Showing posts from April, 2010

One of the nice things

about May in France is that there's lots of public holidays. One of the unfortunate things about THIS May is that they all fall on Saturdays. So it is that this Saturday the supermarket is shut and there's no buses or trams. And next Saturday is Victory some time or other day, and there's a commemoration at the war memorial. We're due to play the Marseillaise for it.

Thanks, Al, for this article marking the death of Anthony Flew

Read it here

"Alan, your mike's still turned on..."

I think it was Maggie who came out to the porch to tell me that as I was talking with folk by the door everyone's comments were being relayed on the speakers. Thanks Maggie and all the others who similarly warned me !

Today I get to spend

the morning doing the weekly shop, then lunchtime with the guys group, then the afternoon and evening at centre FAC. Tonight is the amazing Etude Biblique and we're in 1 Peter looking at the church.

Oh boy it's been hot today

Very hot for April ! At one point today someone saw a pharmacy sign saying 28.4. "It's 28.4 degrees" quoth they. Then someone else saw one saying 33°. It was at that point that we realised that 28.4 was the date and 33° was the temperature. Hot, eh ? Tomorrow it's due to break. It'll be cloudy and just 24° tomorrow, then rainy all weekend.

The big news

OK. This purchase of the building... Basically we have received a big gift which amounts to about 10% of the cost of buying the building. When we did quick rough sums during the meeting adding in what we can borrow, what is coming from various sources etc... it became clear that we will do this. We still need everyone's help who can, but now instead of thinking of, say, putting a man on the moon, we are getting a man to Beijing. It's still a big undertaking, but no longer unimaginable. It was a wonderful moment when it dawned on me that we were going to make it !

A marathon Sunday after a marathon Friday after marathon Tuesday to Wednesday

makes one weak ! I confess that I am sagging a bit at the moment. The mission time with the AgapéCampus folk was great but, perhaps foolishly, I told the school of music that I could free myself up on Friday to attend the orchestra stage. It was good to do that even though essentially it meant rehearsals all day and a concert in the evening and Alan, king of the sightreaders, staring blankly at another part and wondering whether to take the high road or the low road and which would get me first to Scotland. The highlight of the rehearsals for me was helping Thomas, my colleague, with his solo - a jazz chorus on "Isn't she lovely". We blew it anyway because his sheet of music didn't get left on the stand so when he went to play it he was banjaxed, but he was sounding good in rehearsals with a few glissandos added for good measure. (We saw a guy checking that all the music was there just before we started, too - in Hanrahan fashion he counted them all in - but the





Chocolate Chip Pancakes


A walk in the woods

We took our friend to the airport in good time, then after lunch the lad of a Deeside church family called in - with his wife and child ! We went for a stroll in Bourghailh.

"Hi Alan, you've probably guessed

that this call means some disaster has happened..." After the volcano debacle Easyjet changed the rules to say you had to check in 1 hour before your flight. So when our Welsh friend arrived with 50 minutes to spare he was just too late ! So it was that we had a visitor for the weekend, Rhys got to visit the Chateau for our AGM, and we had another visitor for Sunday evening, and chocolate chip pancakes for supper and banana pancakes for breakfast !

The waters of march

Ca me soule

This one came from Gwilym, so I am pretty sure of its meaning and context. I would suggest that it is very likely to be yoofspeek. I checked some of the others remaining on my list and Gwilym confirms that some are so unlikely as to be of no use whatsoever and some are so rude that one cannot in good conscience blog them ! Ca m'énerve, ça.

Phil Collins Big Band - That's All

Ca m'inconforte

Ca m'irrite !

Speaks for itself.

Théo'Show - Bonne ou mauvaise nouvelle ?



A fuller report tomorrow I hope but in the meantime here's some photos of the visit of the AgapéCampus team from Toulouse and Montpellier.

Ca m'embête !

Thank you, readers, for contributing your own favourite ways of expressing annoyance in French. I will use all (except the rudest, of course. Not that our readers contribute rude things... Perish the thought.)

Barbecue, book and Bible Study


Yesterday with Agapé

Pat and Catrin went at 11h30 to work with the team while I got things ready for a barbecue and Gwilym had a rest day. The barbecue seemed to go pretty well - we still have 20 merguez in our fridge, though... Then in the evening the FAC Thursday Bible Study was on Wednesday this week.

Ca me fâche !

That's one for the Scots...

This made me smile...

It's been great to work with the Agapé folk from Toulouse and Montpellier.

Here's a photo of the folks.

Car restored to us

M Plazy said he saw nothing strange - just that the cable had clean broke (ç'a cassé net). So he's working on the "duff cable" hypothesis and chargign Citroën for replacing the cable. He says if they cut up rough he'll just send them the bits of the old cable.

Ca m'incommode !

Car is at M Plazy's

He was very apologetic and I hope not to have to drive this car, any car, without a clutch again. You know how you learn to do something and then wish you hadn't... I had trouble getting the car started because the poor battery is the original - 7 years old this year - and objects a bit to starting the engine when it's in gear. So I spent a few minutes alongside Parc Cazalet listening to the radio while the battery recharged. Then I got the car started and drove in 1st gear all the way to M. Plazy, slowing down to time it so I didn't have to stop at the sets of traffic lights. Crafty, eh ! He wondered why the cable failed again so soon. The breakdown man suggested on Saturday that the new cable was defective. Until we get a better one that is the current theory. We should get the car back with functioning clutch tomorrow.

I don't think I'll ever understand...

the French and the British... I thought I had it all nailed down neatly. France = Roman Empire = Centralisation Britain = Germanic tribes = Devolution. Then a friend failed a music exam and as I commiserated with him I said, "Yes, but it doesn't count for anything anyway does it. It's not nationally recognised." Then it hit me... How come that : in France we have a highly centralised education system with one national authority that takes care of everything, but for music exams the music schools and even the individual music teachers do what they want : 1 piece / 3 pieces; one style / mix of styles, sight-reading / no sight-reading, anything is possible... while : in Britain we have a highly centralised music exam system with one national authority (OK, two) that takes care of everything, but for GCSE exams we have examination boards with exams that differ ? Baffling !

Ca m'outrage !!!

An eventful weekend

Well, seeing that I was not now flying to Scotland it meant we could all go along for the farewell Rhys and happy birthday Donerse, Rhys and Alan barbecue chez les Griffin. So it was that at about 12h30, in Mérignac on the way to Eysines, our clutch cable broke again... OK. So I phoned the breakdown service and asked them to take the car back to our place so I could refer the problem back to M. Plazy who replaced the whole clutch mechanism in November. Liz picked up kids and Pat for barbecue and I went home and got ready for the internet live-link to Scotland. The live-link went very well - better than I thought it would. Then the Gregsons arrived from Provence so we had a nice late-night cup of tea before turning in. Sunday was another busy happy day - Ben preached in French followed by birthday pizzas on the patio at our place with the Griffins and Gregsons. David Gregson preached in the evening and then we had a nice after-church supper. The trestle table only collapsed t

The Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet performs "If I Were a Bell"

Ca m'agace !

another way to say in French that you are annoyed.

and now, live from Pessac

Well we're all here : Catrin is back from a very happy school trip to Bilbao and Santander. It's not that far from here, but it's Spain. Everyone got on well and all was great. Gwilym has finished a very happy stage at the garage round the corner. The boss has told him to come back any time he needs help finding something more permanent and also paid him a nice crisp 100 euro note ! And I win on all counts - we hope to do a live link by Skype to the UFM ScotConf and I still get to be here for Sunday, for the arrival of the Toulousains and the Montpellierains, and also to go to the 'Farewell Rhys' and 'Happy Birthday Donerse, Rhys and Alan' barbecue today. And Pat is happy to have everyone together. Que du bonheur, hein ?

and we're not the only ones

The Sayers family were due to fly home from Bordeaux yesterday evening. Ah yes. So aided and abetted by my wife they searched for alternatives. Aha ! Condor ferries had a space for today. So they negotiated keeping their hire car another day and handing it back in Saint Malo, then slept here till 3am before hitting the Saint Malo road. Then once in Southhampton (I think) they can try and work out how to get home to Abingdon and Mission HQ.

Will they or won't they

It's 9am. It seems pretty unlikely that my flight from Bordeaux to Edinburgh will fly tonight. The Ryanair website has fights cancelled up till 16h. Airports in France are closing now. So the question is this - do I finish off my preparation and pack or not ? I guess so. Until I know that I am NOT going, I am going ! Now then - imagine this scenario - I fly to Edinburgh. The volcano gets excited again. I get stranded in Scotland ! Oh - let's not think about that...

Ca me dérange

"We've only just begun" to express our annoyance...

Cut off !

I went quickly to the local supermarket. I had forgotten my tea. I bought another petit salé. It wasn't as good. No duck fat. I won't quickly forget the look of panic on people's faces as the news spread and they realised that we are virtually cut off, the whole world cut off from the UK because of this cloud of ash. Everyone is longing for it to disperse.

In a fallen world sometimes things don't work too well !

1) Laptop - yesterday "Blue Screen of Death" three times in quick succession while preparing PowerPoint. 2) Aeroplanes - clouds of volcanis ash over Britain have closed Scottish airspace where I am due to fly tomorrow 3) Internet rail booking site - "To travel Paris to Edinburgh you will need to separately book Paris to Paris, then Paris to Edinburgh." You try to book a Eurostar ticket from Paris to Paris... 4) Skype call to Glasgow. "Placing your call"......... Hmm. Time to do low-tech stuff !

Ca m'énerve !

Another way to say in French that you are annoyed. This one became the catchphrase of a kind of romantic comedy sketch show in it's form " Elle m'énerve ! "

Ca me gêne !

I forgot to start my mini-series on how to say in French that you're annoyed ! Oops !


So far I'm not very impressed. They keep emailing me to remind me to check-in online. They've emailed me to remind me that I am only taking a carry-on bag, to tell me the maximum size and the penalties if I break this size, and that everything I carry onto the plane must be in this bag. My bag is a custom patent carry-on bag, but their email has got me so nervy that I'm still going to measure it (again) to check the size !

Gwilym is

thoroughly enjoying his work experience at the garage round the corner so far. Also his form teacher has pointed out the pros and cons of lycée pro versus apprenticeship and he's come down in favour of lycée pro. Thanks for praying.

Efficace ou quoi !

Skype conference call to Brittany and Savoie. Collège chapel. Skype call to Spain. Phone call to shoe shop. Phone call to hotel. Printed out loads of stuff for Scotland. Check-in with RhinoAir. Prepared English class ready for this evening. Time for a coffee and a blast, I think...

A grand day off

Yesterday was my day off, and an extra special one because Gwilym is on work experience in a garage round the corner and Catrin's school has exchanges and foreign visits galore, so they both started at 9am ! So why did I still wake at 5 am ? Oh well... Kids sent off, the day's jamboree began with the traditional supermarket trolley-dash - then the kids were home for lunch. In the afternoon I hacked at some trees in the garden while Pat went off to her French group. Also some time for some trombone practice. In my book of studies I'd said "What about this one ," pointing to something easy with 2 flats. "No, this one." said his nibs. It has 5 flats (Grot flat minor ?) and begins with staccato leaps of a sixth. Also to translate the information leaflet for the purchase of the church building. I'll take some to Scotland with me. Catrin leaves for Spain tomorrow on a quick jaunt to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim ! Gwilym enjoyed his day in the garag

A happy busy Sunday

The morning service was longer than usual because we welcomed Jim Sayers and his family from GBM (Fiona is linked with GBM and UFM). Jim brought us an encouraging greeting, then the Sayers kids spent the afternoon here with ours while Jim and his wife spent some quality time with Fiona. We were a good number in the morning. And in the evening, too. People bring their friends along, I preached from John 6 and we sang robustly ! It was very sad to say goodbye to Anna though. Zander is a student and has another month of studies but Anna, his wife, isn't studying here so she just has a tourist visa. Some of us discussed the ecumenical Easter events afterwards. It's always delicate, isn't it, and in France the situation is not as clear as in the UK. (It's not crystal clear there either !) I outlined my own convictions, which focus on preaching the gospel together with people who also preach the same gospel - what one dear brother called 'the ecumenism of the Word'

Church at Cenon


A Sunday in Cenon

I've been pretty well every other week in Anglade since the beginning of March and while it's great to preach there the main focus of my work is in Bordeaux and Cenon and I have lost contact a little with the Sunday morning people in Cenon. If they miss one week (holidays, illness) that means we don't see each other for three weeks, and so on. So it's good to come out of that time and to be based more around Cenon. My next Sunday morning in Anglade is at the end of May, if there's no emergencies in the meantime. So this morning I am not preaching, neither is Dik, it's our friend Jean-Philippe. I preach this evening for the English service, however. Of course, next Sunday I am in Scotland ! That'll be a joy, too, but it won't be every other week !

Ca me prend la tête !

People have appreciated the "words from here" series on how we do talk down by here in Bordeaux. I'm trying to work out how to talk about our somewhat idiosyncratic pronunciation, too. But in the meantime we hit a rich vein when I popped on " ça me prend la tête ". We often think that English has a particularly rich vocabulary being, as it is, a mongrel language crossed between Norman French and old German. However in certain domains French is extremely rich in vocabulary, too. Nowhere does this come across to me as clearly as in the rich variety of expressions to describe one's annoyance. It is this rich vein that we shall explore, gentle readers, in the days to come. It is important to recognise these words for obvious reasons. Incidentally for them as is interested in regional words and stuff there's a lady called Henriette Walters what has written books in French and in English about all this.

Phew ! A day to catch up with myself !

When you have a day off you pay for it later ! Monday was a bank holiday so it meant I couldn't do the weekly shop. The next slot for that was yesterday morning, which would have meant a quick dash round the store followed by the guys' meeting 12 to 2, student centre 2 till 6 then Bible study 7:30 till 10. I wondered if I'd end up short-tempered by the end of the day. But the guys cancelled which gave me lunch with the family. Great ! I was even early at the student centre so I popped into the English Bookshop round the corner and had a chat with the guy there. At 6pm I popped out to take the air and look for some grated carrot. I ended up in the Virgin Megastore looking at books. Predictable. They had something I'd not seen before by Alain de Botton on work. In French - 23€. I kid you not. 23€ in paperback ! In English from - 11€. I expect that on you could get it second-hand for fourpence. The Bible Study went pretty well, though num

Today's word of bordelais

ça me prend la tête ! - that does my head in ! I was SURE that this is just a standard French expression, known throughout the entire French-speaking world, but a friend who is older and wiser (and French) assures me that it is not, it is an expression of the South West. What is more, another older, wiser friend (always try to hang out with people older than you - nothing is better for your looks) tells me that that only South Walians say "that does my head in". Can that be true ? Surely not ! Anyway, this opens up a rich vein of French expressions for us. How to say in French that you're annoyed !

King Louis - would you believe it ! I can't embed the video !

You'll just have to click on this link . It is worth it !

Café et chocolatine

1,90€ Not bad !

Tea today

Salty lentils with duck grease. Yum yum ! by 'tea' I mean evening meal, of course... And it's salt pork and lentils, really - with duck grease...

Today's word of bordelais

Rather on the impolite side... ça daille / ça me daille.  That's annoying. It reputedly comes from the occitan verb dailler, which was to harvest with a scythe, though the speling is probably wrong because that sound lle in French normaly has a ilh spelling in occitan (hence our park Bourgailh)...

We're almost there now...

"Are UFOs attacking our sheep?" asks the North Wales Daily Post

Today's word of bordelais

is a word I've never used, but locals tell me that it is the first word that comes to mind in the boulangerie: Chocolatine . It's a pain au chocolat . .

Getting closer to our goal

No problem remembering the names of the lads who live in our street.

They're all called Thibaud. Every one of 'em. Well, all except for Arthur and Titouan.

Today's Louis Prima "Banana split for my baby" - can you see where this is going, yet ?

A word of Bordelais

if at the pharmacy they ask you, "Vous voulez une petite poche?" they mean a carrier bag. Une poche - a carrier bag.


began on Maundy Thursday with a meeting at FAC (held at FAC to avoid telling folks that there was no FAC Bible Study and to enable them to come along). It was based around a series of paintings by an unknown artist that Dik had found on the internet some years ago. Dik was interested by the way that various characters were depicted and he attached Bible verses to the pictures. Good Friday evening found us at church for a kind of prayer and praise time - Good Friday hymns and songs were interspersed with prayers and with the Lord's Supper. Saturday evening it was the turn of the anglophones, with a barbecue followed by a short message from Isaiah 53. It was good to see new faces as regulars brought their friends. Sunday morning I was preaching at Anglade, so I dropped off the family at Cenon and hightailed it north with Rhys, trusty pianist ! The family meanwhile were with a small gang singing in the streets round the church. At Anglade we were almost 20 people, and the messag

A word of Bordelais

"Késaco" - what's that ? It's Occitan.

Can you tell where this is going ? A Louis Prima mini-series.

Thanks via Phil to Tom Wright (aka Nigel)

Genesis 3 she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked Luke 24 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,

Life after cold !

Yesterday I had a stinker of a cold : sinus pain, torrential nose, sneezing galore, etc... And an Easter International Barbecue here. (Isa 53 - Slaughtered and satisfied) Not the best combination, thought someimes the heat of the coals helps your face, I think. And two raucous services today, of course. So I am glad to be A LOT BETTER this morning !

Que je suis enrhumé gavé...*

A word of Bordelais... gavé . It means a lot, very. C'est penché gavé - it's very wonky. (pronounced Spenché gavé .) Il y en a gavé - there's loads of them. (pro: Y'en a gavé ) It's NOT a word you could use in preaching, not even as a foreigner. It's not rude but it's a bit too informal - and slightly "common"... * I've got a ghastly cold

And on the third day he rose again

I was very confused as a child. I remember going through a long period of time where I firmly believed that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Monday and we celebrated it on the Sunday because that's when church was - the nearest Sunday was close enough, as it were. Why the confusion ? Because of course if you count from Good Friday afternoon 1, 2 then 3 days you get to Monday. Oh yes, but observe : A week has how many days ? In English, seven days; in Welsh, eight nights (wythnos); in French (often) eight days (huit jours) And a fortnight ? In English, fourteen nights (fort-night); in Welsh fifteen nights (pythefnos); in French fifteen days (quinze jours). It all depends whether you count in clusively or ex clusively. Hence for the Jews in Jesus' day, after three days - bon, Friday, Saturday, Sunday... Sunday morning, right on time...

Easter Saturday is a peaceful day

when Christians wait. Pastors traditionally spend the day running over their Easter messages in their heads. The shops are full of people buying last minutes Easter eggs and golden bunnies and chocolate cats. We have an International Church Barbecue this evening - Good Friday is a day late for us !

Easter Saturday - this peaceful extract from the St Matthew Passion prepares for the BIG FINAL CHORUS

The Puffy Taco ( don't watch the wrinklies dancing )

Torrents d'amour - un chant de Pâques

Torrents d'amour et de grâce, Amour du Sauveur en croix! A ce grand fleuve qui passe, Je m'abandonne et je crois. Je crois à ton sacrifice, O Jésus, Agneau de Dieu, Et couvert par ta justice, J'entrerai dans le saint lieu. Ah! Que partout se répande Ce fleuve à la grande voix; Que tout l'univers entende L'appel qui vient de la croix! Je crois à ton sacrifice, O Jésus, Agneau de Dieu, Et couvert par ta justice, J'entrerai dans le saint lieu. Que toute âme condamnée Pour qui tu versas ton sang, Soit au Père ramenée Par ton amour tout-puissant. Je crois à ton sacrifice, O Jésus, Agneau de Dieu, Et couvert par ta justice, J'entrerai dans le saint lieu.

Great Easters what I have known

Nothing really tops the Easters of the period when i lived in Cardiff.  There were two things that would stand out - the Easter meetings in Tredegar and Easter Monday in Maesycwmmer. Tredegar is a town that has probably seen better days, and may have better days to come. But in Castle Street or sometimes down the hill in Bethel at Easter time there'd be meetings in the evening with preachers from far afield. I remember several times hearing Donald MacLeod and Douglas Macmillan there.  Generally the same chap would then speak at Maesycwmmer. Tredegar was a long haul from Cardiff - well, 40 minutes, but Maesycwmmer felt like just over Caerphilly mountain and a gang of us would go over on Easter Monday. It was great to have the benefit of those times. I owe so much to the strong theology, warmth and fun of those times. There was nothing special, no gimmicks, no visual aids, no nothing - just gangs of folks meeting to hear the Bible preached straightforwardly. Brilliant ! I'd

On sharing youtube videos

Well all becomes clear ! Youtube are withdrawing the facility to place a video in a blogger blog with one click of a button. Instead you'll have to copy some html and embed it in your blog. Fine. Before you clicked one button. Now it'll be lots more complicated.

Reviews of Linux Bible Software


Toutes Choses Nouvelles

The super little book, "All Things New" by Peter Jeffery, is available in French ! Brilliant ! Pat is reading through it with a friend.

A day for being thankful

for everything. Even the things that drive me nuts !

We're so privileged !

In 2005 just before we came to France people the mission sent round an email reminding people that the Keswick Convention has a fund to enable missionaries to attend the convention. I phoned the convention office and we ended up spending a super week in a little cottage next door to some actors who were in a musical comedy at the theatre. The conference sessions were great. The kids benefited from their sessions. The afternoon on mission was helpful. And Keswick is great. They like people to wait four years before applying for another grant but last year we didn't come to the UK in the summer. We hope to this year, and so I contacted the Convention office - to begin with all their grants were allocated but they must have had a cancellation - and so it is that we plan to attend once more, in the sodden beauty of the lakes.

Chega de Saudade

No more blues : listen here . I just got the Youtube to Blogger link working again and they've gone and redesigned the Youtube screens and hidden the blogger options from me ! Innit marvellous !

Pessac is very quiet this morning because of the strike :

Première journée bordelaise de grève contre les fréquentes intempéries et la pénibilité de l'humidité généralisée.