Showing posts from July, 2007

Well, we've finally ordered the wood-burning stove !

High on the agenda is to get the heating and hot water sorted out. The Davey grand plan is to use a wood-burning stove for heating, and overnight cheap electricity for hot water (and we run the washing machine overnight on a timer. Washing machines in France are all cold fill - they heat their own water. Electric showers seem to be unknown in France.) Anyway, I went, armed with my quote, to Leroy Merlin. I confessed straight away that the quote dated from April, so that threw them into debate. One chap said "So what ? Nothing will have changed. We'll just do it." Another said "We can"t do that, we'll have to start all over again". I feared secretly that the stove may have been discontinued, but thankfully no ! Well, they solved their dilemma by sending me over to the Installation Service Office where I waited a very long time before explaining the problem to a chap who said "Change any prices of parts but keep the same labour charge". So I we

Back again !

Well the house was all in order and the rats and gerbil were happy to see the kids back again. I've just finished opening the post and there were no nasty surprises, thankfully. Now today I have various errands to run, including collecting the cheque for the agents' fee from the agency that did not rent a house to the Griffins, paying in another cheque from a different firm (we have to do this by post), see a man about a stove, then make various phone calls about the church youth work and the student centre. I don't like using the phone, ever, in English or in French, so I have to tackle it straight away without fussing. I think this hatred of the phone dates from my years at British Telecom where I was very happy amidst a great team, but I did grow to hate telephones more and more. Am I preaching Sunday ? I might be, but then again I might not. I'll find out tomorrow night at the latest.

We got just back from holidays

Some friends loaned us their holiday home in the Creuse. The Creuse is a department of the Limousin region of France. In the middle. Lots of cows. Not that many people. It was great to get away from the city and quieten down. Pat and I read lots (our friends have lots of books) and there was lots for the kids to do, too. Some photos of the garden.

La Celle Dunoise

Although you are hours from the sea, the area has lots of rivers and lakes and they have beaches with supervised swimming. The water in the river was chilly (16°) but in the lakes it was much better at about 20°C. Some of the beaches also have pedalo boats or canoes for hire, crazy golf and cafés.

La Celle Dunoise is quite picturesque

The children went rafting over the rapids and finished up over this weir.

The children went fishing

First they had to make their rods, then they had to be patient. Thankfully the fish were very cooperative and even the youngest participant caught something.

The bugs grow big in the Limousin

As far as we are aware there are no harmful insects or spiders in France. But Spinoza (the guardian of the water tap) was so big that I was careful not to put my knee anywhere near him as I climbed down his ladder to turn the water on and off. (The wolves were in a wolf zoo place)

We went to church in Châteauroux

Although the Creuse has about 120 000 people (almost as many as Flintshire) as yet it has no settled evangelical church. The Assembly of God in Limoges is planting a church in Guéret. It being July, we went to the France Mission church in Châteauroux, about an hour's drive north in the Indre department. The church folk were very friendly. They meet in the ground floor of a block of flats. (I did wonder what the people who live above think of it all, and I smiled sweetly at the lady who stuck her head out of the window as we talked outside the church door). One advantage of a drive to church is that you pass fields of sunflowers.

A couple of random photos

One small change of accent would make this the "Sinners' Inn" instead of the "Fisherman's Inn". It's run by an Irish family but it's a proper French auberge. People's reactions to us going on holiday to the Creuse were ... interesting ! Bordeaux people said 'Where's that?" A British friend said "But that's in France. You live there." It couldn't have been more different from Bordeaux or more restful.

Revd J Elwyn Davies - EMW announcement.

It is with sadness and a sense of loss that the Evangelical Movement of Wales announce the death of the Revd. J Elwyn Davies after a long illness. He was one of the chief founders of the Movement, leading the work as its General Secretary for over thirty years. Following the Second World War a number of Welsh men and women – some of them students – were converted. This group of new converts from all over Wales came together. Meetings, missions and retreats were organized, with Revd J Elwyn Davies taking a leading role. All the activity testified to their evangelical faith, rooted in personal experience and a sure belief in theefficacy of Christ's death. Unknown to Elwyn and his fellow believers, the foundations of the Evangelical Movement of Wales were being formed, with evangelical Welsh Christians, old and new, coming together across traditional denominational barriers. Over the next months the Cylchgrawn Efengylaidd (Evangelical Magazine) was established and Elwyn and his friend

Challies on Sproul on debtors, enemies and criminals

Go go Geraint !

Elwyn Davies

I came to faith as a student in 1978 and a chap used to come and speak at the CU whose name was Elwyn Davies. He seemed ancient then ! He had a shock of white hair, he was stocky and not tall - looked profoundly Welsh, a little poetic, and he would come and speak at the CU. He was probably a little older than I am now... When I heard him he usually spoke from John's gospel, from chapters 14 - 17, and usually chapter 15. I would listen hard while he spoke and afterwards I would think long and hard about what I'd heard, but I have to confess I usually didn't find him an easy preacher to follow. But the effect of his preaching on me was amazing, nonetheless. I could listen to him all night. And basically what I took away was the message John apparently used to pass on in his latter years, "Little children, love one another, because God is love". Elwyn Davies' life marks a turning point in the history of Wales. I have no doubt of that. He was at the centre of the

Mour on the Tour from the BBC

There's always someone worse-off than yourself, eh ?

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique-5th Movement

In this movement I almost got to play the piano, but I was outranked by a pianist. So it was back to half a bass drum and the cymbals, which are probably more fun anyway. (The piano was used to double the tubular bells playing octave Gs and Cs)

Knights of the Round Table (sing-along) - Monty Python

I lookd for some information about the French TV series Kaamelott, and this is what I found.

The tour rocked by scandal

Performance enhancing drugs, testosterone, blood transfusions, random drug testing ... all part of the international cycling scene. And this year's Tour de France is marred by controversy again while last year's winner is as yet unconfirmed as Floyd Landis defends himself against drugs charges. The problem is that the tour is really very very hard indeed. I mean like ridiculously hard. Like almost impossible hard. I mean like people die on those mountains hard. What do you do ? It's really a distillation of the whole sporting prowess thing that affects swimming, athletics, gymnastics. Do you make the competitions easier ? Is there a limit to unenhanced human performance ? Is it reasonable to expect people to continue to break world records ? What does it mean if they do or don't ?

Good news on the house front

Ben hopes to sign the lease on a suitable house today. Hoorah !

Berlioz Fantastique 4th movement - Noam Zur - Conductor

Now this is French. 1) Listen for the pedal trombone rasp when the march tune plays after the longish intro à 1:44 ->. 2) I played percussion in this symphony as a student. I played half a bass drum (two players, one drum. We beat that thing silly !) and the cymbals. Great fun.

Janacek Sinfonietta

This music isn't French. It's Czech. It's the opening of Janacek's Sinfonietta. And it's glorious.

The house-hunt continues

Ben and a French-speaking friend made appointments to view houses this afternoon and tomorrow, and they're going to visit with Fiona. I am tied up today and tomorrow. Ben flies back to Manchester on Saturday - he's due to preach in Cardiff on Sunday. Please pray for a house to be found, reasonably accessible for the language school etc.

Excuse-moi ! c'est Paris plageS

The benefit of SCEOTS (systematic consecutive exposition of the Scriptures)

Peter Adam's article, "Arguing for Expository Preaching" on the is quoted (and linkable to) on John Brand's site here : I picked up the term SCEOTS from Leith Samuel's autobiography "A man under authority", which is a cracking good book.

A prayer from Augustine

Some years ago we went through an experience of disappointment and loss, but where a pastor's focus is on others' loss, not his own or his own family's. How do you do it? You could close down emotionally - become the person nothing touches. You could throw your sorrow into the pot - "Yes, I'm hurting too" - but usually the story is not about you. I found this prayer of Augustine's. It helped me so much I put it on the wall of my study. I still find it helpful from time to time. God of our life, There are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, turn our eyes to wher

A setback to set us all praying

When you try to rent a house through an agent here you have to first off explain that you work for a British company and that therefore the assurance companies that agents use to cover the payment of the rent will not accept us. OK. So when we spoke to the agent about the Griffins' house we started with just that. And repeated it. More than once. This morning the agent rang to tell us that the dossier has been rejected. He isn't sure why and will try to find out for me. I suspect that it is because they tried to get their assurance company to cover the rent payments. OK. So we begin again, and we avoid that agent.

Carnaval des animaux

I was looking on Youtube for the Proms performance of "Pianists" from a few years back. I didn't find it, but I did find this. I tried to post it but repeated efforts have failed. It's a performance of the suite by a chamber group with Roger Moore reading poems. The poems are rather twee. You lose the impact of the big orchestra but the players are so involved that it's very impressive. Does Aquarium have flutes, though ?

Toi qui disposes

TOI QUI DISPOSES de toutes choses, Et nous les donnes chaque jour, Reçois ô Père notre prière De reconnaissance et d'amour. Le don suprême que ta main sème, C'est notre pardon, c'est ta paix ; Et ta clémence, trésor immense, Est le plus grand de tes bienfaits. Que par ta grâce, l'instant qui passe Serve à nous rapprocher de toi ! Et qu'à chaque heure, vers ta demeure Nos cœurs s'élèvent par la foi goes to Alsace

Holy sonnet no. 14

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend; That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new. I, like an usurpt towne, to another due, Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end, Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend, But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue. Yet dearley I love you, and would be loved faine, But am betroth'd unto your enemie: Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe, Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free, Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee. Bunyan uses a similar picture of a usurped town in "The Holy War", which is a surprisingly easy read.

Find Madeleine

I've read some quite indignant comments on the net saying things like "Do people have any idea how many children die every day or are enslaved every day ? So why all this fuss over another one ?" I don't think like that at all. You can't divide the anguish of losing a child by the number of lost children and share out the pain. Every child is unique, bearer of God's image, uniquely precious in his sight and every child should be uniquely precious in their parents' sight and in ours. Every missing or dying or suffering child demands the kind of response that people have given to Madeleine's disappearance. If we don't give it it's because we are hard hearted. I am glad for the outcry over Madeleine. I wish there was more outcry for all these children. I think there's a gospel link to it, too, though I am about to descend into incoherence ! (Well I am ill !) Jesus died. Loads of people die every day. He was crucified. That's what the Roman

Mister, Mrs., Master, Miss, Ms.

I am not feeling too good today. "A digestive problem", he said, euphemistically. Anyway this may the fruit of crazed dreams, but how does one write Mrs. ? Mr - Mister, M. - Master, Miss you can't abbreviate, Ms. deserves all it gets, but what about Mrs ? I know it comes from Mistress, but that's too Shakespearean now, surely. And Missus is too Andy Capp. Is there a full form ?

Crazed dreams - a song for Saturday

The nightmare song from Iolanthe... When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety, I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety; For your brain is on fire—and the bedclothes conspire of your usual slumber to plunder you: First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you; Then the blanketing tickles—you feel like mixed pickles—so terribly sharp is the pricking, And you’re hot, and you’re cross, and you tumble and toss till there’s nothing ’twixt you and the ticking. Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick ’em all up in a tangle; Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle! Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eye-balls and head ever aching. But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you’d very much better be waking;

You know these Youtube Bach extracts ?

They're not concerts we've been to. They're Bach performances that have been uploaded onto Youtube. Sometimes in their entirety. I have linked to my favourite bits, but you could find your favourites by searching. We don't do concerts. But Youtube is great ! And it's the Proms and tonight is an all French programme. Berlioz, Dutilleux and (I think) Fauré ?

While looking for a photo of Paris Plage I found this : A daily photo of Paris. Great !

Paris plage opens Saturday, I think.

I give it two years tops before we have a beach on the quays at Bordeaux. We have LOADS of room and, unlike the Seine, it is not forbidden to swim in the muddy, brown Garonne. Meanwhile there is Begles Plage and Bordeaux Lac Plage, but the trams don't go there. And a 2 euro return special bus to the beach at Arcachon for families and the under twenties.

Facebook musings

I have an account on . I am always on the verge of chucking it in ! There are good things about it. 1) I have refound some old friends 2) I can see photos of family members at special moments of their lives 3) I can keep in touch with people in a nice, relaxed way 4) Sometimes if email can't get through a Facebook message is useful. There are some bad things. 1) It could easily take up a lot of time. A lot of time. 2) It has all the usual potential of written and electronic media for misunderstanding and hurt. There are some things I don't get at all. 1) "Applications" One adds and removes them with lightning speed. 2) "Groups" One joins and leaves at breakneck speed. 3) "Favourites" One's favourites change quick as winking. On balance the ease of keeping up with people's graduations, with folk who've scattered to the four corners of the globe etc. makes Facebook worthwhile for me - as long as I keep it to qui

the cultural canon

I was looking at an ex-pat friend's bookshelf the other day, and it struck me that lots of the people I know have the same range of authors on their shelves. For Christian books, for novels, for poetry, for popular science and travel writing, we all read the same books. Even for cookbooks everyone reads Delia and fish-heads read Rick Stein. The American canon is different. We share a language (almost) but we don't share our books. Isn't that interesting? In France there's a "cultural canon", too, but the authors are different again of course. So it seems to me that globalisation hasn't yet effaced the national canons of culture. (Now when does that Potter book come out ?)

Cool Multiplication technique for large numbers

Things to do this summer in Bordeaux !

Taken from today's 20 minutes free paper. 1) Learn to dance the tango free on the riverbank. 2) Learn about wine at the school of wine for 22€ per person. 3) Follow the trail of the Bordeaux public executioner from the Grosse Cloche. 4) Replay the battle of Castillon which finally booted the English out of France. 5) Visit the Cordouan lighthouse, "Versailles of the sea". 6) Take a boat trip from the base of the dune de Pyla. 7) Splash to your heart's content in the miroir d'eau on the quays. 8) Learn circus tricks at Cenon. 9) Watch the sailing boats on the Garonne. I started to worry when we got to the public executioner that we were going to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, but they settled down after that.

Screen kids - a generation raised by electronics There's a discussion about this (see comments) but our kids know that even I am not allowed a TV in my bedroom. How do we distinguish between different uses of the media, however ? For example watching Neighbours is not exactly the same as watching Horizon . Reading a well written biography is not exactly the same as reading a manga. And surfing Youtube is not the same as reading a blog by ... shall we say Mohler ? Somehow we have to train ourselves and our kids to use media well, not just to choose between media.

Go to church while on holiday in France This page from France Mission gives several links for finding a church while on holiday in France. Don't just limit yourself to an English-speaking church, either. After all, if you did French in school why not give it a go, and anyway the Bible is in the same order. Hymn numbers will probably baffle you but you can always just mouth it à la Bean or Redwood. You may be surprised by how much you can follow of the message. Not only that, but French people do English in school, just like we do French (OK, I know that doesn't promise much) but also like us they have constant exposure to American culture in films and pop songs. So you may well find someone who would love to chat with you before or after the service just as long as you try and remember to speak like Kojak rather than Inspector Morse. Who loves ya baby ?

How to be a refuge for your children

Le Cygne de Saint-Saëns

This one's for Andy. With happy memories of Dafydd y Garreg Wen.

The tramway over Napoleon's Pont de pierre

Bordeaux 14 July

Wow that was a nasty bout of hayfever yesterday

I am trying to note it simply so I remember it (sorry!) My hayfever used to be pretty constantly in June. It coincided with exam season and by the summer holidays it was all over. Yesterday was too late, too severe and too nasty. You know when you can't breathe through your nose so you can't speak or eat properly ? You know when you blink and blink and blink but your eyes still feel like there's grit in there ? I ended up asleep on the sofa with my nose facing the ceiling and (I am told) snoring. Yuk. When he's not sneezing he's snoring. Nice for the family we'd invited round for lunch ! Maybe the best thing would have been to just absent myself from the table and hide till I was better...

Gwilym's been loaned a guitar

I can show him C, G and D, so that equips him for any Status Quo song he may want to play. I could also probably work out A and Eminor. I know F, too, but it's barred.. Anyway, he's happily strumming at G and C and playing kazoo at the same time. I have started him on trombone and Catrin is going to start on flute soon. Isn't it good that one cannot play trombone and guitar at the same time.

First Sunday in the chapelle

The folks gather. There's enough room for football. Meanwhile I have come down with a sudden bout of extreme hayfever ! Still, it's raining again now so that'll help.

Pessac Bastille day

They do good fireworks in France, but you have to watch out. I was hit on the shoulder, chest and forehead by falling debris. Catrin and Gwilym were hit, too. It was only the paper packaging. Gwilym kept two pieces.

Isaac Watts does Psalm 92

SWEET is the work, my God, my King, to praise Your Name, give thanks and sing; to show Your love by morning light, and talk of all Your truth at night. Sweet is the day of sacred rest, no mortal cares disturb my breast; O may my heart in tune be found, like David’s harp of solemn sound! My heart shall triumph in the Lord, and bless His works and bless His Word; Your works of grace, how bright they shine, how deep Your counsels, how divine! And I shall share a glorious part, when grace has well refined my heart; and fresh supplies of joy are shed, like holy oil, to cheer my head. Sin, my worst enemy before, shall vex my eyes and ears no more; my inward foes shall all be slain, nor Satan break my peace again. Then shall I see, and hear, and know all I desired or wished below; and every power find sweet employ in that eternal world of joy. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748 but please, not to Deep Harmony. Instead to Orlando Gibbons' Angels song

Bastille day Fireworks in Bordeaux and in Pessac tonight.

Le canif français

I've been sitting on this one for a while, ever since a friend told me that his small sons have French knives. It's traditional. It's what you use to whittle yourself a walking stick, for example. I have long been intrigued by the French knife because it is called a "canif". Anyway here we have three French canifs and one Swiss army knife. The canif has a blade about 4" long and would almost certainly be illegal in Britain under the Offensive Weapons Act. Banned from schools, of course, but jolly useful when mushrooming or if your meat is a bit hard to cut and you have been given plastic cutlery.

At the hairdressers

At the hairdressers all the stylists are slim and young, but the man next to me is huge. At the hairdressers they have these bright lights and big mirrors that make your gray hairs shine out like shooting stars in the night sky. At the hairdressers they ask you if you want them to do a tour of your ears. Yes please. At the hairdressers I know how to get my hair layered, but not how to ask for it to be thinned. They thin my hair anyway. At the hairdressers I have big bags under my eyes, but the man next to me is balding. At the hairdressers I wonder if I'd look better if I shaved - every morning - forget it. At the hairdressers I feel old and foreign, but it still feels good when they wash your hair and the man next to me is a nice guy, too.


I have not finished either of these books but here is a superficial interim comment on them anyway ! Suite française (Irene Nemirovsky) It's finely written but without much apparent affection for the French. I do lose track of the characters, most of whom are somewhat larger than life. Perhaps when life becomes crazy one becomes larger than life? If this is anything like an accurate depiction of the events of the occupation it was chaos. Chaos. Quel petit vélo à guidon chromé au fond de la cour (Georges Perec) About the efforts of a group of friends to prevent their friend Karasomethingorother from having to do his national service by breaking his arms. It's books like this that sabotage my French entirely. Wonderful and perplexing in equal measure. Where does the bike come in, I ask myself? At the end of the courtyard, comes the swift reply.

There we are

The papers are with the agent. Ben's on the plane. I'm going for a haircut.

OK - today is about getting the dossier together for the house rental

1. Ben and Liz's bank account has not yet been set up, so to pay the cheque for the deposit etc. we need to put his money into my bank so I can then write a cheque. This is complicated by the fact that my bank is in Normandy (!) and the branch here in Pessac may or may not accept the money (cash). If they don't then I don't know yet what we do about that. 2. Decide whether the other missionaries here in Bordeaux act as joint guarantors for Ben and Liz. If not what do we do - just present the dossier without guarantors and see what happens ? (I think the owner would go for it anyway !) Or does Ben hunt among his other contacts in France for a guarantor ? 3. Go along at 4 this afternoon to the offices in the centre of Pessac and present all we have for the agent and owner's deliberation. I get the impression that we will not know definitely today that the house is theirs... Fun this, isn't it !

Well waddayaknow !

Nice advertisement

Don't judge it too quickly, that's all.

Evening Bordeaux

After the prayer meeting (at Centre FAC)

The house at Haut-Brion

This is the house at Haut-Brion. It is not without drawbacks. No garden (well, a tiny patch in the front). Newly built and poorly finished. You don't want to practice the tango on that balcony. It gives alarmingly. But it is well placed and plenty big enough. They're going for it.

"Right", said Fred

A precious moment from the house move. To get the piano through the window of the new house we took off the legs. When we put the legs back on again the piano had a list to starboard. It looked very fetching, unusual, interesting but it was decided that it was impractical. So we swapped the legs front and back. Now the piano looked like it had reached take-off speed and was just about to pass through the clouds.. "Oops, wrong hole", said the piano transportation technician positioned at the rear (tailplane) of the apparatus, and equilibrium was restored.

The great househunt

Well, despite us both firing on three cylinders (between us !) Ben and I have applied ourselves manfully to the search. My favourite agency turned belly-up. The guy in one branch said "I have nothing, goodbye". The lady in the other said, "I remember you from last week, I still have nothing, goodbye." This is the Anne Robinson school of estate agency ! A hunt on (you know you're getting desperate !) turned up some to ring about, and one agency made an appointment to see a nice sounding house in Pessac Haut-Brion tomorrow. Well placed, I think we may have caught it early. Not only that - it's expensive. Still ! It could be the one. So we go tomorrow morning at 9h45.

Spot on, Ros

Spot on, Tim


Well it's all about houses this week. Today Ben arrives from Britain to look for a house to rent. I am his minder / fixer. So we'll be trawling the agents. Do pray that we find something suitable quickly and a happy sympathetic landlord. Ben's here till Friday.

Removal day one

We were quite numerous, so we made three trips house to house and one trip taking the church benches and a cupboard up to Blaye for storage. The day started at about 7am for Pat who went out to clean the new house. Then we other Daveys went at 10 for the lifting and toting. The new house is a Girondin - I'll take a picture one day for you. It's a stone house, down a country lane, no street lights, an astronomer's dream, but a trifle remote. It has a big garden and a massive garage and they soon will have dogs. The day ended with pasta bolognese on the terrace and everyone was chilly, wrapped up in fleeces, jumpers and anything else we could find. A bat was doing its best with the mosquitoes. We wended our weary way home at about 10:30, tired but happy (perhaps the finest and best-loved expression Enid Blyton ever penned).

Today is removal day 1

Pastor and family today. Church stuff tomorrow. Tote that barge ! Lift that bale !

Bach - Magnificat - 07 - Fecit potentiam

TomKoopman and a great example of sewing machine music. 'ee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee"

Festival de Bandas 2005

A quick interview with my favourite banda, Los Téoporos. This is a traditional south-west banda - a bit like a fanfare only crazier, I think.

Men of Harlech - Wrexham County Brass

I could get into trouble for this ... but at least it is a Wrexham band. I remember this arrangement from my days with the Lewis Merthyr Workmen's Institute Silver Band. I left the band in 1976.

Bordeaux was handsome this evening


The mimosa is flowering

and some Bond-film villain has parked his luxury stealth yacht under the gaze of the big shiny lady in the sky.