If you are a guy who likes men in tights then you need to get your ticket booked to Umbria to be here for Saturday 25th. April. Fly into our local airport of Perugia S Francesco di Assisi, we now have regular flights from Rome, Munich, Barcelona and London, book into Bellaugello Gay Country House where you will find luxurious suites, a huge garden and perfect peace in a beautiful setting and on the Saturday morning head to our local medieval town of Gubbio where in the spectacular setting of the elevated Piazza Grande there will be an exhibition of flag throwing as the huge bell in the campanile of the Palazzo dei Consoli is tolled by hand, or rather foot by a team the only membership being passed from father to son.
It is a truly magnificent event and a great taste of the delights to be found in this deliciously unspoilt corner of Europe and Bellaugello is the place to base your stay.
I am feeling guilty. Not only do I live here at Bellaugello Gay Country House in one of the most beautiful corners of Europe, but also I have been a poor blogger of late. So to make up for that I post a few photographs of what you are all missing this morning…
I am off to work under the Umbrian sun, there is so much to do in the garden and we still have the olive trees to prune, I hardly know which way to turn, but don’t worry I will be back to blogging soon!
Sitting at my kitchen window watching the light rain fall to the Chiascio valley below, the surrounding hills lightly covered in mist, a quiet, still and somewhat magical day here in Umbria I have a great announcement to make;
After several months of work all is almost ready and the New Bellaugello Gay Country House website is about to be launched.
I have put a great deal of time and thought into the new website which will launch in the next few days, in three languages, English, Italian and Dutch. We are going through the final checks and controls, doing last minute fine tuning ready to go live.
In the new site you will find greater descriptions, large format photographs and a completely new feel, giving a greater insight to Bellaugello. The website is also responsive to both tablet and mobile, yes, we have finally caught up with technology. The designers and I chose new colours and a new logo which feature elements intrinsic to Bellaugello, they have stayed here so know what Bellaugello is all about.
This is one of my last posts on the current ‘old look’ blog, for my jottings are also being transferred to the new style. Don’t worry the blog archive will still be available to view, I cannot loose almost six years and over one thousand posts of my blogging but like the website the new blog will be easier on the eye.
Keep checking back and please do let me know what you think to the new website and blog.
It is almost seven years since the British Airways plane touched down at Pisa airport carrying with it 50kg of my baggage, what were to be my worldly possessions for the next several months, and I stumbled in the dark across the uneven surfaces trying to find the rental car, parked somewhere in the depths of an extensive car park on the edge of the airport.
That same morning had been emotional. A rushed cup of tea, ginormous hugs to the three dogs, squashing the baggage into the ridiculously small but chic and sporty car, being driven along empty streets in a bright sunny dawn to the departures section of Glasgow airport.
Checked in, we shared breakfast, an obscenely huge fry-up, after all it would be my last traditional British Breakfast, I was a Italy bound. Lots of holding of hands, smiles and tears across the table, how in wished we could hug and kiss, but we could not, two guys doing so in public even then in the Uk would have been frowned upon and caused problems. So much did I need to feel the touch of my then man. Queues to go through security, me looking back, he waving anxiously and tearfully, and so to the plane.
Touch down at London, grey, miserable, and one of those horrid long lay-overs, not enough time to do anything but too much time to do nothing. iPod on, and people watch.
Finally having used up all my UK phone minutes in tearful exchanges, the announcement came to board the plane for my Italian adventure. My then boyfriend/partner was staying behind to clear up things, to ensure a smooth transition of his business, close everything up in Glasgow, before selling the tiny flat he was, together with our three dogs relegated to, and then we would drive over here together to start our new lives together.
“this is your captain, there is a large electrical storm over Pisa which means we are unable to land, we will have to circle the airport until the storm moves, and we need to burn the excess fuel to be allowed to land. So the plane flew in circles over the crashing waves of the Mediterranean, the light began to fade. For an hour circling in madding contortions, before touchdown. My Italian adventure, like the plane, no going back.
It was raining, torrential, heavy, wet, the kind of rain that goes through your bones, and it was May, late May, this was italy and it was supposed to be sunny. I thought I could speak Italian, I had holidayed here since forever, we had done evening classes in conversational Italian, but no I could not speak the language….. I was tired and missing my partner and the dogs….. And I had kms to drive. Jump into the black Fiat Punto, soggy, wet, no drenched, did I think to bring an umbrella? Certainly not, this is sunny italy.
Find out where all the controls are, long gone the days when some impossibly cute guy from the rental company would accompany you to the car, and with you in the driver’s seat reach over ones lap and twiddle the various joysticks, guiding your hand to the controls, I had to do it myself. Radio? No.. iPod dead, phone, no SIM card… It was going to be a long journey, tears welled up in my eyes as I set off, why was I here what was I doing, a dream? Why did I need a dream? and why was the steering wheel on the wrong side and why are the Italian road signs so impossible to decipher?
Hesitantly I set off, managed to find my way to the superstrada and head for Umbria. I had booked a few nights on familiar territory, a delightful country house hotel where we had stayed on so many occasions, the owner, now one of my very best and dearest friends had told me that lights would be left on to await my late arrival.
Down the now autostrada, thunder crashing everywhere, loud, real loud, lightening desiccating the skies, the Valkyries were flying. No traffic at all, no white lines on the road, it seems that in Italy the white lines are painted with water based paint and at the first hint of rain they wash away. Kilometre after kilometre I drove, no lights except the huge crashing Valkyries flying with the car, a sign, “Autogrill” so pull off the road, into the truckstop, nobody but a depressingly unwelcoming person behind the counter. A stale panini re fortifying coffee and back to the Valkyries.
And so it was yesterday. After a spell of balmy sunny weather the clouds came and the skies emptied. Thunder crashed, lightning scratched the skies above Bellaugello a Gay Guest House. Jenny the last remaining Scottish dog is terrified of the thunder, she was whimpering under the bed, the pore went off reminiscent of last august the power went off, I thought another burnt out electric meter, (still waiting on the insurance payout) luckily not just tripped fuses.
Bellaugello sits in a very commanding position on a south facing ridge looking down the Chiascio valley towards monte Subasio, the hill behind Assisi, so the views are huge, and yesterday’s storm was also huge. It brought back memories of that first day here in Umbria. So much has changed, the then abandoned house is now one of the foremost gay resorts in italy, I can now speak Italian, and have learnt to drive through the torrential rain without the assistance of white lines. Then partner is now long time an ex, the Scottish Setters have passed away, their last years in the halcyon bliss of the Umbrian countryside, and I am firmly planted to the soil here, the new Setter, Abandonnato is settling in well, Jenny is still the boss and I have a wonderful job and get to welcome fabulous guys from all over the world…. But every time there is a huge storm, my mind wanders back to that first day here when I could have so easily turned back. I’m glad I didn’t.
Over this summer guys staying here at Bellaugello Gay Bed and Breakfast have been styling the dinner table. We serve dinners three evenings a week, no there is no fixed night, we just try to coincide with new arrivals and spread the evenings over the week.
Standards of table settings have been really high, and inventive, guys given free reign to plunder the garden and use accessories from our dining room, and many stylish settings have evolved.
Of course when the sun is still hot and the pool has its draw I am left to dress the table myself. Last night was one of those rare occasions when under the watchful eye of one of my guests I set to work.
Monica, my great friend and with whom I share the cooking here at Bellaugello had exactly the same idea of a theme for the table, she too had spotted the intense blue spiky thistles growing on the roadside and thought of them for the table, armed with the secateurs off I set to harvest the table decoration. Let’s face it we need to make the table look splendid to be a foil to Monica’s divine cooking. Now the guys have been folding intricate napkins, and I too wanted to keep up appearances so I resorted to my ancient copy of ‘Mrs Beeton’s Household Management’ where one finds a myriad of napkin designs. I practiced and settled on a decadent design of which I am pleased.
As usual I posted the above pic onto my Facebook page “Bellaugello Gay Guest House” (- facebook fans do please “like” the page) of the finished table this evening being checked over by two of the guests here at Bellaugello.
One of the comments on Facebook asked what was the design of the napkins called. I reached for my trusty tome to discover that it is known as the “cockscomb”. Fate or what?
Busy busy administration day today. It has been real cold, the boiler here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in the tranquillity of Umbria has been consuming lots of wood, I seem to have spent every spare minute feeding it, it is greedier than I am!
Nevertheless, the sun has been shining and guests have been out and about. Today the scenic route to Assisi and the delightful Umbrian town of Spello. The roads are quiet, pace unhurried, and churches and museums not too crowded, and they are bowled over by the beauty of the region.
Bak at base, I have spent the day doing a bit of re-seeding of lawns and mountains of paperwork. As a divertimento with work almost done I decided to switch on the tv – that is the big black thing in my house under layers of dust, so unloved and ignored. So when finally at the end of a long black windy thing I found the plug, I plugged it in, and switched on and then switched on my Apple tv box to receive the message ‘software update’
So I software updated, twenty minutes later the machine then gave me joy of joys a whole list of English language films and tv programmes and all furthermore payable in £ sterling. Finally I can watch films in English. Hurrah!!
But first, I was asked to enter my Apple id password. Not accepted…..
I had changed my password only the other day, which is no longer a simple operation, all the Apple equipment of which I won many pieces have to individually be given the new password, and of course that includes my private email addresses… Just how long does that all take? too long, specially when the Apple TV did not recognise either old or new passwords, so change once again. And to my horror, I am back to films dubbed in Italian, no choice, no English Aargh!! Why won’t Apple let me watch programmes and films in any language OTHER than Italian? Yes I speak and read Italian but I prefer to relax in front of a film in English, surely I cannot be alone in that?
Any kind reader out there with a UK address willing to let me keep my sanity and share their UK iTunes account with me?
Scanning the news tonight I came across this article on the BBC website: Gay couple say London hotel denied them double room – report by the BBC do check the link out. I was more than a little shocked that this happens in today’s Britain.
It goes some way to explaining the policy here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House. here goes my convoluted mind again!
I am frequently asked ‘if Bellaugello is exclusively gay ?’
In the concept of establishing a ‘gay guest house’ one obviously thinks of goals and target market, and just how to place the business in the marketplace. There is also the nagging question of why is a gay guest house likely to appeal to the market and in consequence be a success and how to maximise on that and make it so.
As a gay guy, I for one, like the concept of being able to be on holiday in a relaxing place where I do not have to consider every unconscious gesture, every action, I can quite simply be me. Stupid little things come to mind, the sharing of a desert, one spoon not two, the quick peck on a cheek of the guy you love, the reply to a question with ‘sure darling’, the casual brush of a hand over a shoulder, the instinctive reaction to a partner or loved one, and to be able to apply suncream without disdainful sideways glances. These are all things that heterosexuals can and do do freely without impediment, but because of society many gay guys are unable to do. The aim of Bellaugello is to provide a place where guys can feel relaxed and be themselves in the company of other gay guys, and that is what we do. We have a growing core of repeat customers, utterly delightful guys, many have whilst staying here, met other couples from all over the world and remain in touch, new friendships are formed, that is a real reward to me an added bonus of the business.
So what is my policy to straights? I am real saddened to read of hotels still declining gay guys a double room, I myself have in the past been on the receiving end of an unwelcoming hotel receptionist who questioned my booking of a double room, it made me feel very uncomfortable, wishing the floor would swallow me up, I hate embarrassment, but why should I have been embarrassed? No real reason, I am the way I was made, my sexuality is not my choice, but thoughtless hotel receptionists can intentionally or not, make one feel very second class.
The Bellaugello website is quite specific on the subject, deliberately so and I quote “Our vision is focused on the gay community. Our home is a free and tolerant environment, where diversity and respect are valued. At Bellaugello you will find peace and tranquility, a place where you can instinctively be yourself, a place to relax and recharge, a place to let your cares wash away…. Bellaugello is neither ‘gay friendly’ nor ‘hetero friendly’ rather Bellaugello, our home, is open to all respectful of the fact it is a gay guest house, and which we are delighted to share with you and your friends.”
Us gay guys have fought long and hard for acceptance by mainstream society, we are looking for equality in every sense of the word, justifiably so, and to me it would be hypocritical of me to close the doors of my business to all but gays.
As a gay guy running a gay guest house I am not prepared to let my business fall into the reverse trap of being the non-straight accepting hotel or bed and breakfast. 99% of our customers are gay guys, actually last year 100% were! that is our target market, those are the clientele we aim for, but that does not mean that if a ‘straight’ couple or person wished to stay they would be refused, they would not, afterall even gay guys have straight friends and straight people have gay friends!
Whilst not actively courting ‘straight’ business, I reaffirm that have no desire to be the gay equivalent of the hotels that give gay guys such a hard time and to give straights a hard time… “Are you sure you really want a double bed, I honestly think two singles would be better, it is against my beliefs for a man and a woman to share a bed“. If a straight wishes to stay here they are welcome to, from our advertising and website they should know what they are coming to and so be comfortable with it. Our publicity is targeted at the gay guy market, all our literature, advertising and promotion the same, we hide nothing, no secret agenda, our neighbours and the local townsfolk know what Bellaugello is about, which is certainly not a ghetto.
Post reviewed and part previously omitted because of internet connection outage when posting now reinstated. 28 Feb 2013 – Thanks Michael for drawing my attention to that!
It has been an earth shattering news day!
Scanning the papers today I read that the meteor that landed in the Ural mountains, Russia yesterday having done extensive damage which was widely reported in spectacular video had according to scientists, nothing to do with the giant one that sailed gaily past Australia last night.
That horsemeat has entered the UK food chain almost everywhere and people are now finally questioning the ‘ethics’ of the supermarkets who demand such ludicrously low costs from their product suppliers… 2 pence per sausage what can they think goes into a sausage produced at that cost?
And the first professional UK footballer since Justin Fashanu had come out as openly gay.
The heroic guy in question is 25 year old Robbie Rogers, a real good looking Californian who as a former United States international, earned 18 caps, played at the Beijing Olympics, and narrowly missed out on a place at the 2010 World Cup. In the UK he played for Leeds United and Stevenage.
Here is a link to his blog where he made the announcement: http://robbierogers8.moonfruit.com/#
I heartily congratulate Robbie, and hope that his announcement has opened the gates to other professional footballers to find the courage to come out as gay and make the sport more honest.
Flurries of snow meant that work stopped early today.
I have very mixed emotions as having spent the past week emptying the dining room at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, putting the ornaments and furniture into storage, we this morning started work on constructing a new bathroom and modifying the kitchen space.
It seems so strange to be again moving furniture, storing bric-a-brac, taking pictures off the walls, something I had not imagined doing just so soon, and an experience that I don’t really like.
Whilst I recognise the potential requirement for a guest bathroom for diners and guys who have late departures and even those guests at the pool who do not want to always have go to their suites, it will be a useful facility, however it does mean taking space from what to me is a perfectly proportioned room, a room I adore. At the same time my wonderful kitchen space is being altered to make storage space and a staff bathroom. I suppose both alterations will make things better but they do involve a great deal of work and change to the spaces involved, change that I have found difficult to accept.
We carried down stanchions sheets of plasterboard, sound proofing, insulation and fixers just before the snow started and the guys decided to return to base as they did not fancy spending the night trapped in the sauna. Then of course the sun came out, blue skies, peace, tranquillity and as I listened to the lunchtime news on the BBC the world shattering report came out of the Vatican of the retirement of the Pope.
Now as I sit at my laptop it is dark outside, the wind that this morning was nowhere to be seen, has picked up to gale force, and the rain is drumming hard on the windows, the lights flash on and off, drips are appearing from the window, trickling onto the floor, it is really wild and Wagnerian outside.
I am reconciled to the alterations here at Bellaugello, and really trying to find the positives which in reality I know are many, once the dining room is put back together it will look really splendid and the facilities will be a great improvement. Let us hope that today a day of change, is a day for significant, positive, inclusive and splendid beginnings for all.