I sit at my desk and catch sight of petals cascade from a yellow rose.  This post was not conceived as a lyrical blog about nature, but, as is often the case, nature intervened and walked my thoughts on a different path.  So here we go, come join me for the adventure.    As I scoop the fallen petals up into my hand I wonder at the beauty and diversity of nature.  Just how are these yellow roses yellow?  The rose that, together with red, white and pink ones, the last of the summer blooms in the garden, I had put in a vase to decorate the table for a recent dinner with friends, has opened fully and is now past its best, so the petals fall.  They fall without warning.  One moment the only movement on my desk is the rythmic tapping of my fingers on the keyboard, then, quietly, and instanteneously, another movement, yellow rose petals fall.  Their movement is a destraction, I take them into my hand, and put them into an orderly pile.  Each one tinted from intense deep yellow to tips of delicate creamy sunlight. My thoughts become fixed on the wonder of nature.

Outside my window, whilst the jasmine is evergreen, the wisteria is a painters palette of yellows.  The trees in the garden, festooned green through gold to ochres and browns, let the wind scatter their leaves randomly.  The dramatic colour change has only happened in the past week, ten days ago it was still very green.

This is the time that I am busy in the garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Raking, sweeping, netting, cutting back, there are leaves everywhere, they need to be moved, and overgrown plants need to be trimmed.  All these are tasks that I enjoy.  To be outside, the air fresh, the sun still with some warmth, the occasional chance to revel in gardening naked and get lost in dreams.  The silence, punctuated by birdsong, and the water of the river Chiascio swelled by recent rains from the Apennines, tumbling over rocks in the valley below, is such a precious gift.  Songbirds make a stopover as they wend their way southwards for the winter. They hover over the cotto roof tiles and peck at the stone walls, intently looking for bugs and insects to devour on their long journey.

The first robins have arrived and are busy looking for worms.  They sit close by, expectantly, hopefully as I pick catepilars off the cabbages and cauliflowers in the winter vegetable garden.  The ‘Orto’ has been a success this year.  Guests ate throughout the summer from our own organic produce.  So rewarding, so good, genuine food as it should be.  Just the other day I picked the last of the tomatoes, aubergines and the first winter spinach.  The butternut squash have grown generously, and it was those in a risotto that we ate the other evening.

The other morning I caught the deer on their stroll through the garden below the infininty pool.  Cute but destructive, they eat indescriminately.   As at one stage I seemed to be growing vegetables solely for the benefit of the deer and hares.   We had to raise the height of the fence around the Orto, and be extra vigilant to keep the gate firmly closed.  No wonder I cannot grow Irises and bulbs on the extremity of the garden, I guess that is no wonder of nature.

I wake to magical sunrises and misty mornings, and capture the wonder of nature on camera.  Follow me on Instagram (@bellaugello) you too can enjoy morning glory at Bellaugello.

At dusk, when I walk the dog along the road we hear the call of the tawny owls and see the bobbing white bums of the roe deer as they scamper in to the woods.  They say there are wolves in the area, I think we spotted one the the other evening, distant, in one of our fields, but in sight, greyish.  It was motionless, then rose and slinked off into the woods presumably in search of its dinner of deer and wild boar piglets.  Certainly the dog did not want to leave my side, and I am glad she did not.  We were both a bit cowardly.

Oh! I cannot leave you on that note, it probably was no wolf but a large white dog, so, please join me in walking through the woods at Bellaugello…

they are wonderful walks, also in spring and summer.  These woods are home to wild asparagus, funghi and fragrant truffles, wild cyclamen and maybe even the odd bear or two 😉

Thank you for being with me on my autumn journey through the wonder of nature at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  I feel I have just scratched the surface of this special haven.  I have overlooked to mention the pockets full of juniper berries that I pick on my walks, and have drying in antique champagne glasses in my kitchen at home.  So you can garnish your speciality gin, delightful jars of organic Juniper berries will be for sale at Bellaugello next year.   I digress, but did you know that juniper is common and native to Umbria and Tuscany and that for over two centuries the berries have been harvested and sold to the famous London Gin houses, who, in many zones have a commercial monopoly of production.    Also I failed to mention the sloes that stain my hands and jacket pockets red and are now steeping in gin, which will be ready in time for a post dinner digestivo next summer.   There are others, several, some experimental too.  Maybe a blog post about fruit and alcohol is formulating..

So to return to my initial question; just why are yellow roses yellow? Is this another unanswerable question?  Whatever the reason I am gladdened by the fact that they are yellow and that I live in such an enchanting, safe place immersed in the wonder of nature.  I love to share my home with guys from around the world.

Maybe, hopefully,  you will come and stay next year and tell me why yellow roses are yellow…..

Book your stay at Bellaugello by clicking here

What a month!  I have been so thrilled to welcome back so many guests returning to Bellaugello for their holidays and also to have the immense pleasure of welcoming guys here for the first time.

I so love my ‘job’ is it really a job?  It is a lifestyle and a great one at that.  Living in this beautiful corner of rural Italy and sharing my home with fabulous guys.  Bellaugello Gay Guest House is a place of relax, a place to recharge, unwind and of course make friends and share experiences.

After the mixed weather in May the clouds vanished and the garden burst forth.  I netted the cherry tree in good time and one evening as the fireflies danced I plucked the cherries off the tree.  The next morning Mauro checked them over and stoned five and a half kilos of dark red fruit.  Some went to make a ricotta tart for dinner, the rest now repose in the freezer for when I find a cooler hour or two to make cherry jam.   The tree is small, and I am so proud of it for giving so bounteously.  The Apricot trees are laden, the fruit still to ripen. I see with a sad eye that the little plum tree is so full of fruit that two boughs have all but snapped off.  Sad that such a generous act is met with such damage.

We have been dining on the terrace.  Our menus this year feature much more home-grown and local produce.  Homegrown that is until a rabbit got into the Orto and ate the tops off the lettuces.  Grrr…  More lettuces have been planted but still to grow.  Despite a healthy crop of weeds the vegetable garden is coming along nicely and having feasted off broad beans we are now cutting our first zucchine and watching the tomatoes turn red, black, orange and yellow.  I went to town on a rainbow of tomato colours this year.   Cooking using local produce is a rewarding experience.  It has challenged my menu planning and also forced me to seek out local suppliers who actually have local foodstuffs.  In the journey I sadly have discovered just how many companies mark their produce as local, but deviously how  they masquerade  the provenance, and are in fact in many cases products from afar, packaged or re-packaged locally.

The warmth also brought guys to the pool and a chance of a photo-op for three lovely guys from Puglia.

yes, one of them is Mauro!  The mere fact he is in the pool demonstrates just how warm the weather has been from early this month.

My Dutch contingent returned again this June, they are just some of my many regular guests who have become firm friends.  I was spoilt as ever with gifts of my favourite  super yummy “Stroopwafels” and Dutch biscuits in the traditional blue and white Delft design tin.  This year they introduced new friends of theirs to Bellaugello Gay Guest House and together with a great couple of British guys posed for the annual pool photo.   We had such fun trying to have everyone in the right place as the shutter clicked.

We almost managed it!

I guess a vacation in Italy is about sunshine, pool and food, and this week I ‘allowed’ a guest to enter my kitchen and for the second time this year we had a guest baker and bread from his home country, in this case Israel.  Declining the offer of the mixer, he said he preferred to feel the dough in his hands.  A have to agree, and that is also how my Danish guest chef baked his bread.

As the dough proved and the insects flitted on the lavender now heady with scent we spent a hot afternoon in the shade of the terrace chatting endlessly about history, culture and bread making.

After an alarmingly long absence since the flowering in April of the Rosemary the bees have begun to return and now in the company of a myriad of butterflies feasting on the perfumed lavender.

Several hours later the Challah bread was baked and out of the oven.  We both agreed one knows when bread is cooked by the smell that seems to magically fill the air.

and of course the bread was on the table for dinner and had to be cut and served by the chef!

This got me thinking.  Whilst most Gay Guest Houses and B&Bs offer weeks of naked yoga, at Bellaugello we are different; and a thought is germinating that we dedicate an autumn or spring week to international bread making.  Each couple of guys baking bread from their country combined with tours of the culinary delights of Umbria.  A feast for the senses and spiritually healing.