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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 136 / October 2021

Dear Friend,

It's beginning to feel a lot like normal

Paintings by Brienne Brown

After our first painting course in ages, at the end of August, we had two more in September and there are four more creative courses planned for this month. Yes, it is beginning to feel a lot more like normal. And about time, too!

Around and about the watermill in Tuscany

Our old friend and watercolour painting tutor Mike Willdridge came to us again early in September, and as usual, a good time was had by all. Mike takes his painting seriously but always loves to have fun in his social interaction with his guests. On the left above are three of them waiting for the train to Lucca on our excursion day: see no evil, hear no evil: speak no evil!

Mike was followed by a new tutor from the United States, Brienne Brown, who ran a joyous course with American guests. There they are on the right above, watching her paint from the ancient walls of the nearby town of Fivizzano looking down the valley to Posara.

We have published lots of Mike’s wonderful watercolours over the years so in this month’s newsletter, pride of place in the pictures surrounding the introductory section this month goes to Brienne. The pictures above and below this introductory section are: top left: her warm and welcoming watercolour of the Watermill courtyard; top right: the detail from a painting of the castle and fortified village of Verrucola where we paint on Mondays; bottom left: that view from the walls of Fivizzano; bottom right: a peaceful convent, where we paint on Thursdays.

In this month’s newsletter we have stories on:

  • a friendly 'paint off'
  • another delicious recipe for Watermill patrons
  • fulsome praise which made us Brits blush
  • details of, and links to, all of our 2022 creative courses painting tutors of the month: Mary Padgett and Keiko Tanabe
  • knitting tutors of the month: Norah Gaughan and Louisa Harding
  • Come and write your memoir with Jo Parfitt
  • why our Italian language course is ottimo

Happy reading!

paintings by Brienne Brown

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
Abigail and John Adams:
 A great American love story.
Picture: Getty,
Town & Country Magazine

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

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.

The great watermill paint off! Or something similar...

Paintoff with Mike Willdridge and Randy Hale
Mike’s version (left) and Randy’s (right)

We have never before had two Watermill painting tutors here at the same time, but due to the contingencies of Covid, Randy Hale stayed on for a few days after his course at the end of August, while Mike Willdridge arrived a few days early for his course at the beginning of last month.

It is always fascinating to see how different painters treat the same subject, so Lois persuaded them one afternoon to paint a nearby scene: an imposing gateway and a cypress-bordered driveway, with the Appennine mountains in the background. The results are shown above.

Shake on it !!!
A fun job, well done.
Hale on the left, Willdridge on the right

Mike said: “I love the way the portals frame the view between them. We asked our respective wives to walk through the gateway to give us some sense of scale." Randy said: “We love the verticality and the drama, with the tall trees and the mountains in the background."

Of course, artists painting together plein air is not unheard of: Monet and Renoir, for example, and Van Gogh and Gaugin. To that list we might now add Hale and Willdridge!

Become a Watermill patron and see more of the fascinating paint off

Work in progress - Mike and Randy at the watermill in Italy
work in progress: Mike’s picture on the left; Randy’s on the right

Lois has made a fascinating video of Randy and Mike at work, together, which you can see if you join us as a Watermill patron.

As you probably know we have created a community of convivial like-minded people who have become Watermill patrons. There are lots of bonuses when you join.

Patrons receive regular exclusive videos keeping them up to date on all our activities and on top tips from our renowned creative tutors, podcasts giving insights into Italian life, and, of course, delicious recipes (see below) from the Watermill kitchen. We have already produced 20 or so items for our Watermill patrons. These items remain exclusive to patrons for two months before being put on ‘general release’ so others can enjoy them too.

Patrons videos
For more about rewards of becoming a
Watermill Patron, please click here

(Patrons themselves also enjoy other continuing exclusive perks, such as free access to some of our live, interactive online painting sessions and discounts for our renowned residential creative courses here at the mill. They have their say, too, on future exciting projects at the Watermill.)

Why don’t you, too, become a Watermill patron and be among the first to hear all our news and enjoy our videos, podcasts, recipes and all the news the daily life of the Watermill? The first step is to click here to see an introductory video and hear more. Then join up to become part of our new Watermill adventures.

Another mouthwatering recipe for Watermill Patrons

cheese and Tomato tart
Delicious hot or cold

As we said above, the videos we make exclusively for our Watermill patrons are eventually released to the general public after a couple of months or so.

In one of our latest releases, Lois Breckon shows us how to make a delicious and versatile tart that can be served hot or cold, part of a buffet or just with salad as your main dish.

Lois says: “It is infinitely versatile and doesn’t depend on being served immediately to be delicious.”

You can view the video by clicking here.

Fulsome praise which made us Brits blush

Mike's riverside demonstration
A painting demonstration
down by the riverside with Mike.
Kristina is wearing the head-covering

We Brits become a little embarrassed with fulsome praise, so we went a little pink around the ears reading the comments of Kristina Fransson on Tripadvisor about her painting holiday with us last week. But we are secretly very pleased, of course. Kristina, from Sweden, was on Mike Willdridge’s watercolour course. She says: “A taste of paradise. Everything was great! I can describe it as a real paradise on Earth. I have never had such an experience before, with lovely surroundings, beautiful staff, tasty food, lovely excursions to interesting places, and last but not least the marvellous tutor Mike Willdridge!

“I am happy to be able to recommend The Watermill at Posara to everyone who wants a wonderful painting holiday and a really good time!”

Thank you very much for your kind words, Kristina. It is lovely to know that our efforts are appreciated.

Why don’t you, too, experience our ‘earthly paradise’ on one of our world-renowned creative courses?. We’d be delighted to welcome you here. Reserve yourself a space now. You know you deserve it!

Below is the up-to-date list of our internationally renowned creative courses next year. And remember, you will be Cool and Green at the Watermill: all our rooms are fully air-conditioned part by our hidden photovoltaic cells which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

An exciting programme of creative courses for 2022

We are delighted to announce that the 2022 Watermill website is now live with details of our exciting creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – and ready for you to make your booking. Please click here to read all about it.

Watermill holidays 2022
The landing page of the new Watermill 2022 website.
Just click here to open the delights

Why not get away from it all, at last, and reserve your place on one of our renowned creative courses, with inspiring teaching, warm hospitality, stunning scenery, delicious food and the convivial company of like-minded people? The perfect antidote to coronavirus blues.

Details and links to all our courses are below but to be sure of your place you will have to hurry: because of people having had to postpone their courses to 2022 from 2021 (and even 2020!), next year is filling up fast. We already have nearly 200 bookings for our 2022 courses. out of a maximum capacity of some 250/260 places. So, to make sure that you will enjoy the course you want, now is the time to book.

In this newsletter we've listed our 2022 courses, with links to the profiles of individual tutors. First, our inspiring painting courses......

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Our inspiring 2021 painting tutors

Here are thepainting tutors remaining for this year. You can find out more about both of them by clicking on their Profile page link in their entries below.

Ali Hargreaves

Ali Hargreaves
9 - 16 October 2021 - fully booked, waiting list only
To learn more about Ali and her course at the mill, please visit her 2021 Profile Page.

Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
23 - 30 October 2021 - five or six places left
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2021 Profile Page.


Our inspiring 2022 painting tutors

Here is the complete list of our painting tutors for 2022. You can find out more about each of them by clicking on their Profile page link in their entries below.

Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett - fully booked, waiting list only
30 April – 7 May 2022
Pastels (and other portable materials) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Keiko Tanabe

Keiko Tanabe - fully booked, waiting list only
21 – 28 May 2022
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Maggie Renner Hellman

Maggie Renner Hellman
28 May - 4 June 2022
Courageous Color Workshop’ Your choice: oils, acrylics, pastels and/or watercolour travel sketches
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Ruth Korch

Ruth Korch - fully booked, waiting list only
4 - 11 June 2022
Art journaling
To learn more about Ruth and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Randy Hale

Randy Hale - fully booked, waiting list only
11 - 18 June 2022
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Ted Dansey

Ted Dansey
25 June - 2 July 2022
Watercolours and drawing
To learn more about Ted and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
2 - 9 July 2022
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Carl March

Carl March
16 - 23 July 2022
Drawing and watercolour en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
20 - 27 August 2022
Watercolours (and acrylics)
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
27 August - 3 September 2022
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge - fully booked, waiting list only
3 - 10 September 2022
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics, with a special emphasis on drawing on location.)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Varvara Neiman

Varvara Neiman
10 - 17 September 2022
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolours
To learn more about Varvara and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
17 - 24 September 2022
‘Colourful watercolours’
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Cynthia Armstrong

Cynthia Armstrong
24 September - 1 October 2022
Watercolours and gouache
To learn more about Cynthia and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot - fully booked, waiting list only
1 - 8 October 2022
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
8 - 15 OCTOBER 2022
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.


Watermill painting tutors of the month Mary Padgett and Keiko Tanabe

In coming newsletters we would like to introduce you all our inspiring tutors for next year. There are so many painting tutors that we going to do it two at a time, in strictly chronological order. So first up are Mary Padgett and Keiko Tanabe.

Mary Padgett

Painting by Mary Padgett
Mary’s evocation of Tuscany in soft pastels

Mary Padgett is a passionate pastellist from Syracuse, New York, USA. She is noted for her use of colour and for her enthusiasm for painting on location.

She says: “There is no better way to visit Italy than as a plein air artist! We’ll focus on observation with all our senses; looking, listening, and smelling the unique character of the Tuscan landscape to create drawings and paintings from the experience. Our time here will be richer than that of most tourists who simply pass through.”

Mary will work in soft pastel, but is also skilled in oils and acrylics and is happy to help those who would like to work in those mediums too.

A comment by one of Mary’s students: “You were instructive, helpful and inspiring as a teacher. You went out of your way to help beginners as well as more advanced artists with technique and enjoyment of the process.”

Another said: “You are a marvellous teacher and analyst of art, and it was really eye-opening to hear what you had to say about everyone’s art...”

Mary’s course in pastels (and other portable materials) en plein air will run from Saturday 30 April to Saturday 7 May 2022.

Keiko Tanabe

painting by Keiko Tanabe
Keiko captures the peaceful atmosphere
of the Watermill’s vine Verandah

Keiko Tanabe was born in Kyoto, Japan but now lives in San Diego, California. She says: “I use watercolour painting is a vehicle to communicate my artistic vision on the joy of living and the ingenuity of human creations. When I am true to my inspiration, my brushstrokes sometimes surprise me by exposing something of my inner spirit I was not even aware of."

Keiko is also an enthusiastic and sympathetic tutor. Her workshop at the Watermill is designed to provide a better understanding of the methods and techniques that make watercolour paintings full of light and atmosphere.

Here’s what a student on one of her previous courses here had to say: “What a wonderful and memorable week I have had!! The ambiance was just perfect and Keiko was a wonderful teacher.” Another added: “Keiko is a fabulous artist and I learned a lot with her... I had a truly wonderful week at the watermill. It was perfect in every sense... a magical experience.”

Keiko’s course in watercolours will run from Saturday 21 May to Saturday 28 May 2022.

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.

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Our notable knitting and elegant embroidery weeks

Norah Gaughan

Norah Gaughan - fully booked, waiting list only
23 - 30 April 2022
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Norah and her course at the mill, please visit our 2022 Profile Page.

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
7 - 14 May 2022
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit our 2022 Profile Page.

Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams
14 - 21 May 2022
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Debbie and her course at the mill, please visit our 2022 Profile Page.

Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright
9 - 16 July 2022
Embroidered ‘postcards from Posara’
To learn more about Rachel and her course at the mill, please visit our 2022 Profile Page.

Knitting tutors of the month: Norah Gaughan and Louisa Harding

Norah Gaughan

Molina Style by Norah Gaughan
Knitting style: Molina by Gaughan

It is not every day that you have the editor-in-chief of American Vogue Knitting as your Watermill tutor. So, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Norah Gaughan for her knitting course next April. Her course has proved very popular, and at present it is fully booked. There are, however, always cancellations, so if you’d like to come, please let us know (see below) and we will put you on a waiting list.

Norah is an independent knitting designer working out of her studio in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA. She is editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting, the premier knitting publication in America. She says: “I'm inspired by nature and science, while at the same time keeping an eye what's happening in the fashion world. My teaching style is rather relaxed. My goal is to have the class be fun and interesting.”

Norah will bring two special projects for her week, based on her new Twisted Stitch Sourcebook, published this year.

And as ever, your knitting week at the Watermill will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food and the delightful ambience of the Watermill, its gardens and riverside walks, and outings into the surrounding unspoiled countryside of Lunigiana in Tuscany Italy.

Norah will be with us from Saturday 23 April to Saturday 30 April 2022.

Louisa Harding

Louisa's Yarnteller
Knitting style
with the Yarnteller brand

Louisa Harding is a celebrated knitter, designer and yarn producer. She worked for many years as an ‘in-house’ designer for Rowan Yarns. Louisa has recently established a new brand, called Yarntelier, combining the finest yarns from the English county of Yorkshire with beautiful designs, to make each item a piece of hand-crafted couture.

In the first half of Louisa’s week at the Watermill. you will be creating a stitch sampler. At the same time, you will pull together images and notes on the surrounding area, using them as inspiration for the second half of your week when you will put together your own shawl, scarf, wrap or cowl under Louisa's expert guidance. Louisa will bring with her a mix of yarns - in colour and texture (cashmere, mohair, silk, chenille and alpaca) - for you to use.

And as for the ambiance of the Watermill, one guest said: “It is an idyllic setting for a knitting course - beautifully situated on the river, you are lulled to sleep in your comfortable room by the sound of the millstream. Your every need is catered for: good food and drink, and visits to places of interest, including a convent, a village market and a mountain-top restaurant.”

Louisa will be with us from Saturday 7 May to Saturday May 2022.

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 2021 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 wonderful writing week

Alls quite in Florence
The vine verandah,
a perfect place to share your thoughts

As ever, we are looking forward to another of Jo Parfitt’s renowned Writing Your Life Stories week next year. Jo’s course is the perfect first step for any writer wanting to develop the skills and confidence necessary to move into writing memoir, non-fiction, articles or blogs.

We have had amazing feedback over the years on the value of Jo’s course, and we are glad to say it remains as popular as ever. The course is designed to help both enthusiastic beginners and more experienced writers. It will help you to produce your best work, to find your true writer's 'voice' and to write authentically.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt is an author, journalist, teacher, blogger, conference speaker and poet. She has published 32 books herself, has helped more than 250 authors get into print and more than 2,000 people to begin writing.

Jo's a compassionate, inspiring, and encouraging teacher: her motto is 'sharing what I know to help others to grow'.

The Write Your Life Stories creative writing course is 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. 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. You will be empowered to write in a compelling way, bringing your experiences to life."

The workshop will include several methods and genres and is perfect for anyone wanting to write about their own lives for an effective journal, memoir or blog. If you would enjoy an injection of inspiration in a calm and supportive environment, this course is for you. It is appropriate for students of any level.

Here are some comments from guests on Jo’s previous courses at the Watermill: “The most magical trip to Tuscany, which will stay with me forever!”

“It is a very special and beautiful place, and everything was organised so perfectly. Jo is a great tutor and we all had an amazing time.”

“It was just wonderful. The attention to detail and beauty are a sure recipe for a wonderful stay. Jo is an inspirational teacher.”

Jo’s course runs from Saturday 18 June to Saturday 25 June 2022.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
18 – 25 June 2022
Write your life stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.



Why our Italian language course is optimum

Picture: DepositPhotos/The Local

Here is a rather fine Italian word, which we like to think applies to our unique Italian Language Course at the Watermill. It is ottimo, which translates literally as ‘optimum’.

We are grateful, as ever, toThe Local, the English-language online newspaper for drawing my attention to its use over here. The Local’s Jessica Phelan writes: “One of the things I love about speaking Italian is that you can use words whose direct English equivalents rarely get an airing. Ottimo is a perfect example: while its closest English relative is ‘optimum’, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve ever said that word aloud. Ottimo, however, I say – and hear – just about every day. Italians use it much like we say ‘great’

La cena è stata ottima, grazie. Dinner was great, thank you.

Ottimo lavoro! Great work!”

Well, we think our Italian language course merita un’ottimo, top marks.We still have a few places left on our course this October, and we’d love you to join us.

Francesca La Sala

One thing you can be sure of is that you will have an optimum time! Our special week-long language course, where you can soak up Italian and enjoy la bella vita iItaliana, will be running this October.

The Watermill has teamed up again with the wonderful Italian language tutor Francesca La Sala, to produce a week in which you can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way. Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be also be individually customised, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.

Learning under the vine at the watermill in Tuscany
Ottimo: Learning Italian
under the dappled shade of the vine verandah

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

Another place to learn
Another place to learn

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

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.”

The dates for the language course this year are Saturday 16 October to Saturday 23 October 2021, and for next year are Saturday 15 October to Saturday 22 October 2022.

Our 2021 Italian Language course

Francesca la SalaFrancesca la Sala
16 - 23 October 2021 - three places left
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2021 course at the mill, please click here.


Our 2022 Italian Language course

Francesca la SalaFrancesca la Sala
15 - 22 October 2022
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2022 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 Patron of The Watermill at Posara

Visit our Watermill Patrons website (Link below). Just follow the instructions to subscribe and enjoy special privileges. By becoming a Patron you’ll enjoy many exclusive benefits, including practical and inspiring tips from our international painting and creative writing tutors, recipes from the watermill’s mouth-watering menus, and podcasts on Italian life. And there are also exclusive offers at the higher tiers for our courses and holidays.

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