Possibly the only joy of getting up before dawn to ready breakfasts for early departures is the benefit of witnessing the sunrise over Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  When I am clever I set my cellphone to time lapse and record the sunrise over the Apeninnes.  When I am somnambulant I manage to set a slo-mo video and record three hours of blackness.  This morning I got it right, with my phone planted in the garden, it recorded “l’alba”.

Early rising, means saying goodbye to guests who are departing.   It is saying ‘ciao’ to guys who, during their stay have become friends and who plan to return.  This morning birdsong punctuates the air, I see new buds on trees and shrubs and everywhere virgin verdant greens and spring flowers.  The tulips managed to open in time to say cheerio to the guys.  The air is still crisp, and delightfully clear. It was a group of guys from Berlin who were departing.  They take an annual week’s holiday together, and had made the most of their first time here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Not only did they enjoy time poolside, but they travelled extensively in the region, visiting Urbino, Assisi, Spello, Bevagna, and obviously our local town of Gubbio.

Spring is a time of re-birth and new life.  Just the other day I spied that our resident Owl had hatched a chick.  We have always had Owls nesting here in a pigeon hole in the old house and because it is less tidy than usual I think the nest has been passed from mother to daughter, and she had pushed out a shell to the landing platform.

Owl is very shy and I have to be really careful that she does not see me otherwise she flies the nest.  My evenings are filled with the calling of her mate.  I imagine he calls ‘dinner is on it’s way‘ and she replies ‘hurry I am starving and need to stretch my wings‘.  They call several times throughout the night.  If I am very lucky I see one of them fly swiftly and silently into the nest.  I find that magical.

Finally the comune has sent men to do some road repairs.  Not before time we all say.  The large project we applied for last year did not receive the first tranche of funding but it is in the pipeline again for this year and of course moved up the ranking.  We fought hard to convince the comune that in the meantime the road needs to be maintained.  So this week the grader has been cleaning ditches and levelling the surface of the dirt road.  We had a couple of hilarious days of driving through mud slides, but gravel is on its way and the surface will be much improved.

Deciding to pop over and see my neighbours and chat about the road, I took them a beautiful organic Pecorino cheese made by my good friend Martino.  It is always a danger dropping in to my neighbours, they are so kind and hospitable.  I cannot go for five minutes, I always end up staying some considerable time, being invited into their kitchen and offered a couple of glasses of wine.  We chat away, discussing the strange weather, the strange politicians, and the strange fact that work has actually started on the road.  Another glass of wine, I am once again feeling light headed.  Finally I manage to tear myself away but not before they load me up with ‘qualche uova‘ – some eggs…

and a bunch of fresh wild asparagus.  I just cannot ever mange to go with a gift and not get one back in return…

Last night Mauro and I sat together and feasted on a ‘frittata con asparagi selvatici‘, the freshest of food locally sourced.   That is the joy of living here, the friendship and goodness that is Umbria.

Life is not all work and yesterday afternoon, my tasks done I managed to strip off and sneak an hour at the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  The water is still too cold for me to enter, but the sun got to over 23˚c and I managed to get a decent bit of colour.  Despite what you see in the photo I was not alone at the pool, everyone had decided that the sun merited their presence poolside, reading, chatting, relaxing, snoozing.

But now it is nine am, it seems that I have already done a day’s work, however there is still much to do, so off I must trot and get back to routine tasks.  It has been good chatting to you, I hope your day is as good as mine will surely be even if it is not poolside 🙂

 

All this year storm clouds have brewed and brewed.  Clouds have been small, huge, gigantic, stubborn and angry, dark and light, many and few, high and low.  At times it felt as if the whole world was stormy, the outlook grey and thoroughly depressing, looking out of the window it certainly seem that way, and all the time I have been hoping, and wishing that the clouds would lift and today they seem to have, Bellaugello Gay Country House’s new website has finally gone online.   It may be late, very late, but then it IS Italy so delays are what is specialised in, but ‘domani’ has finally arrived.  I hope you like it!

Storm clouds over the snow covered infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Country House in Umbria, Italy,#BellaugelloBellaugello rising from the mistRed sunset and clouds over Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, ItalySunrise over Bellaugello Gay Guest HouseStorm clouds over the Basilica of AssisiStormy weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with our new BOOK ONLINE feature booking at Bellaugello is so much easier, your dream holiday is just a couple of clicks away!

 

This past week Bellaugello Gay Country House has been graced with the presence of Theodore who has been busy helping out whilst soaking up the hot Umbrian sunshine.

Theodore at the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Country House in Umbria, Italy, #Bellaugello

Theodore is a very experienced and fully qualified yoga teacher and masseur, and it has been a delight to have him here at Bellaugello, we are getting such great guys here in 2015!

Often at dinner as the host at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I relate how odd it is that I choose to run a gay guest house and whilst being a gay man I am in so many ways so un-stereotypically gay.

I ask the question, why as a gay man should I have to like gay icons or divas?  I really do not like Liza Minelli and hated the ‘sex and the city’ series, detest ‘big brother’ and would rather not listen to Barbara Streisland’s music.  All that tantrums and tiaras stuff just does not cut it for me.  Perhaps that is why I am here as a peasant farmer in rural Umbria…  I do love my garden, harvesting olives by hand, making marmalade and lolling lazily in my infinity pool.  OK I admit being a ‘peasant farmer’ does have its attractions…  and maybe some of them are a little bit stereotypically gay but…  And Bellaugello does host the most exquisite guys, handsome, articulate, interesting  and immensely, fascinating guys from all over the world, So many different professions and different life experiences, I adore my guests, quite simply I adore my job which gives me the opportunity to meet such a variety of people.

By now you will be asking why this long pre-amble?  What is Alec on about?  Those of you who who who are long-term readers of my blog by now have probably fathomed out a bit how my brain works (could you please let me know!)  Others I am sure will be asking themselves ‘why am I reading the is?’

So to cut to the chase one of the people I most admired in my life died this morning.  I will admit to being just a wee bit sad and surprised when Joan Rivers died, but it is not her I refer to, but Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, her death has left me more than a bit sad.  Happy for her that she is out of suffering, but her passing does mark the end of a glamorous era.

As a child I had the immense fortune to have been on holiday in Derbyshire and taken to visit Chatsworth House.  I was over-awed by the magnificence, the dare I say grandiosity, the visit stuck in my memory.  Times pass and I graduate in hotel management, and periodically Chatsworth crops up in conversation, they are opening Bolton Abbey Hotel, it is a place to watch.  The Devonshires take a personal management of the hotel.   I re-visit Chatsworth on several occasions, every time there is something new to see.   They convert the stables and coach-house into a restaurant and wedding venue, host sculpture exhibitions and the duchess whilst still finding time to tend her chickens is inspirational in opening an organic and quality farm shop.  The business goes from strength to strength, and if her books are to be believed, and I believe they are, so very much of the credit must go to the late Dowager.  She comes over as innovative, daring, mildly eccentric and yet a bit fragile, a bit outside her circle and un-stereotypical.  Not that I would ever deign to put myself on a pedestal akin to hers, the Dowager was pure genius and to me inspirational, her ideas formed the nucleus of so many of mine.

I can’t claim her as a friend, I am just one of tens of thousands whose path crossed hers, but I do remember my time in Wiltshire in the 1990s when I travelled regularly to London and bought books from a rather good bookshop.  Occasionally our paths crossed, maybe the Duchess was there for a book signing, but more often she, like me was choosing a book to read, on a couple of occasions she offered a word of advice on my choice or that of the assistant.  Her warmth, her passion, evident, yes the Duchess was just another person browsing books and that is exactly as she came across to me, yet back home she was running the most innovative and spectacular and successful business.  Reading her books I note that it had not been easy, an unconventional upbringing, fabulously clever siblings, crippling death duties, massive debts, not the easiest of marriages, insurmountable obstacles, the horrid experience of losing children early in their lives, yet she overcame them all, a stoic, and to me was a true inspiration an icon, in my way of thinking a true diva.

and damn it all she was good looking and elegant too….