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Dear Friend,

Knitting and Painting at the Watermill in Tuscany, Italy

It is so good to be back in the swing of running our weekly creative courses after the trials and tribulations the past couple of years or so. And our guests seem to be having a wonderful time, too, judging by the great reviews some of them have posted on Tripadvisor (see below), as well as by their personal thanks for the enjoyment of their week with us. We are so pleased to be able to share the unique environment of the Watermill and spread a little happiness...

In May, we ran two knitting courses, with Louisa Harding and Debbie Abrahams and two painting courses, with Mary Padgett and Keiko Tanabe. The pictures above and below this introductory section give you a flavour of our activities. Top left: choosing the yarn on Louisa’s knitting course; top right: some of the participants’ work on Mary’s pastel course; bottom left Lynne Roche and Jeffra Ruesink, generous with their praise for Mary’s week; bottom right: some of the output on Debbie’s knitting week.

Alls quite in Florence
Mary Padgett’s atmospheric pastel of
Vernazza in the Cinque Terre,
one of our excursion venues

Come and enjoy inspiring tuition, warm hospitality, a beautiful setting and wonderful scenery, delicious food and the convivial company of like-minded people. We’re looking forward to a full season of creative courses, in painting, writing, knitting and Italian language, with a record number of some 250 guests so far reserving their places. If you are already booked in, we look forward to welcoming you here; if you haven’t booked, we still have a few places left. There are details and links below.

In this month’s newsletter we also have stories on:

  • Mike Willdridge never stops sketching, even at the hairdressers
  • Try your hand at gouache (as well as watercolours) with Pamme Turner
  • Overwhelming Tripadvisor praise
  • It’s a dog’s life if you’re not in Italy
  • Botticelli and Tim Wilmot are keen to greet you
  • Looking forward to knitting in 2023
  • Why the writer’s parrot changed its ways
  • A fatty bacon incident on a bus.

Happy reading!

Painting and Knitting at the Watermill, Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
“No need to get your hands dirty
on a Watermill creative course”

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost

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.

Mike never stops sketching, even at the hairdressers

Sketch by Mike Willdridge
it looks like it could do with
a little attention!

You’ll know by now that our friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge takes a sketchbook with him wherever he goes – and he recommends that you do the same. He took his sketchbook recently to the hairdressers in Winchester, England, recently, not to sketch while having his own haircut (it’s a bit difficult when your hands are under the hairdresser’s cape), but rather while accompanying his granddaughter to have her hair done. Among the results was that delightful sketch above, and these two below.

Mike says: “I think that’s what I find exciting about working, especially at speed, in a sketchbook - you’ve only enough time to mark down the essentials. It’s that need to rapidly prioritise what you’re drawing that often lends a feeling of truth to an image.”

Sketches by Mike Willdridge

Mike’s course this year is currently full, but there are often cancellations, so if you’re interested in coming, please let us know via the Watermill Contact Form. We will put you on a waiting list. Or you may care to think about joining Mike’s course next year. You can see a preview of all our 2023 courses by clicking here And there is a bonus: if you book now, you can enjoy any one of our 2023 courses at 2022 prices.

Try your hand at gouache (as well as watercolours) with Pamme

Paintings by Pamme Turner
Some of Pamme’s ‘iconic visions’ in gouache and egg tempera

Have you ever tried painting with gouache, that is opaque, rather than transparent, watercolour? If you join Pamme Turner for her course here this July you will be able to have a go, because it is a medium that Pamme enjoys and in which she excels.

Like watercolour, gouache paint can be re-wetted and it dries to a matte finish. It is a particularly popular medium for posters. Pamme also uses egg tempera, made from coloured pigments and a water-soluble binder of egg yolk, which was the primary medium for painting until oils took over in the 1500s.

Painting by Pamme Turner
Another of Pamme’s iconic visions

She likes to create images using both gouache and egg tempera. She says: “I attempt to create a visual palette for the senses through hand-made colour and the physical layering of transparent and opaque paints. In many of these paintings, my raw first studies and painted sketches in the studio and on location transform themselves into these finished, formalized artworks which are icon-like, emblematic or what I have named my “iconic” visions.”

Come and experiment with Pamme and add a new dimension to your watercolour painting. She will be with us from Saturday 9 July to Saturday 16 July 2022. Pamme’s course is called a Plein Air Essentials workshop (for watercolor and gouache).

We won’t neglect your watercolours, of course, and under Pamme’s guidance, you’ll paint the glorious scenery surrounding the Watermill in watercolour too, as well as enjoying warm hospitality, delicious food and the convivial company of other guests on your relaxing and inspiring week.

And don’t forget that, as well as experimenting with new materials, you will also be Cool and Green: all our public rooms, including the studio, and all our bedrooms are air-conditioned powered by electricity from our hidden array of photovoltaic cells, which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

Pamme Turner

Pamme Turner - two or three places left
9 - 16 July 2022
Watercolour and gouache en plein air
To learn more about Pamme and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Overwhelming Tripadvisor praise

We have had some amazingly positive feedback from our first four creative courses, with phrases like ‘fabulous hosts,’ ‘fantastic food, ‘an ideal environment for artistic guests,’ and ‘beautifully planned; everyone had a fantastic time.’

But our special thanks to five of our guests who took the trouble to write a review for Tripadvisor. For example, Joanne Wright, who came on Mary Padgett’s painting course, wrote: “I was so pleased with my experience of the Watermill. This is a gem of a place.” You can read the whole of Joanne’s review by clicking here.  

Sonia Lovett, who came on Louisa Harding’s knitting week, said: “Perfect in every way - in fact I have just booked again for next year.” You can read the whole of Sonia’s review by clicking here.

And Sharon O’Rourke, who was with us for Debbie Abrahams’ knitting week, said: “This venue is so beautiful and the hosts, Lois and Bill Breckon so welcoming. Not only was Debbie’s workshop more than I could hope for, but The Watermill so exceeded my expectations.” Again you can see the full review by clicking here.

Lynne Roche

Lynne Roche, who was on Louisa’s week, wrote on Tripadvisor: “Perfect in every way.” She said: “It was truly delightful in every way. Our room was spacious and spotlessly clean, with a view of gardens and the river. So blissfully quiet at night! I loved that there are so many places to gather or steal off by oneself if space is needed. The meals were amazing; delicious, plentiful and varied. What a treat to have cocktails before dinner every evening and digestivi after. I'm having to adjust to "real life" now that I'm home! The outings that we were taken on were also interesting, beautiful and efficiently executed. Lois and Bill were the perfect hosts and their assistant Karsten was always at the ready if anything was needed. Finally, we had so much fun meeting new friends and laughing more than we have in ages. It was a great experience and we recommend it highly!

Jaffra Ruesink

Jeffra Ruesink, a guest on Mary Padgett’s pastel week, wrote; “I feel so lucky to have spent a week at the watermill and I give it my most enthusiastic recommendation. my list of appreciations is long, but foremost is that every detail is accounted for - there are simply NO logistical hitches! guests are totally free to both pursue what they came to do - in my case painting - and to enjoy the beautiful surroundings (of which I took at least 1000 photographs). nothing was lacking - the facilities are a wonderful blend of history, beauty, and functionality; the food is plentiful, soulful, and clearly made by hand; the house wines are lovely (not to mention the daily aperitivi and digestivi); and the espresso flows at any time of day.

“The hosts even lent me a mat and weights so I could continue my daily workout routine. there were absolutely no extra charges or fees. in short, my painting tutor was able to totally focus on her students in this environment - what an amazing luxury.

Our thanks to our guests for all those kind words. But, you know, the success of any gathering depends as much on the guests as it does on the hosts. Thus, a big thank you to ALL our guests for spreading a little happiness along with us.

It’s a dog’s life

Alls quite in Florence
(Left) Picture: Italia-Italy (Right) Picture: Alison Beckett

We couldn’t resist showing you again this picture (above left) of a dog realising he had woken up and was no longer in Italy. This is an unwanted side effect of a Watermill creative week. But it does wear off -- and a great antidote is to book for another creative week next year and let eager anticipation overcome the blues.

Here (above right) is another dog whose mistress didn’t invite her to the knitting course!

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Our remaining inspiring painting weeks in 2022

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

Randy Hale

Randy Hale - two or three places left
11 - 18 June 2022
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman - fully booked, waiting list open
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.

Pamme Turner

Pamme Turner - two or three places left
9 - 16 July 2022
Watercolour and gouache en plein air
To learn more about Pamme and her course at the mill, please visit her 2022 Profile Page.

Carl March

Carl March - two or three places left
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 - three or four places left
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 - three or four places left
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 open
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 - still plenty of places
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 - fully booked, waiting list open
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 - fully booked, waiting list open
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 - one or two places left
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 - fully booked, waiting list open
8 - 15 October 2022
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.


Featured painting tutor of the month: Tim Wilmot

Alls quite in Florence
(Left) Tim’s impression of painters in the Watermill garden
(Right) the Botticelli bedroom

We have only one bedroom left, the Botticelli, for Tim Wilmot. A wonderful double room (we can make the super king-size bed into single beds), Botticelli has views over the Watermill walled garden, with the imposing Apennine mountains in the background. It’s the ideal room for a painter and his/her non-painting partner, although we are happy to let it out as a single.

Tim Wilmot

We would love to welcome you here for Tim’s course. He is an artist from Bristol in the UK, specialising in watercolours, exploiting the medium with tone and light. He particularly likes painting landscapes in a loose or impressionistic style

Paintings by Tim Wilmot
Atmospheric watercolours of the Watermill and its surroundings by Tim

Tim is also an inspiring teacher. He has been a tutor at the Watermill for several years and his weeks are always inspiring and fun. Tim’s course is suitable for all levels, and he’ll help you to improve your drawing skills, loosen up your style, learn how to incorporate figures in a landscape, as well as nurturing you own artistic ambitions. One of last year’s guests said: “Unrivalled hospitality and total good fun. I love Tim Wilmot’s style.”

And you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot - one or two places left
1 - 8 October 2022
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2022 Profile Page.

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

We are looking forward to knitting 2023!

Knitting Yarn waiting for you in 2023
a selection of yarns
will be waiting for you
under the dappled shade
of the vine verandah

Because of the way the timing of our courses worked out this year, we have already completed our knitting sessions for 2022, with great success (see Tripadvisor reviews above), thanks to our inspiring teachers and talented guests. So, we are now looking forward to 2023.

Bookings are already flowing in thanks not only to the fame of our tutors and so the fact that if you book any of our 2023 knitting courses now, you can enjoy it at 2022 prices. Here’s the list of courses and tutors and you can see more by going to our Watermill webpage 2023 Preview by clicking here.

We call them knitting and la Bella Vita Italiana and our knitting holidays are the perfect relaxing combination of knitting every day with like-minded people, enjoying the unspoiled atmosphere and beautiful scenery of rural Tuscany, together with inspiring teaching, warm hospitality and delicious food and wine. There are excursions to an imposing castle, to market day in a walled mediaeval town, to the quintessential Italian city of Lucca or to the seaside delights of the Cinque Terre. And of course, knitting, knitting and knitting.

Knitting holidays at the Watermill in Tuscany, Italy

Here’s what we are offering as knitting weeks so far next year.

Georgia Farell

Georgia Farell - seven places booked already, so book now to avoid disappointment!
6 - 13 May 2023
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Georgia and her course at the mill, please visit our 2023 Preview Page.

Knitting Retreat at the Watermill in Italy

Watermill Knitting Retreat - eight places booked already, so book now to avoid disappointment!
15 - 22 July 2023
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about the Watermill Knitting Retreat at the mill, please visit our 2023 Preview 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 2023 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

The writer and the parrot

Not a dead, deceased, passed-on parrot à la Monty Python, but rather, since there isn’t much writing news this month, another parrot joke which I really enjoy.

A writer was given a fully-grown parrot for his birthday, but it had picked up such bad language from its previous owner that despite all attempts to teach it to speak properly and politely, it continued to turn the air blue every time it opened its beak.

After an impolite shouting match, the angry author stuffed the parrot into the freezer. It squawked and swore for a minute or two, then all was quiet. Concerned, he opened the freezer door and the parrot stepped out on to his hand.

I am sorry if I’ve offended you,” it said, “my language was rude and inappropriate I will try to do better in the future.

The writer was astonished at the bird’s sudden change in demeanour, but before he could comment, the parrot said:

Can you tell me what the chicken did?

We hope that brightened your day and we promise not to tell you any more parrot jokes on our creative writing courses. We’ve just one this year, Jo Parfitt’s famous Write your Life Stories week. We are currently fully booked, but as we always say, there may well be cancellations, so if you would like to come and learn the secrets of writing your memoirs, please let us know via the Watermill Contact Form by clicking here.

Our 2022 Creative Writing course

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt - fully booked, waiting list open
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.



Fatty bacon on the bus

Alls quite in Florence
Pictures: Rick Steves; Salumeria Toscana

To appreciate the story, you need to know that the Italian for thief is ladro, while lardo is very fatty bacon.

It happened when we were travelling on a bus in Florence some years ago and Lois felt somebody tinkering with her handbag. Lapsing into her pure English mode, she said: “What on earth you think you’re doing?

Bill, thinking that Italian might be more appropriate and wishing to alert the crowd that there was a thief about, shouted loudly “Lardo, lardo.”

The passengers shied away from this strange eccentric man shouting “fatty bacon” and in the confusion, the would-be pickpocket slipped away.

In the intervening years our Italian has improved somewhat, but is nowhere near as good as that of Giulia Balestri, the tutor on our Italian Language course this autumn. You’ll quickly know the difference between lardo and ladro and much else beside, soaking up Italian on this unique, relaxing and inspiring course

Learning Italian at the Watermill in Europe
Soaking up Italian in the Watermill walled garden

This really is a ‘course with a difference’. Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but you 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 Italian language tutor Giulia Balestri, 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 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.

This exciting language course is suitable for all levels of ability, because of the special approach inspired by 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. 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.

Writing group at the Watermill in Tuscany
Learning Italian
under the dappled shade of the vine verandah

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: “I can honestly say it was the nicest week I have had for a long time.”

We have 10 people already booked into this relaxing and inspiring week, two of whom are nonparticipating partners, so we have room for three or four more ‘language-learners’ – and their partners, too, if they would like to join them.

Our 2022 Italian Language course

Francesca la SalaGiulia Balestri - still three or four places
15 - 22 October 2022
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Giulia 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.

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