Showing posts from 2007

Well there we are - it was Matthew 2

The King and the king. Now I am SO tired. For reasons I won't go into. Phew. Tomorrow we have our New Year's Eve Church Pie Social, with games and animations. We Daveys are organising it (!) and we're doing rice and assorted sludge §, including something called la daube . This seems to be a common name for boeuf bourguignon . Rice and sludge has been done before so it should be OK. We don't have much salad promised but I don't think that will be a huge problem. Pat, meanwhile, has a grave cold. French people take medicine for colds. Here's the conversation I had when I had my serious cold the other day... Oh, it's just a cold. Have you been to the doctor ? What ? For a cold ? Of course not. We never treat colds. In fact we say that if you treat a cold it will last a week, if you don't it will last seven days. But that's the same... oh.. But there are very good remedies for cold, and if you don't treat a cold you can have serious complications...

UK Doctors say no to abortions in their surgeries;jsessionid=FNOFOZ1J4Y52RQFIQMGSFFOAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/12/29/nabort129.xml#form

Stanley Unwin Baffles the Carry On Team

Just in case you don't know about Stanley Unwin, here's a fairly good introduction. There's an odd advert at the end but it ends immediately it begins.

Al and the archbishop

No, not me, silly... It is very tempting to imagine that incomprehensible and profound are almost synonyms. Of course, they are not. A challenge for every Christian communicator is to take that which is difficult to understand and explain it simply. Anyone can take what is simple and make it difficult to understand. Nobody excelled at this more than the great Stanley Unwin.

BBC folk discuss their favourite hi-tech development of 2007 What a great list. And look what it tells us : 1) technology is a good servant but a bad master. People don't want to get mastered by facebook, for example. 2) technology should make life more human, not less. People want to keep in touch, rejoice together, weep together. 3) technology should be as democratic and accessible as possible. The expensive iPhone doesn't figure, but the free-of-charge facebook and web applications are favourites. 4) and there's more yet to achieve - wireless power delivery. The future's electric, isn't it !

Between Christmas and New Year

things go kind of quiet at the student centre, though I'll be seeing some of the chaps for one reason and another. I'm preaching on Sunday ( Ephesians 1 : 15 - 16, probably ! ) and we are spending some time with some of the church folk, too, while they are more available - off work, that is. It's a good opportunity for reading, too. John Stott's The incomparable Christ and Michael Crichton's Extrème urgence .

Do you have a ministry of discouragement ?

Why not read what Tim has to say ?

Why I believe in the virgin birth - by Peter Ellwood

This article was published either in the Western Mail or in the South Wales Echo during the years I lived in Cardiff, and written by the doctor, Peter Ellwood. I have it stuck in the front of my favourite commentary on Luke and have long intended sharing it more widely. It is shared here with the permission of neither author nor newspaper, but I hope that no objection would be raised. Anyway, here we go. I can always delete it, can't I. Why I believe in the Virgin Birth, by Peter Elwood There has been much discussion recently as to whether or not the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a traditional belief of the Christian Church, and as to whether or not it is a necessary belief for the Christian. Little attention seems to have been paid to the relevant historical documents and very few letters or statements in the controversy have claimed support, or even draw attention to, the Biblical record. As a scientist I have little concern for tradition, but I am enormously interested in ev

One Year Bible Reading Plan for use with no matter which translation

Poythress books you can read online

The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words God Centered Biblical Interpretation The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach Symphonic Theology Understanding Dispensationalists

A sudden death

Catrin's Christmas has been somewhat overshadowed by the passing of Patch the rat during the night . The other rats ( Ratty and Black Beauty ) are unwell with large and growing tumours, though they seem quite at ease , relaxed and free from pain. Patch was simply a little arthritic in his back legs, but this morning we found him dead in the bottom of his cage. He was a happy , friendly , affectionate rat, the least ratty rat you could ever meet . He lived a happy and contented life and helped Catrin as she settled into her new country. He left his mother ( Ratty ) and sister (Black Beauty ).


Keeping the faith in China

King's College Cambridge Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Born to raise the sons of earth.. born to give the second birth...

Happy Christmas !


Imagine posting your cards here

llythrdy - postoffice cofnodiad - souvenirs

St. Michael's Church Paris Christmas Carol Service 2007-2

Every one a cracker !

"I found the eye ointment"

Oh, where was it ? In the bathroom... I wondered if it was, but I couldn't see it. Ho Ho Ho....

Well there we are

There was a tram and bus strike. For me it meant that instead of taking me to Pessac Centre the tram stopped at Bougnard so Pat had to come out and get me there instead of at the centre. We had a happy time with tract distribution and then in the English class, though this week for the first time I had Fiona's group - so we worked on "the thing", and on tongue twisters, and on the entire conjugation of the present tense in regular English verbs (You must pronounce the s on "he /she/it walks"), and on reading aloud and I suggested they sing along to cds. But I have been bitten in the eye by a mosquito again. Brutes ! Me left eye again, and it is all puffy and swollen. I didn't have time to go to the doctor, so I've put some anti-histamine cream on it, but I think it will just take time to go down again. To begin with I wasn't sure it was a bite - I wondered if it was an allergic reaction, but I am told that there are still mosquitos around even now,

Hark the Herald Angels sing

Ecoutez le chant des anges Vient d'éclater dans les airs, Joignons aussi nos louanges A leurs sublimes concerts: Gloire à Dieu! Paix sur terre, Aujourd'hui 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 couronnée. 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.

When a child is born

We heard this today while hunting for a dressing-gown for me for Christmas, and it brought back powerful memories of thirteen years ago. We were living in a condemned house in what was known as Tintown on the Aston Hill. The house was condemned because of a Welsh Office plan to widen the road that ran about 50 yards from the house. It was a tiny house - two tiny bedrooms, one of which served as my office. The bedrooms were about 9 foot square. With our bed, two small wardrobes and two chests of drawers stacked one on top of the other when you came into the room you had to walk sideways to get through. And Pat was expecting Gwilym. When he was born we were negotiating to move house to Shotton Lane. He was born on Christmas Eve at about 4am (if I remember rightly). We brought him home in a carry cot and put the carry cot on top of the two stacked chests of drawers. We had to move before he grew out of his carry cot ! We moved on 31 January, into a house that must have been four times the

I'm looking forward to this weekend

I have the great English Class on Saturday afternoon but before that we are going to distribute tracts among the Christmas shoppers. There was a threatened tram and bus strike, but they have reached an agreement (I think - last time I read anyway) so the trams should be running fine. Saturday evening I have a final rehearsal with the lady who's going to sing the descant for "Adeste fideles" (Salut blanche étoile) on Sunday afternoon. I'll blast out the descant with her (an octave below, of course) and the congregation will be primed to sing that last verse with especial gusto. It has, as they say, two chances. Either it'll work or it won't. Then Sunday morning we'll visit one of the churches in Pessac, the Eglise Libre. I know the pastor fairly well from ministers' fellowships and so on, so it will be good to attend that church. Then Sunday afternoon the service at 4h30, with hot chocolate afterwards. Christmas Day is an important day at the student ce

Brass quintet playing Christmas music

In Manchester !

Just in case you thought the French had it in for monarchies in general... Here's an article talking about the moment (5 pm apparently) when the Queen became Britain's oldest ever reigning monarch.

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord. We sang this in the Aber Bach Soc Choir towards the end of the last century. This choir does nicely - they take it at a good lick. Strings a bit dodgy here and there though... I found this when I was looking for a piece of Bach Christmas Oratorio to post. Haven't found the Bach yet. Oh well...

Des résistantes !

What I feared

We'll have the Sarko saga soap opera now... At least in the British papers, we will...

Whitney's ten questions

Our good friend Don Whitney, author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (SDFTCL), looks splendidly seasonal in his Christmas newsletter. More to the point he suggests 10 questions to ask at a Christmas gathering, and makes it available in A4 format.

Du vin en usb - Quel produit révolutionnaire !

Encroyable !

The continental Sunday under threat

At present here almost everything is shut on Sundays. About the only things you see open are the petrol stations, the bakers and the oyster stalls by the side of the road. Oh - and some cafés and restaurants. Even articulated lorries are banned from the roads unless they are carrying refrigerated goods. They park up until Monday in big lines at the service stations on the rocade. Five Sundays a year all the shops are allowed to open and one of them was yesterday. It was noticeable that Pessac town centre was quite lively. Workers in Meublerama (a big furniture chain) get double time and time off in lieu for working Sunday. However Parliament is discussing changing the law to permit shops to open every Sunday from next year. I am not clear what shops are included in the law and whether it would result in France having a British-style Sunday trading pattern or not.

A French Christmas

Oysters. The Arcachon oyster farmers have started their big push - over the next few weeks millions of the little knobbly critters will be slurped, still living, from their shells. "It's like eating the sea" , said one of the DEFLE lecturers. Strange to relate, I have never looked at the sea and thought "yum, yum...". Foie gras. A Christmas without foie gras is pretty unthinkable. Oysters and foie gras. Perfect. The ducks and geese have been despatched and their big yellow livers are everywhere. The anti-foie-gras lobbyists insist that it is cruel while the foie-gras producers say that foie-gras has been produced here since Roman times and that the geese and ducks come running up to be fed. Or at least they did. Until they were despatched. Bûches de Noël. In the absence of a Christmas pud or a good plum duff one eats a Christmas log - either a big cake-thing or a log made of ice-cream. Poultry. You need your dictionary and a book of edible birds when you go

A quick musical glossary

semibreve = une ronde minim = une blanche (as in "J'ai pas fait la blanche") crochet = une noire quaver = une croche semi-quaver = une double-croche / une double... dotted minim = une blanche pointée dynamics = les nuances a bar = une mesure the beat = la pulsation the key = la tonalité intonation = l'intonation (phew ! at least one is the same ) c = do, d = re, e = mi, f = fa, g = sol, a = la, b = si sharp = dièse (this is also the gate/hash key on your phone) flat = bémol (but if someone were to sing flat that's not bémol , that's trop bas .)

Some cracking Christmas books

The King has Come - James Montgomery Boice - I LOVE this book. I hope I find it again soon. The Glory of Christ - R C Sproul - the chapters on the birth of Christ are just wonderful ( Glory in the Fields, Glory in the Temple ). OK, it's not John Owen but it'll still do you good.

This weekend

a complete strike of tram and bus drivers meant there was no English Class again - well, two stalwarts turned up. So that meant I was free to get my head round today more. This morning we have young people 10 - 12, except I have to leave at 11 to come home to fetch the family. Then a church lunch 12 - 2. Teaching the Wilcocks descant for "O come all ye faithful" to our coloratura soprano. A church meeting 2 till 4, approximately. Then the service at 4:30 at which I am preaching. I am going to preach a slightly beefed-up version of last week's message on Luke 1 : 5 - 25 - When Zechariah's prayer was answered. Can you imagine how VEXED the Bordeaux shopkeepers are to have NO PUBLIC TRANSPORT AT ALL the second Saturday before Christmas ?

Dundee David debates Dawkins delusion's-border-crossing.htm

And they say the French don't know how to do Christmas !

This is a roundabout that we pass on the way to the centre of Pessac. There's no shops or anything nearby. It is simply a beautiful roundabout, and the trees have twinkling Christmas lights at the moment.

Well that was exciting !

Some of the young folk at the church run an association which raises money to help an orphanage in Bulgaria . They arranged to do gift-wrapping at a sports equipment shop in central Bordeaux and were looking for volunteers to help out. Well Pat and I said we could do 2 till 4 this afternoon . There's a transport strike on, and yesterday there were no buses running at all , but the trams ran . Today sure enough we parked the car near Gwilym's school and the tram came to take us into town . We wrapped and then came time to come home. No trams. AAARGH ! Ben to the rescue ! He collected the kids from school and we hopped on the tram to Mérignac . ( there were no trams on line B to Pessac , and lines A and C were strongly perturbed ) We were very glad to see the Griffinmobile at the tram stop in Mérignac !

Christmas reading

Martin Downes is reading Augustine's Confessions this Christmas. What are you going to read ? (I haven't decided yet. I may take my cue from you.)

The blog has been quiet recently

It's because I have been very ill with a cold. A nasty cold. I am gravement enrhumé . I hope to be better soon, but at the moment it is touch and go.

Visit to churches in the UK

It will be sometime during the period 24 March to 17 April, depending on how that suits the churches.

OK - so what happened to the candied peel ?

Pat dropped me off at the tram stop and drove away. It was 15h50. The English Class starts at 16h30. Easy. "Next tram in 56 minutes, after that more than an hour" , said the board. What ? Oh, the board's telling lies again. Hang on, the tannoy is saying something. "Because of a demonstration in the centre of town there are no trams and no replacement buses." OK. I phoned the centre, then phoned Pat, then settled down in the drizzle to wait for her return to pick me up. No candied peel in the fruitcake of this weekend.

Phil Swann has been listening to neige-folle and writing to his church.

Just today I was reading the weblog of a good friend of mine who is doing missionary work in France . For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a weblog is a kind of diary that is kept on the internet. In my friend’s blog as well as writing about what he is doing, he often includes interesting things about the French and their culture. Today he wrote about an interesting website that was playing French carols, twenty four hours a day. Out of curiosity I decided to visit this sight and sure enough it was playing the most delightful French carols, many of which were instantly recognisable by their tunes. They were beautifully sung and had the right mix of the simple, sober and jolly that you would expect at this time of year. After a while it dawned on me that though I was enjoying listening to these carols I did not have a clue what they were actually singing about. Sure I could understand, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ but only because I recognised the tunes. Th

It's a fruitcake weekend - full of good things

Today Catrin has the éclaireurs évangélique (Scouts) Christmas extravaganza - we all go along this evening. Gwilym has the church club for collégiens this afternoon. I have the English Class this afternoon. Pat has taxi duty. For me the biggie is tomorrow where I begin the day at Blaye with preaching at Anglade ( Luc 1 : 5 - 25 ), then straight to the groupe de jeunes for Christianity Explored, then collect the family for church at 16h30.

Drive yourself NUTS with Radio Neige-folle !

Non-stop Christmas music in French (well, non-stop except for the adverts)

Oh no ! Mosquitos !

For the last two years, because of global warming, we have had quite harsh winters. The first winter we were here was amazing - frost to the tops of the trees ! This year, because of global warming, so far the winter has been quite mild. So much so that on Tuesday night Pat and I were both bitten by a mosquito. He got me on the elbow and yesterday my whole arm was sore. Meanwhile in Britain, because of global warming, the number of wind storms has risen dramatically over the last twenty years to reach the level of the beginning of the 1900s ! Where's the mozzy-killer stuff ?

How do you say that, by the way...?

Aulx. What's an aulx ? It's obviously something you eat because the Israelites were nostalgic about the food in Egypt, the melons, leeks, cucumbers and the aulx. Anyway it's garlics. un ail, des aulx. Pronounced unnaye (like "aye" for yes) and dézo (sounds like eaux, or "oh!"). It took me six months to discover how to say one garlic and two years to discover the plural. I am just not right for this job, am I !

Acts 2b

I want to tell you about the Thursday evening Bible study last night. Last year we did evangelistic Bible studies all year and everyone who came was already a Christian. So this year we are doing Bible Studies through Acts aimed at equipping the Christians and there's a guy who comes most weeks who isn't yet converted. OK. Anyway Acts includes Acts 2, so we're doing that in four sessions. Last week's was the most important part - the point of Pentecost being the firstfruits of the gospel. Incidentally, it's not all that easy in France to hold on to the fruitfulness of the gospel. This week was what the tongues signified. Verse 12 - What does this mean ? Before the study I was talking with one of our French guys and we were grumbling a bit about how hard it is to reach the French (though the Chinese students are very responsive !) Anyway for the study we were six. Me and five French guys aged between 19 and 35. Ha ha ! That'll teach me ! The study went well - we

In case you thought indulgences were a thing of the past...

Wagner - Die Walküre Act 3 - Ride of the Valkyries

I don't know about you, but they scare me witless. Strange to relate, while discussing what to call our children Guto and Rhydderch were rejected in favour of Gwilym (he's glad) and Flosshilde and Woglinde in favour of Catrin (she's ecstatic).

Calgary Clint's Cowboyology Classification Clarified In the UK in the absence of the fundamentalist movement, neo-evangelical is sometimes used as a term of contrast against an older, more doctrinally focused evangelicalism. An example of faux-amis within two branches of the same language !

Rhosymedre by Vaughan Williams

Today has been about preparing for the weekend, for Christianity Explored on Sunday afternoon and preaching Sunday morning. Here's some Vaughan Williams. See ! I DO love England. Vaughan Williams was English, isn't it ? Don't look at the video. Don't read the young guy's blurb. Just listen.

Challies December giveaway


Bach Contrupunctus I

We haven't had no culture on the blog for a long time have we ?

Nicolas Sarkozy's battle to change France, says the Telegraph

Devant le trône

Devant le trône du très Haut mon défenseur saura plaider, cet avocat s'appelle amour, il intercède pour moi toujours. Mon nom est gravé sur ses mains, mon nom est inscrit sur son coeur, puisqu'il défend ma cause au ciel nul ne pourra me condamner. Et quand Satan me fait douter, vient me tenter et m'accuser, je lève les yeux vers celui qui a payé pour mon péché. Mon Sauveur était innocent, sa mort me rend la liberté, oui, Dieu le juste est satisfait et il pardonne mon péché. Voyez l'Agneau ressuscité. Il est le Roi plein de bonté. Non, il ne changera jamais, lui ma justice, mon bien, ma paix. En lui j'ai la vie éternelle, par son sang il m'a racheté, pour toujours ma vie est cachée en Jésus, mon Sauveur, mon Dieu.

Sunday began early

There were thirty photo-montages to print for the choir members, and my printer does it quite well ( thankfully ! Otherwise I'd have had to have done it at the student centre ! ) So I started them printing. The yellow cartridge was almost empty so I'd bought another. However about 10 from the end the printer told me the cyan was nearly empty too. Oh dear ! This is one of the hazards of my colour vision - no matter how I stare I cannot see the level of cyan on the computer screen. Anyway, it lasted till all the photos were done. Then I scuttled off to the Eglise Baptiste de Caudéran where I discovered that "Before the throne of God above" exists in French. Then home to collect everything for the afternoon (computer, etc.) and off to the Griffins for lunch. We were taking desserts and we had a four seasons fruit tarte I found in the supermarket and a huge chocolate and raisin tarte that someone had given Pat at the Christmas bazaar. Then to the centre for 3 to prepare f

Ecouter la Bible en français

Here are recordings, chapter by chapter, of the Bible in French. Thanks, Joy, for pointing out the site.

OK - so that's how it is, then.

It looks as if we have settled into a happy pattern of frantic weekends. Saturday began gently but then accelerated. The morning I updated the blog, then prepared for the English Class and I also tried to suss out Audacity, because I think I am going to have to start editing MP3 files. As well I tried to reduce some sermon sound-files down to a size that can be emailed. It's just dawned on me that I sent some of these to my address, which redirects to gmail, but they haven't arrived yet ! Then Pat had told a friend that she'd help her on the tea stall of the Bordeaux Anglican Chaplaincy's Christmas Bazaar, so we delivered them there for 2pm. I had a brief talk with a few people, including the vicar, especially about church premises. It's a constant headache for newish churches in France. Then off to the student centre for the English class. It's lovely driving through central Bordeaux at the moment because there are lights everywhere. The trees al

Early Christmas shopping


Christmas café

with star

and again


Expecting trouble at the student centre, officers ?

I don't know why the riot police always park at the end of our road. Well, I know why they were there - the judges and barristers were demonstrating against the rationalisation of the courts of assizes. ( The demo closed six tram stations of line B ! ) But why always our street ?

Why our bathroom is so clean

Cillit BANG

Animated Bayeux Tapestry

I am fairly sure I have posted this before, but it is worth another look as a suitable Saturday subject. ( OK, that's enough ! Stop the stupid alliteration )

Calgary Clint's Cowboyology Classification I was thinking the other day about Dr. A...w and his comments on taxonomy. He talked about lumpers and splitters. The splitters are the taxonomists who say "These two populations of creature are clearly different, we'll split them into two different subspecies, or even species." The lumpers say "These are obviously two types of the same beast. They belong together in the same species." § I often think of lumpers and splitters in the church. Calgary Cowboy Clint has classified American calvinistic baptists into several streams. Here in France when you say "Baptiste " and " réformé " or " calviniste " in the same sentence it elevates the eyebrows of those who hear and evokes the exclamation " Tiens ! " As for me I wonder if neo-evangelical has the same negative connotation in the US as it does in the UK ? § incidentally to show you how fascinating and controversi

Give people time In France it isn't that easy to find protestant churches, and anyway they are all sects aren't they, and there was that war wasn't there, and so there are people who come to a biblical faith in Jesus Christ and take a very long time to leave catholicism.

Concealing sin

Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 10: 12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. From which I conclude that the godly man confesses his own faults and admits his own errors but covers over the errors of others as much as he can.

Tony and Gordon

I'm no expert on rugby, and I know that rugby and politics differ in certain aspects anyway, but I am sure we were taught to pass the ball before being tackled wherever possible. You're supposed to hand over when things are going well and you're in full flight.

A nice test with video of the Asus eee pc 701 Well of course it's in French.

What if, indeed...?

Found it !

Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

This is special detergent

to keep your blacks black, with a new black blackness like you've never known before.

Monday night Soirée Internationale

Last night the programme was in English - that is to say, the only difference was that I read the Bible passages and delivered the short comment at the end. It was a nice evening and there were several visitors that we had not met before - or that we thought we had not met before... One couple are moving into the area and were staying at the centre while they look for a house, so we chatted about the different suburbs of Bordeaux and about prices etc. They're teachers. Some folks were, I think, from the Villenave church, including one elderly lady who joined in with the French carols. To begin with I thought it was an effect of the acoustics, or difference tones, or that one of the lads' voices had changed suddenly - then I saw her lips move. The biggest surprise was one young couple who came in - he's the son and step-son of one of our couples. He and his partner came in and said to me, "Do you remember us ?" I had to admit I didn't. "You did a survey wi

Sorry not to have posted for a few days !

This weekend has been very busy - it's been one thing after another ! So it's good to have a chance to catch my breath a little. Here's what's been happening : Saturday 9 am - 9 pm (roughly) Synode Régional of the fellowship of churches Saturday 2 pm Pat's brother Nigel arrives at Mérignac airport Saturday 3 pm Deliver posters for choir visit to office in the Chartrons Saturday 4:30 - 6:00 English Class at Student Centre Frankly I wasn't sure how all these things in the afternoon would work given that there's no public transport to the centre where the Synode was taking place and that everything else was dotted round in different parts of Bordeaux. However by means of the GPS God got me where I needed to be and he did what no GPS can do, providing each time just the one parking space I needed when and where I needed it. That's no small blessing in Bordeaux on a Saturday. I was glad not to have cancelled the English Class because a new student came, a Syr

Sunday synodal

So Sunday began bright and early with the setup at the centre for the service at 10:30. I'd been up since 6 doing the PowerPoint of hymns. The service went pretty well and Dik Brienen, pastor at Montauban, preached on Jonah. Interestingly two of our guys came up to talk about the message afterwards: one said 'He's good, isn't he ! Direct, straighforward', the second said 'How can I tell him I disagree with his view of Jonah?'. That's preaching for you ! The service was followed by "an apéro with the authorities", except that M. Juppé sent his apologies, then by lunch - then a hurried clean-up and pack-away because the choir were doing their first concert in Blaye. We zoomed off and found the place after asking a few people and the concert went well. It was well-attended and I served as interpreter for an elderly lady who wanted a CD of the choir. They have made one, so they'll send a batch and I'll forward one to the lady concerned. The

A brilliant display of mushrooms from the supermarket near the student centre

I took this picture with my phone a while ago and then forgot it !

The great tram adventure

The first photo shows the inside of the bendy bus. This was taken at a rare moment when I was the right way up. Next you can see a picture of us all walking along the tram lines to Peixotto. It was quite pleasant. I think it might have been different if it had been emptying down, but it was a rare dry half hour. Below you can see two pictures I took on my arrival at the cathedral . I thought the trees looked specially nice today. I was glad to see them.

Bordeaux pronunciation

Incidentally I asked last night, "Why is it pésac for Pessac, and not pesac? " The reply came, "Because that's what we say. It's like aré for arrêt de tram, instead of are, like je marché for marchais, instead of marche, and foré for la forêt instead of fore. It's just like that." OK

Well that was fun !

It started when I approached Unitec in the car. My plan was to park there and catch the tram to the student centre. But all through Pessac there were tramsful of people just sat in strange positions, like just before roundabouts etc. The power supply to the trams had just failed between Peixotto and Pessac. OK - they send out shuttle buses, but how long do they take to come ? While we all waited an 84 bus came. That takes you to Arts et Métiers (illegally pronounced in Bordeaux as arzémetié). Well it was a bendy bus and the driver really went for those roundabouts. I reckon you could train astronauts on those things because the G-forces are amazing. Even sat down I had to hold on tight. We got to Arts et Métiers. No shuttle bus there. But a 41 would take us to Victoire, and one was due in 20 minutes time. I thought about it. Peixotto is two stops. In 20 minutes I could crawl to Peixotto and thankfully I had left my laptop computer at home so nothing to lug. Off I set among the festive

These shops and cafés are far more interesting than the chain stores of the main shopping streets


I found this street called Rue Ruat

It's sandwiched between various shopping streets near the student centre and it's gorgeous.

Halfway down the street is a gorgeous looking café


Someone has sabotaged all four TGV lines out of Paris

There's a strike of railway and public sector workers on at the moment. It was quite interesting to hear a discussion on the radio of the legality and illegality of various things. Anyway, all four TGV railway lines out of Paris have been sabotaged, seemingly at about the same time but many miles apart. The signalling cables were unearthed and burnt. Everyone is shocked.

From time to time Dilbert is bang on

Here's another ! Let the reader reflect !

OK - that's publicity for the American choir concert sorted so far

I've sent to consulates, to language schools, I have put flyers in the "cultural office" in Pessac and when I get some more flyers I'll take some to the English bookshop and to the Irish pubs (which are manifold). Then it's on to sorting out flights for deputation. I need to avoid the period 3 to 10 March, because I need to cover for a colleague who's on holiday. I want to avoid being away for Easter, and also I want to be here for school holidays if I can . So that gives available periods of 1 to 22 February, (21 days) 10 to 22 March, (12 days) and 24 March to 17 April (24 days). The budget airlines are not flying at the moment, but Lufthansa would fly me via Frankfurt. It's a Sopwith Camel from Bordeaux to Frankfurt, then an Airbus A320 Frankfurt to Manchester. I know that once I settle on a period everything will go haywire - it won't suit churches, the flights will all be cancelled, special events will crop up here, kids will break their limbs, etc

Notre Dame des Courants d'Air

St Aubin des Courants d'Air

Yesterday morning I was preaching at St Aubin de Blaye. It was pretty cold, and there was heavy frost on the ground when I left the house. It's an hour to St. Aubin so I popped my huge, lined, thick, leather coat in the back of the car (24€ from Auchan, the till girl couldn't believe it) and I took a small flask of coffee. At St. Aubin the temple (church) is in pretty bad repair, so we meet in a back room. The back room isn't great, either. There was a fan heater and a gas cylinder with an element screwed into the top, but the gas ran out before the service started and everyone made me scuttle out to the car to get my coat. It's the first time I've preached in an overcoat and I was glad of it. I did think of taking it off before the message but thought better of it. There was an oil-filled radiator, too, but the electricity supply isn't strong enough to cope with both heaters. In fact the lights flickered ominously from time to time... After the service people d

Louis de Funès knows the wine just by looking at him

Now you know why I fret so much about buying the wine for communion at church.

Phew - made it through to Sunday night - and it's raining !

It's only been a cold, but you know how it is, and I was preaching twice today and taking the forts and the faibles in the English class. So it's good to get to Sunday night. And it's raining ! Hooray ! That means it won't be as COLD ! Anyway my cold is better. We were a bumper crowd at church. Pat counted people during the message and got 63 including kids.

Hurrah !

Do French people do mental arithmetic like what I have to do ?

Soixante-dix-neuf - I have to add it all up before I can move on to the next figure in the phone number. "60+10+9 = 79 what did you say came next...?" Quatre-vingts-dix-sept is even worse because it includes multiplication and addition. "4(20)+10+7 = 80+10+7 = 97 can you repeat that please...?" I am hoping that for French people the number just comes without them doing the sum, and that one day it may do the same for me.

An update on the Griffinmobile

Well Ben went to the car this morning and phoned a breakdown service he had found using the online phonebook. Then he phoned me, because they seemed reluctant to come and help. He said 'They keep telling me I am on the rocade and I keep trying to tell them I am on a sliproad - except I don't know the French for sliproad." I don't know the French for a sliproad, either, but I phoned the people and explained that Ben's car had broken down as he left the rocade just before the traffic lights. (I got a few funny looks because I was in the supermarket balancing boxes of cereal on racks of stuff while writing down the police phone number before relaying it to Ben in English. I think they are starting to get used to me in there though...) "That's the problem", the breakdown people explained. "Anything before the lights counts as the rocade and he has to phone the police to get help." As I suspected they had understood each other very well, but the

Myerscough the early adopter

Myerscough, our great friend, mission council member, confidant, fellow founder member of FAPMA (Former Assistants to Peter Milsom Anonymous) and editor of Four Corners - possibly the finest mission magazine in the world - has taken delivery of an Asus eee pc. Small and relatively inexpensive, this could be a cracker of a tool for folks like us, especially for people on the move.

Vincent and the Ruebkes

came for the evening. We ate raclette and Vienettas. Raclette was a good move. It's easy, entertaining, filling and warming. Ice cream was not so wise, and illustrates the hazards of shopping on Monday for a meal you will eat on Friday. Monday was pleasant and warm. Now it's freeeezing. I thought about rice pudding but on Monday it would have been too much on top of a raclette. Now it would be just right ! Jenna and Michelle fly home early on Sunday. Poor Vincent ! Still, at least he'll be able to move a bit in his flat... He'll visit them for Christmas, then in February, then the marriage is hoped to take place in April and Jenna will come home to France.

Your car has done what, and where ?

Fi's in the UK. Pat's indisposed. I am in the student centre. So Ben said he'd pick up the kids from school for us. On the way so to do, at junction 13, his gear lever lost touch with the gear box. Ah ! What to do ? A few frantic phone calls and I decided to shut up the student centre, scuttle back to Pessac on the tram and get the car, then the kids. They, dear brave hearts, were sat on the pavement outside the school waiting patiently. Then I found Ben and we got his car safely stashed on the grass at the side of the slip road. French motor insurance includes breakdown cover, but he couldn't find the phone number to ring if the car broke down. And the office they got the cover from closes at 4 on Fridays and doesn't open on Saturdays. Ben says it opens for an hour in July and for half a day in February. So I took him into town to get the tram home (I was meeting folks at the student centre at 7pm) and he's going to tackle it tomorrow morning.

It's FREEZING here in the South of France

I mean seriously freezing. We're in the negative, said the man on the radio and judging by the frost in the garden he was absolutely right. Yesterday I spent a good part of the day on the phone finding out who's eating what and when for the church's regional council weekend. Today I have one or two people to finish chasing up on that, then to find a firewood supplier and order a goodly supply of logs, and to suss out flights to Britain in February and in April so as to work out finally when deputation can occur and get in touch with the churches concerned. Oh, and preparation for Sunday. I'm preaching in Blaye in the morning and in Bordeaux in the afternoon. Pat is much better this morning. Perhaps the kinésiterrapin has helped.

A quick update on Pat

She finished the course of pills the doctor in Villenave gave her, but without much improvement. A Chinese student applied some Chinese medicine (don't ask - it was fine) and she's a little improved. She went to see the doctor round the corner from us yesterday and got the forms to change doctor and a prescription for five sessions of physiotherapy, so she should see the physiotherapist (also round the corner from us) tonight.

I am starting to love French, and I am a bit alarmed

I mean, I always loved France, and the French are wonderful, but French... Spanish is pretty well Latin. Italin is beautiful. English is useful. Welsh is glorious. German is unthinkable. French is Latin overlaid with German in a most unhelpful way. All those vowels ! How could anyone think a language beautiful that contains from 3 to 6 nasal vowels depending on where you live, and the sound eux, them. It sounds like the noise you make when you see a molten slug in your lettuce. but you do get to say some wonderful things. My all time favourite was when a student (we'll call him Sam) got a letter whose certainty he doubted. As one man we said Si Sam, ça c'est sûr ! - see sam sa sé sûr... Then yesterday reflecting on the RCF broadcast C'est comme ça qu'on sème - sé com sa coñ sem. "Yes, Sam, that's certain", and "That's how one sows"

RCF Bordeaux

(See a little matter for prayer below.) Well we went and recorded. Emmanuel Alvaraés, the pastor of the Eglise Evangélique Libre in Pessac, looks after Point de Vue Evangélique, so it basically took the form of a very brief, round table interview with myself, Emmanuel, Sammy and Fiona. It's broadcast tonight and also tonight they will come to the student centre and record the programme for next week with a couple of students involved. We talked basically about the work, trying to present it in a way that might encourage students to check us out. Emmanuel helped us tremendously with his useful questions, of course.

It struck me when I was preparing Ephesians 1:2

that Paul greets the saints with the Greek greeting "Grace" and the Hebrew greeting "Peace". He, of course, means far more by those words than the man in the corner café in Athens or Jerusalem ever imagined. Quite often French people greet each other with the French greeting " Salut ". We, of course, mean far more by that word than the chaps in the corner café imagine. Salut means salvation.

Stan Guthrie explains briefly why he is a Christian

Baked beans - and tajine

What a saddo, eh ? The thing about baked beans is that they are such a good, cheap, nutritious meal. Except when they are £1.20 a tin, that is ! Some friends who will remain nameless but lived in Provence until recently used to import beans from Britain, and once when we stayed at their house we were warned off the beans ! There is a French version that is about 60p a tin or less - haricots blancs à la tomate . What you have to do is add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tin, and tomato ketchup to taste. Some people add a spoonful of vinegar. The beans are a bit big, but a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, as they say. I'm reading a book I should have read at the DEFLE but I dropped the course - it is called "Une enquête au pays" by Driss Chraïbi and it introduces a Moroccan detective called l'Inspecteur Ali , who stars in the next book too. Anyway, it's very entertaining, and they have just eaten a glorious meal of mutton tajine - mutton cooked slowly with f