Up early, a glorious autumnal morning, dogs fed and off to meet the fellow mushroomers.  I was on time and they a wee bit late, but we headed off via a bar for the obligatory caffé and thence to the woods.

We travelled to the hills behind Gubbio, the foothills of the Apennines and went foraging.  Beautiful woods high in the hills ablaze with colours, lovely woods to walk in and certainly there were mushrooms, but porcini none 🙁

Out mushrooming #Bellaugello

Our harvest was miserably small,embarassingly so, but a good time was had by all.  So amusing the heterosexual chatter, to hear of the videos they share, the barmaids they fancy, how similar and at the same time totally different to being with a group of gay guys, my how I chuckled 🙂

all in a morning's work...

Grrr…. Today was just one of those days.  You know the kind of day I mean, a day that is highly irritating and where everything that possibly can just goes wrong, and that which can’t somehow just manages to. Despite a sunny start from the moment I woke up and got out of bed everything began to go downhill.

Firstly in a daze I tripped, and stubbed my toe on the bath panel, such pain, pah! I had work planned so hobble and do my ablutions, dress and then into the kitchen put the kettle on for the first cup of tea.  Mug, teabag, milk, pour on boiling water, turn on the radio and to my horror watch the work surface slowly getting wetter and wetter, the mug had a hairline crack..

Feed the dogs, Bobby is so spoilt he has left over broth with his croquettes only that half missing his bowl I managed to pour much of the broth over the oven, into drawers and onto the floor…  He had water topped up with broth instead.

Trip into the local town of Gubbio, four errands to run, the first office despite online saying they were open is firmly shut, the second unexpectedly taking up so much time that I had to rush to the third, with barely time to say  hello and dump a sheaf of papers before they closed for lunch which left me too late to go to the fourth.  On the way home the laundry sent an SMS the cushions and cushion covers that have been at the laundry for nearly three weeks (is my house actually so dirty that it takes over two weeks to clean cushions?) are now ready to be collected.  Half way home, do I turn round and go back or return to Gubbio tomorrow, Friday?  I have a busy schedule for the afternoon, so go home and come back tomorrow, decision made.

Stop off at a neighbour’s house, we have been trying to do a piece of business for some weeks, but I have never found the time to stop when his car was in the drive, or he has been working away from home and not there.  Of course the family was at a late lunch, my timing was poor and embarassing and the piece of work is still outstanding.

Back home, after the rain and before more large scale water it seems sensible to try and clear the drains that run under the road, and which through lack of maintenance by the comune are of course full of mud and gravel, and stones, which means water gouges out the road surface and generously carries it into the garden and if exceedingly generous has been known to fill my porch with water.  Trek up through the car park, a huge bunch of tools to hand, my am I unfit, and start hacking away at the mud.  Dig dig dig, poke poke, poke, rake, pull move, hard work, half a metre acheived, still four or five metres to go da.n…  To relieve the monotony I head onto the road to start from the other side.  In with the spade, first dig snap! the shaft breaks clean off.  Back to the tool shed for the more robust spade, dig, dig, and squelch, the shaft comes away from that spade….  Give up.

Ok so this drain is not going to be cleared today, I will try another that is only half blocked and I want to try with the pressure washer.  Collect pressure washer, hose, second hose, joint, electric cable and remembering to turn on the power I went back to the car park.  Forgetting the tap adaptor for the second time trek back to the sauna where I was last using the adaptor, it’s not there, no, it’s in my pocket.. Grrr… Climb to the water distribution cupboard, all the valve markings sadly faded and quasi indecipherable, turn on water to the tap in the car park (got that right first time), climbing through the hedge, rip, there goes my t shirt…  Connect hose, power, carry power washer to nearer the drain and all of a sudden get soaked.  No it was not the hose joint badly connected, but rather the water inlet to the pressure washeer snapped off, thus rendering the machine useless.  Slip down the bank and snak my jeans on a branch, bruise my leg, and rip the jeans.  Aargh…

Fed up with drains I turned my attention to cutting the grass in the car park, I know at this time of year it is not really necessary, but the grass was growing long and unruly and annoying me.  Down to the toolshed, get the petrol, put petrol in the tank, fire up the lawnmower I keep for the car park, blue smoke but hey ho! One third of the way through the lawn cutting daylight ends, darkness descends and I can no longer see the stripes…

Back home, I’ve an invitation for dinner tonight, Italian friends and I have offered to make a desert, I thought of a British desert.  Of course the problem of having two kitchens is that not each is evenly equipped, in the spring some of my utensils find their way downstairs to the catering kitchen, and I only bring them back up as required.  Now why can I not remember to bring the cinnamon at the same time as the grater, and then why did I forget the scales?  Five trips up and down for items, just to make a simple dessert, real frustration.

Anyway things then got better the apple sponge liberally laced with almonds was divine and much appreciated, it cooked well in my mini oven, I even managed not to burn or under-cook it, despite being in the bath and nearly dropping my book into the sudsy water.  Out to dinner, a real treat, great hospitality and company and fabulous food.  Smiles allround and flowing bubbly conversation, another local girl is heading Berlinwards, so addresses and contacts were offered.  Lift home, and discussing plans for the day after tomorrow, Saturday, will we all be going to Montone? only to be told today was FRIDAY, I had no idea….  As tomorrow is in fact Saturday I have miscalculated and need to be in three different places tomorrow, so will have to clone myself.

Oh! and the last thing, putting on my glasses to write this post, they came apart, simply snapped at the bridge, useless, with that I’m off to bed.  Tomorrow up early to go with friends to pick wild mushrooms, let’s hope they know their fungus, it’s gotta be a better day!


I was out in the woods the other day looking for wild mushrooms.  It is the right time of year for these heavenly treats, and the woodlands around Gubbio are generous providers.  Like visitors to the recent unpublicised Festa of white truffles in Gubbio I found few, and speaking with a neighbour who passed me in the car with my almost empty basket it seems I was not unique, there are not so many this year.  He warned me to be very careful, apparently a family from the top of the valley had all been admitted to hospital having been careless in their choice of wild mushrooms.

Autumn is such a glorious time of year here in Umbria at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  The air newly cleaned after rains last night, the sun still hot, there is perfect peace, the garden abounds with golden and ruddy hues.  After showering indulgently under one of the outdoor showers here I went and grabbed my camera so to share with you.

Autumn colours in the garden, theCaci tree @BellaugelloAutumn colour @Bellaugello Wisteria in glorious autumnal hues @BellaugelloThrough the wisteria #BellaugelloReflections on the infinity pool @Bellaugello in the autumnReds, reds, reds. Pomegranates @BellaugelloSoft, quiet, autumnal views at Bellaugello Gay Guest House

Such a magical time, one last burst of energy before the onset of winter.  I am busy with maintenance, the little jobs that just do not get done through the summer and the big one like pruning back the rampant wisteria that seems to want to climb ever skyward over the roof, I flit form job to job.  The beauty, the endless birdsong, and company of the dogs nuzzling in the hedgerows helps me forget the endless back-breaking piles of leaves I will soon be raking up in the garden and emptying from the infinity pool.

This weekend maybe a chance for some ‘down time’ a choice of activities.  The splendid cantina of Antinori near Montefalco is open, their vines recently harvested are a blaze of autumn colours and they are offering wine tastings and tours, very tempting…  The alternative is the ‘Festa del Bosco’ at the pretty Umbrian hill top town of Montone, always an amazing event, stalls groaning with chestnuts, honey, wild mushrooms, truffles and berries.  Maybe I can fit them both in…

I have slipped into farming mode, yesterday again I was out clearing around the olive trees, and it seems that we are to be starting picking next week.  Reports from those who have already picked, (they are lower in altititude and so the olives ripen earlier) is that the yield is low but quality high. That reminds me I must check the oil level in the Ape, it will be venturing to the Frantoio!

An afternoon break saw me head into Gubbio, I had the winter tyres in the back of the car and they were to be fitted, cushions at the dry cleaners which should have been ready were not and a meeting with my Geometra, who by sheer good luck he was checking on progress on his new house, so I got a ‘preview’ of the extensive renovations.   So good to be able to spend time visiting and not feel guilty!  Back next week for the cushions, they were ‘still drying’.

Last night I trekked across the valley to visit Luigi and Veronica at their large farm, we sat round the kitchen table discussing farming and swapping recipes.  I had taken over a loaf of my Scottish Soda Bread, and despite really trying very hard to refuse came home with some sfogliatina made by Maria, Luigi’s mother.  I am dieting so they are in the freezer!  Why am I dieting, well for those of you guys who were here in the summer you will have noticed that I have got rather fat and with a wedding invitation late November I plan to wear my kilt and not have my stomach overhang the waistband so no carbs or alcohol for me at the mo.

This morning a friend called for advice (and not the first one) on how to pick olives.  Her family were, this spring busy pruning or clearing their long-abandoned trees and she looks to me for advice as to how to pick!  It is beyond nice for me to receive calls from Italians and locals looking for advice on local traditions!  Me a foreigner giving advice on harvesting olives, who would have thought.  I am flattered and somewhat honoured.

As I write I am sitting at my kitchen window, there is a pot of thick vegetable and bean soup bubbling on the stove, as my friend Anne says, soup so good for the soul.

Which of course leads me on to Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa the now ex ‘senior Vatican priest’ whose interview with the BBC I listened to with interest. Click the link to hear the interview:  Monsignor Charamsa talks to the BBC’s Caroline Wyatt

I would really like Krzysztof and his partner to visit Bellaugello.  What he spoke about hit a nerve or two here, so many of my guests were born or raised Catholic and the issues he raises are very pertinent and so so true.  I am keen to invite him here to stay and be at dinner at our large table on the terrace under the stars, on round my family table in the dining room, it would be magical, healing and educational.


Oh, I dunno.  Here at Bellaugello it is a beautiful sunny day, I am gently tidying in the garden and just about to set off in the Ape with lots of power tools and of course Jenny and Bobby to clean round some more olive trees ready for the harvest early in November.

Meanwhile in for a break and to reply to emails I discover that my emails are still going haywire.  A Friend from the other side of the valley reports that my emails to him are going into his ‘spam’ box.  Now I am well aware I often write as is said in Scotland ‘a load of mince’ however sometimes I do write good and valid emails that are important,  there is no logical reason why my emails should be going to the spam box, and this is another ongoing problem the resolving of which is consuming my energies.

The frustration is immense, the stress levels real high, despite the beautiful weather and tranquillity here in Umbria I am not a happy boy today

Last night I was invited out for dinner.  A table was booked at my current favourite restaurant in our local town of Gubbio, the “Officina dei Sapori” and off we set.  Being driven for me is a real treat, and going out in the company of two great guys even better.  We sat at a delightful corner table, full view of the super shiny new kitchen, and dined off the creative winter menu.  The food was awesome, service slick and attentive, and for a Monday the restaurant surprisingly busy.

Returning to Bellaugello Gay Guest House for a nightcap we sat outside on the terrace by candlelight.  So still was the night, stars, not a breath of wind, only owl hoots and in the distance the burbling river Chiascio way below in the valley, otherwise utter silence.  It is at times like these that I am reminded of just how magical, peaceful and utterly beautiful it is here at Bellaugello, and how fortunate I am to be able to share it with so many great guys from all over the world.

This morning we all woke up to a guest house draped in cloud, silent, intimate and slightly magical.  Slowly the cloud lifted, and the magnificence of the view from Bellaugello Gay Guest House is now revealed.

Mist seen fromthe terrace at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, Italythe village of Colpalombo surrounded by early morning mist seen from the terrace of Bellaugello Gay Hotel in ItalyReflections on the infinity pool @Bellaugello Gay Vacation Hotel near Tuscany, Italy

The sun is shining, it is decidedly autumnal, but a beautiful crisp clear day.

After last year’s non-existent harvest I am thrilled because it is looking really promising for a bumper raccolta this year at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

Olives @Bellaugello, Umbria, Italy 2015Olives 2015 #BellaugelloFull olive trees this season @BellaugelloPlump juicy olives getting ready to be harvested @Bellaugello, #Umbria#Bellaugellogayguesthouse, the olives ripening well for the 2015 raccolta

The hot summer sun we luxuriated under will bring about an early olive harvest.  Last night were all invited over to the other side of the valley to celebrate a birthday, eating as ever, so very well, delicious homemade tira-mi-su, not that we needed lifting up,  the evening was as ever in this delightful farmhouse so convivial.  I maybe digress, but not really as at one point the conversation moved onto this year’s raccolta and as we pick and mill our olives together and as the olives are turning black and ripening fast we have agreed on an early start.  The earlier the pick, the less the weight but the better the oil. The Bellaugello trees are looking rather good, it will be so nice to once again have our own biological cold pressed olive oil to be able to sell to guests.