les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A boat signed by Starck

There's this dirty great private yacht moored in Bordeaux.
It is due to leave this evening so I went down to get some photos:





Ausone Station

For all the time we have been here in one narrow street near the Place Gambetta - the square where the guillotine was placed during the reign of terror - one particular building was shored up with a massive construction in huge girders and beams. We've been here ten years and the building had been in a sorry state of repair for longer.

Then, towards the end of last year, I think, we heard that a survey was being done and permission sought to turn the building into a cultural centre linked to and owned by France's largest independent bookshop, Mollat. And last night Catrin and her fellow-students held a concert there.

I was quite impressed with the place. They've managed to build a large, flat floored hall, all painted dark with fancy composite arches supporting the ceiling and a capacity of at least a couple of hundred people.

The first performer was Alice, one of Catrin's fellow students, who brought a strong Euro-Rock effect, with a floral one piece, spiked goggles, a guitarist and drummer and songs about the dictatorship. Strong stuff, and she was a very confident performer.

Next up was Mateo MF, who graduated from Catrin's course in 2015, just before she started it. He was another confident performer and a bit more in the French song line, with an accordionist, a double-bass and himself on guitar. His songs were witty. One was called 'Jacques a dit' (Simon says) and was about a chap called Jacques who loses it one day and decides to rob a bank, saying "Nobody move, this is a hold-up", but everyone who has ever known him is there and has something to say about it. Another went, "It's a nice day today, a nice day to jump in the cut" (this is a free translation, of course) and another was about how boys dance badly. He was another very confident performer.

Then all the students were involved in accompanying the star of the evening, Adrienne Pauly, an actress and pop-rock singer. I felt her style owed much to the Boomtown Rats and she seemed to enjoy being accompanied by the ever-changed teams of students. Catrin played piano for a comparatively tranquil song.

We caught a late tram home and listened to some more music - a few people practicing football chants - before crawling under our downy covers.


Monday, September 26, 2016

The wise man ...

Apparently I should inhale sharply while squirting water up my nose.

I'm giving it a go.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lots of drama with the local cats today!

Firstly Sumo and Catkin had a stand-off. Spitting and staring. Batting at each other. Catkin backed down and strutted off.

Then Sumo was crying in the garden. I went to see what the problem was and he had caught a lizard, but sadly the lizard was no longer moving, no matter what he did.

That moment

Who here thinks that you can live a perfectly fulfilled and normal life without ever having a sexual partner?

Not a hand raised.

Who here thinks that Jesus lived a perfectly fulfilled and normal life?

You see the problem we have with our society and its propaganda?


Saturday, September 24, 2016

I can't remember the last time I felt like this about the autumn

Today the summer has one last go - temperatures above 30°C and glorious sunshine - so Patricia and I hied us away to Bordeaux Lac for a quick stroll by the waterside. Bus 4, then tram C, basically the same route that takes us to Ikea.

As we passed through Pessac we spotted an unusual market, so we stopped to look. There's a new initiative in Pessac called "Pessac Village" which will bring an arts and crafts market to Pessac from time to time as well as other events. There was a stage with a jazz saxophonist, a folk singer and a rock band scheduled.

So we got off the bus to look around. The stalls were charming with all sorts of things, from concrete sculptures moulded in origami to sock monkeys and solar powered butterflies. One stand was selling little cakes made without any kind of flour or sugar, all made from dried fruit and the stall-holder was keen on getting us to sample all her wares - pear and chocolate, coconut and ginger, etc... We considered using them as a dessert for the meal when the UFM retreat comes to our home, as one of our number has intolerances to gluten and sundry other things, but at 3€ a cake it would mean 50 euros just for dessert. Hmmm. Not on, me thinks.

We resumed our journey and alighted the tram just where the new Ginko flats meet the edge of the lake. It was super to stroll along the footpath and look out over the lake towards the beach on the other side - well visited today. The new Ginko flats are very attractive with a variety of unusual designs, geometric shapes, some looking like stylised houses stacked up high, others in graceful curves looking like the bridges of a series of ships. With a view of the lake or an outlook over the canal it would be very pleasant to live there - and a short walk from the massive Bordeaux Lac shopping centre. But we're very happy in Pessac.

After a happy time wandering and exploring we took the tram all the way back to Pessac then strolled home down Rue de la Paix. The sun was hot and my tee-shirt is black so it was a nice little bonus summer.

One day, some years ago, while walking round the Pape Clément vines we met one of the lecturers from the Language School here. We chatted and she told us she lived on Rue de la Paix. So a couple of weeks ago while walking down Rue de la Paix we wondered which was her house. There was a super little cottage which to me seemed just right and when we looked at the mailbox - well, yes, it was hers! So one of these fine days we'll pop a note in telling her that we live just about 50 yards away and inviting her for a tisane some time.

Tomorrow morning should be rainy and much colder and next week we're back down to the low 20s. October usually stays quite pleasant, but in November it gets chilly, then December through to February can be really quite cold. By mid-February the mid-day is pleasant again.

But we have double glazing! We have good, efficient heating! We have a long hallway to keep the cold out! We have no worries for our cold water supply, or anything else for that matter. For the first time in a long time the winter feels like it will be easy.

Book review - Good and Angry - David Pawlinson

A whole book about anger! That is at one and the same time so necessary and such a narrow focus that in a way this sums up my reaction to this very good book.

Pawlinson's concern is to help us to understand anger, and to help us to address and solve our problems with anger. For this reason he progresses slowly through the book, building step by step, section by section, gradually putting in place his argument.

Please don't misunderstand me. Pawlinson's writing is not at all stodgy or ponderous. In fact this book contains one of the shortest and best written chapters I have ever read. Excellent work!

But from time to time I found myself shouting at the book. "Yes, but...". "Well maybe, but what about..." and "Aren't you going to talk about...". Then, often in the next chapter, he would.

Now it's a sad fact of life that we have difficulty admitting to ourselves that we have a problem with anger. (That's what makes the short chapter I mention above such a useful one, by the way.) That means that some of us will never pick this book up and find the help it offers. So it's especially useful for pastors, counsellors, mentors, leaders, father, mothers and friends to read this book, so that you can find the help you need both for your own anger problems and to help those around you.

I received this book freely in electronic form in exchange for an honest review.
I honestly liked the book a lot and will read it and recommend it to others.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Day off excursions

Monday was a pleasant day so we made a couple of excursions. The first was to Lidl to stock up on essentials. While we were there we saw that they had what they called barbary figs - prickly pear fruit - so we bought a pack of six and we've enjoyed them very much.

The afternoon took us to the centre of Bordeaux where we called in at the new Uniqlo store. Uniqlo is a Japanese brand of mail order clothing and they now have eleven shops in France, the most recent being in Bordeaux. I think the brand will do well as they have just the right colour palette for the city - a range of black, navy blue, various greys and different shades of beige. Their clothes are ... reasonably priced ... and generally fairly conservative in design, though they do have some oddities. I was intrigued by a blazer which, when you got near enough to look was not tailored but knitted. They also had good coats - not cheap but they looked the kind of coat that you would wear for ever.

Pat didn't buy anything but I have been running short of socks so I got a set of six in various shades of grey, navy blue and beige.

Afterwards we went into the Desigual shop, just up the road, which is probably at the other end of the colour palette. I often call in there on grey days to brighten myself up.

Later on we took a stroll round the vines to our neighbours at Château Pape Clément and called into their Wine Shop Experience. They sell wines from the Château at around 125€ - 500€ a bottle, depending on the year, but they also sell wines from Bernard Magrez' holiness all over the world, from other parts of France as well as Bulgaria, Chile, etc. and some fo the wines are less than 5€ a bottle. 

Next door to the Wine Shop Experience is a wine bar where you can sample different wines, buy a coffee or at lunchtime get a light tapas-style lunch. It looks very posh but the prices are quite normal.

I asked the chappie in the Wine Shop Experience which parts of the château people could wander round, and he said that there's free access to all parts of the parks and gardens - you can just roam at will among the very old olives etc.

"But the people who walk their dogs in the vineyards?"

"Oh no, you don't have the right to walk your dog in the vineyard! People can wander round the park but not the vineyard."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Animal fun

So there I am with my head and heart stuck in "possess his vessel" while animal fun erupts all round me.

First Sumo, the neighbour's enormous cat, decides to come and pay us a visit. We decide that we don't want our sofa to smell like the neighbours' cat - and anyway, perhaps he isn't allowed on their sofa. But once he's up getting him off is complicated because he is very heavy and he has claws that sink quite easily into the cloth of our new Ikea sofa-bed. hmmm. A compromise is reached - temporarily - and a blanket is placed where he tends to go.

Sumo leaves, Lawrence the rat enters and, despite his worrying immobility in his cage, becomes the daring acrorat, climbing up guitar and mandoline cases, scuttling along bookshelves, running out on ukuleles and then running for cover when they fall to the floor with a crash, leaping for the dresser and discovering there is no purchase for his little claws, so falling to the floor. He had a very adventurous time, till Pat got tired of rescuing him from the back of my chair and popped him back in his cage.

Phew!

Lilas des Isles

I know it sounds like a singer in a sleazy nightclub, Lila Dézil, but this is a beautiful flowering shrub that is planted in front of our block of flats. It flowers profusely with these blousy loose blossoms. These are the last blooms for this summer.

iOS 10

On Wednesday we had to be up and out early to get Pat to that clinic, and really I needed my phone to be working to get the Citiz car and possibly use the Waze satnav programme to get to the clinic.

But on Tuesday Apple were releasing a new version of the phone operating system, iOS 10. It became available at 7pm.

Now then, in the old days on Android new versions of the phone system would come out periodically, but they would not be available worldwide at the same time. They'd come out at different dates according to your country, to your mobile phone network and to you make an model of phone. It was, frankly a shambles.

But with Apple they announce it one week and everyone gets it the following week on the same day at the same time.

But should I update the software the eve of Pat's operation?

Oh go on. So I did. There were reports that some people were having problems. I had no problems whatsoever. The phone downloaded the software quickly, validated it and then applied the update and it all worked perfectly.

Next Tuesday Apple are releasing an update to the operating system on my computer.
In the old days on Windows I'd be MUCH LESS CONFIDENT and wary of updating on the day the release becomes available.
My disk is quite full - the drawback of buying the cheapest model.
Apple computers are already quite expensive, after all!
So will the update work?
We'll see!


The summer seems to be over. Autumn seems to have come suddenly.

Monday it was in the mid 30s.
Tuesday, too, though on Tuesday evening we have dramatic and violent storms.
Our internet company sent us a message to unplug our modem.
The town hall said not to walk under any trees.
They closed the parks.
They activated the anti-hail cannons across the department.
The storm was quite spectacular, though we didn't get the forecast hail.

Then from Wednesday on the temperatures have hovered in the low 20s.
It's autumn, I think.

Squirting water up your nose

Every morning and every night I squirt sea-water up my nose, as the doctor told me to.
I sing a jaunty song as I do so:

The wise man squirted water up his nose (x3)
As the doctor told him to.

The water shoots up and the bugs flow down (x3)
So squirt some water up your nose.

But as of yet the efficacy of this treatment is unconvincing.
I sneeze. My nose runs. I am, basically, unconvinced.
I'll keep going till the can runs out of water, but I can't promise that I'll buy another.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Uniqlo arrives in Bordeaux

Now then, since I started running I have lost no weight whatsoever.

We have also changed the way we eat, greatly reducing the amount of carbohydrates in our diet, and I have lost no weight whatsoever.

Catrin has become almost vegetarian and so we now eat much less meat, too. And this has had no effect whatsoever on my weight.

But I can only assume that I have become more dense, because I have changed shape. This means that I can now wear clothes from shops I could never have shopped in before. It's quite amazing, especially when I recall how one American lady a few years ago looked me up and down and said, "You really should visit America. You would like the sizes."

hmmm. Cheeky monkey!

Other friends have long suggested that I shop at Uniqlo, an online clothing shop of Japanese origin, but I am reluctant to order online, especially when the same printed size label can mean wearing a tent or a tea-bag - and then if it's not right you have to send the thing back... No.

Well, Uniqlo has just opened a store in Bordeaux and while Mrs Davey was reading "far away", "near", "now the next line backwards", "now try with both eyes shut", I went down to check it out.

I didn't get in, but I did hear the Japanese drummers making a dreadful racket, heard the various people making speeches, and saw the queue going twice round the block to buy sweaters at 10€ off and socks at 6 pairs for 10€. Buy one merino wool sweater, get 12 socks free.

Once Mrs Davey told me she'd been seen and was ready to go we got some celebration cakes from Gaston and then hied us away home for tuna and cucumber sandwiches.

OK. All fine. We don't need to see you again. Just get some reading glasses.

Pat had her post-operative check-up this morning and the ophthalmologists were very happy with her. They don't want to see her again. They don't want to assess her for glasses, not in a week, not in a month, not never unless she has a problem. She only needs some +2 glasses for reading, which can be bought in lots of different places.

She's delighted.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"My wife has had another operation."

"Really?"

"Well yes, she has two eyes..."

This was the exchange when I handed the bill into our insurance office in the hope that they will reimburse us. They haven't done so for the first operation yet. We'll give it a week and then I may have to go and see them about it.

*Update: We got all but 50€ reimbursed for the first eye, so if they follow that pattern the operations will cost us something in the order of 100€, plus, of course, the insurance premiums we pay for health care.

Anyway, last week's appointment was for 8:30 and they rang the day before to tell us to come for 7:30. "Oh yes! If you come at 8:30 it will be too late!"

OK.. So we rolled into the clinic at exactly 7:30.

This week they phoned to say that we should come at the time indicated on the appointment. "If it says 9:40 (which it did) then you should come at 9:40!"

"But last week..." said Patricia...

Anyway, we rolled up at 8:40. Patricia's appointment was for 9:40 but she actually had her operation at 10:40.

Go figure.

It was a different team of nurses and a different anaesthetist.

This time fewer eye drops but perhaps a sedative given.
More discomfort but a shorter wait before being discharged.

Meanwhile I was sent away to wait elsewhere, so I drove off to Ikea, just two miles away, and availed myself of free coffee and wifi.

Today she can see for miles and miles.
But she can no longer read at all!

On Monday we scuttled into Hema in the centre of Bordeaux to try their reading glasses, and with the strongest (+3) she could read, so I might get a pair of the cheapest +3 reading glasses I can find to tide her over.

On Friday she sees the ophthalmologist for a post-op check-up.

They said to come back a week later for assessment for glasses.
Meanwhile another woman was told to wait three months to allow her eyes to adjust.
Again, go figure.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

We've all been really tired this week

I think it's a combination of the heat - especially at night, of Patricia's operations and of getting everything started up again.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Got my marks for DELF B2 through today

I was relieved to have passed comfortably, even the part with the letter complaining about the cow.

I got 91%. My lowest mark was 21/25, which corresponds to 84%, for the letter about the cow. My highest mark was 25/25 for the oral.
How can anyone award 100% in a language exam? Especially for an oral?

Anyway, I feel stupid for having got so worked up about the exam, I feel encouraged to have a French certificate of competence in French, and I feel thankful for the encouragement.

The last time I had a result like this was my A levels, in 2003 or thereabouts, where I got 94% overall and 100% in my AS exams. Again I don't quite see how that's possible, but hey... That was when we were in that awful time of working through leaving our church, which we love, to come and serve in France. We needed encouragement.

Now we're in this messy time of church planting. It's so ... untidy.

In church life there's rules, there's a team, there's people who take decisions together, there's a limited range of possibilities, there's relationships that have been forged over the years, there's a pretty clear path ahead, even when you have to make big decisions together.

We have little of that. Everything's up in the air. Simple things are all complicated. I wonder if we'll make progress at all this year. But we'll get through it because if God is establishing a church in the centre of Bordeaux then he will do it, and if he chooses to use what we do then it will all work out, and even if it doesn't, it's fine, because it's a good enterprise, and will involve good things on the way and all is good.

So there we are. 91%. Now then, do I have to get our parents' birth certificates officially translated into French or not? Who knows! Where's that form?

Thank you for your prayers, and for your patience!


Friday, September 09, 2016

The cold caller

The phone rang.

"Allô?"

There was a pause, then a click - this means a call centre with a computerised calling system that puts answered calls through to someone.

"Hallo Sir, I'm calling on behalf of EDF (France Electricity) to ensure that you received your last bill."

I was suspicious. They've never done this before.

"Yes. It came by email as usual."

"Also to ask you if you have considered the benefits of installing photovoltaic panels on your roof."

"Madame, it is clear that you do not work for EDF because if you did then you would know that this is a block of flats and we are tenants, not owner-occupiers."

The phone cut off suddenly.

At the insurance office

I called at our insurers' office, just about 5 minutes walk from the flat, to drop off the bill for Pat's cataract operation in the hope of it being reimbursed. We should be covered. The person who dealt with it said, "OK, I'll send that off."

"I ought to talk to you about life insurance, too, in case we die, because to die incurs costs."

"OK. What kind of sum are you thinking of? 10,000€?"

"Sounds about right. I guess a burial costs about 5,000?"

"5 - 7,000€, yes. Here we are, for straightforward life insurance you're talking about 7€ per month per person."

"OK. That sounds affordable."

"Alternatively we have endowment policies that pay out in case of death but also your premiums are saved up. There for 10,000€ cover you'd be putting aside 50€ per person, but in 5, 10 or 20 years you get these sums of money back. And of course, if you die then your wife gets the money."

"Oh, I shan't tell her."

"No, you must tell her."

"I'll leave a letter or something. Lots of people die suddenly for less than 10,000€."

"Oh yes, we had a case of that. Not here in Pessac, but a man who took out life insurance, but he did it here, at the bank, at other insurers. Then he took his wife on holiday and pushed her off a cliff."

"No!"

"Yes!"

"Oh, I don't think there's any fear of that. My wife is very kind."

"The premiums depend on any serious illnesses, pre-existing conditions."

"Well if there are any we don't know about them! Anyway, they know all about our health, we're insured with them."

"That's true. But they don't know about any antecedents."

"Ah, well there there's only bad news."

"Oh, really?"

"Well yes! All my antecedents are dead. Everyone dies in my family."

"Oh yes. Mine too... I can't find your profession on the screen."

"I'm a pastor, a protestant pastor."

"Hang on, here's pastor, imam, monk or ... POP. What's a POP?"

"I don't know. Perhaps Priest or......"

"Priest or... Priest or perhaps. That's it! Well here's all the information."

"Thanks. Have a good day."



Thursday, September 08, 2016

You have to take the rough with the smooth

This has to be the first year ever that we have a tomato plant that has been adequately watered all summer. It's quite remarkable! We left our flat for three weeks in July and early August and all that time our tomato plant was watered and flourished.

We planted it by the hedge, you see, and the hedge is supplied by our flats' automatic watering system. Every evening a trickle of water is squirted from a system of pipes that runs along the little hedges and around the various trees and shrubs. Anything planted by the hedges gets watered too. Anything else doesn't.

That's why our "lawn" has two distinct colours. Where the pipes run the lawn is luxuriantly green, verdant, thriving. Everywhere else it's brown, crisp and dusty-looking.

Our tomatoes haven't yet ripened, but it's still quite sunny and it will stay warm till November, so I think we will get some. Next year we'll be ready. We'll get some tomato plants and put them in beside the hedge nice and early in the year. You can even train them through the privet so they don't need staking. Maybe we could put some lettuce along another stretch. And what about some pepper plants?

Examinations

Pat had her post-op examination in the centre of Bordeaux today. The chap said that the operation was very good, excellent, but that she must clean her eyelids and put some cream near her eyelashes to prevent any possibility of infection.

Jolly good!

Then we called on the way home at the DEFLE university language school, where a list had been posted of the people who had succeeded in the DELF B2 exam. My name was on the list. Phew! They did not get put off by the cow.

Jolly good!


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Pat's cataract

On our arrival at the clinic we went to the reception area. You have to decide what you are there for - we were here for an "Admission", press the relevant button, take the ticket that printed out and then sit and wait. After a couple of minutes we were told to go to desk E. Pat, who was not wearing her glasses, dutifully charged off to desk B, while the lady at desk E and I watched her.

Once we were reunited there were lots of documents to hand over and lots of forms to fill in and sign.  Passport photocopied and returned, consent forms signed, next of kin information given, insurance details provided, eventually we were given a folder of information and sent up to the cataract department.

The waiting room was quite small and had perhaps ten armchairs. "Ring and enter." We rang and entered. A nice, brisk nurse came out and took the folder of information.

"OK. Monsieur wait here. Madame and I will go to undress. I'll call you when the operation is about to proceed."

Pat went off to doff her clothes and put on a natty blue paper suit. I settled myself to read "The Last Train to Istanbul" on my Kindle.

After about half-an-hour two other couples came in. It seems that two operations are scheduled every half-hour. One lady was humming loudly to herself. She and her husband had arrived rather early.

"Your husband is good at waiting?"

"Oh yes, stick him in a corner and he'll be fine." (Pat said they gave him a trolley to lie on and he went to sleep.)

After a long wait during which time Pat was having anaesthetic drops put in her eyes, her blood pressure taken, a canula put in her arm and other merry preparations for surgery, I was called into a side room.

"Here we are. They've just started."

On a screen on the wall I could see a large eye, recognisably belonging to Pat. I could see the clamps holding it open and the bright light was reflecting off the retina to make to whole pupil appear red.

As I watched a little tube was inserted from what seemed like below, but I later realised was the side, and a small pick was placed in at 90 degrees to the tube. The lens started to break down. With the pick it was broken into four pieces, then sucked up the tube. By a combination of pick and tube over a couple of minutes the lens was entirely removed.

Then another tube appeared and was inserted into the eye - and the new lens was pushed in and quickly unfurled. The pick was used to manoeuvre it into place, helped with what looked like small quantities of saline to swish it into position.

The screen went dark. The operation was finished. I went back to the waiting room and resumed my wait. The humming lady and I chatted about the operation and pretty well everything else.

At about 11:15 Pat appeared with a clear plastic shield taped over her eye.

off we went down to the reception area. This time we pressed button "Sortie". We hand over the folder once more.

"There's 148€ to pay." I duly paid using my card.

"Here's the receipt for your health insurance. You need to give that to them so that they will reimburse you if you are covered."

Clutching our precious paper we went out into the bright sunshine.

Pat says her eyes feels like nothing at all happened. She has lots of drops to put in and an appointment with the ophthalmologist tomorrow just to check all is OK.

It's a conspiracy!

The Tivoli clinic phoned yesterday evening.

"So Mrs Davey has an appointment tomorrow at 7h30, you'll need this, this, this, this and this, and don't eat or drink nothing, OK..."

"Um, yes, but they did say 8h30."

"Ah no! 8h30 is too late!"

"OK"

I tried to change the start time of the car we booked to 6h30, but someone had reserved it till 6h45. Still, 30 minutes should be enough to get to the clinic at that time of the morning.

This morning at 6h15 I got a text message:

So we got on tram B and headed off to Forum. We drew into the clinic at ... just before 7h30.

Mrs Davey's left eye has been duly operated upon, while I watched on a screen in the room next door.

Fascinating.

And she's now resting after her early start!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Problems

Yesterday two high schools in this area were evacuated.

In Gujan Mestras down near the coast an anonymous call reported that three men in djellaba carrying automatic weapons were seen climbing over the fence of the school. The school was evacuated, police conducted a through search of the premises and the surrounding area and found nothing at all amiss.

In Bordeaux an anonymous call to a high school reported the presence of a bomb. The school was evacuated, police and bomb disposal officers conducted a thorough search of the premises and the surrounding area and found nothing at all amiss.

Hoax calls are strongly suspected.

Chef

I watched a series of programmes on Netflix recently, entitled "Chef", a thriller series based in the kitchen of a very smart restaurant in Pariswhere a young guy on probation is placed to work washing up. The chef has a history of taking on lads like this, his second-in-command coming into the kitchen in just the same way some years before.

As the programme unfolds we see intrigue, family mystery, kitchen duels, addiction, murder and hunting for cèpes. It's a roller-coaster of suspense.

But it's also pretty hilarious, playing on all the French stereotypes.

The chef was adopted by a couple of peasants who live in complete simplicity on a smallholding a couple of hours outside Paris, and it is there, with fresh leeks, pigeons from the woods and fresh mushrooms, that he learnt to appreciate food.

When people taste good food they are transported to other worlds where all their dreams come true.

A mysterious market gardener selects a restaurant to work with his world-famous vegetables.

White truffles eventually cost a man his life.

Great fun!

Well will you look at that...

I was out just a little later this morning. Don't ask why. But here is the result:

Monday, September 05, 2016

The last Davey makes a day-off trip to Ikea

We didn't need anything so it was the perfect time to go. Number 4 bus to Place Paul Doumer at the Chartrons, then Tram C to the delightfully named 40 Journaux, then hoof it a couple of minutes to Ikea.

A chap relieving himself at the side of the street set the theme for the day. There were some trees around, but only small ones, so I did have a little sympathy for him, though he could have tried harder to find a secluded corner.

Ikea has been rearranged. Now they have these mock-ups of what wonders you can achieve with their furniture and an unlimited budget. We admired a dwelling place fit for an imperial family shoe-horned into just a few square metres. It's always good to get a few ideas. If we did it their way you could house three families in our flat, I reckon.

Later on came some examples of sitting rooms. One was labelled "Pour s'exposer". Thinking it couldn't possibly mean what it seemed to mean, but not being sure exactly what they were getting at, I dared to peep inside. The room was furnished in black with subdued lighting, dark walls and quiet jazz playing. I moved swiftly on.

One nice thing about Ikea is that the people are part of the show. One little corner had a nice sofa on which a sprawling figure was slathered, like American frosting on a sponge. It was a man. Whether he was alive, dead or just a dummy, I found it impossible to tell. A couple squabbled happily about bamboos. Another couple made a substantial pile of purchases. "It's a bedroom", they told the lady on the till.

It was almost lunchtime, so we ate some pork casserole and then bought a milk jug.

Tram and bus home.

On the way home I heard the news that London Theological Seminary has changed its name to London Seminary. I wholeheartedly approve, of course, though I wonder if just "Seminary" would be better. Anyway, they want to avoid the use of initials and have a more memorable name.

It made me reflect how my name is prone to being initialised, misspelt and forgotten. Maybe, after 57 years, a change is called for. What if my name were just "A"? It's easy to spell. You can't shorten it. It's memorable.

My sister stopped my dreams by calling me to order. "You're the last Davey", she said.

Stuffed to the gunwales last night

Very full. Very full indeed. Some folks passing through (thankfully!). Most here for a year or so. Some permanent lads linking in with us. I think it looks like we may make more progress this year.

DEntry - the latest

Well we have 5 years' worth of Electricity bills, all printed out and ready.

We will need to get our birth certificates translated into French.

And on Wednesday 7th September I should find out if I passed the DELF B2 exam I took in July.

Then we plan Pat's exam (and mine if necessary) and get the show on the road.

Catrin also wants to apply for Frenchness, but she will not need to take an exam since she has done her bac in French as well as all her other schooling since 2005.

11th Anniversaire

We arrived in France on 4th September 2005, eleven years ago.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Epi'Sol

For a couple of months one of the shops in the centre of Pessac has been displaying the sign "Epi'Sol coming soon". This morning was the grand opening.

Epi'Sol is an épicerie solidaire, or a social action grocery store. The idea is that the grocery is run by a not-for-profit association and staffed by volunteers. Anyone can buy there and the prices are normal prices, though you do have to join the association with an annual membership of 5€. In addition there a little lounge at one end where you can get a cup of coffee, there's some books and magazines and a place where people can meet up and talk.

The trick comes for people on low income. Then you pay reduced prices at the till, the difference made up by people's membership fees and the profits from normal sales.

We went along to see, and we needed emergency milk. I met some folks I know, and got talking with some other folks. Meanwhile Pat joined the association and said she'd be happy to volunteer in the shop.

Meet Sumo

Our neighbours have two cats. We don't know their real names.

One is small and timid and has been nicknamed Susan.

The other we nicknamed Sumo.

Catkin (known to his owners as Caramel) has bene quite cool towards us since we went away on holiday. He comes in but doesn't want to converse or to be touched, thank you. He just patrols then goes.

Sumo craves attention and longs to be scratched and rubbed. I wonder if he has some kind of skin irritation, frankly. He is a very substantial cat, after all.

This morning Sumo was in the flat when Catkin came to patrol.
Catkin sneaked in while Sumo's back was turned, then attempted to leave surreptitiously.
Sumo spotted him and made an agressive yowl, before lining up to spray on the sofa. Pat stopped him, firmly.
The cats then lined up for a major dispute in our garden, but we chased them off.
Not on our turf. Not on our watch.
If they're going to fight they're going to fight, but they can do it elsewhere!

Morning runs

Yes, I'm back to it.

It's been a struggle, not because I didn't want to run, and not because I didn't feel up to it, but because we've had a bit of trouble getting back to our usual bedtime and wake time routine. We've had late nights, broken sleep, I've fought to get back to sleep at 5 then slept till 7:30, things like that.

But twice this week I was up and at it at 6:30 - just short runs for the moment, a couple of kilometres - and I'll build back up gradually to where I was before.

Sadly the sun doesn't rise now till about 7:30, so no more nice sunrise photos till next year.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Planning meeting for Tea and Chat in the Kitchen

We met up yesterday evening to discuss English-based evenings at the English Country Kitchen.

It was a good time. Six folk were there and one sent his reflexions by email.

We planned and stuff. We start in October.

Hurrah! Catrin is home safe and sound from Barcelona

by Easyjet

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oh, we do have our little excitements, you know

So I got our property-owners' tax bill through today.

1608€, please, by mid October for the property which we no longer own.

I wondered whether I perhaps still owed for last year, but no, it clearly said it was for this year.

I wondered if there was some kind of mistake in my mind, but no, the notaire had clearly said that we would no longer have to pay after December 2015.

I wondered if perhaps I had not notified them, but I have. I wrote the day we sold the house, enclosing the notaires' attestation of sale. AND they contacted me in August asking if we still owned the house, and I replied, enclosing my letter of 22 December and the notaires' attestation of sale, again.

I phoned them up. After some minutes on hold I got through to a helpful lady who made encouragingly shocked noises to her colleague.

"Oh la la. Mais quoi? Et aloes... Zut!" and other words I shall not repeat.

"Allô? Monsieur? Yes, because the change of ownership was only noted in the system at the beginning of August the bill was still sent out. You should receive, at best at the end of next week, a letter explaining that you don't need to pay your bill."

"OK. Thanks."


Yippee!

I'm off to Paris in October to a training day on association law run by the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France. It'll mean an overnight stay but I've found somewhere reasonable, a reasonably priced rail ticket and it's all feasible.

New coffee shops and a new Ice-Cream place

Today Mrs Davey and I took advantage of the relative calm to go and explore an exhibition of street art that has been set up in the old premises of the Virgin Megastore, and that is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week.

OK. So, having a little time on our hands, we decided to check out some new coffee chops.

First we poked our noses into Starbucks because a friend has just started working there.
He wasn't there. We retreated swiftly.

Then we visited the BIG post office looking for pre-stamped envelopes for sending letters overseas, for example to England. They didn't have any.

Then we decided to check out a new coffee shop that comes with strong recommendations, and that will prepare your coffee by chemex, aeropress, or sundry other methods. It looked great, but Mrs Davey was not convinced.

So we went to the Jean Moulin French Resistance Museum where there is an exhibition of propaganda from WWII. It was chilling, especially a film about the liberation of the death camps.

Then another post office. No envelopes.

Then another. "We don't do them any more."
"Oh no!, and they have closed the post office in the centre of Pessac!"

Then another post office to buy the equivalent stamps.
(Why we didn't think of this sooner, I don't know)

Then to the new English bookshop and coffee shop where we met an ex-pat friend who is kind of Polish Australian. We happily chewed the cud for a while, before setting off home.

Oh yes, the ice-cream...

Well there's a new Ice-Cream place on a street that we hardly ever take, that sells traditional provençal flavours.

I had Rosemary, Olive Oil and Pine Nuts. Excellent!
Pat had Fennel. (I also sampled the fennel and it was very good indeed.
Catrin had a carrot sorbet. She was less convinced.

They had lots more wonderful flavours, including Lavender, and Pastis.



Monday, August 29, 2016

Yippee!

So today has been interesting.

Catrin left at 9:00 to go to the airport with some friends on a trip to Barcelona.

We, meanwhile, were off to Clinique Tivoli for an appointment with the anaesthetists who will numb Patricia's eye with drops ready for the surgeon to do her cataracts.

At about 10 the phone rang. "Dad, one of the girls has a problem with her card, but there's a couple who had the same problem, so we're going with them by car to Barcelona."

The "problem with the card" was a French identity card that was out of date by a month.
The girl in question will come back by coach, where they don't worry so much about valid identity.
So off they set for Barcelona.
Catrin promised to text us from time to time.

Meanwhile we set off for the clinic. Patricia needed a BIG THICK dossier of papers, including a complete print of the contract of our health insurance and loads of other stuff, together with her passport. We walked through the streets of Pessac to the station and took the Citiz car to drive to Tivoli.

Traffic was heavy and roadworks were frequent. At the clinic Pat got out and scuttled off to the clinic while I parked the car. I found her in the waiting room, rifling through her papers.

"Is my passport in the car?"

"I'll go and look."

It was nowhere. Not in the car, not on the floor of the car park, not nowhere.

When I got back to the waiting room she'd gone in to see the doctor.
He didn't need her passport.
Or the contract for our health insurance.

When we got back to Pessac we looked in the street, in the flat, everywhere. It was nowhere.

At about 4 the phone rang. "Madame Davey? It's the police. We have your passport."

Then we heard that Catrin had arrived safely in Barcelona and was reunited with the gang of girls.






Saturday, August 27, 2016

UPS - ha!

We have had two different deliveries this week from UPS.
One came on Wednesday and one on Thursday.
At least in theory.

I had been tracking the deliveries and I knew that Wednesday's parcel was scheduled to arrive, so we made sure someone was always in to watch for it. I was not encouraged, therefore, to receive a message saying that the package could not be delivered because we were "indisponible" - unavailable.

How much more available can you be than watching the gate of the front yard of the flats?
We knew no UPS van had come. Anyway our flat has a bell, a loud bell, a loud bell which had been silent all day.

Subsequent messages said that the package had been delivered to a relay point about 5 minutes walk away, then that the relay point was closed so "a new attempt to deliver the package would be made on Thursday".

The problem - apart from complete fabrication such as "unavailable" - is that because the flats are less than a year old they do not appear on GPS systems. If you put in 1 Avenue Paul Montagne the systems often say the address does not exist. Drivers get discouraged by this and give up. However, anyone driving up Avenue Paul Montagne might quickly realise that there is a new block of flats at the start of the road and it would not take the deductive powers of Maigret to surmise that this might be no.1. Not only that but they have our phone number on the package, so they could ring. But they usually don't.

So I quickly went into the UPS website and advised them that our flat was situated on the corner of Paul Montagne and Larouillat, and that we were watching for the driver.

The next day I saw a UPS van arrive at the traffic lights, thankfully red. I shot out and hailed the driver, who pulled in.

He handed over a package. One small package.

"There's another, a bigger one, from yesterday."

"Yes, it's at the relay point."

"But I had a message telling me that it wasn't."

"Oh yes it is, I left it there myself."

Thanks a bunch, I thought, then decided to phone the relay point as by now it was hot. Very hot.

"Hallo, you have a parcel for me, quite a big one, for Davey."

"No, no, there's nothing here for Davey."

I spelled the name.

"No, no."

"Then I have a big, fat problem because the UPS driver said he left it at your shop."

"No... oh, hang on, yes, there it is."

Phew...


Today is the hottest day, apparently

We needed some provisions, so Patricia and I ventured out quite early on the 42 bus towards Mérignac. I knew one stop to get off to go to the huge Carrefour at Mérignac Soleil, but I saw, too, that you could alight at the stop before and take a shorter route, so we tried it.

A little gated road with a footpath and cycle path led past a staff carpark for Carrefour - promising - and past a yard full of Carrefour rental vehicles. To the right was the after-sales service area. A gentleman with a small girl was walking in front of us. I noticed that his legs were strangely shaped - a cyclist, I think. We followed him. He entered through a doorway.

When we approached the doorway we saw that it said "Private, No entry, Security". A lady stood just to one side, smoking.

"Hallo," I said, "how does one access the shopping centre?"

"Through there", she said, "then across and through a door on the left".

Thus encouraged we entered the private, no entry, security door and followed the chap once more through the indicated door (marked "Staff only, strictly no admittance") and found ourselves right outside the entrance to Carrefour.

We found the supplies we needed - lentils, brown rice, sesame oil, live yogurt and other delicious goodies - then lingered as long as we dared by the chillers before taking the short walk and bus journey home.

The rest of the day was spent behind the radiation shields (shutters) preparing for tomorrow and in cool musical pursuits.

The weathermen say that it will be cooler from tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Today Catrin signed up for the second year of her course

The inscription process is really well organised.

You start at the bottom of the reception building with someone who checks that you have all the documents you need.

Catrin had not received her official list of marks for her course last year, so she'd downloaded them from the course website. Also we were unsure whether the little grant she received makes her a boursière or not, so we'd said she wasn't.

The woman who checked Catrin's dossier went off to check and came back with her official report from last year AND the news that she is indeed a boursière, and therefore we didn't have to pay any fees for her course. Last year we had about 200€ to pay.

Then you go to part 2, which is the actual inscription desk. Here all your information is loaded into the computer and you get back various certificates to say that you're a student, as well as your wifi password, etc.

After that it's part 3, which is where you get your student card and you walk away fully enrolled.

Catrin's appointment was for 10:15, we arrived a little early and actually left at 10:10, it was all so efficient. Bravo Bordeaux-Montaigne.

At 19:56 we raised the heat-shields. So far so good.

We have heat-shields on our windows. Roll-down shutters.

As this part of France is officially in a heatwave (Canicule - defined in the Gironde as temperatures above 35 in the daytime and not falling below 21 at night) the government has issued the following instructions:

1) Spend at least 3 hours a day in a cool place. (for us this would mean hanging about in Carrefour or in the local library)

2) Refresh yourself, moisten your body several times a day.

3) Drink frequently and copiously, even when you are not thirsty.

4) Don't go out at the hottest times.

The hottest times are from about 2 in the afternoon till about 6 pm. The morning is OK, and in Pessac  we also get nice breezes. But after lunch you can't stay out on the terrace, you have to get back in the house behind the shutters. And even then it's so hot you are aware that you're thinking sluggishly.

So in the afternoon we live like troglodytes in the gloom hidden behind our heat-shields. 
We can venture out in the early morning, but by lunchtime you fry out there. 
The postman spontaneously combusted, but the mailbox is metal so the letters were OK.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Wow. Just wow!

There was a guy there filming for TV7. He asked if he could interview me, but his questions were a bit un-thought-out and I was somewhat awestruck by the plant so I was replying in whispers!












I'm so excited! I have an EPIC day-off ahead of me, before resuming work and ministry tomorrow

This morning - a visit to the Greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens (already some of my favourite words in that sentence) to see the flowering Amorphophallus titanum.

This afternoon - trombone brother Bruce (who is actually American) is coming round for coffee.

This evening - Patricia and Catrin come home and I get to collect them from the airport in Carys the Yaris!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The world is smaller than we think

Again this morning I noticed that people I know from separate worlds - France, Wales, UK, Mission, etc - discover each other or know each other, without me introducing them or knowing they knew each other. It's a bit alarming sometimes. Everyone I know also knows each other. I dare not sniff, I am surrounded!

It's not that surprising, really, though, is it. Birds of a feather and all that. Six degrees of separation.

I thought about this the other day. Someone described a church I know and love as "just scraping in as conservative evangelical". I was surprised. The church in question is eminently conservative evangelical and more or less in the centre of the spectrum of evangelical churches in its city. Of course, we could do with defining our terms - what is a conservative evangelical anyway? Not only that, but you ask the more "right-wing" of our brothers and they'd agree that the church barely cuts muster, but ask folk on the left-wing and my friendly church would be seen as deeply conservative or even hide-bound.

We think at Bordeaux Church that we're pretty radical. After all, we hold our services café-style, seated round tables. At the same time our worship is deeply conservative. All the things we do are what people like us have always done. No dance, no symbolic actions, no ecstatic utterances.

I think the points I'm making are:

1) It's almost impossible to know how others would describe us on the conservative - modern spectrum, and it doesn't matter a bit anyway. On the great and last day faithfulness will be of the essence, but faithfulness to the faith once delivered to the saints, not to any tradition of conservative or radical or modern or whatever.

2) We shouldn't worry about whether we are too conservative, sufficiently conservative, too radical, radical enough or whatever. Who cares? Anyway all these standards are shifting shadows. Who wants to try and keep march in step with a shadow as it fades? What matters is communicating biblical truth in a biblically faithful and intelligible way so that people can become disciples of the Master.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A surprisingly frustrating journey!

Mrs Davey has taken flight to England, to Burgess Hill, to the celebration of our brother-il-law's 70th birthday. Yes. 70th. Oh la la.

So 15h found us scuttling through Pessac to get Carys the Yaris to drive off to the airport.

When we arrived I cast a glance round Carys and found - a long scrape down her side. Yikes!

This means phoning the Car Pool Club.

I had to do this once before - I found someone had clouted her bumper - and it's always frustrating. For a start you get put through to an operator in a call centre somewhere and they can never find the parking place in their system.

"La Gare de Pessac? Non, je ne le trouve pas..."

"Ben, de toute façon il n'y a qu'un seul stationnement à Pessac, alors si vous trouvez Pessac vous avez trouvé l'endroit."

I tried not to sound exasperated. The thing was, Mrs Davey had a plane to catch.

"La longueur? Je dirais 50 cm." I think it was longer, in fact. Anyway, as long as they know.

Eventually all necessary info was given and we got underway. I'd allowed 30 minutes to get to the airport and we'd used 16 of them already. Oh dear.

How's the ring road? Clogged. OK, we'll go by the back roads.

We got to the airport at about 15:45.

Two minutes after Pat got through security they announced the departure gate and she got happily onto the plane.

Boy, it's quiet in this house!