Archives for category: France

A curious moment as I joined the ‘European Union’ queue at passport control and realised with dismay that it might be the last time I ever do so. I sooooo hope not. I’ve left Dad with clear instructions what to vote as my proxy.


Just spent five amazing days in Lyon. On Saturday, I made a further three year commitment to the lay fraternity of the Society of African Missions. Since then it’s been a social whirlwind – every meal in a different place with different people, each and every one of them inspiring. The fraternity is an exact fit for me, and I’m feeling very loved and cared for as I return to Togo today.

Every Friday night in Paris throughout the year starting at 22h30 there is the famous randonnée, in which thousands of rollerbladers hit the streets for a three hour circuit of 30 kilometres, with police escort and first-aiders on hand. Exhilerating. Last time I participated, one of my wheels fell off and I narrowly avoided a major pile up.

There is a similar event on Sunday afternoons, but it’s a bit too tame for my liking. People take their prams and poodles.

Visited the Musée d’Orsay last week. They have a new acquisition – Edward Burne-Jones’ tapestry The Adoration of the Kings. It’s always been one of my favourite nativity scenes, but to see the original hanging there close enough to touch was one of those special moments. I had a hard job tearing myself away from it.

Happy Christmas to friends and family around the world!

PS. I fly to Togo on 3rd January.

Edward Burne Jones The Adoration of the Kings (1887)

Edward Burne Jones The Adoration of the Kings (1887)

I learned to rollerblade when I was 42 and have never looked back. Eternally grateful to Matthias for teaching me. Some of you have been asking for photo proof. Just waiting for the rain to stop…

I’m writing this while enjoying the hospitality of the Benedictine monks of Fleury Abbey in the Loire valley. This time I’m experimenting with a month long retreat, during which I continue my normal work whilst joining the community for their liturgy five times a day. This is a very different experience from the usual kind of retreat during which I shut down from work completely for three days. The idea is to learn more about integrating prayer and work, following the Benedictine motto ‘ora et labora’ (prayer and work). And since the countryside around here is flat in all directions as far as you can see, it’s ideal cycling country, so I’ve hired a bike.

Abbaye de Fleury sunset

Abbaye de Fleury sunset

Still learning how to live in a country where half the doors are automatic and half are manual. I mean how do you know which are which? I guess you learn to be quicker off the mark when you live here all the time.

A number of you have asked me about my plans, so here goes. I hope to move to Paris for three months, October to December. The idea is to put aside some more time to translate parts of my PhD thesis from French into English for publication in academic journals. As long as my research remains unpublished and in French, it will only have a limited audience. So this is a way of participating in the debate about how African languages should be written. Then I plan to return to Togo in January.

The day after arriving in France, on holiday in Provence, I had a bad attack of malaria, and was admitted to the emergency department of Avignon hospital. They pumped me full of quinine and I feel much better now, although I am extremely tired. Slippery stuff, malaria.