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)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You may think he has a funny embouchure, but remember that this is the great Jean-Pierre Rampal


We needed shopping.
We got it from our local Carrefour.
To get there we trundle a shopping trolley like old ladies have through the park.
On the way we are rewarded by this :

This man makes an important point. Paul says "Flee immorality", and not for nothing

"James S. Spiegel quotes Søren Kierkegaard saying it’s wrong to assume objections to Christianity stem from doubt. They instead “spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience. . . .” Willful immorality, in other words, undermines our faith. We, as Paul says, suppress the truth in unrighteousness."

Flu jab. Soon.

The letter came yesterday.
I don't need a doctor any more,
I can get the vaccine from the pharmacist and get injected by a nurse.
But not today.
Today the pharmacists are on strike.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Well my action packed weekend continued

with a full day at Maison de la Bible on Saturday (which was when I met our Tamil friends from the Tamil church) and then a full and lively Sunday, which meant French church at 10:30, followed by lunch with French Church, followed by our first time to stay for Bible Class with French Church, then off we hoofed to Dan to open up for the service.

Friend James was preaching, but he wanted me to interpret for him and this time I gave in. It was kind of fun trying to retain what he said, then retransmit it in French. And he was very kind about my mangling of his well-thought out discourse.

So today was quiet. Just English-time this afternoon with our neighbour.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Oh boy, I'm glad I am not preaching this Sunday

It's been a long, hard, tiring week.

Today after burying the one guinea-pig that we found, covering the tiny body with (used) coffee-grounds and pepper to try to prevent any digging-up, we hied us away to the book group. This month's book was "Hopscotch" by Julio Cortazar, and NOBODY had got on with it. It's a modular novel dating from the 1960s which has two alternative orders in which to read the chapters. Not that I bothered.

After that I needed to stay in town to catch a bus to my next appointment, so Mrs Davey and I refuelled at a pasta bar in town, cheap, hot and totally carbs.

Then off to catch the No. 15 to Villenave for the Conseil d'Administration of the Maison de la Bible, chez my good friend, Marc. We talked happily and freely about the bookshop and left just before 4. After a somewhat convoluted journey I got home just before 5 to find my grieving girls.

Pizza for tea. With salad, though. And fruit afterwards. We have bananas to finish up.

A long day, and a visit to Montauban

I had a day in Montauban. We had to arrive for 10, which meant catching the 5:55 train from Pessac Alouette.

Montauban is a handsome town.

My train back to Bordeaux was delayed by almost an hour.

In an attempt to prevent myself volunteering to be temporary secretary of the commission exécutive, I said

to the four assembled gentlemen, "Vous sachez toutes que je ne maitrisons pas la conjugaison de la France."

and only one person laughed.

Sometimes I don't know why I bother

A sad awakening

We awoke this morning to scenes of violence and carnage in the Davey front yard. Some predator capable of burrowing has left one guinea pig dead and taken the other. I suspect a fox. It dug a very neat burrow into Daisy's cage. How Tom was taken from his cage I am not entirely sure. We, of course, heard nothing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

At last the help we need

Lifehacker to the rescue! Read it here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review : A Vine-Ripened Life, by Stanley D Gale

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Isn't that a LOVELY picture of Christian character. It's the fruit that the Spirit of God produces in the life of the Christian, pictured for us by Paul in Galatians 5:19.

Stanley Gale has taken this picture of the fruit of the Spirit and grafted it onto two chapters about abiding in Christ, the true vine, based on John 15. Afterwards there follows one chapter each for each characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. Then two more chapters are grafted on, about humility and grace.

I think it's important to survey and understand the table of contents before launching into the book, because it is not at all an exposition of John 15, and I thought it was. I was puzzled, disappointed and confused until I realised how the book was structured and where it was taking me.

Once you get that the book is a useful, practical, helpful discussion of the fruit of the Spirit, with discussion questions at the end of the chapter. I can imagine the book being used helpfully for home groups, for small group studies or for one-to-one studies. You could even preach sermons on the different characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit and use the book as back-up for reflection, prayer and personal application.

If the book has a weakness it may be that the horticultural and agricultural imagery is sometimes pressed a bit far. Humility acts as chlorophyll to a plant. Grace is like organic fertiliser. Yes. OK.

But the book is biblical, wholesome, helpful and useful. And if you read it it will do you good.

I received this book free from the publisher in electronic format through the Cross Focused Reviews book review programme. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Christianity Explored

Do pray for the Christianity Explored team.
They're busy working to adapt the course for the French language and context.
Language is one thing.
Context is another.
They need your prayers.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bordeaux to Bilbao

I just watched Michael Portillo's "Great Continental Railway Journeys -
Series 2: 6. Bordeaux to Bilbao" on iPlayer. Super programme.

On the way to the groupe chinois on Saturday

Saturday, September 20, 2014

La Bourse du Travail is being restored

This building is an art deco gem, and it's on the route of Bus 4 in an area a little off the beaten track, just up from la Victoire and across from the Hôpital Saint André.

La Bourse du Travail has been in a lamentable state for years, with the rendering cracking and coming off and netting round it to protect the bonces of the passing burghers of Bordeaux. But now it is in the process of being restored. I hope some sensible use will be found for the building!

Read about it and see photos here.

Indian Summers

They say we're having an Indian Summer, and that we never used to have them and that these Indian Summers are evidence of global warming, but I remember the term Indian Summer from my childhood when we apparently never used to have them, so why did we have a word for things that didn't exist?

Fizzy water

Wow, it's hot. No, I mean like REALLY hot! And I was signed up to go and see a demonstration where three webmasters build a website from scratch using three competing website building tools; Wordpress, Joomla and Duplo.

Well, OK, it wasn't Duplo, but I can't remember the real name of the last one.

I had a bottle of water with me, the demonstration started at 2 in what for me has to be one of the coolest places in Bordeaux that I had been dying to see, The Node, a kind of open-plan office where webmasters and others can work, just round the corner from the restaurant where we meet.
So I drank my water.

After the demonstration, which was very fun because the three webmasters were really genial people, enthusiastic about their preferred CMS, and about teasing each other, and because the Node is even cooler than I thought, I had a couple of hours to kill before my meet up with the two Chinese boys, so I found a place with free wifi and installed myself to deal with some emails I had to send. Then came my meet up with the Chinese lads. Then some shopping for fruit and veg at Auchan.
By this time I had built up a MAJOR THIRST.

Now Auchan has a little spot near the door called the "Snacking area" where you can buy sandwiches, yoghurts and sugary drinks. They also have some bottled water there, at 90c for 500ml.
90c! If I trotted down the road to U I could get a bottle for 30c. You can get an espresso coffee for 10c more. NEVER, I'd rather die of thirst. I'd rather go to the back of the store where the "Waters of the World" section is to be found and get something much cheaper.

This is how after teaching a cute little Arab girl to say "to - mate" and fighting off her auntie and grandmother to get some of the remaining tomatoes, and laden with the cutest little bananas you ever did see as well as a slightly dodgy looking iceberg lettuce and four (4) cucumbers, I found myself next to the fizzy waters, running out of patience and time.

To run out of patience is one thing. To run out of time, worse. To run out of patience and time is grave.

Minty Perrier. 70c, I'll try it. Menthe verte. Sounds kind of cool and sophisticated next to the agrumes and fraise. Yes. That's the bottle for me! And it was. So cool and ... minty as I guzzled it at the bus stop.

Later, on the bus 4, as we rattled over the cobblestones at Place de la République and lurched up and down the cliff-faces that have been installed as traffic calming by the second-hand bookshop at Monteil, I wondered why M. Perrier had had the idea of drinking fizzy water in the first place.

Friday, September 19, 2014

So what are your children called?

My son's called Gwilym and my daughter's called Catrin.

Oh, cool. And do they have English names?

(thinks : Yes, Algernon and Gertrude.)

Uh. No. We don't do that.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm dying to go there!

They've opened two new enterprises in the Bordeaux area, and I am dying to go to one of them.

In Eysines there is a new ski centre. You ski on a wide conveyor belt that moves and tilts to enable you to slide and then to get the impression of going downhill at great speed, all the while not moving an inch.
Apparently these centres are a great success.

Then in Mérignac, we saw from an advertisement on the side of a bus, they've opened a new Pirate themed restaurant. Aah harr oh yes they have me hearties.

There used to be a jungle-themed restaurant in Pessac which broadcast jungle animal noises from huge loudspeakers all around. Till it closed down and got turned into a Hippopotamus grill.

I'm not making this up. I couldn't.

A perturbing storm

They'd forecast storms and a rainy end to the week.
It started at about 4:30.
Torrential downpours.

I had to go out at 5:30, but thankfully by then the rain had stopped, the water had all but cleared off the paths and driveways, and all that was left were menacing rumbles and the occasional distant flash,.

These rumbles and flashes continued for hours. Meanwhile in the Aveyron, the Hérault and the Gard there were flash floods and some people were killed.

For me it meant that bus 35 was 20 minutes late on the way and 20 minutes late coming back.

I will quickly grow to dislike bus 35 very intensely, I think.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Look what we saw in the FNAC!

Best Sellers : Number Two slot, the Bible. And this in France.

September 14

Normally this blog gets about 300 views each day.

That's amazing!

But on September 14 it got 9,337 page views.

What!? Whatever did I blog about that day?

I looked.. Oh dear! I hope we don't get any unusual visitors any day soon.

Spending other people's money

What fun!

James, the new GBM guy, needed a mobile phone, so since the Maison de la Bible did not require my services this morning, and since the FNAC is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world, I offered to take James there, we met at 10 by the cathedral and we hied us off to the FNAC. Hurrah!

James had a particular phone in mind, in black, and we had already ascertained that it was in stock at the FNAC, so all we had to do was wait and wait and wait until a sales-assistant became available, contract the deal and swagger off with his loot.

There remained the question of connecting the thing.

He had hoped to connect to Free, but they require you to pay by bank card and James' bank card is not yet fully functional. He does, however, have a RIB, so after some checking again on the internet, off to the Bouygues shop we went to get a B&You sim card. Card obtained, installed in the phone, we then set ourselves up on the top floor of the shopping centre to connect to their free wifi and activate James' phone on the website.

I hope that by now all is accomplished and his phone is up and running, with all the rich possibilities for communication that it affords!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A good trip when driving

I confess that long journeys on motorways are hopelessly soporific for me.

It's a nightmare.

More than once I have suddenly realised that the lorry on front is suddenly nearer than it was, and that because I have been somewhat too absent.

I worked with a chap who lost his whole family in a car crash because he fell asleep at the wheel, so these things are to be taken very seriously.

What to do ?

Stop at the first services and drink a nice strong cup of coffee. Then take a short nap. In the car is OK, or in a quiet corner of the café. Then use the loo and resume your journey.

This advice, which I heard some years ago, may have saved my life. Who knows.

Read an article about it here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reflections in Bordeaux

Yesterday evening was beautiful.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Magic Music Machine

How do we sing at Dan, without a piano?

Well we did have Gwilym with his guitar. But now he's left...

Yes, we still have our secret weapon - Christian Hymns DVD of MP3 accompaniment files.

Pastor Robert Maclean of Rhuddlan showed me how they use them there. Admittedly he's an advanced user, putting the fies through Audacity to change the pitch and speed to suit the congregation. I have not done anything like that.

I have, however, loaded them all onto my little iPad mini so that with a bluetooth speaker strategically positioned (near a plug) we can sing anything in the hymn book at will!

Together these things constitute the Magic Music Machine.

Pretty good, eh?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moving swiftly on

Our new neighbour came round to work on his English.

Poor lad. "You don't pronounce the 'r' on the end of stranger! Keep your tongue down! It's straenj-uh."

He can't help it. He's had a diet of American films since his earliest childhood. But he says he wants British pronunciation so there we are.

After a couple of hours of torturing the poor thing I let him hobble off down the drive and scuttled off to enrol Catrin for her singing lessons.

First the maestro. He was alone, so we chatted about Catrin, her aspirations and what she ought to do.
Then the office. That means writing cheques.

Then off to - the Opera!

A small baroque choir were performing "Rameau's" "Les Eléments Réunis" in the Femina Theatre in Bordeaux. 5€ a place and a small group of us were going from the International Club of Bordeaux.

Well the plot was somewhat unintelligible, but the choir was jolly good, the soloists were not bad either and once the oboes had warmed up the orchestra made some very pretty sounds. (Baroque woodwinds are tartars to tune)

We discovered the reason for the unintelligible plot. "Les Eléments Réunis" doesn't exist. It is, as the newspaper report put it, a pasticcio, a collection of Rameau numbers glued together with some dialogue in a vain attempt to try and make it coherent.

I think we have to cut them some slack on two grounds :

1) I'm not sure how coherent operas were at this period in France anyway. Weren't they largely pageants and masques, scenes tacked together for emotional effect as much as anything?

2) People often note that Handel composed Messiah in something like 6 weeks, a remarkable feat when you consider that it takes about two and a half hours to get through it. That's a lot of notes!

Sometimes people ascribe it to some kind of higher impulsion. Maybe, though there is a more mundane explanation - much of Messiah is pasticcio. Handel had already written it before. For example "And the glory of the Lord" was in a former life a movement of a concerto for two oboes.

Well, if it's good enough for Handel and Messiah, I'm sure it's good enough for Rameau and "les Eléments Réunis".

So we had a splendid evening, the company got a standing ovation from much of the smallish audience and I am listening to Rameau.

The iPhone 6

As a recently enlisted Macintosh user I was interested to see what the iPhone 6 would be like when it was announced on Tuesday.

I use my phone for reading and for various other purposes, so I like a big screen, so I have a large Samsung Android phone. However the attraction of easy linking between my laptop and my phone is considerable, and Apple's meticulous design and tight control of their devices mean that everything generally just works.

Not only that but the iPhone is so beautifully made. In a meeting the other day I was playing with someone's iPhone 5. It was so nice, it reminds me of a well-made flute or a good fountain pen.

However my current phone already has all the functions that the iPhone 6 plus offers, with a larger screen, but at a greatly reduced price.

It's the old Apple thing: their products are great but the price is very high.

I had an iPhone years ago, a 3GS that I got when Orange France did some crazy offer just before Christmas where effectively I got the iPhone free. Maybe some deal like that will come up. Otherwise, for the moment, this Apple fanboy will be sticking with Android.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The wonderful Hans Rosling and the splendidly floral Ola Rosling show us what God hath wrought

Lunch at a Social Centre, the Chinese lads and the number 4 bus

Yesterday I agreed to meet a friend for lunch. Basically it's a guy who lives alone, who has pretty serious health issues and who likes to invite people out to lunch. He's VERY THIN and I believe him when he says he just doesn't eat at home, so he's convinced me that by letting him buy me lunch I'm doing him a favour. Not only that, but then he gets to choose the place, and it's places I just would never go!

Anyway yesterday it was a social centre at Bègles, run by the town hall, they do a lunch there three times a week to get people together and create a bit of social adhesion. They do the same menu on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and put that with the extremely hot weather and you understand why we were the only people there.

Lunch was gazpacho - salty and loaded with garlic - then meatballs in pepper and tomate sauce with its puréed vegetables followed by a basket of fruit for dessert. The lady brought up this enormous basket with two good size bunches of grapes and four apples. Serve yourself coffee. It was canteen-style food, but very healthy eating really and 6€ a head. If Bègles were not an hour away by bus I might go back with Pat!

Anyway we talked about my friend's various problems and about our idea of selling up here and moving further into Bordeaux. Good idea, he said.

Then a meet up with the Chinese lads in the evening. We've kicked "Knowing God" into touch. It's too much reading for them. So we're working through a little book produced by Francis Schaeffer called 25 basic Bible studies. It's available in French.

If we do move into town I'll sure miss the number 4 bus! Yesterday, with the return journey to Bègles and the journey in to meet the Chinese lads, I spent about three hours on various buses. When I'm alone I can read (Kindle etc.) and also do some preparation (Logos on iPad mini). I can also do basic emails, Facebook, etc. on my phone, so it's not wasted time, really.

There may also be someone who can help us out by preaching at the International Church once a month. I'm hoping, quietly!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is Christianity transforming China?

Read the article here.

Recording the messages - AH! OK!

So I took Gwilym's zoom digital recorder that he got for doing work experience in the music store in Bordeaux that closed down just after he left, and ...

WOW! the message is THAT LONG?

Ok, there's interaction in the form of a little discussion and some verse reading on the part of others.
That adds some time.

Then there's the whole fact that it's bilingual, so that adds probably another 1/4 or 1/3 to the time...

This needs some reflexion...

Wow, this book is an epic!

I feel like I've been reading "A Soldier of the Great War" for ever, and I'm only 1/4 of the way through. It's quite a saga, but very, very engaging.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

French-learners - might this help?

Someone brought this podcast to my attention recently.


It's just normal, conversational French.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Another list of books - "secular ones" this time.

There have been a few books that I have REALLY enjoyed, for a variety of reasons:

1. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco. It's just a wonderful, encyclopaedic novel. I've read other Eco books and enjoyed them, but not to the same extent.

2. A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel. Again a wonderful, crazy book.

3. A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. This is an American novel, but to me it reads like a novel in translation.

On the way home from Bordeaux Church @ DAN

we passed through this tunnel of trees near the Hotel de Ville tramstop and heard the deafening sound of sparrows quarrelling in the branches.

We arrived home to find our garden in uproar, with birds swooping and crying. It seemed that a bird of prey was in pursuit of some small flying snack. As we walked down the driveway they all scarpered!

Heading off to church through Parc Cazalet on Sunday morning

Sunday at Dan

1. Make a list

2. Check it twice

3. Pack into my rucksack :

a. bluetooth speaker
b. sermon notes book
c. A4 church notice to stick on Dan's noticeboard
d. service sheets (with songs, readings, etc... on
e. offerings box
f. church flyers and cards

Meanwhile, Pat is packing into her shopping trolley all we need for the after-service picnic

It was very hot yesterday, so the stone interior of DAN was pleasantly cool.
I manipulated the alarm system with no difficulties thanks to Romain's excellent training and explanations.

However the magic music machine refused to cooperate, playing the accompaniment in fits and starts. Some frantic random button pressing yielded a result and in the end the machine worked very well. One person sat in a corner thought Catrin was playing somehow.

The service was quite a happy time, though people generally don't know each other yet, so the after-service picnic was especially important.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

La fête des associations

is today in the centre of Pessac. We need to go along to try to find a choir for Catrin.

Asian hornets next door

the houses in our street have 2 metre high walls or fences. They always did. It's nothing to do with us. But it means that some of the neighbours we have never seen, and others we see only from time to time.

Well our next-door neighbour is owner of the fence between our garden and his and he decided to come and get rid of the ivies and general growth that turns it from a fence to a hedgerow. We were a little sad because it gives us the idea that we're living in the country, but hey...

While we were talking I said "and that nest in the tree last year?"

"Yes, it was asian hornets (frelons asiatiques). We did nothing about it and eventually they left the nest and it fell out of the tree."

I wasn't sure this was the best course of action, but the nest was VERY HIGH UP in a VERY TALL TREE so I'm not sure what else could have been done. We never saw a hornet, anyway.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Catrin's school

has banned all hats to protect laïcité.

I offered to knit her a phrygian cap with a red, white and blue rosette, as worn during the revolution, but no.
All hats.
Boys' and girls'.

Here's her timetable :

Here's a banned phrygian cap:

The woes of M. Hollande

Poor François Hollande. What a rentrée he's having!

His finance minister rebels against the austerity plans and forces a government reshuffle.

He gets caught referring to homeless people as the sans-dents (the toothless), perhaps from a proverb, "A man without money is like a dog without teeth".

The woman he lived with while entertaining his famous scooter affair with an actress publishes a book called "Thanks for the moment", in which she chronicles their break-up and his attempts to get her back.

Another government minister is forced to resign over tax-dodging, as is the chairman of the committee that was convened to look into it.

Some are asking if Hollande is on the slippery slope.

I don't think so. We're quite used to having a president who says funny things and whose life is like a comedy script. Witness M. Sarkozy and his foul-mouthed retorts.

I don't think for a moment he'll get re-elected. We'll probably have M Juppé for the next president, and he'll probably be a very good one.

But I think Hollande will stay out his term.

Catrin sings : Brave today

Thursday, September 04, 2014

La rentrée

for Alan means designing and printing flyers and posters, then distributing them round Bordeaux, as well as starting new preaching series on Sundays in the international church and on Saturdays for the Chinese.

Why flyers and posters? Well really to try to achieve some kind of visibility!
People only come if friends bring them.
People get in contact through other people.
But flyers and posters can help break the ice.

La rentrée

means that Pat has resumed her duties in the Maison de la Bible, but I was not needed this week. (Means I can get on with preparation here instead of doing it at Maison de la Bible!)

La rentrée

So yesterday Catrin started back at school for her last year - the rather ominously named terminale. This year she no longer does any science, maths she bid adieu to long ago, but she takes philosophy this year, as well as Chinese, Spanish, French literature, American literature, history, geography and sundry other minor subjects.

She scuttled off at 7am to catch her bus, hoping for a gentle timetable. In fact she starts at 8 every day and finishes at 6 most days.


But she does get some free periods as well as some l-o-n-g lunch breaks.

Bon courage!

Catrin sings : The Best of Me

Monday, September 01, 2014

Recording the messages

For some time I have been thinking that it would be good to record the messages.
Various things have stopped me :

1) the nature of our service.

We're a small group and so when I speak I speak in a conversational tone and not very loudly.
(Just the kind of level that works for radio, however. Radio doesn't adapt to people declaiming.)

2) bilingual.

We do English/French. While this is OK when people can see you, would it work for listening?

3) Where to store the recordings?

Online storage can cost a lot and we don't pay for our website or anything like that.

4) What about all the hassle involved in loading up the files etc?

Wouldn't we need a (shudder) webmaster?

Well I think Dropbox may have just answered questions 3 and 4.

I currently have a free Dropbox account which, by a combination of factors, gives me 55.4GB of space. I find it very useful for storing anything I might need to access from anywhere, especially now my pc has a very small hard disk. 55GB is quite a lot, and I could store several weeks of messages on there.

BUT Dropbox has now announced a plan where you can have 1TB of storage for 10€ a month.

That would be plenty of storage for all the family for quite a long time, plus storage for message files.
And all you'd have to do to put them in a blog, on Facebook, in a website, is put in a link to the audio file, something that's very easy to do in Dropbox.

I'm cogitating...

Last Summer Sunday

These summer Sundays we have enjoyed having the service at our home.
We can cook. We can be a bit more relaxed about timing.
And yesterday we had grills after the service :
courgettes/zucchinis, (bell-)peppers, sardines and merguez.
It was very convivial.

But next week we return to Dan, and to cold cuts. It'll be great.

Meanwhile something is brewing in my little bonce.....