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)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Getting the swanky coffee machine

 For the new ‘welcome centre’, a UK charity offered to buy us our coffee machine. We had had long discussions about possible coffee machines and had come to the conclusion that one of the one touch automatic bean-to-cup models was what we needed. So armed with this information I did some research with a local-is supplier, based about an hour away towards the sea at La Teste de Buch. 

We went out there, hoping to see something in action, but though they have a very impressive showroom devoted to every gadget you can imagine for the production of coffee, and though they have a cafe with fine cakes, biscuits and cereal bars, and delectable coffees on offer, all we could really do was order the machine. It will be ready by Thursday, we were told.

It arrived on Thursday and I booked a car to go and get it - the only available time was the following Tuesday.

Then the forest around L aTeste caught fire. The shop was advised to close on that Tuesday. We waited. The fire was slowly mastered. This Tuesday the shop reopened, so I booked a car yesterday to go and get it.

It came with several kilograms of coffee beans, a few kilos of sugar in sachets, 200 paper cups, a little booklet - it was quite a pile of stuff to carry, so I took my courage in both hands and decided to drive to the church with my load.

The problem is that the summer is roadworks time in Bordeaux, and the GPS apps don’t always know what’s going on, so driving through the city can be challenging. Despite the best route being closed I found my way to the church and parked slightly illegally outside the welcome centre, just enough time to unload the coffee machine and all its vast array.

Then to get the car back to where I got it from. That WAS a challenge as the road it’s parked on is one-way, and can only be reached from a square that is being dug up. Some lateral thinking, some local knowledge, google maps and a lot of going backwards round corners (watch out for the bikes!) and I parked, feeling quite proud of myself.

The machine is fine. It’s no substitute for a skilled barista, but it makes quite a nice cappuccino, an acceptable americano and a reasonable espresso. Today I’ll try the other options, including latte macchiato and ’coffee’. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The heatwave has broken, but

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far for us, with temperatures of 42°C. Our bananas slow-cooked on their hook.

In addition our tram lines, C and D, are closed down for repairs. The company is providing a bus de substitution. There is no more terrifying term in the Bordeaux glossary.

However I had an errand at the bank to run, so I took my courage in both hands and went to court disaster on the bus de sub.

And disaster it proved to be. The bus arrived, stuffed with people and I found a small spot to insinuate myself into. A sturdy lady next to me was burdened like pilgrim. After a while I dared to say to her, Madame, si vous baissez le sac-a-dos ça va libérer de la place. Thankfully she agreed and laid her burden at her feet.

We lurched slowly along through the morning traffic like terracotta skittles ranked in the kiln to fire. At each stop more people insisted their way into the bus until we got about two-thirds of the way to the bank, where the poor doors of the bus, after much fighting with the big and bold of Bordeaux to shut, finally threw in the towel. The bus doors refused to even attempt to close and so the bus refused to move.

After a couple of minutes' wait I decided to descend from the bus and hoof it to the bank, carefully choosing my route through the shadiest streets. I fulfilled my errand and planned a different way home, but ended up taking a much emptier and swifter bus de sub. It's helpful to know where the stops are.

Some friends from the church had told us of this new restaurant. Their report of it was glowing - it's a gastronomic restaurant (this means clever food), and the lunch menu is just about affordable (many restaurants in Bordeaux are way out of our league), "and it's air-conditioned!" they said.

Well that was enough for me. I reflected and decided to book for lunch there on the hottest day of the year so far. The service was classic and excellent, the food was beautiful, delectable and surprising, the price was really reasonable considering what you were getting, but their internet wasn't working (the heat?) so I had to scuttle out and find a bank machine while "leaving Pat hostage" (my little joke). The poor things were going to have a difficult day; we have all been trained now to pay for everything by card.

Pat then had a dentist's appointment at the air-conditioned surgery at 3, and so we got through the day. Our top tip is to do some washing and hang it in the living room to dry.

At 1:30 am I was woken by the beeping of the fan. We have a fan in our bedroom which is specially quiet so you can sleep, and also came with a remote control. This latter is a bad thing, because it means that at night from your bed you can fiddle with the settings to try and get it at just the right speed, every minuscule adjustment accompanied by a loud beep, so you can't sleep after all. Anyway, this is how we discovered that the wind had changed because our apartment was now full of the smell of wood fires. I popped outside on to the balcony to be sure all was well, but yes, this is the woodsmoke from the forest fires to the south and west of us.

Today will be much cooler, but smokier. We're no longer sardines but kippers. We're longing for rain, for a good old thunderstorm.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Fire !

 The heatwave that will hit Britain over next week has been here for a few days now, and two forest fires are raging about 30 miles from our home.

One is at a place called Landiras, pretty well due south of Bordeaux. We can see the smoke of this fire from our balcony, like distant clouds.

The other is right behind the Dune de Pylat, pretty well due west of us and we saw that smoke, too. 

The firemen have been working night and day using bulldozers to create firebreaks and Canadairs to dump tons of water on the fires. What we really need is a heavy storm to drench everything for a couple of hours, but we aren't due to get one of those till Monday or Tuesday.

On Tuesday I have to go to the town next to that forest fire to collect our swanky coffee machine for Espace Gallien. 

Meanwhile we are living behind closed shutters, creatures of shades and shadows, hiding from the sun.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Post covid

 I’m pretty well back to whatever usually counts as ‘normal’. I have a sticky cough but I no longer absolutely need to nap during the day, I have resumed my forced marches to local supermarkets and I think I’ll try running next week, though early in the morning to avoid the sun.

Pat is also fully recovered and no longer needs to nap. At least not every day.

The city is now in summertime. This means fewer trams with more people in them. Since covid is once more on the rise we wear masks in the trams and try to avoid the busiest ones… Except we have no idea when the busiest times are! 

Summertime means parks, and the Jardins de l’Ars are resplendent with their trees and shrubs, picnic tables, sun-loungers and little platforms for performance poets. The trees are not yet tall enough to provide much shade, so the picnic tables are not as busy as they will be, but it’s great to wander through the paths and that’s where I will run next week, if I can rouse my inner pig-dog.

The summer also means travel. In August we are due to visit the UK, but to help at a conference, so there won’t be a road-trip or even a rail-trip. Meanwhile we have considered making a swift visit to Italy or to Spain, but we’re already awaiting two refunds from cancelled flights, and at present it seems unwise to make unnecessary journeys. We could get to Spain by train and we may well do this once we find a free slot of time.

We are aching to see our families and so we plan to make some visits in the autumn, perhaps separately to reduce costs. We’ll see. We’ve become like old-fashioned missionaries who saw their families only once every five years!

Meanwhile work on our retirement flat continues. We’ve paid half the cost now. We’re on the verge of taking out a small bank loan which will allow us to fit the kitchen nicely rather than with IKEA Kallax shelves, and also to put in an air-conditioning unit in the main room. We are assured by a friend who specialised in this that if we put in a unit in the living room it will keep the whole apartment cool in summer and also help with heating in winter if necessary. He would have put the unit in for us, but he’s retired some years ago. He might be able to direct us to someone reliable.

The builder has got to our (second) floor and is on the verge of starting the floor above. We can see where our bedrooms will look out and where our balcony will be. It all looks quite satisfactory. We’ll lose our view of hills and trees but gain in practicality.  After the third floor there’s ‘just’ the roof garden to complete, so it seems quite reasonable to believe that we’ll be moving around Easter.

Bordeaux Church goes quiet in the summer with so many of our folk away, but the project of a café / church centre continues and is almost at the point where we can open.

We have a bench, ten chairs and a big corner sofa. We have a square table OK for four people (we need another) and a larger extending table. We have an assortment of wine crates which will form shelving units, a counter, a coffee table, etc. We will soon have a wonderful coffee machine, paid for by a UK charity who contacted us at just the right time. 

Meanwhile one of the brethren is a handyman and he reckons he could put in a toilet for us. This would be WONDERFUL. We’ll do a low key opening perhaps on Friday of next week, or perhaps the week after, and get ready for the grand inauguration in September.