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)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Gironde Estuary

Lifestyle changes - again

The faithful reader will know that I am not afraid of incorporating the assured findings of recent scientific research and the latest fads of the snake-oil vendors into what I so ambitiously call "my life". Also that I am not usually shy of sharing these fascinating snippets with you, gentle reader, though I did spare you, I think, the inclusion of nuts into my daily regime - something that caused me long reflection. Long story short, chocolate nut porage, with walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds. Carry on like this and I'll be adding fish-oil and chopped liver to my morning oatflakes.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I'm trying to sleep longer. Our wild social agenda prevents me going to bed earlier, so that means staying in bed later in the morning.

But I've always got up by 6:30!

But good men get up early! Everyone says so!

But I go running at 6:30!

Aha. Leaving aside any pretence at being a "good man", whatever that may mean, and the steely glare of tradition, how can I run if I don't get up till ... shudder ... 7:30 or even 8?

So today found me gallumphing down Rue Profond at 9am. 9am! It was light! The sun was shining! The good burgers of Pessac were hieing them to the market! And I was hoofing me down the newly-resurfaced lane to the chateau.

It was fine. Nobody screamed, pointed, stared or even stopped their galloping horse.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Am Abend da es kuhle war

We'll long remember this Easter













Daniel Liechti is a missiologist who works for the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France to encourage new churches. He says, "We'll long remember Easter 2018... If usually Christians, with their faith in Jesus who died for them, are not always understood, by the example of Arnaud Beltrame, giving his life to save others, this act is seen in all its strength and its love."


Sunday, March 25, 2018

What fun!

Yesterday we celebrated four years of Bordeaux Church in the centre of the city with a day conference, a nice lunch and an evening barbecue. The speaker was big Guillaume Bourin from Paris who I first got to know some years ago when Gwilym went on a week in Belgium with him. 

The day went well, and then came the time to come home. We cleaned up and left for Pessac in luxury in Rita's Fiat Panda. No bus 4 for us that night! In fact, no bus 4 for anyone, because of the Bordeaux Marathon which was being run along a substantial part of the bus' route.

So we set off for home, guided by Rita's GPS in her phone. Pretty soon we arrived at the end of a street where we could not proceed because of the marathon runner. Some drivers hooted, others shouted, one got very rude, apparently, when told to reverse. "Does your sister reverse?" he said.

Anyway no-one could go forwards so eventually even the most recalcitrant accepted the inevitability of regress and we careered blindly backwards down the road whence we had come. After a certain time I decided that there might be a better GPS programme for these circumstances, so I started up Waze, which knows about blocked roads and traffic jams. "You are 5 minutes from home and it will take you 27 minutes", it said. 

A lively discussion ensued, wherein we eventually concluded that we should follow its directions. Follow, that is, until I realised that the programme was making gallant efforts to achieve the impossible. It could get us to within 1/2 mile of our house, but no closer because the marathon runners formed an impenetrable barrier to wheeled vehicles.

We persuaded Rita to drop us at the most beautiful roundabout, from whence we proceeded on foot without incident in the opposite direction to the marathon runners, shouting helpful encouragement, "Bravo!", "Jusqu'au bout!", and "Plus vite que ça!"

Rita, meanwhile, was staying with friends at Saige, and from the most beautiful roundabout to Saige it was an easy and clear road.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Life is improving all the time here

First a new public toilet in Pessac.
Then a pedestrian crossing exactly where we need one by the stop for bus 4.
Now a new public toilet is going up at Hotel de Ville.
Bravo!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Strikes!

We're entering a period of strikes, prompted by the current climate of austerity in France. A friend who is a civil servant explained it to us.

Civil Servants' pay has been frozen for some years, with just small index-linked rises, but their pouvoir d'achat (ability to buy) has been eroded. In addition they receive various allowances linked to their status, but these allowances do not count towards their final pension, so they are concerned about retirement, too.

Meanwhile railway workers are the main antagonists against the government, pointing out that while they have to live with pay freezes, members of parliament and the government have not had their pay frozen. What's sauce for the goose is, after all, sauce for the gander.

So today sees a BIG demonstration in the heart of Bordeaux and from the middle of next week the railway workers will be striking two days out of five, with a calendar of strikes published lasting up to the end of June.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Waiters

The airbnb that we were staying in had a little kitchen that was fine for preparing breakfast but we didn't cook any other meal in it. That meant eating and drinking in various different kinds of places, and being served by lots of different waiters. They came from Bulgaria, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Italy and France. All were excellent and all said that they were very happy and that life was good.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We have just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary

with a short trip to London.

We stayed in a super little AirBnB at Queen's Park, within easy bus and underground reach of the city, and we were able to visit the Shard, the British Museum, to watch some street performers at Covent Garden, to catch Choral Evensong at Saint Paul's, to ride on a 1962 Routemaster bus, to visit the Imperial War Museum, to visit our lad, Gwilym, at his church in Harrow, to visit our nearest church in West Kilburn and finally to explore Borough Market, having lunch with Gwilym once more before an undulated flight back to Bordeaux.

Here's some photos:




















Wednesday, March 14, 2018

At the bank

to open an account for the church.

"Oh no, the president of the association has to be here. It's the president that opens the account."

"But he's the treasurer."

"No, the president"

The president is on holiday for a couple of weeks. Oh, it's only delay.


Mother tongue interference

Secrétaire.

serck-rett-air, not sec-rett-air

...repeat until you can no longer say it wrong...

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring has come to Pessac

One day it was -4°C and the next 16°C. Thankfully that was the day we flew back from icy Prague.


It means lots of daffodils and yellow mimosa. It means some forsythia - not as popular here as in the UK. It means the start of the blossoming trees. It means beautiful sunsets. It means people are starting to get over their colds and coughs.

Sadly the beautiful buds on the magnolias were all frozen by the beast from the east, so no magnolia blossoms this year. Instead there are withered brown dead buds.

And everything looks more cheerful and hopeful.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

French is a crazy language

The French language has a lot of character and tends to set challenges for you. Some people profess to be rubbish at French. Others show a high degree of expertise. For example:

Did you know that when you say on page 41 in French it is expressed as "à la page quarante-et-un" and definitely not quarante-et-une... Une is an article, not a number. Numbers do not change with gender. But you'll often hear people say, à la page vingt-et-une, or à la mesure cent-trente-et-une.

Did you know that French does have a neuter gender, but it hides it behind the masculine. This was all explained to me this week but it got very technical so I pretended to follow while quietly zoning out.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Praying in Prague

Last week was the International Christian Communities of Eurasia Prayer Conference, which was held in Prague. Pat and I went along for the first time ever. The conference ran from Wednesday lunchtime to Friday lunchtime, but flights meant that we flew on Tuesday and returned on Saturday.

Prague was going through a period of extremely cold weather though the dryness of the air meant that there was little snow. I have never been so cold in all my natural born days. We had lots of warm clothing, but my hat and scarf combinations generally left my cheekbones exposed, and they froze.

We flew Air France, Bordeaux to Paris, then Paris to Prague, which gave us the right to a bag of pretzels and a sandwich on the way, and pretzels and a pineapple and coconut sponge cake on the return. We stayed together in a nice hotel with very powerful heating. It was -14°C in the street and +26°C in our room. The hotel served a buffet breakfast of the usual euro-miscellany and then made up sandwiches and snacks which were left for guests to help themselves to as the day unfolded.

The participants at the prayer conference ate together on two evenings, once in a Prague institution which is a kind of brewery and traditional eating-house. I had svíčková, which is a kind of Czech version of boiled beef and carrots, served with slices of bread dumplings. It was very good and very filling. the second evening we ate at the restaurant of a deacon of the international church in Prague where the set menu was a gastronomic tour de force, with meat and fish courses and a very good chocolate mousse with marinated bitter cherries.

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Prague friends, Romana who worked with us in North Wales in the mid 1990s, Jitká who was here in Bordeaux for a year in 2003 and Ted and his family. Ted teaches at universities in Prague. Romana met us at the airport on our arrival and then escorted us back to the airport along with Jitká.

A highlight for me were two visits to Bethlehem Chapel, the meeting house built for Jan Hus to preach in the 1400s. It was built to accommodate 3000 people, stood, and apparently up to 10,000 actually crammed themselves inside. At the time Prague had a population of some 40,000 people. You can see just how popular a movement it was. His Prague ministry lasted just 12 years, then followed two years preaching in the Bohemian countryside under the pope's anathema, then he was tried and burnt.

Prague now is a beautiful city with a illustrious past and a rather sordid present. Nasty gift shops line the streets of the old town. Supermarkets display cannabis leaf signs to show that you can buy cannabis cookies and cakes. On Wenceslas Square Marks and Spencer is on one block and on the next a large building advertises Thai massage and through the open doors you can see ten or more eager girls lounging on sofas and beanbags waiting for their needy punters to arrive. That's us Europeans, eh?

I had a list of good coffee shops to visit. We didn't do any. I had a list of cheap restaurants. We didn't do any. We did explore Old Town, the river bank, New Town, the Jewish quarter and the Castle area. Oh, and the Czech language is a czallenge!