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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 93 / March 2018

Dear Friend,

Meals at the watermill in Tuscany

How does this tickle your appetite: panigacci piccoli con sugo di funghi, pesto di rucola, e cipolle agridolce; branzato di manzo, con rosmarino e radicchio; tris di crumble di mela, mini cupcake, mousse di cioccolato? Food always sounds wonderful in Italian and, at the Watermill, we aim to make it taste good as well.

So, we’ve been having a tasting of new dishes we’ll be serving here next year, prepared by our new cook, Arianna Merlini, among them those three dishes above. They are mini panigacci (a homemade bread, local to our area, rather like pitta) with a choice of mushroom sauce, pesto made with rocket, and sweet-and-sour onions; slow-cooked beef, with rosemary and radicchio; a tasting trio of apple crumble, mini cupcake and chocolate mousse. We have to say the tasting was an enormous success (see how we sacrifice ourselves to improve the offering to our guests) and Arianna will join Mirella Musetti and Lois Breckon, taking turns to prepare delicious meals.

If you’ve been to the Watermill before, you’ll know how seriously we take our food. Mirella, our Italian ‘grandmother’ cooks amazing traditional dishes, like tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and arista (Tuscan roast pork) and her tiramisù and pannacotta are to die for. Lois, meanwhile, makes incredible involtini (chicken breast fillets rolled around cheese and ham, with a creamy sauce) and a sensational torta di cioccolata alla moda di Capri, a melt-in-the mouth chocolate cake made with ground almonds instead of flour. And sometimes we keep it simple, with a salad of lettuce, borage and nasturtium flowers, all from the Watermill garden

All this adds a further dimension to your Watermill experience, whether you are on a painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language or yoga week. Bill can’t wait until the new season starts!

We’d love to welcome you here this year for one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring courses and there are more details below about all of them. Bookings are continuing to flow in, so if you’ve a favourite tutor, a specific week, or a special bedroom that you like, please get in touch as soon as you can, and we’ll set aside a place for you. Just click here, select the type of course you are interested in (painting, knitting, writing, yoga and or language), find out more about your tutor, then go to the Booking Enquiry form, fill in as appropriate and send it to us.

The two pictures above show (left) the food tasters ready to go and (right) a selection of starters; while below are, (left) a selection of dolci and (right) a simple salad (left), lettuce, borage and nasturtium flowers, all from the Watermill garden, with a mustard and honey vinaigrette.

Tasty meals at the watermill in Italy

In this month’s newsletter there are also stories on:

  • happiness
  • postcards and bookmarks
  • dirty hands
  • pencils and prayers
  • singing mouthwash
  • feet and sleep

Intrigued? Read on....

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
at the Watermill

Bring a partner: there’s plenty for them to do

Why not bring your friend or partner? They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and, whenever they want, to come out with you to our beautiful locations. We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2018 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Happiness is watercolour painting, says Sandra

Painting by Sandra Strohschein

The sparkling new watercolour (above) of a vase of flowers is by Watermill ‘Painter in Residence’ Sandra Strohschein. Sandra has sent us a few thoughts about why she was inspired by the flowers – and why she called her painting Happiness.

She says:“When I was in the middle of a busy day I happened to look over at a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter. Next to them, were some old grapes and a couple of tangerines.

“The sun was striking them in a way that just filled me with a surprising moment of happiness: that wonderful moment: when you see something completely random and it stops you in your tracks, where the only thing you can do is pause for a moment and appreciate the beauty. This for me is the essence of happiness: not contrived, but casual and spontaneous.”

Sandra adds: “Maybe this is why I like watercolor so much: the spontaneity. We all talk about it but how to create it?Therein lies the challenge!

“My process for planned spontaneity happens like this. First, I do a loose gestural drawing with my pencil to get a feel for where my brushes will go. Usually this is when I plan on where I will keep my edges crisp and sharp.

Painting by Sandra Strohschein

 “In the painting, Happiness, I planned these moments around the fruit at the base, the white daisy and the pink flower on the right. With that plan I began the painting moving from one area to the next, letting colors spontaneously run together where I was not planning on a crisp edge. This all works out very well for me because I paint on dry paper. It's easy to hang on to edges when the paper is dry.

“Of course, once an area is wet, that is the time to play and let colors mingle and merge. I prefer to mix colors on the paper rather than the palette. This allows watercolor to be spontaneous. Hopefully, if I have let watercolor be watercolor, my effort at controlled chaos will pay off. When everything is dry, I usually go back in and layer a few dark glazes to further emphasize the light and shadow. I also go in and dry brush a few things.

“In the painting, Happiness, this is seen in the centers of the flowers and the blue lines defining the pottery. There are two moments that I love on the pottery: the way the blue line blurred at the bottom and the way the pink flower blurs into the pottery. I did not plan this, it just happened. Perhaps the paper had become a little wet and the colors ran. Instead of freaking out and trying to fix it, I just let it be.

Sandra in the Watermill garden
Sandra in the Watermill garden

“I titled this work Happiness because that is how I felt when I saw the moment and all throughout the painting process. I stopped what I had been doing and immediately ran to my studio to paint what had excited me. I waited a long time to begin my life as a painter because I knew spontaneity would be a big part of it.

"Now, it is such a joy to be at a place where most of the time I am free to sit down and paint as the mood strikes. I hope you find yourself happy in your life as a painter too! "

Congratulations to Rebecca

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça

Congratulations to our lovely pastel tutor Rebecca de Mendonça, who has been shortlisted as 2018 Artist of the Year by Artists and Illustrators magazine. The picture that gained her entry, London Afternoon,is shown above (Left).

Rebecca, who ran a wonderful pastel course at the Watermill last year with her colleague Nel Whatmore (above Right - Rebecca on the Left and Nel on the Right), will be back at the Watermill this September. Eleven people are already booked in for their course, but we’ve still a few places left: details and links below. Why don’t you come and learn the secrets of pastel painting from these two inspiring artists?

Postcard memories from Mike (and Sandra and the Watermill)

Post Cards by Mike Willdridge

Our watercolour painting tutor and old friend Mike Willdridge has been visiting his daughter and grandchildren in Australia and he tells me: “For the last eight years, wherever I’ve travelled, I’ve drawn postcards for all my grandchildren (now four of them) and I was surprised to find so many of the cards posted on my daughter’s kitchen cabinets here in Australia.” Above left is a card that Mike sent last year from the Isles of Scilly, off the South-west of England. And to the right, another one Mike found in his daughter’s house, made on an earlier trip to Australia, influenced by indigenous art.

Sandra's postcard (left) mill (right)

Our tutor Sandra Strohschein also likes postcards. Here’s the back of a vintage one (Left) she decorated with some vibrant roses.

Postcards are a terrific way of preserving memories and Mike will be persuading you to make your own. But if you’d rather not, The Watermill provides postcards (above Right) to remind you of your week with us – and to send to your friends to tell them what a wonderful time you’re having! We’ll even provide free stamps for you to post them home.

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Another Watermill way to keep your memories – and the place in your book

Watermill bookmarks and Bill Breckon's Book A Matter of Perspective

As well as postcards, we’ve also made four lovely bookmarks, based on pictures of the Watermill. The idea is that every time you read a book, you think of us!

And if you haven’t got a book to read, Bill will give you a copy of his detective story A Matter of Perspective, set in Renaissance Florence.

Timeless ‘buildings in a landscape’ by Terry Jarvis

Paintings by Terry Jarvis at the watermill in Italy

We love the way our watercolour tutor Terry Jarvis captures the warm colours of the buildings in the unspoilt area of Lunigiana which surrounds the Watermill. Built largely of local materials, these ancient buildings fit into their surroundings in a way few modern buildings do. These are just a few examples from Terry’s portfolio. Terry’s course this year, in watercolours(and oils and acrylics), will run from Saturday 7 July to Saturday 14 July 2018.

Terry Jarvis

Terry is one of our most popular painting course tutors at the Watermill. Here’s what one of our guests said: “I wanted to thank you for a most wonderful stay at The Watermill. Your treatment of us was terrific. Six stars doesn’t come close! I enjoyed every minute. Terry’s course was great. He is an excellent teacher – very encouraging and knows how to bring out the best in his students. He has a great personality.” Why not join him here for a fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring week?

Pastel happiness is dirty hands!

Nel creating a pastel masterpiece at the watermill in Tuscany

If happiness is watercolour painting, as Sandra Strohschein says above, then part of pastel happiness is getting your hands dirty. That certainly seems to be the case for our pastel tutor Nel Whatmore. That’s Nel above, having just finished a floral pastel (picture above Right - the flower is Iris reticulata) at Harlow Carr RHS garden, the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden in North Yorkshire, England, where she is artist in residence.

The beauty of pastels is that you hold pure pigment in your hand,” says Nel, who ran a wonderful course at the Watermill last year with her colleague Rebecca de Mendonça: “The unadulterated colour has an intensity I can’t match in any other medium. The textures you can achieve and the gorgeous array of colour is just fabulous.”

Come and see Nel at work with their colourful pastels course, from Saturday 1 September to Saturday 8 September 2018. There are more details below.

We already have 11 bookings on this course, three of whom are non-painting partners, so we have room for three or four more painters.

To whet your appetite, here’s a picture of Nel painting on a Watermill terrace early in the morning as the sun burns off the mist.

Painting holidays: the inspiring 2018 line-up

We are proud to announce the full line-up of our talented and inspiring painting tutors for 2018.

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
28 April to 5 May 2018 - course full, waiting list open
Watercolours (and acrylics)
To learn more about Paul, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
19 May to 26 May 2018 - one place left (or two sharing)
‘Courageous Color Workshop’
To learn more about Maggie, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
26 May to 2 June 2018 - course full, waiting list open
2 June to 9 June 2018
- course full, waiting list open
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
9 June to 16 June 2018 - two places left
16 June to 23 June 2018
- still plenty of places
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Andrew Geeson

Andrew Geeson
23 June to 30 June 2018 - three or four places left
To learn more about Andrew, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Terry Jarvis

Terry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 - still plenty of places
Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)
To learn more about Terry, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Nel Whatmore & Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça & Nel Whatmore
1 September to 8 September 2018
- three or four places left

To learn more about Rebecca & Nel, their course and to see more of their pictures, please visit their Profile Page

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
8 September to 15 September 2018
- course full, waiting list open

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)
To learn more about Mike, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Claire Warner

Claire Warner
15 September to 22 September 2018
- course full, waiting list open

Watercolours (and oils and acrylics)
To learn more about Claire, her course and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
6 October to 13 October 2018
- course full, waiting list open

Oils en plein air
To learn more about Vicki, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
13 October to 20 October 2018 - two places left
To learn more about Tim, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Onion Cartoon
Our Summer painter in residence,
Sandra Strohschein

Come and join us and enjoy the magic at the mill!

*** Why not bring your non-painting partner as well?

There’s a generous £250 discount for him/her if they share a room with you - and there’s plenty for them to do. Have a look at our Partner’s Activities Page for suggestions.

Use the 2018 programme link below to view the full list of our inspiring 2018 painting tutors

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Lisa’s Watermill-inspired knitting projects

Lisa Richardson's Knitting projects at the watermill

Our knitting tutor Lisa Richardson’s name is instantly associated with the Rowan pattern house. In addition to her designer role, she manages the pattern editing process and mentors newer members of the design team. She says, “My biggest drive is to people create something that they will cherish for years to come.”

Lisa has just finalised her projects for her 2018 week: first, celebrating Italian floor tiles, a fairisle and textured cushion using rowan felted tweed (yarns above). The second project (above) is a textured and lace beret worked in the round using a beautiful cashmere yarn.

We have three knitting weeks this year, but only one place left, on Sarah Hazell’s week in May (see below). There are waiting lists on Marie Wallin’s and Lisa’s courses.

Here’s the current 2018 knitting line-up:

Sarah Hazell

Sarah Hazell - one place left
5 May to 12 May 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Sarah and her courses at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Marie Wallin

Marie Wallin - course full, waiting list open
14 July to 21 July 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Marie and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Lisa Richardson

Lisa Richardson - course full, waiting list open
29 September to 6 October 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Knitting group at the watermill in Italy

Don't forget your partner!

And don’t forget that your friend or partner doesn’t need to participate in the creative course, whether it’s painting, language, knitting or yoga.

We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2018 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Creative writing News at the watermill in ItalyCREATIVE WRITING NEWS

Bring a pencil (and a prayer?) on Jo’s writing course

We’ve still a few places left on one of Jo Parfitt’s inspiring Writing your Life Stories weeks. If you’re itching to write why not join us for perfect week of work and relaxation? And to inspire you more, here are some writing tips from the celebrated novelist Margaret Atwood (pictured above). They originally appeared in The Guardian newspaper in England and they range from the practical to the spiritual, from pencils to prayer...

Margaret’s tips:

  • Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  • If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  • Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  • If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.
  • Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  • Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  • You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  • You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore, ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  • Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  • Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualization of the Holy Grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.
Writing group at the watermill in Italy

Why not bring a pencil and a prayer on Jo Parfitt’s creative writing week this August? Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, so ‘by popular demand’, we’ve opened a second course: Her new Write Your Life Stories week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018. You won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

Writing courses at the watermill in Italy

Jo’s creative writing courses are designed to help you produce your best work, to find your true writer’s ‘voice’ and to write authentically. Among other things, you’ll discover the secret of SPICE, the seven steps to writing life stories, and put this into practice right away. Jo Parfitt has published 31 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. She’s an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.Jo says: “The course at the watermill will provide a safe haven in which to unlock your creativity, write from your heart and hone your writing craft. It will also help to remove blocks to your writing. Sessions at the mill will empower students to write in a compelling way that makes real experiences come to life.”

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 - still plenty of places
22 September to 29 September 2018 - course full, waiting list open
Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at The Watermill, please visit her Profile Page



Continuing Bill’s adventures with the Italian language

Coloratura or collutorio?
Coloratura or collutorio?

Bill’s adventures with the Italian language continue. In the local pharmacy recently he startled the girl behind the counter by asking confidently for coloratura. After looking around vaguely, she asked him to repeat his request. “Vorrei un pò di coloratura,” Bill repeated. The assistant looked around again but could see no sign of a lyrical soprano singer. Bill mimed raising a glass to his lips and gargling. Recognition dawned: “Ah! Collutorio!” Yes, that’s the Italian for mouthwash.

You’ll make no such gaffes if you join us on our Italian language course this Summer!

Giulia Balestri

We’ve teamed up again with the prestigious Florence language school, Langues Services, and tutor Giulia Balestri to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever. There will not only be formal lessons under the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we’ll also be making trips and excursions to enjoy the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area surrounding the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speaking Italian, practising what you’ve learned.

A couple of comments from last year’s language course:

“We would like you to know how much we appreciated our stay with you at Posara. As hosts, you made us feel most welcome; and the combination of language lessons, food and excursions was excellently balanced. We were unaware of the Apuan mountain region – it is spectacularly beautiful. Altogether a unique and delightful experience. With fond memories of your lovely home and very personal hospitality.”

“What an amazing week. Thank you, Bill, Lois and your excellent team. Giulia was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. Can’t wait to do it all again....”

We’ve 12 people booked in for the week, one a non-participating partner, so we have room for two or three more people. Come and join us!

Giulia Balestri

Giulia Balestri
30 June to 7 July 2018 - one or two places left
7 July to 14 July 2018 - possible course if there is demand
Italian language week
To learn more about Giulia and her course at The Watermill, please click here

Yoga News at the watermill in ItalyYOGA NEWS

Put those feet up before a good night’s sleep

As we told you in our last newsletter, we have a new yoga retreat with Amy Rogg and Joanne Brohmer, two amazing young American yoga teachers. Their retreat ‘Connection’ – to yourself, to others and to nature – looks like being magical and joyful. It will run from Saturday 25 August to Saturday 1 September 2018. And they’ve been communicating with potential guests with postcards, too (see below).

Yoga week at he watermill postcard and a every-day yoga tip

They have also been sending us simple but effective yoga tips for you to practise in your everyday life, like this one from Amy, which will help you get a good night’s sleep. Get those feet raised high!

Amy says: “One of the most restorative poses of all time is Viparita Karani, otherwise known as ‘legs up the wall.’ Extend your feet up a wall, perhaps putting a blanket under your back for extra comfort. Grab an eye pillow, turn on your favorite soothing music, and breathe deeply.

 “This pose is beneficial for calming anxious/chaotic energy in the body and is wonderful to do right before bed. By allowing gravity to work in the opposite direction, blood flows towards the upper body allowing for better circulation and lymph drainage. When there is more blood flow in our lower energy centers–reproductive and digestive – the body’s relaxation response is activated. Say goodbye to headaches and insomnia too!”

You can find out more about our new American yoga teachers by clicking here. And to see a draft itinerary for their week, please click here.

2018 Yoga retreat

Amy Rogg and Joanne Brohmer

Amy Rogg & Joanne Brohmer
25 August to 1 September 2018 - still plenty of places
Nourish - mind, body and soul
To learn more about Amy and Joanne and their course at The Watermill, please visit their Tutor Page


The watermill in Italy's newsletter specialsNEWSLETTER SPECIALS

Everything's included in your watermill painting holiday, yoga retreat, creative writing holiday, knitting week or Italian Language course

Don’t forget that everything is included in the cost of a painting holiday, yoga retreat, knitting, personal development or language holiday: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport; an excursion by train to visit the ancient walled city of Lucca or the stunning seaside villages of the Cinque Terre). All you have to do is to get to Pisa airport and we do the rest.

Whether you're travelling alone or with a partner you can be sure of a warm welcome, and that you'll be well looked after. We have built our reputation on the comfort of the mill and the care we provide.

Become a friend of The Watermill at Posara

Visit our Friends Website (Link below). Just follow the instructions to Register as a Friend and then Log In to enjoy special privileges. If you become a ‘Friend’ (it will cost you nothing) you’ll enjoy many exclusive benefits, including dozens of practical and inspiring tips from our international painting and creative writing tutors and recipes from the watermill’s mouth-watering menus. And there will be exclusive offers for Friends to make our courses and holidays even more attractive.

Thank you for reading the watermill in Italy's newsletterTHANK YOU

We very much look forward to welcoming you to the mill this year, and for those of you who have already tasted the many delights at The Watermill at Posara, we look forward to welcoming you back.

Your hosts at the watermill, Italy

With very best wishes a tutti

Your hosts at the watermill in Tuscany

Lois and Bill Breckon