There may be storms around, but here is sunshine

Here at Bellaugello Gay guest house in Umbria the cherry trees are laden with fruit ripening in the warm June sunshine, the lavender bushes are just about to burst into bloom and the roses, pinks, whites, orange and reds are at their most magnificent.

Guys arriving from the north reported having driven through torrential rain on their way to Umbria, and indeed last night the forecast was not overly optimistic.

I awoke early to one of those magical mornings with clear azure skies and mist lingering in the valley below, and as I write at lunchtime the sun is blasting down its rays, heating my solar panels (eco-energy quite wonderful) and the infinity edge swimming pool which is being enjoyed by many simply relaxing and working on their all over tans…..


Electricity – or lack of it

In common with seemingly most of Europe yesterday was a bit wintry and cold, grey and miserable here near Gubbio in Umbria, Italy.  Made all the worse by a day without electricity.

It surprises me just how dependent we all have become on this invisible product.  Here, during the restoration at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse we spent a great deal of time researching ecological solutions, and installing eco-sustainable systems.  As a result we have installed large rain-water holding tanks, re-connected the long abandoned spring and buried large water holding tanks for the water which we use for flushing lavatories, our washing machines, watering the garden, the cold shower for the Finnish Sauna and the swimming pool.

Our heating plant includes an installation of six vacuum sealed solar panels, which in the summer provide all of our domestic hot water, the surplus planned this summer to be sent to the swimming pool, whilst in the winter the solar panels help augment the temperature of the heating system.  Our main boiler, a big handsome powerful brute runs on pellets and wood which is cut locally.  All the Suites here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House have modern technology underfloor heating sooo cosy on the feet!

Many of the lightbulbs here are low energy (not that I really approve of or like them, or believe they are really ecological) and led lights, our refrigerators are all class A+ or better, however everything relies on electricity.

Here in Italy there are incentives and financing for the installation of photovoltaic panels for the production of electricity, however we have not yet gone down that road, I am not sure of their efficiencies and the financial outlay is extensive, and they look horrid, carbuncles on the roofs of the most beautiful country houses, and hectares of silica fields are not exactly picturesque, so they are currently something I am keen to avoid – my excuse is that I am waiting for the technology to improve.  A quote for photovoltaics for the spring water pump was €4,000.00, would have involved a large ugly aluminium and steel mounting pole and would have provided a perfect target for the local hunters with their rifles, and the pump requires only a few tens of watts!! Panels placed on mountings on the ground are an easy target for thieves, a couple of bolts and – they’re away….

So on tuesday the wind picked up and blew from the north east.  The  winds evidently swung the overhead electric cables which are festooned all over the valley here in Valdichiascio, and the power flashed on an off all day like a tacky Christmas tree.  Yesterday without warning the power went off at 08.15 and remained off all the day.

Ok so the house is ecological and we have solar and biomass heating…… It ALL requires electricity to function.  Everything here has a pump, yes everything, the solar panels, the boiler, the underfloor heating, the patent fireplace in my sitting room, the spring water requires to be pumped up 80 metres and 300 metres in distance, and without electricity nothing works!! No electricity on a sunny summer day and the solar panels reach above boiling point, jettisoning their precious treated fluids, no electricity in the winter means no recirculation of any pump, and no internet.

It can be romantic, yes I lit the fire in my bedroom lit some candles and snuggled down under the duvet, and caught up on some reading, but it was very odd without electricity, and I felt so isolated without the internet, I am an internet junkie, I love my life here in this beautiful corner of Umbria but I also love the contact with the outside world, emails, and skype keep me in touch, and news and comedy programmes keep me amused, and I do so like the odd rant on my blog, but it would be nice with electricity……


Yesterday was another glorious day here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House near Gubbio in Umbria, Italy, a day for lying by the pool and working on an all-over tan.

The sun shone in a blue sky studded with fluffy cumulus clouds which scurried on the gentle breeze.

What surprised me was that the newly installed Solar Panels which sit on the roof of the agricultural store reached 147 degrees c !!!  They heat all the hot water for the house at Bellaugello Gay B&B and next year will pour surplus energy into the swimming pool – thus extending the open season for the swimming pool.

I have installed six vacuum sealed solar panels manufactured by Kloben and they feed into a 1500 litre hot water tank, thus there is sufficient hot water for every guest to be showering at the same time and me still to be washing plates in the kitchen – or showering too!

In line with my eco-awareness the solar panels also feed into the house heating system, all of which is floor heating by hot water, and my plumber assures me that the panels will be sufficient to heat my house and two suites unaided…. I will let you know, however what is certain is that they will augment the heating by our wood and pellet boiler for all the guest house throughout the winter.

Thinking of intense heat led me to think about the SAUNA which is now in the advanced stage of planning.  Finally I have found a wood burning sauna stove in Germany which meets EU regulations and can be shipped to Bellaugello.  We are hoping to start work on the sauna decking and construction of the wooden house that will house the sauna the first week in October to have the sauna operational by the beginning of November.

We are planning to offer weekend sauna packages.  With flights on Ryanair from London Stanstead on Friday, Sunday and Monday and easy access from Rome and Florence, we will be offering two nights sauna package, accommodation, dinners and sauna from Friday evenings, check our special offers for details

Swimming Pool – an update

On another swelteringly hot day here at Bellaugello  when all I want to do is have a break from strimming grass, strip off and dive into a swimming pool, I learn that the finished pool is to be a bit further off than previously anticipated.

Yes, we are still awaiting permission for our horizon swimming pool, here at our gay guest house in Umbria.

We had hoped to be starting work on the new swimming pool within the next few weeks, and to be constructing it of pre-formed steel panels, however there has been a planning complication and  it now looks unlikely that the chlorine-free swimming pool will not  be built for this summer.

Naturally I am disappointed to have to relay this news, however the new designs look very impressive, and will certainly be worth the wait.

Included in the new pool development plans here at our gay bed and breakfast is a horizon water fall on the south and east elevations, giving views to the Apennines, two large terraces with sunloungers to the west and north sides, a solar shower,  and we will be using L E D lighting to give a spectacular night-time colour display.  Solar panels will heat the water allowing the pool to be used for more months in the spring and autumn.

The good news is t hat you will be able to strip off and plunge into the swimming pool next spring!