Showing posts from January, 2020

My new passport is on the way

and it might even be navy blue. The problem is that often delivery firms refuse to deliver to people who live in apartment blocks in France. Well they don't refuse to deliver, but instead they take your delivery to a Post-Office or other delivery point and claim you were out when they called. You were not out. They did not call. But still you can do nothing. You want your delivery. You go and get it. That's one... hang on, my mobile's ringing... Would you believe it, it's the man from DHL saying he'll be here "een feefteen meeneets" ! My passport is maroon, but has no EU symbol.

A Night at the Opera

When we came back from London on 1 January we met on bus 1a young American asking for directions to the Grand Theatre.  We told him how to get there, but then he added that really he needed to find Rue Cancera. That's where our church used to meet, so we know it well, but to give directions to it is not easy. In addition visitors to Bordeaux from non-EU countries often find that Google Maps won't work because they don't have automatic international data roaming included in their standard monthly payment - let the reader understand. So Pat and I looked at each other and said, "We'll take you there". It was a foggy evening as we wound our way through the narrow streets of the Saint Pierre area. Our new friend explained that he is an opera singer come to sing at the Grand Theatre in a production of the Demon, by Artur Rubinstein. "What voice?" "Soprano." He's a high counter-tenor. We delivered him to Rue Cancera where we saw in the

Well she's gone

Accompanied by a gang of five friends, one friend driving her father's large car, Catrin has moved out of our flat and into her own. Soon the work of moving my study up to her old room will begin.

A quick trip to Ikea

Yes, I know... Today our daughter moves out. She's rented an apartment on the west side of the city centre (we're on the south side) just about 4km away. It's furnished so we thought it would be a great idea to dig out our spare mattress cover for her. Was it under her bed? No. Was it in the bed settee? No. Was it in the bed-linen drawer? So off I went to Ikea to get a new replacement mattress cover for the one we have lost. To keep it quick I went in through the exit (you're allowed) and swam against the tide till I got to the bedding. They didn't have the one I wanted in the size I wanted, but I found another that would do and hot-footed it home. Then the tram broke down. Ikea is at the other end of line C, so we can take just one tram and travel quite quickly, but when the tram broke down we were in Grand Parc. I knew of various ways of getting home, all far slower than the tram. The phone apps were not helpful. They all said, "Why not take the

France is awesome

I've requested an appointment for my colonoscopy online!

Simple joys

Hearing the "din din" of the tram as it starts running again after a demonstration.

Simple joys

Like finding a way out of the railway station when the nice policemen told you all the doors were locked because of the demonstration outside. (I sneaked through the underground carpark and went out of the in ramp...)

The optician phones

"So you going to come back and order those glasses, then?" Once I realised who was calling I confessed, "We went elsewhere..." "You got a better price elsewhere?" "I got cheaper frames. Not a designer brand." "We have cheaper frames." "Do you? So why did you only show me Armani, Ray Ban and Timberland? I never wear brands like that." "Why didn't you say it was too expensive?" "Um, I did, I bought elsewhere." "OK, well we'll know next time."

Catrin's flat hunt

has finally succeeded. She has a little place on the west side of the city centre, pretty well where she wanted to be. The area where she is is a short walk from the BIG city centre supermarket and near where her closest friends live. I think she'll be able to move in from next Tuesday.

Admin, admin and more admin

My passport expires in February. I thought I had better order a new one on the very simple passport ordering website. You can take your own photo now, with your phone or a camera. We did that. It rejected several because "we can't distinguish you from the white wall behind you". One was allowed. Very good. Was your old passport lost? I said, "No." which means I had to send it back to them. "Think about sending it recorded delivery", they said. So 9 euros and a trip to the crowded Post Office later my passport is on the way home to Durham. It did cross my mind that to judiciously lose your passport just before it expires would save time and money.

Admin and more admin

So the eye-test lady said "time to change your glasses" and gave me a prescription for a new set of lenses. Now glasses for vision are partly reimbursed by your basic health organism (ours is the Cavimac, the one for monks, nuns, priests and all who work in religion) and partly reimbursed by your personal health insurance. The health insurers make deals with opticians to cap prices and get and give discounts, so you have to : 1) look to see what opticians are in your health insurer's network 2) look to see if any of them are highly rated on Google maps Go there. Well the guy was charming, straightened my wonky glasses and helped us to pick a frame. He showed ma RayBan frames, Giorgio Armani frames, Timberland frames. "I don't care about the brand of frame", I told him. The procedure is then complicated by the various options for the lenses. Do you want standard hardening, extra layers of hardening, anti reflection coating, anti blue light coating to




Continuing. It is our way of negotiating, our way of showing we care about this.


Well you have to plan ahead. So Pat and I both have some years missing from our NI Pension contributions, but plans are afoot to make up the shortfall. I also will have a small French pension, Pat will have her nursing pension, I'll have my computing pension and we will both have a small pension from contributions UFM makes on our behalf. Putting those things together should give us enough to live on. But where? My sisters live in South Wales. Pat's siblings live in Watford, Slough, Cleobury Mortimer and Burgess Hill. Our son may be living in Norwich. Our daughter intends to stay here in France. Our church before we came is in North Wales, which has many virtues, including affordable housing and being equally inaccessible to all people cited above. Or we could stay here in Bordeaux. Much depends on our rights post-Brexit, of course, and where exactly on the scale "zombie apocalypse" to "new golden age" post-Brexit Britain falls. Thankfull

Life post Brexit

For so many things we have to wait and see. I had believed that once we lost our status as EU citizens we would be forced to exchange our driving licences in order to continue driving in France. It now transpires that the French government has decreed that since the driving licence service is already saturated, and since a sudden influx of UK driving licence exchanges is the last thing anyone needs, UK driving licences can not be exchanged and must not be exchanged until they expire, or the photocard expires, or you commit an offence which incurs a penalty on your licence. Which means that post-Brexit I'll still be able to drive!

The school is open

On Monday Pat and I decided to go for a little adventure. She rejected my plan of cycling round the quays and the two bridges. (Too cold) Instead we set out for a rather natty park we saw from the tram one day, but only made it as far as the front gate. (Too cold even for that) So we explored the improvements made to the embryonic gardens and walked round the school. It is open! They have one class of nursery there. When I say one class, we've seen about four or five children going in. And when I say four or five, I mean four.

New Year in London

Our son, Gwilym, lives in Northwood in the London suburbs. On Boxing Day he and his wife decamped to see the outlaws in Norwich, so the following day we took the faithful Easyjet to Luton to stay at their place until New Year's Day. Man, Bordeaux airport was SO BUSY! We were confronted with a huge queue out of the building and way down the path, so we were glad that we had a little time before our flight. Otherwise all was calm etc. Greenline bus from Luton to Finchley Road, then Metropelican line to Northwood. We enjoyed afternoon tea in a London hotel, shopping in Waitrose (fancy but expensive), a walking tour of parts of theatre land and soho and binge-watching detective series on the iplayer. We also got to see some of the Watford branch of Pat's family and her Burnham sister came over for New Year. New Year's Eve was spent quietly with an injudicious mix of Chinese, Indian and North African food and some champagne that we forgot to open and drink. Gwilym, Beth an