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, August 31, 2019


The good news and the bad news. Mrs Davey doesn't like the Brompton folding bike. The handlebars are too low and not adjustable. This is good because it means we won't fight over it. However, it means that when the city folding bike goes back in September we'll need to look at getting another. You CAN get Bromptons with higher bars, but would they be high enough? Could we even try one out to see? And it means another eBay job, unless we spot one second-hand in Bordeaux.

Otherwise it'll mean an inferior make. Decathlon has a range which seems to fit for size. They don't fold down as small, but you see a lot of them in Bordeaux and they seem to do OK.

The healing

It is SO GOOD to sleep without a dressing on my neck.

It is SO GOOD to be able to twist and turn my head without stitches pinching.

I'm looking forward to the end of the itching, aching and general feelings of discomfort, but we're getting there. Every morning I take a photo of the operation site and every morning there's a noticeable improvement.

Panoramas de l'Ars

Here's the latest photo of the gardens below our balcony. There has been frantic removal of rubble, detritus and junk from just below us and wholesale earthmoving, sometimes rather early in the morning. It seems they are trying to get this school good and ready to open in January.

Then the tower just the other side of the car park seems to be pretty well completed. We're excited to get a chance to go up and see the views from the top floor. They MUST have an open day, surely? If not we'll have to try and rent a flat and go and see it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Stitches are out


Now to wait another ten days before starting to rub in well some "scarring cream" (crème cicatrisante) to keep everything soft and supple.

Monday, August 26, 2019

A new bike

Before we moved from Pessac Pat sold her nice old mixte frame bicycle to one of the neighbours. I thought it was a pity, but the deal was concluded and the 40 euros changed hands. I sold my old Raleigh Magnum mountain bike, too. It was a faithful old thing, but I had never loved it. Even adding natty blue road tyres somehow didn't do a lot for it.

Soon after we moved here we got a Bordeaux bike. The city will loan you a basic bike, designed for robustness, and Pat loved it but seldom used it. We wondered if the problem is the bike store.

The bike store is a room next door to the main entrance to the building. It has two doors fitted with locks and automatic closers and then it has lots of hoops for attaching bicycles. To get your bike out you unlock it from the hoop, then manhandle it out of the door while fighting with the automatic closer and negotiating two right-angles. You then have two more automatically closing doors to exit, one opened by a button on the wall, the other by a simple handle.

It's a faff.

So after taking the city bike back we decided to borrow a folding bike. This would live in the hallway of our flat. The idea was to carry it, folded, into the lift, through the two main doors and then unfold and ride away.

The bike is bright yellow and has that slightly crazy look that small wheeled folders pull off so well. However, it weighs over 16kg. We know. We weighed it. It's not absolutely impossible to carry it out of the building and then unfold it, but it's far easier to unfold it in the flat, then wheel it out.

So this is what we've done, and the bike has had far more use in its few short weeks with us than any other bike ever had. It's there as you leave the flat. It says, "don't wait for buses and trams, take me", and often we do.

Folding bike loans are for two months only, so in about two weeks the thing has to go back.
Bordeaux has a couple of bikemongers so I asked some of them for their counsel.

"What you need is a Brompton". They sounded like a Greek chorus. Whence such unanimity?

"But you sell another brand?", I asked one.
"We very occasionally sell another brand"

"Do you ever get them second-hand?", I asked another.
"About once every ten years."
"When was the last time?"
"About five years ago."
"So five years to wait..."

British humour doesn't translate, as his blank look reminded me.

The thing is, those bikes are expensive. They're expensive in the UK, but in France even more so. Recent readjustments in the value of the pound against the euro have not been reflected in their price.

I went away and thought about it. In the "dismissing it from my mind" sense of thinking about it.

Then a few things happened.

Firstly the French tax people gave us a refund. I don't know how. We hadn't knowingly paid any tax, but they refunded it anyway.

Secondly we happened on a cyclemonger in Paris who stocked Bromptons. We lifted them, we unfolded them, we folded them back up. The salesman knew we live in Bordeaux so we wouldn't be buying from him. It gave us a sense of detachment. We felt for ourselves how light and small they were.

Thirdly I started hunting on eBay and on le Bon Coin (French Gumtree) There were bikes available in Paris, Lyon, Beziers, La Rochelle... I seriously contemplated catching a train or bus to La Rochelle.

But then one came up on eBay. A good vendor. A good price. A good model. A reasonable price for carriage.

I was still a little terrified at spending so much on eBay, so I sent the details to a friend who rides these things in England. "Looks OK", he said.

So we ordered it and it came. It's a glorious lime green. I still have a stiff neck, but I took it round the block and it all works fine. Tomorrow Pat and I plan to ride to her rendezvous, her on the new bike, me on the city bike, then we'll swap and I'll ride the new bike home.

Sometimes a smidgin of Vaughan Williams just hits the spot

Saturday, August 24, 2019

45 has landed

US Boris has landed at Mérignac airport and presumably been whisked in his motorcade down the A63 to Biarritz. I didn't see Airforce1 on its approach. Maybe I'll see it as it takes off.

Panorama of the Jardins de l'Ars

Still takes a bit of faith and imagination to see the promised gardens.


All seems to be healing up quite nicely. I put on a dry dressing overnight so as not to catch the stitches on my pillow, and in the morning there are little spots of blood that correspond to the eight entry and exit sites of the four stitches. I've had less discomfort each day, easily banished with paracetamol.

I've made an appointment to get the stitches out on Tuesday, and I'm quite excited about getting rid of them. I think most of the discomfort comes from them, now. I do remember how excited I was about having the operation - and that had I known that it would feel like the surgeon was digging out the cyst with a sharpened dessert spoon my enthusiasm would have been lessened. What do you mean, of course he wasn't - I know what I felt.

Anyway I'm sure that taking out the stitches will be unpleasant, too, but afterwards I'll be able to move my head without that sharp reminder.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


Hurrah for paracetamol!

The dressing's off.
The operation site looks quite clean and dry.
It's sore but not unbearable.
Paracetamol is more than adequate.

I've been feeling OK, but taking things quietly. No running, jumping, cycling or tram-riding for the present. (The back of my neck looks just a little alarming for now.)

I have a prescription to take to a local nurse to get the (four purple) stitches out next Tuesday.
There's a trio of well-regarded nurses just alongside our tram-stop.

Attentive readers

will observe that I make little comment on politics.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Getting my cyst cut out

I thought that since there would be lots of administration to do that I'd go quite early to the hospital, so for my 10 am appointment we walked into reception at about 9:10.

Round to the desk. Identification please - Titre de Séjour - OK, up you go to operating block 1.


30 seconds and it was all over.

I'll never get the hang of this.

Anyway it gave time for a quick visit to the toilets.

Pat located the coffee shop for when I was in theatre.

We presented ourselves at block 1.

"Oh, you're quite early. Take a seat and my colleague will call you."

Two other patients arrived and sat beside us. A nurse said that Dr Canard (that's his name) was still in theatre but he'd be with us soon. Then at about 10 she called me in.

Tee-shirt off - hop on the table, face down.

The doctor arrived. Try your head to the left. Try to the right. Try face directly down. Is that OK?

I could breathe. It would be fine. A quick wash with betadine, the placing of the blue paper cover and we were off. About four injections of varying discomfort. Lots of rattling of surgical hardware, then pulling, tugging and the occasional very sharp twinge.

Then the stitches. "There's four", he said.

I took a photo of the cyst - it was about 4cm by 3cm. A good-sized pigeon's egg.

If it gets enflamed or infected come back to see me. Otherwise get a nurse to take out the stitches in a week to ten days. From tomorrow leave it without dressings. Wash in savon de Marseille and dry thoroughly.

I thanked them, apologised for the blood all round the room and left at 10:20.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

OK this means war

I killed one the other day, but this morning ANOTHER mosquito was hiding under my desk waiting to attack my legs in the early morning.

Friday, August 16, 2019


Regular readers will know of our family history with rodents. A gerbil. Guinea-pigs. Rats. It is now over a year since Lawrence, the last of our rats, abandoned this vale of tears.

A year is a long time and the prospect of getting her own place energised our daughter into dreaming and searching. She located a breeder of rats. She ordered a cage. She negotiated her price. We built the cage. It only remained to drive out to the breeder's home to get them.

So we met Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the three wise rats. They are husky dumbo rats. That means they are born with husky-like markings that fade over time, and their ears are rather lower on their heads than one would usually expect. This gives them a rather goofy and endearing appearance.

The young rats came home and were placed in their cage. Disaster! They are so small that they can get through the bars. So they were put securely in a box until we could get a small mouse cage to be going on with.

Disaster again. On one of the roll-calls it was discovered that one rat was missing. A general search of the whole apartment ensued. Drawers were ransacked that had been undisturbed for a year! No rat was found.

Then, very late, he was seen scuttling from the bookcase to the piano and back. His hiding place was revealed, deep under the recesses of the bookcase. The rats were reunited once more, though they seemed unmoved by this.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Assumption, for which we get a public holiday, so the pet shop in town was closed, but the one out near Ikea was open. Ikea is normally very accessible by tram C, but the fire damage to the car park is not yet repaired and tram C is therefore not running between the station and Quinconces, so it took some jiggery pokery to get to Ikea. Not only that, but on public holidays there are fewer trams. It took a long time to get the cage. We rewarded ourselves with lunch at Ikea then wended our way home by another route, bus 15 to Victoire, then bus 1 to the station.

So the juvenile rats are now happily housed in their natty little plastic cage, with a big tunnel to hide in, a wheel to ignore and all modern conveniences. And we can sleep soundly again.

Monday, August 12, 2019

They've started testing the new tram Line D

This is important for us because it will link directly our flat and the building where the church meets, as well as Catrin's flat (assuming all goes well for her rental).

They hope to open the line to the public before Christmas.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Summer in France

The summer in France can be frustrating.

Sometimes it's very hot. We bust the record a couple of weeks ago, with a temperature, I am told, of over 42°C. On days like that everyone moves very slowly in the streets, and you hope with all your heart that your bus or tram will have working aircon. It's touch and go.

Sometimes it's not too bad. Today it's 24°C. To us now that feels just a little chilly.

Sometimes you get thunderstorms. From our flat we see the lightning and watch the rain fall hard on the parched ground.

But it isn't that that's frustrating. It's the summer slow-down.

For example Catrin is waiting to hear about this flat she'd like to rent. We went to see it weeks ago, but the agency (which has very bad reviews on Google, by the way) is shut until the 19th. OK.

Tram C has been out of action between the station and the other side of town following the devastating fire in the car park. But added to this we have the reduced frequency of the summer timetables for the buses and trams in general.

Then there's the roadworks. They're happening everywhere. Everywhere. You need to take advantage of the reduced traffic on the city streets, you see.

Meanwhile there's another dispute about the new bridge that will go from near our home to near the concert hall on the other side of the river. The court that oversees public works thinks we aren't getting good enough value for money.

But with all this there's the promise of better to come.

They're clearing the burnt-out cars from the underground car park. Soon they'll begin repairs and one day tram C will run again.

Meanwhile on Monday they start testing tram D. This will run from near our home to near where the church meets. It will be great.

And soon the autumn transport schedules will be out and we can zoom around to our hearts' content.

Friday, August 02, 2019

A Welshman at the hospital

The trouble with being Welsh and living in France is that I am a bit obsessive about being on time. So my appointment with the surgeon was at 10:20 but I thought I had better allow for traffic and for finding the building and for finding a parking space so I sailed non-stop through the deserted suburbs of Begles at the limit of 30km/h, then a little faster though the empty streets of Talence at 50km/h, found the hospital, found the building easily and was spoilt for choice as to where to park. So at 9:30 I listened to a programme about Stefan Zweig's attitude to the First World War while waiting to go in.

The trouble with being Welsh and living in France is that you forget that everything starts with a song and dance at the computers. So at 10:05 I went into the building, trekked to the toilets, then took a ticket to go to reception. I was number 53. There were seven people before me and two receptionists. But the receptionist has to

1) verify your identity and your address from your carte de séjour

2) verify your carte vitale is valid and up to date

3) verify your mutuelle and the cover it provides

4) scan all these documents

5) create a patient record for you

6) send you to the relevant department.

All this took some time, so I ended up being late anyway. Not only that but the receptionist said "Follow the violet signs". I can't see violet. He'd just as well have said follow any sign at random. So I had to ask him what the violet sings said so I could find the right ones.

Still I got to the door of Dr Canard's waiting room just as the secretary was opening it. They're used to the system even if I'm not. They probably say 10:20 if they want you to arrive at 10:30...

Dr Canard was tall and slim with light brown hair and an efficient gait, just in case you were wondering. He looked at my cysts.

"No, it's the same one. Shall we take it out?"

I might have hesitated longer than I should. "That's the idea, I think."

"Oh yes, it's pretty big!"

So I have an outpatient appointment for 10am on 20 August. I can eat my hearty bowl of porage beforehand and drive myself there and back. He'll do the local anaesthetic and the excision. It should all be over by 11:30 and about a week later I'll have the stitches out.