Good morning winter!

Yesterday a glorious day I was busy up olive trees picking olives in the sunshine. We have picked the olives on the trees below the house, and now are busy at the trees in the field. The olives glistened, the sun was hot, in the shade less so, a need for warm fleecy clothes.

but nothing prepared me for what greeted me this morning….


20131122-093123.jpg….winter has arrived in Umbria. The Apennines are dusted with snow, as is the much lower Monte Subasio, the deliciously round hill above the town of Assisi seen to the south from the Diva and Giardino suites at Bellaugello.
By strange coincidence the phone has been ringing lots this morning, firstly the Frantoio at Montelabate where we pressed our olives a couple of years ago, and also a guy with a truck. On a day like today I should be making the most of the dry weather and be picking olives,

But no, not today, for this is the day when they are delivering me olive stones.
Olive stones?! The guy must be mad I hear you say… You may well ask, why does he want olive stones? Is he planning to seed a new olive grove, fertilise the garden, or create a large sculpture? None of the above! Here the olive stones will be used to keep us warm at Bellaugello Gay Guest House. At the Frantoio until recently they were seen as a waste product of oil production but not now. They are dried, finely ground, and ideal for burning in our biomass boiler.
Up to now we have burnt a mixture of pellets and wood cut from our own woodland here at Bellaugello. My preference is for wood, but even I need my beauty sleep, and when the wood in the boiler is all burnt, it automatically switches over to burning the pellets, so keeping the house toasty warm, and allowing us to walk barefoot on cozily warm heated floors. Pellets, although the bags say ‘made in Italy’ there is a global discussion on the provenance of these pellets and indeed if they are actually ecological. From today we will be burning a mix of wood harvested from Bellaugello estate, and olive oil nuts. The nuts burn at a higher temperature and have a higher calorific value than pellets. Of course I am still waiting for the boiler engineer to arrive and set up the complicated control panel, but he assures me no damage will be done in the interim…
I do love the fact that we are now even more local, more ecological, and can proudly say we heat the house by olive nuts, how surreal does that sound! More photos to follow when the 3,000kg of nuts arrive and I have commenced to put them manually – with a bucket into the store! I must be mad!