A glorious afternoon here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria finds Edo one of my English Setters lying on the west lawn in the dappled shade cast by one of the great cherry trees

It has been another great balmy day, big fluffy clouds slowly wafting by and revealing acres of brilliant azure blue skies.  Indeed it has been a hot day, a pool day, a suntan day.  Here we have planned the garden to provide shady lawns, and of course lots of delicious fragrant lavender which is just beginning to come into bloom, a chance to escape the heat and doze…

And the bedding plants seen from the bathroom window of the Suite Degli Specchi are now beginning to overflow their pots and trail through the railings to the lower terrace below, colour fills the garden, roses are now budding anew for their second flowering

And after a lazy summer day what more could you want than to know the prosecco is on it’s way………

being spoilt, that’s Bellaugello….

A telephone call this lunchtime reminded me that the weather is un-seasonally warm.  I have been basking in temperatures reaching the high twenties to low thirties and it got me thinking back to the time when we first ‘moved into the house’

Well moving in is probably an over exaggeration, there was a part of the house that had been partly restored some thirty years previously, but never finished and never lived in.  With the enthusiasm of a new life we set about disposing of the rubbish, cleaning, and painting.  It snowed that March and was still bitterly cold, un-seasonally cold!  There was a rudimentary bathroom, I went and bought sanitary-ware from the DIY store and plumbed it in, found an old drain pipe and connected it all up, with no idea of where it all went!  There was a functioning electricity meter in the upper uninhabitable part of the house, so we ran cables down to our new ‘luxury pad’ stringing them round the walls like Christmas lights without the lights, a basic electricity supply, one power point in each room.

For heating and cooking there was an old wood burning stove found in an outhouse, cleaned up and hastily re-erected with a flue pipe leading into a chimney, that was our only means heating and cooking, the kitchen was a salvaged porcelain sink placed on an old dressing table which we cut the legs off.  For hot water, in keeping with our ecological ethos we bought a solar panel and kilometres of alkathene pipe.  We mounted the panel on the middle terrace above the collapsing garden wall and then moved some furniture in.  We had a living room, bedroom, shower-room and alcove with a guest bed, it was home, it was bliss!

The first morning we awoke with the dawn at six thirty am to see from our bed mist in the valley below and blue cloudless skies above, truly breath-taking.  We were happy, managed to entertain friends, cooking on the wood stove and remarking on our lives ‘camping with our own furniture!’, but there was one problem.  It soon became overcast and the solar panel did not work.  It got to the stage of boiling kettles both to wash plates and bodies, it was two weeks without sunshine, in the end we went to the terme San Casciano!

Today all is different, we have planted nearly 1000 plants, the garden is really taking shape, fruit trees showing signs of fruit, hedges screen the various terraces and divide the various spaces, lavender plants in profusion are bursting into new leaf,  Rosemary is in full bloom the purple and violets and blues covering the bankings, the Irises planted three years ago are for the first time in bud, and Harald’s figs are just forming.  The house has six glorious individual apartments, all with lavish bathrooms, underfloor heating, and WiFi,  the dining room created out of the former cow stalls is a large and elegant space, all is earthquake proofed, including the new annexe which has a room specifically for our biomass boiler and large hot water tank (1,500 litres) which today reached 80º only fuelled by the six vacuum sealed solar panels on the roof.  We have new pipes for the mains water, large tanks for the spring water used for the garden and flushing lavatories, and finally a three phase electricity supply, yes Bellaugello has come a long way….

A loud persistent and unyielding car horn signaled the presence of the mail.  We here in Valdichiascio have a new postie, she is young, blonde and seemingly loves the sound of her car horn.  Any time there is a package or letter to be signed for she signals her presence by several jabs on the post car horn – and does not stop until I approach the car.

I guess I should not complain at least she signals her presence unlike her predecessor who would cost down the hill silently and leave a card in the letter box here at Bellaugello gay guest house informing me that there was a parcel for me and that I had a twenty kilometre round trip to collect it from the post office (only open mornings and never at weekends) and if I didn’t collect the letter/parcel within five days a fine starts accruing.

Anyway to the point of this post, the postie today delivered me a recorded delivery letter from some government department, more hassle and a package.

The package was from Sweden home of my dear friend Annie who sent me amongst other goodies a sample of her new Lemon flavoured Scottish Tablet.  Annie runs a business in her delightful Swedish farm outside Stockholm making hand-made Scottish confectionary, notable whisky flavoured tablet or fudge.  This melt in the mouth, must have another piece sweet is not only more-ish but absolutely yummy.  Thank you again Annie for spoiling me so!

The Lemon tablet made with sugar, condensed milk, and loads of butter  and fresh lemons – I had to ‘phone Annie to thank and compliment her and so learnt it is made with fresh lemon juice and zest is divine, sweet yet at the same time sharp, a real triumph.

Annie has recently launched her website where you can see the products and buy online, regular readers of my blog maybe recall my post on her being asked by the Nobel Committee to provide her tablet for the recent ‘Nobel Nightcap

For those of you with a sweet tooth here is the link to Annie D’s website… tell her I sent you! Annie D’s Scottish Tablet Website