This morning here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, is another of those misty magical ones, the sun breaking through cloud and casting shadows on the hillsides and villages beneath.

I must dash off to Gubbio, last minute things to do to organise for our Hogmanay/Capodanno celebrations, and so am reminded of the passing of the year, how quickly it seems to have sped by, but not as quickly and manically as my car which seems to have a touch of madness about it at the moment…..

Yes the speedo does read just over 120kmh.. but the light bottom right of the picture is the handbrake light…… time travel eh!

A crisp frosty morning, and I find myself with a desire to return to bed and listen to the radio.  Fed up with listening to the radio on my Apple computer – I love the computer but dislike the tinny sound, I decided to dig out my Pure Digital Radio that I bought six years ago when living in Scotland.

Both RAI the state broadcaster and Mediaset (Berlusconi’s) have made a big song and dance about last month’s big digital switch on in Umbria.  I mean honestly do I really want to watch scantily clad girls drape themselves over elderly male anchormen in 1960’s style in greater clarity? – for that is it seems all Italian TV can produce, anyway stupidly I thought that six years after I was listening to digital radio in Scotland I might finally have the pleasure of doing the same here, but NO.  A search by the radio brought up absolutely zero DAB channels, and a search on the internet a lengthy list of television stations but it seems that none of the few radio stations that broadcast here in Umbria are broadcasting in Digital, so it is back in the box for the Pure and to work for me!

Yesterday started off cool but sunny, an ideal day or so I thought to rake up yet more dead leaves in the garden here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  On with the gardening kit, a stout pair of boots and good gloves, and soon gigantic piles of leaves were in evidence in the driveway, lawns and paths.  It has amazed me just how many acorns the oak trees shed.  Now I simply adore the two large oak trees on the west lawn that in the summer give so generously of shade, however this year they have produced a multitude of acorns which are really tedious to rake up.

Not deterred and wishing to make the place look a bit tidier I set forth to sweep them all up.  All was fine until mid afternoon when the wind picked up, and picked up, and picked up….  All of a sudden more and more leaves cascading down from all the trees, the Christmas Tree that I have put on the upper terrace swaying unnervingly in the ever strengthening wind, and then the power went out.

The lights came back on but flickered like cheap Christmas tacky lights, my immediate thought probably brought on by the visit yesterday of the boiler specialist was how much damage was being caused to the sensitive electrical equipment, control circuitry, pumps, and those ‘energy saving’ “long life” lightbulbs.  Anyway I needn’t have worried as a large green flash lit the darkness, the main distribution cables well below the house had either been knocked to the ground or shorted in some fashion, but boy was it scary, the image of night fire warfare weapons sprang to mind.  All around darkness, punctuated by flickering street lights in Colpalombo across the Chiascio valley.

Now I have been blogging about just how nice the weather has been this autumn, it has been idyllic, sunny and now indeed snow is forecast for Christmas – yippee the sauna will be utterly dreamy, but last night made up for all the good times.  I have never before known wind as we experienced last night.  Power out, telephone out, mobile signal very intermittent, internet – of course dead!  Luckily with underfloor heating the suites and my house stayed warm, and candles we had a plenty, and then the rain started.  Reminiscent of an autumn day on the Isle of Harris in the outer Hebrides of western Scotland – horizontal and so strong.

Another flash, this time like green sheet lightning and two further explosions below the swimming pool,surely my beloved pool could not be damaged, how could the pool lights flash on when I had closed the circuit breakers?  On with the waterproofs, welly boots and power torch. Thankfully not the pool, how did I know? as I approached the pool the ground below lit up big style, again a green light, the main power cables…. thankfully not my problem!

The saga continued until 3am when power and cell phone were restored – or so friends told me this morning by the superfluity of missed calls they received at that time.  Today I awoke to sunshine, luckily minimal damage, a very large old willow tree down by the spring snapped off at about 4 metres above ground was the only significant tree down, branches everywhere, lawns again carpeted in leaves and to my utter dismay a swimming pool full of sodden leaves.  So I passed a pleasant sunny afternoon once again fishing leaves out of the swimming pool, maybe it is time to consider an ugly pool cover!

It might have been a wee bit drizzly, but nothing prevented us at Bellaugello Gay Guest House driving down the hill to participate in the festivities tonight in the beautiful Umbrian city of Gubbio as direct from the Vatican Pope Benedict XVI touched his iPad screen and lit the Christmas tree on the slope of Monte Ingenio above the star lit medieval streets.

At an instant the hillside was aglow with over 700 coloured lights in the shape of a Christmas Tree – The world’s largest and as church bells rang out fireworks lit the skies above the tree to be met by thunderous applause from the many spectators.

And to give some idea of the scale of the thing the building in the next pic is the Palazzo dei Consoli that dwarfs the city and you cannot see the top of the tree….

Yes, it is beginning to feel like Christmas, and Gubbio is certainly THE place to be