Showing posts from November, 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 in

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. 

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.

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... 

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! 

Bordeaux centre today

Outside the Town Hall the dark gray Citroën C5s are all parked. They don't quite have the style of the old black DSs. Meanwhile round the corner they are slowly filling the icerink with ice. 

What did you do at school today, Catrin?

"Well, mainly I read from Cynffon Gwallt Catrin and got them to learn some of the words." " Did you?" "Yes, so it was an easy day for me, but hard for everyone else." Cynffon Gwallt Catrin ( Catrin's ponytail ) is one of our favourite books in Welsh. 

The people who bought our house are trying to sell again

They're asking 60,000 pounds more, but they have double glazed throughout. It'll be interesting to see if it sells. It has a reputation for not selling quickly, but because God wanted us in France, and because we asked a reasonable price, we sold in a week.

The stove-man came

Great fun. He measured up and pondered. Then he said that we can't fit a foyer fermé. OK. But we could fit an insert. The one he would recommend would have two fans built in to blow hot air out of grills in the chimney, and would be 15KW in power. To do it means taking away the existing chimneybreast and constructing a new one. The cost - about 2000 euros. OK. Or we could put in a stove. That would cost about 1000 euros less, but may be less powerful, depending on what stove he has quoted for. When the quotation comes we'll have to weigh it up. 15KW is a lot. People say that with an insert like that it heats the whole house. You just leave all the doors open for the heat to circulate! There's a place up the road that does them as well. When I have been there before it all seemed very expensive, but maybe their prices are prices fitted. If so they may be about the same. I'll go up again this morning and talk to them.

Preaching about elders

Isn't that a privilege! A man is appointed as elder, and I get to preach the morning message, and the subject given is elders. Because we are trying to show how Israel in the desert is a type for the church today, I started in Exodus 18 and then via the Moses/Christ type/antitype got as quickly as I could to Acts 20. But what a shambles! The PowerPoint computer suddenly turned itself on half-way through the message and projected whatever onto the wall by the pulpit. Because I look after the PowerPoint computer I found it quite hard not to stop and go and sort it out! Then the phone rang. Something else happened, too, but I can't remember what it was now. Still, folks listened well and Silvie the sermon buddie says there were almost no faults as such - just one or two things that are not quite as a Frenchman would do it. For example, in one message some time ago I used the word enfin for when I was getting to my last point. Well you are better not to, because really it means &q

What a weekend

First off - French word of the day. Jolly useful, eh? I found it when I searched for vétérotestamentaire on the web. Anyway - yesterday was the Synode of Toulouse. Sammy had to go down on Friday night because he is part of the Commission Exécutive who were preparing for the synod that night. Mme Louis and I met at Sammy's house at 6am (OK - 6:30 ish) and drive down to Toulouse, which takes about 2 hours. The Synode is just so much like our regional councils, with some extra bureaucracy and so on. It lasted a long time, though, and the seats were very hard. We broke for lunch at the Casino (supermarket) cafeteria - another new word - cafette, which means a place like that. I had 1/4 chicken, lots of vegetables and a slice of orange tart for pud. We got home about 9:30 pm, and it was time to finish off the PowerPoint for Sunday morning, and my sermon about elders (basically from Acts 20) and the PowerPoint for the afternoon elderisation service for Patrick. So it has been a long and

I don't normally like this kind of thing, but...

What do you think? It's moving, isn't it.

Should have seen that coming!

You know the boiler was broken down when the new tenant moved in? Well the landlords have sent us the bill and asked us to reimburse them. At times like this I feel torn. On the one hand I am sure the boiler was working when we left, and the new guy didn't move in till over a week afterwards. Also the maintenance contract we had taken out was still current, but they got some other company in to fix it. And I am pretty sure that a court of law in Britain would say we were in the clear. However, we aren't in Britain. What would a French court say? And is it worth it to fight over a comparatively small sum of money. When anyway it's only money. (Yes - but it's God's money. Yes, but he can look after his money without our fighting for him... ) You can imagine the internal battle. The "Just shut up and pay the people" voice is winning, though. After all, we did break the gatepost and they haven't charged us for that. And the sum is paltry compared to what

Prise de sang

So I went to the laboratory. In France it's all very high tech and clean and impressive. I had to give my name, telephone no., address, etc, etc to the receptionist. Then she said, 'J'ai frappé une mauvaise touche et tout est effacé' (I hit the wrong key and everything is deleted). I said "Is it you that takes the blood?" * "No", she said, smiling. Then she asked my weight, so I remembered to give it to her in kilometres. We both laughed. I said 'It's early in the morning, after all...' Then I went into the blood letting room to be bled. There's a chair like a dentist's chair, with two supports for your arms. It just avoids being macabre by not having straps.. The doctor has asked them to do every test known to man, I think. The blood-sucking lady said "Is it just a general check-up?" "Basically", I said. So she took lots of vials of blood, then Bob's your uncle, bonne journée s all round and off I go. You

Compared to this Private Eye are kittens...

I wasn't sure whether to post this, but it doesn't actually have the naughty words in the article. I must say, I haven't seen the book in our supermarket - but then I haven't looked. All this, and there's still 6 months to go!

Conseil Presbytéral

Today I meet the conseil presbytéral at 5pm. This is the church officers' meeting that unites the churches in the Blayais and the church in Bordeaux. I've met 'em all before, of course, but this afternoon my position will be explained to them, that I am here in the church for a year, and possibly afterwards, too, working in and alongside the church and in the student work. This will then be explained to the congregations on Sunday afternoon at the Chateau when the conseil presbytéral is installed and our first elder is appointed. The appointment of the first elder is a really important step. A great leap forwards.

France 24

"Most television ministries are a pox on God’s people"

One can only say "Amen!", though I dare say one or two may share a little further on it. My own perspective on this is that God is very wise in binding local churches and pastors together in a relationship of mutual respect and dependance and love. In this way churches and pastors are discipled (disciplined?) together. TV ministries don't have that relationship.

A bitter view of the Sarko/Ségo race

Ségo - the incarnation of rupture

I think it probably loses a little in the translation...

When mummy got stuck up the chimney

I plucked up the courage to talk to the guy at LeroyMerlin today. He was impressed that I had measured the fireplace before going . He talked about the three options: 1) Foyer fermé . This is the best and most efficient option, but it depends if the artisan can stick it in your fireplace. 2) Insert . This is what you use if he can't stick the foyer fermé in your fireplace. 3) Poële à bois . Wood-burning stove. That would look ridiculous. (I didn't argue, but I quite fancied the idea of a stove in our fireplace... That's me. No class.) The path ahead: a. ensure that your flue has an opening of 20 cm for sticking the flue through. Well, 18 cm will do. b. arrange for a fireplace fitter to come and suss it out. c. Get it put in (and pay!) "Well", I thought, "it looks like I am going to have to climb up the chimney." Then I thought, "... but in Dickens' time children used to climb up chimneys to sweep them. Maybe Gwilym would like to measure the flue

There's a football tournament at school this week

and I am the team captain, so I need to have school dinners all week , said Gwilym. Oh right. Who are you playing? PSV Eindhoven. Uh... Who? It turns out that it's something the lads have organised amongst themselves, with the connivance of the pions* . Jolly good. * pion - in chess a pawn. In school a playground supervisor.

to be a ... judge?

One of the young men at the church is studying law. He's preparing this year for a competitive exam, a concours , to become a judge. This is what he has to do: 20 hours of written exams on any aspects of French law. Several oral exams, including one that is conducted in English. Swimming , running , cycling and shot-putt . (yes - that's right - shot-putt ) So he's cramming like mad but also training like mad. He looks well on it, I must say, and at least France can be confident that a good number of her judges are good runners!

Have I ever blogged about "the White Horse Inn"?

Well I have now.

Run, run the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands

Run, run the law commands, But gives me neither feet nor hands; Tis better news the gospel brings: It bids me fly - and gives me wings Bunyan

They've gone...

Peter Milsom, the director of our mission, and Crawford Telfer of the Christian Television Association have been here since Monday filming for a DVD of the work in Brittany and in Bordeaux. Those of you who know Alan well will know his usual reaction to cameras (it's the classic fight/flight thing). This week two things helped: 1) the knowledge that this is for the sake of the gospel. So you just put it out of your mind and get on with it. 2) Crawford has a gentle determination that is simply professionalism at its best. I can't wait to see the DVD. I'll close my eyes for the bits that have me in, of course - or hide behind the sofa. But Blaye looked so lovely in the late afternoon sunlight, and the park near our house was like the essence of autumn. Quite simply beautiful. While Peter was here he did a bit of mission direction, too, which was (as always) invaluable.

The left-wing royalists of France

Le pacs séduit de plus en plus (Civil partnerships in France)

Les Français sont toujours plus nombreux à signer un pacs, comme l’ont fait plus de 520 000 personnes depuis la création de ce contrat il y a sept ans. Depuis janvier, 57 543 couples se sont unis devant un tribunal civil, soit trois fois plus que durant toute l’année 2001, selon un bilan de la chancellerie. Le nombre de pactes civils de solidarité signés ne cesse ainsi de croître d’année en année, tandis que le nombre annuel de mariages stagne. Un peu plus de 12% des pactes conclus depuis sept ans ont été dissous. Jusqu’à présent, les autorités n’ont pas déterminé la proportion de pacs conclus par des personnes de même sexe et des personnes de sexe opposé, puisque la législation interdit de faire un distinguo. Mais un décret devrait bientôt être adopté pour autoriser les greffes des tribunaux d’instance à « enregistrer le sexe des deux partenaires » d’un pacs. Une information à but statistique qui sera recueillie de manière anonyme. Une « bonne nouvelle » accueillie sans réserve par l’

Ooh la la!

Does she remind you of Margaret Thatcher?

A spot of good news!

On Monday we discussed through our support figures in the wake of the change from rent to mortgage etc.. After some discussions and calculations it was concluded that last year the amount of gifts and support received into our account was within £100 of the target we need for next year. This means we have broken even, and I will probably not need to schedule in a support-seeking home trip this spring. This even with the high cost of health care cover in France! We are supposed to build up a fighting-fund (contingency), but this is probably not a good enough reason to make a trip home, and we may find that we begin to build up that fund anyway if one or two more sources of support appear as our role develops here. I am so thankful. I think we must be amongst the most blessed Christian workers anywhere! About thirty people a day read the blog. Amazing! I am sure many of those people pray for us. Our November prayer letter has just begun to be distributed. That means even more people pray

Interviewing the family in the park


Filming the family in the park

of the second shot Crawford said "This is art ".

These fine people are perched on the roof of the Grand Theatre


There's some funny things about this filming, though...

I turned up in my rather natty rust-coloured fleece - but I put a black jacket in the back of the car in case the orangey colour was inappropriate. You never know. In fact that first morning three people were filmed - Sammy, Fiona and myself. Fi and Sammy were in black. I was in orange. OK.... But then the film guy said to me that I have to wear the same clothes all week. Firstly for continuity, but also because it affects the film. So no change of pants or socks. Can it be true? Could it affect the film? I said, "Can I shower?" "Not really..." quoth he..

Filming in Bordeaux

By the miroir d'eau in front of the Place de la Bourse . Then an "accordionist" on the Rue Sainte Cathérine .  

Do I have a great future behind me in cinema...?

That's what I asked the filmmaker from Christian Television Association who had just filmed me walking along the wall at the Blaye citadel looking thoughtfully out over the town. Earlier I had pulled him backwards along the Rue Ste Cathérine while he filmed Fiona looking thoughtfully at the shop windows and lunchtime crowds. It's fun this. Surprisingly. And meanwhile we are talking about the things that are important to us, like the evangelisation of South-West France, and the establishment of a radiant church in Bordeaux, and the sending of workers out into the towns and villages of the department. And hope dawning. That's why we didn't film the sunset over the Garonne. Sunsets mean the end, the dying of the light. We need a new dawn.

leroymerlin sell and install wood-burning stoves

I expect Castorama do, too.

A friend in Wales referred me to this informative site

A council member referred me to this crazy site

My personal favorite is "The Power of a Praying Mantis. Well I have always been a big praying mantis fan - in fact, the bigger the better.

How many policemen..

.. does it take to get a bus through a narrow gap? (You don't think I might get in trouble for these pictures of policemen, do you?)  

It will be a strange week this week....

The director of our mission and a film maker are coming to make a DVD about the work in Bordeaux. We are very excited / daunted / thrilled / aghast, as you can imagine! We're all keen that the DVD focuses not on the work that is happening now but on the possibilities for the future and on the vision thing. Meanwhile this week will be a funny week! It'll involve a lot of charging round here and there, and doing mock-ups of some of the stuff we do using volunteers students and so on, and filming suburbs and satellite towns of Bordeaux, etc. etc.. Maybe the DVD will be ready for when I do my home visit, which I anticipate being in late spring of 2007.

Hooray for orange!

The internet is working now.

Would you believe it?

I got a phone call from the new tenant at our old house on Friday evening. He said the boiler wasn't working! Amazing! It was on a maintenance contract until early November with GDF that I had set up, but now they have changed society, the engineer came to sevice the boiler, and it doesn't work! They phoned me to see if I could shed any light on it, but when we left we had buckets of hot water all day (literally - you should have seen us wash those floors!) so it was working then. Also the new tenant has not yet moved in. I thought "But you phoned us every week to ensure we'd be out by 1 November..." Ah well!

Heating the Landaise

We have an electric boiler. Yes - I am baffled, too. That's why I want EDF to come and look at it and advise me if it's set up properly and what we can do to make it run better, cheaper, etc. But also we want to use our fireplace. The fireplace is massive and ... rustic looking. If we install either a closed hearth or a wood-burning stove, the government will pay half the cost in the form of a nice cheque next time we do our tax declaration. This is because wood is a renewable energy source, so people should be encouraged to use it. The only trouble is, the wood-burning stove people in the area seem to sell these Finnish designer things. We want an ordinary, basic model - the Citroën 2CV of the wood-burning stove world.

Bordeaux in November

Does your head in! In the morning it is either frosty or as damp as a dishcloth. By lunchtime you are HOT! Mind you - it could be worse. Last January it was very frosty all day long.

Biscarosse ballistics

Gwilym's school report

He had a mixture of good and not so good marks. I think he's got a science head, by the look of his results (sometimes 18.5/20 etc.). Art is another thing entirely.. Sometimes good marks in French, but his dictation mark is not brilliant. But not bad for the start of his second year in France.

Visits to the doctor

I am taking time getting used to the French system of health care. We have our Carte Vitale now, which we need when we visit the doctor and the pharmacy. However, it works differently in the two places. At the doctor you pay with a cheque, and they then process your Carte Vitale so that you are reimbursed the whole amount in about 2 days. At the pharmacy you pay with your Carte Vitale, and anything that isn't covered by the health system you have to pay with a cheque, bankers card or whatever. I got it wrong on Monday when I saw the doctor, but I got it right at the pharmacy. The doctor has ordered blood tests for cholesterol etc. etc. We are also going to begin screening for prostrate cancer - and I hope to get it right at the laboratory when I go to be bled. Pat has taken Catrin to the doctor this morning - she's been ill all week with nausea, headaches and earaches - so I hope Pat gets it right then.

Tim's been reading Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards

Here's something important that Jonathan Edwards said about preaching, and that Lloyd Jones agreed with him about.

Well, how did Sunday go?

It went OK. The guy who had prepared the order of service was very open to me leading everything - and I was very open to him doing it! So essentially all I had to do was the readings (1 Cor 10:1 - 4, John 7 and part of Exodus 17), preach and conduct the communion service. I am starting to believe that basically people can understand me and that I will not suddenly panic and clamp up or something.. This means I am calmer and I take more time about things, which is good. Preaching went OK. A few French howlers - but hey - I had moved house three days previously and got my text to preach on the day before that! You want a good job done I have to have more time! This was "quick and dirty". I preached in a jumper. Well all my jackets were in boxes somewhere. And my shoes desperately need cleaning.. I had nice feedback afterwards. On Tuesday our team leader said "Your ministry is certainly appreciated..."

Why Catrin's school bag has wheels on the bottom

Another milestone crossed

First load of washing through the washing machine! I assume it all worked OK. I had to leave for the student centre before the cycle had finished. The chimney man has been put off till Monday afternoon (I have to see the doctor on Monday morning, and it's a "no appointments" morning, so I could be some time in the waiting room!)

Getting through it

OK! Yesterday I queued for days (well it felt like days) at the France Telecom agency. And - a technician will come next Thursday to connect the phone. "And after he has been the phone will work?" "Of course! And the internet will follow a few days later" Today it was redirecting the post. Easy! Tomorrow I hope to talk to the chimney man about getting an insert, a closed hearth or a stove put in.

Fieldie's taking November off

I just read his entry for Oct 31. Imagine someone with a sermon outline before him, just about to begin to put it into speakable words of French (hah!) ready to preach this Sunday. Imagine that person decides to take a break and read his favourite blog. And imagine he reads this: A man’s word is a little sound that flies into the air and soon vanishes; but the Word of God is greater than heaven and earth, yea greater than death and hell, for it forms a part of the power of God and endures everlastingly. and this: I opposed Indulgences and all the Papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the Papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did it all. Had I desired to foment trouble, I could have brought great bloodshed upon Germany; indeed, I could have started such a game

The stuff cometh

Well we left our sojourn at the Villenave B&B (53 euros a night for a room for 4 people - cracking value!) in time to get to the house for 8am. The guys were going to arrive between 8 and 8h30. They were already there! By 10h30 the stuff was all unloaded, the beds and bunks were assembled and there were boxes EVERYWHERE! We had had a few little crises - a few things that don't work. But there we were! In! The house is more of a "project" than we had anticipated, but once we have decorated and once it looks lived in and homely it will be a cracker!

Well the stuff arrives today.

The kitchen is substantially degreased - a slight stickiness remains. Most rooms need some degree of decorating - either emulsion painting over what's there or paper-stripping etc., but we'll get round to that bit by bit. Also the handbasin in the downstairs loo is badly fixed to the wall and the tap is dodgy. Until we can sort that out we'll just use the one in the bathroom. More urgently we must: 1) work out how to put the heating on (!) - certainly the hot water has been getting warm while the electricity has been on. For this I need a torch because the boiler is in the attic. (Not as crazy as it sounds, really, honest..) 2) find the water stop cock (which will also have a meter attached - the vendor read the meter last week so it must be there and accessible!) 3) buy a mail box and put it somewhere the postman can find it 4) get the phones and internet connected. For this the best thing is to go and queue up at the France Telecom office. 5) Get heating serviced and chim

She has a point about the silver cars

You hardly ever see a red car. But our car insurance also includes breakdown insurance.

Bloggers galore

Gwilym has sadly forgotten the password to his blog, so that explains why he hasn't posted since February. Pat will be posting probably once we have internet at the house, so hopefully before Christmas. Meanwhile my nephew has begun a blog, full of information about the nightlife of Bangor and the process of priesting. And from time to time Blogger plays up on me, sometimes in IE, sometimes in Firefox. Ah well!