Showing posts from March, 2024

The best music for Easter Sunday morning, and why it's Christ lag in Todesbanden.

 It's easy to find good music for Good Friday. There's a wealth of things from the Italian baroque all the way through to contemporary composers. Hymns and worship songs abound, too. But Easter Sunday is a bit harder. There's lots of drums and trumpets, and rowdy rumpty-tump. You can have introspective things about facing the morrow, you can have simulated garden encounters.  But for me nothing touches the spot like Christ lag in Todesbanden. It's just a setting of Luther's hymn, that goes like this : Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand He stands And brings us life from heaven. Therefore let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!  No son of man could conquer Death, Such ruin sin had wrought us. No innocence was found on earth, And therefore Death had brought us Into bondage from of old And ever grew more strong and bold And held us as his captive. Allelui

A weekend jaunt to Norwich

For over thirty years I have worked weekends, so quick visits to family or simply getting away happened Monday to Friday. Then the café opened, and we are generally needed in Bordeaux from Wednesday to Friday. Now I'm handing over pastoral responsibility to Sylvain, so weekends are back in our life again. This is why we went on a quick visit to see Gwilym and Beth in Norwich. We flew on Saturday evening and returned on Tuesday. It was great to see them, to meet their excellent and allergenic cat, Beryl, and to explore the city a little again.  Travel was uneventful and timely.


Retirement age in France is 62 for people of my vintage. Up until I retire we pay something in the order of 700€ per month for retirement and health care. If I retire in four months' time (it takes four months to do) then I would be paid about 450€ per month. That means our support budget would be reduced by over 1000€ a month. Makes sense, huh? I also have a UK pension from computing that will pay something in the order of 400€ per month. Our UK state pensions can be claimed from April and from November 2025. One of the ICC pastors is currently going through the process, so he sent me the forms you have to fill in. The form mentioned the possibility of doing it all online, and I got as far as the final page which told me to upload my "Livret de famille". I know what this is, but not being of French nationality I don't have one. Banjaxed. I am waiting for the retirement people to phone me back within 48 hours.  

The Garden Centre

Garden Centres need cars, so I booked one of the nearby Citiz cars. I chose a Yaris Hybrid. I could have had a Suzuki Swift, a Citroën C3 or C4 or a tiny Fiat 500. The Fiat 500s are great fun, but they're a tad small for garden centres, so the Yaris it was. The Yaris in question has, as we say, "lived". In 53000km (about 30000 miles) it has had several close encounters of a damaging kind. Citiz puts little stickers on them to mark old war-wounds and enable them to identify any new ones you add! The reason I choose the Yaris, if I can, is because it is a dream to drive. It's quiet, smooth and very easy. It glides around town but keeps up on the ring road. Also it's easy to fold the back seat down. The garden centre is just off junction 18 of the rocade. We live near junction 21, so it was just a 15 minute trip including the jiggery pokery of getting the car and so on. Garden Centres also need trolleys, and trolleys need a 1 euro piece to liberate them. Like the lat

Feels like spring

The magnolias are flowering, the weather is mild, the rain is gentle and fine and I'm going to a garden centre! I'm after troughs to put on the balcony, compost, seeds for lettuce and tomatoes and also perhaps some trailing petunias and African marigolds (if I can remember the French name for them!)  

Living in terror

On Wednesday evening we took our stagiaire, Hannah, who has been camping in my office since January, to her forever home not far from the boulevards. It's a journey by car of about 12 minutes, but we needed to do it at rush hour so it took about 30 minutes to get there and about 45 coming back.  On the way we were overtaken on an uphill stretch by a pastor friend on his one-speed bike.  Going was easy but slow and good for learning patience. Basically we spent the majority of the journey in a traffic jam, and the rest looking out for bicycles. Coming back was a NIGHTMARE. We let the Citiz car's GPS guide us, but the GPS in the car had not been updated to reflect Bordeaux' ever more complex of one way streets and bus lanes. Such it was that we were rarely able to follow the GPS directions without deviating wildly, and at one point we found ourselves heading down a bus lane for about 250 meters with no obvious way of escape. Vigilance is always essential as bicycles come from

First MRI scan done

 The ophthalmologist noting an "anomaly" on my optic nerves, he ordered a series of tests which will happen on a month from February to May. February was a Doppler Ultrasound scan of my carotid arteries and of those which feed the eyes. The doctor turned out to be a long-lost cousin from Brittany, he found nothing untoward and we parted vowing to search each other out next time there's a family reunion. (It's a celt thing). March was today, and an MRI of my pituitary gland to look for any inflammation that might have affected my optic nerves. The scan found quite the contrary, a pituitary on the small side. Next, in April, I see a psychiatrist for a sleep study. I have six questionnaires to fill out first.  Then in May another MRI of another part of my head. I'm half-way through, and that's very encouraging because these tests tend to set off attacks of hypochondria.

Flooding in Bordeaux

The Spring tides are very high just now, with a coefficient of 117. 99 is considered exceptionally high.  So much for that.  The upshot is that several streets on the right bank around the Bastide area flooded yesterday and are flooded again this morning, and the fancy shops, restaurants and cafés down by the waterfront are faced with a walkway under about 6 inches of water. This is because of the coincidence of very high tides linked with the recent persistent, constant, incessant, torrential rain. Meanwhile in the Gard several people are missing following the downpours in that area.

Saint David's Day

When I was a child this was the happiest day in the school calendar, except, of course, for the end of term... We prepared for weeks beforehand.  The school was divided into four houses - Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd (my house) and Powys. The houses were named after the old kingdoms of Wales. Dyfed's colour was red, Gwent's was blue, Gwynedd's was green and Powys' was yellow.  Some time before in February the competitions were announced. Each subject would set a competition, and there were additional competitions for music and for choral recitation. Each competition could win points to your house's score for first, second or third place, and there would be bonus points for especially good additional entries. I remember the following :  For Maths : Make an icosahedron. Make a dodecahedron. We had to find out what it was and construct one. For Religious Education : Make a model of a first century Palestinian house. For History and Geography it might be essays. For English yo