CAUGHT…. if only on camera!

One by one then two by two over this winter they have steadily been disappearing, and whilst I have suspected who the culprit was until today I had no proof but now..

Caught at last, alas only on camera the Istrice that has steadily been devouring all of my iris bulbs in the garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.The Istrice, the culprit who has eaten all the Iris bulbs at Bellaugello Gay guest House Umbria, near Florence and Rome, Italy

Three years ago as part of the initial scheme of the garden I planted several clumps of iris bulbs.  Now I adore irises, I grew them in my garden in Scotland and was thrilled to see they thrive here in Umbria, except of course when they are fodder for wild beasts.  Usually if the corms get a chance to mature for three years then they are safe, but it seems not in this case, for although there was a wonderful display and the irises had clumped up well, thanks to the rapacious Istrice there are now none.  The iris walk I planted was blues and purples, I wanted to expand the colours to yellows, chocolate browns, maroons, lavender and multi-coloured ones, but had only got the catalogues out when the existing plants began disappearing.  Luckily I have made contact with a keen gardener in Perugia who will be thinning out her iris bed and has offered the excess corms to me as a gift.  It is back to the beginning again, small plants and no flowers, and a fence, but in the future there will be irises in the garden at Bellaugello.

DSCN3486There is a story of an ancient farmer’s wife here in the valley who was troubled by the Istrice eating her crop of potatoes.  One day, and unaware of the situation a neighbour called in to enquire as to whether the farmer’s wife was happy with the yield and flavour of her potato crop to be told that she had no idea just how the potatoes tasted or how many kilos the seed potatoes yielded as they had all been eaten by the porcupine.  However she then went on to say that spit roasted potato fed porcupine was rather a delicate and flavorsome meat!

Don’t worry I have no intention of trying out iris fed porcupine!


Benvenuti 2013

A fabulous evening at Bellaugello, we feasted elegantly on local produce with a Scottish Italian menuThe Table for New Year's Eve at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, ItalyAnd as the clocks struck midnight we were outside on the terrace to launch sky lanterns each making a wishLighting the lanterns at New Year's Eve 2012/2013, Bellaugello Gay Guest House,  Umbria, Italien DSCN3417.JPG

And so with finest Prosecco we welcomed in 2013

And a Very Happy and prosperous new year to you all, and for regular updates on halcyon life here at Bellaugello do keep reading and commenting on my blog, Hugs Alec


l’Ultimo del’Anno 2012

For what is probably my last post of 2012 a few photos to let you share the views at Bellaugello Gay Guest House which is bathed in glorious sunshine at the end of December 2012Reflections on the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Bed and Breakfast, Umbria, Italy DSCN3373 xmas tree DSCN3375 DSCN3383

It really is a fabulous place to be!  Happy New Year to ALL, hope to see you here in 2013

Colour in the sky

What a marvelous day today here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Warm sun and little or no breeze, perfect for my gardening exploits and all crowned by an amazing sunset

Life is good!

Colour in the garden

A semi organized visit yesterday, in that the guys had sent an SMS, stating that they were planning to call in on their way back to Holland in the afternoon, but having sent the SMS to my fixed line it resulted in my not receiving the message and being horribly unprepared when they showed up at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, here in the beautiful Umbrian countryside.

I was expecting them, at the end of this week, the day had not been precisely fixed, the visit had been arranged, but stupidly I did not contact them, instead left it to them to contact me, hence the misunderstanding.  I planned to cook a batch of my lavender cup cakes for them to take for the journey home.  Instead they caught me dressed in ‘workie’ clothes busy putting a coat of wood preservative on the outdoor woodwork.  I was scruff personified, not expecting visitors, I was taking the opportunity of sunshine and a deserted house to get on with maintenance work, how embarrassing!

I swiftly took them up to my kitchen and set about making Scotch pancakes, those easy and quick but delicious cakes, thinking they were passing through today not yesterday I had nothing prepared.  We sat at the table in my kitchen overlooking the vast panorama to the Apennines and Monte Subasio, the hill that hides Assisi from my view, and whilst the coffee brewed and pancakes were cooked, three packages were revealed.

I am the lucky recipient of a very large quantity of Tulip bulbs from Holland, such a generous gift.  Today I went to the agricultural supplier in Gubbio and bought two sacks of compost and am now off into the garden, once again it is a beautiful sunny day, and will plant lots and lots of pots of Tulip bulbs.

The gardens at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse will be a riot of colour next spring.  A big “Thank You” to the guys from Almere

The sun is back after the rains

Last weekend the weather was really terrible.  however the rain was much needed and nobody with a large umbrella seemed to mind the soaking.  Today we are back to sunshine, the air is clean and refreshed and the autumn colours are just turning those honey golds so characteristic of Umbria.  Although not blogging I have been up to a few things, so to give you an insight of my days here goes;

I want to cover the pool and garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest House with a wireless internet signal, let’s face it everybody now has an iPad or Kindle.  I have been out researching WiFi antennas.  The proposed antennas are quite small and discrete.  I am told they have a range of up to 5kms – should be more than adequate!  I just need to clamber onto the roof to find the best point for the antenna and how we can discretely run the cable.

The other day a frenetic beeping of a van horn signalled the arrival of a box of samples for a new range of soaps and gels from Erbolario Toscano for me to test.  I would like to keep the Arran Arromatics lavender products we currently use, but I have big problems with the carriers not delivering so am looking at alternatives.  Erbolario Toscano is a high quality range of products using olive oil which is produced near Lucca in Tuscany.  Lightly fragrant and with an attractive artisan packaging, traditional Italian, the soap is really good I am really inclined to go with them for the suites for next year. (make the place more Italian hehe!!)

I am looking at an iPad mini.  I am a keen reader, I read in bed to send me to sleep however before the iPad mini  had thought to buy a Kindle Paperwhite.  I checked the reviews and was convinced, Paperwhite is the right model, the price is not bad and the book selection more than adequate, with the advantage that I will be able to buy English language books here on an Italian Amazon account.

Ok so proceed to buying process – NONE available in Italy until FEBRUARY 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!  British Amazon has delivery for w/c 14 December aargh.  I heard on the BBC Brian Sewell being interviewed about his latest autobiography and I want to read it now, by February I will have lost interest.  Three months wait I think not.   So I thought why not an iPad mini?  I have other Apple products they could all sync together.  Ok they are more expensive than a Kindle but they also do more, I could use it for music in the dining room, checking emails and blogging, stream movies and yes, read books – oh I can justify it on many levels!  Delivery 2 weeks – that is reasonable, BUT NO ENGLISH FILMS on iTunes Italy so NO point in paying more. I REFUSE to watch Skyfall with Daniel Craig dubbed into Italian

Continuing on the same theme, I am looking at replacing my computer.  As an Apple man of long standing, indeed I have never owned a pc and still have trouble working on one I thought to a desktop iMac.  Wow how the prices have shot up starting €1,400…..  Anyway it must be done so onto my Apple account to discover delivery….   NOVEMBER are we not already in November?

A friend of mine in the UK has a company car.  Last spring his company car was due for renewal.  His car of choice is a Mercedes and being of precise nature he specified color, trim, wheels, engine etc and returned to work in hot anticipation of the new baby arriving.  Scheduled for late July in time to drive over to Italy for a holiday at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, the car when it finally arrived in late August was wrongly specified, and Mercedes wanted another two whole months.

What is it with the world?  One used to be able to go into a phone store and choose a new phone pay a few pounds and take it home straight away. I can remember walking onto a car dealer’s forecourt and choosing the car from a selection and having it ready to be driven away the next day.  A ten month wait for a Mercedes!  I know times are hard but have Mercedes suffered so much?  I have visions of the workforce reduced to one man assembling the cars under the light of an incandescent bulb hehe!  Yes, I did wait 7 years for the delivery of my Morgan sports car but that was in the 1980’s and very much hand made.  I remember DVDs played any language – buy them in Paris, Caracas, Lisbon or Berlin, they all had a choice of languages, so why in this modern day and age can the Apple Store not have original language films in all countries?  And have you seen their ‘original language’ bookstore on iTunes talk about un-navigable

And to why I have not been blogging lately.  It is all Apple’s fault. I have updated my software to a Mountain Lion, all singing but not all dancing it is now inordinately complicated to upload photos onto my blog.  What was previously a simple process of finding the photo, choosing and uploading is now impossible as the small dimension extensions have magically disappeared.  Now to upload a small format photo I have to export it from iPhoto and put it on the desktop, so duplicating it and taking up more disk space and then find it again and upload to WordPress, and as to videos, no way have I mastered that.

To give you and example, recently we went up into the foothills of the Apennines behind our local town of Gubbio, within 20kms you find yourself in the Monte Cucco Regional park a wonderful place for hiking, well marked tracks meander hills and valleys  that are like entering a land that time forgot.  Stupendous scenery, isloated villages, smoke curling limply from soot blackened chimney pots, old men (and some cute younger ones) standing outside the only bar, I expected the only cigarettes available to be Gauloise untipped.  Here and there a lonely church or ancient monastery clinging to a craggy outcrop high up on the valley wall, and Chianina cattle wandering freely in the upper pastures, their bells jangling.  It was all happily reminiscent of the film “the Sound of Music”.   I half expected a Christopher Plummer lookalike to come tripping gaily down the mountain.  But no it is actually 2012 and amongst all this nostalgia there was a 3G phone signal, and with my iPhone camera I could take video and record sound which I di to upload  through my WordPress app.  But no, the video would not upload to my phone, and back at home synced with computer it still does not upload, indeed iPhoto mucked up the format, and I wasted hours trying various ways to share the delightful sounds with you all to no avail.  To my mind technology should be simple and efficient.

Back to business, I am making a few alterations to the dining room and kitchen at Bellaugello and was out shopping for internal doors yesterday.  I need two plain doors, smooth un-remarkable.  The quote came in this morning €187,00 + iva each and that is just the doors, no handles…..  My friends in the south of France posted recently on Facebook photos of delightful antique double doors for their drawing room that they picked up in an architectural salvage yard, cost €300,00 including brass handles and finger plates.  To add insult to injury there is a lead in time of ten weeks for these unremarkably dull but expensive flat doors.

Ok this has turned into a rant which was not the intention, I leave you with a photo of one of the cattle, you will have to make the sound effects yourself, just hit a saucepan lid or two together to imagine the delightful sounds from the bell, I am off to string two empty baked bean cans together, I need to speak with my neighbour over the hill!




Yes! I am still here!!

Sorry I have not written for some days indeed I think it has been the longest gap since I started blogging but every time I settle down to blog something crops up.

I have a store of posts to post but today am quite unable to as there has been a huge rainstorm here in Umbria and the Internet connection at Bellaugello Gay Guest House is out of action. Add to that a wifi network that has gone out in sympathy and I am left to blog using one thumb on my iPhone

Oh and my iPhone refuses to download photos or video to the blog

I have taken some awesome photos and video of the autumn here in Umbria including a magical sound encountered on our hike in the neighbouring Apennines and the flooding in the valley below Bellaugello but they will have to wait until the technology is sorted out

So please be patient ‘normal’ blogging will resume. Until then keep well keep happy and keep checking the blog!

What a difference a day makes

After the storm of yesterday we all awoke to a beautiful morning here in Umbria.  Overnight there was the first frost, the ground and terrace tables were all covered with a silky sheen of ice.   Fortunately I had managed to store all our wonderful geraniums and delicate plants.

Seen from the terrace at Bellaugello Gay Guest House mist hangs in the valley and the dusting of snow still clings to the Apennines it is utterly beautiful

The temperatures are certainly fresh, but the air is clean and crisp and the colours bright and intense.  Perhaps we will get an autumn after all