Showing posts from May, 2016

I HAVE to tell you about two things that are brilliant

The first is our strimmer / lawn mower. It's a really nicely designed Black and Decker strimmer which comes with a little cart, a four-wheeled contraption into which you clip the strimmer, which thus transforms into a lawn mower. I was a little doubtful when I first saw it. It just seemed like one of those ideas that are too good to work. There had to be a catch. But the reviews on Amazon were glowing. Now for doing a golf course it would be a disaster, but for being stored on a shelf on the patio and mowing the lawn of a ground-floor bijou apartmentette it is JUST AMAZING. This morning I whizzed round the lawn before the rain started, including strimming against the patio and the walls and between the hedge shrubs in about 15 minutes flat, without rushing. The next thing that is just amazing is our running shoes. See, when we decided to do this couch to 5K thing it was obvious that we would need running shoes. What was NOT so obvious was whether we would keep going on the pr

Let's hope all is OK for Thursday!

I fly to the UK on Thursday. Here's my itinerary: Thursday 2nd June fly to Bristol, England  Sunday 5th am Blackburn (two churches services in the morning) Tuesday 7th Fflint Evangelical Church Wednesday 8th Borras Park Evangelical Church, Wrexham (from Monday 6th to Wednesday 8th I'll attend the Bala Ministers' Conference) Sunday 12th Bath (a service in the evening) Monday 13th Watford Tuesday 14th Swindon Wednesday 15th PenyBryn Thursday 16th Darlington Sunday 19th Clydach am, Emmanuel Cardiff pm I fly home on Tuesday 21st June. How here's the thing. A strike affecting airports is planned for Friday, the day after I fly.

Hang on! What's this?

From yesterday evening's reading: 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken:“Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." As we read John 18:1-12 from the service sheets I started to smell a rat. Some of the sentences were... well they were undeniably English, but not as she is spoke, not as we know her... When we got to verse 9 whoever was reading stumbled. "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." I thought, OK, so how many have you lost not? One. And how many have you lost? All except one. Or could it mean "I have lost not one" but several..? The formulation was unclear and not at all like spoken contemporary English. I apologised, "I'm sorry but I have an awful feeling that I did not copy this passage from the NIV." I was right. Oops!

We saw some segways swarming in the centre of Bordeaux


Last Friday's run, and this morning's

Last Friday I had a most splendid time. The sunrise was wonderful and I met a little labrador puppy who was taking his owner for a walk. I first saw them attempting to cross an empty road as I ran down it. The dog was keen to follow me but he couldn't get his owner to cooperate. A nice little training challenge. As I came up alongside the vines I met them again, as I thought I would. "Alors, qui promène qui?" I asked the guy. "Bonne question." he said. His dog was just adorable. Again he fancied running on with me, but his owner had other Ideas, so I left them having a nice tug of war as I continued on. The morning continued with breakfast on the terrace. Porage al fresco. This morning I saw them again and met them more or less in the same place. "Ah, j'espérais te voir!" I said to the dog. "On vous attendait." "Alors, est-ce qu'il est un peu plus sage? Il commence a comprendre qu'il faut te suivre?" "

Help! Help! We are being held prisoner against our will!

well, perhaps not quite... It appears that some kind of loose screw is stopping the front door of the block of flats from opening. It's just as well that there is a secondary door in the basement as well as the vehicular access. Late update: Mrs Davey found a trail of blood leading from the car parking area into the lift. She followed the trail as far as she could but she didn't find any body.

This could get quite interesting

The Football tournament kicks off next week, amidst political turmoil in France because of widespread rejection of the loi du travail , proposed by the government and opposed by pretty much all the unions. The proposed law aims to relax some of the strict controls on, for example, the length of the working day, as well as changing the rules on overtime pay, and how to lay people off if a company is not making sufficient profit. So far we've had train strikes, but now many of the oil refineries are on strike which means that quite a lot of France has no petrol or diesel. There is the threat of shutting down the power-stations, which would mean inevitable power-cuts, of course, as well as the failure of a large amount of public transport, the trains and trams being electrified. Next Friday there is a three-day air-traffic controllers strike planned. And all this just as the holiday season begins and just as the football tournament starts. M. Holland must feel under consid

Oh how I love the feeling you get when you have completed your income tax declaration

The feeling of achievement, of a deadline met, of having steered your way through the red tape is wonderful. The threatened cloud has passed. The sky is blue. It is rendered all the more euphoric when the calculator at the end tots up the tax you owe to be zero. Yippee!

It was not a macabre murder

It seems that the headless corpse found at Saige would not have been the victim of a brutal and violent murder. Instead it transpires that the history would be of two motorcyclists who had a well-watered evening at the Foire de Bordeaux before heading home. On the way one motorcyclist would have fallen off the back of the bike and would have been dragged along the road, killing him and removing one arm and half his head (grim, eh?) When the surviving motorcyclist would have realised what happened he would have called the police. The surviving motorcyclist is in police custody. (Newspapers in France write of alleged events in the conditional mood.)

A morning run interrupted

I was a little earlier out of the house this morning, so I was rewarded with an even more beautiful sunrise. It meant that my "run" was punctuated by photo sessions. All "instagrammed", I'm afraid. Oh yes. And I  worked out why I count my steps in fives! It's my asthma. Breathing in is easy, breathing out is harder, so I tend to breathe in in two beats and breathe out in three. Mystery solved.

Car hire

Wow! This thing where you print out all the details of your driving licence is great!

A macabre discovery and an unpleasant journey

The news broke yesterday that a headless corpse had been discovered on Sunday night in a car park at the Saige housing estate in Pessac. Understandably people are keen to solve this mystery. Last night Catrin went to the GBU meeting which takes place in the grounds of the Bagatelle hospital on the borders of Talence and Begles. It's an awkward place to get to, involving bus, tram and lots of walking. Last night tram B was not running - engineering works - so a bus service was laid on. Catrin was being happily whisked past the Saige housing estate in Pessac (see above) towards Pessac Centre when the driver said, "Sorry, I'm lost. I'm going to have to return to the centre of Bordeaux." and proceeded to go right round a roundabout and head back. The passengers' responses were not enthusiastic. "Phone for directions!" "No." "Use your GPS, that's what it's for." "No, I can't do that." "We can guide

A foodie day

Well yesterday was our day off, but only sort of because it started with a team morning at Maison de la Bible, involving a brief encouragement from the Bible, followed by a time of prayer, some practical points to note about procedures. Apparently there's one particular manipulation you can do in the computer system that freezes it for all the bookshops throughout France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy! When I worked in computing this would be seen as a major bug and it would be top priority to fix the system so nobody could do that again, but it is now over 25 years since I worked in computing and nowadays you just tell people not to do it. I have to admit to being tempted... From the Maison de la Bible we moseyed over to the Allées de Tourney to see the Epicuriales once more. There's a kind of Bordeaux bucket list of things you really ought to do, like climb the Tour Pey Berland, walk across the Pont de Pierre, ride on the BatCUB boats, etc. It includes eating at L'Entr

Getting two of the lads to preach

Two of our lads seemed good candidates to ask to preach for us. Mitchell is from the USA, a student in medicine who has already done an internship in a church. During his internship he was supposed to preach, but because of dates it never happened. Lloyd is from the UK and has experience of growing up in an international church in Italy. We take preaching very seriously and so do Mitch and Lloyd. So we decided to work through some material from David Jackman and from Tim Keller and also to work through their passages with them somewhat. Mitchell got John 15 and Lloyd got John 17. That have both preached now, both were great, and both were very different in their approach and manner. In the future for both of them as they become useful in whatever churches they settle in they'll know that they have preached in a church setting in the past and they'll remember working through the preparation.

Sunny Saturday

Yesterday was a beautiful day, wonderfully sunny, it hit about 30°C. So after an early lunch Pat and I went into town. Catrin had already left to join some friends for the March for Jesus. I'm still not quite sure that marching for Jesus is quite where I'm at, or that marching for Jesus under a blazing sun at 30°C was a very good idea for either of us, so we headed for the Jardin Publique to stroll in the shade of the trees and see what we could see. Afterwards we went back into town, through the tents and booths of the Epicuriales, the annual restaurant festival, when the cafes come to the Allées de Tourney and all kinds of great lunches are offered at 15€ a head. As we got to the Grand Théâtre there were all sorts of commotions going on. We wondered if it was the March for Jesus about to hit that part of town, but all we saw was a convoy of wedding cars with people hanging out of the windows with selfie sticks as they honked their way through the crowded st

Honestly, it's the finest moment of the day

I was up in time, and 6:45 saw me lumbering out of the door of the apartment block (shall I opt for condo in future?) as the rising sun beamed down at me, evidently pleased with the effort I was making. I've got a bit of hay fever, which provokes asthma, and I woke up rattling, but a lot of that is solved simply by getting upright. I walk to the corner of the vineyard, and that gives me a chance to observe what new plants are sprouting from the line of the fence. (We have lots of poppies in our garden, by the way) Then this morning as I turned the corner I saw the sunlight on the vines. Man, it's beautiful! And off I charge, like a rhino at the sound of the starter's gun. For some reason I'm counting my steps again, but only to establish a rhythm, and I count in fives. It might be some subliminal music exercise I am doing with myself. I don't know. Incidentally I'm singing at the moment a piece where the piano is in 12/8 and I'm not. I have groups of tw

Book review : Zeal without Burnout, by Christopher Ash, published by The Good Book Company

Subtitled, "Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice". I can hear my pastor's voice as he said it to me. "You'll take nine months off. Six is too little. A year is too long." It didn't even occur to me to question it. I knew things couldn't carry on as they had been, and so I complied. "If you come back to this church you will come back with a clearly defined list of responsibilities." was the remark from another Christian leader. It had happened. Shallow and easy-going, level-headed, not given to displays of emotion, all of a sudden I was burnt-out and depressed. I'd shouted at the church council and had started having panic attacks, among other symptoms too painful to mention. It was time to stop and recover. In "Zeal without Burnout", Christopher Ash has given us a wonderful book. It is timely, sane, wise, sensible, gentle, clear, straightforward, caring and gracious. If I could give it six stars I w


Didn't run today. Slept late. Ha! Oh well. I'll run tomorrow instead.


I've been quiet about running lately, but after I fell a couple weeks back it took a long time for the bruises to come out - about a week - and I was still stiff and aching for some days more, but I got back out and I'm enjoying my early morning runs. Here's some photos I took yesterday.

Bordeaux Church introduction video, Adobe Spark

Book review - Why bother with Church? - Sam Allberry

subtitled: "And other questions about why you need it and it needs you" I remember when it was hard to find an introductory book about the church to give to new Christians or to people who were perhaps a little jaded or ... shall we say undisciplined. Then Peter Jeffrey's little book "How to behave in church" came out. I loved that book! There is also "Life in the Father's House" by Wayne Mack, and also "What is a reformed church?" by Malcolm Watts, or by Stephen Smallman., as well as "Welcome to a Reformed Church" by Daniel Hyde. In short, the gap has been plugged. There's books for presbyterians and for reformed baptists. That's without thinking of Nine Marks and the excellent fullness of their thoughtful provision. So why bother with "Why bother with the Church?" and will anyone bother with it? Well I think they will, and I'll tell you why. This book has the strength of being exactly what you'

Bordeaux Church


Albert and the lion


Some photos from our evening stroll last night


There we are! Fair weather this morning!

Don Carson : Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture


I'm ashamed to admit it

but this morning I put on my running socks, tee-shirt, sweatshirt and shoes, and left the flat to go for my run. I got to the front door, took one look at the rain and turned round again. Well the thing is, since I fell I'm a bit more conscious of safety and of slippery surfaces... OK. I admit it. I am a fair-weather runner.

Furchte dich nicht, BWV 228

This is lovely. A motet on Isaiah 41:10 and 43:1, set for double choir. Do not fear, for I am with you;     do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;     I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;     I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Double choir means you divide your choir in two halves so as to make the music even more complicated (as if Bach's music wasn't already complicated enough!) Here they have one voice per part. It gives wonderful clarity, but you can lose attack and ... guts... I'm pretty sure the band just doubles the voice parts. Bach didn't write band parts.


What a pair of gadabouts! This morning found us at the CGR Cinéma Français near Place Gambetta to see "Risen", or as we saw it, "La Resurrection du Christ". What are my thoughts? Well it's pretty well done. Joseph Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes carries the main role well and makes Clavius the tribune seem quite credible as a character. The Christ figure is very cuddly, people want to crowd around him and hug him. There's an awful lot of hugging in the film, but hey. There is a little of the old opposition of head and heart thing. "You gotta feel it in yer heart", says the Magdalene. I'd feel OK taking certain folk to see it. Others, no. It would depend. I suppose the thing that struck me most is no angels. I am not sure that western people are very comfortable with the unseen world at the moment, so angels didn't figure. The other thing that struck me was the ascension. No cloud. Instead we had a nuclear explosion. That

"Ten French words you'll never pronounce right"

or that's what this article says. Here's the ten words they say are very difficult: 1) Mille-feuille It's a pastry like a custard slice gone very, very right. I don't think this word is all that hard, as long as you can do the sound in feuille, and as long as you can decide whether to pronounce the "ll"s in mille. 2) Brouilly It's a type of wine. I've never heard of it. 3) Rouen Place names are awkward because they don't always follow the rules. When I had preached perhaps 40 times in Blaye (which is pronounced locally to rhyme with "aye"or Dai) someone visited us and wanted to ask about Blaye, and every time I said the place name they "corrected" me to Ble (rhymes with "meh"). Every time.  It took a supreme effort of will not to say, "Look, who goes there every other week, me or you, sunbeam?"... Other anarchic place names include Agen and the department, le Gers. 4) Bouilloire Actually, the

First "barbecue" of the year

You see, we thought some of the students were leaving this coming week. Indeed, some were, but then they changed their plans, but not before we'd invited folk for a lunchtime "barbecue" at our place. The inverted commas signal the fact that we don't have a barbecue any more. We used to have a heavy table-top electric grill and also we inherited a massive charcoal barbecue of the type often used to feed small armies, but we deemed both difficult to store in the flat, so one we sold and the other we dumped. But we do have a small camping stove and lots of gas, so we set that up with my old cast-iron frying pan which I have had for over thirty years, and we churned out burgers, sausages and courgettes in that. There followed a lazy afternoon followed by the film "Amazing Grace", and home made pizzas for tea. Patricia has worked tirelessly today. It's quiet in the house now and the wind is getting up ready for the thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow.

Itinerary for church visits in June

Here's the plan: 5th am Blackburn 7th Fflint 8th Borras, Wrecsam 12th Widcombe 13th Watford 14th Swindon 15th PenyBryn, gêr Caerffili 16th Darlington 19th Clydach am, Cardiff pm

Book review - Counseling one another - A Theology of Interpersonal Discipleship - Paul Tautges - Shepherd's Press

Boy am I late with this review! When that happens sometimes it means that I've been ill, or extra-busy, or traveling. Sometimes it means I didn't like the book and I don't want to say so. But sometimes it means I really liked the book. And this is one of those times. Have you ever wondered what Paul would make of our understanding of some of the things he wrote? For me the classic one is "speaking the truth in love". I think if Paul could see what we often make of that verse he would be appalled. Instead of a community united in love to share the truth of Jesus we turn it into a reason to divide the community by telling each other what we think of them, convinced that our opinion is just the truth, in love of course... Another is the little phrase in Romans 15 where Paul expresses his confidence that the Roman Christians are competent to counsel one another. This turned into a polemic against dependence on psychology and psychiatry and a motor for pastors to t

These videos are sumptuous.

Bach at his funkiest . It's what the internet is for.

Well I had hoped it wouldn't come to this

but we bought a mower. Oh, it's such a funky little thing! You'd love it! It's made by Black and Decker, and I found it on Amazon. It's a strimmer that clips into a sort of go-kart affair which enables you to strim the lawn at a constant height thanks to the wheels of said go-kart. You can also unclip it to strim, or to edge - the head turns through 180° for that - and then to store it on the funky plastic shelves on the funky balcony. It's so light and easy to use - it's just like hoovering, and it's just right so far for our little patch of grass.

Eating my words

Dishwashing machines? Awesome.

Invasion of the bloodsuckers

What we feared. The general swampiness of the gardens round the block of flats has provided an ideal nursery for mosquitos, it would seem, judging by the number of big beefy examples we were squashing last night. So our flat is now pervaded with insecticide.

Catrin's concert

As part of their end of year assessments the students on Catrin's Musicologie et Chanson Française, Jazz et Musique Actuelle course have to give a recital. Catrin's was last night, along with her comrades Bérénice and Chloé. The professor has a kind of arrangement with various bars and little venues in Bordeaux and so we found ourselves in a private club. I know it sounds dodgy, but it wasn't really, it was very tame, and it is apparently one of the well-known small-scale music venues in Bordeaux. We planned our route with Moovit, which told us to take the 24 bus at 19:25 which would get us to the bar at 20:20. The concert was due to start at 20:30. Catrin, meanwhile, having gone to the beach with some of the students from church, had arranged to meet them at the tram stop at 8:15, so she went on tram B. Our bus got us to the bar by about 7:45. I don't know how. Maybe we walk much quicker than Moovit allows for. Maybe it was the absence of traffic. Maybe I just r

Mrs Davey, the osteopath and running

Well Pat's back is much better and she resumed hr service at the Maison de la Bible. She did have an appointment booked with an osteopath on Monday, who told her not to run. "Walk fast for an hour, instead", she said. So there we have it.

Oh well, it was bound to happen some time

Yes. I fell. I tripped over a very small water tap cover just alongside the vineyards of Château Pape Clément. Thankfully not many folk were around, and on our white dust pavements you land quite softly, really. Not like on tarmac (ouch) or gravel (yuk). I have a small graze on the heel of my hand, and sore spots on my elbow and knee, but apart from that more fear than harm (plus de peur que de mal), and to be honest, not much fear either. I landed with a soft sound, quickly realised that I had done no serious damage, considered how much further I had to go and carried on without difficulty.

I'd love to know how things were at the airport yesterday

Yesterday was the 1st May, the Fête du Travail, the only day in the year when there are no buses or trams at all. It fell on the first Sunday of the month, which is Bordeaux 'No Car Day" when cars are banned from the city centre. So we reluctantly cancelled our service.Almost all our folk come by mass transit, and if we had reserved a Citiz car then we would not have been allowed into the city centre anyway and we'd have had trouble parking. So some folk came to our place and we spent an agreeable day together. As the day unfolded we saw lots of aeroplanes taking off and landing from Mérignac airport. I wondered whether some of the people arriving would end up stuck or would have to pay a fortune for taxis into the city. A good day to be an Uber driver!