week last week. In fact, I think it's had a bad month. It's been breaking down a lot.

Someone said on Sunday, "Tram A is the most reliable, then tram C, but tram B is atrocious".

This is important because the trams run smoothly and are air-conditioned so when it is hotter than a roast chicken's ... interior the tram is by far the nicest way to come home.

But all this week there's no tram B while they try and fix the recurring problems.

And it's hot as Nebuchadnezzar's burning fiery furnace heated seven times just now.

Never mind.

Onto Bus 4 we must all cram our sweaty selves and ooze our way back to Pessac together.





Thursday, July 13, 2017

The pastor as shaman and the pastor as conjuror

It's a long time since I went off on one (gave in to the temptation to rant) so here goes:

The pastor as shaman

I think I did write about this before, a woman who was thrilled after asking me to pray for her, and me happily doing so, to find that I am a pastor. Did I also write about the time I was in a church service where people could come to the front for prayer at the end of the service and I was invited to go down and pray for people, too. "You're a pastor, come and pray for people."

Now don't get me wrong, I hope I'll never vote against prayer - unless it becomes a substitute for action - and I'm very happy to pray for people habitually and specifically.

But the pastor's prayer is not worth more than anyone else's. The pastor is not some kind of shaman, invested with more spiritual power than other people.

The pastor as conjuror

That was a tricky one, and I can hear the word "but..." arising in my own heart as well as in yours, gentle reader.

But this next one may be trickier still - the pastor is not some kind of conjuror where what he has to do is find the right form of words and the magic happens. We are in danger of treating expository preaching like the mediaeval Catholic Church regarded the sacraments - ex opera operato - you do the hard work, you learn how to do it, you prepare, you research and you do the exegesis and the application, then you preach and - hey presto - "the power is in the word" and it works.

No, it isn't like that. It still takes urgent, earnest, believing prayer and the kind of attitude that sees that without the Saviour all we can do amounts to nothing.

I raise this because I really think that we are starting to get hung up on our techniques and prayer is becoming perfunctory at best, absent at worst. We believe that we can do it. Aaarrggghhhhh! That way leads to formalism and death.


Taxe d'Habitation from 2018

Here's a turn-up for the books.

At present in France the amount we are paid is below the threshold where a four-person family pays income tax.

When we lived in our own house in Passaic Alouette we were liable for two other taxes.
Taxe Foncière is paid by people who own property and is based on the value of your home.
Taxe d'Habitation is paid by people who occupy property.

Since we no longer own our own home we are no longer liable for Taxe Foncière, so we just pay Taxe d'Habitation.

Now one of M. Macron's election pledges was that he would abolish axe d'habitation for 80% of French people. He plans to do this by introducing a threshold below which you do not pay it. We fall below that threshold.

This means that if M. Macron's plan goes ahead, from 2018 (probably from 2019, because you usually pax this year the tax on last year) we won't pay any direct tax in France, only indirect taxes like VAT, etc.


Further details turned up at lunchtime - the plan would be implemented in three stages, so there'd be a reduction of a third next year, two-thirds the year after and total exoneration the following year.


Deeply boring if you write about it.

So much of what I do is not really bloggable. For example this morning I have to catch up on reading and also search for suitable photos for our new website that someone is working on and which we hope to release in September.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chocolat chantilly

After the great chick pea juice discovery I stumbled upon this: Chocolat chantilly.

This is, apparently, a genuine French recipe developed by a genuine French chef, I forget who, around I think the 1940s. I hope that is vague enough. Anyway, if you search for it you will find it described as chocolate mousse or chocolat chantilly. The recipes I have seen all vary. Some use equal weight of chocolate and water. Some use less water than chocolate. Some use hot tea instead of water. I wonder what a nice, light, jasmine china tea would bring to the mix. Another recipe uses half water, half orange juice.

Anyway, this was my recipe for yesterday:

350g of dark chocolate broken into small pieces. The recipes all say to use the best 70% chocolate. I used supermarket own brand 50%.

270ml of hot water.

Then whisk until the chocolate is dissolved into the water. Once you have a runny liquid with no lumps put your whisking bowl over an ice bath and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes dull and begins to thicken. Decant it into your serving bowl and put it in the fridge to wait.

It was SO GOOD!

What I learned in practice:

I used an electric mixer and I am sure this helped a lot.

I used two identical glass salad bowls and placed the one with the chocolate inside the one with the ice and water. As a result I got chocolate all over me and the kitchen walls. Next time I will use a deeper, straight-sided bowl to whisk in.

The mousse set quite solid, so next time I will try using equal quantities of water and chocolate, and perhaps I'll use a nice scented tea, just to see.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

You're going to find me... under the plum tree...

one of the things we miss about our old place at Pessac Alouette is the plum tree in the park, so on Monday we hopped on bus 4 and hopped off just by the park.

Sadly we were too late. The plum tree was surrounded by rotting plums trodden into the soft mould, and what few plums remained were up high, way out of reach.

However, there is a plum tree just on our running route, so on the way back we made a slight detour and, accompanied by one of our neighbours, gathered a goodly portion which Pat then made into a rather tart but wholesome conserve.

We just went out again, in the raging afternoon heat, and garnered another goodly portion from the topmost branches, which Patricia hopes to turn into crumbles.

When she gets some more sugar.

Having used up all our sugar on Monday. (see above)


Monday, July 03, 2017

Bordeaux is now just two hours away from Paris by train

Well they did it!

They built the new LGV Ligne à Grande Vitesse so that the TGV Train à Grande Vitesse could travel very fast à Grande Vitesse all the way from Paris to Bordeaux. Previously the train slowed down suddenly after Tours, à petite vitesse.

They announced the inauguration of the line for 1 July 2017 and the commencement of the service from 2 July, and they hit the date. We are now just two hours from Paris.

The advantages of this:

We can get to Paris and back for the day, or for a day conference, or for a weekend conference without it feeling like we spent all day getting there and back.

The disadvantages:

Rail travel is still expensive in France.
The Parisians all plan to move to Bordeaux, inflating house prices, making the town centre very crowded and forcing us all to walk very quickly with our heads down, hissing and sighing.

Hahahaha!

Read in French les perles du bac here

And so

While I was in London at EMA, Pat was cleaning the flat from top to bottom, and not finding her passport.

She contacted the UK consulate in Bordeaux. It is possible to get emergency travel documents at a cost of 140€, with proof of address, proof of travel (airline tickets) etc. Of course, in addition, we need a replacement passport, too.

We talked about it and decided to change our summer plans. We had planned:

1 Second week of July, visit to Gwilym's future outlaws.
2 Third week of July, Keswick convention
3 Fourth week of July, UFM Family conference
4 Wedding in reading before flying home.

The fact of being away in July meant we would have to cancel Bordeaux Church services for the last three Sundays in July.

Instead we will continue church services through July and take holiday when Gwilym visits in August. Obviously, unless Pat's replacement passport comes in time, we'll have to stay in France, but current thinking is to find an AirBnB somewhere we've never visited, perhaps Pau, and explore. Maybe a trip to Lourdes?

So we emailed everyone and they'll be getting those messages as soon as they read their email in about an hour's time.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Coming back from EMA

I had time. My flight was from Gatwick at 18:45. The whole of London was before me, and a heavy bag was trailing behind me. I contemplated visiting the National Gallery, the British Museum, putting my bag in a cloakroom (do they still have them in museums?) dragging it up and down escalators in tube stations.

In the end I got on the bus for Brent Cross and went to see one of the joys of my life - the towels in John Lewis. I should have taken a photograph, really, but I just love those shelves and the way the colourful towels are arranged so neatly. If I could do one thing bring extra joy into our home it would be to stack towels in a small reflection of John Lewis' perfection.

After exploring Brent Cross - of course it was disappointing, but I always expected it would be, so in a funny kind of way it wasn't, I got a leisurely bad lunch in some fast food joint, then plotted my course for Gatwick airport. The C11 bus would take me to West Hampstead railway station, then a train to Brighton would take me straight to Gatwick. Wonderful! At West Hampstead the guy suggested that instead of buying a ticket I use my bank card on the swipe machines because it would be cheaper.

Gatwick airport was crowded and noisy. I bought some ghastly airport food. When did I get so picky?  I went to the quiet area to eat it and we all sat quietly listening to a lady talk on her mobile phone. I suppose she was doing that in the quiet area because in the rest of the airport she couldn't make herself heard. My flight was announced - delayed. I watched it on Flighttracker - the aeroplane was coming back from Ljubljana.

They announced the gate. I hared off down the corridors. 10 Minutes to gates 103 to 116 said the cheerful sign. That was when I hit a clot of people completely blocking the walkway. There was no possibility of bypass and no way to pass through. We were stuck.

Then I realised that we were moving. Ever so slowly, like people auditioning for a zombie apocalypse movie, we were oozing slowly through the corridor. Just ahead was a bifurcation. I needed to go left. The zombie army continued its inexorable trickle off to the right while I was off like a whippet to the left.

Speedy herding to the left. We sat and waited. Another announcement. There was a problem with the plane, the captain said it was going nowhere, they were waiting to see if we could have a change of plane. Fifteen minutes later we were on board the plane and waiting for a slot for take off.

I was so glad to see Bordeaux. Bus 1 took me to the centre of the city. Bus 4 back to friendly Pessac, the lime trees and the hooting owls. I got in at about midnight, far too pumped up to sleep.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

David Murray says something important

here.

EMA

Public transport seems really easy in London now, helped, of course, by the fact that EMA runs from 10:30 to 4:30, so allows you to avoid all the mad dash on the trains and underground. From Cricklewood there's a train that takes you almost to the Barbican, where the conference was to be held, and that first day my host guided me flawlessly from Farringdon station, past Smithfield Market to the huge concrete brutalist garden.

Singing for the conference was led by a pianist and two guitarists. The two guitarists were miked to sing, too. We currently believe that it is very difficult for any congregation of any size to sing without a miked up lead singer. I don't know why we developed this strong conviction or where it came from. Not long ago we managed pretty well without. Anyway, I digress.

The talks at EMA were divided into four strands:

Strand 1 : Morning Exposition, from Andy Gemmill.
These were "working out" sessions where Mr Gemmill examined Ephesians trying to establish from the text, as well as from Acts and Corinthians the purpose and details of parts of the letter.

Strand 2 : Varied talks
On day 1 we had a really helpful session from Garry Williams entitled "A Pen Portrait of Martin Luther". No pen was in evidence, instead Mr Williams spoke about Luther's theology of the cross in a very helpful, fresh and challenging way.

Days 2 and 3 saw Kevin DeYoung speak on the Mission of the Church, especially in his first message on the nature of sin. I was glad of this as it's one of the several bees in my bonnet, too. The second day saw him home in on Jesus' ministry in Mark, a kind of overview of Mark's gospel. RevKev is funny, self-effacing, charming, humble and very helpful. His approach to ministry is essentially confessional, rather than expositional, it seems to me, but that is fine and wholesome.

Strand 3 : Seminar groups
I attended days 1 and 2 of the "Rethinking Mission" stream. Not to mince my words, I felt that these were poor. We didn't really rethink anything, though we did hear from some clergypersons from a variety of different places how they are trying to reach immigrants. I skipped the third session.

Strand 4 : Closing exposition
The first came from a minister from Singapore who has a thriving ministry and a smiling wife. He preached on John 3:16.  The second was a fine message from Graham Beynon on 1 Peter chapter 2, challenging our individualism. The third came from Vaughan Roberts on Revelation 11, aiming to bring strength in suffering.

Other highlights: 
Lunch with Gethin Jones, recently returned from Westminster Seminary and settled for a year in Ealing International Presbyterian Church before coming to Paris.
Lunch with Myriam, renaissance woman currently working as an analyst in London but who is also a successful sports photographer and was a piano teacher in Bordeaux.
Brief chats with Fiona, with Spencer, with Graham, with my old second-best-man, Gary Brady and with the pastor of an excellent old friend who lives somewhere in Kent.
A cheeky breakfast in Paul, a French patisserie etc. just by Smithfield Market. It was OK, not really like in Bordeaux.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What I learned about Easyjet

Pat and I got up all excited. Today we were flying to London to go to EMA, the Evangelical Ministry Assembly. In addition we would be able to run amok through London. Yipppeeeee!

I printed out the boarding cards and got our passports out of the special folder. Alan's, Catrin's. Pat's?

No passport for Pat. So began the long hunt. The long and exhaustive hunt. The long, exhaustive and all-encompassing hunt. The long, exhaustive, all-encompassing and fruitless hunt.

So there I was sat on the Easyjet plane with an empty seat beside me, when a young woman came up the aisle, looking at the seat numbers and sat in it.

Long story short, Easyjet overbook their flights. They're allowed to overbook by up to 10%. This lady had bought a ticket for the flight on the day before, when all the seats were full. She checked in at the airport to be told that no seats were available, it was overbooked, but that as she was the first person on the waiting list there was a strong possibility that she would get a seat. And she got Pat's.

Story moral. Check-in online, as long before your flight as possible.


Monday, June 26, 2017

The story of Dan and Nancy Painter

On the other hand, maybe we need to mobilise the grey army?

Read about it here.

Man, that's timely

Feeling encouraged and discouraged, hopeful and frustrated in equal measure at the moment about the progress of the gospel here in Bordeaux.

Some years ago we were very concerned for Mérignac. Now there's three or four churches newly there - a new ADD church plant, a CMA church plant and a big charismatic church relocated there from Talence. It does leave a hole in Talence, mind.

Meanwhile, on the more frustrating side, who can dare to come and pioneer in Bordeaux and in its suburbs? Our guys in their 30s need to be assistant pastors in settled churches and work in teams before they can get enough experience to begin church planting. That means they'll begin to pioneer when they're 40 or 50. It's what we did, but it's hardly ideal. We're old, tired out and hide bound, and due to retire before long, and we need young, flexible people with decades of service before them.

I wonder whether we need to lower the entry age to seminaries and training institutions?

Maybe if we took people into seminary at 10?
They'd need a few years work experience behind them, of course, but we used to do that in South Wales in the mines...

Just thinking...



Leaving for the Evangelical Ministry Assembly

Our flight was at lunchtime so we had plenty of time to pack and leave for the airport. The 10:30 bus 42 to Mérignac, then the 1 to the airport. I printed out the boarding cards and got our passports from the special cloth wallet.

"Where's your passport, dear?"

So it was that I left on bus 42 and Pat waved me off. Since then the flat has had the cleaning of its life, and no passport has emerged. This has brought further consequences which I will explain later.

An uneventful flight to Gatwick and a leisurely journey across London to Cricklewood where I was to stay with some friends during EMA.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Back on the trot

It felt good, though a tiny bit ... breathless? ... to be back on the trail this morning.

I didn't run during the heatwave. The government told us to avoid physical effort. Also we weren't sleeping very well. And it was already HOT first thing in the morning.

So it was good to be back out today, even though I had to take a few breathers!


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ed Stetzer sometimes drives me nuts, and sometimes makes me cheer...

but here, I think he is saying something very important.


I walked up the stairs in our house.

Our big, old house with its dark varnished, turned balustrades.

As I climbed the winding flights of stairs towards the attic room I was startled to see all the toys were moving around. No-one else was there, but the toys were just wandering back and fore, randomly.

"What's going on here?" I asked the toys. Well there was no-one else to ask, was there?

"Nothing's going on. You're just schizophrenic", came the toys' reply.

Much later when I woke at 10 to 8, too late for a run, I remembered my dream.

Here's some photos, though












Oh dear! What a gap!

Sorry chaps! It's been one of those times when it's hot, you charge as slowly as possible from one thing to another and lots of deadlines loom large.

Meanwhile we're encouraged, but feel discouraged.

Probably the result of tiredness from the heat, as well as the bigness of our ambitions for the city and the smallness of our resources and talents.

Oh well. Loaves and fishes, I suppose. Loaves and fishes.


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.