Showing posts from 2011

Aix en Provence

Surely it MUST rain there sometimes ?

Mérindol in the Lubéron


More Mérindol in the Lubéron


Yup, it's Mérindol in the Lubéron


As the year draws to a close, and next year is sure to bring many changes

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

There and back again

A while ago Pat received a small grant from a trust fund to enable her to take a break. It was never specified whether she should go alone or take us along (she wanted us to come too) and the holiday had to be taken by, I think, the end of February. Meanwhile some friends had invited us to go down and visit them in their new place in Provence, in a wonderfully crazy house in the middle of a rural fertile valley not far from the Luberon. It's a long way, and fuel and motorway tolls would normally have been prohibitive (100€ in tolls alone) Aha ! But we have the grant to use. So we just got back. Our friend is a Westminster PhD with a library to die for. He's a systematician in my opinion and has worked for some time training pastors in difficult countries. They have lots of delightful home-schooled children! and Provence was beautiful and sunny, though the mistral tried its best to blow us off a hill ! Photos will follow.

Well the eight turned into twelve

We were due to be eight for Christmas lunch, having invited the students that were still in Bordeaux - but then this morning three anglophone students turned up and one of the Chinese students was at church, too, se Pat invited them and we requisitioned a table we'd previously put in the church to augment our seating capacity. In the immortal words of an old friend, "You can always stretch a chicken", and we had two chickens ! At 4 the Queen was on and it coincided with the end of dessert, so we made everyone watch it. Well Pat did really. There wasn't much resistance, if we're honest. "Is the Queen a christian ?", someone asked, and I gave the answer you'd expect. Hang on, she's starting... The commonwealth people were glad to see the bit about the commonwealth and then the Queen urged us to seek forgiveness in the Saviour. :O ! Games ensued : Scrabble, Othello, Jenga, etc... I had a nap. I woke up in time to ferry people to their respective

My favourite Christmas Brass Quintet


Happy Christmas !


Joyeux Noël !

Let earth and heaven combine, Angels and men agree, To praise in songs divine The incarnate Deity, Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made Man.

Driving lessons

It's time the boy learnt to drive. In France you can do what they call conduite accompanié from the age of 16. Here's how it works : 1) You sign up and do your code de la route training and test. 2) After that you get 20 hours minimum of on the road driving tuition. 3) Then you get to do 1000 km of accompanied drivign with your folks. 4) A meeting to review progress. 5) A further 2000 km of accompanied driving. 6) A final meeting to review progress. 7) Driving test. There's good news and bad news. Bad news first : It costs a lot. However you can pay in four instalments at points 1, 2, 3 and 7. The code de la route tuition. He can only possibly do classes on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning. Now the good news : Both Pat and I can accompany his driving. There's no reason why our British driving licences should prevent us doing this. Insuring him for the car won't cost anything. He'll get cheaper insurance once he gets his own ca

Jingle Bells in New Yoyk


Well that made her day

I was at the Mairie de Pessac this morning and while I was there I thought I'd register to vote. So I did. The lady said "Vous n'êtes pas Français ?" "Non, je suis Gallois, mais j'habite ici, j'ai le droit de voter dans les élections municipales, et puisque ils sont en train de réfléchir..." She made a face showing that she thought it unlikely that foreigners would be given the right to vote in French national and presidential elections... "Ben, je vous inscrirai pour les municipales et les européennes.. ben... la nationalité..." "Oui, Britannique..." "Il n'y est pas.. disons Grand-Bretagne... non. Royaume-uni... ah non... Gallois ... non" "Ben il faut mettre Anglais, peut-être ?" "Ouais, mais vous n'êtes pas Anglais..." "Oui je sais, mais normalement..." "Ah non ! On ne met pas Anglais ! Bon, Anglais existe, je le modifierai, voilà, Britannique..."

And is it yourself, shepherds ? Top of the dead of night to yer !


See amid the winter snow, pachelbelesque




Christmas Kids Klub

Monday and Tuesday saw the first Kids Klub held at the church under the capable leadership of Harriette. Pat was helping on crafts and Catrin and Gwilym on everything. The first day one kid came from a non-church family and the next day he brought three friends. A good start.

Plastic trombones in a Christmas concert


So far so good

Day one of Christmas Hols : Kids Klub went well, Pat Gwilym and Catrin happily ensconced. Tree bought and various other secret jobs done. Lovely evening meal with Dik and Hetty. Raclette, green salad, fruit salad. Day two - Town Hall, Christmas food shopping, sundery other secret jobs. So far we're 10 people for Christmas dinner. I reckon 2 kilos of sprouts should do.

I know that I shouldn't laugh, really

Read about when le Père Noël turns nasty here . Who among us has not wished to do the same ?

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay


This isn't at all Christmassy but it's very beautiful


Championnat de France des Râleurs

I started to watch Direct8's programme, Le Championnat de France des Râleurs on Youtube but it's too long and there's too much strong language. But râler is a phenomenon worth mentioning. It's when you turn "Victor Meldrew" and it all comes out. It's an adult tantrum. It's when you throw a hissy-fit. It's throwing your toys from thr pram. It's when you say "Could you give me a hand with this, please ?" and suddenly World War 3 breaks out. The fact that there's so many ways of expressing this in English indicates that the Brits do it too.

Club bonne nouvelle pour enfants en école primaire

Today and tomorrow there's a Club Bonne Nouvelle at the church for kids of primary school age. Led by Harriette, Patricia is in charge of crafts and is well-organised. Gwilym and Catrin are little helpers. Meanwhile I am on a quest for a Christmas Tree. Ikea ? There will be glue.

Christmas tubabones

Here's some photos of the Christmas trombones and tubas at Bordeaux :

The final proof that duck is good for you

I was paying my monthly visit to Getafix to get my life-giving herbs and magic potion. While the cauldron was bubbling I idly read the boxes of medicines. Contre états grippaux - Trucmachinbidulle... (Against symptoms of flu - Oojamaflip) Interesting, I thought. What's in it ? Extraits de foie et de coeur de Anas Barbariae. (Extracts of liver and heart of Barbary Duck.) Duck ? Duck liver and heart ? So I asked Getafix, "In your opinon, does this work ? After all, it's duck." He laughed, "Let's just say that there's hundreds of people who take it... Perhaps the effect is psychological but if it makes you feel better, who cares."

It looks like the children are having a wind day

It's windy here. Very windy. Perhaps not as bad as the big wind of 2009 which entirely removed the garden fences, took off £600 worth of roof tiles and completely removed the roof of two houses round he corner. But still very windy. I slept through it all so I thought the forecast had come to nothing but in fact it's very windy. Too dangerous for the kids to go to school and for Mrs Davey to go to the feminine circle. Oh well. We still have power and the phone line still work

Bordeaux on Tuesday night

When I left the Couleurs Café there were CROWDS of people coming out of the Cathedral, so I sneaked up to the previous tram stop to get on before them.

Je suis FURIEUX !!!!

Patricia a écrit une lettre au professeur d'EPS ce matin pour lui demander d'excuser Catrin de la pratique de sport. Le professeur a lu la lettre et a obligé Catrin de le faire quand même ! EXCUSEZ-MOI !!!! C'est qui la personne responsable ???? Qui paye l'école (et donc en partie votre salaire) ???? J'ai écrit une lettre au professeur où je remarque que Patricia est la personne responsable ET qu'elle est infirmière avec une vingtaine d'années d'expérience !

Well I am TAMPING !!!!

(tamping - a South Wales word meaning furious) Patricia wrote a letter to the PE teacher this morning asking that Catrin be excused from sport. The teacher read the letter and made her do it anyway ! EXCUSE ME !!! Who's the legal responsible person here ? Who is the one who's paying the school fees ? I have written a FURIOUS letter to the teacher, pointing out that Patricia is not only the person legally reponsible but also a nurse with years of experience.

Catrin's singing debut

I was glad that no student event was planned for yesterday evening because Catrin had her first concert at the Ecole de Musique de Parempuyre. Her teacher gave us the address and we set off in good time to find a town plunged in utter darkness. One building was lit up - feebly - by emergency exit signs and a plaque said it was la maison des arts so we went in and Renaud prof de chant was there. There were lots of people singing, of varying standards. One guy was pretty good - singing a kind of Police - Walking on the moon style thing. After a while the electricity came and went, causing endless fun for those who sang with microphones or sheet music. It stayed on for Catrin's song which you can hear below. We left before the end because poor Gwilym has two days of tests today and tomorrow so we didn't want to be late home.

More music for the season


The week ahead

Tuesday evening is the FAC Café Philo Soirée de Noël. I am to give a short talk. Tomorrow night is Catrin's singing debut - at the Ecole de Musique de Parempuyre. Thursday night is the English Class Christmas Film Night. Friday night last big band rehearsal of the year and also Christmas Service at Blaye Saturday morning Gros Tubes de Noël in Bordeaux centre. Saturday evening preaching for the Chinese group Sunday am Last Sunday of Advent - Dik preaching. Sunday afternoon - United Christmas Celebration with the Chinese, the English Service and the French Church.

'Tis the season for music


The morning after the evening before

So we were 22 for the English Service Christmas Meal and Message. This happened to be the exact number of places we had set at table and the most our lower room could accommodate, and we needed to be in the lower room as that's the one with heating. A number of folks brought friends and all was mighty fine ! There's a problem with the church electricity supply at the moment such that you have to be careful not to plug in too many things at once or the trip ... trips. Despite this constraint Mrs Davey managed to produce a turkey roast dinner with spuds in two kinds, runner beans, broccoli, sprouts of course and gravy. She was aided and abetted by myself, Gwilym and Catrin and the Chinese group's hostess tray. People brought aperitifs and desserts, including pecan pie, pumpkin cake, mince pies and a kind of raspberry cheesecake. Between the main course and the dessert I did my brief messagette, getting everyone to recount the visits to the infant Jesus and then talking

I'm on a roll here


The Carol Service

We had planned to all go to the Anglican Carol Service at 17h on Saturday. The logistics were complicated because I was in Mérignac till 16h30 for the Gros Tubes de Noël  rehearsal while the children and Pat were scheduled to be in Cenon till 16h at Club Lampadaire (the youth group). So the plan was that Pat and kids come by tram to Mérignac and I pick them up in the car to go to the Carol Service. However the best-laid plans go oft awry, and a minor malaise meant that Pat and Catrin stayed home, Gwilym went home from the club by tram and bus and I went to the Carol Service on my own. It was very different this year, with readings in Spanish, German, Italian, Welsh (hurrah !), Arabic and French - the text in English being printed in the order of service. The choir sang "For unto us" from Messiah, plus some Palestrina, Willcocks (Lord of the Dance) etc.. The middle of the service included a kind of western-style nativity tableau done by the kids and the christening of a

Music for this time of year


Commission des Ministères and the weekend ahead

Having spent a quiet two days in trains, plus a good old grilling at the Commission des Ministères - warm and friendly but all the hot potatoes came up - they voted to accept me as a Pasteur Associé. I told the chairman that they're madder than I thought they were. I tell you what, Nîmes is a rum old place ! J-P drove me from his family home to the high-tech UNEPREF head offices - the nerve center - through a neighbouring ZUP. I have never seen so many huge blocks of flats in one place - ever. Astonishing ! Now it's the first nutty weekend of Christmas. Here's the schedule : Now - headcount for Bordeaux Church Meal and Message Then - order of service type-up for service tomorrow morning Then shopping for Bordeaux Church Christmas Meal and Message. Then lunch. Then rehearsal for the Bordeaux Trombone Christmas Extravaganza. Then dash to pick up family at tram stop yet to be decided. Then dash to Anglican Church Camel Service. "Away in a Manger" an

Music for the season


As Christmas approaches my mind always turns to Chalcedon

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θε

Nightime photos

Last night the church council finished at about 6pm and the café philo started at about 8, so it wasn't worth driving home and then getting back into the centre of Bordeaux. Instead I heated something up at the church then took the tram to the café. Except that the square Stalingrad was so pretty I got off the tram to look and to take some photos. Then I decided to walk the rest of the way, over the stunningly beautiful Pont de Pierre and up to the café. Honestly, every corner you hold your breath because you know that something lovely awaits you ahead. Bordeaux is a lovely place.

Yet more seasonal music

I can't imagine that I'll be able to keep this up till Christmas !

Catrin's Brevet blanc

Today it's History and Grigraphy. Then normal lessons this afternoon. Science tomorrow.

Additional seasonal music


I have not yet perfected Porage Belle Hélène.

I know what it would take. A drizzle of very rich chocolate sauce over the top of the diced pear in porage. Maybe for Christmas.

The music schools - the way ahead

Up till the 1970s in France I think music tuition was pretty much like it is in Britain today. Keen parents would look for instrument teachers for their kids and musicians gave lessons on the side to keep some bread on the table. Since the 1970s France has institutionalised the teaching of music in various ways and at various levels. I won't bore you with all the details but you have music schools and conservatories. Music schools exist at town level. Conservatories at town, department, regional or national level. Some music schools call themselves conservatory when they aren't really - it's a question of recognised and assured standards of achievement, etc, teachers who have passed their civil service exams,... Anyway, town music schools can be municipal (run by the town hall) or associative (or I imagine, private). Pessac being a big long narrow town, we have two music schools. There's the one where I am on the committee and where Catrin does her singing lessons a

Today's agenda

10h Pastoral meet-up in Bordeaux 12h Tracting somewhere (I hope to make this) 15h Church council meeting 20h Café Philo In between I need to get to a railway station to get my train ticket for tomorrow, write and send several emails and also phone my JW friend to tell him not to come round this week again.

This week

has begun big and will continue in like fashion : Sunday was the visit of the Comité d'Accompagnement when we spent pretty well all afternoon discussing the way forward for the church in the light of Dik and Hetty's decision to return to Holland in June 2012. This evening a 41-page report is being delivered on the life of the two schools of music in Pessac. I am on the committee of one of the music schools, though the fact that I work evenings means I am not the committee member with the best attendance record. Still, we do what we can. Café Philo on Wednesday night (subject silence), meeting up with Dik Wednesday morning, Church Council Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning we have our next Skype meeting for the UFM people in France. Thursday afternoon I leave for Nîmes by train (probably) for an interview on Friday with the Commission des Ministères with the aim of formalising my relationship with the national union of churches. Also LOTS of email exchanges and mayb

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

They've called off the strike...

Dare I go to Nîmes by train after all...?

The mock week

Catrin has her mocks this week, her brevet blanc . In a way that I am incapable of understanding, it does count towards her brevet even though the real exams will take place early next year. She had a day revision leave yesterday and she has another tomorrow. She's done her French this morning, this afternoon it's Spanish and English. Then later she has Maths, Geog, Hist, Science, Tech, etc. etc.

Further seasonal music


Seasonal music again


Late night skaters beside the

Christmas cathedral.

Bordeaux bus queue


OK. I'm going to Nîmes by car.

It'll cost more than the train, but not that much more.

More Seasonal music


What ? Again !

I love living in France, but sometimes it can be frustrating. For some time I have been in the process of becoming officially recognised as a pasteur associé of the Union Nationale des Eglises Protestantes Réformées Evangéliques de France. There remains one step to take. An interview with the Commission des Ministères in Nîmes. This interview was scheduled for early June. I got as far as the station in Bordeaux to find that all the railway ticket collectors had gone on strike following an attack on one of their number. So I couldn't get to Nîmes. I turned round and came home. The interview is rescheduled for Friday 9th December. Then I just read this . Infamy ! Infamy ! They've all got it in for me !

Some seasonal music


Who wouldn't want an Irish Christmas !

Dress me in the green and call me O'Shaunessy ! We're jigging and reeling for Christmas here !

The Gospel Coalition talking about Missional College Ministry

I know the title is chock-full of juicy, baffling jargon, but the points made here are rather interesting all the same.

Guess the price...

"I work in the grand distribution and so I know", said our neighbour, assuring us that Géant Casino, our usual supermarket, is the dearest. "Apart from the hard discount you should shop at Auchan, Carrefour or LeClerc." Well the nearest Auchan is halfway round the ring-road and our local LeClerc is small and poky, but we're equidistant between Géant Casino Pessac and Carrefour Mérignac. Never let it be said that I won't take advice. We switched to Carrefour, despite their apparently dodgy policies regarding deforestation, of which I was blissfuly unaware and about which even now I remain confused. I reckon we save about 10 euros a week, perhaps more, by shopping at Carrefour. Not only that but they have these natty scanner tills where if you use a self-scan doodah ( scannette ) you can then pay at a self-service till and get out of the store in seconds ! However they don't have toilet paper with aloe vera, which was one of the real highlights o

Contrôle technique

on the car - done. Legal for another two years. We have to soon renew the brake discs and pads. We knew that anyway. One fog-light doesn't work. But they're not required ot by law so I don't care. Stuff like that. All OK. So that's me and the car looked over and passed fit to circulate. .

Beautiful !

Look ! Just look at this !

The week in view

1) Contrôle technique of the car (MOT) 2) Visit of Peter Nye from the mission Tues to Thursday to survey possibilities for a work team from Operation Centurion 3) Sort out and clean study and turn it from a troll's den into a desirable guest room by putting a mattress on the floor. (see 2) 4) CNEF meeting this evening, thankfully in Pessac because Catrin has solfège lesson also in Pessac. 5) Normal evening meetings : CNEF Monday, PM Tuesday, Café philo prep and Bible study Wednesday, English Class Thursday. 6) Surveys on campus and in town ? 7) Meeting with Patrick to discuss work teams (see 2) 8) Register gor Geneva Bible Institute conference in May (Don Cobb, Don Carson, John Piper et al) 9) Sunday English service and also visit of Comité d'Evaluation. Let's get on with it !

A varied weekend

On Friday Catrin was ill. A kind of undefined cold/flu seasonal illness. On Saturday afternoon Gwilym developed a tummy bug. Catrin bounced back to life on Saturday but Gwilym is not yet restored. Meanwhile Saturday night was the Chinese group at Pessac (in French -> Mandarin), Sunday morning the French service at Anglade and Sunday evening the English service at Cenon. It's great, but you have to keep your wits about you. One weakness of the trombone and the flute is that they are not all that useful for accompaniment. The Chinese have a good keyboard player and two violinists but at Anglade and in Cenon we sang unaccompanied albeit with gusto ! Also we don't yet have heating at the church because the reversible aircon units are to be installed on the walls above the toilets, and we don't yet have walls above the toilets. Not only that but the circuit installed to the wall-sockets isn't tripped enough to run electric heaters. So yesterday morning the

Don Carson comments on Luke 12

JESUS TELLS HIS “FRIENDS” not to be afraid “of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” ( Luke 12:4–5 ). The Gospel demands that we examine not only our loves, but our fears. We are to love God above all others; so also are we to fear him above all others. The reason is the same in both cases: he is God. He deserves our passionate adoration; he is not to be trifled with. His untrammeled holiness evokes our awe; it also evokes our fear. We should love him now, and we will love him without reserve in the new heaven and the new earth; we should fear him, for he has both the power and the right to exclude us from the new heaven and the new earth. Again, how many of our decisions in life are shaped in part by what people think or, more precisely, by what we fear they will think? In short, we are often afraid of people—if not afrai

Peace in the morning !

A peaceful Friday morning ? How come ? Catrin was ill - just a little under the weather. Gwilym was helping with his schoolmates at the local supermarket collecting food for the banque alimentaire, from 12h15. It meant no leaping out of bed at 06h30 ! Bliss - an unhurried morning !

Dirtymologist she say lump no problem

"You and your lump can live happily ever after." Thus ends the season of contrôle technique on me. Next thing is the car.

Michael Davis, he da man


Discussions, drugs, dermatologist and ... dramatic story telling...?

Yesterday was a good day with good, constructive discussions and a good café philo about La Liberté . I was impressed to see lots of police in town, on the tram, at the tram stop, everywhere. The tram stop was so full of police and ticket inspectors that I thought they were gathering for a demonstration or something. Then on the bus home at a certain stop the exits were blocked by police and a sniffer-dog was sent on to check people's bags for cannabis. One small boy's bag was suspect so he and his companion had to get off the bus to give an account of themselves, or more particularly of the substances the dog found in the bag. Today I have my dermatology appointment and the Advanced English Classes this evening. We're going to work on precision of tenses when recounting events. For example. I was sitting in the dining room when the assailant entered. I had already finished my dessert and the butler had said that he would bring the coffee presently. Then suddenly the

FAC AGM today

Churches in France are declared to the government as Associations Cultuelles - associations for worship. Strictly speaking, according to the law of 1905, an Association Cultuelle can only do things that are directly related to worshipping God. So training pastors would be OK. Holding workshops, music practices, Sunday schools, prayer meetings - all these things would be OK. However what about a church holiday ? A kids camp ? Outreach to different groups ? For these activities some churches in France just carry on regardless. Laws can be hard to interpret anyway. Other churches form Associations Cultu R elles to provide the legislative framework for activities not directly related to the worship service. Thus today we have the Annual General Meetings of the Association Culturelle , FAC, established for outreach to students. It's been compared to Campus Crusade, but a moment's reflection will reveal how mistaken and flattering that is. The Chairman  of the associatio

The Pessac Jazz Band was on the National News !

I wasn't there. The concert was last Sunday. But you can see the short reportage here .

All of me - Harry Connick Jr


So Pat got up at 6 on her birthday so she could see Gwilym before he left for school

I was lying in bed reading a book on my phone. Scuttling noises from the hall. "No, they're all down. No, everything seems like normal..." The electricity had blown the trip. I got up and gave it a try. The trip wouldn't stay on. "What did you turn on just before it blew ?" "The kettle and Gwilym's heater" "OK, go and turn them off." The trip stayed on. "Now put the kettle on" Clack - the trip blew. The kettle's duff. Poor Pat. No early morning birthday cup of tea for her !

I think I may have been away a bit too much lately...

I left for the Regional Church Officers' meeting on Friday and came home on Saturday to this conversation : Me: "I was staying at Eugene's and Harriette in a hotel"  Gwilym: "When was this ?"  Pat: "You don't even know that he's been away do you ?" OK. I get the point. Apart from one overnighter to Nîmes on 5 December, that's it now at least till Christmas.

Comment choisir une Bible en français

La Maison de la Bible nous aide ici .

En route for the Synode Régional

at Lafitte-sur-Lot.


Temple protestant - these documents date from the 1500s.


Temple protestant