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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 167 / May 2024

Dear Friend,

Frantoio at the Watermill in Tuscany, Italy

 Bill and Lois determined, in a visit to Sicily last month for a few days of Rest and Recreation before the beginning of this year’s season of creative courses, to eschew the cultural inheritance of the island resulting from thousands of years of invasion and settlement by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French and English et al, and plump instead for... The Godfather Tour!

We were in Sicily with our great friends Brian and Charmaine Klein. Brian is a renowned TV director turned bestselling thriller-writer, while Charmaine and Bill worked together for many years as a creative team on Thames Television.

Mind you, we indulged in a spot of high culture in a brief visit to the magnificent Greek theatre in Taormina and a rather lower-brow evening at one of those performances of popular opera arias put together by a soprano, a tenor and a pianist. And very good they were too, although we were somewhat distracted by the soprano’s low-cut dress, which did little to conceal her well formed breasts and required her, when taking a bow, to place her arm across her chest, lest too much be revealed.

There was an interval, and in the second half the soprano appeared in a dress with an even skimpier top, prompting Charmaine to exclaim: “Thank goodness there aren’t three parts to the show.” We still managed to thrill to Nessun Dorma and O Mio Babbino Caro and clap in rhythm to Funiculi, Funicula with the best of them.

That could not compare, however, with sitting outside the Bar Vitelli in the village of Savoca, in the very chair where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) learned more about the beautiful local girl Apollonia in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather II. But the high spot of the tour was a short ride in an Ape buggy, through the narrow, twisting streets of the village to the church where Michael and Apollonia were married.

Alls quite in Florence
Left: Apollonia and Michael at the Bar Vitelli (or is it Lois and Bill?)
and Right: The Team on Tour: la dolce vita indeed.

We say that was the high spot, but topologically speaking, Mount Etna capped it, at some 11,000 feet, and we also took a tour there.

Italy’s largest active volcano was quiescent that day, although the week before we arrived, the mountain had been puffing out smoke-rings. After a funiculi, funicula cable car, we took a special bus to within a hundred metres or so of the crater. Only Lois made the final few hundred metres on foot through the grey ash, carrying her large handbag, like some indomitable Victorian lady explorer, while the rest of us remained below, contemplating the awesome power of Nature – and what delicious fish we would order for dinner.

Back at the Watermill, Karsten Müller, our Manager, continued to supervise the transformation of the old olive press (frantoio) into what is going to be one of the most amazing spaces in the whole of the Watermill. It is not quite ready yet, since we are still waiting for a couple of windows and the glass panels in the floor through which we will be able to watch the millstream waters gushing beneath our feet.

The acclaimed documentary and environment photographer Francesco Lastrucci (National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Smithsonian, The Independent on Sunday, CNN, L'Express, Reader's Digest, etc., etc.), who is preparing a new portfolio of pictures for the Watermill website, took the ‘teaser’ photographs above and below this introductory section.

We have also formed an exciting partnership with the Italian language coach Simone Pols, to add a new dimension to our unique Italian Language course next October. Story below.

Bookings for our creative courses continue apace. As we go to press, we have more than 270 bookings for our painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language courses. Our painting courses are fully booked except for a few places on Keiko Tanabe’s week. (Details and a link below.) Even if the course you like the look of is fully booked, don’t despair, there are often cancellations, so if you’d like a particular tutor, or a particular date, please get in touch via the Watermill’s Contact Form and we’ll put you on a waiting list. You can find details of the other 2024 painting courses on our website. (Just click here.)

Also in this edition:

  • Painters of the month: introducing Eunice and Penelope
  • A knitted British royal palace for your sitting room?
  • Doubling up: would you take your bowwow to a powwow with a glowworm?
  • A new Watermill supporter: Welcome to Simone and his Italian podcast
  • Updates on our 2024 AND 2025 creative courses.

Frantoio at the Watermill in Italy

Kelly and Astaire
Michael: “If only we could get rid of the family,
we could spend a peaceful week
at the Watermill.”

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

Your partner doesn'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.

Picture Right: Michael Corleone and Apollonia on their wedding day.


Painters of the month: Eunice Friend and Penelope Anstice

Eunice Friend and Penelope Anstice

As our 2024 painting courses are almost fully booked (see below), we are turning our attention to NEXT year where, despite the fact that we’ve only just published the 2025 Preview page on our website, more than 50 people have already reserved their places. They can spend a year or more in anticipation of pleasures to come.

Not only that, but they are also enjoying the satisfaction of money well saved: There’s a special ‘2025 courses at 2024 prices’ offer, which means you save in the region of £140 (UK pounds) if you book before 1 September this year.

We are running 17 painting courses in 2025, with many of our favourite teachers and a handful of inspiring new ones. We thought we’d introduce you first to the new tutors for next year, beginning, in strictly chronological order, with Eunice Friend and Penelope Anstice, who we are delighted to welcome to the Watermill team.

Introducing Eunice Friend

Eunice Friend

Eunice Friend, from the country town of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, England, is a versatile, self-taught artist, excelling in watercolour, pastels and acrylics. Her portfolio spans landscapes, wildlife, florals, and still life.

On her course at the Watermill, she will focus on ink and watercolour, encouraging students to experiment with expressive mark-making (using different tools for lines, textures, and patterns) and colourful washes (layering translucent pigments for depth and luminosity). Eunice will help you to push the boundaries, develop your skills and create stunning artworks.

Painting by Eunice Friend

As one of her students says: “Eunice is an extraordinarily talented artist. She’s also a friendly, approachable, supportive and fun tutor, who truly cares about her students' progress.”

On the right is Eunice’s picture of the village and castle at Verrucola (one of our painting venues during the week). She says: “This picture started with a simple line drawing in Indian ink and dip pen, keeping marks quick and editing out unnecessary detail. The drawing was then completed with watercolours to capture the warmth of the rooftops and loosely painted greenery.”

Eunice Friend

Eunice Friend
26 April - 3 May 2025 - 4 or 5 places left
Ink and watercolours
To learn more about Eunice and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Welcoming Penelope Anstice

Penelope Anstice

Penelope Anstice is an accomplished painter in oils and watercolours. After gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting and drawing at Edinburgh College of Art she worked at the Verrocchio Arts Centre in Italy. She now has a studio in Dundee, and as well as flourishing as a professional artist, she is also much in demand as a teacher.

In this, her first visit to the Watermill, Penelope will teach in both oils and watercolours. She says: “My aim as a teacher is to show people as much technique as possible; with sound knowledge of the building blocks of painting, students can begin to find the confidence to put their own stamp on their work.”

Painting by Penelope Anstice

About the painting on the right, Penelope says; “I often make small plein air oil paintings and some of them turn into larger works back in the studio. This painting of flowers was a bit of departure for me, and I enjoyed the observation of the different shapes and angles of the lilies, painted on quite a small scale.”

 One of Penelope’s previous students said: “Penelope’s tutoring was invaluable. She has a lot of patience and was very good at keeping me on track when I faltered.” Another said: “I have been on a number of holidays with Penelope and I find her teaching to be inspirational. She makes it fun too.”

Penelope Anstice

Penelope Anstice
3 - 10 May 2025 - still plenty of places
Watercolours and oils
To learn more about Penelope and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Our painting courses in 2024

The only 2024 painting course where we have any room is with Keiko Tanabe, with just a couple of places left. The other painting courses are fully booked but, as we said above, there are often cancellations, so if you’re keen on a particular tutor, or a particular date, please get in touch via the Watermill’s Contact Form and we’ll put you on a waiting list.


Keiko Tanabe

Keiko Tanabe
15 - 22 June 2024 - 2 or 3 places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Keiko and her course at the mill, please visit the 2024 Tutor Profile Page.


 
 
 


Our convivially creative 2025 painting courses

Don’t forget the extra bonus: if you reserve your place on a 2025 course before 1 September this year, we will give it to you at the 2024 price.

You can see the Previews by clicking here.


Eunice Friend

Eunice Friend
26 April - 3 May 2025 - 4 or 5 places left
Ink and watercolours
To learn more about Eunice and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Penelope Anstice

Penelope Anstice
3 - 10 May 2025 - still plenty of places
Watercolours and oils
To learn more about Penelope and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Randy Hale

Randy Hale
10 - 17 May 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Maggie Renner Hellman

Maggie Renner Hellman
24 - 31 May 2025- still plenty of places
Colourful & expressive oil & watercolour’ (also travel sketching, acrylics, and pastel)
To learn more about Maggie and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Herman Pekel

Herman Pekel
7 - 14 June 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours (also oils and gouache)
To learn more about Herman and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


James Willis

James Willis
14 - 21 June 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about James and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Paul Weaver

Paul Weaver
28 June - 5 July 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
16 - 23 August 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours (and acrylics)
To learn more about Paul and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Mellissa Wishart

Mellissa Wishart
23 - 30 August 2025- still plenty of places
Oils and acrylics (and watercolours)
To learn more about Mellissa and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Marie Levin

Marie Levin
30 August - 6 September 2025- still plenty of places
Portrait painting in oils and tempura
To learn more about Marie and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Crystal Beshara

Crystal Beshara
6 - 13 September 2025- still plenty of places
Travel journalling in ink and watercolours (and gouache)
To learn more about Crystal and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Pamme Turner

Pamme Turner
13 - 20 September 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolour and gouache
To learn more about Pamme and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Gary Tucker

Gary Tucker
20 - 27 September 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about Gary and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Charles Sluga

Charles Sluga
27 September - 4 October 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
4 - 11 October 2025- still plenty of places
Pastels (and other portable media)
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
11 - 18 October 2025- still plenty of places
Watercolours
To learn more about Charles and his course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


 
 
 


Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Royal landmarks in wool: Would you like one in your sitting room?

Margaret Seaman and a knitted Sandringham
Margaret Seaman with her knitted Sandringham.
Picture: Yui Mok/PA.

We enjoyed reading in The Times newspaper last month of the extraordinary knitting achievements of a 94-year-old great-grandmother. The newspaper reported: “Buckingham Palace is up for sale. So is the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. This is not the result of the King downsizing, however, but the work of a knitting nonagenarian looking for a new home for some of the most impressive artworks ever committed to wool.”

Margaret's knitted Sandringham
Knitted Sandringham
took Margaret Seaman two years to create.
Picture: Luke Whitcomb

Ninety-four-year-old Margaret Seaman, from Norfolk, East Anglia, in England, has been creating extraordinary knitted artefacts of royal palaces and seaside resorts for a dozen or so years. She now thinks that the time has come to sell them all and donate the proceeds to charity.

Margaret only began constructing her knitted landscapes in her 80s, says The Times, “when she picked up her needles again after the death in 2013 of her husband of 66 years, Fred. Soon she had created a tribute to her late husband’s koi carp pond, and from there decided to become more and more adventurous. In 2018 she made a 14ft woollen vista of Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile promenade as it appeared in its 1970s heyday.”

Margaret’s masterpieces use polystyrene blocks covered with knitted panels. Smaller knitted or crocheted details are underpinned with wire frames. The Times reports: “So far, Seaman has raised more than £130,000 in donations from fans, with the proceeds going towards local hospitals or to pay for children’s cancer treatment.”

Knitted creations by Margaret Seaman
Left: Margaret Seaman hopes the sale of her Knitted Buckingham Palace and other unique artworks will raise funds for children’s care.
Right: Margaret’s vision of Great Yarmouth in the 1970s:
Pictures: Kieron Tovell

Her Her palaces and promenades are now all for sale and were displayed at the Norfolk Makers Festival. Margaret says: “Hopefully we can find a new home for them, because they still seem to give people a lot of pleasure when they look at them. That has been the most wonderful part of doing all of this — seeing the smiles on people’s faces.”

They certainly brought a smile to ours. All the money raised will go towards Cambridge Children’s Hospital, which is due to open next year. If you would like to make a donation, please see justgiving.com/page/margaret-knit-for-addenbrookes.

Knitted creativity by Margaret Seaman
Left: Knitted Sandringham includes St Mary Magdalene Church, where members of the royal family worship on Christmas Day.
Right: The late Queen and Prince Philip appear in knitted form.
Picture: Yui Mok/PA.


 


Only two spaces left on our 2024 knitting courses. How about next year?

We have five knitting courses at the Watermill this year and currently they are all fully booked - except, due to cancellations, there are now one or two spaces on Louisa's week and one or two on Sylvia's week. (Yes, we’ll say it again, there are often cancellations, so if you’re keen on coming this year, please get in touch via the Watermill’s Contact Form and you may be lucky yet)

Knitting course at the Watermill in Tuscany

As ever, your knitting week at the Watermill will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food and the delightful ambience of the Watermill, it's gardens and riverside walks, and outings into the surrounding unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana. We will take you to knit in stunning locations (a castle, a convent, a hilltop village, market day in a walled mediaeval town) and an excursion to Lucca or the Cinque Terre.

Among the many commendations for last year’s knitting courses:

“I just want to thank all of you for a week that far exceeded any of my expectations. Your gracious hospitality seemed effortless and daily excursions were wonderful. The Watermill felt like home except I’m so spoiled now it will be hard to adjust when I’m on my own. You have thought of everything possible to make for a memorable week.”

busy knitting in Italy

“Spending a week every year since 2017 at The Watermill has been such a pleasure and something to always look forward to. Bill, Lois and Karsten are such wonderful hosts! I've joined several knitting courses and one Italian language course which were all great fun and relaxing. And the food, especially on the days that Lois is cooking, is just something else to look forward to! The rooms are lovely and all have air-conditioning. The places we visit each year remain spectacular even after so many times, they are well worth it.”


Our convivial 2025 knitting courses


Linda Daniels

Linda Daniels
7 - 14 May 2025 - fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Linda and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Anna Nikipirowicz

Anna Nikipirowicz
31 May - 6 June 2025 - still plenty of places
Crochet and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Anna and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 preview page.


Georgia Farell

Georgia Farrell
12 July - 19 July 2025 - still plenty of places
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Anna and her course at the mill, please visit the 2025 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 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

Doubling up. What do savvy, aardevark, vacuum and hitchhike have in common?

Aardvark
By Kelly Abram
- https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/175359469

Yes, you spotted it! They are all words with doubled letters in them, but unlike o’s and e’s (and t’s, as in spotted) it’s unusual to find words with doubled v’s, u’s and h’s, or i’s, o’s, k’s and w’s come to that. (I know, I know, there shouldn't be an apostrophe for plurals but it looks odd otherwise!

Of course, as an article in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary told us last month, many of these unusual doublings are imported from other languages. The aarde in aardevark (or aardvark, as it is commonly spelled these days) is old Afrikaans for ‘earth,’ while a ‘vark’ is a pig. And vacuum comes from the Medieval Latin which, when was appropriated by English in the 16th Century, referred to the vast emptiness of space.

Hoover vacuum
An iconic Hoover vacuum cleaner.
  Picture: Fotosearch/Getty Images

But, as Merriam-Webster says: “When the vacuum cleaner was invented in 1908, the object began its slide across household floors and the word transitioned from the abstract to the concrete.” (Surely that should be …to the carpet.)

There are other Latinate double 'u’s, such as continuum, but perhaps the most remarkable is the doubly doubled muumuu, a loose dress, from Hawaiian or the “pleasingly wrong-looking alternation of squish, squush,”

Consonants are often doubled to make vowels longer, such as later or latter, but sometimes the double consonant does no such thing. Examples include hitchhike, bathhouse and withhold.

Bookkeeping
Illustration: Linked in,
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-importance-
bookkeeping-business-nexa-accountants

Doubling w’s (already double u’s) may seem excessive, but you could take your bowwow to a powwow with the glowworm, if you were so inclined!

You can read more about doubling v’s and k’s by clicking here. (Savvy, divvy, bevvy, flivver, jackknife and knickknack among them.)

Our favourite is the only English word we know that has a triple set of double letters: bookkeeping.


Our 2024 Writing your Life Stories course is fully booked. How about 2025?

Creative writing course at the Watermill in Tuscany, Italy
Seeking inspiration on the vine verandah

Jo Parfitt’s renowned Writing Your Life Stories week this September is fully booked but, as we keep saying, there are often cancellations, so if you’re keen on coming this year, please get in touch via the Watermill’s Contact Form and we’ll put you on a waiting list.

Or, to be sure of your place why not book for NEXT year -- and take advantage of our ‘2025 courses at 2024 prices’ offer?

This workshop is perfect for anyone wanting to write about their own lives for an effective journal, memoir or blog. While concentrating on autobiography and memoir, the course gives insights and advice for writing in any genre. 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.

We have inspirational settings, interesting characters, rich history, convivial conversation with other aspiring writers, but above all we have Jo Parfitt.

Jo Parfitt

Jo 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'.

She 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."


Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
21 – 28 September 2024 - fully booked, waiting list open
5 12 July 2025 - still plenty of places
Write your life stories

To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit please visit the 2024 Tutor Profile Page.


 
 
 

ITALIAN LANGUAGE NEWS

Adding a new dimension to our renowned Italian Language Course: welcome to Simone Pols

We are pleased say that we have just added a new dimension to our unique Italian language course at the Watermill this October. The exceptional Italian Language Coach, Simone Pols, will be joining us live (on zoom, from Montevideo, no less!).

Simone Pols

Simone, a gentle soul with a wanderlust and a passion for learning new languages. makes a weekly podcast in Italian about his world, his daily life and his philosophy for living. He speaks not necessarily slowly but COMPREHENISBLY and his podcast is easy to understand and helps you learn. Simone says: “My aim is to improve people’s lives for the study of the Italian language. People learn Italian without effort while listening to real and engaging content.” You even get a transcript, to check the words and phrases you didn’t understand.

We’ve been listening to the podcast for some time now, and not only has our confidence in speaking and reading Italian improved, but we’ve also enjoyed Simone telling us about his new life in Montevideo and musing (not too ponderously) on what living is all about. The topics have included variously: how to manage stress; the art of travelling solo; and, what is meant by il movimento.

Simone Pols

You can learn more about Simone and his podcast by clicking here. And you can meet him (virtually at least) for an hour or so during Giulia Balestri’s Italian Language Course from Saturday 12 October to Saturday 19 October. There are details and a link below. We still have a few places left.,

We hope that this will be the first of many collaborations with Simone. We highly recommend his podcast and, of course, we would be delighted to welcome you to our Italian language week this October.


Language course at the Watermill in Italy
Soaking up the language
and the evening sun
in the Watermill garden

Learn Italian from the Italians in in our unique language week

We have seven bookings so far for our Italian Language week next October, so we have room for a few more more.

We can offer you the Bronzino, Brunelleschi, Fra Angelico or Uccello bedroom, or The Vasari Suite if you are a couple of friends sharing.

The Watermill has teamed up again with Giulia Balestri for 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 customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests.

Here is what some of the participants on last year’s course had to say:


Francesca la SalaGiulia Balestri
19 - 26 October 2024 - 4 or 5 places left
Learning Italian with the Italians
For more details on Giulia's 2024 course, please visit the 2024 Tutor programme page.


 
 
 


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

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