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)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Being burgled

 I'm 62 and my home has been burgled 4 times, which means a burglary every 15 years. It isn't that much really, though it seems like a lot. Meanwhile I don't think either of my sisters has ever been burgled, though both are considerably older than I. 

Anyway, statistics aside, we've had a friend staying with us over the past few days recovering from surgery on Monday. Yesterday we decided to take a quick trip to the local mega-shopping mall on a quest to find sandals. We didn't find sandals, but when we got home we did find that we had been burgled.

They break the cylinder of the lock by force. Quite clever really, but you do wonder what the point of the lock is. Anyway usual thing, they rummaged well through everywhere - looking for money, I think. There wasn't any. They also took my laptop, the iPads and a bluetooth speaker.

We phoned the police. They arrived about 15 minutes later and told us what we could and could not touch pending arrival of the science team. We gave them the addresses the burglars had taken the computers - Apple's "Find my". One was in Cenon, the other about 15 minutes away by foot.

The science team arrived about 2 hours later and took fingerprints from any promising surface and then took our prints.

Meanwhile we could close the door but not lock it. Phoning the insurers took a LONG TIME on hold, then eventually we got through and they promised to send a locksmith. At 22:15 I worked out the best way to barricade the door so we could go to bed, but I got a call saying the locksmith was downstairs. I brought him up and he put a new cylinder (barrilet) in the lock.

You can get reinforced barrels. They cost a LOT MORE but I am going to find out about it today.

As well as making an incident report to the police and an insurance claim.

And ordering a new iPad.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mariage at the mairie

 Catrin, our daughter, our only daughter, is engaged to be married to Froim. Froim has been a member at Bordeaux Church for some years and they started seeing each other last year. They set a date for October 31. It seemed a good date, especially from the point of view of covid.

However to marry in France you need to supply various documents supporting your identity, your single status and also your place of residence. For people who not French, and neither of our protagonists are French, this can be complicated.

You have to get your birth certificate translated by an officially recognised translator and stamped and stapled in a particular way that indicates to the town hall that the document is valid and correctly translated. In addition your birth certificate has to be issued within the past three months - and here either some town halls interpret the rules differently, or the rules are different for French people and for foreign people* - and within three months of the date of the wedding.

Froim's birth certificate was issued trilingually - in German, French and English - so it did not need a translator. NOT SO FAST! He was born in the former West Germany, which no longer exists. On his birth certificate his mother's name is given with "geb maiden-name" (born maiden-name. In English we sometimes put née maiden-name). This provoked great perplexity at the town hall. But the country in which you were born no longer exists ! What can we put as country of birth ? Also what is this geb maiden-name? What is your mother's name? Off to the translator for them to certify that geb means née.

Catrin's birth certificate was also bilingual, but in Welsh and in English. But where were you born? Ysbyty? Maelor? Wrecsam? Wrexham? What is all this? Strange to relate, the translator does not speak Welsh, but Google does so she quickly certified that Ysbyty Maelor Wrecsam means Maelor Hospital Wrexham and that the place of birth is Wrexham.

The town hall were still perplexed though, so they sent their documents off to the procureur for them to give their legal advice on whether this couple could marry given their current state of birth, and if so, whatever could be put on the marriage certificate.

Froim wrote to the mayor to complain. "This does not seem to reflect a very European spirit." The mayor asked the team to respond. "We are just trying to be professional". We discussed what a couple should do who wish to marry but find the state unwilling to comply for administrative reasons. It is illegal to hold a marriage ceremony in a church for a couple who are not legally married.

After about a week the procureur delivered their opinion - there is no problem with these documents. Catrin and Froim went in to choose a date for their legal marriage. They chose the earliest possible date. Can you blame them !

So this Saturday at noon at the town hall they will say "Yes" to each other, surrounded by the few family members who can make it (that is, Patricia and me) and by friends and church folk. 

In October we hope that at least all the parents and siblings will be there for a marriage celebration and meal at a chateau on the outskirts of Bordeaux.

7am at the Jardins de l'Ars

 The guys are laying concrete walkways

Le pass sanitaire opposé

 The pass sanitaire is generating a little opposition. These are the riot police vans getting into the centre of the city last Saturday.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Le Pass Sanitaire

 Once you have been vaccinated twice with the appointed vaccine - AstraZeneca for certain people, for other Pfizer - you get a document with two QR codes that you can scan into your Tous Anti Covid application. This then becomes your European Covid Passport, also known in France as your pass sanitaire.

A pass sanitaire can also be obtained by getting a recent PCR test. This must be a temporary thing, I imagine, because the validity of the test expires.

French people are quite reluctant to be vaccinated. They have a very high degree of respect for science, but much less for scientists. There is also much more evidence of occult healing, clairvoyance and so on than you typically get in the UK.

So on Monday when M Macron announced that the pass sanitaire would be needed to attend concerts, cinemas and the like, and to take trains, aeroplanes or long-distance bus services the cat was put among the pigeons.

The first effect was that hundreds of thousands of people booked appointments to be vaccinated. Almost one million on Monday evening. 4 million this week.

A secondary effect has been a great outpouring of wrath at the assault on individual freedom. "Bienvenue à la dictature sanitaire !" Welcome to the health dictatorship. Thousands of people have marched against the pass sanitaire.

Meanwhile, for our part, we are coming to terms with not visiting our son in the UK this summer. The UK has imposed a ten day quarantine as well as expensive PCR tests for travellers from France, even the fully vaccinated. This is because of the prevalence of the beta variant in those parts of France that are to be found in the Indian Ocean - Reunion and Mayotte. Here in mainland France we now are dominated by the delta variant which ironically probably arrived here from India via the UK.

Oh well. We remind ourselves of all those summers we spent in the UK wishing that we could explore France more. We'll head for the mountains and the mediterranean.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Tour de France

 It's an ill wind that blows no good. That's what they say.

Well, due to covid we are confined to France for another summer. Usually at this time of year we would be well ensconced in dear old Blighty. Just now we would need to pay for government listed PCR tests and quarantine for a minimum of 5 days. Makes a quick trip to see the folk a bit ... inconvenient.

But the upside is that we're in France at the time of the Tour de France. And it was passing within easy striking distance of Bordeaux. 

I did a small amount of research. Essentially the choice lay between Cadillac on Friday 16 July, a town a little south of here, and Libourne on Saturday 17th, a little north of here. Both are accessible by train. We opted for Cadillac.

To get to Cadillac you take the train to Cérons - so small it has no bar or café, just a take-away pizza place - and walk across the river bridge. Cadillac is a megapolis in comparison, with numerous restaurants and cafés. We duly crossed the bridge.

One of the restaurants was selling chips (French fries) on its forecourt but when we expressed interest in eating they showed us to a nice table inside and brought us the menu. 14€ got me a salad niçoise, steak and salad followed by a chocolate pud. Mrs Davey had a salad de la mer.

Afterwards we surveyed the scene and chose some steps that led up from the main route to a car park - the steps were blocked at the top so it became our hidden hole where we waited for the "caravane" to come through. After an interminable 20 minutes or so the Skodas started to flow through the town, soon followed by every sort of crazy contraption you could imagine - from sublime gingham painted 2CVs belonging to Cochonou - manufacturers of fine dried sausages - through to a motorised basket of strawberries. All the floats were manned by over-excited young folk singing, yelling and waving and occasionally tossing goodies into the crowd, such as small bags of haribo, Tour de France tee-shirts and hats, bags, packets of seeds, key-rings, small dried sausages and bottles of Vittel water.

These last were handed very skilfully and from our vantage-point we were very successful at securing bottles of water, but not so good at anything else. A bit too close, perhaps. But we also managed to avoid getting too wet when the Vittel wagons rolled by soaking the crowd. It was all good fun. 

We then had another wait before the cyclists came. Some people were following the tour on their app and informing everyone or where and when and what.

So we moseyed back to the bridge before deciding it was too exposed to the sun and standing at the side of the road instead. One family had been visibly successful in securing hats and tee-shirts.

The cyclists came by in two waves - first the coureurs - about 20 of them escorted by a flotilla of Skodas and motorcycles. The noise of the bicycle transmissions was other-worldly - a strange whirring noise.

Then about 20 minutes more and the main body came through. Very impressive, though they are past in about a minute and a half.

Some church friends had driven out to Cérons just in time to see the main body pass and they asked if we wanted a lift back to town, so we ended the evening in a burger bar before walking home.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

When your favourite grammar-checker speaks with forked tongue

I have had to revise the rules on numbers following a little controversy between two French friends over whether it is correct to say on page twenty-one as à la page vingt-et-une, or à la page vingt-et-un. 

The thing is, you can't necessarily trust your friends, even those who are really clever and educated and adamant and stuff, because the rules are a bit ... opaque.

Still, you can always trust your favourite grammar checker website, Le bon patron.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

M. Macron's speech

 It's very difficult in France to oblige people to do something. After all, the first word of the national motto is freedom. 

At the same time we now have lots of vaccine and cases of the delta variant of covid-19 are rising. Our test and trace system is working really well with free PCR testing available in lots of places in the city. But still there is a certain reticence about getting vaccinated.

So last night M. Macron addressed the nation. Would déconfinement be put into reverse gear? would there be new measures?

He announced that for all care and medical staff vaccination will now be compulsory. They have until September to get themselves vaccinated with the two doses. 

Meanwhile the "pass sanitaire" - covid passport - which is already required for entry to events of more than 1000 spectators will become necessary from August for events of over 50 people and for everyone over 12 years old. 

That means two doses of vaccine or a recent negative PCR test if you want to go to the cinema, to a concert, to a talk, to anything with over 50 people. We do not yet know whether that includes churches.

Then, again to encourage vaccination rather than relying on test and trace, PCR tests, currently free in France, will be charged for from the autumn.

This morning M Macron's twitter account has a gif of him speaking (no sound) but the words under his head are "FAITES-VOUS VACCINER". Get yourself vaccinated.

La fête nationale

 Wednesday is "the fourteen July", France's national holiday. To mark the occasion the town hall puts on a firework display in the centre of the city. Meanwhile we have our midweek meeting in someone's home. 

So this Wednesday, weather permitting, we will meet on the quays for a picnic and for prayer, then stay around for the fireworks. If the weather is bad, and rain is forecast, then we'll meet at the home nearest the quays and then scuttle up for the fireworks.


 We have two biting mosquitos in the Bordeaux area now. There's the usual small kind that hangs around under trees and bushes at night and will come into your home. Then there's the tiger mosquito, the new kid in town, bigger, more aggressive and more dangerous - in some parts of the world the tiger mosquito carries illnesses like dengue fever and chikungunya. Here in Bordeaux they don't transmit anything but they will bite you in the daytime.

We've had mosquitos in the house around Christmas in the past. It's pretty miserable when they come for you at night when you're in bed - you hear the buzzing, like a tiny moped zipping past your ear. You smack your ear, your cheek, your forehead, everywhere, then in the morning you find the bites.

American friends wonder why we don't have screen doors, fly screens on our windows, air-conditioning so we don't have to open our windows. I don't know. I don't know.

French friends relativise it all. It's only the female who bites and she only does it so she can let her eggs. 

This is no help to me, because when I get bitten at the very least I get large hard bumps that ooze. At the worst, so far, I get huge inflamed areas that make me go to the pharmacy for creams and gels to try and take the inflammation down, and I spend a week putting hot and cold compresses on. At present my left arm is inflamed below the elbow, my left knee, just on the knee and my right ankle. People tell me I'm allergic.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Choir restarting

I auditioned for our chamber choir around the beginning of the pandemic, did a lousy audition, especially the sight-reading, and was surprised to be accepted. Since then we have been able to rehearse perhaps three or four times, always masked from the moment we meet to the moment we leave. So I had never seen the faces of some the folk.

It's chamber choir and we sing unaccompanied. We do some pretty easy stuff but also some more challenging music. Most of it I've never sing before because I've always sung in big accompanied choirs.

I'm at the list of my musical competence. I'm singing 2nd bass, and I'm really a baritone. I can get down where I need to, but I need to work on my volume down below. I'm learning the pieces, but I'm not a bad reader really, thanks to the time I spent as a kid playing in a competing brass band in South Wales.

So last night there were two new experiences for me. First was singing Debussy for the first time. "Dieu qu'il l'a fait bon regarder". It's wonderful music. Very much Debussy with crazy cross-rhythms and surging dynamics and smudgy harmony. It's "La mer" for singing.   

Then from the sublime to a different kind of sublime - Rachmaninov "Bogoritse dievo". This is much easier to sing because the harmony is less out there and the rhythms are more predictable, but it's still quite exquisite.

In my previous choir I was one of the stronger basses, mainly because I can read the part and, especially if it's not too funky, I don't mind belting it out. In this choir I'm the weakest bass. But hey, they have not yet given me my marching orders, so in the meantime I'm having a ball. 

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Bordeaux, buses and bikes

 Lockdown was a strange time. The city was quiet. There was almost no traffic at all. When people went out for their hour of exercise or to do their shopping the city felt calm and safe.

Then a year ago for the election of mayors France was swept by a green wave - ecology party candidates won in lots of cities, including Bordeaux.

There had already been pressure to replace large areas of concrete and wide roads with trees and green spaces, but now things have accelerated. Trees are being planted in the vast paved square outside the town hall and the cathedral. Bike lanes have been painted onto the inner ring road. More streets have been pedestrianised or made one-way with bikes allowed to go against the traffic. There are noticeably more bikes in the streets than before. 

Meanwhile the city has a principle it is trying to put in place of having all the basic services you need for everyday life available to you within a 15 minute walk. So the idea is that everyone within the city of Bordeaux should be able to walk to the doctor, to a dentist, to a hairdresser, to a baker, a café, a supermarket, and so on.

For our area this is hard because it's all new. We do already have a doctor and a supermarket well within 15 minutes, and cafés and bakers are not much further.

It is bound to make you think of churches. Will Bordeaux see a day when there is a gospel church within 15 minutes walk? 

We are praying for the day when the 8 sub-town-halls of Bordeaux all have a gospel church within them. That's one goal, and though things have greatly improved in the suburbs of Bordeaux, in the city itself we're still a long way off. 

The CNEF is encouraging prayer to see a gospel church for every 10,000 people. That would mean 24 gospel churches within the inner ring road. Another goal 

A church within 15 minutes walk of anyone and everyone adds the idea of being spread out through the different areas of the city - the smart and trendy Chartrons as well as the multicultural Saint-Michel. 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Next step in déconfinement

On Wednesday France entered the next step in déconfinement. For us in Bordeaux this means :

No more masks outdoors, except in the two main shopping streets after lunch, and within 50m of schools, stations or transport stops.

No more limits on number in cafés, restaurants and bars - or churches

No more curfew.

We can all sit next to each other once more, but we must still be masked inside the building.

We're very happy to see our infection rates continue to drop as well as the numbers in hospital and intensive care. Meanwhile in the next department south of us, les Landes, there is a cluster of the delta variant.

We can eat together once more, though it is recommended that we do this outdoors and minimise as much as possible passing things round.

For us Davey we watch the news closely because we would love to be able to visit the UK without quarantining or paying hundreds of pounds for tests. We're both fully vaccinated now, so maybe in August?