Showing posts from August, 2006

Catrin's first day back

went well. She likes her teacher, who is new to the school, too. Pat asked the directrice if it would be OK to take Catrin to the UFM conference which is just before half-term, and she said that's OK. (It means missing two or three days of school.) We have to ask Gwilym's directeur next Monday, but he will probably be OK with it, I hope. Also they asked for Catrin's end of year report - but we already signed that and sent it back. Hmm. Anyway, I am sure it's not serious. And thankfully the new teacher checked that everyone had everything on their list of stuff - and Catrin was missing her four cahiers de travaux pratiques , grand format , covered in yellow, clear, red and purple. How could we have forgotten them? ( Grand format is 32cm x 24 cm, a fair bit bigger than A4) So Alan was despatched to get them. I went first to our local Géant . They had some spiral bound, but the kids mustn't have spiral-bound. But that was all Géant had. It was at that point that I

Football - the sequel

The nice young chap took Gwilym and two other lads aside and explained to them that because there are so many boys at les coqs rouges , they would not be able to play in a match, so they might want to look for another club. Once this had sunk in, Gwilym was quite fed up about it. However it could all work out well because there is a football club near where we hope to move at Pessac Alouette. Gwilym only chose les coqs rouges because his school chum plays there, and they ended up in different age groups anyway. So I have to ring the Pessac football people to see if they can take a lad. He's keen and he has his own boots!

No mo Flo!

I am devastated. Gwilym's little chum Florian is not going on to the same collège next year. He's going elsewhere. How could they? Gwilym won't be that bothered but Pat and I will be gutted. He's the lad mentioned in the post for 9 September 2005.

Meeting with the local pastor

We spoke today about prospects and projects for the coming year. Some of the suggestions need to be made public in the church before I can pop 'em on the blog, but there were various aspects to our discussions, including teaching, training, discipleship and evangelism. It was a good session. We meet with the student team on Friday.

The ten most spoken languages are,

according to the CIA World Factbook 2005: 1. Mandarin Chinese - 882,475,389 2. Spanish - 325,529,636 3. English - 311,992,760 4. Hindi - 181,780,905 5. Portuguese - 178,557,840 6. Bengali - 172,756,322 7. Russian - 146,327,183 8. Japanese - 128,278,015 9. German - 96,047,358 10. Wu Chinese - 77,998,190

Hooray! Alain Juppé is back!

Well nearly. Bordeaux has happy memories of its mayors, who have often been ex-prime ministers, like Chabon-Delmas etc. But Alain Juppé has excelled. He has really worked hard for the city, and has virtually brought the city back to life! He was banned from public office in 2004 for his part in a fictitious jobs scam during the time when he worked for Jacques Chirac and Chirac was mayor of Paris (I think). The Bordelais consider that Juppé was simply following orders and didn't profit from the scam himself anyway. But his period of ineligibility has now expired so last night the entire city council resigned to make way for him to be re-elected this autumn. He also wants to be re-elected to parliament.

Well? Matt Damon?

Pat says, "Indistinguishable." Gwilym says, "Just like him." Finest 15€ I ever spent! Seriously, I needn't have worried, and I didn't need my photos. The lady asked me what I wanted and I told her. It was no harder than in Britain where the barbers all talk a different language anyway - "Do you want it graded? What number?" "I don't know. What's graded and what numbers are there and what do they all mean?" The only thing was that I heard the word shampooing for the first time and totally failed to recognise it! I find now that the HARDEST thing is recognising English words said in French. The director of the DEFLE used to lecture us in civilisation, and sometimes when talking about the EU, or academic reforms (the LMD system) or French song he would throw in some English term or other - and I never understood him. Once he said "You never understand me when I speak English." He was right. I didn't. I think it was som

OK - I think it's time for a ...

... haircut! I have found pictures of chaps with the kind of haircut I want, just in case we hit a vocabulary black hole at the coiffeur. The only problem is that the chaps in question are all film stars and youngish. Have you noticed how the more mature matinée idols seem to go bald or have really short hair? I wondered about taking along a picture of Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Stephen Fry, Andrew Davies the conductor, or that chap who used to be Home Secretary (a lady stopped me on the street once in Shotton and yelled "'Ere! Don't you look like that feller who used to be Home Secretary.") But I don't want my hair to look like any of them - those are just the people I've sometimes been reckoned to look like, along with Plug from The Perishers and Roger Moore § . So if I come out of the salon looking like Josh Whatsisname or Matt Damon ... well they'll have earned their money! § There's more than one Roger Moore in this world, you know.

An encouraging Sunday - and our anniversary

This morning at Floirac there was a new Taiwanese student. Also the older couple who were at church on Aug 13 when I preached were back again. It was good to see them, but again they arrived after the service started and were gone before I could head them off and say hello. Then this afternoon at Blaye a new woman was there with her 3-month old little lad. Folks are starting to reappear after the summer. It will be good to see everyone safely returned, though. Next Sunday marks our 1 year anniversary. We arrived 4th September and our first Sunday service was on 11th, the culte de rentrée at the chateau in Blaye. This year the date is 17th September so we may mark our anniversary then rather than earlier. We'll see.

Gwilym's weekend

Very exciting! 1) le football He loves football and has been looking forward to joining a club. A classmate plays with les Coqs Rouges at Gradignan, so we found them on the web and phoned up about it. It turns out that because Gwilym was born at the end of December he goes into a different age-group from his classmate, so he went for his first training session on Friday, 6:30 to 8:30. We found the stadium and left him in the charge of a very pleasant young chap. He had a whale of a time. His next training session is Wednesday evening, and there's a match next Saturday! (Thankfully, this being a secular republic on the continent, all the kids' footie matches are on Saturday.) 2) le cyclisme Our friends who came down to see us are super-keen cyclists and they decided to cycle into Bordeaux, so Gwilym went with them. Pat, Catrin and I met them by the Colbert on the quays and then Paul and Gwilym went off to cycle round the city, Lucy went for a strenuous ride and the younger girl

The importance of bay leaves

is giving this chap cause to reflect..  

A crazy banda

playing Michael Jackson numbers in the centre of Bordeaux. They then proceeded to do the "thriller" dance. Well all except the chap dressed up like a cleaning lady who did his own thing with a feather duster. I didn't really understand him, but the band were great fun and made us late for a rendez-vous. I found their website. They're mainly medics (that explains a lot!) and you can hear some of their music here: . (l'ostéoporose... geddit?)

Girondins monument

Not a lot of people know this, and I am risking a great deal by sharing the secret with you, but the Girondins monument has a hidden meaning. (Maybe that's why it was hidden so well during the Nazi occupation that it wasn't found again till the mid-50s.) Anyway, the hidden meaning is a culinary secret - when cooking horse with cabbage it is important to keep the cabbage moist during cooking, but above all (and see the power of the imagery) to add a large sprig of bay leaves. 

Naaman's problem

This morning I was reflecting on Naaman in 2 Kings 5. He has been converted, but he has issues to think through: 17 "please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this." 19 "Go in peace," Elisha said. Rimmon is nothing. Naaman has no respect for it any more, or its temple. He loves the Lord and the land where the promised Messiah will come one day! But meanwhile his job is to support the king and he has to go to Rimmon's temple. And Elisha dismisses him in peace, because neither God nor his prophet is supersititous.

"ce sont ses habitudes"

"Your car is all ready, ready to go. He's left the bonnet open for the engine to breathe. There's nothing wrong with the engine. It's just his little ways."

What a relief!

The mortgage forms that never arrived at the bank in Bordeaux returned home this morning, stamped "Not known at this address". I think everything is there! It's quite a relief. You wonder about identity fraud and such things, sending bank statements, passports and all sorts through the post! Apparently there was some problem at the bank that led to our mail being rejected unopened. They have given me a second address to send the stuff to. Now if we were depositing our money with them, I think we'd run a mile. But since they are lending money to us ... we'll have another go.

"Tea drinking is most common in OLDER people, the 40 plus age range." Cheek!

Chez le garagiste

Poor M. Ducasse! We bought our car second-hand but the first owner had bought it with a 5 year "service compris" warranty. That means your scheduled servicing is free for five years. This will be REALLY worth it when the timing belt needs replacing. So when we took the car in for its service last November M. Ducasse searched the Citroën database, but the car wasn't there. So he rang the dealer who sold the car, and they confirmed that the contract had been sold by them, but their secretary at the time had not entered a whole batch of these contracts on the Citroën system. They said, "Do the work and we'll pay." And pay they did, after our garagiste had persuaded them! So he's going to get his threats in first today, he said. ( couper les oreilles - I imagine this is one step up from tirer les oreilles , which is slapped wrists) He's also going to set us up with a spare wheel - it was stolen by person or persons unknown at some time since our last s

Yesterday we took the kids out

to the "ferme exotique" in the next town. It was surprisingly good, and we liked the way that lots of animals just roamed free. Pat was greeted by a big, friendly pig on arrival and we enjoyed the antics of the amazing, acrobatic, frisky goat (until it chased Gwilym up a climbing frame).  

there was a spectacle, too

there almost always is a spectacle, and it was good fun. All in the next town to us, and good value with lots of free rides etc.  

Jsut for amemunest

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. (So get yuor siut and tie on and bsruh yuor hiar, qcliuky!) I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! (for me it helps to read it quickly. Thanks, Ken, for sending it.)

Think when you read

I have been spurred on by four things to just pop this note on the blog. a) An on-line discussion about worship practices (No! Really?) where some ended up being accused of harshness and lack of sympathy in what they said. b) E-mail exchanges I have been party to where the tone of e-mails can be ... difficult to guage. c) The very nature of e-mails, blogs and comments that tends to be ... terse. Brusque, perhaps? We usually don't begin "Dear so and so", or close "Sealed with a loving kiss"! d) A suggestion on a discussion of Bible software that a company was gloating over a competitor. Anyway - the upshot of it all is that we need to be very careful how we interpret what we read. Blogs and comments and e-mails are very cold media. They're useful. Excellent in many ways, but not very good at conveying emotional warmth! For that reason when you read, read with charity, remembering that it is as great a sin to take offence as to give it. Assume the best of moti

Thanks to UFM Council Member, pastor and personal friend, Richard Mint, for telling me about this very useful and informative website:

Wine prices

Really low. We buy the wine for communion. Real wine, with a bottle, a cork to pull and a common cup. I really haven't got a clue, but someone told me that all the 2003 Côtes de Blaye and Côtes de Bourg are good, so we have been buying them for communion now for about a year. The price has generally been around 4 to 5 euros a bottle. That's roughly £2.50 - £3.00. That seems cheap to me. * But it also means that I am aware of the prices of the wines in general - and at present it is not at all unusual to see Bordeaux priced at 2,50 € to 3 €. That's under £2 a bottle. That can't be economic to produce. Can it? * in fact recently I decided that it is too cheap - so I have upped my price bracket for communion wine to around 8 € a bottle (about £5). Last of the big spenders, eh! 8 € means a Médoc, and someone else told me that there has never been a bad Médoc! p.s. Someone from church reads the blog - perhaps he'll come up now and say "so that's why the communi

Summer draws to a close

Several things herald the end of the summer here: 1) Our garage is open again. Hurrah ! So the car is going in for its service on Thursday. I am SO glad to get this done before the kids go back to school. 2) The supermarket shelves are full of black clothes again. Strangely, they have been full of really brightly coloured tee-shirts! Now it's black, black and more black. Some charcoal grey, but no navy. I have gone off black clothes ever since the other night. I was driving home from a Bible study at the student centre when someone pretty dark, clad in black, rushed across the road in the dark in front of me just as I turned the corner out of Place de la Victoire. It was a close one!

A couple of articles from the newspapers

Well - the newspapers' websites.. from Time - a piece entitled Kill Kermit, about French efforts to annhilate the American invader frogs.,13005,901060828-1229072,00.html from the BBC, one of my youthful haunts is of historic importance, apparently! from a friend, some references to Tim Keller's church planting work, that focuses on cities.

Articles like this make me very excited

OK - meetings coming up!

1. UFM Bordeaux team meeting in the course of which our involvement in the work of the student centre will be considered, especially mean Alan's involvement. 2. meeting with Sammy the church pastor/planter to discuss Alan's involvement in the Gironde project. Essentially my French still needs work. However that can't be done at the DEFLE language school - I have fallen off the end of their classes. So that means: a. My language work will have to fit around Pat's timetable at DEFLE. b. It could take the form of attending lectures in Philosophy or Psychology or Church History or whatever as a "free listener" either at University or at the Big Seminary at Bordeaux or another institution. Alternatively it could be at some other language school (there are others in Bordeaux - more expensive ones, though!) or working by myself with the various books, CDs and other resources available, while I use the language in the work of the gospel.

A nice piece about reading in France

OK - the letter from the bank arrived!

They suggest either a fixed rate of 4.6% or a variable rate of 4%, capped at 2%. So I guess that means 4.6% forever, or up to 6%. The difference is a little under 30 euros a month (20 quid at the moment) so it's probably worth going for the fixed rate. So much could still go wrong! The £/€ rate could reduce our deposit. The bank's mortgage committee still have to approve the mortgage. There could be a lion in the street. ( ) Yes - stop fussing and keep on trusting.

Christian bookshop - closed till September

So I finally did my trip into town to visit the Christian bookshop. I wanted to look for: a) books suitable for reading with chaps b) what bindings of the Colombe translation exist c) a children's Bible for a friend from DEFLE whose daughter is being christened this Sunday. and the shop is closed until 1st September. So I got the children's Bible from Mollat and the other things will have to wait or be ordered online. Meanwhile in Mollatt I bumped into one of the lecturers from DEFLE who says that M. Lesbats' retirement has led to the appointment of a Directrice who is a Spanish speaker. It's good news. She's apparently a dynamic lady and DEFLE doesn't currently have a Spanish specialist.

What do you think of that!

After the shenanigans with banks, agents etc. a friend took us to see the library at Pessac. Chateau Camponac. Well! What a place! It's a converted wine chateau (§) and it has all sorts of different areas and facilities. You can borrow CDs, DVDs and everything! And this autumn they are running workshops on Ubuntu Linux, the GIMP, OpenOffice and something else. Free workshops. Where they'll give you a CD of the free software and help you install it and use it. You can take your computer along and install the software on the spot! They call it "Party Linux". Apparently you also get aperos (crisps, nuts, etc.) Incidentally, I've worked out that it's a 5-minute bus journey from near our house to Gwilym's school, and from there a 5-minute tram journey to Catrin's school, and from there another 10-minutes by tram to Pat's language department. Pretty liberating. It means that the car can be used for ministry - anywhere. Outlying towns. Whatever. Brill!


Well I lay in ambush for the post lady on her scooter. She eluded me, but left us a couple of catalogues of back to school stuff from the supermarkets. (We have everything except a book on spelling for Gwilym.) So I rang the bank and got put through to our mortgage person who is handling our application. I said, "Yes or no?" "Yes", she said, and explained that we could have a fixed rate mortgage at 30% less than our current rent, or a variable rate mortgage and pay less again. We'll weigh it up when we see the figures. (Mind you, we'll be paying till we are 127. §) "We need some more documents from you;", she said, "your P60 from your last employment in Britain and your contract of employment." I explained that I don't have a contract of employment. Haven't had one in the last 15 years! I offered to fabricate one for her, but she said an attestation that I work for the mission would do. So there we are. Then I scuttled round to th

Lebanon, the UN and Francce

Prayer meeting

In a somewhat cavalier fashion, without having discussed with anyone beforehand, I announced on Sunday that there'd be a prayer meeting on Wednesday (last night). Our team leader nodded, so I knew she agreed with the idea. Well we were 5. Not bad for this time of year. But the best thing was that one of the recently converted students came, and prayed. He is due to begin at DEFLE this September, and it was great to see him. A real encouragement.


Some Frenchmen, some Englishwomen, a Chinese man, a Mongolian and a Welshman talking about heros. French guy: Napoleon is one of our heros. Mongolian: Genghis Khan is one of our heros. (there followed a short pause...) Englishwoman: We have Churchill! (He's a hero for the French, too) French guy, raising the stakes?: and we have Jeanne d'Arc, who aimed at booting the English out of France. Welshman: And we have Hywel Dda, Owain Glyndwr and Llewelyn, ein llew olaf. (there follows a very long pause, while they all think ... "Who?")

Going to the line on the Landaise!

We put in the offer on the house the evening before leaving for Britain. The vendors accepted our offer the next day. We spent the next month in Britain, aware that we had 45 days to apply for our mortgage - and that we couldn't apply before being back in France (access to documents etc.) Last week we filled in the forms and got all the documentation together and sent off the forms. Now we need our mortgage companies to respond quickly. One, if not both, advertises a response in two working days. We need the response today or tomorrow. I'll ring them this afternoon and see how things are. It will be interesting to see how this works through. Is God leading us to live in the Landaise? Will we fall at some hurdle along the way? If so is it his plan that we continue to rent (expensively)? Or that we still hunt for a house in Pessac? Or that we look more widely? Or a more radical rethink? We'll see. The one thing we are sure of is that God knows the way he is taking us and we t

This biligual lark isn't always easy, you know...

Les listes scolaires

Our task for today is to get the stuff for Gwilym and Catrin for school from the supermarket. By going today, and using various vouchers and coupons, we'll get 10 € off (about £6) and lots and lots of loyalty points which one day we may be able to exchange for an ashtray. Click on the first picture, Gwilym's list, then click on it again in the bottom right hand corner (it should go big), and try out your vocabulary. Last year we got baffled by buvards , which my dictionary gave as "absorbent". It was blotting paper. French people get baffled too, so the supermarkets have assistants whose job it is to help you find the critérium . It is worth noting that Gwilym's list has been reduced and light objects chosen in place of heavier ones to reduce the weight of the kids' satchels. Oh - and the government pays an extra large payment of child benefit this month to cover the cost of back to skool stuff.

We took the kids to the beach, with some of the younger folk from church

It was a nice day - not too hot.  

in fact the French lads were COLD!


Some read, some fooled with cameras

others got buried  

It went OK

We were 19. But 6 or more of these came really quite late, so we had decided to turn the benches round and sit in a squarish-circle rather than in rows (12 people in rows seems a bit unnecessary!) So by the end we were crowded onto the benches and we had fetched some chairs to help too. The service was much less formal than if we had used the PowerPoint, though we followed exactly the same order of service, and things seemed to go generally OK. Preaching this time did feel easier than last time. I stood up and used a handy lectern-thingy Then at the end one of the chaps wanted to discuss a question - viz. why discipleship is not given more prominence today. I had a quick moment of panic - would I be able to understand everyone's contribution, and would I be able to summarise what they said for the group, and respond quickly enough? Well we discussed for about 20 minutes or so, talking about "decisionism", the tyranny of numbers, the need to encourage each other, to meet

OK - I'm set

And I have rethought the layout of church tables and stuff so that I can do the PowerPoint and the preaching without running all the way round the outside of the room to get back and fore! I have one person lined up to read. As long as three more people come we'll be OK for readers. My notes are as good as they are going to get. Some of my French is really clumsy, as you would expect. I have decided to avoid the word auguste until I can get advice on it! Also in 2 Corinthians where Paul says he was beaten with rods I'll have to watch my pronunciation very closely - 25 trois fois j'ai été battu de verges . (I love that passage so much , by the way!) Tuesday is the feast of the assumption - i.e. a Bank Holiday, so the supermarkets are offering special inducements to get you to go shopping. As we don't usually observe the feast of the assumptionwe'll do our weekly shop then and get about 14 000 000 loyalty points that we can trade in later for an ashtray. (I had to

Posting Pat Pat's started posting again.

Preaching tomorrow

Well - I am preaching tomorrow and feeling very frustrated and very excited. I have my outline, and I am excited about my subject (excited about my Master!) and the French Bible is really well put at that point, and everything - but it is still like pulling teeth! And after all, it is my second time now. I had thought it would feel comfortable and more .... easy by now. Anyway. Also, it being August, everyone in the world is on holiday, so I will be preaching to myself, the family and the pianist! I took the piano to the church last night and I'll be doing the PowerPoint but I hope to avoid taking up the offering, too. That's France in August. I was amused this week to notice that the garage where we have our car serviced is closed AND the Orange mobile phone shop in our nearest shopping centre reopens on 12 August. You have to admire the country! Reminds me of miners' fortnight and factory shut-downs. Remember those? The irritating thing is that in Britain I would be ready

John Prescott, the Royals and books on France

A couple of things about our time in Britain while I remember! Books on France Well - what a vast pile of books by rich and famous people about how they bought chateaux, farms or moutain retreats in France, to farm, to grow olives, vines, to keep goats, to play the piano with a view, or to putter up and down the canals in a narrow boat collecting recipes. Now what we need is some experienced Christian workers in France, gifted in writing, (i.e. not me!) to write about real life and the work of the gospel in France. John Prescott I confess that I felt quite sorry for the man! The press have really got it in for him, and loads of people reflected that in the way they spoke about him. I've never been a great fan of his - but he is what he is, and what he has always been. The effect of the media feeding-frenzy may even be seen in the sudden volume of comments on this particular entry in the blog! The Royals I looked earlier at the Telegraph's photos of the Royal family on holiday


It is not easy to know how to comment on this story I am not aware of anyone ever having published a photograph of Mrs Thatcher in her bikini, though I am pretty sure that they have published shots of Tony Blair in his trunks.

Rats' holiday venue 2

This is the view from the corner of the garden (where bits of old farm equipment lie picturesquely around)

Rats' holiday venue

While we were in Britain the animals (rats, gerbil) went to stay with a friend from DEFLE who lives out towards the Dordogne in this lovely old house. It's a beautiful place, and nice and cool, set on a hill amidst the vines near a village. The rats had a great time.  

One eighth of vineyards to go.

Pray for Pidjin speakers

Some of our UFM colleagues have to work in pidjin. Sometimes pidjin is challenging to the native English speaker. I'd much rather make my home in the French language than in pidjin. To illustrate what I mean, here is a sample of part of John's gospel in Hawaii pidjin. This is absolutely serious, and illustrates some of the problems of adapting to pidjin. It was taken from an e-mail advertising the availability of this NT for the Palm computer Bible I use. Hawaii Pidgin New testament - Da Jesus Book This translation was written by 26 native speakers of Hawai`i Pidgin in the islands. They worked from the original Greek, with the help of the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and also referred to English translations and commentaries. It is intended for those speakers of the Hawai`i Pidgin language (sometimes called Hawai`i Creole English) who find the English Bible difficult to understand. Excerpt (John 3:15-17): "15 so dat everybody who stay trus me, can get da real kine life dat

OK. Now let's get Sunday sorted out!

Mortgage forms posted, together with supporting documents. That means envelopes about 1/2 inch thick. I caught the last post at Villenave, so I hope they will be dealt with swiftly. Now I can turn my head towards Sunday. This Sunday I am responsible for the whole service, not just preaching. That means choosing readings and hymns, finding people to do the readings, introducing everything and then preaching. I suddenly have a great deal more sympathy for the overseas students who we used to get to do this at Deeside. Poor things! They were all so brave!

Les impôts!

Well, we have had our tax assessment from the French authorities. I don't understand all it says - they seem to be telling me how much I can contribute to a pension plan... I will have to devote a good hour to reflecting on it all. But the upshot seems to be that they owe us money. I find this hard to understand, but there we are. From time to time the British system repaid us money - but it was always money that we had given them first via PAYE. Here it is a straightforward payment. Not a lot of money, but it is better than I had feared, anyway. Now then - what about taxe d'habitation? Perhaps Villenave will pay us each time they empty the bins... (on the other hand...)

A good point

France takes a lead role on Lebanon

Some reflections after the trip to Britain

When we got back I had an email from a fellow-student at the DEFLE, an American who had spent a year in France and who said that during that year she had become French. I am not able to say that. I leave it to you to decide whether that's a good or a bad thing! However, it was strange to see how foreign Britain seemed. It hit us hardest the first weekend. We kept beginning to speak to strangers in French. We said "Bonjour" on entering shops. I stared and nodded at people. It's a wonder we were not arrested! When driving away from Pat's sister's house we started off down the road and went round various corners and junctions in the village - then Pat said "Oh look, there's some horses coming down the wrong side of the road." "Oh no they're not!" I said, swerving quickly over. The weirdest thing was at church. Nice church. Nice people. Warm. Welcoming. But nobody even shook my hand. We grinned at each other and nodded enthusiastically.

The EU - making war in Europe impossible

Between a rock and a hard place

Andy on the why's and wherefore's of blogging

A B&B family room

When travelling at the moment we aim to stay in a B&B hotel. This is one of the low-cost chains of French hotel (Like Formule 1, etc.) but these suit us because you can get a room for four people - they have a double bed on the "ground floor" and then two singles on a mezzanine over the bathroom. It all works fine for us and it ends up being cheaper than the others because you pay by the room - and for each breakfast, of course. 

The AGM was held at the Guingamp church


En route to Bordeaux

we stopped off at Montbray to see some former Deeside folk who now live there, and then at Guingamp for the AGM of our mission's association in France. After the AGM, during which the children played board games in the room next door, we took them to the beach at this little jewel of a resort near St Brieuc, Binic .

UFM Family Conference

From Cardiff we travelled to the UFM Family Conference, which was a really helpful time. Many of the mission folk are working in sensitive areas, so this is a picture of the chap who came to speak each morning, Andy Upton of Knighton Evangelical Church in Leicester. On the Thursday evening we visited Little Hill Church just to the south of Leicester.  

Sunday in Cardiff

AM - Emmanuel Baptist Church, Gabalfa's open air service - on the grass in front of the church. Various peopel spoke, including old friends, Steve Baston and John Woolley (the pastor). PM - Ebenezer, Pontnewydd in Cwmbran. The pastor here is my old minister in Hemel Hempstead, and I may have had something to do with introducing him to the church. They are another of our supporter churches but we had not been able to visit them before going out to France, so it was good to be able to do it now.