Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The bare facts of our current situation are as follows:-
  • We are moving out of the campsite on Saturday (at last)
  • We are taking the caravan to a winter storage facility to the south east of Paris on Saturday afternoon
  • We are going to stay with William and Hannah Perrier for a few days
  • We appear still to be the frontrunners for renting the flat we have found
  • We are waiting for money to be transferred from our UK bank to our French account
  • Then we have to get the bank to communicate with the estate agents
  • Then we can sign a lease
  • Then local governement officials visit the flat to check it over with us
  • Then we have the keys!
  • We have taken our language school entrance exams and we start our courses on Monday (intensive for 12 weeks)

It all takes ages here! However, as you can see, progress is certainly being made, but it's been and still seems to be a long haul.

The campsite is quite large here in Paris. It is first time that I have ever had to remember in the middle of the night which exit to take at the roundabout in order to find the nearest loo block! I calculated last night that in the 31 nights we have stayed here I have walked something in the region of 48.4 km to and from the toilets at night. I am extremely fit at present.

Then there's the cycling. We sold our car last week and now get around Paris on foot or on two wheels most of the time. Yesterday we cycled about 176 km in twelve hours in order to visit the bank manager (who wasn't there), do some emails (at four different McDonalds) and skype various people from a range of different parks. Gill thinks that if things keep going like this she'll be as skinny as Paula Radcliffe and have thighs like Chris Hoy!

We have a busy social life this week (which involves some quite lengthy cycle rides) and that should be fun.

We do hope we have some more definite news on the apartment next time we write!

Thanks to everyone praying for us. Please continue!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Much has happened in the last five days:-

I have seen a flat which I like in the exact road we want and we have handed all our papers to the agents who appear to like us. It seems to fit almost exactly the prophetic picture our friend Adrian had for us back in July at Brighton. So far so good. We need to organise our finances and get money in the right bank etc, but we remain hopeful of signing the lease and getting the keys before the end of next week which would be great as we start at language school on 1 Sept.

The interesting feature is that Gill hasn't seen it yet! She must be extremely trusting of me! She keeps asking questions about it, has it got this, how large is that, what about this? Most of the time I simply don't know as I didn't notice! The view from the balcony (5th floor) is amazing. I think there is a kitchen and another room or two. I hope there is a toilet.

Gordon and Kerry have arrived. We're visiting them today.

We had a lovely evening with William and Hannah on Thursday and visited Hillsongs last night which was great. The message was very relevant to us (believing promises etc).

Please keep praying that this apartment will actually happen next week and, of course, that our house in Coventry will sell.

Hopefully further good news next week.

Gill saw her first rat last night (it was dead).

Monday, 18 August 2008

Back in Paris now with Gill visiting her parents in Carnforth who have just moved into a retirement home. She returns to Paris by train on Wednesday evening having sold the car in Kent on the way! I'll meet her at Paris Nord.

Mike Emery and I loaded our belongings into the storage facility this morning. It took 3 1/2 hours and he is now on his way home in the hired van to Coventry. A huge thankyou to Mike (and also to John Beresford and John Harvey for helping us load the van on Saturday morning before Tim and Rosie's wedding).

I had been advised by the storage people to bring with me certain documentation and I duly produced it on arrival this morning. The new man there told me I needed to give him photocopies. I said fine: he could perhaps photocopy them for me in the office. He said no. I said why. He said the machine's broken. I suggested he wrote down the relevant details. He said no. I said why. He gave an inexplicable answer. I left the office and walked half a mile to hotel Ibis where a very nice man photocopied my 2 documents for nothing. Return to storage depot. Produce copies. All smiles this time but I had to sign thirteen different documents (one of them in eleven different places) before we could proceed. Ummmmm!

I now have a French mobile phone (it is one of these modern phones that you can keep in your pocket and which can send and receive text messages in lower case, and apparently you can talk to people through it too if you know how). The number (from UK phones)is 0033 6 63 37 40 43

It's back to house hunting for me for this week. So I am inevitably in McDonalds at present having just tried to buy their cheapest item on their menu (a straw for 2 cents) to justify my using their free wifi again. That was refused so I went for ice cream!

We had an extremely frustrating morning in McDonalds last Thursday (in fact I spent 5 1/2 hours in 2 different McDs that day!) battling with internet access, public phones and non existent numbers. By lunchtime I had nearly decided that perhaps we should be trying Madrid not Paris, but that afternoon, before we left for the UK on Friday, I did manage to contact the estate agents regarding a flat near the park where we want to live and have arranged to view it on Wednesday afternoon. The lady on the phone spoke so fast and I had no pen to write down any details that it's a fair chance that I completely misunderstood her and could turn up on the wrong day at the wrong time at the wrong flat in the wrong road! It might be a bit small, but I'll try to see it anyway.

I am sorry I cannot post any photos with this blog, but the cable for my camera is in storage now buried beneath thousands of boxes.

Gordon and Kerry are due to arrive on Wednesday and William and Hannah should now be in Paris but I can't contact them at present.

That's all for now.


Saturday, 9 August 2008

Blog – Saturday 9 August 2008

This is being written while staying for a one night stop in a small campsite on an island in the middle of the Loire near Nevers on our way back to Paris after a wonderful holiday first in Provence and then in the Alps. Whereas the French may not speak in an intelligible language they certainly do have a very beautiful land!

We baked in the sun in Provence (Cucuron, for any who know the region) and enjoyed cycling to and from lakes and markets. Amazingly, the campsite had internet access so we were able to check that there were still no apartments in Paris available where we want one! After three days we drove north into the Alps (La Grave near Briancon) which was absolutely stunning and we were easily able to keep our minds off the fact that upon return to Paris we have nowhere to live (yet)!

We did some arduous walks at high altitude and I managed a 1000 metre descent in 90 minutes including getting lost. We took a steep chair lift descent one day near Les Deux Alpes and decided to climb back to the start (in the rain). It was an almost impossible climb and at the top we passed the sign banning people from that particular route which was reserved for VTT (mountain bike) idiots! Having survived that, Gill nearly lost her life an hour later when trying to cross the road and forgetting to look left first! The next day I very nearly took the lives of two ladies by virtually running them down whilst asking a policeman for directions! Apparently, the well used excuse, “pardon, je suis anglais”, doesn’t often wash in cases of manslaughter.

We have now been in our lovely caravan for five consecutive weeks and we are still married! It is under 6 square metres. That’s quite small, by the way (our house in Coventry is 200 sq m!). We are looking for an apartment of about 70 sq m. That is going to seem like a mansion after this.

Another potential purchaser viewed our house in Coventry this morning (Sat). We trust he will quickly make an offer.

William and Hannah Perrier still do not know when they will get the keys to the house they are renting in Paris. If they do get them by 17 Aug then we may be able to store our things in their garage. If not then we will investigate storage facilities.

Sarah and her boyfriend Gabriel are coming to visit for a few days next week. They will have to join us at Bois de Boulogne Campsite! We are looking forward to seeing them, but it’s all going to be a bit tight in 6 sq m!

Life is challenging and certainly not boring. It would be nice to be able to see into (even) the immediate future, but we can’t. God can, though and that is extremely comforting!

By the way, both Briancon and Macon have McDonalds. Don’t even think of trying their McScargots et Frites. Stick to coffee.

Saturday, 2 August 2008


Blog – 2 August 2008

Sitting in the shade of some oak trees overlooking vineyards and hills from our campsite in lovely Provence! What a delight!

We’re having a restful day (apart from 90 minutes cycling in 35 degrees!) after the excitements of Rendezvous which ended yesterday morning in Gagnières. What an excellent week! We loved spending time with Michael, with the team that Pete Carter leads, with the group from Coventry and with our new friends from Paris. Including William and Hannah Perrier and Gordon and Kerry Neal, the Paris group numbered about 20 almost all of whom were very open to receiving the Holy Spirit especially on the last night. For those of you who know William, he sang an interpretation to a tongue one night which was quite breathtaking!

My two sessions with the Just Looking group went well especially the Thursday on the baptism in the Spirit when we had 39 people there thirsty for God. That made it so easy to pray for them after the teaching.

Gill did well in pressing on with French conversation and is now back to more systematic study in anticipation of our language course which will probably begin on 1 Sept.

Accommodation wise there are still some significant hurdles to overcome. The people who looked twice at 3 Spencer Ave a week ago have apparently decided the ground floor is too small for them and are now looking elsewhere! Disappointing, but God is still in charge! We failed to find an apartment in Paris before RDV and, therefore, we’ll recommence our searching as soon as we get back to Paris next Saturday. This means we will have to go back to the campsite with the caravan for a while. Still, it is summer!

As far as the new church is concerned, it is looking like our first Sunday will probably be 5 October with the existing Paris church having a final celebration party the night before. We can’t wait to get going. In the meantime we will visit other Paris churches on Sundays such as Hillsong.

As you will have gathered from the above, our two big prayer needs are the sale of our house and the finding of an apartment. Hopefully we can report breakthrough on these very soon!