Posts

The Olympic flame

 The Olympic flame has arrived in Bordeaux. It came here from Saint Emilion, visited the Cité du Vin briefly, then went in a boat to Lormont whence it was carried to cross over again to outer Pessac, Merignac, then it will be brought back into the town centre to finish at the Place des Quinconces this evening. Meanwhile Bordeaux' current episode of constant, torrential rain is making a good attempt at dousing the flame so it can't go to Paris. Our aquifers are well-filled, and the vine growers are complaining of mildew. And we have a workshop on the roof this evening at 6 to plant up our courgettes, tomatoes and peppers. Meanwhile on the Davey balcony we have some little green tomatoes, some small strawberry plants, some peppers and chillies sown and we've started eating our cut-and-come-again lettuce.

Nothing to see here

Almost all my tests are now done. I've had an MRI of my pituitary gland and environs, an ultra-sound scan with doppler imagery of my carotid arteries an another MRI of my brain and eye-sockets. This morning I had a video consultation with my family doctor so he could interpret the various results for me - some is in French medical vocabulary that it might be wiser not to Google! All that remains is a sleep study to ensure that I breathe all night. He said, "This is all good news. There is no evidence of anything ever having happened in your brain." He probably meant anything untoward..  Yes, surely, anything untoward.

UFM European Conference

Every two years, where possible, UFM aims to gather as many as possible of its European workers together for a brief conference somewhere in Europe. This happened in 2019, when we were able to go, in 2022 when some illness or other prevented us from going, and this year. The conference is held in a centre called Poggio Ubertini, in the Tuscan hills outside Florence. The centre was bequeathed to the elders of the local brethren assembly in the early part of the 20th century by a rich Christian woman of Scottish descent. The bequest included agricultural land as well as her hilltop home, and during times of persecution the centre was a lifeline for believers. Over the years generations of young people have come to faith there, and/or have found their life partners. One friend in Bordeaux went to camps there as a girl and sent her daughters there in their turn. The centre is breathtakingly beautiful, set amongst rolling vineyards and olive groves. The birds there sing long and loud. Some

Retirement, checking off the tasks one by one

The retirement age in France is 62, so in theory I'm in extra time. You have to balance this against the fact that I arrived in France fewer than 20 years ago, and that we are in one of the less advantageous pension schemes - the official scheme for people who work in religion is, understandably, tailored mostly for priests, monks, nuns, and others who have a certain course of life and so on. No dependants. In theory. Anyway, I looked at our retirement scheme information and it said that retirement takes about six months to process, and you have to ask to retire online. This all looked very simple. 5 easy steps, said the website. I started them. They always ask you if you have things you've never heard of and can't understand. "Are you in receipt of anti-ancillary-refundable-post-traumatic scholarships, or whatever". I suppose if I don't know what it is I can safely say no. Anyway at present we're not receiving anything we don't know about, so ... And

Buying a flat

We bumped into an old neighbour as he came out of the doctors'. He's a nice guy, a bit older than us, perhaps, and we got chatting about his bicycle. He has a fine old bicycle that he loads up with all his shopping and rides and tortoise speed round the streets. He got it from the association up the road that collects old, abandoned, unloved bicycles and gives them a new life in their forever home - a kind of bicycle refuge. He asked about our move and we told him how content we are in our little flat with its little balcony. You bought? Yes we bought. That was when he shared how stressed out he is because he too is buying. "Other people have bought and sold several times, but for me it's the first time." He's buying what sounds like a super place over the river with a massive terrace - his terrace is bigger than our entire flat! You've done the right thing! we told him, and gave him the name of the removal firm we used.  

La Fête du Travail

Today is the Fête du Travail, when we celebrate work by not doing a stroke all day. The buses are not running. The trams are not running. The supermarkets are closed. The Pharmacies are closed. The cafés and restaurants are closed.  Sorry for this odd style, I've been listening to stories in Italian for beginners. And it's cloudy and cold.  Yesterday there were absolute scenes in our little neighbourhood supermarket as people queued up and down the aisles to buy enough food to get them through till Thursday. More pasta? Yes, much more pasta. We had planned to go for a nice walk to the Parc des Angéliques to see the Wisteria Arch. We still might, but if we do we'll need to wrap up warm. Alternatively it might be the perfect opportunity for a duvet day!

A quick trip to the UK

We've never really been present at the heart of the life of our wider family. When we married I was already in pastoral ministry (= no weekends) and living a long way from our folk, so when we came to France the situation didn't change all that much. Now we feel fine about leaving things at the weekend and we have more freedom than I think we've ever had, so it was a special joy to spend time with my folks in South Wales. The occasions were firstly the appointment of my nephew, David, as bishop designate for the see of Bardsey in the diocese of Bangor in North Wales, and my 65th birthday.  We flew to Manchester because flights to Bristol either left too early or arrived too late to be practical. The journeys were eventful - flights were delayed and trains cancelled, but we got where we needed to be and all was well eventually. David made history by being the youngest ever bishop in the history of the Church in Wales. I'm never sure whether the history of the Church in W