Showing posts from March, 2020

Monday thankfulness

Some things I'm thankful for (in no particular order): 1) childhood holidays in Wales that prepared me for confinement 2) also Saturday gilets jaunes riots that did the same 3) good internet that allows three of us to be skyping and zooming in different rooms at the same time 4) soap 5) Hilary Mantel's "The Mirror and the Light" on the BBC Radio 4 iPlayer app 6) morning songs from Olly Knight 7) morning talks from the Deeside gang 8) a family that gets on OK together 9) a pleasant and light flat 10 ) a supermarket within easy reach with good stocks 11) a president that told us to read and reconnect with the essentials of our culture 12) friends on twitter and facebook who encourage me and make me laugh 13) TV series and films to watch by internet (except I can't be bothered yet) 14) Operas, concerts and talks on music by internet (and these are great!) 15) Zoom that enables us to continue to work to establish the church here 16) snow! (it's sn

Pastoring (pasting?) in confinement

Well the latest idea going around is that we will emerge from confinement at the end of April. I look each morning at the statistics for France and for Aquitaine and gaze intently, hoping to discern where exactly on the curve we are. It seems to me that we are on the steep ascent. The day that things start to level out will be a time for celebration. This means, of course, that we will be confined for my birthday. We had booked a treat - a visit to the newly conceived Bassins de Lumière - the old Nazi submarine base has been set up as a light and sound show, like the Ateliers de Lumière in Paris, but with reflections in the water. The photographs of the trials of the setup are ravishing. Not only that but Gwilym and Beth were to come and visit from London, their last visit before they move to Norwich. But at present our skies are free of planes, even empty ones, and they are considering shutting the airport until after confinement. Still, there will be chocolate cake. I fo

Coping with the crisis

I feel it's a bit of a cheek to talk about "coping with the crisis". After all, we live in a nice flat in a nice city where there is food and good medical care, we can work from home and we are not ill. What is there to cope with? On the other hand we are confined to our flat except for sorties for food and medical care, and for one hour of exercise to be taken within one kilometre of our flat. We are confined. Add to that the fact that when we go out we must be careful not to touch our faces, to keep our distance from people and to wash our hands thoroughly on our return. Yesterday I washed my hands, my face and the door handles. In addition we see the mounting death toll and the numbers sick both here and in the UK, and also the rising threat in other countries of the world where many of our friends and colleagues work. How do we cope? 1) We limit our exposure to the news. We catch up first thing in the morning, and that's enough. I look at the official Fren


I just got back from a visit to or nearest Carrefour. It isn't our nearest supermarket but we needed rat food so that meant a bigger shop. It took about a 20 minute walk through deserted streets. I got to the front gate of the flats, then had to turn back for my form, fill it in then leave again. I went along the bottom road where the new offices and flats are being built. Well, were being built. Not today they're not. I saw almost nobody. Carrefour was quiet, too. I entered straight away and made my way round the aisles. They had everything we wanted, though not necessarily the brands we would normally buy. We always buy some treat or other for the supermarket staff. They are also on the front line, though they don't get the applause - or the pay - of the medics. The walk back was longer and slower with two heavy carrier bags and the heaviest things in my rucksack, but this time I walked past the railway station - again through deserted streets - and got home with

Sunday morning

It's a beautiful morning once more, with a gorgeous sunrise and a light mist on the river. Just the morning to go down on to the quays and enjoy the crisp morning air, to cross the pont de pierrre and watch the city start to awaken. But the quays and the pont de pierre are closed to pedestrians and it's another day confined to barracks. We're so lucky to see the river, the hills and the trees beyond. We have the balcony to get out of the flat. Others are confined within their four walls. They sit by the window. For some the window opens onto a puit de jour - a narrrow courtyard that just brings light and air down but from which you can see nothing. France is still on the upward slope of the curve, and possibly not very far up. Our region, Nouvelle Aquitaine, is so far the least affected, but the number of new infections each day is beginning to rise, along with the number of daily dead. We gaze at the Grand Est in horror - Alsace and Lorraine - where the virus hit befoo

Life in confinement

We're benefiting from really nic weather here in Bordeaux, and thankfully we have a nice balcony where we can get out and breathe. Pat sits out there and reads. We all do our physical jerks out there, too. We greet our nieighbours, either waving to people in other blocks or shouting down to the folk in our own. Pat did try singing "Knees up Mother Brown" but nobody joined in. Meanwhile we still have good stoocks of bananas and clemntines. Bread's running low, so we'll need to make a quick sortie to the supermarket either today or tomorrow. Having filled in our form, of course. As confinements go, it's not so bad. Of course, we have a spacious and light flat with a balcony. Some folk have just one room and some people don't even have a window that opens on the street, so for them it's much harder. We're keeping in touch with people and checking up on people. Pastors have the right to visit the sick, having filled in the appropriate form,

Lockdown !

On Friday the government banned meetings of over 100 people. We assumed we could still meet on Sunday, but the guidelines were: no handshakes or hugs, everyone sits at least a metre apart, no communion, coffee or snacks. Also the trams would stop running at 20h30, so people would have to go straight home. Then on Saturday evening further restrictions were put in place which meant that churches cancelled their services completely. Sylvain was due to preach so he did a live feed on Facebook. It went very well indeed, and a little technical hitch halfway through didn't put him off his stride at all. Gethin, a colleague from Paris, was due to go to Rome for a weekend break, but when that proved impossible he came to Bordeaux by train instead. He was able to explore the city on Friday and Saturday, but then he was here for the shutdown before leaving on Monday afternoon. It was good to see him. He got home to Paris safely. Now we're confined to our apartment. To leave we have

A Sunday in Phase 3

On Thursday evening President Macron made a speech at 8pm, the same time our choir rehearsal started, announcing further measures to control the spread of corona virus COVID-19. (I smile as I type that because the chap next to me said that Macron had completely discredited his announcement by referring to the virus as COVID-19, but that's the name of the disease, not the virus.) Anyway, he announced that all educational establishments would be closed from Monday morning and that meetings of more than 100 people should not take place. The choir had concerts programmed for the 4th and 6th of April, but they have now been rescheduled for November. Meanwhile we concluded that the church could meet this Sunday, but we could not eat together or share communion. In addition people had to sit two metres apart. It was going to be different. Events overtook us, however, as France moved to the next phase of the struggle with the virus on Saturday evening. The prime minister announced that

Morning in the Quartier Euratlantic

It's a beautiful day in the Quartier Euratlantic. Meanwhile the government has taken the following steps regarding the spread of the new coronavirus: 1) Schools and universities are closed from Monday. 2) Meetings of more than 100 people are banned. 3) In meetings of fewer than 100 people : rigorous handwashing, no physical contact and 1 meter distance kept at all times. Bordeaux meanwhile has closed its central library and all its concert halls that hold more than 100 people as well as pools, sports centres etc. Pat had a routine medical appointment yesterday and her doctor told her to stay at home and not to go to restaurants, cafés or cinemas. (We broke that rule and popped out for lunch at the newest salad emporium that has opened up just down the road. Well, it was our 27th wedding anniversary.) The Conseil National des Evangéliques de France has added to this the strong suggestion to avoid sharing the communion service and no meals together until restrictions

When the washing machine yields up the spirit

The bearings have failed in our washing machine. It makes a terrible banging noise. On the internet I looked up washing machine repair-men, then looked up the word for bearings (!), then looked up our machine whereupon I discovered that call-out charges are about 75€, our machine was bought in 2012, bearings are called roulements , but in our machine they are not replaceable - the design of the drum is such that you have to replace the whole thing, the parts costing 250€. The machine has given us eight years of impeccable service, but we read that the average life of a washing mchine is about 10 years. So this morning I have changed the itinerary of my planned trip. I'll be out shopping for a washing machine. Eight years ago when the machine failed it was a disaster. This time it's an irritation.

Les Jardins de l'Ars and Coronavirus

Our neighbouring building sites are all but finished. Portakabins have been removed. Rubble has been cleared. We now seem to be in a new phase of breaking up old tarmacadamed surfaces and preparing for the earth-moving that will produce the eventual gardens. All very fascinating, of course. Meanwhile one church in Bordeaux has been closed for two weeks after one of its attendees was infected with covid-19 on a visit to France's principal mega-church in Mulhouse. There's been a little outbreak associated with a conference held at Mulhouse and so this person became Bordeaux' second covid-19 case and their Bordeaux church held online services yesterday. So despite the fact that Bordeaux is twinned with the city of Wuhan, and despite the large number of Chinese students from Wuhan here in Bordeaux, so far we have not had a cluster of cases and life continues as normal with only a restriction on handshakes, hugs and kisses to notice. For us handwashing has become prayerf

Water everywhere

We're getting torrential downpours, too, here in Bordeaux. No flooding, but the river is high and the puddles are many, so we charge around between spates and hope the tram will come soon. Heavy winds have closed our parks and also made the trams very unpredictable for reasons I do not completely understand. Well the parks I do. Nobody wants trees falling on people's heads. But the trams' disruption has me baffled. Meanwhile Patricia has a nasty head cold. It is doubtless a virus, but it is not the virus. This despite obsessive hand-washing on Sunday. I think in the pre and post service periods I must have washed my hands about 9 times. Our pharmacy has run out of their nice aloe-vera-based hand gel - no alcohol so it doesn't dry out your skin - so they have posted a recipe for you to make your own mixing 30ml of aloe vera gel with 10 drops of essential oil of tea tree. Keep safe, all.