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, April 30, 2022

Tomorrow's an interesting one

 May 1 is the Fête du travail, the festival of work, which we celebrate by not doing a stroke.

This means no buses or trams. It's also the first Sunday of the month, so in theory cars are not allowed in the city centre.

As most of our folks come to church by bus or tram, and it's the last Sunday of the Easter hols anyway, and lots of us are away, then tomorrow will be a small, select band.

Hey, let's not forget the value of calm, quiet Sundays when we can relax and take things a bit easier.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Macron's vocabulary

 As some wag remarked, at least with Macron you learn some new words.

Last election we learnt poudre de perlimpinpin which means snake oil.

This time we learnt ripoliner, which means to paper over the cracks, and carabistouille, which means blatant, bare-faced lies.

crier haro sur le baudet

 someone used this expression recently and I just had to look it up. 

It seems to mean "looking for scapegoats".

Now to hear it and to use it.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Buying a flat - sequel

 Well I was right to be nervous. 

Our savings have shrunk over the last six months so that we no longer have all the money we need!

Good think I looked before calling the Notaire!

I'll speak to our adviser at the bank and then we'll decide what to do, but we may end up having to pull out of the purchase.

We need to :

1) check why - I suspect he will say covid and Ukraine

2) see if we can make up the shortfall and at what cost

3) ensure that they don't shrink any further! 

I think I may have missed a column.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


My home syringing proved ineffective, so I asked my GP (in France, généralissime) to look down my ears with his little intraauriculoscope. 

"Hmm, that's a job for the ORL", he said.

So it was that yesterday evening I found myself in the charming Augustin district of Bordeaux at the ORL's cabinet. It's a family business with mother and daughter being orthoptists (I looked it up but I'm still a bit foxed) and father being an ORL.

He was a charming man, addressing me as "Cher monsieur" and it didn't sound odd, contrived or even outdated. 

Just as well, really, as he proceeded to hoover out the inside of my lug holes before using alarmingly long probes to scrape out gobs of evil-looking goo.

"I won't get an infection?", I asked. 

I got one once after a doctor in Cardiff used their new electric syringe machine and put me in agony such that I cried into my pillow every night for days on end.

"No, we'll give you drops." 

I thought they would.

"The left one needs a bit more attention. Do this night and morning for ten days then come back and see me again."



 M. Macron won 58% of the vote.

This is a huge amount, especially for his second mandate. 

It has been equalled once, by Pompidou, and exceeded twice, firstly when Chirac beat Jean Marie le Pen with over 80% of the vote, and then for Macron's first mandate, which he won with over 60% of the vote.

French politics is regionally patchy, too. Bordeaux gave Macron 80% and Paris 85%.

There are background stories, though. 

The first is the fragmentation of French politics. People tend to found their own parties, so Macron's centrist party is called En Marche (E.M., get it?) Edouard Philippe, the hugely popular ex-Prime Minister, has founded his, called Horizons. 

This makes your election decision very different. No more can one say that the family has always voted conservative since the first d'Avey came over with the Conqueror. You got to decide who you want to be president.

The second is the collapse of the left and the rise of the far right. This west-wide phenomenon (Trump? other things?) has not spared France. If we are not to drift together into an alarming dystopia we need to get involved now.

Buying a flat

 I hate to admit it, but I am very nervous.

Shouldn't be. This is the sixth time I've bought a property. It's never been a total disaster, even if I do regret buying the house in Pessac. Each time I've / we've stretched ourselves. 

I suppose it's not the flat, really. It's the thought that this is the last house purchase, perhaps. This is the one we retire into.

It's probably retirement itself, too. 

Anyway, today's top priority is to ensure that we have all the money we need to buy the flat. Then to communicate same to the Notaire and arrange to sign the act de vente.

A visit to Norwich

 After Easter weekend, which was sunny and warm and filled with church folk in the park and on the quays and in worship and in song, we flew off to Norwich to see our son and daughter-in-law after over two years of covid separation.

It's easy to get to the airport here, though it takes about an hour. Bus 1 wound through the streets from one terminus to the other and we picked our way through the roadworks of the future tram stop to drop our bags at bag drop, then slip through security and off to our departure gate. The flight to Stansted was on time.

At Stansted we treated ourselves to meal deals before hunting down the railway station, unhelpfully indicated in all directions at once: inside, outside, frontside, backside - in the end we worked it out for ourselves and found a ramp going down. The train was waiting for us so we settled ourselves into our beautifully clean and comfortable seats. We would pass Cambridge, Ely and Thetford before arriving at Norwich. It would take about two hours.

I once escaped for a holiday where nobody knew where I was and spent some happy days at Cambridge. Pat and I stopped off once at Ely en route for a wedding at Norwich and we were captivated by the place. So I craned through the windows to catch a glimpse of the smart little housing estates, high tech profit stations and cycle paths of Cambridge and then to see Ely Cathedral's lantern standing tall over the river.

"Why do I remember Thetford?", I mused, aloud. A family opposite said, "Thomas Payne? American revolutionary?" I had heard of him but I didn't think it was that or remember that he was from Thetford.. Oh, I've got it. They make camping toilets. 

Soon we drew into Norwich and began our week of Great British Food, sightseeing and generally being spoiled. Pat's back problem flared up but only towards the end of the week and did not dampen our revels too much. I bought paracetamol and ibuprofen from Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Sainsbury, Superdrug and Morrisons before deciding that the rules were so stupid there must be another way. I asked the helpful lady in Boots and she offered me enough paracetamol and ibuprofen to kill an elephant or to last Pat for about a month. So we came back with some stocks in hand.

On the Monday Pat said she was fit to travel, so we caught the ten to seven train from Norwich to Stansted, dropped our bags at bag drop, slipped through security, bought and ate our meal deal, filled our water bottles and found the departure lounge. The flight was efficient and comfortable and bus 1 picks up close to the terminal. We let the first one go - no seats - but the second was waiting just a few minutes behind and so we sat in regal comfort all the way home.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

CNEF journée juridique

 French association law has changed in an attempt to track and trace radicalisation so the CNEF organised study days where people could come together with various experts to get advice o what we need to do. The Bordeaux day took place in the church in Eysines. It's one of the to-uter suburbs of Bordeaux but tram D goes from our flat to within a 15 minute walk of the church so I didn't bother reserving a car. Thankfully the weather was very pleasant and I listened to various podcasts on the way.

The day was made up of one plenary session where after the usual speeches of welcome and appreciation and how's your father the CNEF's legal expert explained the background ad the aims of the law. Then we had workshops.

Our first workshop was with the same lawyer, explaining the new procedures for declaring your association to the prefecture - a declaration that you will now have to do every five years including your accounts for the last three years. This is to stop money-laundering through religious fake shop-fronts as well as to monitor sponsoring of religious groups by potentially hostile states.

Then accounting. Well I don't understand the jargon in the first place so I was with the little group who at the end said "well that was all Chinese to me". But basically we have a list of three things to put in the accounts we declare to the prefecture - our balance sheet, our profit and loss sheet and the explanatory notes that go with it. At least I think that's what we mean by Blin, Compte des Résultats and Annexe.

The last workshop was with a charming lady, also a lawyer, who explained the ins and outs - mostly outs - of what you can and cannot do - mostly cannot - with a 1905 association like a church.

So we came away with a list of things to do and a warning not to do them yet - to wait perhaps until the autumn because just as we have to get ready to observe the law, so the prefectures also have to get ready to apply the law, and it's just as hard for them as it is for us. 

Maybe harder. 

So patience.

Meanwhile we had fun at lunchtime eating our picnics together with new friends from Sarlat, from Bergerac and from Biscarosse.

More excitement !

 How much can one take ?

Some months ago one of the choirs I sang with briefly was putting on the Bach B Minor for their fiftieth anniversary. They're a very good choir so I was excited to go and hear them - how often do you hear a live B-minor? - so I happily forked out the price for two seats.

The a storm hit and the trams were disrupted and our journey to the theatre (!) where they were singing was made impossible. 

Well they decided to do "excerpts" - essentially almost all the choruses - from the B-minor in one of the city-centre freezers churches on a "give generously" basis in aid of the local fund to support Ukraine. We gladly went along.

The pianist put out a request for a page-turner but found someone before he got my message offering to help. I was very glad because the pianist was centre-stage with the page turner facing the audience.  

Well, the choir sang very well. The conductor is very animated and pretty well dances as he conducts. The tempos for the more lively movements were very fast. Personally I prefer clarity to velocity, and churches are resonant, so it didn't scratch me where I itch but it certainly had fireworks. 

Without the arias and duets the B-minor does become a bit of a fugue-fest, but they never got lost, the entries were nice and deliberate and the ripieno chorale melodies - the slow chorale melodies that are sung through (or above, or below) the running passages - came across well.

For me the highlight was the Sanctus. It's one of my favourite movements anyway, but this Sanctus was splendid - perhaps the best I've heard sung. It was like a mountain in a blizzard, or a cathedral in a hailstorm. The swirling triplet passages churned relentlessly, while the ostinato octave scale passages anchored you down in the ebb and flow. Magical. 

Excitement !

 Bordeaux has a new Aldi store, right in the middle of town. It's where a huge shoe shop used to be and it's a two-storey store with all the usual things Aldi sells but with more of it, more space and better laid out. It may conceivably wean me away from Lidl, except that from our flat we can walk to Lidl in about 20 minutes, but Aldi is a 45 minute walk away.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Late frosts

While British friends have been playing in the snow, our gallant wine growers have been fighting the frosts. Last night it got to -6°C here in the Gironde, and the problem is that this comes after a week of warm sunshine, so the vines have started budding.

A sharp frost can kill the buds, and that means less shoots from the vine, which means fewer harvests of grapes and less wine. 

So the winegrowers use various techniques to try to combat the frosts.

Candles - a bit like garden flares but on a bigger scale, some pepper their vineyards with these braziers to raise the overnight temperature just that little bit.

Windmills - some vineyards have windmills installed that are powered at night to keep the air moving and stop the frost settling on the vines.

Helicopters - I've never seen or heard this, but some areas hire helicopters to fly over the vineyards and churn up the air so the frost doesn't settle.

I'm to sure how long this cold snap is due to last, but for the winegrowers it can't end soon enough.

We're free !

 On Sunday I was due to preach on Luke 4:1-13, the temptation. I thought I'd have enough breath control to cope without too much coughing, though I knew that singing would not yet be possible. Mrs Davey, on the other hand, was not due to be released until Monday, one week after she tested positive for covid.

We've effectively lived apart. I've lived in the office and the spare bedroom. There's a small showroom and a toilet. All this on one side of the living room.

On the other side of the living room is our bedroom and an attached bathroom. That's where Pat lived.

The living room was our dirty zone. In there we would wear masks and be careful to wash our hands on entering and leaving. Whenever possible we would leave a window open. There I would prepare lunch and we would yell thanks at each other across the room before going to our own ends to eat.

It all sounds very tedious, and it was. But others have done similar things or worse. A doctor friend in the UK hired a caravan and put it on his driveway so he could isolate in that. The Welsh Prime Minister moved into his garden shed.

Meanwhile Catrin and Froim were both struggling too. I was able to deliver paracetamol and self-tests to them. You can order food deliveries.

So Sunday morning I got out the test and carefully probed, dunked and dripped. Look after 15 minutes and before 20, said the instructions. I looked. Negative ! I could preach.

I'd made a quatre-quarts with chocolate chips - this is a kind of buttery madeira style cake that's very popular in France. It's a sandwich mix - the weight of the eggs in sugar, butter and flour, that you prepare by the creaming method, but then you bake it in a loaf tin for up to an hour. It makes a big cake, so I wanted to take it to church to share.

Encouraged by my test, Pat decided to try. She too was negative! 

We both cough. Lots. I am still very restless at night. Pat is incredibly tired.

But we're free !