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)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

More strong winds !

We upturned the table on the balcony and piled the chairs on top.
Still we had to bring two chairs in when they started to take off.

Meanwhile 200 000 homes in Nouvelle Aquitaine have no electricity this morning.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A windy weekend and some more photographs of Bordeaux

Over the weekend we had some strong winds. When this happens we overturn our table on the balcony and pile the chairs on it, then lay everything flat on the small balcony and shut the shutters on that side.

This time the wind came from the north, so it blew directly across the small balcony but didn't seem to move anything on the large balcony.

Meanwhile we saw some large sheets of metal blown from the top of the tower. They landed with a very loud bang within the fenced-off construction site.

They're topping off the tower at the moment so soon all the construction work will be for glazing, cladding and partitioning etc.

On the street side of the building they've started dismantling one crane. They've also planted trees in the courtyard and one side of the new road is all set to receive trees, too, probably today. It's all very exciting!

The photo of two ladies on the balcony is of Patricia and our friend Nancy Painter, up from near Marseille to visit some friends in the Lot et Garonne, they very kindly trekked up for lunch with us here.




Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gilets Jaunes acte 10

I met a chap for coffee this morning up near the town hall, and had not noticed that the trams were stopping not at 12:30 as usual but an hour earlier at 11:30. So I had to walk back to the station before getting a tram for the last two stops.

Here's a little of what I saw at about mid-day:

 The police gathering in front of the town hall.

Later on water cannons would be deployed in this square.

Walking further on along Cours Pasteur towards Place de la Victoire, many shops were boarded up, including almost all the estate agents, all the banks and various other stores.

The photo shows the town bike centre where you can borrow bikes free of charge. It's a target, perhaps because it is run by the town hall.


Some of the shops had signs on saying "Business in danger, lease available, phone this number and ask for the job centre". The shop keepers are struggling.

Meanwhile the Maison de la Bible is on a street where trouble breaks out and is staffed almost entirely by elderly volunteers. I think we should shut on Saturday afternoons, but others are more enthusiastic than I am.

It occurred to me that we attempted to rent a flat right on Cours Victor Hugo, in an area where some clashes take place each Saturday. Glad we didn't get it!

You can see some more information about today's clashes here.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Semaine Universelle de Prière

The Evangelical Alliance nominates a universal week of prayer around this time in January and in France the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France has inherited the organisation of this week. Themes are provided in a booklet for three evenings of prayer, but here in the Gironde we met each weeknight.

I made two meetings, on Wednesday when there were perhaps about 50 people present and on Friday at a church in Eysines when we were about 30. We split into groups for prayer after a message of encouragement. On Wednesday the third evening theme was used, so when I spoke for the Friday evening I did what I wanted, which was linking Psalm 2, 1 Timothy 2 and the current period of unrest that is overhadowing our political life in so many countries. People prayed very well.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

At the town hall

In France it's very important to wish everyone Happy New Year when you see them for the first time in January, and all people in positions of authority present their greetings to various assemblies of eager listeners. The President has presented his greetings to the press and to the army, as well as to other groups, and at the Town Hall M. Juppe was scheduled to present his greetings to the associations of Bordeaux on Thursday evening.

I am secretary of one lot, president of two others, so I decided I should go along.

The town hall was stuffed with eager people, most of them considerably older than me, and the evening began in a festive way with some songs from a Basque male-voice choir. After their presentation M. Juppé took the stage and made his speech, thanking the associations for their contribution to the life of the city.

He also took the opportunity to express his frustration and annoyance with the violence each Saturday afternoon and its cost to the life of the city. It has been reported that 10% of the shops could be forced to close because of lost trade, and that would be principally the small traders, the more interesting and unusual shops, not the large chain stores who have the resilience to weather the storm. He also reported that the repairs each week so far have cost over a million euros.

He comes across as a careful and irenic politician pleading for "jaw jaw" rather than "war war".

The room was so crowded and hot that I did not stay for the customary galette des rois and - usually really nice - wine, fruit juice and cider. I left after M. Juppé's speech but before the end of the evening.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

South Africa - continued

So Catrin's passport arrived today, with her visa, issued on 12 January, would you believe.

Well it keeps your mind off domestic politics.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

South Africa - continued

On Sunday and Monday all was calm.

Then today Catrin got a phone call from the South African Embassy to say that her visa is ready and will be posted today.



Saturday, January 12, 2019

South Africa - continued

The same lady phoned back on Saturday afternoon. 

"I have found your daughter's application: Is she a student?"

"No, she's doing a gap year."

"What is a gap year, is she working? If she is working she needs a letter from her employer."

"She isn't working for an employer. She gives English lessons to save up money to go to South Africa. she has a letter of invitation from the orphanage, but she cannot go because you have not issued her a visa."

"Listen to me, there is a process."

"Yes, and in November we visited the embassy where you told us the process took four weeks."

"How can we process applications that arrive in December when we still have applications to complete that came in September. But tell me, does she have a job?"

"No. How could she have a job when she is supposed to be flying to South Africa on Monday?"

The lady put the phone down on me.

Well the good news is that they have found her passport. I have asked them by SMS and by email to return her passport, and I will follow this up by recorded delivery on Monday.

Meanwhile Catrin phoned up about her flight, explained that the South African Embassy had lost her papers and the airline are reimbursing the price of her ticket.

Once she has a passport she can go for 90 days without a visa.


Friday, January 11, 2019

South Africa - continued

The nice lady phoned back on Friday afternoon. 

"We have not received her application"

"Yes, you have. It was delivered by recorded delivery to the embassy"

"Please tell us the date"

Catrin found the slip - it was delivered on the 13 December.

"OK, I will look"

South Africa

We have been waiting for Catrin's visa to come. We sent it recorded delivery, so we know it got there. They were supposed to return it in the same way - we included the envelope and slips.

On Wednesday she phoned the consular service in Paris. A man said he would phone back. He didn't.

This morning we phoned. If they had the visa and passport I could have got a return train to Paris - about 55€ - to collect the visa and passport. There was no answer.

I emailed.

I found an emergency number. The nice lady said she was surprised that we had not received the visa yet, and could I message her with Catrin's name. So I did. She didn't phone back.

Catrin will attempt this afternoon.

But it seems clear that she will not be flying to South Africa on Monday, or anywhere else for that matter, until we can get a replacement.

Grrrrr...

Old hundredth, or Psalm 134

One of the great things about being interested in music is that there's a whole world out there. Here's a recent discovery. Jacob Van Eyck, the carillon and recorder player from Amsterdam. Born blind, he had a good ear and apparently discovered that the shape of bells affects the overtones of their chime.

He was employed as a carillon player and also to play his recorder in the gardens next to the church. And he composed, or improvised, and vast number of melodies and variations for the recorder.

Here's Psalm 134, which we know as Old Hundredth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Bike tyres

It's the jargon, you see. It eludes you every time.

Last time I bought bike tyres I'm pretty sure I went up to a big rack of them, chose the ones I wanted, found the inner tubes and swanned off with them. I didn't have to worry about anything. It was self-service in the megamarket.

This time it was different. Still clutching my new carte de séjour I entered the pneuerie.

"Hallo, I need to buy two pneus."

"Hi. OK, what size?"

(Aha - I had looked this up, so I knew, and because the numbers were odd I had stored them on my phone)

"Let me look : it's 47 x 559."

The pneumonger rubbed his chin and frowned.

"We haven't got that. What sort of bike is it?"

I described the bike.

"This might be close."

He got down a 26" x 1.75". There, embossed on the side was ... 47 x 559.

"Oh! There we go! It's this one."

"We don't use metric?"

"No, we use inches."

"I also need the chambres."

"No problem." Out came two lovely inner tubes in nice Michelin boxes.

"What about the ruban?" (This one I was guessing.)

"Sorry, we don't have that. We have this kind of self-adhesive tape now, but you can't sell it, it comes in huge rolls."

"But that's what it's called, right?"

"No, it's called the fond de jant. If I were you I'd just look it over and if it's OK leave it."

"You know what? By next time I need some I'll have forgotten fond de jant and I'll call it the ruban again."

"It's not a problem. Anyone would know what you meant."



Cartes de séjour

Well off we went, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to collect our cartes de séjour. The desks were open from 13:30 to 14:45, and we had been warned of huge queues on Mondays and the effects of the Christmas backlog, so we went on Tuesday.

As we scurried up the road, Patricia said, "Isn't that Sally". We squinted and yes, it was. She was parking her bike a couple of hundred yards down the road by the shopping centre. We watched to see if she'd follow us, but no.

At the door a nice policeman stopped us...

You're here for?
Do you have a convocation?
Can I see it?
You have your passport?
And your recepissé?
What about the timbres fiscaux?

I said we didn't need these and he looked at the convocation to check, then told us to follow the yellow line on the floor of the préfecture.

We saw the queue for the correct desks and joined it. It was 13:20 and the desks opened in ten minutes. About eight people in front of us was our friend, Frances, collecting her visa for another year's PhD. She had her timbres fiscaux : 269 euros' worth.

A little later Sally entered and joined the queue about eight people behind us.

Just a few minutes and we left clutching proudly our new cartes de séjour, with their astoundingly ugly photos and their microchip that tells everyone who we are, where we live, etc...

Phew! Sorted!


Friday, January 04, 2019

Hurrah !


Called up to receive my carte de sejour!

Thursday, January 03, 2019

We're in the countdown!

I feel rather too excited about the whole thing, but it will soon be my sixtieth birthday. In France this brings a reduction of 10 euros per month in the price of your bus and tram season ticket. My ticket was up for renewal on the 9th of December so I called in the transport office to get their advice.

The helpful young lady did various calculations and said:

"Let it expire, then get a monthly ticket for January, February and March, then get your annual ticket in April after your birthday. That is the most cost-effective way to do it."

So yesterday found me at the railway station buying monthly tickets for January and February.
"I don't yet have March", said the clerk.


Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Fireworks

There was not a civic firework display in Bordeaux, but from the vantage point of our balcony we saw fireworks going up in Bègles, in Villenave, in Latresne, in Bouliac and they were all very fine.

Avoiding Sky News has greatly decreased my stress levels. I'm much happier now that I haven't any idea what on earth is going on. I doubt if Mrs May et al have noticed any great difference.