Showing posts from March, 2008

Bruch Scottish Fantasy: Finale: Allegro Guerriero

Farewell to Hawarden

It turned out to be a good thing that I was able to preach morning and evening at Wheelock. In the morning we met at the school in Sandbach - it was easy to find and all went ok. In the evening at the old chapel in Pool Lane, Winterley. The chapel was pretty full and I quite liked the way that everyone is quite close together in the building. In the school you have more space and so on, but you do lose out on intimacy. However, not everyone from the school would fit in the old chapel now. I took some photos of the congregation (which I hate doing) and when I can I'll pop 'em on the blog. It was also great to see lots of old friends and to spend the day with the Mackenzies. I started their daughter Hannah on flute when she was 11. She gets married this year. So today I pick up Martin Downes and we stagger off to the Banner conference at Leicester. I am just a bit animal-feverish so it will be good to get away from the little beasts and let me eyes and nose settle down. Before ge

Wheelock Heath today

I'm sitting in the Harney kitchen, typing this on their laptop's weird keyboard (what is it with you people's keyboards ? All the keys are in the wrong place and there's no accents !) and all is calm, all is bright. At about 9am I'll scuttle off to Sandbach for a day at Wheelock Heath Baptist Church where the pastor is my old friend and colleague from the EMW Theological Training Course, Danny Foulkes. Before I do I want to rejig my PowerPoint to make it suitable for a brief slot in a morning service. I wonder if I can find a quick picture of the Griffins on the net ? Wheelock is their home church. Tomorrow I proceed to Leicester for the Banner Conference. Our UFM Scottish Secretary will be bringing some extra materials so we can sneak a little area to put out some leaflets about UFM in France. But before I leave Deeside I have a solemn duty to perform - I must hunt for a BeddyBear at Shotton Lane Pharmacy. Well they had them there three years ago. It's been gr

I DO miss Charlotte Green

I f the link doesn't work search for Charlotte Green and giggles and that should work.

Greetings from Hawarden

Last night was lovely at Rhuddlan . It was wet and stormy so I needed my beret as I carried the projector and stuff in from the car! Driving down the Rhuallt I remembered years of driving bookvan , our little mobile Christian lending library, down the same route to the same destination. We go back quite a long way, Rhuddlan and the Daveys ! There were a good number there - it's not a big church - and there were also some visitors from Kinmel Bay and from Lighthouse Baptist Church Abergele . The Kinmel people go to the Spain Prayer Group which I was part of for years, and the folk from Lighthouse know Joy McCarnan who was a good friend of ours in Bordeaux last year. It is a very small world. Again, wonderful questions, and the DVD seemed to work well for people. Today is a quiet day - well kind of. I am lodged at some friends who have three young children and due to have lunch at some friends who have four musical children so quiet is one of those relative terms. Yesterday I s

Interesting presentation of part of Isaiah 53

and so to North Wales

I am writing this from just off the A55. I arrived early afternoon, got some cheap pants and socks and then went to Bethany Books _ for the Best of Books - to photocopy prayer letters and to have a cup of what is possibly the best tea in North Wales. So much has changed - buildings demolished, flats put up, etc. But some things never change - the roadworks and the traffic jams. At present I feel very nostalgic for Deeside. I picked up the videoprojector and amplifier for tonight at Rhuddlan and scuttled off. Last night was a delight. I was with the folks at Geneva Road, Darlington. They asked such good questions, it was great. Then staying the night with my old colleague and friend Mark Rowcroft, Abigail his wife and their lad, Luke, who's 5. I remember Luke being born and the thanksgiving service - there was a batch of children born in the church at about the same time. In fact I think (Mark will correct me) that the thanksgiving service took place in the school while we were h

Greetings from Whitby !

I am sat in a lovely old stone cottage on the edge of the chilly, windy but sunny North Yorks Moors looking out over Eskdale. It was great to meet the folks at Whitby last night and to see their amazing premises. I asked them if they could ship just part of it out to Bordeaux, but they don't seem too keen. Oh well. Had another episode of fun with the GPS. Firstly the poor thing didn't know about the new stretches of the A1M. "You're driving through ploughed fields !', it kept saying. Then as I left the A1M at about 3pm it said just 140 miles to go. I thought "What ?!" As I pulled up outside the Magowans' house it still thought I had over a hundred miles to cover, but that I had reached my "Via point".. I will take more care in programming it today for the short journey to Darlington. Which I know is NOT FAR AWAY.

BBC Proms - Simón Bolívar Orchestra - Mambo

This is their encore of the Mambo section from the Bernstein dances.

Chocks away !

Eric Coates - Dambusters (BBC Proms 2007)

Oh I hate flying

It was a nice day - well cold and overcast - at Bordeaux. The plane was on time. I was sat right by the front door so I had lots of legroom. It was an Airbus A319, and I do prefer Airbus to Boeing. The flight was smooth and I enjoyed looking down through the blue skies onto the coast of Brittany, then Torbay , then the Bristol Channel with Flat Holm and Steep Holm . The landing was very smooth. Everything was fine. But I just hate flying ! I brought the GPS with me and realised when it said that Britsol Airport to Cardiff was 695 miles that something probably needed reprogramming. I changed its settings and things went a lot better from then on. It had been trying to direct me from Bristol Airport to Cardiff via the Bordeaux Rocade . I have realised that our masterplan of me contacting the family by Skype using McDonalds free wifi is flawed in that it depends on me finding a McDonalds at the time the family are at home together. Hmm .

Thine be the glory

Dudamel/SBYO Proms 2007 Bernstein Part I

This is good fun. Watch out for the conductor's grin and for the percussionist with the whistle. There's a nice interview with the conductor on Youtube, too.

Milhaud's Suite Francaise (1 of 5) - 1. Normandie

Crackerjack !

Easter Sunday

was at the Chateau in Blaye and we seemed a pretty good number. Some of our Bordeaux folk were not able to come though others went the second mile - by which I mean that instead of driving 40 minutes to church they drove almost two hours. Makes you think, no ? Sammy preached on Luke 23:39 - 43, and especially 43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." After the service we gave a lift home to a student and gathered with the Griffins at our home to eat the picnic we had taken with us - it was REALLY COLD so we ate indoors. Then to the Griffins for tea/dinner/supper ( roast pork- Ben is a devoted follower of Delia and it certainly works for him!) and also a time of collecting and depositing assorted children here and there. So many things are different from Easter in Britain. But the central message proclaimed is the same, and the one hope for all people in Jesus Christ.

Do us a favour. Get rid of all this before I come

Good Friday

is not a big event in France. The kids are in school. Church services have to be in the evening, and because people often work late it means that numbers are small. Easter Monday is a public holiday, but there's school again on Tuesday.

Someone took these at the China service

They took one of me but it is very dark.

The other day I had to go to part of Bordeaux I'd not been to before

I had to pass the newly restored "Grand Hotel" with its doorman in tricorn hat and newly gilded pots. The chappie in the last photo showing big old drawings to a group of kids is a local TV celebrity. He explores and explains interesting buildings of Bordeaux and environs on TV7 Bordeaux.

I came across this place


I also passed these nice places

The one shop specialises in restored Velosolex and in enamelled advertisements. Nice !

Authors@Google: Tim Keller

Tim Keller speaks at Google

Ted Donnelly at Bala on preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Useful Churchill Quotes in French You never know when they'll come in handy.

Well the deed is done - I have booked the hire car.

Yes, I know. I've been putting it off because it is a lot of money, and I don't see the point in paying it out too early ! Now the deed is done. I shopped around lots, but I expect someone will still tell me where I could have got something cheaper. Still...

and the gastro continues

poor Catrin, desperate to eat, bowl at the ready. How long can this go on ? How many of us will catch it ?

Songs of praise - See what a morning

Bordeaux resists Sarkozy's charms

Bordeaux resists Sarkozy's charms

Catrin's gastro

(and not Castro's gatrin...) Poor girl. On Friday she had a headache and we thought she was brewing a cold. On Saturday very early morning she started vomiting. Saturday afternoon things improved. She's just started vomiting again. These things go round the schools like crazy !

Young people's

This morning is the church senior young people's meeting (lycéens). Because the church doesn't have its own place we rent a room for services in the afternoon in a conference centre. Another church (a Malagasy Lutheran Church) uses the room in the morning. We use a different venue for the lycéens group - a tiny theatre on the right bank. We meet once a fortnight at 10 am, we all take a picnic or sometimes we cook together ( croque monsieur or crêpes ) and we meet until just before church starts - about 3:30 to give us time to get to the conference centre. This gives lots of time for doing Christianity Explored together and also for "hanging out". One of the lovely things about meeting on the right bank is that my drive there takes me right through the heart of Bordeaux, down Cours Victor Hugo and across the Pont de Pierre, where you get the best views of the city. One fine day I want to walk across the Pont de Pierre and take lots of photos. Maybe this summer.

It is hard to adequately describe

the subversive joy of listening in the tram to Wales beat France in a hard-fought match. Très bien, les bleus ! I tried not to shout or anything. It would have been OK to shout "Yes !" because the French do that anyway. But people probably wondered what I was listening to as I grinned and gasped and jumped up and down. Maybe they thought I had some strange bipolar disorder. The tram was quite full at Hotel de Ville but it quickly emptied. Voilà ! Le grand chelem. Chapeau, bechgyn. Vraiment chouette !


Oh Gavin, Gavin ! On ne fait pas cela !

Que c'est bête !

English class just finished. France 2 broadcasting the match on the internet.

20 minutes in, 9 - 3, allez-y, bechgyn !

This is one that I would watch if I could (In this article the France team pay tribute to the Millennium Stadium.)

Faire la grasse matinée (la grasse mat)

It is widely accepted in France that from time to time ( and maybe once a week ) you will have a lie-in - that is spend the morning in bed. This is called "faire la grasse matinée" - doing the greasy morning or doing the fat morning. They just put forward a possibility for the origin of the expression on the radio. The idea goes that in the 16th century Mika's philosophy was very widely shared - "Big girls you are beautiful" - and so wealthy girls would spend the morning in bed to help them to put weight on to get as fat as possible. In the 16th century they talked of "dormir la grasse matinée".

Wow !

Is Gmail's spam checking going bananas ?

For a few days various messages advertising medication that promises guaranteed results that I don't think would be desirable even if possible... have been ending up in my in-tray rather than in the spam. Now this morning Tim Challies' RSS feed, the august France24 news email, Christian Book News, Sermonaudio and sundry other eminently respectable messages have been labelled as spam. I hope it settles down soon.

I keep forgetting to pop this on

The other day there was a rail strike. The radio said it was because of "la pénibilité du travail" - rough translation - "the work is such a pain in the neck". I am sure that "conditions of service" or "working conditions" would be a better translation really.

Some books leave me shaken-up

I have just finished The Kiterunner . It was recommended highly to me so I found it and read it in English . In French it is called Les cerfs-volants de Kaboul . It is "a good book ", but it has left me feeling kind of bruised inside . Some books do that . I take a while to get over them . The Pullman trilogy did it . So when you find me grumpy , moody and generally out of sorts it is always worth asking what I've been reading lately .

Not all friends are false friends...

The French plateaux du désert is best translated as desert plateaux , not desert trays ... But it really had me guessing for a while. I thought "desert trays, what ever can they mean ?" It was only when I tried to explain that "a tray in English means something for carrying food, un plateau" that I realised what had happened.

Property prices in France

One of the BIG ISSUES that faces our students, our young people, our families, our missionaries and our church is the price of property. OK, in rural France you can still buy or rent relatively cheaply. But that's not where the universities are, where the jobs are, where the people are or where so many of our missionaries need to be. In Bordeaux housing is very expensive and difficult to find. Listen to this BBC programme that focuses on Paris where the problem is even worse. And be prepared to be shocked.

The last free service as such

Our car has this brilliant "service included" extended guarantee that the original owner bought, so I took it in today for its 100k km service. I assumed (without looking at the book) that this would be the cambelt change and anyway my garage man (= mecano ) has had a tendency to keep the car all day or even overnight, so I booked an appointment at the doctors down the road from the garage and we worked out how to get the kids back and fore to school without the car. OK - it'll be ready in an hour and a half. No ! Yes ! What about the cambelt ? (thinks - I must memorise the French for cambelt) Not due till 160k km or ten years. No ! Yes ! OK - I'll be back once I've seen the doctor. When I went back the mecano said "Now the contract ends in November so it's best to bring the car to us in October just in case you need shock absorbers or anything like that." You're on. Well you have a contract. You have to make the most of it. The receptionist coul

Alun Hoddinott - Wales Millennium Centre opening - Diversions

Would you believe it ! There's some Hoddinott on Youtube. This is from his suite "Welsh Dances"

Fifteen years

Today's our wedding anniversary !

Alun Hoddinott has died Known for his colourful orchestrations.

Titanic in 5 Seconds

It is a very long film, so it's good to just get the gist of it.

Creation, ID and France

One of the things that kind of punches you in the stomach here is that belief in a six-day-created, young-earth is pretty scarce is France. Imagine a pastor's conference where the speaker is asked "So can one be a creationist and honest ?" I was there. The speaker graciously evaded the question but the implication was clearly no. Now I believed in six-day creation before I started reading the Bible, encouraged by the discussions we had in my sixth-form Biology class. During my Biology degree I continued to believe in a six-day creation and I began to read the Bible. I was not surprised to find that the Bible sometimes challenged my belief, sometimes reinforced it and sometimes refined it. It does that. I met people who believed in theistic evolution but most of the Biology students who were Christians were six-day creationists. I don't know any that were not. Incidentally this was in the time when Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene was first published. Yes, I am t

"It is verging on immoral to suggest that people eat frozen mashed potato." I agree wholeheartedly. Has the woman never heard of instant mash ? It's what we eat in France - here you can get it with added carrot, peas or pumpkin, too. Yum !

I have to go on an aeroplane soon but it's only Bordeaux to Bristol, two small airports where the security men probably know your entire family and they outnumber the passengers anyway, so getting through the queues quickly is not an issue. But for those who fly stateside here's an article on getting through security quickly. You have to guess at the meaning of some of it, eg. You might as well check your dignity curbside. Forget any ideas of dignity ? Your MacBook. The latest pageturner bought cheaply and quickly ? Below is a section on how to survive an avalanche. Here in the Gironde we get occasional snow but the chances of an avalanche are absolutely zero !

This sounds like a good book.

Pat has to do a presentation for her French group

It's on the Queen's hats. So I did a quick google search for her. There's a lot of material there, really.

OpenOffice question Impress / PowerPoint question

We use PowerPoint at church for the hymns, songs, readings and announcements. The announcements are shown in an endless loop before the service, then the service unfolds, then the announcements loop again after the end of the service. I found out how to do this in PowerPoint from the internet - you can jump from one PowerPoint file to another - then branch back on one press of "escape" - and it all works fine. HOWEVER : The person taking over preparation of the PowerPoint from me does not have Microsoft Office on her laptop (though she's running Vista). She uses OpenOffice ( Hurrah ! ) That's no problem for the Sundays. We can either use the church's own laptop or she can download the free PowerPoint Viewer software. But for preparing the file it's more of a problem. The Big Question is this : Can you branch and return from one Impress presentation to another ? And if so how ? Anyone know ?

Well it's gray, wet, windy and horrible here

and set in for a long time, they say. Roofs are wonderful.

Germans to see sitcom 'allo 'allo It has to be said that like lots of British humour, this is terribly bête . The funny accents, the mispronunciations, the gross caricatures and stereotypes. Just like Inspector Clouseau, etc. Not to mention the frequent smut. Having said that, the gendarme is still, to an extent, my hero. He reminds me that a man is more than his vowels.

The municipals - France elects its maires We could vote in these elections - if I had thought in time about registering.

Whooooopidoooooooooooo ! And next week is win-win for me ! The only problem is how to shout for two teams at once. The link below will help all those readers who would like to sing while watching the game. Non-Welsh friends may find the Youtube links helpful - you can hear Donny Osmond singing Myfanwy, for example. I can only underline the warning that the BBC gives - one is not responsible for the content of external sites.

On PowerPoint

In 2003, Yale Professor Emeritus Edward Tufte gave the definitive criticism of Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation software, headlining an article, “PowerPoint Is Evil. Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.”

The Subjunctivator ! Scary or what !

Back from Marrakesh

Seen by the tram stop

What about Friday ?

Hallo, I am calling from 18 Elisée Reclus, a workman called on Monday but left within the hour without completing the job and my colleague asked me to ring to reschedule the appointment. Oh yes - he came back that afternoon but everything was shut up. Yes. He said when he left that he didn't know when he would be back so when I had finished what I was doing I left. He came back the next day too, but it was still closed up. Yes, the centre is closed on Monday and Tuesday. But I had allocated those two days for him to do the job. So why did he say 'I don't know when I'll be back ?' Because he didn't know I had allocated those two days. And neither did I ! But I told your colleague. But they didn't tell me and you didn't tell your workman, did you ? No. So is Friday OK ? Yes. OK, Friday it is.

Downsie points out that we wouldn't dream of doing this...

Wow !

Is the euro strong or the pound weak ?

One difference between we French and the anglo-saxon mindset is that

I was chatting with the dad of a friend of Gwilym. He works for a multinational aeronautics firm, so he speaks pretty good English (though we stuck to French), he knows that Welsh culture is different from English culture (hurrah !) and ... wait for it ... he has visited Cwmcarn many times. He said, "Of course, one difference between the French and the Anglo-Saxon mindset is that we are very logical while you are very pragmatic." I think I looked puzzled and doubtful... "You must do something", he said, "and if that does not work then you will change and do something else until you find out what does work. We must reflect before we do anything." He's so right. Although the verb 'to reflect' exists in English I don't think I ever used it and I certainly never did it. I MUCH prefer to do SOMETHING than nothing, even if it is the wrong thing. After all, in a crisis to do nothing is usually the wrong thing. However here in France I find that w

Sometimes things just don't work out too well...

Although the student centre is normally closed on Mondays this morning a man was coming to fix one of the doors so I scuttled in on the tram and got there well before nine. While he and his assistant played with the door in question I attempted to print out our newly designed and revised prospectus. Could I get the thing lined up to print properly ? No I couldn't. Could the man fix the door ? No he couldn't. He said "I will need to make a plate to screw to the door to fix this bar on. I don't know when I'll be back to do it." I thought "I don't either. Why don't you have a guess ? A week ? A month ? A year ?" I said, "OK. Goodbye till next time."

E.R. discovers the flaw of post-modernism

Thanks to "un poisson dans le net" for this. Disponible avec sous-titrage français sur

Quick ! Turn on all the lights and drive somewhere you don't need to go ! Of course, there are those that will say that in fact the world has cooled down because of global warming. We can expect much colder weather as the world warms up, until we change our energy use and get the world to cool down again, when of course the weather will warm up. Confused ? I rather suspect everyone is. The weather is complex and chaotic, after all, and maybe the climate is, too.

Aha ! In 1991 I bought an Elonex 386sx 25MHz PC. It served me very well for many years before going overseas to work in Albania (the PC, not me). It is good to see that the firm is still going and still innovating.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant !

Gwlad ! Gwlad ! Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad ! Tra'r môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau !

and a few more