Showing posts from February, 2014

"Happy - We are from Bordeaux"

One day happiness will overflow in the streets of Bordeaux. Meanwhile we have this video. It's fun trying to identify the various locations and local personalities. I don't get them all by any means!

Catrin is back !

Hurrah ! I watched her flight number from Gattewhycke and saw that it was delayed 40 minutes. So we hung on a little before scurrying off to get the car from Pessac Centre. We narrowly missed one bus and waited a couple minutes for the next. Arrived at the car. My card wouldn't open it ! It showed the hour-glass, usually a sign that you have not booked it. But I knew I had booked it. I tried the card again. Insistently. This time it opened. We piled in. Get the key from the machine. "EMERGENCY CODE" said the machine. Uh ? I phoned the Autocool number. "Please phone the central control number." I phoned the central control number. "Can you lock the car by passing your card across the reader again." We all got out. I locked the car. "Where are you?" "Outside the car". "OK. Try again." I tried again. We all got in. This time it worked. COME ON ! TO THE AIRPORT QUICK ! The rocade was moving, but doi

Donald Rumsfeld Soundbite of the Week

Do you remember these ? For me they were a source of great joy and wonder. My favourite was always, when speaking of the whereabouts of Bin Laden : "We do know of certain knowledge that he is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead." Others really like the famous four kinds of knowledge, known and unknown. Anyway, you can hear them again here .


Yesterday was a beautiful day. A really beautiful day. Spring-like. We had a card with a seat for the cinema and Gwilym and I were both feeling up to doing something, so we spent a beautiful afternoon in a darkened room watching an environmental catastrophe wipe out a mediterranean city. A sort of cross between Gladiator and 2012. We all agreed that is was a rubbish film. On the way out a lady yelled across the road to us, "Il fait beau aujourd'hui ! Il pleut demain !" Afterwards we went to a new chain of restaurants that is opening in Bordeaux, called Regent bistros. They propose for 12:90€ either steak, breast of duck or grilled festigia with unlimited salads and chips. The kids like it, apparently. But we were very early and they had not yet started serving, so we ended up in another place where Pat and I broke the rules of etiquette by having starters and dessert, omitting the main course. Then home for another early night! Today, just as the lady said, it i

Spiritual Warfare by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura - a Book Review

One of the good things about the "reformed resurgence" (whatever THAT is) is the emergence of books with serious theological content and background but which directly address issues under wide discussion in the "evangelical scene" (whatever THAT is). Issues like "Spiritual Warfare". Until recently spiritual warfare would be addressed either by gothic novels with warring angels and demons named with hebrew transliterations from the KJV, or by the whole territorial spirits thing, or by books that relied heavily on anecdotes often coming from the jungles of the 10:40 window or by the more serious-minded volumes that deserved a wide readership and didn't get it. It's a pity, because many Christians are left in confusion and spiritual warfare gets the blame for a lot of our own errors and mistakes, which means we don't grow as Christians. Enter Borgman and Ventura with "Spiritual Warfare". When I opened this book I didn't at all ex

Sometimes it does get on your nerves !

I do love Bordeaux. I hope that's clear. But sometimes the weather here just gets on your nerves. It rains, rains, rains, rains, rains, rains then rains again. All the trees in the neighborhood are covered in moss. Honestly, you'd swear you were in some tropical rainforest somewhere. Except for the tropical bit. The drainage ditches in the park have turned into canals. Little inspection covers for the drains are under such pressure that they lift and let water bubble everywhere. Our garden has turned into a quagmire. I bet our aquifers runneth over ! If we have drought this year it'll be astonishing. Still in a world where so many millions don't have access to clean water we should be thankful that gallons of the stuff falls on our head every day.

A Soldier's Tale

Stravinsky isn't everyone's cup of tea, but Pat and I both enjoyed this.

A bit about daily readings C. Another helpful little book

Well this one wasn't free, but I had REALLY LIKED a book by Sam Storms called "Kingdom Come", so when I saw this book I decided to give it a go. It's good. Very good. Very helpful. It goes very slowly and methodically through the text of Colossians giving expository comments, applications and suggestions for further reflection. I don't agree with absolutely everything he says about every word, but it's a helpful book. And it makes a very big change from my usual style of daily reading.

A bit about daily readings B. A really super little book

I saw this book on a list of free books for Kindle. It was highly recommended, but I thought, "yeah, yeah... fine, but it's a PRAYER-book, a book of prayers. We don't do that stuff..." Then I noticed the calibre of the people recommending it and thought again... So I got it on Kindle. After all, it was free! I liked what I read. What's more, I found it very helpful. So it now forms part of my daily readings. Here it is :

A bit about daily readings A. Repeated readings of Philippians

I usually push one of the "Whole Bible in a year" plans, like the One Year Bible (my favourite) or the McCheyne plan (the grown-ups' favourite) or similar. But sometimes I feel that I just read to get the reading done and that I need to read differently, more slowly, and with more reflection. So this year in January I read and re-read Philippians in various translations. It's very easy to do if you have one of these kindle gizmos. This is what you do : 1) Install the "Send to Kindle" extension in Chrome browser 2) Using the Chrome browser, in, search for the whole of Philippians in the translation of your choice. 3) Print it. Here you can opt to have or not have verse numbers, footnotes, etc... 4) Don't ACTUALLY print it to your printer. Instead click on the "Send to Kindle" button. It churns away for a while, then happily sends the whole of Philippians in that translation to your device. Cracking ! What cam

Deputy Director William Brown

Yesterday we had a visit from the Deputy Director of UFM, William Brown. I was originally meant to meet him from the airport on Tuesday afternoon but I was, as we say, glued to the bed, so Tim went and fetched him and then yesterday popped him on the number 4 bus to Alouette. We talked, we ate lunch, then we went into town to visit the Ivorian consulate to get an entry visa for William to visit folks there. The lady at the Ivorian consulate was just simply wonderful. Efficient, polite, straightforward, one of the best. Very, very helpful. Bravo! Then we walked and talked, drank coffee, walked some more, visited the Christian bookshop, visited the café where the Café Philo takes place, and talked some more. At about 5 William hit the Rue Judaïque heading for the Mitchellhaüs while I hopped on the number 4 bus, aching but happy to have been out of the house and breathing the sweet, fuggy, smuggy Bordeaux air.

Visit of William Brown

William Brown is the Deputy Director of UFM Worldwide and he's spending two days visiting Bordeaux and the UFM gang here. In about 10 minutes he'll arrive at Alouette. We're off to meet him.

My lavatorial crisis

I am one of these folks (sometimes called 'men', I think) who puts off going to the loo. Here's how my inner dialogue goes : "I need the loo - oh the bus is here in two minutes, I'll go after the journey." "I need the loo - oh there's xxx, I'll go after our chat." "I need the loo - oh there's one in the shopping mall, I'll go there later" I kind of believe that at present while I can wait, and until I can't wait, it does me no harm to wait and may even do me some good. Until ... I got to the shopping mall and found the loos. "40 centimes please." I had 18. "I don't have enough" The woman shrugged - the shrug of impotent humanity before an unfeeling and brutal universe. "Do you know where the nearest free toilets are ?" "There's some in the square somewhere." I know that square very well indeed. There's no toilets in that square. I quickly surveyed m

Well things are improving

It's been a busy few days, but things are settling down. Yesterday was the craziest, with everything listed and planned with military precision - well apart from  me getting off the bus one stop too early... But I managed to do everything I had to do and be everywhere I had to be and see everyone I had to see. Meanwhile Gwilym had come home from school with 'flu, and Catrin was staying home because it was the Père Cent - the day when lycéens in their final year seek out other lycéens to pelt with flour, eggs, ketchup and all manner of goodies.  Here are some of the lycéens at Place de la Victoire, little scamps ! By the way, here is a photo of the path through our park - I took the right hand fork. Today we took Catrin to the airport, she's flown off on her school trip, and then went to Martignas to attend Brittni's wedding to Tom. They're both very tall, but this photo does have a certain effect of perspective, too. Then home to see how our '

And so to the optician

We have our standard health insurance scheme - we belong to the regime for the priests, nuns etc. - and a top-up insurance, a mutuelle, so when you need glasses you have to ring to find out with which optician your mutuelle has an arrangement. So we ended up going to an optician on the other side of Pessac. I met Catrin off the bus from school and we scuttled through the torrential downpours into the opticians' - a very grand place like a small supermarket entirely dedicated to spectacles. And it seemed deserted. Until a young woman spotted us and came over. She took my Carte Vitale and the card from our mutuelle and then said "So what kind of frames would you like", directing us towards the swanky brands. Catrin tried several different ones and eventually settled on a pair from down the other end of the shop. Then came the totting up. Without the mutuelle your glasses would come to a King's Ransom, but because of the mutuelle you get so-and-so reduction on th

A medical afternoon

First Catrin to the ophthalmologist. In France to get your eyes tested you go to the ophtalmo, and you go only if there's a problem. Catrin has slightly blurred distance vision. The ophthalmo tested her eyes then said that she has a slight astigmatism, and for that she has a prescription for corrective glasses, but that a bigger problem is her habit of holding things too close to her eyes when she reads. If she kept things at arms length to read them then her eyes would have less trouble adjusting to see at a distance and they would overcome the astigmatism more easily. So today we hope to go to the optician, choose frames and order glasses. Then on the way home we passed Pat on the way to her doctor's appointment so Catrin continued home and I went to the doctor's with Pat. Her appointment was for 17:30. 17:30 came and went. Eventually the doctor appeared and called in the person who had a 17:00 appointment. OK. He was running over an hour late. I had a little nap.

Dementia adventure

I had a rendezvous with one of the leaders of the Chinese group, so I took the bus to Pessac Centre and hopped on the tram for Unitec. As I waited for the tram to leave an elderly lady arrived and fumbled with the door. To open the door there's a big button that flashes, but the lady couldn't manage this. There was obviously some problem. The driver pushed the big flashing button. Where do you go ? To Bordeaux. Where do you want to go ? I don't know. Well where have you come from ? I don't know. Well ... A series of questions established that the lady really didn't know anything at all, including her own name or address. By now there were four of us trying to help. The driver spoke to his control office. The lady's phone rang. After some negotiation I spoke to the person on the other end. It was hard to hear them but they told us they'd meet us at Forum. I accompanied the lady to Forum, told the driver I would stay with her till someone arrived, t

Gratin Gallois, or Slow-cooker Sludge

Normally for these winter Sunday evenings we cook a huge pot of something in the slow-cooker. Slow-cooker Slop. Mince, tomatoes and whatever else we think to add, either to make a kind of chilli (remembering that food in France is NOT generally hot and spicy) or cottage pie or whatever. (We once did a massive pork casserole and one of our muslim students came back to visit that week. Oops. Moral of the story, always have a non-pork alternative) Last night we'd used up all our mince and we had a glut of potatoes, so I decided to make a massive slow-cooker gratin dauphinois, but with the addition of lardons to give some minimal protein content. My construction was very simple - slice potatoes directly into the slow-cooker with the mandoline. A layer of potatoes, a scattering of lardons, a splash of cream, a sprinkling of chopped garlic, a little salt and plenty of pepper. Repeat till the slow-cooker is full, then add milk and top with grated cheese. Cook for hours as is the way

Quick update on the English Service

Last night we shared the answers to the Questionnaire and thought about future plans. Basically we envisage : 1) moving to Dan restaurant after Easter (effectible from May onwards) till the summer break for a trial period. 2) moving to a bilingual approach to help those whose English is not great and also to help build a bridge to integration into life in French in France 3) creating and registering an association 1901 entitled something like "Bordeaux International Church, Eglise Internationale de Bordeaux", formally linked to the Eglise Reformée Evangélique de la Gironde. 4) looking at the possibility of doing "Cafe Bible Study" in a café in Bordeaux, or perhaps doing a Bible Study or home group in our house... We started discussing the practicalities of meeting at Dan, and the changes it will entail. This morning I have a meeting with the organiser of the Bordeaux Chinese Christian Group to talk over various things.

Quick update on Pat's back trouble

Yesterday evening for the English Service was the longest time Pat has stayed up and out of bed for just over a week. Generally the pain is less intense, she can move more freely and she's made an appointment with the doctor for 17h30 this evening. Thanks for your prayers !

Friend Andrey made a super film of Bordeaux' family of Coypu

Maison de la Bible, Dan, etc.

This morning I was on duty at Maison de la Bible. I stared blankly at the computer screen and slowly remembered how to check the cash in the till against the accounts system. All OK. Here we go. Despite the foul weather, we had a couple of clients, one of whom bought a 83€ Bible dictionary. He had a choice of two, the other was 108€ ! For one book ! My relay arrived late after some bus trouble, then I scuttled off to see our friends in Dan, the restaurant down near Place Saint-Pierre. Then to Auchan for provisions for tomorrow night, then home. At the tram stop near Dan I noticed a tall guy with a very crazy coloured wooly hat, like no Frenchman would ever wear, walking with another guy. They were speaking German together. Later I saw them again in Auchan. Then they were at the next till to mine, speaking in English with the cashier. Then I saw them looking kind of lost in the middle of the mall. "Are you lost?" "No, we're not lost, exactly..." "

Visit to UK

At the end of the sabbatical period I'll be visiting the UK and visiting some churches to talk about the way ahead. I expect to arrive on 15 April and to return to Bordeaux on 3 May. Here are the dates arranged so far : 16/4 Emmanuel, Cardiff 22/4 - 24/4 Banner Conference 24/4 Little Hill, Leicester 27/4 Widcombe, Bath am, Freshbrook, Swindon pm 29/4 Llanelli 30/4 Clydach (& Pont, etc), Swansea 1/5 Darlington There's a few dates available if folks are interested, and I am happy to visit prayer groups, home groups, etc.

"It's a man's life..."

As we clung to the scree slope on the side of Cader Idris, glancing at the murky waters below, creeping round looking for tiny ferns, the cheery voice of Dr Agnew rang out, "It's a man's life in the Botany department!" Since then I worked in computing - and there were days when it took all my determination to walk the corridor into the office - not many days like that, but there were some. For the most part my colleagues were charming, happy, friendly, clever people with whom one could easily spend 8 hours working, chatting and sharing life. I miss them still, twenty-three years later. There were some who were unreasonable, or abusive. And I had some DREADFUL bosses, of course. But most of my bosses were fine people, and they understood that I regarded them as my servants, helpful drudges who did all the boring tasks of planning, reporting and going to meetings so that I could spend my time solving puzzles on the computer. Since then I've been in pastora

And for Wednesday - some more Bert Boeren

Bert Boeren for Tuesday

Little report of a big weekend

Here are the headlines : 1) Chinese New Year Pat and I went on an ex-pats' tour of the Grand Théâtre on Friday morning and then scuttled home for lunch and a meeting I had with our colleague, Tim Mitchell at the university campus. What we had not realised was that there was a procession in Bordeaux for Chinese New Year with a slightly small and contained dragon dance in the square by the town hall. I don't think we missed much, but we'll try and be present for it next year and maybe encourage the Chinese Christian Group to be there as much as possible. 2) Floods On Saturday and on Sunday morning high tides and torrential rainfall combined to make the river burst its banks. On the left bank the walkways on the quays were flooded, as well as part of the boulevard inner ring road and the access road from the city centre to the rocade outer ring road. On the right bank the floods were more extensive, encircling some new, smart flats, flooding a small number of h

A ditty for Monday - Bert Boeren with "All the things you are"

Man proposes...

So we got ourselves all ready for the arrival of Pete and James (he's very sporty) and watched the reports of the floods on the right bank - ah, also on the left bank. Pete and James texted to say they were delayed picking up their rental car. Pat yelled from the kitchen - a stoop in the wrong direction and - shooting pain in her back, and spasms. We put her on the floor, covered her with the duvet, fed her chocolate (she was shivering violently) and called the doctor. SOS Médecin. Pete and James arrived. "Have you met Patricia ?" She smiled wanly from her nest on the floor. Pete went off to meet up with the Brit-Mitchells. The doctor came, a very pleasant man who's having terrible trouble with his knees. An injection. Some antiinflammatories. Some patches. etc. After about 1/2 hour Pat felt well enough to make it to the bedroom and climb on the bed. Patches and pills, and she's able to get up to use the toilet (merci Seigneur!). I was able to

How many Christians in China ?

See the calculations here .

A big weekend in Bordeaux - and floods !

So this weekend is a biggie. Firstly this morning I'll spend with Pete and James from Marseille who have come to Bordeaux to present their ten-year-plan for church planting to the church council tomorrow. Then at 5 the Chinese have a big New Year Celebration to which all are invited. Gwilym, meanwhile, has volunteered to be at his school's Open Day today. Tomorrow morning the English Service joins the French churches of Cenon and Blaye and the Chinese Christian Group for one of our big multi-lingual multi-cultural services. I wonder if this will be the last one that can be contained in the church building ?