The week has been dominated by our visit to Montpellier. But a couple of things first.
We didn’t mention last week that Alison’s uncle Sir Fred Catherwood had died. We were rather hoping for some sensible obituaries to link to but have been somewhat disappointed. The main British papers did a reasonable job in recounting his extensive business and political background but most stumbled badly on his very strong Christian commitment. Probably the best of the bunch (apart from the photo) is that from the Scotsman, a part of the world where there still seems to be some lingering comprehension of what it is to be an evangelical Christian. There’s another good one here.
The weather has improved although the temperature is dropping and we are finding ourselves putting the stove on every night. One curious side-effect of this is that we now find ourselves viewing trees not simply in terms of items of beauty or ecological value, but how well they might burn.
Rather to our relief French culture does not go quite so manic about Christmas as the UK does. Nevertheless evidence of Christmas is increasingly obvious.
The photograph below, which should delight anyone with a sense of the incongruous, was taken at Cannes after church last Sunday.
Tuesday we drove across much of southern France to Montpellier so that Chris could attend the Eurosite Workshop: creating a climate for change – working internationally with wetlands to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change for the benefit of human well-being. Alison went with him partly to act as co-driver and partly because she wanted to see Montpellier, and partly because it didn’t add anything to the cost. The conference was interesting. Chris gave a short presentation on the tiny but significant wetlands high up at Courmettes (here’s a link to the pdf). and there was also a day’s field trip looking at a couple of sites of interest.
In view of the emphasis on climate change there was a certain irony that the first site had been badly damaged by the recent and apparently unprecedented storms. Nevertheless Chris enjoyed making lots of good contacts and getting a little bit more up to speed in an area in which he has only so far had an amateur interest.
In the meantime Alison enjoyed Montpellier, going into the centre by the extremely efficient (and cheap) tram system, and wandering round the oldest part.
There was a Christmas market with at least 100 stalls – everything from jewellery and handbags to mulled wine and cheeses. She took a tour of some of the old ‘hôtels’, 16th to 18th century buildings where you enter by an enormous door from the narrow streets to find medieval rooms, or beautiful courtyards and staircases.
The next few days look to be extremely interesting. Sunday, Chris is preaching twice at Holy Trinity Cannes, then flying to the UK on Monday for an A Rocha meeting and hoping to be back in time for Friday when we get a) a new car and b) a new house. Christmas has got to be more relaxing.