Making allowances

Earlier this evening, I succeeded in drooling all over my keyboard, while editing a recipe for the blog I’ve recently started managing. [That would be Matryoshka Haus’ In Da Haus blog. Recommended for tales of Chateau Duffy from people other than me and accounts of what we get up to when not on French building sites.]

The recipe in question was for Beef Bourguignon (and yes, every time I have used that word today I’ve had to copy & paste it from an authoritative source), which is a long-time favourite dish and something that’s beyond special when eaten in the Limousin region of France – famed for its beef (and its porcelain). It’s also beyond special when cooked by a professional chef with a love of story-telling and eaten at the end of a long day on the scaffold.

It got me thinking – at the end of a long day sitting at my desk and generally hanging out in church, but getting next to no exercise – of how wonderful it is to spend a week being able to eat some of the greatest food in the world and really not having to worry about its impact upon one’s waistline or one’s calorie counting app. Everyone knows that the best thing about holidaying in France is the plethora of bread, cheese, meat and wine that is required to be consumed, but most people fear its results. Not when you spend all day working to the point of physical exhaustion…

While we were away, I made a mental list of all the things I was ‘allowed’ to do while at Chateau Duffy – or rather, things that would be exceptional in normal circumstances:

  • Have sugar in my tea. (Well, when one is being a builder, one acts like a builder…)
  • Drink full-fat coke. (This is combined with the fact that Coke Light – the French Diet Coke – is awful.) 
  • Eat biscuits without guilt. 
  • Ditto chocolate. (Especially Creme Brulee Lindt – to die for.) 
  • Spread butter on every single piece of bread I consume, if I want to.
  • Eat more than one croissant for breakfast. (And again as a mid-morning snack.)
  • Drink red wine as if it were going out of fashion. Actually, what am I saying, I allow myself to do that in London when the mood takes me. 
Not all of them were to do with food:
  • Wearing clothes from my ‘clothes to be worn when cleaning/building/doing pilates/moving house’ pile which usually wouldn’t see daylight. 
  • Deliberately not brushing my hair for 3 days. 
  • Smelling clothes before putting them on.
  • Putting aforementioned clothes on even if what I’ve discovered when sniffing isn’t entirely pleasant. 
And this, people, is why it was observed last weekend that a week at Chateau Duffy brings me back to life. All you need to feel alive, people, is unlimited bread & wine (oh, how emblematic) and several days of wearing dirty clothes. I’ve been back at work two weeks and I’m counting down to August already…


  1. Am I the only person who finds it odd that we enjoy a high quality brand of chocolate that is named after the fluff left behind in the tumble drier?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I actually much prefer European Coke Light to Anglo-American Diet Coke

    • Really? I can’t get over how different the continental version is! Mind you, I also prefer the Arabic version over the Kosher version, but that’ll be to do with the cane sugar thing I think…

  3. wow your blog is wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is that satisying?

    • Not at all, because that’s not what I want people to say in the comments unless they’re paying me a genuine compliment. I’d really rather you used comments to have a conversation, rather than just leave comments that don’t seem to mean anything.

  4. Oh stikes again and without capital letters.

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