Showing posts from February, 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


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...

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. Great!

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!

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

Gorgeous, well-behaved children in the Chinese group!

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

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 f


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)

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 se

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.


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.

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..

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!


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.

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 an

Bordeaux vue du ciel


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 .