Honeymoon shot

Thanks “A” for the photo, taken on honeymoon here in our infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, Italy

IMG_4527.JPG
Another beautiful back for the series

Felice Anno Nuovo! Happy 2014

Utter silence, guys still sleeping, outside it is warm, sunshine, blue skies, harmony, a gentle breeze not even rustling the few remaining leaves hanging so tightly to the naked tree branches, so quiet even the bird song is faint and intermittent, a bee bumbles over the rosemary flowers, otherwise nothing, hardly a sound.
Way below in the valley the distant sound of water rushing over rocks as the river Chiascio heads downstream to begin filling the lake that will be in front of Bellaugello Gay Guest House.
The sauna is lit, time to work up a sweat and rid our bodies of the bacchanalian excesses of last night…

20140101-113728.jpg
Happy New Year, Felice Anno Nuovo a tutti !

December blues

Another day begins in Umbria with glorious sunshine and a cloudless blue sky over Bellaugello Gay Guest House

20131217-094116.jpg the Chiascio valley is bathed in the remnants of early morning frost, pale blue mist and smoky steel blue haze from neighbours burning leaves hang languidly over the deep blue of the still river. Indoors, I’m busy ‘feeding’ the Christmas Cake….

20131217-094411.jpg the heady perfume of brandy filling the air, it’s going to be a hedonistic Christmas here at Bellaugello.
We still have some availability for our Hogmanay/Capodanno four night houseparty which starts on 28th. Check out your flights and come and join in the fun 😉
Details in full on the houseparty section of my blog ->

Cozy times

Good morning all from Bellaugello Gay Guest House. This morning we are shrouded in mist, fleecy wispy and decidedly damp, so breakfast in front of a welcoming fire seems appropriate:

20131105-091907.jpg

A morning for staying in bed….

This morning it is magically quiet here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.
Yesterday evening we lit the sauna stove and sweated for a couple of hours. Delightfully as we ran to the shower fed by refreshing spring water it was also warm outside, as one guy remarked how pleasant it was to be able to stand naked on the terrace at the end of October.
This morning it is a morning for staying in bed, there is no noise, all is still and even the countryside seems loathe to shed itself of its bedclothes…

20131030-090151.jpg

Warmth

This morning the house was completely shrouded in mist.  It is typical of autumn days here in Umbria that early in the mornings, light mist lingers in the valley and magically breaks free floating upward and dissipating, inevitably by eleven o’clock in the morning the blue sky is revealed in all its warmth and glory.

That is as it was here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House this morning.  Breakfasts were served in the dining room, the house shrouded in a quiet mist, and then just as breakfast was over the mist thinned and some traces of blue sky appeared.

For me the previous night had been disturbed.  As you will have read from my last post, Milo, my English Setter was at the vet for an operation to remove the two large cists that have been annoying him this summer.  Understandably the operation was a long and complicated procedure, some three and a half hours in total – I do not know who was more stressed me or the dog! and when I was called back to the vet I was met with a very dopy and disorientated dog, perforated by two ginormous scars neatly sewn up with blue thread.

Any attempt at him walking was out of the question, so wrapped in a blanket he was carried to the car and hence home.  He and I both had a disturbed night – little sleep much agitation and anxiety and confusion, however this morning Milo staggered out to do his business.  His three legged stagger reminding me of an ancient Billy Connolly story about the Glaswegian drunk who when in a bar in Rome had asked what the Pope drank – to be told by the barman that ‘he has been known to take the odd glass of creme de menthe’ (remember this story is from the 1970s) – so the Glaswegian said to the bartender ‘give me a pint of that then’, at which Connolly performed a drunken stagger with one leg seemingly fixed to the same spot, that to this day I still remember as hysterical and clever.  So it was with Milo this morning, a very drunken stagger, one leg splayed and seemingly refusing to budge.

The treatment at the vets is second to none.  We went back for a post -op check up this morning and were met by squeals of delight by the team, so proud of Milo, they really care, their concern is genuine and warm, which leads me on to the thread of tonight’s post….

This is the first evening this autumn when the guys have asked me to light the Finnish wood fired Sauna here in the garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, indeed the perfect place to work up a sweat.  As dusk began to fall the stove with a full load of dry seasoned wood rapidly got to a heady 80˚c

.

A sauna with heat from a log stove, at dusk here in the tranquillity of Umbria is an experience all should partake, it is utterly magical.  Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse is open throughout October and thence for November Fridays and Saturdays, come and enjoy a sauna….

Well I may be many things but I discovered I am definitely not a Russian!!

The current baltic weather here in Umbria, and covering of snow put us here at Bellaugello Gay b&b in mind of taking a sauna.

Last year we created a panoramic deck and imported direct (well actually via France ‘cos they do not sell them here in Italy) from Finland a wooden building in which there is a sauna, heat being provided by a log burning stove.  The sauna arrived on a humungous pantechnicon and took four of us four days to construct.  Being Finnish the kit was perfect, once we understood the instructions it was simple to construct and every piece was precise and well engineered.  Soon we were enjoying sweating in the dry heat of the sauna.

Well now we have snow and the sauna is THE place to be!

Yesterday afternoon once again the stove was filled with wood and lit and we waited for it to come to temperature..

And then the delight of running through the snow covered garden down from the house stripping off, and getting into the intense dry heat of the sauna,  pouring fragrant water on the hot rocks, working up a real good sweat, and then…… well it HAD to be done…. a quick dash outside and rolling in the snow….

Luckily there is no photographic evidence of this foolishness, yes it is something I have often talked about, indeed something I have long thought about experiencing, but I discovered it is something I am just not cut out to repeat, In no way am I Russian or Finnish or Scandinavian at all, I now even doubt my northern european antecedents ….  Yes rolling naked in the snow is invigorating, yes there is a rush, yes it certainly cools you down, yes the snow was soft and dry on my skin, yes it must be done on exiting a sauna when there is snow on the ground, but boy oh boy is it cold brrrr….

 

Sun glorious sun!!

The sun continues to shine here in Umbria, the trees are now a golden yellow, colours spectacular, virtually no wind, indeed silence.  Whilst days are warm, – and I seem to spend them outdoors raking leaves and gathering acorns, the nights are chilly but it does mean wonderful magical misty early mornings here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House and of course an excellent excuse to light the sauna stove!

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……