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, September 28, 2019

So glad we don't have a car

So, a hard brexit will result in my no longer being able to drive in France. Here's how it goes.

At present, as someone from an EU country, I don't have to exchange my driving licence for a French one. I can drive with my UK licence. In the case of a negotiated exit from the EU this is expected to continue.

However, a hard brexit will mean that I will have one year before I need to exchange my licence for a French one. We expect to leave France to live in the UK in 2025, so that means lots of administration for the sake of driving occasionally in France for five years. Then exchanging it again on our return to the UK.

I won't bother.

Friday, September 27, 2019


We just got back from a visit to Inverness. A friend of UFM who hosts a UFM prayer group in her home suggested we stay at her place while she was away. We jumped at the chance. I've visited Inverness twice, I think, in 2005 and in 2012 - so I was due for a visit. In addition Pat has never been to that part of Scotland. Not only that, but a church in Inverness has partnered with us since 2005, so it was especially good to spend some time in the city.

We walked in the woods and beside the waterfalls and alongside the loch. We spent some quiet moments surrounded by nature.

We visited Inshes Church and Smithton-Culloden Church. We also went to Dingwall for the Tuesday morning of the Northern Convention. We met old friends and made new ones.

We ate traditional British food; supermarket Indian and Chinese meals, steak and ale pies (Pat was disappointed but I do not ask much of a pie) and a couple of times at Wetherspoons.

We flew to Edinburgh and hired a car. I hate hiring cars and always take photos before starting the engine, even. I've never had problems, but this time I was glad of the photos. On returning the car the assistant showed me a nick in a tyre just above a (previously) very badly scuffed alloy wheel. The nick was clearly in line with one of the scuffs, so I got out my phone and showed him the photo. The nick was there already. A bit of discussion with his supervisor, a photo of my phone with the photo and its date showing and we went on our way with the report showing returned undamaged.

Flights by Ryanair were pleasant, though the landings were rough. Do Boeings land rougher than Airbuses? Anyone know?

We returned to Bordeaux with rather a lot of tea bags and Scottish bacon, as well as oatmeal (I bought too much in Morrisons - it was so CHEAP!)

Every time I visit Scotland I fall in love with it again. Wonderful.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

In less good news

there are four manifestations (demonstrations) in the centre of Bordeaux today: velorution campaigning for more use of bikes, a march against the closure of a Ford factory, a march for the climate and... the gilets jaunes are back in business.

Good news

Tram C, out of service between Gare Saint-Jean and Quinconces since the massive deliberately-started fire of the end of May which destroyed almost 400 vehicles parked on four levels, and in the meantime replaced by the equally appreciated and regretted ‘buses de substitution’, will begin running again on 28 September.

We are overjoyed.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Crème cicatrisante

So how long should I carry on rubbing this stuff in morning and night?

I know, the interweb will tell me.

Ha! Some hope! The websites say things like, rub it in morning and night. Continue until the scar is well-healed. It may take two years for the scar to lose all its redness.


I decided to ask for a second opinion at the pharmacy. After all, they sold me the stuff.

This créme cicatrisante, how long should I use it for? 

What have you got?

The one you sold me.

But which one, cicacrème, crèmocique, crèmcica?

The one with copper and zinc in.

OK. That one. Well you need to use it till the scar is well healed.

Yes, but that means what? Till it's no longer red? Or what. Because it'll stay red for a long time.

It depends on the person.

Yes, but two weeks? Two months? Two years? A lifetime?

What did you have done?

This. It was a sebaceous cyst. So just the skin, but well opened.

Well your scar will never disappear completely. Look, here's one on my arm from when I was a small child.

How long did you put cream on that?

I didn't.

OK. So basically every time I put it on that's great and when I want to stop I stop, and that's fine too.

Yes, stop when you're fed up of doing it. Oh, but protect it from the sun.

(I put my backwards cap back on) I don't wear this for style. 

Yes, but put some sunscreen on as well.

OK. Bye, have a nice day.

Bastille Day Fireworks Part Two

The fireworks for the 14 July were cut short by a fire on the boat they were being launched from. It did give us all a good view of the fire-boats in action, but the town hall felt that we had all been short-changed so they arranged for another show for the 14 September, when Bordeaux this year celebrated the grape harvest. (I tell you, it's one fête after another just now!)

This time the show went off as planned. We had a small pizza-party at our house, followed by a nice evening walk through the building sites down to just this side of the Pont de Pierre.

We're such poor saps - real suckers

So, remise en selle, cycle paths etc... It's all part of a fiendish plan.

This week is the week of alternative mobility, when all over France cities try to stop people driving into them. In Bordeaux this strategy includes things like:

attractive park and ride places with low prices for a car-load of people
punitive car parking charges in the city centre
exorbitant fines for illicit parking
a vigilant band of enforcers

but also:

encouragements to walk - for example there's an app now that will count your steps and award you a free drink when you've walked a long way to get it
encouragements to cycle

Yesterday en route (by "bus d sub" *) to church we saw the Vélo-tour stands all down the Quai des Sports and then we saw people with eccentrically adorned cycle helmets riding gaily down the cyclepath. One was dressed as a Roman Centurion. On a bicycle.

We get sicked into these programmes without realising it. Poor saps.

* The "bus d sub", or bus de substitution, is the replacement for tram C, out of action since the fire in the undergound car park in May. It is hoped that it will start running again in October

Tram D, which will link our home with the room where the church meets, is due to enter in service in December.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Cycling in Bordeaux

They closed off the sidewalk pavement opposite our flat for a few days. It was rather annoying because it's flat and wide and smoothly tarmacadamed and a pleasure to walk on and to ride your bike on.

It is our standard practice to cycle up this pavement, then through the square to just before the station, turn right, through the awkward area just where the railway crosses the river, then onto the quays. The quays are the cycling motorway of Bordeaux. Wide, flat and divided into cycle paths and mixed areas, well protected from cars, you zoom along care-free until you reach the spot where you need to penetrate into the streets of the city.

Yesterday I cycled to a meet-up at the breakfast club. To get there I cycled up a street that Pat and I had prospected for getting to the Maison de la Bible. All was good except for the occasional deliver van that totally blocked the carriageway. At those points you get off, walk past then resume your course. At least it's a one-way street.

Coming back I cycled down the same street. Did I say that you're allowed to ride the wrong way down one-way streets? Then onto the quays, past the railway bridge, up the road, through the square, onto the pavement up to where it's closed.

They'd re-opened the lower section just opposite the flats. They've laid down a cycle path.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Les Panoramas de l'Ars

It's all go in the Jardins de l'Ars. Large mounds of earth are positioned, shaped and repositioned. A small road is being built to serve the school. It's all very exciting.

Crème cicatrisante

I'm being a good boy and vigorously massaging my neck with the crème cicatrisante three times a day. Until now I've also taken a photo of the operation site each day just to see how things are changing, but really now it's slow progress so I'll reduce it to perhaps twice a week. Mrs Davey did, however, take a photo with a tape measure alongside and the operation site is almost 5cm long.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Remise en selle

This morning Pat and I are signed up for a session of remise en selle (Get back in the saddle) with the association Vélo-Cité. The idea is to be a bit more confident riding on the more busy streets of Bordeaux, to master the complicated junctions and so, somehow, to become one of those cyclists that weave effortlessly through the vehicles and then disappear like wraiths as the cars and buses stand there in the traffic jams.

morituri te salutant


Well we didn't die.

What we did do was get a lesson on the various road formats for cyclists, pistes cyclables (cycle-paths), bandes cyclables (cycle-lanes), zones 30 and zones partagées where cars, cyclists and pedestrians share the space. We had a practice going round in circles and figures-of-eight, doing quick stops and so on.

Then we rode very slowly up the quays and into the Chartrons area where I almost collided with someone carrying frankly too many carpets - ding "Attention !" - and with a lady walking blithely into the aroad while looking backwards - "Attention, Madame !".

The woman following me said that I should have given way to both but I maintain that it is unwise to career into the road in front of a bicycle without so much as a by-your-leave. Anyway, she later found herself confronted with a car that was going the wrong way round a corner, and she soon protested. (I saw the same car coming and veered onto the wrong side of the road to avoid it.)

All in all I'm surprised we survived cycling as slowly as we did. Probably a morning well spent.

As we came home we saw lots of riot police and various somewhat elderly "gilets jaunes" arriving. The protests are starting up again.

Pique-nique de Quartiers

Last night was the annual area picnic. Bordeaux has two special evenings when you're encouraged to hold a street party. The Fête des Voisins (Festival of Neighbours) is in June, the Area Picnic takes place in September.

We discussed what would be the best approach to the area picnics and we decided that rather than the whole church going to the area picnic nearest to the church, we'd use the occasion to go to the nearest area picnic to our home. In our case that was just up the street, just by the tram stop. The picnic was scheduled to begin at 7, so just after 7, armed with baguette, cheese, tomatoes, Pringles, rosé pamplemousse and some fizzy water, we headed up the street.

We weren't sure what the protocol was. In France communal meals can have various descriptions - repas tiré du sac (meal pulled from a bag - sounds almost magical), repas canadien, repas partagé, pique-nique ensemble. pique-nique partagé. You can't really know what is meant by what, except that partagé means you'll bring a dish, a dessert, an apéro or whatever, and you'll share it all, like an American pot-luck.

Anyway our local area picnic was organised by one of our neighbours and was focused on the residents of three small streets. They did the fête des voisins 10 year ago and the lady decided that it was about time to do it again. You register your pique-nique on the town hall web site and they provide you with flyers, an official organiser's badge, some tables and lots of chairs.

It was a splendid evening. People's ages ranged from a couple of months up to over 70. Recipes were shared. There was lots of home-made food including pizza, quiche, rice, salmon, ham, saucisson, home-grown tomatoes, olive cake, chocolate cake. I went to bed too full and had very odd dreams.

Before going home we told folk that next year either we would organise something for our towers, or we would join them again.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Disturbing news from Toulouse

A student has been missing for about a week after an evening in the bars. Some people reported finding him sleeping in the street. They woke him up.

Examining CCTV footage has shown him climbing into a bin. He's not seen climbing out. The bin was later emptied into a lorry which takes the rubbish for incineration.

His family must be distraught.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019


Regular readers will be aware that I try to keep off politics and British readers will know why. There is one little matter that I thought ought to extract some comment, however, and that is the issue of how our politicians tell such blatant lies without embarrassment and with no fear of challenge, contradiction or consequence.

We all know that they are doing it, too, and we seem to have entered into an agreement where we accept their lies, suspend disbelief, and approve of policies and courses of action based on outright fiction. Incidentally, in France this seems to be tolerated less than in the Anglo-Saxon world at present. Anyway, I digress.

Some words my mother would use come to mind. She used to talk of people as being strangers to the truth. I think she meant that some folk so believe their own propaganda and so trust their own thoughts that they are no longer capable of distinguishing whether they are presenting facts based on concrete evidence, capable of being demonstrated or challenged, or whether they are just saying whatever is in their head at the time. In fact, to them there is no difference.

I think that's why I'm starting to consider that the category of "lies" is no longer of much use in trying to cope with current political life. We're not dealing with science or history, where evidence can be marshalled, queried and exposed. We're dealing with a kind of art-form where reality is what I want it to be, what I believe it to be, and if you don't agree with me, so what? What is that to me? Why should I change what I say?

I think it's postmodernism, the implicit rejection of objective truth, the absence of meta-narrative, all that stuff. It begets an extreme pragmatism that rejects foresight and hindsight and lives for the immediate expedient.

Crème cicatrisante

When he took my stitches out the nurse told me that in about 7 to 10 days I should get some crème cicatrisante (scarring cream???) from the pharmacy "and don't hesitate to massage it well in".

I looked up crème cicatrisante on the pharmacie websites and as far as I could see it was snake-oil. Some contain vitamin B6. Others silicone. I can't see me taking in much in terms of vitamins through the back of my neck, and I would only consider rubbing silicone into it if I wanted a good shine.

Still, one either follows medical advice or one goes one's own sweet way, so after rubbing in some arnica cream last night and this morning (I'm sure that would do) I accompanied Mrs Davey to the pharmacist. She was after some cream to clear up an itchy spot on her arm. The pharmacist showed her a wonderful cream that contains copper and zinc (!).

I said, and I need a crème cicatrisante.

"That's the one", she said.

"Wouldn't a simple moisturising cream or a cream with arnica do the job?"

"Oh no, you need the copper and the zinc."

Well at least we could share the one tube.

So for the next two to three weeks I must rub the crème cicatrisante into the back of my neck, massaging energetically, until I achieve a dull metallic sheen.

"Oh, and protect it from the sun", she said.

"Time to get out a scarf?"

"Or wear a baseball cap backwards".

We tried out various solutions, including a nice scarf and a kerchief, but by far the easiest is the backwards baseball cap.

On medical advice, don't you know.