Showing posts from February, 2010

They swept the motorway !

They have these sweeper lorries that zoom along and sweep everything onto the hard shoulder. It meant that after the storm the rocade was cleaner and clearer than normal. However we couldn't take our usual road into Bordeaux and across the bridge to Cenon. All of a sudden we were diverted into little blocked back streets and it meant that instead of being about 15 minutes early we arrived at church a couple of minutes late, then had a jolly time trying to get the overhead projector to work. Still, we have nothing to complain about. 1 000 000 homes are without electricity, many homes were flooded and 16 people have lost their lives.

The calm after the storm

Well it was rough at about 3 - 4 am, but even next door's fence is still standing. We heard a few clanks and bangs. One was a ladder falling over. I haven't really seen the roof yet, but the leading edge where the wind strikes is OK and there's no sign of tiles on the ground. And all is calm. Strangely calm. Thankfully. They have warned people not to travel but we're even a 20 minute car ride from church on the peripheral motorway and we're on duty today. But no problems. All is calm now.

After the iPad ?

from Engadget.

Batten down the hatches !

The Pont d'Aquitaine will be closed from 22h tonight because we're on orange alert for storm Xynthia which has left Portugal and is now heading North-East. It should just miss us, really. Hence orange alert. The Charente is on red alert. But I am not necessarily expecting to sleep much tonight.

M. Davey ? This is Orange Customer Services.

You are one of our faithful customers and to thank you for your fidelity we would like to offer you a special deal on mobile phone insurance of X per month, with the first month free of charge and no engagement on your part so you can cancel at any time. The terms are bla bla bla bla. Oh really ? Can I think about that ? (Thinks, "Faithfulness ? I've only had this since Christmas.") Yes. Can I call you back tomorrow. Yes, that's fine. I will have been even more faithful by tomorrow. So I looked up the cost on the internet etc. and true to their word they rang back. We're on first name terms now. M. Davey ? This is Sophie, your Orange Customer Services Counsellor. Ah yes, with the deal on insurance to reward me for my faithfulness since Christmas. Yes, that's right. (She ran through the details again.) Yes. I've decided to take it.

Allez le Pays de Galles !

Trombone lesson yesterday was about projection. Yes, it's school hols, but what with Renaud being a militaire and all that he'd had to skip a lesson a few weeks back so we met up yesterday at the music school to catch up. He'd mentioned the rugby match when he phoned to arrange the time, so I dug out my Welsh cap and wore it to wind him up. It's funny the words you don 't learn. He proposed a small wager. I thought he was suggesting that they were playing at the Stade de France. ( On parie ? En Paris ? ) Anyway, once I had grasped the concept I didn't take him up on it ! The proposed wager was our cars. Since I have a 2003 Berlingo, somewhat the worse for wear with 160000 km on the clock and Renaud has a 2009 BMW 320d, he stood to lose more than I did ! A measure, perhaps, of his confidence in the French team. Or should I say the French herd, since most of them are built like bulls... Anyway we lost the match but at least I kept my car.

Well today did start off much calmer !

Yesterday I discovered that there's a reasonably strong possibility that I'll be preaching on Sunday - I am backup to one of the friends here and he is somewhat unwell. So I have to be ready to preach in French am and I am scheduled to preach in English pm. Then this morning the brother contacted me to ask me if I could sort out the hymns for the morning as he has taken to his bed. That's probably the part of things I find hardest for the French services, but tally-ho, what ! Still no cause for alarm. Till a friend just phoned and during the conversation said "And it's the match tonight, isn't it..." Ah yes - Wales / France. Oh dear !

Boy, some days are just stressful, aren't they !

It's all happened today ! Woke up too early worrying about something unnecessarily (of course) ! Meeting at lunchtime and also 7 guests at our place for lunch. ! Family iPod failure - major crisis ! Stuck on the ring road in tailbacks ! The lot ! Tomorrow will be calmer.

VCub is the new system of bike hire in Bordeaux

While doing surveys on campus today it was quite exciting to see a little flotilla of VCub bikes zooming past. I wish I could explain the system to you, but it's horribly complicated with : 2 kinds of station with differing rules of hire and prices 3 charges to pay - a subscription, a deposit and a rental fee Still, somebody must have sussed it out because I saw three bikes on campus and two more in town. The guy I was talking to was excited to see them, too. I was excited later to see him reading the Bible I'd given to him.

The day Gwilym started at collège

some years ago we went to this café beforehand and drank coffee and coca-cola alongside several other parents and kids.

Bus Liane 4

Brilliant ! Just BRILLIANT !

with the warmer weather came

a brief but happy time cutting up clippings from trees and shrubs. These will fuel either the wood-stove or the barbecue depending on their size. Also cutting back the tree we butchered last year. This year we plan to butcher one more, and then next year we'll do the third and then we'll have all three reduced to stumpy French beauty. The stumpy butchered tree produced intriguing long shoots - it's a bit like coppicing - so I used them to turn some old conifers into a rustic wicker-style screen. It worked better than I thught it would ! Pat will continue today while I am on campus and at the Student Centre.

Quirks of the links between websites

At the moment I can no longer put videos on this blog from Youtube. It's a pity, I know. I don't know why. It just freezes. I'm sure it'll start working again soon. Items I put on the blog also appear on Facebook and on Google Buzz. However I have no control over when they appear. Sometimes they get copied across quickly, but at other times it can take a while. So it was that according to Facebook I finished the order of service for Sunday at about 4am. And so it is that I appear on Facebook at very strange times ! It's not me. It's the wonder of computing !

We're heading full-throttle for a fuel shortage

A refinery in Dunkirk has been on strike for a week, and they recently called on all motorists to create an artificial fuel shortage by everyone filling their tank. (They needn't have bothered !) Another refinery joined the strike yesterday, but already there were huge queues at the pumps. People are panic-buying. We would normally be filling our tank perhaps on Thursday or Friday. Better get out there and fill up now or we'll end up stuck ! Although if I fill up early because I fear the pumps will run out isn't that panic-buying ? What if I breathe deeply and calmly while I buy the fuel ? Sort of mild-concern-buying rather than panic-buying...

So the latest thing is photovoltaic panels on the roof

Some friends have recently had them installed on their house - the idea is that if the sun shines they generate electricity and sell it to EDF. This means their electric bill is reduced - they may even be self-sufficient in electricity at times. These friends got the panels installed at a special bargain rate on condition of being a reference house for others interested in doing the same. Well on Saturday EDF rang to ask if we would be interested in having someone come and talk to us about photovoltaic panels on our roof. Since our roof is pretty big and is oriented north-south it may do quite well as roofs go. The biggest snag is that the pitch is probably not optimal, but ... well, we'll see. Apparently the government is keen to subsidise installations and EDF will then pay the rest, reclaiming the money from the price of the electricity you provide to them. So I said that we'd be happy for them to come and look us over and tell us what they think. Why not. I am also ke

School Holidays are SO GOOD ! And Line 4 !

It was wonderful not to have to get up for 6am. Of course I still got up at 6am, but went straight back to bed and to sleep. Great ! The Big News is that Pat has sighted our first Liane 4 bus. This is the bus that is nicknamed 'The Davey Express' because it links our house with everywhere we ever go (except Gwilym's school and church. For those you have to change and take the tram.) We are going to have a Fête de la Liane 4 sometime. Perhaps this weekend ? A barbecue if the weather holds, and the email invitation will have instructions on how to take the Liane 4 from anywhere to our house. It really is that good ! It brings new practicality to using our home for meetings. Previously we used to have to run a rather crazy shuttle service as people arrived at the tram stop in Pessac Centre. I remember once looking in the rear view mirror and realising that there were rather more students in the back of the car than the law allowed. Eeek ! Well now people can hop on the 4

Identity cards...

Cracking idea ! Get on with it, Britain ! No, but if we had identity cards we wouldn't need to replace our passports to travel between European Union countries - at a saving of (148 + 98 + 148 + 98) = 492 euros ! I know I said it was a question of freedom and principles, but economics and practicality trump freedm and principles. Don't they ?

35 tonight !

French service this morning went OK. Ben done a nice bit about Cote d'Ivoire and I think people are more filled in on events and stuff. Message was beginning of keep on being filled with the Spirit. Two new ladies came after getting a leaflet at the Maison de la Bible. This evening I expected fewer people at the English Service because it's winter hols and some folk have gone away - but we were (apparently) 35. Various new folk. Very encouraging, really.

Got the order of service ready

For the French church we don't got no hymn books nor no Bibles, so we have to project everything we sing on the wall. Also the order of service is a bit more complicated than for a typical British church service. There's more readings (which is good, because you can link different passages with the passage you're preaching on). We sing more songs. Generally it entails more preparation. So it's always good when it's done and dusted and ready for conversion to PowerPoint ! (By the way, did I say that I'm preaching tomorrow morning ?) On the other hand for the English language service in the evening we have American hymnbooks (The Hymnal) and Bibles, so we can do things more simply. (Oh yes - and tomorrow evening.)

It's the special 'Foire au gras" ( Fat-Fair ) at Carrefour !

I'll scan the leaflet that came through the door - I'm sure you'd like to see the photos, but in the meantime here's what's on offer : Foie gras de canard gras - fatty liver from fat duck. Magret de canard gras - breast of fat duck. Aiguillettes de canard gras - needle shaped pieces of fat duck. Coeurs frais de canard gras - fresh hearts of fat duck. Gésiers de canard gras - gizzards of fat duck. and last but not least Graisse de canard, 3€ la barquette d'un kilo - duck-grease, £1.20 a pound.

What ! A gold in something that's not curling !

In "Sliding head-first downhill at great speed on a tea-tray" ?  Well done, Amy ! I wish I'd known about this last night where the après-répé conversation at the jazz band lingered around the worldwide and France-wide amusement at that poor lady's 3 second descent. "What are the Brits good at ?" they asked. "We're world-class in curling and ice-dance." quoth I. I would have added, "and sliding head-first downhill at breakneck speed on a tea-tray".

You have to laugh !

Doing surveys among the students : One guy answered so positively that he believed in God that he sounded just like the muslim students do. I said, "Tu es musulman ?" "Non ! Je suis baptiste !" Typical ! The first baptist I meet doing surveys and I think he's a muslim ! Of course, I know his church. (There's only four baptist churches in Bordeaux anyway.) My big consolation is that the pentecostal guys at Place de la Victoire thought I was muslim. It happens... Another guy, laughing, said "Hang on, I'm supposed to be answering the questions !" I said, "well you keep asking me questions !" To be honest it was still a bit cold for surveys. Nice with the sun on you. Freezing when it went behind a cloud.

Get this... something odd is happening with Gwilym's email address

Gwilym's aunt in the home counties told us that she had received a rather inappropriate website recommendation purporting to have come from Gwilym. We investigated and I leapt into action on Gwilym's computer. Browser history ? No problem. Some software that is pointless and unnecessary, so we deleted that, but nothing alarming. He does his virus scans more often than necessary. I ran Ccleaner and defragmented his disk, but nothing really. (He loves watching clips of car programmes in Youtube.) Then I got a message recommending a website that sells pharmaceuticals. But Gwilym was in the room with me. "Right - we'll keep this pc turned off when you are not on it, OK ?" Then I got a message (a dating website this time) when we knew that Gwilym's pc was turned off and Gwilym was in school. The messages seem to come from gmail chat. I just wonder whether he has logged into his gmail account on some other pc somewhere - which has some dodgy software, virus

On the ubiquity of Nutella.

It's everywhere. In crêpes, doughnuts, on biscuits and in cakes, in sandwiches, in recipes. Everywhere !

Ah ! Bon !

Thursday was turning into one of those days that you spend on the tram - back and fore, back and fore, back and fore... Then in a moment two activities were cancelled and it's suddenly become an oasis of calm, meditation, reflection and preparation for the Etude Biblique Extraordinaire this evening and for services on Sunday. No bad thing ! It's funny, you know. It's a very encouraging time here in Bordeaux just now. Always new folk at church. New contacts in the student work. People showing a real interest in studying the Bible. Unexpected openings and opportunities. And problems EVERYWHERE ! Money is so tight all round you just end up laughing. The complicated issues so many people have. Temptations to disunity. The Griffins looking to go to Cote d'Ivoire this autumn and that's back in the balance... Makes you think, doesn't it.

At the chapel

One of the local schools has a chapel attached and the headmaster has been keen for a while to see it put at the disposition of the kids. So they're staffing the chapel during the lunch break from 12h30 to 13h30. I know the headmaster and he asked me if I'd be willing to do one of the stints. He had to check it was OK with the committee that oversees these things, but they were fine with it and so I did my first stint yesterday. By 13h20 there were 20 kids ! Admittedly it was cold outside and the chapel was warm, but we looked at some of the texts that are left around for the children's use and I asked them if they understood all the words in the Apostles' Creed. So it was that I got to : explain the phrase 'la rémission des péchés' - the Bible says that God can forgive you everything through Jesus Christ talk about Psalm 23 pray the Lord's prayer with them. I'm thinking of basing the first few sessions round the Lord's prayer, explaining wha

A very special guest teacher from the UK

Tonight at the remarkable English Class we had the visit of a VIP - an experienced English teacher what once learnt English to students at Swansea University ! Our friend Tirzah came and done lots of stuff with the groups, like she done them phrasal verb things, you know like "to buzz off, to get lost". Then she done something on past tenses simply, continually and perfectly. Then she done something else about gramer. It was ripper, but most of my group was not there and only the bravest one came. After Tirzah told us lots about books what you can get to teech English with and we might see if we can get some off of the internet or something.

On the trombone and the bassoon

The other day some people were discussing the perennial question, "Is anyone less fortunate than trombonists ?" Not hobby trombonists, of course, but professional ones. Not that frequently required in orchestras, with a limited solo repertoire, trombonists often have difficulty finding enough work. However I am sure that if trombonists are an unfortunate lot, bassoonists are even less fortunate. No jazz or rock for them. And their instruments cost a fortune and are an acoustical and orthographical nightmare. Just to check I did a search on youtube for "fun bassoon" and for "cool bassoon". Forget it ! No fun and not cool...

and when will you ever see anyone do this with a bassoon ?

There's always new folk at the English service

Last night I worked out that we were about 23, a new guy from Morocco, who's muslim, and a new couple from the USA. And our visitor Maxim, of course. All in all the whole day was very encouraging, though it reinforced the impression that things are much easier in Britain than in France (they are, of course), without giving much that's concrete that folks can do about it. Maybe that's the point. Maybe there's nothing folks can do. Anyway after a basically encouraging Sunday I am discouraged this Monday ! It's not serious. It only takes a combination of the odd negative comment, a flat tyre on the car and natural tiredness following a long Sunday for all the encouragement to evaporate and for a grey gloom to descend ! But it won't last. We're on the up ! Luke 12:32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. !

Sting - Englishman In New York

We tried the MacDonalds at La Bastide the other day. The piped music was the Berlioz Requiem. Class.

I Flowing from the Duo for Flute and Piano by Aaron Copland

Calming down music before bed on a Saturday night...

We do, though. We do.

2 Corinthians 4:5   For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. Corinth was in a culture of hubris - pride in the self and what I am.  Just like us today. Someone during a discussion this week was talking about the clash of the gospel with the accepted attitude in France. "Il ne faut pas se soumettre." It's the same in Britain and in the USA.  Is that why evangelicalism is so tribal, so completely besotted with the cult of the personality - we accept each other on the basis of which big name preacher is our favourite, so we have to drop hints or quote them or mention them like some kind of badge... Paul, Apollos, Cephas, etc...? Is that why we can never accept anything that just comes from out there - whether it's a ministerial training course, a declaration of faith or an evangelism course - without rewriting it completely? What's that all about ? In the 1970s there was Berkhof. We w

Bernstein - West Side Story - America - recording conducted by Bernstein

This just makes me smile. Ça me fait sourire.

Maceo Parker LIVE "Pass The Peas"

J'ai vu ce monsieur à Bath, Angleterre. Ici il joue à Paris, France. Un petit truc pour s'amuser samedi matin.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - It's A Raggy Waltz

Closing our Dave Brubeck season. In which we saw how compound time signatures can be very very cool.

OpenOffice 3.2 is available for download and it's good

because it's noticeably quicker !

Dave Brubeck - I'm In A Dancing Mood - 1966

Our Dave Brubeck season is drawing to a close.

Oh aye !

When you put it like that !

Dave Brubeck - 40 Days - 1966

The week ahead

This week includes the English Class, student evangelism and student centre stuff, Christianity Explored and preaching French a.m. and English p.m. I also need to spend some time hunting down venues around the campus - in the cafés etc... and also to find out the rental price of offices and shops. Oh yeah ! Mustn't forget to get those passport renewals in !

Sunday evenings at present

see about 20 - 25 folk gather, the vast majority are students though some are folks who're settled in Bordeaux. That's very encouraging really for this time of year, when people don't like to be out in the evenings and when some of our more senior folk don't like driving in the dark.

Spring is in the air

though we can sometimes have a little surprise - one more cold week in February, apparently. Otherwise there we are - the winter's over and it wasn't too bad this year. Not like last year when we had some of the roof blown off !

The Dave Brubeck Quartet "St Louis Blues"

There's so much Brubeck on Youtube and it's all so pleasant.

Man down ! Send in backup !

Our preacher for this morning in Anglade is unwell. So I'll drop off the family at Cenon before going on to Anglade because Pat is on duty with the little ones at Cenon.

You have to laugh !

I hasten to add that people are not at all like that in Bordeaux ! Though in the English Class on Tuesday I did explain to people that in Britain to call the waiter you cannot say "Mister" or "Sir" - the best bet is to say "Excuse me" or "Waiter". And that nonetheless he will call you "Sir" or "Madam". Everyone giggled.

ha ha ha - ahahahaha


L'élégance du PJB


At least it's not so cold !

It started raining on Thursday and has now rained off and on for about 6 weeks. I mean, of course, that we have had 6 weeks' worth of rain in the past two days. Our garden has become our own private moat, with just the odd chopped off branches poking above the soupy, surging waters to indicate their lack of depth. The guinea pigs have taken well to their cute little snorkels. At present it has just stopped raining and will soon start again. Don't let the blue sky deceive you !

J'hallucine ! C'est pas possible !

Am I seeing things, or is this a kind of French Gren ?

See what I mean ?


Dave Brubeck - Stardust

Nothing to see, but Stardust is best if you close your eyes anyway.

I think you all ought to realise that I am probably much nicer than this really

I was talking with someone yesterday and the upshot was that apparently inhaled steroids ( such as what I use to give me the lungs of an olympic athlete even though I have the asthma of a wizened old hermit ) change your personality. Yes ! Apparently ! So this person said ! "Possible side effects include not being as nice as you were otherwise" ! Well that explains a lot, don't you think ?

Brief update on Christianity Explored last night

It seemed to go very well - we had more people than we expected, including two young chaps who found us via a poster on campus, then the website. Cool. We ran out of booklets - I must remember to print more. The discussion seemed lively. A good start.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Three To Get Ready (1959)

OK. Not much to see here, but this is very suitable listening while you read. Or check your email. Or say happy birthday to people on Facebook.

I love it when

utter strangers say goodbye to you when they or you leave the lift (elevator). I also love it when people say "Good evening" to everyone when they get on the night bus. Nothing if not civil, what !

Dave Brubeck Quartet Blue Rondo à la Turk

They don't make television like that any more.

Phew - that was a marathon !

but one advantage of squashing meetings into mealtimes is that at lunch we had a nice pudding ( a chocolate cake ) and at teatime a nice tagliatelle carbonara and carrots - perhaps slightly the worse for their journey through the streets of Bordeaux - and Basque cheese and jam. My contribution was to have been something nice to drink, like nice fruit juice or whatever, but I COMPLETELY forgot. The lunchtime meeting was about the student work, and specifically the future of the student centre. Today is quieter. I have to hide from the anglophone ladies this morning, phone calls, letters, you know ... stuff, prepare for Christianity Explored,  and then this evening go along and do it... Should be good.



It promises to be a lovely day today

Yesterday suddenly it felt like spring instead of winter. After 6pm it was still light. The day was pretty warm. It just felt different. Today promises to be even warmer. Meanwhile I have meetings in the centre of Bordeaux at 12 till 2, 6 till 8 and 8:30 till 10. Inbetween I'm on duty at the student centre from 2 till 6. So mid-morning I'll go into town and see if I can hunt down some things we need - a cheap DVD of Titanic, for example, and take some leaflets into the Christian bookshop.

Dave Brubeck - Unsquare Dance

Today's Brubeck, all-singing all-dancing.

Pessac Jazz Band trombones

Mathias, yours truly, Xavier, François

They're changing ALL the buses

Yesterday we got a big envelope put in the mailbox from the bus and tram company, Keolis. From 22 February all the buses are changing. So they sent us: a magazine that talks about it all in chatty, upbeat French with photos of beautiful, ecstatic people hopping on and off gorgeous buses under a wedgewood blue sky a really big fold out map that shows all the bus lines and the tram lines a booklet that explains each bus line in turn listing all the stops (this is very useful) a leaflet about the new bike on demand stands. The new lines are a good thing for us. At the moment we have to take bus then tram to get into town from here,and the bus de soir after 21h. After 22 February one bus, the number 4,  should take us pretty well anywhere we go from 5h30 to 1h00. The system is characteristically complicated, though. Our bus line, no. 4, is a Liane . A main-line bus that zooms straight into Bordeaux from the 'burbs. Then there's the Corol , lines that kind of orbit Bor

La Chandeleur

has nothing to do with American sit-coms. It's the name for Pancake Day, or la Fête des Crêpes. And it's today. Youpie ! The shops are all selling crêpières - which can either be flat frying pans ( we have one of those ! ) or swanky electric hotplates, very expensive, that you put in the middle of the table and stretch across to make the perfect crêpe. Oh aye... I have this urge to get the camping stove in the middle of the table with our nice flat pan and make pancakes that way. I bet it'd be better that an electric thingie. More controllable.

Today's team meeting

was a little poignant because we are saying goodbye for a little while to Liz, our volunteer worker. Liz is doing a French and Spanish degree and for her year abroad opted to work with Fiona at the student centre from September to February before spending the time she needs to in Spain. In fact she'll be returning to Bordeaux for July and August, too. She's been a wonderful help here, with endless good humour and she's completely taken on all the graphic design aspects of things (a HUGE relief to me because I used to do it. We used to have some weird conversations when Fiona would say things like 'I like the brown...' and I would think 'What brown ?' Colourblindness is not the BEST qualification for designing leaflets.) In addition there's loads of stuff going on relating to the student centre premises and to the church premises. I'll fill you in on that separately, soon. Meanwhile I am busy printing out booklets for Christianity Explored whi

Dave Brubeck - Take The 'A' Train - 1966

So what's what "cool" means...

I really like this view of the café and the cathedral


Dave Brubeck - Take Five - 1966

A short season of Brubeck.

A good Sunday.

In the morning we were a sizeable number for the service. Rhys played with his usual calm approach, unflustered by anything. The man should become a spy, definitely ! I preached from Ephesians 5 - pointing out that saints must be holy. That works so much better in French. You cannot use your mobile phone to keep track of time when preaching. It has to be a watch, a clock or something else like that. A quiet afternoon. I tried to read but fell asleep every time I picked up my book ! In the evening we were 24 for the English service. David played with his usual flair and counted people from his pianist's vantage point. Ben preached with his usual warmth about evangelism from Colossians. Un usually we were saying goodbye to Liz all day. Well, not goodbye but au revoir. She'll be back in July, though it is hard to foresee English services in July as Ben and Liz will have left us and we Daveys will be in Britain.