Showing posts from August, 2007

Our neighbourhood

I thought I'd put on some photos of our little neighbourhood on a rare sunny day.

A walk to Chateau Pape Clément


Dogs of Bordeaux

Yes, I know that there's a breed of dog called the dogue de Bordeaux .

Coming out of the post office

Wow ! I queued for an hour for the modem ! Anyway, here is the post office forecourt, and I took the picture because you have those old buildings right next door to the massive concrete and glass block. That's Bordeaux for you.

Hooray ! Today is internet day !

at the student centre. They have attempted to deliver the modem. I hope it is at the post office at Meriadeck, so today I'll go into the centre, retrieve the little card, pick up the modem from the post office, plug it all together and ... hopefully ... bob shall be thine uncle and frances thine aunt. Well it's now 14:02. Robert and Frances fought back, but I am glad to say that after umpteen attempts to get the wifi to connect following the instructions and two phone calls to Darty, I decided to work from first principles: I deleted everything that could be mucking about with the wifi USB key ( old installations of Wanadoo/Orange and Neuf ), downloaded the wifi key drivers from the internet and installed the old fashioned way ... and it works. Hurrah !

The fish counter - or part of it

The fish counter always fascinates me. I loiter and enjoy the sight, but we never buy. There are massive prawns, various kinds of squid, whole salmon, lots of rainbow trout and this handsome tuna. But the fish fingers are in the frozen section.

Back to school

Catrin went back to school today, slightly put out that her brother has another week off. She has two job-sharing teachers, both nice, and she's in the classroom that Gwilym was in last year, so she likes that. "Nice room, isn't it," quoth he. There's a couple of things that she needs that I am convinced were not on her list of stuff - an ardoise (personal whiteboard) and paints. Still. We can rustle them up. Meanwhile the Griffinettes started school. Luke made it till lunchtime, having vomited in the morning. Liz was told she could send him in in the afternoon with spare clothes or keep him home. She kept him home. Joshua made it through the entire day. Ben and I scuttled off to the DEFLE and he paid and is now registered for his course. 'There's a little test to begin,' said the person in the office. Little test ! It is the hardest test I EVER did. Then we got Joshua's stuff for school. Then delivered their "inscription for school"

I hate computers

Last week for some reason my email account password no longer worked on my study computer. Slowly - painfully slowly - I realised that some of the keys on the keyboard had given up working. Oh well. No matter. At the student centre was a keyboard I use with my laptop when I'm there. So it's come home and now it's attached to the study computer. This morning the screen on the family's computer has yielded up the spirit. It's overdue, frankly. About 10 years ago I bought a government surplus computer from the computer fair at Queensferry Leisure Centre. The screen is all that is left of it. It was a nice Sony Trinitron with "DoE" (Department of the Environment) stamped on the top. It was a good screen. It served its Queen and country well, and then served us well, too. Bye bye, Trinitron . Bye bye, and thank you.

Griffin sans Davey - le médecin et l'école

Well first off the lady from the town hall rang and told Ben, in English, that the lads will go to the schools that are nearer to their home (not the asylum seeker school). This suits the family because the other school is a half-hour walk. Liz phoned their teachers and the lads are starting school tomorrow. They'll get their list of stationery that they need and they can get that as they can. Then Ben marched the lads up to the doctor. Do you speak English ? No, said the doctor, and then proceeded to speak English perfectly well. He prescribed the BCG vaccine, Ben and the boys went and got it and they scuttled back to the surgery where the boys were both jabbed then and there on the spot. Pretty good, eh ! Tomorrow the lads start school, our Catrin starts school and Ben and I scuttle off to the DEFLE to finish off his signing up process.

Sarko - Strong Europe No Turkey

Christianity explored ...

is in the process of being translated into French. Well, it's been translated. Now the hope is that soon it will be published. Meanwhile I am at present printing out the course-book in A5 booklet format, hoping that I may not have to do too much reformatting in order to use it with our lycéens ! .. so far so good ! For our lycéens I've changed the name from Découverte du christianisme to Exploration du christianisme . If that doesn't work in French we'll have to find another word ... Approfondissement du christianisme ? Basically I want to avoid the idea of introduction or initiation, because after all, some of our lycéens have been at church since their infancy. They aren't discovering Christianity as such, but we hope they are expanding their understanding and experience of the grace of God in Christ. And the format in A5 works fine, thanks to my brilliant Canon MP750 which I bought as an end of line cheapie when we first came to France. It prints A5 bo

I promised pictures of the Back to School aisles

Here are two out of three of them. Top photo right hand side you have ring binders and loose-leaf paper. Left hand side exercise books in various sizes and formats. In the middle diaries and box-files. Bottom photo right hand side, pens, pencils, rules, etc. Left hand side document protectors and polypockets. Thankfully ours is all done. These parents are the stragglers. One assumes that they returned from holiday this weekend.

Well it's always two steps forward and one step back

Today's task was to enrol Joshua and Luke Griffin in school and Ben Griffin in the language school. Well we almost got there. At the Town Hall the charming lady who deals with school allocation suggested that the boys could go either to the nearest school to their house or to another school a little more distant but where the asylum seeker children go. The advantage of this is the extra teaching help for French. She'll phone the headmasters of all four schools and try to set it up, then phone the Griffins by tomorrow afternoon with the decision. "Meanwhile here is the form to fill in" - complete with the date of the compulsory BCG vaccination which the boys have not yet had - so they have an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow afternoon. Then down to the DEFLE to enrol, only to find out that this week the office is closed in the afternoons, and on Tuesday. OK, that's a job for Wednesday morning. One of their loo seats has broken (the one with the moon and sta

from Richard Bewes' "Seven steps for atheists"

5. Show us your virtues It would be a help if you can show us around atheistic youth clubs and camps and summer houseparties and any work you may be doing among orphans; let’s see your family and play groups, and community centres. Could you take us on a tour of your work among the down-and-outs and the homeless, and your equivalent of the Salvation Army’s soup kitchens? And your centres for Aids sufferers? And the hospice movement – had you thought of getting any homes established, and staffing them yourselves? And – if we can be really adventurous – take us abroad for a peep at your leprosariums? I remember meeting Dr. Dennis Burkitt (of the Burkitt Lymphoma fame) out in Tanzania. He told me that he had been all over the tropics. Every single one of the leprosy hospitals he had ever visited were begun and run by Christians. Surely there must be one, run by an atheist organisation? You see, I’m not absolutely sure that we have seen all that you have done, or could do, for suffering

Alan quotes Tim quotes George Whitefield

George Whitefield expounded Luke 8:18 where Jesus said, "Therefore consider carefully how you listen." These pearls of wisdom will help you listen to sermons in a way that will bring great blessing to your soul. Or as Whitefield said, "Here are some cautions and directions, in order to help you hear sermons with profit and advantage." 1. Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty. To enter His house merely to have our ears entertained, and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be highly displeasing to the Most High God, as well as unprofitable to ourselves. 2. Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God. If an earthly king were to issue a royal proclamation, and the life or death of his subjects entirely depended on performing or not performing its conditions, how eager would they be to hear what those conditions were! And shall we not pay the same respect to the King of kings, and Lord of

Cyclamens at the chapelle

We were just over 20 people at church, including one lady who was there very early looking for her son at the lycée. He's a student there. I spoke to her and told her there was a service at 10h30 and lo and behold she came back for it. Before the service, seeking a spot of calm and quiet, I noticed that part of the grounds of the chapelle were carpeted with tiny cyclamens. We have just found one of these lovely little plants by the front door of our house.. Sorry the one photo is horribly out of focus. They were taken with my phone.

The joy of finding old friends

As predicted, I am finding it hard to settle for prep. It's not a huge problem. I am getting there. But to take a little break I opened a few more boxes of books. (Oh yes - we still have boxes). And found some of my all-time favourites. Now I am scared to tell you what they are. Oh well, here we go: 1. Peter Jeffery "From Religion to Christ". Cracking ! 2. John Piper "Seeing and Savouring Jesus Christ". Great ! 3. O Palmer Robinson "The final word". 4. Sinclair Ferguson "Add to your faith" and "Grow in Grace" and lots more ! 5. R C Sproul "Mystery of the Holy Spirit" 6. Roy Clements "The Strength of Weakness" (I know. I read it with tears in my eyes.) and "Introducing Jesus" 7. Some great studies in Revelation. Every one a gem. What I didn't find and what I have been pining for is my One Year Bible in English. I am not rejecting French, but it isn't my heart language. I can read the One Year Bi

Today is about preparation for tomorrow.

The passage is Mark 2 : 1 - 12. Today will be a battle for various reasons.

Oh no ! Income tax !

We got our avis d'impot today and we have to pay them 483 euros ! This is because our rent was so high last year - of course it was paid to us as income and then we paid it out as rent, so I had to declare it for tax. We won't have that problem this year as our monthly allowance was reduced once we moved from rent to mortgage. They'll be back to giving us money next year. Of course, this is one drawback of the French system - we have to pay this year from our lower income the tax for last year on our higher income. The government are talking about moving to pay as you earn, which will help to avoid this.

A satisfying day

Well the day started with me sending back the modem from the student centre. To cut our bills at the centre we changed from our old internet provider to another. However, instead of the "unlimited wifi, 4 ethernet port" modem they advertised on their website they sent us the old model - with no wifi! You had to pay extra for a card to add wifi, or pay extra money to get the new modem. When I asked why they had sent us the old modem they said it was because we are an association. OK.... A bit of discussion and deliberation followed and we decided to change again to another company. At this point we were offered the new modem free, but the decision had been made so we changed. We now await the delivery of the modem from the new company. Then to France Telecom to sign up the Griffins for phone and internet. We walked away with a very cute little livebox and it should all work within a few days. Then to the school to enrol their children. The very nice headmistress explained that

A report on the EMW camps - good reading ! and for those who have seen the Bordeaux, Brittany... and beyond ! DVD I would simply draw your attention to the fleece that my good friend Mickey Webber is wearing.

Weird Al Yankovic - Saga Begins

A moment of madness

An amazing moving statue in la Rochelle

This amazing statue in la Rochelle moved !

The descent of the dune de Pyla

I'm getting into this Youtube stuff !

Chose promise, chose due.

I said I'd post a picture of the "Back to school" stationery aisles. Well - here you can see one very small section which has the diaries, the agendas. The children use either a cahier de textes or an agenda to record what homework they have to do and when it has to be done by. Something promised, something owed...

Pat's sister and family flies out just about now.

Bordeaux's weather has not been kind to them ! But I think they liked the city and the countryside around. And next door to the house where they were staying lives a donkey, with whom they became utterly besotted.

A rotten Thursday. It's official, it's been a rotten summer.

Our free paper, 20 minutes, forecast rain for yesterday. It rained. They're flushed with success (I choose my words carefully), forecast a rotten Thursday, too, and celebrate by putting on their site a video of The Queen singing "We are the Champions". Jeudi pourri. C'est officiel. L'été est "pourri". Pat's sister and family went on a tour of St Emilion and its vineyards yesterday. Poor things. "Would you like some water with your wine, madam..."

We've had these for years in France.

It's déjà vu all over again !

Ben and I spent a very happy couple of hours in the Carphone Warehouse with a very helpful chap sorting out mobile phones for them. Contracts are happily cheaper in France than in Britain, though you don't get all the special deals that are so popular in the UK. So we got them sorted out with mobiles and the guy gave us some advice on what to do about phone lines and internet. Basically they need France Telecom to set up their phone line. And then they need to switch quickly to some other company to avoid the line rental each month. Just like us all that time ago... Then we all ate lunch together and we Daveys left them to await the furniture men who 1) phoned to say they were 100 miles away and approaching 2) phoned to say they were stuck in traffic 3) just now phoned to say that they are in Eysines but can't get to the house because of weight restrictions on approach roads and can Ben guide them in from the SuperU. None of us know where the SuperU is. So the removal men will

Surprise, il pleut. Mercredi, journée pourrie.

The free newspaper shows an impressive confidence in the power of schadenfreude to cheer us up. "It may be cold and wet, but at least I am not hanging upside down by my drawers over a swimming pool." That and a variety of pop videos of differing degrees of dodginess. I confess that I have serious questions about schadenfreude. I laugh too but I don't find it very helpful when people laugh over my misfortune. Do you ? And questions about the reeling and writhing of some of the pop videos, of course. . Surprise, il pleut. Mercredi, journée pourrie. Surprise, it's raining. Wednesday, a rotten day.

It is another wet and chilly day here in the "South of France"

On va pas plus se mentir, il va encore pleuvoir ce mardi, sur la majeure partie du pays, donc mardi, c’est une journée à jouer au Scrabble. Taken from our free paper's website, it says "We aren't going to lie to ourselves any more, it's going to rain again this Tuesday over most of the country so Tuesday is the day to play Scrabble.." Suits me because I have formatting and editing stuff to do as well as finding out the best deal for mobile phone and internet for the Griffins. None of this is open air beach stuff ( though it can be quite nice to take the computer on the terrace and work by wifi !)


Well what an exciting day. Pat's sister is ensconced in a friend's house in Pessac . Some other friends stayed overnight en route to their gite near Arcachon . Then I went to the airport to get the Griffins. A slight panic because my card is still not working and I didn't have any cash for the car park, but thankfully they have reopened the free 1/2 hour car park. A few quick dashes hither and yon and we were steaming off with Griffins and bags to uberfull DaveyHaus . Fiona took Ben to insure the house and pay the deposit and stuff and I followed on with Liz and kids. The house is great. Then I took Ben to a supermarket to buy wherewith to sustain life till the morrow. And paper plates etc. The checkout lady said "Are you going camping ?" "No, he's a new arrival. He arrived today and his furniture arrives tomorrow so they're camping for tonight" "In the house ?" "Yes, here in Eysines " "Then Well- komm ". Isn't

French frown at footing leader

Well there we are then

This morning was basically kind of OK. 25 folk there, so this Sunday was the August lowpoint. A bit of a mix up over one hymn (two versions in our book) and over the confession of faith - I think a bit of extraneous information from an old order of service crept in.. Plus all the students had been at a barbecue last night so half were almost asleep and half had almost no voice. But apart from that all OK. Now tomorrow the Griffins hit town. They are coming to Bordeaux for a year or so to learn French en route to Cote d'Ivoire and they fly into Mérignac at 1pm. There are 5 of them so both Fiona and I are going to the airport to get them. Even then I am a little perplexed about where their luggage will go. Ten items ! Their removal men arrive on Tuesday with their beds and all.

De génération en génération

Detail from a sculpture that I liked.

Dieu - illusion ou réalité ? Francis Schaeffer

Démission de la raison - Francis Schaeffer

Today's about preparation for preaching tomorrow

Acts 24. Paul and Felix. Pat and her sister are supposed to be going to the hairdresser. I am a bit worried about it because I usually cut the family's hair and I just hope the hairdresser doesn't pick a style I don't know how to tidy up ! We'll see. However Pat's family were all succumbing to a sore-throat kind of bug, probably picked up on the plane. So all plans are provisional today. Except preparation for tomorrow. Oh - my bank card. The code came. It was what I thought it was. I went to the supermarket. My card still doesn't work. It appears the fault is not in my head, it's in the card. I didn't forget the code, my card did. So now we're waiting for a new card.

Planning the YP group

I was just thinking there wasn't much news and wondering whether to post the no news video when I realised that there is something to post ( doh ! ) Yesterday afternoon I met up with the other responsable for the Youth ( lycéens ) and we talked about the coming year for quite a while. Here's the upshot: 1. She has access to a venue in central Bordeaux. Whoopidoo ! On Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoon / evenings. This is not quite so joyous as Wednesday is currently my day off because it is my one chance to spend time with the family, and Saturday is the English Class. Still. 2. We talked about different options for use with the kids and we are both keen to use the newly translated Christianity Explored to start with. 3. We talked about other helpers and other activities, too. Weekends, etc. So we are getting there.

Rafting at La Celle Dunoise 3

Gwilym was described as 'un bon petit manager'

Rafting at La Celle Dunoise 2

Here they are again

Rafting à la Celle Dunoise 1

I have only just figured out how to do this. Can you tell ? Anyway - these videos are from just after the rapids and just before the weir !


The kids are very fond of all their cousins.

Pat's sister and family are staying close by so we took them

to the miroir d'eau, of course .

Read with Tim

Reading together is great ! Especially for reading the more challenging books. You can find a friend to read with and discuss what you read. You can form a reading group. Or you can do it online, like Tim - or even with Tim !

Hmmm. Géant/Casino v Auchan. Advantage Géant/Casino

Last week I went to Auchan armed with Gwilym's "back to school" list. At the checkout it came to 74 euros. And then I went and forgot my code for my bank card (just two days after Pat forgot hers...) Anyway, I then got a message that Géant were giving 20% off back to school stuff in the form of a gift voucher. OK - worth a go. After all, 20% is 20%. So despite today being a public holiday ( Fête de l'assomption ) I scuttled off to Géant armed with Gwilym's and Catrin's lists - and my cheque book. And it came to under 100 euros for the both of them. Not bad, considering that Catrin had to have special swanky stuff whereas Gwilym could get away with the cheaper exercise books. And we have that voucher for nearly 20 euros. I meant to take a photo of the back to school aisles for you. I'll do it soon. It's mind-boggling. And parents zooming all over the place shouting " ardoise ! " , " travaux prâtiques ! " , "double dé

Why Oradour ?

An elderly man named Heinz Barth has just died. He was one of the officers in charge of the massacre at Oradour sur Glane. This article reflects on the reasons for the massacre - which remain a mystery.


Reaching rural France.

Bordeaux is a big city. But not far out of Bordeaux it gets rural very quickly. And much of France is really sparsely populated. These few and far between people need the gospel too. Our colleagues, Emmanuel and Maria Hartiel , are working hard in small- town north Brittany. And in this month's magazine of our church's denomination we read of PerPy (Perspective Pyrenees), another initiative to reach rural areas. Here's some excerpts from their information: In France, towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and villages (excluding the suburbs of large towns) correspond to about 25% of the country’s population, but only 5% of the evangelical churches, which are all rather small, and probably only 2% of the country’s evangelical Christians (so perhaps only one person in 1,500 is an evangelical Christian in these areas). It seems quite likely to us that the situation will be similar in other European countries with a low population density, Spain for instance. We are well awar

What's cheap to eat ?

People sometimes ask what food is cheap and what is expensive in France. Here's what I think. Meat and poultry - Chicken is very expensive compared to Britain. Turkey is a little cheaper. Lamb is very dear. Beef quite expensive. Pork's the best value. Starch - Pasta and rice are cheap. Potatoes are surprisingly expensive. Baguettes are cheap. Other kinds of bread are at prices more like in Britain. Cheese - You can get nice Camemberts and Bries for not much money, but if you want Cheddar (boo) it's expensive. Cereals - I think they're expensive, but they're expensive in Britain, too. Fruit - When there's a glut it's cheap. Otherwise, no. I think apples are surprisingly dear and bananas surprisingly cheap. (Ours come from Cameroon). Orange juice is dear at the moment, so I am trying to wean the kids off it ! Incidentally the French cook with dessert apples. I don't miss Bramleys, though I'd love a nice deep tarte made with Cox's Orange Pippi

Morning and evening

A long, long time ago I asked for people's reflections on the origin and history of morning and evening worship. We didn't reach any firm conclusions, but thanks to Ken and Danny for these observations: Ken: (Not totally sure where he got it from) IV. Patterns of Worship. As the early Christians worshipped together, they established patterns of worship that were quite different from the synagogue services. We have no clear picture of early Christian worship until a.d. 150, when Justin Martyr described typical worship services in his writings. We do know that the early Christians held their services on Sunday, the first day of the week. They called this “the Lord’s Day” because it was the day that Christ rose from the dead. The first Christians met at the temple in Jerusalem, in synagogues, or in private homes (Acts 2:46; 13:14–16; 20:7–8). Some scholars believe that the reference to Paul’s teaching in the school of “one Tyrannus ” (Acts 19:9) indicates that the early Christians

Bernar Venet and his massive rusty iron sculptures

Traffic !

It's a big issue in France in the summer. The motorways clog up every Saturday. There's a colour scheme to indicate how bad it will be, and they give nice reports on the news that tell you how long people have been sat still in the Rhone Valley near Lyon. Meanwhile here in Bordeaux the ring road grinds to a halt because of the folk driving down to Spain and back. Basically it is best to drive on Sundays, or Mondays, or any day except Saturday ! It reminds me of Deeside. There our bypass would clog every bank holiday with people going from Manchester and Birmingham to their caravans and cottages on the Lleyn peninsula. We used to head off to the Wirral and go the opposite way to all the traffic.

Well we were numerous this morning. There was some world.

This morning was the predicted low point of August. However, we only just fitted into the chapelle. Numbers were pretty good. About 35 ish. We had no pianist, so we sang unaccompanied and that went OK. Then this afternoon I was preaching at Anglade. Usually they do their own order of service but they hadn't so I used this mornings and it went fine again. About 15 people there. I preached from 1 Peter 2:25. The linguistic theme of the day was our old friends, the nasal vowels. At the language school the phonetician would mark me down because my an and en sounded like on . Now the problem's the other way round. My on sounds like my an and en . This was gently pointed out to me by a dear, sweet brother who said "Next time you introduce the offering don't talk about our dents (teeth)" It was meant to be dons (gifts). Hee hee ! It's just one thing after another... So I am concentrating on producing a good on - and to do that basically you make a face like a s

We got taken out for a meal last night at a bistro

We sat at a table on the terrace in the warm evening. It was very agreeable indeed.

There was a dance troupe breakdancing near the miroir d'eau


it gave a good opportunity to take pictures in the dark


Practical help at the centre

This week we've had visitors at the student centre - two friends who've been before and who have spent a week sorting out some lifting tiles, sprucing up some tatty paintwork and repairing some dodgy walls. The centre looks so much better, you would hardly believe it.

One of the deep joys of living in France Another deep joy, of course, is to do your prep for Sunday sat on the terrace under the shade of the overhanging roof. And thankfully because we are having another "rotten summer" it's not too hot.

A replacement what ?

I came to faith in a CU context in the late 1970s. That meant a happy union of: charismatics / pentecostals / cessationists / acessationists calvinists / arminians paedo and credobaptists pre and amillenialists independents / presbyterians / anglicans / pyramid covering restorationists . You can imagine our happy discussions. Out of this melting pot I emerged as a calvinist , cessationist , optimistic amillenialist small-b baptist with presbyterian leanings. It's no wonder I have trouble sleeping... Then a few years ago a new charismatic church started up in North Wales and announced that we were all devoted to " replacement theology" . Uh ? Now I often don't mind being described as a devotee of something if I have heard of it. At least that way I can decide whether I really am or not. But this ? C'est quoi , ça ? It turned out that these folk are particularly extreme dispensationalists and regard the amillenialist and postmillenialist positions as r

A Threat to the Disabled . . . and to Us All

Make no mistake. When death is claimed as a right, it will soon become a duty. You don't have to be in a wheelchair to see where that leads.

Home you go, it's time to work

I bumped into a student the other day who we know through the language school. He's from the far east. I'd not seen him for a long time so we chatted and I was surprised to find that he's leaving Bordeaux this week. He and his parents did a deal. He had a year to get his French going and to apply to a business school in Bordeaux. If he got in he could stay and study. If he didn't get in it's back home to work. He didn't get in. So he's off home. His parents have set him up with a house ("Wow!", I said) and he has a job lined up in international business using his languages. He's a little fed up because he has no friends in the city where he'll be working but that'll soon be fixed, especially if he links in properly with a local church. The work culture is different. I asked what hours he would work and it will be 8h30 to 5h30, six days a week. A week off for new year. But that's what everyone does there. It's the way it is. He&#

Would you believe it ?

I took Pat and the kids to Bègles plage , just off the ringroad at junction 20, then scuttled off to buy the back to school stuff at Auchan (we are currently experimenting to find the cheapest supermarket). The bill for books and covers and paper and stuff came to 74 euros. I popped in my card. Entered the code. Wrong. Tried to remember the right code. Thought I had. I hadn't. The card is now blocked. Pat did the same thing with her card two days ago. Would you believe it ? Is it our age ? Is it the stress ? Is this what they mean when they talk of deep unity in the marriage relationship ? So tomorrow we will all be phoning the bank tout de suite. And the stuff had to stay at Auchan . BUT... it does mean I can go and buy the stuff at LeClerc and see if it's less than 74 euros...