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)

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.