les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book review : How Will The World End? by Jeramie Rinne

Recently a friend showed me a book that they'd been recommended to read on the book of Revelation. "I'm baffled", they said, waving the standard, respected volume at me.

It isn't terribly easy to find an accessible, straight-forward help to understanding the book of Revelation or the doctrine of eschatology, the last things. I like Sam Storms' "Kingdom Come", Wilcock's "Message of Revelation" and Bewes "The Lamb Wins", among others.

Now you can add "How will the world end?" by Jeramie Rinne. The book has immediate advantages over all the others, however.

Firstly, it is very short. Just 96 pages. And some of the pages have diagrams on them! It really won't take you long to read this book.

Secondly, the cover is a very pleasing shade of red. Perhaps the reddest book cover I have ever seen. Any more red and it might slip into the infra-red and become invisible.

More importantly, the book is surprisingly comprehensive. You'll find discussions of preterism, futurism, dispensationalism... the author really has been very skilful in saying a lot with few words.

Again he's been extremely fair. I don't think anyone would read this book and feel unjustly misrepresented. In fact you might be tempted to accuse him of being too fair, or of hedging his bets.

But as a primer on eschatology, this is an excellent little book, just right for starting to read about where the world is heading. Clear, helpful, short, red, what's not to like? Buy it and read it!

I received this book free from the publisher in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Photography, or rather, cameras

I was hunting for something I needed urgently the other day and made the happy discovery of my old, dearly loved Olympus mju 2 camera. It's a splendid gizmo. It still has a film in it, and I haven't used it since - well it must be at least 12 years.

My first camera was an Agfa instamatic thingy that I got to take on a school trip. It was as basic as basic could be, but the photos were OK. You remember them. Square photos from a kind of boxy clunky thing. 126 film cartridges. Typical 1970s contraptions.

Next I remember spending £30 on a Zenit E. It was a wonderful thing with a most splendid lens, but so heavy it was like walking with a sack of spuds round your neck. After a couple of years of taking LOTS of photos and sending them for developing to cheap labs everywhere I sold my Zenit for what I paid for it and bought a Cosina CSM.

The Cosina CSM was an aperture priority slr camera with TTL metering! Very high tech. This was traded in for a second-hand Nikon, which then got swapped for a Canon Eos SLR, which I still have, and ought to sell.

Meanwhile I was more and more fed up with slr cameras. You took them to weddings, but you had this massive bag or a huge thing slung round your neck and it always seemed to get in the way. Not only that, but if you went for a walk into town and saw something worthy of a photo your camera was almost always at home in its bag.

So I looked for a decent compact. My first was a treasure that I still have, bought in about 1981 by mail order and delivered to the office at Honeywell - my Olympus Pen EE-3. It's a half frame camera with the same mechanism as the famous old Olympus Trip, but taking 72 or more photos on a roll of 36 film. Excellent for weddings, you snap and snap to your heart's content. But for everyday life by the time you finished a roll of film you forgot what was on the start, or even sometimes where or when you took it. And then it became harder and harder to find labs that would process half-frame.

Next came the Mju II. It's the best camera I have ever owned. It's fully automatic and you have just one rule - turn off the flash. Once you've done that, and mastered the self-timer mechanism, there's not much you can't do with it. Wonderful.

Digital photography promised the end of developing costs, so we hopped on the bandwagon.

Firstly a massive Olympus C2020. It was HUGE. I got it cheap from Morgan Computers, and it was a wonderful machine, though anything in dim lighting had LOTS of noise.

Then followed a small Olympus Stylus 2 compact that I hoped would be the digital answer to the mju 2. It was great, but sadly the lens wasn't as good, nor was the exposure programme.

A tiny Minolta followed. Shaped like a packet of cards, this took some excellent photos in around 2004 before it yielded up the spirit. Then a tiny Sony compact that served us well till it, too died.

Then followed the best period of digital photography so far - the time of the Lumix. I bought, again I think from Morgan Computers, a Panasonic Lumix FZ3. Wonderful! A splendid lens that zoomed without distortion and was fast right through the zoom. Pat still uses this camera, though it has a meagre 3 megapixels. It was succeeded by  a TZ1, a smaller camera with again a wonderful zoom lens designed by Leica. I still use this camera with its luxurious and impressive 5 megapixels.

Then came camera phones. They say that the best camera is the one you have with you, and this is where camera phones win hands down. The Sony Ericsson i750 lasted for several years, followed by a Nokia N90. Then the iPhone 3GS, sheer luxury! Now a Samsung Android phone with Instagram, though I still would like to return to an iPhone one day.

I'd also still like to find the digital equivalent of the old Olympus mju 2.

What would it need?

No zoom, but a good quality, fast 35mm lens. F2 or faster, by preference.
A good sensor, but not necessarily a vast number of megapixels.
A good processing engine.
Robust construction, and small enough to slip into your jacket pocket.
A reasonable price.

If you hear that someone is making a digital equivalent of a Ricoh GR, Yashica T1 or Olympus mju 2, you know I'm waiting to hear about it!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

Well I got through to the appliance repair people yesterday and they said, "bring the oven along", so I reserved a car for this morning and we hauled said oven and ourselves off to the aforementioned place.

A kind chappie listened to our problem and then helped me carry the machine in and plonk it on top of one of those gas cookers with a folding lid.

"I can tell you now that we can't fix it;", he said, "it's a bit too old, they only carry parts for eight years, and by the time you track the spares down you just as well have bought another."

We surveyed the combination ovens they had in the store. All were too small.

We contemplated getting a small oven and small microwave separately. That would take up twice the room, the oven are particularly basic and in our experience don't last very long.

We contemplated getting a small electric cooker, sawing out the worktop to allow it to sit in the kitchen and getting a small microwave oven alongside.

Then we had had enough contemplation, so we went to Géant Casino to see what they had down there.

Not much, and all far too small, was the answer.

Home and the websites of Amazon, Conforama, Darty.fr, cDiscount.

Eventually we ordered a machine - it gets wonderful reviews, (apart from a handful of people who can't fathom how to turn the thing on) and will be delivered next Tuesday.

I just hope it's big enough...

Delfeayo Marsalis - sorry, I forgot to pop one on yesterday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Libération !

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bordeaux. As the Nazi forces were retreating they continued to struggle to hold Bordeaux because of its strategic importance as an atlantic port. However fighting broke out in various places in the city as people started to challenge the occupying forces. Shots were fired in the centre of Bordeaux. A soldier threw a hand-grande into the crowd at Talence. The city could not be kept.

The order came to leave the city, but not before destroying the port by blowing up the quays. The collaborationist town hall negotiated to try to save the city. Meanwhile, a brave German soldier sabotaged the planned destruction by blowing up the ammunition dump. He later settled in Bordeaux, took French nationality and died some years ago in the city he protected.

The port was sabotaged by another means, though, and a path for shipping was not reopened until 1949. Some sunken ships remain in the estuary and one can be seen in central Bordeaux at low tide.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A walk along the vineyards

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm and bright. So we ventured out for a stroll up the track alongside the Pape Clément vineyard up to the second-hand bookshop, where we found nothing of interest. It was good to see the grapes ripening.

Delfeayo Marsalis again

Monday, August 25, 2014

Aber Conference

The third week of our holiday was spent at the Aberystwyth Conference, where the main speakers were Don Carson and Joel Beeke. The main addresses are held in the Great Hall of the University and we were staying in a student flat in the Cwrt Mawr halls of residence. Our flat was shared with one Dutch couple, an Australian couple currently teaching in Kiev and, New Zealander and an English woman.

Don Carson was speaking on Ephesians, the other folks took various themes, passages, approaches. A search for "Evangelical Movement of Wales" in YouTube MIGHT bring up the conference addresses, etc, though there was a rumour that they would be taken down from YouTube and only made available through the Movement's website itself.

There's various seminars in town and a well-regarded missionary exhibition - I went to one seminar where Don Carson spoke on various matters to consider when thinking of preaching through John's Gospel. We also did the mishbish one afternoon.

The conference begins on the Monday, but on Sunday because lots of folks have arrived already the conference borrows a church for two Welsh worthies to preach and Geoff Thomas moves his services to a bigger chapel down the road. This year Geoff preached on Genesis 1, 2 and 3.

The plus points of the conference for me are:

1) seeing old friends (some of them are now very old indeed)
2) being in a big congregation
3) the teaching and preaching
4) the charm of Aberystwyth

We got to visit some friends who live in Aberystwyth, too. I was best man for John Harvey and Jacqueline Hooi's wedding some years ago. John is now Professor of Art at Aberystwyth and it was wonderful to slip into our old friendship again.

While we were at Aber, Gwilym was on camp at Tywyn, just a few slow, winding miles from Aber, and Catrin was in London staying with friends from her camp.

Porage in the slow cooker

Works fine, but it makes a TERRIBLE mess of the container you cook it in.

A short sequence of Delfeayo Marsalis videos

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Morning panic

Microwave and oven broken. Porridge in the slow cooker overnight.
Bleary-eyed morning. "You OK, Catrin, You're up very early."
"No, I'm not, it's half past eight."
Slow-cooked porage fine - different texture, more like rice pudding, but fine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Le groupe chinois

It was great to be back with the groupe chinois this evening. This week was John 14:15-27, and again helping them to be prepared for the JWs attempts to derail them.

I love the group so much. Where else could you ask, "And what else does the Holy Spirit give to believers?" and not have anyone suggest gifts?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Proms on iPlayer

Suffering from sensory deprivation as I do, I have a tendency to burst into tears at inappropriate moments.

Tonight's first occasion was during the Proms' Battle of the Big Bands, at a point during "It don't mean a thing" where the camera panned to show people in the circle of the Albert Hall dancing.

The second was during a performance by the Hallé Orchestra of Berlioz' overture, Le Corsaire, specifically the moment towards the end where the tuba and trombones blast out descending arpeggios, then scales..

Baaam ba baam baam baaaaam!    
Baaam ba baam baam baaaaam!
Ba ba baam ba ba ba ba baaam!

I'm sure you get the picture. If you know the piece you know the part I mean.

Sheer magic!

Oh, look, someone has put it on YouTube. The moment is at about 7 minutes in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How do people cope?

We had three motorway journeys to do.

Firstly down to Leicester - for this on the way down we took the M6 toll and we didn't have too many hold-ups. One the way back we took the M1 up to Derby, then the Toyota road across to Stoke and got horribly caught up in traffic afterwards.

Then we went down to Watford. Because of the time of day there were no real hold-ups and we pottered along at a decent speed.

Then to Cardiff. OH BOY! After congestion on the M6 we then hit huge road works on the M5 that added at least an hour to our journey time.

I don't miss the motorways. Not at all!

Deeside and environs

It was good to spend some time in Deeside. We had a list of things we wanted to do.

Conway Castle
Walls of Chester
Outlet village for pants and socks
Abakhan mill shop for wool etc.

Well we got to Abakhan and Pat got some wonderful wool to make Gwilym a scarf.

Seeing the folks

This year we were able to see all our siblings. Quite a feat!

We hadn't seen Pat's family for a few years, but this year we were in the UK at the time of a joint 40th / 65th birthday barbecue, so there was a general gathering of the clans of the Hodgsons and erstwhile Hodgsons. It was good to see Pat's three sisters, her brother and a good proportion of her nephews and nieces.

One of my brothers-in-law has been in hospital for a few months after suffering a stroke, so I was very keen to see him and my sister. Then that evening my other sister, her children and some of her grand-children were met for Friday Family Festive Fun, so we joined them and marvelled at how big all the children are getting.

UFM FamConf

UFM holds a Family Conference every year the last week of July, and missionaries who are in the UK at the time are strongly encouraged to attend.

It's no hardship. We love meeting with friends, colleagues and people who are concerned for the work of the mission. Not only that, but the conference is held at Hothorpe Hall, where the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the food is excellent.

The helpful conference addresses on James 1 were given by David Magowan from Reading and we especially enjoyed the presence and help of our friends from 100Fold, the finest pointy-headed geeks you'll ever meet.

Every missionary has a 14.75 minute slot to present their work and we decided to show our slides and stuff, then to have Pat interview me about burnout. Lots of missionaries suffer from stress-related problems and we wanted to try to be helpful. Anyway, we got through this by the simple expedient of me not thinking about it beforehand (quite Biblical - take no thought for the morrow) though afterwards I was glad that I could retreat to my seat and recover my composure before having to speak to anyone.

Travel arrangements for the Davey World Tour of Wales

The logistics for this three-week holiday were the most complicated yet. So much so that until we were on the plane home I was not sure the plan would come together. But we only had one modification to do, and that was due to a combination of the M5 roadworks and an unforeseen funeral.

The problem was that we were very rarely all together in one place. Usually three of us were at one event while the fourth was somewhere else. And everything miles, sometimes hundreds of miles apart.

Firstly Catrin, Pat and I flew Easyjet to Liverpool. Here our friend Rhys was waiting to meet us.

I fly quite often now and sometimes there's someone to meet me, but usually there's not. Whenever I land unmet I always look with envy at the people being welcomed by family and friends. There's even a book I'd rather like to read called "Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part" (I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere). So to see Rhys' welcoming smile was a blessing.

He then loaned us his car, a little Citroen C3 diesel, which was unbelievably economical and managed to swallow us and our luggage and hurtle happily on motorways and Welsh lanes. Never in the history of Davey motoring have so many miles been travelled on so little fuel. Without the loan of the car we couldn't possibly have done all that we needed to do. Or we'd have ended up paying hundreds of pounds for a hire car.

In addition to travelling with us Catrin made some journeys in friends' cars, and possibly a minibus? as well as being the first Davey to use a Megabus. I had my doubts when I saw that the fare from London to Chester was £6, but all was fine and we met her at 10pm as scheduled.

Gwilym was working in a clothes shop in Bordeaux so he joined us halfway through our holiday. We met him at Liverpool and then took him to camp in Tywyn on the way to Aberystwyth for the conference. Then he travelled to Swindon on Monday by rail. There is no Megabus service to Swindon, though I notice that there is now a service to Toulouse.

Chester to Toulouse by Megabus... Now that's an idea.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Been kinda quiet round here, ain't it...

Sorry about the prolonged silence - about 3 1/2 weeks I make it.

We have been away on holiday in England and Wales.

We flew to Liverpool without our lad, Gwilym and spent a few days in Shotton.

Then Catrin, Pat and I went to the UFM Family Conference.

Catrin then went to camp and Pat and I went up to Northop Hall.

Gwilym joined us, and we took him to camp, Pat and I went to the Aber Conference, while Catrin spent a week with friends in London.

Then a weekend in Deeside with us all together before sending Gwilym off to Swindon and returning to Bordeaux.

At present we have post-holiday blues and we feel like a three-legged dog without our lad.

Proper reflections will follow thick and fast.