The tag-line for my blog runs something like ‘news updates and random rants from our gay B&B in Umbria’ and some of what I am writing about today has nothing whatsoever to do with the tag line, but I just need to get something off my chest.

Yesterday was an ‘away day’ from Bellaugello.  A regular guest at Bellaugello has a love of all things Italian, a guy who back in his home country of Holland studies and reads Italian had enrolled in the University of Camerino in the neighbouring region of Le Marche

In order to get to Camerino in good time I woke early yesterday and as usual while faffing about listened to the news on the BBC.  There was an item about the Synod of the Church of England, on whose agenda was the decision whether or not to permit women Bishops.  Now as you might have just guessed I am in no way religious, but am a firm believer in equality, so the item was of interest to me.  Interviewd on the programme were two women, one a priest, the other a lay person both with opposing views, interestingly the woman priest favoured women Bishops.

Anyway to the enjoyable part.  I set off through the Apennines to Camerino, a delightful town perched high on a rocky outcrop deep in the beautiful rural Marche.  It was about a one and a half hour drive, much through light rain, and on climbing into the ancient town, I believe the university is one of the oldest in Italy dating from the 13th. century, driving up through the narrow streets into the main piazza infront of the brick built Duomo  the mist came down, it was all rather romantic.

I met up with my ‘student’ friend and we set off towards the Adriatic coast.  En route we stopped in the delightful town of Macerata.  I must admit, although only a couple of hours drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House, it is a part of Italy that I do not know.  I was entranced, it is utterly beautiful, and architecturally different to Umbria.

Calling in at the tourist office for advice on where to eat, yes it was 13.20 and officially the office was closed until 15.00 we were welcomed and given great advice on a choice of restaurants, the staff were so helpful and cheery.  We had asked for local food or cucina casareccia, saying that we wanted a restaurant where the locals eat.  The warm reply was that any restaurant would be good as ‘we have very few tourists here!’ We took the middle option and a short walk through narrow streets brought us to the “Osteria dei Fiori”

It was an excellent choice, a simple and charming osteria, with real local food.  We started with an antipasto of local cured meats, a different selection to those in Umbria, but equally good, and a light sformatina, a mousse with truffles.  My main course was of home made spagetti alla chitarra a speciality from the region and neighbouring Abruzzo.  This pasta was made with a large percentage of chestnut flour, and accompanied with a sauce of porcini mushrooms and chestnuts and utterly superb.

After lunch chatting with the enthusiastic the proprietor she kindly gave me the recipe, I somehow doubt my skills will anyway match her light and deft hands at making such a superb pasta, but her warmth was highly encouraging.  I came away with a great little recipe book of local cuisine.

I got home late last night and this morning before staring my chores, including unloading a pallet of wood pellets for our biomass boiler, and making hearty soup for friends coming over to help with the olive harvest I again switched on the BBC news to learn that the Synod of the Church of England had rejected by six votes to allow women Bishops.  I was really saddened.  It seems the leity were the ones that voted against the move and strangely the matter cannot be up for vote again for some years to come.

In my ancestors I count several remarkable women, a great aunt who was one of the first women doctors – she studied in the antediluvian days at one university where women undergraduates were admitted, but had to go to another to sit her finals as women were not allowed at that time to graduate from the first university – inconceivable today eh!  During her long career she was awarded a gold medal for her treatment of Myasthenia Gravis, the basis for treatment to this day.  My grandomther followed her sister and studied medicine and became an early general practitioner, that is until she got married.  At which point she was forced to give up general practice as at that time (just after the great war) married women were not allowed to be general practitioners.  How stupid was that what a waste, what dis-incentive.

Back to the C of E theme I remember in the 1990s attending a Chrtistmas concert of lessons and carols in the beautiful setting of Bath Abbey, England.  The occasion was the annual Christmas concert of a local all girls boarding school.  The headmistress, yes headmistress was a superb and enlightened leader, many of the teaching staff were female and to my astonishment the cleric leading the service was a woman priest.  It was all so fitting and right.

I am left dismayed that in todays’ age a national/international business whose senior management (Bishops) sit in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the UK parliament, they have chosen to deny the role to women.  Just what world are they living in?  Why? How out of touch and insulting can you be?

They cherry pick their handbook/mission statement, ignore or alter what is uncomfortable for them, so why not allow women bishops, other organizations/businesses.multinationals are successfully  headed by women.  Look at how great a make up free (now that is something I am real proud of) Hillary Clinton is doing on the world stage, Mary MacAleese, the 11th. President of Ireland, with her fighting for unity and fairness, Aung San Suu Kyi  the determined campaigner of freedom and unity in Myanmar, and Julia Gillard inclusive policies in Australia, and of course the supreme example, the incredible HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  Those great women of today together with my few humble ancestral examples  show that there is no reason for denying women or anyone equality.  To my mind the vote was a sad sad day for the ‘establishment’ indeed.

A chilly but clear sunny day and I am out working in the fields harvesting olives.

This year the harvest is sparse, the cold snap last spring, combined with a very dry and hot summer, has led to few fruit.  The situation is especially bad here in Gubbio, one frantoio (olive mill) has not even opened, farmers who usually have plenty of oil for sale this year are keeping their precious liquid for home consumption.  Here at Bellaugello, we too have few olives, we have not even bothered to put nets under many of the trees, instead scaling the ancient trunks, climbing high into branches and popping the few fruit into buckets.  The work is time consuming and for lesser reward.

Last weekend the weather was really terrible.  however the rain was much needed and nobody with a large umbrella seemed to mind the soaking.  Today we are back to sunshine, the air is clean and refreshed and the autumn colours are just turning those honey golds so characteristic of Umbria.  Although not blogging I have been up to a few things, so to give you an insight of my days here goes;

I want to cover the pool and garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest House with a wireless internet signal, let’s face it everybody now has an iPad or Kindle.  I have been out researching WiFi antennas.  The proposed antennas are quite small and discrete.  I am told they have a range of up to 5kms – should be more than adequate!  I just need to clamber onto the roof to find the best point for the antenna and how we can discretely run the cable.

The other day a frenetic beeping of a van horn signalled the arrival of a box of samples for a new range of soaps and gels from Erbolario Toscano for me to test.  I would like to keep the Arran Arromatics lavender products we currently use, but I have big problems with the carriers not delivering so am looking at alternatives.  Erbolario Toscano is a high quality range of products using olive oil which is produced near Lucca in Tuscany.  Lightly fragrant and with an attractive artisan packaging, traditional Italian, the soap is really good I am really inclined to go with them for the suites for next year. (make the place more Italian hehe!!)

I am looking at an iPad mini.  I am a keen reader, I read in bed to send me to sleep however before the iPad mini  had thought to buy a Kindle Paperwhite.  I checked the reviews and was convinced, Paperwhite is the right model, the price is not bad and the book selection more than adequate, with the advantage that I will be able to buy English language books here on an Italian Amazon account.

Ok so proceed to buying process – NONE available in Italy until FEBRUARY 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!  British Amazon has delivery for w/c 14 December aargh.  I heard on the BBC Brian Sewell being interviewed about his latest autobiography and I want to read it now, by February I will have lost interest.  Three months wait I think not.   So I thought why not an iPad mini?  I have other Apple products they could all sync together.  Ok they are more expensive than a Kindle but they also do more, I could use it for music in the dining room, checking emails and blogging, stream movies and yes, read books – oh I can justify it on many levels!  Delivery 2 weeks – that is reasonable, BUT NO ENGLISH FILMS on iTunes Italy so NO point in paying more. I REFUSE to watch Skyfall with Daniel Craig dubbed into Italian

Continuing on the same theme, I am looking at replacing my computer.  As an Apple man of long standing, indeed I have never owned a pc and still have trouble working on one I thought to a desktop iMac.  Wow how the prices have shot up starting €1,400…..  Anyway it must be done so onto my Apple account to discover delivery….   NOVEMBER are we not already in November?

A friend of mine in the UK has a company car.  Last spring his company car was due for renewal.  His car of choice is a Mercedes and being of precise nature he specified color, trim, wheels, engine etc and returned to work in hot anticipation of the new baby arriving.  Scheduled for late July in time to drive over to Italy for a holiday at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, the car when it finally arrived in late August was wrongly specified, and Mercedes wanted another two whole months.

What is it with the world?  One used to be able to go into a phone store and choose a new phone pay a few pounds and take it home straight away. I can remember walking onto a car dealer’s forecourt and choosing the car from a selection and having it ready to be driven away the next day.  A ten month wait for a Mercedes!  I know times are hard but have Mercedes suffered so much?  I have visions of the workforce reduced to one man assembling the cars under the light of an incandescent bulb hehe!  Yes, I did wait 7 years for the delivery of my Morgan sports car but that was in the 1980’s and very much hand made.  I remember DVDs played any language – buy them in Paris, Caracas, Lisbon or Berlin, they all had a choice of languages, so why in this modern day and age can the Apple Store not have original language films in all countries?  And have you seen their ‘original language’ bookstore on iTunes talk about un-navigable

And to why I have not been blogging lately.  It is all Apple’s fault. I have updated my software to a Mountain Lion, all singing but not all dancing it is now inordinately complicated to upload photos onto my blog.  What was previously a simple process of finding the photo, choosing and uploading is now impossible as the small dimension extensions have magically disappeared.  Now to upload a small format photo I have to export it from iPhoto and put it on the desktop, so duplicating it and taking up more disk space and then find it again and upload to WordPress, and as to videos, no way have I mastered that.

To give you and example, recently we went up into the foothills of the Apennines behind our local town of Gubbio, within 20kms you find yourself in the Monte Cucco Regional park a wonderful place for hiking, well marked tracks meander hills and valleys  that are like entering a land that time forgot.  Stupendous scenery, isloated villages, smoke curling limply from soot blackened chimney pots, old men (and some cute younger ones) standing outside the only bar, I expected the only cigarettes available to be Gauloise untipped.  Here and there a lonely church or ancient monastery clinging to a craggy outcrop high up on the valley wall, and Chianina cattle wandering freely in the upper pastures, their bells jangling.  It was all happily reminiscent of the film “the Sound of Music”.   I half expected a Christopher Plummer lookalike to come tripping gaily down the mountain.  But no it is actually 2012 and amongst all this nostalgia there was a 3G phone signal, and with my iPhone camera I could take video and record sound which I di to upload  through my WordPress app.  But no, the video would not upload to my phone, and back at home synced with computer it still does not upload, indeed iPhoto mucked up the format, and I wasted hours trying various ways to share the delightful sounds with you all to no avail.  To my mind technology should be simple and efficient.

Back to business, I am making a few alterations to the dining room and kitchen at Bellaugello and was out shopping for internal doors yesterday.  I need two plain doors, smooth un-remarkable.  The quote came in this morning €187,00 + iva each and that is just the doors, no handles…..  My friends in the south of France posted recently on Facebook photos of delightful antique double doors for their drawing room that they picked up in an architectural salvage yard, cost €300,00 including brass handles and finger plates.  To add insult to injury there is a lead in time of ten weeks for these unremarkably dull but expensive flat doors.

Ok this has turned into a rant which was not the intention, I leave you with a photo of one of the cattle, you will have to make the sound effects yourself, just hit a saucepan lid or two together to imagine the delightful sounds from the bell, I am off to string two empty baked bean cans together, I need to speak with my neighbour over the hill!



Yes! I am still here!!

Sorry I have not written for some days indeed I think it has been the longest gap since I started blogging but every time I settle down to blog something crops up.

I have a store of posts to post but today am quite unable to as there has been a huge rainstorm here in Umbria and the Internet connection at Bellaugello Gay Guest House is out of action. Add to that a wifi network that has gone out in sympathy and I am left to blog using one thumb on my iPhone

Oh and my iPhone refuses to download photos or video to the blog

I have taken some awesome photos and video of the autumn here in Umbria including a magical sound encountered on our hike in the neighbouring Apennines and the flooding in the valley below Bellaugello but they will have to wait until the technology is sorted out

So please be patient ‘normal’ blogging will resume. Until then keep well keep happy and keep checking the blog!