1st of June – Primo di Guigno

Magic is in the air here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria…   Today the 1st of June and tonight I have seen my first firefly of the year.  Within days the gardens will be filled with these wonderous nocturnal creatures, I can’t wait..

Magic è in aria qui a Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria … Oggi è il 1 ° giugno e stasera ho visto la mia lucciola prima parte dell’anno. Entro pochi giorni il giardino sarà pieno di queste creature notturne meraviglioso, non vedo l’ora ..

Oh dear time for another rant….

Not far from the beautiful medieval city of Gubbio, the University city of Perugia and the world famous city of Assisi sits a tranquil peaceful beautiful valley called Valdichiascio.  It is in this stunning location that I have the great fortune to live and work.  Each morning I wake with a view over my swimming pool to the magnificent Apeninne mountains, and south straight down the river valley.

I have superb neighbours, they have welcomed me with open arms, helped me in moments of crisis and become great friends.  The valley is home to many people, some of whom have been here all their lives, some more recent arrivals.  It is a living thriving community, in the past few years many couples have become parents, there is talk of the need for a school and even opening a voluntary library, there are few empty holiday homes, people fortunate enough to have a house here live in it, and many work from their homes.  We are an international community firmly rooted to the land.

However we do need things that are not produced here in the valley and so with our internet connections or cell phones we order and pay for them to be delivered to us, and it is here that the problem lies….

I have a failing for lavender, I adore it, have planted many many lavender plants which grow well, perfume the garden and have become a talking point at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  This spring I decided to take the lavender theme one stage further and discovered a delightful lavender soap and shower gel produced in Scotland by Arran Aromatics, a small company based on the delightful island of Arran on the west coast of Scotland. Both the soap and gel are mildly perfumed, with hints of citrus, and are surprisingly masculine, so had to be bought.  The goods were dispatched from Scotland by UK Parcelforce, who operate a ‘parcel tracking system’.

I was eager to receive the consignment and put the soaps and gels in the bathrooms of the suites here at Bellaugello gay b&b so tracked the parcels through Europe.  They reached Italy within two days where they were handed to GLS couriers, and this is where all began to go wrong.  The parcels did not arrive, the tracking stated that GLS had attempted delivery on four separate occasions, to be met with either ‘address non existant’ or ‘no reply’.  I live here I was in, indeed on one of the occasions at the stated time I had been outside my front door chatting with my plumber who was resolving a small problem.

I contacted Parcelforce who replied stating that they would contact GLS  to effect delivery.  To cut a long horrid story short, eventually several days later I received a telephone call from the GLS driver stating that he would leave the parcels in Gubbio and I could drive in and collect them.  I replied that I had paid for door to door delivery and that is the least I expected.  He telephoned me seven times on the 4km road in Valdichiascio and when he finally arrived in a schreech of tyres and bad attitude he admitted that it was the first time he had ever attempted the delivery – and it would be the last, it was a hideous experience.  Yes it will be the last he managed to damage a tree in the drive, break the hedge and leave trenches in the gravel.

Ok so now a few weeks on Parcel force still have not given me an explanation of the inaccurate tracking, the lies of attempted deliveries, and I am now waiting on three electrical transformers for the LED lights that run around the swimming pool.  I bought lights from a fabulous company in the north of Italy, (but omitted to order the transformers, thinking that they would be available locally) they are precise in their documentation and meticulously track their orders, they Use Bartolini couriers.  Guess what, the lights arrived after three ‘failed’ attempts, the order for transformers was processed overnight and Bartolini couriers tracking show that my address ‘does not exist’ this is despite a note on the consignment that delivery is to be made to the address of order number  xxx and delivered  on date yyy.

How can a company claim to be a courier service exist when they are not prepared to deliver to the address on the package? The couriers ask me to drive and meet them on the main road or in Gubbio, what would they do if like one of my neighbours I didn’t have a car??  Many of my neighbours are so frustrated that they agree to have their parcels left seven km away at the petrol station.  I am not prepared to do that.  What will the ‘couriers’ do? dump the package on the roadside or put on the tracking – consignee not in…

Late one afternoon just this week I had a call from Roma Fumincino airport, they told me that they had baggage for two guys who had just flown in from Canada to stay here (the baggage had been mis-routed at one of the change airports).  They would send it.  I warned the guys it might take some time, but no..  Their driver reached here at 10pm on the same day, he was cheerful and carried the bags to the suite, not a courier but a service, perhaps I shall buy everything from Canada in future…..

Sunshine – but still green

The sun continues to shine here in Umbria as it has done for the past month.  Despite the lack of rain the garden and surrounding countryside at Bellaugello Gay Guest House near Gubbio is looking lush and verdant.  We are lucky to have our own spring, which up till now is still pouring forth cool clear water, enough to keep the garden maintained.

I am just back from the vivaio with a car load of summer bedding plants which I will spend the afternoon planting into the pots and putting on the various terraces, as tomorrow we are all off to join in the annual celebration of the ‘Festa dei Ceri’ or ‘race of the candles’ in Gubbio.  More about that and some photos on tomorrow’s post!