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, 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