Celery Leaf Pesto

We have been used to buying celery in the UK trimmed and sealed in neat plastic bags. Here in France, celery (céleri branche to distinguish it from céleri-rave which Brits know as celeriac and is a different plant entirely) is sold as masssive heads, untrimmed and complete with leaves. Lots of leaves.

Having bought a head of celery at our local market a while back I set to trimming it down into smaller pieces in order to get it into the fridge. “Should I really throw away all these fresh green leaves?” thought I. A quick peruse of the web resulted in a resounding “No!”

I decided to make celery leaf pesto. Italians will protest that there is only one pesto and it’s made with basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and (for some) lemon juice. If you are Italian, please forgive me, but I’m going to persist with the name of celery leaf pesto (largely because I can’t think of a better name).

Exhibit A, m’lud, some nice fresh washed celery leaves:


I also used some almonds (I happened to have roasted salted ones, so did not add any further salt), garlic (smashed and lightly fried in olive oil), grated parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice.

I whizzed the almonds in our mini-blender until finely chopped, added the celery leaves, garlic and parmesan, with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Different people prefer different amounts of each ingredient, but don’t go too heavy on the nuts, cheese and garlic: the leaves are the star here.


And there you go. Surprisingly tasty and looks very like its basilic cousin.

I lighty toasted some pain de campagne, brushed it with olive oil and spread the pesto on liberally:

celeryleafpesto2A delicious and partly-free lunch!

No Capes Dahling

Did you ever think that people involved in full-time Christian work, especially missionary work, must be special Christian super-heroes? They whoosh around doing amazing things in the Kingdom of God, with no apparent difficulty or effort?

Well, Christian workers, perhaps especially “missionaries”, are not equipped with super-hero flying capes, they have to walk or take the train like everyone else. Anything which looks smooth and slick from the outside (like a swan gliding along the water) is usually accompanied by furious and extremely tiring paddling under the surface (like a swan).

The ordinary-ness of Christian workers has become very apparent indeed to us since we’ve been here. In our own lives, definitely, but also in the lives of our colleagues. Discouragement, doubt, illness, accidents, injuries, issues with family or friends, over-tiredness and depression, are by no means uncommon.

Some things are just “life”, some things are down to the challenges of adjusting to another culture and/or way of life, other things are more directly down to our enemy, who desperately does not want any of us to be doing what we’re doing and would be delighted if we took the next plane, boat or train back to our country of origin.

Please pray for all the students and staff at Les Cèdres with regard to all these issues, and please pray for other Christian workers you know, who are very likely to be facing exactly the same difficulties. It can be really hard to find someone to talk with about this stuff, and even harder to genuinely open up.

Oh, and when it comes round to choosing a Christmas or Birthday present, please, no capes dahling…

Massy Life (2)

There are various things we’ve come across since living here in Massy which seem to typify our new home. Here is one:


Notice that right rear wheel perched carefully just on the kerb? We see that sooooo often that we wonder if this particular skill is part of the curriculum at the driving schools (auto-écoles) here? It is almost always the right rear wheel, not one of the others. Gives us something to smile about, anyway…

Massy Life

A couple of snapshots of life here in Massy…

First off, keen cyclists will be pleased to know that cycle lanes and cycle paths are common throughout the town. Here is one example of a cycle lane on a street very close to our flat:


Yep, that is showing the full length of the cycle lane: the two photos are taken from opposite ends of the lane.

And here is the full width of the lane, measured against my size 9 foot!


Herbs1On a very positive note, scattered around the town are boxes like this one, or similar, with herbs planted up. The sign says “Food to share” and it is indeed free for all to use.

This box includes sage and rosemary.

What a brilliant idea!




I have identified my own secret supply of rosemary, though, in a concrete planter behind our flats:

Herbs2If life gets tough, at least we’ll have free herbs to eat. What else could we forage for? Dandelion salad, anyone? Nettle soup in the autumn, perhaps?

A Memory


The sun shines fiercely. It’s hot, very hot. All around me I see men wearing the white thawb (or dishdasha), their bare sandaled feet kicking up dust from the path. The air is filled with the unmistakable sound of Arabic. The men joke, discuss, argue, taunt, voices rising and falling as the sun continues to beat. Women form groups with the children, black abayat dresses enveloping them, voices quieter.

A memory from when I used to work in the Middle East as a geologist, perhaps, well over 30 years ago?

No, it’s simply the end of Friday prayers at Massy’s big central mosque today. People are streaming out homewards, I am on my way back from the supermarket. A powerful reminder that there are ten times as many Muslims in France as there are Evangelical Christians.

Please pray for France: so so many people need to know the love of Jesus. So many have never heard His message of grace and forgiveness. They have never understood that they can know for 100% sure that they are destined for eternal life with God. Free, without payment, without works, without endless anguished hoping that they have done enough ‘good’ to qualify for a place in  heaven.

Please, do pray!

The Family Matters


Aaaah… how beautiful! Proud parents and their gorgeous little duckling, on a pond near to our flat.

But there’s a story behind this little family. As we were leaving the pond we remarked to an older lady on how beatiful it was and how lovely to see the duckling. She lived close by and told us that there used to be at least five ducklings in this family, but all except one were killed by an unhappy male duck.

It was very sad to hear this. But it did make me think about our own family, the family of God, the Church. We know that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).

Those most at risk of being attacked, and devoured, are the very young, baby Christians, those who have just put their trust in Jesus and are beginning on the huge adventure which is the Christian life.

But how good are we, the family of these young ones, at protecting, nurturing and helping them? Do we make sure they understand about assurance of salvation, how to start reading the Bible, how to pray and how to begin sharing their new-found faith with family and friends? Should they stumble or be discouraged or confused, are we right there to hold them up, encourage and strengthen them?

As they grow, are we ready to help them become firm disciples, understanding their relationship with God, the work of the Holy Spirit, what the Church is all about and more?

We wouldn’t leave anyone exposed and in the open, in danger from the roaring lion, would we?

I’m afraid that all too often we do. We’re glad when people take the step of giving their life to Jesus, then we frequently abandon them, to struggle on as best they can. And we wonder why the Church too often lacks mature, stable Christians, who understand the Bible and are steadfast in prayer, ready to take on responsibility and leadership!

Come on, family! Let’s look after our youngsters properly, helping them to become firmly established right at the beginning, then to grow as disciples, becoming mature. Disciples making disciples, this is the goal!

As this next photo (from a different pond) shows, ducks can get it together. So can we!

DucklingsHere’s the pond, just behind our supermarket: