Not only was I barbecuing but I have been cooking up something new and exciting, news to be waited for and well worth the wait…
Until then enjoy the thoughts of the guys at Bellaugello Gay Guest House enjoying succulent meat in the perfumed gardens of Bellaugello surrounded by a myriad of fireflies….. Ethereal…
A glorious afternoon here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria finds Edo one of my English Setters lying on the west lawn in the dappled shade cast by one of the great cherry trees
It has been another great balmy day, big fluffy clouds slowly wafting by and revealing acres of brilliant azure blue skies. Indeed it has been a hot day, a pool day, a suntan day. Here we have planned the garden to provide shady lawns, and of course lots of delicious fragrant lavender which is just beginning to come into bloom, a chance to escape the heat and doze…
And the bedding plants seen from the bathroom window of the Suite Degli Specchi are now beginning to overflow their pots and trail through the railings to the lower terrace below, colour fills the garden, roses are now budding anew for their second flowering
And after a lazy summer day what more could you want than to know the prosecco is on it’s way………
being spoilt, that’s Bellaugello….
A telephone call this lunchtime reminded me that the weather is un-seasonally warm. I have been basking in temperatures reaching the high twenties to low thirties and it got me thinking back to the time when we first ‘moved into the house’
Well moving in is probably an over exaggeration, there was a part of the house that had been partly restored some thirty years previously, but never finished and never lived in. With the enthusiasm of a new life we set about disposing of the rubbish, cleaning, and painting. It snowed that March and was still bitterly cold, un-seasonally cold! There was a rudimentary bathroom, I went and bought sanitary-ware from the DIY store and plumbed it in, found an old drain pipe and connected it all up, with no idea of where it all went! There was a functioning electricity meter in the upper uninhabitable part of the house, so we ran cables down to our new ‘luxury pad’ stringing them round the walls like Christmas lights without the lights, a basic electricity supply, one power point in each room.
For heating and cooking there was an old wood burning stove found in an outhouse, cleaned up and hastily re-erected with a flue pipe leading into a chimney, that was our only means heating and cooking, the kitchen was a salvaged porcelain sink placed on an old dressing table which we cut the legs off. For hot water, in keeping with our ecological ethos we bought a solar panel and kilometres of alkathene pipe. We mounted the panel on the middle terrace above the collapsing garden wall and then moved some furniture in. We had a living room, bedroom, shower-room and alcove with a guest bed, it was home, it was bliss!
The first morning we awoke with the dawn at six thirty am to see from our bed mist in the valley below and blue cloudless skies above, truly breath-taking. We were happy, managed to entertain friends, cooking on the wood stove and remarking on our lives ‘camping with our own furniture!’, but there was one problem. It soon became overcast and the solar panel did not work. It got to the stage of boiling kettles both to wash plates and bodies, it was two weeks without sunshine, in the end we went to the terme San Casciano!
Today all is different, we have planted nearly 1000 plants, the garden is really taking shape, fruit trees showing signs of fruit, hedges screen the various terraces and divide the various spaces, lavender plants in profusion are bursting into new leaf, Rosemary is in full bloom the purple and violets and blues covering the bankings, the Irises planted three years ago are for the first time in bud, and Harald’s figs are just forming. The house has six glorious individual apartments, all with lavish bathrooms, underfloor heating, and WiFi, the dining room created out of the former cow stalls is a large and elegant space, all is earthquake proofed, including the new annexe which has a room specifically for our biomass boiler and large hot water tank (1,500 litres) which today reached 80º only fuelled by the six vacuum sealed solar panels on the roof. We have new pipes for the mains water, large tanks for the spring water used for the garden and flushing lavatories, and finally a three phase electricity supply, yes Bellaugello has come a long way….
A loud persistent and unyielding car horn signaled the presence of the mail. We here in Valdichiascio have a new postie, she is young, blonde and seemingly loves the sound of her car horn. Any time there is a package or letter to be signed for she signals her presence by several jabs on the post car horn – and does not stop until I approach the car.
I guess I should not complain at least she signals her presence unlike her predecessor who would cost down the hill silently and leave a card in the letter box here at Bellaugello gay guest house informing me that there was a parcel for me and that I had a twenty kilometre round trip to collect it from the post office (only open mornings and never at weekends) and if I didn’t collect the letter/parcel within five days a fine starts accruing.
Anyway to the point of this post, the postie today delivered me a recorded delivery letter from some government department, more hassle and a package.
The package was from Sweden home of my dear friend Annie who sent me amongst other goodies a sample of her new Lemon flavoured Scottish Tablet. Annie runs a business in her delightful Swedish farm outside Stockholm making hand-made Scottish confectionary, notable whisky flavoured tablet or fudge. This melt in the mouth, must have another piece sweet is not only more-ish but absolutely yummy. Thank you again Annie for spoiling me so!
The Lemon tablet made with sugar, condensed milk, and loads of butter and fresh lemons – I had to ‘phone Annie to thank and compliment her and so learnt it is made with fresh lemon juice and zest is divine, sweet yet at the same time sharp, a real triumph.
Annie has recently launched her website where you can see the products and buy online, regular readers of my blog maybe recall my post on her being asked by the Nobel Committee to provide her tablet for the recent ‘Nobel Nightcap‘
For those of you with a sweet tooth here is the link to Annie D’s website… tell her I sent you! Annie D\’s Scottish Tablet Website
It might not be my birthday just now, however a reminder of my age arrived through the post yesterday in the shape of a letter from A S L, the local health authority.
They are offering complimentary screening for colon cancer to all men and women in the fifty to seventy four year age bracket. Ok I just qualify, yes only just, I know remarkable isn’t it,wouldn’t have thought it possible would you? but it saddened me that I am now of an age where I fit into the bracket with retired pensioners, I kinda liked it in the bracket 36-49 Gay men are noticably shy about their real age, vanity I guess. Mine has never really concerned me, but to be thought of as possibly being 74 I ask you!
Anyway in the light of the increased uptake of cancer screening in young women after the sad death of Jane Goody, I shall participate in the diagnostic screening wnich has to be a good thing. Thanks ASL
Today we started work on the next suite. We started by carefully lifting the floor tiles which were laid in the 1960s. The tiles known locally as ‘sale e pepe’ are a mix of marble chips and marble dust, made into polished floor tiles. They were made in a variety of colours, with marble of differing sizes, and were the height of modernity when they were laid, and luckily we were able to lift them almost intact. They will be cleaned and re-laid in the lower floor of the new duplex apartment, when they will be re-polished for the living room and bathroom floors
I am delighted to be able to re-use some of the materials from the house in the new suites.
The next job entailed demolishing walls to make a larger living room and more space for a bathroom.
This next apartment with a covered portico entrance reached from the middle terrace on the west of the house will have a large living room with wood burning stove in the traditional fireplace, a kitchen corner, a luxury sofa bed, and then a separate bedroom with ensuite bathroom suitable for people with mobility difficulties.
This will be one of the suites here at my gay guest house that will be able to accommodate four guests. It will be decorated in a rich style of reds and golds and to give it a bit of a decadent twist will house my collection of mirrors.
I have received many emails of support from chums who have now visited the website.
Some of my friends have expressed surprise and indeed dismay that in creating an exclusively gay male guest house I have selected a market that will exclude them, however for the most part they understand and support my decision.
Even in today’s enlightened times there remain many actions that as a gay male you just feel uncomfortable about, or society at large frowns on. It may be as simple as a quick peck on the cheek at the poolside, holding hands at the dinner table, sunscreen applied with love, a cuddle on the hammock, yes we gay males do all those things, but sometimes in the company of everyone we are made to feel awkward.
I very much want to create an environment where gay men can relax and not have to give a thought to their actions. OK that does not mean wild orgies – I’ve not come across them before in any hotel or country house I’ve stayed in but perhaps I have led a sheltered life. No just somewhere where we gay men can act instinctively without worrying about homophobic reaction.
One of my very good friends passed the link on to his friends at work and received vitriolic comments from a female co-worker saying that I was being discriminatory and it was outrageous she as a straight girl would not be able to stay. That I had no right to focus my business model in this way.
He replied to her citing women only nights at the gym which are widely offered, as being even more discriminatory as it excluded all males.
One of my girlfriends hoped that she would be allowed to visit even if it was’ just for a cup of tea’ – As I have already emailed you yes of course you are always welcome to my home, I am not creating a ghetto, nor will I isolate myself from my friends, I have a private terrace and apartment so I’m afraid there will be no peeking on the cute hunky male guests!
Some of my straight friends are talking of coming out (sorry no pun intended) for a holiday this year, it will be interesting to see if they do. I can always block off the target market for that period……