Showing posts from October, 2019


Hundreds of cranes flew over the flats earlier in their enormous V formations while a cat hunted in the weeds below us and a languid bird of prey circled above. We may be in the city centre, but nature is all around.

Why don't you write us no more?

This last week we have been away from home in a little Bavarian village called Teisendorf for a conference of pastors in international churches.  We mused with some other British people there. When British people run conferences you sleep in bunk beds, you eat beans on toast and it's cheap. When Americans run conferences you eat good food, you sleep in hotel rooms, you have unlimited snacks and lots of coffee, but you do pay perhaps a little more. We had an afternoon off where we visited Salzburg. We wandered round the little shops before hitting the Mozartplatz and the more tourist-focused parts of the city. Two years ago we visited the castle on the hill and took the funicular railway so this year we gave that a miss and enjoyed some peace and calm instead. I made an attempt at learning some German using Duolingo.  Big mistake. I didn't learn anything of use whatsoever.  If we go to Germany again I'll find a phrasebook or something.

I'm very excited about the match tomorrow

Why? Because my team will win! Wales-France in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

October in Bordeaux

means beautiful sunrises and savage storms!

Sometimes I think I only came to France for the dead composers


A concert

For one of our singing escapades we were accompanied by a percussionist who's also a serviceable pianist, and we all got on very well. She plays with the Bordeaux Wind Band who have a really good reputation. Most French towns of any size will have a wind band, a military band, called une harmonie , and the band will play at commemoration services etc. Anyway the Bordeaux Wind Band give free concerts and when there's one coming up she sends us a little email to let us know. They play in a theatre in the middle of town, always at 5:15, and either on Saturday or Sunday.  In the past we hoped to go but were prevented by the rampaging gilets jaunes, but now that they no longer run amok in the town centre I was able to. The band must have been about 60 strong, augmented by two harps and 5 or 6 double basses. The programme comprised arrangements of orchestral works, firstly Berlioz' overture "Le Carnaval Romain". This is a crazy frantic romp. I used to play it with t

Preparing for retirement

We can't stay doing this job forever. Our use by date is 2025, so we're trying to think ahead. 1) We do not quite have all the years of NI contributions necessary for a full pension. We both lack about four or five years. So we plan to purchase as many of these years as we can before 2025. Each year costs £750 and gives you back about £5 per week in state pension. This means that if you survive three years into retirement you've recouped your investment. 2) I need to talk to the Halifax about my personal pension. It's currently set up to pay a monthly pension, but I could opt to take it some other way. I can take 25% out tax free. 3) The proceeds from the sale of our house are in dodgy French government savings schemes. We plan to use that money to buy somewhere to live, probably in North Wales where we used to live before. Housing there is affordable and we'll be able to manage well without a car. 4) There is a remote possibility that we may try to stay in

More admin

The impending zombie apocalypse hard Brexit means that our current residency permits will need to be replaced as we will no longer be European citizens. European citizens don't need permits, but they can get one free if they want. Non-European citizens need permits and they cost 119 Euros. The French government has helpfully set up a website in French and in English where we can apply online for the new style cards. People who don't currently have permits can also use the site. So there we are. It's all done. We'll be told when we have to pay our money and go to collect our cards.

The return of tram C

is bliss. We glide round the city like barons in sedan chairs.

We've gone all green

To clean the flat four things are necessary: White vinegar - good for windows and descaling kettles Savon de Marseille - good for surfaces Bicarbonate of soda - good for deodorising Savon noir - good for floors I'm not entirely sure what savon noir is, or why it differs from savon de Marseille, though it's liquid. You can make washing powder from the above, but we've not tried that yet. To clean ourselves: Savon de Marseille or Savon d'Alep. This is a soap made from olive oil. SdM has some coconut oil added to make more suds. SdA has laurel berry oil. (For the moment we're still using high-tech toothpaste.) For deodorant: You make a paste of shea butter, coconut oil, bicarb and cornflour/arrowroot. Add essential oils like lavender, tea tree, palmarosa, peppermint... It works as well or better than what we used.

Excitement on Rue Fondaudège

Someone is setting up a snack-bar in the space left by a recent demolition. It's quite clever - they've kept the old cellar for storage with a trap door in the decking they've set down for a terrace. Olive trees in tubs separate little tables and chairs. I'm looking forward to it opening.

On the road to choir

When Pat used to sing with the choir we would take the train from Gare-Saint-Jean to Pessac, then bus 4 to the rehearsal rooms. Now choir rehearsal has changed evenings and Pat has another commitment that evening, so I go alone. But I just take the bus. The journey takes almost the same amount of time, but instead of charging off to buy your ticket, get the train and so on and so forth, you just hop on the bus and change buses at Barrière de Pessac. Well last night I set off to get my bus. On the way Google maps alerted me that if I hoofed it a little I'd get an earlier bus, so hoof it I did. And all was going just swimmingly until... at a fork in the road a large box van and an awkwardly parked car meant that the bus couldn't get through. The bus driver sounded the horn to try and attract one or other driver. Honk. Honk. And thrice honk. Many more honks. To no avail. We were being watched by some young guys, students? from their upstairs flat. I nodded to one. He nod

Autumn has hit

Thunderstorms. Short bursts of torrential rain. Misty mornings. A distinct chill (sometimes it's under 20°C!) Horse chestnuts under foot. Everyone tired. Outbreaks of chickenpox.

Five times. FIVE.

The mosquito hiding under my desk bit me five times on Monday evening. I had placed an anti-mosquito device in the room, but it obviously isn't enough. So now it's the big guns - a electrically-heated anti-mosquito diffuser. Die, insect. Die.

Nice sunrise this morning