Showing posts from February, 2024


ICC-Eurasia is the network of International Churches to which we belong. Last week they held their annual Prayer Retreat in the city of Montpellier, somewhere I've never been before. It takes five hours to get there by train. The deal was to stay in a hotel together for which a group price had been negotiated. It was quite a pleasant little hotel in a residential part of the city, but close to where the Montpellier church meets and not far from the edge of the city centre. Montpellier seems to exist mainly because of being a staging post on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. It's right on the Mediterranean, so it's sunny and bright most of the year though it doesn't have beaches itself. We spent the bulk of our time sharing news of the churches and of the ICC, and praying for the various issues raised. Pat didn't come with me, though some wives came. She was kept pretty busy at home.

Remodelling the city

The southern approach to Bordeaux is changing beyond all recognition. When we first moved here the main access road passed disused abattoirs, demolished warehouses, a municipal dump and dingy hotels. It was dead, dirty and unattractive. This didn't matter too much because you passed it on an urban freeway with a 70kph limit. But our area of the city is part of all that and the plan is only partially accomplished. They aim to take away the urban freeway and replace it with a city boulevard, limited to 50kph, or maybe even 30kph. This will be punctuated by crossings to allow people access to the river from the offices and apartments of the newly redeveloped southern part of the city. The quays of the Garonne, transformed from a disused dockland into a wide and airy garden promenade, will be extended down to this southern part of the city. A new bridge, the Pont Simone-Veil, will open this year, linking the southern banks of the city. It will have wide cycle paths, dedicated bus lanes

A sad week in Bordeaux

Three people have been fished out of the Garonne this week, maybe four. The first is a young man from Montpellier who was last seen in the wee hours mid January near a night club in the old dry docks area of the city. One of the dangers of Bordeaux is that young people, coming out of the night clubs, fall into the Garonne. The currents are strong and if the alarm is not swiftly sounded, there is little hope of survival. Often the currents and tides take the bodies up the Dordogne even as fas a Bergerac.  The second was a young woman who fell to her death from the Pont d'Aquitaine - the suspension bridge that closes the northern loop of the motorway that rings the city.  The third was a man in his forties who fell into the river and was quickly rescued by the firemen who have rescue boats in the city. The fourth was a man of 86 years old. As Pat and I cycled home from the café on Friday we took the new express cycleway from the quays to our area of the city. As we turned the corner


Four rendez-vous had to be made. Two seemed relatively straightforward. Firstly an ultrasound scan of my carotid arteries and the arteries supplying my eyes. Secondly a sleep consultant to explore possible apnoea. Thirdly an MRI of parts of my head to explore possible inflammation. The first two were quickly made via our website doctolib. The third was far more complicated. Different MRI machines do different things. I found a clinic, who said to contact them in two weeks' time. Meanwhile my own doctor suggested that his secretary could find me an appointment. I asked her - she found me two - on in March, one in May. The issue is an anomaly on both optic nerves which does not affect my vision. This was first noticed a year ago my the ophthalmologist and has not changed since that time. Well on Monday I rolled up at the clinic at 9:00 for my ultrasound.  "Sorry, we can't do this. You've booked an ultrasound and you need an ultrasound-doppler. We do that here bit it'

La vie associative

In France it's really important to join groups to do things. They're called "associations", registered with the government, some which are of public utility qualify for tax relief on gifts, and they fulfil lots of different functions. Local churches are associations, as are the denominations to which they belong. Some associations are there to play games or do sport. Others run cafés or cultural activities. Some support humanitarian projects in the majority world. Others help immigrants and asylum seekers to navigate the winding paths of settling in France. One we saw in Strasbourg runs a cooperative restaurant, where people sign up to cook and eat lunch together. This is a great idea for students living on knackipâtes (hot dog sausages cut up into pasta shapes - it's a thing...) Others are concerned with recycling and the "circular economy" - that is repairing, reusing and reselling things as well as producing things locally. Just up the road from us we

Surprising things in France

 One reason that the blog is so much more infrequently updated is that France doesn't really surprise us much any more. I was thinking about this this morning as I wondered whether Pat and I should get a picture taken of us on our bikes, buying baguettes etc... (we draw the line at the stripes jumpers, gauloises and berets...) But France can still surprise us. For example, our towns have now imposed a 30kph limit. Bègles was the first. Bordeaux soon followed suit. So in town, unless indicated otherwise (on particularly wide roads, or urban expressways etc.) the speed limit is 30kph. This is about 18 mph. And there was no outcry, no petitions, no scoffing, no real comment at all. Contrast this with the reaction to the Welsh Government's recent decision to do the same. This morning we read that the Parisians have voted to multiply parking fees threefold for large SUVs. I knew they were voting on it, and I know that almost everyone I know thinks that the proliferation of Chelsea T