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)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A potential loss averted

We're moving.
(Our neighbour was displeased.)
End of June.
Have you given your notice to the landlords?
Not yet. Why?
I'm not sure but I think we're on three months' notice.

Oh dear. That would mean 1500€ lost for nothing. I checked the documents. They said three months. I phoned the agency. The person we deal with was on holiday so I left a message and emailed them.

The agency phoned back. We can give one month's notice by recorded delivery citing the fact that we are in "zone tendue".

So this morning I set down to write the letter. In France there are websites that will write the letter for you if you give them the basic information, like the date you're moving and the town you live in. The government site specified that in large towns where people come and go a lot whatever your tenancy agreement says the law specifies that you can not require more than one month's notice.

Yay! Once again France rocks!

So the letter is written and printed out and I must remember to tell our neighbour.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My shoes were trying to kill me!

I have told you that Bordeaux was paved by a psychopath who specified slabs in a variety of shapes and colours but which all become extremely slippery when wet. That's their part in the drama. My part was to buy shoes labelled as all-weather walking shoes from my local shoe store. It is required of all-weather walking shoes that they grip in the wet. Mine did not.

Thus on Saturday when the storm roared about me and my way was wet and smooth my shoes conspired with the paving slabs to make every step I took potentially lethal. I must have looked an odd sight as I carefully planted my feet vertically and shifted my weight carefully through the heavy downpour, anticipating the movement of the crowds so I would have to make no sudden moves.

Well I've lived with these little assassins long enough and the soles were quite worn down so they went in the bin and I scuttled off to find some replacements in the shoe emporia of Merignac.

Big mistake. The shoe emporia had the kind of thing I was looking for but at prices I was trying to avoid. My quest was doomed to failure.

So I turned my downhearted trudge to the supermarket where I needed some cereal and some spread - and spied some shoes that would do. They are not supermarket own-brand. They are of American manufacture. I quickly looked up the reviews on my phone. They were positive. The price was OK. I went for it.

On Tuesday we were at our niece's wedding. Pat's sister was wearing the same brand of shoe.
Do you like them?
I wear no other brand.
And they last OK?
They're excellent.

Jolly good!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sad news

We have suffered a bereavement. Laurence the rat has left us. He was about three years old and recently had surgery because of a tumour on his leg. He was obviously elderly, not the perky, inquisitive rat he once was, but he still enjoyed his food and was still very sociable.

Laurence is now resting in the corner of the garden by the hedge, protected by lots of pepper to discourage the local cats.

Apparently some people ask whether our pets await us in the world to come. This question has never really occurred to me at all, but it is charming to think of Catrin one day being welcomed into eternal dwellings by a tiny throng of glorified rodents.

The storm

"Orange alert for storms in New Aquitaine", they said.

"Yeah, right", but I still decided to look for my black waterproof - unsuccessfully.
How do we manage to still lose things in such a small flat?

Anyway, I pulled on my cotton jacket and rushed out. It was just starting to rain. The number 42 bus came as the thunder started.

We reached the tram top at Merignac, and now it was raining very hard indeed. I ran across the road to the tram stop and was drenched. Thankfully there are shelters, though it was too late by anyone's reckoning.

The tram arrived and we rushed on. We went through perhaps four stops before we were told that we'd be held up for a while because of the rain. After about 10 minutes we started going again through roads perhaps a foot deep in water, with cars inching through.

At Mériadeck we were told that that was it, the rest we'd have to do by foot. I wanted to pop into H&M but found that the Mériadeck branch has closed. Flunch, the cheap self-service restaurant, has also closed in the same centre. Across the road the Passages de Mériadeck are almost all empty.

Meanwhile some of the other shops were having trouble because water was pouring in from higher up in the building. I left and started off to the Maison de la Bible through streets where hailstones lay in piles and shopkeepers were brushing water from their shops.

It started raining again. I had my bad shoes on, so I had to walk gingerly. Bordeaux was paved by a sociopath who designed paving that becomes extremely slippery when wet. They did that for the town that is colloquially known as the "chamber pot of France" because it rains so much. I imagine them laughing every time the weather forecast is bad and thinking of their horrible revenge on the Bordelais, slipping and sliding and falling to their doom on the smooth, shine streets.

At last I made it to the bookshop and towelled myself dry. The storm lasted 10 minutes. The damage done to the vines further north is severe and some families have had to be rehoused after the ceilings in their apartment blocks all gave way. Nobody was injured or killed but the firemen were called out over 300 times. Some storm, eh!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Home alone

Mrs Davey hath hied her away unto England to spend the weekend with her sister before travelling up for a wedding somewhere like Daventry. (Not entirely sure where that is...) I am joining her on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Miss Davey hied her away for a sleepover with some friends in Bordeaux.

The house is quiet. Very quiet. Oh well, time to cut my hair.

Sorry about the scowl.
I need practice taking selfies.

Me and my big mouth

After saying how beautiful the weather has been, how fragrant the hedgerows, how verdant the vines, how perfect the springtime, it lashed down with rain all morning.

After talking about my grand solo operatic debut, my pianist pulled out.

Ah bon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

About that sermon from the Primate of America

I am so grateful to those who have so wonderfully expressed my thoughts.

Now let's move on.

Springtime in Pessac

The vines are green and full of life.

The hedgerows are fragrant with honeysuckle and mock-orange.

Gentle breezes bring relief from the noon-day sun.

The evenings are warm and mosquito-thronged.

It's a bit sad

As you know, gentle reader, that Mrs Davey and I go for singing lessons to our local municipal music school. For us both it's a "get involved, make friends and improve your French" thing, and for me it offers cheap breathing training (I'm asthmatic).

There is a financial cost, though not a large one as the lessons are short and subsidised by the municipality, but there's another kind of cost, too. Now and then you have to sing. I mean, in front of people.

Last year we all had to take an exam; Three Daveys in a row. Catrin sang some lyric thing about victory, Pat sang a song called Syracuse and I did a bit from Figaro.

This year Catrin couldn't continue because of her university course but Pat and I were scheduled to sing a duet. I found something that vaguely fitted our range - a setting of "It was a lover and his lass" by Vaughan Williams, where Pat was to sing the low voice line and I the high voice. I don't have a high voice, but with a bit of volume I could squawk it out reasonably.

We had our first rehearsal with the pianist. It went OK. We came back hoarse and all sang out. I checked my diary for the following day.

"Darling. You know our grand concert debut. When is it?" ... "And when is your flight to England?"

Pair of chumps. Maestro Sechet was displeased.
"How come?"
"Sheer stupidity."

The situation seemed irredeemable.
"What if Alan sang alone?"

So it is that this evening I have my grand operatic debut solo, singing the same piece what I done last year for my exam. The poor pianist is having to almost sight-read, but she's a trooper. We hammered our way through it a couple times last night and, as I tell myself, no-one will die. I shall channel Bryn Terfel, though my voice doesn't have his size, of course.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Our house move

In theory we get the keys to the new place on the 22nd June, but meanwhile we have not yet received the letting contract to sign. Hmmm. I am sincerely hoping it will come by the end of May so that we can give in our notice for the end of June here.

Meanwhile how will our removal van get near the building? At present the front of the building does not appear to be suitable for parking a lorry, and the roadway is narrowed by bollards and railings. Oh well, there's a month yet.

Meanwhile, in another interesting development, I saw on the rental website that the same company has a flat available right in the middle of town, near the Musée d'Aquitaine. It's a good size, has three bedrooms, but has no balcony. I've tried numerous times to contact the company using two different numbers and I've also emailed and left a voicemail but I have had no answer. I guess they're office is closed today. I'll try again tomorrow morning.

We might conceivably need to slow down a little...

Last Thursday was the rehearsal with the pianist for Pat's and my debut in our big duet for the Music School end of year concert at the library. Ralph Vaughan-Williams' setting of "It was a lover and his lass". Very wise choice because if we forget the words we can just make it up and nobody at all would notice and anyway we're sure we'd have the best pronunciation in the place. Our accompanist is a very pleasant lady who made us sing it through 4 times (four). We have another rehearsal scheduled for this coming Thursday.

We got home. I idly looked at my diary.

What time is the concert?
Half past eight.
And what time is your flight to England?
Half past four.

Well, she sent a text message to Pierre-Henri. We saw him the next day. He looked sore vexed.

How did you not realise?

We had no satisfactory answer.

But Alan's still here. He could sing alone.

Pierre-Henri considered this.

But what could you do?

We settled on something. He perked up. I was sent off to tell the Music School secretaries who would then contact the accompanist and see if she was happy to do that instead.

Hallo, you know the duet my wife and I are due to sing?
She has to go to England.
Oh dear.
The is what Pierre-Henri suggests.

In the end the exchanges ended happily, but we may need to slow down a little. I'm starting to arrange clashing appointments again, and this time Pat is joining me!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Baptism - the report

Well last Sunday had everything!

A flat-pack furniture baptistery to assemble.

A dear friend with whom to test various positions of baptism:
both in the pool, from standing position
candidate in the pool, Alan outside, from standing position
candidate in the pool, Alan outside, from sitting position.

Water-play with hoses and buckets to empty and fill the baptistery.

Brave fellows running back and fore with kettles, flasks and bowls of hot water.

Bright sunshine and menacing clouds that threatened but did not attack.

Happy candidates with attentive and loving family and friends.

Intelligent children far too sensible to stand on the splash end of the baptistery, despite my urging.

A preacher who is director of an internationally renowned theological training institute.

Joyful songs sung in English, in French and sometimes both at once.

Delicious snacks including wonderful cakes.

Hugs, kisses and joyful dances.

Then on Monday that dull brain and throbbing back that tells you that it's time to take a day off...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

More on the baptism service

Last night at 6 I went to get the car to go and fetch the baptistery.

The car wasn't there.

I looked around a little in the streets and car parks, then phoned the service centre. "Oh yes, the previous user will be a little late."

About 25 minutes later the car arrived and two types got out and left by tram. I went and looked the car over , started it and drove off.

"STOP! FLAT TYRE!" shouted the dashboard. Funny, they hadn't looked flat, but then tyres these days seldom do. I phoned the service centre. "Oh yes, the previous user said that they'd had that flashing, but all had been OK. You can change car if you like to carry on."

I needed the length of the Clio estate to fit the baptistery in, so I decided to carry on, but to stop for air on the way. There's a garage near the motorway slip road, so I put my 1€ coin in the air machine and blew up the tyre. It had been pretty flat! Now the dashboard said "Check the tyre pressure sensors" so I was quite reassured. Oh yes, and should I mention that evidently someone is living rough at the garage and using the air machine corner for toilet duties? YUK!

The rest of the journey passed off uneventfully and the baptistery went in the car OK.

This morning I checked what other cars are available to get the baptistery to the church and then back to where I got it from. Yes! the Peugeot Partner at Talence Forum was available so I booked it quickly!

The weather yesterday was dreadful. We went from 27°C on Thursday to 15°C yesterday, with nasty drizzle punctuated by occasional downpours. "It's the icy saints," (les saints de glace) explained our neighbour. "It's always cold around the 12th of May. There are plants you shouldn't put out until after the 13th. It'll pick up again now." And so far today it has been fine, a blue sky with nice fluffy white clouds.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

What a shock!

I had a doctor's appointment at 9 am. Because my doctor is still the one we had when we first came to France, way over in the suburb we haven't lived in for 12 years now, that means reserving a car and hitting the rocade. How that word strikes fear into my heart! Still, instead of joining the rocade at sortie 13, near our home, I scuttle through the university campus and join at sortie 16. I need to come off at 18, so even if there is a hold up, at least I'm not in it for long.

This morning the traffic was fluid, so I arrived at 8:40. Oh well. 10 minutes of music in the car, then into the waiting room.

Doctors here are very good, but you do tend to go in late because they spend more time with people than they allow for. Once you understand this it's OK. You just take a book to read and all is well.

This morning I was out of the surgery at 9:20 with a contented doctor and the comment to keep doing whatever I'm doing. We also chatted about Pat and the kids in that time. "We were not made to run", she said, referring to Pat's problem with her heel, "horses were made to run because of the structure of their leg."

So home, then off to meet our baptism candidates at Horace café. I was in one room at Horace talking baptism while Pat was in another room talking with someone else.

"Vous savez que votre mari est à l'intérieur avec deux autres femmes?" said the waitress. "Ah bon!", exclaimed Patricia, who knew very well indeed.

Then to another café, OvenHeaven, to say goodbye to the splendid Oliver, who is returning to Blighty having fallen in love with Bordeaux.

Then off to Peixotto to meet the friend who is loaning us their car for the weekend. Yay! Swift passage to choir and back this evening!

Then home. Meanwhile.

You know sometimes people say the French are inefficient? Don't you believe it! As part of our flat hunting we decided to register for a logement social, a council flat. The French very sensibly have housing associations that run logements sociaux and some of their flats are just awesome. There are some in the very centre of Bordeaux. Anyway, I started filling in the website but it required the figures from our 2018 tax return, which I have not yet completed. So I left it.

So this morning we received a letter telling us our request for a logement social has been noted and giving us our unique number and stuff. It may not lead to anything, and we have found a flat anyway, but it's an impressive piece of French efficiency.

Now then, where's the figures I collected to do my tax return?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Baptism service

OK, here's a little look at the life of a missionary pastor.

We have two baptisms on Sunday! It's great!

And not only that but we have a visiting preacher, the Director of the Belgian Bible Institute is in town and has agreed to preach for us!

So why am I especially asking for prayer?

Because on Saturday evening I have to take our carshare Renault Clio estate, collect a collapsible baptistery from some colleagues out in the Medoc and bring it back here.

Then at lunchtime on Sunday take it in said car to our meeting place, erect it in the courtyard and fill it with water. I'm told this takes two hours.

The forecast for Sunday is wet, but I am hoping for sunshine to warm the water.
If not we'll add kettles to take the chill off.

Then, after the service, I'll need to empty and collapse the baptistery and get it home again.

I've never seen the baptistery. I don't know if it will fit in the Clio. At present there's no plan B!

So thanks for praying!

Monday, May 07, 2018

And here's some artists' impressions of what our new flat will look like in a couple of years' time

 It faces a new park that is to be created called "Les Jardins de l'Ars". The Ars is a brook that is currently channelled through subterranean pipes but will be brought to the surface once more to feed the gardens. The terminal "s" is pronounced, by the way. We'll be on the left hand side of the building just about at tree-top level in these drawings.

The aerial photograph shows the site a couple of months ago. Building work on the various components of the site has advanced considerably but landscaping will be the last job to be done, I guess. Meanwhile we'll have access via a fairly important road that runs just on the other side of the building from our flat.

It'll be wonderful to have an office again, and to have a spare room!

Sorry we've been so quiet!

Here's some nice soothing music!