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)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Thursday of the Ascension and the Bridge of the Ascension

Republican France is nevertheless very attached to its public holidays, many of which mark events in the story of Christianity. So it is that this week we mark Thursday of the Ascension (the BBC used always to play an Ascension Day hymn, and the following couple of days. If you take Friday off then you get four days off in a row!

It's not without drawbacks. Ascension Day moves back and fore with Easter so this year falls just at the end of May. Coupled with the other public holidays on 1st May and the 8th May, it can effectively paralyse anything you're trying to accomplish in May. That leaves June to get something done before you hit the holiday months of July and August head-on.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Income tax

I'm pretty sure I did it right, but I just did my tax declaration again and they say they owe me money.

Couple of photos

and another one

a fire, that is.

This time in a block of lovely stone buildings just behind the waterfront at the start of the Chartrons area of Bordeaux. Renovation works are suspected at present. The fire spread through the roofs of six houses and destroyed some of the buildings pretty thoroughly. One has effectively collapsed.

We're hoping for no more fires this summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tram C out of action again

On Saturday evening a fire started on floor -3 (minus 3) of the undergound car park on the quays near the Saint-Michel market square. Tram C passes directly overhead.

It took almost a day to pout out the fire. Over 300 cars have been damaged, as well as the structure of the car park.

Until safety experts can verify that there is no danger of collapse the tram can't pass over the car park, so there's no tram C between the main railway station and the interchange at Quinconces.

Hi, bus de substitution! Wish I could say I'd missed you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Some photos of Bordeaux

 The square ones have all been through instagram, all with the same filter and brightness increased a little. The rectangular one of the tram stop is before instagram treatment, just as it comes out of the iPhone.

Anticipation is mounting

and so are the piles of earth

Friday, May 17, 2019

Les Jardins de l'Ars

The assiduous reader will know that our life here is one of constant anticipation as we see the building site around us change and as we hope for the promised gardens to emerge.

So certain recent developments have us all agog!

Firstly some bottle banks have been placed behind the car park. We watch these keenly because as soon as they are commissioned we have several months worth of bottles just waiting to be deposited. The local dump is often closed and its bottle banks inaccessible.

Then a container that had been used to store tools was removed.

Lately some membranes have been laid down and covered with soil.

Is this the start of terracing for the gardens?

Is the big square hole destined to welcome some artwork, like the Stick of Rock in front of our flats?

And why these earthworks? Are they permanent or temporary?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Place Fernand-Lafargue

You live and learn, don't you.

There are various folk on the interweb who occupy themselves with finding out unusual facts and putting them out there for all the world to see. Two such have recently alerted me to the fact that one of our squares in Bordeaux has a chequered past.

Place Fernand-Lafargue used to be known as Place du Vieux Marché because it was there in centuries past that produce brought to the city via the Garonne was sold to the eager townsfolk.

Nowadays it is a square of bars and restaurants. There you'll find various Thai restaurants. Bordeaux' fish and chip shop was there, but has since been replaced by a Peruvian Sushi Bar. (I promise you that I'm telling the truth.) You'll also find the popular Apollo bar.

But the Place du Vieux Marché had another, more sinister use.

It was the place of public torture where, as one writer put it, some were broken on the wheel, others had their tongue pierced with a red hot poker, and counterfeiters were boiled in oil.

Never was keen on peruvian sushi.

Monday, May 13, 2019

La nuit des Cathédrales

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday our choir, Arianna, was engaged to sing with three other choirs and two harmonies (town, wind or military bands) at the cathedral for the "Night of the Cathedrals". This is an evening where all over France cathedrals put on cultural events designed to draw in the crowds. Our concert was free, the cathedral was full to bursting and people were queuing round the block and way up the street to get in.

The programme was varied, including some martial piece I didn't know at all, followed without intermission by

Cantique de Jean Racine
Extracts from Carmina Burana (the loudest and most spectacular parts!)
Two extracts from Mozart's Requiem
Berlioz' Grande Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphante

The dress rehearsal on Thursday evening was brutal. We were stood around for hours, and Pat's back threatened rebellion. So she went home and didn't sing in the concert itself.

On Friday evening we were working, so that meant I was present and correct for the Saturday in my new black trews, white shirt, jacket and comfy trainers (!) and what fun it was! They added in Bach-Gounod's "Ave Maria", performed as a tribute to Notre-Dame de Paris by two harpists and an alarmingly mature 15-year old from the cathedral choir. Also in consequence, while last year the cathedral was lit by 2000 candles, this year we had some strings of led lights and artfully placed coloured spotlights.

We hung our coats in the gallery of the cathedral where they were guarded by some illustrious "souls".

The Berlioz is long and loud, with lots of bass drum and gong, and two brass bands up in the choir loft. We sing for the last three minutes with some of the most banal words I've ever had to joy to declaim.

Glory and triumph to these heroes who have fallen on the soil of the homeland.
Come elect of the other life!  (I'm not making it up)
Exchange, noble warriors, your laurels for immortal palms!
Follow the seraphim, divine soldiers, into the eternal plains!
To their infinite choirs be united!
Radiant angels, harmonious, burning like them, sublime sacrificial lambs! *
Glory and respect to their tombs!

Generally we all felt that the soldiers who fell during the 1830 uprising probably deserved a better effort from Berlioz than that, but we gave it all we had, including a choir of 200, 6 trombones, 8 trumpets, 2 euphoniums, one tuba and lots of horns with four strong and violent percussionists, and everyone agreed that even if the music wasn't the best it made a most splendid noise!

* An-ges rad-ieux
Bru-lant comme eux
Su-blim-es vic-ti-mes

I think these lines will be forever graven on my memory...

Bordeaux in the news

Read about Grand Parc in the Guardian today here.

Here's a little video en français with English subtitles.

EU Mies Award 2019 : Transformation of 530 Dwellings - Grand Parc Bordeaux from caviar.archi on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Codgers' railcard second attempt

I checked on the website this morning and, yes, the price had gone down and all was hunky-dory and dinky-doo, so off to the station I toddled through high winds and driving rain. This time I didn't make an appointment, I just took a ticket and sat in an armchair to read until my ticket number was shown on the screen.

The clerk took my details and printed out the card.

"On a pas besoin de justificatif ?"

"Ben, non."

So my proof of address, carte de séjour and all the other things that prove my date of birth stayed in my pocket and I was swiftly conveyed home by tram and gusts.

Mission accomplie !

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Codgers' railcard

We're trying to organise fetching Catrin from Charles de Gaulle in about 10 days' time. We'll go up by train, stay somewhere overnight and meet her in the early morning. She lands at 5:30am.

So I went online to buy my codgers' railcard which will give me a reduced price rail ticket. The card costs 60€ and entitles me to at least 25% off the price of my tickets. The website told me I'd have to have it posted to me and it would take up to two weeks to arrive. "That's no good" I thought, so I steamed off to the Railway Station and inveigled my way to the front of the queue.

The railway station here is bright and cheerful. It has two pianos, and there's always someone playing or plinking. The cafés and shops are pleasant, and the ticket sales office is open-plan and full of excited people chatting with advisors about the best date to return from Sainte-Perpète-les-Oies. Eager staff wear their SNCF caps proudly. There's no raised voices, just happy chatter. Bustling youngsters scuttle about hustling four-wheeled cabin bags or toting enormous rucksacks. In a snack shop I spotted a perky pug trying to snaffle some cookies off the bottom shelf.

The lady behind the desk said, "the thing is, on 9 May we're launching a new set of cards. The current duffer+ card costs 60€ and gets you 25% reduction, but on the 9th the new card will cost 49€ and get you 30% reduction."

"OK! Thanks! See you on Thursday." I said, and hurried off home.

Lousy weather, but there's good news

The weather has been unseasonably chilly, with showery days and windy episodes. Not much like April and May in the South-West of France.

It clipped our wings during Gwilym and Beth's visit. We had intended going to the seaside but there wasn't a reliable day.

It also turned our church barbecue into a staged meal with anything eaten raw, cold or chilled being served first, including crisps, salads and cakes, followed by barbecued vegetables, then by the meat at the end. Our gallant barbecuer did a lot of running, blowing, fanning and relighting...

More seriously two morning frosts have nipped the buds of 10% to 25% of the Bordeaux vines. This isn't always very bad news as sometimes less wine combines with higher prices to make no reduction in profit. It depends how the rest of the year goes. We'll see.

However, in brighter news, we were troubled by our first mosquito last night. It's a sure sign of warmer weather arriving at last.

Everything is always changing all the time

Every day something changes round here.

Yesterday I made one of my trips to Carrefour for trousers - my jeans are disintegrating and I still need some decent black trews - and on the way back the bus didn't stop where I thought it would.

"C'est pas ici, l'arrêt?" quoth I. "Non, c'était un arrêt provisoire. Il est remis à sa place."

It's place is right outside the local library about 100 yards further on.

Meanwhile we are very excited about some new bottles banks that are being installed about 100 yards from us. You're supposed to take bottles and jars to bottle banks for recycling, but our nearest is the municipal dump about 10 minutes' walk away and often when we go there we find it closed. As a result we have a large number of bottles and jars just longing for a new bottle bank to open. We can see these new ones from our windows and we are very excited about them.

Then the school opposite is taking shape rapidly. It has delightful fish-scale tiles on the wall facing us and a grass roof. It will be quite the thing when it's finished. I imagine it is scheduled to open in September.

The Jardins de l'Ars have not yet started to be arranged. I wonder how long it will take to shape, scape and plant them!

Friday, May 03, 2019

It's a long time since we had any music on here

Black Kite

Yesterday as the church committee was met at our flat a big old black kite was wheeling back and fore just across from our big balcony.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Hallo, I'm back

Sorry about the long absence!

Firstly it's a busy time. It's strange. I'm not sure if it's busier than usual or if I'm less efficient that usual, but whichever it is my days are fuller. And with less time spent on the number 4 bus, too.

Secondly we've had a super visit from Gwilym and Beth. It was a great time for so many reasons, but one was that they arrived with work to do so that meant that I could get on with work, too.

Another reason was that the weather was changeable so that stopped us taking trips to the sea or anything. Instead we pillaged Bordeaux of all its joys, including the cinema and our most favourite coffee shops.

Anyway, here's a rather odd photograph where you can clearly see them: