les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Another thing I like about our flat

We're on the ground floor so our washing machine doesn't annoy anyone living below us!

Escapade en España - fotografías

Escapade en España

The Startripper bus service goes from the station at Pessac Centre to Dax, Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and then San-Sebastian, this latter being one of the principal cities of the Basque region of Spain. So we went on the 9am bus on Thursday morning, arriving at San-Sebastian at about 1pm.

We were staying in a highly rated AirBnB right in the middle of town, run by a very welcoming host called Josse (it is right, he puts in two ss). After showing us the ropes he pointed us to a sidraría just next door to his block of flats where they had a particularly keenly priced menu del día. I told him I had noticed it when we were coming in. He told us it would not yet be closed so we scuttled down to eat.

Boy, my Spanish is rusty. iRUSTY! I have forgotten most of my verbs and all my conjugation. I couldn't use the first person plural at all. I was pretty good at using the third person singular to address people politely but basically it was a linguistic catastrophe. However we managed to order our meals and almost always knew what we would get and ate without too many surprises or shocks.

The sidrería is a kind of Basque thing where you get a big room with long tables and benches and massive barrels of cider on one wall. The deal is that you take your tumbler, get the cider running out of the tap into a bucket, then catch the flow with the edge of your glass to fill it about an inch full. Any more gives you a tummy-ache, explained our waiter. I think the deal is to aerate the cider. It's not strong, just a little stronger than French cider at about 4 or 6 percent. I had eaten at one before in Pau with the Pessac Jazz Band some years ago.

The food was home-cooked regional Spanish food and really very good indeed. The first day I had a chorizo omelette for starters while Pat had a tomato salad with anchovies. For the main course all they had left was rabbit stew or squid, so we ate delicious bunnies in a tomato and pepper sauce. For dessert I had an ice-cream (bought in) while Pat had a really good rice pudding. The Colombian waiter brought us "el vino de la casa" - we had tried to speak to him in French, you see. It was red and rough. And it was all 11.50€ a head.

After lunch we hit the town and the rain hit us. It torrented down! We explored a couple of fun shops, then went to the local museum which attempts to tell the story of the Basques with various artefacts, documents, photos and films. It was great, but didn't attempt to answer the most obvious and fascinating question: where did the Basques come from? The impression was given that they kind of sprung up from nowhere just before the Neolithic, but I suspect the real answer is that nobody knows. Josse said that generally people suggest central Europe.

After the museum we had a nice cup of mint tea in the museum café from a man to whom we spoke French. The café was good fun because all the menus were in Basque. About 25% of the Basques speak Basque and fewer read and write it. The language is nothing like Spanish. For example cider in Spanish is sidra and in Basque it is txotx. So when I picked up the menu I was totally lost.

We slept well after our sodden adventures and the following day was bright and occasionally sunny. We walked along the promenade and watched people running back and fore. We found a nice bag for Catrin greatly reduced in a shop we like called Desigual. Everything seemed generally cheaper than in France. 

For lunch we returned to our sidraría - we felt we were on to a good thing. This time I translated all the menu before going in, so we knew exactly what was on offer. Pat decided to skip her starter but followed the recommendation of our new waiter, from Honduras, by having the fish of the day - anchoas fritas - es muy bueno (fried anchovies, served with a nice salad and some chips. I started with a soup of white beans, carrots, chorizo and meatballs and then had my fried anchovies. Then I tried the rice pudding - very good indeed! - and Pat had ice-cream. The waiter was very friendly and very keen to explain everything to us very quickly and quietly. I managed to grasp the essentials, however, and asked him if everything was home-made. Yes, but not the ice-cream.

After that we got our bags, bid farewell to our host, vowed to meet up next time he's in Bordeaux and left to wander slowly through the town to the bus station. We stopped in at the Cathedral. It was surprisingly light and airy and there were no relics and few statues or candles.

Some photos will follow. Our escapade was just two days, one night, but it got us out of Bordeaux and gave us a break and a change of scenery. As for the bus, it was a splendid way to travel. We saw the towns and villages of the foothills of the pyrenees and we were very comfortable the whole way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


3.75km. 16 minutes of running. 35 minutes total, including warm-up and cool-off.

4 bouts of running.
The 1st (3 mins) I thought I would die.
The 2nd (5 mins) I hoped I would die.
The 3rd (5 mins) I knew I would live.
The 4th ( 3 mins) I was glad to be alive!

From now on, if I understand correctly, the bouts of running get longer and the periods of walking get shorter until you warm up, then run 25-30 mins, then cool-off.

Oh yes, this morning was Repton (Dear Lord and Father of mankind...), then a song by Massenet, then Panis angelicus again. Next time I must up the theological ante and run Bach in my head...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Handel: Water Music : Hervé Piquet and the Concert Spirituel

I think I've shared this before, but I am watching it again and so enjoying the raucous horns and the wonderful maestro who conducts like he's directing the traffic.


Sulphurous? Lui?

Les Vacances Scolaires YOUPIE!!!

It's holiday time, and so we have cancelled all events this week (except for the Maison de la Bible, where Pat is keeping the place running till Thursday) and then Pat and I plan an escapade on Thursday and Friday. We will share photos. Well I will share photos. Patricia might possibly...

Patricia's phone made a sudden watery descent last Friday, thankfully at the start of proceedings, and spent a good time thereafter in a bag of uncooked rice. It now turns on and works ... sort of ... briefly ... before resetting itself. I have ordered another from a telephone refurbishing company. Meanwhile her phone is basically sort of functional except for the camera. And the fact that it will suddenly decide to turn itself off. And so on.

Anyway, yes, escapade.

Meanwhile Catrin is organising an evening to watch a film, so we will be on pizza duty.

Then on Saturday I am preaching for the Chinese, following a phone call yesterday evening.

Hurrah! An escapade!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bordeaux Church at Dan

Jérôme, who loans us his restaurant each Sunday, has been doing some rearranging at Dan.
There's a new bench, some improved shelving, new glass racks etc.

But also we found out what number of Rue de la Devise the new place will be at. No 16. I popped out to take a look. It's bigger, yes, but also a more convenient shape. I don't know if we'll be able to make things more convenient for families, whether we'll be able to do simultaneous translation, what possibilities we'll have, but we'll find out from June, when the restaurant is scheduled to open.

Take no thought for the morrow

Well I tried.

The thing is that I spent almost two weeks doing week 3 of the running app, C25K, because I wanted to avoid a big increase in running time on a Monday morning. Some Mondays I'm physically very tired and every Monday I'm a bit vulnerable after the train wreck that was the day before's preaching.

So last Friday when I inadvertently checked what awaited me this morning I was dismayed when I saw that I was to move from 2 min, 3 min, 3 min, 2 min last Friday (a total of 10 minutes) to 3 min, 4 min, 4 min, 3 min this morning (a total of 14 minutes).

Now package it anyway you like, and they do package it well, but 10 minutes to 14 minutes is an increase of 40%. Almost half as much again. On Monday morning.

Mrs Davey, who crossed this threshold with ne'er a moment's hesitation, said, "Yes, but you aren't going from 10 minutes to 14 minutes. You're going from 2 minutes to 3 minutes. That's just 1 minute more." I could fault neither her maths nor her logic, but my mind was not put at rest.

Anyway, what to do? Do I repeat Friday, making a round two weeks doing week 3? The prospect seemed unappealing.

I decided to plough on, but to take it easy. What mattered was not to go fast, smoothly or elegantly. What mattered was to go for 14 minutes. That's all.

The conditions were favourable. A nice, claggy fog.

I lumbered up the hill to the vines.

"Ding! Start running."

I started running.

An elderly lady overtook me pushing her zimmer frame. "Bonjour!", she gaily cried, brandishing her baguette.

The snails of Pessac, drawn out by the damp, played chicken, daring each other to slither across my path.

In my head Panis Angelicus played in an endless loop. While Aquinas' words don't do much for me, César Franck's simple melody provided a numbing mantra for my run. (doo-doo-doo-doo-doo PAU-- PER-- PAU-- PER-- SER-VUS-- SER-VUS ET HUM--ILIS)

On I thundered.
It was not swift.
It was not smooth.
It was not elegant.

But it was 14 minutes. Yes! Did it!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gorgeous, well-behaved children in the Chinese group!

Especially Léo (3) and Fiona (4 1/2). Bravo plantos!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Crazy calls!

Well that was a crazy day. I'm NEVER staying home to work again!

Some awkward negotiations with a multinational computer manufacturer on behalf of a student whose pc died.

"It's a model that is designed to be used only within the USA."
"I suggest that you don't say that to the student concerned. You see, we buy a computer, we take an aeroplane out of the country and we assume we can take our computer with us and it will still work anywhere..."

I think the man realised how stupid he sounded.

A bank phoned. La Banque Populaire de Camblane. I wonder if it's a scam, but it turns out I have to go there to sign a document for Maison de la Bible.

"So where is Camblane?"
"You have to take the rocade."
"Impossible. We don't have a car."
"Can you get someone to bring you?"
"I'll look at public transport."
"There's no public transport to Camblane"

In the end she arranged for me to trot into the Banque Populaire de Pessac and sign there.

A ring at the doorbell.
It must be a neighbour.
It's not. It's an official-looking lady with an armful of leaflets and forms.
"Ah, je vous ai fait peur!"
Well yes, I wondered who she was and what she wanted.
"I'm from Orange. Did you know that there's fibre-optic internet in the building now?"
"Yes, we've been using it for some months."
"Really? Who with?"
"Listen, I don't want to stand on my doorstep discussing my internet service with someone from Orange."
"But have you seen our engineers?"
"Oh! Nobody has seen them! And your internet is working fine?"
"Yes, it's fine and we're very happy with it."
"Oh well, goodbye."

The doorbell rang. "Un colis pour M Davey."
"D'accord, j'arrive"
For some reason I felt like running down the corridor and through the garden.
The delivery man was messing with his forms.
"Ah! Vous êtes déjà là!"
"Oui, j'habite pas loin."


Slept late.
Leapt out of bed at 06:50.
Charged round trying to find earbuds, etc.
Poked ineffectually at phone trying to get to the right day.
Oh no, the times go up.
Frost on the ground.
Why am I doing this?
1,2,3,4 oh no, I don't do that any more...
Wow, look at the sky.
Hey, I'm almost at the end of the vines.
Time to turn back - oh my, the dawn sky!
Did it! Did it!
7 minutes walk to finish. SEVEN...
Is next Monday's run the same? (TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pete in the street

As Peter was setting up his sketchboard Alison and I were distributing tracts. I gave one to a smartly dressed young chap and as he walked off he started reading it. A couple of minutes later he came back and listened for a while before engaging in conversation.

He is a follower of la Révélation d'Arès, the Gironde's very own sect, which originated with a "prophet" in the village of Arès. They believe and teach all the same sort of stuff: one God, many ways, all religions are right, except when they claim to be exclusive, all the prophets are right, yes, and you're right too, and me, all you have to do is put the sermon on the mount into practice, isn't it marvellous.

So we talked about human inability and about the cross, about Jesus' exclusive claims, about false prophets in the Bible, about the dying thief, about how religion is always about money, about how human religion builds up man and brings down Jesus, about God loving the world so much he sent his son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

C25K and the no. 4 bus

Almost backed out this morning. It was -2°C outside at 6:45 when I started out.
I decided that if I really couldn't hack it I could go back to bed and try again tomorrow when we are forecast to be back to warm rain.
But once I was out it was OK, the sky was a beautiful midnight blue and the stars were beaming down to encourage me. I stopped counting my steps and concentrated instead on the things I could see and the sensation of left foot, right foot, uneven surface, watch that knee, etc...

The number 4 bus is a scream. One guy was sound asleep, stretched out in his seat. Another lady had clearly been discharged early from hospital, still under the effects of her anaesthetic. Shaking, swerving, vibrating, rough acceleration and braking, nothing could rouse either of them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The other day I was meeting a friend for lunch in the city centre and afterwards I needed to buy something or other, I forget what. We went into one of the supermarkets. I ended up perusing the wine, for some reason or other, and - SERENDIPITY - came across a 2005 Bordeaux Supérieur.

Do you have any idea how good 2005 was for Bordeaux wines? It was excellent!

I bought a bottle of the very reasonably priced (6€, about £4.50) organic Bordeaux Supérieur 2005 and noted carefully where it was on the shelves.

Well it was good. Very good. Very good indeed.

So a couple of days later I went back with some more pfennigs to purchase some more bottles of the 2005 Bordeaux Supérieur. As I scoured the shelves to find it what did I come across, but some 2008 Bordeaux. 2008 was a very good year! Very good indeed! And this wine was just under 5€! Less than £4.

So I loaded my rucksack and we are stocked up for a good few weeks with some excellent Bordeaux!

When will I ever learn? No but really, when?

Well my time's up. I had to have my bi-annual appointment with the doctor. All last week I intended phoning and all last week I forgot. So Monday morning it was the first thing on my mind.

"OK, it's her replacement, but I can do tomorrow morning at 9:30."

So I booked a Citiz car for 9am and sped off to the doctor's surgery. 9:20 found me settled into the waiting room. There was another chap already waiting there.

People came. People went. People phoned. Then at about 10:05 a lanky chap in his thirties with thinning hair an an informal beard came in, greeted us all and hurtled into the doctor's office.

I went in at about 10:30. He was friendly and pleasant. And unapologetic. In fact neither of us mentioned his lateness. What's the point. It's my cultural error in assuming that the doctor will be on time first thing in the morning.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Couch to 5K

This morning I redid Friday's run because I don't like upping the ante on Monday mornings!

It means I'll increase my times on Wednesday morning instead, when the weather is forecast to be very cold..

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pancakes in many forms

Yesterday was Catrin's 19th birthday and we celebrated with a pancake party.

Pat made crepes in the kitchen.
I made American pancakes in the living room.
And we had bought some ready-made crepes just in case.

The only thing missing from the festivities was maple syrup, which I had seen but not bought.
We are not yet truly international, though we are getting there.

Les pieds dans l'eau

For three days now the Garonne has burst its banks at high tide. This has been caused by the torrential rain we've had coupled with unusually high tides and the remains of storm Imogen sending huge waves onto the coast.

It means that several roads have been closed in the city centre along the river, the swanky shops down near the new bridge have been within just a few centimetres of being flooded and traffic has been disrupted.

Meanwhile the garden of our block of flats is a quagmire and there's some problem with some of the downpipes such that rainwater cascades into the basement car park.

But hey, the rainy season should finish soon and then we'll have lunch on the terrace, swatting the mosquitos.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book review - Daniel Hyde - From the Pen of Pastor Paul - 1 & 2 Thessalonians - Evangelical Press

I wasn't sure that I'd like this book.
I don't know why.
Well, I sort of do.

Firstly it came in pdf format, which is always awkward. I can read pdf format on my Kindle, but it's not great. I can convert pdf files to Kindle format, but that's not great either. So the poor book was off to a bad start.

Secondly the conservative evangelical scene has become quite diverse over the past few years. I subscribe to a couple of websites' rss feeds, including the Gospel Coalition and Reformation 21, Desiring God, etc.., and while there is so much to rejoice in - a real growth of interest in Bible Christianity and in the best of our forefathers - there can also be that which is awkward, embarrassing, agressive or snide. As a friend put it, "There's a tone that sets in". Quite. So I've become a bit wary, I suppose. It's so easy to imbibe a spirit of snideness. The "tone" is hiding just our of sight, waiting its chance, waiting to set in.

Anyway, what about the book?

Well it's great! It's a book that has grown out of expository sermons on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Oh boy. What do that mean, "expository sermons"?

Well I don't mean expository in the sense of taking sizeable sections of Paul's thought, finding the main point and communicating that, scampering through the letters at a fair old lick. There's books like that, aren't there?

And I don't mean expository in the sense of proceeding slowly through the passage squeezing every drop of goodness from the citrus fruit of Paul's Greek, supported and sustained by historical and systematic studies. There are books like that, too.

Both those approaches are laudable and wholesome, and both have their drawbacks.

This book sometimes scampers and sometimes squeezes. For example chapter 8 is entitled "Hearing the Lord in a world of noise" and deals with 1 Thessalonians 2:13. And it doesn't really deal with the whole verse. It is rather a kind of systematised reflexion on how to hear God's word - expectantly, hungrily, attentively, faithfully, obediently. Chapter 9 then deals with 2:14 to 3:10, Praise in the midst of Persecution.

So this book isn't a manual of preaching, or a preacher's commentary, or anything like that. What it is is a broadly accessible book of messages on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, from an able scholar-pastor who aims to bring the light of all his studies and reflection to bear on the text and to then cross the bridge to where we like today to bring us much-needed help.

Read it expectantly, hungrily, attentively, faithfully and obediently and it will do you good.

Oh yes, and you will look in vain for "hoopla about the rapture", as our writer so quaintly puts it. And you will find a careful, cautious, historically-informed approach to the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians.

I received this book free of charge in the highly esteemed pdf format in exchange for an honest review.

Our cute little Hoover

Apartment life is quite different, you know.
When we lived in the big house we had this wonderful hoover. Made by Karcher it was a big steel drum on castors with a yellow fan assembly on top and it sucked up everything in sight. Dust, water, fluff, flour, ashes, whatever. We had it for years and apart from the various plastic parts wearing, snapping, etc, it just kept sucking. But it was a big old thing, far too big for our flat, so when we came here we sold it and for the first few months just swept and washed the floors. Still, some kind of hoover is useful and we decided that we could do with something much lighter and smaller, perhaps like the old dust buster we used to have, but on a long handle. I shopped around, but they're expensive, and which one do you get?
Then a private sales website advertised a natty little thing - a dustbuster on a long handle. Not rechargeable, mains powered, and at a very attractive price. So it came, and it's great! Just right for this kind of place, it gets in all the corners and gobbles up the fluff-bunnies.

Couch to 5K - Patricia racing ahead

Pat is a week ahead of me in this running programme, which means she just did day two of week 4.
On day 1 of week 1, just a few short weeks ago, she couldn't run for a minute continuously.
Today she ran 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 3 minutes, all quite comfortably.
In total 16 minutes in total, interspersed with minutes of walking.

Meanwhile yesterday I had my first problem with asthma, I think because the weather was noticeably colder, so on my second bout of running I was wheezing enough to need to slow down to a walk and use my Ventolin inhaler. After that I was fine and completed the session with no further problems.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Maison de la Bible

Please continue to pray for the Christian Bookshop in Bordeaux.
Yesterday was the beginning of Lent, so the cathedral bells were going nuts quite a lot and we had folk coming in asking for lectionaries, rosaries, etc. We send folk up to the little catholic bookshop for that kind of thing. Meanwhile they sent us someone looking for a book on guardian angels, I think.
I had a nice discussion with a lady who had been for the imposition of ashes, though I think she'd washed it off. Or perhaps she had got caught in the incessant torrential rain.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Couch to 5K

Well that was a tough one. For two reasons:

1. I was DOG-TIRED after Sunday. All the family was. I was like a bottle held upside down and emptied. Really hard to get up!

2. My cadence changed to 6 times 90 seconds of running, and there was a headwind. Still, once I changed direction at the halfway point thing improved and I romped home. Well... strode home.

In the Médiathèque Jacques Ellul

Well we got there in the end. After 9 years we finally signed up at the library. And what a library!

Médiathèque Jacques Ellul, named after Pessac's 20th century renaissance man - jurist, philosopher and protestant theological Jacques Ellul, occupies the buildings of a former wine establishment with a pretty little park alongside. It's about 20 minutes walk from our house. It would be shorter but you have to cross the railway line and that means quite a detour.

They have a good music section, lots of DVDs, ebooks and audiobooks, you can borrow films and ebooks electronically without even going there and you can check out your loans at the scanning machines, "futurs-fonctionnaires", said the lady as she explained how it all worked. I wondered if it would make a difference if you get a machine in a good mood - si on tombe sur la bonne machine.

Anyway Pat came away with a bagful of books and I came away with my eyes full of wonder.

I know a song about libraries.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

OK! My G is back!

We have been singing, too, and yesterday I got my G back!
I wasn't sure it was possible at my advanced age, but it's there!

Friday, February 05, 2016


Tough today to haul myself out of bed, but once you're vertical and moving horizontally, counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 2 2 3 4 5 6 ... well it's great.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A long, full day

Wednesday started with couch to 5K - this time I remembered to make sure my phone was not on silent and that I was on the right day - so now I am officially on week 2, where the running time progresses from 8 bursts of 1 minutes to 6 bursts of 90 seconds. It's not exactly long, is it? Anyway. The moon shone kindly down as I lumbered along Rue Profond down to Rue des Poissoniers and back.

Then off to Maison de la Bible where we had a few clients and I spent a happy morning with my co-volunteer, octogenarian ex-doctor, Gerard.

Lunch was left-over gâteau de crêpes, or as we now must type, gâteau de crepes, with chicken, spinach and tomatoes. It's essentially a lasagne with pancakes substituted for the pasta and constructed vertically like a cake, then iced with cheese sauce. It looks spectacular and I made it to celebrate chandeleur (Candlemas), the French pancake day, and our friend Sally's birthday.

Then some work on the passages for preaching and teaching this week and a quick modification of the Bordeaux Church website. Some time before Christmas we added lots of photos to the website at the bottom of the page. It was great, we thought, to give people a glimpse of the life of the church. Then a week ago I tried to access the site on my mobile phone. CATASTROPHE! All the photos made the page very slow to load. So I took the photos off again.

Then I saw a very simple but effective website from a new church in the UK. They've used Blogger to set up their site, as we have, and they have different pages for their declaration of faith, etc. Aha! So you can add pages. I'd seen the option some time ago but didn't know how to use it, how it worked or what it would give. So yesterday afternoon I spent a little time searching Google for instructions and fussing with the website and, hey presto!, a page for a declaration of faith, another page to outline our vision and another page where soon I will put the photos back on. And the front page still loads quickly, giving times and directions to the Sunday service. Jolly good! It still needs a little sprucing up here and there, but it's functional.

Then it was time to scuttle back into town to meet up with Peter and Alison for open-air preaching on the main shopping drag in Bordeaux. It was great to talk with folk about the gospel, including a communist who doesn't believe in God but believes in man. I told him he had stronger faith than mine, and that his political system could only work if you could make new people with new hearts, to which he agreed. Many of his replies were wonderful feeds in to the gospel. Things like "So everyone has to die before it can happen?" Another couple in their 40s or 50s were French-Tunisian, cut off by her family because she married a muslim Arab. I put my foot in it a lot. "And you've been together how long?" "A year". "Oh." (moves swiftly on) We talked about how Jesus reconciles us to God. Some lads from Portugal had very bad French (and no English) but they took gospels and they'll understand the basics if they read them. "You'd be good at this open-air preaching", said Alison, again. "Maybe, but I have a habit of taking on too many things than going nuts", I replied.

Then home. On the bus I met two girls heading for our house for a Bible study on Ruth which Pat was leading, so I hid in the bedroom till it was all over!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Monday, February 01, 2016

Couch to 5k - when a week seems interminable

Well there we are. After what seems like a very long time I have completed the first week's runs, which gets you running 8 minutes in total during a run/walk session of 1/2 hour. On Wednesday this will be increased to 9 minutes. It builds up gradually, doesn't it!

I have learnt:

1) not to have my phone on silent
2) to check which day I am starting before pressing "go"
3) that running in the drizzle is OK if you just accept that it will be damp
4) to try and avoid the puddles all the same (not easy)
5) that doing this is generally OK, and even quite enjoyable
6) that I am indeed somewhat obsessive. I obsessively count my steps while running, in batches of 20.

A ship in distress in the Bay of Biscay / Bay of Gascony is likely to be grounded on a beach south of Bordeaux

Read about it in French here.