Showing posts from January, 2021

Sunrise over the Jardins de l'Ars

 Work continues on the Jardins de l'Ars. Last week they dug two of the "bassins", two ponds for the more swampy areas meant to recreate and evoke the wetlands of the Gironde. Yesterday they did something quite inscrutable to the area just below our flat, including rollers, spreaders and diggers. This was when at sunrise they were spreading white dust in tracks of about a lorry-width. Then they rolled a larger area, including some of the white tracks and later covered it with a kind of glossy black substance. We're baffled. I would have thought some kind of soil-conditioning, but why roller it? 

Viral Bordeaux

 The pandemic takes its toll on the city. A café run by a charming couple has not survived, but they have survived and they both have good jobs. When you walk around the city you especially notice the empty squares where there once were café and restaurant tables. Then the closed up places - not everyone can do takeaway. What you don't see is the knock-on effect of that on students. Lots of students work in cafés and bars, so they have lost their income. The government has a scheme to provide students with meals twice a day at 1€ to help them to be able to eat, even if paying their rent is still complicated. Friends who work in music are also stuck. Schemes exist to mitigate the financial impact, but that doesn't solve everything. Some students at the conservatoire can study in place, some classes are held online. It's the same at the university - a mix of online and in person. Teachers feel vulnerable. Schools are meant to social distance and pupils are masked, but in the

La Chasse, Clément Janequin

 This renaissance part-song is about a stag hunt. It is often performed unaccompanied.


 I've never understood the French tax system ever since we first arrived and they reimbursed us for tax we'd paid in the UK. Now they've reimbursed us for tax we may pay this year but that will be reimbursed if we do.  We need a new word - preimburse?


 Folks are concerned that we get vaccinated. One colleague suggested that we go and ask the doctor to get us done as soon as possible. Other folks tell us to just go and get it done. Asthma, you see. Here's how it's working in France. From yesterday everyone over 75 is eligible to be vaccinated, as well as at-risk people in certain categories, like transplant patients or cancer patients with compromised immune systems, people with two or more organ failures, people suffering from a list of rare diseases. In short, not us. I suspect that we will be in the next tranche, perhaps in early February.  You can go to the vaccination centre and blag your way in - we have heard of one person who did that. Otherwise you need a prescription, so if we nagged the doctor they may well comply. But to be honest, I don't think we're at high risk of catching the thing. (Famous last words, perhaps?)

Sunrise over the gardens


Le canelé de Bordeaux


IMPORTANT - Supporting your mission partners through COVID-19 and beyond

 UFM are hosting a webinar for church leaders on the above subject. Find out about it here :

UK Pension

A friend in the UK made a substantial gift to the mission to enable our UK state pension contributions to be completed. I had 31 years of contributions and Pat has 30, and we had anticipated saving up over the next few years buying additional years of contributions as we could. Now we wouldn't need to. I signed a form allowing the mission to negotiate on my behalf, then the mission enquired how much it would cost to add my four missing years. The answer they got was far less than I had calculated so they sent off the cheque. I allowed a couple of weeks, then started watching my pension forecast. Nothing changed. I allowed a month, then six weeks.  Still nothing changed. The folks at the mission contacted the pensions centre. Nothing changed. I phoned the helpline. "I'll send an urgent memo. It'll take a couple of weeks." Nothing changed. I phoned again, this time being sure to get the name of the person I spoke to. I quoted the dates of the letter and phone calls.

Good news !

 With the onset of Brexit we applied for our ten-year carte de séjour and were given our provisional ones some time ago. They were provisional because the UK was still in the EU, we had not even entered the transition period. So we had EU member state cartes de séjour and knew that once Brexit was complete we would need to replace them. The government set up a website to apply fro the new cards and this went online in October 2019. I applied for Pat's card and for mine. Then the site was taken off-line again, but not before we had received our emails confirming our request for the new "third-country" cards. Then yesterday we received emails from the prefecture summoning us for a meeting on 20 January to take our fingerprints once more in order to produce our final permanent cartes de séjour. It will be good to get this finalised.

Around the world without leaving your seat

 The weekend was a good example of the possibilities that coronavirus has alerted us to. We could have done this anyway, but we didn't, and now we do. So Saturday began with a 8:45 15minute talk from Romans 3 for our church in North Wales. This happens on Facebook live and I found that Google Chrome works for that on my laptop. I can also prop it up on my nice new adjustable stand which I bought to replace the bent coat-hanger I had been using since March 2020! Sunday morning I was in one of our supporting churches in Bath, giving a brief update, doing the Bible reading and leading in prayer. The church posts its services on Youtube, so I needed to video myself doing the three things in advance, standing and filmed basically waist-up. So I stood Catrin's old tripod on our bed and stood in front of the wardrobes. This gave the right distance, good lighting and a neutral background. Sunday evening was Bordeaux Church's meeting where our video projector refused to connect to a

Always something new!

 Yesterday I had a brief appointment in the centre of town at 10am, and it was bitterly cold in Bordeaux. Now I know that "bitterly cold" for us is still pretty warm by UK winter standards - we have become soft, please don't judge us. Sometimes in our flat it has dipped below 20°C this past week and we're barely coping. I know, it's pathetic. Anyway, off I trotted into the city pausing briefly to take another angle on the opera house. On my way home I had intended walking but it was so cold so I took the tram again and chose the quickest back street to the stop. That's how I found it. Place Georges de Porto Riche. The most sweet little square you ever saw, with lovely houses and trees all leafless. It was too cold to take a photo. Here's Google Maps' offering, with leaves and parked vehicles. I scuttled through and made a note to come back in more clement times.

New Year 2020

 There's a curfew at the moment which means that everyone must be indoors by 8pm. Covid regulations also restrict the number of folk you can have in your home to 6 (not counting children). So New Year's Eve found us on our own this year. It meant we could do things simply. We were on duty in the Christian bookshop from 2 till 4, so we had a big lunch of cauliflower cheese before heading off into the city. We wanted to call by Bradley's bookshop, the English language bookshop, on the way, and we spent a happy moment chatting with the guy who should really have been stocking the shelves, but hey. Then off to the bookshop through the pouring rain, dodging the many cyclists and the few cars.  Because we'd be along we decided we could skip eating an evening meal and instead go for snacks finger food, so I whipped up some hummus, Pat chopped carrots, peppers and cucumbers and we cracked open a bag of those vegetable crisps, too. We don't get TV but we do have a Netflix su