Showing posts from August, 2008

The new premises

We are not yet out of the pickies on the premises front. There is good news and bad news : 1) We sign Tuesday instead of Thursday ( good news - the sooner the better in my opinion ) 2) However the contract we've received has added 50€ per month for each of four parking spaces, when we thought that six spaces were included in the price we negotiated. It's the first we've heard of an additional price for parking. If the agency insists we just wont take the parking spaces. 3) The certificate of conformity for public use for up to 100 people has not yet been produced. Apparently the landlord has it, but we will need to have it before signing. So keep praying !

Happy memories on the tram

"So when did you use dont , and when did you use que ?" There was no mistaking it. Here we had a great group of the new intake of students from California at the language school. I had parked the car at Unitec to scuttle into town to meet up with Sammy and we all got on the tram at the same stop. I said "Are you here to study at the DEFLE ? Have you just done your test ?" We chatted about DEFLE and the test. "Who did the test ? Did they introduce themselves or were they just scary ladies ?" "Oh they were just scary ladies." I said "Don't write in pencil and don't expect extra assignments to enable you to improve your grade. Use neat paper. Don't turn up late." One lad likes football so I said that a gang of us goes to Bordeaux matches sometimes (I made it clear that I don't go!) and gave him my phone number on a student centre prospectus. He said he'd ring. I ached to have some leaflets about the international servi

of babies and bathwater

"Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater", we cry. Yes - but there's more to this problem than meets the eye, isn't there. Because if we throw out the baby with the bathwater then that's a catastrophe. We get rid of the bathwater ( hooray ! ) but woe is me, baby is lost. But if we keep the baby in the bathwater then we get to keep the baby ( hooray ! ) but sadly we also have to keep the bathwater ( yuk ! ) and what is more the bathwater will deteriorate and the baby will also be harmed by its ever-more-foul presence. Of course it is always possible that we will opt for the worst case, jettison the bonny baby ( shame ! ) and keep the bathwater ( grooo ! ). A surprising degree of acuity and life experience is needed to discern between baby and bathwater, to know exactly where the baby ends and where the bathwater begins, and to jettison all the bathwater and retain all the baby - especially because to begin with both smell the same - of Tesceaux Baby Bath. O

Does this seem expensive to you ?

Before we came to France we bought a left-hand-drive car in Britain. Our reasons for doing so were : 1) it's a lot easier to sell a right-hand-drive car in Britain than in France 2) it gets something practical out of the way before we even come 3) we were told that second-hand cars are more expensive in France As I look round it seems to me that they are more expensive here. This is a Twingo I saw for sale in our local supermarket yesterday. They are small cars - about Ford Ka size. This one is 12 years old but has only done about 50,000 miles and the seller is asking the equivalent of £1500 for it. Tied in with this is a survey I saw on the internet that had asked people in France how long they keep their cars. The average was 7 - 9 years ! Quite different from Britain but maybe understandable in the light of the secondhand prices. ( TBE stands for très bon état - very good condition )

Now let me see, a lutin for Physics

This morning was "back to school" shopping. You have to keep your wits about you. I had few real problems but I did have a little difficulty remembering what a lutin is. Gwilym needs two for Physics. ( It's worth looking that one up in ) Got it right, thankfully. Then finding oeillets , which I think Catrin needs. On the way back from the supermarket, coming up the slip road from the rocade I saw a bird of prey just emerging from the grass very near the car. There was a small fieldmouse hanging from its beak. Amazing.

A glimpse of Olympic weightlifting

It was wonderful to watch. Ilya Ilin, the enormous guy on the platform, bent and siezed the bar, got into the crouch position, lifted the bar to his chest, above his head, straightened his legs. But the wonderful thing to see was the reaction of his coach - a small, weedy, bespectacled man - who punched the air, danced, jumped up and down. Other weightlifters took their turn. Some succeeded, others failed to lift their bar. Then "our" guy again. His coach watched from the side. He siezed the bar, lifted it - and secured the gold medal for Khazakhstan. His coach went berserk ! He jumped, he danced, he hugged and kissed his enormous pupil. The weightlifter got the gold and its glory. But there could have been no greater joy than the joy of the coach. In Christian ministry there's always the danger of it being all about me , my service, what I do, what I 've done. It's not.

The BBC reports on pollution in the Rhône

It's been a quiet week in Pessac

or at least I hope it has. ¤ We have been in Brittany in the gorgeous little town of Belle-Isle-en-Terre staying in an adorable little gite while attending our French association's Assemblée Générale and also preaching to a very gracious church at Guingamp yesterday. I'll pop some photos on when I can get this phone to synchronise with the pc. Belle-Isle is gorgeous and Brittany is wonderful in the summer - even when the weather is not brilliant. Also Gwilym and Catrin clicked extremely well with our colleagues the Hartiels' children, Joseph and Lydie. However it is 6 hours drive each way - dual-carriageway all the way - so we are not going anywhere for a while... please... ¤ in fact while we were away the church met at our house yesterday - 35 people by all accounts, which is too many for the number of chairs we have. Oops ! Just as well we were not there.


We went for a team meal in the crêperie - and a friend was there who was on the same theological training course back in cough-cough-cough... The pizzeria is not open at the moment. Menu of the day says 'Hols !'


Isn't it GORGEOUS ! Two rivers, I think, so lots of bridges and lots of opportunity to play pooh-sticks. The rivers are quite weedy but they're clean and there's fish.

A quick trip to Perros-Guirec

We were supposed to go to Perros-Guirec on holiday in 1999 but a sudden crisis stopped us so it was great to get to go now. The children went in the sea. One minute it was emptying down, the next the sky looked like it didn't know how to rain.





Tréguier cathedral

Has a rather natty "filigree" spire, leaflets in Welsh (Cymraeg) but also le chef de Saint Yves - his head displayed in a lovely glass case. He died in the 1300s. I think that every cathedral we have been to in Brittany has had body parts on display. Not that we've been to that many, mind. And we've never seen them anywhere other than in Brittany..

Saint Michael's-on-Strike

The evening before our return from Brittany wa went with the Hartiel family to one of the nearest beaches at a lovely little place called Saint Michel en Grève. The children disappeared, the womenfolk wandered off and we menfolk talked team, church, evangelism, etc. It's a beautiful setting. We wondered if the local inhabitants are called Grèvistes (strikers). The happy folk of Caste are known as the Castois and the cheery inhabitants of Grâce are called the Gracieux. As you may suspect, grève doesn't only mean strike. It also means beach, shoreline, strand, so I think a better translation of this placename would be St Michael's on the strand, or St Michael's on the shore.

If you've just come back from holiday, this is the place to click !

This and the following article are good thought-provokers

Joshua's birthday picnic


Joshua's birthday picnic ii


Our counting wasn't bad - we were "une trentaine"

about 30, counting the nippers - many of whom didn't use chairs anyway. It was a poignant occasion because we said goodbye to Heidi and Luc-O who are moving east with their three little ones. We put all our tables in a row on the terrasse and everyone fitted on fine. In the absence of last weeks pompier (fireman) to advise on the barbecue we had a scoute (you can work that one out) and all seemed fine. All was OK. We sang unaccompanied because all our pianists are missing on holidays, but all was OK except for 'Before the throne' which starts very low then goes very high. Ooops. We took a few hits afterwards on our natty black plastic solar lamps but since I got them ten for 5 euros at Auchan it isn't a huge loss... I preached on Galatians 2:20.

31 chairs this week

It's a privilege to have the church meet at our home. We have counted up the people who could reasonably be expected to be here and we get to 32. Aha ! We have 31 chairs when we really scour the joint hard. Ah well. There's always the stairs, and one family we have counted may not yet be back from holiday and some other folks too, so I'd be surprised if we get to 31. But if we do we're ready !

Les C pas C - Guantanamera

We went to Dax to the feria yesterday. It's a kind of town fair with funfairs, bands playing in the street and bullfighting. I was keen to go to see what it's like, though I was wary of the level of drunkenness and also unsure how much the bullfighting would dominate. France has it's own kind of bullfighting where people try to avoid a charging bull either by side-stepping or by vaulting over its horns. But the Spanish kind is also done - at Dax. Here we have a band (fanfare de rue) playing Guantanamera. My prof de trombone is in this group. (There was more drunkenness than I've seen before in France, but still pretty mild by British standards.)

Bandas à Dax 1

We stopped for lunch at a pizzeria and this Banda came and set up just beside us.

Bandas à Dax 2

I guess they numbered about thirty players. I was quite taken with one guy who held his lit cigarette and trombone in one hand and worked the slide with the other.

Bandas à Dax 3

Once the first Banda had wondered off another came along.

C'est si bon - Banda à Dax

This is the last of the videos I'll post. There were about 16 bandas blasting here and there. How could anyone accuse the French of being humourless when they do this to one of their great standards ?

"What flavour crisps do you think we should get for the apéro before the church lunch tomorrow ?"

T he re's ( among many others ) Old-fashioned mustard. Woodman's fry-up. Grilled onion. Pesto. Grilled peppers. Tzatziki. ( ! ) Chicken and thyme. Herbes de Provence. Garlic and rosemary. My favourite is olive flavour, but I got pesto. The weirder the flavour the longer the crisps last.

Bach: Bourree in e-minor

Derek Thomas interviews Geoff Thomas

Derek begins with a marvellous imitation of Geoff's voice. Mind you, most people who studied in Aber can do that voice. The interview speaks for itself.

A spot of culture - the influence of cockney music on the great composers

I never told you about the trombone saga

Renaud the prof de trombone said that it was time to think about changing from the ex-rental Taiwanese Jupiter 432 that I'd been playing to a big boy's trombone - that is to say one with an F mechanism and a large bore. hmmm . There's a second-hand trombone outfit in Mont de Marsan but Bordeaux is awful for music shops. Worse than Cardiff. And trombones are expensive here in France. In fact I'd bought the Jupiter for £150 from Britain on eBay. ( It was a good buy too ) I asked in the local shops for the sake of form. Jupiter 636 large bore with F mechanism , three times the price they are in Britain ! Up there with the Yamahas and the American trombones. Second hand ? Dream on. All this about two months before we were due to go to Britain on summer hols, though. So I thought 'OK - while we're in the UK I'll visit some of the trombone mongers. There's one in Bristol, one in Taunton , one in Watford . That'll follow our itinerary a bit'. I p

More on the new premises

Que du bonheur ! It's good news all the way ! We sign on September 4th and get the keys straight away. The agency has reduced their fees by a third and we can pay them in a couple of instalments. Whoopeeee ! Here we go ! (Thanks for praying ! Sorry not to pass this on yesterday but I took to my bed with a sudden cold.)

Nice post, Justin

We've been to see the new premises

You enter via the door on the right of the first photo (the door seems to be covered by a roll-up shutter?) and gently sloping stairs take you up to the main rooms.

At the top of the stairs you find

A small room with a half-glazed wall, a nice light room such as one might use for children's meetings and a small room whose importance is out of all proportion to its size