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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 112 / October 2019

Dear Friend,

Maggie at the watermill in Tuscany, Italy

As this newsletter goes to press, we are just completing another laughter-filled painting course with our old friend, Australian watercolourist Charles Sluga and we are looking forward to meeting up again with two other old friends, tutors Tim Wilmot and David Taylor for the last two courses of our 2019 season. It’s been a fun-filled, sun-filled, inspirational season, with most of our courses fully booked up. We had more than 250 guests on our creative courses in 2019: thank you everyone for coming and for your support.

Bookings for next season underway and already more than 130 people have reserved their places for a 2020 creative course. So, as we always say at this time of year, now really is the time to book, to be sure of the tutor and bedroom of your choice. That is particularly true just now, because we have an Early Bird Discount Offer, of £75 (English pounds) off every one of our 2020 creative courses, if you book by the end of 2019. But, as you can see from the figures above, our courses are filling fast, so the sooner you get your reservation in the better.

In this month’s newsletter there are stories on:

  • panzanella del mulino, the Watermill’s take on a classic Florentine dish
  • introducing the first two of our new painting tutors for 2020: Carl March and Grahame Booth
  • our knockout creative writing courses: we can’t wait for the sequel
  • stitch yourself into one of the last places on our knitting retreat
  • throw yourself like a fish into to our Italian language course.

Happy reading....

The pictures above and below this introductory section are impressions of the first day of Maggie Renner Hellmann’s course this September. Top left: Maggie lecturing in the Watermill studio, with an imposing still life on the left, ready to paint; Top right: A tour of the Watermill and its surroundings: so much to see, so much to paint; Bottom Left: Our first dinner together, a Taste of Tuscany in a local trattoria; Bottom Right: The tutor’s bedroom, as elegant as all our Watermill bedrooms.

Maggie's painting group at the watermill in Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
‘Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward:
a love affair for life

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.

Panzanella del mulino, the Watermill’s take on a classic Florentine dish

Panzanella is a famous Florentine salad, upgraded by the Watermill chefs to make it more colourful and tasty, and served on our famous Watermill Sunday buffet lunch. We promised to share the recipe with you.

Writing at the watermill
Lois scatters,
after chopping, throwing, drizzling,
glugging and squirting!

But first a bit of history: the Florentines traditionally make their bread without salt.

They are very proud of it, as you know if you’ve read your Dante, but the net result is that they have more recipes for day-old bread than anywhere else in the world. Panzanella is one of them, made from bread and onions soaked in olive oil.

The artist Bronzino described a sort of panzanella way back in the 16th century.

But we think this traditional panzanella is rather insipid-looking and boring, so we add all sorts of other ingredients to make it more colourful and tasty: tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and capers. And the technique of making it? Chop, throw, drizzle, glug, squirt, and scatter!

Here are the ingredients for a dish to serve four or so:

  • Day-old bread, torn up into small squares. Preferably crusty baguette-type bread.
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced.
  • 6 juicy tomatoes, roughly chopped.
  • A large handful each of capers, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped up small.
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn. The more the merrier.
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  • Glug of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Squirt of lemon juice.
  • Salt & pepper


Writing at the watermill
No tomatoes for me

  • Chop up everything (except for the basil) and throw it into a nice big dish. Drizzle, glug and squirt seasonings.
  • Leave it to rest for at least one hour, then scatter the torn basil over it. A bit of green makes the salad look great and basil is ideal for a true Tuscan flavour.
  • Traditionalists, like our manager, Karsten Müller, turn their noses up at all those additions, and point out that in the 15th century tomatoes were not available in Italy anyway: they didn’t make their way here until well after Columbus had discovered America in 1492. But Panzanella del mulino is a great hit with our Watermill guests. Why not try it at home?

    On reflection....

    Watermill demijohn

    This intriguing photograph of one of the demijohns in the Watermill courtyard, with the mill buildings themselves reflected in the green glass, was taken by our painting tutor Varvara Neiman.

    We have a couple of dozen of these demijohns scattered about the Watermill courtyard. In the old days they were used to ferment wine, but now people tend to use stainless steel vats instead, and they throw away these lovely old artefacts.

    Our gardener, Flavio Terenzoni potters about the neighbourhood in his Ape collecting them.

    We place them in the courtyard, even keeping some of the raffia coverings which are in a bad state of repair, because we know painters like to capture imperfections... as well as reflections.

    Writing at the watermill
    Some demijohns beneath our bignonia;
    a painting of them by Charles Sluga


Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Painters of the month: introducing Carl March and Grahame Booth

In our next few newsletters we would like to introduce you to the inspiring painting tutors coming to the Watermill for the first time in 2020. First up, in strictly chronological order, is Carl March, whose week with us next year is called ‘Drawing and Painting for Pleasure’. It will run from 18-25 April 2020.

Paintings by Carl March

Drawing and design are Carl’s passions: he likes to experiment with various drawing mediums, combining them with traditional watercolour painting processes to create distinctively subtle works. They are regularly to be seen at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions in London. The evocative watercolour above is called ‘Garden on the Coastal Walk’, painted on a holiday in Muscat, Oman. And below is Hotel Garden, painted in Paphos, in Cyprus.

Carl March

Carl is also a great teacher. He says: “I love the genuine satisfaction in passing on my knowledge to others. For example, demonstrating a ‘step by step’ exercise, then witnessing students repeat the exercise for themselves. Suddenly 'the penny drops', and it all makes sense. Surely this is the real reward for any teacher.”

Painting by Carl March at the watermill in Tuscany

Here’s a comment from a previous student: “Carl has a gentle but effective way of teaching and we have learnt a lot from. Most importantly, however, under his guidance the class always becomes a very sociable and happy group. Quite simply, his classes are not only well planned and informative but also great fun.”

Here’s a watercolour sketch by Carl, called Sarah’s Lilies, a study showing great spontaneity.

We already have eight people signed up for Carl’s 2020 course at the Watermill, so if you’d like to join us, now really is the time to book. You could find out more about Carl’s course by clicking here.

And it is the same story with our second Painting Tutor of the Month: Grahame Booth. We now have seven people booked into his watercolour painting week, which will run from Saturday 25 April to Saturday 2 May 2020.

Paintings by Grahame Booth

Grahame paints only in watercolour, and his success is reflected in the numerous awards he has won over many years. Also, his YouTube channel now has more than 20,000 subscribers. Grahame only started to paint in his early 30s, some 30 years ago, and, because he clearly remembers the problems and frustrations of learning to master watercolours, he is a particularly sympathetic tutor.

Grahame’s painting above (Left) is called Market Day and shows how you can successfully depict crowds by painting a few people with reasonable accuracy and just suggesting the rest. You will be able to try the techniques yourself when we go on Tuesdays to our nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano to enjoy, and sketch, the weekly market there.

Here’s (above right) another lovely Grahame watercolour, this time of a courtyard in the French town of Lumieres:

Grahame Booth

Grahame believes that plein air painting is the key to success in watercolour painting and he will show how to use a logical approach to translate the landscape into watercolours full of light, excitement and impact.

One previous student said: “Grahame can both paint and teach. He can manage a group of all levels and everyone learns and improves. Most importantly it’s always fun.”

You can find out more about Grahame at his course at the Watermill by clicking here.

Our sympathetic, caring, inspiring 2020 painting tutors

We have exciting new tutors, as well as old friends, for our 2020 painting courses. Choose a tutor, a medium or a date that suits you best – but hurry, places are filling fast. And don’t forget: if you book any one of our 2020 creative courses before 31 December 2019, you can enjoy our Early Bird discount of £75 (seventy-five English pounds).

Carl March

Carl March
18 - 25 April 2020
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
25 April - 2 May 2020
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Brienne M Brown

Brienne M Brown
16 - 23 May 2020
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
30 May - 6 June 2020
6 - 13 June 2020
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Randy Hale

Randy Hale
13 - 20 June 2020
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
20 - 27 June 2020
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes
27 June – 4 July 2020
Watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Chris and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Mark Warner

Mark Warner
11 - 18 July 2020
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Terry Jarvis

Terry Jarvis
15 - 22 August 2020
Watercolours (& oils, pastels and acrylics)
To learn more about Terry and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 - 12 September 2020
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
12 - 19 September 2020
19 - 26 September 2020
Courageous Color Workshop’ in oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
26 September - 3 October 2020
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
3 - 10 October 2020
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.

One bedroom left David Taylor’s 2019 course

Due to a cancellation, we have one bedroom left on David Taylor’s course this year. The Ghiberti bedroom is available for a single guest, or for two sharing.

David Taylor

David Taylor
12 - 19 October 2019 - due to cancellations, one place left
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 2020 painting programme link above to view the list of our inspiring 2020 painting tutors.

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Only two places left on our 2020 knitting weeks

Our knitting weeks next year have proved so popular we are almost completely sold out. The first week is with the celebrated cashmere designer and yarn producer Louisa Harding. We have 11 knitters and for non-knitting partners booked into Louisa’s week at the end of May, so we are full up. But there are often cancellations, so if you’re interested, please get in touch and we will put you on a waiting list.

For our first ever knitting retreat, where you enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people and the renowned hospitality of the Watermill, but on which there is no tutor, we already have 10 bookings, one of whom is a non-knitting partner (but is coming to use the painting studio), and we have just two bedrooms left. Thus, there is room for two more knitters, with or without their non-knitting partners. Here are the dates and links......

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
23 - 30 May 2020 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.

Knitting retreat

Knitting Retreat
4 - 11 July 2020 - two knitting places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about this retreat, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview 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 or writing.

We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2020 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

Our scriptwriting course: waiting for the sequel

Our Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks last month was a great success, with a dozen aspiring writers learning the secrets of successful writing from Laurence and discussing the art and craft of scriptwriting for stage, screen and radio.

Writing at the watermill
Listening to words of wisdom
on the vine verandah

Participants enjoyed it so much, and learned so much, that no fewer than six of them have already booked in for our scriptwriting course next year, when Laurence will be joined by his writing partner, Maurice Gran.

The scriptwriting masters will be with us from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. We are delighted to welcome them both: we know them as entertaining and inspiring friends, but the British Comedy Society describes them as ‘living legends!’

Laurence and Maurice's Shows

Laurence and Maurice 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. And it’s not just comedy: Marks and Gran are producing serious dramatic works as well. They are currently engaged in writing a series, with Michael Dobbs, (the creator of House of Cards) on Winston Churchill’s secret and mysterious wartime valet!

Their unique course at the Watermill will give you insights into writing comedy and drama for TV, stage and screen and it will help you to craft your work from original idea to final script.

While the course will focus on scriptwriting, the insights into structure, plotting, characterisation, dialogue etc. are applicable to any genre.

Laurence and Maurice promise that you will leave the Watermill a considerably better writer than when you arrive.

But if you want to bag your place, you’d better get your skates on (That’s enough mixed metaphors, LM). Not only do we have those six re-bookers, but we are also expecting an article in the UK Sunday Times very soon, which is also likely to engender a great deal of interest.

So if you would like to learn the secrets of scriptwriting from the Masters, now is the time to book your place, especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: £75 (English pounds) off this inspiring creative writing course if you book before 31 December 2019. (But as we said, it is probably wisest to book now, since we are expecting heavy demand.)

If you are an aspiring scriptwriter, or indeed, would like to write in any dramatic genre, Laurence and Maurice’s course is the place to be, and they promise you will leave a much better writer than when you came!

To recap: our Scriptwriting course with Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran will run from Saturday 2 May to Saturday 9 May 2020. Come and join us on the road to scriptwriting success.

And on the writing front, don’t forget Jo Parfitt’s highly successful Writing Your Life Stories course, which we will be the week afterwards (Saturday 9 May to Saturday 16 May 2020). There are links to both these courses below. We will tell you more about it in next month’s newsletter.

Our enriching 2020 writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
2 – 9 May 2020
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
2 – 9 May 2020
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.



Throw yourself in like a fish to our Italian language course. (Trust us, we know our chickens!)

Leaping Salmon

The Italians are rather fond of fish, not only to eat, but to invigorate their language. For example, if you are going to engage enthusiastically in any activity, you throw yourself like a fish: buttarsi come un pesce.

That’s just what you’ll be doing if you join us on our inspiring Italian Language course at the Watermill next August. Not only will you improve your Italian on our unique, interactive course, but you’ll also enjoy la bella vita Italiana in the heart of rural Tuscany and savour the Watermill’s warm hospitality. In fact, we’ll treat you like ‘un pesce grosso’, a big fish, or big shot, to us English and Americans. (And we promise never to trattare a pesci in faccia,literally to treat with fishes in your face, to show you disrespect.)


With the Florentine language school Langues Services and our old friend Francesca la Sala, we’ve designed a week in which you can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever, meeting Italian people and interacting with their everyday lives. it will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 29 August 2020. Not only will there 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 we’ve learned.

Pratice at restaurants and markets

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. You will have the perfect opportunity to make new friends in the company of like-minded people learning and improving their Italian language skills... and enjoying unspoilt Italy and, of course, fantastic food and wine.

Bernard Schwartz

This exciting language course is suitable for all levels of ability,because of the special approach of the Langues Services language school. Its philosophy and method are inspired Professor Bertrand Schwartz of Paris University, who overturned the concept of teaching to adults, with an approach that develops not only theoretical knowledge but practical know-how as well.

The aim is to enhance the personal qualities of each student, tailoring the teaching to their needs and ambitions and establishing mutual, active and confident relationships, where the student is the true protagonist in the course.

Writing at the watermill
learning Italian
under the shade of the vine Verandah

The motto is ‘action first, knowledge after.’

One previous course participant said: “A super language week: well organised, giving us a taste of the ‘real Italy.’ Despite the disparity in ability our tutor managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously.” Another added: “Our tutor was fantastic and designed a course that we could all follow at our own level.”

Conosco i miel polli

To recap, our Italian Language week will run from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 29 August 2020. You can find out more by clicking here.

We already have eight people booked into this course, so we only have room for four or so more.

If you’d like to join us and be sure of your place, now is the time to book especially as we have an Early Bird Discount Offer: if you book before 31 December 2019 there’s a £75 (English pounds) per person discount.

Nothing fishy about that! Oh! And you will know your chickens!

Francesca la SalaLangues Services and Francesca la Sala
22 - 29 August 2020
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2020 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, writing, 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