Showing posts from July, 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 te

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 w

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.

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

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. O

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.

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

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 on

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

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 Bor

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?