Showing posts from 2016

2016 - a litany of deaths

It was interesting earlier this year to preach on Genesis 5, a litany of deaths with the constant refrain, "and then he died...". 2016 has seen the death of a long list of celebrities, young and old, from screen, stage and song. I think it's fair to say that lots of people have expressed their protests in the media. Even Fidel Castro, who apparently survived over 600 assassination attempts, found that 2016 was too strong for him and got him in the end. 2016 bit hard in my family, too. We knew a tragic and sudden death that hit us with great force. 2017 won't be any better. Why should it? There are still lots of celebrities left and death is still as widespread as ever - 100% mortality rate, they tell me. A year like 2016 is valuable and important. We are confronted by the reality of death, and we try to cope with it in different ways. Sometimes we defy it : 'death is nothing'. Sometimes we try to ignore it and forget it. Sometimes we glorify it, whethe

My family does not eat cake

Hey, it's not my fault!

Farewell to Dan

I took the keys back. It was not without incident. I suppose I arrived at the restaurant at about 3 in the afternoon and the grill was open but the door was locked. The lights were on, a computer was turned on on a table, but there was nobody around. I knocked. No answer. Meanwhile a woman was hanging out of an upstairs window across the narrow street crying. I phoned the restaurant and got the answering machine. A man came round the corner and yelled instructions and insults to the woman. "Die, son of a prostitute," he cried. She threw a glass down at him, which shattered and spread shards all over the street. I sent a message to Jérôme via sms and Facebook. "Phone the police!" yelled the woman. And say what, exactly, I though to myself. The man periodically left and returned, repeating his instructions and insults to the woman. He noticed me and decided I was calling the police and taking photos. I assured him that I was waiting for the restaura

Christmas thoughts - food

It's hard to imagine Christmas without especially nice food, be it wintry cakes with lots of dried fruit, or rich puddings, or good meats, or roast vegetables. I am sure a lot of this is from old practical customs - because of the cold season you need more calories! And because harvest is past and there is little that is fresh, then you need to eat things preserved by drying, sugaring or curing. In warmer climates the customs are different. Here in France Christmas dinner has a large element of seafood - shellfish or lobsters - as well as various kinds of poultry - capons, guinea-fowl, geese, ducks etc... Christians are sometimes ambivalent towards Christmas. We can't be sure of the date. There's this suspicious coincidence with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. There's all the materialism and consumerism. And then surely all that fat and sugar isn't good for you. So some avoid Christmas like the plague. Others argue that it is too good an opportun

Some Christmas Eve Dvořák

8th symphony.

Back on track

This morning I went out running again, after a two week break. The first break was after I phoned the doctor and she told me to see her the following day and meanwhile to rest all day with my feet up. This had two effects - firstly I learned how annoying it is to rest all day with your feet up and secondly I put off going running till I had the all clear from my blood tests, which happened on the Thursday. The break continued because of late nights and consequent lie-ins! The early morning runner needs to get to bed on time. Anyway, I got back out there this morning and, apart from sluggishness, it felt good!

Some Christmas thoughts - loss

This Christmas especially I am thinking about friends and family who are spending Christmas without their better half - perhaps for the first time. And other friends whose better half is victim to dementia and in that twilight world of not being really present but not being absent either. Some have the bittersweet experience of happy memories of past years. Some have the assurance of a better eternity to come, reunited with their loved one at Jesus' feet. For all of them Christmas brings pleasure and pain, warmth and a chill, smiles and hidden tears. For us all Christmas demands patience and understanding, as well as cheer and festivity.

Joy to the world


A taste of a British Christmas

It's a rum do, this music thing. We were engaged to go and sing for a Christmas evening when some friends and colleagues who are engaged in street evangelism here invited friends and neighbours round for a Christmassy evening. We had to sing "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer" as a family, then lead everyone in singing "Oh little town of Bethlehem" and "Silent night", this latter in French. It was a pleasant evening and I got to know our friends' neighbour, who works in information technology.

The first Day of Christmas

Gwilym our son is with us at the moment. He arrived on Saturday with his girlfriend, Beth, who is also a student at the London School of Theology. Beth returns to the UK on Friday so we decided to have a phased Christmas this year. Today was the first Day of Christmas. This entailed: . The postman bringing parcels of 480 PG Tips tea bags - that will keep us going for about 3 months, I reckon. He also brought some jars of really good chutney. I'd forgotten how good really good chutney is. . The opening of the stockings and one present. . Christmas dinner. We got a nice, free-range corn-fed chicken from a local store and we ate very well. Dessert was French-style, an ice-cream log. . A snacky tea of Waitrose "stollen bites" and a mince pie. . Playing Monopoly and Bananagrams although we did not go for the planned walk to the gardens of Château Pape Clément, it has nevertheless been a nice day.

Thanks for clearing that up!

One of our neighbours, an elderly lady, said to Pat, "Come with me". Pat followed her into the bathroom... "That is a shower . What you have is a bath ."

The last Friday night of the year

Christmas Carols, short reflection on Luke 2:8-14, prayer time, jacket potatoes and Christmas cookies. Then hugs as folk leave, some for good...

Carols by Candlelight

Blood test results back

All seems fine.

Off to be bled

I had the prescription for my annual blood test - my doctor likes to know what's coursing through my veins - she said, "We need to get that done now." So off I trotted at about 7am to the local blood-letting parlour which is just at the end of the vineyards. By 8am I was back home having left my samples for testing and bought a nice pastry for breakfast for being a good boy and bleeding nicely. The results will land in my email this afternoon, I expect. This is what I saw on my way:

Carols at the Palais Gallien

All went off well. It was happy, direct, honest, straightforward, Word-centred, friendly and we had some great cakes! People brought family and friends. Some people just came from invitations etc. It was a good occasion. Thanks for praying!

The Minister's Fainting Fits

Here's a funny one. We'd just opened up at Dan on Sunday and three new folk arrived, from Réunion Island. As I was getting to know them a little I was aware that I had lost part of the sight in my right eye. Or at least that that part of my field of view was not clear. I blinked and rubbed. No, it wasn't tears. Maybe some strange retinal problem. I could still see, however. I said nothing and carried on. Then during the service I had a paragraph to read from Acts 2 in French. Much to my horror, I read it like a 10-year old, or possibly like someone with dyslexia. I skipped words, read things that made no sense to me, then realised what it said and had to go back over it. I realised that something was wrong, and I was concerned, but there wasn't anything anyone could do, so I carried on. "That was a struggle!", said Pat. "Yes," I said. By the end of the service I was feeling OK again. It had lasted about 1/2 hour. In the tram on the way home I

"Throw away your cheap running shoes"

This was the title the inimitable Tim Challies used for an article based on Hebrews 12. His title provoked a reaction from some people who can't afford expensive running shoes! Maybe the text needs some careful reflection in order to bridge the gulf between the world of the 1st century despised apostles and the world of 21st century first-world Christians who jog. It made me laugh, anyway. And it set me thinking about my running shoes. Soon I will have been running for a year. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write! And it is recommended that you replace your running shoes after a certain distance, in my case that works out to about a year. When we started running we both bought the cheapest shoes that our local Decathlon had. Mine are a kind of pale bluey grey, with white soles. The thought was that if we didn't continue running we would not have made a huge investment in paraphernalia. We could always buy better shoes later on if we needed to. And the shoe

Fürchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir

At Aberystwyth I sang this with the Bach Society Choir. The same evening we did Cantata 4, Christ lag in Tödesbanden. At the time I thought it was entirely normal to sing Bach motets for double choir, and settings by Pergolesi, Schubert, Wolf, etc.. while a student. I'm only now realising how privileged I was!

Overnigh dodes

Lots of recipes are being suggested for overnight oats. I always eat porage for breakfast and I am very happy to continue doing so, ringing the changes by adding mashed banana, sliced pears and a couple of squares of chocolate, etc... But never let it be said that I am an old-guard stick-in-the-mud reincarnation of Colonel Blimp, living in the past and unwilling to try anything new! I tried overnight oats. This is what you do (for the recipe I tried): In a jar you put a teaspoonful of peanud budder (peanut butter) and a teaspoonful of honey. (They also added chia and flax seeds, but there is reason!) Then you add 3/4 cup of milk and shake as if your life depended on it. This will disperse the peanud budder throughout the milk (ha ha! the glob of peanud budder just sank.) You then add 1/2 cup of oats, screw the top on the jar and leave in the fridge overnight before eating in the morning. Well it was OK. I may try this again in the high summer when the thought of hot oats

Ce n'est pas essentiel

Two things spark this brief reflection: 1) A tweet from John Stevens saying this: I genuinely didn't know that the FIEC is a network of complementarian churches. Or maybe I knew it was de facto , but not de jure . Anyway, I guess this is specified somewhere in the confessionnal documents. 2) A recent CNEF meeting where significant growth and direct preaching was noted in one of the institutional churches of Bordeaux. Many evangelicals are finding a home there. Someone asked about the issue of same-sex marriage. I remarked that while the denomination had approved same-sex marriages, individual parishes and clergypersons were not obliged to perform them. "She's already done some! She's already done some!" came the quick and loud reply. And the evangelicals think? "It's not of the essence! It's not of the essence!" It's all very interesting, isn't it. I suppose we draw lines in the sand, but then when people cross them we can rub t

The hunt for new premises

Alors... Various folk have made various helpful suggestions: 1) talk to the Université du temps libre 2) talk to the leaders of Eau Vive (a charismatic Catholic group) 3) talk to the hotels 4) talk to the institutional church in the heart of Bordeaux Helpful suggestions all, and behold! as I was in the Maison de la Bible on Tuesday morning the pastor fo the institutional church came in. I didn't recognise her at first, I've only seen her once at a service back during my sabbatical. Anyway, we talked. A couple of things she said stood out from our exchange and communicated the subtext "you, of course, should not exist". Things like, "but you are not a pastor?" "Oh yes I am." "Trained?" "Yes, everything. Fourteen years of pastoral ministry before coming to France." "But how far are we going to go with all these churches...?"   It's clear that the CNEF's goal of a church for 10 000 peo

He came down, from Speak Life


Simonetta Carr's little illustrated biography of Martin Luther

I recently saw that this book was being proposed for review. Now some time ago I read and reviewed Simonetta Carr's little biography of Renée de France - see here - and really liked the book. So I was keen to give her treatment of Luther the once-over. However: 1) it's a book for younger readers (no problem - I was younger in the past) 2) it was being sent out in print to reviewers in the USA. But hey, if ya don' ask ya don' git, and so it was that I received by email the first pages of the book in pdf format - just enough to get to see the writing style, a good look at the type of illustration and the approach that the author adopts. And it's charming. It didn't feel like an infantile read, so I'd suggest younger teens would be a perfect target readership, as well as a suitable coffee-table book to leave around for folk to pick up and leaf through quickly. The sample I got went as far as Luther's studies in law and the thunderstorm experience,

And the next one please!

I'm almost back to normal. Almost. Meanwhile Mrs. Davey came home from her day in the bookshop floored by a body blow from a cold that she has been brewing for a few days. The poor thing, she is suffering gravely. Catrin's OK, however. Meanwhile we were waiting for a delivery from Amazon. Chronopost very helpfully tell you when they are coming. Between 12:35 and 13:35. So after a couple of errands I made sure I was in. At 12:50 Chronopost sends another message. "We have put your large and heavy parcel in a little supermarket just a kilometer and a half away. Have a nice day." Great! So after some phone calls establishing that "everyone is very sorry about it and nobody can do anything about it and yes, you'll either have to walk three kilometers to get the thing, lugging it back somehow or hire a car, have a nice day" I have been left disillusioned with Amazon, with Chronopost, with the whole sorry outfit. So I went to see my new friend E

This wretched 'flu vaccine

So I am like an old crock. My ribs hurt on my left side because of applying some force so that Pat could bolt the kitchen door at Dan. My neck has seized up after the session of massage. I have frequent bouts of shivering and aches everywhere, especially the head, because of the 'flu jab. This is not turning out to be the brightest week of my life, not yet, anyway. Still, as quoth the immortal bard, "even the bad times are good". And it gives me the opportunity to rehearse the riches of how to express annoyance in French: Ça m'énerve. Ça m'agace. Ça me gêne. Ça m'incommode. Ça me fâche. Ça me daille. Ça me casse les pieds. Ça me prend la tête. Ça m'irrite. Ça me gonfle. Some of these are informal, some are regional. And there are more that I have not recalled.

At La Grande Poste

I had a rendez vous with a friend who wants to buy a computer and needs me to translate for him - nothing to do with French - just that he is the least tech-savvy person I have ever met, so ... well you know. Anyway on the way I decided to check out La Grande Poste. This splendid place is an old post office that has been turned into a kind of concert hall and restaurant with shops in a gallery above and a couple of salons around the side. I wondered if there might be rooms to let. The place was wonderfully impressive and some trombone brothers are playing there in a couple of weeks' time. It was good to look round, but there's no chance of us using a room there. Meanwhile the owner of the theatre we visited last week is a good egg and has had his thinking cap on. He has come up with various suggestions for us, too. Anyway I managed to steer my informatically-challenged friend towards a tablet rather than a fully-fledged computer, knowing that whatever he ends up with he

At the massage parlour

So in my new resolve to be a good boy and do what the quack says I booked an appointment with a local physiotherapist for 10 (ten) sessions of massage on my neck. I was then thrown into confusion because the physiotherapist has two surnames and one was given in the yellow pages but I had written the other  in my diary so when I checked the address - just to be sure - I was plunged into the most profound uncertainty. But reasoning that surely I'd choose the nearest I went along and, thankfully, got the right place. After some administrative 'ow's yer father I went up the the massage parlour, was told to strip off to the waist and lie on the bench with my nose through the hole. Then the fun began. kneading. pulling. pushing. It was not at all unpleasant. "If I fall asleep you will forgive me." "You will be forgiven, and you will not be the first." I was told to behave better, to elevate the screen of my computer and wear my stupid glasses, stup

They're not very happy this morning

So this morning I learnt that the day after an election it's a good idea to go to Lidl for the weekly shop. The good folk of Pessac were unrestrained in giving their opinion of the result of the election of the presidential candidate for the Republicans (right-wing). They see M. Fillon as a "catho intégriste" (an extreme catholic), as someone who will not be able to resolve the problems facing ordinary people because he represents all the old catholic families who are loaded with money (bourrées de pognon) . They're not keen on Hollande either, especially because of the extreme measures that have come from Valls. I think people here see M. Juppé as a moderate pragmatist who manages to find a way to make things work. I thought about saying that we could be thankful that Mme Fillon is Welsh, but then decided to keep my big Welsh trap shut.


I've always thought of myself as a person with convictions. Oh well.

It's a drag these cold, dark, wet mornings

6:18 - no, I'm not going to go for a run this morning. It'll be a rush anyway today. 6:22 - come on, you're awake, you feel OK, just do it. So I trotted off through the drizzle. Just 3 kilometres this morning, though. Faster than usual, though. I passed a chap running the other way, young, lithe, swift, running with grace. I thought of my crazy friend, Desmond, the evangelist who lives in a van. "What's happened to you?" he said again yesterday, "you've lost a lot of weight, sure you have*" I haven't. Perhaps between 3 and 8 kg. That's not a lot! However: 1) All my life I have inflated in people's memories. I put on weight in their recollection.  This means that almost every time people see me for the first time in months, they think I've lost weight. 2) Redistribution. I'm like a good French steak, whatever colour the outside is I'm pink at heart, and I've redistributed some weight from my haunches to

Boy, I feel like such an old croc!

I have to have a 'flu jab, and to do that the nurse will come to the flat, would you believe! Doctors' surgeries don't have nurses attached, and nurses don't have surgeries. They come to you. I also have to have a physio look at my neck, but for that I'm going to their office! I've been a good boy this afternoon and sorted out appointments for almost everything.


So this morning was the pastorale of the CNEF33, the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France for the Gironde. I had foolishly agreed to bring the "meditation" so I "exhorted them to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace". I told them from Ephesians that how we express our real spiritual unity, accomplished by the Holy Spirit revealed: 1) The triune God 2) My character 3) My commitment to it There were about 25 people there. It was good to see our mates, colleagues and folk from the various churches. You sow and wait and see what God does with things. One guy afterwards said he doesn't have a preacher for the 16th January and could I help them out, so it couldn't have been totally inadmissable, I suppose.

Someone somewhere has suddenly realised that M. Fillon is a practicing Catholic


Ok - the plagiarism thing

I know pastors who have been fired for it. I have seen quarrels over it. Plagiarism in the pulpit. Pastors who download sermons and then deliver them to their folk. Now to put this in context - when I was training for pastoral ministry I remember someone teaching us that when time is short and you're stuck you can do a lot worse than to find a sermon outline from Spurgeon or Whitefield, take the skeleton and put your own flesh on it. This was WAY before we had access to the internet, of course. Many years ago I remember buying a commentary on a particular book of the Bible and being surprised to find structures, approaches, illustrations, sections that I remembered hearing just a few Sundays previously from the preacher in my church. Not only that, but in my early days in Deeside when preaching through Acts I found one particular book so helpful that I wrote to the author and told him, confessing that much of what I said depended largely on the spade work he had done. Tha

Lunch with my friend Didier

My friend Didier is ... shall we say a trifle eccentric ... and now and again he decides to take me out to lunch. His taste in restaurants takes me to places I would never find otherwise, and this lunchtime I found myself in the depths of Bègles. Bègles isn't my favourite suburb of Bordeaux. It's quite famous for its green mayor, the first mayor in France to conduct a same-sex marriage - the supreme court sanctioned him for it and annulled the marriage because it was against the law in those days. However you'd never guess from looking at Bègles that its mayor is green - the town is full of ugly apartment blocks, the new ones built too close together with few trees and wide concrete plazas everywhere. Older places are covered in graffiti. Basically ... well ... you get my drift. Didier lives in a new flat in one of the new areas and he's just got a quote to put blinds up over his window wall because he reckons the people in the flats opposite are fed up of watching

The forthcoming French Presidential Election

Last Sunday was the open vote for the candidate for the Republicans, the broadly right wing party which has in the past been called other things, like the UMP, etc. The name changes are very confusing for me, which explains why I have no idea what party that nice Tim Farron chappie represents in the UK. Anyway. As you can imagine, I look at these things with a mix of feelings. For one thing M. Juppé has served Bordeaux so well, and he represents a moderate, broadly right-wing, liberal kind of outlook. He believes that France has a lot going for it. He doesn't much care what women choose to wear on the beach. He does believe that a woman should have the fundamental right to have her unborn child surgically removed. He doesn't believe in drastic cuts or shock taxes. He's an easy-going, good-humoured kind of guy, and I think his generally benevolent, peace-seeking attitude has contibuted greatly to making Bordeaux the pleasant city it is today. M Fillon is an admirer of

Mrs Davey's birthday

Yesterday was Pat's birthday. HURRAH! With somewhat unfortunate timing the day started with a meeting at Maison de la Bible. These meetings are always a joy, and this time it included a really nice chocolate cake with 25 candles on it (representing Patricia's ceremonial age). We then scuttled off for lunch at a new pancake place that gets decent reviews (I felt it was OK) and a nice long walk up rue Fondaudège to the Palais Gallien before coming home to watch a detective film.

We're moving on

For some time Bordeaux Church has been too big for Dan Restaurant. Dan has 30 chairs. We are often more than 30 people. One evening we were 37. We've prayed and waited for a bigger restaurant to become available, for months and months. But we can't carry on as we are. So we have set a date of 18 December when we will hold our last service at Dan. It will be a time of thanksgiving and of sadness as we say goodbye to a place that has become very significant to us. Please join us in praying for the continued success of Dan Restaurant. Please also join us in praying for a new home! We have one possibility of meeting in the premises of another church in the city. Maybe we need to take a further step forward and look at renting a function room in a hotel? Maybe we need to start thinking about renting our own premises?

It takes it out of you, all this fun

Well this week has been a week of two parts. Firstly, administration . We have two things on the go: our application to Acts29 and our application for French nationality. OK, Acts29. At the weekend, faced with something like 7 hours of video to watch and comment on in paragraphs of 250 - 500 words, I hit the wall. It then transpired that I didn't need to do that part (yay!) so I got back to the rest of the process, having moved from discouraged to merely daunted. People prayed. By Wednesday morning I'd finished my part and by Wednesday afternoon Pat had finished hers. Now, Frenchiness. There is a very handy government website that tells you what forms you need and what supporting documents. So I have a checklist. Some of the documents will be hard to track down, like my parents' birth certificates. I think I know where my father was born, but opinions vary as to my mother's place of birth. Anyway, my sister has found a certificate, so that's OK. Some of the

List six things on which you would not compromise

and give three Biblical references for each. The question put to me is about "basic ministry values", but it struck me as an interesting and useful question. What principles are absolutely non-negotiable? How much does your list reflect your personality and how much your convictions?

Remembrance Day in Pessac


Cats! They drive you nuts!

Catkin (aka Caramel) is messing with my head. In the morning when I am sat at the kitchen table eating my porage and checking emails he comes and asks to be let in through the window. When I open the window he turns round and walks away, while I try and coax him with "Come on! In or out?" I'm renaming him Brexit.

We have now been tenants here for a year

We got the keys in early November of last year. This week has bene marked by a few events: 1) we swapped car parking spaces with a new tenant - or at least we THOUGHT we had An elderly man has just moved into one of the first floor apartments and he called one day last week to ask if he could park his car in our space. Pat was a little puzzled so I left him a note sugessting we meet up to talk about it. Then one day we went down into the car park and saw him - and his car was in our space - or at least we THOUGHT it was. So we talked and arranged to swap spaces - his space is too tight for his ENORMOUS car and as we don't have a car, and the citiz cars we occasionally use are all quite small we thought it would be fine. Well, anyway it turns out that for the past year whenever we have parked a car in the car park we've been using the wrong space! We've been using our neighbour's spot. She doesn't have a car either, so she never noticed. What dummies, e

Well I have made fair progress with administration

Mainly ploughing on with a long application process. Meanwhile Mrs Davey is struggling with a painful herniated disk once more, and has been confined to barracks since Saturday.


Our rice cooker still functions well though it had lost its on / off switch. You had to poke your finger into a hole in the body of the machine and press a little metal plate up or down. It worked but it was hardly satisfactory. Enter Sugru, the amazing modelling paste. I fashioned a new switch out of yellow Sugru and applied it to the little metal plate with the help of the handle of a plastic fork. I then held my breath, hoping that I had not made the switch too thick such that the thing wouldn't work any more. ... It appears that it's OK! Hurrah for Sugru!

Bordeaux boasts the largest independent bookshop in Europe, Chez MOLLAT

It's a real treasure, and if it only had a small cafeteria then it would quickly become my favourite place in the centre of Bordeaux. Watch a special programme about its 120th anniversary, in French, here .

Well, the world has gone nuts

In the UK certain "newspapers" labelled three High Court Judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, "Enemies of the people". I am shocked even as I type it. I guess I didn't realise just how far right the right wing was. Jesus said that those who live by the sword perish by the sword, and history tells us that those who unleash the mob perish by the mob. Meanwhile the US elections take place, and tomorrow will reveal just how crazy the world has become. Oh well, we are only seeing a little of what some of our friends live with day in, day out, year in, year out.

Disturbing news from Villa Koralli

Our neighbour's lawn mower was stolen from the terrace by her window! It appears that we are not as secure as it may have at first appeared. First indications are that entry was effected over a part fo the fence that was not properly re-attached after recent works undertaken in the garden right in front of our neighbour's flat. Our plan is to get one of those big plastic lockable chests in which to store our garden tools to prevent them being taken by the thief who passes in the night.

Ten reasons why I don't like lists

1) They are highly subjective 2) They are inevitably incomplete 3) They give a false impression of order of importance 4) Little great literature takes the form of lists 5) Despite their importance, the Ten Commandments are just a small part of the Bible 6) You almost always forget something 7) You sometimes repeat yourself (see 2 and 6) 8) They're adolescent (see Nick Hornby) 9) They are pretentious - "Ten greatest albums of all time" - yeah, right!!! 10) I can never think of the right number of things to fill the list.

Oh man, what a day!

Poor Patricia. On Friday evening she started to feel ill. All Friday night was punctuated by visits to address herself loudly, kneeling, to the lavatory pan. We think it was a bug. Once she had had one last big final bout at about 4am or 5am she settled down. I, however, was in the bookshop. A friend had offered to replace me but not wanting to phone him before 9am I sent a text message. There came no reply so I hauled myself to the bookshop where several fine and wonderful people nevertheless had the impertinence to require my help or to buy things. Honestly! A call came. Could I stay till 4? Ah no! Not today! So at 1 a redoutable young lady came to take my place and I returned home where I was greatly encouraged by Pat's recovery, by our accompanists and by some baked beans.

Oh man, what a couple of weeks!

I have made no progress with our administration at all. No progress with requesting the final refund for Pat's cataract operation. No progress with Acts29. No progress with French nationality (DEntry). Two weeks ago I spent lots of time helping a friend in a pickle with their administrative problems, which left no time for mine. This week I had three wonderful days off. So tomorrow I must do at least something! I'll go to the insurance office, if it isn't closed... Then Tuesday forge ahead with Acts29 and with DEntry.

Political reflections

No, forget it. It's a minefield. Don't step in the minefield.

Aha! To run faster

I have to sing something faster in my head. This morning I turned away from airs from Figaro and sang through mu old friend, Saltarello instead. It's a sort of comic patter song and it got my running faster.

So Monday to Wednesday we had a break

On the Wednesday the weather was a bit less inspiring so we abandoned our planned walk of the two riverbanks crossing the Pont de Pierre and the Pont Chaban-Delmas and instead stayed in a watched a film. Maybe two. We had also been to the cinema to see "The Girl in the Train" which we were able to see in English with French subtitles.

So from Monday to Wednesday we had a break - Tuesday at the Jardin Public

Tuesday we spent drinking in autumn colour at the Jardin Public before eating lunch at the restaurant we went to with the folk from UFM.

So Monday to Wednesday we had a break - Monday at Arcachon

On Monday we went to Arcachon, wandered along the seafront, ate in a nice brasserie and ate ice-creams as the sun went down before coming home on a beautiful double-decker train.

Tear-jerkingly beautiful

I like the nice relaxed pace. Sometimes this first aria is taken a lot faster, which means the flute player has to either breathe and stumble, or die of asphyxiation. At this pace it can be played with clarity and the flutist lives to play another day!

A nice review of the girls' concert.


"Come over here, come on, you'll discover something good!"

We would not normally respond to an invitation like this, even from... especially from such a friendly security guard, but he happened to be beckoning us into the very place where we were headed, so in we went. The concert room was lit with lovely mauves and blues and we happily took our seats and waited. I waved to one girl then realised it wasn't Catrin - I KNEW I should have worn my glasses. Eventually, not quite on time, Catrin and her friend Bérénice were introduced by M. Didier Beaujardin, their peotry teacher, and the concert began. Bérénice goes under the name of BenLou and her style is very sweet and feminine, singing songs of lost love and longing. She sang three songs alone, sometimes accompanied by Catrin on piano, sometimes by another student on guitar. Then they sang two duets, including one comic song, a parody about a woman who drinks everything in sight and ends up "weeing wine like a grape". Then Catrin sang two songs at the piano and one accompanied

"Come apart to a quiet place for a while and rest"

That was how our MPEF retreat started, with our President, Emmanuel, sharing this passage and then benefits of being together, of sharing our news and our loads, and of praying together. The focus was on sharing news and praying together and this seemed to be a wise and helpful choice. The first day was at our flat and began early to mid afternoon, with plane arrivals dictating the start time. Emmanuel kicked off with the scene-setting and agenda-setting passage, then we shared news of those MPEF folk who could not be here and prayed specifically for them. The evening meal was a vegetable curry prepared by Patricia, which went down very well, followed by verrines of fruit compote topped with home made yogurt. The second day was at a hotel where our colleagues were staying. We had a Citiz car booked and hit heavy traffic on the rocade, so when we arrived everyone was patiently waiting for us in the conference room. The person detailed with bringing short talks to fuel prayer had had


Because our old house was so much bigger than our flat our taxe d'habitation is much less, so we're getting a refund!

18 October 1966

So, about that evening in the Westminster Central Hall, Ok, I was 7, and growing up blissfully unaware of free churches, ecumenism, potential splits, or of any of the principles involved. I've read Lloyd-Jones' address and the articles describing that evening, but that doesn't qualify me to pronounce on the Doctor's forethought, aims, practical implications or whatever. Others, more ... intrepid ... than I have made their assessments, and doubtless they were right so to do. Stuart Olyott gave a talk recently at Christ Church Deeside, which is available here . Stuart was there that evening and he gives a very characteristically clear account of the context of the evening's address, the address itself and its consequences. He also gave me an idea of the way ahead for me in talking about that evening, namely to give my reflections and to recount my experience. I grew up in the Church in Wales and was sent to church as a child. I must have gone fairly regularly b

Fête de voisins

OK, so we had a little apéro entre voisins this morning. There were six of us, all women except for me. It's my animal magnetism. It seemed to go pretty well, I think, with an exchange of phone number between the ladies afterwards and a pledge to do something for Christmas.


I've had, and I still have so much admin to do - my own and some for other people - so this morning I planned a little trip to brighten the gloom - a trip to the waterfront to see two wonders! 1) The launching of a new pleasure boat on the quays by Quinconces 2) The arrival of a Russian tall ship. The tall ship was planned to arrive at 11am and I was pretty excited to see it pass under the new lifting bridge, so after a couple of annoying phone calls, irritating emails and stuff, I hopped on the tram. I arrived at the quays a little late, but within normal Bordeaux margins, and hastened off towards the new bridge to see the ship arrive. No sign of no launching, the bridge was lowered and being crossed by all manner of roadcraft and I saw no tall ship. Oh well. It was a gorgeous day - like August at Llandudno - so I continued down the quays. As lunchtime approached I thought I'd get a sandwich. The sandwich man said, "You are English? Vous êtes Français?"

A little reportage about Aberfan



One of the advantages of having kids who study music is that they expose you, willy-nilly, whether by accident or design, to new singers, musicians, styles that you never took any notice of before. Gwilym got me listening to Ed Sheeran and to John Mayer. Catrin was recently given this song to analyse and I find it all very fascinating, dovetailing very well with the minimalists like Steve Reich, etc. The musician, James Blake, won the Mercury award in 2013 for the album which contained this piece.

1966 and all that (a)

A for Aberfan. One of my earliest memories is of playing in the street as a seven-year-old with my friends and being very worried about my aunt and uncle who lived in Aberfan and who kept a fish and chip shop there at the time. I'd seen aerial photos of the landslide and the devastation it caused, but strangely none of the photos indicated clearly to me the position of Daveys' fish bar, so my mind was not put at rest. They were at the other end of the village, however, so the disaster had an indirect impact on them. They stayed open all night the night of the landslide, providing meals for the rescuers. And they were involved, like all the villagers, in the aftermath of the tragedy for years to come. Because we lived in another mining valley the Aberfan disaster had other, continuing effects on our lives. Perhaps the first thing was the hand-wringing of the National Coal Board and the action taken - too little, too late for the poor families of Aberfan, of course - to mak