Showing posts from 2023


French politics is quite confusing for British people. Brits are used to static parties that don't change their names and which occupy a certain space in political thought - be it left, centre or right. Those positions drift, and there are spectra within the parties, so you can talk of the Tory left, the right wing of the Labour Party, etc... But it's always Labour, Conservative and whatever the other one is called. In France it's different. For a start there's more parties. Also they change their name  so it's hard to keep track of them. At the moment Emmanuel Macron's "En Marche" (EM, get it?) is the centre-right party and he has a minority government just now, sometimes backed by the centre-right party, currently called "Les Republicains". The centre-left is still represented, I think, by the Parti Socialiste. France also has a Parti Communiste. Then there's the far-right party currently called "Le Rassemblement National", he

Rain, and lots of it


Unusual Birthday celebrations

The tram system in Bordeaux is 20 years old this weekend! Hurrah for the trams! To mark the occasion two trams collided one the C/D line right in the middle of Bordeaux at 8pm on Saturday evening. A points failure is suspected. The weather was mild, no icing up is possible.  Anyway, whatever the cause, the first effect was the collision of the two trams, resurgent in one being squarely derailed. Nobody was hurt in the accident. The trams we moving at low speed. This meant that on Sunday afternoon, when we hied us from our cosy nest to go wassailing with the singers, there were no trams. We contemplated waiting for a bus de substitution, but there were no signs of life whatever at the stop. So began a somewhat crazy and frustrating journey to church, which involved much waiting at stops and perhaps too much crowding into Bus 9, which does the circle fo the boulevards - this Sunday very slowly indeed... We joined the merry band of wassailers about an hour late. Happy Birthday Trams !

Mincemeat making

Mary Berry's recipe, slightly amended because of the difficulty of obtaining candied peel. Yes, I know you can candy your own peel, but life is too short for such shenanigans. 

Chutney making

I doubled the quantity, but it takes a shocking amount of grating to fill two tablespoons with orange and with lemon zest! And why add 1/4 teaspoon of chopped garlic? Doesn't the author of the recipe like garlic? Anyway, here's the recipe I followed - same as most years : 3 large tart apples. diced 1/4 inch 8 cups. 
( I used Granny Smith) 1 cup cider vinegar 
 3/4 cup finely sliced dates. 
3/4 cup brown sugar. 
 1/2 cup dried apricots finely sliced. 
 1/4 cup orange juice. 
 1/4 cup raisins 
 1 table spoon each of: 
orange zest, 
 lemon zest, 
 grated ginger, 
dried onion flakes and 
 mustard seed. 
 2 1/2 tea spoons salt 
 1/4 tea spoon chopped garlic. In non reactive sauce pan bring to simmer all ingredients over low heat. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until thickened. Stir as needed to prevent burning.  We shall have chutney with our cheese this Christmas !

What we brought back from Strasbourg

 Covid. Mrs D. I was jabbed couple weeks ago.

Escapade to the east

We had s credit note with a budget airline company that flies to small and mid-size cities in Europe. I wondered how we could use it, where we could go and when. The answer was a brief escapade to Strasbourg. Our flight was at 8:40 on Sunday morning. It takes an hour to get to the airport by tram. The 30" shuttle doesn't start running till 7:30, so we got up at 5am and scuttled out. We arrived at the airport at about 6:30. The airport was pretty well deserted. We got through security in seconds. Thankfully the cafe was open, so we bought some drinks and sat in fine but grubby armchairs looking out on the silent runway. Boarding was simple. The flight was almost full. The flight was comfortable and we landed just after 10. Near the central railway station in Strasbourg is a café run by a church. The café looks quite anonymous and there were no signs that a church was meeting. We arrived perhaps 20 minutes late for the service but we had been told not to worry, so we went in and

The amazing electricity company

 Sometimes tradesmen come into the café. We seldom entrust ourselves to them. For example one charming man from a nation wide fire extinguisher company came, introduced himself and asked if we minded if he inspected our fire extinguishers so he could sell us better ones. We told him that we did mind and advised him to sling his hook. There have been several of these unsolicited encounters, and I have a principle of never signing up for something without at least a minimum of research. Thus it was that when two charming people came in to tell us of a wonderful system whereby we could render patriotic service to France, save ourselves some money and automate our heating system (two electric radiators), our response was somewhat noncommittal. In short, we did not commit ourselves. We did, however, report to the committee of the café what the charming people had said. "Run away", was the initial response. I often feel that our initial, visceral response can be ill-founded and ill

Another anniversary

Happy Birthday Mrs Davey ! Heading out for a slap-up pizza at the café.

The fifth anniversary of the gilets jaunes

Can it be Five Years Already? Has time passed So Quickly? So today was the fifth anniversary of the start of the Gilets Jaunes protests, which started off as an online petition against rising fuel costs, but became a more diffuse, and more violent protest against poverty, precarity, capitalism, the lot. Essentially anti-Macron. So yesterday a couple of hundred people marched from the Place de la Bourse up to the cathedral square to commemorate the protests. There was no violence as far as I know.

France, where you get to keep your the ultra-sound examination of your healthy heart

Yesterday was the généraliste. Today was the cardiologue. "Your heart-rate is a little fast. Are you anxious about anything?" "Um, I'm at the cardiologist's surgery..." Some scans later... "Your heart's fine". We discussed dictation into the iPad.  "It's excellent. I do it with my phone, too. Arrange a stress-test for next year." Thank you doctor.

France - where the doctor tells you off for NOT going to see him with a cold

'I'd like to think about the management of my asthma.' My excellent doctor had stopped all my treatment because my asthma only flares up occasionally. It's synchronised with my hypochondria. "Why? What's happened?" "Well a couple of weeks ago I caught a heavy cold and since then my breathing is troubled at night." "Why didn't you come to see me?" "Because I had a streaming cold" "Oh, so you only go to the doctor when you're well now!" (Actually, this is not far from the truth.) "No, but viruses are contagious." "Really?" waving a face mask. "Anyway, what could you have done? You just have to keep warm, rest and drink lots." "Are you sure it was a cold? It wasn't the 'flu? Did you have a fever? Aches? headaches?" Anyway, long story short, we did address the asthma question, I came away with a prescription for two weeks worth of paracetamol for the aches I don'

Pages turning with sadness and hope

Attentive readers of these pages may be aware of my Welsh origins. I see this as a special gift from God to me, it doesn't make me better of worse than anyone of any other origin, but it does make me different, and the history, culture, language and people of the little nation from which I come has shaped my personality and my way of looking at the world, for the better and for the worse. Over these past few weeks I have been watching some videos produced by a friend in North Wales.  The first is a history of revivals in Wales, telling the story of the arrival of the gospel in the area and of the ministry and influence of the Celtic saints that gave the land so many of its place names, but focussing especially on the great numbers who were won to the Christian faith in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and the transformation of so many communities that followed. The second was a series of two programmes from Welsh TV, "Dechrau canu, dechrau canmol", the equivalent of &qu

The morning after

Well we had 150kph winds in Bordeaux (90mph) and the shutter on the sliding door onto the balcony took the brunt, but this morning it seemed undamaged and rose unhindered. There's no damage in our immediate surroundings, though some trees have been uprooted in the city, huge wheelie bins have wheeled their winding way, and the tramlines need to be cleared of stuff before the trams can begin running properly again. We slept pretty well, thankfully, our bedroom is on the sheltered side of the building and at the opposite end of the flat from the balcony.

The end of the calm

 is scheduled for this evening. Storm Domingos is due to hit us, and to hit us hard. We have an orange warning for high winds, heavy rain and risk of flooding. The trams will stop running from 6pm and the buses from 7pm. The advice is to secure everything to the best of your ability and take shelter. In 2009 we were hit by a very strong storm which cause a huge amount of damage all across the South-West of France and elsewhere. This warning is not as severe. More news soon.

Enforced calm!

 Well on Sunday I preached with a sore throat on the beginning of Ephesians - just verses 1 & 2. The way we do things - with a live interpreter - means that you speak in short bursts, so it's quite easy when your throat is not at its best. The following day we were to leave for Germany for the International Pastors' Retreat. Patricia looked at me the way nurses sometimes do. "We'll see how I am in the morning." quoth I. Well our flight didn't leave till 4 in the afternoon, but it was clear that I wasn't going to be on it. My nose was streaming and all I wanted to do was sleep. We informed the airline (Volotea, a Spanish low cost that flies directly to Stuttgart). We informed the conference organisers. (I was due to organise two sessions on speaking about sex in the church). We informed our fellow travellers. And I went back to bed, where I stayed for pretty much all of Monday and much of Tuesday. Yesterday I stayed out of bed almost all day! Today I ho

A moment of calm

Bordeaux is well into its rainy season, and it's also been rather cold, with afternoon temperatures in the high teens, and low teens overnight. This sends us to the drawers where we keep our winter woolies. Well, not woolies, perhaps, but our sweatshirts and such. Incidentally, it's very puzzling to me to see guys roaming the streets in hoodies and shorts. Don't legs get cold? Anyway, we continue to enjoy our new life in our forever flat. Recently we took a long hard look at our lampshades. When we moved we just brought with us what we had and put it more or less where we had them before. However there were some problems. The big white paper balls we had in the hallway don't work. Well, one's OK, but the other gets knocked down every time the apartment door opens. The big fluffy cloud thing in the spare room gets fouled every time we open the window wide. This we've decided to live with for the moment, since the winter is coming and we're not likely to open

Well what do you know! We have our own storm!

 So the Rugby Fanzone is closed and all the parks in Bordeaux are closed because of storm Aline, which has brought high winds and heavy rains. Down on the Bassin d'Arcachon, the lagoon at the seaside, tens of boats have been beached by the wind and the strong waves. Our hatches have been securely battened down, and we're looking forward to calmer weather very soon. In other news, every morning since Wednesday, Merignac airport has been subject to bomb scares. Evacuated each time, the authorities have reminded everyone that making hoax calls can land you in jail.

Rethinking social media

Various well-known people are changing their way of using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram et al. The problem is that anyone public becomes a target for people who need to express themselves forcefully. Fine, but it becomes tiring to be shouted at by lots of people you have never met. I'm not in that category, but I am looking forward to changing my use of social media. Facebook - at present I wish people happy birthday, and Bordeaux Church uses it for announcements via a public page and also a private group. I occasionally put photos of Bordeaux on Facebook. I intend to delete my account at the end of 2025. Twitter - I only follow people I want to follow, and I only look at the "Following" tab. I don't see the vitriol others see, I guess because of how I use it. Instagram - the café uses it. It's taking over from Facebook for younger people. WhatsApp - groups I belong to like the Mission, the International Churches and the CNEF use WhatsApp. The café uses WhatsApp. I

Autumn arrived with a bang

 the tail end of storm Babet hit Bordeaux on Tuesday evening, with torrential rain and high winds. This means for us rearranging the things on the balcony to try and prevent the wind from lifting them, and closing all the shutters fully.  On Wednesday, on the way to the café, I was quickly drenched as I waded down the street. No floods, as such, but the drains were overloaded. Thankfully it didn't last long. Thursday was quite calm, but today the parks in Bordeaux are closed and they have closed the Rugby Zone because of the rain and high winds we are expecting.

Taking surplus pieces of kitchen back to Ikea

 There were some boards left over after the installation of the kitchen, and if you take the surplus back to Ikea they'll reimburse you the cost of those parts. Some weeks ago I used the trolley of Pat's shopping bag to take some pieces back. It was heavy. Today I took back a length of plinth of about 2.5 metres. It wasn't heavy but I had a lot of fun getting it on and off the tram without poking people inappropriately. Got it there and got the refund.

Autumn has hit

Chilly, foggy mornings. Then 30°C in the afternoon.

The odd expressions

A chap on the tram was explaining loudly, on his mobile phone, that he would be late because the tram was stopping at Terres Neuves instead of taking him further. "Et après ? Il faut que je marche à pied !" (And afterwards? I'll have to walk on foot!) In French we hardly ever walk without explaining how we propose to walk, even though it is invariably on foot.   It set me thinking about the other silly expressions that we use. "Would the congregation please be upstanding". (well, would it???) but never "would the congregation please be downsitting"... We do something similar in Welsh.  Wnewch chi sefyll ar eich traed . Will you stand on your feet. As if in some circumstances we might say, Will you stand on your heads...

Final account

 We just received the final account letter from our last apartment - and they're REFUNDING OUR DEPOSIT. 

All day, every day

I remember the good old days. How innocent we were! So blissfully unaware of the horror that awaited us. Now those horrors lie hard upon us. I am speaking of mosquitos, dear reader. Not so long ago, well within living memory and even within my power of recollect, you needed to be careful at sun-up and sun-down. A minty lotion would keep the vampires at bay. Once the sun shone, they would go and hide in moist bushes and shrubs, awaiting their chance to come and pierce you that evening. Not now! Those tiger mosquitos fear nothing! At noon in the tram under the blast of the air-conditioning they dive at you like tiny stukas. In the hot afternoon sun they're at you, sneaking in for a chance at your elbows or your ankles. All day, every day, we're victim to their malevolent attentions. Hate 'em.

Escapade in Marseille

After our unusual summer we sneaked off for a few days rest and recreation in Marseille. We flew Ryanair. The tickets cost peanuts, and since we were going for only four nights, we took small rucksacks that we could stuff under the seats in front. Ryanair thought it entirely reasonable to try to extract more money from us by sending us encouraging emails.  "You want to choose where you sit, don't you."   We found no such desire in our hearts. "You want to sit together, don't you." We did, but not to pay more for it. "With random seating you could end up sitting apart." Yeah, right. So it was that on the way out Patricia was sat in seat 3A with no-one beside her, while I was in seat 10F, again with no-one beside me. Really!?!? Coming back it was similar, except now Patricia was right at the front and I was right at the back. We couldn't even SEE each other if we tried.  We are undaunted. So are Ryanair. After alighting from the plane we found ou

Their Majesties' visit

 Charles and Camilla spent two good days in Paris, where speeches (made partly in French), walkabouts and a table tennis game left a very good impression. Today they arrive in Bordeaux. They'll fly into Mérignac, be whisked to the Town Hall, then have a walkabout down to the quays to inspect the Iron Duke, berthed there since Wednesday, then attend a concert at the Place de la Bourse. Traffic is diverted and trams will be interrupted between 1 and 3:30. Pat and I are on duty at the café, where we'll be warm and sheltered from the constant, interminable, incessant, driving, torrential rain that we saw all day yesterday and that is forecast all day today. It was suggested that we close to go and wave flags, but we rejected the offer of standing for hours in the eye of the storm for the uncertain prospect of catching a glimpse of Camilla's hat.

Our new flat, and a new laptop

We're well and truly installed. It is, of course, considerably smaller than our old place, but it's working pretty well.  It's a temptation to laziness, the tram stop is literally 50 yards away. Why walk anywhere? The roof garden seems to be doing well, and I'm hatching plots to grow some things up there. After all, it even has a watering system installed. Perhaps courgettes. Melons. Peppers. Why not? It'll get plenty of sun! The passing trams don't annoy us at all, and the windows are pretty good at deadening the sound anyway. The kitchen is bliss. Probably the best kitchen we have ever had. It is rather warm. But then we are passing through successive heatwaves. Anyway, we may crack and get an air-conditioning unit. In short, all so far is good. And in a surprise move, I replaced my laptop. My old one was stolen just before Catrin's wedding and I didn't bother to replace it. Now when we have visitors my study computer is inaccessible, so I was very ple

The Welsh supporters in Bordeaux

Bordeaux has good memories of the visit of the Irish and the Welsh supporters for the football tournament some years ago. Noisy, funny, but compliant and generally cleaning up after themselves, the city enjoyed hosting them. This year for the rugby the Welsh supporters were present in number once more. Again, the city was impressed by the fact that the Welsh sing. A group had decided to cycle from Paris to Bordeaux, arriving at Place de la Bourse in time for the match, and this they did. They were greeted by a massive crowd who proceeded to sing from memory and in harmony the National Anthem, I bob un sydd ffydlon (and old temperance hymn), Calon lân (a clean heart, one of Wales' best loved hymns), Cwm Rhondda (this one in English), Yma o hyd (become a Welsh national resistance song) and Max Boyce's ever-popular rugby anthem "Hymns and Arias".  I was impressed, and I grew up with it. The match began at 9pm when it was 27°C. We find these heatwaves rather tiring, so I

Rugby World Cup

 Some of the Rugby World Cup matches will be played in Bordeaux, and for this a fan zone has been set up on the quays - this time on the less popular end of town. The bars opposite will be rejoicing. This weekend Ireland are playing Romania on Saturday evening, then Wales are playing Fiji on Sunday evening. The Opera National de Bordeaux Aquitaine decided to mark the occasion by singing on the steps of the Opera House, accompanied by four aerobatic dancers, contorting through hoops suspended from the roof. The choir sand for each country its national anthem, followed by a popular song. For Wales they sang Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, and Sospan Fach. The choir gave enthusiastic cries of "OÏ OÏ". We went along, of course, and I dressed in full regalia for the occasion - my Wales cap and a Wales tee-shirt which has a passive Wales flag on a green background. The green background did mean a few people took me for Irish from the back... As we found a spot two chaps came up and started add

Etat des lieux

 The saga of the parking place continued a little while. The woman who manages our building spoke to her colleague who confirmed that he had indeed given us a card for the car park and told her the number. "You'll have to get a replacement card and return it to us on Friday", she said. I contacted the company who manages the parking garage. "No such number exists. No such card exists. No such card ever existed. I can do nothing." said Nicolas for the company. Friday came, and the Etat des Lieux. "I'll sort out this problem with the card, don't worry." After looking round the flat and finding a couple of things we had forgotten to clean (oops) she pronounced it a "very well maintained apartment". Wear on one of the parquet floors she pronounced "wear, not degradation". (Degradation is wilful or through neglect. Wear is normal.) We'll see whether we get our deposit back or not. Meanwhile Pat's sister and brother-in-law

La visite conseil

 With our old flat when you announce that you're leaving they arrange a "visite conseil" to tell you what you have to do to get your deposit back. (yeah, right) The lady came this morning and was disarmingly reasonable. She said, "You can tell that you've looked after the flat" and pointed out a couple of areas where we'd need to paint the wall - in the bathroom where some of the paint came off, and by the door where the orange engineer drilled holes before fixing the alarm with adhesive strips instead. She asked why we were moving and I said that we wanted somewhere where the place was better looked after and more secure. She was surprised that we had been burgled. I also explained that with various issues we'd had we'd ended up being bounced from one company to another. We have three buttons for entering the building. One has never worked, despite our attempts to get it sorted out. "Again, we've paid for 5 years for a parking space to

Heatwave 2

 Yesterday we almost certainly hit 40°C in Bordeaux. Deep-cleaning the old flat was limited. Unpacking in the new flat was light duties only. Despite this we are starting to arrive at something livable. The kitchen still needs attention. Basically we await the delivery of a drawer front today, followed by the visit of the kitchen fitter (to be scheduled), followed by placing the fridge and the cooker in their permanent homes. (The cooker is low, so will sit on a plinth. The fridge is displaced but functioning fine. A new hose will enable the dishwasher to be connected. The hose should arrive tomorrow.) Tomorrow we expect rain and temperatures in the low 20s. This will accompany the "visite conseil" of the letting agency, to specify the hoops through which we must jump in order to be refunded our deposit. We will have two weeks to achieve this feat. Or not. Last time we moved I expected our deposit to be refunded, and it wasn't. This time my expectations are lower. Meanwhi

Canicule - Heatwave

 A canicule is declared when the night-time temperature stays above 20°C for three successive nights. At present the day-time temperature in Bordeaux is not that high - 31°C as I type - but when you don't cool off at night it can be miserable. People are advised to make sure they eat enough, to drink water throughout the day and to limit physical activity. One day we'd like to put an air-conditioner in the flat, but in the meantime we have fans. Lots of fans.

A song for Monday


We have moved

The removal men came at 8:30 on Friday morning. We used a local removers who employ young guys who need to get back into work ( reinsertion ). So it was that about 10 men were involved in shifting our stuff. Now we have a small mountain range of boxes to open and find a home for everything thereon, the kitchen to lightly sort out and the old place to get spick and span ready to hand the keys back. The kitchen? Well despite measuring several times and asking several other people to measure, too, our fridge does not fit into the space allowed for it. Thankfully this will be easily rectified once the kitchen fitters come back to sort out two other minor problems. Also our cooker is incredibly short, so we'll need to pop it onto a pedestal. The dishwasher needs a different hose to be able to connect to the provided water outlet. All minor but unforeseen complications. But my computer is up and running and we could get the printer working, too, so we're functional. Kind of.

The many changes afoot

So this house move has brought and is bringing many changes.  Firstly it has enabled me to get rid of my long-hated pink tilt and swivel "Lazyboy" armchair. Made in America. Brought from thence by a dear old friend in Chester and given to us with two humungous sofas which accompanied it faithfully over the years. The sofas were eventually donated to a students' furnishing charity. The armchair has gone to family. It was loved by all as profoundly as I hated it. The problem was that whenever I sat in it it tilted and swivelled. It felt that this was its duty. But I wanted a solid, stable armchair in which to read, listen to music, have my being. Anyway, the last laugh's on me. At present I am sitting in a green plastic garden chair. Still, at least it doesn't swivel. And I have the hope set before me of soon acquiring a good, old-fashioned armchair, such as my soul loveth. The chair was given to us, as I said, by a dear old friend who lived in a barn conversion jus

The kitchen man cometh

and come he did, punctual and keen, a young chap who used to live in the area.  He's doing a fine job and we're looking forward to moving in! 

The bug man came

A very pleasant young man, he arrived when Pat was here but I wasn't, told her that he had found no evidence of cockroaches anywhere in our building, but sprayed his poison in their usual access routes anyway. I met him in the entrance where he checked that he had visited our flat and confirmed that there was no sign of any cockroaches in our building. "Good", I said. I have since heard that he is visiting the neighbouring, infested block in the near future.

The bug man cometh

We are frustration just now.  Well, not NOW.  We were, but now many things are resolved. 1. We needed some bubble wrap to pack up our precious crockery. Since time was as short as patience, before boarding the plane back to France I ordered some from Amazon. "It'll be delivered on the 2nd August!", they said. We normally have things delivered to a point relais - sometimes the Post Office at Terres Neuves, sometimes the Carrefour at Tauzia, sometimes the Amazon locker at the railway station. Occasionally objects are too bulky to be left somewhere like that so you have to have them delivered to your home. Like bubble wrap. I tracked our package. It was out for delivery. That was good, as we were waiting in. Then - oops - it won't be delivered today after all, but some time between the 2nd and the 7th August. We were dismayed. We couldn't guarantee that someone would be in all that time. Thankfully the bubble-wrap came today, in a cardboard box. 2. Moving our interne

The house move

We returned to Bordeaux on 31 July.  The kitchen was due to be fitted on 2 and 3 August. The removal men were coming on 7 August. Note the tenses. The kitchen fitters postponed to 3 and 4 August. Then to 8 and 9 August. Now the removal men are scheduled for 18 August. It'll be fine......

Two weeks in the UK

We spent the last two weeks in the UK, first at the first week of the Keswick Convention, then at our mission's own conference, the UFM Summer Conference. We flew on the Friday to Manchester and stayed overnight at a friend's house before travelling to Keswick by train and then by bus. The train was on time, comfortable and our reserved seats were vacant and we had a pleasant journey chatting with fellow-travellers who lived near Rawtenstall.  From Penrith to Keswick you travel for £2 on a double-decker bus (un bus impérial) through the winding lanes overhung with solid tree branches. It was pretty wonderful. The Keswick Convention gives a grant to encourage and enable overseas mission workers to come, and we had found a room in the town not much over our budget. The room had a toaster, kettle and microwave oven, and we were alarmed at the price of the cafés and restaurants in the town. Is a jacket potato really £7 everywhere? Cheese at extra charge? Anyway, salvation was found

and what is happening in terms of the riots in Bordeaux ?

I received an anonymous comment asking the above question.  I never publish anonymous comments, but the question may be in people's minds. In 2005, when we first arrived in France, a couple of months later there were riots following the death in Paris of two young men who were being pursued by the police and who hid in an electricity substation and were electrocuted.  The riots lasted about three weeks and spread to many cities of France, including Bordeaux. This year the riots followed the death by shooting of a young man, again in Paris, by a policeman. The case is under investigation. These riots lasted about 6 days but were more violent with more shops being looted. Bordeaux was affected by the riots. For some four days all public transport was stopped, first at 9pm, then at 10pm. People are studying the causes of the riots, and the differences between the two episodes, pointing up rising levels of poverty in certain neighbourhoods, as well as the influence of social media.

The Tour de France

Normally Pat and I spend all day on Fridays at A Coeur Ouvert, but the arrival of the Tour de France meant that public transport was severely disrupted again.Essentially the trams that run between our flat and the café were to be out of action. Perfectly reasonable since they run directly along the route the cyclists were to take. High-level discussions ensued and eventually the decision was taken to close the café for the day of the tour. Thus it was that Pat and I were able to take ourselves down to the "fan zone" just before lunchtime to inspect the city's preparations for the tour. We saw people queuing to play the supermarket LeClerc's wheel of fortune to win a t-shirt or a cap. A lady from the buralistes (tobacconists) allied with the sapeurs-pompiers (firemen) came and gave us each a pocket ashtray - they're distributing them in a campaign to prevent forest fires. We took a quiz about cycling in the city and were rewarded with a reflective tag for your bag.

We've started packing

In France you "do your boxes". We asked our splendid neighbours if anyone had boxes to pass on to us, and someone did. Then on a visit to the new flat we bumped into our new neighbour with armful of boxes ready to be passed on. We had already agreed to buy some small boxes suitable for books. So we might conceivably be OK for boxes. I have four oak bookshelves that belonged to my uncle Cyril that have travelled around with me over the years. The time has come to pass them on, so they're going to Froim and Catrin, along with the American swivel and rock armchair which everyone loves but me, and in which I regularly sit, to my great discomfort. (You can't lock the rock) So this evening they are going to Talence in a big seven-seat Berlingo which I have reserved for the occasion.  Meanwhile the most important contents of the bookshelves have been packed into boxes. We accumulate books at alarming speed. When we move we try to pass them on, but with great difficulty. When

Débordements aux Aubiers

Les Aubiers is an area of Bordeaux where there have been confrontations between the police and some local folk. Bins have been burned and the trams that pass through there have been interrupted for safety reasons. The background to all this is the shooting a few days ago of a youth in a suburb of Paris. His car was stopped at a spot-check. These happen sometimes in France. both Pat and I have been stopped at a particular roundabout near our old home in Pessac. They want to see your driving licence and your insurance document to try to catch drivers who are banned or uninsured. For whatever reason this lad decided to start his car and drive away from the spot check before being dismissed by the police. Some years ago there was a change in the law. Up to that time police officers could only open fire on drivers if they believed that their lives were in danger - for example someone was driving straight at them. Since the change they can open fire if they believe someone else's life ma

Getting the keys

 So our appointment for the keys was at 15:00. I'm always appallingly early, except for flights and trains, so when the maitre d'oeuvres called down to me from the first floor balcony I was taken aback. She told me the code for the main door (a "site code"), and I went up to apartment 101. Apartment 101 is a three bedroom apartment with a nice big  living room and a big balcony overlooking the tram stop. I can see the appeal, though I think I like ours better. I signed the various forms and undertakings and we went to see our apartment, number 205. Really there's not much to photograph - just one white room after another. The hallways are all painted blue, so I told them we plan to paint our apartment blue and leave the door open when the cleaners pass so they'll do our flat as well. They all thought this an excellent idea. The main room has sliding doors onto the balcony - very practical because they don't bang in the breeze and they don't take up flo

The copropriété

A copropriété is when several people all own a building together. So this morning we were convoked for the first Assemblée Générale of the copropriété at the offices of our syndic - the company who is employed to manage the building. We spent two happy hours, the five of us who showed up, together with three employees of the syndic and the property developer who built the building. We chose companies to service the lift, clean that place and put the bins out, service the boilers, all sorts of things. And we met our downstairs neighbours as well as a couple from the top floor. This afternoon was the delivery of the communal areas, so I got to visit the corridors, parking spaces, lift and rooftop. The roof garden has been planted with edible  shrubs, so I saw a hazel tree, a bay tree, some redcurrants, gooseberries and blueberries, a grape vine, all sorts of things. There's also two picnic tables and the property developer bought an immense lawnmower for when the grass has been plant

The apartment is paid for, the removal firm is booked

The transfer for the last and final instalment of the purchase price of the apartment has been submitted.  This morning, in a torrential thunderstorm, I booked the removal firm and paid their deposit. I'm particularly happy about the removal firm - it's a local company that offers different prices for people with different incomes. They'll also help you sort out your belongings or do house-clearances. They run a fleet of cycle deliveries as well as gas-powered vans. And they're local. I have high hopes. And the electricity contract is sorted out.

Today I decimated my wardrobe.

Clothes I have not worn in long ages and will not wear in the future have been consigned to the nearest charity hopper. This is part of moving home.

Quiet days on the blog

 don't necessarily mean quiet days in Bordeaux. Here's some updates : 1) Our new apartment We get the keys in just over a week. The kitchen will be delivered the following week. Then there's a short hiatus before th kitchen fitter come at the beginning of August. We hope to move in the middle of August. 2) The earthquake Bordeaux was shaken by an earthquake whose epicentre was in the Charente Maritime. Some buildings up there have structural damage so a number of folk are homeless and some cannot work. Here in Bordeaux some people felt the tremors. We didn't. 3) The amphitheatre Just opposite where the church meets is a ruined amphitheatre and on Sunday they held an open day with gladiatorial combats and various exhibits. It was very well attended. I got some photos of the amphitheatre from different angles than usual, but I missed the combat. 4) Bordeaux is in summer festival mood Wednesday is the annual "Fête de la Musique", when the streets fill with groups

An old friend returns

On Thursday evening we had a visit from an old friend who had spent some months in Bordeaux thirteen years ago. He is revisiting old haunts as well as doing a flying tour of Europe (Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Paris). It was good to see him and to hunt out old photos and videos of his time in Bordeaux. He mentioned how nice a British dinner would be. What could be more British than Tomato Dahl and Mashed Potatoes? (We discovered too late that we had run out of rice and cous-cous) 

Bordeaux is fragrant

When I first visited Paris I was struck by the smells of the city. The Trocadero was obviously a sheltered place with many corners where one could fulfil the necessities of life unseen - but not unsmelt.  The Champs de Mars at the base of the Eiffel Tower had recently been treated to a generous layer of manure. I first visited Paris on a hot July day and walked from the Arc de Triumph to the Gare Montparnasse. Unforgettable. In Bordeaux we're often struck by the fragrances of its streets. Of course, we too have secluded corners best avoided by the sensitive of snitch, but the city has also been encouraging people to dig little holes in the pavement - honestly, I think they come and dig them for you - and to plant hollyhocks, or honeysuckle, or -- best of all -- jasmine. So this time of year instead of pungent we get fragrant. We got off the tram at about 10 last night and were ht by another sweet fragrance at Quinconces where the tram lines cross. Lime trees. Planted just between t

A Cœur Ouvert - Espace Gallien

Our little café has now been running for some time, and we have a nice group of regular clients. The first to arrive were older people, generally attracted by the Language Exchange that happens on Monday evenings, or to the handiwork group, Knit and Natter, on Fridays. More recently some younger folk have joined the Monday evenings from the nearby Alliance Française, attracted by the opportunity to converse with real French people. It’s going well. The Tots and Co group has also been encouraging., with some great friendships and great conversations. Kids’ workshops at the café have also been very much appreciated, and it’s great to see the place filled with little ones. The café has survived financially, thanks partly to the generosity of supportes in the UK, but also the low running costs of all being staffed by volunteers. I think the volunteers also enjoy being in the café, I certainly do, and I can get on with reading, typing, etc. when the place is quiet. (Like now.) We tried loan

A day of great excitement

We noticed this morning that all the barriers have been taken away from the children’s play areas in the gardens below. Such fun!

Things are starting to come together for the move

We get the keys on 27 June, so I booked an appointment to buy the kitchen and arrange its fitting. The kitchen will be delivered in early July. However, we fly to the UK in the latter half of July so we’ve arranged for the installation to be in early August. Then we’ll move just after, clean the apartment and hand it back at end of August. Next is to arrange insurance for the new place and also attend the first AGM of the resident’s group, who will appoint a company to manage the building and look after maintenance of the lift, etc. Meanwhile from all appearances the building is very nearly ready for occupation. Since it’s about 20 yards away from our habitual tram stop we have done weekly external inspections and now we pop up perhaps twice a week just to see the latest developments. 

The last transfer but one

May is a special month in France because of the number of public holidays. We mark : 1 May - la Fête du Travail. We mark this by stopping as much work as possible. Even the buses and trams do not run. 8 May - Le 8 mai. This commemorates the cease-fire at the end of the Second World War. Le jeudi de l'ascension. Ascension Day falls forty days after Easter and often falls in May. La Pentecôte. Pentecost, coming fifty days after Easter, is celebrated with a public holiday on the Monday. It also often falls in May. Of course, all these public holidays interrupt the pace of life a little, but the work on our new apartment block is still advancing well. Thus it was that we received notice last Friday afternoon that the painting work on our apartment had been completed, inspected and certified complete on the 12 May, and it is now time to pay the next instalment on the purchase of the flat - the last instalment but one. Soon we will receive a letter by recorded delivery to arrange a date

Drama at Place Armagnac

Bordeaux is basically flat. This makes it very suitable for cycling. At the same time, Bordeaux has narrow streets and lots of traffic. Less suitable for cycling. However, we live in a new area of the city, recently laid out, by people aware of the huge and growing popularity of cycling in the city. So we have cycle paths and cycle lanes everywhere. Where the tram lines cross two major roads you can find the Place Armagnac. On one side there's the old sorting office, which is becoming a classy hotel. On another you find the back the main wholesale market. The third has our local library. There's a lot of construction going on, of new tower blocks, hotels and offices. And a couple of cycle paths of varying quality and safety. When the square was inaugurated -- we inaugurate lots of things in France -- a large group of cyclists came on their bikes to protest against the poor design of the cycle paths. They denounced them as dangerous. And on Wednesday morning a woman cycling acro

One step closer

Yesterday we noticed that workmen had fitted the garage door to our new block of flats. Today I saw that a woman was vacuum-cleaning the windows of one of the flats. I also saw that a van belonging to the firm "Otis" was parked in the garage area. We must be getting closer to the completion, no?  

The Jardins de l’Ars, an explanation

 A few months ago the garden planners took everyone on a tour of the gardens and explained what their aims were in its layout and construction. Essentially they want an area for playing ball games and so on - mown regularly. Then the other grassy areas will not be mown, instead paths will be mown through the long grass and whatever else grows. For trees and shrubs they planted native species. The goal is to create an area which is rich in biodiversity, supportive to native species and also welcoming to people wanting to walk, run, cycle, picnic, play or relax. As you can see from the pictures below, the are is already scattered with lots of wild flowers. Much of it doesn’t look at all tidy, but dogs and children love running through the clumps and tufts. I think it’s great, though they may find they have to mow once or twice a year.

Yesterday we took a quick canter around the Jardins de l’Ars

 Here’s some of what we saw 

Might we have found the next tenants for the flat?

 A young couple is moving to Bordeaux and looking for somewhere to live for them and their young family. A mutual friend contacted me. Would I be happy for them to contact me about this flat. Of course. So we met on Thursday and I showed them round this flat. They were predictably impressed by the flat, but not so much by the state of the courtyard and the corridors on the ground floor. So we await a moving date for the new flat, then I can contact the agency and see if they would accept a dossier from this young couple.

It is no longer functional. It has stopped working. It is broken.

 In 1980 I bought a mixer. It was second-hand - a Kenwood Chefette. It came with a big glass bowl and two whisk blades. It had three speeds and that was it. This morning I got ready to make ice-cream for the folk who are coming to lunch tomorrow.  I plugged in the mixer.  Nothing. Not a sound. Not even an attempt. No smoke. No steam. Nothing. Oh well. Forty-three years out of a second-hand mixer isn't bad.

Ten years since

 It's ten years since my burnout. Social media reminded me. Thanks. It's not a bad thing to look back and see what has come out of a difficult experience.

Mayday! Mayday!

"C'est pas trop logique, mais on le fait quand même." The cashier in our local supermarket was looking forward to a weekend on the sofa as everything closes down for Labour Day, the Fête du Travail. Literally everything closes. There are no trams or buses. Supermarkets are closed. Even our local pharmacy is closed. The city becomes beautifully quiet. Or it would, if there was not also a demonstration each year on 1 May. I don't think it's a demonstration about anything in particular. It's just the Manifestation de la Fête du Travail. This year it kicks off at 10:30 and will follow quite a long route around the centre of the city. The demonstration is one thing. It will be peaceful and orderly, if a little noisy. However the usual fans of anti-capitalists and anarchists will tag onto the end of the march and engage in pitched battles with the police. As for us Daveys, if the weather is clement we might take a little walk along the right bank.

A fine week off

 Last week Gwilym and Beth arrived from Norwich to spend the week with us. This coincided with various special events. Firstly my 64th birthday last Tuesday. (It turns out that they still appear to need me and thus far they have continued to feed me.) Then we celebrated Christmas 2022 again, complete with a (small) tree, Christmas lunch, exchange of presents, and an action film. The weather was splendid and Bordeaux was at its best and brightest. For my birthday I considered the many fine restaurants available to us in Bordeaux and decided that we should meet at the Bordeaux Wine School's wine bar, then get a kebab and eat it on the quays.I think this was my first ever kebab, and even then I was too timid to eat the rotating meat, choosing chicken freshly grilled on skewers. It was a great evening.  Another highlight was an escape game that we all played together. Once more a first for me. It turns out that we make a pretty good team. We spent a fine week together, but now Gwilym a

Anticonstitutionnellement ?

 All of France has been holding her breath waiting for the decision of the Conseil Constitutionnel. This group of the great and the good of France meets to consider, among other things, whether a law proposed by the government and adopted by the parliament is nevertheless against the French constitution.  It is one of France's democratic checks and balances. The law to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 has been controversial. It is unwelcome to many French people, who consider that the economic need to change the retirement law has not been sufficiently well proven. Many French people do in fact work beyond the age of 62, but they can retire at that age. The law was also unwelcome in the National Assembly, where M. Macron's party does not have a clear majority. After long discussions, Mme Borne, the Prime Minister, announced that the Assembly was not going to spend all this time in debate to in the end achieve nothing, so she announced that the law was being adop