A fabulous evening at Bellaugello, we feasted elegantly on local produce with a Scottish Italian menuAnd as the clocks struck midnight we were outside on the terrace to launch sky lanterns each making a wish
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
It’s really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas
It might not be snowing, indeed it has been sunny all day here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, but the mood in Umbria is decidedly Christmassy.
The roadside houses are festooned with multicoloured lights, the ancient narrow streets in the Umbrian hill top villages and towns are decorated with lights, shops filled with colourful seasonal displays and talk of who is doing what for the holidays.
One of the delights of Italy are the traditions, the wonderful winter markets, where you find an abundance of craft items and of course excellent local foods and produce. Down narrow lanes old creaking garage doors normally firmly shut and bolted are now open revealing extensive nativity scenes.
In Gubbio our local town they really get into the Christmas spirit. A whole ‘quartiere’ of the city has been taken back in time several centuries and the streets are re-created as they were many many years ago, it is eerily like stepping back in H G Wells’s Time Machine, lifesize figures hug the walls,stoop over cooking pots or shepherd animals, and of course the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree’ burns brightly on the hillside dominating the town. Prime Minister Monti turned it on, let us hope that he or someone economically sensible is still here to do the same thing next year!
Here at Bellaugello I have been cooking madly, and of course ‘feeding’ the Christmas cake with liberal doses of whisky. In between times I have been taking advantage of our wood fired Finnish dry Sauna and working up a real sweat. Tomorrow I am off to find Christmas trees and start decorating the house ready for the festive season. I brought several decorations back from my travels to Sweden, they look great here and with my already extensive collection of decorations the house will look superb.
What fun we are going to have! [subscribe2]
My annual December break away to Sweden is this year, was in great contrast to last year when Stockholm was damp and rainy. As you can see from the photo there is snow, the air is crisp and it is decidedly cold, real winter weather. I think I am becoming a softened Italian! Last weekend we made the pilgrimage to the Royal Palace of Drottningholm, it is spectacularly beautiful bathed in the short winter light.My good friend Anne was participating in a Christmas market at the palace, and I had agreed to tag along. Drottningholm is a place that for ages I have simply needed to visit. My reason? A wallpaper inside the 18th century court slottsteatre which by good fortune was open last weekend. Several years ago whilst living in England we had hand made silk wallpaper hung, the design (according to our designer) was based on the tree of life design in the prima donna’s room of the court theatre. And indeed it was. I had a near private tour round the theatre, joined part way through by a charming Italian couple from Rome, none of us speaking Swedish, so a tour in English with me acting as Italian translator, and amongst other wonders we were shown the original seventeenth century paper, unfortunately no photos inside the theatre are allowed, but the design we commissioned was true to the original.
Then back to Stockholm, and a whirl round the bars and clubs, or perhaps they whirled round me. My hotel, the Skeppsholmen was situated on the island of the same name, as can be seen from the next photo taken from my bedroom window a hop skip and a jump from Gamla Stan and downtown Stockholm. A chic designer hotel that was a former home to lots of sailors having been a naval barracks ……….
This week a visit to a spa for a relaxing massage and sauna, then a chance for shopping, those nordic designs so cute and unusual for Christmas and New Year back in Umbria at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.
Oh! I am a wee bit angry
As is my habit, this morning in the kitchen preparing and serving breakfasts to the guys at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I am listening to the BBC daily news programme.
There is one report that has got me more than mildly annoyed. It is the report about French magazine ‘Closer’ and those intrusive photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly topless, taken whilst she was holidaying with her husband the Duke in a private villa in the south of France.
Today the story gets worse as the Italian magazine ‘Chi’ is reported as being ready to publish the photos next week.
UK newspaper editors have flatly (and I believe truthfully) denied any intention to publish these intrusive photos of a young couple on holiday. As the editor of the ‘Sun’ newspaper who published the photos of Prince Harry naked is reported by the BBC as stating “although it had recently published pictures of Prince Harry naked, this was a different situation, because the duchess had every expectation of privacy as she was on a private holiday in a private chateau as opposed to inviting strangers to a hotel suite.”
I concur with this, I am horrified by the tasteless intrusion to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s private holiday, and by the same token would hate to think that any guy relaxing here at Bellaugello would ever be subject to the same putrid intrusion.
Unsurprisingly I read that both ‘Closer’ and ‘Chi’ are part of the publishing empire ‘Mondadori’ and just guess who of dubiously tasteless low morals is the ultimate owner of the empire…….
Another fine view
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!
I think I need to do some more publicity
I thought that Bellaugello Gay Guest House was becoming just a little bit know both abroad and here in Umbria but it seems not, I NEED MORE PUBLICITY. – any of you marketing experts out there able to help?
I have a coffee machine in the dining room it is black, angular, and ever so slightly sexy. The machine is there as part of the service we offer at Bellaugello to enable guys in need of a caffeine fix to help themselves to a coffee day or night.
Last week I ordered my usual regular consignment of Illy coffee capsules. I like Illy coffee, and now they have the Brasil blend I like it even more. From Illy you have to order online – they don’t do retail darhling! The ILLY website is easy to navigate and once you have told them you are in Italy and not the USA it is plain sailing. In the past the delivery service has been great, quick, and efficient, however this year I have noticed a marked tail off in service from their courier of choice; BRT Bartolini.
Now OK I know that drivers are paid a pittance, probably below the legal minimum, I suspect they are also under pressure to do as few kilometers as possible – why else would they want to leave all consignments for this valley at the Esso petrol station 8km away? but I have paid for home delivery, me in a petrol station however cute the attendant I think not….
Bartolini used to be the only decent courier here in Umbria, – I could rely on them, smart red vans, always clean and rarely dented or scraped, drivers smartly attired and cheerful, cute even, and deliveries all the way to the house at Bellaugello.
Not so now it seems, as you will see from their tracking records….
BRT Corriere Espress
Welcome on the on-line services area
116 06 0601170 47099626 00002SJ01100173 TRIESTE TS GUBBIO PG 1 3,5 0,015 CAFFE’ Sender 17273 05/09/2012
|05/09/2012||12:00||CITTA DI CASTELLO||UNKNOWN/INCOMPLETE CONSIGNEE|
|05/09/2012||CITTA DI CASTELLO||FOR DELIVERY|
|04/09/2012||10:00||CITTA DI CASTELLO||IN REDELIVERY PHASE|
|04/09/2012||CITTA DI CASTELLO||FOR DELIVERY|
|04/09/2012||08:08||CITTA DI CASTELLO||ARRIVED AT DEPOT|
So dear readers to bring the post to a base level, pray, do tell me, what is a ‘redelivery phase’ – in my ignorance it sounds like turkey baster return to sender crisis, and why I am an ‘incomplete consignee’ – whatever that is? last time I checked (ie just now) my tackle was all complete! I thought we at Bellaugello Gay Guest House were nearly famous! Oh the joys of online shopping!
wat een knappe paar
Aperitivo before the rain….
Many thanks to two great guys from Livorno for the prosecco apertivio taken on the terrace before we headed in to dinner.
Sparkling prosecco, glittering company – as always great guys, a selection of local truffled and ‘drunk’ percorino cheeses and of course bruschetta made with our olive oil, a very Italian start to a great evening.
Dinner was indoors, because it rained, yes it actually rained! There was vivid lightning, and distant thunder. This morning the plants are once again breathing, clouds are scudding across the blue sky and the air is fresh with the perfume of lavender