Showing posts from September, 2016

Back to the running

I slept pretty well. My breathing settled down considerably yesterday. I felt well again. So at 6:30 it was "run time". And it felt very good. I'm still building up slowly after the summer break and stuff, so I'm not running for 30 minutes yet, just over 20 minutes, with a short walk to begin and to end. But next week I hope to add in another 1km loop and bring it up to almost 1/2 hour. I run like an old codger. As I was galumphing down Rue Profond I thought of the old codgers we see running round the place and how my pace and gait must resemble theirs. But then even if I run like an old codger, at least I run like an old codger who is out running. And it was good.

Our home is a house of sickness

Poor Catrin has a tummy bug. I felt unwell on Tuesday and broke out in something vaguely cold-like yesterday. Pat is so far resisting bravely!

An AirBnB for the homeless

Read about it here , and see a nice photo of Professor Pascal Pistone of Catrin's degree course at University of Bordeaux Montaigne.

A boat signed by Starck

There's this dirty great private yacht moored in Bordeaux. It is due to leave this evening so I went down to get some photos:

Ausone Station

For all the time we have been here in one narrow street near the Place Gambetta - the square where the guillotine was placed during the reign of terror - one particular building was shored up with a massive construction in huge girders and beams. We've been here ten years and the building had been in a sorry state of repair for longer. Then, towards the end of last year, I think, we heard that a survey was being done and permission sought to turn the building into a cultural centre linked to and owned by France's largest independent bookshop, Mollat. And last night Catrin and her fellow-students held a concert there. I was quite impressed with the place. They've managed to build a large, flat floored hall, all painted dark with fancy composite arches supporting the ceiling and a capacity of at least a couple of hundred people. The first performer was Alice, one of Catrin's fellow students, who brought a strong Euro-Rock effect, with a floral one piece, spiked gogg

The wise man ...

Apparently I should inhale sharply while squirting water up my nose. I'm giving it a go.

Lots of drama with the local cats today!

Firstly Sumo and Catkin had a stand-off. Spitting and staring. Batting at each other. Catkin backed down and strutted off. Then Sumo was crying in the garden. I went to see what the problem was and he had caught a lizard, but sadly the lizard was no longer moving, no matter what he did.

That moment

Who here thinks that you can live a perfectly fulfilled and normal life without ever having a sexual partner? Not a hand raised. Who here thinks that Jesus lived a perfectly fulfilled and normal life? You see the problem we have with our society and its propaganda?

I can't remember the last time I felt like this about the autumn

Today the summer has one last go - temperatures above 30°C and glorious sunshine - so Patricia and I hied us away to Bordeaux Lac for a quick stroll by the waterside. Bus 4, then tram C, basically the same route that takes us to Ikea. As we passed through Pessac we spotted an unusual market, so we stopped to look. There's a new initiative in Pessac called "Pessac Village" which will bring an arts and crafts market to Pessac from time to time as well as other events. There was a stage with a jazz saxophonist, a folk singer and a rock band scheduled. So we got off the bus to look around. The stalls were charming with all sorts of things, from concrete sculptures moulded in origami to sock monkeys and solar powered butterflies. One stand was selling little cakes made without any kind of flour or sugar, all made from dried fruit and the stall-holder was keen on getting us to sample all her wares - pear and chocolate, coconut and ginger, etc... We considered using them as

Book review - Good and Angry - David Pawlinson

A whole book about anger! That is at one and the same time so necessary and such a narrow focus that in a way this sums up my reaction to this very good book. Pawlinson's concern is to help us to understand anger, and to help us to address and solve our problems with anger. For this reason he progresses slowly through the book, building step by step, section by section, gradually putting in place his argument. Please don't misunderstand me. Pawlinson's writing is not at all stodgy or ponderous. In fact this book contains one of the shortest and best written chapters I have ever read. Excellent work! But from time to time I found myself shouting at the book. "Yes, but...". "Well maybe, but what about..." and "Aren't you going to talk about...". Then, often in the next chapter, he would. Now it's a sad fact of life that we have difficulty admitting to ourselves that we have a problem with anger. (That's what makes the short ch

There's speling erors, there's auto-corruption and there's just plumb dumb


From the Thomaskirche


Day off excursions

Monday was a pleasant day so we made a couple of excursions. The first was to Lidl to stock up on essentials. While we were there we saw that they had what they called barbary figs - prickly pear fruit - so we bought a pack of six and we've enjoyed them very much. The afternoon took us to the centre of Bordeaux where we called in at the new Uniqlo store. Uniqlo is a Japanese brand of mail order clothing and they now have eleven shops in France, the most recent being in Bordeaux. I think the brand will do well as they have just the right colour palette for the city - a range of black, navy blue, various greys and different shades of beige. Their clothes are ... reasonably priced ... and generally fairly conservative in design, though they do have some oddities. I was intrigued by a blazer which, when you got near enough to look was not tailored but knitted. They also had good coats - not cheap but they looked the kind of coat that you would wear for ever. Pat didn't buy a

Animal fun

So there I am with my head and heart stuck in "possess his vessel" while animal fun erupts all round me. First Sumo, the neighbour's enormous cat, decides to come and pay us a visit. We decide that we don't want our sofa to smell like the neighbours' cat - and anyway, perhaps he isn't allowed on their sofa. But once he's up getting him off is complicated because he is very heavy and he has claws that sink quite easily into the cloth of our new Ikea sofa-bed. hmmm. A compromise is reached - temporarily - and a blanket is placed where he tends to go. Sumo leaves, Lawrence the rat enters and, despite his worrying immobility in his cage, becomes the daring acrorat, climbing up guitar and mandoline cases, scuttling along bookshelves, running out on ukuleles and then running for cover when they fall to the floor with a crash, leaping for the dresser and discovering there is no purchase for his little claws, so falling to the floor. He had a very adventurous

Lilas des Isles

I know it sounds like a singer in a sleazy nightclub, Lila Dézil, but this is a beautiful flowering shrub that is planted in front of our block of flats. It flowers profusely with these blousy loose blossoms. These are the last blooms for this summer.

iOS 10

On Wednesday we had to be up and out early to get Pat to that clinic, and really I needed my phone to be working to get the Citiz car and possibly use the Waze satnav programme to get to the clinic. But on Tuesday Apple were releasing a new version of the phone operating system, iOS 10. It became available at 7pm. Now then, in the old days on Android new versions of the phone system would come out periodically, but they would not be available worldwide at the same time. They'd come out at different dates according to your country, to your mobile phone network and to you make an model of phone. It was, frankly a shambles. But with Apple they announce it one week and everyone gets it the following week on the same day at the same time. But should I update the software the eve of Pat's operation? Oh go on. So I did. There were reports that some people were having problems. I had no problems whatsoever. The phone downloaded the software quickly, validated it and then appl

The summer seems to be over. Autumn seems to have come suddenly.

Monday it was in the mid 30s. Tuesday, too, though on Tuesday evening we have dramatic and violent storms. Our internet company sent us a message to unplug our modem. The town hall said not to walk under any trees. They closed the parks. They activated the anti-hail cannons across the department. The storm was quite spectacular, though we didn't get the forecast hail. Then from Wednesday on the temperatures have hovered in the low 20s. It's autumn, I think.

Squirting water up your nose

Every morning and every night I squirt sea-water up my nose, as the doctor told me to. I sing a jaunty song as I do so: The wise man squirted water up his nose (x3) As the doctor told him to. The water shoots up and the bugs flow down (x3) So squirt some water up your nose. But as of yet the efficacy of this treatment is unconvincing. I sneeze. My nose runs. I am, basically, unconvinced. I'll keep going till the can runs out of water, but I can't promise that I'll buy another.

Uniqlo arrives in Bordeaux

Now then, since I started running I have lost no weight whatsoever. We have also changed the way we eat, greatly reducing the amount of carbohydrates in our diet, and I have lost no weight whatsoever. Catrin has become almost vegetarian and so we now eat much less meat, too. And this has had no effect whatsoever on my weight. But I can only assume that I have become more dense, because I have changed shape. This means that I can now wear clothes from shops I could never have shopped in before. It's quite amazing, especially when I recall how one American lady a few years ago looked me up and down and said, "You really should visit America. You would like the sizes." hmmm. Cheeky monkey! Other friends have long suggested that I shop at Uniqlo, an online clothing shop of Japanese origin, but I am reluctant to order online, especially when the same printed size label can mean wearing a tent or a tea-bag - and then if it's not right you have to send the thing ba

OK. All fine. We don't need to see you again. Just get some reading glasses.

Pat had her post-operative check-up this morning and the ophthalmologists were very happy with her. They don't want to see her again. They don't want to assess her for glasses, not in a week, not in a month, not never unless she has a problem. She only needs some +2 glasses for reading, which can be bought in lots of different places. She's delighted.

"My wife has had another operation."

"Really?" "Well yes, she has two eyes..." This was the exchange when I handed the bill into our insurance office in the hope that they will reimburse us. They haven't done so for the first operation yet. We'll give it a week and then I may have to go and see them about it. *Update: We got all but 50€ reimbursed for the first eye, so if they follow that pattern the operations will cost us something in the order of 100€, plus, of course, the insurance premiums we pay for health care. Anyway, last week's appointment was for 8:30 and they rang the day before to tell us to come for 7:30. "Oh yes! If you come at 8:30 it will be too late!" OK.. So we rolled into the clinic at exactly 7:30. This week they phoned to say that we should come at the time indicated on the appointment. "If it says 9:40 (which it did) then you should come at 9:40!" "But last week..." said Patricia... Anyway, we rolled up at 8:40. Patricia&#

We've all been really tired this week

I think it's a combination of the heat - especially at night, of Patricia's operations and of getting everything started up again.

Got my marks for DELF B2 through today

I was relieved to have passed comfortably, even the part with the letter complaining about the cow. I got 91%. My lowest mark was 21/25, which corresponds to 84%, for the letter about the cow. My highest mark was 25/25 for the oral. How can anyone award 100% in a language exam? Especially for an oral? Anyway, I feel stupid for having got so worked up about the exam, I feel encouraged to have a French certificate of competence in French, and I feel thankful for the encouragement. The last time I had a result like this was my A levels, in 2003 or thereabouts, where I got 94% overall and 100% in my AS exams. Again I don't quite see how that's possible, but hey... That was when we were in that awful time of working through leaving our church, which we love, to come and serve in France. We needed encouragement. Now we're in this messy time of church planting. It's so ... untidy. In church life there's rules, there's a team, there's people who take deci

The cold caller

The phone rang. "Allô?" There was a pause, then a click - this means a call centre with a computerised calling system that puts answered calls through to someone. "Hallo Sir, I'm calling on behalf of EDF (France Electricity) to ensure that you received your last bill." I was suspicious. They've never done this before. "Yes. It came by email as usual." "Also to ask you if you have considered the benefits of installing photovoltaic panels on your roof." "Madame, it is clear that you do not work for EDF because if you did then you would know that this is a block of flats and we are tenants, not owner-occupiers." The phone cut off suddenly.

At the insurance office

I called at our insurers' office, just about 5 minutes walk from the flat, to drop off the bill for Pat's cataract operation in the hope of it being reimbursed. We should be covered. The person who dealt with it said, "OK, I'll send that off." "I ought to talk to you about life insurance, too, in case we die, because to die incurs costs." "OK. What kind of sum are you thinking of? 10,000€?" "Sounds about right. I guess a burial costs about 5,000?" "5 - 7,000€, yes. Here we are, for straightforward life insurance you're talking about 7€ per month per person." "OK. That sounds affordable." "Alternatively we have endowment policies that pay out in case of death but also your premiums are saved up. There for 10,000€ cover you'd be putting aside 50€ per person, but in 5, 10 or 20 years you get these sums of money back. And of course, if you die then your wife gets the money." "Oh, I

You have to take the rough with the smooth

This has to be the first year ever that we have a tomato plant that has been adequately watered all summer. It's quite remarkable! We left our flat for three weeks in July and early August and all that time our tomato plant was watered and flourished. We planted it by the hedge, you see, and the hedge is supplied by our flats' automatic watering system. Every evening a trickle of water is squirted from a system of pipes that runs along the little hedges and around the various trees and shrubs. Anything planted by the hedges gets watered too. Anything else doesn't. That's why our "lawn" has two distinct colours. Where the pipes run the lawn is luxuriantly green, verdant, thriving. Everywhere else it's brown, crisp and dusty-looking. Our tomatoes haven't yet ripened, but it's still quite sunny and it will stay warm till November, so I think we will get some. Next year we'll be ready. We'll get some tomato plants and put them in beside t


Pat had her post-op examination in the centre of Bordeaux today. The chap said that the operation was very good, excellent, but that she must clean her eyelids and put some cream near her eyelashes to prevent any possibility of infection. Jolly good! Then we called on the way home at the DEFLE university language school, where a list had been posted of the people who had succeeded in the DELF B2 exam. My name was on the list. Phew! They did not get put off by the cow. Jolly good!

Pat's cataract

On our arrival at the clinic we went to the reception area. You have to decide what you are there for - we were here for an "Admission", press the relevant button, take the ticket that printed out and then sit and wait. After a couple of minutes we were told to go to desk E. Pat, who was not wearing her glasses, dutifully charged off to desk B, while the lady at desk E and I watched her. Once we were reunited there were lots of documents to hand over and lots of forms to fill in and sign.  Passport photocopied and returned, consent forms signed, next of kin information given, insurance details provided, eventually we were given a folder of information and sent up to the cataract department. The waiting room was quite small and had perhaps ten armchairs. "Ring and enter." We rang and entered. A nice, brisk nurse came out and took the folder of information. "OK. Monsieur wait here. Madame and I will go to undress. I'll call you when the operation is abo

It's a conspiracy!

The Tivoli clinic phoned yesterday evening. "So Mrs Davey has an appointment tomorrow at 7h30, you'll need this, this, this, this and this, and don't eat or drink nothing, OK..." "Um, yes, but they did say 8h30." "Ah no! 8h30 is too late!" "OK" I tried to change the start time of the car we booked to 6h30, but someone had reserved it till 6h45. Still, 30 minutes should be enough to get to the clinic at that time of the morning. This morning at 6h15 I got a text message: So we got on tram B and headed off to Forum. We drew into the clinic at ... just before 7h30. Mrs Davey's left eye has been duly operated upon, while I watched on a screen in the room next door. Fascinating. And she's now resting after her early start!


Yesterday two high schools in this area were evacuated. In Gujan Mestras down near the coast an anonymous call reported that three men in djellaba carrying automatic weapons were seen climbing over the fence of the school. The school was evacuated, police conducted a through search of the premises and the surrounding area and found nothing at all amiss. In Bordeaux an anonymous call to a high school reported the presence of a bomb. The school was evacuated, police and bomb disposal officers conducted a thorough search of the premises and the surrounding area and found nothing at all amiss. Hoax calls are strongly suspected.


I watched a series of programmes on Netflix recently, entitled "Chef", a thriller series based in the kitchen of a very smart restaurant in Pariswhere a young guy on probation is placed to work washing up. The chef has a history of taking on lads like this, his second-in-command coming into the kitchen in just the same way some years before. As the programme unfolds we see intrigue, family mystery, kitchen duels, addiction, murder and hunting for cèpes. It's a roller-coaster of suspense. But it's also pretty hilarious, playing on all the French stereotypes. The chef was adopted by a couple of peasants who live in complete simplicity on a smallholding a couple of hours outside Paris, and it is there, with fresh leeks, pigeons from the woods and fresh mushrooms, that he learnt to appreciate food. When people taste good food they are transported to other worlds where all their dreams come true. A mysterious market gardener selects a restaurant to work with his

Well will you look at that...

I was out just a little later this morning. Don't ask why. But here is the result:

The last Davey makes a day-off trip to Ikea

We didn't need anything so it was the perfect time to go. Number 4 bus to Place Paul Doumer at the Chartrons, then Tram C to the delightfully named 40 Journaux, then hoof it a couple of minutes to Ikea. A chap relieving himself at the side of the street set the theme for the day. There were some trees around, but only small ones, so I did have a little sympathy for him, though he could have tried harder to find a secluded corner. Ikea has been rearranged. Now they have these mock-ups of what wonders you can achieve with their furniture and an unlimited budget. We admired a dwelling place fit for an imperial family shoe-horned into just a few square metres. It's always good to get a few ideas. If we did it their way you could house three families in our flat, I reckon. Later on came some examples of sitting rooms. One was labelled "Pour s'exposer". Thinking it couldn't possibly mean what it seemed to mean, but not being sure exactly what they were getting

Stuffed to the gunwales last night

Very full. Very full indeed. Some folks passing through (thankfully!). Most here for a year or so. Some permanent lads linking in with us. I think it looks like we may make more progress this year.

DEntry - the latest

Well we have 5 years' worth of Electricity bills, all printed out and ready. We will need to get our birth certificates translated into French. And on Wednesday 7th September I should find out if I passed the DELF B2 exam I took in July. Then we plan Pat's exam (and mine if necessary) and get the show on the road. Catrin also wants to apply for Frenchness, but she will not need to take an exam since she has done her bac in French as well as all her other schooling since 2005.

11th Anniversaire

We arrived in France on 4th September 2005, eleven years ago.


For a couple of months one of the shops in the centre of Pessac has been displaying the sign "Epi'Sol coming soon". This morning was the grand opening. Epi'Sol is an épicerie solidaire, or a social action grocery store. The idea is that the grocery is run by a not-for-profit association and staffed by volunteers. Anyone can buy there and the prices are normal prices, though you do have to join the association with an annual membership of 5€. In addition there a little lounge at one end where you can get a cup of coffee, there's some books and magazines and a place where people can meet up and talk. The trick comes for people on low income. Then you pay reduced prices at the till, the difference made up by people's membership fees and the profits from normal sales. We went along to see, and we needed emergency milk. I met some folks I know, and got talking with some other folks. Meanwhile Pat joined the association and said she'd be happy to volunteer

Meet Sumo

Our neighbours have two cats. We don't know their real names. One is small and timid and has been nicknamed Susan. The other we nicknamed Sumo. Catkin (known to his owners as Caramel) has bene quite cool towards us since we went away on holiday. He comes in but doesn't want to converse or to be touched, thank you. He just patrols then goes. Sumo craves attention and longs to be scratched and rubbed. I wonder if he has some kind of skin irritation, frankly. He is a very substantial cat, after all. This morning Sumo was in the flat when Catkin came to patrol. Catkin sneaked in while Sumo's back was turned, then attempted to leave surreptitiously. Sumo spotted him and made an agressive yowl, before lining up to spray on the sofa. Pat stopped him, firmly. The cats then lined up for a major dispute in our garden, but we chased them off. Not on our turf. Not on our watch. If they're going to fight they're going to fight, but they can do it elsewhere!

Morning runs

Yes, I'm back to it. It's been a struggle, not because I didn't want to run, and not because I didn't feel up to it, but because we've had a bit of trouble getting back to our usual bedtime and wake time routine. We've had late nights, broken sleep, I've fought to get back to sleep at 5 then slept till 7:30, things like that. But twice this week I was up and at it at 6:30 - just short runs for the moment, a couple of kilometres - and I'll build back up gradually to where I was before. Sadly the sun doesn't rise now till about 7:30, so no more nice sunrise photos till next year.

Planning meeting for Tea and Chat in the Kitchen

We met up yesterday evening to discuss English-based evenings at the English Country Kitchen. It was a good time. Six folk were there and one sent his reflexions by email. We planned and stuff. We start in October.

Hurrah! Catrin is home safe and sound from Barcelona

by Easyjet