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)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

In the United Kingdom shortages multiply, bosses grow impatient

 From supermarkets to restaurants via the factories, shortages are getting worse in the United Kingdom.

It's a phenomenon due to the delivery problems generated by Brexit and the pandemic.

Industrials leaders are urging the government to act, particularly in the light of the coming Christmas festivities.

The Nando's restaurant chain closed some fifty restaurants last week because of a lack of chicken.

In industry car manufacturers have had to pause production because of a shortage of electronic components.

In construction certain medium sized businesses find themselves short of materials and of manpower.

The CBI states that stocks held by distributors are at their lowest level for forty years.

Manpower and logistic problems are threatening the UK's economic recovery.

Friday, August 27, 2021

"You have a little accent"

 "Where are you from?" asked the tiny lady in the colourful head cloth after we discussed the health of the fig tree growing out of the steps up to the Meriadeck centre. 

"So where are you from?"

"I'm Welsh, from Wales", I said. I always put it like this now as it gives people double the chance of homing in. It's pretty emphatic in French because you say "I'm Welsh, from the Land of Wales".

"Oh! Scotland!" she said.

"No, Wales", I insisted.

"Ireland, then?" 

"No, Wales. It's a small country between England and Ireland."

"But I thought that was part of England."

I coughed.

"You also have an accent. Where are you from?"

"South America" (One says America of the South)

"Texas or Florida?" - No, I didn't say this, though I wanted to.

"From which country?"


We talked a bit more about the countries from which people had come to the church - we've had most Latin American countries.

The gardeners

It is seven am and we are sharply wrested from the gentle arms of Morpheus by the sound of a disc cutter attacking yesterday's concrete in the Gardens of the Ars. 
Well, to be clear, Morpheus had loosed his grip on me a while before. I had earplugs in watching a video on how to make videos without spending a fortune on cameras and lights and stuff. 
But Pat was still in his embrace. So she got up and shut the window and silence reigned once more. Except for me. I was hearing how all these microphones and lights could be had for under $150. Yes, and stored where? thought I.
The gardeners are laying concrete paths, good and wide, shiny and smooth, between the dark, dark beds of beautiful black topsoil. Surely they must start planting soon. The ideal time would be October, I suppose.
I am pretty sure that you are not allowed to do noisy construction work until after 8am at least, but we don’t mind. Sooner they start, more they do. More they do, sonner they finish. Sooner they finish, sooner we have our gardens growing below us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Mission in the world of covid

 We've spent two years adapting to confinement, déconfinement, limits on numbers, spacing out, end of spring out, zoom, post-zoom... 

It's not over yet. At least not for us. 

We're missionaries. That means that although we live and work in France and we are immediately responsible to the church council here in France, we are also responsible to :

our sending church in North Wales who sent us here

our mission, UFM, who helped the church to get us here

individual supporters and supporting churches all over the UK who give to keep us here.

(that sounds a bit odd, but you know what I mean)

So we need to report back regularly.

Our Sending Church

we send a weekly prayer update for their regular prayer meeting

they send out an elder for a pastoral visit once a year. Or at least they did until covid stopped travel! 

we also visit from time to time - generally about once a year

I did a weekly short Bible message on Saturdays during confinement

we do zoom calls amongst the elders

The Mission

the director and deputy director also get our weekly prayer updates

we produce a quarterly prayer letter that gets sent out hither and yon

there are zoom prayer sessions

an annual review procedure comprising a form and interview

a four-yearly "end of term" review

the deputy director also visits perhaps once a year

Supporting churches and individuals

Here's the challenge. Normally each year I would spend two weeks, three weekends, visiting churches in the UK to report back and to continue the close relationships that we have so valued over the years. 

Of course, in 2020 and in 2021 that has been impossible.

Can anything like this happen in 2022? Who can tell!

Meanwhile it seems to me that we need to take action now. 

Churches get our quarterly prayer letters and some also get our weekly prayer update.

Some churches ask for video updates and we gladly cobble something together.

But I'm wondering what action we can take to try to fill the gaps.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Getting round the city

 It's quite a long time now since we owned a car. This was a conscious choice, but kind of forced on us - our car was costing too much to repair and it was not easy to see how we could consider buying something else - but now that we've adjusted to the car-free life we genuinely wouldn't go back.

Of course, living in the centre of the city helps a lot. In fact in our church very few people own cars, and they all live out in the suburbs. In the city parking is an issue and you can't move around very fast anyway - you're better off walking, cycling or using public transport.

We can walk to the doctor, to a physiotherapist, to the pharmacy, to a dentist, to a reasonably-sized supermarket, to restaurants and fast food outlets, all within 1km. So within a 10 to 15 minute walk. A little further and we add three more supermarkets and lots more restaurants, cafes and shops. Say within a 20 minute walk.

Our flat is near two tram-lines, the C and the D. The D takes us directly to where the church meets and both go right through the centre of the city. Bus 11 leaves nearby, too, and will take us to an enormous out of town shopping centre.

Cycling is more difficult here because we live on the wrong side of the railway lines. To cross the lines you have to take one of four routes: 

the Pont de Guit, which is narrow, busy, steep and dangerous

the Pont en U (the wiggly bridge) which currently has major roadworks

the road past the dump, which is busy with construction traffic

the railway underpass, which deposits you on a really confusing major junction

So we tend not to cycle into town much. You can always take your bike on the tram until you get to the beginning of the Quays - which then functions like a cycle super-highway to take you right through the city uninterrupted and pretty safe from any road traffic.

The good news is that work has begun on extending the quays all the way down to the bottom of our gardens, so soon we'll have a cycle superhighway from our flat right into the heart of the city and beyond.

Meanwhile we belong to a car share club which has 60 or so vehicles parked in different places around Bordeaux. So when we need to get to inaccessible places, or to take people to hospital or whatever, we can  use a Polo or a Yaris and pay just a small fee per kilometre and per hour, which covers everything. Last weekend I helped Froim and Catrin move some furniture and we used a Kangoo van. We had it for just under two hours and probably covered about 15 kilometres, so the cost will have been minimal.

Bordeaux is working very hard to change the feel of the city. In the 1960s and 1970s the car ruled the streets. Now it's people. There are people everywhere, and especially café tables. The city feels safer, calmer, cleaner and more human. It's exciting to think of what the future holds as the automobile loosens its grip even further.

Mrs Davey and the kinésithérapeute

Pat made an appointment with our local physiotherapist - the doctor had given her a prescription for however many sessions it takes - for Monday 16 August. We had walked up and found his office on the way to the pizza place, but you make your appointment on Doctolib - the website and app that lots of medical folk work with. However he caught covid, so he phoned her to postpone the appointment by a week.

That meant she went along yesterday. While she was there I scurried off to Lidl to get fruit and vegetables and succeeded in not buying a steam cleaner, a food mixer and a sander - or the tempting ice-creams they had put right by the tills!

By the time I was halfway over the bridge back home Pat was out of the physio so we met up and walked back together. He'll see her twice a week and meanwhile she is to walk for at least 10 minutes a day. That's not so hard for us! We generally walk much more than that!

Meanwhile a newspaper report yesterday said that in France in the 1950s the average person walked about 7km per day - about 4 miles a day. Now we walk on average 300 metres a day.

Makes you think, no?

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Pro-covid demos and the health dictatorship

 From time to time friends in the UK contact me to ask if articles in the Spectator or the Telegraph accurately reflect life in France just now.  Take it from me that they don't, but do still contact me about them. Here's why they are not accurate.

Imagine I assessed the situation in the UK from, say, the articles you can find in the Guardian. Would that accurately reflect life in the UK just now? What about life in Camden? What about in life in Scotland? What about life in Cornwall?

I choose the Guardian because for the moment it is freely accessible. I can't read articles from the Times or the Telegraph without paying a fee. There's a paywall. But I realise that I have to read with care. Free of charge does not mean free of bias.

Newspapers and magazines are not neutral. They have a political viewpoint to convey that is found in every article they publish. Even when they present statistics and undeniable facts, the facts and statistics  will be selected to prove a point. We need to be aware of that. Everything is loaded. Read with care.

Here in France we hear of terrible situations in the UK. There are shortages in your supermarkets. Basic foodstuffs are unobtainable. Fruit rots on the trees for want of people to pick it. Haulage companies cannot get drivers. I ask my friends if this is true where they live. They tell me that they see no more evidence than usual - every so often a supermarket runs out of something or other in normal life.

In the UK you hear of violent protests against Macron and of his deep unpopularity. Hey, I've now lived through four presidencies in France, I think - Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron and I can tell you, not one of them was popular. You don't elect a president so you can love them. It's not like the Queen.

Countries have a deep-rooted mental image of each other. In the UK we tend to believe that France is a tinder-box of repressed revolutionary emotions that are ready to spill over onto the streets in violent outbursts. In France we tend to believe that the UK is a quaint bucolic theme park run by the aristocrats of the ancient regime, and peopled by villeins and surfs who know their place and obey without question.

I don't think either image is true. But there are big cultural differences between our countries. 

For example, in the UK if you are unhappy about something you write to your MP. You know who your MP is and you expect them to do something about it. In France if you are unhappy about something you might complain to the town hall if it's a local issue, otherwise you'll get a group together, make banners and march round the streets banging drums and setting off smoke flares while people watch peacefully from their cafe tables. Before marching you will inform the town hall so they can send the riot police to show they are taking your protest seriously. I have no idea whatsoever who the MP for this area is, but I know the mayor for Bordeaux and the person who is in charge of the area where we live. It's just different.

Regarding the vaccine. In France now 70% of people over 12 have now received 2 doses of vaccine. Meanwhile there are pro-covid marches each week to protest against the pressure the government has put on people to get vaccinated. (I have started using the term pro-covid - anti-vaccine sounds so negative.) I think there are similar marches in the UK. 

The pressure comes in the form of the pass sanitaire - compared to dictatorships like North Korea or, most notoriously of all, to the yellow star from the 1930s and 1940s. The pass sanitaire is a QR code that shows that you have received two doses of vaccine, or that you have recently tested negative for the virus. You now need to show your pass sanitaire to take long-distance public transport, to eat in a restaurant or to shop in the biggest shopping centres. The law to introduce this requirement was validated by the Constitutional Council which made certain modifications to ensure that people could always get the basic necessities whether vaccinated or not.

As a friend explained to me, she fully intended getting vaccinated at some point, especially since she needs to travel to another European country harder hit by the pandemic, but she was still thinking about it. However, the introduction of the pass sanitaire had made her more reluctant to be vaccinated. We are very sensible people, but we do not like being told what to do, she said.

The news media are not neutral. Always engage your critical faculties.

The lovely black fertile soil

 The lovely black fertile soil is slowly being spread all over the Jardins de l'Ars. It is pre-mixed with manure, so it comes with a slightly sharp, countryside smell, but that won't last long and we hope that soon planting will begin.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Mrs Davey

 On Monday Pat left the flat for the first time and took a ride in the lift then round the yard of the blocks of flats. Tuesday she went a little further. On Wednesday we made it as far as the Station, or at least the the really nice little pizzeria opposite the station. The pizza was excellent. Certainly in my top 5 pizzas ever. After that Thursday was a little calmer. But today we tried for a place we'd never tried before. It was closed. So we ended up going MUCH further, even into Carrefour before coming home.

Next Monday she starts physiotherapy. Meanwhile I am not due to preach for the next two Sundays - we were supposed to visit our son and daughter-in-law in the UK. I told the guys I could preach if they wanted, but they are maintaining their engagements, so we met up to do some prep together on Thursday.

Otherwise we're taking these two weeks as holiday. That means not getting folk round for lunch and discussions and so on. It means I can concentrate on just keeping the flat running OK and Pat can concentrate on getting properly mobile again.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

It's so EXCITING !

 They have started working on linking the nearest end of the quay gardens, opposite the Conservatoire, with our as yet unfinished gardens. The goal is to have uninterrupted gardens from the lifting bridge at the far end of the city right through to the motorway bridge south of us.

For us this means safe cycling right into the city centre, and also pleasant walking. At present to cycle into the city you have to somehow cross the railway lines. This means either a nasty busy bridge where car transporters pull in to discharge their loads of cars right on a narrow bridge opposite a bus stop (I can't believe the city allows them to do this - it's dangerous for walkers, let alone cyclists) or taking what we can the wiggly bridge, which is currently undergoing roadworks.

You can also run the gauntlet of the construction wagons along the bottom road, but that's dirty and hazardous.

Then when you get to the other side of the station you get to the most confusing junction I've ever experienced.

A safe cycle path into the city is a wonderful prospect.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Podcasts and audiobooks

 I don't know. I think it's because I can still read more quickly in my head than people read aloud. So somehow audiobooks have always seemed like a waste of time.

As for podcasts, my problem with them is the matey in-joke self-congratulatory chatfest they seem to have to start with. Man, it's SO BORING to listen to 10 minutes of who ate what when and with whom before getting stuck into the covenant of redemption.

Then came The rest is history. It's still matey, but at least it's brief and self-deprecating. And then you get horrible histories for grown-ups. Riveting. I listen to short bursts while walking to the pharmacy, to the tram stop, to the supermarket, wherever.

Which brings me to audiobooks. I'm ready to have another go, especially for those times when I wake in the wee hours and need to read until I fall asleep again. I can play an audiobooks through earphones until I hear Morpheus' footsteps, then whip 'em out quick and set sail for the land of nod.

Mrs Davey and the doctor

 Pat had an appointment with the doctor, but on reflection we couldn't see how we could get her there. 

It's 10 minutes by foot, all on the level.

We'd thought that by allowing 30 minutes we could probably get her there, but when she got up it was clear that this was not going to happen.

I checked if a car was available. One was, but that involves getting her in and out of a car. It was clear that this was not going to happen either.

So she changed her appointment to a video-consultation. It all went pretty well, except when the doctor decided to try out his English, which I managed to decipher and had to explain to Pat. We switched back to French.

A prescription for appropriate drugs and for physiotherapy later all was sorted and I scuttled off to the pharmacy (just opposite the doctor's) before the Orangeman came. 

The Orangeman cometh

"Remember that the Orangeman is coming between 10 and 12 to fit the alarm."

So read the sundry text messages and emails that I received since last Friday.

We'd invited church people to come round for the afternoon - some work in cafés and stuff, others are students and are at a loose end just now, so they were coming for lunch and discussion and games.

The Orangeman came at about 11, quickly surveyed the flat, concluded that only Batman could gain access via any of the windows. I was wearing my Batman t-shirt, but I told him I always use the door and sometimes even resort to the lift. 

So he installed a movement detector in the hall which takes a flash photograph of any uninvited intruder, then showed us how to dial in our codes and use our red and blue tags and to set and unset the alarm.

Meanwhile church folk started arriving. I'd found hobnobs in the shop and they met with general approval. The café people brought savoury flaky pastry rolls (roulés fueilletés) and cinnamon rolls (roulés à la canelle). I'd made a sort of fake gado gado - an Indonesian egg salad served with a peanut sauce. Mrs Davey was able to make occasional appearances. I'd intended to make ice-cream for affogato but had forgotten, but we had a colossal sweet melon, enough to feed a small village.

One of our number had met some charming Mormon elders so we talked about what are the distinguishing marks of the Christian and how to distinguish those excellent and kindly people who are not in fact Christians in any valid sense of the word. 

Then we played Farkle - a dice-rolling game with complicated scoring where the goal is to be the first to reach 10,000 points. I actually won this, despite the scorer omitting to record half my scores. We spiced up the game by attempting to count in Indonesian. Then folks played Settlers of Catan while I watched.

Then it was off with me to feed Catrin's rats.

Look ! Høbnöbs


Sunday, August 08, 2021

A swift visit to Lourdes

 Lourdes is about 30 minutes by train from Pau, so we went for the day. Two women were sat in our seats. "You can sit in front. We sat in the wrong seats", they said. I don't much care where I sit, but thought it might have been nice to excuse oneself, so I said, "I hope that works out". All the way to Lourdes they were reciting their rosary, so perhaps they did excuse themselves - though not to us. 

As we arrived the train conductor announced "We will shortly witness the apparition of the station of Lourdes." It set the tone for the day.

Lourdes is like a cross between a run-down seedy seaside resort and the Sistine Chapel - or if Father Ted was filmed at Clacton-on-Sea. We goggled at the sacred supermarkets, found somewhere for lunch, visited the shrine and saw the grotto. 

Then it was a toss-up between the castle or the funicular railway up to a mountain peak. The latter won, so we had a 30 minute forced march out to the place, then a quick scamper round the summit before haring off back and missing our train back to Pau. There was a later train.

A brief escapade in Pau

 We scuttled off by train to Pau for a few days away from the big city. Pau is a historic town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, famous for being the seat of Henry IV when he was just King of Navarre, before becoming King of France, and also for being one of the favourite towns of the English looking for clean air and a pleasant climate. Because it's fairly near the Atlantic it doesn't get too cold, and because it's in the hills it doesn't get too hot. We rented an AirBnB right in the middle of the town and ate lunch in various cafés to save cooking and cleaning and so on. Pau has beautiful views over the mountains, lovely parks and the Castle. There was plenty to occupy us.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Being burgled concentrates the mind

 In the majestic story of Albert and the Lion the magistrate hopes that Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom may go on to have further sons to their name which provokes a strong rejection of the idea of "raising children to feed ruddy lions".

The long and short of it is that I'm not going to replace my laptop. I don't think I need one enough to warrant the cost. I can do everything I really need to do with an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard.

The marriage at the town hall


The ceremony is quite simple and is conducted by one of the town council, sometimes by the mayor in person. 

There's a brief introduction where the identities of the couple and their witness are confirmed, along with their addresses. Then some of the acts of law that define marriage are read. Then comes the big moment:

Catrin Alys Davey, do you consent to take as spouse Froim Frieder Teschner ? Yes.

Froim Frieder Teschner , do you consent to take as spouse  Catrin Alys Davey? Yes.

I declare that you are husband and wife.


The Act of Marriage is signed, the Certificate of Marriage is given and then the couple are presented with their "Livret de Famille" and, typically, with the pen they used to sign the act of marriage.

Then it's outside for photos and back to Froim's flat for lunch.

Being burgled - aftermath

 The locksmith who replaced the cylinder in the lock said that what we needed was a barillet anti-arrachage - a reinforced cylinder. So I got to work with google maps and with my phone. One guy was not terribly helpful. The second person was much more ready to advise. She told me there were two locks she would recommend, the best was very expensive indeed, the second-best she should be able to get for that evening. If I would send her a picture of the old broken cylinder with accurate measurements, she would send me a quote for the new one.

I complied, but no return message came. Meanwhile I shopped around for the lock barrels she mentioned. The best one was available on Amazon for next day delivery from the manufacturer and for much less than I had been told. Eventually I ordered it. It came the next day and I fitted it.

Meanwhile something struck me. The new brown shoes I had bought for catrin's wedding were no longer where I left them. And where was my enormous rucksack I use for cabin bag travel? Yup. Stolen, too. Honestly! Who steals a chap's shoes?

Then came the job of filing the police complaint. You can begin the procedure online, then they send you an appointment to go in and sign it all. It was not difficult to do, and while we racked our brains for timings we realised that we'd actually been burgled during an absence of just over two hours. Our immediate neighbours suspect that it's someone in the apartment complex who saw us leave. Maybe.