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)

Monday, June 29, 2020

A vast green wave is covering France

Anyway it's not my fault. I don't have a vote.

Well M. Juppé was in Bordeaux yesterday evening to see how things went for the elections to the municipal council and therefore for the post of mayor. I wasn't sure M. Juppé had handled things as well as he could - he was asked in an interview whether there were any possible successors to him in his team, and he said none that he could see. Some short months later he had the call-up to the consitutional council and Nicolas Florian from his team became his successor.

One of the first things M. Florian did was to put his photo on lots of billboards in the city, so we would know what he looked like. France does accord glory to its more illustrious citizens, but it has issues with citizens assuming glory, so these posters were not terribly popular. But things went basically OK.

Then came coronavirus, bringing a deliciously quiet city. Once shops reopened the town hall arranged free parking at Quinconces to encourage trade. They also put on an open air drive-in cinema session. Recent developments to the road system notoriously neglect bicycles, but we're encouraged to walk or cycle in order to take pressure off the public transport system.

Meanwhile France is taking global warming seriously. Locavore food, produced nearby, is very popular. Vegetarian and vegan cafés spring up everywhere. 

So it was that after 72 years, the right has lost control of Bordeaux's town hall, passing control to the greens. We have a new mayor, who's a 65-year-old lawyer who lives in the Saint-Genès area, works near the town hall and gets round the city mostly by walking. It will be interesting to see what changes this brings to the city.

M. Juppé, shod in rather funky trainers, expressed his sadness. "That's politics. A vast green wave is covering France."


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tiger mosquito !

It's been a rather hectic week, but hey, we got through it! One evening I managed to get myself triple-booked, with family quiz, first-time-back choir rehearsal and speaking for a UK CU. That kind of week.

So yesterday I suggested that we take a moment to go out for lunch somewhere. We live in a city of cafés and restaurants, some of which are quite affordable. Why not?

Our next zoom call was scheduled for 2pm, so we needed to keep it close to home. There's a really good organic and local produce pizza place near the station - really good pizzas. There's several places we've never been. Oh yes, and there's that new chicken place - Chicko-so - that just opened. We decided to go and see.

It's a fast-food style place with a couple of tables outside and lots inside. The idea is that you choose your meal from a kind of table of options :

 Chicken     Accompaniment Sauce Dessert     Drink
 Roast chicken Caesar salad Pesto Pineapple Water
 Chicken drumsticks Rice Peanut Fruit salad Coke
 Chicken in breadcrumbs Fries etc. etc. etc.

You get the idea. The base price is 9,80€ or 11,80 if you include a dessert.

We made our order, took our alarm puck (it buzzes when your meal is ready to collect from the kitchen hatch) and sat at an outside table. Almost immediately we were surrounded by mosquitos. At lunchtime!

We decided to retreat indoors. "Good idea" thought the mosquitos and came with us. We could see them happily hunting all round the restaurant. One settled on my elbow. I squashed it, but I still have the lump. Another must have got me on the knuckle.

When we collected our meals we moved again, to a table right in the middle of the restaurant and there we were troubled less.

It is unusual for ordinary mosquitos to attack in the daytime, but Bordeaux is increasingly prey to the tiger mosquito which is more agressive, attacks at any time and also can carry serious diseases.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Covid-19

We downloaded and activited our StopCovid apps on our phones a while ago. I forget what date it became available but as good citizens we got it straight away. So far 14 people in France have been alerted that they have been in close contact for 15 minutes or more with someone who has tested positive to covid-19. I am hoping that means the app works well and the virus is rare.

Meanwhile Bordeaux has been doing free screening for people who are especially vulnerable. Today is the last day they'll be doing this, and we understood that we could be screened too if we went to Place Meunier. However this would entail queuing up in 31°C under a cloudless sky to have an extra long cotton bud stuffed up your nose, so we reluctantly decided to forego it. Anyway in all the screening nobody at all has tested positive.

Regarding the churches we are feeling a little frustrated, but also ... resigned?

Cinemas and concert halls can now open. People must be masked while taking their seats. People or groups of people must be separated by one empty seat. Otherwise all is fine.

However churches must allow 4 square metres per person, congregants must be masked at all times, one way systems must be devised to stop people's paths crossing and all surfaces must be disinfected before people arrive.

To be fair to the government, churches have generated a number of clusters of infection, from ordinary Sunday meetings to a cluster originating from a funeral.

I suspect that one big difference is singing. When you sing you breathe more deeply and exhale more strongly so droplet infection is more likely.

Incidentally, it's la covid-19 and le coronavirus. The Académie made a ruling on it.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Covid-19

Despite further deconfinement churches still must allow 4m2 per person, wear masks all through the meeting, avoid eating, drinking or "attroupements" and disinfect all surfaces liable to be touched...

Since attroupements are an important part of what we do, and the thought of singing and preaching in a mask is unattractive (that is not an invtation for unkind jokes!) we will carry on meeting online.

We are building a community, not an audience, and starting a church, not a ministry, so zoom suits us best.

However we understand that the government are expected to revise the directives for churches etc with new guidelines appearing on the 22nd of June, so we're waiting with bated breath.

At the same time, we're now entering the sunlight zone of July and August, when the holiday spirit siezes the entire nation and we practice a kind of compulsive transhumance, the July people flooding down from gloomy Parisian regions to the radiant south during the first weekends of July, only to return just when the August people are rushing down like a innumerable herd of giant tortoises causing the notorious "black weekends" of journées croisées, where immovable objects and irresistible forces meet all across the centre of France.

Enfin bref, we probably won't meet in our building on Sunday till September.

A long and laborious trip to Ikea

Tram C leaves from about 400 yards from our home and arrives about 500 yards from Ikea, so for small errands we can quite adequately go by tram. We needed 6 new dinner plates after the incident that shall not be mentioned, when half our everyday dinner plates went in all directions instead of into the dresser. Our current plates were a natty rich brown and a beige colour. Ikea continue to do the same plates, but not in the same colours.

So off I set with my rucksack for the plates and the inevitable batteries and wires that I would purchase, and a large Ikea blue bag for cushions and any other treasures I would purloin.

I checked the time when setting off and when arriving. About 45 minutes. You wouldn't do it much faster in a car. The biggest irritation is the need to wear your mask in the tram. Masks keep you very warm. Very warm indeed.

I found a trolley and set off into the interior. "You can't take a trolley upstairs." said the helpful security man on the door. "I'm staying downstairs", I reassured him, and entered the impenetrable maze, trying to ignore the signs saying things like "Have you said a last farewell to your loved ones?" "Does anyone know where you are in case of disappearance?" and "Set your phone to traceable".

You enter the ground floor by the checkouts and plunge into the dense undergrowth of the houseplant department. I knew there was a shortcut from there into the tableware section, but the door I found took me into lighting. Still, I needed wires so I noted where they were, then hunted for another door that would take me to tableware. What about that one? Ah no, storage. There was a plan hanging from the ceiling. It looked like the plan of a bus line and shows you where on your journey you are without detailing any of the twists and turns that got you in or that would, hopefully, get you out.

Some intense gazing enabled me to see where on the line I was and where I needed to go for tableware. I followed the arrows - backwards - does it count as following if it's backwards? I defied the arrows systematically and stubbornly until a mass of pots and pans announced my imminent arrival at tableware. Now, those plates...

You identify the exact type of plate by the name displayed - Gūttrøtt, or something similar. I spotted three colours - a pale blue, a dark colour that might have conceivably been brown and a pale colour that could have been anything really. Well pale blue would be no good, so I took 3 of each of the others.

Good!

No then, those wires. I got the cables I wanted and some batteries, and a good quality loudspeaker and almost bought a cajon, but instead took photos of it so our cajonistas could weight it up, then hied me off to find the cushions. Pat needed cushions. Firm ones. Most of the square cushions seemed rather flaccid to me, so I chose some small bolster style cushions and headed for the exit, back through the Amazonia section. It was there that I fell head over heels in love with a beautiful, dusky sanseveria. These robust plants have an invincible will to live and come in so many shades and - now - shapes. I could find no price, but any price was worth paying for this beauty - I had to have it! (Well, any prise that Ikea are likely to charge for a medium sized houseplant...)

The fast tills are for those with up to 15 items. I counted mine. The houseplant was number 16. Oh, alas! I would have to go to a slow, manned till with a physically distanced queue.

Physically distanced queues are something new and daunting. There can be hardly anyone waiting but the queue stretches far out of sight. I was bahind a young couple buying large and heavy garden furniture and in front of a young chap buying some chocolate. Did he not know about the fast tills? Anyway I showed him how slow a slow till could really get, taking ages to sort out what went in which bag and making sure my houseplant could not be crushed.

Ikea blue bags are carefully designed so that if I carry them by the short handles all my purchases get crushed (NOOOO!!!!!!!!!) and if I carry them by the long handles the bag bounces on the floor as I walk.

Fine. Bounce then.

One nice thing about our tram journey is that I was pretty sure of getting a seat. I waited happily, listening to Emma Kirkby singing arie antiche, until everyone started leaving the tram stop. There was a breakdown all along line C. The city transport app insisted I take tram C, but I knew that bus 15 to Victoire, followed by bus 11 would get me home just as well, though m-u-c-h slower. There would be buses of relay, but they were being put in place. That could take a while.

Without further ado - there has been plenty of ado so far, has there not - my journey home took twice as long, but now the plates are getting their first wash, the cushions are supporting the wifely back, the speaker has blasted out a brief moment of Bartlett and the sanseveria is sitting with his cousins on the balcony after getting a good watering.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Biarritz

It is possible to travel in France now so we took the opportunity to rent an AirBnb and get some train tickets to Biarritz. My doctor said I can do whatever I like as long as I stay in Aquitaine. Biarritz is in Aquitaine. There we are.

We travelled at lunchtime on Monday and came back yesterday. We enjoyed mainly good weather - we had one day of persistent rain when we stayed inside, read and watched films. Otherwise it was the usual Davey holiday of forced marches round the town.

We found a splendid eating place in Bayonne - a mexican restaurant where we were served excellent food by the charming your proprietor. Biarritz is a classy seaside place and though we found affordable places to eat nothing stood out to us as special.

Our AirBnB was a small basement flat in a secure mansion of apartments where the neighbours drove Porsches and Bentleys. It was great. It had everything we needed, including a comfortable bed and a sofa. It was good to get away, but now we have a busy weekend ahead!