Showing posts from 2014

Alan's salon

Well Gwilym wanted a sort of modified flat-top cut. That I needed to work out myself, but the clippers on the back and sides, then the thinning shears are very forgiving. Catrin wanted a pixie cut, which meant taking LOTS of length out of her hair. For that I needed help, so I watched a Youtube video by the salon guy and then cut with the straight shears, using scissor over comb to remove unevenness, a few moments of fervent arrow-prayers and then light use of thinning shears to give a more natural feathering to the back and sides. She looks very pretty. I feel very thankful. Meanwhile the doctor came and recommended massage, ibuprofen, stretching etc.

How to change your way of thinking in four easy steps

Read here.

Quand des musulmans épousent la foi chrétienne

Mrs Davey's back

is inflamed again, not in the same place, slightly higher up, but with the same consequences - spasms, intense pain, stiffness, immobility. The evening service was to be held here with a meal afterwards. To be honest, most people are away visiting folk or travelling - so we cancelled. We had a nasty moment with a pain-killer called tramadol - after the second dose Pat became faint and ended up on the floor on her knees. She didn't take a third dose. The doctor will call later this morning or early afternoon.

For those who have kindle e-book readers etc.

Here is a link to lots of free books in kindle format. Of course, Project Gutenberg is a huge source of useful texts.

Biscuits and whisky de Borbon

Read about Bourbon here

Benches and beggars

The issue of homelessness is always to the forefront here. Here are some of the various ways it has manifested itself recently. Firstly the restaurant where we meet on Sundays is regularly visited by a homeless chap who is quite well known on the streets of Bordeaux. He looks and dresses like Albert Finney's Fagin, like an old-fashioned tramp, really, draped in layers of roughly cut blanket-waiscoats. He comes to the restaurant and from outside the door pops something through and hooks it by the door. The idea is that we accept what he gives and give him something in return, perhaps an ash-tray or a spoon - ideally some money. He once gave us a whole brioche that I assume someone else had given to him. Secondly, I know a chap who is a beggar by profession. He speaks of the people who give to him as his clients, and he knows their habits and he makes sure he's at his post, outside a certain shop, when they will be passing. He lives in a hostel and also has certain allowances

Church visits programme 2015

Alan plans to visit the UK in April. Here's the dates and the churches that are on the list so far: April 1, Wed - Borras, Wrexham April 5, Sun - Saint Mellons, Cardiff April 7, Tue - Ebenezer, Swansea April 8, Wed - Bay Church, Cardiff April 12, Sun - Ebenezer, Cwmbran and Upton, Chester April 13 - 16 Banner of Truth Conference April 19, Sun - Freshbrook, Swindon

Oh no! They wanted us to sing "O Holy night" as a family quartet!

In retrospect we should have had a go. It would have ended up very funny indeed. Instead we done "Ark the 'erald".

"Je vais te dire une chose"

This has for some time been my favourite French expression. I usually reply, 'Très bien, dis-moi une chose." And usually people start laughing.

Culinary innovations in 2014

perhaps the most life-changing has been porage with water. Add a little honey, or a mashed banana. It's great.

Christmas events

are not as big for us here since a good number of our folk are students so they travel home for Christmas. But we had a good Christmas evening on Friday with two new faces - neither of them students - and this evening is Carols at Dan. Lots of our usuals have left to be with their families for the holidays, but we'll see who we get! We will probably have some newcomers and we may have some of our old friends visiting Bordeaux again. We have great songs lined up and a great message to celebrate!


So far so good. Positive things: Apparently they don't look ridiculous. They feel quite comfortable. Distance vision is amazingly better. Just amazing! I can see so much more clearly! If I wiggle my ears I can make them pulsate on my face. Less positive things: I look like my sister. My elder sister. Ten years older than me. They're zoned, so for distance you look through the top of the lens, for a computer screen through the middle, and for the keyboard or a book through the bottom. It means you tilt your head more than before. Sideways glances don't really work. You have to turn your head. I'll get used to them. And for the moment if I don't put them on it isn't a disaster - I can still see, though not as well. So I have time to get used to them gradually.

Thanks David Murray for highlighting this - five of the best free Bible study tools

Find out here .

Well my specs have come

and I am going to be moving my head a lot more in future!

My colour-blindness

Here's a video on what it's like to be colour-blind. My experience and description would be similar. I can see colours, but I see them differently from other people and without the nuances that others have. Two examples : Red. I see bright red fine, but for me it isn't a bright colour. It's got about the same brightness or force as brown. So that means that in the UK I can't find post-offices or post-boxes, because the colour just doesn't stand out. A friend once asked me what kind of tree that was with all the red berries. I said "which tree? do you mean the rowan?" I couldn't see the berries, but I knew the tree by the leaves. Once I got close enough to see the shape of the berries I could see the colour well enough, but it just didn't stand out against the green. Nuances. It is not wise to ask me to buy bananas because they go from one degree of yellow to another as they ripen. I can't tell the green of an unripe banana from yellow

My favourite novel of 2014

(To be clear, I mean the novel I read in 2014 that I liked the most.) Again I've had to joy and privilege of reading some very acclaimed books in 2014, among them: Blindness, José Saramago Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar Dear Life, Alice Munro The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Sparke Life after Life, Kate Atkinson Quartet in Autumn, Barbara Pym The Royal Game, Stefan Zweig Home, Toni Morrison The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka. I read this last book in the bus. I read it in the tram. I read it while waiting for an eye-test. I was reading it when a friend arrived to meet me ( What are you reading? ) But the book that made an impact on me and gave me a new author was A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. I like his prose. It's like water-colour. Transparent, clear, light and yet somehow very graphic.

My Favourite Christian book in 2014

This would have to be Tim Keller's "Prodigal God". In 2014 I've been very privileged to be able to read some excellent Christian books, as well as some that were not so good and one, I think, that was frankly dreadful. Why choose Prodigal God as my favourite? It's not just because Tim Keller lives in New York, likes jazz and is one of the Gospel Coalition Leaders. (I didn't like his book on Judges very much) It's because, just when you thought it would be impossible to say something new and fresh on the parable of the prodigal son, Keller arrives with a view so full of grace and Christ and the gospel that it became immediately my favourite book to give to any Christian who hasn't read it, especially if they might not have quite grasped the gospel. And it did me good. And I think that each time I read it with someone it will do me more good. It's that good.


Almost every day for two or three months I have asked on for Michael Reeves' "Christ our Life" to be made available in kindle format. One day they will do it. They will. If I persevere and do not give up.


Pat and I had our first session of colour therapy yesterday in Desigual. Ten minutes staring at the reds, blues, yellows and oranges really helps when all the world has gone gray.

The projected house move

A couple of folks have asked questions about our hope to move house so I thought it would be a good idea to make things as clear as possible in a blog post. We hope to move house some time in 2015. The timing is important for two reasons: 1) At Easter the tram arrives about 400 yards from our house. Our house will immediately become a very attractive option for getting to the city centre by tram and bus and to the airport and all points south and west by motorway. We might get a better price. We might sell more easily. 2) Catrin exams will finish in June. We really don't want to have a house move before she finished her exams! Why think of a house move? Well there are three reasons. They're in order of importance: a. to no longer have a mortgage. We hope to find a flat that we can buy outright. This is the main purpose of a move. We've now almost completed ten years in France on the same allowances, and we don't expect them to change any time in the future.

Catrin's bac blanc philo - the questions from her four hour philosophy exam

1) Must one see other people as an obstacle? 2) Explain this text from Descartes, which essentially says if you can't have what you want, then learn to want what you have.

Oh that's so cheeky!

The government has redrawn the map of the regions of France, reducing the number of regions to 13. One change affects us directly. Before we were Aquitaine, and we comprised five departments: the Gironde, the Dordogne, the Lot et Garonne, the Landes and the Pyrenees-Atlantiques. Now we have been merged with the Limousin and with Poitou-Charente. Aquitaine had a historical logic to its name, going back to the Roman Aquitania . But to name regions which are composed of smaller entities there are two possibilities. The first is to hyphenate abbreviations of the name - as in Poitou-Charentes. The second is to use initials, as in PACA ( P rovence- A lpes- C ote-d' A zur). Readers of our regional newspaper were invited to suggest names for our new, larger region. I thought Aquipoichamousin sounded good for the South-West of France. The cheekiest suggestion was APOIL - A quitaine- Poi tou- L imousin. "A poil" means starkers. Another cheeky one was CLAP - C harente

A serious responsibility

We were put in touch some months ago with a lady who is suffering from cancer, who lives in the Dordogne and who comes to Bordeaux for chemotherapy. When she comes down to Bordeaux she tells us what room she is in and we pop in to see her - either myself, Patricia or both of us. She's a lady with a strong and well-taught faith and a husband who isn't a Christian. It's a great privilege to accompany her, to talk through her concerns, to share a Bible perspective with her, to pray with her and to get to know her husband a little, too. It's not something you can blog about much, but I thought I'd mention it as part of our work here.

Mission accomplie - or almost...

The guy in the tram and bus office said, "But last year you renewed online?" "Yes", quoth I, "but last year you emailed me to say my season ticket was running out. This year the bus told me on Sunday that my ticket was out of date. And it's too late to renew online." "Yes. That's odd." "I thought so, too." "Oh, and you're subscribed to the bikes - but that doesn't run out till February. It was January, but you put your bike back in a winning slot and won an extra month. Oh, and to Citiz. Have you heard from them?" "No." (thinks - must check with Citiz when my renewal is due. The lady in the insurance office said, "Do you have any proof?" "Proof of what, my identity?" "No, proof that your son has left the country. His ticket, for example." I thought... What proof do I have the Gwilym is now living in the UK... "His address, perhaps? A justificatif de domici

Some Christmassy photos of Bordeaux


Oh well...

the varifocals are ordered and should be ready before Christmas. Meanwhile we can change our health insurance for next year to remove Gwilym, since he is now in the tender hands of the NHS. And my bus pass stopped working at the weekend. Strange. I searched my emails to look for a reminder to renew my season ticket and found one dates 28 November - 2013! They must have decided not to remind me this year. So I have some lovely admin to do tomorrow. Hurrah.

Catrin after her Lycée's thanksgiving meal ("Come Fancy")


La suite

Varifocal glasses. OK, I'll get some glasses. Our health insurance suggested a firm of online opticians so I might give them a try. The long and crazy day went OK. Mostly as planned, except : My lunch-date was an hour late, so I got to spend more time with James and his august calvinistic baptist pastor from London. (I know I should put commas between those adjectives, but I don't want to) My shoes cost 5€. I'd taken the cheque book but I had not looked to see whether there were cheques left in it. There weren't. I dug deep in my pocket. Would you believe that I had 5.01€! Amazing. And my shoes are on my feet even as I type. Catrin's singing teacher was late, which mean that she couldn't go to her Music Bac class, which meant I cancelled the reservation for the car. I'm off to talk to these opticians.

A little trombone spot

Ha! Big mistake!

It had been ages since we used a Citiz (Autocool as was) car, so I stopped carrying the card. Ha! So this month I've used Citiz a lot, and very happily, too. Yesterday was a good example. Firstly the CNEF pastors' meeting at Eysines. You have to go there by car, and no car was available at pessac, so I hied me away to Mérignac to find a jolly nice Clio and got to Eysines in good time. The pastors' meeting was wonderful and disconcerting. It's a gospel centered group, so sometimes I have the wild urge to pray loudly in Welsh. Just to see. Anyway. But the folks are fine and there was a fine young baptist guy from the right bank present. The afternoon was spent with our neighbours coaching in English. Very good fun, and I got to play with their toddler, too, and watch a short excerpt of Peppa Cochon. In the evening Catrin had her annual dinner-dance with her class at lycée, so we drove Pessac Peugeot by a wonderfully direct route through the city centre stree

So, what about varifocals?

Hey. Yesterday I didn't wear glasses, and friends would read notices off the wall for me. Today you're suggesting I get varifocals. Yes, well. You hadn't had your eyes tested yesterday, had you? So are my eyes going to change quickly? OH YES! (The ophthalmologists enthusiastic answer unnerved me somewhat) Well, you have ten years of changing your glasses every year ahead of you. Well it's a huge waste to spend LOTS of money on varifocals every year if just long-distance vision glasses would do the trick. OK. What's your profession? I'm a protestant pastor. Right. Well, let me fit these lenses in the holders. Now look at the letters in the distance. Clear? Oh yes! And the letters on the card in your hand? No problem. Now I'll do this. Try the card in your hand. Hopeless. Now the letters in the distance? Great. Ok, now unaided. The card in your hand? Fine The distance? Hopeless. So with varifocals you can see your book AND your

A DEBT collection service?

Bonjour, notre service a réceptionné votre dossier cette semaine, merci de nous contacter au 03.......31 entre 9h et 18h.. Réf 23.......41 That was what the SMS said. I looked up the phone number on the internet. Sometimes these things are just scams. This was a debt collection service. Do I have any bills unpaid? No. Could I have forgotten something? Well, anything is possible, I suppose. I found the company's website. You could log in and get details of the problem using the first four letters of your name and the dossier number. Except it rejected my name. Aha! I found a direct phone number and called it. At the third attempt I got through. Alors, le numéro de dossier? D'accord. Et vous et M. Machin-bidule, James? No. Ah bon, votre numéro de portable qui a reçu le SMS? Ah bon, dans ce cas-là c'est un erreur. Excusez-nous de vous déranger. Phew... I have just a little suspicion that because my phone number is on the Bordeaux Church card, that I might

Getting my eyes tested

For some time I have thought it would be a good idea to get my eyes tested. I can't see things at a distance as I could, and recently with a friend in MacDonalds I had to ask them to read the menu that was displayed behind the counter. In France you need to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. All he does is examine your eyes and then give you a prescription for glasses or lenses and/or refer you to a doctor if he discovers some other problem. To get your glasses you then go to an optician, and all they do is sell glasses. There's an ophthalmologist near our home, but they aren't taking on new clients. There's an ophthalmologist further into Pessac, but they have a three-month waiting list. There's an eyesight centre at the Clinique Mutuelle near the campus, but they're awkward to get to. So I hesitated. Dithered. Then yesterday our health insurance people sent us an email saying that we could get an appointment for an eyesight check-up withi

Something to reflect on

I spotted these tweets from Justin Taylor on twitter and wanted to share them for reflection, but not to retweet them raw, as it were... BetweenTwoWorlds  ‏ @ between2worlds     2h 2 hours ago Only 3% of those at Billy Graham crusades went forward for the altar call. Evangelism is hard, even for the world's most gifted evangelist. BetweenTwoWorlds  ‏ @ between2worlds     1h 1 hour ago And roughly 1/4 to 1/2 of those going forward at Graham crusades were making first-time commitments. BetweenTwoWorlds  ‏ @ between2worlds     1h 1 hour ago Graham himself estimated that only 1/4 of inquiries at his crusades would persevere.

Book review : A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin

I don't review every book I read, but I wanted to review this book because it is such a GREAT book. I read about it on the Gospel Coalition website and the description there encouraged me to buy it and read it. Essentially it's the story of a walk from the outskirts of Rome to a village outside the city, where an old man accompanies a young man and recounts his experiences in the Great War. The prose is just wonderful. Simple, evocative, pure, beautiful. The story is heart-rending and healing all in one. Terrible events are depicted with a simplicity and a beauty that somehow doesn't clash. Desperate suffering and grief live alongside heroic courage and faith. Friendship, love, loyalty and justice. Some parts make you want to weep. Some parts make you laugh out loud. You need to know that there's not much of life that isn't depicted. Adult subjects are discussed. Terrible cruelty, savagery and barbarity. I suppose the book could have omitted these aspects of

When the kids are small

One of the pleasures of Facebook is to see people going through the joys and challenges of the different stages of life. For example, a friend who is a new mother just put on a cartoon of herself breaking rocks, with the caption, "it's been a long, hard night and today will be a long, hard day". I don't remember it very well, but I do know that there was a time when one of our children was young when they were not sleeping through the night. Pat was able to nap during the day and apply herself to sorting out their sleep pattern, but I had a busy work pattern to maintain. So I slept on the sofa downstairs until things calmed down. In the midst of that maelstrom I don't know if it would have helped to know that one day I would have trouble remembering it. It seemed like a huge, insurmountable problem. Now it's a vague memory that Pat reminds me of.

Glo'l stops

I've had it with glottal stops. I find it hard to believe now that there was a time when I couldn't do them at all. When I first went to work in Hemel Hempstead, near London, a time I refer to as my Babylonian Captivity, I couldn't say Sn'Awbuns, 'EmwEmshted and Liw'n like the locals did. I had to learn how to pronounce things like that. Now I listen to myself speaking and what do I hear? Glo'l stops a' the end of words tha' OUGH' to finish with a good "t". No more. I am going to eradicate these global stops. Why? We recently listened to one of the current evangelical songsmiths singing a song about how great God is. And there can be no mistake. We listened carefully several times, and the dear fellow is clearly singing "How grey is our God, how grey is our God." OK. Enough! I will do whatever it takes to wipe these dreadful things from my speech.

Suppression of the Regions

Well I just attended what will probably be my last Synode. The Synode of Montauban was held yesterday and today. I couldn't go yesterday, but I went this morning on the 6:30 train from Alouette. Now there's a story! I wandered happily down to the station and bought my ticket from the machine. 33€. I thought that was very reasonable for a single to Montauban, which is a good two hours away. Got to Bordeaux. Train for Marseille leaving from Platform 3. I hasten thither, hop on and settle myself in. The train leaves the station. A man says over the tannoy, "we remind you that on this train a seat reservation is compulsory". Problem! My ticket doesn't have a seat number on it. I find a little gang of traffic police. Let me see your ticket. Oh yes, that ticket isn't valid on this train. What? The ticket inspector came. I think I have the wrong ticket.. Let me see. Oh yes, that's a TER ticket and this is an Intercity train. But at Alouette t

It's been kinda quiet round here lately

Winter is on the way. They're decorating the Festive Holiday Tree in the middle of Bordeaux.

Que du bonheur!

This morning Catrin left for a school trip to Caen to visit the peace museum, the D-day beaches and the war cemeteries. She had to be at Gare Saint-Jean for 6:40. A train from Pessac at 6:33 gets to the station at 6:40, but we booked a Citiz car and I picked it up last night. 5 am found us all bustling about the house and 6 found us hurtling towards the ring road in the car, to find that the slip road was closed. Quick change of plan, to get to the next slip road would take too long, we headed for Pessac station and got that train. Catrin hurriedly texted her friends to say that she would not arrive by 6:40. We caught the train, alighted, found her friends, then Pat and I got on the next train back. Before leaving we searched the departure boards for a train leaving soon after 6:40 in the direction of Caen, but nothing. I texted Catrin. So what time's this train, then? 7:23. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! While I had the car I took a load of old worthless treasures to th

Imaginary people who really exist

it's so embarrassing I hardly dare confess it. I used to read the reformation 21 blog until they finally drove me nuts with their various antics and I forsook them forever. One of the somewhat less-infuriating antics was their habit of inventing various different characters with crazy names and blogging in that name. A sort of pythonesque humor, I suppose. We all did it, as schoolboys. Except that one by one I am discovering that these fictional imaginary names are real people . No, I promise, they are! Yes, the truth is stranger than fiction!

Pat's Birthday - la suite

After our lunch at Miles we popped in at Maison de la Bible to collect Pat's mobile phone, left there the previous day, then we had a couple hours to get ready quietly for the Bordeaux Church Thanksgiving Meal Invitation Extravaganza. The evening was starting at 7pm at James' flat. I had prepared a Thanksgiving Turkey and Prune Tajine - with chicken instead of turkey because they didn't have any in Auchan the day I looked, accompanied by Cranberry Couscous. Pat was planning to make a Banana Custard Tart, but she was saved from this by having the rest of the lemon meringue pie from the morning. We intended arriving at 6:30, but we waited longer than intended for the bus so ended up arriving at about 10 to 7, just in time to put up the pasting table (call yourself an ex-plumber) and help set up the food corner. 7pm came. One person arrived. 7:15. A few more. By 7:30 we were buzzing' and almost half the folk were there for the first time. James welcomed people. I

It's been a long time since we had a trombone video

Pat's birthday - so far

The day began with a short lie-in as Catrin didn't start till 10 this morning, which meant the girls getting up at 8. Then off to the book group, where I was presenting "The Shock of the Fall" by Nathan Filer. One of the folk had ordered a birthday lemon tart, which was both very kind and very delicious. We then went for lunch at Miles, recently given a joint first prize by Fooding magazine with a restaurant in Paris. Their prices are very reasonable, the team is young and friendly, all was just great. Now getting ready for the Thanksgiving Meal this evening.

Sin is not cosmic treason

Grateful to Ligonier Minstries for this . I was speaking with a colleague the other day and I remarked that for the majority of people, be they Christian or not, people are basically good. Where people will talk about sin, generally they think of it in terms of sin s . Good people doing bad things. Good people with bad habits. Good people who slip up. But good people, hey? If you think about sin like that, then your view of God, his holiness, his mercy, the cross, the price paid by Jesus, all will be affected. But sin isn't like that. It's a declaration of autonomy and independence by dependent creatures. Even that is difficult for us. After all, if Scotland wants to vote for independence, why not? Everyone should decide who governs them and how, shouldn't they? Isn't that a basic human right? That's why it's so important to see sin as the Bible portrays it: as a sickness that infects everything about us as a rebellion against our good and

"This time EDF will pay for the installation of the solar panels"

A couple years ago a guy came to the house to talk about installing solar panels on the roof. He said our roof is ideal. It's big enough, at a suitable angle and faces due south. Here was the deal - you took out a loan to cover the cost of installation, repayable over twenty years and meanwhile the revenue from selling your electricity to EDF paid the load. In twenty years time, quids in! Had we been in our twenties we might have considered this, but not now. Anyway last night a woman rang saying that EDF were looking for homes to install solar panels, and they would cover the installation charge. Now on the phone you can never tell whether someone is from EDF or not, but hey... I recounted the above, and she said, "No, this time EDF pays for it. We'll make an appointment and someone will call in about 20 minutes to confirm it." Twenty minutes later, someone calls. I recounted the above. The person said, "well what we're proposing is the same thing,

Tri chynnig i Gymro (three tries for a Welshman = third time lucky)

Well what a palaver! Bougie-wougie-telecom, the people with whom we have our internet and with whom Patricia and I have our mobile phones, wrote to me a while back announcing BIG NEW THINGS for which existing customers would be eligible. Further details emerged. Firstly new tariffs - for the same price as what I pays now my mobile phone would work in the UK - internet too. This seemed very interesting to me, especially since every time I go to the UK I buy a £15 top up from Three to get mobile phone cover while in the UK. Then a new kind of ADSL and TV box coming out in January, the MiamiBox, which will have most wondrous properties. Well the tariffs came into force on 17th November, so on 17th November I went online and looked. Sure enough, there was the new tariff. It looked fine. I clicked on the place where it said "Change for this". The reply was "We can't change your tariff online. You have to go to a shop." Well today I was in town and heading

Wow! I wasn't sure it would be possible, but

it's Pat's birthday on Friday and I just booked us in for lunch in a little restaurent that was recently judged the best restaurant in France! Can you believe it! Peter Mayle, eat your heart out! By the way, don't tell her.


It has RAINED and RAINED and RAINED here - Saturday night it rained so hard that it was not easy to sleep, so after a lively Sunday I was very tired indeed. So today after doing the week's tweets (for BordeauxChurch on twitter and Facebook page) we had an early lunch and headed off to Ikea! Ikea is on the other side of Bordeaux so to get there we took bus 4 right to the end, then bus 32. It deposited us just outside Auchan Lac and we weaved our way to the recently enlarged Ikea. We had a nice time discussing sofas and chairs and eyeing up shelves. Then off for our free cup of coffee, because we have an Ikea Family Card. Afterwards some replacement bowls and odds and ends, including a brolly for €2.50. Then walk to the tram stop at the end of line C in the middle of the new Ginko Eco-quartier, then change in the Chartrons to bus 4 once more. A nice escape!

So he left us a...

a cake. A brioche, to be precise. Who? Constant, a chap who lives on the street in Bordeaux. He's an old-fashioned homeless guy, he looks and dresses like a tramp and he wanders the streets of Bordeaux. We've met him in Cenon, where he accepts a cup of coffee, but drinks it outside the building. He has come in, but not often. And the first time we met at Dan he came past and was very upset by our presence. "It's a restaurant, not a church", he yelled. But he soon got used to us. The other week he yelled again, the Sunday that Pat and I were in Nice. Was he upset by a voice he didn't recognise? Sometimes we try to give him food, but he always refuses it. At Cenon a coffee. At Dan we don't have coffee, so we have nothing to give him. He likes to exchange some treasure: a glass, a spoon, a metal rod, anything he finds. But we're not in our own place so it ain't easy to swap with him. Anyway, this Sunday, during a moment when I couldn't

Our poor neighbour

came in for a quick coaching session in English ready for his exam in April. His homework for this week? To master the pronunciation of "a thoroughly developed law".

Monoprix, mayhem and malentendu

On the way to the Christian bookshop from the oft-feted number 4 bus one passes through the cathedral square, here known as Place Pey-Berland. One corner of the square has a shopping centre and in the basement thereof is Monoprix. You might think from its name that everything in this supermarket is the same price, but you would be wrong. There are shops like that in Bordeaux, with names like 2€, etc. But in Monoprix the prices vary, normally upwards, that is to say that it is not known for its bargains. In fact the clothes never fit me and they're too expensive. Carrefour trousers and jumpers are fine and Géant-Casino shirts. Auchan is OK for coats. Anyway, I digress. Monoprix's chief attraction, apart from its convenient location next to the cathedral square, is its attractive range of food. There it was that I once bought real scones, and thus it was that my lunch today was Covent Garden Soup Company Chorizo and Pearl Barley Soup. And very nice it was, too. At the Maiso

Some photos

The first photo merits a little explanation. I was at a café with a friend and he likes a "petit café bien serré" a "really strong little coffee made with just a little water". The barista produced a tiny coffee that could have comfortably fitted in your average thimble. My companion laughed a lot, but said it was very, very good.

Book review : The Foundation of Communion with God - The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen, edited by Ryan McGraw

Before we came to France I looked round our straining bookshelves. Something had to give. We didn't know what kind of accommodation we'd have, how much space, whether I'd even have an office. Hard decisions had to be taken. Some books were sold on Amazon. Some books were sold at pastors' conferences and fraternals (fraternaux?) One set of books stubbornly resisted all attempts to sell it: a beautiful 16-volume set of John Owen, purchased in the Mecca of second-hand books in Hay-on-Wye. A friend looked at it with such interest and kindness. "I tell you what, you promise to pray for us every time you open it and you can take the books." Like a true Augustinian, he took the books, he reads them and what's more he has prayed faithfully for us for almost ten years. I can't find room for 16 volumes of John Owen on my shelves. Anyway, now I can get them in electronic format from various sources at various prices. And to be honest, John Owen's insight

Saying farewell

Some friends are asylum seekers from a middle-eastern country and for a time I accompanied them to the various offices that deal with their case, as well as doing introductory Bible studies from John's Gospel ( English, French, their national language, it was always delightful ). We spent some very happy times together in parks and cafés, in queues and in buses. On Saturday we heard that they have been allocated a flat in a town way south of here, so Monday lunchtime found me at the station with a little gang of people to say goodbye. Coffee, macarons and the TGV. Au revoir! A bientôt!

Autumn has finally come, and it's COLD!


The Covenant of Redemption, the Westminster Confession and its Scripture proofs

Someone started a conversation the other day about the Covenant of Redemption and its Scripture proofs, specifically, where from the Scriptures do we find support for the Covenant of Redemption. I looked in the Westminster Confession which, though it doesn't name the Covenant of Redemption, does speak of it and gives a fairly substantial list of texts in support. The 17th century was a time of great development in Covenant Theology, and since the Westminster Confession dates from 1646, its section dealing with the Covenants does not reflect later distinctions, definitions and refinements. Here is a passage from a book I'll be reviewing, hopefully on Monday, which speaks about this :


UNION 2014 - AOTY video from Bolts and Gears on Vimeo .

Retreat - the therapeutic value

Both female Daveys have expressed their appreciation of the therapeutic value of the retreat in Nice. It done them both a power of good. We're all very thankful!

Voyage à la Belge

That's funny. There's nothing on the information board and the train hasn't come. And that posh-looking passenger in the suit and business wheeler-trolley is starting to look agitated. I know, there's an app for SNCF, I'll just download it and look. 1245 Alouette-France - Bordeaux Saint-Jean Train supprimé. What?!?! My TGV for Paris leaves at 13:18. I don't have a hope! Well, I know there's a strike, but when I looked this morning the train was still running. Let's book a taxi. What train are you on? 13:18 to Paris. Us, too. The taxi driver took a while to come. I emailed James Hely-Hutchinson, the director of the Institut Biblique Belge to tell him I had a bijou petite problemette. The taxi driver came, we piled in and he hurtled off to town, regaling us with stories of how he lost and regained points on his driving licence. A reluctant barrier at the station was coaxed into cooperation. People moved aside slowly for the taxi to pass through

Let's stick a harpsichord in a shed next to a dead moped and get someone to play Bach's Chaconne on it

Retreat - on the Wednesday we did an all-day excursion

to Saint Honorat, an island just off the coast from Cannes, where a monastery produces classy wine.