les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

You've got to watch, you know

I was trying to explain how a certain American reverend doctor's wife was telling the virtues of green tea - if you drink three cups a day you'll live longer and if you drink five cups a day you live to be a hundred.

Well the problem is that the way I chose to say "if you drink three cups a day you'll live longer" could also mean "if you drink three cups a day you won't live much longer". I realised that it wasn't very clear - and so did one or two other people, and we all started laughing. Anyway I had to quickly find another way to put it and got back on track. French is FUN, but it's no good being too po-faced or snooty !

It's a small world, the world of the saxo

Gwilym took his saxo to church to show Olivier. Have I jumped into the middle of a story ? OK.

Gwilym has started having saxophone lessons at the Pessac school of music. French towns often have schools of music which are subsidised by the town council so the lessons are cheap. So we have rented a saxo for Gwilym and Catrin has started having lessons on my old flute, which still works very well ( an Emerson model 1 offset, closed hole, no split E, for the flute afficionados among you. I have always liked that flute because though it could have a sweeter sound if you push hard it has a big bottom octave ). Anyway, we got the rental saxo on Wednesday and he had his first lesson.

He wants to learn saxo because one of the chaps at church plays, so he took it along to church to show him. He wasn't impressed. He thinks it needs regulating or something. It's hard to get much out at the bottom.

Anyway, he knows Gwilym's saxo teacher. In fact he played at his wedding.

You daren't sniff, honestly you daren't.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is a good thing

Saturday morning school to stop.


Catrin has school on Saturdays now and again. Gwilym has not had school on Saturday since going to the collège.

The start of the English class

It has EMPTIED down today, so I got out my umbarella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh and scuttled in for the English Class.

I had a nice long conversation with a chap from Africa who came to France to study. I asked him why he chose Bordeaux.

"Well," he said, "I wanted to go to Strasbourg but they told me it gets very cold."

"So you came here for the good weather ?"

and we both fell about laughing...

Self-righteousness or discouragement or .......

A while ago I read C J Mahaney's little book, "The Cross-centred Life". I think it's a cracker !

Now it's interesting to read this coming from Jerry Bridges. DMLJ talks in "Spiritual Depression" about the need to preach the gospel to ourselves (and I am sure that's where Jerry Bridges got it from.)

We aren't saved by grace, to live by works, and die with our own merits to offer to God.

It's grace all the way. The cross all the way. Jesus all the way.

And when we have done all we are still unprofitable servants, or as one guy put it here bons-à-rien - good-for-nothings.

Exactly !


Friday, September 28, 2007

A quiet day

Well it's been a quiet day today.

Yesterday ended nicely with me having good times at the centre with two guys who came unexpectedly : One chap is from CAR (RCA in French) and he's going to come to the English Class. (I don't know why we don't switch to English when someone enrols whose English is pretty good. We still talk on in French..) The second is a chap who is one of our stalwarts. He was a student and now works in the city and worships at one of the Baptist churches.

Meanwhile I established that we can have two computers working by ethernet and another by wifi at the centre. I'd like to do a stress test if I could, but I guess that will have to wait until we can get a gang of students together, each with laptop and mail to send.

Then today is all about preparation. For English class tomorrow ( this is HARD because I don't really know who'll be there !) for preaching on Sunday ( this is HARD because I can't find Ted Donnelly's sermon on believing into Christ from the Aber conference in 2001 !).

Oh, and I went to see the doctor this morning for my six monthly new prescription. She's happy with me. She checks my breathing and my beating and stuff and she says she'll want me to have another blood test in six months time. ( It's a bit like being a car. I keep having to go for a controle technique, but the car only has to go every two years. humph ! )

So back to preparation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Little things make a big impact

I knew it must happen but I had never seen it.

Until today, that is.

As I was walking under the avenue of horsechestnut trees past the Cathedral to the student centre I noticed two chaps sat on the wall under the trees drinking pop from little bottles.

When, all of a sudden...

" Ow ! Oooh ! Aaah !"

A conker fell from the tree and clocked one of the chaps bulls-eye on the nut. It must have hurt from the noise both he and the conker made, the one after the other.

Thankfully he thought it was very funny. As did we all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Assemblée générale

Yesterday was our Assemblée Générale here at Bordeaux. Our Secretary came down from the Savoie and our Président from Brittany. It was good to meet around the big table in the big room at FAC to discuss the work, to set a budget, to review finances and to give thanks for all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future.

Then we UFM folk met up this morning to discuss changes in the way UFM Mission support works. Our previous Président has done a huge amount of work setting up the work here, and her paper on finance formed the basis of our discussions this morning.

It's up to us now to build on that foundation and, as always, we are in a time of change so there's lots to be done.

Life is change, no ?

It will be good to see the regular activities of the centre start up again. The English class starts very soon. Then to see Bible studies with individual students. We want to see the student centre radiating the gospel into the student world, as the church radiates the gospel into the city at large.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is a tight little loop !

Martin Downes, pastor of our church in North Wales ( see Downsie under blogs ) interviews Iain D Campbell ( see Iain D Campbell under blogs ) . And it's a classic.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tired at the end of a "pious" weekend

Here is the Centre Albert Peyriguère after our worship service. It's great really. There's plenty of parking spaces, a nice big room which is light and airy, and a courtyard with grass and trees where the children can play afterwards while people talk.

Meeting at 5pm gives the opportunity to visit and get to know other churches in Bordeaux, so this weekend we decided to start with the Anglicans because I needed to chat with the vicar about something anyway. However they were holding their service at 6pm on Saturday night, so I went along then and this morning the whole family went to the Eglise Baptiste de Pessac Compostelle. People made us feel very welcome at both churches.

At the Anglican church we had a discussion about the parable of the dishonest manager. At the Baptist church the message was about joy, and the reasons to be joyful. Sammy preached on the call of Matthew from Matthew 9.

Next week I am preaching, and I may start Ephesians, or I may start Judges... Hmmm...
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Will the French buy Sarkozy reforms ? " , asks the BBC


and if they do buy, who'll pay ?

Oh no ! It's that form again !

l'enfant a-t-il déjà eu les maladies suivantes : (Has your child ever had the following : )

varicelle (this was our favourite pasta till we discovered radiatori)
rhumatisme articulaire aigu
coqueluche (this is my favourite disease in French)
oreillons (I am sure they sell these in the supermarket - little flaky cake things.)

Pat, pass the dictionary.

Friday, September 21, 2007

France is a good country to live in...

but it is not without hazards.

This is a Charles Aznavour boxed set of CDs in the shape of the Arc de Triomphe.
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Faire la plonge ?

"Faire la plonge" is a slang term for a job doing the washing up at a restaurant. So when I first saw Plongespace to begin with I thought of industrial size dishwashers. But actually it is a diving shop.

So why do they advertise baptisms ? Isn't that taking it a bit too far ?

Well the term baptême is a bit flexible in France. In fact we saw an airstrip in the Dordogne that advertised "Baptêmes de l'air", which we found really alarming. It just means having a first go, dipping your toe in the water, so to speak.

Except on a restaurant or café, where it means there is a room you can hire for an after-christening party.

So at Plongespace you can have a go at diving to see if you take to it like a duck to water.

Or not.
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My wonderful mobile phone tariff !

I got my bill for my mobile phone the other day and it's so brilliant I thought I'd tell you about it. It's with a company called 'Ten', a virtual operator that uses the Orange network. I went with them because they offer free internet access, MSN messenger and email.

Anyway, for a brief space of time they had amongst their tariffs one called Ten à la carte, where you could choose 1/2 hour of calls / 120 SMS for 13€90 or 1 hour calls / 240 SMS for 19€90. I signed up for the former, and it suits me great, because I hate phones anyway, and mobiles doubly so !

So last month I made 17:35 minutes of calls and sent 48 SMS. I also sent 6 international SMS (0,90€ extra) and the whole bill came to 14€80 - or about £10 a month.

Crackerjack !

I notice that this tariff has disappeared from their website now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't spread this about, but

Liz Griffin is getting free individual French tuition.

Yes, I know !

She's joined a scheme run, I think, by the Eysines Town Hall for helping immigrants learn French. She is in a class of Armenians and in the first lesson she memorised extremely well how to say "I am an Armenian. I come from Armenia."

But since that first lesson the Armenians haven't been turning up !

Ben, meanwhile, is getting his head turned to porridge in the classes at the DEFLE. Still reasonably priced but much more expensive than Liz's classes !

Coffee sagas

We aren't good at coffee.

One day recently I had to welcome people to church with the offer of "une tasse d'eau chaude parfum café" (a cup of coffee flavoured hot water). Not good.

The church has a filter coffee maker. We had one of these but we are not good with glass jugs, either, so now we have two plunger cafetières, one in plastic and the other in stainless steel. French people tell us that plunger cafetières make the best coffee.

Not in the hands of the Daveys, they don't.

Some friends who served for years in Austria said that they also had trouble getting to grips with the coffee, but they were helped by a chap who came to stay for a few days.

After the first go he said 'Double the coffee'.
After the second go he said 'Double the coffee again'.

By this simple expedient of repeatedly doubling the coffee they eventually got to the kind of brew Austrians need.

People of France

Happy rugby supporters and cross railway workers.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another favourite hymn


This was always a favourite of mine for the beginning of the evening service.

It talks about
God's control over time and space
our use of the day to worship him,
our rest, but the kingdom ( the church ) labouring on
about God's praise continually circling the earth
about God's worldwide family (I think of American friends)
about the spent empires of this world and God's continuing reign (particularly important for Brits and Frenchmen)
and about the triumph of the gospel.

Not bad, eh. And I think it's one of those hymns that defies modernising. The sun is setting in the west (fancy!) loses so much compared to the darkness falls at thy behest. After all, the word behest is still in use. A bit. Sometimes.

THE day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
the darkness falls at Thy behest;
to Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church unsleeping,
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping,
and rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
our brethren ’neath the western sky,
and hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

John Ellerton, 1826-93

It's Ramadan

so our supermarket has MOUNDS of semolina for making couscous, lots of halal meat, halva and all kinds of North African goodies, including this soft drink from Tunisia called Boga. I had a good look at the label but there was no clue as to what it might taste like.
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Mr Sarkozy is putting the cat among the pigeons big time.

Iran - http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=44001

Pensions - http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=44031

Immigration - http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=44029

Nato - http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=25&story_id=44003

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No, you need to ring .......

The Griffins have a little problem with their internet connection - it likes an early night ! Sometimes around 9pm, sometimes around 10 it goes off and comes on again in the morning.

Not a problem ? Well, the thing is that we are an hour ahead of the UK, their phone works via internet, and so it is prime time for people in the UK to ring them for a little chat. Or not, as you'll understand.

So this morning I rang the internet provider customer services (helpline, then option 1) and explained their problem. The first person tested the line and said it was OK (yes - it is in the morning) and then said you need to ring again and this time take option 3. (Can you tell what's coming yet ?)

So I rang again (helpline, then option 3) and got a very happy friendly man who asked all about the problem and tested the line. It was OK. Then he said, well really you need to call again and take option 1. I said, "But I just did that and they told me to ring again and take option 3". Tell them this, he insisted...

So I rang again (helpline, then option 1) and got a nice person who listened to the problem, then tested the line, then said "OK - unplug the modem...."

And of course, the telephone line went dead.

So we went to get their car from being fixed instead.

Their problem is irritating but minor in comparison.

One chap at church has been trying to get connected with a different company for almost two months. It worked for a few hours the other Sunday but then fell over, exhausted. And when we first arrived it took weeks to get anything telephonic working, apart from mobile phones which work like a dream.

In the old days they used to say that half the country was waiting to have a telephone installed and the other half was waiting for the dial tone. Of course, things have changed a lot since then. Haven't they.

Monday, September 17, 2007

OK - UFM European conference here we come

Pat and I went in solemn delegation to see the secretary of Catrin's school to ask why we had had no response to our letter of last week. The secretary said that all was OK, no response was necessary and that Catrin's absence is authorised. The head came in having spotted us as she passed and we passed a good moment talking about how the kids are doing and the European Conference and the start of term and all things scholastic.

So there we are.

Together with a brief time of chainsawing courtesy of our kindly and well-equipped neighbour, and a goodly time spent with Sammy talking of the present and the future (with a little reference to the past here and there) lots of planning and clarifying has been done today.

Hi-tech or what ?

Bordeaux Chosen for New Orange Mobile Launch

Orange has selected Bordeaux for its initial trial in France of the Mobile Wallet service, which enables payments for goods and transport services to be made direct from a mobile phone. Bordeaux was considered to be a prime candidate for this because of its state-of-the-art tramway technology, and the general atmosphere of technological innovation that exists here.

“This new generation of mobile phone services will be seen as one of the great technical leaps forward in Europe over the next 2-3 years”, Orange CEO Jean-Noel Tronc told journalists.

Several collaborative agreements with Bordeaux operators have already been put in place, including Veolia Transport and credit card group LaSer.

Madness - Our House

I'd forgotten how much I liked this. Thanks Paul.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The good news first

From next week we have a settled place to meet, at the Centre Albert Peyriguère on the border of Villenave d'Ornon / Bègles / Talence. It's a conference centre just off junction 18 of the ring road. It's not brilliant for the students because there's no tram near there, but it's certainly better than Floirac was.

The bad news is that the centre is being sold to be redeveloped as low cost housing. Are you beginning to detect a pattern here in Bordeaux ? There's even a row over playing fields in Bordeaux Caudéran that are being built over.

Centre Albert Peyriguère - sold for housing estate.
Stade Bordeaux Caudéran - sold for housing estate.
Maison du Chemin des Plateaux - sold for housing estate.
Amphitheatre "Palais Gallien" - sold for housing estate ( in 1793 ! )

Housing is important, but so are amenities.

Perhaps it is one of the weaknesses of the French Révolutionary mentality.
One strength is that you believe you can rub everything out and start again.
But a weakness is that it gives a tendency to rub everything out ... even things that are irreplaceable.

Anyway, from next week we'll be meeting at 5pm at the Centre Albert Peyriguère.

The 5pm start gives the opportunity to get to know some of the other Bordeaux churches in the morning and to meet with our friends in the Blayais in their morning services, too.

Elle est fatiguante, la vie...

OK. We left the house at just before 8h30 to pick up our first person in Pessac, then to get Catrin, then to meet and lead the Griffins.

There were cyclists everywhere, roads closed for markets and funfairs and a general conspiracy to make us late. Not only that, but the Griffinmobile does not have 5th or reverse at present so we proceeded at a leisurely pace to Blaye, overtaken by cyclists and children on skateboards.

But we got to Blaye just a little after 10 and we pushed the Griffinmobile backwards into its parking place, did the setup and had time to mingle before the service began. I estimate about 70 souls were present.

All went well. Sammy's message went well. The meal went well. There was plenty to eat. Pat has this thing where she always brings out what we've made after everyone's finished - and so we end up bringing our stuff home again. Curious. I think it is a deep-seated fear of putting ENGLISH FOOD before French palates, even though crumble ( crum-bull ) is international now and the gratin de pâtes aux saucisses de strasbourg came from a French recipe..

Then a brief information session.

Then home. We got home about 18h40. Tired but happy, as the great Blyton would put it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Pally Gally

Just opposite the Town Hall, the Irish Pub and Bradley's English Bookshop is a little encampment of Irish rugby fans. There's a special Guinness caravan with tables and umbrellas and in the courtyard of the Musée des Beaux Arts a little group of motor-caravans with red and green clad campers. At Gambetta the park-cum-roundabout has become a playground where giant fly-half leprechauns gambol with tiny rugby balls. Then you come to the area of the Pally Gally.

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The Pally Gally ( last but two )

The area around the Pally Gally is really lovely. We saw a really nice house on a sweet square that was for sale, but it's a T6, 160 sq. m. and probably would cost the earth ( a T6 would have probably 5 bedrooms. ) It also had a section of Roman wall poking up beyond the roof. Lovely !

Docteur Albert Barraud was a surgeon at the Hôpital St André and a resistant in the Tête group. He operated secretly on resistance fighters and on allied fugitives.

It appears that Bordeaux has arrondissements. I have never seen them used.

Just opposite the main entrance to the Pally Gally is the brethren assembly ( l'Eglise Darbyiste ).

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The Pally Gally ( last but one )

It's an amazing construction. The pale coloured bricks are in fact stone. The local stone is quite friable and in many places the Roman mortar has weathered better than the stone.

They must have had armies of people cutting the stones to size and shape. Then the reddish coloured flat courses are brick. You can see how beautifully the arches are made.

It dates from about the end of the first century, from when Bordeaux was Romano-Celtic (i.e. Welsh) and called Burdigala. Or maybe even Aber-pwll-llan-burdigala-glan-yr-afon.

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The Pally Gally (final)

It's la journée de la patrimoine today, so while Catrin was playing with a school friend we went to see the ruins of Bordeaux' Roman amphitheatre, the Palais Gallien, or Pally Gally as it is known.

It's a bit tragic, really. Originally enormous, ( 130m x 110m ) in 1793 after the Révolution it was sold off to put houses on. ( Funny - Bordeaux still has that problem today. ) So now there's only this small section we saw today and the odd bit of Roman wall poking up over townhouses here and there.

You get free admission to all sorts of historic monuments and spectacular public buildings today and tomorrow, but Gwilym's broken toe was giving him a bit of gyp, so I am glad we didn't do anything more adventurous or time-consuming, like the Grand Théatre, or whatever.

I was quite taken today with the door furniture and house numbers. (I always regret not photographing the beautiful Victorian tiles in the porches of Cardiff. Maybe one day...)

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Jusqu'au bout.

Last night I went with one of the students to a conference on the family, run by one of the Bordeaux churches. It's on all weekend, but I doubt if I'll go along this afternoon. Today will be a Saturday with the family, rather than on the family.

When I got there I found that the speaker for the weekend is an American missionary pastor who we met a few years ago when we were on holiday and considering coming here to work.

However, when he arrived I didn't recognise him. He was on crutches, and really very thin.

I said "What's happened to you?"

"I have cancer of the bones and of the liver"

"And treatment ?"

"Nothing at present. They've just stopped a hormonal treatment and they're going to start chemotherapy."

"But it's the journey home ?"

"Yes. It's the journey home. It's hard to let go of things here, but this is what it's all about."

So he perched on a stool and spoke for a good long while on the family, starting in Genesis 2.

The family life of the French is as chaotic as that of the British. Lads and lasses with no dad. People marry later and later, or not at all. Money and career matter more than kids, after all.
The speaker began by saying that the Christian home images Jesus and his church.

I had a few questions about his approach.

Unity in marriage is not a goal to be achieved, but a reality to be lived out. It's the marriage covenant that makes them one flesh. It would have been nice to have a bigger and deeper foundation in talking about Christ and the church before going to Genesis 2. I don't think an invitation to raise your hand if you wanted to accept Christ was terribly appropriate given the content of the message and the peopel who had gathered ( or indeed, at all ).

But he's keeping on going right to the end. That's the thing to do, isn't it.

I need to be clear. Surely retirement from positions of responsibility is right. It can't be appropriate to wait until one's final remaining marble topples from its lofty perch, or until the elders and deacons come begging you to go, or till the church drifts away or splits in despair.
But retirement isn't the end of service, is it ?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy Officer. Google "Grace Hopper" to read about her.

She said "It is easier to apologise than to ask permission."

She's right !

Whatever next !

Yesterday I read in 20 Minutes about the spread of the Asian Tiger Mosquito in the Var ( Provence ). This needs watching because it is the mosquito that spreads dengue fever and west Nile 'flu amongst other things.

That was yesterday. This is today. Whatever can we expect tomorrow ? Elephants in les Landes ? Giraffes wobbling slowly through the vines ?


Thursday, September 13, 2007



Al Mohler reads

As a compulsive reader who'll read with pleasure the same cornflakes packet each morning if nothing else is available, I hate writing in books.

I'm a hypocrite, though. I was suggesting to a student only on Tuesday that he highlight and underline in his Bible.

What do you think about writing in books ? It HAS to be in pencil, anyway, surely ?


Give Matthew Henry to 16 year old lads !

Bob grew up in France.


Poor little mite

He's got sport all afternoon today. Or rather, he hasn't.

The doctor was very nice, friendly, avuncular - but he did seem to be suggesting that a broken toe is nature's way of telling you to wear your slippers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Well, he's broken it

I saw the x-ray. I have the x-ray ! It's a nice break, not all the way through the bone, well away from the joints in his toe. As breaks go it's a nice one.

So the doctors (there's an intern with the doctor at the moment, a rheumatologist who's retraining as a GP) strapped him up and showed me what to do and prescribed lots of micropore, gauze and an anti-fungal powder just in case, and told me he needs shoes with good rigid soles.

Gwilym was relieved to find a pair of trainer-like shoes with good stiff soles in the supermarket. Otherwise it would have been a pair of Doc Marten style workshoes. Very un-cool !

He is off sport for a month. At present they're doing rugby and javelin, and he can't do either. He can go swimming but he needs to be freshly strapped up afterwards.

The doctor also told him that he must do up his laces, not just tuck them into his shoes - he sees loads of kids with clawed toes and the rheumatolog said "Yes, and I see them later in life." Quite !

There we are. Thank God for doctors and x-ray machines and for all the things we've learned together today.

At the supermarket

I was just thinking the other day how France is virtually a living museum for weird and wonderful old French cars, and LOOK what there was in the forecourt of the supermarket !

Ah yes - and the other photo. I am not aware that any of these terms are offensive as such. However here in Bordeaux people either ask for the little corner, or they say they need to see Napoleon. My favourite lavatorial euphemism is the extremely opaque lle chwech (place no 6). I have heard an explanation but it was complex and I've forgotten it. I do like la chaise percée.

Gwilym's broken toe ?

We went to the doctor at 8:30 and the receptionista told us to come back at 9:45, so we did. Then Gwilym saw two doctors who told him that he'd need a x-ray, that he'll be off sport for a month, that they won't need to cut his toe off and neither will it fall off, that he'll need good big shoes with inflexible soles, and that they'll immobilise his toes with scotch after the x-ray.

So we went to the x-ray-monger and they told us to come back at 16:45.

OK. So I went to the supermarket to do the weekly shop.

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While waiting for the doctor

I watched a reportage about the Irish rugby team who are staying at the Sofitel at Bordeaux Lac. They talked with the chef. Basically they triple the normal portions for these players, but reduce the fat.

So for a typical meal you'd get about 80 grams of pasta per person. They get 200 grams. You'd get a chicken portion. They get three. And also where you'd normally eat one main course, there are two.

"Ils mangent beaucoup. C'est des gros bébés." said the reporter.

The Canadians are at the Mercure, where Pat's brother and family stayed when they came to visit.

So today...

1. Phone the school. Remember it is "One believes that he himself is broken the toe."

2. See the doctor.

3. Get the x-ray done.

4. Go back to see the doctor, who will probably bandage it.

5. Then do the rest of the stuff that's planned.

It'll cramp his style for football for a while, I reckon...

One thing - We had a small amount of Ibuleve/Ibugel to put on it. He was far from amused when we put it on, but he slept OK and he has almost no bruising. Good stuff, Ibuleve/Ibugel. (Cue the Bachelors "I---buleve, I---buleve")

Little crises like this are good really. Although they are annoying, irritating, time-consuming and painful for the person at the centre of the crisis, they are not life-threatening and you learn what you have to do ready for when one of them breaks something that really matters... with next door's chainsaw...

Overheard ..... "C'est le pied du foot." ... I thought "Uh?" Slowly light dawned... It's his kicking foot.

Oh, well that's OK then.....

"Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon," he said.

"The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature," ORT added.

"All that is alive merely evaporates."

Despite its destructive qualities, the bomb is environmentally friendly, Gen Rushkin said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Surveys today

and questionnaires. Another questionnaire lined up for Thursday.

And giving away Bibles. I like giving away Bibles. We have a booklet of introductory studies we give with the Bible.

Ces choses qui me cassent la tête

Things that do my head in :

1) When one headteacher says 'Yeah, go to the conference' and the other first says no, then doesn't say anything...

2) When one of the kids stubs their toe and is it dislocated ? and you hope with all your heart that it isn't because you haven't got the foggiest idea what to do if it is.

Still, the kid in question is quietening down a bit... And if we don't get a response from said headteacher by the end of the week I'll make an appointment to see them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Our neighbour came round with his chainsaw

The upshot is that we took out the catalpa completely - well it's too big for a small garden like ours. He assures me that because the water table is so low in Bordeaux cutting down the catalpa won't cause his house any subsidence problems. Bon.

Then we trimmed back two of the mulberries - which turn out to be grafted onto sycamores. It is a grafted tree introduced into France some years ago and prized for its vigour...

Anyway, those chainsaws are great, aren't they !

Well - a day that started gloomy finished bright

Gwilym's head-teacher says yes to the UFM Europe conference - and he is senior to Catrin's head-teacher, so it's possible that she will change her mind tomorrow.

Then I met Ben at the DEFLE. He had his test today, finishing with his oral with the same teacher who did my test. He gets his class and timetable on Wednesday.

We went on the bus to insure their car, which was easier than I had feared. The lady was very pleasant and all got sorted well.

Now all he has to do is get a copy of the report of his control technique ( MOT ), then get the new 33 matriculation number from the préfecture and get his number plates changed.

I say "all" - the préfecture is a nightmare. You just queue and queue and queue and queue again.

So there we are. Thanks to God for a day that started gloomy and ended bright.

Sunday in the park with boules

Look who's got the clafoutis !

I was a little disconcerted the other day to discover that one plays billiards with balles.

Here are the French words for balls in order :

billes (marbles, for example)
balles (billiards, etc.)
boules (for boules)
ballons (balls which are inflated)
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A quick review of the weekend

This weekend was encouraging :

1) A new chap came to church through a contact on the blog and seemed very much at home. This morning I got a really enthusiastic email from his contacts in the States.

2) The morning service was a "start of term" family service, kind of, and we felt very much at home with the way this was approached. It could have been a Deeside service - the role of parents and of the family, etc.

3) This was followed by a picnic in a park at Canejan where I suppose there were four or five couples and lots of singles and a good few kids. Long may the rain hold off !

Getting everyone home afterwards was still a bit complicated. One lad was working at the stadium for the Ireland/Namibia game, the Griffins don't yet have their car insured.

But this morning I have the Monday morning blues with a few added complications.

Firstly I have to do lots of sums to work out how we are going to make it through the next three months until our support is increased fully in November.

Then it has just been confirmed that we are again unable to attend the UFM All-Europe Conference this October - it's in school term time. Last year it would have meant taking three days off school and the schools were reluctantly willing - but we moved house. This year it would mean taking a whole week off school and Catrin's headteacher is unhappy. I think they're right, too. We have been told to mark this week off in our diary every year. So there we are.

Still ! One bit of good news. One of the music schools in Pessac (not the one near us) has spaces for students for flute (Catrin) and guitar (Gwilym), their fees are very reasonable (much cheaper than Britain) and you can pay monthly - so we should be able to enrol the kids to instrument lessons. I must ring up today about it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This one's for Gwilym, who likes the hakas



The tram stop at Pessac Centre.

There's something going on, isn't there.
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Le forum des associations

We went to see the forum des associations. Think "Freshers Fair" at a university and you won't go far wrong. Several things struck me:

1) The amazing variety of activities that the associations do, like massage, tutoring children, water-divining, poetry, arts and crafts, scrabble, astrology, aid to ex-colonies.

2) The Café Economique meets one Tuesday a month at the café in the square at Pessac to discuss things like "Wine, emerging from crisis", "A future without oil", etc. Somone from the association moderates the discussion and various folks are invited along to lend their expertise. Interesting. Now what about a Café Théologique along the same lines ?

Our neighbour appeared in the driveway

I say our neighbour, but really it was our neighbour's husband who lives and works up the coast somewhere near La Rochelle and comes home at weekends at just the time when I'm not around much, so I have only ever seen his car in the distance.

Anyway he had a pair of loppers in his hands and asked if he could lop a bit off our catalpa tree that was dangling its pods on their roof and tap, tap, tapping in the breeze.

We Daveys have been aware of this problem for some time but we have no ladder so it had joined the list of jobs waiting for said ladder.

Anyway he said 'Don't worry - I've got everything necessary', so he got his ladder and we started on the task together. His loppers were a bit too small, so I threw my pruning saw and "long loppy thing worked by string" into the pot and we got the basic problem solved.

He's coming again on Monday with a chainsaw, so we could see that catalpa really cut down to size. I'd like to take off the big trunk that is zooming up vertically, but that really is a job for a chainsaw. The catalpas are so vigorous in this area that I can't imagine that pruning it at this time of year will do much harm - even pruning it hard.

Fiat 500, Beetles, BMW Mini and Europe today

I saw one of those new Fiat 500s the other day. They're little gems, beautifully made and finished. This one had leather seats and automatic air-con and a chequerboard roof. It was stunning. We've all seen those swanky Minis. How class are they ! And then the Beetle. I looked at one when I was shopping for a left hand drive car. I was very taken with it but the boot was too small for us and I am not sure about a two door car with our offspring. It was a beautiful car, though.

The original 500, Beetle and Mini were very different, of course. They were all designed to be basic, functional transport for car-loads of people to get a devastated Europe on the move again. Remember how you could stuff things under the back seat of the Mini ? Those huge door bins ? The shelf across the front of the car ? The wire to open the door ? Simple, robust, practical, hyper-modern and as cheap as possible ! And they did the job.

Today's 500, Beetle and Mini are almost the absolute opposite. Smart, classy, opulent, chic, retro, high-tech. If you want cheap and practical you look elsewhere !

To me it's a sign of how Europe has changed. Now Europe is rich. Qualities that once would have been almost laughable have become very important. And yet people want retro, they want to identify somehow with the tradition and heroism of the reconstruction years.

Almost as if we know that with all we have gained we have still lost something important.

Friday, September 07, 2007

This comes to you via the Griffins' internet connection

Orange reset their password to something known last night, then told me the codes for their TV decoder, so now they have telephone (free to Britain), TV (295 channels, all in French), email and Internet.

yippeee !

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A frustrating day

began with a dash to the opticians where Pat got her glasses. The social security (secu) cannot reimburse us because they can't accept a British prescription. Could the optician do a prescription for us ?

Here I must explain that in France you go to an ophthalmologist to get your eyes tested, and to the optician to buy your glasses. There are not enough ophthalmos, so you have to hunt them down and they have waiting lists months long. Opticians are on every street corner, however. (If this seems odd to you, well it seems odd to me, too).

Anyway, the optician couldn't do anything. They tried ringing a friendly ophthalmo but got no reply. Then they said "Could your doctor do a prescription for you?" I dash back home, phone the secu and they say yes. Hurrah ! Now all I have to do is explain to the doctor and pay the (reimbursable) fee.

Then to the student centre to have a nice talk with Sammy about the way forward, and then to print out lots of our FAC prospectuses and posters. Unfortunately we print these on inkjet printers, it takes a long time and it is very wasteful of paper because lots of them come out wonqué. Still, we have a lot of them now.

La rentrée

Yesterday we planned to do some surveys, but there are not that many students about. So we did some affichage instead - hunting for the "affichage libre" or "expression libre" notice boards to pop posters on.

It is then that you realise how ENORMOUS the campus really is. It's HUGE. After a whole day of parading round and posting posters we have probably covered about half of it.

We called at the central information post for students at Capucins and I was struck by how many people were there from banks, from the Aquitaine regional authority, from the family allowance people, from health insurance companies, etc, etc.

And no students. At all ! I think it's still a bit early yet.

I talked with a guy from the Aquitaine region and decided that I must take Ben Griffin down there. He'll get lots of his admin done in one foul sweep ! As long as he takes every single piece of documentation he possesses. ( They always need the one bit of paper you decided to leave at home. How do they know what you left behind ? They must send accomplices to search your house and phone them to say what papers have been left there. Is there no limit to the perfidy of the mobile phone ? )

Today I begin my stints at the student centre. Again, I suspect that there's not really anyone much about - even some of our own stalwarts from last year are not yet in town - but I have a meeting lined up with someone early afternoon anyway.

Ffirst among sequels

One of the nice things about the Griffins' arrival is the chance to ransack their bookshelves and DVDs.

They had First among sequels, the new Thursday Next book. I borrowed it a few days ago and started it this morning. And laughed out loud on page one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Helpmann awards shadow puppets

Crackerjack !

Our two year anniversary

Two years in France were completed on 4th September.

Wow, we've only just begun.

Wow - SIX good commentaries FREE ! Click here !

Tim Challies, sponsored by Monergism books, is doing a big giveaway - three people will get great commentaries from the new Reformed Expository Series.

The first will get all six available volumes.
The second will get to choose the three they'd like.
The third will get to choose one from the series.

To enter for the draw for the giveaway click on the title above or on the link below:

link text

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Since by a man came death... and not vice versa

1 Corinthians 15 v 21 & 22

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Joshua Griffin's teacher

We passed a good moment with Joshua's teacher today. The goal was to explain that he has a motor-coordination problem, but she'd worked that out already.

She was great. She said that she was going to get a peripatetic teacher who comes to help kids learn French. She said that in her class of 23 kids there are two others with similar problems to Josh's. Ideally he would see a speech therapist and a psychomotricien, but that needs to be done through the doctor and the psychomotricien is not reimbursed, so few kids get that help.

So Ben and Liz will need to weigh up whether to pursue the speech therapy now or to wait. Josh's difficulties are compounded by the fact that initially you do not even hear the sounds of French that you have to make, so it may be wise to wait for a while before getting speech therapy going in France!

Josh's teacher was simply concerned that he work at his handwriting and that he does as best he can. She doesn't want him to get a thing, a blockage about it, and she feels that he is coping fine and communicating in class, whether by word or gesture.

Gwilym's Emploi du Temps

Gwilym has his timetable for school. I have to go in tomorrow (at 8am) with his communications book that records The Great German Saga from the end of last term. The scholastic counsellor needs convincing that he is no longer doing German.
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Monday, September 03, 2007

Woah ! A FLAT screen !

Hey, guess what! This spare screen that our friendly student brought round is a FLAT screen !

And it's working just fine.

Expect communications from Patricia on her blogue later this evening...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A student to the rescue !

Some of the students recently came into possession of some elderly computers and one of them has a screen that is not being used.

Hurrah !

Tomorrow the family PC could be in action again, which means Pat blogging and everyone getting proper access to their email.

The photographic evidence that was asked for

Pat eating a ... uurgh ... snail.

She's using a single japanese chopstick to fish it out with.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Heaps on church planting

Church planting
Graham Heaps looks at Acts 15.36-16.40
In this brief article on the vital subject of church planting, I am drawing principles from Acts 16.
An approach that is more practical, and that gives insights into the ways of reaching our materialistic and apathetic society, would be very valuable, but is beyond my competence.
More than that, I want to stress that God’s work needs to be done in God’s way, in dependence upon him. Church planting is not like starting a successful business — though it does need to be undertaken with vision, strategy, planning and organisation. The wisdom we need to succeed in it can only be drawn from Scripture. Acts 16 gives us great help in two areas.

1. What we need if we are to attempt to plant a church (Acts 15.36-16.10).

* A good team of leaders

This is the New Testament pattern. Paul and Barnabas are sent out (Acts 13.2ff), leaving behind adequate leaders at Antioch. And they take a young trainee with them in John Mark. Even after the pain of the bust up with Barnabas over Mark (15.36ff), Paul still chooses an equal to work with him (in Silas), and is happy to blood inexperienced Timothy, who is commended by his church, into the work.

Quality leadership is vital in church planting — a mixture of maturity and youth. Church planting in the New Testament is largely, though not exclusively, about planting leaders.

* Commitment, nerve and resilience

Acts 15/16 shows us that there are always seemingly good reasons to think that the time is not ripe for a church planting initiative. Paul could have held fire after the break with Barnabas, fearful of the impact of that sad occurrence on the church at Antioch. He could also have reasoned that the mushrooming of the existing churches (16.5) made his presence vital for them as they sought to help the many new converts. Yet, instead, he launched out again in a church-planting mission (16.6ff).

Unless we have a real commitment to this work we will always find good reasons for putting it off! Supporting existing believers and congregations is vital, but must not be allowed permanently to prevent pushing on with new ventures.

* The Lord’s direction (with regard to the where and when of a new plant)

How did Paul, Silas and company know where to preach the gospel? Acts 16.6-10 shows us that the Spirit made it plain by preventing them preaching in some districts (!) and directing them to Macedonia. We need that guidance, faced as we often are by a wide range of competing priorities. We must look to him all the time, as we seek to discuss possibilities, push doors and try to establish works elsewhere.

2. How we are to go about planting a new church (Acts 16.11-40).

* Look for what the Lord is already doing

When Paul and friends arrive in Philippi they cannot follow their usual pattern of beginning in the synagogue, because there isn’t one. Instead, using their imagination, they find a group of God-fearing women meeting by the river. They seek to begin with those who have some knowledge of, and concern about, the Living God. And they follow that path whenever it seems opportune, though talking to others also, as God enables.

We can do the same. Before we begin to attempt to plant a church, we need to ask if God is already at work. We are unwise to compete with another Word-centred, gospel church, just because it may not be Reformed and baptistic. But in ploughing virgin territory we can still ask if the Lord has done, or is doing, a work here. We need to keep an eye out for existing believers, or interested souls, or people with some background in the things of God, and consider if it is wise to begin our outreach with them.

* Preach the Lord, for conversions

Paul clearly aims at conversion (vv.13-15 and 29-32), and he sets an example to direct us. We must speak to those who will listen, and are prepared to ask serious questions, whoever they are. Paul is prepared to concentrate on a group of women, a slave-girl, a group of prisoners and a jailor and his family. They do not seem the kind of material from which one can build a stable church, but he is content to work with those whom God brings across his path. He speaks in tiny, seemingly informal meetings and to family groups and individuals, always seeking to bring people to Christ. This is the stuff of church planting.

* Let the ambition to plant a church (by winning souls) govern all your actions and decisions.

Evangelistic church-planting situations throw up all manner of difficult matters (see 16.3, 16.18 and 16.37 for examples). All Paul’s answers were determined by what was most likely to promote his gospel work. Timothy was circumcised to make him acceptable to Jews whom they were seeking to reach. The slave girl was left alone until Paul knew that her cries were beginning to hinder his mission, for he knew that delivering her must bring an ugly backlash. He delayed protesting his treatment by the authorities so he could witness in the prison, and only protested briefly to put the authorities on the back foot, in the hope that they might be loth to pressurise the new church after he left.

Making wise decisions on such issues is difficult indeed, but it is easier if our minds are dominated by the desire to do everything to further the work of the Lord in building his church(es).

* Expect testing opposition

We are bound to attract the devil’s hostility as we seek to rescue men and women from his clutches, and establish Christ’s kingdom on his territory. Sometimes that opposition will be subtle (v.16ff), but often it will be brutal (v.19ff). It will require great grace to bear persecution with joy (v.25). It will require great courage to press on with the work after vicious attacks. All involved in church planting must be ready for painful opposition, but so must all who are going to live for the Lord (2 Timothy 3.12)!

* Trust the Lord for converts

It is the Lord who opens hearts (v.14) and who steps into the lives of the disinterested to awaken them (vv.25-30). We pride ourselves on believing that. Yet do we know when he moves in converting power, and do we expect him to act? Here we learn that the blessing of converting power is related to spiritual growth in believers (16.3), ardent and direct witness (16.13ff), self-denying compassion (16.18) and joyfulness in suffering (16.25ff — yes, it is true that the jailor sleeps through the witness of joyful suffering, but God sees it, and rewards it in a way that retains the glory for himself!). We must pray, work, look for and accept (16.15 and 16.33) conversions!


Acts 16 reminds us wonderfully of the truth that church planting works, because Christ is determined to build his church. Accordingly, we must be ready to embrace the idea of planting new churches, for the glory of the Lord. Such work needs both vision and hard graft. It will bring difficult questions, real pain and much anxiety. Yet we can look for fruitfulness and success in the work, but only as the Lord deigns to bless our feeble efforts. We must be bold and determined, and not let present or imagined difficulties keep us back from endeavouring for Christ.

Graham Heaps
© Evangelicals Now - September 2007

Une belle DS

I saw this DS in Bordeaux - the finest example I have EVER seen. Beautiful !
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Ligon says "Amen monsieur le Président."