Showing posts from February, 2023

La prise des cotes

 Yesterday morning was "la prise des cotes" at the new apartment. This means you get to visit the place with your kitchen fitter to measure up and confirm that the design works. We had the 10:45 to 11:15 slot, but we had chosen Ikea to fit our kitchen, and their guy coud only say between 10 till 12, so at 10 I was hovering outside the building when my phone rang. It was our fitter. I liked the guy straight away. We went into the flat - there were lots of people coming and going - and immediately saw that what we had planned would not work at all because of a dirty great drain pipe going round the entire wall of the kitchen area. Not only that, but Ikea had sent him the wrong plans entirely. Thankfully I had my copy with me, so I showed it to him quickly and we worked out what we would have to do. Basically move the fridge, cancel a big tall cupboard, displace the dishwasher and replace all the natty pull out drawers with old fashioned cupboards and doors. We'll still have

Budapest - the return

 So all week in Budapest I had a heavy cold. The kind that makes you very unpleasant to sit next to. Or anywhere near. Our colleagues, being mainly Americans, were tolerant and sympathetic. One chap probably caught my cold. One lady confessed that she had probably given it to me. Another lady went home feeling unwell but tested positive for covid-19. I'm not getting tested. My hugs are always slightly distanced anyway - I like the side-hug. Highlight of the week : The prayer conference. Of course. This was our official reason for going to Budapest. We also tagged on a long weekend beforehand to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary, due in mid-March. Next best thing : The Terror Museum. This is the old headquarters of the Fascist, then the Communist secret police that were in operation from 1944 to 1991. The story was told with directness, honesty and restraint. Unforgettable. Goulash : A total winner. I must get a good recipe. Biggest regret : I should have eaten more cake.


 One feature of life as an international pastor is the need and opportunity to go to international conferences. The ICC Prayer Retreat this February is being held in Budapest. We flew in on an early flight on Saturday and are taking the opportunity to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary a little early with a few days exploring the city. We arrived not knowing any Hungarian at all. Not even hallo and goodbye. Thankfully people are used to that. Hungary is a small nation of about 10 million people and enjoys a unique language distantly related to Finnish. It is nt a major world language. In addition, the country has been ruled by successive empires, none of which were Hungarian speakers. We come in ignorance, but at least we come in peaceful ignorance. Anyway we have a small list of must do and must see, including a proper goulash and chicken paprika. And cake. Hungary has good cake. We were accosted by a restaurateur as we tried to look at the menu of their restaurant. We have m

Inflation, and all that

 Friends in the UK have asked about energy prices. Have we noticed the same perturbations as in the UK? And what about inflation? Here's a couple of factors to remember : 1) France invested heavily in nuclear power in the 1960s and 1970s, so we produce about 80% of our electricity from nuclear plants. Major cities have a nuclear power station not far away. This means we don't rely on gas to produce electricity. We also have hydro-electric schemes, wind farms and solar parks, of course. It is much more common in France to heat with electricity than in the UK. 2) France has massive gas storage facilities somewhere near Paris, and these were in good form before the winter hit. 3) Of course, our climate is a little more temperate than the UK anyway. We heat our homes for a shorter period. For these reasons I don't know anyone here who has a smart-meter that tells them how much they are burning at a glance. Now comes a caveat. I am often targeted by advertising campaigns on the

Hope has returned

 You may have felt the disturbance in the force. Some weeks ago we realised that we were on our last box of PG Tips.  Now the tea you can buy in French supermarkets is expensive and lousy. No amount of brewing time can make any difference whatsoever. PG Tips is available sometimes, and occasionally even Yorkshire Tea, but these are in small packets and at about six times the price you pay in the UK. This means a box of 40 tea bags here costs about the same as a box of 240 in the UK. So we order from Amazon, six boxes of 240 at a time. This is a good move, but costs about 50 euros. Hence my dilemma. We're on the approach to the cusp of moving into our new apartment. We need to be as parsimonious as we can just now. This is why we have not left Bordeaux for some time. Non-essential expenditure is on hold. Austerity is the watchword. We can party later, once we've moved. Meanwhile, tea... I waited as long as I could - and then some. So last week we ran out of tea bags. But rejoice

The scan

 Yesterday was a strike day, so there would be fewer trams and buses, and those that did run would be stuffed with people. I needed to get to the scanning centre by 10:10. It would take two trams. Normally it’s a 30 minutes journey. I allowed an hour. The strike is to protest at the government’s plans to move retirement from the current 62 to 64. People are genuinely shocked that my official retirement age is 66, and for people younger than me it is later. At the same time there is a general acceptance that something has to be done in the face of longer life expectancy and better health. We live too long, and my prediction is that for future generations governments may well doctor in your financial health as well as your physical health in order to limit longevity. This is the subject of the short story that I have not yet written.  Other people are striking for other reasons. I read of one young man that he is striking for good treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. I dig