Showing posts from June, 2015

Pessac, China - and beyond!

Yesterday we invited the internationals for a barbecue to say "see you soon" to the folks who are leaving now. It was a good time with perhaps ten folk present, and afterwards I reflected on how some years ago by Easter everything was pretty well over, whereas now things are reduced, but not over. It was the same with the Chinese group where I met some of the new folk who have just arrived, including one chap from Jiling province, bordering North Korea. It's easy to find a church in my province, he said, everything is very open. I asked about North Korean refugees, and he said, "Of course, all the North Korean girls want to marry a Chinese guy." He didn't know how that would work or how it got set up, but he said, "and in North Korea they don't realise they are poor because the government controls everything. Everything." Meanwhile the Commission des Ministers were meeting in the afternoon to finally decide whether Tim Mitchell can be admit

"RE-inscription" for Catrin at the music school.

I had said, "I'm here for pre-inscription for Catrin for next year." But no, it is RE-inscription when you've already studied at the music school. "Oh yes", said the director, who had popped into the office on the way out for a quick cigarette, "sign her up quick, she sings well, Catrin." Whatever. The effect is the same. I wrote the cheque and promised to scan and send my electric bill (justificatif de domicile - I forgot it to take it for some reason.) Well, for two reasons. Firstly Catrin has been singing in the music school just round the corner from us for about four years now, and she walks there each time and so on... Still, one's domicile has to be justified. And after all, we are intending to move house. Secondly, it is so HOT that my brian has ceased to function. Sorry. Nothing computes. The circuits have closed down because of over-heating. But I still remembered to ask, "Alors, elle est dans quel cycle, finaleme

Rendezvous made

1) with a lawyer to talk about selling the house, renting or buying a house/flat, having grown-up children who are studying in France and the UK, property taxes and income taxes and stuff. 2) with a notaire to sort out selling the house.

John Edmonds is visiting us at the moment

Here he is with James at Quinconces. I'm on the way to the Ivorian Consulate.

David Murray explains how to self-publish


It's here! It's here!

So yesterday morning found us up ladders, down ladders, climbing on worktops, finishing off the painting of the kitchen. Then, at 11:30, we set off for the inauguration of the tram to Pessac Alouette. We took the 4 to Pessac Centre, then walked down the lovely wooded walkway to Bougnard. Some event tents had been set up and a little crowd was milling. A small jazz group played New Orleans style. A man was carrying a velvet cushion and a golden scissors. The press and the radio were there. M. Raynal, the Maire of Pessac gave the first speech, followed by the Chairman of the Hospital Group of Haut-Leveque, then M. Juppé, Maire of Bordeaux, Chairman of Bordeaux Métropole, Future Candidate of the Républicains and Future Président of France. After the speeches M. Juppé cut a ceremonial ribbon with the golden scissors, and cut pieces of ribbon for the little girl who served as scissor-bearer, then we surged into the waiting tram (which, incidentally, was not at a tram stop). A wooden r

Ooh la la la la la la la dance.

So the Château's name was Augey and it was off a quiet road near Blasimon. It didn't appear on Google maps, but I found it on Apple maps and getting there seemed relatively straight-forward. You took the old Bergerac road and turned right at Rauzan, but not on the main Agen road, on the road before, the D123. All went well till I got to Rauzan. But there was no signpost D123. No signpost to Augey No road. No nothing. My phone's GPS is based on Google Maps, so it was no help. My printout from Apple maps omitted some new roads and a roundabout. The excellent automatic Golf that Nico loaned us while he went to America had no built-in satnav. But there was a group of folks eating outside a restaurant. The guy looked at the address, at my directions, the print ... then pursed his lips. Then he said, with a sudden certainty that was strangely unreassuring, "You need to take the Blasimon road. The Chateau is on that road before you get to Blasimon. Yes. That's it&qu

Assemblée Générale de l'Association Maison de la Bible

We began with a committee meeting at 5:30. The Friday afternoon traffic meant that I was 1/2 hour late, and one of the first to arrive. (We HAVE to avoid using the rocade on Friday evenings in future.) The committee meeting proceeded very happily, though, and we are very aware of God's blessing on the bookshop. There are a couple of very needy people whose visits are unhelpful - we can't give the specialised help they need so we all need to apply strict and consistent limits. But it's a small blemish on a happy and fruitful work. Later followed the Assemblée Générale where all the volunteers came and again it was a happy time, all except for saying goodbye to our excellent First Président who, for some heinous crime as yet unidentified, is moving to Dunkirk. Gasp... I was introduced as the new président and Pat was told that now that makes her the Première Dame. I said "Il n'y aura pas de deuxième." Then came the barbecue, ably cooked by all the men pres

On the complications of garment repair

My best jacket I bought in a Next sale some years ago. It's really nice. Dark navy-blue wool. Very chic. And it has a moth hole on the left sleeve just below the shoulder at the front. I could really do with getting it repaired somehow. I can imagine how one might do it, by snipping a small piece of fabric from a seam, for example, and sticking it behind with wonder-webbing, for example. So this week I called into a shop that does garment repairs, recommended by my friend, Marcel. Hallo, you do garment repairs. Yes, let me see. Oh, it's a burn? No, a moth, I think. Ah, yes, but for that you don't need a repairer, you need a stoppeuse . A stoppeuse ? Yes, a stoppeuse . Here's the card of one, but she's only open on Thursdays and Fridays. I worked it out later - it's someone who will darn it. Oh well - I'll call there tomorrow.

A strike is announced!

Sunday is La Fête de la Musique, when France erupts into song. I've talked about this before, but this year in Bordeaux there's a difference. Several tram and bus unions have called for a strike. If our buses and trams are affected then we won't be able to get into Bordeaux to church. However the service can still go ahead whatever happens because James is due to preach! Hurrah!


Well the girls managed to find somewhere to stay via someone they kinda knew who comes sometimes to church, and they came along to MB yesterday morning. They were really nice and enjoyed a croissant with nutella before passing on their pictures. I got a picture of a clothes peg and Pat got a mountain and Nehemiah's city walls. I don't want to comment on this and I invite you not to read anything into my lack of comment. Then they were off with a map of Bordeaux and a list of church addresses to prayer-walk.

Cry "woo!" and "hoo!"


Bac Philo, the actual questions

Catrin did the one circled :

Review of Mike Reeves' "Life in Christ" ("Rejoicing in Christ" stateside)

Readit here

200 years since Waterloo

Lire amdano  fan hyn

Today : Bac Philo four hour exam

Bac L (coef 7) Probable : la vérité, la liberté, autrui, la démonstration, le devoir, la culture et l'art. Exemples : "Perd-on sa liberté quand on reconnaît le vrai ?", "Le désir de bonheur est-il compatible avec la recherche de la vérité ?", "Faut-il se libérer du désir ou libérer le désir ?" Possible : le droit et la justice, l'Etat et la société, le bonheur, le désir, la matière et l'esprit. Exemples : "Le légal peut-il être identifié au juste ?", "L'étude de l'histoire doit-elle conduire à désespérer de l'humain ?" Depuis 2010, les notions auxquelles les sujets de philo faisaient le plus souvent référence en L (certains sujets pouvant faire appel à plusieurs notions) : la liberté, la perception, théorie et expérience. Vous avez quatre heures. 2014 : "Les œuvres d'art éduquent-elles notre perception ?" ou "Doit-on tout faire pour être heureux ?" 2013 : "Le langage n'est-

"We're coming to bless you!"

said the three girls, phoning from Bristol Airport on their way to Bordeaux, (Ah!) "but we don't have any accommodation arranged." Catrin has her bac philo tomorrow. She gets up at 6am to go in for a four-hour exam. No, it wouldn't be fair. I emailed everyone quickly to see if anyone could suggest a suitable place for three girls to doss down. And found the address of the youth hostel. "Look, I have a meeting tonight with some folks who are getting married on Saturday. Come to Maison de la Bible tomorrow morning."

What a palaver!

It did seem a bit convenient. I left our Chinese friends' apartment to get the bus home and found I had just enough time to take a little look at the Halle des Chartrons with all the tables set out round it and happy people munching their magrets and tartares and to get back to the stop before the bus 4 came to take me all the way home. I took a nice photo, then got to the stop and hey presto, bus 4, right on time, to take me home swiftly and conveniently. Yeah. Right. The first bad sign was when the bus driver at Palais de Justice contacted the control centre to ask whether she had missed a detour. After some discussion it was decided that she'd have to go via Victoire and the boulevards - several miles off route - to get back onto the Rue de Pessac. So we were haring through Nansouty, where the bus 4 never goes, and then she turned right into a little road that led to the boulevards, when. Ah Non! Ah Non! A lorry had caught fire just 50 metres ahead and the polic

Hurrah! At last !

Look! The tram starts running from the 22nd June - next Monday. Not only that, but bus 36 will also pass by the Alouette on its journey to the massive shopping centre at Bègles.

Thanks, Matt, for sending this


Is there no limit?

I was impressed by our visitor, David Sercombe, and his trip round Europe on the trains using an internal ticket at the age of 81. Then this weekend we had a brief visit from another friend, Rod Thomas, who is slightly younger than David but has embarked on a month-long tour of France in a small caravan. He hitched up on Friday at Gradignan, coming down to us from scenic Sarlat in the Dordogne. On Saturday we went to inspect the sights of Bordeaux and on Sunday he came for lunch and then to church. Today he'll make a quick raid on the Dune de Pylat before heading off to the Lot et Garonne and its bastide towns. Bravo, chaps!

Some thoughts on the kids' study next year

There's so much we could say. On so many levels. When we came to France Gwilym was 10 and Catrin 8. We knew we were asking them to do something very difficult, but we also believed it would be incredibly enriching, rewarding and blest. We think it has been and is enriching and blest, though Gwilym was very determined to return to the UK and to study there, despite the student loan he will accumulate. Catrin is content to return after doing her bachelor degree, though she has her sights on a masters in Wales afterwards. Not all missionaries' kids come to faith. Not all grow up straight. Some grow bitter. Some have very complicated or disturbed lives. We are so aware of so many threats to our kids, but God has been so kind to us and to them. Can you imagine what it does to a dad's heart to see his son posting scripture on Facebook? You never know what is going to happen with your kids. Not all can go to university and not all should. For some kids, to bring honour to Go

Chez le cardiologue

My doctor's great. I approve of her so much that I still go to see her in Villenave even though it means reserving a car and all the malarkey that goes with it, rather than just sloping round the corner where Pat goes. Anyway, last time I was there she said, "What about doing a little examination of your heart, eh? Never hurts at your age..." ... It has to be said that I was less enthusiastic about the idea than she was, but the doctor's word is law, unless they tell you to give up chocolate. And my father did have a heart attack well before my age. So it was that today, many months after the afore-mentioned consultation, I found myself dressed like a navvy, navel to the winds, riding uphill to nowhere on a reclining bicycle, wired-up with about 30 or so electrodes stuck in fancy patterns over my torso while an echographist poked his wand into my ribs. After about 15 minutes of this absorbing diversion they said, "All normal. If you did more exercise yo

Now it's official

Catrin has seen it on the French equivalent of UCAS and has let it be known on Facebook. She has been accepted on the course she wanted - Musicologie and Chanson française, jazz and musique actuelle, etc.. at Bordeaux Montaigne. It's great to know that our kids are sorted out for next year. We're obviously very proud of them both.

La spectaculaire poussée des évangéliques

Read in French here


It has been HOT these past few days. And today was Formapré. Formapré is an initiative taken by the three seminaries in France - Vaux-sur-Seine, Nogent-sur-Marne and Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence - to bring theological training within reach of those who cannot for whatever reason go and live on campus for three or more years. The idea is to run weekend schools of theology in regional centres five times a year, with a cycle of training taking five years to complete. So last night found me hurtling into the Maison de la Bible to collect a box of books - the Institutes, Grudem, Stott, MacLeod, Blocher, Hameau and so on - and then to sit through about ten hours of lecture on Christology given by a charming English France Mission pastor called Jonathan. The course started with defining our terms : ousios, substance, person, hupostase, essence, attributes, idioms... Then into the centuries of definition, clarification and dispute... It all seemed to go pretty well. There wer

Pastorale CNEF

The CNEF pastorale (Conseil National des Evangéliques de France) was to be held at Eysines with lunch, a colombo, and there were two big items on the agenda: firstly a report from Maison de la Bible and secondly feedback from the March for Jesus that took place last weekend. It's nightmarish to get to the Eysines church by bus, so I took the Citiz Clio and enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort, the built-in sat-nav and the classical music playing from the radio. The rocade was crowded but moving and so I arrived on time. The temperature was rising fast outside. It got to 35°C, but in the Clio I was doing great! I was the only one of our merry band to be present, James Hammond was too busy reading Calvin. The Mitchells had had big decisive meetings on Wednesday. Catherine Gaufrès, our very capable manager, outlined the work of the bookshop and there followed a very fraternal discussion about how churches can be more involved and identify more closely with this city-centre witnes

End of Bac Music classes

Catrin took her Bac Option Musique exam today, which means no more Bac Music classes. Voilà!

Season of sniffs and nasal gloopiness

University entrance

Catrin just had an email indicating that she's been accepted for her course.

Bègles - town of mystery

Yesterday I had to go to Bègles to meet a friend. I never much like going to Bègles because it is one of those places where you have to go all the way into Bordeaux and out again to reach. And it is a town of many centres and none, so you never know where to get off, where to meet, where you are... I am always lost in Bègles. I have never really understood Bègles either. It is a post-industrial town which borders the railway sidings of the main station in Bordeaux, the Gare Saint-Jean, but it has banned genetically modified crops. Why? Well I can tell you why. Because the mayor of Bègles is the flamboyant Noël Mamère, moustachioed member of the Green party and the first to conduct same-sex marriages at his town hall, way back when it was illegal. Another thing I didn't quite understand is that Bègles, on the Garonne river, and about 50 miles from the sea, holds an annuel "Cod Festival" - la Fête de la Morue. Why? Yesterday a lady explained it to me. At Bègle

Bunfight at Place de la Comédie : Top Chefs Face-Off At Bordeaux

Gordon Ramsey is taking over the kitchen at the Regent Grand Hotel in Bordeaux opposite the Grand Théâtre. Philippe Etchebest is taking over the kitchen at the Café de l'Opéra in Bordeaux opposite the Regent Grand Hotel. Stay safe, people. Stay safe.

Ca s'appelle "l'obsolescence programmée"!

So a couple days ago our beloved inkjet printer/scanner/teasmade said "B200 - this is serious - please phone my creator" and refused to do anything more. I hinted for the message on the internet. Either: 1) the print head is stuck and you just need to remove the dead spider that is stopping it from moving 2) the print head is kaput and you better phone the manufacturer I examined the printhead for dead spiders. There were none. I gave it a poke. It moved freely. After my rendezvous with my friend today I called at our local printer-cartridge-monger. "Hallo!" quoth he, in his best Bwitish accent. "What ho!" I replied. "J'ai l'erreur B200 et la tête d'impression nest pas coincé" "Eh bé, ça se répare et la tête coute aux alentours de 70 euros, MAIS parfois il y a un autre souci et elle casse trois mois plus tard. Ca me fait mal de dire que c'est foutu, mais c'est ça." (I can repair it, but it will cost

Oh, it's good to have the buses and trams back!

So David, our friend from Wales, arrived on time at the station and we had a quick coffee, then got on the train for Alouette-France. A 15 minute walk for me without luggage took rather longer wheeling a suitcase and lugging a backpack. But we got home safely and then began the gabfest. David is a talker and we had a lot of catching up to do. Thankfully I had somewhat foreseen that, and I had prepared the song sheet and the message notes for Sunday, so I was relatively stress-free! On Sunday bus 4 then tram B and C took David and I early into Bordeaux to explore the waterfront before going on to meet with about 20 people in Dan. It was a rather emotionally charged time as we said goodbye to Jonathan, from Canada. One friend from Mexico who said goodbye last week seemingly left his place to a new friend from Mexico who came for the first time this week. Our usual French friends were absent, but a new French friend kept the side up. It seemed to be a good time. Then trying to find