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)

Monday, April 30, 2018

And yes, we are

We heard this morning, first by email, then by telephone, that our dossier for the larger apartment in the new Euratlantique district of the city has been accepted. We should be moving at the end of June.

It is facing the not yet created Jardins de l'Ars. L'Ars is the little stream that runs currently under the road and that will be brought back to the surface to feed the gardens. And the final "s" is pronounced.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

So are we moving?

We slowly compiled our dossier for the new flat by the river, the bigger one, at 83m2. The last letter to be added was an attestation from our current agency, stamped and signed, that we are up to date with our rent. This we received on Monday and added to the dossier. I texted the lady to say that our dossier is now complete.

Then on Tuesday we went to see another flat at the other end of the same block. On the seventh (7th) floor, this flat had a LARGE balcony. It was a super little place, but the lounge was small, with a separate, small kitchen. In a show flat someone had put a corner settee and a round table with four chairs. That was OK, but we had trouble imagining 20 people for a bible study. Two bedrooms were ok, but the third was small. That third bedroom has to double as my office and a spare room, and we struggled to imagine putting a desk and a bed in it. But the balcony was huge. Biggest space in the whole flat. By the time we got home we realised that the flat was too small.

So now it's clear. We need more than 72m2.

Then while in town in Bordeaux I got another email from the 83m2 lady. There were several dossiers for the third floor flat. She proposed positioning us for same thing on the fourth floor. I emailed her back, "Yes, we'd like that".

When we got home I looked at the website for the letting agency. Would it now show the two flats? It did, and on the fourth floor apartment it said "You have accepted this flat".

Oh yes? So does that also mean the agency has accepted us? Are we moving? Is this it? No more searching? No more visits? Just planning the move?

I have a phone call to make.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Visiting flats

We went to see two apartments yesterday, very different from each other.

The first was in the new area of town called Euratlantic. This is projected to become a new presitigious part of town with lots of offices for a financial centre and new apartment blocks built to the highest environmental standards. Until recently it was the edge of the district where the working girls are to be found, and at present it's a huge mass of construction sites.

The flat was on the eighth floor of a block optimistically called "Residen'ciel". It had a lounge facing south and bedrooms facing north. Unusually, the bathroom had a window. On both sides there were balconies floored with that decking material. (I don't like the way it springs under foot.) The views were wonderful, out over the river. From the living room we could see the bridge that carried the motorway on the south side of the city. From the bedrooms we could see the spires of Bordeaux and the motorway bridge on the north side. Atop the building, on the 10th floor, is a rooftop, a roof terrace open to all residents.

The flat has been bought to let by someone taking advantage of tax breaks offered by the French government. It's a good idea, but it does make these flats hard to let. Why? Well rents are expensive in Bordeaux and French law states that you have to have income of at least three times your liabilities (rent, mortgage, loans, etc.) That means you need a minimum salary to afford the flat. However the tax breaks are only available if you let to people who income is under a certain ceiling. So the number of people eligible to let these flats is restricted. You have to earn enough, but not too much!

The lounge was about 20 m2, but the kitchen was along one wall, so we would lose about 6 m2 compared to what we have now. There were four bedrooms, but all were smaller than ours now, and none had fitted wardrobes. The rent includes heating and hot water, powered by the somewhat distant recycling plant at Bègles. We tried to fit our lives into the flat, and failed.

We arrived by tram and trek through the dusty heat between the building sites, and we left by bus. Just nearby three women were plying their trade, watched, possibly supervised by a man sat on the grass opposite leaning against a large plastic container of water.

The next apartment was up at Bordeaux Lac. We arrived a little early and enjoyed a walk around the area, watching the ducks, fish and coypus playing in the canals that separate the blocks of apartments.

This apartment was on the ground floor with a balcony that gave directly onto the road on one side and onto the park on the other. Every window was a french door. There was a lounge about the size of our current one, with a separate kitchen, a little bigger than what we have now, then three bedrooms, again each one substantially smaller than ours. One was really small. This apartment is heated, along with the whole district of the city, by a huge central wood-chip burning boiler, so the rent includes heating and hot water. Again we tried to fit ourselves into the apartment, and again we failed. I was a little concerned about security, too.

We are also applying for another apartment at present, again in the Euratlantic area. This block is built, but the apartment won't be completed until the end of June. We have plans. It has three bedrooms, nearer the size of ours at present. The two smaller rooms have fitted wardrobes. The largest room has an attached bathroom. The lounge has the kitchen in the corner but it is substantially bigger. It should be more feasible. Again it's in the buy to let scheme. The woman dealing with it apologised for asking personal questions, like, "Do you have any other income? Does your wife work? Is that all the household income?"

Friday, April 20, 2018

We are considering moving home

We love our flat. It's a very pleasant place to live. It has two faults, though. Firstly it's quite a long way out of the city centre. Secondly I have no office and we have no guest bedroom. I usually work on the (small) kitchen table, just alongside the washing machine.

So today we are going to look at two different apartments, both in new areas of Bordeaux.

The first is in a new district which is just being constructed on the other side of the station. It's one of M. Juppé's projects, the quartier Euratlantique, an area with financial services offices, a new bridge, the Pont Simone Weil, that crosses to the new Floirac Concert Hall, and two tram stops from the central station.

The second is on the other side of town, at Bordeaux Lac, between the lake that was constructed decades ago on the site of the old land-fill and the huge shopping complex where Ikea is situated.

We are also being considered for another flat that is being built and is due for delivery in June, again at Euratlantique. We can't visit that one, obviously, but I've seen the plan and despite its moderate size it looks like it could be a very practical and comfortable living space...

We'll see!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The race for naturalisation

We have not proceeded with naturalisation, partly because it would cost us about 500€ just to get everything translated that needs translating, without any administration fees.

Birthday meal

Pat had saved up a little spending money for our anniversary which we hadn't used, so we decided to push the boat out for a birthday meal. That meant, after some reflection, la Tupina.

La Tupina is one of the more prestigious but less swanky restaurants in Bordeaux. Rather than candelabras and funky crystal, it's gone for the best quality meats and fish from the river, cooked in traditional ways, often over the fire. For example, they do lamproie à la bordelaise (lamprey cooked in its own blood and red wine). It was around 30°C in Bordeaux today, but their fire was lit for grilling, as usual. We ate outside.

They do a really good value lunch for 18€ and we would have had that but it was langue de boeuf - ox tongue - so we decided to go for their à la carte menu. Much more expensive, but we had that little fighting fund. So the girls had roast chicken.

At la Tupina they despair of the quality of the chicken we get in the supermarkets. So their chicken comes from a farm on the Medoc where the birds live free-range and then the roasting is done slowly over the fire. "We used to have a really good chicken once a week as a Sunday treat", their website says, "and we could do with getting back to those days". Their chicken was served with chips fried in goose fat and sprinkled with crunchy salt.

Meanwhile I was undecided, so I asked the waiter what I should have. I almost always ask the waiter what I should have. I was considering breast of duck (he nodded and pursed his lips), lamb (his eyes lit up) or a steak (he nodded). I had seen the steaks displayed and they did look exceptionally good, but the waiter said, "You'll never eat lamb elsewhere like we do it here." I almost never eat lamb anyway these days, so I agreed.

The traditional Easter meal in this part of France was a shoulder of lamb which was braised very slowly in a low oven all day and served with equally slow-cooked beans. They call it seven-hour lamb. "Ours is cooked for eight hours", said the waiter.

He persuaded Pat to have a starter, partly because she didn't hear what he suggested she order - a skewer of grilled duck's hearts, beautifully cooked and served with a salad. Pat ate them with gusto while we looked on! He also brought us some saucisson, some cauliflower florets, some radishes and some fresh warm bread and butter while we waited for our main course.

Well the chicken looked really good, propped up on a little block of stuffing and with a bowl of really good chips. Meanwhile my lamb came in an low earthenware dish, surrounded by rich gravy and sprigs of rosemary. It took the waiter some time to meticulously spoon all the sauce onto my plate. The thick white beans were in a beat-up old pan together with slices of carrot, parsnip and chunks of bacon. It really was so good. "I'm never eating lamb again", I told the waiter.

The waiters were very well trained. When they collected plates they had to turn away from you to scrape the chicken carcasses onto one plate. You mustn't see them do that! Our half-bottle of wine was carefully placed on the table and turned with the label facing us. When one brought the bill he hid the bank machine card behind his back. Pat had cash. "We don't need the machine", I said. He looked relieved. But along with the ritual and formality there was an easy friendliness. We spoke a little English with them, but mostly in French.

Dessert was ice-cream. For me prune, for Pat fruits of the forest (fruits rouges) with "confiture de vieux garçon". "What is that?" The waiter laughed. "It's fruits rouges", he said. Catrin had gros canelé with ice cream. She'd had better canelé, but never fatter and never with ice cream.

Considering the quality of the meal, the bill was reasonable. More than we've ever paid before, and more than we'll ever pay again in a hurry, but what a birthday lunch, eh!

Some Wednesday music

So we joined this choir

Last year was very serious. We sang Bach and Vasks.

This year we have a big project on - the Requiem for Rossini, an Italian romantic requiem composed by a committee of composers.

But it's also the 30th anniversary of the founding of the choir, so we're doing a birthday concert on 1st May. And for that the programme includes:

In the Hall of the Mountain King, sung in Norwegian.
The Hallelujah chorus, sung in Franglais
"Oh Happy Day, from Sister Act, sung inaccurately (He taught me how to wash, fight and pray)
America from West Side Story
"Voici la quadrille" from Carmen
"O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana
Pavane, Fauré
Cantique de Jean Racine, Fauré
Ave Verum Corpus, Mozart
The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, from Nabucodonosor.

That's a lot of singing, and all accompanied by our gallant little pianist!

Every year they take me by surprise!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The City of God and the Goal of Creation, by T Desmond Alexander

I sounded off a while ago about our tendency to have a somewhat one or at best two-dimensional approach to Biblical Theology, seeing one theme as key to unlocking the whole development and direction of the Bible's message - perhaps Covenant, or Kingdom. But the Bible gives us various diverse themes that run through the Scripture from beginning to end. One of these themes is the City.

We can have a somewhat ambivalent approach to the city. On the one hand some of our cities are so polluted that you cannot breathe safely, your lifespan is shortened by the smog. Sometimes our cities are characterised by injustice and inequality, with extremely wealthy penthouses and terrible slums and housing schemes. Cities can be dangerous places with areas where it is unwise to go unless you are known and know how to behave.

We dream of the countryside, of escaping to the hills, to the beach, to the mountain, to the forest. Of silence and solitude. Of clean air and crystalline water. Even typing these words makes me relax.

The story of creation in the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. But not just any kind of city. the City of God.

Alexander's book helps us to grasp the sweep of the Bible's focus on God's city chapter by chapter, beginning with Babel, the city that has no need of the creator-God, the city of self-sufficient pride. God's purpose, however, is a different kind of city - a Temple-City, a City that is a Holy Mountain, the City of the Great King, the Jerusalem that is to come, that comes down out of heaven from God.

It's a short book, but not quickly read. It's a distillation of lots of research and reflection by many scholars, making it so rich and suggestive that you have to keep pausing to think over on what you've read. But along the way you get insights you might never have noticed otherwise. Thoroughly recommended.

I received the book free from Crossway in return for an honest review. I have to say that I get to choose the books I want to review, so it's not terribly likely that I'll ever give a negative review!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Is that ECT, BST, GMT or DKT?

We're an hour ahead of our dear ones in the United Kingdom. France operates on what, I believe, is called Europaean Central Time, currently at GMT + 2.

Meanwhile the UK is now on British Summer Time, GMT + 1, which must seem like a bitter irony as the winds lash and the rain cascades.

Incidentally the stress of adapting to this national tidal wave of sleep lost and gained is enough to account for a noticeable rise in heart attacks. So take it slowly. Certainly last week I along with many others was suffering with la crève, an extreme fatigue that comes upon you for no discernable reason, if not the change to Summer Time.

But here in the Davey household we had another problem. Between our living room and our kitchen there was a noticeable time difference of about 6 minutes. We called this Davey Salon Time (DST) and Davey Kitchen Time (DKT). DST was well aligned with all the other clocks we knew, such as the internet, our mobile phones. DKT was six minutes behind.

Our flat is what estate agents would call "deceptively spacious", but it's not that big. Why this time warp?

Well time, as we know, is not really a constant. It is composed of waves of timey-wimey stuff and therefore extremely variable, and the quantum effect of moving between the salon and the kitchen was strangely sufficient to warp time to the ...

Our living room clocks are battery powered. Our kitchen clocks, on the oven and the microwave, are mains-electric. Mains-electric clocks commonly use the 50Hz cycle of the alternating current to measure time. And since January, because of some jiggery-pokery in which I seem to recall the Russians were involved ("Oh no we were not!" "Oh yes you were!"), the alternating current in Western Continental Europe was about 49.9996Hz, enough over a couple months to put our clocks slow by six minutes.

So THAT'S why I missed those buses! And THAT'S why the (mains-powered) clock on Pat's side of the bed was six minutes slow all the time.

It's now been sorted out and by some more jiggery-pokery (they ran the current at 50.00001Hz for a while) the ovens of the continent are showing the correct time once more.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The inauguration of the Chinese Church

Yesterday we were so very privileged to be present for the inauguration of the Chinese Church, which took place at the Eglise Evangélique Libre in Pessac, about a 1/2 hour walk from our home. It's a rainy weekend, so we travelled indolently, by 42 and 44 bus, walking just a couple of yards either end of the journey.

They say that when you are drowning your whole life flashes past you. Well we were drowning in a happy sea of thankfulness as all our life in France flashed before our eyes.

We saw way back 15 years ago, before we arrived when two Chinese girls started meeting for Bible Study. Soon afterwards they were joined by a lad who became a friend of ours, and who later married one of the girls. Slowly the group grew. Our involvement with the group grew, too, until 2014 when we focused on the International Church Plant. Incidentally, it was thanks to a gift from the Chinese Group that I bought my first Apple computer.

Friends were there who we have not seen for years. There were huge hugs, lots of stories, a few tears and a lot of applause. Then a good Chinese meal. "Never ask what's in it", joked one of the Chinese pastors.

We came home pretty stoked up.

Briefing the church leaders

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Some Walton for Thursday

Better without the poem?

Monday, April 02, 2018

At last

Spring has finally arrived, we had reasonable temperatures today and yesterday we turned off the heating in the flat. Usually we don't have to heat after mid-February, so we're at least 6 weeks late. Still, today the air was warm, the sun was agreeable and we felt like we had turned a corner.

Sunday, April 01, 2018