After the storm has arrived sunshine, clouds scud across azure skies and the greens for which Umbria is famous are ever more intense and verdant, the air feels fresh as if it has been washed (as has my car for once!) and luckily the garden has survived with only minor damage.

For once I had been in time and picked the soft fruit that was ready, plums, blackcurrants, apricots and figs.  Some made jams and marmalade, others bottled or made into sauces.

I am cooking dinner tonight at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, and thought to cook chicken cacciatora, or at least my version of it.  I have lovely plump red juicy tomatoes, a  gift of red peppers and herbs aplenty in the garden, and so thought to make this traditional dish.

To these ingredients I want to add some wine, it has to be red.  I have a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco.  This is a wonderful wine from vineyards around the pretty Umbrian town of Montefalco to the south of Perugia.  A wine that is well worth searching out at your local wine merchant. The bottle was opened last night and I had planned to continue drinking it tonight.  The question is do I sacrifice a glass or two and put it in the chicken dish, or do I open another less fine wine and add that instead?

Hum…. I shall ponder the answer.

Most evenings I spend a couple of enjoyable hours watering shrubs, hedging plants, borders, pots and the lawns here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

The summer suns not only bring forth a myriad of flowers and fragrant blooms but also dry the ground out at an alarming pace.

Here at Bellaugello we have a spring, some two hundred metres below the house.  Water  runs out of a vein in the ground.  Last year we rebuilt the ancient catchment and filter tanks and installed a strong pump to pump the water up some seventy metres to the hill behind the house some 350 metres distant from the spring.  We have buried three enormous tanks on the hill to ensure that we have a ready supply of water for the garden and in line with our eoc policy have also connected the lavatories and washing machines to the spring supply.  Drinking water for the house comes from the mains supply which runs through the property.

Anyway back to last night, I noticed that some of the paeonies were looking tired and dry, so pulled a hosepipe over to refresh them, then went off to cook dinner.

Half way through dinner the heavens opened and the rain began.  Distant rumbles of thunder, small flashes of lightning, and dark rolling clouds.

The wind picked up, the past few days we have had that warming sirocco coming from the south, and cleverly or dangerously disguising the heat of the sun and ineffectiveness of some sun creams, but last night it picked up and blew a gale.

By the time I got to bed the storm was overhead, skies lit up, bright as daylight, thunder roaring all around and rain, rain, rain.  Wagnerian Valkyries flew, Harry Potter was whirling in a quiditch match, and Mendelsson’s waves were crashing in Fingals Cave.  Why oh why does it have to do that to me?  Months of drought and then a night of deluge.

I woke this mornig to find the road washed into the drive, sunloungers and umbrellas blown over, lavender flattened, and flower heads turned to mush.  Yes I do not have to water the garden tonight, yes there is more water for the spring, but the damage is great, and my work of putting the road back where it belongs will in no way be as enjoyable as the langorous hours of watering….

Today the guys here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House related their various stories of the funivia in Gubbio.

There is a large hill that rises behind the medieval city of Gubbio and there are three ways of getting to the top – walk, drive or take the funivia.

The cable-way runs from just outside the centro storico to the summit near the church of San Ubaldo.  It is kinda old fashioned in that it runs continiously and you have to step into the cars, well they are not really cars they are more like cages, in fact they are cages suspended from the moving cable.

There are two ways of looking at the ride, the first is it might not be for the faint hearted or those that suffer from vertigo, the other is that it gives you plenty of time to enjoy the panorama over the cotto roofs of Gubbio whilst hugging your man tightly, personally I opt for the second choice.

Once at the top there are a selection of restaurants, of course the church of San Ubaldo with its simple but pleasing cloister, and a lovely walk downhill through the trees past the three chapels and back into the city near the catherdral.

It has been one of those days.  I awoke early here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, flung on a pair of shorts and made a cup of tea and went outside and had the breakfast table laid before 7am.  It was well past dawn, but still a crispness in the air, a loud clamour of the dawn chorus otherwise tranquillity.

Stephen left today.  He had been here a month and was a keen helper and fun to have around.  It was his first experience in such an environment and he did in a weak moment admit to sometimes being a little sad when guests departed at the end of their stays – funny I thought it was only me that felt like that.  He is studying economics at University and off on an exchange to Canada to meet who knows whom… but he would also make a great hotelier.   In the past month we have met many interesting people from many countries and served and enjoyed several dinners together as can be seen in an earlier post.

His train left from Perugia Ponte San Giovanni at 14.00.  It is a 45 minute drive to the station and just an hour before we were planning to leave I received a phone call I had to get to Gubbio (the opposite direction) to sign a document, and it had to be done now! So a rush to Gubbio and then to PSG.  We got there with minutes to spare and with ticket bought and convalidated headed for the platform.  The train was in and after big hugs Stephen went across to the other platform.  I didn’t see him board the train and evenually as the train was pulling out went across the rails myself.  It was like a scene from the film “Brief Encounter” the train pulling out and a guy with luggage standing at the far end of the platform.  Aparently the doors did not work and he could not board the train – and the guard did not help – or maybe did not speak Swedish.

Luckily there was a train soon after and I have just received a message to say he is safely on the plane bound for Stockholm.

I returned home to Bellaugello Gay B&B and decided on an hour of relax near the pool.  Fortunately for me there were others by the pool and we struck up conversation. Usually when I go to lie by the pool and catch a few rays and perfect that all over tan, I do not settle and instead think of all the jobs that I should be doing, and go off and do them, but this afternoon was different.  The conversation light and easy and I was soon in full relax mode and let the jobs pass me by.

Tomorrow will be a different day!

Last night here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy we decided on a barbecue.  Stephen loaded our bbq with fragrant wood, and I busied myself with making salads and baking potatoes and sweetcorn.

The fire stubbornly refused to provide us with the necessary embers first off so it was a late start, however made up by scrumptious bruschetta, local Umbrian bread toasted, rubbed with garlic and drizzled (oh how I hate that word, but it is apt in this instance) with our own Bellaugello cold pressed olive oil.

Grilled corn, chicken, meaty sausages and plump ribs were devoured as the conversation reverted to English, which seems all to often to be the common if not first language of those round the table.  A sagrantino di Montefalco, good robust Umbrian wine complimented the food.

A gentle breeze wafted as we tucked into chilled water-melon and imbibed a variety of grappas and discussed whether or not a midnight dip in the pool was in order…….