Showing posts from March, 2023

The town hall burns

 Bordeaux has hit the international news following the march against the raising of retirement age from 62 to 64.  Usually marches are pretty peaceful in Bordeaux. Well, noisy, but non-violent.  However there are anarchist or extremist groups who tag on to marches with the aim of causing as much chaos and damage as possible. So yesterday during the day a group of youths wanted to set fire to some plastic bins, but other marchers persuaded them not to do it. When darkness falls, however, and most of the marchers go home, the violent groups take over. So it was that bins were burnt on the tramlines. Very few Bordeaux people would want or tolerate vandalism to the tramlines. No tramlines, no tram, no work. And then they set fire to the huge, blue, wooden gates to the town hall. Yeah, great. Who pays for that, folk? More importantly we never feel in any danger. We sometimes have to cross marches, and that takes foresight, planning and earplugs, but people are OK with letting you pass.

Ikea kitchen - the story continues

 I made an appointment on Saturday to go and talk to the Ikea kitchen planners about the kitchen. On Friday evening at 19:30 the lady phoned me up. "Mr Davey, you'll need to contact your bank and ensure you can pay for the kitchen tomorrow." (In France, to avoid fraudulent use, bank cards have all kinds of limits set, for one transaction, for one day, for one week....) "You've seen what time it is?" "Well yes, but you can contact them tomorrow. The banks are open on Saturday morning." I'm absolutely sure my bank is NOT open on Saturday morning, so I postponed the appointment to today. The young chap said, "so you're ready to order?" "With two caveats - firstly we don't yet have a date to get the keys, and secondly the estimate for the kitchen increased suddenly by 2000 euros." "When is the apartment supposed to be completed?" "End of may, beginning of June" "Oh, well it's too early to or

Medical issues

 Mrs Davey is currently undergoing some medical work, yesterday's was at the dentist.  All went well. She went and came back unaccompanied, under her own steam, and slept peacefully with nothing more than paracetamol to help her.

The 49.3

 For British people, the nearest equivalent of the 49.3 is the Parliament Act, where the government can push legislation through even if it is fiercely and strongly opposed.  Why does this matter?  Well successive governments in France have tried to reform the pensions system. The current retirement age is 62, for women and for men. Read and weep, British friend. Some people have special retirement arrangements that allow them to retire early, sometimes as early as 52. The government says that with a falling birth rate and an aging population profile, and healthier elderly people, France cannot continue with this retirement regime. They want to raise the age to 64. Read and weep, British friend. So there have been successive demonstrations and strikes, and strong opposition in Parliament. Macron does not want to be yet another President who tried and failed to seize the pensions nettle, so yesterday, unexpectedly, after saying repeatedly that they wanted to avoid using the 49.3, Mme Bo

The kitchen

 Ikea, we have a problem.  Following the "prise des cotes" we ended up with a simpler kitchen, with fewer cabinets and shelves rather than the natty Ikea drawer system.  However, the estimated price we were given in the Ikea store by the kitchen planner was 40% less than the final estimate given with the revised plan drawn up after seeing the flat. The difference is not in the labour costs. It's the price of the units. 40% is a lot more. We need to go speak to Ikea.

Thirty Years

 Monday 13 March was our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  Though it does not seem like yesterday, still the years have gone by very fast.  This represents : 30 years of marriage. 28 years with Gwilym, our son. 26 years with Catrin. 32 years in pastoral ministry. (I left BT on March 1st 1991). This is half my life. We have now completed 17 years, six months in France. We arrived in September 2005.  Most of our married life has been spent in France. We celebrated by going to a local restaurant. It's really classy. At lunchtime they do a "Menu du Marché", which comprises : Amuses-bouche salées - there was a wafer with a cheese filling, an olive ice-cream and a mouthful of capsule of mussels in a gel coating. All very good. Starter - I had asparagus cream while Pat had a "lentil cappuccino". Main course - we both chose filet mignon with caramelised carrots, a gratin of potatoes and a beetroot purée. Dessert - mine was three little choux pastries while Pat got a choc

Strike Day

 Today is a strike day, protesting against the government's plans to increase retirement age in France. At present men retire at 62 and women at 60. The plan is that everyone should retire at 64. The government argue that this is necessary to fund the pension system as people live longer. The unions argue that the pension system is not showing undue financial strain, and that a small increase in contributions would enable current retirement ages to be maintained. Between 16,000 and 100,000 people marched in Bordeaux. This huge range of possibilities is quite normal here - the police give a low estimate of how many people marched, while the unions give a high estimate, and there is always a lot of clear distance between the two figures.