Showing posts from March, 2016

Four candles

The ending could be better, but the sketch itself is nothing short of magisterial.

"I call you, 'The Runner'"

Because I'll be somewhat hither and yon for the next couple weeks I thought I had better go stock up on a ventolin, so I hied me away to my favourite pharmacy at the Alouette. The queue was short, there were about 6 or 7 pharmacists dispensing and my chum, whose name I do not know, waved a cheery greeting from the back of the shop. Lo and behold, when I got to the front of the queue his was the next free counter. "How are you?" He likes to practice his English. "Je vais très bien, mais je suis très déçu." "Déçu? Pourquoi? Ah, le rugby!" He went off to get the ventolin. It is, by the way, feminine. La Ventoline/La Vento. "Voilà." He scanned the sticker and scribbled over it. "I call you 'The Runner'", he said. "Ah bon?" "Ouais. Hé, je vous ai aperçu!" "Quand ça, et à quel endroit?" "C'était un samedi matin. "Ah ouais. Tiens, ça va doucement, non?" "Non,

Well that was a funny Easter

Our friend Peter came back from holidays all full of lovely energy so there was a mini mission of the Open Air Campaigners last week in Bordeaux. Pat and I went along as we could, which for me meant Tuesday and Wednesday and for Pat, Friday.  On Friday, Good Friday, a time of prayer was scheduled followed by open air preaching. I sat happily on the bus heading into town and wondered why I was aching in strange places after my morning run.  I mean, why my shoulders? Why my head? And why all the shaking? By the time I got to where the others were it was pretty clear I had the flu or something, so I was despatched straight back home to bed with ibuprofen, paracetamol and lots of coffee and water. And there I stayed until Sunday, basically. James was preaching on part of 1 Corinthians 15, Christ the first fruits. I got to the service, got home and got back to bed. Yesterday I stayed up all day! Yay! And a gang of folk came round to eat, play, hunt eggs in our tiny garden

A short visit to the UK

My brother-in-law died quite suddenly and his funeral is planned for the 5 April, so I will be making a quick visit to South Wales.

Oh well, I think I might only get two runs in next week.

On Wednesday I have to scuttle off in the big white bus to Lyon to the Colloqve Bibliqve Francophone, and I don't get back till Friday evening. I can't see me taking my running shoes with me so there'll be no hurtling round the streets of Lyon. I did wonder whether I could run Sunday morning, Tuesday and Saturday, but I've had this sudden swift flu thing, and though the agues, aches and shakes have gone, the feeling of being a wet rag remains, so I doubt if I'll feel up to charging along the vines tomorrow morning, though it is resurrection morning, so you never know! However I have planned out routes alongside the vines for 1K, 2K, 3K and by combining them you get 4K, 5K etc., so I am ready when the green light shows once more.



It's like the sun rising in your heart.

I think it was on Monday that I got an email asking me how we had left things with the Cenon church and whether we could "look back with thankfulness and say good things of the church". I was more than a little nonplussed. Only the previous evening I had given a new person directions to the church and said, "tell them Alan sent you". I frequently see Cenon folk and our relationships seem warm and friendly. I wasn't aware of any bad things I had said of the church and I would take that very seriously. I asked for clarification. What came back was that in a conversation one of the church leaders had expressed his incomprehension at why we are no longer working with the Cenon church. Now our decision to stop working with the Cenon and Blaye churches came when I suffered a breakdown including panic attacks and depression following a period of great conflict in the churches. This conflict didn't involve me directly except in trying to resolve things and cal

C25K - Thank you, and goodbye

So this morning at 6:30 I sprang quietly from my bed, full of optimism and confidence. I drank my customary two glasses of water, started the C25K app on my phone and walked out of the flat. "HI THERE AWESOME RUNNER! GREAT DECISION TO RUN TODAY!" rang out through the corridors as I struggled to untangle the wires of my earphones. Eventually I got the things plugged in and sauntered up the hill to my starting point. This morning's mission - 35 minutes of running. I had my plan of campaign. I would essentially follow Wednesday's route - which introduced circuits of Place Monteil - with the addition of circuits of the road between the swimming pool cross-roads and the Pape Clement crossroads. In this way I should be able to achieve 35 minutes of running, approximately 5 kilometres, without looking too much like a madman on the loose. And all went well. The skies were grey but the birds were singing. It was warm so I unzipped my danger fleece and pulled off my hat.

When your family is absolutely barking mad

For some years we have held an annual Easter Egg hunt in our garden on Easter Monday and invited the students to come and hunt eggs. This year our garden is about the size of a small living-room and is entirely set to lawn with a privet hedge that has not yet filled out. You'd have a job hiding ANYTHING there. But the lunatics that live with me have decided that we should still hold the Annual Easter Monday Easter Egg Hunt.

Had a rough couple of days

but the sun rose again in my heart this morning. Phew!

Bit late, but hey

these people are in the antipodes!

C25K 30 minutes. Patricia and I are now synchronised, though I run faster than her (longer legs)

I wish I could show you the scene this morning as I hurtled lugubriously along the path most followed at 6:45. I saw the moonset, the great fuzzy ball all wan and gibbous, making way swiftly for her big brother. Behind me the sun's rays heralding his arrival. The birds, heeding my warning of the other day, were now singing each his own melody, one crying tirr-whirr-whirr, another sounding his hoboy gallantly, all doing well. The weather was perfect, a little cold, but when one is running a little cold is agreeable. I thundered my way out of the vines and decided to take from then the path least travelled - to run round and round my favourite square at Pessac Monteil. One circuit and I was halfway through my half-hour, so I did one more circuit and set off him, running into the face of the rising sun. Oh it was beautiful.

The Blood Test - the results

They were emailed to me this afternoon so I just printed them out. 4 pages of concentrations, percentages and levels. Most of it is quite easy to understand because your figure is given on the left and the normal range is given on the right. If your figure is within the normal range then you're OK. One set of figures, however, is beyond me without some prolonged staring, which I may be able to do tomorrow. Anyway from my "at a a glance" reading I'm either fine or I died some time ago from acute kidney failure, so I suspect that I'm fine. Not only that, but if any figure is anomalous they usually underline it and highlight it so that you are alerted. So there we are. All over for another year.

The Blood Test

So it's time again for the blood test, but now we live quite a long way from the old lab I used to go to. I liked that lab because they would email you the results and you could then keep them on your computer and compare with last time. So, do I catch the early morning bus or do I change labs? A Google search showed that there is another lab in the same chain, but within a reasonably short walk - about half-way along our morning run. So a pleasant morning walk along the vineyards, past the big, swanky houses, watching the workers do something strange to the vines, and then into the lab, just by my favourite square at Pessac Monteil where the JWs have their Kingdom Hall. A short wait, a quick sharp jab, rather too much waggling of the needle inside the arm - strange that it didn't hurt more, a nice bruise, and I will receive the results by email later today.


28 minutes this morning and my speed is increasing a little all by itself. Not only that but I read a website for novice runners which told me to SLOW DOWN in the most forceful terms possible, not to say impolite. So I have officially stopped being concerned about how slowly I run. Meanwhile who told the birds I have been listening to Shakespeare songs? Own up! Hey, wazzocks, you carry on singing "Hey ding-a ding-a ding" all morning and I'll start listening to Shirley Bassey through my headphones. You wouldn't want that, would you!

Sad news from home

Alan's brother-in-law in Porth, Norman, died quite suddenly on Friday. The unexpected death will mean a post-mortem examination, an inquest and so on. Thanks for praying for Alan's sister and her family just now. Also Alan's other sister is in the throes of a stressful house-move.

Roderick Williams sings Butterworth's Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad


Hot flushes

A friend who is working in Provence has rented a very nice, brand new flat. She noticed that the bathroom was always toasty warm, especially surprising because there's no perceptible means of heating the room. She remarked on it to a neighbour. "Yes, but have you tried putting your hand in the toilet bowl?" Our heroine had not, but she did forthwith. Hot water! The lavatory cistern is plumbed into the hot water system. "Oh yes, it's a mistake, obviously, but it's quite nice all the same, isn't it!" was the owner's reply. "I have a list of lots of faults to correct, and that one's quite a long way down the list."

The Mystery of the Keys

At about 11:30 I went to the letter box to check the post. There were two things therein. The first was a nice thick jiffy-bag addressed to Patricia. The second was a bunch of keys, including one of the expensive special keys used on the locks on the doors of our flats. £60 a key. And not ours. A different flat. I considered my options. I could just pop the keys into a different letter box and if everyone did this then within a few weeks the keys would find their owner. I could go to the top floor of the block of flats and, working downwards, try the keys in each door. When I found the flat they fitted I could pop them into the appropriate letter box. I made a sign. If your keys would have been put in the bad letter box please ring  and my mobile number. I attached the sign to the wall in the porch with blue tak. Quite quickly I got a text message. "I lost a key outside the flats somewhere some weeks ago. If it's an individual key then it could be mine." I rep

C25k 25 minutes

My pace picked up a little. Not much, but a little. Anyway I was greatly encouraged by an article I read on Lifehacker/Gizmodo encouraging folk to get out running and which said "SLOW DOWN". It put it stronger than that. Once I have my 5km 1/2 hour thing going like clockwork I'll probably try introducing some fartlek, something that the Reverend Philip Swann once told me about some years ago.

When is a church not a church?

When it's a plant. Haha! The point is valid, though. We're a relatively decent number on a typical Sunday, between 20 and 30 folk. Plenty of churches in the UK and in France have fewer people. And we're busting out of our building, but we'll have a new place to meet from this summer where we'll have a little room to grow. Meanwhile people sometimes ask questions which we cannot answer as they would wish. Like: Can I get tax relief on my giving to the church? The answer is no. Until we are an Association 1905 we cannot issue reçus fiscaux, and to register as an Asso 1905 we need 28 members aged over 18. Who's the pastor? Who are the elders? Well who called a pastor? What church meeting appointed elders? We do not yet have sufficient stable church members to allow election of elders and appointment of a pastor. Till then I am the de facto pastor, but I doubt if I will actually be called as the first pastor of Bordeaux Church. If we become a fully f

UK Church visits 2016

I hope to visit the UK in June, between the weekend of 5th and of the 19th. Here are the dates already spoken for: June 6-8 Bala Conference June 8 Borras Park, Wrexham June 12 Widcombe Bath pm. June 16 Geneva Road, Darlington June 19 Bethel Clydach am. and Emmanuel Gabalfa pm. Do get in touch if your church would like me to visit.

C25k - 20 minutes!

It was the birds that set the tone. I came blinking out of the doors of the block of flats into that lovely half-light with its "stupid o'clock blue" sky and - I don't know who had put them up to it, who could it have been? - but as I emerged they blasted off in a spirited attempt at "Zadok the priest". Of course, none of them had heard any Handel and there was a basic disagreement over what key it should be in, but what they lacked in experience they more than made up for in gusto, and I knew this run would be OK. I set another app running - Map my run - which is aimed at more experienced, longer distance runners but which would tell me accurately what speed I run at - and set off at a leisurely pace. The goal is to do 20 minutes, not to do it fast, well or stylishly - just to do it. Halfway up five-minute-warm-up hill I used my ventolin. It was a bright and fresh morning, crisp and dry. And we were off. Even the first five minutes were OK. They are


We went for lunch at the English Country Kitchen in central Bordeaux. I'd noticed a while ago that the place did reasonably-priced roast dinners at the weekend so I phoned up and booked for our anniversary lunch. It was just a trifle surreal to phone and book a table at the English Country Kitchen in French, but hey... Roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and parsnips, green beans and carrots, mashed potatoes and just the right amount of gravy. You could also buy Bisto gravy granules at 5€ a tub. When we got there we were seated by a friendly curly-haired waiter who took our order, all in French. "Where are you from?" he asked, in French. "Pessac", I replied, as usual, "though I'm Welsh and my wife is English". "Oh, I'm Irish", quoth he, stil in French. "Oh, from where in Ireland?" "Dublin." all the above conducted in French. "Brunch" is a wildly popular thing in Bordeaux - and usually h

Twenty-third wedding anniversary

It's today! Twenty-three years. Lots of fun. Lots of joy. Some heartache. Two stupefying children (everyone's are amazing). And the adventure continues! Thank-you Patricia, bravest and best of women. (though not the battiest)

The Colloqve Bibliqve Francophone

takes place at the end of March. For some years I haven't been able to go because I was in the UK visiting churches in the UK. This year, though, I have been determined to do these visits in early June so I can go to the colloqve. Next problem, how to get there at reasonable cost. The colloqve itself costs in the order of 200 euros. It's held in Lyon and getting to Lyon could easily add at least another 100. The train, for example, would cost 200 euros and each journey takes 7 hours. Easyjet flies from Bordeaux to Lyon, but at 7am and there is no way that I know of getting to the airport for 6am to catch the flight. Not only that, but Lyon airport is quite a long way out of the city and there's a kind of train/tram shuttle that costs quite a lot. Now the coach company that took us to Saint Sebastien runs to Lyon, but until recently they had no journeys after March, so I could go with them but not return. Anyway, I dialled and dallied till the last day for booking,

Wow, have I hit a rich vein of delights!

Gerald Finzi songs! Really lovely! To think that I am almost in my seventh decade and it is now that I discover them. I blame you all! You hid these from me! No. Why sully serendipity with sourness? Here's to more rich veins to discover! This sad old world is still stuffed with sweet new things.

Let us garlands bring

Five Shakespeare songs set by Gerald Finzi and sung by Bryn Terfel. So beautiful!

The promise of Spring

What a surprise to exit the front door of the residence this morning and see dry paths and dry streets. The vineyards are still a sea of mud and the front lawn still has its permapuddle, but this morning was dry and not too cold for my routine - 15 mins run, 3 mins walk, 5 mins run. This is the last of my punctuated runs. Monday is 20 mins straight off and then it builds over two weeks to 35 minutes running. My pace is somewhere in the region of 6 miles an hour so 35 minutes will be about 3 miles, or 5 kilometres. Once I'm doing 1/2 hour regularly then I will work on increasing my distance/pace. The weather forecast is for a dull Saturday followed by a sunny week. The promise of Spring.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us

In my mind is one of those Kenyan runners, long-legged and lithesome, loping along the vines, the small creatures turning to gaze, he seems to float along, his feet barely touching the ground, he was born to run. In reality something must have startled the sad old zombie who staggers his stumbling way, not quite upright, not quite prone, managing somehow to avoid total collapse as he jerks from one clumsy stump to the other. Second thoughts, some Power, keep yer giftie.

Chez le médecin

When I went to see the doctor the other week I forgot to take the letter about the dépistage du cancer colorectal (poo test), so I phoned her up. Come tomorrow at 10:45? OK. "Vous avez maigri?" "Ché pas." This translates as "dunno", and has overtones of the indifferent, ignorant response of the adolescent tested orally on the declension of Latin pronouns. We have started running. What do you mean? We run. There's a programme. You start with 1 minutes and work up to 35 over 8 weeks. Let me see? That's good. And your wife is doing it? Yes. To begin with she couldn't run for 1 minute but now she's doing 15. It's very good. You have good shoes? Yes, we bought running shoes. And where do you run? You need to run in the woods. I thought of our dear old Park Cazalet and its woodland paths, the dogs, the dog-poo, the hordes of mushroom pickers, the closure in times of high winds and driving rain. We run in the street, but we'

Well I can't say I wasn't warned - C25k

Just before bedtime the message came in: The town of Bordeaux announces the closure of all its parks and gardens tomorrow because of the forecast high winds and heavy, foul, miserable, depressing, driving rain. Humph. Mrs Davey got to run on Tuesday morning in beautiful, crisp, frosty sunshine. I would run on Wednesday into the eye of the storm. "Oh well. If you're too weak to take it why don't you just die and let the fitter survive?" I thought, to encourage myself. And yes. It was foul. I started out at a faster pace and covered more ground in my first ten minutes. So far so very good. But on the return where normally it is easier I just gave up in my head. But after a few metres of faltering, I ran on. OK. From now on the amount of walking diminishes until it's 35 minutes of straight running. We got this. We can do it.

GBU Ski Weekend

The Groupes Bibliques Universitaires of the South West of France held their annual Ski Weekend last weekend, so 50 people from Bordeaux, Toulouse and Pau converged on a spot in the Pyrenees to ski, to snow-board or to walk with snow-shoes. Catrin went too, as did a little gang of our students, so our music group was halved. Normally there's two guitarists but yesterday there was just one. The Ski Weekend seems to have gone very well. Meanwhile at Dan, despite us wondering who, who only would be left, we were twenty for the service with some newcomers and some revenants. We might have issues fitting in next week. We'll see. Meanwhile Mrs Davey and I paused eagerly to peer into the new premises, where nothing perceptible seems to be happening but where there does indeed seem to be quite a lot more room.

A weekend roll of honour

Nancy Reagan. Always elegant, a fine first lady. Ray Tomlinson. Inventor of e-mail who gave new life to the @ sign. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, striving for purity and authenticity in Baroque music. Jerry Bridges, excellent Christian author, whose wholesome books simply taught gospel holiness.


No wind. Light rain. 20 minutes. No problem. Big smiles.

A walk along the quays


Rain, rain go away

It has now rained continually for several months and the lawn on the far end of the building from us has become a permapuddle or a minilake. "I've measured it from side to side, 'tis twenty feet long and eight feet wide", to quote the immortal bard. As soon as anti-mosquito gadgets appear in the shops we must stock up because this place will become an infested swamp as soon as it warms up. We'll need to work out what to do on the patio, as well, or we'll end up like the good people of the west coast of Scotland, with lovely gardens and beautiful patios but confined to barracks by the airborne terror. I'm hoping the folk come soon to cut the lawns because I want to know if they plan to cut ours as well. If they do, all well and good. If not then we need to buy a small lawnmower! But I guess they won't cut the lawns till there's at least a break in the rain, and I'm very interested to know what they will do with lake koralli. I'd plant wa

Oh no. Seeing the blue sky I encouraged Mrs Davey to try again her run from yesterday and now it's raining again.

Debate and discussion

I'm reading this book that I think I was supposed to review last month. The books that are sent out for review are often sent quite a few weeks in advance, but then an email gets sent round to remind you of the start and finish dates that your review is supposed to hit. And I didn't get that email... Or not yet, anyway. Meanwhile the very first paragraphs of the book got my back up. Let me explain. The book is conceived as a discussion document between two branches of christian theology, between two traditions. Not a bad aim, one might think. Yes, and who better to present this discussion than someone who once espoused the one tradition and then after careful study, reflection, prayer and discussion, changed for the other. Like our author! Perfect! Yes, but unfortunately what I encountered from the very first paragraphs were statements like: The opposing people "assume that" An eminent pastor "sets up a straw man argument" and so on. So what


5w, 8r, 5w, 8r, 5w I was able to calculate my speed this morning. I'll keep the figure to myself, but suffice it to say that it is roughly the pace of a marching brass band in a Remembrance Day parade playing Colonel Bogey. In mitigation all I can plead is that Mrs Davey went running shortly after me and gave up because of the blustery headwind. Rough, rude, hurricane throwing water in my face, resisting me while I must summon all my will to mount the vineyard path. Sweet and gentle breeze that kindly coaxes me the downward, homeward way to dawn, to warmth, to rest.


18 mins in bouts of 5, 8, 5. Gentle rain. Good for the lungs. Headwind for the first half :-( b ut following wind for the rest :-D.

Sunday at Bordeaux Church

It was very cold on Sunday for the Bordeaux Carnival, but still some ladies decided to cast off upper clothing of all description, paint their torsos and dance half-naked through the streets of Bordeaux. Do they deserve medals? Do they need counselling? I leave it to the gentle reader to decide. Meanwhile after last year when we had to samba across the cathedral square in the pouring rain to get to Dan we decided to stay on bus 4 until Gambetta on the far side of the carnival route, so we missed everything except the photos in the local newspaper. James was preaching and I didn't even have to do the song sheets, so I sauntered through the streets without even a rucksack. Luxury!


Saturday's run was hampered - just the word - by the cake and other goodies consumed in San Sebastian.  Perseverance paid off, however. Monday morning was cold. Very cold. I almost decided to put off my run. But by simply not thinking about it, wearing two pairs of socks and singing through gentle tunes in my head the run was accomplished : this time 5 mins warm-up, 5 mins running, 3 mins walking, 6 mins running, 3 mins walking, 5 mins running, 5 minutes cool-off. I am now over half-way through the C25K programme and the time running will increase quickly at the expense of the time walking until there's just 5 minutes warm-up, 1/2 hour running then 5 minutes cool-off.

For Saint David's Day