Showing posts from November, 2015

Well, there we are, gone!

Our neighbour paused in the driveway. "That's it? It's today?" And it was. I traipsed off at 7:30 to get the Citiz car and discovered that our mound of books for disposal had collapsed, so before the men could arrive I had to fight my way into the lounge and re-erect the pile, then clear the big table, seal up a few boxes and bags etc... The chaps arrived and were surprised at how little we were taking. I explained that we were quite severely downsizing and they got to work loading the van. They were a nice bunch and we chatted about working in MacDonalds, work in the USA versus work in France, and so on and so forth. By about 10 the vans were packed and we set off for the flat. By about 11:30 the first van was empty and it was time for a lunch break. The rest was completed by about 14:00, I wrote a rather large cheque and suggested that the chaps head for the Spanish border. They said that they probably wouldn't get all that far on it, and I had to agree.

Moving day

Blue skies! Nice temperatures. Pleasant team. Savage thinning of books and stuff before packing. Thankful!

Well if I hadn't seen it myself I would never have believed it.

I have dramatically reduced my library. In sorting and packing books I have put about 2/3 for resale, perhaps by the Anglican Christmas Fate, and just about 1/3 of them for keeping. We should have lots of space on our bookshelves. I have also decided to jettison all my CDs and DVDs. Almost all are in my iTunes library anyway. Other music I can obtain by streaming. There we are. The decision is taken. I do not regret it and I shall not regret it.

Well I am totally baffled

I gazed long and hard at the election posters outside a local school, but I can't make head nor tail of the parties any more. There seem to be about four different parties that include the word "Republican" in their name, so I couldn't even be sure which party was Alain Juppé's. I was puzzled by the presence of the gaullistes - surely that's Juppé's party? And as for the party for the Spirit of the Resistance... I am so confused that I am very glad that I don't have a vote because I'd be baffled.

Positives, negatives and not sures

Positives 12 people at the Bible Study last night and that worked fine. Every chair taken. Also we don't hear the cars leaving from the subterranean carpark. We don't hear the traffic either. Also SFR really pulled it off and came up trumps. We signed up on Wednesday and the modem arrived and the internet was working on Thursday. Negatives We do hear the water flow from upstairs' shower. Not sure yet It's weird having a doorbell.

Getting by with a little help from our friends

James recently constructed the same bed as Catrin's and is coming to finish it off while I pack books in boxes. Michael has been appointed chief of dump team, and will ferry rubbish to the recycling centre. Sally is coming to help with packing stuff in boxes. Others have also volunteered and will probably be organised into their ranks and brigades this evening.

What a difference!

We bought a new mattress and duvet. Or mattress was about 11 years old and our duvet perhaps 23.  It made an unbelievable difference!

And another one!

So the day began with prayer and planning with the three wise men at Nico's flat, then quickly, hop on the bus to Grangeneuve to be at the flat when the chaps deliver the Ikea fridge-freezer and Catrin's bed. I had not long got on the bus when they phoned me to say that they were running early and would arrive in about 20 minutes. I told them that I wasn't and wouldn't, so I got to the flat just before the scheduled rendez-vous of 13:00 and they arrived soon after. They got the stuff into the flat and I then proceeded to change the hinges on the fridge-freezer so it opened from the correct side, then I started to build the bed. RATS! One of the screws was so hard to screw in that the head got mangled... Oh well, I can put the one from the centre in its place and leave the centre without a screw. RATS! The screw from the centre was just as tough and the head got mangled. Oh well, there was nothing for it. I'll have to take a trip to Ikea to get new

That was a day and a half!

So the removal men are booked for next Monday. Meanwhile I tried to master the heating system in the flat. We also moved one or two things over. We collected LOTS of boxes for books. We took a load of stuff to the recycling centre. W collected some more fire wood for the wood-stove. I cancelled my eye-test, due the morning of the house-move. I made another appointment for an eye-test for a week later. Now I'm having a cup of tea.

How do you know when it's time to move?

Well one clue might be when the hanging rail of your wardrobe collapses, dropping your clothes onto the shoes below. We do not plan to take the wardrobes with us or even to sell them. They were bargain basement chipboard wardrobes. Just as well.

It's junk

Lots of things that you bought over the years become utterly worthless. DVDs! Nobody buys second-hand DVDs any more. Books! Many of them are worthless and unwanted. You have to steel yourself to just throw them away for recycling. It's a strong argument for streaming, for rental and for libraries!

Mrs Davey's birthday meal

When we move - and we hope to install ourselves in the flat by the end of this week - we will miss our local parks, that's for sure. We'll have the Pape Clément vineyards in exchange, but they aren't quite the same. We'll also miss one particular local restaurant. Not that we've been there often. Perhaps three or four times in nine years! But each time we've been there it's been pretty special. Binh Dong is a Vietnamese restaurant, and until recently was the number one restaurant in Pessac according to TripAdvisor. It's REALLY SMALL and for the evening you have to book in advance. We hadn't realised just how popular it was, but when I phoned yesterday we were told that we could have a table for three at 9:30, so that's what we did. The proprietor is a warm, friendly man and he greets you like long-lost friends. We were installed at our table and they brought us some little bruschetta while we waited for the waiter to come and take our

Star Wars Cantina

No, not that one

Mini Clubmans everywhere! (or should that be "Minis Clubman everywhere"?)

On the way back from the tram stop we saw a Mini Clubman somewhere infelicitously parked on top of the traffic island, it's rear wheels off the ground, its weight resting firmly on the underside of the bodywork. I'd like to hear the noise when it tries to drive away. Come to think of it, I probably will, even though it is a few blocks away. 50 yards further on was another Mini Clubman in the same insistent colours. Mrs Davey was surprised. 100 yards further on, yet another. Mrs Davey was unnerved. What's going on?

Guillaume Bignon was an atheist rock musician. He is now a theologian living currently in New York.

French ex-atheist: only God can make sense of the evil in Paris Nov 2015 Theologian Guillaume Bignon  used to be an atheistic Parisian.  He explains how his Christian faith makes sense of the attacks When the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris reached New York where I currently live, I started receiving many touching messages from my American friends. I realised that as a French citizen now living in New York, I was very much the lens through which they see my people, and I was pleased to see how much they cared for me and hence for France. I was also pleased to announce to them that my family and friends in Paris had been spared, but that my country had been seriously hit. This is a time to grieve and process events emotionally, but as a theologian, I was also asked how, intellectually, these attacks would be processed in such a secular (and thoughtful) culture as that of my beloved France. In fact, within hours of the attacks  French atheist and Charlie Hebdo ca

Just to elucidate...

I am not sure that our politicians are on the right track... M. Hollande speaks about France being at war, and about armies of terror. We've launched sizeable attacks on particular sites in Syria. However, wars are conducted by states, nations and governments. They send armies of soldiers, trained and organised, into battle for well-defined aims. The terrorists who shot innocent people indiscriminately or exploded their suicide vests were not soldiers. They were not armed representatives of a hostile state. They were ruffians, criminals, with their courage apparently bolstered by amphetamines, they were sent by gangs of brigands and pirates to wreak havoc in the streets of Paris like some gang of berserkers. They have no legitimacy. They have no right to be dignified with words like army or soldier. Let's call a spade a spade and a cut-throat gang-member a lout and a criminal. Let's pursue them with all the force of the law, but don't let's speak of

The victims have faces

Our local newspaper is the Sud-Ouest, and it is a very fine journal. I get its headlines sent to me by email and I follow it on twitter, too. One current thread of tweets is very heartrending. With the hashtag "The victims have faces" #lesvictimesontunvisage the newspaper is identifying those killed at the Bataclan. Of course, it was a heavy metal concert, so the dead are young people, and each photo tells of a life cut violently short. Meanwhile one of the dead was a lecturer in Fine Art at Catrin's university. He taught in the same building where Catrin studies, though on a different floor. Today is the third of three days of mourning, and yesterday at noon a minute's silence was observed across the Gironde before singing unaccompanied the Marseillaise. I find it hard to love the Marseillaise as a tune or as a poem, but some of its words seem very apt just now: Allons enfants de la Patrie, Arise, children of the Fatherland, Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Man, everything is so FRUSTRATING!

Still... So we have the keys to the flat. We have the Electricity supply in our name. Yesterday morning we put the water supply in our name. Thankfully I had photographed the meter, because there's a code on it that Eau de Bordeaux needed. Next job was to talk to the removal firm before going to Ikea for bedding. A friend had used a super removal firm and highly recommended them, so I phoned them. And got no answer. Their website had a facility to leave a message, so I did that. We had lunch. We decided to go to Ikea. On the way back from Ikea, in the Citiz car, my phone rang in my pocket. We were stuck, I couldn't answer it. It was an unrecognised number and they didn't leave a message. Oh well. This morning was prayer and planning morning. So this afternoon I tried the different office of the same removal firm, the further one from the other side of Bordeaux. They'll come to do a quote next Monday. Phew! Meanwhile we are considering shipping o

Paris attacks

Last night I preached again for the Chinese group. A much smaller group this time. They must have told them I was coming. One of the girls there has a friend who was shot in the Paris attacks. She went to the rock concert at the Bataclan. When the gunmen started firing she at first thought it was part of the show, but she quickly realised that it was very bad, so she tried to flee but was hit with two bullets in the abdomen. She is OK. They removed the bullets in hospital and she's physically fine.

Paris attacks

We went to bed early after a few late nights recently, and I woke up to questions on my phone, "What's the latest on Paris?" Please pray for wisdom for the government, efficiency and insight for the security forces, for defeat for evildoers and for peace for the city of Paris and for all of France. A Prayer in the Time of War and Tumult: "O ALMIGHTY God, King of all kings, and Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; abate their pride, assuage their malice, and confound their devices; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."  The Book of Common Prayer


EDF, the electricity company, have a splendid showroom in Pessac, so rather than speak on the phone to someone in a call centre in South America I thought I would just go along there. They have these marvellous cubicles with sprawling, curved sofas and hi-tech screens and a super reception area. I entered. An older man and a young woman were stood in the reception area shuffling papers. "Hallo", we all said. I explained that were moving house to a new apartment and needed to keep the contract for our house till the sale goes through. It was no problem at all. I was equipped with my customer number as well as the Electric Meter number for the flat. They were impressed. All in all it took about an hour of discussion, of form-filling on the hi-tech screen, of discussion of insurance, power ratings, the size of the water tank and so on. The energy study of the flat estimated an electricity bill of 43€ a month. EDF estimates 98€. I think the real figure will lie somewhere

So why didn't he write you a prescription?

I am not sure that this shingles has gone away. Which means no flu jab. Apparently this year's vaccine isn't that good, perhaps 23% efficient. And a friend recommends a complicated homeopathic reinforcement of the immune system instead. Oh OK, then. So he wrote out again the three remedies you need, and the instructions. He's a retired doctor, so I can barely make out any of the letters in his handwriting, but he explains to me as well. And off I went to the pharmacy. The pharmacist looked at the list. He, of course, could read the scrawl perfectly easily. "So why didn't he write you a prescription?" "Uh, I don't know." (I did really. He's retired. He's about 80) "What difference would it make?" "It's completely refunded by the health service." "Really? It wouldn't be in the UK. The NHS has no faith in homeopathy." "The NHS also does not have an 8 billion euro deficit." I'

When the rock star comes to the Bible study

"We're just passing through Bordeaux on mission and we'd love even to meet up for a coffee", said the email. I reflected briefly. No. No time to haul myself off for a coffee. But we did have the Bible Study yesterday evening, so I invited them along. Later that day Patricia sent me a message: "Guess who just came into the bookshop." I guessed in one. So at seven three fellers turned up. Andy the rock star, along with Jeff and Rick. Basically from Calvary Chapel with a smidgin of Assemblies of God mixed in, Jeff is seriously considering moving his family to France to serve here, perhaps in Bordeaux. They were fun, serious, lively, sober, just great. The Bible study went fine. We spent longer than we intended and didn't finish all the set passage. It was Ephesians 1:15-23, however, and an ambitious mine to plunder in one evening. Afterwards us other guys chatted while the girls mobbed the rock star and he showed them photos of his family. Again, I re

La remise des clés

November arrived today, 12 days late but foggy, chilly and grey. I got a Citiz car and rolled along home to pick up our new bathmat, shower curtain and stuff. Oh, and Patricia. Then we hied us away to the new flat. A bit of hanging around because we got there early, then we tagged on to the previous new tenant as she was shown the underground carpark, the bike cupboards and the bins area and stuff. Then we went to see the flat. All nice and new, the kitchen fitted and ready for washing machines, ovens etc. Cupboards so clean and empty and so on. We turned on all the heating and it all heated up. We turned on all the lights and they all worked except the one outside on the patio. We found out that the gardeners will cut the hedges but we have to cut the lawn so we'll need to get a small mower and to take our garden cupboard to hide it in. We put up the shower curtain and put the towels in the drawer. Then we signed here, there and there, got the sundry and divers keys an

Book review - The Secret Life of a Pastor

I received a kindle format review copy of "The Secret Life of a Pastor (and other intimate letters on ministry)" by Michael A Milton published by Christian Focus. Reading this book reminded me that the Atlantic Ocean is very deep and wide. It is written in the guise of letters from an experienced pastor to seminarians and adresses a wide range of questions in pastoral ministry. Things like training, the biblical languages, priorities in ministry, family life, preaching, infant baptism, rest, dryness and burnout are discussed. The advice is always good and given graciously. Some of the chapters will do European pastors a whole lot of good! Some things surprise, however. I had never thought of infant baptism as a major way of fulfilling the Great Commission, and even now I struggle with the removal of half of the "Go. Teach. Baptise. Teach". Sometimes it is not so easy to see how the book applies in a European context. We're in the world of "boards",

Chick-Fil-A has come to Lyon, apparently

No! No! No!


We're shopping for one. Woohoo! Now we need something portable and kind of robust and stuff, because we don't have our own place. Anyone have any suggestions?

Another step in the culture of grace

One of the things we need to be at Bordeaux Church is a training ground for future workers. Of course, this happens in various ways and at different levels. Preaching through John should encourage us all to hone our skills at explaining the gospel to people. Reading, discussing and praying together in pairs and small groups is like little seminar groups. The list could go on, but we need more focused training opportunities, too. Some of our guys could do with preaching - perhaps for the first time. To preach with us would be much less daunting than in their megachurches with the stellar pastors back home. And our women have real potential, too. We need to provide appropriate next step training opportunities for people, with the understanding that it's OK to mess it up, though I think they know that already from our example :-D .

Ikea Bunks

When we arrived in France we bought two sets of Ikea Svârta bunks, so that the kids could have friends to stay overnight. They have been great over the years - as solid now as the day we first put them together all those years ago. Now we want Catrin to have a slightly more conventional bed - we're getting a single that transforms into a double, so it's time to sell the bunks. The first set went a couple of weeks ago. The second set is scheduled to go this afternoon, but last night as I took them apart I realised that several of the screws were missing - some that held the mattress-bed to the frame and all the attachments for the ladder. I indicated this in the advert and lowered the price a bit. Anyway, this morning I scuttled off to Ikea to get mattresses for Catrin's bed (the bed will wait till we move into the flat) and remembered that they used to stock spare screws. I asked the lady. They still do. Bruno at the customer service counter was very helpful. He bro

Selling things on the Bon Coin

Next phase in furniture reduction : put sofa, bunks, wooden garden table and chairs and doll's house on the Bon coin . Problem. What price to ask... Well the bunks are solid and come with mattresses. There are always lots of bunks on the site so you can see what they are going for. In addition our bunks have some of the screws missing, so we knock off a bit for that. The sofa is American and very solid. We have had it about twenty years, however, and there are places where the cloth has lost some of its texture. OK. Finger in the air on that one. The doll's house is solidly made and in very good condition. Finger in the air. The garden table and chairs. Well this we bought in a sale when we first came to France because we needed something quickly. However I have never loved it, the chairs are those funny angled uncomfortable things and the table legs are awkwardly placed, too. OK. Finger in the air. The adverts go live: We could have sold the salon de jardin six t

OK - A week today we get the keys of the new apartment!

Meanwhile I still don't know whether we should just switch internet provider to the cable company whose cable/fibre optic is installed in the flat, or whether to order a phone line and get our current provider to move our connection over. Also meanwhile our buyers came round yesterday with a window guy and a kitchen fitter to measure up for new windows, a new opening into the back garden and a new kitchen. They're ready to go mid-December. We can be ready to go mid-December, but will the lawyers be ready to go mid-december? Good question!

OK. Time to get our skates on!

I popped into the insurance agency today to make an appointment to insure the flat. One of the folk was available, so we sorted it out on the spot. Bang. Wonderful! Then off to the flat to see what has been done to the garden. They appear to have seeded it all with grass. I took some photos. Then home where I discovered a message from the estate agent. The buyers are ready to exchange, so could we bring the exchange date forward to 15 December. I said we could, then phoned our notaire to see if they can! This means lots of dumping and selling, booking a removal firm and various other little jobs to do.

GBU Weekend

From Friday to Sunday I was at the weekend of the GBU, speaking three times. The theme was "Love your neighbour as yourself" and I took three passages - John 13, then John 4, then 2 Corinthians 5. It was a great weekend with 30 or so great students from Bordeaux, Toulouse, Pau, Agen and Rodez.. About 8 of them are regular Bordeaux Church people and perhaps another 3 or 4 come occasionally, so "we" made up a quarter to a third of the folk there. And the weekend was held in beautiful surroundings.