Showing posts from January, 2007

Seen from the student centre windows

No, it's not the Gorsedd of Gironde, though it kind of looks like it. It's the winemakers' guilds coming to present their greetings (and the odd bottle or two) at the Town Hall.

OK, where's the catch?

Thanks, Tim, for a good post today :

Mimosa in the snow

In the grounds of the house where the church meets the mimosa grows really well. The snow had bent over the longest branches so that they completely blocked one side of the driveway, and the flowers are just coming out.

Latin a dying language?

Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinis alacribus et fructuosis potiri potes! * *thank you, Henricus Barbatus

Quick report on today

This morning went OK. A few French bloopers, but that's par for the course. Because I am still PowerPointMan, and because I was also doing the welcome and the communion part I did end up popping up and down like a jack in the box - but thankfully I remembered to detach my wire before walking round with the communion cups, and the remote control for the PowerPoint thing worked well. Then this evening one of the girl students who went to the Chinese meeting yesterday was in a study with someone here. They were talking about the cross and the thief who asked for forgiveness and hope from the Lord Jesus Christ, and she said "Do you think I could pray like that now?" So she did. In Mandarin. There we are. Tired but happy, as Enid Blyton would put it.

Mr Scruton's words merit meditation

"Indeed, the implication that adoption is entirely a matter of the "rights" of the prospective parents shows the moral inversion that is infecting modern society. Instead of regarding the family as the present generation's way of sacrificing itself for the next, we are being asked to create families in which the next generation is sacrificed for the pleasure of the present one."

Weeksy's quotes for today

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you, before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my fingers into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch my self taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want all the more for your return. -Mary Jean Irion Oh yes! Don't bother about genius. Don't worry about being clever. Trust to hard work, perseverance and determination. And the best motto for a long march is: "Don't grumble. Plug on!". --Sir Frederick Treves One would want to rephrase "Trust God to bless hard work, perseverance and determination." It's a disconcerting thought to think that it might only be an abstract concept, called law, which is preventing a large segment of society from killing each other. --Eli Khamarov Yes, and God's goodness and grace...

Michael Haykin, eminent church historian, on the mortification of facial hair hmmm. Most of those who shave here do it but once a week or so. This means that those who are bearded must beware the velcro effect when greeting those who shaved about a week ago. Separation can be difficult, noisy and uncomfortable. For this reason I generally encourage people to "laisser pousser la barbe" (allow the beard to grow). Thanks, Tim Challies, for the link. I think.

Soirée chinoise

Last night there was a soirée chinoise at the student centre, bilingual in Mandarin and French. The student from ETCW who has been with us over the past three weeks spoke about his time in China studying Mandarin, and it was great to hear him talking about the things he had seen and done, in Mandarin, with lots of banter from the Chinese students and translation into French. Then another Chinese student interviewed me, asking questions like, "If God exists, what is he like" in French, with translation into Mandarin. A few songs in Chinese or French, then lots of hot spicy Chinese food and then lots of hanging round and talking. Again we had a capacity crowd - over twenty in total - and several people want to come back for introductory Bible studies. There was a nice atmosphere in the evening, with lots of laughter and fun, but lots of good conversations and good contacts. I caught the evening bus 5 home, 23h15 from just down the road from the student centre to just round the

Tramming through a winter wonderland

The first photo was taken just after the driver had told us the tram service was going to be interrupted because of a demonstration in the centre of Bordeaux. He didn't tell us how long for. Some people abandoned their journey and stormed off in high dudgeon. Fortunately about 2 minutes later the tram started again.

Loads of scarves here - scarves and leather jackets Here the "Chelsea knot" (photograph) is what everyone does. I think it's a pity in a way. I used to like flinging my scarf over my shoulder at a jaunty angle, but at least with this "loop and tuck" you don't get it caught in the tram doors and end up running backwards all the way to the next stop again.

Some pictures of the projects being undertaken in Bordeaux


Wouldn't these be great for the student centre, or for Christian coffee bars, etc. A couple of these, with printers attached, and Bob's your uncle.

Snow. Quite important snow!

We have about 6 inches (according to the radio). I'd say 4 in our garden. Of course, 15 cm sounds much more than 6 inches, and 10 cm more than 4 inches. We are listening keenly to Radio France Bleu Gironde to try to find out if the schools are open but frankly, I drove home through the snow from Floirac last night and I am not keen on driving in it this morning. The roads had not been gritted before the snow and it was really quite slippery, even when fresh! No trams are running. Some buses are running but only inside the boulevards (inner ring roads). Otherwise there are no school buses and all is at a standstill.My bigger concern is the Bible Study this evening. If the buses don't run then I can't get in to the centre. We'll see. In Bordeaux it doesn't take a lot of snow to bring things to a standstill. One of our lecturers explained that it makes more sense to accept a few days of disruption every now and again than to pay out a fortune for gritters and snow-p

Castillon la Bataille

I don't think I have ever shown you a French hearse. That's it, in front of the church. (Sorry tha angles are so odd). The funeral directors have (I am told) green jackets on.

Castillon la Bataille

It being Wednesday, we went out for a quick look at Castillon la Bataille, the place where the 100 Years' War finally came to an end in 1453 or thereabouts. It's now a charming little French town on the banks of the Dordogne.

The cathedral looked nice tonight

with the setting sun lighting up the stones

Cake aux lardons

It's a long time since I put a photograph on the blog, and on Sunday we ate something that I thought was worth showing you. It's cake. Cake aux lardons. That is, bacon cake. Very nice, too.

OpenOffice tutorials

Sorry to have just a link to another link, but I wanted those who use OpenOffice to see the OpenOffice blog en route.

The Paris Water Wars - Well what water DO you drink, then?

People do seem to drink more water here - it is almost inconceivable to eat a meal without water on the table. Pat and the kids recently went to a science exhibition ( Cap Science ) on the Quays with a friend and her kids. The theme was water ( L'eau dans ta bouche ), and at the end of the displays there was an opportunity to do a blind tasting of some water - tap water and a premier brand of bottled water. All preferred the tap water. Charles Bremner of the Times talks about an advertising campaign for water: I had heard or read many moons ago that the Paris authorities were distributing carafes labelled Eau de Paris for putting tap water on the table.

Morning and evening services

OK! I think my original intention all those months ago was to see if anyone knew whether the evening service was an anglo - saxon innovation or a continental loss - that is whether the British invented it or the continentals dropped it at some time. Several people made excellent suggestions, but it seems to me that we can't say for sure based on what people have said on this blog. Nothing that I have found on the internet gives me much confidence either way, and I don't think any of the books I have here will help either. Certainly the 1549 Book of Common Prayer (Edward VI & Cranmer) has forms for morning and evening services. The book was strongly influenced by Geneva, Zurich and the Lutherans. So there we are. Almost 500 years of evening worship in Britain. As for the importance and usefulness of evening services and the reasons for having them - well there's a lot of opinions expressed on the web. Here's an extract from the website of an American presbyterian

Eugene is a friend of our congregation here

He's now in his 80's, and he doesn't quite look 50 any more, but he's still steaming onwards!

Framakey, U3 .. and beyond!

Today is a quieter day, thankfully. So I can do a bit of planning, reading, thinking and praying, catch up on phone calls and maybe a letter or two and also put one or two things on the blog. One development that I think is very interesting is the whole portable software thing. Laptop-lugging days may be numbered. What if all you had to carry was a USB key - perhaps a 2GB key (now less than £20 - cheaper even than a laptop bag!) with all the software you usually use on it? or will let you run good software like Firefox and OpenOffice etc. easily from a USB key. U3 keys are becoming popular and the software automatically cleans up behind you so you leave no trace of having been on the computer you used. Then there's the Mandriva Linux USB Key ( ) That's the ultimate, surely! Now you take your operating system with you! Ah - well, perhaps not... What if all you had to ta

OK - here's my preaching schedule over the next few weeks

Please pray for the Wednesday evening prayer meetings and the Thursday evening Bible studies, too. I may ask some of the young guys to take the odd Wednesday evening. Jan 28th Feb 11th & 18th Mar 11th, 18th & 25th I am preaching at Blaye the afternoon of Mar 11th. So I have a series of 6 I can do.. Let's give this some thought and prayer!

A quick early Sunday morning entry

Today is a big Sunday : 1) the youth meetings take place on Sunday afternoons, and there's one this afternoon. 2) there's a big meeting of the order of service planners and accompanists this afternoon (see 3). 3) it's the last Sunday before two months' deputation, so there'll be lots of bon voyages etc. 4) it's the baptism of a lad who has come to faith over the last few months. So lots going on today.

Wahay! Almost sorted!

The new SIM card for the mobile phone arrived today and it works! So I have my old mobile number and our old phone number at the house and everything seems to work OK. Except that we get duplicate IP addresses on our wifi network - IP address conflicts and so on. I must look those up and try to find out what to do to prevent it happening. There's probably a simple parameter to set that will make it all work OK. Jolly good!

the regulative principle and "the hymn sandwich"

Derek Thomas has been talking about the regulative principle.

Pat has her timetable for the next semester at the DEFLE

Monday 14h30 - 16h30 Tuesday 14h30 - 16h30 Wednesday 8h30 - 12h30 Thursday 10h00 - 12h30, 13h30 - 15h30 Friday 10h00 - 12h30 Not a bad timetable. It helps me to know my availability for the chaps at lunchtime over the next few weeks, too.

This so encouraged me when I read it in one of our free papers in the tram this morning So it's not just me, and it's not just because I live in a provincial backwater. It's the same in Paris!

OK. Parents evening.

First appointment, 17h10, last appointment 20h50. Aïe aïe aïe! We saw the: German teacher - Gwilym's great, all's OK, his French sometimes holds him up but is improving, perhaps he could be a bit more enthusiastic with his homework. Maths teacher - Gwilym's great, all's OK, his French sometimes holds him up but is improving, perhaps he could be a bit more enthusiastic with his homework. Sport teacher - Gwilym's great, all's OK, his French sometimes holds ... (I expect you see a pattern emerging...) Three more original comments: History teacher - C'est'n bon p'tit gars. (He's a good little lad) (sounds like séngbomptygar ) Music teacher - could he bring his trombone to school please (!) French teacher - he's adorable (!!) and well brought-up (I like the French teacher) We didn't go and see the English teacher, but one of the other mums told us that she'd told her that Gwilym is a real asset in the class and all his chums are doing wel


This morning I went to my first pastoral - "ministers fellowship". The next is in April, so they are not very frequent. It was useful for meeting people from "the Christian scene" in Bordeaux - people were there from Baptist, Assemblies of God and from various independent charismatic churches as well as the Eglise Libre and us. (Of course, I'd met a lot of them before, perhaps about 1/3) The main presentation was given by a chap from Christ Vous Appelle , a group loosely linked with the ADD who work to harness the media for evangelisation. Their site may be useful for Christians learning French. He gave some stats on the number of muslims in France now. In early 2006 there were some 4 1/2 million, or about 7 % of the population, the biggest percentage in Europe.

I haven't looked at any of the sites he talks about...

If you look it's at your own risk, and I am not willing to pay the bills for any therapy you may need afterwards.

Googlebloggergmail problems

Over the past few days we have noticed problems with our Gmail account and with Blogger. I'm not sure what's going on, but it seems that Google are having a technical difficulty or two. At the same time someone has been telling me how good WordPress is. But I don't really want to change at present. Let's give googlebloggergmail a change to settle down.

Me, I'm just a Brit. You can tell me by the way I walk.

In our civilisation lectures at the DEFLE the lecturer explained that there is an observable difference between the way a Briton and a Frenchman will walk. Perhaps because our lecturer was a woman (indeed, she still is!), she did not attempt to demonstrate the difference. What do you think? I think there is a difference. Outside the school this morning I was watching people deposit their children and one chap walked along the pavement and across the road and I chuckled, because the way he walked looked so French. But I don't think I could define the difference. Anyone more able to define it? Anyone think there's no difference?

Groupe rive gauche, the telephone and the day off

Well the groupe rive gauche went OK. We were a nice number and a few people who would normally be there were unwell or otherwise engaged. We made a good start. The telephone is ALMOST working... well OK, we don't have a dial tone and if anyone rings our number they get straight through to the answering machine - BUT if they leave a message we can listen to it via the television and then ring them back on Pat's mobile phone! This morning I will fiddle with the phone and see if I cannot get it working completely. Also on the agenda is to trim the trees in the back garden. It would also be good to take the trimmings to the dump, if possible.

Groupe Rive Gauche

OK - the day has at last arrived! Tonight is the first session of the Groupe Rive Gauche. Hurrah! We need to decide where and how often we will meet. I have in mind to meet monthly. We can meet at our home if people find that convenient. If not anywhere else available! I have in mind, too, to go through Mark's gospel, but tonight we'll look at the end of Acts 2 - la vie communautaire du peuple de Dieu. You know the bit - verses 42 - 47, and especially verse 42 : Ils persévéraient dans l'enseignement des apôtres, dans la communion fraternelle, dans la fraction du pain, et dans les prières. La crainte s'emparait de chacun, et il se faisait beaucoup de prodiges et de miracles par les apôtres. Tous ceux qui croyaient étaient dans le même lieu, et ils avaient tout en commun. Ils vendaient leurs propriétés et leurs biens, et ils en partageaient le produit entre tous, selon les besoins de chacun. Ils étaient chaque jour tous ensemble assidus au temple, ils rompaient le pain

I realise that you can probably get all these in Mold Tesceaux...

Clockwise from top left - kangaroo, ostrich, deer and boar. Now where are the chicken nuggets?

Well, what do you think of that?

First a bit about Sarko: Then a startling revelation from the 1950s about Frangleterre

I know it's pathetic but I can't resist it

some of my favourite jokes: My wife's just gone to the Caribbean. Jamaica? No, she wanted to go. My wife's just gone to Indonesia. Jakarta? No, she flew.

Feedback on French

I got feedback on my French from my sermon buddy yesterday. I haven't gone properly through her report (headings on two side of A4) but from our quick discussion after the service the issues fall into two basic areas: 1) basic slips (like I would do in English and probably nobody would normally notice apart from having printed notes to look at) Things like forgetting the occasional contraction (de + les = des, etc.); occasional gender changes, the odd concordance des temps etc . It's just a question of being careful, and perhaps when I stop giving people printed texts to critique, they won't notice any more! 2) pronominal verbs This is a more tackleable issue, and I propose to put a checklist by my PC at home. e.g. in French you don't repent, you repent yourself. You don't turn to God, you turn yourself to God. You don't convert, you convert yourself ( se repentir, se tourner vers Dieu, se convertir )

OK - so it's Sarko for the UMP

Elected candidate with 98% of the vote, 69% of those eligible to vote cast a vote! Voting was by internet. What do you think of his slogan? There's quite an intrigue at the top of the UMP. Chirac and Villepin are not big supporters of Sarko - it goes back to when Sarko supprted Balladur against Chirac some years ago. I could imagine that if Chirac really tries to mess it up for Sarko he could engineer a socialist presidency (Prés Ségo).

It didn't rain today

So we went for our afternoon destitutional down to the Quays. I have never seen the Garonne look so pretty. Smelt a bit, though. The Quays run alongside the old warehouses (les hangars) that have been converted into swanky shops and natty cafés. l'Hacienda had a singer singing Spanish-style French songs. The other café advertised pêche de l'estuaire, which illustrates one of the pitfalls for the unwary. Pêches = peaches Pêche = fish (in an catching fish kind of way) Péché = sin pêcheur = fisherman pécheur = sinner pêcheresse = fisherwoman pécheuse = sinnerwoman

at the Quays

France's biggest skateboard park is at the quays in Bordeaux. It's very entertaining, and there's not much sign of blood around the place. I chatted with a chap who has recently returned to France from Panama and can't get a job. He's thinking of trying London. He speaks French (of course), Spanish and some English, and works in international trade. I imagine he'd find something. Incidentally you can see Bordeaux' encouragingly trinitarian symbol.

Look at that sky

That's like a painted sky, that is. They're taking our battleship, le Colbert , to Brest soon.

Well that's been a hard day and I am glad to see the back of it!

One of the hard things is separation from the family. Or the feeling of separation. Really we are not much further away from our folks than we were in Flintshire! We were 1/2 day from the nearest family member. But France feels further away. This week my little nephew, who was born when I was 11, became a father. My sister is a grandmother. My other sister already has grandchildren. How old they both are! Then today Pat's family is going through a crisis. Ah well! Email crosses the miles. In years gone by we'd have had a letter in a few weeks' time telling us all about it.

Well did I stir up a controversy!

over the pronunciation in French of Ghengis Khan... is it Genn-zhis Kan or Zhenn-zhis Kan or Jean-zhis Kan (Jean like the name Jean). Since the name Jean is pretty popular hyphenated with other things (Jean-Pierre, for example) I have decided to adopt Jean-zhis Khan as my usual pronunciation. Seriously, though - Ghengis Khan came up pretty early in the message as an example of an empire that came and went - and folks listened well and so on. One little thing - did you know that Ghengis Khan had a wife who was a Christian?

Bordeaux cathedral door in daylight

just for comparison, and because I like the angle!

What a terrible picture!

Taken with my phone ! At night. Just look at the noise on the tree trunk ! But it does capture the atmosphere of the cathedral door at night.

A lovely sight

One nice thing about Bordeaux is that you see lovely old Citroëns from time to time. This is a 1973 XM, and it could be yours for only 13 500 euros. (Don't even think about it!) Our classic Citroën is parked alongside and is much more practical!

This week ... and next.

This week has been the week of prayer of the AEF ( l'Alliance Evangélique Française ). It's a good opportunity to learn more about the churches in Bordeaux, so it's a priority for me, as well as because prayer and gospel unity matter eternally. However, the drawback is that our day still begins at 6h30 when we rouse the household for the school run, and the prayer meetings typically end some time after 10pm; so the day is l o n g . But that's a small price to pay! Monday evening was at our church in Floirac. Tuesday was at the Assemblies of God in Begles. This was interesting because they meet in a hall that people hire for weddings etc. It all seemed quite practical. The meeting was fine. Wednesday was at the Baptist church in Caudéran. This is perhaps the best and most practical church building I know of in Bordeaux. Thursday afternoon there was a meeting at the Eglise Libre in Pessac. The meetings continued on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, but I couldn&#

OK! So slowly things are starting to work again!

Free: Our internet connection is now working happily, as far as I can tell! Last night Pat had a problem or two, but I think the computer was doing one of those Windows update things. I was half asleep watching the BBC news. Our TV box is working fine, too. We have innumerable channels, including lots in Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, etc. We have three in English: CNN, BBCWorld and SkyNews. It's nice to watch UK news in English. The TV signal comes over the internet and works surprisingly well via a wireless connection from the ADSL modem. The modem is upstairs in my office and the TV box in the sitting room by the TV (logical for once!). The TV box also has a hard disk, so you can pause programmes and record them and time-phase, and so on... This means we could record French films and stuff. These technological marvels are included in your Broadband fee of 30 euros a month. As are unlimited phone calls within France and to UK and sundry other countries. The phone line doesn't ye

Some super photos to see The Citadelle of Blaye is number 38. Some of these fortresses are stunning from above.

WOW it's fast!

The Freebox just came. I plugged it in. It works! How cool is that? And the internet seems to be very quick. First priority - get the phone working. Second priority - get the preparation for tonight's Bible study finished. Third priority - check the speed of the internet connection. Fourth priority - phone the mobile phone company to ask them again to make my phone work. Fifth priority - get the TV box working.

Finding useful old books

Thanks, Tim Challies, for the pointer.

Royal visit to China

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, is on a visit to China. While there she visited the Great Wall and either made a gaffe or made up a new word. Bravitude. Here's what Laura K Lawless says about it.

All is OK

We saw the ORL (ENT) doctor. He was a really nice guy and we conducted the consultation in English and French. Catrin's eardrums are lovely, and her hearing is impreccable. All is OK. We are especially relieved because the doctor's clinic is called a medical-surgical and both Pat and I had convinced ourselves that they would operate! And ... he said "It's not every day you see a drum. Come and look." So I looked down his binocular microscope at Catrin's eardrum. It was all clean and pearlescent. Jolly nice. He said "constriction of the eustachian tube following rhinitis. It's all OK now." Thank you for your prayers.

It's a farce!

You know we are waiting for our FreeBox to arrive to have internet and telephone again? Well yesterday my mobile suddenly stopped working. I phoned this morning from the student centre. They say it's because I should be back on my good old SFR number now, having inserted my new SIM card. "But I haven't received a new SIM card." "Oh - OK - can I phone you back?" Ooh la la! All we need is Brian Rix to run into the room...

I've always liked this place

Speed rabbit pizza. Just down the road, at another restaurant you can eat noodles with kangaroo.

We had lunch here

A Moroccan friend had told us that it is very good. Well it was OK , but I did wonder if we had the right place...

La grosse cloche

There's a nice picture on the outside of the Jean Moulin Museum of the crowds surrounding the Grosse Cloche at the liberation. Jean Moulin was (I think) prefect of the Gironde and a resistant.