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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 106 / April 2019

Dear Friend,

Carl and Pauls daffodils at the watermill in Tuscany Italy

The mill before the work begins
Before the work began.
It’s all going to look splendid!

Spring is burgeoning here in Tuscany in the last few weeks before the beginning of the Watermill creative courses season. As ever, we are quietly confident, but slightly concerned that everything will be completely ready for our first guests at the end of April. The builders continue apace, now pointing the enormous façade of the mill facing the river and covering the red brick of the studio wall with a coat of stucco which will soon be coloured in the traditional Watermill mustard. It’s all going to look very splendid. At the beginning of the month the contractors began to put in the solar panels on the part of the studio roof facing the river, but we are still waiting for the solar tiles to arrive, which will be integrated into the roof of the 19th century mill. Lack of certainty on their arrival date is causing a little nail-biting.

Booking-wise, it is also the time of year when we sometimes feel like those ardent pilgrims who used to take two steps forward on the journey and then one step back, but we are sure we will arrive, on time, at our destination. (Fingers crossed.) That destination is the target of 250 bookings for our creative courses this year. We are hovering around the 245 mark, well ahead of the all-time record we set a couple of years ago of 232. But it seemed that every time we had a new booking, we also have a cancellation mainly, sadly because of ill health. So, we haven’t quite yet reached the magic 250 mark. But we think we will! (Fingers crossed again.)

Poncho design by Carol Meldrum
A stunning poncho design
by Carol Meldrum

Our lovely knitting tutor, Sarah Hazell, also had to pull out of her course, because of family ill-health, but her place has been taken by the delightful Carol Meldrum, an inspiring knitter/crocheter from Scotland, who will be leading the group and guiding them through the projects devised by Sarah. There are more details about Carol and the course below.

As we said, bookings have never been more buoyant and we are looking forward to one of the most brilliant seasons at the Watermill, with many new innovations for our guests to enjoy, such as the wonderful banqueting table in the communal dining room.

Sunny bench at the watermill in Tuscany
Hopefully it won’t be long before
we can all enjoy a few moments’
relaxation in the sunny courtyard

Our total capacity is around 260 guests, so you can see we only have room for a dozen or so more. As in previous newsletters the latest availability is detailed below and, as we have said before, don’t be too disappointed if you find that a course you really want to come on is fully booked: there are often cancellations and if it is a course you really want, let us know and we’ll put you on the waiting list.

By far the most popular Watermill blog and Facebook post last month was the one we made to welcome spring with some fresh paintings of daffodils by Watermill tutors, past, present and future. We make no excuse of reproducing them again, together with a timely shot of Tuscan spring flowers in our nearby Meadows.

In this month’s newsletter there are stories on:

  • A Sandra Strohschein painting which sums up the ethos of a Watermill week
  • A stunning Maggie Renner Hellmann painting which adds new light to Venice
  • Investigate before you paint!
  • A warm welcome to Carol Meldrum
  • The adjective: when in doubt, leave it out
  • Why che peccato is buone notizie for learning Italian
  • Availability on all our 2019 Watermill creative courses

Happy reading...

The picture top left is a watercolour of spring daffodils by a new Watermill tutor, Carl March, who will be with us in 2020, while top right is another daffodil study by Paul Talbot-Greaves, who is joining us again this may. At bottom left is a glowing oil of daffodils and fruit, by Kevin Scully, who will join us again as a tutor in 2021 (you see what careful, long-term planning goes into our Watermill creative courses!). At bottom right is a photograph of spring flowers in a meadow near the mill.

More daffs at the watermill in Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
‘Before I say good night George,
can you please book a double room
on a Watermill creative course?’
Gracie Allen and George Burns

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 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

Painting by Sandra Strohschein

Sandra’s watercolour captures the calm of a Watermill painting holiday...

Here’s a watercolour by our friend and tutor Sandra Strohschein of John, one of our guests on her painting course here last year, enjoying the tranquillity of the countryside around the Watermill and concentrating contentedly on his painting. Sandra is with us for two weeks this year, but her courses are already fully booked. But as we say, there may well be cancellations. More details and links below.

....while Maggie sheds new light on the magic of Venice

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellman

We love this extraordinarily vibrant oil painting by our friend and watermill tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann. Isn’t it marvellous? We were discussing recently how difficult it must be in for artists to try to say something new about the all-too-familiar Venetian scene, which has been painted so many times by artists over the centuries. We think Maggie has achieved it.

She will be with us again later this year, but, like Sandra’s, her course is fully booked. Again, there may well be cancellations and there are more details and links below.

Incidentally, both Sandra and Maggie will be with us in 2020 and if you want to be among the first bookers for those courses, drop us an email and we will tell you more about dates etc. and even reserve your place!

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Do some detective work before you start to paint!

Our talented and inspirational painting tutor Mike Willdridge stresses the need for a careful initial investigation of what you are going to paint.

Sketch by Mike Willdridge

Mike says: “I always produce a small, usually quick and often tonal sketch before I embark on a finished piece of work. I’ll often draw more than I think I might need for a composition and, rather like a photographer composing a picture from a contact print, I’ll draw a box around the image I want.

“I’m especially interested in the relationships between dark and light and I’ll therefore exaggerate the tones on my preliminary sketch. To me the sketch is like a black and white photograph, so I work my pen or biro hard over the whole image.

“Taking time to study a particular subject and/or the sketches you have made or the photographs you have taken is a form of ‘investigation’.

“Think about it: how often have you completed/half completed a painting only to realise that something’s wrong? Maybe it’s too complicated? Could it have had a simpler composition? Could you have made better use of lights and darks, or warm and cool colours? And so on, and so on. If only one had taken a little more time carrying out an ‘investigation’ before painting!”

Painting by Mike Willdridge at the watermill in Italy

The black-and-white sketch above is Mike’s investigation the castle and village of Verrucola, a couple of miles from the Watermill, where we go to paint Monday’s during our courses. And here on the right is the final watercolour:

Mike says: “In the end it took me a lot less time to paint the final watercolour than it did to investigate the scene. I’m quite pleased with the looseness of the final which was achieved only after my detailed investigation.”

Mike will be with us this year from Saturday 29 June to Saturday 6 July 2019. We already have 11 people booked into his watercolour course, two of whom are non-painting partners, so we have room for one or two more. Why not come and carry out some painting detective work with us? There are links to more details in the section below.

Our enticing 2019 painting holidays

We still have a few spaces left on some of our inspiring painting courses. Others are currently fully booked, but if you would particularly like to come on one of them please let us know and we’ll put you on the waiting list. We do sometimes have cancellations. On the other hand, to be sure of a place on a Watermill painting course, why not choose one of our other inspiring tutors on whose courses there are still places?

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
27 April to 4 May 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

Keiko Tanabe

Keiko Tanabe
18 - 25 May 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
1 - 8 June 2019- fully booked, waiting list open
8 - 15 June 2019
- fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
22 - 29 June 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Oils en plein air
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please see our 2019 Courses Preview page.

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
29 June - 6 July 2019 - still one or two places
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

Sue Ford

Sue Ford
13 - 20 July 2019 - still two or three places
Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylics
To learn more about Sue and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Jude Scott

Jude Scott
17 - 24 August 2019 - still two or three places
24 - 31 August 2019
- still two or three places
Watercolours (plus acrylics and oils)
To learn more about Jude and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Varvara Neiman

Varvara Neiman
31 August - 7 September 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Claire Warner

Claire Warner
14 - 21 September 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours, oils and acrylics
To learn more about Claire and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
21 - 28 September 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Courageous Color Workshop' in oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolors
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Charles Sluga

Charles Sluga
28 September - 5 October 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours, acrylics and oils
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
5 - 12 October 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

David Taylor

David Taylor
12 - 19 October 2019 - still two or three places
To learn more about David and his course at the mill, please visit his 2019 Profile Page.

Summer Resident Tutor - Sandra Strohschein
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 2019 painting programme link below to view the list of our inspiring 2019 painting tutors.

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Carol picks up our dropped stitches: come and knit them together with her!

We are deeply grateful to Carol Meldrum, who gracefully stepped into the breach when our knitting tutor Sarah Hazell had to pull out due to a family illness.

Carol Meldrum

Carol is taking over Sarah’s inspiring knitting week from Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May. Not only that, she is also taking over and augmenting Sarah’s exciting projects for the week (more details below). We still have room for three or four more knitters, and their non-knitting partners, if they would like to come too.

Carol Meldrum is a Scottish textile designer, workshop tutor and author of many popular knitting and crochet titles. That is her lovely poncho design to the right. Since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, she has worked within the textile industry as a designer for many High Street fashion outlets, as well as the internationally renowned hand-knit label Rowan. She is a successful workshop tutor, teaching all aspects of knit and crochet in an informal environment .As one of her students said: “Carol cares for both the beginner and more confident knitters/crocheters. I’ve been on several of her courses, thoroughly enjoyed them and always learnt something new.”

Knitting projects on Carol Meldrum's course at the watermill

Carol will work with you on a special project, another poncho, this one designed by her friend Sarah Hazell (above left), and she will also show you how designs like this can be altered for different heights, body shape, arm length and necklines. And there’s an additional mini-project, a knitted or crocheted corsage (above right), inspired by the Watermill’s gardens.

You will also have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people… and enjoying the true, unspoilt Bella Vita. Yes, we can promise you a wonderfully relaxing knitting holiday in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, with leisurely knitting days, wonderful food and wine – and, of course, convivial knitting sessions.

Carol will be with us for a Knitting and La Bella Vita week from Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May and we have three or four places left. There are more details and links below. Come and pick up your stitches with us!

Our exciting knitting holidays: the 2019 line-up

Carol Meldrum

Carol Meldrum
4 - 11 May 2019 - still two or three places
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Carol and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams
25 May - 1 June 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Debbie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Marie Wallin

Marie Wallin
6 - 13 July 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Dolce Vita
To learn more about Marie and her knitting week at the mill, please visit her 2019 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, writing or yoga.

We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2019 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

When it comes to compelling writing, what you leave out is as important as what you put in

Words of wisdom from Mark Twain

We like pithy one-liners giving writing advice, and no one was better at that than Mark Twain, whose tongue-in-cheek secret to writing success is chalked on the blackboard right.

You should certainly, he said, rub out as many adjectives as you can: “when in doubt you should strike it out.” Twain pointed out: “God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.”

Mark Twain

The adverb very also received short shrift from the American Man of Letters: “Substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Twain also made the point that re-writing is as important as writing: “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time, you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.”

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Those contemporary English Men of Letters, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, will undoubtedly be echoing Twain’s advice, since it applies just as much to scripts as it does to articles, when they join us for a unique Scriptwriting course at the Watermill this September.

We can offer you an extraordinary week, ‘away from it all’, so you can concentrate on learning how to write scripts for TV, films and theatre, and at the same time enjoy beautiful scenery, first-class accommodation, wonderful food and good conversation with like-minded people.(Sorry about all the adjectives but sometimes you need them!)

Marks and Gran's Goodnight Sweetheart

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran are famous for such TV hits as Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart,The New Statesman and Shine on Harvey Moon. And in a new incarnation, they’ve written hit stage musicals, such as Dreamboats and Petticoats and Save the Last Dance for Me, as well as film scripts and award-winning stage, TV and radio plays. It’s not just comedy: Marks and Gran are producing serious dramatic works as well.

writing course at the watermill in Italy
Listening to words of wisdom
on the vine verandah

Laurence and Maurice’s course will show you how to craft your work from your original idea through structure, character, plot and finally, script. They will lead you slowly through what makes classic television comedy, using one-to-one tutorials, team writing sessions, and most enlightening of all, studying films and TV series that have become ‘classics’. They cannot guarantee success, of course, but they promise that you will leave the Watermill a considerably better scriptwriter than when you arrived.

It’ll be damn good fun too!

Our enriching 2019 Writing courses

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
15 – 22 June 2019 - fully booked, waiting list open
Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2019 Profile Page.

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
7 - 14 September 2019 - still plenty of places
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and to register an interest in their course at the mill, please visit their 2019 Profile Page.



Che peccato for us, but buone notizie for you!

Che peccato
Design: Colosseo branding

Che peccato, what a pity, two more of the people who were coming on our unique, week-long Italian Language course have had to cancel for health reasons. So, we now have nine bookings on this course (and will definitely run it). We have three bedrooms available: the Uccello, Gentileschi and The Lippi Suite. That means we have room for three more participants, and their non-participating partners if they’d like to come. So that’s the good news, buone notizie. We would be delighted if you could join us for this unique, inspiring week, where you will learn more about the delightful Italian language in an idyllic setting in the heart of rural Tuscany.

Here’s what one returning guest had to say about last year’s course: “I had another wonderful week at the Watermill, enjoyed the same friendly hospitality and delicious food again. I now feel much more confident in speaking Italian and can understand a lot better. A big thank you to all.”

Francesca la Sala

This year our old friend Francesca la Sala will be joining us again as the tutor. Francesca has been travelling all over the world in the last few years but is now back in her native Lunigiana and will be with us for another inspiring language course. You can join her, soaking up Italian and enjoying la bella vita italiana from Saturday 11 May to Saturday 18 May 2019.

This truly is a ‘course with a difference’. Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we also make trips and excursions to savour the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area around the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speak Italian, and practise what you’ve learned.

The Watermill has teamed up again with the prestigious language school Langues Services in Florence to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way. Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.

Francesca la Sala

Francesca la Sala has been teaching with Langues Services since 2007. She loves meeting people of all ages and cultures. She is also a nature lover and a cognoscente of Lunigiana, the land of her forefathers, where she was raised. This beautiful area of Tuscany surrounds the Watermill. Francesca has an artistic background and has a passion for the figurative and graphic arts, particularly from the Renaissance period and from prehistory; this love adds a further dimension to her teaching.

Our engaging 2019 language course

Francesca la Sala

Langues Services and Francesca la Sala
11 - 18 May 2019 - still two or three places
Italian language
To learn more about Francesca and her course at the mill, please click here.

The watermill in Italy's newsletter specialsNEWSLETTER SPECIALS

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

Don’t forget that everything is included in the cost of a painting holiday, knitting, 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 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