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)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Contrôle Technique

So I took the car for its contrôle technique. We'd checked that all the lights were working (though I didn't bother with the front foglamps because you aren't required by law to have them anyway). It was emptying down with rain so I decided that if he failed me on under-inflated tyres I'd just blow 'em up and go back for a retest.

So 14h the car was duly sat in the queue and I went off to wander round Leclerc while the test was done. When I came back the car had passed.
They did note a few things :
One of the front foglamps is not working, (!)
"Deterioration" on the offside back door (it's a dent).
"Deterioration" of the rear number plate lamp. We replaced a bulb when we serviced the car so maybe he just noticed that the lamp cover is missing. We couldn't get it back on but it's hidden up inside a deep ridge anyway.
A bit of play in the rear suspension.

But none of these things was failable, so we are set to roll for another two years.

It's good to get that out of the way. I feel that with that done we have come out of a rather hard fortnight !

I. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, Ouverture / John Eliot Gardiner

Wow ! Sacqueboutes and funky trumpets !

There are questions one must not ask

Alan (coughing) : Do you think we'll ever breathe normally again ?

Pat (coughing) : Oh, I expect so one day.

Pat (coughing) adds : But one day you'll ask that question to a doctor and they'll say, 'No, I think this is the end, now'

Alan (coughing) : then I must NEVER ask that question of a doctor...

Leechblock changed Tim's life

Read about it here. It's worth a look, eh ?


It's a pity to end our festive jazz suite with a fizzle. Perhaps tomorrow I will append their sleigh-ride. If you're good.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pat's surprise birthday party went very well

She didn't suspect a thing. How everyone managed to hide in the kitchen I will never know - it is overcrowded when just two people are in there. The children did exceptionally well sorting everything out while Pat and I were at choir rehearsal and all was just hunky-dory and dinky-doo. Thanks to all who made her feel very special and very loved !

OK, this weekend is about preaching

Tomorrow morning at Anglade - in the newly fixed car ! Ça roule !
Tomorrow evening at the International Church.

Also continuing to sort out the Carol service which is now in just a fortnight's time !


Wow ! Christmas is coming fast !

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well I collected

the car. As I paid I asked Mr Plazy where is a good place to get the contrôle technique done.

'But I'd have done that for you !' he said, 'you should have said'. Anyway he directed me to a place near the music school and said to say that he sent me. You have to get your car checked over every two years. A friend has a seriously rotten Citroën Visa from just before the Norman conquest that passes first time every time, but another friend has just had his recent Rover failed on emissions. So I guess you never know.

Anyway, off to read with Dik, J-P and Christophe, followed by a quick trip to the church to deposit two PCs that are up for grabs. Anyone want a basic machine for word-processing, email and the like ? One uses XP and the other Win 98. No takers ? Posh lot !

Then home via the contrôle technique place. I liked the guy. He looked like someone from a Thomas Hardy novel and we made a rendez-vous for Monday afternoon. I changed the wiper blades. Must check that all the lights work and check tyre pressures and levels of brake fluid and steering fluid on Monday morning.

Then home to find the leaflets for door-to-door waiting for me.

Yippee ! Must say, I didn't see any buses in the city at all, and just a few trams. Everywhere seemed very quiet though it did seem to be National Drive Like A Lunatic Day.

Great British dishes

Some of these have just got my imagination racing ... kippers ! yum yum !

"La voiture est terminée"

A call from the garagiste.

I said "terminée, ça veut dire qu'elle est prête..."

"Oui, aucun problème."

While I pay I'll ask him where to go for the contrôle technique, which is due now, too !


Continuing our festive frolic.

Bus and tram strike

There's a bus and tram strike today. Actually the trams are running, but apparently there's no buses in Pessac. This means that today Gwilym can't get to school, either. The car isn't back from the garage yet - I expect he'll ring some time this morning. I can get to my meeting in Saige on foot and tram, but I'll have to leave super-early !

Harmonica for dummies

I finally got a chance to get Pat her special birthday present, something that wll change her life. And ours. 'The harmonica for dummies'. It comes with a harmonica in C, an instruction book and an accompaniment cd.

Pat's always said that she'd love to learn a musical instrument, and now she has one that she can always keep  with her in her handbag.

I did think of 'The ukelele for dummies' but I couldn't find it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

That should get us through the winter

The wood-man cometh and dumpeth in the driveway.
It didn't take us very long to stack it neatly by the door,
but away from the wall...
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Poor Gwilym's having kittens

about this. How will he get to collège ?


Phew ! A sensible title !

Alan is grateful for

an uneventful journey without a clutch to the garage. I found the garage and a guy watched me turn in rather too fast in second gear then draw jerkily to a halt before stalling the engine.

I went and said hello. We shook hands. "You work here ?" 'Yes, the boss will be here soon and I don't have a key. Problem with the car ?' "Yes. No clutch". 'Ah !'

I am grateful too for garage owners who shake hands with you and say "We'll sort it out" and who work 150 yards from your house.

And for friends who have made a substantial contribution to the cost of the clutch repair. Thanks guys !

And for a quiet morning to gather my strength for this evening and prepare for the weekend !

And not least for a wife who is well reestablished and trying on her wedding garb !

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When the blogue and facebook are quiet

it's because the day has NOT been quiet !

It included doing surveys on the student campus. I met some great people. I particularly think of one guy who was very pleasant and easy to talk to who said that he believes that there is no reason for anything, and that he does not believe in happiness or misery, and so manages to live in a state of detached peacefulness. His philosophy lecturers tell him that he has no heart or feelings. I think Spurgeon would have kicked him in the shins to test the strength of his detached peacefulness but he was a big guy... Anyway we talked very freely about things and he accepted a Bible.  Afterwards, of course, I thought of a hundred more things I should have said to him, far better than the things I did say, but hey... Three students said 'Yes, we believe in God'. I said, 'Really ?' and we chatted. They are products of believing catholic families who sent their kids to catholic school and the kids made friends and now they are studying together at university and still attending church. I invited them to FAC. They'd get on well with some of the others who come. Another guy is muslim and we hope to meet up in a fortnight after he's finished a project.

Afterwards I collected Catrin from home and took her to her flute lesson (the first post-flu) and then to her opticians appointment. While she was in her flute lesson I learnt that my trombone session and the big band rehearsal had been moved from Friday to Thursday because there's a concert of the symphonic on Friday. EEEK !

We had a half-hour to kill on the way to the opticians so we popped into a café in Pessac than we've never tried before. The manager was very pleasant and a real anglophile. He even detected from my accent that I am not English (hurrah !). 'I learnt my Englsh from Pink Floyd albums.', he said. He seemed to be aware of some of the evangelical churches, too. I'll pop back and invite him to the carol service. I bet he'd love that.

The optician said that Catrin has a slight astigmatism, but that if she adopts a good posture while reading and writing then that will be better than trying to correct this with spectacles. Jolly good !

Then back home for a swift sausage before heading off for the prayer meeting. I learnt wih dismay that I was opening up - dismay because with buses and trams it's not easy to guarantee being on time. I was on time, however.

But on the way home a technical incident meant that there weren't any trams passing the church, so we had to walk a couple of stops before getting on this empty tram that said "Sans Voyageurs" but opened its doors at the stop. We looked at each other but got on anyway. Then Fiona kindly ran me home and I was warmly welcomed by my bed !


Look, this is festive, great jazz and great art music.

You do have to get past the titles, though, I confess.

Christmas is coming to Pessac !

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On the way to the bus stop

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Tuesday travels etc...

Yesterday morning was the team meeting and prayer meeting and afterwards Gwilym and I had to present ourselves at the place where he'll do his stage. The supervisor seemed very nice and it doesn't open till 11am (!) so he gets a lie-in all week !

Afterwards we returned home through the warm autumnal sunshine and I got on with some more Carol Service planning - by email. After some preparation and a quick sandwich it was time to scuttle off on the tram for the English class. I walked to the bus stop through the park - through the dark trees under the inky sky.

I wish I could bring you with me on the journey. The bus takes us through the lower regions of Mérignac, where instead of stylish new villas you get old wooden shacks and ramshackle old farmhouses. The outskirts of Mérignac fascinate me, and on the bus you see them very well. You end up at a bus / tram / park and ride called Fontaines d'Arlac. After crossing a frontier style level crossing you turn a corner into this beautiful little square with a centuries old wash-house and a space-age stainless-steel park and ride. In the evening with the street lights it's a magical place. No, really ! Then the tram to the centre of town. Great !

The English Class seemed to go pretty well. It included a brief introduction to the continuous tenses (I walk/I am walking, I will walk/I will be walking). We played Monster (please, thank-you and sorry) to practise la politesse anglaise. Mispronunciation of 'aces' prompted a brief session on words that are really much more offensive than you realise. The kind of lesson I wish someone had given me for French, because you really need to know what NOT to say as well as what to say.

I have wrestled with this awful little whiteboard that you have to balance or prop with one hand while writing with the other etc... and today I had a brianwave. I put the whiteboard on the table. Then we used it as the card-table and when I need to write anything down: 'better late than never', 'on the off-chance', 'Kings, Queens, Jacks, Aces', the board was really accessible. Everyone needed to remember everyone else's name for the game, so we wrote them on the whiteboard. Simple !

Home to move the car with Ben's ox-like help to a position from which I can take off for the repairs tomorrow morning. Brief talk with the neighbour opposite. Let's call it a day.

Not a bad night's sleep, though Pat had a bout of vomiting in the wee hours. She's coughing better, though.

It's not Olbas Oil, but it's magnificent

Since I was introduced to Olbas Oil back in the early 80s by a colleague at HTV who was a martyr to her sinuses it has been a staple remedy in the Davey household. Sometimes we have slept for weeks on end in a deep menthol fug.

But I have yet to find it in France.

Yesterday I was at the pharmacy buying Vicks for our feet so I asked what they had in the way of oils for inhalation, and the pharmacist found me a marvel.

It's made up of mint, thyme, lavender etc. No eucalyptus so it doesn't have the eye-watering aggression of Olbas Oil, but instead it has a penetrating sweetness and it smells nice. And an atomiser, so you spray it on your hankie, duvet-cover, coat collar, socks, pretty well everywhere. "Buy the small size", said the pharmacist. It lasts.


Christmas is coming, no ?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

English class this evening

Last week we were looking at how to ask people to do things in English, the imperative.
( Sit down ! Please sit down. Repent ! Please repent. )

So we played Simon Says.

When we did the time I did think of playing "What's the time Mr Wolf" but it coincided with us getting a huge table in the middle of the room where we work, so we couldn't.

This week we might play Monster - a card game - or we might play "I spy", just as a vocabulary workshop. Or maybe the alphabet restaurant. "Waiter, I'd like an apple !" "Waiter, I'd like an apple and a bread roll !"

Poor Pat

roasted all day and coughed all night. She's not well. She has to see the doctor today anyway for a prescription renewal (thyroxin) but I reckon he'll just say "drink and rest" - the very things she is doing.

This episode of the car saga nears its conclusion !

OK. I now have four quotes for fixing the car:

1) The Citroën dealer in Mérignac (where the car was towed all that time ago). The most expensive and the most awkward to get to !

2) A garage next door to a friend in Pessac. Comes recommended and is walkable to. The second most expensive (though over 200€ cheaper than the main dealer !). They could fix the car next week.

3) The Citroën Chronoservice guy just round the corner. He also comes recommended - the main dealer sends people to him. They could fix the car this Thursday.

4) A breakdown and repairs garage just across the park. I found them in the yellow pages when I was looking for the number for guy 3. and I liked their entry. They even had a little video. It's a family firm, and the cheapest. They could fix the car sometime this week (dans la semaine).

I'm going to go for guy number 3. It's a small business. They won't have a work experience kid fixing your brakes. He's the easiest to walk to and to drive to and he professes to be a Citroën specialist. And it'll give us a chance to get to know a mechanic in the area.


Continuing in the festive theme.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Christmas is coming, or so I hear.

The joys of audiobooks

What to read in the tram. That was the question. You can't REALLY concentrate and your reading is interrupted by changes of line, etc. I had finished the Anthony Horowitz I was reading on spec for Gwilym (a perfect kind of tram-book, by the way).

Then I remembered audiobooks. ChristianAudio.com give away each month an audiobook for download, and some time ago I downloaded Eugene Peterson's Christ plays in 10000 places. I gave it a go in my swanky, real iPod.

It's great, a very stimulating listen, and super for listening to because it's a kind of structured theological ramble, so you get lots of gems to ponder but if you are cut off suddenly it doesn't matter tremendously.

A few stylistic horrors - probably due to transtlantic differences on style. After all, I am right, aren't I ?  Mary's magnificent Magnificat is a construction to avoid, especially when so many alternatives to 'magnificent' jostle for selection. I felt sorry for the reader, but he managed very well !

It's not over yet

Poor Pat is burning up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One learns many things

This morning at Church Dik was preaching from 2 Kings 4, the widow's cruse. It was an apt message for us because we've just come out of a week which has not been the best of our lives.

Or has it ?

Maybe the worst times are the best. Certainly this last week has taught us lots of things. Firstly we have had to be patient with each other. We've done very well - right up till this morning when things got fraught for a tiny moment. Secondly we've seen how God has helped us through - sending our friend at just the time Pat needed to get Catrin from school, sustaining Pat's health until the rest of us are better (she's not good just now, though), timing everything for us, keeping our spirits up. It's been good to be quieter and slow down together - normally life is an endless rush from one place to another.

Last Sunday evening we sang together :

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Now we're back in circulation, and this evening I am preaching from John 2, the cleansing of the temple.

(We didn't sing this verse :

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;

When grey hairs, or no hairs their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.)

So what's this swine 'flu like then ?

A couple of people have asked :

1) extremely infectious. From 1 case to schools closed in 4 days is pretty good going.

2) different in different people. Gwilym was harder hit with fevers and pains. Catrin had malaise. I had a streaming nose and the worst cough (still there a bit).

3) not that severe for us. Here we are less than a week after onset and we're up and out.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cannonball Adderley feat. Miles Davis " Autumn Leaves"

I've got a cheek posting this, really. It's been wonderful weather here. This evening, with no heating at all in the house, the temperature is 18°C. In the garden some of the trees are losing their leaves, but in that glorious, yellow-golden way. But this can't last, can it ? Can we go straight from autumn to spring ? I doubt it. We'll see.

Ah. That much better, eh ?

Well the kids went to adogroup in the tram. Half-way there they had to get off and get a drink and a Mars bar because Gwilym had a "coup de pompe" ("hit the wall"). Once he got the sugar-boost he was OK to continue to the church.

Meanwhile I tried to see if I could trombone or not, and I could - without collapsing in fits of coughing ! Then Pat and I sauntered off to the shops at Pessac Alouette where we found some nice scarves to perk up her dress for the wedding and also got a cake mix for this evening.

Bushed now, mind !

Yeah, it's your birthday !

Pat : It's not a special day by any chance, is it ?

Alan : Yeah, it's your birthday.

Pat : But there's a band up the road, with drums, I can hear them.

Alan : Yeah, it's your birthday.


Getting younger every year !

Almost there !

Gwilym proclaims himself better - he wasts to go to the teenagers' group this afternoon !
Catrin is coughing gently.
Every now and again I think I am OK, but then I try and speak or breathe and I start coughing again.
But we're almost there !

Elgar's and Holst's trombones

You can find out about their trombones here and here

Friday, November 20, 2009


Our house now resembles one of those post-apocalyptic nightmare film sets - bodies lie strewn everywhere, coughing gently as the sound of the howling wind penetrates our senses.

Actually I can hear Gwilym not only coughing but also practising his guitar, which means that his 'will to live' is on the up. This is a good thing. I began to be able to read yesterday evening. Before that I thought often of reading something but even that thought made my head hurt. I can hear Catrin coughing gently from time to time.

It's an impressive virus, this. On Monday I heard of one case here in Bordeaux, the daughter of a friend of ours. Tuesday morning Gwilym is struck with it, 50 kids in Catrin's school are sent home with it and Catrin and I have it in full swing. Thursday they close the school. That's a good turn of speed !

The vaccination programme is too late. I got my letter on Friday telling me to get vaccinated in the next fortnight. Even if I had had the jab on Friday afternoon, I don't think the immunity would have been in place for the arrival of the virus which must have been on Sunday or Monday.

Poor Pat ! Tomorrow is her fiftieth birthday, and we had planned all sorts of nice things, like perhaps a Chinese retaurant, and to get her birthday present - she wants something nice to wear to a friend's wedding in Alsace in December. We may have to postpone her fiftieth birthday to a more opportune time.

Meanwhile in North Wales the churches have been hit hard this week. Two young guys, both younger than me I think, both long-term seriously ill, both have died. Please pray for all the families and churches touched by this sad time.

Pray too for this weekend. As it stands I imagine the Daveys will have to stay out of things, coughing quietly at home. Ben will probably leap into the breach on Sunday evening. On Sunday afternoon there's an evangelism workshop at FAC which I was due to help with, but I imagine Fi and Liz are well up to speed on that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Poor Catrin

They've closed her school all the rest of this week and next week and she's too ill to enjoy the prospect.

Never mind. She'll probably be able to enjoy the free school hols next week (though she thinks that Pat is going to have to home educate her for a week - I haven't told Pat yet.)

In the plague house

Life is fairly quiet. Gwilym's temperature subsided to seasonal norms. Catrin professes greater discomfort today than yesterday. I used a whole roll of aloe vera loo roll on my streaming conk, in addition to many aloe vera paper hankies. Patricia assumed Florence Nightingale mode, soothing the fevered brow, dispensing tea and paracetamol. Such was our life of yesterday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh la la la la !

This sounds like it will run and run, as they say...

Checklist Grippe Porcupine

1. Paint red cross on front door Check

2. Phone schools and FAC Check

3. Place onions in each room - when run out of onions reject ham as substitute Check

4. Put onion soup on menu for lunch Check

5. Go to immunisation centre to be vaccinated (I know this sounds like too little too late and stable door stuff, but the quack said to still go, even if you 'come on Saturday when I'm there')

6. Cough and splutter (no problem there - poor Pat has had that going on around her all night !)

7. Post update for friends all round the world who pray for us. (Thanks, everyone...)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

OK. Here we go.

Several schools have been closed in the South West because of a large number of cases of swine 'flu.

Today Gwilym woke up with a sore head and a fever. We kept him home from school.

Catrin's school rang at lunch-time to say that she was unwell. A friend took Pat to get her, whereupon Pat learned that more than 50 children have been sent home today, all with similar symptoms of fever, sore head, etc..

OK - it's either 'flu spreading fast or mass hysteria ! Since our kids don't read the paper and I don't talk about the closure of schools and the spread of the disease, I rather suspect the former.

On the other hand, I think my vague feeling of a sore throat is entirely due to auto-suggestion...

Sick boy, sick car, friends' daughter has possible swine 'flu

I'm glad I believe in March !

La gazza ladra Rossini - Berliner Philharmoniker

Today's wake up call.
It's probably better for you than a cup of very strong coffee...
Follow the baton of Maestro Abbado - onwards and upwards.

Monday, November 16, 2009

For those that live and work in predominantly Roman Catholic situations

this is an interesting interview. I'd like to read the book.

Never a dull moment !

Well, OK, an occasional dull moment, but not many dull days !

I was doing the rounds to pick up all and sundry when the clutch went on the car again.

Spurred on by many tales of derring-do, and by the thought of the car being taken back to the same (expensive) Citroën main dealer, I drove it home without a clutch.

There's a knack to that.

I don't yet have it, though I was getting better ! I even stopped at traffic lights and restarted again.

OK - now to have a nice cup of tea and some tranx, then I'll get on the phone to various mecanos.


Last night : We'll have to take the kids out of school so we can drive up to Alsace on the Friday for the wedding on the Saturday. Do we ask permission ? Do we just not send them ? Do we send a note ?

This morning: Letter received from schools. The Friday before the wedding is a training day for teachers so there's no school.

Yippee ! Choucroute here we come !

Fanfare For the Common Man

Start the week with a bang !

A Happy Ending ? Inconceivable !

I haven't yet seen 2012. I expect I'll see it in about 6 months' time when the DVD comes out ! But from what people write about it I don't expect a happy ending.

But at present all our expectations are doom-laden. It's the end. Well it might not be the end exactly, but it's the beginning of the end. Whether the sun will expand dramatically and swallow up the earth, or whether it means a global flood as the sea level rises, or whether it means drought and famine on an equally Biblical proportion, or the North-South Water Wars, or whatever, or civilisation believes that mankind as a species is terminally ill and entering the last phase of the illness.

In a way it's just the projection of our individual fate. We are born, we grow, we fade, we die. Every story has a sad ending.

Christians catch the virus. Look at our society: the diseases, the disasters, etc. It's the beginning of the cataclysms of the end-times, with the predicted persecutions and oppressions (before the coming of the Son of Man at a time we couldn't possible foresee. Hmm)

We find it hard to believe in a happy ending.

The Bible thinks differently. Ruth begins with Naomi surrounded by death and seemingly with the certainty of a lonely death herself as a refugee. It ends with her home amidst her own people, dandling her grandson on her knees, while all the women laugh and chatter around her.

Jesus' own experience tells us that he can turn seeming disaster into a happy ending. His disciples lost their master (briefly) but found in his resurrection a new hope they had never dreamt of.

When Jesus was warning his disciples about the Roman crushing of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem he told them "stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near".

Peter tells refugees who have fled from their homes and who face a "fiery trial", "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

Because one thing is sure - whatever the world faces, Jesus assures a happy ending.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Well I got to Anglade and back OK !

It was a weekend and a half, including a general gathering of the guys at the Griffins to spit on the floor and watch the Ireland/France match. No use asking who I was supporting. I fell asleep twice. And I wasn't the only one.

I got safely to Anglade, though I was a little late arriving. A little late arriving for the English service, too. I am going to lay the law down just see if I don't. ( Ha ! )

Ben's preaching went well at Cenon, so 'hop, c'est parti'.

Voilà. A good weekend. Time for bed.  

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Pendant une étude biblique l'autre jour un étudiant a cité un interview qu'il avait entendu avec l'échange suivant:

Présentateur : Quel est votre avis de la passion de Jésus-Christ ?

Personne : Bon, on a tous nos passions, la mienne est le skateboard...

Hmm - les mots sont souvent trompeurs !

Gwilym's work experience

The same day that the mairie emailed saying he could do a week there, Château Pape Clément emailed offering him a place there.

Both are really great options. The mairie is officialdom, and an opening into officialdom in France is great.

Pape Clément is probably the biggest tourist attraction in the Pessac area and it's also where the vineyard scenes of the mission's film 'Bordeaux, Brittany and beyond' were shot. The vineyard begins literally just up the road while the château itself is a bit further away. They do tours of the vineyards and the château, and their email address is "luxurywinetourism" (yes, that's in English).

We weighed things up, Gwilym decided he'd be better off going to Pape Clément, and we agreed, so we wrote a nice thank-you email to the mairie and a nice acceptance email to Pape Clément .

Phew - well with the car back in action

it means I can get to Blaye tomorrow, so today is about planning that properly (order of service etc.) and the English Service in the evening. Also 2:30 - 4 we have a practice for the carol service. Pat has a meeting this morning at Cenon to plan out the service tomorrow morning when Ben is preaching. The children have homework and then Catrin is calling at a friend's house this afternoon and Gwilym is off to skateboard with some of his mates.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra / 2001 Space Odyssey opening theme

Ooh ! We're playing this in the music school orchestra in two weeks time, I just found out, and I get to do the descending arpeggio ! Yippeee ! And we stop after the massive chord and before the violins have to start whacking their strings with the back of their fiddle-sticks.

I'd better practice the descending arpeggio, though. A bit. Especially since I don't ever go to any rehearsals!
There's probably other people playing it too. Especially since I don't ever go to any rehearsals.

OK, so that's TWO 'flu jabs I have lined up for me.

One for common or garden 'flu and one for swine 'flu.

Unfortunately I don't think you can get both done at once (though I could get the garden vaccine from the pharmacy and take it along with me to the swine vaccination centre and see if they'll stick me twice...)

I've really enjoyed my time on public transport

There's this cool website where you can plan your journey - it takes a bit of persuasion to get the thing to recognise where you're going to and so on, but generally it works very well, and we've always managed to be where we need to be EXCEPT that the kids missed out on their solfège class. (They were far from gutted.)

I was late for one meeting at FAC, but I wasn't the last one there by far. Hmmm. That may not be such a good thing.

The big thing that would be a big problem is Blaye.
And I think the kids have found walking to the bus-stop and changing bus-tram a bit tedious.

But otherwise it's been great.

ah bon ? Donc c'est avec le passage du temps ?

Ok. This is the story on the clutch...

I went to the garage, enjoying my bus and tram ride and sort of enjoying my hike up the main roads of Mérignac - the website puts the garage too far towards the centre of Bordeaux... Got to the place and talked to the man.

garage man say that with the passing of time the diaphragm in the clutch mechanism becomes stiff, ( which would account for why all the hire cars you ever drive have such super clutches and your own is always so grotty in comparison ). It's not the clutch plate. It's the diaphragm that hardens. This then means that you have to use more welly to press down the clutch, which obviously stresses the cable.

He said 'You must have noticed how the clutch is super-hard ?'

Well kind of... But it does creep up on you, doesn't it, the passage of time... And to be honest with you I have driven worse !

Anyway the plan is to talk to my friendly brotherly mechanic to see what he says. If he says 'Oh boy, yeah you gotta change that !' then it's time to shop around...

Oh - and I have a quote for the new diaphragm. 919 euros. I'll scan it for you some time.

Fun eh !

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Garage phoned

The clutch cable has snapped.

They suggest that this is because the clutch has become hard and needs changing (remember the guy's speaking French so I am translating mechanic's jargon...) especially since the car has done 150000 km (about 90000miles).

I said "How much for a clutch ?"

"1000 Euros."

So I said to change the cable to begin with and we'll see how we go !

Yahou ! Gwilym has a stage (work experience) sorted out

at the Tourism Service of the Mairie at Pessac.

Merci Seigneur !

Now should we just accept the first people who said yes, or should we wait for the Grand Theatre, the Regent Hotel or Château Pape Clément to reply... The Mairie would normally be a cool place to be, mind, and it may open opportunities for the future...

In the early morning bus

Well the car is at a Citroën garage in Mérignac and if, as I suspect, it's the clutch cable that's gone then we should get it back today.

Meanwhile Catrin and I scuttled off on the 7:44 for her to go to school and for me to get a book of school meals tickets. 52€, 5.20€ per meal. But I hasten to add that it is a balanced meal. (How much would it be for an unbalanced meal, I wonder...)

I meandered through Pessac admiring the swanky pavilion outside the cinema where the film festival "Il était une fois ... le communisme' is in full swing. I paused to take a photo of 'A Billes Et Vous', a clothes shop with a punny name. I then hopped on the next bus to the Alouette and decided to skip the stop by the Renault garage and walk through the park instead. (What is this life if, full of care, etc...)

I sauntered through the oak woods quietly, listening to all the unidentified flying birds, when I spotted  someone lingering in the undergrowth..A brief toilet stop ? Something more sinister ?. 'Oh there's a dog nearby' thought I. None of it ! In fact there was another person nearby, rooting through the litter. Ha ! Les cèpes ! One lady was poking at the leaves with a stick and a carrier bag of delicious little mushrooms all ready to fry in butter. Miam Miam !

I got home at 8:30. Not bad !

Ubuntu 9.10

I realise that I am speaking either to the converted or to the disgruntled (only these two types of people read this blogue after all) but Ubuntu 9.10 is proving jolly good and worth the investment of about 20 minutes for the update.

Ubuntu 9.04 was great. But I confess that I had messed up the installation of Flash and so Youtube never really worked. This is more important for us because basically all we ever watch on TV is Sky news in the morning and then Youtube videos (mainly music). So it never worked under Ubuntu.

Under 9.10, however, installing Flash was a breeze and Youtube works just as well under Ubuntu as under Windows - maybe better because the OS is lighter, more efficient and quicker.

Installing new software is so easy under Ubuntu. And it is all free. And it runs fine on all sorts of PCs including the new old stock feeble old thing we bought off eBay for peanuts when the school said Gwilym needed a computer.  

I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon reinstalling Vista on a colleague's laptop. It worked fine, though I had given them the usual warnings (this normally goes wrong and takes three days to finish...) The student centre PC is in a constant loop of restarting Windows following a badly timed off-switch. and Windows 7 is too big and demanding to run on any of the Davey PCs - even on the fast one I have in my office.

Bof. I can take a hint.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11 Novembre

The upper photo shows us about to blast out the Marseillaise from inside the Town Hall. It was very nice and dry but we didn't get a very good view, as you can see...

The lower photo is also a Town Hall, but this time the gardens of the Town Hall in Bordeaux. Nice flowers, don't you think ?

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Oh dear ! The clutch has just gone on the car !

and I am at the student centre...

Thankfully it happened as Pat and the kids were just about to leave the Griffins' house, so they are being looked after !

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well I did it ! I got my bus pass !

The annual season ticket thing for the buses and trams of Bordeaux. I filled in the form on October 26th and said I wanted the season ticket to begin on November 1st, but as I explained to the lady in the office yesterday, "It's not always that easy to get into Quinconces, and I should have posted it really..."

Anyway I was very pleased to flash my card at the yellow box in the tram on the way home and I think that this evening instead of taking to car to the English class I'll take the bus and tram, especially since the nightbus home is so breath-takingly, nerve-rackingly, heart-stoppingly quick.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Yahoo ! Here we go !

On Wednesday Dik and I talked about the need to get Ben preaching in French and we formed a little plan to get it going.

Ha ha ! Us and our little plans ! God overheard and took matters out of our hands !

Patrick is planning a service in conjunction with the student ministry, got Ben to one side and asked him to preach next week. Ben agreed (though Pat thought he looked a bit pale. I didn't even set eyes on him after the agreement was given !)

So there we are. B-day is next week, 17 november.

Between now and then is P-day. Pray for Ben ! 

Seul, saint, mais pas solitaire

Preaching on the end of Ephesians 4 yesterday morning it struck me again how Paul applies the radical change of putting off the old man and putting on the new man in terms of relationships in the church at Ephesus.

And it struck me again that when we think of God as holy - yes, he alone is holy, yes, he is unique - but he is not alone. The Holy God of the universe is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So holiness never ever meant something that you find alone, in the corner of a cell somewhere, clothed in strange robes and chanting in the depths of your being. It always meant purity, truth, unity and love expressed in relationship - first within the trinity then within people made in God's image.

One of the good things about preaching in another language is how things strike you afresh.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

César Álvarez SHOSTAKOVICH Festive Overture RTVE Symphony

Shostakovich in a good mood.
A conductor who keeps his coat on.
A contrabassoon and a nice big shiny tuba.
What could be better to end a Saturday and herald a Sunday ?

Do us a favour...

Lay off that "Might as well rain until September" song, and any others that talk about rain.

The weather here is taking it a bit literally. We are inundulated.

Friday, November 06, 2009

French ? Wassat ?

The theme of the pastorale

was "the muslim, our neighbour", and it was led by a small team from the South of France somewhere. They did a very good job.

Sudden bus and tram strike

When trams break down then buses are taken off their normal routes to shuttle people between the tram stops. The problem is that there aren't always roads running alongside the tramlines so it's often rather stressful, the drivers have no warning of their duty as shuttles and no chance to learn the routes and sometimes they get lost.

On Tuesday, after getting lost several times and being guided by someone at the end of his radio link, one of the bus drivers suffered a heart attack and died.

Today there's a lightning strike to protest at this and to urge the company to find a better way of operating.

Full yes. Exciting ? Kind of ...

Yesterday was one fo those helter-skelter 'If it's 5pm then I must be at the church...' days. The morning started fairly peacefully with a house full of women reading and praying together. I love my office and I had a lot of emails to catch up on after my sojourn in the wilds of the Cévennes..

The afternoon was taken up by a church council meeting to which I am invited though I am not a church council member - co-opted we'd probably say in anglo-saxonland. There's a lot to discuss, including the future for our buildings and so on...

That meeting finished at about 19h and when we went to the tram stop we noticed that the ticket machine wasn't working and neither were the info-boards. So we were glad when after about 3 minutes waiting a tram bowled up and took us to Hôtel de Ville. I was just in time for the evening Bible study, but more serendipitous, just in time to eat some really nice chicken stew prepered by Liz's fair paws.

The study seemed to go OK, then the bus de soir took me home at its usual breakneck speed.

Same old same old ? Perhaps... But we're convinced that God is at work in the routine, too.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Crossing the Viaduc de Millau

on the way to the pastorale

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Phew ! Tired this evening !

Preaching in French at Anglade. I took my trusty Potters Catarrgh Pastilles - and left them on the dashboard of the car ! What a mutt ! Realised the gravity of my error halfway through the message - but got to the end OK !

This evening Ben preached with his usual enthusiasm and a little less speed than usual (someone said something apparently) on 1 John 1. Kind of fitting in with me on John.

We're all cock-a-hoop because Liz and Adrien have gotten engaged. There'll be a little fête tomorrow evening but sadly I can't be there because I am off on my travels again.

Yes - I feel very spoilt even though zooming off again is a bit of a fag, even just Monday to Wednesday. This time it's the pastorale in the Cévennes. If you can imagine the Bala Conference with added chestnut conserve for breakfast and wild boar for lunch then you are getting close. The Cévennes are lovely, especially in autumn, and I have to admit that the food is better than Bala, though I'd quickly and readily swap the food and the scenery to hear a Bala speaker, of course...

As always the best thing is the conversations, seeing the guys. Each time you get to know people better.

At the end of November I'll be off to Rodez for the regional synod.

It's a tough life but someone has to do it.