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!

Gubbio, the 'World's Largest Christmas Tree'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]


Amazing colours

Yesterday morning I was across the valley at friends’ farm picking grapes.  A few days later than last year, and fruit certainly smaller, but the harvest was in full swing.  Of course arriving after having served breakfast here at Bellaugello I was late and most of the morning picking was done, but there were still three lines to collect.

With the last cases of ripe grapes loaded onto the panniers straddling Papu, the beautiful placid Camargue horse  it was a gentle walk back up to the farm to the grape crush, and then a delicious lunch with a sampling of the grape juice.  Deep, intense and superbly sweet, 21˚ gravity it is going to be a good vintage.

Back home to Bellaugello to relax.  It is simply ages since I have had time to relax at the side of our infinity salt-treated pool, but yesterday I did.  The sun was interspersed with cloud.  Hot sun and amazing cloud formations with a magical rainbow sitting for ages in the light clouds over Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

This morning I woke to an amazing red sky.  I attempted to capture the sky a deep intense fiery crimson over the Apennines with my iPhone 4, but the photo does not do justice to the intensity of the sky, maybe I should have used an iPhone 5 lol.

As I type with the kitchen door open, again it is breakfast time, there is little noise, just the slightest breeze, not enough to rustle the leaves instead there is peace, time for relax and to let all cares float away….

Why not join us here at Bellaugello for a few days of relaxation and even make use of our Finnish wood fired Sauna?  I still have a few suites available from now until we close for the winter  on 5 November. for further details and bookings email me at:

Of course we will be open for our Bellaugello New Year’s Eve Houseparty and then again in time for Easter in late March 2013

Do email for details

Been a strenuous kinda two days

The news is all doom and gloom, Italy’s debt crisis deepens, our prime minister is becoming a greater source of global ridicule, the flooding and torrential rain in the south of France is washing out good friends who are there on a well deserved holiday break, the cost of the 2012 London Olympics have risen over budget and are almost as ludicrously insane as that of the building of the Edinburgh Parliament, (who honestly believed that you could build a parliament building for £40 million? that’s what the told the Scottish public who then had to fork out nearly £500 million) and a rogue App with spyware has been revealed, now threatening my nonchalant ‘apple is safe’ smug grin.

Early November in Umbria and I am stressed!  After a great season and now preparing for our Christmas and New Year’s Eve Houseparties, the pace is slow I should be relaxed and tranquil, but I am stressed!

Yesterday was one of those clear autumn days that I love so very much.  Sunday afternoon had brought rain, and dawn on Monday morning that special kind of air that is squeaky clean, as if it had been put through a boil wash.  The stupendous views from my bedroom window at Bellaugello Gay Guest House over the Apennines were unusually bright and crisp, the fields in the Chiascio valley below the house all well defined, autumn colours on the wooded hillsides intense, and it all just seemed good. But I was not allowed to spend my day watching the sun move over the panorama, no I had a grotty indoor job to do.

A week or so ago I had noticed a damp patch in the bathroom wall of one of the Suites, and on a cursory inspection discovered that the drain for the shower had been installed off centre and left full of rubble and cement by some careless slaphappy builder.  The off-centeredness meant that there is a split in the outer housing, fine when the water is running swiftly away, but clearly not fine when there is any debris to impede the quick flow of water, hence the damp in the wall AND my day confined inside with a hammer and chisel carefully hacking away at the shower drain and surrounding tiles.

It was heart-breaking! having to destroy one of my beautiful bathrooms, I so love the large luxury bathrooms here at Bellaugello, each one is different, and each has an aspect that makes them all my favourites, so to have to remove a shower drain and destroy tiling was not only highly irritating, indeed very annoying, indeed spectacularly anger making, but it was sad and hard precise work – I did not want to make too much damage.  Result at the end of guddling in the drain for much of the day I have removed the offending crooked tube and now there is a vast crater in the centre of the shower!  I have worked out how to make a precise repair, I have the new shower drain, and luckily I have spare tiles but what colour is the grout??

Today, was a day I have been dreading.  I have been putting off making a phone call or some time and yesterday afternoon was the time when I finally made that call.  The appointment was arranged for eleven o’clock this morning in Ponte San Giovanni near Perugia.

And so at 10.15 off I set to Perugia.  For those of you that have stayed here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House this summer you will know that my dear English Setter Edo has a weak heart and has whilst being very brave, struggled to keep going.  Over the past few weeks he has lost his appetite, I am like a clown teasing him with tidbits, trying desperately to get him to eat something.  Friends have suggested everything from baby food to spam, but he just has lost his appetite and only eats a few small mouthfulls, thus becoming visibly thinner.

So today was the day for a visit to the vet.  Edo is courageous and brave and tries so hard, but he is not well.  Slowly he got into the car, I started it to be met with a welcoming message two lightbulbs were not working, the fuel gauge had gone haywire and to cap it all the petrol stations in Italy are on strike from tonight until Friday…..

So to the vet and he seemed to have to undergo an acupuncture treatment as various needles were stuck into him and bloods taken for analysis.  If he was a human he would be on the list for a heart bypass and kidney dialysis but he is a dog, my baby but a dog.  After the results he was attached to a drip, and slowly very slowly the life giving liquid dripped into his veins.

He was so calm, the treatment took over an hour to complete and tomorrow we must go back for a second dose and an ECG.  He is still not really eating but it is early days and things can only get better.

Believe it or not to add to all my woes I have writers’ block, as I said things can only get better…

Looking ahead….. 2010 Prices/Prezzi 2010

We are making great progress with our works here at Bellaugello and are well on target to have the next three suites and the dining room finished for the end of March 2010, well in time for Easter, which will complete all the works at the main house.

The quotation for the infinity pool is being studied.  It looks fantastic, we are so excited! The pool which will be to the east side of the main house will be 15 metres by 5 metres, with the south side an infinity waterfall.  The pool will be treated by salt,  and will be open as soon as the weather is warm enough in late spring for the summer of 2010.  A large terrace is planned around two sides of the pool to makethe most of the stunning southerly views.  The pool will be clothing optional.

We have revised our tariff which is being published online in the updated website.  Briefly, we have identified three periods and the tariffs are:

1 October 2009 – 30 March 2010 €45.00  Stays of seven nights or more; €40.00

1 April 2010 –       31 May 2010               €55.00  Stays of seven nights or more; €50.00

1 June 2010 –       30 September 2010  €70.00  Stays of seven nights or more; €65.00

Prices are per person per night for accommodation and breakfast.  The Mirror and Diva suites can acommodate up to four guests, discounts apply when four people are sharing Mirror or Diva Suite.  We reserve the right to charge a supplement for single occupancy of a suite. For Christmas and New Year breaks please ask!

Four course dinners will be served on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday evenings priced at €25.00 with guests sitting at one large table.  We will alternate diners with pizza and barbecue evenings.

The Yurts are scheduled for summer of 2010 opening 4th. June and will be charged at €80.00 per Yurt per night with a minimum two night stay.  Yurts sleep two.