Showing posts from January, 2018


Guilty as charged, your honour :-(


The word repression is used much more widely in French than it would be in English, and generally means any measure designed to put pressure on people to stop breaking the law. You would contrast it, I suppose, with education or with the promise of reward. Recently in Bordeaux fines have been increased dramatically. Parking fines went up from about 17 euros, I think, to almost 40. Meanwhile the fine for travelling on the tram or bus without a ticket has gone up to 72 euros if you settle within three days. After three days an additional 50 euros is incurred. The cost of a bus or ram ticket is 1,60€. The other day we were on the tram when the ticket inspectors swooped. They arrived in gangs and move through the tram preventing people from alighting without first showing their valid ticket. One woman behind us was caught. She had a wallet full of tickets, none of which had been punched in the machine. "See", she said, "I have lots of tickets". But to no avail. &quo

Changing the hard disk

We don't have a television or a hifi system. Instead we have a Mac Mini computer that stores all our music and accesses films and programmes that we might want to watch. We've had the computer about three or four years and it's very good, but it has always been very slow indeed. The problem is that Apple put slow hard disks in their base models, and to buy a computer with a fast hard disk is very expensive indeed. The solution is to change the hard disk for a SSD. Well, following the computing adventures of last month I decided to bite the bullet, buy a drive and change the thing. In the centre of Bordeaux there is a computer-monger who sold me all I needed, including a very natty little case full of the special screwdrivers I would need. Youtube has videos showing the procedure to follow step by step. What could possibly go wrong? So in I hied me on the trusty number 4 bus. The chappie in the shop remembered my name and sold me the bits I needed, recommending a par

Continual rain and flooding

You've seen the images of flooding in Paris. Here in Bordeaux the Garonne is very high but as yet only the cycle paths and walkways alongside the river have flooded. The streets of the right bank have not yet been inundated.

The great Nutella riots

Supermarket chain Intermarché has an offer on 950g jars of Nutella. Usually sold for about 5 euros they've cut the price to 1,41€, limited to three jars per customer, and sparked the great Nutella riots of 2018, rivalling the infamous British Ikea Sofa Stampede for notoriety.

The Yatal concert

This January gets you down. You never dry out! Every time you leave the flat you get drenched by constant, persistent, penetrating drizzle. It's just like Cardiff, it really is. So last night I was the only Davey to brave the brief journey by train to the Eglise Sacré Coeur near the central railway station to hear the group, Yatal, who hail basically from Grenoble. Yatal is a kind of folk-pop group made up of a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a violinist and a multi-instrumentalist who is known especially for playing the hang-drum. He also wowed the crowd by playing the spoons. (I'll have to tell Pat. We can both play the spoons. Fame awaits us!) My train was 10 minutes late so I had to hoof it fast up the road to the church. I've been there once before. A friend from the language school used to go there. It's one of the more interesting Catholic churches, it has perpetual adoration of the host, as well as pop-music youth masses on Sunday night and has renam

France is awesome

I mean it. Clear sign of God's common grace and love for humanity. Lots of reasons. Here's another. This week the government finally decided what to do about a possible new regional airport near Nantes, in a little place called Notre Dame des Landes. (Nothing to do with the Landes de Gascogne) The project had created a lot of discussion, protest, sit-ins and Swampy-style squatting, but no decision from the government either for or against the plan. Macron's government promised to make a final decision, and there were lots of consultations with all sorts of people on the local and national level. And this week Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, announced the decision. Not before large numbers of riot police had been ferried into the area. He said that where large-scale projects had succeeded there had always been united support - they had been projects that commended themselves to all kinds of people. This project obviously created a lot of division. So the gove

My friend's cafe

My friend has a café that he runs with his fiancée in a busy little street of Bordeaux. It has perhaps 20 chairs, a nice little patio - well, tiny really - and a small cellar where they can store stuff. The rent is over £1300 a month, which means they have to do REALLY WELL just to cover their expenses. The other day a chap and I were eyeing it up and working out how many people you could get in there if you laid it out as a church, and you could get perhaps 40 people in. That's rents in central Bordeaux for you.

The January blues

Here we go! Roll on March.

Rich and poor - on Dollar Street


On cream once more

The avid reader of this blog will be aware how much I appreciate easy recipes, and my attention was recently drawn to a very simple recipe for home-made ice-cream - no machine, no incessant churning, it's easy. Armed with my home-made mincemeat I found a recipe for Christmas ice-cream and set about buying the requisite ingredients. Let's see. Condensed milk - that's easy - and ... whipping cream. Here we go again! Over a decade ago when my eyes were keen and my beard dark I tried buying whipping cream here in France and discovered to my dismay that cream is a territorial species. We Brits delight in half-cream, single-cream, whipping cream, double cream and clotted cream. Americans, however, separated by a wide ocean and two-hundred years of cultural divergence, have their own classification, which includes "heavy cream". Here in France I am still struggling to understand why some crème still tastes sour, and so is obviously crème fraîche, even thoug

Darkest Hour

On Monday afternoon we took the tram to the nearest UGC cinema in Talence to see Darkest Hour in VOSTF. There were four people in the room. Well, it was Monday afternoon. Of course, watching the film in Bordeaux probably increases the visceral blow of the film. How do you defend against panzers and blitzkrieg? How do you negotiate with totalitarianism? How do you willingly wake up from a nightmare? I had a new appreciation for the pace of events. In just two weeks everything was unleashed. I wondered at Chamberlain. Was he really such an evil old buzzard, controlling the voices and reactions of his party with just the flick of his handkerchief? Could this be a true portrait? At the same tie I have known people like that and, to my lifelong shame, I have not always explained the danger of their habits. I wondered at Churchill's energy. He was born in 1874, so at the outbreak of war he was already 65. No wonder he needed his naps! And his drink! It would be good t

A worldwide reaction on a global scale

We have been inundated by a worldwide reaction of two messages asking us to keep the blog alive, one from an undisclosed location believed to be deep inside the European Union, the other from a Mr Davey of the Home Counties. Faced with this unprecedented emotional outpouring the blog is, of course, reprieved.

The week the blog almost died

It's been a very busy week here in Bordeaux, just one thing after another, to such an extent that I thought the best thing to do was to announce the death of the blog. However last night Mrs Davey told me that this would be a pity, and so the blog will live on. What's been happening? All sorts of things. Monday is now sabbatical day, and I ventured out into Bordeaux without my phone and quite, quite alone. It was very liberating to know that nobody knew where I was and nobody could contact me. I ate lunch in one of the cheap cafés and watched the empty square - Mondays are quiet in Bordeaux and many of the shops are closed. We had some computer problems sorted out. Catrin's laptop hit problems due to lack of storage but in the centre of Bordeaux there's an independent computer shop that was able to sell us a bigger disk and fit it. I'd have been able to fit it myself, but it was cheaper to get them to do it than to buy the tools I would need. Then Pat's

Some radical decisions being taken here...

Here's one. Monday is Desert Island Day. I leave my phone at home and my laptop turned off and I venture out. The idea is to take a proper break one day a week. I was a little unsure about what might happen if I am taken ill and need an ambulance, but since I have never been taken ill or ever been inside an ambulance this seems to be a rare occurrence. Anyway I'm not actually going to a desert island, so there'll usually be someone who can phone if they find me supine and unresponsive. And what to do? Well it is a bit sad that lots of my favourite things are closed on Mondays, like museums, galleries etc., but the Mériadeck library is open Monday afternoons. I've now lived in Bordeaux for over 12 years and never yet visited this awesome place. The parks are open, as are many shops and cafés, the cinemas etc. Why this stern action? Well both Pat and I have had grumbling health issues this autumn - in my case niggling asthma and shingles. So we're trying a c

Poor Catrin's computer

We needed to download a new piece of music software, but before we could her computer needed to be on the latest update of the system software. (Ahem, ahem, who has not been doing their updates, then?) And that was when the fun started. There was not enough disk space to download the update. So we deleted some things and it downloaded and started to install. However - then it said there was not enough room to install the update, and got stuck in a loop that we couldn't break out of. The solution? By a bigger hard disk and either fit it or get it fitted by our friendly local independent Mac expert. The cheaper option was to get them to fit it, so they did, this morning. And all is well again, with the storage space on her computer now doubled!

So that was Christmas

I took time off to spend with the family. It was wonderful! Gwilym came home from London on 18th December, he slept in the lounge on the sofa bed, and this gave a certain shape to our time together, with early nights and late mornings (or at least late for me - I normally get up at about 6:30). For Gwilym's birthday we ate at the Regent Bistro in Pessac, a local chain of restaurants that does steaks, salmon or breast of duck at a reasonable price. We also ate a kebab from the most popular kebaberie in Bordeaux, the Coluche. I find it hard to love kebabs, but it's the nearest Bordeaux comes to authentic street food so... For Christmas dinner we added some friends to our family and ate a raclette together. This is a very unwise mix of boiled potatoes, grilled bacon and dried sausage with a topping of melted cheese. It has the sole virtues of being good fun and very filling, so it was followed with a mincemeat flavoured ice-cream following a really simple recipe I found on


On New Year's Eve a mosquito was desperately trying to get into the flat through the firmly closed, double-glazed window.