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)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Return from Teisendorf

We just got back from the International Christian Communities of Eurasia Pastors' Retreat (there's so much in that title...) at Teisendorf in Bavaria.

I'll report more fully later, but first impressions:

German is almost totally unintelligible. I'm pretty good with languages, but honestly...

German people are adorable. Pleasant, helpful, friendly but discreet - almost shy.

Bavaria is gorgeous. Just beautiful.

Pork and ham is ubiquitous. Breakfast, lunch and dinner could always involve some kind of pig product. Hence my song of the week: "Schwein in the Morning, Schwein in the Evening, Schwein at Supper-Time"

Oh, and I crossed off something from my bucket list.

I ate (a half of) a slice of Sachertorte in Salzburg, with a very good big black coffee.

Some photos of Munich and Teisendorf


Don Quixote guards the tomb of Dulcinea

La neige éternelle

Pigmeat for breakfast, lunch and dinner lost its novelty quite quickly

I was fancy, and ate my egg from the egg-cup

Farewell to Teisendorf

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


These little plaques commemorate those murdered by the Nazis.

I was glad to eat some Sachertorte in Salzburg.
I have yet to eat Linzertorte and

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Greetings from Teisendorf

in beautiful Bavaria just over the border from Salzburg!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The long trek

Today Mrs Davey and I leave for Teisendorf in Germany.

The journey involves:

Sunday morning leave with all bags for:

Brethren service of inauguration of renovated building.
Bumper festive lunch
Bordeaux Church at 5

then bus to airport to stay in nearby hotel overnight.

Monday leave on 7am flight to Munich. Arrive at 9.

All day to explore Munich. Then train to Teisendorf (15 minutes from Salzburg.)

Arrive in time for dinner tomorrow.

Here's the rub. Mrs Davey currently has one of her back problems and can't carry anything much at all or walk very far. AND she's very stiff first thing in the morning.

We appreciate your prayers!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bordeaux Church has a new website

the address is the same, but it has had a make-over (in French, a relooking)



I have shingles. I've had it a couple of weeks. I'm due to go and see the doctor in early November, so if it hasn't cleared up by then I'll ask her opinion.

UK health websites tell you it might clear up in a couple of weeks, and that you need to see the doctor if the vesicles are near your eyes.

In my case I have four red, raised itchy spots, perfectly symmetrically arranged, one on each shoulder blade and another on each side further down my back.

Autumn has come to Pessac

bringing dampness, drizzle, russet tones to the trees, much moss in the grass and milder temperatures.

Even BEFORE we open our mouths

we walked silently into the coffee shop.

"Hallo, you are not French, yes?"

"ben, non, mais on vit ici, on habite à Pessac"... (um, no, but we live here, we live in Pessac)

"I knew you were not French just by looking at you..."

OK, we were with a Chinese person, and I guess you could tell they were not French, but even for them it's a bit of an assumption to make...

Oh well. Despite my imposing, deGaulle nose, the baguette under the arm, the beret and the cigarette hanging our of my mouth, I STILL don't look French...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A real conversation, remembered and translated from the French

At the Maison de la Bible, a tall elegant couple in their fifties comes to the counter. The lady speaks:

Lady: Do you have any French translations of the whole Bible that date from before the Council of Nicea?

Alan takes deep breath and remembers to try to avoid mansplaining: OK, well you know that at the time of the Council of Nicea the French language didn't exist, everyone spoke Greek or Latin. But the translations we have here are all based on Greek and Hebrew texts that have been edited from copies that date from before the Council of Nicea.

Lady: The thing is that at the Council of Nicea the Vatican suppressed the text in the Bible that speaks of reincarnation.

Alan: We have Bibles here from Roman Catholic publishers and from Protestant publishers who are not at all influenced by the Vatican or the Roman Catholic Church. (Thinks) Have you ever seen this little book, The transmission of the Bible. (Thankfully the lady bought the book)

Lady: Do you have any books that speak about the suppression of the text that speaks of reincarnation in the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea?

Alan: I don't know of any publisher, either Christian or secular, that would publish serious books about that. That kind of thing is spread by the internet, and you will find websites that talk about that and more. But if you like, why not go to Mollat, France's largest bookshop and speak to Arnaud in the religion section. If anything exists in French along those lines, he will know.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Some reflections on TED at Bordeaux

The TED event at the Cité du Vin started at 14h and we were requested to be on time. Meanwhile at about 12h30 there was a technical problem with Tram B that meant that no trams were running between Peixotto and Quinconces - a HUGE stretch of the line that runs to the Cité du Vin. Thankfully I was already in the city centre, so after spending some time at the LutherFest I was able to trot down to Quinconces, ride the tram to the Cité du Vin and eat a sandwich fit for a king on the terrace of the Cité du Vin cafeteria. Incidentally this café is very reasonably priced and nicely located just alongside the river, and the BatCUB stops there. End of advertisement...

The theme was "Mais qu'est-ce que tu crois?", and I was quite intrigued at what might be presented, so once I was comfortably full of salad, chicken, curry sauce and bread I climbed the stairs to the auditorium and settled myself down. I won't give you a blow by blow account, but there were fourteen speakers - in French, "les speakers" - who each had about 18 minutes on subjects like "Why you should only believe what science tells you, including the multiverse", "An introduction to meditation" (we were told to remove our shoes and feel the energy of mother earth entering through our feet - an effect diminished when you're on the first floor of the cité du vin), "Animal welfare law", "How our musical tastes change", "Fasting", "Intuition" and "How I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy" - this one opened the show and was delivered with admirable aplomb by a remarkable ten-year-old girl. 

The speakers had been working on their talks for six months, aided by coaches and they all did really well, though some with more fluency than others. One guy, talking about being an environmentally sensitive smallholder, was a real barnstormer, but then he's a YouTuber and has an extraordinarily wonderful speaking gift. 

It shows you the power and attraction of the simple spoken word. Many of the talks had no visual aids and yet almost every seat in the 250 seat auditorium was filled and 750 people actually applied for tickets. 

It also shows how easily we can put together a huge variety of approaches to a broad theme, like "But what do you believe?" without worrying too much about presenting an overall coherence of approach, without needing to hold together any over-arching world view. Some of the talks could have clashed, but now Such clashes have become impossible because we no longer seek a coherent vision of reality. 

Well, one kind of talk would have clashed, I think. Any talk that was in any way theist. The meditation talk was "spiritual" and the intuition talk was going in that direction, too. But even the talk on fasting managed to mention Aristotle, Socrates and Pythagoras as being committed fasters, but left out Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I mean, how can you talk about fasting in France in 2017 and not talk about Ramadan? Easy-peasy. Watch me do it.

Despite technical issues with the coffee machine, the interval snacks were delicious as were the "cocktail" snacks served at the end of the afternoon. I needed some coffee half-way through to keep me from the land of nod. I chatted with a Chinese woman who thought I was French, until a waiter came by with something, I said "Merci" and he said "You're welcome." "You see", I told her, "one word is all it takes and everyone knows I'm British."

LutherFest500 photo

This is the Maison de la Bible stand for the LutherFest500 with the weekend organiser, Pamela, putting the final touches to the display.

The screen is showing the much-appreciated Playmobil film of Luther's life, with no sound but subtitles in French. I was a little concerned about showing the film as it is somewhat critical of the Roman Catholic Church in Luther's day, and the MB stand was situated right at the main entrance to the cathedral. But hey!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

TedxBordeaux and the LutherFest

Ted talks are coming to Bordeaux this weekend, from 2pm at the Cité du Vin. I applied for a ticket and my name was pulled from the hat! The theme is "Qu'est-ce que tu crois?" (what do you believe) so it will be fascinating to see how the theme is addressed.

At the same time it is the weekend of the Bordeaux Lutherfest, much reduced from how I imagined it, there is a cluster of municipal festival tents around the corner of the Cathedral. The Maison de la Bible will be there, along with the Gideons. We had planned to share a stand, but instead we have been separated from each other and placed with other groups - us with the Adventist Youth and someone else, the Gideons with other folk. We were surprised to see two other bookshops present - a stand from the publisher Olivetan and a bookshop from Toulouse. Both have links with the Eglise Protestante Unie de France, the historic protestant church.

The LutherFest will be celebrating Protestant social action.

On the Maison de la Bible stand there will be a loop of the Playmobil Luther film with French subtitles. There'll also be a small model printing press and Gutenberg-style Bible verses to frame and display. There'll also be our friend, Myriam, the story-teller, telling the story fo Mary Jones and her Bible, as well as books at various levels telling the story of Luther and his rediscovery of the way of salvation.

I had tickets for a recital of Bach Cello works but it clashed with our Bible Study so I gave them to someone else.

There was also an excellent choral concert yesterday evening, but I had to give that a miss, too.

I have tickets for a lecture advertised as being on "Luther - adventurer of the faith", but the title has been changed to "The Protestants 500 years on." which doesn't interest me at all.

I have tickets for a theological debate on Sunday afternoon. We'll see if I get to that!

It's one of those weekends where lots of things are happening all at the same time.


We get screened for all kinds of things, sometimes annually, sometimes less frequently, and yesterday  we got screened for age-related hearing and visual problems. To do this we had to go quite early to the Beaulieu centre, one of the diocesan centres of the Roman Catholic Church (or as we say in France, "the church"), quite near Gwilym and Catrin's lycées just inside the boulevards.

The Beaulieu Centre looks like a renovated urban monastery, with a small cloisters and a little fountain in the middle, surrounded by rooms of various sizes, one of which is used as a restaurant and cafeteria. Another was used for a waiting room and still others for eye and hearing tests.

The hearing test involved listening to imaginary sounds via headphones and pressing the button when you think a tone might reasonably be expected to have begun.

The eye test checked peripheral vision, reactivity to light, near and far adjustment, all that kind of thing. 

Mrs Davey is very excited because she has less high frequency age-related hearing-loss than I do in her left ear. Yes, maybe, but she doesn't have a dodgy left ear from being clouted by an irascible history teacher in 1974.

I was impressed to be screened just before the Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, who I would happily have greeted if I could have remembered how one is meant to greet Cardinal Archbishops in French. Another thing they didn't teach us at the language school!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Two churches in Bordeaux seem to have rebranded themselves in the past couple of months.

For the first church, one of our local pentecostal churches, I am sure, because there was a special service devoted to the rebranding. Previously the name was very geographically determined, very static. Now the name implies impetus, movement and also, according to the explanation, that decisive instant where everything changes.

The second church is one of the catholic churches. They all have historic names, as does this church, but it recently has started pop-masses on Sunday evenings led by Bordeaux' foremost Roman Catholic worship band, and have rebranded themselves as the Church of Bordeaux Centre.

Interesting, eh?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I am reliably told that the best coffee in Bordeaux is to be found in a tiny coffee shop called "Blacklist", just by the Hotel de Ville tram stop.

I went there once. You sit on designer boxes, in a row, using other designer boxes for tables. I never went back.

The guys who ran Blacklist have added another string to their bow : Horace. The café that used to be "Les Mots Bleus" and sold a small range of books as well as decent drinks, snacks and lunches, has been redecorated, rebranded, renamed and relaunched as Horace : café, cuisine, canons.

It's a great place. The coffee is very good. The cakes are awesome. The breakfasts and lunches look very good, too. One day this week for breakfast they advertised brioche perdu accompanied by fresh fruit. It looked wonderful.

And they are accommodating. We are launching an independent international reading group, a small group of folks who'll read a novel a month and meet up to discuss it. I asked in one bookshop/café if we could meet there. "We'll get back to you." They didn't. I went back and asked again. "OK, but we want you to buy the books here, and six people tops because the café is small" (and we need to keep it empty was the silent implication...)

I asked in Horace. "Yes, of course!" And if there are ten people? "Of course! What's the difference between ten people on one table and ten people spread through the café?"

I didn't mention their carrot cake. I doubt if I've had a better carrot cake anywhere.

Oh yes, and it's named after my father.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Apostolic visit over

So we had our episcopal visit from Rhys and Jane a couple of weeks ago.

Then this weekend, our ... apostolic visit?

William Brown, Deputy Director of United For Mission (UFM) arrived on Saturday afternoon and left Monday lunchtime. We had time to talk, time to eat, time to walk round the chateau gardens and time for Bordeaux Church, before we said our fond farewells and consigned William to the air.

Friday, October 06, 2017


"In spite of autumn it's still hellish. Testmonies (for subscribers) in this morning' s Sud-Ouest."

It's true, too. One little horror last Friday got me right on the elbow where the movement of your arm drives their nasty enzymes into the surrounding tissues. My arm became inflamed over an radius of about 9" and made everyone who saw me wince.

Applications of ibuprofen gel and antihistamine cream have driven the inflammation down but my arm is still sore and a little swollen.

But that's nothing really. In the photo is the tiger mosquito, which has recently moved into our area. It spreads dengue fever, chikungunya and zika.

TED talks

TEDx is coming to Bordeaux. You could apply for a seat. I did. I was allotted one by ballot. You have to pay for it, of course. But I get to go and spend an afternoon and evening at the Cité du Vin listening to TED speakers. I am awestruck. I'll take lots of notes. Who knows! It may revolutionise my preaching again!

Macron's naughty words

President Macron came to power saying that he wanted to restore the prestige of the presidential office after the last two rather unprestigious presidents, little president Sarkozy with his potty-mouth and his actress-singer consort and again little president Hollande with his nocturnal liaisons by scooter.

A jupiterian president, with dignity and class befitting his power. His elegant wife won Trump's approval for her physical condition ("just beautiful") and there's no doubt that she is a great support to him.

But he does have a rather earthy turn of phrase sometimes.

Instead of the expression he used, shown in the tweet from the Sud-Ouest, he could have said "semer la pagaille" or any one of a number of less ... pungent things.

And lest we think it is a problem of vocabulary, let us remember that President Macron is married to a French teacher. We can safely conclude that if anyone has ever come close to mastering the language of Molière - vain hope - at least he has flown nearer to that sun than most of us.

Why this seeming incoherence between his desire to restore a seemly presidency and his somewhat direct manner of speaking? I think there's a couple of reasons.

Firstly, and I know I risk sounding like a boring old duffer if I say this, but our politicians are generally a rather uninspiring lot at the moment, aren't they. I rather like Macron, but he wouldn't have to do a lot to stand out from the crowd! This is what things are like in our western democracies at the moment. We don't have a lot of presidential people, despite our strong culture of leadership. I am tempted to say because of our strong culture of leadership, but that's another story.

Secondly, there is a genuine difference between British and French culture when it comes to ... polite speech. In fact I still remember how shocked I was in about 1980 to hear a very polite Londoner say that runners looked "knackered". This was not a word we used amongst strangers in South Wales. Americans use words that British people consider impolite, vulgar or just plumb rude and in French many coarse words are used by ordinary people every day.

It's just different.

I can't imagine that Theresa May came off stage after her historic speech at the Tory Conference Party and used the kind of language to her husband in private in a furious outburst that Macron used calmly on microphone at the factory. She probably just doesn't ever speak like that.

Macron does. As one of the teachers at our language school once said, "Les gros mots, je les réserve pour les grandes occasions!" I keep naughty words for high days and holidays.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Missional visit

A couple weeks ago we had an episcopal visit from Rhys and Jane.

This coming weekend we have a missional visit from the Deputy Director of UFM Worldwide, William Brown.

It will be good to see him!


I don't often post about politics. Not since that which shall not be named. It's all very emotive, divisive and destructive. But it does seem to me that things are a bit of a shambles just now! Pretty much everywhere! What a mess!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mission Week recuperation

Well the OMFrance7 left on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Monday morning. They left a gaping hole but fatigue was waiting to fill it up!

So Monday was basically a quiet day. We needed shopping. Pat's back is playing up. Pat said we could get through to Tuesday. I rejoiced. I caught up on whatever emails didn't require any thought to process. You get the picture.

Now then... We've had a project for a while of starting an Independent Free International Reading Group in some café or other of Bordeaux. I'd sounded out some folk. I'd talked to a café or two. A splendid place called Horace said they'd be happy to have us. I tentatively talked about the first Tuesday of October.

But then came mission week. I did nothing to prepare. Nothing at all. Neither could I. We'll knock it into touch until November, thought I.

But unbeknown to me emails were circulating and a little group were intending to come.

So we met and had an interesting time talking about Hilary Mantel's piece in the Guardian about the death of Diana: about wit, malice, British and French Catholicism, the morals of the aristocracy, grief, national feeling, all sorts...

There we are - it's launched!