Showing posts from September, 2018

Carte de séjour

Since the referendum we have been concerned to ensure our ability to stay in France, at least until our retirement date in 2026. We at first intended to take French nationality. However we quickly found out that this involves official, expensive translations of sundry documents, including six to eight birth certificates and three marriage certificates. It all adds up to several hundred euros. So we have dragged our feet on it. However the British Embassy in France is currently advising people to apply for a permanent carte de séjour. These things are less onerous in terms of administration and so less costly. A permanent carte de séjour currently lasts 10 years, which takes us beyond our retirement date. Once we retire we will need to consider whether to stay in France or to return to the UK. So I've had a happy morning photocopying our passports (every page) and finding proof of address for the past five years. It's quite easily done, in fact, with our council tax bills

A photograph of the happy couple


Home from the Beth and Gwilym wedding

We just got home, thankful in lots of ways. I was thankful to hear the words, "Perfect, sir" when I handed the hire car back. We were thankful to be comfortably in timer our flight despite little delays at Stansted airport (wait for the shuttle bus from the Car Hire Village, an x-ray machine on the blink, Catrin's suspicious key-rings, etc...) We were thankful for uneventful car journeys in and around Norwich. We were thankful for the warm welcome from Gwilym's new outlaws. And we were thankful for a happy and beautiful wedding.

Coughing to the left of me, sneezing to the right

I'm sleeping in my office!

Today's panorama

looks very similar to last week's!

Wedding garments

So for Gwilym's wedding Pat has a lovely pink dress with a kind of gauzy overdress with pink flowers. We modified it by removing a ribbon-belt which only served to slice her in half and it's now classy and just her colour. Catrin is a bridesmaid so she'll be in a silver-grey skirt with a lacy bordeaux top. It all looks very nice. For me it's modified american academic dress. I have a swanky grey blazer I got cheap from H&M teamed with blue trousers for the Thursday registry office wedding - I'll wear my wild jungle pattern Desigual shirt and a plain tie. Then for the Friday when I have to preach, mid-grey trousers, a white shirt and a floral tie. Catrin says we'll all look very fancy!

Glad that's over!

Well the last audition was last night. The choir rehearses not far from Château Haut-Brion in Pessac and I was pleased to find that the number 11 bus gets me within about 1/2 mile. There were four of us being auditioned. A young soprano sang beautifully but was not very hopeful because they need guys, not gals. She got in anyway. I thought she would. Then me. Then two proper basses. After we'd all voiced our vocalises and pounded out our pieces we trooped downstairs to where the choir was amassing for the rehearsal. They start at 8:30, in the same way that church with us starts at 4:30... agreed and institutionalised tardiness. After the rehearsal - sacred music by Fauré, most of which I'd never heard before, the choir director came up and said "pour moi c'est bon" then awaited my reponse. It was positive. I like the choir, I like his style, I like the discipline, I like the sound they make and I like the fact that they take a break for a sneaky drink and biscui

The search for a choir

On Tuesday I had my first audition, for Polifonia / Ensemble Vocal d'Aquitaine. I went out to Ambares for a sectonal rehearsal of basses and altos and we sang through pieces by Lili Boulanger and by Saint Saens. The couple who run the choir were very likeable and the rehearsal seemed to go well. The choir rehearses in the conservatoire, which is very near here, and it sometimes works with the chorus-master of the Opéra de Bordeaux, but I did look alarmingly young among my fellow-basses. Next audition this evening, with a different group.

Brief intermission

We've had someone staying with us for a couple of nights. We can do this now that we have a (rather nasty) sofa bed in my study. I say the sofa bed is rather nasty because the design of it makes it astonishingly uncomfortable to sit on unless you curl your legs up onto the seat. Essentially the seat is too deep. Nobody has legs that long. We'll solve the problem by getting good firm pillows and good strong pillowcases and using them as cushions to reduce the depth. When unfolded it makes a reasonably comfortable bed. We explain that our goal is to have something that is comfortable for short stays! Of course, the drawback of this is that when folk are staying I end up just like in the bad old days before the move, wandering from table to table, looking for somewhere to park my laptop and work. But it's still good to have visitors.

Panorama de l'Ars



At the moment we get about three or four requests for help with accommodation each week, usually from students from the UK, the USA or France who have not managed to find a student room or flat and who hope that we can find a family they can stay with. We can't, but we do give what advice or help we can. Yesterday's call was special. The caller was a French woman. "I have a family here from Albania, they have no shelter and since you are a pastor I thought you'd have some help to propose or some ideas..." I suggested the emergency number 115 and the woman said she'd phone back. When she phoned back we talked a little, 115 had been unable to help, and so I talked about the Diaconat de Bordeaux, the protestant support services in the centre of the city. It turned out that the woman was from another association next door to the diaconat, la Cimade, which works to support immigrants legally. I thought, " they are phoning me for help 'since

Yellow alert for storms

One of the nice things about being on the fourth floor is that we get a lot of sky, and so far this year that has meant a lot of blue skies. The sunrise is pale blue shot through with gold silk. The evening is indigo. But yesterday was grey all day. I had a few errands to run. First a visit to the quackeroo who declared herself content. Then to the post office and to the bank. Google maps said the nearest branch of our bank was at Terre Neuves at Bègles, so I hopped on the tram, found the post office easily, but of the bank found I never a trace. Quick moment of cogitation. I knew the bus 11 would take me to Victoire and I knew there was a branch there, and bus 11 was due in two minutes. The decision was an easy one to take. As bus 11 neared the railway station the heavens opened and the fountains of the firmament were poured on surprised scene. The rain cascaded from the sky quicker than it could drain away and within seconds the passing cars were leaving sizeable wakes. Nobody ha

Finding a choir

We both sang with Arianna, a Pessac-based choir that meets in the music school at Alouette. There's a BIG PROJECT on at the moment, a performance for the Requiem for Rossini, a massive romantic piece for huge choir, enormous baritone and colossal orchestra, composed by a gargantuan committee of romantic italian composers, with predictably melodramatic results. The performace is in October, I think, so I'll stay for that. However the regular rehearsals are 20:30 to 22:40 on Wednesday evenings, and even when we lived in Pessac that was just a little late. So I'm hunting for something in town, aided and advised by the conductor of Arianna. He actually proposed that I might consider joining his chamber choir that specialises in newly composed music. I was very flattered! They say that the choir is open to "musicians". However although I'd love to do that it would never work, their rehearsals are on Sunday evenings at 19:30 at Blanquefort, way out of Bordeaux.


On Sunday night we were woken by a rather strange engine noise from outside. It didn't subside, so eventually we got up to see three cars doing fast circiles and handbrake turns in the lovely dust of the building site below our balcony. Up and down the building people were looking out and children were being pacified. After a couple of minutes of such high jinks, our aspiring rally drivers drove off at suitable high speed. We were concerned that this might become a regular event, but last night was calm!

Saturday panoramas from the balcony