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)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Fig chutney

 Chutney is not commonly available in France. You can occasionally find something in the foreign foods parts of the supermarket and sometimes Branston pickle pops up on the shelves.

Earlier in the year I passed through Paris, so I hunted down one of the sad little Marks and Spencer Food Stores - sad because many of their fresh staples are no longer available because of brexit and supply issues - but while there I bought some crumpets, some tea-cakes and some chutney. Subsequent examination of the label of the chutney revealed that it’s main ingredient is sugar. I was somewhat disappointed.

Thankfully chutney is not difficult to make, so I have found a couple of recipes that I like - one for an easy tangy Apple chutney. Cooking apples are almost unknown here, so I use Granny Smiths. Also cherry tomatoes were cheap at Lidl, so I made some very gloopy tomato chutney.

Saturday’s wedding was at the Mairie at Messac in the Charente-Maritime. We trundled down the lovely narrow roads to find the village where nobody lives - everyone lives in farms and little houses dotted around - and parked alongside the church. Then we saw that everyone else was parked on the opposite side of the church where the mairie was situated. The Mairie is one medium sized room and one small room with a gravel driveway outside and a big fig tree, laden with figs.

Mrs Davey and I are both very fond of figs, so we began hunting down the riper fruit. « Oh, you want figs? » said one lady, and went to get a carrier bag from her car. So we came home with a couple of pounds of figs.

An internet search found recipes for fig chutney. One recipe was unspiced but rather salty. The other has much less salt but adds some spices. Neither has much sugar.

So with our apple, tomato and fig chutney, we’re probably set up for a couple of months.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The apartment

 Just about 450 metres from our flat is the tram stop Carle Vernet. 100 metres beyond that is an old warehouse that used to be the premises of "Bordeaux Termites". The business has moved to the inner ring road. Alongside it and occupying a corner is a run-down échoppe - the small single-storey railworkers' houses that have become so popular.

On both of these buildings is attached a notice of planning permission. They will soon be replaced by a building housing 25 apartments, with a garage on the ground floor, three storeys of apartments and a roof garden.

On the second floor of this building, with two bedrooms with windows facing south and a living room with its balcony facing the setting sun, is to be found our future home. We signed for it today.



 So tomorrow is the civil wedding of two of our church members. I am the groom's witness, so we'll scuttle off to the Charente, the neighbouring department to the north of us, about an hour's drive to the village of Messac, rendez-vous at the town hall at 4.

Next week is the wedding ceremony for Catrin, our daughter. It's going to be EXHAUSTING! 

It starts with a "hendo" - in French "the burial of the life of the young girl". This means Catrin and her girlie friends rampaging around and having girly fun. All day.

Thursday is the barbers. I am relying on Clement to produce the best possible version of myself.

Friday is when my involvement starts. I have some folk to collect from the airport and then a team goes to decorate the room.

Saturday is THE BIG DAY. I have to walk about 10 yards while looking as elegant as I can without upstaging my daughter. My son-in-law, of course, is fair game.

Sunday is THE BIG SLEEP. Rory is preaching. Thanks, Rory!

Flu jab

 The letter came last week and told me to go and get myself vaccinated against the 'flu from 26th October.

I made a mental note. Yesterday evening I recalled my mental note and decided to call the pharmacy to arrange a vaccination. So this morning at about 9am I took action on my decision.

"Hallo. It's for the anti-'flu vaccinations. It starts next week. Do I need to make an appointment?"

"We've started today. They've brought the date forward and you can just come in with your letter."

So in went I went and in went the needle. No blood, so no sticking plaster. 

Off I went again.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Schèmes; schemes and more schemes

 The area where we live is being radically redeveloped, completely remodeled, with new roads, new gardens and parks; new shopping centres and lots of new apartment blocks. So we have continued looking to see if we can find a suitable apartment for our retirement.

We looked at a complex of buildings being built by a company that is a household name. The salesperson attends a church in the city and knows several of my friends and colleagues. But we don’t like the design of the apartments or of the tower blocks.

We looked at some apartment stuff being built by the wiggly bridge (le pont en u) near the railway station. The apartments are nice but it’s perhaps a little too close to the station and the wiggly bridge will intrude on the privacy of the apartments.

We looked at another block of flats on the corner of the gardens, pretty well opposite where we live now, but again it’s a tower block.

And we also looked at another smaller block of 24 flats just beyond our nearest tram stop. Two flats are available at prix maitrisé. We looked at the plans. One seems more suitable than the other.

So it was time to call the bank to see what money could be available when. We need to talk to the property developer, check what guarantees they have to ensure the building will be completed well and their timetable for construction and for payment. Lots of talking ahead.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Chez le médecin

 So a visit to the doctor was due. For some years I have frequented a doctor in Villenave, the town where we first rented a little house in France. She’s great. She’s also 30 minutes tram ride and 20 minutes walk away. Meanwhile two new young doctors have opened their offices 10 minutes walk from our flat. The one doctor is an hairy doctor, bearded and with a man bun. The other doctor is a smooth doctor, shaven headed. I went to see the hairy doctor with a little list of issues. Among them :

Is my left ear blocked? I have the stuff from the pharmacist but I cannot manage to look down my own ear, no matter how I try. I’d very much like it if you could peer down my ear and relate what you perceive. He looked. It is.

So am I doing the best thing? I have xylene drops and a rubber ear squirting bulb. What about using hydrogen peroxide (eau oxygénée) or bicarbonate of soda ? 

He shuddered at the idea. No, xylene is the good stuff. Carry on.

Another question concerned mosquito bites. Lately I’m a martyr to them, I really am. In the good old days you’d get an itchy little lump that you must not scratch. Now you get a massive inflammation that seems to last for weeks and penetrates into your joints (they especially go for your ankles, wrists and elbows)

It’s these new tiger mosquitos. Not only are they more agressive. Not only do they hunt all day instead of just at sunrise and twilight. They also have a more allergenic saliva, so they provoke a more extreme reaction in people that are sensitive to them.

So am I using the right stuff? I showed him the tube of hydrocortisone cream spiked with painkillers that the pharmacist gave me. I put this on and it’s healed in perhaps three days. 

This stronger steroid cream is the stuff to use. Put this on and it will be healed right away.

That’s a promise? A promise is for those who hear it, he said. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

We went, we saw, we considered

 Well we went along to the office of the property developer that is building the new flats. Two charming women wrestled powerfully with technology before giving up on large-screen projection and augmented reality headsets and showing us the models of the flats on a laptop. It all sounded quite promising. They explained the eligibility criteria for the prix maitrisé - to have not been property owners within two years of the purchase, and to have an income below a certain threshold - we met the criteria. They explained the timetable for payment for the flats. (In France you pay in stages as the place is built. This can be crippling if you are repaying a growing loan as well as your rent, especially when construction is delayed.) 

Then we came away and discussed it all in the tram, over lunch and while walking round the building site where the flats will be in a few short years' time. We came to the conclusion that this isn't the moment for us.

1) Our savings are in schemes that mature in 2026, just a little late for this project.

2) We would be committing ourselves once again to living in an apartment in the middle of a building site as the gardens are laid below and the adjoining roads and buildings are put in place.

3) We discussed, too, whether sinking everything into a flat is the right approach, or whether it is better to rent and to keep our flexibility. The big consideration is the prospect of passing on money to our kids, rather than blowing it all on our characteristic playboy lifestyle.