Showing posts from June, 2018

Strike alert

Will we get to Harrow for Gwilym's graduation? There's a warning of strikes causing disruption to services in and across France this weekend. Easyjet say to check on the day. We'll see!

The boxes are piling up slowly

as we slowly empty bookshelves and throw out piles of papers. I'm enjoying touching up paintwork on the corners, by the light switches and where pictures hung. I've found out how to prepare the dishwasher for removal. I'm a little concerned by access to the new apartment block. I'd value prayer for a good solution for the van to get as close as possible!

Is it me or does it seem sneaky?

I have completed building all the shelving I propose to build for the near future after a quick trip to Ikea this morning and manhandling the last of our kitchen units into place. The area around the flats was crazy-busy with people everywhere. I had to drive a big circuit of the building site to get to where I could unload. I shudder to think what the removal men will be faced with next week. Meanwhile, in a move that seems somewhat devious, France Telecom have wired the building for their fibre-optic system alone. That means that we have to change operator - and pay considerably more for our connection. Pity... But the good news is that in theory we should have our internet up and running from 10 July.

and the boxes have arrived

so it's off we go!

Etat de lieux

"et ils sont pénibles pour l'état des lieux... chez les voisins il y avait une griffure au mur et ils ont réclamé de repeindre le mur entier" and they're a pain when it comes to the état des lieux... the neighbours had a scratch on one wall and they made them pay to have the whole wall repainted. We have a couple of scratches on our walls, as well as a few holes to fill in where pictures hang, so yesterday I slunk off to the paint place to get some paint to touch up. I had the code for the colour, together with the wrong name, SE 2091 gris opium , it's actually gris scorpion, and together we worked out what finish the paint must be. 25€ later and I came away with the smallest tin possible. One litre. And what a relief. The areas I've touched up so far are fine. Just fine.

Building shelves

Two more done. One VERY BIG ONE and one small one. Now I'm getting impatient. There's still a whole week before the big move, and our removal man comes this evening with the boxes. Meanwhile today poor Patricia has a dental appointment for the start of some long, tedious and expensive treatment.

Not in the Swiss

Today I was due to fly to Switzerland with a small gang from the Maison de la Bible for the annual little conference. We almost cancelled my participation in the trip once we knew the timing of the flat move, but the tickets were paid for so I decided to still go. However there's some strike or other and our flight to Switzerland is cancelled. The others are going by car, leaving at what-time-do-you-call-this tomorrow morning. I took it as a good moment to stay and carry on getting set for the move. So this afternoon saw us pushing a trolley of shelving round Ikea, then hurtling down the quays of Bordeaux to our flat and wheeling said shelving on our little cart (un diable) up in the lift to our flat. Under two hours served to construct a kitchen island, which consists of a shelving unit set lengthways on big locking castors, and a window bench, again made of a lengthwise shelving unit with cushions atop. On Monday we have another window bench to make and another shelving uni

Boy it's hard sometimes

So we've got the keys to the new flat! Yay! The guy explained the heating system to us, and made sure that we had hot water. I photographed the electric meter so I could set up the electricity contract and measured everything in sight to try and work out where our furniture will go and whether we can get it in there in the first place. Then I tried to set up the contract on the electricity company's excellent website. "Oh no you don't" came the harsh retort. You can click a button to get someone to call you. They did. I explained what we were trying to do. "OK" she said, "what's the address?" I told her. It didn't exist. "The mairie has just renamed the road. It used to be this." No. It's not under that. Eventually she found it allocated to a non-existent fictitious road that nobody can find or explain. "We're not the first people in these flats. Others will have done the same thing." &q

My life is sometimes so varied

The day started with sermon prep with our preacher for Sunday, who is tackling Daniel 9. We had a great time discussing the passage. Our discussion was interrupted a couple of times by messages from Pat and by a phone call. The phone call was from our insurance company who have decided they don't want to insure us in the future citing "frequency of claims". I phoned yesterday for clarification but the woman who took the decision was not in her office and the guy I got on the phone wasn't able to help. "I can't see all your dossier but I can see at least three claims in fourteen years." In 2009 for the big storm, in 2015 for a water leak and in 2017 for the burglary. The "at least" in his sentence was superfluous. There have been three. Exactly three. No more and no less. Anyway the call came and the woman's definition of frequency was indeed that. "From two you can speak of frequency", she said, "and the real problem was yo

Fête de la Musique

It's a play on words. Originally, apparently, the idea was for everyone to get that violin out of the attic and to make some music (faites de la musique). It's turned into a nice way to mark the start of summer with all kinds of concerts, open-air, in cafés and restaurants, in churches, in public squares etc. When it falls on Saturday or Sunday the whole of Bordeaux turns into one big mushroom, with different styles and genres in different squares and halls. So you can wander round the city listening to jazz, to rock, to street music, to choirs, to classical players, to folk music, to rap, slam and hiphop, you name it you can find it. But this year it's on a Thursday, so it's just a musical evening. Which brings us to tomorrow: Firstly some brass friends are playing in bandas (street bands) in a bar called the Chico Loco (I think). I would love to go and hear them but I don't think it will be possible. Then Catrin and two collaboratrices will be singing

Monday adventure

First a confession. I totally forgot "No screen Monday" and took my phone with me. Ooops!!! Anyway we first went to explore the new area around the old docks at the far southern end of Bordeaux. There is a vast number of new apartment blocks up here and I tried to rent one place up there but got no reply when I submitted our dossier. Oh well. Here's some thing that we saw. La Base Sous-marine. A U-boat base built by the occupying nazis. The concrete is so thick it can't be demolished, so it's used as a gallery and concert venue, including for Jazz à la Base Later we went down to see the new flat, for which we get the key on Friday. We discovered a few things: 1) some people have moved in 2) the building was accessible 3) the door of our flat was open 4) there's still quite a few things to finish off before Friday 5) the address we have been given and with we have given to others will not work! The living room

The unpardonable

On Thursday morning my phone vibrated in my pocket. It was Sylvain. The Conseil National des Evangéliques de France is a national body uniting evangelicals from pentecostal, charismatic and other groupings. As soon as the CNEF was formed we in the Gironde transformed our local pastors' fellowship into a CNEF33 group. Since then the CNEF has issued guidelines and structures for local groups, so we decided to knock down all we had and start again. And the Assemblée Constitutive was this Thursday morning. Sylvain, one of our all-round good eggs, volunteered to go to the meeting for me. And now he was trying to phone me. "I am in a meeting. Is it a grave emergency?" I messaged him. "They want you to be président of CNEF33. Are you willing?" "Yes, if that's what they want." Moral of the story. Never miss a meeting and always turn your phone off!


The conference had four basic threads. First thing in the morning, addresses from Leviticus from Jonty Rhodes, one of the International Presbyterian Church worthies. He talked about the offerings from the manual for communicants and the manual for celebrants in the early chapters of Leviticus. Then Richard Gaffin gave addresses on the work of the Spirit. Professor Gaffin has written several very useful books and it was fascinating to hear him speak to us, he must be well into his eighties. Lunch was foraged in the emporia of Ealing. One day I spotted Geoff Thomas, Gary Brady and Richard Gaffin sat at a pizzeria. I took a photo of them. "Come and join us for pizza", said Geoff. After lunch was Sinclair Ferguson's spot. His manner is wonderful now. He has his material so mastered that he can proceed at a slow pace, searching out the way as he goes, and be lucid, coherent and luminous. Each day he gave us something special to ponder. For example, the first day was on

Prospective removal men

How do you find good removal men? Well first I asked on Facebook and got one recommendation. Then I looked on Google and found some highly rated ones. The Yellow Pages also give you people's feedback. Then there's a service where someone will look at your rooms by video-conferencing, identify your furniture (three Billy bookcases) and work out the volume of your stuff, then invite removal firms to quote. Two removal people came to the flat to see for themselves. One guy stood out as being the friendliest and most easy to communicate with. He wasn't the cheapest but we're going with him.

Prospective tenants phase two

Poor Pat's Tuesday afternoon was marked by visits, from removal meant then from our letting agency. Three prospective tenants came together. One seemed very keen because the flat is near her children's school.

Tate Modern

I flew Ryanair into Stansted. I'd never done that before, but the flight was at a good time and price, and access to London was easy. My flight was at 10am from Bordeaux and I would land at about 10 in England. The Billi low-cost terminal at Bordeaux is great. Basically it's a large shed where you can see the departure gates from the entrance. You zigzag back and fore through security, the small duty-free shop, the cafeteria and on the the departure gates. The one tiresome aspect is passport control. Entering and leaving the country means queuing up to show your photo-id to one of the three policemen in their little booths. It's not that slow, really, but it's the one occasion where you feel that you have been queuing. We went to our departure gate. There was the zigzag of queuing alleys. I followed some people who snuck in without going all the way back to come zigzagging all the way forward. Slowly we all formed our queue and waited for the police to arrive. The

Catalyst at IPC Ealing

My old friend and compatriot, Paul Levy, is pastor at the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing in West London. Last week they organised a conference entitled Catalyst dealing with the work of the Holy Spirit. It coincided exactly with the ministers' conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales at Bala, where some excellent people would gather around the theme of "The Generous Leader". At the same time in another part of London the Evangelical Ministry Assembly were meeting around the theme of "The Unsearchable Riches - Preaching Christ from all Scripture". I was spoilt for choice. First choice was Bala - a few days by the lake would do me good. But getting there was pretty impossible without hiring a car. Sinclair Ferguson was to be at Ealing. The choice was made. Another old friend and compatriot, Gethin, is currently coming to the end of a year at Ealing and he said I could stay with him during the conference, so all I had to do was fly in and

Prospective new tenants

"Can we bring someone round who might rent your flat?" "Well you can, but if I were you I'd wait till the gardeners have been and mown the grounds because it doesn't give a good impression of your company." "Ah, but you are responsible for the spot of lawn outside your flat!" "Oh yes, and you will see that our garden is neat, as is the next-door neighbour's, but be careful in the common areas, which are your responsibility. They haven't been mown for weeks." "Oh well, the gardeners are scheduled to come on Friday, but this person wants to come and see it on Wednesday." So it was that on Wednesday afternoon a young chap came to see the flat and on Thursday morning in the heavy rain a gardener came to mow the lawns and trim the hedges.

Preparing for the move

On Wednesday we went down to see the new flat again, from the outside, to reassure ourselves that it will be possible to move in late June early July. This is it, seen by hanging precariously out of a nearby multi-storey carpark. We wandered into the grounds, now fenced and gated and planted with salvia, until a workman chased us out, then climbed the multi-storey carpark. From one of the floors, if you hang out over the cladding, you can just see our apartment. We were able to tell that one balcony has a textured flooring while the other seems to be a kind of rubberised surface. The flat won't have a fitted kitchen and we are reluctant to fork out for fitted units for a couple of reasons. The first is that we are tenants, so we don't want to donate a carefully planned set of units to our landlords. The second is that here we are somewhat disillusioned with wall cupboards after several incidents of things falling out onto heads. Every member of the family has been

New car, new hoops!

We have a new car! Yesterday morning there was a committee meeting of the CNEF33 group, so I booked a car to take me out to Outer-Eysines where the meeting was to be held. What's this? A Polo? I quickly reserved it. And there it was, all silver grey, new and shiny, with that Volkswagen touch of class. I was so excited! And hey - hoops! At many places in Bordeaux the Citiz cars have hoops - arceaux - which rise when the car is driven away to reserve its parking space. These are a Very Good Idea because generally whenever I take a Citiz car out someone rushes up to park in the space - even though they are labelled in jaunty yellow "AUTOPARTAGE - Stationnement interdit". I have come to the conclusion that the majority of the drivers in Pessac are now arrivals who have not yet mastered reading public notices in French because they will shun hundreds of metres of unrestricted kerbside in order to place their car carefully inside the yellow box labelled "AUTOPARTAG

Giving notice

There we are. The firm we rent from has acknowledged receipt of our notice. We're moving. The other evening one of our neighbours said she needed to come round for a chat about something. We wondered what her problem was. We've invited her several times to come and eat, to take a tea, a tisane, whatever. She did come to the royal wedding tea but she has family living nearby and surely if she had a problem she'd go to them. We was baffled. Anyway I got home to find her and Pat chatting on the sofa, and she just wanted to come round and talk about tus leaving. We were very touched. We're sad to leave this flat. It's been a happy place to be, and a good compromise between accessibility and comfort. It's been nice to have a garden and the terrace has been good. But now it's time to be thankful for what we've had and to move on.