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)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Back on line

Well here I am back again.

This morning's run was fresh!!! As in "running through the clouds of your own breath" fresh. And because the trees are still trying to sabotage me, I had to stop to use my inhaler twice. But apart from that it felt good.

One drawback of these lighter mornings is that there are more people about. On Tuesday morning I passed someone running the other way. We waved to each other. This morning I passed various people and a somewhat gasped "bonjour" was necessary.

I was a little perturbed recently to discover that regular running will add on average three years to your life. This all sounds great, except that you then remember that it adds the three years on to the end, the bit where you're ill and immobile and so on... If I could add three years onto my thirties, then that would be great. Except it's too late.

But I suppose it doesn't work quite like that. I hope that as well as adding three years, it will make the last years a bit easier, less ill, less immobile or something. Improved quality and not just increased quantity. Anyway.

Then I was off into Bordeaux to the Fnac, my favourite shop.

The mission financial man had suggested they loan us money to get a laptop to get going again. It's a bit awkward having money travel back and fore to the mission, however, because the chap who does our payslips calculates them from the emails that accompany our money transfers and each time I have to remember to tell him that a reimbursement, or whatever, is not additional salary. Ebb and flow of a loan would be complicated.

However, each time we pay for travel using our French account, we get reimbursed into our English account. This was building up a little sum ready for when we come over in the summer and have to hire a car for three weeks in August! So I decided to use that to get another computer.

My heart was somewhat heavy making this big purchase AGAIN, but the Fnac had a special offer on one particular capacity of computer, so that helped a bit.

And I'm back online. Now to listen to some Banner of Truth Conference sessions.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Burglarized! Burgled! Cambriolé!

We got back from church at about 22:15 on Sunday to find the French door forced and several things missing, including our computers and cameras. The burglars were very clean and made no mess whatsoever. The police came round straight away and next morning the scene of crime unit came. The burglars wore latex gloves. Oh well. I was able to give the police the serial numbers of the computers and we have receipts for all the computers but nothing for the cameras. Thinks : must buy more by internet...

We're OK. We don't feel violated or anything. We feel frustrated because, obviously, we use the computers for work. I think I can still prepare to preach on Sunday even though my office is my computer. It will just restrict the range of books I can refer to.

Meanwhile someone in the church has offered to produce the song sheet, and who knows - maybe this will be a good way of bringing in delegation!

And the police have all been charming, the insurance company have been sympathetic so far.
And the mission have said that if we need a quick transfer of funds to get a computer to get moving again it can be done. I am hanging fire on that for the moment.

Also, and we are SO thankful for this, the burglars didn't even open the door of Catrin's bedroom, so all her equipment is there and intact, including her computer with all her recordings for her degree work this year on it.

Incidentally, these two weeks have seen a spate of break-ins in Pessac, coinciding with the school holidays. Not only that bu the tobacconist just two doors from our insurance office was held up at gunpoint. Our insurance agents are concerned because people do not always realise that insurance offices do not hold large quantities of cash.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Getting back to it

after the Colloque (where I didn't take my running shoes, trews or sweatshirt). A gentle start this morning, sabotaged by the trees with their shedloads of pollen:



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Getting to and from the Colloque

Easyjet flies to Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport, which is a LONG WAY out of the city. There's a special high-speed long distance tram that takes you from the airport into the city, called the RhonExpress. It's 16 euros per journey. On the way to the colloque I looked for a cheaper way - bus, coach, whatever - but there was nothing like that. There is a railway station, but the train fare was more expensive. Oh well..

Coming home was interesting. My flight went from Terminal 3 at 19:15, so I had lots of time to get to the airport. Paul Wells found someone to take us to the airport on his way to Switzerland, so that was great. When we got to the airport we saw signs for Terminal 1 and for Terminal 2, so we wandered into one of them at random. We were staring uncomprehendingly at a notice board when a member of staff greeted us.

"Oh, Terminal 3 no longer exists, but Easyjet flies from this terminal."

OK. Paul Wells' flight was leaving from Terminal 1a (?) so we sais goodbye and separated.

Later that evening, at 21h, I got an email from Easyjet telling me that my flight would leave (= had left) from Terminal 1. Are things always better late than never?

The flight was delayed about 30 minutes because of sickness earlier in the day. After boarding I chatted happily with the person next to me, a Frenchman with a Berber background and a PhD in medical biochemistry who was on his way to a fun weekend in Bordeaux.


BWV 42 :

This is lovely for just after Easter in the context of attacks by violent thugs and of a presidential election.

The Colloque Biblique Francophone

There were four main threads to the Colloque:

1) Alain Joly, from the Evangelical Lutherans, gave us an outline of Luther's life and thought.

2) Paul Wells, ex-Dean of John Calvin Seminary in Aix-en-Provence, gave a comparison of the thought of Luther and of Calvin with regard to Free Will

3) Edouard Nelson, Baptist pastor from Paris, preached from Luke's gospel

4) Charles Nicolas gave us a very warm and encouraging comparison of the pastoral role in the 16th and 21st centuries.

It was a good, intensive time and super to spend time with friends and heroes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What an exciting day!

Well, after an early night and somewhat light sleep I rose at about 4:15 to shower, eat my porage and hie me away to catch the 5:17 Number 4 bus to Bordeaux. My doubts about it coming were unjustified. It hove grandly into view and I was surprised by the number of people aboard.

I was also surprised at Palais de Justice, where I had to change to the bus 1 for the airport, to find there wasn't one for almost half an hour. This put the whole project at risk. Last boarding was 6:35 and the bus didn't come till almost 6.

The driver made a gallant effort and we got the the airport bus stop at 6:28. I walked smartly into the departure area to find a HUGE QUEUE for security. However we were encouraged to take our trays and fill up spaces in front, so I did. I had removed my belt and stowed everything at the bus stop so I was ready!

I found myself behind another passenger for Lyon who was in a slight flap and was not ready. He had concealed large aerosols in his bag and wanted to argue adamantly that they should be allowed in the cabin with him. I thought, "Shut up man, we don't have time for this" but I uttered never a word. Eventually he gave up, I was nodded through and while he put his belt on I waddled to the departure gate and got on the plane with seconds to spare!

Lyon is a very big city and very technologically advanced.
You can pay to use the public toilet by card!
I was grudgingly impressed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A quiet birthday

After a HECTIC Easter weekend, yesterday we made the best of the beautiful sunshine by going for a nice walk over the new Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, along the right bank of the river and then back over the Pont de Pierre. It really was a beautiful day and we got rather hot, so we stopped off at a cafe for a cold drink.








Today, my birthday, we spent making rolls, cakes and a trifle and eating on the terrace - at least until the wind chased us back indoors.

Tomorrow I have to get up very early to get to the airport for an early flight to Lyon, so I'd better have a quiet early night, too.


The French election process explained

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What a BIG Easter

Thursday we were in he centre of town with Ali and Pete and their sketchboard.
It was a good time, one big crowd stayed to listen. Good chats. Happy people.

Friday was Good Friday meal with message and songs at our house.
Pizza, Psalm 22 and Christian Hymns.

Saturday was preparation day. Pat was baking with some of the folk.
I was reading, thinking and also watching some detective tv to relax the old brain muscle.

Then in the evening up to the vineyard to watch the marathon runners pass.
14000 signed up to do the half-marathon round the quays.
3000 marathon runners came by us and we were delighted to spot:
Firstly Jian, who came and gave us a great hug.
Then Julien, who waved like a crazy man.
Both looked in good form and were around the 4 hours 15" marker.
Read about the marathon in French here.
Note the word frisquette, in Bordeaux this means nippy, chilsome.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Christ lag in Todesbanden

In either 1977 or 1978 I joined a choir in Aberystwyth, the Bach Society Choir. It was by audition. You had to sing for the conductor and there were three possible outcomes: you got to belong to the excellent and famed Madrigal Singers and to the Bach Society, to just the Bach Society, or not at all. I have an awkward voice. I'm not really a tenor and I'm not really a bass, so when I'm singing well I sing with the tenors and when I'm out of form - or I just can't be bothered - I sing with the basses. Nobody has ever told me which line to sing. I've always decided for myself. Anyway... I sang with the Bach Society Choir.

So I got my copies and found a friendly bass and found we were singing two pieces: the Pergolesi Magnificat and Cantata no. 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden. I've loved both pieces ever since, but especially the Bach.

A couple months ago I decided to join a choir. There's one that rehearses a 10 minute bus ride or 30 minute walk from us, at the Alouette school of music. I emailed them. You don't have to audition. They rehearse on a Wednesday, an evening that suits me. I went along.

I got my copies and saw that we're doing two pieces, the Vasks Mass and Cantata no. 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden. "What voice are you singing?" "For this I'll sing bass. I sang it forty years ago and I still have a vague memory of how it goes."

"Christ lag in Todesbanden" is a hymn written by Martin Luther, both the text and the tune, though based on earlier material. The text recounts the gospel story very simply. Because it's difficult to translate poetry it isn't easy to find a version in English that sticks to the meaning of what Luther wrote, and I have almost no German, so I can't translate it. But I can tell when someone has made a total hash of it! Here's a translation that I think captures the meaning:

Luther's hymn was published in 1524. Bach's cantata in 1707. It isn't easy for a movement to keep its vitality for 200 years, and sure enough, the lovely earthy energy of early Lutheranism soon fossilised into just another religious system. But in the late 1600s a movement called Pietism was born through the work of Philipp Spener, who emphasised personal conversion and renewal within the structures of the Lutheran church. Bach seems to have been influenced by this renewal.

His cantata is scored for four part choir, strings, cornetto and trombones, the brass doubling the voices. It starts with a short sinfonia just for the strings which is a kind of variation on part of the hymn tune.

Then follow seven movements, one for each verse. The writing is polyphonic and in each movement Luther's melody is the raw material that Bach uses. Three movements, verses 1, 4 and 7, are for full choir, and they are not at all easy to sing. Even though Bach was only in his twenties when he wrote the cantata, he had lots of inventive skill and the music suits the text really well.

Performances vary in the size of choir used. At Aberystwyth I think we were no more than thirty. At Pessac we're between 40 and 50. Some recordings use just the soloist's voices. At Aber and in Pessac we have no soloists, and the tenors will sing the tenor verse together, the basses singing the bass verse.

I'm both touched and thankful to be singing the Bach again. Meanwhile the Vasks Mass is written by a Latvian Baptist pastor's son, Pēteris Vasks, who had to study in neighbouring Lithuania, apparently, because of persecution against Baptists in his home country. It's good to discover a composer new to me.


When your lunch guests don't turn up

It wasn't the best plan ever made.

They didn't know our address.

We don't know their phone number.

"We'll ring you when we get to Pessac."

Came neither call nor caller.

So at 1:30 we had nice bread, blue cheese, strong cheddar and little Bonne Maman cakes.


Monday, April 10, 2017

A splendid day off!

We reserved a Citiz car, my favourite Yaris hybrid, and planned to go on the razz to the lake.

But first I had to run to the pharmacy because I had left only one dose of my life-giving compound. They have turned our pharmacy into a huge chemist-supermarket with high shelves stocked floor to ceiling with quack remedies of all sorts based on every kind of pseudoscience imaginable. I had a prescription for my life-giving compound, but to get it I had to sniff my way through the shelves like a rat in a maze. Eventually I found the counter and got what I needed.

Ha! Another month of life, buses permitting!

Then I collected Mrs Davey and we hied us off to Ikea. To begin with we sniffed our way through the upper floor like rats in a maze. I felt that the kitchens looked so clean and clinical that I would be scared to spend too much time in one in case someone appeared to give me an injection. Too shiny. We examined a marvellous rucksack that was on display but that had no price attached and no relatives in sight. Poor, lonesome article.

Then off to feast in the Ikea restaurant. Mrs Davey had some kind of vegetable preparation while I had leg of duckling in pepper sauce, which was very good indeed.

Then off to find the various things we needed: a proper chopping board, a pillow, some plants, some potting compost. We successfully nosed our way through the labyrinthine lower floor after the fashion of laboratory rodents and thereafter made our hasty retreat to an ice-cream emporium, calling at Decathlon on the way for shoes.

When I first arrived in France I invariably wore Clarks shoes which I bought at the outlet village in Ellesmere Port, usually for £35. In France I stood out like a sore thumb. Here two kinds of shoes are commonly worn. Everyday shoes are like training shoes but in subdued colours like dark brown or light brown. Any kind of brown, in fact. Shoes for special occasions are called chaussures de ville. They are black and they have very long pointy toes like you find on fifteenth century armour. I have never worn and shall never wear chaussures de ville. My feet are not that shape and it's too late to try and squeeze my toes into a long point. Forget it.

So - everyday shoes, well I asked someone once where those shoes were to be bought and the reply came back, Decathlon. So for a while I have gone there for my everyday shoes. Clarks shoes are too expensive here, even in the outlet shop, and I do want to try and blend in somehow. Decathlon used to have a whole section of shoes for La marche en ville - walking in town - where somewhat paradoxically they never had chaussures de ville - so we went to try and get some everyday shoes. I'm rambling a bit here, aren't I.

Long story short, they now do shoes for La Marche Sportive, which seems to be speed-walking - you know, that thing where you swing your hips and waggle your arms to go along faster, or for La Marche Nordique, which seems to be a special kind of gait that comes from Scandinavia. I have had several Scandinavian friends over the years but have never noticed anything particularly unusual about the way they walk. Honestly. I am SO unobservant.

So as a Welshman who aspires to walk in town at moderate speeds I came away unshod. Swiz.

The ice-cream was nice though.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's very clear

that the trees are out to get me.

The birds cheer me on.
The sun smiles down as I puff and pant.
But the trees shower dust, carefully planned to shoot straight up my nose and set me wheezing.

Still, a quick burst of the inhaler and off I go again.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The forthcoming presidential election

OK, Emmanuel, I need you

I cut our grass last night, and the neighbour's, too. Her mower was stolen from her patio a couple of months ago after a car demolished the fence.

Anyway this morning she popped round with some money in an envelope. She doesn't want to bu another mower for fear of it being stolen again, so she prefers to pay someone - me if I want the job - to mow her lawn. It's not a big lawn. It takes ten minutes, perhaps, to cut it. I'd happily cut it for nothing. For a piece of cake from time to time. For neighbourliness.

Now comes the dilemma. Can you politely refuse payment like that here? Or should we save up the money and buy really nice food when we get the neighbours round for cake and coffee? (I suppose I could put it towards a trip to Evian in a couple of years' time!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

You know that thing about closing doors and opening windows

Shortly afterwards an email arrived from Vaughan inviting me to go to EMA and to take a friend at a special buddy rate.
Time for quick reflection.
Could we stay anywhere with friends in London?
I messaged someone and the instant reply came back that we could.
What about flights?
Yes, three a day to Gattewycke.
We booked quickly before we could think twice. Patricia is my "buddy".


More harsh realities!

I reflected and remembered that I decided not to go to the outstanding EMW Ministers' Conference this year because of the Evian conference, so I thought I would investigate the possibility of attending that.

Ha! Flights to Liverpool are on Saturdays or Tuesdays. No good whatsoever.

And frankly the idea of flying to Bristol and then somehow trying to get to Bala was most unappealing.

Meanwhile Mrs Davey considers that I need to get away from Bordeaux a little.

Hey! I'm trying!


The harsh realities of life!

There's a conference in June that Pat and I ought to go to. Two days in Evian-les-Bains, on the French side of Lake Geneva. We could prolong it by a day in an AirBnB, perhaps, and breathe the mountain air and gaze at the scenery.

Easyjet would get us to Geneva slightly late for the start for 300 euros.
There's no public transport from Geneva to Evian, so it would mean hiring a car. 250 euros.
The conference fees come to another 300 euros for the two of us.

So we're talking 850 euros for a two day conference.

We have a little fund put aside, 100 a month, so that we can afford to go to conferences and pastorales. That gives us 1200 a year to play with. But we've already spent out for the colloque in Lyon and there's another conference in October which will take place in Germany. Plus we'll need to travel back and fore to Paris a little in the year ahead.

We can't do it.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Gideon Dinner

We were very kindly invited to a dinner thrown by the Gideons in the local Mercure hotel. What ho!

I'd previously asked one of the Gideons what one wears. You know that in France we're not quite as formal as in the UK. I can still remember how shocked I was the first time I saw a funeral, where people in their 50s turn up in jeans and leather jacket. Now I'm so well adjusted that doing "formal" has become frankly rather a headache.

"Oh no, whatever," was his reply.

Yeak. OK. So Pat got out a nice dress and a kind of lacy long cardigan thing.

I dug out my nicer black trousers and decided on a grey shirt. No tie. There is a limit. But I'd wear my navy blazer I got in Asda.

Well it was AWFUL!

The thing is now much too big for me. I look like I've had consumption or something. I just couldn't wear it. Instead I have an old leather jacket that I got over ten years ago and which was a much better fit.

The meal was very nice. Ham with some salad to start. Then roast chicken with a sort of hash brown. Then a kind of chocolate, strawberry and speculoos dessert.

One of our Bordeaux Church folk was telling how she'd been converted after receiving and reading a Gideon's New Testament. It was good to chat with the other folk.

So that was last night sorted.

The Gideons were well dressed. Other folk came in a variety of outfits ranging from jacket and tie to jumper and jeans. We done fine.

But we're going to a wedding in the summer. Yay!

Do I have to find a new jacket, one that fits, or can I get away with a navy cardigan?
Do I still have a navy cardigan?

Pat's exam day

Pat had her TCF ANF (Test de Connaissance de Français - Acquisition de Nationalité Française) at the Alliance Française yesterday. We decided to make it a little special by going into town for lunch. It would have to be a hurried lunch because she had to be there for 13:15.

We messed up our plan by leaving the house too late and just missing a number 4 bus, so we arrived in town with just an hour to eat and get to the exam centre. OK. Subway it is. Two mega sandwiches eaten in the street later I waved her goodbye and went off to explore Bordeaux.

Pat stared at cartoons and strained to hear recordings before ticking random boxes.

Meanwhile I scoured two stores in Bordeaux looking for a pale yellow top for her before finally giving in and having an ice cream.

After her "chat with a friend about preparing for a job interview" we met up and looked at the yellow tops I'd found. She bought a pale blue one as well as a surprise birthday present for me. We then went to one of the new posh tea-rooms before heading home.

So far so good. Now three weeks for the results to be available.

Meanwhile, on the physical front, yesterday began my run round the vines, 3km through the fog. Then as we walked back to the flat in the evening I checked how far I'd walked during the day - 18000 steps, about 10 miles in total.

I slept well.

Monday, April 03, 2017

You can tell

that I've had a busy week when the blog is quiet, very very quiet.

Anyway it's been a busy week, but an OK week.

Some highlights?

Well an evening with the students talking evangelism and apologetics. Tried to emphasise a holistic approach - people need to believe with their hearts as well as their minds - they won't believe till they want to believe, till they choose to believe.

An evening with our car share scheme hearing about their new plan for a "pick-up anywhere, drop off anywhere" fleet of shared cars in inner Bordeaux. Sounds great, though not too relevant to us, living in "outer Bordeaux".

A morning distributing gospels in the big market in the middle of Bordeaux. Great people, very friendly. It was a nice time.

Then yesterday we started the service VERY LATE INDEED because people had been held up by antifascist demonstrations (the full monty, broken windows and cash dispensers, tear gas, riot police and everything) that took place in response to a visit from Marine LePen, who could well be our next president if recent events are anything to go by. Then we can look out.

I just switched mobile phone operator. I have been with a rather expensive contract because it gave me included data cover in the UK, very useful for church visits, etc. It also included premium Spotify! Wonderful.! Then a couple of months ago they lost Spotify. And from July the hated European Union is abolishing roaming charges, so all operators will be forced to include data cover as long as the UK is part of the EU, at least. So I've switched to a scheme that gives me all I need for just 3 euros a month. Yay!

Today Pat has her TCF ANF exam which she needs to take to become a French citizen (keeping her British nationality, of course).

Music for Monday

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A varied evening

So yesterday we Daveys went off to our different rendez-vous.

Patricia to the Alliance Française for her preparatory workshop before her TCF-ANF next week.
She had a wonderful time listening to the recordings (just once) and ticking the boxes according to the conversation she thought she heard. Then discussing the discussion section.

Meanwhile Catrin and I were at James' flat with the GBU bunch for an evening discussing evangelism and apologetics. It seemed to go OK, and James cooked us an excellent spicy pasta meal!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Some more Stravinsky

After the concert

the other Saturday a little group of us headed for the nearest tram stop. We got talking. As often happens the subject got on to how long I've been in France, whether I came directly to Bordeaux and stuff. It comes up because I have an accent (American? Canadian? Belgian? Martian?) but I do pronounce things like what we do in Bordeaux.

One woman said, "Ah yes, I am from north of the Loire and it wasn't till I came here that I had any idea that in and un could conceivably be pronounced differently."

So for her there were just three nasal vowels, and in un grand pain rond, un and ain sound exactly the same. As do un and in in un bon vin blanc.

I'd read about this in the unique and unparalleled Harriette Walters books. And all of a sudden the penny dropped on something that I'd not thought about.

A friend who is very cultured, well-read and a professional story-teller did some workshops on the use of the voice. We went along to some. She insisted that en and an are pronounced differently in (subtly) different parts of the mouth. We all shrugged and tried to humour her, but Harriette Waters points out that in some parts of France there are actually 5 or 6 nasal vowels, and a clean distinction is made between en and an.

Ah bon.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Time for some Stravinsky!

Hmmm

When I had my eyes tested the ophthalmologist said, "Now I don't know if your additional health assurance will cover your new glasses. Some of them have gone to once every two years.

So I watched out for the reimbursement.

On 14 February the state scheme reimbursed 14 euros of the cost, and the message said that the bill had been passed to our additional health assurer.

Since then nothing.

So I called it at the local office armed with every possible relevant piece of paper.
The lady at the desk phoned head office.

"They say that it's every two years now, unless your eyesight has changed", quoth she, holding the phone in her hand.

"And what does this prescription say?" asked I.

"Ah yes. ... But his eyesight has changed", she said down the telephone.

So today I was glad to see that I have been reimbursed.

Should think so too!


When you have la crève

I haven't looked up this word, I warn you, so I've just worked it out from context but:

when you have a flat tyre c'est crevé.

when you want to tell someone to drop dead (I know you don't, of course) Crève!

when you feel under the weather, exhausted, generally below par, j'ai la crève

when you are exhausted and desperate for sleep, je suis crevé

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Yay! A day off!

I knew there'd be one around here somewhere.

Morning run round the sodden vineyard and through the damp streets.

Maybe shopping for cotton trousers later.

And music, music, music.

Some music for Thursday

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dialogue Véritas

Well there we are. Two evenings that went OK.

On Monday evening I had to deal with "Is there life after death", and the pastor from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Florian, had "Does God exist". There were 37 folk present, about 1/2 unknown to the GBU people.

On Tuesday evening my subject was "Does life have a point?" and Florian got the biggie, "If God exists, why is there evil?" There were fewer people present but again about 1/2 were folk unknown to the GBU types.

I realised how far out of my comfort zone I was. "Philosophical" style subjects. A Lecture hall setting. Questions and answers after the talks. Very short talks, 15 mins maximum. And, of course, everything in French.

Today I was a little bushed, but we had a prayer date and a lunch date with some friends and colleagues, then Pat and I went and booked her in for a preparatory workshop for her French test, then went and had an excellent coffee from Café Piha before she returned home and I went to a free workshop at the Apple Store.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Today I was brave

On Friday morning as I tottered out for a scamper round the vines I saw that there were two people waiting by the bus stop. I don't wear my glasses to run and sometimes I have to squint to decide whether the animal in the distance is a sweet little pussycat or a ravaging dobermann pinscher - this morning when the thing began to move I could tell it was a cat - so I didn't recognise the people at the bus stop. Not until they both said a cheery "Bonjour" and I realised it was our neighbour and her daughter....

So early this morning, perhaps it was knowing that all was revealed and my feeble attempts at secrecy were all in vain. Or perhaps it was that my back was aching and I was hit by one of those early morning existential crises, so eloquently sung by my neighbour on a Welsh language camp all those years ago - "ffili gweld y pwynt o godi, ffili gweld y pwynt o gwbl" - I don't see the point of getting up, I don't see the point at all. Anyway the clock said "6:30, time for your run" and I said to myself, "time to roll over".

At 7 I thought, "it's now or never", so I got up and ventured out. The morning was overcast but mild. I have these navy cotton running trousers - well, they are designed to wear for loafing round the house, really - yes, they really do make trousers specially designed and made for loafing round the house - can't you just hear people saying, "Oh, it's too bad, I have absolutely nothing to wear while loafing round the house, I'll just have to do the garden instead" - and they are cut quite tight to the calf. I wear a grey sweat-shirt which is just big enough. I imagine it gives the effect of the cart horse who somehow got into the corps de ballet by a fluke. I warm up by gently moving anything that can move as I slowly ascend the hill to the inappropriately named Rue Profond.

I needn't have worried. Except for one small pussycat - "or is it a rabid dobermann pinscher?", he squinted - the streets were deserted.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Here's something a tiny bit more serious on Patrick

from the website of the Gospel Coalition - click HERE

and from Wales Today - click HERE

Here are some things that made me smile


Bobo = bourgeois-bohème (the rich and trendy)
Facho = fascists (the extreme right)

Beer for Patrick's Day,
Leffe, Desperadoes and Hoegaarden! 
Figures, I suppose:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

24th anniversary

On Tuesday, having discovered new reserves of energy, we decided to go out for a meal to celebrate our anniversary. This means lunch, for reasons I won't go into. Now Bordeaux has an embarrassment of wonderful eating establishments, but at the moment we have a little project of eating our way round the world near the Place de la Victoire, so we decided to eat at Nobi Nobi Japanese restaurant. Pat had a predictably cool curry while I had some chicken thing with rice. We ate in the sun, quaffing San Pellegrino, then went to the nearby Banana Café for dessert and coffee. It's a grand life!

24 years of photographs

I'm pretty sure that when we got married and went on honeymoon I had an Olympus Pen EE3 half-frame camera. It was great. It took no batteries and was as reliable as can be. It took great photos, though the processing was expensive!

After a while I bought the best camera I ever had. Now I had slr cameras over the years. First a Zenith E that I bought as a student and sold on. That was followed by a Cosina CSM - really good! Then came a Nikon FE, I think, bought second-hand, and then a Canon Eos 300. That was my last slr.

No, the best camera I ever had was an Olympus mju2. Quick, easy to use, a splendid lens, a good focusing and exposure system, some of my favourite photos were taken with this camera.

Digital cameras became cheaper, with the prospect of immediate photos and no processing charge. There followed a little list of cameras like the Olympus C3000 (refurbished from Morgan Computers!), a compact Olympus C2/D230, a really natty little Minolta X20, which was very good at foliage!

Soon after that came the camera-phones, and separate cameras were never quite so convenient, though we enjoyed our Lumix FZ3 and our TZ1 - with splendid fast lenses. Indeed, we still have them.. But the camera-phone is always in your pocket.

I still pine after that mju2. If someone would make a digital camera with a good, fast, non-zoom lens - preferably 35mm equivalent - and a good focusing and exposure system at a reasonable price, I know they would sell at least one.

Perhaps they have. Perhaps it's the camera-phone in my pocket.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I went to a concert on Saturday evening

in the Eglise Saint-Nicolas, a big 19th century heap with lots of trompe l'oeil swags and bows in the interior.  The concert was given by the amateur vocal ensemble, Stella Montis, which specialises in singing stuff by living composers, or at least those not long dead, and in which the bass player from the Pessac Jazz Band sings.

I wasn't sure what to expect. We are going through a period in music where living composers are writing music that is pleasant and accessible - in the UK people like John Taverner and Paul Mealor, and internationally with people like Arvo Pärt and the American minimalists. But you never know, do you.

Well I was blown away by their repertoire. The theme of the concert was Bach's influence, so they began with a quick and simple chorale, then another by Mendelssohn, then we were into works by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Knut Nystedt and David Lang. And one from Arvo Pärt.

Here's one of the David Lang pieces, "Again". He's Jewish and the text for this piece is taken from Ecclesiastes.




Running

One problem with being a creature of habit and fitting a 6:30 run into your life is that when your life is disrupted in any way - late nights, for example - your habits go out of the window and take your early morning runs with them. I cannot go to bed at 1am and then get up at 6:30 to run. Others may be able to. I cannot.

So for some time I've been intending to add in a 1km loop to my morning circuit. This morning I did it. Hurrah! And what a morning for a run. Light, for the first time this year. A haze over the vineyard. The local rowdy birds yelling their heads off again. Some young lad about 30 - 40 years old running the other way looking all wiry and angular, a proper runner, while I oozed in the opposite direction. But I like to think I encouraged him as he did me as we puffed "bonjour" to each other.

My "fitness band", a Xiaomi Band 2, receives frequent updates to its firmware and to the application on my iphone that goes with it.

One recent update gave it the capacity to track my route, though to be honest I think the birds can track my route now as it's always the same. There's a little rut in the tarmac where I habitually trot.

It also likes to tell me every 100 metres how fast I am running. "You're going dead slow." "You're going even slower." "Wow, are you sure you're not running backwards?"

It also tracks your heart rate.

Now tracking your heart rate is a mixed blessing. I mean how fast should it beat? Is it beating too fast? Do I need to try to run faster? Slower? See a doctor? Have a stent? A by-pass? However at least the wretched thing is beating, and though these wrist-based heart monitors are notoriously inaccurate, it does at least show an increase when I run and a decrease when I stop.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary

so we decided to go out for cake and coffee.

There is now an embarrassment of cafés in Bordeaux that I really like and want to go to. It took us just a little time, however, to decide to go to the very posh café near the Opera House, la Librairie de la Comédie. It's a bookshop with a posh café, and they have REALLY NICE cakes.




Some music for Monday



"Komm süsser Tod" by Knut Nystedt after Bach.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Spring has arrived in Pessac

It's glorious here. Sunshine. Loud birds. Flowers everywhere. Wonderful running weather.

And LATE NIGHTS, so only one bout of early morning running. Oh well.




Some music for Saturday morning

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Today I had LOTS of emails to catch up on and some conferences and flights to book.

Emails was OK.

Some were replies saying sorry, this year I cannot come because our dates for church visits are booked up now. :-(

One was a reply to someone who'd like to come and help for a couple months.

Some were to do with Dialogue Véritas. I'll need to do another post about that.

Booking conferences was another thing.

Essentially every year I have to choose between attending the Colloque Biblique Francophone or attending the Banner of Truth Conference. To go to Banner I schedule church visits near the dates of the conference and that works out OK, except that really church visits are better done later in the year, in June. Anyway.

So this year I thought I could try and attend both. They are on consecutive weeks, but one is only three days and the other four. We even planned that Patricia would come with me to the UK and while I was at Banner she would spend the time with church folk in North Wales. HOWEVER.

Banner is held in the UK near Stoke on Trent in April.
There are no Easyjet flights to Liverpool in April.
There are no Easyjet flights to Bristol on suitable dates.
Easyjet flights to Gatwick are extremely expensive.
Ryanair could get me to Edinburgh, but not on good dates, or to Stansted!
Air France could get me there, but at great cost and via Amsterdam.

I'm not sure of the wisdom of spending £600 - £800 on going to the Banner Conference, so we decided to forget that one.

Now the Colloque. It's held in Lyon and you can fly there or take the train. It starts on the Wednesday at 5pm.

Easyjet has several flights to Lyon, but to get me there for 5pm I'd have to take the 7am flight, which means catching the N°4 bus from Pessac at about 5am.
Alternatively there are several trains but much more expensive, and the journey time is 7 hours.
Oh well, just as well I'm good at getting up early!