Drip drip drip

Ok, it is a chilly evening and I am lazing in my favourite armchair in front of the fire at Bellaugello Gay Guest House watching Shortbus on dvd.

Until a few months ago I had never heard of Shortbus, however it was mentioned at dinner one evening and so I decided it sounded great and that it was about time I caught up with the present day and so before Christmas I sent off an order for a whole host of new DVDs to Amazon.  Let’s face it for the guys who know my DVD collection was pretty poor and outdated, now there are some splendid international titles for the guys to watch whilst on holiday here at Bellaugello.

However back to the gist of this post.  I was engrossed with the story but increasingly aware of a persistent drip drip drip somewhere near my left ear.  Incredibly lethargically I chucked the dog off my lap – yes, I know he is not allowed on the furniture but it was a miserable evening and he is old and  in need of cuddles and so off I went to investigate the source of the persistent drip.  The ceiling in my sitting room is cotto tiles and wooden beams and sure enough one of the cotto tiles was wet and water was dripping onto the back of my armchair and the floor….  oh no!!

Now it was too late to go exploring outside, also too d… cold and wet and the film was so good,  so I moved the chair and put a bucket to catch the drips and poured myself a whisky and sat back down to the film with the additional soundtrack.

The next morning, breezy but dry I decided to climb onto the roof and effect repairs.  Now I KNOW I SHOULDN”T, but would you want to live with a leaky roof? I guess not, so I hauled the ladder out from its storage place at the furthest point of the property and leant it up against the roof and climbed.  I had measured from below just precisely where the water was coming through so I clambered over the cotto roof tiles and went in search of the hole.

I soon saw two broken coppi and carefully moved the others to the side and yanked the offending bits out.  A perusal of the roof showed that I really should replace a further dozen or so.  So I headed back toward the ladder when a sudden squall blew and lo and behold blew the ladder onto the floor…. oh no!!

I was now on the roof – alone – no telephone – dogs shut in the house – deserted road, and the wind was picking up and it was starting to drizzle.  Not a good situation to be in.  I had visions of being discovered in some future time a mere shriveled skeleton…

No, I just cannot do that so what to do?  Not my thought, but suggested as an option to me last night by friends who came for dinner, undress, tie all my clothes together and make a rope to climb down.  Yeah right! can you imagine in this cold that would have been the one moment when the dear old lady walks past!!!  I had been more inventive, (I am a sun worshipper not arctic cold worshipper) rather I got my steel measuring tape, extended it and made a loop, caught the foot of the ladder and slowly dragged it back into the vertical position. I felt good about that.

Gingerly I climbed down, then found an incredibly heavy flower tub to lodge at the base of the ladder and tied the top end to a beam protruding from the house, now I felt more secure.  Over to the hay shed for a supply of coppi, carefully back up the ladder carrying the tiles, and then I placed them.  But what to do with the old broken ones?  There were now more as walking over the tiles inevitably some more broke.  Do I carry them down or stand at the edge of the roof and chuck them into the wheelbarrow below.  The latter choice seemed somewhat foolhardy, the wind was still gusting, but meant less scrabbling onto and off ladders so it was the route I chose.

Result- Roof repaired, no drips, lots of broken bits of terracotta for putting in the base of the flowerpots as drainage and a kind of smug satisfaction that I had achieved all that with only minor mishap and a bit of ingenuity and the now thought of the first of the new seasons’ guests might have discovered me naked on the roof!

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…….

Marmellata di Fichi

Just before yesterday’s downpour – yes it actually rained here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I picked 15kgs of figs from the massive tree in the garden, and sat under the shade of a parasol quietly quartering the ripe fruit.  The day was balmy and warm, a slight breeze which managed until the final few kilos to keep the pesky wasps away made the job pleasantly satisfying.

Today once again out came the jam pan and I made lots of fig marmalade.  This time I added Limoncello to one batch, a new flavour, cannot wait to try it for breakfast!  Now ther is enough to see us through until next summer and there are still more figs to pick!



wat een prachtig uitzicht

This blog started out as a diary of my life here in Valdichiascio near the beautiful medieval Umbrian city of Gubbio.  Having moved from Scotland, to open a gay guest house, the plan was to record, with some humour and candour my life.

Until recently the blog stuck to its principles, however recently it seems that I am writing less, not even ranting, and instead the blog is being overtaken by photos of guests for my series “Bellaugello Backs”

Not that I am complaining mind, for here is another in the series, this time a couple from the Netherlands

Great guys, great pool, great view!

Halcyon days….che bella!

Yet another delightful dinner outside on the terrace here at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse in Umbria, Italy.  I was in the mood for cooking and made the delicious risotto with the recipe given to me by my good friend Max, flavoured with gorgonzola and pears, it is simply delightful, and which we followed with a slow roast loin of pork stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden, new potatoes from nearby Città di Castello, and as they are just so very beautiful at the moment, aubergine parmigiana.

Desert was melon ice cream, I decorated the glasses with rose coloured sugar and loaded small melon balls onto the ice, a simple but refreshing pud.  Conversation flowed, fireflies flitted from bush to bush, it was the wee small hours when I finally got home to bed.

This morning another beautiful day, warm sun, light breeze, the swimming pool is 30˚c

Che Bella Bellaugello!

Water – or lack of it!

Perhaps in deference to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s water pageant yesterday our spell of uninterrupted sunshine was broken and it rained here in Umbria.

Unlike London where rain was the last thing required, here we are always grateful for the occasional day of rain, it helps water the garden, and more importantly, replenishes ground water supplies.  On account of the unusually dry year last year several neighbours have wells that dried up and their water supplies have not yet returned, and here at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse our spring has been trickling, when usually we would expect 6,000 liters of water daily, it is barely yielding that amount each month.

Anyway this morning I awoke to one of those magical Umbrian mornings, cloud and mist hanging in the valley below, the house shrouded in fine mist, quite divine.  Slowly the mist lifts, disperses, and the full beauty of the Umbrian countryside is revealed.  Only that this morning not all that was revealed was good. Yes the greens of the hillsides were refreshed and are verdant, the fruit trees have not lost fruit, and the air is cleaned, but disaster…

The level of water in the swimming pool is considerably down! Why? surely rain would overfill the pool, also the balancing tank, and any excess run off automatically, it cannot happen, there are non-return valves in all the pipework, but yes, the pool level was down.

A quick run to the plant room to discover one of the pumps had sprung a leak and water was flooding out of the casing.  The only possible section of pipework that obviously cannot have  non-return valve had failed and water was pouring into the drain.  The pool level is down, the compensating tank is practically empty and to make matters worse the electro valve that opens the water supply to refill any loss due to evaporation was open and the pipe was running full blast. Annoyingly no alarm siren was sounding….

How long has this been going on? All was well last night, I think, it seemed to be, but might it not have been, I did not check the plant room at midnight, who does…  A call to the pool company was met with the response ‘there is nobody here we cannot do anything today, switch off the equipment’. Gee thanks!

Fortunately the pump has isolating valves, they are now closed, and  whilst requiring two pumps to recirculate the water I am fortunate to have three piped into the system and so the other two pumps will do the job of keeping the pool operational.

Now as the sun shines down from cloudless skies, begins the slow process of refilling the pool, luckily the level was down only 25cms, but that is still a great deal of water, (25cms x 15m x 5m – plus the balance tank, how many cubic meters is that?) probably having to throw in further bags of salt which we use to make natural chlorine, as the levels are bound to be diluted, and then steel myself to go and look at the water meter, that I really do not want to do…….

Hot hot hot!!!

Yesterday on a trip to the neighbouring region of Le Marche the car thermometer registered 22˚, today here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy, the sun is shining, and it is real hot

I have finished the last batch of marmalade, cleaned the kitchen down and am heading outside to do some more tidying in the garden, me thinks with this summer weather all that is required is a pair of shorts