Showing posts from January, 2015

It's that time of the year again :

Stormtime! Yesterday was MEGAWET and MEGAWINDY. I eventually shut the shutters on the westward side of the house where the weather comes from, just in case. I thought of that day in 2009 when one Saturday we sat and listened to the constant wind, hearing occasional roof-tiles move, wondering what we would find when we could emerge from the house. That year one house in our area lost ALL its roof and another had a tree crush half its roof. Our garden fences fell, giving us the rather nice "jardin public" between our houses for a couple of weeks. This weather wasn't nearly as bad. In fact it wasn't even classed as a storm. Just gusts (rafales). This morning all seems OK. No fences down. No trees fallen.

An anxious day ... until

The task before us this year was dawning on me yesterday as I faffed around to get the repaired oven back. Downsizing means : 1) selling the house after April, when the tram come almost to the door. 2) redecorating in probably three rooms. Touching up in others. 3) dramatically reducing our books. Watch for treasures on Amazon! 4) and our furniture. Will this mean I have to sell my fake Brynmawr chair? 5) and the normal spring garden slash-and-dump We need to get shot of: sofas, bunk beds, wardrobes (unless we leave them here), tables, chairs, garden furniture, books, bikes?, LOADS of stuff! So yesterday morning, thinking of our typical week, I wondered when we would actually accomplish these feats! Then I wondered whether anyone would actually fancy buying our house, with all the foibles and drawbacks we have lived with over these years. Then my crazy friend came round. My most unusual and barking mad friend, he is terminally ill with lung cancer (but has been al

Well they fixed the oven

in time for our film and pizza evening on Friday. Remise en état alimentation. Refection connectique. (That means they fixed the power supply.) Hurrah!

Peter-Lukas Graf : César Franck : Sonate pour Flûte traversière et piano 4ème mouvement


It appears that the oven is fixed

I just received an email advising me of the "mise à disposition de votre appareil au comptoir". Oh well, I know what I'm doing first thing tomorrow!

Non non non non non non non non non non

Well faced with the possibility of tottering through the park with a microwave oven balanced on my noggin or booking a citiz car to take it to the repair place in Bègles I'll let you guess what I chose. At 8 am the big car with the flat boot floor was free. I showered and came back to book it. It was taken. So I booked it from 1 till 5. 1:03 found me in the car heading off to the supermarket with Pat's list in my sweaty mitt. 2pm found me en route for Bègles with the oven/microwave combination securely in the boot, along with a bag containing the shelf, turntable, the bizarre steaming contraption, etc. etc. "You must take everything", the lady had said, "together with a written description of the problem and a copy of the receipt." So I printed out a copy of the receipt, wrote on it in big letters "AUCUN SIGNE DE VIE" and popped it in the bag with the shelf, turntable, the bizarre steaming contraption, etc. etc. I found the place with littl


I don't know if I have blogged about pens in the past, but they're pretty wonderful if you find a good one. I have very bad memories of those blotchy biros we used to have at school - the ones with long ends made to look like old-fashioned ink pens. They left globs of sticky ink that would get on your hands and you couldn't get it off. Nasty. Anyway at present I am a fan of two types of pen. Firstly the PaperMate InkJoy Quatro four colour ballpen. I have found two different kinds of this pen, one with pretty normal colours : black, blue, green and red, and one with rather more girlie colours : violet, magenta, indigo, lime green, etc. To be honest, I am not entirely sure what these other colours are, but they are easily distinguished from the normal ones, so they work for me! This gives me eight colours for mind-mapping and means that I can just take two pens with me and still take notes separating  the different headings with different colours. Very convenient.

OK, so we can either post or take the oven to Bègles to be fixed.

It would be fun to try and post it. I can just see the lady in the La Poste as I heave it onto the scales... I think I'll reserve an Autocool car and take it myself.

Setting foot in a better world

As I type Greece is going to the polls, Japanese hostages may be dead, slaughtered by cynical people who claim to act for God, North East Nigeria lives in fear, the Middle East is in turmoil and the best opinion of scientists is that we are fast heading for the end of the world as we know it. And we're going to church. We're setting foot in the world to come. So that we can act with confidence and hope in this sad and passing world.

Songs from the EMW Aberystwyth Conference available freely online

Here .

Oh no! The oven has broken down again! Still, it's just a few months old and still under warranty.

It's so COLD out there!

Wild boars in the heart of Bordeaux

Read about them in French and watch the videos  here .

A morning ditty

My cellphone operator is struggling at the moment, so they are busy trying to keep their customers and to win new ones. That's probably why at the weekend in England I could use my French number at no extra cost! Even for internet! (though I know the European Union has been campaigning against roaming charges) Their latest thing is to incorporate into my contract either films and series from Canal+, or something linked to sport, I think, or Premium Spotify. I have had a Spotify account for a long time, but the adverts annoyed me and I begrudged 10€ a month to get rid of them, so I'd listen to music on Youtube instead! However, now I have a premium account 'free' I happily look out music and artists I like. Like this:

Open day, open doors?

Catrin wants to sing. I mean, professionally. As a singer. Yes, I know, you can probably make a better living in a kebab shop, but hey, you gotta follow your heart. Anyway, the big question is what comes after lycée? It isn't just a question of lycée, conservatoire, stage. It depends on your voice, its development and its maturity. So Catrin was hesitating between the Bordeaux Conservatory, where you just study till you're ready, or the Welsh College of Music and Drama, which kind of fits into the standard university rhythm, or Bordeaux Montaigne, where they do a degree course in Chanson Française, or a new music training institute that has opened in Bordeaux. Yesterday was the open day for Bordeaux Montaigne, and as Catrin has her tonsillitis, I went along. It sounds GREAT! You do composing, arranging, orchestration, lots of performance, analysis, interpretation, loads of good things. The guy said that they try and only take people who they think will stick the cours

A bit of finesse

Facebook is a funny old thing. It's wonderful and dreadful at one and the same time. I allows you to stay in contact with old friends, but sometimes too much... When people get you down, and you have to do something, there are a variety of possible responses. When people advertise witchdoctors on the Facebook group of your church (we get one or two a week) then you can report the advert to Facebook and block the person. This is pretty severe. It means people can't contact you at all and Facebook apologises for the inconvenience and annoyance the person has caused you. When someone was accepted as your friend by accident, someone you don't know and who shouldn't be in your list of friends, you can "unfriend" them. It is advisable NOT to do this to people you know as they take it badly! When someone uses Facebook in ways you find unhelpful (venting, for example, or foul language or whatever) you can "unfollow" them. This means you are still their

Fairy toadstools

Poor Catrin, after a splitting headache on Sunday evening, woke up with tonsillitis on Monday. Une angine blanche.  We are brits, so for a while she drank lots of tea and fruit juice, took aspirin and paracetamol and gargled with various noxious substances, like brine, aspirin solution or TCP (shudder). Yesterday we gave in to our inner Frenchmen and I asked my friend Gérard, who is a doctor and homeopath what we should do. "Facile! Mercurius cyanathus alternated with Arum triphyllum, both 5ch, three grains three times a day. That heals even diphtherique tonsillitis". Meanwhile Pat booked an appointment with the doctor. "Oh, I doubt if it's really an angine. Let's see. Oh yes! Just like toadstools in a fairy tale! You need antibiotics!" Gérard had told me the doctor might give antibiotics. "Yes, not a bad idea." So with her pills and our prayers she's gone back to school. Meanwhile today is an open day at Montaigne University so I hav

Well you learn something new every day!

"On se caille là!" Thus spake the manageress of the Maison de la Bible yesterday. I was replacing Pat for her Tuesday morning because Catrin has tonsillitis - une angine blanche. I'm not sure there's much we can do about her tonsillitis - they're usually viral and very contagious, so we just have to keep her well fed and watered, and rested, of course. But back to the Maison de la Bible. I knew that when it's very cold you can say informally, "ça caille". In the supermarket they sell "Caillé", which seems to be a yogurt-like dessert from the Basque country. It's made by clotting milk with rennet. Especially sheep's milk and sheep rennet, to be authentic. OK. So we're getting there. "ça caille" would mean something like "It's setting" or "it's clotting" or "it's forming a gel." How do you say it's freezing in French? Yes, "ça gèle". So "on se caille

Well, that will be my last, I suppose.

It's so easy to get to the UK now! I took the 8:30 bus 4 to Pessac Centre, then the 9am bus 48 to the airport and was there at about 10. Plenty of time before my 11am flight to Gatwick. The flight was bumpy but cheered by the sweetest steward I have ever come across, Michael, an enormous German who spoke excellent English and French, though accented and rather idiosyncratic. Easyjet are collecting for UNICEF for a polio vaccination project. As usual, I had no money at all on me but after Michael's introduction I would gladly have thrown in all I had. As the plane descended into Gatwick he thanked "Messieurs, mesdames et chers enfants / Ladies, gentlemen and dear children" for flying with Easyjet. If he is as nice with the other cabin crew as he is with the passengers the man is a hero. Bravo Michael! I got to Gatwick about 12:30 and bought a British style sandwich in the M&S food place. I can't remember what it was, but you know the kind of thing : Brie, s

The limits of free speech

Dieudonné is a comedian who specialises in anti-semitic humour. His one man show was banned from various towns last year sparking demonstrations in his support. After the events of last week he posted a remark on twitter expressing a certain sympathy for the terrorist who had taken hostages in the Parisian kosher grocer, was arrested, remanded in custody and will appear before magistrates on 4th February. As far as I know nobody has demonstrated in his support.

There's nothing like a bit of stress to improve your effectiveness!

I'm going to be ready to fly off to this wedding! Phew!

More on books, proof-reading and publishing

It's great to have the opportunity to review books and there are certainly lots of books being published. I volunteer to review books that interest me, so that means I seldom review a book I actively dislike - just once or twice that I can remember. However it does sadden me that spelling errors and grammatical errors now seem almost universally present. Why is this? Well I think we have to start with an assumption of good-will and due diligence on the part of all concerned. People go into publishing because they love books, they believe in the transmission of thought and they are concerned for standards. After all, there are easier ways to make a fast buck than publishing! Also people train to edit, to proof-read etc, and it is meticulous, lonely and tiring work. So why aren't non-existent words (like my favourite, forebearers) and classic errors (like principle/principal) weeded out? Why isn't every sentence clear? Why do errors in footnotes persist, etc. I've n

You know those days where by the evening you can't remember the morning?

Yes? Well today's been like that. Rich and full. Involving : 1) Duty at the Maison de la Bible, with charming customers 2) Lunch of left-over vegetable lasagne. yum yum! 3) Discussion with James, all good stuff, and coffee in the FNAC - hurrah! 4) A visit to the consulate of a west African country to get a visa (come back tomorrow) 5) A visit to the tram and bus company to replace Catrin's lost tram card 6) A visit to found property (logical, no?) to retrieve Catrin's lost tram card handed in (Hurrah!) 7) Meanwhile Mrs Davey had her eyes tested and has an initial diagnosis of glaucoma... drops prescribed. 8) Research of singing and music degrees for Catrin next year. Now listening to Bach and he's unknotting the tangles of my mind. He always does.

Is this the right photo or not?

Find out here . Meanwhile I can confirm that Sexagesima is NOT those little weeds by the lychgate.

Wow! Awesome!

Look! Though I have still not forgiven them for blending fictional and fabulous names on their blog - and like totally fooling me and stuff.

Why, oh WHY didn't I cancel the service?

That's what I was thinking on the way to Dan. It was the demonstration of unity on Sunday and so bus 4's route was deviated. Pat was making her first bus journey in three weeks and now she would be deposited some way from our usual stop. "Et les trams passent par le centre ville?" "Non." (it was a stupid question, really) So it was Shanks' pony for us. As we got near Cours Albret we saw a slow-moving stream of people filling the avenue, going from left to right. We had to cross the stream. Over the top? Under the legs? Pedestrian crossing? "If we join the stream we can edge over bit by bit and come out the other side" So we did, and it worked wonderfully well. Then down Elisée Réclus - full of people. Round by the Town Hall - a sea of people. Through the crowd to the Musée Jean Moulin - stuffed with people. Up the side of the Athénée Municipal - a stream of people. Down Poquelin-Molière - people everywhere. It wasn't

An update on Pat's back

It's been long and slow. She's been very thankful for ibuprofen and paracetamol, and also for an electric heat-massage back thingie bequeathed to her by Andy Chueng when he left Bordeaux for sunnier climes. I think she intends coming to church tomorrow, which will be the first time in three weeks - that is she's missed two Sundays. When Pat isn't around I feel like a one-legged man trying to ride a bike. Today she got in a car for the first time in weeks, perhaps months. She couldn't come to see Gwilym off at the airport, for example. Cars are actually quite difficult with back problems, partly because of getting in and out and the twisting involved, and partly because of the juddering over uneven surfaces that normally you don't even notice. Tomorrow will involve her going to Bordeaux on the bus. At least getting on and off is usually no problem. I hope the shaking and juddering is OK.

I really like these things


Je (ne) suis (pas) Charlie - on mockery

Following the attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo many people in cyberspace changed their photos to say "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie). I am not sure where this idea came from. In my mind it is kind of linked with the joke at Starbucks where some wag gave his name as Spartacus. When the barista held up the coffee and called "Spartacus" one after another people stood and announced "I'm Spartacus". OK. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine especially known for its cartoons. It occupies roughly the same kind of niche as Private Eye, or the TV programme, Spitting Image. It mocks everything and everyone. Perhaps it was this approach of mockery that led some people to start identifying themselves as "Je ne suis pas Charlie" (I am not Charlie) mais je me tiens à vote côté or some other expression of solidarity. What about this mockery? Someone reposted a short thought from John Piper that he put out in 2006 after the murders

Phone call from the health insurance people

They've reimbursed us for the missing years and apologised that there had been no automatic transfer between our statutory health cover, CAVIMAC and our top up. It's good to have been reimbursed, but when one considers that the sum represents six years of sickness for a family of four it seems to me that we're paying too much. We'd be better off just having cover for major catastrophes, hospitalisations, operations etc and saving what we'd otherwise pay for cover. I'll go into the office and talk to them about it as soon as I can.

Yesterday in Bordeaux

I was scheduled to be in the bookshop all day, so I left the house at about 9 and just missed a bus that passed at 9:04. We have real-time bus reporting now, so I flashed on the QR code and it said the next no 4 was due in 17 minutes. They're 10 minutes apart. So I decided to scuttle round the corner to catch the next 44, reportedly in 5 minutes. I waited at the 44 stop. I was joined by another chap. "It comes at 9:12", he said. 9:12 came, but no no. 44. 9:15 arrived. I checked the real time buses again, so far "real" was not to be taken too literally. Bus 4 in 5 minutes. I scuttled round the corner again. At least I was getting some exercise even if I was not getting a bus. As the longed-for bus 4 drew up my phone rang. "Don't come in this morning. Come at lunch time." So I went home and got on with some reading. Then in for the afternoon. While talking with James, my phone vibrated. Facebook Messenger :  Bad day in France. Thinking of you

Pray for France

Pray for the families who have lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters. Pray for there to be no islamophobic reaction. Pray for many to seek the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give. Pray for wisdom and restraint on the part of those in authority. Pray for words of grace and love from the lips of those who know the Living God. Pray for violent men to be brought to justice, and to repentance and faith.

Houellebecq in the news again

Michel Houellebecq (as far as I can gather from the various pronunciations I hear here, one says "Well-er-beck"or "Well-beck") is one of the most controversial contemporary novelists in France.  He has written from an essentially bleak nihilist viewpoint novels about isolation and the pointlessness of life. Now he has turned his talents to imagining a France which elects a Muslim President and becomes islamic overnight. He says this scenario is entirely possible and envisageable. It's interesting to see this in the context of the resurgence of the European far-right, concerns about immigration, and the struggle with islamic terrorism. Read the BBC's take on it all here.

Two sad losses and a busy week ahead

We've lost two friends to cancer over the Christmas period. The first is a Dutch lady with whom we were put in contact through her friends in Pembrokeshire. She lived in Bergerac - a two hour journey from here - but we used to visit her on her visits to the hospital in Bordeaux. We got to know her very quickly and she seemed to appreciate our visits, contacting us from her iPad to let us know what room she was in and so on. She had a very lively and well-informed faith and used to work translating books from Dutch into English for some very well-known people. We weren't able to visit her during her last few days, or to go to her funeral, but we said farewell by email - her last message was to say goodbye as she was getting too weak to type. The second is a lady who was very involved with the Christian bookshop in Bordeaux. She contracted a cancer in her face and her battle was long and difficult. She is greatly missed but it is good that this hard period for her and for her


at Maison de la Bible, so it's all hands to the pumps. We had these funky handheld scanners to scan the barcode on each item, then you had to poke ineffectually at the screen with a minuscule stylus to enter the quantity of each item, be it a book, cd, etc... Thankfully I discovered that instead of poking around with the minuscule stylus you could press tiny buttons to exactly the sam effect, which speeded up the job remarkably. Then we scuttled off to a café round the corner for lunch together - confit de canard with a mound of haricots verts cooked with garlic and some very tasty potatoes. After lunch I was scheduled to go to the ex-pats creative writing group - yes I know. It's my second time to go and ... well ... We are under the gentle tutelage of a published author who is very affirming and encouraging. My work of art this month was the proof that a stitch in time does not save nine, in the form of a detective forced to stitch up a murderer by planting a gun in h

Les Fils de la Réforme

Book Review : Salt, Light and Cities on Hills, by Melvin Tinker, published by EP

Melvin Tinker is vicar of St John's Newlands, Hull, an Anglican Church in a northern English city. Melvin's ministry is known for seeking biblical integrity as well as an evangelistic heart for the folk around. He has written a couple of books which all are well worth reading, and are generally rather short. He writes economically, which is good. This is a very useful book that repays close reading. It falls into broadly three sections : 1) A survey of the recent history of Evangelical thinking regarding the social implications of the gospel 2) A Biblical theology tracing Isaiah through the Sermon on the Mount into the early chapters of Acts. 3) A testimony of the way this is worked out at St John's Newlands. I don't want to say too much about the contents or the stance of the book because I don't want anyone to dismiss it because of the position it takes, but I will say that Melvin surveys writers and speakers sympathetically, honestly and courteously, th

A house of sickness and infirmity

Poor Pat's back is having great fun making her suffer. The doctor came and prescribed stretching, massage, ibuprofen and paracetamol and a kind of muscle relaxant thing. The pills work well but she still needs them, sadly. She's better than she was, but it's not great. Meanwhile Catrin is slightly under the weather. Speaking of the weather, we just had a really cold spell - overnight temperatures well under freezing, some daytime peaks of 3 or 4. Brrr. We can get the bedrooms warm, but the living room is a struggle, even with the wood-stove well lit and blazing. However the forecast from now on is much milder and today the drizzle is back.

He's gone again

Gwilym's flight was at 5, so I reserved a car from 2:30 because I knew he'd want to try the new Starbucks. We had some viennoiseries for a treat for breakfast and Pat had a roast dinner planned, too, so we fused the kitchen just before the cauliflower was ready and had to forego our Christmas pudding! (heaters in bedrooms, oven, kettle - just too much power being drawn through) Oh well. Gwilym's not keen on the stuff anyway. Tomorrow when I get some more fuses of the right power we can do the pud. So off to get the car. Pessac was SO QUIET! We got to the airport and scuttled off to the amazing folding origami Starbucks, thinking that it might be closed - it is, after all, New Year's Day, but it was open, so 15 euros later and lighter and we were all drinking some form of latte... (Catrin doesn't like the taste of coffee so she had a "chai tea latte" , but she did try Gwilym's latte ) Well, except for Patricia, whose back is too s

10,000 New Year's Resolutions - thanks to Paul Tripp

MAKING RESOLUTIONS It’s that time of year again, that time of year when we examine what we don’t like about our life and make a resolution to change it in the New Year. Can be I honest with you? I think your New Year’s resolution isn’t going to be as effective as you hope it will, if it works at all. Is change important? Absolutely. Is commitment essential? Of course. Is improving your lifestyle a wise decision? Without a doubt. So I don’t want to discourage you from writing or keeping a New Year’s resolution, but I do want to challenge the way you think about biblical change. You see, Christianity – which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at the center – simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is this:  the transforming work of grace operates in 10,000 little moments more than it does in a series of two or three life-altering events. In other words, the character and quality of your life won’t be defined by two or three life-chan

Happy New Year!