One of those horrible days

I don’t know why they happen, but they sure do happen.  I hate horrible days, I really detest them and today was a stonker of a horrible day.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not the weather, here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, the sun has been shining brightly, warm, delicious, a light breeze so I got into the garden early.

Neither to blame is the Consorzio the local farmers’ merchants.  They called and we arranged my delivery of pellets for the biomass boiler that heats the house here, lovely underfloor heating I adore it, being able to walk barefoot throughout the house, sheer luxury.  No it was not them, the wagon with the bancale of pellets arrived as scheduled and I got the seventy eight sacks all moved and stored in the pellet store.  I am having to buy pellets this winter as the olive harvest was so poor that olive nuts are just not available.  Oh and that reminds me there is another subject I want to write about.

No it was not my good friend Cosma with whom I am working on a new and exciting project.  No, he sent me over a very well constructed piece of work, I now have to work on and send back for the next stage.  That will be an enjoyable task.

It certainly was not Alessandro, to whom I put a proposal for collaboration work-wise.  No he responded positively, he would like to explore a joint project for next season.  Guests at Bellaugello if this comes off you are in for a real treat.

It certainly was not the couple of guys who sent an email enquiring as to a booking for next summer, enclosing their photos too, so yummily handsome.. and then after the briefest of exchanges they confirmed their booking.

So, what, you may well ask is the source of my wrath?  Ok, I am a predictable person, for my loyal readers they I guess already know the answer.  Yes, you are right, communications or lack of it, but first two matters of international relations.  I have to get these off my chest, I so detest horrid days.

If I see another business slanted at the gay community I do believe in positive promotion, and a bit of fun. Especially if the product or service is something that will make a stay at Bellaugello Gay b&b just a ‘little bit extra or more special’ for my guests.  So through the annals of social networking when I noticed that a company in Finland were launching a range of linens using the designs of Tom of Finland, I just had to buy some to put in some of the Suites here at Bellaugello Gay Country House, provocative, maybe not to every guys’ taste but fun.  Order online – simple, and there was the added incentive of that Black Friday discounts, so you have all done it you know what I am talking about..  enter credit card details, click the order button, and hey presto goods will be dispatched.  But and a huge but, there was no way on the website to request a tax invoice.  Now here in Italy the tax authorities require certain information on foreign (or domestic) bills.  It is only a few letters and numbers but to be able to put the purchase through the business, these are vital.  So I shoot off a mail to the company requesting a tax invoice.  Nothing! Silence!  Eventually after a week their reply comes through that they cannot fulfil my request”there is no room on the form”  WHAT!!  I send off another email, repeating the request, explaining in greater detail why I require the information on the invoice, and if they are really unable to add a bit of ink to a page then to cancel the order, stop the delivery and refund my card.  again silence, nothing, I am not a happy bunny.  Then of course on Friday a honk, a smiley face, the decent friendly helpful courier (SDA) delivering a package, the package.  Still unopened, I check EU law and I send a further request to the company, they are in Finland after all is that not supposed to be  an efficient country?  Well as I write no reply from them to either of my mails, it seems that tomorrow on the social media I will have to give them a one star review…  Don’t like to do so, I thought their stuff brilliant but I will not be treated so shabbily.  I guess if nothing else their products will make good if expensive cleaning cloths.

The second international item relates to three companies based in the UK that are refusing to work with Bellaugello.  Interestingly they are all international names, two of them overly famous, yet they seem to think that the UK anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them.  Two of the companies having at first been very helpful on learning that my business is gay just ignore me, they do not reply to mails or telephone calls, they blank me.  Stonewall and the EASS  inform me that I can assure them that the law does apply also to them and I intend to ensure that their behaviour is changed.  I have written to a couple of gay-friendly law practices and am waiting their reply.  In the meantime if any of you readers are or know of a good professional campaigning well connected journalist that might like my scoop and the chance to right some wrongs please do get in touch.  Just to add to the international theme I also have a case of an American company with offices on Milano to add to the pile.

Then the internet connection is crap.  For the past five saturdays I have not been able to listen to the News Quiz that BBC radio 4 favourite of mine, not good enough. Regular readers know it is my usual bugbear and probably the subject of more rants than I care to think about.  Recent survey on tourism states that holiday makers put a fast wifi connection above free room upgrades and free cocktails.  I know that I have known that for a very long time and do my utmost to provide the same.  However I am thwarted by the internet ‘provider’ who is the best of a really bad bunch.  I write emails, I telephone the help desk, I telephone the technical department, I complain.  For over one month the internet just keeps coming and going.  Today the internet is still hoplessly slow and unreliable, the technician called me to say it is all sorted.  Really?

The record five hours to send one page of an email – and by coincidence the email was to the internet people complaining about the lack of a viable service. They reply that i am “too needy”  I am “the only client with these problems” – clearly they have not spoken to my neighbours who too are discontented with the lack of a decent reliable service, I know of nobody locally with good words for this company.   I am too needy!! indeed, huh! how dare they! All I ask is the service I am paying for,namely a constant 7mbs of download speed, hardly a lot.   In my stupidity and as part of my cost rationalisation I had thought to move the fixed line phone to VOIP.  My theory being if I paid the company more they would give me a better service.  I am so so stoopid, it does not.  Instead every phone call is like talking through Bronco.  So on 31st October I send the completed forms to the company requesting the switch of telephone number (portability has come to Italy)  They had told me Telecom Italia would take ten days.  In amounts my above mentioned correspondence I did actually ask on 30th. November why the telecom line was still functioning and why Telecom had sent me another bill, I am now paying two telephone accounts for the same line.  Their reply was that the line would be switched on 16th. December eh? how is that ten days?  oh ten working days they say – i.e. fifteen days.  By my maths that should be the 16th. November at the latest, but no.  I ask them what in the meantime they have been doing with my forms, of course they refuse to give me a reply or a refund.  Tomorrow is switch day, it may be goodbye world.

Continuing the telecoms theme, I changed the contract on my mobile.  I am with Tim, the mobile branch of TelecomItalia.  This is the communications company that fault provide a decent coverage in the countryside, and ever so slow 3G (yes we are till on 3G) coverage and then have the gall to send me on a regular basis a text informing me that I have been chosen for a customer survey into the efficiency of their internet service.  HaHa! So anyway I go into the store in Gubbio and speak to the spotty young man with halitosis, ask his advice re current offers and decide to part with 42 euro.  Pert is the first month’s payment, part a fee for changing the contract and part a requirement for credit on my phone.  Credit on my phone?  I am already paying by monthly direct debit and have just given them 39 euro and they want more.  Anyway I am in a good and generous mood and agree.  Changing to the new tariff the internet slows noticeably and the telephone connection is worse than ever.  Delight upon delight when yesterday I receive two more sms informing me that Tim have just taken  money out of my bank account.  Back today to the youth with halitosis who sows me the computer screen that I have two contracts running concurrently, I am paying twice.  To cut a long story short he is totally unhelpful, completely unapologetic and my trip was a waste of time.  In a fit of peak I cancel my telephone contract from when the current period ends in January.  I will doubtless become wholly uncontactable.

Another major source of irritation rediscovered today.  I know they say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but why oh why do people have to take so many of my ideas and wrap them up into their own businesses?  I realise at the moment business is cut-throat, but please guys do have some ideas of your own it would be so refreshing.

Oh, and why oh why do the energy companies here in Italy insist on making cold calls to my telephone?  They want me to switch supplier, they offer all sorts of ‘amazing deals’, they call me daily, but yet I know that the deals are not amazing and if they spent less time and resources on the calls, (I do so pity the people who actually have to make the calls) then the monies they save could really go to savings on their bills.  On the mobile the messages keep flooding in “promotion Russian Brides Activated” “Your ideal girl finder now active” please, I ask you, do they never do customer research?  Ha! with my voip phone about to go live and the unstable internet connection and my cancelling my mobile contract none of them will be able to get through to me.

Now I am off to walk the dogs, it is dark, they have their flashing collars and it is still warm, a walk will be good, so we are off to see who is lurking in the bushes…


The census – time for a rant!

I can well understand that governments require population surveys to better understand their populations and plan for the future of their nations, ISTAT has just last month sent census forms throughout Italy.

Among the various usual questions was one about internet connection.  From memory it ran somewhat like this:

Do you have an internet connection Yes/No

If yes, is it provided by:

A  Fixed line telephone


C  Dongle key

D  Closed private network

They missed the obvious and most important question: Does it work?

If you live in a city then the answer is probably yes, but in the countryside……

When we arrived here in Umbria we tried with TelecomItalia fixed line which promised 7mbps (it took a year to connect over existing then renewed cables)  Owing to the distance from the exchange and their insistence on old fashioned copper cables it arrived at an average slowness of 300kbs haha!! so at the first opportunity I switched to TECHNOADSL a company who promises 3mbps using a line of site transmitter south of Bellaugello and an antenna mounted on the roof.  This speed is less than that promised but never realised by TelecomItalia, and so more likely to be achieved…or is it???

As regular readers will know my internet connection is a regular subject of a rant.  I have complained and complained to the company and they do NOTHING.  Indeed speed can reach nearly 3mbps but is normally around 1mbps  For the last six days the speed in the afternoons has collapsed to an average 100 – 200kbs (even the post or international bank transfers arrive more quickly!) and today from 9am until a few minutes ago there was NO SERVICE AT ALL and it is not the first time this has happened,  the irritation magnifies.

-yes ISTAT you omitted to ask the crucial question, we in the countryside are all doomed to excruciatingly terrible internet connection speeds for some time to come

oh and ps… Why did they not ask in the census if solar panels form part of the heating system of the property – odd very odd!


sesto giorno – day six

Day six and the telephone engineer called me… on my mobile!

He has started work on the repair of my telephone service.  I should be pleased, but am a bit  wary as the first question he asked me was ‘how many computers have you got connected to the telephone line?” – My answer; ‘None’ to wit he asked ‘but don’t you have ADSL?’ Me ‘NO, at only 300kbps it was not worth the payment so I cancelled it over a year ago’ to wit he replied; ‘not surprised, by the way it could be one of your handsets that is at fault’ – Me ‘I don’t think so I have checked them repeatedly over the past six days anyway I am in Perugia and there are only my ferocious (not true, they are soppy sods) dogs at home’

He so wanted into the house, he needed to check my equipment (!) I was away in Perugia having a divine lunch in a restaurant suggested by a friend, and boy  oh boy what a lunch.

The restaurant is called ‘dal Mi’Cocco’ translated roughly as ‘from my darling’  It is just down from the Foreigners’ University and serves a fixed menu both lunch and dinner, changing seasonally and daily.  Today on the winter menu I ate a delicious broth with tagliarini, followed by tagliatelle with an exquisite tomato sauce, then a succulent stew with a contorno of spinach, and home – baked bread, followed (yes followed) by a moist sponge cream cake accompanied by a wee shot of vin santo.  Round that off with a bottle of still water and a coffee €15.00, superb value, the pasta was all home made and freshly prepared, the sauces divine, and service swift and friendly, I shall be back and certainly recommend the place to guests here at Bellaugello Gay b&b

Anyway back to the dreary telephone…  I got home and lo and behold the telephone works! The engineer did not get into the house, it was not the fault of my handsets, maybe it was the fax machine, although that was unplugged, who cares, I am back in contact with the world hurrah!!


Senza Telefono – No Telephone

C’è un guasto sul il mio telefono fisso.  TelecomItalia vogliono due giorni per controllare il guasto, quindi sono senza telefono a Bellaugello Gay Guest House Hotel…….  Che Servizio!!

The telephone line here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria went dead last night.  I only discovered it this morning when my architect tried to call me, finally getting through on the mobile.

I had a chum call TelecomItalia – the telephone service who are responsible for providing my telephone.  He called me back on the mobile – TelecomItalia can see there is a fault, but don’t know what is causing it……

They want TWO DAYS to look into the fault……… and that’s before they do a repair. Just what century are we living in??? how can I run a Guest House / Hotel with such a delinquent telephone service?

È per quelli da voi che segue il mio blog, Grazie a TIM io ancora non dispongo di un iPhone 4, sono in attesa per un iPhone 4 solo cinque mese!!

And By the way for those of you following my blog, I still do not have an iPhone 4…… TIM the mobile arm of TelecomItalia still do not have any available, and I do not have time to sit in one of their shops on the off chance one is delivered, and NO I cannot reserve on.  Now that is five months I have been waiting, yet they advertise them on tv constantly, communications huh!!

Mi arrendo, vado a chiedere al mio vicino di casa per qualche vettore piccioni molto più eco-friendly e attraente!

I give up, I’m off to ask my neighbour for some carrier pigeons far more eco-friendly and attractive!!

I want an iPhone 4………..

I want an iPhone 4.  Now I know they are not really very good, I know they have problems with their antenna and poor signal reception, I know that if you drop them they break, I know they look dreadful in a case, I know that in China you can buy an excellent copy for US$ 10.00, ‘cos I know they cost only $4.00 to make, I know I don’t need one but I want one…

My justification is that my current iPhone 3 is slow, the battery runs down quickly and if I move contract from Vodafone my current service provider to Tim the telecomitalia service I can save €8.00 per month.  The fact that if I move to Tim and just accept an ‘ordinary’ phone I could save even more does not figure in my argument..

So yesterday off I took myself to the Tim store.  Now it is not he first time that I have tried to get a new contract with Tim for the iPhone 4, the last time was prior to Christmas when I could not as the store did not have any iPhone 4s – I took this to be Christmas demand so decided to buy in January.  Yesterday in another Tim store in Gubbio – one recommended by a good friend I enquired about an iPhone 4 contract to be told that he did not have any stock of iPhone 4s and was not likely to get any for a further two weeks.  Innocently I asked “can I reserve one?”  “NO, you have to come into the store” so to get an iPhone 4 I have to trek daily for the next two or three weeks to Gubbio to enquire whether the Iphone 4 has arrived  I can’t reserve one…..

I was not in the best of moods yesterday so this incident did not help to raise my happiness levels.  It all started off with two ongoing issues, my website and my boiler.

1)  Before Christmas I asked my webdesigners to add some photographs to Bellaugello website, principally photographs of the Diva, Giardino and Specchio Suites.  Well finally, ‘cos they never seem to be in a rush or sense urgency we  spoke last week and I skpyed the photos and captions over to them.  A funny conversation ‘cos I had to repeat instructions several times.  Anyway yesterday when I checked the phots were still not on the site.  For guys enquiring about these suites I have to email them pics, how unprofessional is that???? incidentally this morning the photos are still not on the site… so battle will shortly recommence.

2)  My wood and pellet boiler.  This highly expensive piece of kit was installed last autumn and is supposed to heat the entire property.  Made by Gilles from Austria, it is not only costly – the Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Bugatti of boilers, it is supposed to work, but it does not.  It doesn’t get sufficiently hot enough and cuts out when it pleases-on a whim, so I have to spend my days hovering around the boiler house, it’s like wanting and iPhone 4.  Now Neither apparently do Gilles or their agent work.  Despite numerous SMS’s to the agent, and calls to Gilles, who reply with a recording in German and English ‘we are sorry we are on holiday until 09 january’ (2012 I think as that was the message again yesterday).  I cannot get through to them and their agent does not reply. I HATE the boiler.

Ok so next stop ACI – the Automobile Club of Italy.  Last August my UK driving licence was due to expire so I went as one does in Italy to ACI to sort the matter out.  They suggested that I transfer to an international European licence.  To do that they took €80.00 from me.  I had to get a medical examination!!!  another €30.00 plus one of those wretched Italian tx stamps Marca di Bollo €14.62  I queued at the hospital for the examination to be told finally the doctor had to leave and to come back tomorrow – 1 1/2 hours wasted.

On return the examination turned out to be very informal “Do you have a drink problem? Do you use drugs? Do you have a family history of Epilepsy? Can you read this?”  ecc..  “No, no, no yes”  Ok stamp stamp give us yer money and go back to the office to queue for the completed form.  Return to ACI give them the form.  Now to cut a very long and frustrating story short, in mid November I called in at ACI to establish the progress with the application.  I have been driving round with a piece of A4 carbon copy paper that substitutes as a driving licence – but not in Scotland when I wanted to rent a car for my Mother’s funeral, so of course I wanted my real driving licence back.  Now in November ACI tell me my UK licence has classes of vehicles that if I transfer I will no longer be entitled to drive – for no reason, “è Italia”.  Tension, but I have no option to accept.  Then last week I receive a call to come into the office, there is another problem.  The form signed by the doctor includes the classes of vehicle that Italy decides I can no longer drive with this new licence, so will I come into the office, pick up the form, return to the hospital, ask t he doctor to delete the classes then return to the office…… Aarrgggghh……

How is it that this country can be so very inefficient?  Last autumn my UK passport expired and I had to get the document renewed in Paris (‘cos that is where they are now renewed) I pulled the forms online, gave them to a friend visiting from Paris, who took them into the consulate one thursday in early October, and the courier turned up at my door the following tuesday with my shiny new UK passport, Is a passport not a more important document than a driving licence, do they not perform more rigorous checks, yet they can issue one in what must have been one working day yet Italy cannot issue a driving licence in six months…

I have an ongoing saga with ENEL the electricity supplier here in Italy.  Last July I filled in the application forms for an augmentation of my supply which quite frankly is measly and below tolerable standards.  I have to jiggle washing machines, water pumps, dishwashers and ovens, so that none are on at the same time to overload the supply.  Well my electrician helped me with the application, and constantly assured me that all was proceeding well.  Well in October when it was evident that ENEL had not commenced work replacing overhead cables I guessed something was wrong.  It transpires my electrician had not checked and had failed to fax (yes they use only fax here in Italy) a single document, one sheet of A4.  Lack of this document meant that ENEL had done NOTHING, and my application was back at the beginning of the queue once again.  Yesterday I tried calling the ENEL office – no reply haha what else should I have expected,?  Will I have my augmented supply by the end of this month, I dunno, lucky the sauna has a wood burning stove.  Aarrgghh….

Next I get home  the internet still was not working.  It had crashed, AGAIN  It has started to crash every day since a good chum asked me if I would recommend the service and I said “yes”.  As readers on my blog will know there was a big issue with serv – At this point my blog programme also crashed and saved the draft only this far Aaarrggh… speed from TelecomItalia, so I went to an internet provider who runs with an antenna system.  Now over the past few days the internet has been running very slow and cutting out.  I thought it was ‘cos they were doing work to upgrade the service which is always slow in the afternoons when presumably the kids come home from school and they together with their mums check their facebook or whatever, but no it CRASHED, and still was not working last night.  It is scary just how isolated I feel without the internet even if it only works at 500kps.  So for you it was lucky I could not blog last night, It would have been a very much angrier blog.

Friends of mine are going on holiday in February to Malaysia and China, I think I will ask them to bring me back and iPhone 4, anyone else want one??!!

INTERNET – better by carrier pigeon

They call it TECHNOADSL  That is the company who have their receiver mounted on the roof of Bellaugello Gay Guest House here near Gubbio in Umbria.

It was supposed to be the answer to my prayers for a fast internet connection

TECHNOADSL suggest internet speeds of up to 4mb, unheard of in Valdichiascio where TelecomItalia provide speeds never exceeding 560kb over fixed lines (tatty copper wires  losely dangling from squint poles strung like fairy lights on a shabby christmas tree).

A wireless antenna internet connection, fast efficient, guaranteed speeds of 2mb. The technician said to me ‘don’t worry if the speed is anythting over 1mb, as long as it does not drop below.  Well it does, and boy does it drop.  In desperation I have reverted to the old copper wires as I became  sick of the Technoadsl connection cutting out.  Ok I get over 1.7mb early in the morning but when the kids come home from schools and switch on their computers all over the valley, my connection cuts out, it cuts out i the evenings and is non existent this morning.  I actually managed to get a speedtest check yesterday I was receiving 70kb yes S E V E N T Y kb.!!!!!!!! hence the reversion to copper wires.

Technoadsl are supposedly aware of the problem (aparently contractually they have to provide a minimum speed or face fines) and are supposed by upgrading their transmitter on Monte Villiano to have rectified it this week, but I hate to say it if they have done the work the connection is S L O W E R    T H A N   E V E R. soon they will be downloading from my telecomitalia connection!

Why is this country so horribly inefficient????


This afternoon I received a post reply from a couple of guys in the States who have been having trouble reaching Bellaugello Gay Guest House on Skype.

I am sorry not to have blogged about this sooner as I kinda knew there was a problem.  For those of you who are long time readers of my blog you will well know my problems with TelecomItalia and the slow internet connection  they provide for me.

Well I thought I had it sorted and finally a fast internet speed through a new system using wireless receiver from a transmitter due south of my gay bed and breakfast here in Umbria.  A smart new receiver was placed on the roof and directed toward the transmitter.  Yes it is fast, I’ve seen 3.2Mb – ok to me being used to 450Kb that’s real fast.  The problem is that the signal fluctuates amd drops to 110Kb a slowness which means I can do NOTHING and then it crashes.

The technician was out here at Bellaugello this morning and informs me that the service provider is aware of the fluctuating signal strength and they plan to rectify the problem next week.  IF I still have an internet connection I will report… Until then please if you want to contact me then email me at or post on my blog as these guys did, or send a carrier pigeon.  Thanks Kenny and Rick for helping me out!

That’s communication companies

To end what in all other senses has been a wonderful day here at Bellagello Gay Guesthouse in Umbria I have a rant to download to you all…..

I am so angry.  For the past hour or so I have been trying to download a film onto my computer.  TelecomItalia who currently provide the internet service here fail to provide any form of speed.

My computer has just laughingly told me it will take 8 days and 9 hours to dowmload the 528mb….   and then the download crashes – again, and  again and again.  The speed starts of at 70kb/sec, but rapidly decreases to 10b/sec Aarrgh……

I have had another company TechnoAdsl out to Bellaugello to run a test on an antenna system,  The test results were very good, and they can provide a fast internet connection from a transmitter directly south of Bellaugello, and they promised to return last week to install the equipment.  No sign of them, no replies to emails and they do not answer the telephone either.  TelecomItalia’s customer help-line is run by a string of dear mamas who every time I call seem to be in their kitchens frying something,  or doing the washing up and so unable to deal with my problem!  To officially complain to TelecomItalia you have to send a fax (remember them- I believe there is one in the Science Musesum in London)

That’s communication companies for you!

On a brighter note I have a gorgeous owl nesting in one of the pigeon holes in the west wall of the house at Bellaugello.  Maybe it is one of Hedwig’s relations, I live in hope…

Oh Dear – I’m being watched

Funny how I managed to post first thing this morning, again complaining about my interent connection.

They CUT ME OFF for the rest of the morning,

However like the sunshine I’m back now…

Strange eh!  Bravo TelecomItalia

The Gremlins are back

I have spent the past weeks attempting to link my website for Bellaugello Gay Bed and Breakfast in Umbria to other sites.  It is a dazzlingly difficult task for a novice like me.  Once I find a site I like I either fill in an online form, or send a request.

The online form inevitably requires photographs loaded and thus time to upload, haha! with ADSLento here it is unpredictable.  Sometimes the form goes sometimes it does not, but you have to keep coming back and checking, it consumes time, lots of time.

Some sites now have me listed, others do not, so I email them, and guess what…. no reply no replies.  Now do I blame that on my ADSLento or have I filled in the form incorrectly, or has the site gone on holiday or is TelecomItalia still sending my emails by fax?  I guess I’ll never know 🙂