Showing posts from April, 2007

Iain D Campbell reviews David Robertson's responses to Dawkins It's wonderful to read Iain's blog and remember the sheer beauty of Lewis and the sound of the people.

Sarko or Ségo, who do I think will be elected?

I think Ségolene could still win if there is a sufficient backlash against Sarkozy. However, Sarko's character is being fiercely attacked - his posters defaced with a severe parting and a little toothbrush moustache, photos of him in Nazi poses circulated, etc. Meanwhile Ségo's "participative democracy", where she asks everyone what they want her to do is not sounding all that convincing. All that makes me think that he is probably going to win. And that there probably will be demonstrations afterwards.

Speechless !

Wow! I realise that there is a real danger of people getting into these links and ending up in a loop that never ends. If you find yourself flicking endlessly between Tim and here just close the program down and go and have a nice cup of tea.

In the Town Hall Garden

After the prayer meeting last night we went for a quick stroll round the Town Hall Garden next door. I am pretty sure we saw a guy propose marriage. I was also impressed by the number of people who had gone there to sit and read in the evening sunshine.

At even ere the sun was set

Sammy this morning preached from Matthew 8 : 14 - 17. It put me in mind of this hymn - a long-time favourite for the evening: AT even, ere the sun was set, the sick, O Lord, around Thee lay; O in what divers pains they met! O with what joy they went away! 2 Once more 'tis eventide, and we oppressed with various ills draw near; what if Thy form we cannot see? We know and feel that Thou art here. 3 O Saviour Christ, our woes dispel; for some are sick, and some are sad, and some have never loved Thee well, and some have lost the love they had. 4 And some have found the world is vain, yet from the world they break not free; and some have friends who give them pain, yet have not sought a friend in Thee. 5 And none, O Lord, have perfect rest, for none are wholly free from sin; and they who fain would serve Thee best are conscious most of wrong within. 6 O Saviour Christ, Thou too art man; Thou hast been troubled, tempted, tried; Thy kind but searching glance can scan the very wounds that

Well that was a very happy start

We were 16 people - fewer than I had anticipated. I had calculated 18. Then due to a misunderstanding we thought there'd be many many more ! But in the end we were 16. We all fitted pretty comfortably on the patio around three tables and it was a nice gentle start. We'll do a bit of thinking and decide whether to repeat the experiment and whether and when to add in stuff for Christians and/or stuff for those who are not yet Christians. And we know now how many people a big slow-cooker full of chilli feeds, and that if you say to people to bring salads, desserts or cheeses you end up with loads of salad, one dessert and no cheese. Pat got out our wedding album and told people about how we met and how we married. Some people had fun laughing at the fashions - our wedding was awash with Laura Ashley floral prints. Other laughed at our studio photos - where by clever lighting they made us look like waxworks. Pat's aim was to calm the panic that some students feel when consideri

Students for lunch

Tomorrow we have students coming for lunch. We aren't sure how many, but we think there will be more students than we have chairs. Or forks! The deal is that people will bring salads, desserts, cheese, bread, whatever. We are going to make a mega-chilli, with 2kg of mince, 47 tins of tomatoes, 16,059 red kidney beans and half a bag of frozen chopped onion. Add to that the European Rice Mountain and we hope everyone will be fed. We have lots of tables. It's weird, but we have two big plastic oval tables, one folding plastic table, one of those picnic tables that turns into a briefcase and a big wooden table on the terrace. However we need to buy perhaps another 6 folding plastic chairs in order to sit people round all the tables. Maybe you could pray for the enterprise. It started pretty big (I counted 18 to begin with) but now it's growed beyond that!

News of the kids in Rome

They have a message service you can ring to check on the progress of the school trip. We are very relaxed about it all - after all, the teachers have done about 16,000,000 trips like this and they are staying in a hotel and everything.. Anyway I rang just now and it was very sweet. They made the French teacher record the messages, and all is going very well and the weather in Rome is nice. (Here it emptied down this afternoon during the English Class!)

Caroline Wyatt is still on the road

Teal blogs about the "New Crusaders", Europe's militant atheists

If anyone ever teaches them to queue they'll take over the world!

Gwilym left for his school trip this morning - the whole of the 6e, apart from one girl, piled into two buses to visit Rome and Florence. The buses were delayed for 45 minutes by an accident on the rocade (...but there's always accidents on the rocade - you have to allow at least 45 minutes for them...) and then when the buses arrived the scramble to load on the bags and the kids was very picturesque. For a couple of minutes we lost sight of Gwilym entirely. I wondered if he had been kidnapped, but then we eventually spotted him inside the coach. A highlight for me was the little pile of Air France paper bags, kindly donated I imagine. I hope there's more in that box. And the gallons of bottled water. Is there a toilet on the bus? It's not our problem... There are three teachers on the trip and one supervisor (pion). All three teachers are great, and the kids will be sure to have a good time. The children will act as their own tour guides. They have looked up information on

Assumed Evangelicalism

This article has been around for about 5 years now. I remember very well when the then principal of ETCW brought our attention to it. It is still worth reading. And re-reading. And considering.

Sarko / Ségo. They say what?

Every self-respecting Calvinist a premillenialist ?

Self-respecting Calvinist? An oxymoron, surely? Anyway -

The museum of the desert

One afternoon we visited the museum of the desert. Look at the website to find out about it. I was particularly struck by the little Bibles that had been found walled up in houses on demolition centuries later.

And a final few, including some of our speakers

First another view from our window, then Carcassonne, seen from the motorway, then Eugene Boyer and Glen Knecht.

Some more pictures of the Cévennes

The second picture (not the mosaic thing) shows the view from our bedroom window.

More than you could possibly want to know

about the election ! Of course, down here in the South-West we voted Ségo :

The Theologian Cracking good stuff for a Sunday afternoon. I especially recommend Carl Truman's article on the continuing relevance of Machen's Christianity and liberalism .

Toss a coin

One thing I have to tell you. Glen Knecht spoke of how to talk to people who are in a double bind. That is, a choice where both options seem equally bad (or I suppose equally good). One particularly dear soul said "Oh yes, damned if you do and damned if you don't..." Anyway, he suggested tossing a coin. You say "Heads you do the one thing, tails you do the other", then you toss the coin and carefully watch their reaction because their reaction will reveal their intuition about the situation. If their reaction is "Oh great. That's such a relief.", good. If it is "Oh no! Not that!" then you know where they stand. He says that your intuition is the blend of your education, family training, character, Bible knowledge, wisdom and the work of the Spirit in you. We find it hard to express what our intuition is about a situation, but tossing a coin helps. I'd love to be in one of his counselling sessions when he suggests doing this. I bet p

The workshop sessions

I'll post some more photographs soon - that's what you REALLY want, I know. Before that, though, here's the basic outline of the sessions we held. Glen Knecht spoke from his long experience about ministry. He and his wife served as missionaries in Iran and he has long pastoral experience in the USA. He is in his seventies and currently Associate Pastor at 4 th Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland. He's the author of The Day God Made . He spoke about The Christian Servant's Inner Life , Obstacles in Service , Patterns of Service , Patterns of Study , Parenting , Preaching and Pastoral Counselling . Eugene Boyer is one of the elder statesmen of Christian work in France and has a great concern for the church that we are currently attached to here. Eugene spoke from Psalm 133 and from his long experience of work in France. Other folks spoke on The Arab World and How It Thinks , one brother preached from Psalm 117, another spoke about immigrant churches in France

Some photos of the Cévennes

The workshop was held at le Solier in the mountains of the Cévennes, very kindly hosted by its owner. Here are some views of le Solier, including one of the residents of our room, now sadly no more after a shoe descended on his head.

ICC at le Solier

ICC stands for International Christian Community, and the organisation exists to promote Christian work in English designed to reach the international community. It networks churches. At present three churches in France exist. ICCP in Aix-en-Provence, ICCL in Lyon and ICCM in Marseille. The Aix church has been in existence for some time and is currently led by a growing team of workers from Christian Associates. The Lyon church is just starting up, with Christmas Carol services, Bible studies and a strong link with French churches in the city. This work is headed by a small team of workers from the Evangelical Free Church of America, who have close links with the FIEC. The Marseille church is at a still earlier stage, with one family settling in Marseille soon and the involvement of Dan and Nancy Painter, ICC's founders. As you can see, ICC networks the churches, but the character of the churches depends on the nature and identity of the workers who are involved. Further afield, En

We just got back from an ICC workshop in the Cévennes

The main speaker was Glen Knecht, and I'll pop on some observations and some photos soon. Maybe even tomorrow.

It's going to be an interesting day next Monday The polls put Sarkozy at about 26%, Royal at about 23%, Bayrou around 19% and lePen 14%. If a candidate gets a majority in the first round of polling they get to be Président. If not the top two runners go through to the second round of voting. In a second round it's predicted to be Sarko 51%, Ségo 49%. However, Sarko's character is being attacked like nobody's business. The newspapers and magazines are full of "Secret Sarko" stories. Meanwhile Ségo has promised referendums, because she wants to implement our policies, not hers. Bayrou wants to create a coalition government of the best and wisest people from all the political parties. LePen wants to cut immigration. With Bayrou's popularity climbing, and Ségo's falling, could we see a Sarko/Bayrou second round ? Who knows.

Can this be true?

It's no good coming to France to be happy... It turns out that the French are less satisfied than the British, and less happy. AND people are generally happier and more satisfied in their own native country. Bof.

A quiet day - but with lots of phone calls

First the bank. But also a scheduled phone call with the président of our association who is a pastor in Brittany. Quite a lot of documentation has flown back and forth over the past few months about money matters and about new workers coming to France, so we are going to touch base about it before a team meeting scheduled for next week using Skype. I am glad of these Mondays - at present my week has a strange shape. Monday begins quietly, Tuesday is a bit more frantic. Wednesday is my day off (the kids are off school). Thursday starts to speed up. Friday is pretty full. Saturday is a scramble and by Sunday we are sprinting. Our future work is very much under discussion. We have been on a two year stage with the church here. From this summer how should we work? Here are some of the ingredients that could go into the heady mix we call our lives: The student work. The church we are at now, training people for service, especially men. The church in the Blaye area, especially thinking of

What would we not know?

It's great reading with students. With one Chinese student in particular I'm reading through a Bible overview book which also includes Bible study questions in the back. We also planned to do an overview of Church History but it's too much to cram into one session so we're alternating the two things. Anyway - this last week it was Genesis 1 and the writer asked an interesting question. He said, "If the Bible had not had the creation account in it, what wouldn't we know?" This proved to be a very complicated thing to pronounce in French. We both had to have several runs at it, and when I tried it out on folk at church on Sunday some of the French took a few stabs, too. Qu'ignorerions-nous ? ... What would we be unaware of? / What would we not know? You try it: Qu'ignorerions-nous ?

I'll praise my maker... Psalm 146

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them — the LORD, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD. I’LL praise my Maker while I’ve breath, and when my voice is lost in death, praise shall employ my nobler powers;

What a morning!

A bit of background. I found a French translation of Stuart Townend's setting of Psalm 23 and suggested we could sing it this week. I'd been asked to produce the order of service, so I popped it in. Also we had a church lunch. Also I had forgotten that there was the English Class supper at a kebab house last night. Oh - I'll just tell you the story... I prepared the order of service before the English Class and emailed it off to the pastor. Then after the class we went off for our supper. I had ordered a lamb and prune tajine , and very nice it was too. Tajine , a can of tropical Minute Maid and a couple of glasses of mint tea came to 7 euros - about 4 quid. Then caught the night bus home. While on the bus I realised that it was now too late to get diesel and that I would have to get it from the automatic, unmanned petrol station round the corner on the way to church. Oh well... Desperate times call for desperate measures... This morning. Finished preparing the Powerpoint

Well, what can I say ?

God at work amongst the Chinese

This afternoon was the monthly Chinese meeting, and afterwards our English class. I gave my group the choice of an examination or an Ealing comedy and all but my most keen student chose the film. It has to be said that another student asked if we could have an exam another week... While we were watching said film I noticed a clutch of Chinese people outside the window. Actually it's a good job we had the film or I wouldn't have been facing that direction! They were pointing at the Fac sign, then at each other, then elsewhere. So I opened the window and asked if they were looking for something. They were looking for the Chinese meeting that had finished an hour before. But they came in and took Bibles in Chinese and French, and study notes, and Fiona's card and my phone number, and I hope they will contact us to do introductory Bible studies. Anyway, they plan to come to the Chinese meetings. Cool, eh, God working all those different things together?

Thanks, Tim, for this astonishing story Joshua Bell, one of the world's greatest violinists, plays the Bach Chaconne at an underground station and nobody stops to listen! He earns in an hour about £16. The Bach Chaconne itself is worth being late to work for. It is music to die to (no hushed rooms for me - put on the Bach Magnificat, flute sonatas and violin partitas - oh, and the cello suites. And Brandenburg no. 5. And we'll have some cantatas while we're at it. And the motet Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir ..) But the film is astonishing. Just astonishing.

... and in the red corner ... Dawkins Some years ago a friend realised that in the church where I served many of us didn't believe in the origin of species by natural selection, but by God's creation. He had spent 6 years in the church before he cottoned on to this. He was alarmed by our belief and I was alarmed that it had taken him so long to realise! I suppose at least one can say that we weren't shoving it down people's throats... Anyway we started "discussing". I was alarmed by the tone that scientific discussion can take, and also surprised that my friend didn't consider Dawkins to be anti-religion (it was after The Blind Watchmaker and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures). It seems that everyone needed to turn up the volume control. We weren't hearing all the alarms! Well it's been turned up, and it's probably a good thing. In case you hadn't before, now you can hear Dawkins' bombast and scorn. I

Bang! Spring!

Do not click on the trees in the dark photos . They are SERIOUSLY noisy! The others have dodgy focus. I am not sure my phone's camera is working that well... One of the things that always shocks me so far is the sudden change from winter to summer and from summer to winter. Last week it was cold and wet. Mainly wet. But cold too. Then on Thursday the sun came out and all of a sudden the trees are budding, the horse chestnuts are flowering and people are strutting round in shorts and stuff. We seem to go from dismal, grey winter to full-on spring in no time at all. Same thing happens in November. One day you're having a barbecue. Next day you're scraping thick ice off the car. I thought about this long and hard this evening while walking the 17 yards from the student centre to the tram stop, and I think it's because of the sun. The sun is very hot and when it comes out it really comes out very, very hot. It feels very good but you'd better keep covered up or it'l

The sower

Last night was the parable of the sower from Mark 4. It was interesting to read it in the context of the Algeria bombings. These people plant bombs and sow death and terror. Presumably they think that by those means they can establish the kingdom of God. The sower sows the word, and he knows that much of the time it will be rejected, because the kingdom of God is not established by violence and terror, but by the truth and love.

No way - no moped for you my boy !

We see nasty accidents involving motorcycles far too often. Yesterday again the police, the SAMU and the "Service for the help of the injured and asphyxiated" converged on a bike in pieces and its rider not looking too much better. In fact you are 20 times more likely to be killed on a motorbike than in a car. Although all the accidents we have seen so far have involved big, powerful motorbikes, still I think the only way you'd get one of those cute moped cyclomoteur things in our family is if we could always ride them on cyclepaths, which is, I think, forbidden. There's just too many cars and as the bikes zip round between the traffic and zoom about they get hit by the cars. I broke the news to Gwilym that he could forget his dreams of a moped, and he said "OK, if I can have a Porsche". He can certainly have a Porsche if 1. he buys it, insures it and runs it 2. he lets me have a go!

The election posters

The 12 noticeboards outside the town hall in Bordeaux are now resplendent. Each carries two posters of a candidate for the presidential election. 12 candidates, 12 noticeboards, 24 posters. The poster of Mr Sarkozy has been modified to give him an austere looking parting and a small moustache.

Happy birthday, dear Sachertorte ! I ate some of this stuff once.

On giving books to people

I went to see the ironmonger in Tonyrefail. He was a huge great bear of a man with a shock of white hair and his ironmonger's shop was like the one on the Two Ronnies (Four candles). "Geoff Thomas sent me", I said. "This is so weird", I thought. We talked. And talked. He gave me a book. I wasn't sure whether it was a gift or a loan. It was R S Candlish on 1 John. I took it on a walking tour of the Yorkshire Dales on the way to a student conference in Harrogate (Havoc '78). I sat on dry stone walls by the side of the road, eating my lunch of muesli and dried milk, carefully dosed out in little plastic bags, rehydrated in a little plastic bowl with whatever water I could find, followed by a banana and some chocolate - it's a wonder I'm still alive - and reading Candlish on 1 John. When I had finished reading it I took it back to him, hoping he would say "It was a gift." He didn't. So I bought my own copy. But mine is a big thick bulky

Good weather on your day off?

So we took the kids to the beach at Arcachon. I was very taken with the policemen's motorbikes.

Fun with words I post this with some trepidation. Once you see how much energy Gary puts into his blog you'll all give up reading Daveys 2France and become hooked on Heavenly Worldliness (though the choice of music there may put you off...)

Caroline Wyatt is zooming all over France to hear the candidates Incidentally, I am reliably informed that the best and most standard French is that of the Tours area. Some south-westerners feel (or at least they say) that because French was imposed on them in place of Occitan, they'll speak it how they jolly well like! Meanwhile Yannick is backing Ségo... Now where did I put my tricolor?

Why don't you blog no more?

Sorry about skipping Tuesday. It was quite full. A highlight was the Groupe Rive Gauche in the evening (with spaghettis beforehand). At Deeside I was hopeless for doing and remembering the announcements. Thankfully we had a really brilliant announcer - the best announcer I have ever known in all my 47 years. So it was that last week I forgot to get announced that the Groupe Rive Gauche was postponed to this week to avoid the week leading up to Easter. And this week I forgot to get announced that the Groupe Rive Gauche was this week. So Pat had to run round like a wild thing telling everyone while I ran someone home after church. She missed one or two people in her haste and we didn't realise till it was too late. It may be just as well this once. We were 12 to eat and 11 for the study (children went upstairs because it was getting late) and using almost all our chairs. We need to buy some more plastic folding chairs. Thankfully our supermarket has them. Next month we are beginning

Look! You can hear Dale Ralph Davis online ! Thanks, Barnesy, for the link!

On short texts

The Americans and the French like C S Lewis. To them he is an evangelical. The Americans also seem to like G K Chesterton. In an effort to like him too I tried reading some Father Brown, but I hated the little squirt. If I had been in a Father Brown story I'd have been the murderer and Father Brown the victim. But I have been trying again (hope springs eternal) with Tremendous trifles and thoroughly enjoying these short texts about nothing and everything. It's kind of like blogging, in a way. In French at the DEFLE we had a text of Francis Ponge ('tis right. I checked to make sure) to study once, called Le pain , and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then there's this Philippe Delerm guy, and his short texts. Is there a Christian equivalent? Well yes - daily readings. Morning and evening , Life as a vapor , etc. etc. For me they are spoiled by being daily readings. They should be just there to read when you have a moment, like on the bus, or whatever... Not forgetting John

That's some juggling ! Thanks, Fieldy, for pointing it out.

Election fever!

Outside the town hall in Bordeaux and round the town square in Pessac stand twelve placards about the size of flipcharts . They're numbered 1 to 12. They are splendidly empty. What will they be used for? Watch this space... Meanwhile: and:

Some pictures of Bordeaux on Easter Sunday

First some French windows. The law courts. The statue on the cathedral. Then a picture of two cafés on the cathedral square. That's the continental Sunday for you. All the shops shut and people drinking coffee opposite the cathedral. What could be better? Church, then a quick espresso. Well what could be better is what we did. Church, then a picnic lunch with the young people, some students and one or two families from the church on the terrace in the sunshine. And it hasn't rained for nearly three days now!

Some more pîctures of Bordeaux on Easter Sunday

I love this square - it's on my route to and from the Student Centre when I drive, and this evening I had the chance to stop the car, explore and take some photos. Behind the art nouveau screen thing is a hall belonging to Bordeaux council - the kind of hall that associations can use for meetings. Nice square, eh?

Resurrection hymn

SEE WHAT A MORNING, gloriously bright, With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem; Folded the grave-clothes, Tomb filled with light, As the angels announce Christ is risen! See God's salvation plan, wrought in love, Borne in pain, paid in sacrifice, Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for He lives: Christ is risen from the dead! See Mary weeping, 'Where is He laid?' As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb; Hears a voice speaking, calling her name; It's the Master, the Lord raised to life again! The voice that spans the years, Speaking life, stirring hope, Bringing peace to us, Will sound till He appears, For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead! One with the Father, Ancient of Days, Through the Spirit Who clothes faith with certainty, Honour and blessing, glory and praise To the King crowned With power and authority! And we are raised with Him, Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered; And we shall reign with Him, For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead! Keith G

A sunny day !

Today was bright and sunny and at 7pm when I left the student centre the statue atop the cathedral was shining very brightly. Officially known as 'Our Lady of Aquitaine" it is often called "the big shiny lady in the sky" and visitors to Bordeaux are told that she always faces away from the railway station. A friend of Pat's came for tea this evening, and so I bought a bar of Lindt Chili. It was surprisingly nice, though a little unusual.

Some more photos of Bordeaux (to be going on with)

It's a busy weekend, so not much blogging going on. Today there's a youth weekend and I am doing the morning moment spi at 11 am. Then to centre for the afternoon permanence and the English Class this afternoon. p.s. It hasn't rained for two days now.

And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer

OH, TO SEE THE DAWN Of the darkest day: Christ on the road to Calvary. Tried by sinful men, Torn and beaten, then Nailed to a cross of wood. This, the power of the cross: Christ became sin for us. Took the blame, bore the wrath - We stand forgiven at the cross. Oh, to see the pain Written on Your face, Bearing the awesome weight of sin. Every bitter thought, Every evil deed Crowning Your bloodstained brow. This, the power of the cross: Christ became sin for us. Took the blame, bore the wrath - We stand forgiven at the cross. Now the daylight flees, Now the ground beneath Quakes as its Maker bows His head. Curtain torn in two, Dead are raised to life; ‘Finished!’ the victory cry. This, the power of the cross: Christ became sin for us. Took the blame, bore the wrath - We stand forgiven at the cross. Oh, to see my name Written in the wounds, For through Your suffering I am free. Death is crushed to death, Life is mine to live, Won through Your selfless love. This, the power of the cross

La volonté de Dieu

Un puzzle à résoudre ... ou ... une promesse à saisir ?^ (another image from Hammer House of Horrors)

Remember the brain drain? This is the French Exodus.,9171,1606909-1,00.html Thanks, Dickie Mint, for drawing it to my attention.

Some TGV videos

My favourite is the first one. The video is not of such good quality and the first train you see is just a normal one, but then you get "Ooh la la!" whoo-oo-oosh!

Adverts on the blog

Google suggests putting their Ad-sense adverts on the blog. What do you think? Should I give it a go? See what happens? I can always remove them if they prove a pain in the neck.

Helm's reflections

There has been a reaction against Systematic Theology in recent years, almost as if Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology are rivals, opposed in some way. You must choose! It's the one or the other! Paul Helm is posting a series at Helm's Deep (is he?) about systematic theology. There's a Biblical continuity between: John 11:25 - 26 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" and: Philippians 2:6 - 11 Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest pla

The TGV The TGV is very good, but it only runs at top speed as far as Tours at the moment - from Tours to Bordeaux it is running on the old track at "normal" speeds, so it doesn't do that much for us in Bordeaux. Also France suffers from a Parisocentric rail network - it is easy and quick to get to Paris, but slow and difficult to get to Marseille or to Lyon. Still, once when I went on the train to Lyon the journey there took 9 hours on a slow bouncy train that stopped for 15 minutes now and then for the locomotive to switch ends of the train. That seemed interminable compared with coming home where I took a TGV to Paris and another to Bordeaux.

Singing whoop-ee-doooo when you need a good cry

Carl Truman wrote a famous piece called "What can miserable Christians sing?". Now he has made a call for authenticity .

Une histoire de l'église résumée en 12 épisodes

What a good idea, eh? And i t's in French.

I may have posted this link before. It really is worth reading.

Roundabouts / rondpoints / rotaries French roundabouts are often very nice indeed. This site has three nice Pessac ones and the famous Bridgend roundabout at Villenave d'Ornon.

This advert for Parc Asterix shows how big French schoolbags are

They're called cartables, because you have to cart everything round with you in them.

Call the helpdesk

The village to watch!

My hair wanted cutting badly

so I went to the salon where I went last time. I think it's quite expensive at 19,50 €, but you don't need an appointment and it's quite nice. They shampoo your hair before they cut it! (Sorry - I am used to going to the barbers rather than to hair salons.) Anyway, here's a bit of vocabulary that will help you if you want a haircut like mine. I hope I've spelt it all ok ! Beaucoup plus courts et dégradés ici - grab the long hair at the nape of your neck as you say this if, of course, you like your hair degraded .. Je coiffe en avant - avec un frange. Gel? Cire? Non. J'aime bien que les cheveux bougent un peu. Oui - faites le tour des oreilles. (I especially like this phrase - it conjures up images of people listening to a commentary about the inside of your lughole) I wonder what the French is for a footballer's perm. I have this urge to go in and say " je veux de jolies boucles " - or simply " faites-moi beau ". They'd probably laugh

I 'fessed up about the robe...

"to 'fess up" is, I understand, American slang for to confess - lest any French people boggle Sammy the pastor being back from the USA, on Sunday I confessed to him that I had worn his robe. And that it took AGES to work out how to affix the tabs. He laughed. He's very OK with me having used it. And he says that he never wears the tabs. He stays black all over. There we are. It's good to have talked about it with him. I don't know if I'd be as magnanimous with my robe ... if I had one ... which I don't ... nor ever shall. though there is that picture of me somewhere in cassock and surplice...

The dog of the Light Brigade

For the English class on Saturday I wanted a bit of light relief. (I think sometimes I work people rather hard!) So I decided to look for a poem to listen to. The poetry archive ( ) had a really nice Allan Ahlberg poem which struck just the note I wanted (Please Mrs Butler). But I really liked Andrew Motion's The dog of the Light Brigade . He reads it, brilliantly.

A charming French custom

(Another picture taken with the phone, I'm afraid) On 1 April French children draw little fish and write "Poisson d'avril " underneath and stick them on the backs of unsuspecting victims. This is, of course, hysterically funny. We drove home from church with a label stuck on the back of the car saying "Ferrari". It had been stuck on by somewhat bigger children...

Tim's been reviewing books again

This time it is 'America alone' by Mark Steyn.

And they said the Assembly was just a talking shop! Our Christian bookshop in North wales was just next door to Boots - the first Boots after crossing the frontier. Apparently that's what lots of people from Cheshire and Merseyside do. They cross the frontier to use the first Boots in Wales (and the other chemists) to avoid paying prescription charges.

Yann Artus-Bertrand : le Ciel vu de la Terre

From Internaute magazine (Click on the title for the explanation.) Pour lutter contre la pollution, Yann Artus-Bertrand revend son hélicoptère et continue son grand projet à pied. Découvrez les premières photos en exclusivité du "Ciel vu de la Terre". (To combat pollution, Yann Artus-Bertrand sells his helicopter and continues his great project on foot. Discover the first exclusive photos of 'The Sky seen from the Earth"