The other evening at a family dinner I had the chance to meet with one of my regular readers, someone who is from the valley but now lives abroad and reads my blog to keep up to date with the news in the valley. I was informed that they are always amused by my rants, but that the rants are becoming formulaic. I am told I start of nice, get angry, rant, then end off all sunshine and happiness. So for that regular reader here is a new approach to rant.
As those of you that follow my blog will be aware last Wednesday was a very important day here in our beautiful local town of Gubbio, being the 15th. of May it was the “Festa dei Ceri” or race of the candles.
This is the day when the whole town celebrates, three teams race around the town carrying large “Ceri”, and then in the evening they race to the church at the top of the hill above the town. May 15th. is the height of the celebrations that start the first Sunday of May, and of course all the shops and businesses in town are shut.
As indeed they are on the 16th. which is the festival of S Ubaldo the patron saint of Gubbio. On the 16th. there is a large and colourful market in town, the sort of market where one can buy all kinds of tat made somewhere abroad, and fortunately also some exceedingly good Italian cheeses, fruit and the freshest of vegetables.
I have had an order of new sun loungers on order for some weeks. These are snappy new quality loungers to put on some of the private terraces of the suites and in the shady part of the garden at Bellaugello Gay bed and breakfast. I had hoped to have them installed by early May, but this being a climate of economic disaster, they are delayed in production – and yes, they are made here in Italy… The courier (bane of my life) telephoned me late on Wednesday evening to tell me that as Gubbio is closed for two days he would be delivering on Friday, (Bellaugello is in glorious countryside 15kms from Gubbio!) and he needed a bankers draft (secure payment on delivery) which is fair enough. Only that I ask myself why did the company not send me a pro-forma invoice at the time of my order, or at the very least attach their IBAN code that I might have transferred the money and so received the goods with ease. But NO. So I informed the courier that I would go to Gubbio to the bank on Friday morning and obtain the said bank cheque.
8am Friday morning the phone rings, the courier: “I am at your road end with a delivery” Me: “But I have not yet got to the bank as it as you well know has been closed the past two days and is not yet open” Him: “Well without payment I will not deliver, so unless you have cash (he actually thought I kept that much cash in the house and would trust hime with it!) or if you have the bank cheque I will deliver them on Monday or Tuesday of next week!” Me: “They are required urgently, can’t you come back later today?” Him: “NO” Me: “Huh!” ….. thinking why is he so damnably early today normally I am hanging around waiting all day as deliveries arrive after 5pm or sometimes the following day.
So off I trot to town. The market is still in place, but fortunately my bank branch is not in the centre, but some other district. Into the bank, new face that I do not recognise behind the counter to be told, the computers are being checked over so the bank cannot do any transactions!! (You were closed the past two days, the technicians are not local, could you not have done the work then?)
I had to post a parcel, a promised jar of home-made Strawberry marmalade to a couple of guests from Milan, so I took the opportunity to go to the post office some 300metres away from the bank. Closed…. apparently it only opens in the mornings!
So back in the car to the centre to try another branch. Market chaos, people milling everywhere, and in the bank four people in the queue for one clerk. Why is it that four people can take so long doing business in a bank? They seem to ask the most inane questions and the clerk has to refer to managers or manuals, so all in all an hour to get the cheque, my transaction lasting less than five minutes.
Cheque safely in wallet off to the Post Office, that haven of snails-pace work practices. Today the woman behind the counter again new or unfamiliar to me, is reminiscent of those heavily botoxed and cosmetic surgery women who have no facial expression except a permanent terrifying scowl and lips that hardly part. Utterly terrifying, infact scarily so. Take a ticket, wait my turn. and wait and wait and wait. Then the scowl hands me hectares of forms to fill in, including signing for “privacy” and then mumbling at me through missing teeth asking me what is in the package. Why is it that when asked such a question nothing clever ever comes into my head? so I told the truth, my home-made strawberry marmalade, probably in the hope that she could not open her mouth sufficiently to sample the marmalade and hence not sequestrate the package. Is my trust so low? Yes, it is. I recently sent a parcel of handmade made to measure trousers to a guest who had had them measured whilst staying at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, but had not been here for delivery so had asked me to post them which I did, and I am still waiting to hear if the parcel has arrived, and they are made to measure trousers so no use to anyone than the recipient but still…
Late morning’s work schedule: Pick up bank cheque, post jar of jam. Time taken to achieve 3 hours, great! And today the sun lounger company telephoned to inform me that they were surprised that I had refused the delivery I had refused the delivery!!? and asking what was the problem with the goods. I explained and they told me that they will contact the courier, hopefully the loungers will arrive before summer really kicks off.
Oh, and just to put the icing on the cake so to speak, several weeks ago I also ordered new towels for the swimming pool. An hotelier friend recommended a commercial hotel supplier from the north of Italy, said they were efficient and great to deal with and with quality merchandise. I telephoned they were indeed helpful, and together we chose a range of different towels that they would send as samples, allowing me to feel the merchandise prior to purchase. The courier ‘phoned, another courier, but the same attitude: ” I have a parcel for you but I cannot get he van down the road so will leave it at the petrol station in the village 8km away”.
On inspection and asking guests staying and Daniela for opinions, which I listened to I ended up choosing to order the model I preferred and placed the order. Five days later the parcel arrives at Bellaugello, and the courier is real pleasant – shock. I open them, they look great, and so swish at the pool. However being a good boy I decide to wash them before first use. Into the two washing machines, usual detergent, 30˚c wash, light spin and onto the line to dry in the sun.
When dry they have bleached in the sun!!! Now instead of a simple uniform turquoise, azure blue they are pale green, cream and azure, oh yuk! They are pool towels, the supplier is a commercial hotel supplier, and if they have done this after one wash what will happen after several washes. I dare not use them. A couple of telephone calls to the supplier, “Sir, we have never had this problem before, however they are a new line”, They remain taking up valuable space in my laundry room. As I said I dare not use them in case the company wants to perform chemical tests. However, they came good, they are sending me more samples, and samples that they have said I could wash without being charged for. They should have arrived today, but no they did not, they are not even at the petrol station. Luckily I have other pool towels but I want the new sexy uniform look, I am proud of Bellaugello Gay Guest House and attention to detail is important to me, I thought about the order in good time, it is not my fault, if the samples arrive tomorrow, I get them washed and dried, then order it will still be another ten days until the real ones arrive, oh no, it is SO VERY frustrating.