Superplasticizer & Polycarboxylate

Hey, I have no idea what either product is, all I know is that on checking my computer somebody calling himself Jack Spratt – a likely name methinks, kindly offered me inordinate quantities of these products by email this afternoon.  The joys of junk mail.

Over the past few days I have once again been hit by a major dose of the ‘flu.  This time it took me real bad and this is the first day I have been able to comfortably read a computer screen.  Facebook and blog have both been ignored, my plans to get online an online booking form on the website have been delayed, Everything ached!  There is so much of this ‘flu going that many of you already know just how ‘orrible it is, so I won’t let this turn into a rant or feel sorry for Alec.

Anyway I have struggled to answer emails.  Enquiries and bookings are coming in for this year, and I am conscious that I must reply swiftly to them, so have squinted at the screen and replied.  Frankly being almost unable to open my eyes, and focus let alone read, it has not been easy over the past few days, but I managed it.  In the interim, the radio, notably streaming BBC dramas and a stream of phonecalls from my neighbours and friends offering support, to do my shopping, to take me to the doctors, the hospital and just to check if I am alive have been my companions. Daniella has just left, she was over to pick up a document and brought me a super moist home-made chocolate cake, bliss on an empty stomach, and not having eaten for days I can for once gorge without putting on weight!

Yes, the fixed line does ring but inevitably the calls are from gas or electric companies offering me a new contract, that I do not want, and will not even consider, Internet companies that try to fool me into believing using the only form of technology available here they can dramatically improve my connection speeds. or a marketing executive trying to sign up accommodation businesses for an accommodation website linked to a rather too oft spoken about budget airline…. By the time of this call I lost the plot, politely informing the caller that the owner was on indefinite holiday and I firmly believed even on ‘her’ return would not be remotely interested in advertising and ‘she’ hates the airline!  Now that was all done on my part calmly and to much satisfaction.

Anyway on a positive note I am off to BRUSSELS on Wednesday.  ENIT, the Italian tourist board are hosting a meeting for tour operators and buyers in conjunction with the Brussels holiday fair, and having circulated an offer to attend, it seemed to me to be too good an opportunity to miss, so I booked up a swish hotel and am preserving my strength, sorting out publicity material and preparing to go.

A direct flight from our local airport of Perugia, now aptly renamed San Francesco di Assisi takes me in just under two hours to Brussels, a city to my shame I have yet to visit.  I have also had many guests from Belgium and Brussels area so the trip maybe a chance to meet up, who knows it would be real nice.



Misty morning


An early start this morning revealed the magical splendour of our location at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  With mist hanging low in the Chiascio valley it was like riding the crest of a wave!

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

It shouldn’t matter but it does

The tag-line for my blog runs something like ‘news updates and random rants from our gay B&B in Umbria’ and some of what I am writing about today has nothing whatsoever to do with the tag line, but I just need to get something off my chest.

Yesterday was an ‘away day’ from Bellaugello.  A regular guest at Bellaugello has a love of all things Italian, a guy who back in his home country of Holland studies and reads Italian had enrolled in the University of Camerino in the neighbouring region of Le Marche

In order to get to Camerino in good time I woke early yesterday and as usual while faffing about listened to the news on the BBC.  There was an item about the Synod of the Church of England, on whose agenda was the decision whether or not to permit women Bishops.  Now as you might have just guessed I am in no way religious, but am a firm believer in equality, so the item was of interest to me.  Interviewd on the programme were two women, one a priest, the other a lay person both with opposing views, interestingly the woman priest favoured women Bishops.

Anyway to the enjoyable part.  I set off through the Apennines to Camerino, a delightful town perched high on a rocky outcrop deep in the beautiful rural Marche.  It was about a one and a half hour drive, much through light rain, and on climbing into the ancient town, I believe the university is one of the oldest in Italy dating from the 13th. century, driving up through the narrow streets into the main piazza infront of the brick built Duomo  the mist came down, it was all rather romantic.

I met up with my ‘student’ friend and we set off towards the Adriatic coast.  En route we stopped in the delightful town of Macerata.  I must admit, although only a couple of hours drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House, it is a part of Italy that I do not know.  I was entranced, it is utterly beautiful, and architecturally different to Umbria.

Calling in at the tourist office for advice on where to eat, yes it was 13.20 and officially the office was closed until 15.00 we were welcomed and given great advice on a choice of restaurants, the staff were so helpful and cheery.  We had asked for local food or cucina casareccia, saying that we wanted a restaurant where the locals eat.  The warm reply was that any restaurant would be good as ‘we have very few tourists here!’ We took the middle option and a short walk through narrow streets brought us to the “Osteria dei Fiori”

It was an excellent choice, a simple and charming osteria, with real local food.  We started with an antipasto of local cured meats, a different selection to those in Umbria, but equally good, and a light sformatina, a mousse with truffles.  My main course was of home made spagetti alla chitarra a speciality from the region and neighbouring Abruzzo.  This pasta was made with a large percentage of chestnut flour, and accompanied with a sauce of porcini mushrooms and chestnuts and utterly superb.

After lunch chatting with the enthusiastic the proprietor she kindly gave me the recipe, I somehow doubt my skills will anyway match her light and deft hands at making such a superb pasta, but her warmth was highly encouraging.  I came away with a great little recipe book of local cuisine.

I got home late last night and this morning before staring my chores, including unloading a pallet of wood pellets for our biomass boiler, and making hearty soup for friends coming over to help with the olive harvest I again switched on the BBC news to learn that the Synod of the Church of England had rejected by six votes to allow women Bishops.  I was really saddened.  It seems the leity were the ones that voted against the move and strangely the matter cannot be up for vote again for some years to come.

In my ancestors I count several remarkable women, a great aunt who was one of the first women doctors – she studied in the antediluvian days at one university where women undergraduates were admitted, but had to go to another to sit her finals as women were not allowed at that time to graduate from the first university – inconceivable today eh!  During her long career she was awarded a gold medal for her treatment of Myasthenia Gravis, the basis for treatment to this day.  My grandomther followed her sister and studied medicine and became an early general practitioner, that is until she got married.  At which point she was forced to give up general practice as at that time (just after the great war) married women were not allowed to be general practitioners.  How stupid was that what a waste, what dis-incentive.

Back to the C of E theme I remember in the 1990s attending a Chrtistmas concert of lessons and carols in the beautiful setting of Bath Abbey, England.  The occasion was the annual Christmas concert of a local all girls boarding school.  The headmistress, yes headmistress was a superb and enlightened leader, many of the teaching staff were female and to my astonishment the cleric leading the service was a woman priest.  It was all so fitting and right.

I am left dismayed that in todays’ age a national/international business whose senior management (Bishops) sit in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the UK parliament, they have chosen to deny the role to women.  Just what world are they living in?  Why? How out of touch and insulting can you be?

They cherry pick their handbook/mission statement, ignore or alter what is uncomfortable for them, so why not allow women bishops, other organizations/businesses.multinationals are successfully  headed by women.  Look at how great a make up free (now that is something I am real proud of) Hillary Clinton is doing on the world stage, Mary MacAleese, the 11th. President of Ireland, with her fighting for unity and fairness, Aung San Suu Kyi  the determined campaigner of freedom and unity in Myanmar, and Julia Gillard inclusive policies in Australia, and of course the supreme example, the incredible HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  Those great women of today together with my few humble ancestral examples  show that there is no reason for denying women or anyone equality.  To my mind the vote was a sad sad day for the ‘establishment’ indeed.

Autumn – golden joy

The SUN continues to shine here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Once again yesterday it was 28˚c almost hot enough to brave the infinity pool, and the autumn colours are becoming quite spectacular. Here is the Caci tree, one of the last fruits of the season just ripening now

It is a time of tranquillity and silence, barely a rustle of leaves at night, and the mornings bright sunshine and mist in the valley below, a real time to recharge and revitalise, towns are quieter, autumn markets and fayres are starting, time to be thinking of cosy autumn breaks and crackling log fires

Bugs and techno bugs

Yes, I am still here.  I know I have not posted for some time, but I am still here!

There are several reasons, all of which are without excuse save one… and no this is not a rant!

I could claim that I have been too busy, I could claim that I have had writers’ block, I could claim that I have been doing other things, I could claim that I have been relaxing in the sun by our wonderful infinity pool here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, I could claim that I have not been in the mood, all of which may well be true, but over the past five days I have been fighting with technology.  Firstly the internet connection has been spasmodic.  The weather here in Umbria has changed and we have had some fierce rain storms which have knocked out or slowed down to snails’ pace the internet that makes working online virtually impossible.

But the main reason is that my computer has taken onto itself to work when and how it pleases, not how I want it to be i.e. reliable and ever functioning. I have been unable to get a secure connection to many services I use including my internet banking account.  This scares me as I read of so many bugs and viruses in the computer systems these days.  I don’t know if it is my computer, the internet or the bank’s connection, however it just was not working. scary!

Today was a total techno breakdown:  Firstly early this morning no internet, secondly the slicer in the kitchen decided to break, so everything had to be done by hand.  Then trying to print a document, the printer would not because one, yes one of the two black ink cartridges was empty.  Did I have a spare at home? no of course not! (see previous rants about printer inks)  and the back up printer for which I bought a ‘generic’ ink cartridge refused to recognise the cartridge and so it would not print either.  As if those were not enough tribulations for one day to cap it all the POS credit card machine went on the blink.  It is displaying a message ‘broken – call technician’ so I did.  The telephone call went like this:

Please can you help me my credit card machine is displaying an error message that I require an engineer.

Have you tried un-plugging and re-plugging it in?

Yes, and it still displays the same message

Well you need an engineer to visit site

So how long will that take?

It will take a maximum of 12 hours from when he receives the job card

So when will he receive the job card?

Well I will send it to him today but I cannot tell you when he will read it

So in the meantime how do I process credit card payments ie departures and deposits?

“You don’t”


Gee thanks, welcome to my day!



Yesterday afternoon I bundled Milo my English Setter into the car and headed to Perugia for a visit to the vet.  As you guys who have stayed recently at Bellaugello Gay Guest House will know, Milo has two large cists.  These cists are not the first in his life, he has been operated on four times in his near twelve years, and in consultation with the vet last spring we decided that enough was enough, and there were to be no further operations.

However the cist on his neck has burst and is evidently very itchy, so he is worrying it constantly and something needs to be done hence the visit to the vet yesterday.

Melania is the most wonderful dedicated and caring vet, it was she that nursed Edo, Milo’s late brother who after a long battle with a weak heart died last year.  It was her that we saw yesterday and she is in agreement that we operate to remove the cists.  There are two, the one on his neck and a second on his  hip.  Melania’s concerns are twofold, that the skin may not close over the tension of the hip bone, and that his heart may not support the anesthetic.

So it was with a heavy heart that we returned home with the operation scheduled for this afternoon.  The past hours have for me been like a death sentence, every hour precious, to be savoured.  Knowing that Milo is to undergo an operation with no guarantees that he will survive is really perplexing, hard to get my head round.  It is catch 22, we need to operate but the operation may prove fatal.

Last night it rained again, fresh big life giving raindrops.  This morning the Chiascio valley is shrouded in rolling mist, there is just a small amount of blue sky showing, the sun peeking out, its going to be a great day…

dreamy morning

Yesterday here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House was another delightful sunny day, no excuse to do anything other than laze by the pool.

Today looks set to be the same, there is already warmth in the sun.  The sky is an uninterrupted azure blue, mist hangs low in the valley, clinging to the hillsides  which always reminds me of those wonderful sea view photos of infinity swimming pools in the Greek islands, the hilltop in front of the village of Carbonesca rising majestically through the mist like an island in a dreamy sea.

There is no other place I would rather be than here at Bellaugello….


Colours and crafts

Having read my previous post on a visit to my friend Renza’s weaving studio the guys who actually visited having now returned home, kindly emailed me some fabulous photos they took of their visit which they have said I could share with you for which, thanks guys.

I love the colours and tones of the photographs, they show Renza’s work off really well and give a perfect impression of her workshop.  I might add that the hand dyed and hand woven scarves they guys bought are also really rather nice 🙂

Renza’s workshop is at nearby Santa Cristina, a scenic drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House

Morning all

As I stumbled down to the kitchen early this morning to get breakfasts under way I could not resist taking this photo of mist hanging in the valley below Bellaugello Gay Guest House

On opening the kitchen door I noticed an envelope, guys had an unexpectedly obscenely early departure, apparently Lufthansa are on strike and they have to re check all their flights back to the USA.

Oh dear! It looks like us here at Bellaugello will be the only ones flying above the clouds today!