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, February 23, 2018

What is happening to our town?

Yesterday afternoon I got home from a meet-up in the city centre to find a row of police cars, a trails moped and an ambulance parked on what we nickname bang-crash wall.

Initial fears were fed by the fact that the ambulance seemed in no hurry as a stretcher was loaded up and its load completely covered before being placed inside. Still the vehicle waited before eventually driving off. "They placed the white sheet", said one neighbour, ominously.

More extensive investigation (we asked the people who were moving out just as the accident happened) revealed that nothing quite so tragic had transpired: a young hothead on a moped was being chased by a police car alongside the Pape Clement vines. On our really dangerous corner he hit the pavement and came off his bike, appearing to have perhaps broken his arm.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

and Lawrence is home...

Public transport incident

I had an appointment at the bank at 3 to talk about insurance. To be honest, I wasn't very keen on going but I want the bank to be good to me so at present I'm being especially good to the bank. So I left the house to hop on bus 4 down to the Alouette where our branch is. As I approached the stop I saw bus 4 pull in so I speeded up on the off chance that I would catch it. It stayed at the stop and the driver put the hazard warning lights on. He let me on board and continued a conversation with the bus controller.

"Ah no, the police are not here yet. Well no, but the way things are they'll be hitting each other soon."

Two men at the back of the bus were having a very heated conflict while the rest of us watched and wondered whether intervening would help or inflame the situation.

"Come away" urged some women to one of the chaps.

After several minutes the police arrived, charged onto the bus with pistols drawn, and yelled at the main combattant to stand up. He didn't. "I'm going to witness a shooting", I thought. The police got to the guy, who was drunk and also obviously had some psychological issues. They dragged him to his feet, cuffed him and frog-marched him off the bus.

Then followed interviews with various folk involved. "He'd been threatening to slit everyone's throats, and so on". (At present in France this kind of threat is particularly unwelcome.)

Eventually we all got off the bus and onto a following one, the bus driver had a much-needed cigarette before returning the the depot and I was 30 minutes late for my appointment at the bank.

Oh well.

Mi Band 2

It's working again!

When I changed my mobile phone, probably through not following the correct procedure, I ended up with a band that was neither use nor ornament because it would not connect to my phone.

There was a fix on the internet, which involved discharging the battery, putting the module in the fridge for a few days, then trying to connect again. It didn't work.

So a few days ago I thought it was time either to sort it out once and for all or to send it off for whatever recycling is possible for these things. So once more I ran down the battery (it was already flat) and put it in the fridge for about a week.

Then I tried connecting.

"You need to factory reset your band" came the new message. I did that.

Then with just a tiny amount of jiggery-pokery - IT'S WORKING AGAIN!

I'm pretty sure that a few software updates from Xiaomi have made the difference.

A three-legged friend

Lawrence survived the surgery, but unfortunately the nature of the tumour demanded the removal of his front right leg. So he has become a three-legged rat. Not only that, but his back legs have weakened with time. So the poor old feller's days of acrobatics, climbing and charging around are well and truly over. We're awaiting his discharge from the vets.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lawrence is scheduled for surgery this afternoon

The surgery might be too much for him as he's quite an elderly fellow now, but he's still quite perky so it's worth a go. If not the tumour will necrotise and become painful.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A grand trip to Toulouse

On Saturday we made a quick trip to Toulouse to visit a recent church plant called Saint-Cyprien.

After a fitful and restive night I woke and considered calling off our trip. We hadn't booked tickets or accommodation and, more substantially, I woke with a raging sore throat - in France, une angine. I gargled with aspirin and got on with it.

Some reflection : budget hotel or AirBnB? We opted for the former. Hang the 20€ extra expense!

Train or coach? That was easy. Fares and timetables obligent, we went by coach and returned by train.

We hurried to the station to get a train from Pessac to Bordeaux and waved it goodbye as we narrowly missed it. So Bus 4 then 9 it was. We were in plenty of time for our coach and settled ourselves in. Arrived in Toulouse I consulted Google Maps to see how to get to our hotel by public transport. "Search me!" said Google Maps, "but you could hoof it in half an hour."

So hoof it we did. It was a pleasant walk through the brick and stucco elegance of Toulouse with its wright iron balconies and the ever-present fragrance of burning compost heaps - so it's not just Bordeaux. Exotic tobacco is everywhere.

We easily found our hotel and got in. Room 310. "No Smoking" scolded the sign. The stale smell and the cigarette ends on the windowsills said otherwise. We opened the windows wide, put the air-conditioning on high and ventured out to find food.

Tripadvisor listed three possibilities and so we found ourselves in a very popular pub where I had a super chicken curry with the biggest onion bhaji you ever saw and Pat ate a big burger. We chatted with our waiters, from Sheffield and Illinois and wondered at the world today.

Toulouse seems much more full of traffic than Bordeaux and there's quite a bit of traffic noise at night but we slept OK then left to find our breakfast.

An elderly man took advantage of one of my sneezing fits to pass us on the pavement, then decided to stop for a chat.

"Where have you visited? Have you seen the Cathedral? Les Jacobins?"

"Yes, we visited them in the summer, we paid our respects to Thomas Aquinas. Where is good round here for breakfast?"

"Just up there on the other side of the road there's a good baker and you'll be sat outside in direct sunshine. Where are you from."

"Well I'm English and my husband is Welsh, but we live in Bordeaux."

"Oh, my children live in Bordeaux where my son is a percussionist and my daughter a violinist. I was a harpist."

Breakfast was a massive pain au raisin with orange juice and a big coffee, then off to church.

The church was started in 2014 and meets in a nightclub in the centre of the city, but on the less fashionable side. Since then they've grown to capacity in the nightclub and started another group over the other side of the city, but two congregations of one church.

The service was fine, with good preaching from Ephesians 4. Our friend Aaron came and sat by us and introduced us to his charming son. It was encouraging to see how things can work out.

Then off we hoofed back to the station, calling into a bargain-price pizzeria on the way where we got a big salad and a small pizza with a coffee for 12€! For students with a student card it's 7€50!

The train was on time and we got home a little earlier than expected. Then more gargling with aspirin, a quick paracetamol and off to bed...

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lawrence is at the vet's

He has a big fatty tumour on his front leg and a weepy eye infection.

He's also around 3 years old, which is a good age for a rat.

We're hoping he comes home.

Postnote: He did come back. You need an appointment. He's going again on Monday

Friday, February 16, 2018

The simple things you see are all complicated

OK. Here comes a rant.

Well, I'll try not to rant.

I think there's a great temptation, trend and desire to simplify things that are actually much richer and more complex than we want to make them, and I think that this oversimplification applies in various areas of life and thought at present.

Biblical theology

In finding the overarching story, the metanarrative of the Bible, pretty well everyone is agreed that the key is Christ.

But how does this work out?

A couple years back a group of us were meeting up to discuss a bible overview book that focused on God's covenants as the metanarrative that points to Christ. I compared this with the other great trend that sees kingdom as the overarching story - God's people, in God's place, under God's king.

OK. But where do temple, priesthood, sacrifice, prophetism, etc, come into these schemas?

Perhaps it is time to recollect another style of Biblical theology that takes covenants, Kingdom and adds them to a rich palette of promise and fulfilment, type and anti-type, shadow and reality, that copes well with the temple theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation, with priesthood and prophetism, with the range of presentations of Christ that we find in the Bible.

When we oversimplify we impoverish ourselves and make everything bland, like living on a diet of rice.


In the same way there's a silent discussion going on about how God makes his people holy. Some focus on the role of the truth of the gospel on our thought-patterns. It's a case of applying gospel-truth to your heart and changing the way you think and behave.

Well yes, but what if the toolbox God uses to make us holy has this at its heart, but also includes other factors? Sinclair Ferguson , in a long article on the Union website here unfolds our sanctification focused and centred on our union with Christ and speaks of the wide range of ways in which God makes us holy, including "providences", the things that come into our lives, the fellowship of the church and the sacraments.

I think these silent discussions are interesting. We're having another on the charismatic (non-)issue. We have decided that continuationism or cessationism is a non-issue. But it isn't. Or again, the question of forms of worship, from the neo-liturgists through to the new standard model of 1/2 hour singing, 1/2 hour preaching ("There was a worship war, the pentecostals won and we all got the victory" is the way one man put it).

It's as if we are tired of discussing things, so we try to pare everything down and make it as simple as possible. Maybe it's part of the current trend for decluttering and for minimalism.

But as we throw out the simple, soapy bathwater, let's keep our grip on the slippery, moving, complex things that is the baby.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Catrin's 21st Birthday

It was Catrin's 21st birthday yesterday. Festivities included a fun party with suitably unhealthy food, a visit from her old friend Meghan from London and a planned lunch in town yesterday which had to be called off when the soporific effects of cough mixture overtook her on the tram.

I just took Meghan to the airport for her flight back to London and returned to Pessac through the snow. It must be about 12 years or more since I drove a car through a snow-shower. It snowed heavily but briefly and has now reverted to glim drizzle.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Le plan du grand froid

Bordeaux has put into action its plan du grand froid. There's a three-stage plan for cold weather to care for folk on the street. It goes from froid, to grand froid, to extrème froid.

Grand froid means that as many places as possible are provided to shelter everyone who requests it, in Bordeaux that means over 1500 places have been made available.

Home made ice cream

The latest party trick is to make home made ice-cream from recipes supplied by a website called "Bigger, bolder baking".

The trick is to whip 400ml of cream soundly until rigor sets in, then to add a can of condensed milk and whip again.

Into this foamy custard you fold whatever flavourings you favour, be it vanilla, crushed up Oreo biscuits or whatever, and freeze the mix for as long as you can.

The result is almost 2 litres of ice-cream - and you know what's in it.

Alan's wizard tips

I have these great socks from Uniqlo. They're really nice! But sometimes my toes go through them and you end up with a really nice sock with a hole in the toe. In the past I have darned socks but I would rather prevent the problem than solve it.

I considered the way I cut my toenails. Frankly I have heeded advice over the years and I don't think there's much improvement to be made in my technique. That was not the problem. More thought ensued.

And now I believe that I have found the solution. After donning your socks but before inserting your feet in your shoes push your sock into the space between your first and second toe and hold it there with your toes. Then put your foot in your shoe and wiggle your toes to release the fold of sock. Tada! This makes a loose area in the sock preventing the tautness at the toe of the sock which results in the friction that makes the hole.

I arrived at this solution a few weeks ago and it really does seem to be working.

Snow in Bordow!

It snowed this morning for about 5 minutes and even started to settle on the garden wall.
Then it stopped and now we have bright sunshine.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Singing the Hallelujah Chorus with a French choir

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For de Lord God omnipotent reigness!

and so on and so forth...

The conductor eyed one of the basses and said "There's still one bass singing 'ze Lord God'"...
The culprit nodded sheepishly.
"It's Alan!" accused one of the sopranos.

Ha ha ha... Minx!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Running on pause

Running has been on pause since last week because I hurt my leg getting on the bus.

Oh look, I'm getting in practice for being a bumbling old duffer, OK?

I've pretty well perfected the bumbling.
I hope that old will come naturally.
Now I'm working on the duffer part.

Anyway last Wednesday evening Patricia and I were getting on the bus. She'd had some problems scanning her bus card. I was watching to make sure it worked OK rather than looking where I put my feet. I missed the step and slammed my shin into the side of the bus.


Later that evening I wondered if it was broken, but I could move my foot normally, so I slathered it in ibuprofen and arnica.

Now, a week later, the lump has almost gone, the bruise is progressing through the spectrum, the pain is subsiding and I am taking great care when I get on the bus.