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)

Friday, December 29, 2006


See below...
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Blaye photos

The other day being our day off, we took the kids to Blaye. It's a super little town on the Gironde estuary with an enormous fortress by Vauban of Fort Boyard fame, and with nice little shops.

It also has our daughter / mother church meeting in the villages around, though we don't have a meeting place in Blaye for Sundays.

The kids had a nice time climbing all over the citadelle.

And they gave us their approval to move to Blaye if and when God calls, even if that means changing schools!

(Blaye is about an hour away from Bordeaux by car, more from the centre, so living and serving in Blaye would mean an end to regular involvement in the student centre.)
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"Leaving Wanadoo for Free" or "Radio Silence"

You know I talked about changing ISP for Free, with total degroupage, higher speed internet, 16 million TV Channels including BBC News 24, and free telephone calls to most known planets? And all for less than we were paying before?

Well we are half-way there.

Our old internet and telephone provider was disconnected yesterday. We were a bit surprised! We found out when I phoned today to report that it wasn't working!

Also the Free website tells me that our Free connection is set up.

All we need now is for our Freebox(es) to arrive and Bob's your uncle.

Meanwhile - it's radio silence again!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


In France they have some different kitchen gadgets. They have pierres - bits of marble heated by an electric element on which I think you grill things on the table with the family. (That sentence is a bit bizarre, but I am sure you'll understand eventually!) Never seen it done.

And they have fondues. What's a fondu? Melt cheese.

And they have raclettes - a kind of two-tier gizmo with a teflon hotplate on top and little grill pan things that go underneath. Fascinating.

Well last night we visited some friends and ate raclette. It's a big dish of boiled potatoes, some sliced cheese, and some bacon and ham and stuff to fry on the hotplate. You grill your cheese in the little grill pan things, fry your bacon on top and goo the lot on your potatoes.

It's very nice and rather filling!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

BBC : Photos of the year 2006

I found this photomontage on the BBC News website very powerful. The tragedy and the shallowness.

Of course, what they don't show, and what they can't show is the growth of the church all over the world.

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This chappie turned up a little late and

didn't eat much, but he stayed till the end and hoovered the main room.

Great! I hate hoovering that carpet.

Then he hoovered the small office.

Then he mopped the kitchen and coffee area. What a hero!

Someone commented how embarrassed they'd be if the Lord displayed what they did to the whole world, so I decided to repost the pictures smaller! And anyway, it's anonymous isn't it, Jean-Pascale?

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day at the centre

Busy preparing food. There were a lot of cooks in a very small kitchen, but all was happy and productive. I was in charge of the pizza oven plugged in outside. (It's not a proper pizza oven - it's a small oven that you can move around.)

There were just over 20 of us in total with quite a few new people. The students were split fairly evenly between those who were Chinese and those who were African (North and sub-Saharan).

Some people are coming back for Bible Studies. Others are coming for the English classes.

Another good thing was that two young chaps from the church came along to help things along and talk with the students.
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Chantons d'un coeur joyeux (In dulci jubilo)

Chantons d’un cœur joyeux,
En ce jour glorieux,
Dans une humble étable,
Est né le Fils de Dieu,
Puissant et secourable,
Chantons à pleine voix,
Jésus notre Roi ! x2

O viens, Seigneur Jésus,
C’est toi notre salut,
En toi seul j’espère.
Au monde enténébré,
Apporte la lumière.
Du poids de nos péchés,
Viens nous délivrer ! x2

Un Sauveur nous est né,
Jésus nous est donné,
Notre délivrance.
A nos cœurs angoissés,
Il donne l’assurance
D’un bonheur éternel.
Chantons tous Noël ! x2

O ! Viens vers nous Emmanuel (O come Emmanuel)

Oh ! Viens vers nous Emmanuel,
Viens pour délivrer Israël
Ton peuple attend pour le bénir,
Le fils de Dieu qui va venir.
Chantez ! Chantez ! Emmanuel
Est né pour toi, ô Israël

Oh ! Viens descendant d’Isaï,
Toi, que le Seigneur a promis
Sauver ton peuple de la mort
Et partager tout notre sort.
Chantez ! Chantez ! Emmanuel
Vaincra pour toi, ô Israël

Oh ! Viens Jésus, toi notre Roi,
Viens nous rassembler dans ta joie
Que tous les hommes en tous lieux
Volent et saluent le fils de Dieu
Chantez ! Chantez ! Emmanuel
Est ton Sauveur, ô Israël

(This isn't the standard version - it's been changed somewhat by somebody along the way...)

Help in choosing a daily reading plan


The formidable Anne Atkins

Up and at 'em, Anne!


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas greetings

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Thank you for your presence via the blog and its comments. Prayer letters go out every quarter. They are invaluable and from time to time people reply to them, which is lovely.

But here on the blog the distance is nothing and it is almost like we walk along together. Thank you for your faithfulness in reading my crazed ramblings, for your comments which are sometimes funny, usually wise and always welcome, and for your prayerful supportive fellowship.

We all wish you a very blest Christmas and a happy and peaceful and holy New Year.

Christmas Eve reflections

1) Culte de Noël this morning.

There was a good number of visitors there and it was a good occasion. We sang (among other things) Hark the Herald, In dulci jubilo and Angels from the Realms, all in the French versions of course. Sammy preached from Isaiah 7 and Matthew 1. There was a poignant moment afterwards because our church administrator is battling cancer, had arranged a coupe d'amitié after the service - savouries, cakes, biscuits and a fruit punch - but she was too ill to be there.

2) Sermon buddy.

I emailed her my script for last week's message and she replied pretty quickly saying that there wasn't much in the way of errors. I saw her this morning and she said the same again and told me she'd return the corrected script to me next week. Well that's an encouragement, especially since last week Le Patron French proof reading website wasn't working.

3) Gwilym's birthday today.

He's had a nice day, with a special dinner - our Christmas dinner because the student centre is open tomorrow and we will be eating there. He loves a Sunday dinner, though I don't think either Gwilym or Catrin realised that they were eating duck.

4) Student Centre.

Do pray for tomorrow. We normally have a group of muslims who come, and tomorrow there'll be chinese people, too plus others. A surprising number of students are still in the city alone on Christmas Day. Pray for good opportunities to speak of Jesus informally. There may be a kind of epilogue of some kind. We'll play it by ear.

5) International church.

I went to a meeting some months ago for International Church Leaders (that sounds very grand - it means leaders of international churches) really on a fact-finding mission. Well the group who organised the meeting would really like to see something start in Bordeaux. That means in the next two or three years, I imagine.

It snowed today

The chap we took to church said it was Bordeaux microflakes.

But it was snow. You needed to squint to see it, but it was snow.

The King Visits the Earth, Athanasius (298 - 373 a.d.)

What was God to do in face of the dehumanizing of humankind, this universal hiding of the knowledge of himself by the wiles of evil spirits? What else could he possibly do but renew his image in humankind, so that through it people might once more come to know him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very image himself, our Saviour Jesus Christ?

Human beings could not have done it, for they are only made after the image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in his own person, because it was he alone, the image of the Father, who could recreate human beings made after the image.

At one and the same time--this is the wonder--as man, he was living a human life; and as Word, he was sustaining the life of the universe; and as Son, he was in constant union with the Father.

The solidarity of humankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption that goes with death has lost its power over all. You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses. Because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; he has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence, the designs of the enemy against humankind have been foiled, and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be.

Some may ask, Why did he not manifest himself by means of other and nobler parts of creation such as sun or moon or stars or fire or air, instead of mere man? The answer is this: the Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering people. For one who wanted to make a display, the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for him who came to heal and to teach, the way was not merely to dwell here but to put himself at the disposal of those who needed him.

Anyone got a spare copy of Windows XP?

It's Gwilym's birthday today. We got him a PC from eBay (famous last words, eh!)
It is all in good order, and surprisingly good. Celeron processor. It looks very, very clean. I think it's new old stock, though the screen, keyboard and mouse are obviously used.

However, it came with Windows ME.

It would be nice to get XP installed on it so if anyone has a spare XP they are not using any more (with the certificate with the 25 character code, of course), we could offer it a good home.

Yes. I am tempted to put Ubuntu Linux on it, but it's on Gwilym's PC, and he'll want his windows educational software and games to work with no intervention from me!

I suppose if I got going with Linux we could go Linux at the student centre and set up lots of cheap PCs with Internet access and OpenOffice and so on...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

This place is just round the corner from us


opposite the takeaway couscous / pizza bar.

Posh, isn't it!

On the threshold of Christmas

Plan on using the expression "the Lord Jesus Christ" in a normal serious conversation at a cocktail party or another event with your friends in the world. ... This will be "Surprise."

Thanks Fieldy, and thanks Jim Wilson

I can't imagine many of this blog's readers going to "cocktail parties" (I presume from this that the "cocktail party" is alive and well and living in Idaho!), but we'll all be going to one gathering or another over the next week or so, won't we?

Don Whitney also gives helpful advice, though he doesn't explicitly mention cocktail parties.

Does one drink cocktails at a "cocktail party"? If so, who makes them? And do you have to look up how to mix them in a book? What is a "cocktail party"? How does it work? It all seems very improbable to me!

As I said to Andy, Paris is not France


Friday, December 22, 2006

I don't believe it!

It is hard to believe it, but we are LESS ready for Christmas than we were last year. Impossible? No. It's true.

As I type Pat is packing her sisters' and brother's presents. I have finished mine because she has twice as many siblings as I do.

We have not yet got all we need for the children, so my ambition to avoid supermarkets from last Wednesday onwards looks like being unfulfilled.

And will we catch the post office tomorrow (there's an automatic posting machine at Mériadeck) or will it be on the blink like last time I tried to use it?

Anyway, some people celebrate Christmas in January...

Yes. Us.

Ecoutez le chant des anges (Hark the herald - repeat the last two lines)

Ecoutez, le chant des anges
Vient d’éclater dans les airs;
Joignons aussi nos louanges
A leurs sublimes concerts :
Gloire à Dieu ! Paix sur la terre !
Aujourd’hui le Christ est né,
Jésus s’est fait notre frère,
Un Sauveur nous est donné.

Son palais est une étable,
Une crèche est son berceau,
Et pourtant c’est l’Admirable,
C’est le Fils du Dieu très haut.
Il vient à nous débonnaire
Et de grâce couronné.
Jésus s’est fait notre frère,
Un Sauveur nous est donné.

Avec vous, bergers et mages,
Aux pieds de notre Seigneur,
Nous déposons nos hommages,
Nous lui donnons notre cœur.
Tout son peuple sur la terre
Dit, avec nous, prosterné :
Jésus s’est fait notre frère,
Un Sauveur nous est donné.

Le bouquiniste

Near our home is a big second-hand bookshop. Today Gwilym was allowed to go to school late because the sports teacher is not there. He started at 10:15 instead of at 8:00 (and we got a lie in until 8:30! So much needed! A real answer to prayer!) So on the way back from taking him to school I visited the bouquiniste.

It's great! Almost nothing of value in terms of Christian books, but lots of paperbacks for about 1 or 2 euros, lots of BDs for about 6 euros and lots of history, cookery, etc. etc.

I will visit again when I have some money, though this may be somewhat unwise.
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Etude biblique Fête de Noël

That means that instead of a pretty straight Bible Study from 19h00 to about 21h30, we'll have food (pizzas, nuts, crisps, etc) and two talkettes. I am doing prophecies and Sammy is doing presents.

The kind of food we are having is called a collation. Of course, we use that word in English, but often with a different meaning.

There are various kinds of after service food that occurs in the church. (tongue in cheek alert...)

1) un apero : this is crisps, nuts, little pieces of pizza, small open sandwiches, served with fruit juice and sometimes white wine with blackcurrant syrup in it (there's a name for this - I think it is called kir)

2) une collation : to the crisps, nuts, pizza and sandwiches add cakes and biscuits. Une collation is served with tea and coffee, herb teas and sometimes hot chocolate.

3) un pique-nique / un repas tiré du sac : (this had me baffled the first time I heard it - it means a meal pulled out of a bag - echoes of Tommy Cooper "meal, bag, bag, meal ... har har har ... just like that") Anyway with this you bring your own food and you eat your own food. Pique-nique is pronounced peek-neek in standard French, but in Bordeaux usually peeker-neek or even peeker-neeker.

4) un repas commun - this is where you bring a dish, maybe some salads, a roast, a dish of meaty goo, a dessert, or whatever, and you pull out massive tables, all sit round and eat and talk for a long, long time. In Britain I was an insufferable purist - one dessert and you do not mix chocolate and fruit! Here I do as the French do and take a small amount of everything I fancy. GREAT!

One little warning. Tarts are eaten as they come, with no cream or custard on top.

Anyway in my preparation for tonight I have been struck again by the amazing cohesion of the Bible - one book, many centuries. Many authors, one subject - the Lord Jesus Christ.

That's Bordeaux for you

Frost lying on the ground and on the hedge outside.

A mosquito flying in my office.

Glue ear

Catrin has had recurring earaches and headaches. Pat took her to the doctor some time ago and got various stuff, but she didn't really understand what the doctor said to her. So yesterday we all went and crowded into the doctors small office. I explained that Catrin had headaches and earaches almost every two weeks. She asked if all was well at school, and it is, apart from multiplication tables.

Then she had a good look and woggled Catrin's head up and down, back and fore and side to side. She asked if we had to repeat ourselves when we speak to her, and I said we did, but no more than normal.

Then she said that Catrin has glue ear, which gives her earaches and sinus headaches. She wants us to get her ears tested by an ear tester, and has given her some homeopathic stuff to sort it out. She mentioned grommets, but doesn't want to plough ahead with that unless it's absolutely necessary.

There we are. (I must get some book that will tell me the French for the eustacian tube. Nobody seems to know it.)

All change!

When we moved here our phone number changed. I think it probably didn't have to - it was just the general mess in moving (being told the wrong house number when we signed, finding that the phone line had been removed at some stage etc. etc.)

Up till now I have had this extra cheap mobile phone arrangement that is designed for people who hate using their mobile phone and just need one to be contacted if necessary (that's me!). However, since starting in the student work my mobile phone bills have gone from 7 - 9 euros to 35 - 40 euros, so I need a better deal. I've found one, and I can bring my mobile number, but it may take some time to transfer it across. Hmmm.

So I am dithering about switching to free.fr. They say you can bring your phone number with you, but what if that takes a while, too? I may end up almost unreachable, except via Pat's mobile number..

Blogger's gone bananas again

I posted some photos yesterday - but they have appeared not...

I redid it. They appeared not still.

Pity - because it was a fairly long post about Christmas food and things like that..

Still, at least it wasn't anything important!

I'll have to dig around in the tech support stuff to see what it says...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O peuple fidèle (O come all ye faithful)

O peuple fidèle. Jésus vous appelle,
Venez, triomphants, joyeux, venez en ces lieux.
O peuple fidèle, venez voir le Roi des cieux.

Que votre amour l'implore,
Que votre foi l'adore !
Et qu'elle chante encore
Ce don précieux.

Quoi ! Dans l'humble étable, froid et misérable,
Des bergers de grand amour lui forme une cour !
Dans cette humble étable, accourez à votre tour.

C'est le roi des anges, captif dans les langes,
Splendeur pure et sans déclin du Père divin.
C'est le roi des anges voilé sous un corps humain.

Voici Noël (Silent night)

Voici Noël, ô douce nuit
L'étoile est là, qui nous conduit.
Allons donc, tous avec les anges,
Porter à Jésus nos hommages,
Car l'enfant nous est né
Le Fils nous est donné.

Voici Noël, ô quel beau jour
Jésus est né, quel grand amour.
C'est pour nous qu'il vient sur la terre
Qu'il prend sur Lui nos misères.
Un sauveur nous est né,
Le Fils nous est donné

Voici Noël, ô d'un seul cœur,
Joignons nos voix au divin chœur.
Qui proclame au ciel les louanges,
De celui qu'annoncent les anges.
Oui l'enfant nous est né,
Le Fils nous est donné.

Voici Noël, ne craignons pas
Car Dieu nous dit; "Paix ici bas".
Bienveillance envers tous les hommes.
Pour nous aussi, tels que nous sommes.
Un Sauveur nous est né,
Un Fils nous est donné.

Les anges dans nos campagnes (Angels from the realms)

Les anges dans nos campagnes
Ont entonné des chœurs joyeux ;
Et l'écho de nos montagnes
Redit ce chant mélodieux :

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Bergers, grande est la nouvelle :
Le Christ est né, le Dieu Sauveur !
Venez, le ciel vous appelle
À rendre hommage au Rédempteur !

Vers l'enfant qui vient de naître,
Accourons tous avec bonheur !
Le ciel nous l'a fait connaître ;
Oui, gloire au Christ, au Dieu Sauveur !

Remember to just squash the syllables in - syllables are not stressed in French.

Look what they had in the supermarket!

It's the number of Brits here. They'll have jellied eels by the oysters next.

It was nice Cheddar, though. Quite strong!
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hurrah for FT / Orange / Wanadoo / Free.fr

Up to the France Telecom office I went, clutching my big carrier bag with my LiveBox in it. I had made an abortive attempt to return the faulty Livebox some months previously at the Rive d'Arcins agency, but the queues were ENORMOUS. But at Meriadeck the agency doesn't seem so busy so I decided to try again.

A chappie at the door took my name and asked the nature of my query. I said I wanted to bring back my LiveBox which functions no longer, and that I wanted to know if I had an engagement with FT or Orange / Wanadoo. (I can't remember the English word for this - I think we say contract...) He said "Don't you know?" "No, I don't!" quoth I, so he put my name down on the waiting list and I spent a happy 20 minutes or so gazing at the shiny mobile phones in the glass cases round the walls.

Then a young chappie came up to help. he said that there is no engagement with FT and that the engagement with Orange / Wanadoo is 12 months, so I am free to change ISP. (HURRAH!) And he received my faulty LiveBox and gave me a receipt, so all was sorted!

Now I can contact Free.fr and sign up! The reason I want to change is:

Orange.fr give you <8mb adsl and TV by internet for 30€/month, but you have to buy a TV adapter to get the TV, and you have to pay 15€ / month telephone line rental, too.

Free.fr give you <18mb adsl, TV by internet with a free wireless TV adapter with built in hard drive recorder, unlimited phone calls * to 18 countries, all for 30€/month, and no line rental to pay, either.

It sounds a better deal, what?

They always put a * after the "unlimited phone calls" bit, and it always goes to some print that is too small for me to read...

Banner South East


The Banner of Truth conferences have been really important in my life - well, the Ministers' Conference, anyway. (I got to know about the youth conference when I was already too old, really!)

This morning I was hunting for one of Geoff Thomas' articles when I saw a new enterprise - Banner South East. It looks GOOD!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What a happy, busy day!

Preaching this morning. I had one of my best comments ever.

"Merci pour ton message stupéfiant."


"Oui. Avec ton accent et ta prononciation il faut bien écouter!"

OK! Then back home to do the PowerPoint for the Fête de Noël at the Chateau. Thank God for laptops! It means you can put the computer on the lunch table and work while you eat while you talk. (Not quite - I put the computer down while I was actually eating...)

Some of the carols we were singing were on a file on the PC, thankfully, but others I had to type in or change to make them like the book (ATLG). We sang French versions of O come all ye faithful, Angels from the realms, Silent night and another.

Which meant we arrived at the Chateau late. Still - all was very genial, there were lots of people there, and our busy day was lifted by the visit of some friends from Swansea. Here they are in the Chateau car park. When he speaks French he has a Welsh accent. I wonder if I could do that.... It may be even more stupéfiant...

One lady was handing round a plate of stollen. I said "Stollen! Qu'est-ce qu'on dit en français?"

"Merci." she said - popping a piece in my hand.

Jolly good!

On the way back through Blaye we were diverted through all the back streets because a traffic accident had caused the main road to be blocked. Posted by Picasa

Oh no! Minor crisis!

It's about 9am. I'm preaching. My sermon text is all typed. I have spell checked it and grammar checked it.

But! Le patron, http://lepatron.tapor.ualberta.ca/ , the wonderful proof-checking website is not working...

Oh dear! Ah well. I'll just have to fly without it..

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bordeaux Winter Wonderland

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There are camels in our park!

The other morning they had frost on their humps. I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it myself. Posted by Picasa

Fieldy, Piper, et al


I quote fairly often from David Field and from John Piper. But I confess that I quote them selectively. And I never quote Fieldy when he is posting about NPP/FV °.

I have dear friends who are pro-NPP/FV as well as others who share my deep reservations about it.

Here is someone trying to wrestle down to the root of the matter. Don't discuss this here, but if you want to read and comment then maybe on their blog is the best place to do it.

° NPP = New Perspective on Paul, FV = Federal Vision.

Tomorrow preaching on Peter's description of Jesus

from Acts 3. He describes him as:

Isaiah's suffering servant
Moses' predicted prophet
David's klimactic king
Abraham's covenant seed

(isn't it a good thing that I can't do alliteration in French!)

Today is the Great English Class Christmas Extravaganza. It falls right in the middle of exam season so we hope and pray God will bring those he wants to be there.

And next year I hope that we will think seriously about the timing..

The whole Davey family will be there (tramstrike, parking and ailments permitting!) and I will talk about two Christmas carols - the one a setting of Isa 9:2 - 7, so I'll talk about Isaiah's promised child, and the other "While shepherds watched", which I hope we will sing together.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Une grève!

OK. What do you get when you cross Connex with France?

A strike!

Connex runs all the Bordeaux buses and trams and their drivers consider that they are poorly paid, so there is a three day strike, today, tomorrow and Sunday.

Aïe aïe aïe!

I am on duty at the centre both today and tomorrow - AND tomorrow is the Classe d'anglais Christmas extravaganza AND since the trams and buses are on strike traffic and parking in town will be even worse than usual (and it's usually extremely bad!)

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end!

Isaiah 9 : 1 - 7 (follow the link above afterwards)

To Us a Child Is Born

1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan -

2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

What a contrast, eh? What a contrast!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

and the next one please!

Gwilym. Hot. Malaise. Voilà.

It's the time of year...

A couple of years ago we used to always have to cancel his birthday party (his birthday is around Christmas) because he would always be ill.

Keep going!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Expatica on French restaurants

Our experience of French restaurants is seriously limited. Forget café culture! (Hey! For one we are a family, so everything is almost four times as expensive as for one, and for another thing we are missionaries. You didn't think we came here for the high life, did you?)

However, we have ventured across the threshold once or twice. One memorable occasion was just a few weeks ago on a Sunday. The reason we did it was that we had had an extra-long morning service - I have a guilty feeling that I was preaching, in fact - and then a service at 4pm at Blaye. By the time we packed up at church, drove home and drove back to church to go on to Blaye there'd be no time at all to eat.

So we went to a nearby Pizza place (MacDonald's being closed!) thinking this would be quicker. Big mistake! BIG mistake! After all, good food takes time - and it's about LIFE, isn't it.

Still, although we rolled up at church almost 1/4 hour after our departure time for Blaye, other people were even later.

Weeksy of Christiansquoting wants to cheer us up

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom!!!!!) -- "Do not turn upside down."
(well..duh, a bit late, huh!)

On Sainsbury's peanuts --"Warning: contains nuts."
(talk about a news flash)

On Boot's Children Cough Medicine --"Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication."
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5 year-olds with head-colds off those bulldozers.)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding --"Product will be hot after heating."
(...and you thought????...)

On a Sears hairdryer --Do not use while sleeping.
(That's the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos --You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
(the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap --"Directions: Use like regular soap."
(and that would be???....)

On some Swanson frozen dinners --"Serving suggestion: Defrost."
(but, it's just a suggestion.)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron --"Do not iron clothes on body."
(but wouldn't this save me time?)

On Nytol Sleep Aid --"Warning: May cause drowsiness."
(I'm taking this because???....)

On most brands of Christmas lights --"For indoor or outdoor use only"
(as opposed to what?)

On a Japanese food processor --"Not to be used for the other use."
(now, somebody out there, help me on this. I'm a bit curious.)

On an American Airlines packet of nuts --"Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts."
(Step 3: say what?)

On a child's Superman costume --"Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly."
(I don't blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)

Actually I was very pleased to see a kind-hearted person in the restaurant at Ikea had labelled their Hazelnut Danish Pastries "May contain nuts".

Hedging your bets or what?

Grace Hopper - a grande dame of computing

She said "It is easier to apologise than to get permission", something that from time to time it is useful to remember, but if applied too zealously can lead to disaster!

First frost

Has there been a frost in North Wales yet?

This is my theory on how the climate works here:

1) further south - "stronger" sun (i.e. less filtration by atmosphere)

2) further south - less Gulfstream

This means that our temperatures are more variable - in summer it's a lot hotter, in winter it is warmer when the sun shines but when it's cold it's really quite cold;

As for rain - we're quite like Cardiff. We get lots and sometimes for days or even weeks on end!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Knock knock

A man came to the door.

Me - Bonjour?

He - Bonjour. Je suis M. Perez et j'ai reçu un cheque de M. Aigre..

(Thinks - this is RUE PERES, but who is Monsieur Aigre? Aigre means sour, Aigre-doux is sweet and sour.)

After a bit of explanation it transpires that M. Perez is a path doer, and had submitted a quote for levelling our driveway which is a bit on the rough side of rustic. He quoted for lifting the gravel, laying more chalky stuff and putting gravel down again. He has been sent a cheque by le Maître Yaigre, the solicitor who handled the house sale to do the work.

Fancy! I wonder if M. Yaigre is also going to send a cheque to EDF to move the electric wire!

Passé composé

Both Gwilym and Catrin have had tests on the passé composé over the past few days.

(passé composé - j'ai passé un examen - I have had a test)

Gwilym got 10/20 and a round of applause from the class.

Catrin got 17/20.

A cracking post from Tim Challies

How many of us have faced the fact of our evil hearts?

Jesus speaks very straightforwardly in Matthew 15 : 1 - 20

Clean and Unclean
1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 " 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"
13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
15 Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."
16 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "


Monday, December 11, 2006

All the civilité posters

Fieldy on the beatitudes and the cross


"Jaffa" cakes

This is the supermarket's own brand, in orange, cherry, raspberry and lemon flavour. If you buy the posh ones that cost twice as much you can also have pear, coconut or ... chocolate. Posted by Picasa

Ha! I KNEW it!

With friends like Phil, who needs Photoshop!

Actually, before things get heated (!) I am sure the GIMP would do the job too - and it's opensource - but time on the computer is limited.

Thanks chaps! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Church today

I thought I'd tell you a little about the services today, because they illustrate pretty well the challenges and opportunities that France affords.

This morning at the church in Bordeaux was a special "Profession of faith" service for two young people. One was a mainland Chinese student converted in his first year through doing the evangelistic Bible Studies first with Carol, then with Fiona. He's a great chap - bright, cheerful and energetic, and studying at the same language school as Pat, but in the next class up. The other young person was the pastor's daughter. The church (we meet in the basement of the pastor's rented house) was pretty full, and various friends and relatives had come along. The service was very encouraging and helpful. The music - well we had expert accompaniment, everything was well planned in advance, the hymns were projected onto the wall and all went pretty smoothly.

In the afternoon I drove the preacher to our mother-church 50 km north in a village just outside Blaye. I LOVE going to this church. The people are country people - there's a simplicity and transparency about them (me to an elderly lady, "Vous allez bien?", "Pas du tout!" Are you doing alright? Not at all!) We were a little late because of "tortoises in the road", but when we arrived everyone was stood outside the lovely little village church (temple) because nobody had brought their key. Thankfully after a few minutes the cavalry arrived with the key and we all went in. I guess we were almost 20 people, but the church was comfortably full because it would only hold about 30 anyway, even if you all squeezed up. Our preacher had chosen hymns, but it turned out nobody knew them and there was no accompanist, so people chose ones they knew instead as we went along. The service was much more ... rustic ... but it had its own charm and its importance. That community has been meeting there for over 100 years, and just across the road the foundations are being laid for a new housing estate (social housing). Interesting!

It was good to take the preacher up to Blaye, because it gave me a chance to get to know him a bit, as well, and to talk about a new men's group that we hope to start based in Pessac. It was the first time for me ever to get to know a narcoleptic. He didn't fall asleep during the sermon. And neither did anyone else as far as I know.

The only bad thing was that we didn't get back to Bordeaux till well after 7, which meant I was too late to go to the Sunday evening prayer meeting at the student centre.

Poor Pat

You know I had this cold? Well poor Pat has been SUFFERING all week. So much so that she has not been able to do anything much basically from Tuesday to Friday. On Friday someone from her course came to visit to see how she was, which is good. She invited them to church this Sunday for the special "Profession of faith" service for two young folks, but I don't think they came. It's not always easy for me to know who is there and who isn't when the church is pretty full. Anyway, today Pat was feeling well enough to help out by serving the aperitif after the service - crisps, nuts, those tiny little open sandwich things of cheese, paté and stuff, and fruit juice and kir.

These have fallen from the mulberry trees in our back garden

Once all the leaves have fallen I am going to trim the trees French-style. That is cut off everything down to the trunk.

Here are some quotes from Weeksy:

'God's commandments are not grievous. They are not as fetters of iron, but as chains of gold for beauty and ornament.' (Jeremiah Burroughs, The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, 15)

'Despair is an exceedingly vile and contemptible sin.' (The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, 23)

All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. (George S. Patton, 1885 - 1945)

There is many a thing which the world calls disappointment; but there is no such thing in the dictionary of faith. What to others are disappointments are to believers intimations of the will of God. (John Newton)

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven. (John Milton, 1608 - 1674)

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The workshops on life in the church and gifts went ok

Or at least people said they'd gone OK.

(hint - always start with "encouragement")

It's been SO rainy in Bordeaux the past week or so

and Weeksy of "Christians Quoting" sent these out today:

After three days men grow weary of a wench, a guest, and rainy weather.
- Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.
- Frank A. Clark

The good rain, like a bad preacher, does not know when to leave off.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 - 1882

In winter, when the dismal rain
Comes down in slanting lines,
And Wind, that grand old harper, smote
His thunder-harp of pines.
- Alexander Smith, 1830 - 1867

I found a better one!

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Pessac Town centre Christmas lights

Taken with the phone in the dark. It's not a good photo but it'll give you the idea.

Some ex-pats grumble that the French don't do Christmas. They obviously don't shop at our Géant where, since the first of December, there have been these six foot tall Santas lurking in random aisles, jigging and blasting out "Rockin' around the Christmas tree".

Sadly, many of the shops will open on Sunday 24th December, Christmas Eve. Posted by Picasa

The civility poster with all the animals

My favourite is the koala. Someone behind is answering their mobile, and the koala says "Quieter with the mobiles".

Sorry its wonky. I feel such a nana taking photos of posters on crowded trams that I try to do it surreptitiously, secret agent style. Posted by Picasa


I posted a couple of pictures yesterday, but they haven't appeared on the blog.

I think this is linked to my having switched to the new beta-blogger. The link between picasa and beta-blogger is probably not working for me.

Normal pictorial service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Meanwhile today there's a series of seminars on gifts and service in the church from 2 till 4 - I have teaching, knowledge, evangelism, liberality and hospitality to do.

For me to do this Carol Liddiard is covering for me with the English Class.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wood-burning stove and the Daveys' devis

Well the guy up the road phoned to say his devis (quotation) was ready and if I wanted I could pop in and get it. So we popped in yesterday on the way home from school. I thought "Bonjour, ça va, comment va votre père, voici l'enveloppe, bonne journée, au revoir". 5 minutes tops and we're out.

Think again.

Anyway, the kids got a good chance to fiddle round with the various inserts on display. Then Aurélien was ready, got the devis ready and talked us through it. First the sketch showing the two different kinds of stone, the one pinkish, the other yellowish, and the extra-powerful insert 887 he'd specified, and the placement in the existing chimney, together with the grills to pump the hot air out. The thing is powerful enough to heat a 140m² room, so it'd heat all our house and a bit of next-door.

Then the price. The LeroyMerlin man had said it'd come to about 2000 €, so I guessed this fellow would be about 4000.

Wrong. 5000.

But it's lovely stone. And in 2008 the government will refund us 800€.

We still await the devis from LeroyMerlin.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

France 24


You can have English, French or Arabic.

I did chuckle when I heard the weatherman's Australian accent, but hey! Why not?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Get off one will get on afterwards

I really like the civility posters. There was a super one on the tram yesterday that had all the animals together, but I only had my phone with me so I couldn't get a nice picture. I will be taking the tram again tomorrow, so I'll try to remember to take my camera with me then! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Join me in blessing God

for whoever translated Graeme Goldsworthy's "Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture" into French.

Our new elder told me today of this brilliant book he is reading and - lo and behold - it is Goldsworthy.



An American friend shared how sad he was that so many young French people aspire to working for the government. He said it with that special tone of voice Americans use when they say government. It's like when my wife says tarantula or when I say tax bill.

French people don't see it that way. Once you've done your initial period "north of the Loire" (i.e. in a Paris suburb) you can apply to move somewhere nice ("south of the Loire"), be assured of a job and get a decent pension when you retire.

I met a friend yesterday who is an accountant. He'd had trouble getting a steady job. He's black. He has a nice family. Last year he did the exams to become a fonctionnaire and was accepted. We all cheered! Now he's doing his stint in Paris and waiting to apply for a post "south of the Loire" next spring. We hope he gets something in Bordeaux, but there's a lot of France south of the Loire.

Charles Bremner of the Times tells us of another advantage of the life of a fonctionnaire.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bordeaux is grey, wet and miserable today

But there's lots going on. This morning I am going to do some planning (French faire le planning) for the English Class build up to Christmas. We'll take the opportunity to do some Christmas Carols that are linked to Bible passages, like "While shepherds watched" and "The race that long in darkness dwelt" and 'Good King Wenceslas"°. Then I need some language clarification stuff which the BBC website will give me - I was wondering about pronouns like I, me and myself. They'll like that because it is easier in English than in French, though we still get it wrong a lot! Dare I do some concordance de temps - putting things in the past and in the future and keeping the tenses working?

Numbers have been down over the past few weeks for the English Class. I would begin to wonder if it is my tongue twisters, except for the fact that this week almost everyone who turned up was for my class and hardly anyone for Fiona's. Perhaps it's a time of year thing.

This afternoon a man is coming to sweep the chimney and deliver our first load of logs. We'll start using the fireplace then, which will cheer us up no end. Then I am off to see our former landlords to pay them for the repairs on the boiler and to advise them that the new tenant should pay for the maintenance contract like what I did, but mainly to keep up the contact and assure them of our interest and concern. Their souls matter more than the money.

Tomorrow we have our prayer meeting at the student centre, and I am also meeting with the elders of the church to plan out an afternoon where people are to be encouraged to develop their service for the Saviour. I have responsability for dealing with "teaching", "Biblical knowledge", "evangelism", "liberality" and "hospitality". The two elders are each taking five sessions on other areas of church life.

The afternoon of workshops takes place next Saturday.

Then I am preaching on 17 December in the morning. It was due to be 24th, for the culte de Noël, but I asked to swap because 24th is Gwilym's birthday, and I think it is better for the pastor to preach at the culte de Noël, really.

29th December there is a big meeting for those who are waiting to become members. This involves us, though the date may have to be changed. We'll see.

° I was kidding about "Good King Wenceslas"

A quick little matter for prayer - the sequel

Generally I am not greatly troubled by my little grey cell. I leave it alone. It leaves me alone. And we get on just fine.

But now and again the cell leaps into action. "Aha!" quoth the little grey cell. "If Alan is coughing because of an allergic reaction then why doesn't he take anti-histamines!"

So I found some in the medicine coolbox (don't ask!), checked the date on them and started taking them. They worked great! Then I caught a swift stinker of a cold from one of the students (one day sleepy, one day fed up, one day sneezing like crazy, one day just tired) which threw the chest out of order once more. (They sent me home from the student centre and I was a good boy and went straight to bed!)

But I am going to keep taking the antihistamines till it settles down. I bought two months' supply while in Britain last summer because the good stuff is only 96p / week's worth in major supermarkets. Here you have to get it from the pharmacy and if costs three times as much.

The New York Times reports on Jacques Chirac's twilight


From time to time we hear odd noises at night - like people walking through lots of paper or something. Once Pat thought she saw someone nozing round the new houses they are building early in the morning when we were taking the kids to school. But it's all probably nothing...

Except that this weekend someone came with a van and ripped out all the electric wires and heating pipes from the new houses.

I think the builder thinks they came by day, because he is giving everyone his card and warning them that if anyone is working on the site on Saturday or Sunday, it's the robbers come back for the heating boilers.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Those naughty French...

For my rather puny contribution I offer:

"How do you start a race for the French presidency?"


Ségo? Say go? Get it? No?

Brothers, we are not performance artists

Incidentally, some of the American guys are getting very worked up about plagiarism on the part of preachers. Apparently some people read other people's sermons and then use the outlines or even the illustrations without saying "I got this structure from Rowan Williams" or "to use David Jenkins' illustration...".

Yes? And?

I remember years ago reading a man's book on Acts - it was so helpful that I used some of his structures, though I could NEVER have used any of his illustrations - we lived in different worlds! I emailed him and "confessed". He said "That's great. Glad to be of help. All preachers are plagiarists."

Certainly anyone who has used any of Dale Ralph Davis' books will know how hard it is to go back to your own structure afterwards, though again I don't think I could EVER use any of his illustrations, and you have to find your own route to Christ.

What is the issue here?

Is it that we should be original? Rubbish to that! Our people don't need originality. They need fidelity.

Is it some kind of copyright thing? Can't see it. Nothing would delight me more than to think that some day somebody heard or saw an outline of one of my messages and found it helpful enough to use.

After all, preachers are not artists. We are domestic cooks serving up food to the family. If there's a nourishing recipe let's share it and use it. Surely?

Laziness? Ah yes - that is an issue. But I don't know many lazy pastors. Actually, I can't think of any! I know a lot of pastors who are preaching a lot and doing a lot of other things, too.

Of course, there is the danger that you can just take someone else's structure without having worked out the issues of the meaning of the passage for yourself.

What do you think, folks?

John Piper gives Ten Practical Preparations for Hearing the Word of God on Sunday Morning

Papers in the pocket

not on the floor... Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 01, 2006

The civility campaign on the trams and buses

On the bus today the poster said "When I get on I pull in my spikes" with a picture of a puffer fish de-puffing.

The top poster says "My chewing gum I stick it not everywhere". (Mon chewing je le colle pas partout)

"Gaffe aux sièges" - mind the seats.

The bottom picture I was quite taken with - it shows the magistrates school just near our students centre. As I was taking it this lad on a unicycle rode up.

Many people in Bordeaux use unconventional means of transport. In-line roller skates are common on the city centre streets and quite a few people zoom round on skateboards.
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Merci, les trois mousquetaires!

A short article

on Dawkins', Harris' and Dennett's militant atheism.

Speaking of needy people



PLEASE NOTE - Do not give your money to these people. Don't do it!

Thanks to Tim Challies for the links.

Another indicator of how needy students are

Apparently 1 in 57 students in France earns money or their accommodation by prostitution, particularly those who have been abused in childhood.

The student nurses in Bordeaux have been at the core of a campaign to reduce student prostitution by increasing the amount of student accommodation available.

You'll get sick of the presidential elections here soon

Mind you, so will I...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another stove man came

He was very thorough in taking measurements and produced a really nice drawing of the existing fireplace and such. He explained that the insert would produce 16KW of heat and basically it would heat the whole house if we leave doors open etc.

However I feel that his estimate will be more expensive. After all, artistic skill and precision cost. We'll see.

They're all very impressed with the massive chunks of wood that form the mantlepiece of the fireplace. Elle est belle, cette poutre, they all say.

Well fancy!

Confidence and respect.

Meanwhile Connex (apologies to readers in the South East of England) have announced a campaign of civility on Bordeaux' buses and trams, where incivility is reaching epidemic proportions.

Readers may recollect that on the buses we get on at the front and get off at the rear now, thus enabling us to say Bonjour to the driver and also cutting down on the number of people who don't punch their ticket in the machine.

Judging from what I have seen on the buses then huge numbers of people don't punch their tickets. Mind you, I was told of one short commuter train journey in a part of Britain that shall remain nameless where 80% (yes, eighty percent) of passengers had no ticket.

Sarko wants to make a France where anything is possible. He says that he is the candidate for "la rupture tranquille", apparently an echo of a statement of Mitterrand . He would be wise to try and cast himself as a new Mitterrand. The French rate Mitterrand very highly indeed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TI-KRAMPOUZ (Ty-Crempog)

We had to nip into the Mérignac Soleil shopping centre today to get Gwilym's phone unblocked after a slight slip with the old fingers. Oh I HATE these huge French shopping centres. All marble and bright lights.

But we did see this crêperie with the Breton name as well - TI-KRAMPOUZ (I think you can just about make out the blur) which is, of course, very similar to what the Welsh would call their crêperies, if we had 'em.

Incidentally, usually that ê sign marks a consonant that has disappeared - like an "s" etc. Hôtel or hôpital, for example. I just wonder whether crêpe used to have an "m"...

There's a surprising amount of Breton about around here. For example, the chappie who is building the two houses in front of ours is Breton and started off in Breton school. His dad is big in Breton culture in the Vannes area (lovely area!). We got onto the subject because his name is Yann. Posted by Picasa

Christmas Bazaar

This Saturday is the Anglican church's Christmas Bazaar. Pat is going along to help a friend on some stall or other. The friend is a Welsh-speaking Welshwoman who 's an English teacher and married to a Frenchman. She lost her voice recently, so she's asked Pat to go along and do the shouting for her: "ça fait deux euros cinquante, Madame. Non. Deux euros cinquante! Non. DEUX EUROS cinquante! OK, dix euros. Au revoir."

I have the English Class that afternoon, so I am being mercifully spared the bazaar (a fête worse than death?).

But I want to phone the Anglican chaplain soon and meet him for coffee if I can. I was all geared up to ring him some time ago, but he's been on sabbatical till recently and is only just back in circulation.

Incidentally, the French know the word bazaar in the Arab Shopping Centre sense of the word (souk), but they also use it for when somewhere is untidy and cluttered. "C'est le bazaar ici".

A quick little matter for prayer

I'm asthmatic. Normally I have no symptoms at all, but from time to time I have allergic reactions to cats, dogs, etc... And the hay fever season can be a bit uncomfortable.

Anyway, since moving my chest hasn't yet settled down. I am on the verge of going to the doctor for advice, though I know what the British doctors normally said - use your inhaler three times a day and on demand at night till it settles down in about three weeks' time...

Meanwhile, my blood test results seem fine.

The only figure outside the normal range was for eosinophiles, where the normal range is 0 - 500, and my level was 520. I think the doctor will probably shrug, say bof and see what next year's test says. Everything else seems fine. Jolly good!

And my cholesterol level is fine.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The tram driver has a route to follow

That sheet of paper in the lower right corner is the route for the tram.

Yes, I know they have rails and no steering wheel, but it actually tells him what stations to go to and when.

Maybe the when is the important part... Posted by Picasa

Saige sunrise

There was a nice sunrise this morning. We were too slow with the camera to catch the sunrise, but we thought the sun reflecting off the Saige tower blocks gave an interesting effect.

Then later in the day I spotted this picnic table between the Unitec tram station and the spot where Pat had parked the car. The campus is dotted with picnic tables like this. I rather like that, though judging from the lichen nobody much uses this one.

But the air's pretty clean! Posted by Picasa