Showing posts from July, 2015

The forest fire

The first fire that has ravaged over 500 hectares is a few kilometres away from us. About 5 miles. About 500 people have been evacuated from the little neighbourhood of Toctoucau, the farthest stretch of Pessac. As far as effects on us: We have been impressed to see the canadairs - fire-dousing aeroplanes - passing over the house on their way to drench the flames. I got a new asthma inhaler just in time. I haven't used the thing for months and months. The one I had was empty. But last week I got a new one and this week because of the smoke in the air I've had to use it a bit. Do pray for the authorities of the towns of Pessac, Saint-Jean-d'Illac and of Cestas, for the firefighters working so hard all weekend and for the residents who have been evacuated. So far no house has been damaged and no life has been lost. Two firemen are reported as being mildly injured - one from smoke inhalation and one from something else.

A stone in the shoe

We have some friends staying with us at the moment. A Dutch brother and his adorable family. Yesterday as we were walking through the big Parc Bourgailh I felt a stone in my shoe. I didn't want to stop and get it out so I ploughed on, and after a little while I didn't notice it any longer. Then our friend said, "We've run out of hot water." I explained that in France many houses have an electric water tank, a ballon d'eau, that heats the water overnight. Once you use it all up you just have to wait. Our tank is big, and the water is hot, but you can still get to the end of it. It made me think of our early days in France. We had been used to instantaneous electric showers. Friends had combo boilers that gave unlimited hot water. We missed our old electric shower back then. Now we don't notice.

And another house visit

Fighting the forest fires

Click here to see some photos and videos (sorry about the nivea adverts)

Forest and brush fires

It appears that the current brush fire is on the UK news - we've seen the Canadairs flying overhead, these small planes that swoop low over lakes and scoop up water to dump on the burning forest. The commune of Saint-Jean-d'Illac is not far from here, and not far from Mérignac airport, either. On the map below the blue dot shows our house. It's given a beautiful, dusty sunrise, but the smell of woodsmoke is in the air.

And someone else coming to see the house this evening at 7.

We need to be thinking about possible rentals

Everywhere has pros and cons Pessac Pros : We know and like the area. There is space, green space. We know and like the local shops. We have the tram, the bus, the train and the airport is pretty near, too. Rents are cheaper than in Bordeaux Cons : The tram takes 1/2 hour to get to Hotel de Ville, and bus 4 takes a little longer. Bordeaux Pros: Accessibility! We can get everywhere by walking or perhaps bike. Cons: It's more expensive. Harder to find green spaces. Mérignac Pros: About the same price as Pessac, more or less (perhaps a bit less) There is space, green space. The airport is just up the road. Cons: We don't know Mérignac well. Mérignac has lots of quite tall blocks of flats. In the end you have to rent what you can get. Our estate agent seems pretty positive about finding us something decent and nice.

Someone's coming to view the house

Selling the house

So the estate agents came round again and had a good look round, admired the electric boiler in the attic and then got down to the essentials. It took a long time and lots of discussion before they announced their suggested asking price, but we were happy with what they proposed so we gave them the green light. They have already done a detail sheet. We're under starter's orders at last. We ended the time with a discussion of what we could conceivably buy in Mérignac, Bordeaux or Pessac. But I still think we should rent for a while, at least.

A la Maison de la Bible

it was a splendid morning, working with my colleague, Gérard, and with some handymen adapting shelves and doing some changes to the stockroom, and with some nice people wanting to discuss things like study Bibles, like why it is legitimate to call Mary "La Mère de Dieu" and why le Semeur and la version Darby chose different words for the elder in the pastoral epistles - either surveillants or évêques. This last person I refused to get into discussion with because he just wanted a nice heated debate. I said, "We can't defend the translators. If you don't like the one, choose the other." Some needy people come in. One lady had had good news about her health and wanted to thank God so we talked about that. It was a privilege to be there. In addition the temperatures have dropped. Hurrah! Just 26 or 27 today, and this morning it even rained. A little.


I read recently a quote from a well-respected and most excellent pastor from a past century who said that he just wished he could see everything his church members did at all time. When I read that I instantly thought "I don't!"  After much reflection I thought again, "I really don't!" Then recently someone was talking about a church friend who doesn't ever have a quiet time. This morning someone mentioned that a member of a church had been a contestant on Big Brother and I imagined how ... interesting that would be... I REALLY DON'T WANT a little camera in the homes of my friends, my brothers and sisters.  And I think it is related to my misgivings about the whole "accountability" fad that we're passing through at the moment. Why?  Well it is related to the question of maturity, I think. When our kids were tiny we kept an eye on them pretty well all the time. One day we let them play outside and pe

Pools, beaches, waves and heatwaves

mean lots of people drowned so far this year, including small children in pools, elderly people on secluded beaches, all kinds of people on surf beaches. Be careful out there!

Back to the notaire

So we had another meeting with the notaire, this time both Pat and myself, and we took our birth certificates as well as the acte de vente from when we bought the house. She now has almost all the information she needs to draw up a simple will and to get ready for the sale of the house. Now all we need is a valuation, marketing and a buyer! Our estate agent is coming with a colleague from this area on Wednesday afternoon.

Quinconces at night


Book review: Passing Through : Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness, by Jeremy Walker

Passing Through is a good book written by a serious pastor who is attempting to help Christians to know how to relate to the world in which we find ourselves. It aims to be pretty comprehensive, a real vade mecum for the Christian, with chapter titles : A Way in the World Strangers and Pilgrims Understand the Environment Know the Enemy Fight the Battles Pursue the Mission Respect the Authorities Relieve the Suffering Appreciate the Beauty Anticipate the Destiny Cultivate the Identity Serve the King The chapter headings are splendid! Concise and clear with a straightforward call to action. Jolly good! You know straight away that the book will be practical and the ground it will cover. Each chapter begins with a "Scriptural Framework", "Summary Thoughts" and ends with "Specific Counsels" - so you can see that Jeremy wants to help his readers think issues through and put principles into practice. Jolly good! Jeremy steers his way wisely betwe


It's so hot here we have cicadas singing in the trees round the house.

It never rains!

The couple who got married at the château a couple weeks ago got married at the mairie this morning at 11:30. At 11:10 I got a stressed message, "we've lost the car!" It was the latest in a series of crises which included honeymooning in Greece in a context of riots and empty ATMs, getting their wallet stolen, almost getting stuck in Greece because of not being able to get money to get to the airport... "Maybe God wants to teach us things..." "I'm sure you've already learnt a lot!"

House valuation

Well the man came. He would like to come again with a colleague next Wednesday and then they'll advise on a suggestion for an asking price.

Ha! Some progress!

So this morning I was up bright and early after a night that was short, hot and sleepless, and I hied me away to get the NEW, BIG car from the station. Here it is: Behind it you can see the new Clio that I was driving yesterday! It's the same kind of car that we used to have, but a later model, and it was like driving a Transit van. It felt ENORMOUS! But it went OK and the boot sure was big, which meant that with the help of faithful James we got lots of stuff to the dump. At the dump someone had left a nice looking Raleigh Pioneer bicycle. It needed a brake cable, a good clean and some lubrication, but it was well equipped and looked basically OK. James wasn't interested and if I had come home with a bike to fix Mrs Davey would have been sore vexed, so we left it there hoping someone would adopt it. Then off to town to meet up with my friend Didier for lunch, during which time I had a phone call from an estate agent. He will come to value the house tomorrow afterno

You can send books from Logos to Kindle, and they work pretty well.


ANOTHER new car!

I'm so excited I might make myself ill. We have ANOTHER new car! Yes! It's brilliant! Just a few short months ago I drove our new Clio for the first time. It has now done 6000km! It's so comfortable and silky smooth. It has built-in satnav, or you can just have the map show you where you are. I love it. But when I booked a car to go to the dump this morning, what did I see but a new Peugeot Partner! I saw it in the flesh yesterday. It's big. It's shiny. It has a ginormous boot. And this morning it's all MINE! Whoopeeeee! Bravo Citiz!

Well that was a scramble!

36°C The cool of the bookshop in the morning. Taking the wrong tram and spending 30 minutes getting back to Pessac Centre (clot!) Zooming off to the dump with a few more years' worth of worthless papers. Hunting for clip-on sunglasses for Pat at Decathlon. The rocade running at a snail's pace - let's hope the doctor is running behind again. She was. Hurrah! She's happy still. Drop off the car and home. Try to sleep. Is it really still 36°? (I don't think it was, but it felt like it)

Yeah, well, just stop

We're not easy to help. No, honestly. We just had word that our allowance should be revised in the next few months, and instead I am wondering whether we could divert the raise into a project to hire rooms for the church... OK. Stop, Alan. Stop.

A family bereavement

My brother-in-law has died after a sudden decline following a stroke he suffered last year. Thinking especially of my sister and their two lads and their families.

Inscription at the University

Well that was extremely easy, well-organised and quick. Catrin had an appointment time of 10:15 at the University, so we took the 9:30 tram because we weren't entirely sure where we had to present ourselves. 9:45 we entered the reception area of Bordeaux Montaigne, where a charming student told us to join the queue on the other side of the building. After perhaps 10 minutes of queuing we got to a table where they checked all the documents Catrin had brought, and all was OK. Then 5 minutes later we were at the counter where everything was sorted, filed and Catrin was given her Certificats de Scolarité, access codes for internet and the library and a receipt for the tuition fees of 190 euros listing where all had been spent. Then 5 minutes later Catrin's Carte Etudiante was done. This card functions as a payment card in the university restaurants as well as giving proof of student status for concerts, rail travel etc. By 11:15 we were home. Amazing!

Inscription at the University

Everyone's up bright and early!

Catrin's timetable

Catrin has had an email from her department with some advance information. There'll be 24 on the Musicology and French Song course. The classes will take place mostly on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. (This means she'll have Wednesdays free if she wants to offer tutoring in English to kids, etc.) Then there's a concert in October where the department has been invited to orchestrate and accompany Michel Jonasz. Since this is just after the start of term students have been invited to do some extra introductory orchestration courses during the holidays.

Looks like we'll make it!

I just got another message from a ministry asking for donations so they can meet their budget. It used to be just in December, but now it's summer, too. I know that it's OK to make your needs known, and I know that there are cultural differences in the way we do these things, us Brits and our transatlantic brothers, but ... However, in the context of our dwindling finances, I suddenly smiled the other day. Every year since 2005 has been just a bit more difficult. Sometimes very difficult. However, by reducing our expenditure bit by bit we are still here! Our goal has so far been to make it through another ten years here, however touch and go. The house move will help that. That's why we can't take on board people's suggested criteria like "you need space for people to come", or "with a nice view", or "in the very heart of Bordeaux". We need to find somewhere we can afford with a landlord who is willing to rent to foreigners. We&

An encouraging message

You know I said I wasn't going to do weddings any more? Well I had this message the other day from a chap who I married a few years ago. The girl was a christian, but he not, but for reasons I won't go into it was pretty obvious that they should marry and that I should conduct the wedding. He was a really nice guy, an old-fashioned French lad, I very much liked him, and they moved away fairly soon after the wedding. Anyway he contacted me to say that a few months ago he became a Christian, and to ask if there was any advice I could give him.

The Notaire and the pilgrimage

This morning began with a super tram ride from France-Alouette to Galin, way over on the rive droite to see the Notaire. I wanted to see her about our will and also about selling the house. She was very relaxed, friendly and efficient and I came out with a little list of things to do. On the tram on the way back as we pulled out of Bougnard towards France-Alouette a man jumped up in alarm. "This tram doesn't go to Pessac?" "Yes, to Pessac Alouette." "Not to Pessac Centre?" "No. This tram is for Pessac Alouette." He ran to the driver's compartment and called through the glass. "You don't go to Pessac Centre?" "No, to Pessac Alouette." "But I need to go to Pessac Centre." "You have to look on the tram - the destination is displayed." "But I didn't see it." (Not only that, but every so often in the tram a nice lady's voice says "Ligne B. Destination Fr

Famous last words

Be a nice, calm, quiet day, today, I thought. Time for some proper old-fashioned sermon prep, I thought. Pat's out for coffee, Catrin's sleeping off the excitement of graduation, I thought. I can even clear yesterday's things to do list, I thought. Then chaos and madness broke out again. Oh well. Maybe I am not suited to nice, calm, quiet days.

Bookshop and graduation

Yesterday I was at the Maison de la Bible from 10 till 6, covering in the afternoon for my colleague, Jean. We shut at 6 then have to do the end of day computer stuff, which takes about 20 minutes, and sometimes fails on the last step.  When that happens all you can do is turn the pc off and back on again, wait a few minutes and try again. Yesterday evening I was in a hurry. Catrin's lycée is a normal, state-funded, French lycée, but she is in the American section of the Option Internationale au Baccalauréat, and they like to do things the American way, so they had a graduation ceremony. At 7 we assembled in the courtyard of the school. At one end was a barbecue gently heating up and at the other ballons, bunting and stars and stripes. M. Raskauskas, in his finest French and wearing his Statue of Liberty tiara and stars and stripes bow-tie, explained what was going to happen and once everyone was ready the students went off to change into their graduation robes - ponchos of bla

She got mention Bien, with an average of 72% !

85% in Chinese. 90% in Music. Graduation tomorrow at Lycée François Magendie. Next stop, the Fac.

A big day in the Davey household

Catrin gets her bac results. It doesn't quite have the stress-factor of results day in the UK because to get into university all you need is to pass, and she's pretty sure to have passed. but still... it's good to have a mention (assez bien, bien, très bien) and if you get très bien, which means an 80% average or more, then the region will give you a small scholarship. Catrin has done a very difficult bac - for example she did French (of course), English (of course); Spanish and Chinese . She also added in the music option. Whatever her result, it would be hard to be more proud of her than we already are. On another different note, today is the day that after 9 years of active participation in the UNEPREF I have asked for my name to be removed from the list of pasteurs associés. We don't work in UNEPREF circles any more, we aren't members of a UNEPREF church any more and I think it's unlikely we'll ever return to the denomination. Not only that,

The good news - and the bad news

The good news I saw the lawyer lady and she explained stuff and answered my questions and it turns out things are not quite so complicated as I thought. Good. Gwilym can stay attached to our family for financial purposes, which means he counts against our tax etc... but because he lives in London we don't have to pay council tax for him. The bad news While I was out Patricia was cleaning up the patio ready for the arrival of the ladies for lunch, and the handle of the broom broke and gouged her finger. Harriette came racing to the rescue and took her to the local hospital's hand unit where they are currently operating to see what the damage is and what needs to be done, if anything. Much later - the latest news Pat just got home. They made her shower in betadine and prepared her for surgery. She got a telling-off from a nurse because she had eaten while waiting at the hospital. They took her into the operating theatre and made her lie on the operating table. Ever

Off to get legal advice about house sale and finances for the coming ten years

Now that we have two adult children studying at the university, and now that we propose to sell our house and rent a small flat and now that Catrin also has a project of living independently of us while at university we need help and advice on how we could conceivably achieve this. So I'm off to see a lawyer recommended by a friend. Lawyers in France are still in the ancien régime, before the revolution, so I have to address her as oui maître, non maître, trois poches pleines maitre. I'll practice on the bus.

We get the picture


When you only listen with half an ear...

" Cécilia Bartoly qui, dans ce rôle, est étourdissante, ainsi que..." Me to Catrin, "doesn't that mean deafening?" Catrin, eyes gazing upward, "no, that's assourdissante" Me to Catrin, "oh yeah..."

Why I preach from a Mindmap

The excellent folks at 9 Marks have sparked a little discussion about preaching from manuscripts or from notes. Jason Dees, writing in the 9Marks Journal on page 34, here , says we must manuscript our sermons because we are not as smart as we think we are. His good friend, Doctor David Prince, writing here , says that we must NOT manuscript our sermons because we are not as smart as we think we are. I long since gave up all hope of ever being "smart" in any sense whatsoever, and I note that Doctor David Prince has a doctorate, so perhaps this is a moment where the smart man holds his tongue, caps his pen and twiddles his fingers. But hey... I preach from a Mind-map. I've now done it for probably almost 20 years. Firstly I'll tell you how this came about, then I'll tell you what I think the advantages are. How ever did you think of preaching from Mind-maps? Well it all came about on a British Telecom Management Training Course way back in the 1980s, w

Planning together ... and being together?

I can't tell you wonderful it is, how exciting it is, how amazing it is, to sit together and plan. We start with one idea, and discuss freely, and we finish together with something else, related to what we started with, but better, more cohesive, more realistic, more ... just more better! Yes, I know it's normal, but it isn't always like that, is it... One thing though. I MIGHT be being just a little bit stubborn, and I MIGHT be giving some folk the wrong impression. The question concerns a group in Bordeaux that some think should fuse with us at Bordeaux Church. The idea of fusing the groups was mentioned perhaps two years ago. I was not against the idea, but I wasn't really for it either, because the other group has a clear, definite and quite strong identity that I think is worth keeping. Other ways of preserving that identity have been mooted, and it could be done. Anyway the idea of fusing the groups has been mentioned again by a couple of people, and

This morning is the great wardrobe clear-out

If I have not worn it in the last year, and it is not clothes for special occasions (jacket, etc.) then out it goes.

A night at the Opera

To celebrate the end of Catrin's exams on Tuesday she and Pat went to see Far from the Madding Crowd, and last night she and I went to see Cecilia Bartoly in Rossini's Le Comte Ory at the same cinema. Bus or tram?

Some photos of the Maison de la Bible seminaire in the Alps

and one of people doing some kind of tai-chi thing in our local park

Twenty-six weeks = six months = boy, did we do something very, very wrong

Be encouraged or totally shattered here