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, July 28, 2018

Well that's not entirely bad news, what.

We received two emails yesterday. The first was our tax report. The second was our final water bill. The tax man owes us 156€, refunding us all the tax we had paid this year. The water company owes us 12€. Jolly good.

Here is the moon seen from our balcony on Thursday evening

Last night the sky was completely cloud-covered. We didn't catch any glimpse at all of the moon during the eclipse.

Oh well, at least I didn't rush out and buy that long-zoom camera. If I had done I would have been so disappointed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Registering to vote

Since I was doing admin I printed off several justificatifs de domicile, photocopied my passport a couple of times and set off with a jaunty step.

That didn't last long. Bordeaux is in turmoil because the tram system needs major maintenance, so our wonderfully convenient tram C and A that would normally sweep me smoothly to the Town Hall is not running. Tram C stops at the Gare Saint-Jean.

So I got off, intending to take bus 1 that would drop me behind the town hall. As I walked round the tram a woman said, "Monsieur, c'est le terminus, ce tramway s'arrète ici" "Oui, et du coup je prends le bus.." I replied, wondering why this public-spirited citizen felt the need to warn me.

Anyway, the world, his wife, their three kids and their dogs and cats were all waiting for the number 1 bus, so I decided to hoof it. My route took me through the glorious Marché des Capucins. Pat and I have decided that we must visit this market from time to time but we have not done so. Modern life, eh... I paused to admire the wonderful fruits de mer, so beautiful, so nicely arranged that I almost wished I ate the stuff. Almost.

After some kilometres under the blazing sun I got to the town hall and the man checked my bag for guns, knifes, bombs and chemical agents.

"Quel service?"

"Les listes electorales, porte 7."

The man pondered a little then said, "Allez-y"

The sole occupant of the service electoral was signing up a charming family recently moved form Brest. I looked round the office. There were removal crates everywhere. There was also a fascinating A3 sign saying "MUR Lamentation".

Eventually the family were all sorted and they wandered off. We chatted about Brexit, about European elections, about taking French nationality, about football and rugby, about offices that move from one room to another and then back again, and about administration.

There we are. My card will come in March and the next municipal elections are in May.

Pat's Bordeaux Bike

Before moving here we sold (some of) our bikes.

I sold the Raleigh Mirage "moutain bike" that I mistakenly bought some time in the 1980s.
I bought it because the wheels on my wonderful Raleigh Magnum kept buckling in the potholes and ruts of Cardiff's city centre. I thought the more robust wheels of the Mirage would resist better. They did, but the bike was never as comfortable and I never really liked it.

Pat sold her bike that she had been given by a leaving student some years ago. It was a fine example of a common or garden lady's bike, mixte frame, not too heavy, with 5 derailleur gears. We renewed the brakes and lubricated the gears and all worked well, but she never really liked that bike, either.

So they went. For small sums. Pat's to a neighbour.
Mine to a student who was going to do cycle food deliveries.

I still have a Rudge Bi-Frame full-size folding bike which probably needs new tyres but which is fundamentally good.

Pat decided to have a free loan bike from the city. So she went to the office.

"We need a justificatif de domicile (proof of address), a pièce d'identité (proof of identity) and a rib (bank details). We use the rib if we need to take your deposit."

Proof of address means a utility bill. So she went back the following day with our electricity bill, with her passport and our rib.

"Ah no! This is not in your name! You need a justificatif de domicile in your name"

We pondered the facts. You are allowed one bike per household on loan for ten months after which you can then borrow a different kind of bike (folding, electric), then after 14 months, that's the end.

So this time I went back with the same justificatif de domicile and rib, but with my passport.

"This is the woman who came yesterday. But she must come in her own name!"

But it's one bike loan per family?


And anyone in the family is allowed to ride it?


Then I shall borrow the bike and my wife will ride it.

Pat had been at the dentist, but she arrived in time to check the dynamo lighting and to get the saddle adjusted.

"We're sorry we made your wife come back again and again."

"Don't worry. It often takes three visits before something works. We're used to it."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Living on the fourth floor

We've noticed a couple things.

Firstly it's much easier to use the balcony than when we were on the ground floor. You have more privacy. You feel less vulnerable.

It's quieter. We get hardly any street noise. Some planes fly over but they are not loud. You can hear the building sites but it's not very loud and the windows cut the sound completely.

We don't hear our neighbours much. There's a family with children below us. I heard them the night of the 14th when we were out on the balcony watching the fireworks. There's a small child on the ground floor. One morning he fell out of bed and cried. We've not yet seen people on the other balconies.

Deliveries are a pain. I ordered something from Amazon, which was sent with a firm called Colis Privé. Because the town hall renamed our road our postal address is different from the street name on Google Maps, so the firm said our address was unfindable and sent the package back. A book was sent by post, however, and that got to us fine. So I've started using our nearest postal deposit service, a wine shop just behind the station.

Panoramas de l'Ars

We might have headed it off at the pass...

The carbuncle, that is.

I phoned my doctor for an appointment. She's on holiday till early August but her locum could see me.

I wanted her to see it, really.

So I thought about what might help. We have an antiseptic that penetrates through the skin, so I started applying that to kill of the bugs. We also have some Magnesium Sulphate cream from last time. You smear that on and cover with a dressing. The purpose is to draw out the infection.

Then I went to the pharmacy and explained the situation. The pharmacist had a good look.

I would bathe it twice a day with this antiseptic that penetrates through the skin (check) and I would suggest this old fashioned rememdy - it's a gel with a painkiller in it and also magnesium sulphate to draw out the infection (check). Then when the abscess opens come back and we can give you an antibiotic cream.

Well we're now about four days into antiseptic and gel, and it seems to me that the inflammation has gone and that the abscess has started to disperse.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Here we go again!

July means carbuncle time!

(Anthrax in french. Everything sounds better in French)

Monday, July 16, 2018

What a weekend!

We had it all.

Flute duet and trio rehearsals in our living room.

Morning worship instead of afternoon.

Intense heat!

Then a gang of about 10 to 12 who preferred watching the World Cup Final in our flat to watching it in a bar somewhere.

Then car horns, sudden downpours and at 2am an impressive electric storm.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Change of time

Tomorrow afternoon France will be plunged into international conflict and there will be chaos on the streets of Bordeaux. The Football World Cup Final will cause huge disruption to the public transport network. So we've changed the time of the service to the morning, at 10:30.

A quick photo-tour of the flat

Yesterday evening we met at the flat to pray. There were about 10 of us and we fitted well round the table. For a while we thought of getting rid of our enormous table (it's 180cm by 101cm) but it's been so much part of our life here that we were glad that there's plenty of room for it.

Someone asked for a photo tour of the flat. Here's the main features (I omitted Catrin's bedroom):

The entrance hall.
Study straight ahead, living-room to the left.

Patricia demonstrating the living-room.

The other corner of the living-room

The big balcony.

Our bedroom. We need better wardrobes!

The bathroom attached to our bedroom.

My study from the small balcony

and another angle.

The throne room.

The shower room.

A meeting place

It's been a tough week in Bordeaux for the Francophone project.

Firstly our preferred meeting place said they did not want to rent a room to a church.

Then our second-best said they could not rent us a room for complicated reasons.

Then another meeting place said they did not want to rent to us either, after seeing our website.

This last is a tea-room that organises and hosts esoteric workshops on subjects including hypnosis, yoga and sacred numerology. I was a little hesitant about using their space because I feared that people would tar us with the same brush, but still the gospel can compete with the more unusual belief-systems of the world. But no. We were refused. Go figure.

The search goes on.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Order is slowly being restored

I'm writing this in my office. I'm sat at my desk in my office writing this.

My office was originally supposed to serve as a spare room, too, but in fact the room is just too small to fit in a desk, bookshelves and a sofa-bed. Of course, I'm bitterly disappointed about that.

Our living room seems colossal. The kitchen occupies most of one wall, then we have our (enormous) sofa-bed and my armchair in the sector near the patio doors to the terrace. By the other window is our dresser and our (enormous) table and chairs. We considered getting rid of the table and finding a smaller one, but the table is so much part of our life that we don't want to. Not only that, we have lots of room now.

The building sites around us are interesting rather than annoying. We enjoy being on the fourth floor, being able to sleep with the window open, being up above the stuff happening below.

We also enjoy the sunrises over the river and seeing the wooded hills of the entre-deux-mers away beyond Floirac and Bègles.

In short, so far so good.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Well there's good news and there's bad news

The good news is that we're safely arrived at our new flat and so far, so good, everyone seems to like the place. I have a study (YAAAAYYYYY!!!) and we have nice big windows and for the first time since I lived in OK Ridge in Cardiff, a view. We can see the river, the new Floirac Arena concert hall, the hills of the Entre-Deux-Mers, the apartment blocks of Bègles and lots and lots of building sites.

Also good news is that it's quieter than where we used to live. There we couldn't sleep with the windows open because of the noise of passing traffic and late night revellers returning home. Here we slept with the windows open, not too much noise (it's never silent in the city) and no mosquitos came to find us.

The bad news? Well our wardrobes won't fit. We'll need to buy two wardrobes. Not a disaster since our old wardrobes are pretty rotten old things anyway.

And the worse news, the agency is going to take money from our deposit to pay for a cleaning firm (there's dust on the floors) and to get two walls painted (marks where the table was and where Catrin's bed was).

I pointed out to the guy that the flat is three years old and that the lift has had peeling paintwork for months now, the fence has been broken since Christmas 2016 and the weeds in the grounds are two feet high.

He offered us a weekend to paint and clean further, but we think they'll just take the money anyway on other pretexts and there's no point breaking our backs further. But I shall write them a strongly worded letter pointing out the incoherence between their exigences of their tenants and their negligence of the property, and explaining that their remaining tenants are not content.

Interestingly they have not yet found a new tenant, despite showing several people round.

Oh well.

Oh yes, and Amazon deliverers cannot find the road, let alone the apartment block, so that's going to reduce our spending drastically. Good news or bad? You decide...

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

We're getting there

The lawn has had its last cut. Then I showed our neighbour how to use it and sold it to her.
My gardening shoes have gone in the rubbish. No gardening on the fourth floor where we're going!

Our neighbours are getting sweeter and sweeter as the day approaches.
One offered to put some boxes in her flat. She also offered to come and help us pack.
Another made us a leaving card on her computer with a "petit mot", a short note of appreciation.

All the tables are cleared and dismantled.
We're getting through it slowly.

Meanwhile Catrin's gastro-enteritis drags on miserably.
This house-move is epic!
Next one is the old folks' home.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Going at it gently

Well it's 7pm and we think the books are done. Basically.

That leaves the far easier tasks of clothes (I've started on that), crockery and kitchen, plus the various electrical and computer related things.

We work in short spurts punctuated by long breaks and lots of water. It's hot today, but not as hot as the weekend. It's been in the low 30s. Much better.

This morning I took almost all our light fittings here and swapped them with the bulb holders and bulbs from the new flat. That's the deal. You leave the flat with bulb holders and bare bulbs.

Our neighbour came in and offered to help us packing! Isn't that kind! We may take her up on it if we see the time is running away from us.

Pat's abscess has responded to further antibiotics and today she's pretty well back to normal.

Catrin, however, was taken ill in the night with very painful diarrhoea and vomiting. The doctor came out and she has gastro-enteritis. It's very common in Bordeaux in the summer months, and one of her friends at church has it too. Miserable in the heat.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Wow! What an awesome day!

I left at 5am to catch the 7am flight to Gatwick, then train and tube to Northwood for Gwilym's graduation. Then tube and bus to Luton and return flight to Bordeaux, home by 11pm. Thankful!
We've taken that 7am flight before. Once I just took the first buses to the airport - it meant a mad dash through security and up to the gate just before they closed the aircraft doors. Other times we've taken a hotel room near the airport and slept over. This time I reserved a Citiz car, the excellent Polo, and decided to park at the airport.
There were threats of strikes causing cancelled flights, but it turned out to be just for Marseille. Then poor Patricia came up with a huge abscess and after a sleepless night decided she should go to the dentist rather than graduation. I I drove to the airport alone.
Travel was a doddle. You arrive just after you left, once you change your watch, and then I hopped on the Bedford train to Farringdon, and the Tetrapelican line to Northwood. I arrived really early, in time to walk to the college, find a loo then chat with Gwilym and Beth before sidling along the procession looking very inconspicuous in my floral shirt. The procession in their robes and hats looked like the prelims for an international quidditch tournament, attended inexplicably by Thomas More and Philip Melanchthon.
Once inside I headed for the section labelled "Rabbit's friends and relations" and found a nice seat alongside the spouses of the chair of the trustees and the director of masters and doctorates by distance learning. It meant I could get nice photos of our two as they shook and hugged their way along the line of luminaries.
The ceremony was a joy. Nice hymns and songs, great piano, organ and band (Gwilym on bass guitar), nice choir, lovely speeches by chairman of trustees and principal. An address from a visiting principal was too long, really, but had some really nice lines. There was quite a bit of falabalam, but also some moving testimonies from a gifted lad who has done a masters and found a wife, and another in a broad Scots accent without subtitles from a lady who is a prison chaplain and somehow found herself doing a theology degree without ever having passed any exams in her life. I think. One brief moment jarred. Someone read Philippians 2:1-11 and the response went "In this is the word of the Lord". Come on! NOBODY says that. I looked. Google. You need to stop that now and have a serious talk with whoever put that in the order of service. There, I said it. Afterwards back through Northwood for a fine buffet lunch!
I chatted with some awesome people. First Gwilym's future outlaws, the Elkins tribe, out in force from Norwich. Then Emily, who deals with vocational advice and is pleased as punch to have placed Gwilym in the church where he is now working full-time. Spouses as noted above. Some of the students, one maybe going to serve in a church in Llandrindod Wells, another off to Trinity, Bristol for Anglican ministry. Bon courage, lads.
At 2:30 I started to panic so hugs all round, then I left and got the tube to Finchley Road, then the Greenline to Luton Airport for the flight home. The French family opposite me were flying to Bordeaux, too, so we found our way together through the maze of building works and into the airport. Then the fun began.
EZY2031 - Bordeaux - Consult Easyjet app.
The flight was delayed an hour. Oh well, that's OK. I wandered round the shops, resisted the cheap stuff, looked in the cafés, decided to eat a beef salad and then consulted the Easyjet app again. The flight was no longer delayed. 
EZY2031 - Bordeaux - Boarding Gate 28.
I hared off to gate 28, saw the French family again and a lady hobbling along, found a seat alongside the pen, then we heard "Easyjet customers for flight EZY2031 to Bordeaux, your gate has changed, you are boarding now at Gate 12".
Gate 12 is at the other end of the airport, so we hurtled, scuttled, rampaged, trundled, hobbled and trudged our way across to Gate 12. One bright chap said "Are there any Easyjet staff here?" No there wasn't. Then we heard over the tannoy, "Easyjet customers for flight EZY2031 to Bordeaux you are boarding now at Gate 28" 
Well we were beginning to suspect monkey business and I feared that some of our number would begin railing (here the best way to deal with monkey business is to express your feelings loud and long until the monkey business stops). However when we got back to Gate 28 I sat down briefly as my little protest while the easyJet staff quickly scanned our cards and got us through the gate,
onto a bus,
which took us to
Gate 12. 
I will leave you to imagine our comments as it became clear that we had hurtled, scuttled, rampaged, tramped, trudged, hobbled and trundled from gate 12 to gate 28, only to be hied back there by motorised conveyance. On the tannoy we heard other passengers being similarly directed hither and yon, yon and hither. It was party time in the tannoy room.
Anyway the rest of the flight was uneventful, except that we landed in spectacular thunderstorm. I'd always wondered what it's like to take off or land in one of our storms, and it is a trifle bumpy, but generally OK. 
I chatted with a gang of ladies flying together to a gite in the Dordogne. "We're all family going on holiday together. We're flying with the children and the husbands have driven down with the luggage. It means the kids get a short journey and the husbands get a road trip!" What a brilliant idea!
The French couple in front of me looked wary of the rain. "Do you have far to walk?" "No, it's just his suit for the wedding?" "The wedding? Whose wedding?" "Ours! Next weekend." "Wow, that's great! Where?" "In the Basque Country." "Congratulations, that's awesome." They looked at each other and repeated, "Oui, c'est trop bien."
I got a little drenched as I hurried to the car and drove the 10 minutes home.
What a day! Thanks to all who made it possible for me to be there to see my lad graduate!