Showing posts from January, 2022

A night at the opera

 A couple weeks ago we had tickets to go hear a choir sing the Bach B minor mass (it's OK, it's a Lutheran mass). I sang with the choir for a while and contemplated going back for the B minor but it's the weekends... Anyway we set off in good time for the tram journey to the theatre. It was TAMPING down (that is, it was raining very heavily indeed). We got to Porte de Bourgogne where you change trams to go to Mérignac and the theatre. "Trams interrupted till 8pm". We had no chance of getting there on time. We returned home, dampened in body and spirits. Last night the Bordeaux opera chorus were putting on a programme of Arvo Pärt. I'm very pärtial to Pärt, so I asked Pat if she'd like to go. She's never knowingly heard any Pärt so she said yes. It was in the Grand Théâtre. We could walk there, even through a blizzard, so I was confident that this time we'd be present. But just to make sure I thought we could go for a pre-concert drink in the Bar à

All the way up your hooter

 So the drill is that if you are a cas contact, you hie you away to the pharmacy to get yourself tested. If the test is positive, congratulations, you have covid and you must isolate yourself. If, on the other hand, the test is negative, then you must test yourself two days, and again four days later, with the home test kits which are now on sale in our supermarkets. Thus it was that yesterday found me wielding a rather long cotton bud. I put off doing the test as long as I felt I could, and set the appointed hour for 3pm. On opening the kit, obtained from a big pharmacy in the middle of the city about a week ago by Patricia, I traced the instructions, printed in  various segments and not in the correct order, but in several languages. To my great relief the cotton bud does NOT have to reach the innermost parts of your nasal sinuses, like what they do at the pharmacy. It is enough to insert it about 4cm up your nostrils, one after the other. I did it. I dripped two drops of the gloopy

It had to happen

 We've had a covid scare. It was overdue. After all, at least a quarter of our folk work with children. Small children. The type that pick their nose then pat you on the cheek to get your attention. Anyway. Word reached us yesterday that one of our number has covid.  I messaged the couple concerned. "We're about to get tested". The chap doesn't have it, but his wife does, with mild symptoms of a runny nose. Quick time of deliberation.  1) Inform all the folk who were at the Bible Study on Wednesday that they need to get tested. 2) Move our Bible Studies online until the all-clear is sounded. 3) Go get tested and see what we do from there. Messages were duly sent, repeated and reinforced. "you should get tested" turned into "you really need to" turned into "you must get tested". English is so subtle and flexible :-( Then I hied me off to the pharmacy, which was suspiciously empty. Like just three customers and two staff. I got to the c

Plumber extraordinaire

 I don't know what it is about plumbing. I'm not scared of electrics. You turn them off, do what you need and turn them on, and they very seldom do irreparable damage. But plumbing. It's a NIGHTMARE! Well a while ago we became aware of a tendency to drip from the out-pipes under the sink. I bought some PTFE tape with the intention of taking it all apart, cleaning all the joints and putting it all back together again with tape to help get a good seal. But it's plumbing. One false move and there's dirty water down four floors of apartments. Anyway one day the washing machine emptied all over the floor. I had to strike. We got a drain-cleaning-spring-thing (in French, a ferret (un furet) from a hardware store in the middle of town and I took everything apart before sending the ferret in all directions. There came out a plug of nasty goo. I was glad. There was doubt that I had found the offending blockage. Then to vaseline joints and reassemble. In the course of reassem

The new flat

 Did I say that we are buying a flat here for "retirement"? Well it's just up the road, near the tram stop. Just four storeys high, with lift and roof garden and stuff. Our bedroom windows will face south (good for getting the sun in to warm the place in the winter) and the living room window will face west (good for sunsets). We'll be about 50 yards from the tram stop and surrounded by houses and so on. Shops and things a little nearer than now.  Anyway... At the end of the month we're due to sign the contract to buy and to make our first and largest payment. So on Wednesday morning we spent a happy hour or so working out how to get the money transferred from a UK account into our French current account so that we could then transfer it to the Notaire's account when we sign the contract. It involved scanning various documents, taking photos of ourselves, phoning offices in the UK, filling in forms, scanning and emailing them. Frankly I was a little alarmed at


Some of our colleagues live in Paris where until recently Marks and Spencer had a number of food shops selling their prized delicacies. Indeed, last year we made a pre-Christmas trip to Paris to visit the food shops - as well as to see the sights of Paris, of course. For reasons that escape me just now, Marks and Spencer have since closed almost all these shops, keeping just a few at the major transport hubs. In addition, for some reason or other, the range of products available is greatly reduced. Our colleagues in Paris are sad, and we did not bother to take a trip to Paris this year. Anyway, I saw a discussion about oatcakes, and how to obtain them.  Now how hard can it be to make an oatcake? I sensed a challenge. Some internet searches and a lot of selection resulted in the following - our oatcake recipe. 200g oats, pinch salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter*, 100ml boiling water Mix till combined. Work into a reasonably cohesive ball of dough.  Either : Break off tablespoonfuls and f

Covid scares

 From time to time someone in the church becomes a "cas contact". This means that someone they have been in contact with has contracted covid or has tested positive for covid. Omircon being so contagious, this seems to happen every couple of weeks. In fact, if we counted our teachers, then they'd be "cas contact" all the time since there's always some child or other off school. Anyway, the drill is that if you are fully vaccinated (at present this means the two doses) and a cas contact you get yourself tested by test antigénique as soon as you can. If that test is positive then you are positive and you must isolate. If the test is negative then you must test again in 2 days' time... and so on. Our excellent pharmacy does testing without a need for an appointment, so for us it would be quite easy to get tested, but so far none of our "cas contacts" has transformed into a "cas". We're very happy about that because informing all the

Buying a flat.

 So we're buying a flat. We've put down a reservation deposit, but at the end of this month we'll start paying for it in earnest, step by step, as the property developer builds it. It's a small block of about 20 flats in four storeys, with the ground floor given over to parking. It's being built on the site of a rather dilapidated warehouse and an old house with a yard which used to house a termite company. It's right next to the tram line, about 50 yards from the stop, but facing the other way. We can expect to hear the bells. We'll be on the second floor. We'll have two bedrooms and a good sized living room. The bedroom windows will face south and the living room faces west, so we'll get the sun all day in the bedrooms and in the afternoon in the living room. We'll also have a balcony of a useful size, though not quite the enormous thing we have now. Sadly we'll lose our views of the gardens, but we'll see out over Bègles instead. We ha

Bordeaux à 30kph

 The city seems to have accepted the classy steel and glass conical sculpture commissioned from a local artist that was erected in place of a Christmas tree, judging by the crowds that always seemed to be present  after dark, taking photos and generally admiring it. Now the whole city has imposed a 30 kph limit, except for the major roads into the city and the inner ring road, which stay at 50kph. 50 kph is about 30 mph, and 30 kph is about 20 mph. They want to make the city safer. At 50 kph if you knock down a pedestrian the probability of killing them is at about 80%. At 30 kph this falls to about 10%. Surprising, no? They also want to make the city more welcoming for pedestrians. Crossing busy streets full of cars doing 50kph is one thing. Crossing busy streets where cars and bikes are doing roughly the same speed is quite another. In addition, of course, more of the city centre is being pedestrianised, too. They also want to encourage cycling. Bordeaux has already seen a huge incre