Showing posts from October, 2012

Trouble at the station

We have to go to Paris soon, and I bought the railway tickets online at great cost some weeks ago. Today I thought I had better get them so I hauled myself off to the station. The routine is simple - you stick the card with which you paid for the tickets in a slot in a big yellow machine and it prints off your tickets. Easy ! NOT. It said "We can't accept that card." I looked at the card, wiped it and tried again. No. No and thrice no. That's when I took fright. You see, I have two bank accounts. One is the family account that we use for paying for food and clothing and housing and all the stuff one needs to live. The other is for paying work expenses, like tickets to Paris etc... And for one of my bank accounts recently I received a new card. But which one ? And which card did I cut up ? And do I still have the card with which I bought the tickets ? I went to see the lady at the counter. "Big problem. We can't do nothing. You'll just have t

Epic cymbals !


Back to Bordeaux

It's been so good to get back to the family. Good, too, to get back to seeing folk, talking things through, listening to where folk are coming from. Hard to get down to preparation, though ! But I'll get there !

The laughing ducks of the Parc Bordelais

I met someone for a chat today at the Parc Bordelais. (Sometimes being a pastor in France is a bit like being a spy. We meet people in deserted parks by closed down cafés.) Anyway, I was enchanted by one particular duck who had a very raucous belly laugh. Haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh ! When my companion scuttled off into the bushes to attend to a call of nature I amused the duck with some hilarious jokes, which he greatly appreciated. Haugh haugh haugh haugh haugh ! Wonderful !

Vous êtes Gallois, non ?

I staggered over to the local Carrefour for coffee, bread and stuff. (The breadmaker has yielded up the spirit. That's less than a year but we can't find the receipt. Marvellous...) Anyway, on the way back I stumbled into the newsagents to scan the rags and the chappie saw me and said "You're Welsh aren't you?" "Yup", quoth I. "My son's just been to Cardiff." "Well that's my city !" "He was in the suburb of - darling, what suburb was junior in...?" He phoned junior... "Deenas Pooees. They visited the Millenium Stadium, Beeg Peet, they had a whale of a time" (ils se sont régalés) "Dinas Powys ! It's not where I lived but I know it." It's one of the great advantages of shopping locally. I felt so full of goodwill afterwards that I thought I really ought to buy a magazine or something, but hey, two euros is two euros... Takes a considerable heap of goodwill to squander two e

Le pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas

Hitherto known as the Pont BaBa (Bacalan-Bastide). Placing the centre part of the bridge - an elevator bridge which winches up the central part to allow ships to pass underneath. Watch the video here .

Giving online

I was looking for the contact details of our Mission Finance folk this morning and noticed for the first time that it is now possible to give to our work in France online. Cool, eh ? Here's the link. .

Visits to churches

One drawback of autumn is that often when you arrive at a church it's already dark and you can't really take a photo of the church building. I am more and more hesitant, too, to put photos of people on the site. However one of the interesting things is the range of churches that I saw - from multi-hundred congregations to prayer meetings of fewer than ten people, from large modern buildings to groups that meet in schools, from multi-worker teams to one guy working away diligently. All very fascinating and heartening. Heartening, too, the initiative being taken by two churches who want to begin a real relationship with us, to serve God in fellowship together, to maybe send folks out to help as they can, to keep in touch regularly, to have a real sense of partnership. 

Above the clouds the sun shines and the sky is blue

The lower photo shows the Gironde estuary as it flows into the Bay of Biscay.

Between Darlington and Otley

I called at Ripon to cast a glance over things.


Usually my quick lunch place of choice is Subway, but I had been put off by a huge difference in price between exactly the same sandwich at the White Rose Centre and at Exscape. Not only that but I had wanted to take some hosts out to lunch and we found a Wetherspoons very useful and good value. So I scuttled off to find the Durham Wetherspoons, hidden under a Nando's in a modern precinct by the library near a statue of Cuthbert's pall-bearers.


I had a day free so I went to Durham to visit the cathedral. Quite simply overwhelming. They prohibit photography inside the cathedral, so I couldn't capture that first sight of the enormous patterned norman columns and the huge round arches. It was stunning. I stared and stared so I could try to remember the impression it gave. I have tried to find a photo on the web. I sneaked a photo in an ante-room ( which reminded me a lot of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba ) and where the Venerable Bede is buried. HAC SUNT IN FOSSA BAEDAE VENERABILIS OSSA it says. A lady knelt to pray at the foot of his grave so I hid her behind a pillar. Durham cathedral gave me an overwhelming sense of history, easily the most impressive cathedral I have ever visited. The town was OK. Expensive second-hand bookshops.


Bradford was a surprise. A nice city centre, a super Waterstones and a big mosque overlooking the city.


 Our own home church, Christchurch Deeside, has had some building work done recently, too, and the building looks very spick and span.

Photos - Inverness

 Smithton-Culloden church has a wonderful building that has evolved over the time that I have known the church. Here you can see their reception area and the smart worship room.

Et les Ecossais, ils parlent français ?

Well I suppose I could have resisted... On the way back I got talking to some French youngsters who were trying to conceal bottles of duty-free whisky about their persons. You can't take a carrier bag on board Ryanair flights - everything has to go in your one bag. Or wrapped in the coat you nonchalantly drape over your elbow. They said they had been on holiday together. You can imagine the fun they had. I thought, 'Aha !' ... "Tell me, the Scots, do they speak French ?" "No, not at all !" "And did you meet Tony Blair ?" By this time they needed an explanation, so I told them about my previous conversation and they confirmed my sad suspicion that the Scots who work in cafés, bars and tourist attractions almost always have little or no French. What a pity. Scots friends ! Päy better attention to your teachers in future !

I'm back !

I arrived back in Bordeaux yesterday and enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with bus 4, which celebrated by smashing a VW Polo's wing mirror in festive glee. Well the owner of the Polo was not so festive, as you'd expect. Ryanair is OK, really ! The staff were all friendly. I saved money by not going to the loo. My bag going out wighed 7 Kg and coming back 9kg - I had acquired three books, two tee-shirts (pyjamas for the use of) and a thin navy sweater (what possessed me to come to the UK with one sweater and choose a RED one !) Road journeys were for the most part picturesque - I saw a bit of bonnie Scotland, the centre of Newcastle (very impressive but that guy had taken the fog off the Tyne), the Angel of the North, Durham Cathedral, Ripon and Barnard Castle. I will pop photos on as soon as I can. A huge joy to see old friends. We're all getting old now aren't we. One sprightly 50-year-old insisted on giving my age every time he introduced me to anyone. You know

The plumber cometh

You have to admit that we are a good team, Patricia and me. Our drain problem was not getting better. I am in UK. Patricia is holding the fort. Thinks. M. Michael the plumber. Last time he came he was REALLY efficient and not expensive. So I found his number and emailed it to Pat. Pat phoned him. "I'll be right there !" It turns out that it is what I thought it was in the first place - a build up of undissolved washing powder. He's coming with his tube washer and he says once he's done that all will be OK once more. Bravo M Michael.

Going to the airport

We had a matinée d'accueil at the church, which gave us a chance to meet up with some folks and get to know them better. Then Mrs Davey and the little Daveys arrived and we had a nice lunch of left-over pizza and ham sandwiches before we went to the airport and Gwilym and Catrin went to the Teens club. We took tram A to the stop Lycées de Mérignac, then as the tram pulled up bus 1 to the airport appeared and we hopped on. It stopped just at the terminal and we helped a Scottish couple find the way to the Low-cost departures place. Some people are disappointed by the Bordeaux Low-cost terminal, but I like the way that from the check-in desk you can see the security scanners, and beyond them the duty-free shop, the café and the departure gates. All in all once at the airport you only have about 50 yards to walk. Not like some airports where you end up walking for ages through endless glass corridors. A difficult farewell to Pat, then through security and off to a short wait to

A good flight and a happy landing

I was a little apprehensive because of Ryanair's image, so I chose the lightest bag I could and packed light. I have no books with me. None at all. For my cabin bag my rotten old shoulder bag I got from Aldi a long time ago. I checked in. My bag for the hold was well under weight. The guy on the checkin was friendly. So were the security folk. Everyone was relaxed and chatty. We were taken through to the holding pens. I chatted with some French couples who were off to do a tour of Scotland. "You'll love it. It has everything Bordeaux hasn't, moutains etc... And you speak English ? Well the Scots accent is hard. Sometimes we don't understand them." "And they speak French ?" At this point the lady in front of us turned round. She's a retired French teacher and assured us that French was well-taught in Scotland and that anyone who has had any kind of education speaks French. She cited Tony Blair as an example. I wasn't sure that our Fren

Today I fly to Scotland

It will be great to see folk, to meet ,new churches and to share what God is doing here in Bordeaux. At the same time it's hard to leave the church here just a few weeks into the new session, and so very hard to leave the family. And right on cue we have a practical problem - once more with the drains. We have this wonderful internal waste system that takes water from the shower-room upstairs and kitchen and bathroom downstairs through the walls and under the floor out to a drain at the side of the house. But it clogs up with nasty consequences. So we're poking bamboo sticks and "ferrets" - long wire springs - up the drains to clear the thick clots of clay-coloured gunk that are stopping the stagnant water draining. YUK ! It is one area where Pat's experience as a nurse stands her in good stead. "This is not the worst place I have shoved my hand", she says. We had a farewell pizza party last night - the kids had predictable pepperoni and we had

Some more of this week's photos

Here we have one of the rustic carvings from Pessac station that stand sentry over the covered area where young homeless guys hang out with their dogs. Then a very pretty flower shop in the very centre of Bordeaux, right by the Hotel de Ville tram stop. Then a photo of the big ship that brings the A380 wings from Mostyn down to Bordeaux on their journey to the assmply plant at Toulouse.

Some photos from this week

Firstly the Hotel de Police in Bordeaux where a young school teacher is currently being held. Then my office with my lovely new office chair (Thanks, Andy !). Then the little church at Anglade in the September sun. Then the temporary bullring at Victoire set up for the annual Féria de la Victoire.

The Life of God in the Soul of the Church - by Thabite Anyabwile

This is a good book. Essentially it's a sermon series on various New Testament texts taken from the Epistles, texts that deal with our life as the church. We live in a time of huge individualism, where commitment to the group (or even to one person) seems less and less attractive to people. It's a great opportunity for Christian people to show the reality of the church, the people of God, the body of Christ, the challenge of true community. The problem is that we have all grown up in our culture, too, so we have to battle against that individualistic tendency ourselves. It's here that this book come in helpful. Expositional, the book deals with passages of Scripture. I find this far more helpful than a simple topical approach. Sermonic, the book addresses the reader personally, sometimes as "O beloved". The unbeliever is not forgotten, he's urged to seek salvation in Jesus Christ. Practical, the book urges action on all Christians. Join your church

How we define ourselves

An interesting article from the Guradian here .

Attention North Wales A Level French students !

What a project this would make !

Preparing for church visits

Make lists. Wash shirts. Unblock drains. Wash jeans. (see above, "unblock drains") I didn't think my shirts were THAT dirty.

Le pBone vert est parti dans le sud de la France

Last time pBones became available I ordered one for my mate, Manu, and one extra to sell. I'd never seen a green one so I ordered one of those. Big mistake ! Red is the colour of fêtes, férias and festivals. Green is the colour of mould. So I advertised it in the schools of music. No interest. Profs de trombone recommended it to their pupils. In vain. I put it on eBay and on Le Bon Coin. Still nothing. We came back from holidays and I thought, "OK, I'll put on the green one and my red one and see what happens." I also dropped the price. And the green one sold last weekend. I posted it off on Monday and it shoudl have arrived today, assuming the buyer was at home. So much for making a packet selling plastic trombones! Trouble is, they're no longer £50, they're £90, and by the time you add on carriage then really you're not much cheaper than Conn-Selmer with their 149€.

Cold extract coffee

Tried it. Not convinced.