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)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oh, we do have our little excitements, you know

So I got our property-owners' tax bill through today.

1608€, please, by mid October for the property which we no longer own.

I wondered whether I perhaps still owed for last year, but no, it clearly said it was for this year.

I wondered if there was some kind of mistake in my mind, but no, the notaire had clearly said that we would no longer have to pay after December 2015.

I wondered if perhaps I had not notified them, but I have. I wrote the day we sold the house, enclosing the notaires' attestation of sale. AND they contacted me in August asking if we still owned the house, and I replied, enclosing my letter of 22 December and the notaires' attestation of sale, again.

I phoned them up. After some minutes on hold I got through to a helpful lady who made encouragingly shocked noises to her colleague.

"Oh la la. Mais quoi? Et aloes... Zut!" and other words I shall not repeat.

"Allô? Monsieur? Yes, because the change of ownership was only noted in the system at the beginning of August the bill was still sent out. You should receive, at best at the end of next week, a letter explaining that you don't need to pay your bill."

"OK. Thanks."


I'm off to Paris in October to a training day on association law run by the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France. It'll mean an overnight stay but I've found somewhere reasonable, a reasonably priced rail ticket and it's all feasible.

New coffee shops and a new Ice-Cream place

Today Mrs Davey and I took advantage of the relative calm to go and explore an exhibition of street art that has been set up in the old premises of the Virgin Megastore, and that is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

OK. So, having a little time on our hands, we decided to check out some new coffee chops.

First we poked our noses into Starbucks because a friend has just started working there.
He wasn't there. We retreated swiftly.

Then we visited the BIG post office looking for pre-stamped envelopes for sending letters overseas, for example to England. They didn't have any.

Then we decided to check out a new coffee shop that comes with strong recommendations, and that will prepare your coffee by chemex, aeropress, or sundry other methods. It looked great, but Mrs Davey was not convinced.

So we went to the Jean Moulin French Resistance Museum where there is an exhibition of propaganda from WWII. It was chilling, especially a film about the liberation of the death camps.

Then another post office. No envelopes.

Then another. "We don't do them any more."
"Oh no!, and they have closed the post office in the centre of Pessac!"

Then another post office to buy the equivalent stamps.
(Why we didn't think of this sooner, I don't know)

Then to the new English bookshop and coffee shop where we met an ex-pat friend who is kind of Polish Australian. We happily chewed the cud for a while, before setting off home.

Oh yes, the ice-cream...

Well there's a new Ice-Cream place on a street that we hardly ever take, that sells traditional provençal flavours.

I had Rosemary, Olive Oil and Pine Nuts. Excellent!
Pat had Fennel. (I also sampled the fennel and it was very good indeed.
Catrin had a carrot sorbet. She was less convinced.

They had lots more wonderful flavours, including Lavender, and Pastis.

Monday, August 29, 2016


So today has been interesting.

Catrin left at 9:00 to go to the airport with some friends on a trip to Barcelona.

We, meanwhile, were off to Clinique Tivoli for an appointment with the anaesthetists who will numb Patricia's eye with drops ready for the surgeon to do her cataracts.

At about 10 the phone rang. "Dad, one of the girls has a problem with her card, but there's a couple who had the same problem, so we're going with them by car to Barcelona."

The "problem with the card" was a French identity card that was out of date by a month.
The girl in question will come back by coach, where they don't worry so much about valid identity.
So off they set for Barcelona.
Catrin promised to text us from time to time.

Meanwhile we set off for the clinic. Patricia needed a BIG THICK dossier of papers, including a complete print of the contract of our health insurance and loads of other stuff, together with her passport. We walked through the streets of Pessac to the station and took the Citiz car to drive to Tivoli.

Traffic was heavy and roadworks were frequent. At the clinic Pat got out and scuttled off to the clinic while I parked the car. I found her in the waiting room, rifling through her papers.

"Is my passport in the car?"

"I'll go and look."

It was nowhere. Not in the car, not on the floor of the car park, not nowhere.

When I got back to the waiting room she'd gone in to see the doctor.
He didn't need her passport.
Or the contract for our health insurance.

When we got back to Pessac we looked in the street, in the flat, everywhere. It was nowhere.

At about 4 the phone rang. "Madame Davey? It's the police. We have your passport."

Then we heard that Catrin had arrived safely in Barcelona and was reunited with the gang of girls.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

UPS - ha!

We have had two different deliveries this week from UPS.
One came on Wednesday and one on Thursday.
At least in theory.

I had been tracking the deliveries and I knew that Wednesday's parcel was scheduled to arrive, so we made sure someone was always in to watch for it. I was not encouraged, therefore, to receive a message saying that the package could not be delivered because we were "indisponible" - unavailable.

How much more available can you be than watching the gate of the front yard of the flats?
We knew no UPS van had come. Anyway our flat has a bell, a loud bell, a loud bell which had been silent all day.

Subsequent messages said that the package had been delivered to a relay point about 5 minutes walk away, then that the relay point was closed so "a new attempt to deliver the package would be made on Thursday".

The problem - apart from complete fabrication such as "unavailable" - is that because the flats are less than a year old they do not appear on GPS systems. If you put in 1 Avenue Paul Montagne the systems often say the address does not exist. Drivers get discouraged by this and give up. However, anyone driving up Avenue Paul Montagne might quickly realise that there is a new block of flats at the start of the road and it would not take the deductive powers of Maigret to surmise that this might be no.1. Not only that but they have our phone number on the package, so they could ring. But they usually don't.

So I quickly went into the UPS website and advised them that our flat was situated on the corner of Paul Montagne and Larouillat, and that we were watching for the driver.

The next day I saw a UPS van arrive at the traffic lights, thankfully red. I shot out and hailed the driver, who pulled in.

He handed over a package. One small package.

"There's another, a bigger one, from yesterday."

"Yes, it's at the relay point."

"But I had a message telling me that it wasn't."

"Oh yes it is, I left it there myself."

Thanks a bunch, I thought, then decided to phone the relay point as by now it was hot. Very hot.

"Hallo, you have a parcel for me, quite a big one, for Davey."

"No, no, there's nothing here for Davey."

I spelled the name.

"No, no."

"Then I have a big, fat problem because the UPS driver said he left it at your shop."

"No... oh, hang on, yes, there it is."


Today is the hottest day, apparently

We needed some provisions, so Patricia and I ventured out quite early on the 42 bus towards Mérignac. I knew one stop to get off to go to the huge Carrefour at Mérignac Soleil, but I saw, too, that you could alight at the stop before and take a shorter route, so we tried it.

A little gated road with a footpath and cycle path led past a staff carpark for Carrefour - promising - and past a yard full of Carrefour rental vehicles. To the right was the after-sales service area. A gentleman with a small girl was walking in front of us. I noticed that his legs were strangely shaped - a cyclist, I think. We followed him. He entered through a doorway.

When we approached the doorway we saw that it said "Private, No entry, Security". A lady stood just to one side, smoking.

"Hallo," I said, "how does one access the shopping centre?"

"Through there", she said, "then across and through a door on the left".

Thus encouraged we entered the private, no entry, security door and followed the chap once more through the indicated door (marked "Staff only, strictly no admittance") and found ourselves right outside the entrance to Carrefour.

We found the supplies we needed - lentils, brown rice, sesame oil, live yogurt and other delicious goodies - then lingered as long as we dared by the chillers before taking the short walk and bus journey home.

The rest of the day was spent behind the radiation shields (shutters) preparing for tomorrow and in cool musical pursuits.

The weathermen say that it will be cooler from tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Today Catrin signed up for the second year of her course

The inscription process is really well organised.

You start at the bottom of the reception building with someone who checks that you have all the documents you need.

Catrin had not received her official list of marks for her course last year, so she'd downloaded them from the course website. Also we were unsure whether the little grant she received makes her a boursière or not, so we'd said she wasn't.

The woman who checked Catrin's dossier went off to check and came back with her official report from last year AND the news that she is indeed a boursière, and therefore we didn't have to pay any fees for her course. Last year we had about 200€ to pay.

Then you go to part 2, which is the actual inscription desk. Here all your information is loaded into the computer and you get back various certificates to say that you're a student, as well as your wifi password, etc.

After that it's part 3, which is where you get your student card and you walk away fully enrolled.

Catrin's appointment was for 10:15, we arrived a little early and actually left at 10:10, it was all so efficient. Bravo Bordeaux-Montaigne.

At 19:56 we raised the heat-shields. So far so good.

We have heat-shields on our windows. Roll-down shutters.

As this part of France is officially in a heatwave (Canicule - defined in the Gironde as temperatures above 35 in the daytime and not falling below 21 at night) the government has issued the following instructions:

1) Spend at least 3 hours a day in a cool place. (for us this would mean hanging about in Carrefour or in the local library)

2) Refresh yourself, moisten your body several times a day.

3) Drink frequently and copiously, even when you are not thirsty.

4) Don't go out at the hottest times.

The hottest times are from about 2 in the afternoon till about 6 pm. The morning is OK, and in Pessac  we also get nice breezes. But after lunch you can't stay out on the terrace, you have to get back in the house behind the shutters. And even then it's so hot you are aware that you're thinking sluggishly.

So in the afternoon we live like troglodytes in the gloom hidden behind our heat-shields. 
We can venture out in the early morning, but by lunchtime you fry out there. 
The postman spontaneously combusted, but the mailbox is metal so the letters were OK.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Wow. Just wow!

There was a guy there filming for TV7. He asked if he could interview me, but his questions were a bit un-thought-out and I was somewhat awestruck by the plant so I was replying in whispers!

I'm so excited! I have an EPIC day-off ahead of me, before resuming work and ministry tomorrow

This morning - a visit to the Greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens (already some of my favourite words in that sentence) to see the flowering Amorphophallus titanum.

This afternoon - trombone brother Bruce (who is actually American) is coming round for coffee.

This evening - Patricia and Catrin come home and I get to collect them from the airport in Carys the Yaris!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The world is smaller than we think

Again this morning I noticed that people I know from separate worlds - France, Wales, UK, Mission, etc - discover each other or know each other, without me introducing them or knowing they knew each other. It's a bit alarming sometimes. Everyone I know also knows each other. I dare not sniff, I am surrounded!

It's not that surprising, really, though, is it. Birds of a feather and all that. Six degrees of separation.

I thought about this the other day. Someone described a church I know and love as "just scraping in as conservative evangelical". I was surprised. The church in question is eminently conservative evangelical and more or less in the centre of the spectrum of evangelical churches in its city. Of course, we could do with defining our terms - what is a conservative evangelical anyway? Not only that, but you ask the more "right-wing" of our brothers and they'd agree that the church barely cuts muster, but ask folk on the left-wing and my friendly church would be seen as deeply conservative or even hide-bound.

We think at Bordeaux Church that we're pretty radical. After all, we hold our services café-style, seated round tables. At the same time our worship is deeply conservative. All the things we do are what people like us have always done. No dance, no symbolic actions, no ecstatic utterances.

I think the points I'm making are:

1) It's almost impossible to know how others would describe us on the conservative - modern spectrum, and it doesn't matter a bit anyway. On the great and last day faithfulness will be of the essence, but faithfulness to the faith once delivered to the saints, not to any tradition of conservative or radical or modern or whatever.

2) We shouldn't worry about whether we are too conservative, sufficiently conservative, too radical, radical enough or whatever. Who cares? Anyway all these standards are shifting shadows. Who wants to try and keep march in step with a shadow as it fades? What matters is communicating biblical truth in a biblically faithful and intelligible way so that people can become disciples of the Master.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A surprisingly frustrating journey!

Mrs Davey has taken flight to England, to Burgess Hill, to the celebration of our brother-il-law's 70th birthday. Yes. 70th. Oh la la.

So 15h found us scuttling through Pessac to get Carys the Yaris to drive off to the airport.

When we arrived I cast a glance round Carys and found - a long scrape down her side. Yikes!

This means phoning the Car Pool Club.

I had to do this once before - I found someone had clouted her bumper - and it's always frustrating. For a start you get put through to an operator in a call centre somewhere and they can never find the parking place in their system.

"La Gare de Pessac? Non, je ne le trouve pas..."

"Ben, de toute façon il n'y a qu'un seul stationnement à Pessac, alors si vous trouvez Pessac vous avez trouvé l'endroit."

I tried not to sound exasperated. The thing was, Mrs Davey had a plane to catch.

"La longueur? Je dirais 50 cm." I think it was longer, in fact. Anyway, as long as they know.

Eventually all necessary info was given and we got underway. I'd allowed 30 minutes to get to the airport and we'd used 16 of them already. Oh dear.

How's the ring road? Clogged. OK, we'll go by the back roads.

We got to the airport at about 15:45.

Two minutes after Pat got through security they announced the departure gate and she got happily onto the plane.

Boy, it's quiet in this house!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chez le médecin

I phoned on Tuesday for an appointment.

"Tomorrow at 9:15?", said the doctor, who handles her own diary.

I quickly reserved the Yaris hybrid and all was set for the off.

The Yaris started great - once I remembered that you have to stick your foot on the brake - and off we went together, me and Carys the Yaris. I really love that car! It's smooth, quiet and has good aircon. And the roads in August are pretty clear. It was a pleasure to drive again!

9:15 means you won't go in very late. My doctor books appointments every 15 minutes, but I reckon she takes about 20 minutes with each person, so it's good to go early in the day if you can. I bet she never eats lunch. Still, lunch is for wimps.

We did the general MOT / contrôle technique.

"You're still running?"

"Yes." I didn't feel the need to explain that while in the UK running through unknown streets prowled by unknown monsters had put me off.

She looked at my carbuncle.

"I've seen a lot worse."

"It was a lot worse", describing the vast quantities of cheese that it had produced. "Sorry about the details."

"It's my job."

I resisted the urge to tell her it had been almost the size of the Sainsbury Extension to the National Gallery. Nobody gets that joke, anyway. Prince Charles might, I suppose.

"After all those antibiotics we'll leave it alone for now. Just use an antiseptic spray, one that crosses the skin."

I told her about how the use of Augmentin is strongly discouraged in the UK.

"They're right! They're always ahead of us. General practitioners shouldn't be allowed to prescribe Augmentin. People hand it out to please their patients and we are creating big problems."

"I've had a problem with this arm, but I think it's because of bad posture irritating the nerve."

She nodded and wrote out a prescription for ten sessions of neck massage with a physiotherapist.

"Choose any convenient physio." she said.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jonathan Thomas : "Today I am going to tweet a dozen random reflections on 12 years in ministry."

1. It really is all of grace.
Any church growth or health is down to the goodness of God.

2. Those you help the most, hurt the most.
Sometimes the people you invest in the most just walk away...sometimes in anger.

3. Beware of strangers bearing gifts.
Too many times I have trusted new people too soon and been burnt. Beware motives.

4. Home is where the heart is: Protect it!
My primary calling is as a husband & father, but it is always tempting to neglect.

5. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Pastoral care and preaching are inseparable.

6. Grace is always enough, even in the face of death.
God always brings His people through, even when their faith seems weak

7. Remember the 7th day of creation.
Sleep, sabbaths and sabbaticals keep us humble and healthy.

8. Fight to have fresh milk every day.
I need the grace of time with God every day. Without it I get arrogant or despondent.

9. Don't believe the hype.
Fads, fashions and famous Christians/churches come and go.
Ignore it all.

10. Jesus really is ALWAYS the answer.
But He wants to be applied intricately and intimately to each individual soul.

11. It's never the people you expect.
God works wonders in the most unexpected people. The Spirit blows where he determines.

12. It really is all of grace.
T'was grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.

Some of these I agree with more than others, and some I might express differently, but all merit consideration.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bank Holiday Monday

We returned on Saturday from a very restful three weeks in the UK.

The first week we were spoilt rotten in Clydach by old friends who opened their comfortable home to us, cooked wonderful meals and sent us off exploring in their car. The weather was a bit lousy, but it's always wet in the Dan-yr-Ogof caves and we followed up our visit with Gwilym's dream "pub lunch".

Next came the UFM Family Conference which was a good time. Gwilym was in charge of the older Youth Stream, aided and abetted by Catrin. The conference was held in a de Vere conference centre which was in beautiful grounds in a lovely Surrey village, but the rooms were in dire need of redecorating. However the food was good and the conference encouraging.

We always come away feeling very daunted by what some of our colleagues have to deal with - we really do have a cushy number here in comparison - and I STILL got burnout!

Meanwhile my summer carbuncle - well, while at UFM I finished my eight day course of augmentin, to no great discernible effect, so on the Wednesday I traipsed through the village to the surgery and was seen by a very good doctor who prescribed a ten day course of flucloxacillin. I finished this on Saturday and as I write there has been a great improvement, but I still would like to see my doctor this week and get her opinion on it.

I may need to take up arms against the staph aureus that could be lurking in the more tropical parts of my body in order to avoid getting another of these things in the future. This would mean washing routinely with medicated soap. Anyway, we'll see.

After saying goodbye to Gwilym, who left to spend four weeks in musical mission in Belgium and Holland, the third week was spent in Cardiff in the gorgeous home of some old friends. We managed to see the ugly sisters and some nephews and had a quick trip to Cardiff Bay in glorious sunshine. Then Catrin went down with a sore throat and this curtailed our excursions, enforcing restful musical, literary and televisual pursuits. Catrin then went off to run amok with some friends in Hastings while we spent our last day in Cardiff catching up on the things we had not been able to do in the week. We had coffee in the renowned cafe of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, we explored the civic centre, we visited the Impressionists in the National Museum, as well as the excellent Quentin Blake exhibition, we had lunch in the old library, we explored the market and the arcades, we bumped into neighbours from Pessac and freaked everyone out by doing the bise by the fish stall, we had coffee in one fo the trendy new coffee bars and then returned to the house to clean and pack.

Saturday was a big day. For some reason that seemed sensible at the time I had booked a flight home from Liverpool, so we caught the 8am bus through persistent drizzle to the railway station, then had a lovely journey up through the borderlands to Chester, then to Liverpool. Lunch at Nando's was pretty exotic for us, then a quick wander through the centre of Liverpool before getting the bus to the airport. Our plane was delayed by heavy summer air traffic, so we arrived in Bordeaux at about 10:30 and by the time we'd travelled home on bus and tram we got in after midnight.

We were only away for two Sundays, the first was spent in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea, with the redoutable Steve Levy and then in Bethel Clydach where the world famous Mark Barnes was preaching. Then in Cardiff it's difficult. Which old friends do you aim to see? In the end it was Highfields and a friend in his early twenties sat by me during the service, then I could catch up with another friend in her late eighties after the service.

We're always amazed by the low price of food in the UK, and every time we visit now I'm weighing up the possibilities for retirement. We enjoy Cardiff very much, but I am not convinced by the prospect of retiring there. At least, not without a car.

Now we are not back in harness for a week or so, so yesterday before the service we again went out for lunch, this time street food - burritos - before taking a little trip on the BatCub, the Bordeaux water-bus, out to the Cité du Vin for a cup of tea. The service went well, James seems to have been a pair of safe hands this summer and it was good to see folk again, though lots are on holiday.

Monday, August 08, 2016


The 15 days were up last Thursday, and today is the deadline for enrolling for the next TCF-ANF exam in October, so I emailed my old phonetics teacher and asked if I had passed.

The answer came back straight away. Because the exam took place on the last day of term, the deliberations will not take place until September.

Oh well. I reckon I will have passed. Even with the cow in the apartment, they'd have to give me 20% for my effort, surely. And the other testes were OK.

At the doctor's, again.

Well the augmentin did not succeed in killing off the bugs which had colonised my neck.

By the way, would you like to see some photos that Pat took of the carbuncle?
She took them so I could see its progress as the antibiotics did their work.

Also I have succeeded in finding out why I couldn't find a word for carbuncle in French. There is a word. It is l'anthrax. Yes. Irritating, isn't it. Just as using l'angine for a sore throat is irritating.

So once the course of augmentin was finished, and the carbuncle still infected, I decided to go and see a doctor again. We were in the leafy village of East Horsley, near Leatherhead in Surrey, so I dodged the Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars to stroll through the village to the surgery. The doctor was very nice, very efficient and very straight.

"I'd say there's a 30% chance you'll need to have that lanced," quoth she.

"Lanced is such a ... violent word." I replied.

"Well, we'll give this floculixiloxiloxicilillin a try. It has a 70% chance of clearing it up. A ten day course. Finish the course."

She also said that augmentin is very rarely prescribed now because the amoxicillin component is implicated in the spread of clostridium difficile.

Anyway, now, five days into my ten day course, my anthrax is greatly improved and I hope to avoid ending up with another hump on my neck, too.