Beginning to get it all back

Wow! technological problems have abounded.  I am SO tired of technological problems, I know that my emails are not getting through or being received, and for this I apologise, it is not as if I do not want to reply, I am simply not able to. Luckily I have great people with infinite expertise and patience helping me, some in Spain and one right here, and it seems that we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway onto nice things, and that is Bellaugello Gay Country House which is looking absolutely splendid as a wee tour round the garden with my camera this morning shows:

Bellaugello the lower terrace Bellaugello the pool and upper terraces leading into infinity Bellaugello the steps drenched in spring colour Bellaugello the giardino terrace and lower lawn Bellaugello down the garden path Bellaugello the terrace in the sun colour in ghe garden at BellugelloCome and see for yourselves, the weather forecast is great and we have some suites still available.  Contact me on Facebook or through my blog.

 

On Selfies…

Selfie, Selfie, what sort of word is that?  Why when new words are introduced into the English language can they not be nice words, beautiful words, elegant words?  Words should fill your mouth with a sensual pleasure, roll languidly round your tongue, tickle your palate, bounce off the roof of your mouth and trace intricately the tiny spaces between your teeth, in and out up and down and finally when you exhale exit as cascade of joy, sliding over your lips, indeed being pushed joyously ever outward by lips tingled by the excitement of a new beautiful experience and so the sound emits to grow in the open, to give a meaning and pleasure to all around, mix with the sound of birdsong,  the babbling river deep below in the valley, the gentle breeze rustling through the trees, the crack of a stick broken by the paw of a dog as he nuzzles deep into a pile of crisp dry spring leaves, the sound adding to and giving pleasure to the daily sounds experienced here at  the moment at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

But no!  we have ‘Selfie’  I even want to spit as I type, I really do not want to defile my computer with this word.  That kind of word is it?  Self-ie?  Selfish, Arrogant, Hard, vile.  A noise that is as unpleasant to type as it is to say.  If spits out of my mouth leaving only an acrid metallic taste, my teeth retreat in disgust, my lips pucker to try and prevent its exit for they know it will not bring pleasure to the other sounds. S E L F I E – selfish, vulgar, cheap.  You can now buy a ‘selfie-stick’ those ridiculous pokey things that gives the passing thief easy access to your ever increasingly expensive and short of memory smartphone.  A ‘selfiestick’ I ask you how horrible is that?  Poke in the eye, tap on the shoulder prod in the back of a head, a danger and selfish object.

Yet, I am a lone voice.  Selfie has entered the language of all, even aged grannies are doing it – look at HRH Elizabeth II she’s at it (mind you I would have loved to hear what the D of E said when he discovered, maybe we will), celebrities, now there is another word that leaves my mouth with a bad taste (that’s ruined my chance of ever having one stay at Bellaugello Gay Guest House!) is a horrid word, but ‘selfie’ worse.

However notwithstanding my rant ‘selfies’ have undoubtedly given the world pleasure, and like a huge virus are multiplying exponentially.  So it is I feature the first ‘selfie’ on my blog.  It is not especially the concept that I dislike solely it is the word.  Since time immemorial we have been taking picture of ourselves surely we could have though of a nicer more appropriate word?

Today’s ‘selfie’ is of Vince.  Taken on the slopes of Mont Ingeno above the beautiful city of Gubbio, a ‘selfie’ was his only option to capture his presence.  Recently I joined the ‘Workaway’ network and Vince is the first workawayer to come to Bellaugello.  He is an exceedingly nice guy and is helping me for a month with the onerous task of garden maintenance, moving seemingly endless piles of leaves to a huge heap, pruning the olive trees and discussing food, Italian food, a subject of which he is passionate.  Vince is on a break, a tour of Italy to discover his roots and live the Italian life and I am delighted to welcome him to Umbria and to Bellaugello.

Vince

One of those horrible days

I don’t know why they happen, but they sure do happen.  I hate horrible days, I really detest them and today was a stonker of a horrible day.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not the weather, here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, the sun has been shining brightly, warm, delicious, a light breeze so I got into the garden early.

Neither to blame is the Consorzio the local farmers’ merchants.  They called and we arranged my delivery of pellets for the biomass boiler that heats the house here, lovely underfloor heating I adore it, being able to walk barefoot throughout the house, sheer luxury.  No it was not them, the wagon with the bancale of pellets arrived as scheduled and I got the seventy eight sacks all moved and stored in the pellet store.  I am having to buy pellets this winter as the olive harvest was so poor that olive nuts are just not available.  Oh and that reminds me there is another subject I want to write about.

No it was not my good friend Cosma with whom I am working on a new and exciting project.  No, he sent me over a very well constructed piece of work, I now have to work on and send back for the next stage.  That will be an enjoyable task.

It certainly was not Alessandro, to whom I put a proposal for collaboration work-wise.  No he responded positively, he would like to explore a joint project for next season.  Guests at Bellaugello if this comes off you are in for a real treat.

It certainly was not the couple of guys who sent an email enquiring as to a booking for next summer, enclosing their photos too, so yummily handsome.. and then after the briefest of exchanges they confirmed their booking.

So, what, you may well ask is the source of my wrath?  Ok, I am a predictable person, for my loyal readers they I guess already know the answer.  Yes, you are right, communications or lack of it, but first two matters of international relations.  I have to get these off my chest, I so detest horrid days.

If I see another business slanted at the gay community I do believe in positive promotion, and a bit of fun. Especially if the product or service is something that will make a stay at Bellaugello Gay b&b just a ‘little bit extra or more special’ for my guests.  So through the annals of social networking when I noticed that a company in Finland were launching a range of linens using the designs of Tom of Finland, I just had to buy some to put in some of the Suites here at Bellaugello Gay Country House, provocative, maybe not to every guys’ taste but fun.  Order online – simple, and there was the added incentive of that Black Friday discounts, so you have all done it you know what I am talking about..  enter credit card details, click the order button, and hey presto goods will be dispatched.  But and a huge but, there was no way on the website to request a tax invoice.  Now here in Italy the tax authorities require certain information on foreign (or domestic) bills.  It is only a few letters and numbers but to be able to put the purchase through the business, these are vital.  So I shoot off a mail to the company requesting a tax invoice.  Nothing! Silence!  Eventually after a week their reply comes through that they cannot fulfil my request”there is no room on the form”  WHAT!!  I send off another email, repeating the request, explaining in greater detail why I require the information on the invoice, and if they are really unable to add a bit of ink to a page then to cancel the order, stop the delivery and refund my card.  again silence, nothing, I am not a happy bunny.  Then of course on Friday a honk, a smiley face, the decent friendly helpful courier (SDA) delivering a package, the package.  Still unopened, I check EU law and I send a further request to the company, they are in Finland after all is that not supposed to be  an efficient country?  Well as I write no reply from them to either of my mails, it seems that tomorrow on the social media I will have to give them a one star review…  Don’t like to do so, I thought their stuff brilliant but I will not be treated so shabbily.  I guess if nothing else their products will make good if expensive cleaning cloths.

The second international item relates to three companies based in the UK that are refusing to work with Bellaugello.  Interestingly they are all international names, two of them overly famous, yet they seem to think that the UK anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them.  Two of the companies having at first been very helpful on learning that my business is gay just ignore me, they do not reply to mails or telephone calls, they blank me.  Stonewall and the EASS  inform me that I can assure them that the law does apply also to them and I intend to ensure that their behaviour is changed.  I have written to a couple of gay-friendly law practices and am waiting their reply.  In the meantime if any of you readers are or know of a good professional campaigning well connected journalist that might like my scoop and the chance to right some wrongs please do get in touch.  Just to add to the international theme I also have a case of an American company with offices on Milano to add to the pile.

Then the internet connection is crap.  For the past five saturdays I have not been able to listen to the News Quiz that BBC radio 4 favourite of mine, not good enough. Regular readers know it is my usual bugbear and probably the subject of more rants than I care to think about.  Recent survey on tourism states that holiday makers put a fast wifi connection above free room upgrades and free cocktails.  I know that I have known that for a very long time and do my utmost to provide the same.  However I am thwarted by the internet ‘provider’ who is the best of a really bad bunch.  I write emails, I telephone the help desk, I telephone the technical department, I complain.  For over one month the internet just keeps coming and going.  Today the internet is still hoplessly slow and unreliable, the technician called me to say it is all sorted.  Really?

The record five hours to send one page of an email – and by coincidence the email was to the internet people complaining about the lack of a viable service. They reply that i am “too needy”  I am “the only client with these problems” – clearly they have not spoken to my neighbours who too are discontented with the lack of a decent reliable service, I know of nobody locally with good words for this company.   I am too needy!! indeed, huh! how dare they! All I ask is the service I am paying for,namely a constant 7mbs of download speed, hardly a lot.   In my stupidity and as part of my cost rationalisation I had thought to move the fixed line phone to VOIP.  My theory being if I paid the company more they would give me a better service.  I am so so stoopid, it does not.  Instead every phone call is like talking through Bronco.  So on 31st October I send the completed forms to the company requesting the switch of telephone number (portability has come to Italy)  They had told me Telecom Italia would take ten days.  In amounts my above mentioned correspondence I did actually ask on 30th. November why the telecom line was still functioning and why Telecom had sent me another bill, I am now paying two telephone accounts for the same line.  Their reply was that the line would be switched on 16th. December eh? how is that ten days?  oh ten working days they say – i.e. fifteen days.  By my maths that should be the 16th. November at the latest, but no.  I ask them what in the meantime they have been doing with my forms, of course they refuse to give me a reply or a refund.  Tomorrow is switch day, it may be goodbye world.

Continuing the telecoms theme, I changed the contract on my mobile.  I am with Tim, the mobile branch of TelecomItalia.  This is the communications company that fault provide a decent coverage in the countryside, and ever so slow 3G (yes we are till on 3G) coverage and then have the gall to send me on a regular basis a text informing me that I have been chosen for a customer survey into the efficiency of their internet service.  HaHa! So anyway I go into the store in Gubbio and speak to the spotty young man with halitosis, ask his advice re current offers and decide to part with 42 euro.  Pert is the first month’s payment, part a fee for changing the contract and part a requirement for credit on my phone.  Credit on my phone?  I am already paying by monthly direct debit and have just given them 39 euro and they want more.  Anyway I am in a good and generous mood and agree.  Changing to the new tariff the internet slows noticeably and the telephone connection is worse than ever.  Delight upon delight when yesterday I receive two more sms informing me that Tim have just taken  money out of my bank account.  Back today to the youth with halitosis who sows me the computer screen that I have two contracts running concurrently, I am paying twice.  To cut a long story short he is totally unhelpful, completely unapologetic and my trip was a waste of time.  In a fit of peak I cancel my telephone contract from when the current period ends in January.  I will doubtless become wholly uncontactable.

Another major source of irritation rediscovered today.  I know they say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but why oh why do people have to take so many of my ideas and wrap them up into their own businesses?  I realise at the moment business is cut-throat, but please guys do have some ideas of your own it would be so refreshing.

Oh, and why oh why do the energy companies here in Italy insist on making cold calls to my telephone?  They want me to switch supplier, they offer all sorts of ‘amazing deals’, they call me daily, but yet I know that the deals are not amazing and if they spent less time and resources on the calls, (I do so pity the people who actually have to make the calls) then the monies they save could really go to savings on their bills.  On the mobile the messages keep flooding in “promotion Russian Brides Activated” “Your ideal girl finder now active” please, I ask you, do they never do customer research?  Ha! with my voip phone about to go live and the unstable internet connection and my cancelling my mobile contract none of them will be able to get through to me.

Now I am off to walk the dogs, it is dark, they have their flashing collars and it is still warm, a walk will be good, so we are off to see who is lurking in the bushes…

 

So near yet so far

Last spring a great friend wrote and told me of friends of theirs who were planning a three month sabbatical here in Umbria and asking me if I could offer assistance with any ‘settling in’ problems that might arise.  Subsequently email contact was made with the friends and I learnt that they were renting a house in Montecastello di Vibio a lovely Umbrian village near Todi, south of lago Trasimeno, maybe less than one hour from Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

Anyway, what with one thing and another we never actually got round to meeting.  Despite my promises to break away from Bellaugello and take a lunchtime excursion to visit, I never quite managed, so eventually the week before the guys are due to return to the UK they called in on their way back from a break on the Adriatic coast, and visited me here at Bellaugello.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the sun soaked terrace, a simple pasta with sauce made from vegetables taken this morning from the orto, and a lively conversation comparing notes about expat life in Italy… much to agree on there!

Before departing a photograph or two was taken, and evidence for our mutual friends that Stuart and Richard did indeed make it to my delightful corner of Umbria, and Indeed I am delighted they did!Sturat and Richard at Bellaugello

 

So excited!

Our latest arrival…
The first in a series of specially commissioned chairs all with a “Bellaugello Back’s” theme.

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Claire’s Chairs has done us at Bellaugello Gay Guest House proud. Come join us this summer, have a dip in our glorious infinity pool and you too could have your own personalised set of dining chairs, a hot reminder of your stay here in the Umbrian countryside

Unico?

Am I the only un-stereotypical gay guy left?
Over the past few days I have been asking myself that question. Why? You might ask… Well I seem to share one thing in common with David Cameron the straight Prime Minister of the UK, in that I do not know who Molly is….
I thought a Molly was either my long lost distant cousin sometime in South Africa, or an eighteenth century guy who acted on stage dressed as a woman, and whose sexual tendencies trended towards the male sex
But no it seems that last night a Molly was taking part in Eurovision and, like the said Cameron I knew not who or why. There my similarity with Cameron stops (well we do share other similarities but they are for another blog).
Just because I am a gay guy why do I have to like or even fawn over Eurovision, I dislike it with the same indifference that I give to Liza Minelli and Shirley Bassey, neither of whom I choose to listen to. It is a mystery to me that I prefer to keep a mystery.

Stadio dei Marmi. Roma

Ever since I first started having guests at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I have wanted to get to the Foro Italico in Rome and see the huge marble statues erected on the orders of Mussolini in 1933.
Rome is a great entry or exit point to Italy a choice of airports, good train connect is, a historic city to visit, I really do not need to tell you all that… and so it’s a great arrival point to Bellaugello. This morning I went on public transport and took the bus which leaves the road end very early, I was up with the lark.
My interest in the Stadio stems from a couple of Canadian guys who were touring the world and happened to stop off on their way through Europe at Bellaugello. Not only were they real great guys, handsome, cheery and full of life, but one of them was a painter. Now I never discovered if he was a painter as in pictures or a painter as in houses… However he did make an offer, which I accepted and during their stay he helped paint the living room of one of the suites! Add to that his love of photography, he enthused and inspired, and I was hooked on his tales of the lifetime ambition to get to the Stadio dei Marmi.
It has taken me a long time to follow in his footsteps, today was the day when I gazed on awe at the huge muscular marble statues that encircle the stadium. They are all different, some clothed, most naked, all muscular, huge feet and hands, and many with divine bubble butts. Each is named after a city in Italy, and represents a different sport, and hence a different pose. I must admit to having a penchant for 1930s architecture and design and for the nude male form 😉 and today in the hot sunshine the men did not disappoint
It just happened to be the Italy – England rugby international so the guys had all come to see the rugby. I, on the other hand came to see the guys….

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20140316-100811.jpgand the statue of Perugia our local provincia

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Unseasonably warm

I really cannot believe it. Here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House the weather continues to be unseasonably warm. Yesterday I spent a delightful afternoon pruning olive trees. I dressed warmly, it is February after all, but within a few minutes As temperatures hit the low twenties I had to strip off to a rugger shirt.
Back in the garden the first fruit trees are flowering…

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No, I do not only mean only the crazy yellow plum tree that has been in flower since mid-December, but as you see from the photo it is the apricot trees, and yesterday I noticed the almond is about to burst forth, along the road one of my farming neighbours has already an almond in full bloom. Wild violets strew the banks below the fig tree and the daffodils- those remaining not eaten by the istrice are in full flower.
So now I am off to cut the lawn. Generally the lawn cutting period is from late March to end June, then the heat slows down growth, I have to cut the lawns only every ten days or so until the autumn when they put on a final spurt before winter. This year I am having to start a month early, I just hope we are not in for a nasty cold spell in April.
Not that I am complaining about the warmth, it is delightful, and quietly pruning olive trees is most therapeutic….

An evening with men in tights

Last night we all headed into our local town of Gubbio for dinner and a show Aperitifs at bar MartinTempo

20130809-070026.jpg were followed with a rather over-large antipasto in Piazza Bosone at the Osteria del Re

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Here is a video of the spectacle, click on the YouTube link

No need for fracking!

The other day some of the guys were asking for oil.
Not crude but olive… So we headed off to the nearby estate of Montelabate abbey

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The frantoio is modern, spotless and where in the past we have taken the olives from Bellaugello to be milled and turned into deep intense fragrant extra virgin olive oil.
The abbey itself is a hauntingly beautiful place and open to the public on only rare occasions, the next two times will be this month, the 9th and 21st. We will be booking places on the tour for guys staying at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in glorious Umbria to get a chance to see the crypt, cloisters, church, the former olive mill and extensive wine cellars, it is a chance not to be missed

Alas there will be no oil, it was bought this visit…