iPad – iPhone – Samsung Tablet or PC

Just occasionally I am sufficiently conscientious to study my hit count on the Bellaugello website.  Google and others give me a reasonable indication of how many people have looked at the site for Bellaugello Gay Guest House, where they come from, for how long they were on the site and which pages took their interest.

Part of the analytics also provides me with data on what type of computer or tablet or smartphone you guys are using to view my website.

It reports a significant number of you use iPads, closely followed by iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.  Now at the moment you all see the website in the same format, that generated principally for PCs with large screens.

So, a question to you tablet and smartphone users:  Does it irritate you that in order to read the Bellaugello website or my Blog you have to expand the screen?  Would you prefer that the site and blog were formatted specifically for your gadgets? Would you like it more user friendly, tabs leading to droop down menus and photos? Simpler cleaner lines

Do let me know….

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!



A pleasant surprise

For some days now I have been steeling myself, depriving my readers of any blog posts, building up a climax in my mind, and all because I wanted to post a big word on my blog for Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

By big I do not mean a big impressive word, actually I mean a very short word, but in a large font.  Unfortunately on my blog dashboard there is no way of changing the font size so being me instead I  posted nothing.  In common with with most of my guests here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I am an Apple man, iPhone, iPod, Airport wifi, MacBook, (enough this is beginning to sound like an advert for apple), I publish this blog using my MacBook.  My brain works in an appley sort of way, that is I believe kinda logical, and usually easy.  Maybe it is because since the early nineties I have been an ardent Apple Macintosh fan and do not and do not wish to understand anything about pc systems even as apple becomes more meglomaniac and less customer orientated I refuse to change.  Ok so with that last sentence I am showing my luddite age.  No, I will not translate files to ‘word’ documents to allow them to be pasted, simply I do not have the technology and pages programme is not compatible with my blog publishing suite.

The  word I was wanting to post was ‘no’.  Age dulls the memory and I no longer remember why I was wanting to post the word ‘no’.  Maybe because it was another cold slushy day and I would be at home chilling and stuffing my face with more carbs, (today is warm and sunny, blue skies and fleeting alto cumulus) maybe it was because I recently walked in to my porch to discover two trays of seedlings for summer bedding plants had somehow mysteriously tipped over and spilt compost and seeds in a heap on the tiled floor, (now on the compost heap – it will be so colourful this summer), maybe it was because I did not want to go to that party the other night, (private reasons),  maybe it was because I could not believe the sensible news that our PM Mario Monti has withdrawn the Italian bid for the 2020 Olympic games, (glad that although British I am not a UK taxpayer)  or maybe it was because of the news that the former Mayor of Gubbio and nine other officials were arrested on charges of ‘extortion and abuse of authority’ which means that huge numbers of decisions are to be revisited…..

It was none of them, I do now remember why I wanted to post the word, however now I have changed my mind and instead I am going to briefly relate a reason for a different use of the word NO

Yesterday saw me heading off to the Questura – the office of the Italian State Police.  Now don’t get worried, I have not (to my knowledge) done anything wrong, I am not having to plead for my life, or my freedom, it is merely that there are some business things here in Italy that are handled by the Questura, so off I drove to Perugia.  On the way I stopped in one of my favourite bars for a coffee, short, tangy and revitalising, I so adore Italian coffee, and I used the time to call a friend whose wife is about to give birth to their third child to ask for any news.  The expectant father rapidly changed the subject and enquired as to my whereabouts and mission.

When I told him of my plans he laughed hysterically and said that he would see me in time to celebrate the expected child’s first birthday, so long are  the queues at the Questura, indeed the queues are legendary.

Brought to my senses I immediately Idowned my coffee, terminated the call and headed off on my mission to the office.  Through the security gate, past the section where foreigners apply for visas and permits, surprisingly empty, rows and rows of unoccupied seats in the waiting room, past the area where passports are applied for, the ticket machine eerily quiet, the number on the display in the empty room being that of the next ticket to be taken, and so to the section I required – surely that must be where everyone was today, but….

Straight up to the window, to be courteously ushered through a door into a waiting area, and almost before I had time to sit down to be taken into the office to see the person I needed to see, and do the business I needed to do.  All in all in and out in ten minutes…

seemingly IMPOSSIBLE but YES it is true, what a pleasant surprise!


Thinking of summer…

I have spent the past three days working at the computer.  Outside it has been sunny, cloudless blue skies, crisp but cold.  Recently first thing in the mornings there has been a slight coating of ice on the swimming pool, and parts of the garden where the sun does not hit remain frosted most of the day, so ideal to be snug indoors, working at the computer and gazing out over the stupendous view.

Among other work things I have been collating photographs and writing captions for the Bellaugello Gay Guest House website, I have made several changes, some are professional photos, some taken by myself and some by guests.  It has been an enjoyable if exhausting work, the photos have now gone off by ‘dropbox’ to my webdesigners who are now making the changes, so guys check the website, the pictures are great!  Here is one I particularly like that will be on the webpage soon, taken last summer, it shows the upper terrace at Bellaugello Gay B&B.

On opening my blog to make this post I discover yet again a lengthy spam list.  Fortunately by the magic of a special programme it is siphoned off to a spam box, from where I can edit and delete.  The vast majority of spam is and for several weeks has been for Ugg boots and Northface jackets, you would think that the spammers would know I am not an Ugg boot man, please spammers give me a rest! – however guys I love to receive comments on my posts, they do not hit my spam box, do not stop them….

I did escape to Perugia this afternoon, part business and part pleasure.  I adore the historic centre of this great city.  Today I noticed that together with Assisi, Perugia is in the running for “European City of Culture 2019”  I wish them all the luck, together the cities are superbly suited for such an accolade.  I took a quick turn round the shops, thought I might pick up a sale bargain or two, but….  I am a simple country lad, I do not understand the concept of shop sales.  In the UK shops buy in ‘tat’ to sell cheaply and sell end of line or last season items at up to 60% off, in Sweden my friends tell me they reduce prices by 70%, but here in Italy they seem to raise the original price by 35% then reduce it in  the ‘sale’ by 20% or 30%. I was aghast to discover in the window of the Timberland shop a pair of  boots on sale at €145.00 reduced from €210.00.  I bought exactly the same boot last spring for €120.00…..  However I did pick up a pair of cozily warm if somewhat unfashionable Crocs (fur-lined) for €25.00 a veritable bargain, so maybe sales are good here in Italy too, you just need to look…

I finally bit the bullet and went to the mobile phone shop and at long last bought myself a new mobile phone.  My iPhone 3 was soooo slooow, it has begun to forget for  which purpose it was designed, it ceased to recognise any network and hated sending sms s and as to be more irritating many of the few apps I have installed crashed, guess it is built in obsolescence!  At the same very helpful store I also picked up a new cell number and now have a dedicated mobile telephone number for Bellaugello, much needed for our Italian clients who prefer calling on the mobile, it will be live soon.

Talking of which, thanks are due to both Fabio and Paolo, who have kindly sent photos of our recent Capodanno Houseparty, I will add some of them to my next post.

And lastly, great news!  Last night I had a lengthy telephone call and can confirm that in June this summer a young guy, Thomas is coming over for the summer season to help give a hand here at Bellaugello Gay resort.  Thomas visited Bellaugello some years ago when it was still in the making, and is keen to see the finished product and to be part of the team ensuring our guests’ stays are more comfortable. I will post more about Thomas at a later date, in the meantime I am off to read the new mobile phone manual!

Apple Mac

What is it about Apple Mac and gay people?  Is is the operating system, the functionality, the perceived social cachet, or quite simply the design that appeal to us – we can’t all be graphic designers?

Apple has changed in recent  years, and to my mind not for the better, now they have adopted the crazy “must sell” marketing strategy, constant updates each of which steer you ever deeper into Apple brand loyalty and the ultimate feeling that you need to buy a new Apple Mac to keep yours up to date. I don’t like it at all,  gone are the days when Apple produced good working computers, now they are more like the celebrity cult, new day new look, new must be, then disposably on to the next, however I remain an Apple addict, as it seems are all visitors to Bellaugello Gay Bed and Breakfast here in Umbria.  I lost count of the number of Apple Mac computers, iPhones and iPods that came across the door yesterday, certainly enough to open an Apple re-seller store for a day and not a pc in site!

Remember the original Apple rainbow logo now just where and why did that go……..

Tagliatelle al sugo della casa – Noodles to the juice of the house

And I thought my Italian was bad!

At lunch yesterday near Orte in the south west of Umbria we were handed the menus:

(Click on the image to see it larger)

I wonder what the Pope has to say about the local pasta dish….  I guess they were using ‘Google Translate’ and no I did not find out what ‘the juice of the house’ was, it was most definately not that sort of place!

I just love my iPhone, captures those special moments!


Out at a party last night I was surprised to see just how many guys have iPhones, are they a ‘gay must have’ accessory?  I know I love mine.  Many guys seem to keep in touch wherever they are using their iPhones with  simple one action photo and message uploads, through the easy access to facebook, and other social networking sites.

As a result I have added save/share link connections to the blog.  You can now save or share my posts with your mates, simply click on the link at the foot of the post and add my blog to your facebook page.

iPhone navigation

My friends from Rome telephoned enroute.  They had fed the GPS co-ordinates for Bellaugello into their iPhone 3GS and followed the given directions.

Why is it that satellite navigation systems have a very different way of navigating to the way we all think of navigating?  I well remember when I lived in Scotland taking the dogs off to choose a new car.  They got to choose the car, I got the choice of accessories…  Of course among other luxuries there had to be a satellite navigation system.  Oh what regrets, she did nothing but argue with me and continually attempted to have me turn round either in a one way street or on a dual carriageway, just because she thought she knew the route better than me. – Shame as I have a very good sense of geography and direction, and 99.9% of the time she was wrong.

Now this is not a sexist thing, yes the navigator had a lovely female voice, the guy’s voice was unappealing, I did have a choice, and I suspect the guy would have given the same nagging instructions.

Anyway the guys called up from Valfabbrica.  Now Valfabbrica is a very pleasant Umbrian town but it is not on the direct route from Rome to Bellaugello, or so I thought… but iPhone navigator said YES IT IS!!

I had to think quickly and navigate for them from Valfabbrica to Valdichiascio.  Quite easy really one simply heads for the ‘3Cs’ Casa Castalda, Carbonesca and Colpalombo.  There is a back drive to Bellaugello that connects with Colpalombo, but it has one tricky turn and is longer on white road than the main drive in.  What made matters worse is that the iPhone 3GS navigator had wanted to take the guys to Gualdo Tadino, again another very pleasant Umbrian town, but in no way enroute from Roma!!  I scurried down the ‘strada secondaria’ and met the guys and brought them home here to Bellaugello.

It was a beautiful day and the hills were looking their best, so we lunched and chatted outside on the terrace, had a tour of inspection of the works progress and agreed to rewrite the navigation software, actually no we did not do the latter, that is a thing I could not begin to even contemplate understanding, instead I now know to give clear directions to anybody coming from Roma to ignore the smooth talking navigator and not turn off for Valfabbrica and Ancona but to stay on the E45 until Bosco.

I too have an iPhone and love it, but am a luddite and prefer navigating with a map.