Showing posts from May, 2015

David Sercombe in a Bordeaux to Pessac Alouette train


Life without bus 4, bus 23, bus 44...

Well the tram will not be running to Alouette in May, and for yesterday and for today the buses have been on strike, too. But we still need to get places. Yesterday morning Pat and I took the 8:45 train to Bordeaux. Our meeting started at 10 and we had a choice between arriving at 8h55 and being really early or at 9h55 and being a little late. We chose the early option giving us an hour to do a 10 minute tram journey, so we decided to stroll through parts of the city we'd never seen before, passing along roads where we've seen flats advertised, then going in the general direction of where we needed to be, through the more North African parts of the city. It was great. Our only frustration was a half-hour wait to get the train back to Pessac, which forced us, obviously, to get a coffee (well, OK, an ice-cream) at the station's MacDonalds. Yesterday evening Catrin needed to get from one music school to the other. Normally I get the no 4 bus and pick up a pool

Today will be ... interesting

There's a bus and tram strike. Our trams are not yet operating due to technical problems that are being ironed out, but the website of the tram and bus company shows no buses coming within a 40 minute walk of our house. No bus 4. No 44. No 23. No nothing. Meanwhile: 1) Catrin has her last day of school. Two hours of class, for both of which she has finished all the course. Oh well, too bad. 2) Pat and I have a meeting in the centre of town. Ha! We can go by train! The station is a mere 20 minutes walk. 3) Catrin has a mock exam for bac music this evening. For that I've booked a car (40 minutes walk away), and I think it will mean some long evening walks on my part this evening.

Aberystwyth Conference booked for myself and for Patricia

UK visit tickets bought!

Wow! I'm doing all the scary stuff today! I just bought our tickets for our visit to the UK this summer. The Davey Summer Expedition.

Income tax declaration done

Nothing to pay. Phew!

One out, all stay in

There's a public transport strike tomorrow. They plan well for these and publish a list and a map of the bus routes that will be running normally, or with a reduced service. They also publish a map. Here's our area showing which bus routes are still running tomorrow. Basically there's nothing at all. Not a thing. We have a meeting in the centre of Bordeaux, but I THINK we can go by train...

CNEF33 committee meeting

This morning was the CNEF33 committee meeting, exceptionally in Villenave d'Ornon. I booked ... the CLIO ! Hurrah! So 8:30 found me on the ... number 4 bus off to Pessac Centre to collect it. As we crossed the rocade we all looked at the queues of stationary traffic stretching out as far as the eye could see in both directions. OK. Back roads it is. Now the Clio has built-in satnav, so I started the engine, started the radio, started the satnav and set off. I am pretty sure I can find my way to Villenave from Pessac via the back roads. From 2005 to 2006 we did it pretty well every day. But hey, proverbial dogs and hatred of self-barking compelled me to follow the weirdest route I have EVER taken. The satnav freaked itself out, too, sometimes saying "à gauche, tournez à gauche" while showing on the map an arrow pointing right. Still, I arrived in good time and we had a good discussion. On the way back I took the rocade. It was lunchtime. No traffic.

What a day!

Well Catrin came home from school last night (Tuesday) bearing the joyful tidings that she had an mock oral exam in some awful subject on Thursday... and her audition and interview for the degree in Musicology and French Song today... Her general stress level was already pretty high - she takes her studies and exams very seriously - but now it rocketed. "I was a real train wreck." she told me. Anyway, as we were on the way to the audition, which took place in the architecturally important, but hideous Fuksas building, la Maison des Arts, Catrin's friend was talking, interceding with her teacher who said she can do her oral next week, after the written exams if she wants. After one false start we found the room and the little queue outside. After we'd waited a while some current students came out and talked to everyone about destressing - breathing, warming up your voice, etc... One of the previous applicants had had a disaster. She asked to try again, but

Sunday visitors

It was a weekend for visitors. Firstly Debbie from Marseille who was met by Pat at the Cathedral on Friday and who stayed with us over the weekend. She went with Pat and some others to see the opening parade of the Fête du Fleuve, and met some of the folk then on Saturday, but had to leave at 1 on Sunday to get back to Marseille. Then Mr and Mrs Simon and Heather Farewell came for lunch. Simon was one of Fiona's "little helpers" some years ago and has since finished his degree in French and Spanish, done a PGCE and got two years of teaching under his belt. He has also married the courageous and optimistic Heather, and it was wonderful to meet her and to eat together. They had to leave at about 3 to get down to some obscure town in the Landes to resume the school trip which had brought Simon to this part of the world. Then for the Bordeaux Church service, although again there were 5 or 6 folk away we had some holidaymakers visiting from the outback of Australia as we

Official video of the beginning of the Fête du Fleuve


The mosque is overflowing, they're praying in the street

This article ( click here ) from Sud-Ouest talks about problems in the Begles mosque that have led some of the Begles muslims to decide to go to one of the central Bordeaux mosques instead. As a result it is now overflowing and people are praying in the street, which is banned.

A very lively Friday, followed by ... Garden Party

After my encounter with the Estate Agent I met Pat at Saint Bruno tram stop to meet Tim and Suzanne for lunch at their place - a really nice curry! Then on to MacDonalds where the guys meet on Friday afternoons. I might make this a regular "Pastor Point" because there's wifi (slow), the coffee is cheap and there's usually a quiet corner on a Friday afternoon. Why not work in MacDonalds and be accessible at the same time? From there, home to get the CarCard to go and pick up the Bipper Teepee to take Catrin from Singing to Bac Music. While Catrin did her music I went and got provisions for the Garden Party Grande Finale Barbecue. Meanwhile Pat met up with a lady who's come from Marseille to stay for the weekend (boy, did she choose the wrong weekend to come!) In the evening folk were meeting up at Sally's to go to the opening evening of the Fête du Fleuve, which is on for 10 days and involves tall ships, people swimming the Garonne, the start of a

So, selling entails no fees

I went along to the Estate Agents' office and walked in. Inside were two fashionably dressed, chic looking people, one man, one woman. We greeted each other and then looked expectantly round the group. "So, we have this property project" "Come and sit down. Now the first thing to do is for us to come and value your house..." Not so fast young man! I thought... "First, what are the fees involved in selling: taxes, charges, etc..." "There are none. You have to pay about 500€ to get the dossier done, then all the rest is paid by the buyer." "OK, so far so good. Give me your card and I'll phone you, perhaps next week."

The American Consul

Yesterday evening I braved the evening traffic to crawl into Quinconces to the meeting of Bordeaux-USA - the group for friendship between Americans and French people. Yes, I know I am neither American nor French, but I have friends who are, so I fit in the friendship thing, OK. The Consul is called Mr Wolf, and he spoke about consular services, then about the voyage of the Hermione, the boat on which Lafayette sailed to America to encourage their revolt against the Crown (cough, cough). Then he gave a bit of an update on the presidential campaign. Afterwards we chatted briefly and I asked if I could sign up to the consular alert system that warns of specific threats against Americans in France, for the sake of the folks who belong to our church. He directed me to the place to look and this morning I signed up. Afterwards I chatted with an American friend and a French friend (see!) and then crawled back home.

Slash and bag and talk

It's been good to give some time to the garden, to cutting, pruning, hacking, etc. I've enjoyed it. Now today I'd like to do another little bit, but also we have various matters on the programme: 1) I want to have an initial talk with an estate agent if possible, to find out what we need to do to sell and buy or rent, and in what order, and what fees, taxes and costs are involved etc. 2) We have a lunch date with Tim and Suzanne Mitchell, rescheduled from two weeks ago. 3) A meet up with the guys upstairs in MacDonalds (we chaps have class) 4) Home to cart Catrin round to her Bac Music class and to get essential supplies for tomorrow's "Garden Party".

Sinatra - Desafinado

It's a long time since we had some music here:

Gwilym's interview

At 6:30 I noticed that Gwilym was on the move. It was, of course, 5:30 in Swindon. Oh the wonders of the interweb! He was up to get his bus to Watford. The interview was scheduled for early afternoon, and he said it went well.  He's awaiting their decision been accepted.


Catrin has just got home from her first real, proper bac exam of the year : her Chinese oral exam. We were all a bit stressed out because she in theory needs some form of identification for her exam, which for us means a passport, and her passport expired in April while I was in the UK, so we applied for it on my return, but they take 6 weeks to come, but then we had a message saying it was on its way, and it didn't arrive yesterday. But they didn't ask her for id, the exam seemed to go OK, she came home smiling and her passport has just arrived.

Zombie Walk of Death

"and it's no good you thinking, 'it's them out there'," I said, "we're all caught up in this zombie walk of death. You see it in Ephesians 2." Later on I noticed that one of the students had a tattoo of a few words up the inside of her arm. I couldn't read it. James noticed it too. "What does that say on your arm?" She showed him. "Oh - 'zombie walk of death'" "Wow!" I said, "what a coicidence! I said just that this evening!" "Yes, I know, I wrote it on my arm." "Not a tattoo?" "No! Not a tattoo!"

A tale of four churches

This weekend has been rather lively for presbyterians, and presbyterian churches have been much in the news. Firstly the Church of Scotland which, after years of discussions in committees, has decided overwhelmingly to accept the ministry of pastors in same-sex civil partnerships. Its seems inevitable that soon the church will decide to conduct same-sex marriages. Which brings us to the second of our four churches, the Eglise Protestante Unie de France, which has just voted overwhelmingly to conduct same-sex marriages . Well, to conduct blessings for same-sex marriages. The wording reflects the different situation in France where no religious ceremony can marry people. People get married at the Mairie. Religious ceremonies can bless marriages. Meanwhile, while the church of Scotland advances into modernity in its ethical standards while losing massive numbers of members, our third church, the Free Church of Scotland, has also been advancing into modernity, "reinventing itsel

Well, what a weekend!

In France the Eglise Protestante Unie de France (created a few years ago by the fusion of the Eglise Réformée de France and the Eglise Luthérienne) voted by a massive majority to bless same-sex marriages. Since all church marriages in France are blessings - the real work is done at the mairie - it seems to me unless I am corrected that heterosexual marriages and same-sex marriages are now seen as being exactly the same within the EPUdF. Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Church of Scotland voted by a massive majority to recognise pastors in same-sex civil partnerships and they are expected to extend this to same-sex marriages in the next few days. As for us, we were again a decent number, despite at least a quarter of our faithful gang being away in Holland, Morocco, Italy, etc... We were in Psalm 15 - the impossible standards for living in the presence of God (and the only one who ever attained them).

Bus 23 and Tram A

I often write about Bus 4, but another route we often take is Bus 23 and Tram A. Bus 23 goes from Outer Pessac to Mérignac Fontaines d'Arlac, one of these "poles" that we have in Bordeaux where train, tram and several lines of bus coincide. We get on it at Macédo, the stop is just round the corner from our house and outside a very smart block of flats built around an inner park and just 5 minutes walk for us. From there the bus winds through various interesting parts of Pessac, alongside the lovely Pape Clément vineyards and through the centre of town before veering off through the Mérignac vineyards to the afore-mentioned Fontaines d'Arlac. Meringue seems to have many more big blocks of flats than Pessac and more ... adventurous ... architecture. There you switch to tram A, past the big hospital known as CHU Pellegrin or the Tripod, over the boulevards, past the huge Meriadeck shopping centre , past the cathedral and into the city centre. It's a gr

Can't teach you 'cause your skirt's too long

Red about this here .

Thank you for praying!

Good news! Catrin's passport has been dispatched!

Six degrees of separation

So I put on that little video of Iestyn Davies singing "Thou art gone up on high", and a colleague from our mission who is soon to settle in Paris to work with Acts29 contacted me to ask if I knew Iestyn. It turns out that they were choral scholars together at university. I said that I had only heard Iestyn live once, when our friend Katherine Whyte was singing in Jephthah in Bordeaux. She was Jephthah's daughter. Iestyn was her fiancé. Small world, uh?

Today is Ascension Day

I searched hard for a counter-tenor who didn't have a vibrato like a goat. I considered a baritone, but one who sang well looked so cross that I couldn't bear to pop him on here. It's a Bank Holiday here and Pat has the girls coming round for lunch. I'm doing my chunky chorizo salad for them.

Our new car

We have a new car. A brand new car. It's really nice. It's a silver Renault Clio, diesel, all the bells and whistles. You press a button to start it! It has this big screen to poke to turn things off and on and stuff. It has SatNav or you can just see where you are on a map. Mega cool! When I took Gwilym to the airport it had 168km on the clock! We share it with about 700 other people in the Bordeaux Car-Pool Club. We're generous like that. Oh yes, and we still have the Peugeot Bipper Teepee for taking things to the dump, and the Yaris Hybrid at Quinconces and the seven seater that we park at Talence and...

On waiting

I was at the bus stop just now waiting for the 23, watching the cars zoom past. It's a funny thing, waiting for buses, waiting for trains. I hate waiting for aeroplanes because you have to wait so long . When we lived in North Wales we very seldom took a bus or train and we seldom waited for anything. When I was a kid I remember when they started to import Spanish strawberries, and you didn't have to wait for the English strawberries to arrive. We didn't like the Spanish strawberries. In those days they were big, hard and tasteless. We preferred to wait for the English ones. They were smaller, riper, sweeter. And every time we rejected the Spanish ones our anticipation grew sweeter, too. Kids have to wait for Christmas or for their birthday. Farmers wait for the harvest or for the weather to be right to plough, to sow, to plant, to reap. And we wait for the Lord. In the end perhaps waiting isn't such a bad thing.

Le "centre de recyclage" - la déchetterie...

La déchetterie is the dump. And it's one of those words that we say differently from Parisians and the poor benighted folk from the North. They'll say déchett'rie, but we say déchetterie, to the rhythm of the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth. In fact the words "Beethoven's Fifth" have the rhythm of the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth. Well, perhaps it's more to the rhythm of a good rat-a-tat-tat. Déchetterie. Rat-a-tat-tat. But I digress. In Bordeaux the déchetteries are managed by the Métropole - 28 towns who all work together to coordinate the public transport, the refuse collection and various other services that cover the whole of Bordeaux. And our déchetteries are great places. Today I reserved the Peugeot Bipper Teepee and loaded it up with broken, worthless treasures and drove off to exit 14 of the rocade, to the Avenue Gutenberg déchetterie. See, even the name is cool. When you arrive you have a kind of circuit to do with the c

Yippidy-dippidy-doo! Catrin has an audition for "Chanson d'expression française"

On 27 May. She'll have to sing a song in French, play a piece (though because she's accompanying herself they might just skip that, I imagine) and then have an interview to establish her keenness and depth of musical insight and stuff. Oh yes, and she could do with her passport being renewed and returned in time. No pressure!

Mrs Davey's back

I don't mean she's been away, I mean that she made an awkward movement on Saturday and her back felt uncomfortable. Then came the pain. (On Friday she'd done some gardening - maybe it's linked?) Anyway after ibuprofen and rest she's a little better. She has an appointment with an osteopath tomorrow.

Mission Week this week at Christ Church Deeside

Thanks for praying for : Coffee mornings Gospel suppers Door-to-door Tract tables Final evening - the Choice that Matters

What is the gospel? - super article by Greg Gilbert - Qu'est-ce que l'Evangile?

Read it in English here  ou en français ici .

Dossier du Conseil National des Evangéliques de France sur l'Evangile de la Prospérité

Ici .

A VE Day video. Berlin 70 years ago.


Hurrah! Vive la France!

French supermarkets sell special milk with reduced lactose. We got some yesterday and it seems to have done the trick!

How I almost got to drive a bus

Bus 4 was at the stop, passengers aboard, hazard lights flashing, a little gang of TBC officials standing around the door. "There's a problem?" quoth I. "No driver", said the official. "Well I could have a go." "Got a PSV licence?" "Well I have an ordinary licence and my father was a bus driver." "Oh well, that's a good start." "And I live at Pessac Alouette." "Well you can just leave the bus there and we'll pick it up later." "Yes, I know the route and I know more or less what to do." "It's the 'more or less' that poses a problem" said his colleague. I got on the bus and waited.

OK, I take it back about the photo of the four of us together

Fréd, our next-door neighbour, pointed and shot.

Gwilym should have a really nice flight back to England

It's been GREAT to have had Gwilym back these ten days. That's my son, you know, the one who's doing a placement in a church in Swindon. They said he's the best they ever had. And he plans to study Music and Theology in London next year. Yes. Did I mention that he speaks French fluently?

"But you've always had cereal for breakfast..."

"yes, and I've always had indigestion afterwards, so I just thought it was normal." and so we cut milk and dairy out of Miss Davey's diet to see if she does have this funny lactose intolerance. Bit inconvenient in the land where there's a different cheese for every day of the year. Yesterday was a BIG fail. No cereal for breakfast, but a croissant instead. And a nice one, not a nasty supermarket "Made with sunflower oil". The after-effects of that were very exciting. And what about coconut milk on your cereal? Or almond milk? GROOOOO!

Book review : "Living without worry: How to replace anxiety with peace" by Timothy Lane

Tim Lane is co-author with Paul Tripp of "How people change" and "Relationships - a mess worth making", is a Westminster graduate and a PCA minister. You can find out lots about him at where he describes himself as "Author, Speaker, Trainer, Counselor". I confess that I came to this book with a degree of trepidation (I agonised over that word) having been through an experience of burn-out in the recent past and just having attended a conference that was largely centred around the theme of the sufferings and struggles peculiar to pastoral ministry. I had to speak on the struggles of missionaries and how churches can help them. So concern, stress, anxiety and worry are subjects I have been thinking a little about. I suppose I was concerned that I might find a book that confronted Christians with their faithlessness and worldliness in giving any room to anxiety and worry. The danger, as the author puts it, that you end up worrying about t

Coffee at Nerdy Vera's

We are a failure as a family. No, I mean it. On so many levels we fail. Firstly we have failed to get a photo of the four of us together. Our big chance was Sunday evening before the service at Bordeaux Church. I could take a camera. There'd be people to point it at us. It was a good plan. Till Gwilym got back from Cenon at 2:45pm, too late to eat his lunch and come with us to Bordeaux Church. Then we pledged to go out to the cinema and for a meal. That was the plan. The reality was that the kids went to see the Avengers together and we got pizzas from the local take away on 1st May. (They were very nice pizzas, I hasten to add.) Yesterday we did another not-quite-whole family activity when Pat and Gwilym attempted to rescue me from the creative writing group (aaaaarrrggh the pain, the pain) and we went for a coffee to Nerdy Vera's, one of our cafés of choice for meeting up with people. Catrin, meanwhile, is back in school. Speaking of cafés for meeting folk in,  I have

On being European

One of our non-European folk, a chap from a Commonwealth country, is currently looking for a job to finance his stay in Bordeaux. He's an accomplished linguist and so could teach English. IN fact, he has been doing so an a teaching assistant for the past months. However recently it appears that a policy has been put in place requiring employers not to hire non-europeans who perform jobs that French people could do. One of his contacts had been employed, trained and then laid off because of the change of policy. In addition non-europeans need visas to come and live here, specialised visas to come and work here and invitations from churches to come as Christian workers. Cartes de séjour, renewed every year or every ten years. Being European makes everything so much easier. We just come, settle down and get on with life.

Catrin's passport - request for prayer

We need Catrin's passport renewal to happen quickly because she needs her passport for identification to take her exams. Thanks for praying!

"Light and Life" mission seen by the local press

Read in French here .

What fun!


Hurrah! Another job done!

While I was in the UK there were two minor hiccups. The first was with the wifi, and was fixed by a combination of an intervention performed by myself on my computer from the UK and a visit from a techie student who found the channel and got everyone connected. The second was the fridge door which no longer turned off the light inside, causing the bulb to heat the inside. Pat did a temporary repair using tape to keep the light switch off, but really the door needed to come off and as the fridge is large it's a two-man job. So yesterday Gwilym and I tackled it. The culprit was a crack in the bottom of the door and a washer that appeared to be placed upside-down. We fixed the crack with duct tape and inverted the washer and - hey presto. All fixed! I wonder if we can take out that upstairs toilet before he goes back to England on Thursday...

Dutchies galore, and the premier mai

Yesterday evening we were invited to eat at the home of our friendly local dutchie, Harriette, at 6:30. So I spent a peaceful day catching up on chores, emails, phone calls and some preparation, as well as some flute practice - yes, music is returning to my life gradually - while Pat was in the Maison de la Bible. The kids went to the cinema. Then we went off to find a dessert to take. Our local Carrefour didn't have anything inspiring so we got the finest things in cartons we could find and headed off. Harriette lives very near Cenon so our journey involved taking bus 4 to Palais de Justice then switching to tram A. At the tram stop there's a swanky cake shop called "The 48". We charged inside, but they had nothing left. At Harriette's tram stop we were 1/2 hour early so we carried on to the next stop where there's an Aldi and there I found two strudels and some ice-cream. The meal was very convivial, with Harriette, the four Daveys, Sally, James and Di