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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 91 / January 2018

Dear Friend,

Sandra and Terry in the watermill's garden

We hope you had a very happy Christmas and send you our best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and creative New Year. In this month’s newsletter there are stories on:

  • why The Week online thinks our painting courses are among the best in the world
  • our first-ever ‘painter in residence’, Sandra Strohschein
  • why you should WRITE when you paint, by Terry Jarvis
  • why you should dress like an onion in the wintry weather
  • how a yoga week with Claire Murphy can revitalise your life.

We’d love to welcome you here this year for one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring courses and there are more details below about all of them. Bookings are continuing to flow in, many from people who have been with us before and want to come again (thank you, thank you). We already have 165 firm bookings for 2018, which means we only have 70/80 places left.

If you’ve a favourite tutor, a particular week, or a special bedroom that you like, please get in touch as soon as you can, and we’ll set aside a place for you. Just visist our website, select the type of course you are interested in (painting, knitting, writing, yoga and/or language), find out more about your tutor, then go to the Booking Enquiry form, fill in as appropriate and send it to us.

The pictures above show Sandra Strohschein enjoying the delights of the rose pergola in the walled garden and Terry Jarvis demonstrating there, while below is are guests on Claire Murphy yoga retreat -- and an onion!

Yoga at the watermill in Tuscany Italy

Come to the watermill in Tuscany with your partner or friend
at the Watermill

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

Why not bring your friend or partner? They don’t have to participate in the course, but they will be able to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the mill and, whenever they want, to come out with you to our beautiful locations. We also offer a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2018 courses, as well as a generous £GBP 250 discount if they share a room with you.

The Week reckons we’re among the top five painting holidays in the world!

The Week website banner

Our thanks to the website of the prestigious news magazine,The Week, for including the Watermill in an article on five of the best art holidays around the world. You can see it here.

Paintins by Paul Talbot-Greaves

The magazine, which provides a digest of the week’s important new stories, says:“Broaden your horizons with a stay at The Watermill at Posara, Tuscany, where painting sessions can be supplemented with courses in self-development, creative writing, Italian, knitting and yoga. Next year’s featured artists include Paul Talbot-Greaves (watercolours and acrylics, 28 April to 5 May), Andrew Geeson (watercolours 23 to 30 June), Claire Warner (watercolours, oils and acrylics, 15 to 22 September) and Vicki Norman (oils, 6 to 13 October).

The watermill's Italian Cooking

“Alongside workshops and masterclasses there are excursions to the nearby villages of the Cinque Terre and the town of Fivizzano on market day,” says The Times. "The Watermill’s Italian cooking offers another reason to pack your bags: sample menus include creamy risotto al pesto, oven-baked fish between chestnut leaves and Amaretto mousse ice cream.”

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Sandra is our ‘painter in residence’ for early Summer

Sandra Strohschein

We’ve never had a ‘painter in residence’ at the Watermill before, but for most of June next year we are going to be doing just that.

Our delightful watercolour* tutor, Sandra Strohschein, will be with us for FOUR painting weeks, from May 26 to June 23. They promise to be the greatest fun – and the first two weeks are completely booked up already.

Sandra says: “The Watermill is one of my favourite places to paint and the hospitality is out of this world. I love the idea of being there for four weeks.”

She adds: “I usually travel to Europe every year for a couple of months and I am looking forward to spending more time with you in Italy next year. What fun! I’ve made so many great friends over the years at the Watermill and I am looking forward to meeting many of them again as well as making new friends during our painting weeks. I enjoy painting at home or abroad with friends: it is all wonderful.”

Painting by Sandra Strohschein
A painting of the Watermill from the river
by Sandra Strohschein

*Sandra will teach in watercolour, but she says: “Students may choose to paint in acrylic or pastel as well as, or instead of, watercolour. I can instruct on how to put together a painting as far as composition, light, values etc... I cannot handle oil as I am allergic to it but pencil, acrylic, pastel... perfectly fine.”

As we said, the weeks May 26 to June 2, and June 2 to June 9, are fully booked (you can join a waiting list if these are the only dates you can make). We already have six guests booked in for the week June 9 to June 16 (and a couple more in the pipeline), and three for the week June 16 to June 23, so now is the time to book on these amazing courses.

Painting by Sandra Strohschein
Red house in nearby Fivizzano
by Sandra Strohschein

We had a wonderful week with Sandra earlier last year and our guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves. A couple of their comments: “Sandra was full of enthusiasm and talent and made every day a joy. To have two chances most days to paint was utter heaven and in such wonderful surroundings. I didn’t paint a masterpiece but thoroughly enjoyed my week. I hope to remember some of the tricks Sandy taught us and use them in the future.”

“Many thanks to you both for a fabulous week. Your forethought, hard work and professionalism are very much appreciated. Nothing was too much trouble and nothing was at fault. You have created a gem. Please pass on our sincere gratitude to all your lovely people.”

Sandra Strohschein from Michigan, USA, has achieved an extraordinary mastery of her medium, transparent watercolours. She works in a fast, loose impressionistic style, but above all, she produces passionate, emotionally charged paintings, full of energy.

As for her teaching, people frequently tell her about how much fun they have on her workshops and how nobody ever wants them to end. Another painting guest on her course at the mill said: “Watching your demonstrations was such an education and your kind and patient individual help was invaluable.”

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
26 May - 2 June (full), 2-9 June (full), 9-16 June AND 16-23 June 2018
Watercolours (and acrylic and pastel)
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Painting in the fresh air? WRITE yourself a note, says Terry Jarvis

When you are out painting en plein air – one of life’s great pleasures, says Watermill tutor Terry Jarvis – think about doing a little WRITING!

Yes, write yourself a note about what you see and your emotional reactions to it.

Terry always does so, and he says: “I call these my ‘one-liners’, but I have to say they are usually more than one line! It is bit like a letter to myself: they tell me what drew me to the subject, how I feel about the scene. They jog my memory of the day/the moment.”

He adds:“Together with a small thumbnail tonal sketch and a photograph, the information I write tells me my personal take on the scene and really helps to solidify my visual memory of the subject. This is a great help when you want to finish off your painting in the studio later.”

In-progress-pictures by Terry Jarvis

Terry’s ‘pictures-in-progress’ are of a corner of the hilltop village of Monte dei Bianchi, where our Watermill groups go to paint on Fridays. Terry’s note said :“The curved wall, the old weathered door speak of centuries of hardship and resilience in the same moment! The wonderful texture of the wall and the door, connected with the beautiful light and shadows play a wonderful story in my heart.”

Terry also made a thumbnail sketch showing tonal values and composition opportunities, and took a photograph giving the colour. He says: “I was able to take the time later to explore and expound this age-old story visually and emotionally.”

Terry says:“A few short notes like these help me to realise what I am painting! They tell me how I am emotionally connected to the scene. These are notes that place life into the image. I have found it is such a great tool.”

Painting holidays: the inspiring 2018 line-up

We are proud to announce the full line-up of our talented and inspiring painting tutors for 2018.

Paul Talbot-Greaves

Paul Talbot-Greaves
28 April to 5 May 2018 - course full, waiting list open
Watercolours (and acrylics)
To learn more about Paul, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
19 May to 26 May 2018 - three or four places left
‘Courageous Color Workshop’
To learn more about Maggie, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
26 May to 2 June 2018 - course full, waiting list open
2 June to 9 June 2018
- course full, waiting list open
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
9 June to 16 June 2018 - still plenty of places
16 June to 23 June 2018
- still plenty of places
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Andrew Geeson

Andrew Geeson
23 June to 30 June 2018 - five or six places left
To learn more about Andrew, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Terry Jarvis

Terry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 - still plenty of places
Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)
To learn more about Terry, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Nel Whatmore & Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça & Nel Whatmore
1 September to 8 September 2018 - two or three places left
To learn more about Rebecca & Nel, their course and to see more of their pictures, please visit their Profile Page

Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
8 September to 15 September 2018 - two or three places left
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)
To learn more about Mike, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Claire Warner

Claire Warner
15 September to 22 September 2018 - course full, waiting list open
Watercolours (and oils and acrylics)
To learn more about Claire, her course and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
6 October to 13 October 2018 - four or five places left
Oils en plein air
To learn more about Vicki, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
13 October to 20 October 2018 - four or five places left
To learn more about Tim, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Come and join us and enjoy the magic at the mill!

Painting by Tim Wilmot - The watermill riverside

*** 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 2018 programme link below to view the full list of our inspiring 2018 painting tutors

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Only a few places left on our 2018 knitting holidays

Knitting classes at the watermill in Tuscany, Italy

We’ve only four or five places left overall for our 2018 Knitting and La Bella Vita week-long holidays, so now’s the time to grab them and come and enjoy a unique knitting experience. Here’s what some of last year’s guests had to say: (All the great pictures are by Phil Wright.)

I had the most wonderful knitting holiday at the Watermill in Posara! Everything was taken care of by our perfect hosts Lois and Bill as well as by the rest of the great staff. Having Lisa Richardson as our knitting tutor was a delight and great inspiration!

"A simply heavenly knitting retreat at the Watermill with the lovely Lisa Richardson."

"Such perfection, I am spoiled for anywhere else! Utterly brilliant! Perfect hosts, fabulous food..."

Knitting in the vine courtyard at the watermill

"The knitting retreat with Marie Wallin was a dream come true, the food was fresh and fabulous and the setting was paradise! If you have the opportunity to go, don't hesitate!"

"Thank you for the invigorating knitting experience. The weather cooperated beautifully and the food at the Watermill and the other locations was excellent and varied. Sarah is prepared and organized; flexible and patient with attendees of all capabilities with a good sense of humour."

Here’s the current 2018 knitting line-up:

Sarah Hazell

Sarah Hazell - two or three places left
5 May to 12 May 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Sarah and her courses at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Marie Wallin

Marie Wallin - course full, waiting list open
14 July to 21 July 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Marie and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Lisa Richardson

Lisa Richardson - one or two places left
29 September to 6 October 2018
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

Knitting group at the watermill in Italy

Don't forget your partner!

And don’t forget that your friend or partner doesn’t need to participate in the creative course, whether it’s painting, language, knitting or yoga.

We offer them a range of Alternative activities for partners on all our 2018 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

Want to write? Just put pen to paper (or tap that keyboard) for ten minutes each day!

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Jo Parfitt,who is returning to The Watermill next Autumn to take one of her unique courses on Writing your life stories, says her favourite writing tip comes from Dorothea Brande, author of Becoming a Writer: “She believes that if you truly want to be a writer you need to commit to writing at a specific time every day for just ten minutes. If you can’t commit to that then you don’t seriously want to be a writer.”

Better still, get started with Jo’s week-long writing course here this Autumn. Jo’s Write Your Life Story 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, and put this into practice right away. The course will run from 22 to 29 September 2018.

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt has published 31 books herself, has helped more than 100 authors get into print and more than 1,000 people to begin writing. She’s an inspiring, compassionate and encouraging teacher: her motto is ‘sharing what I know to help others to grow’.

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. It will also help to remove blocks to your writing. Sessions at the mill will empower students to write in a compelling way that makes real experiences come to life.”

Jo adds: “The class will include several methods and genre 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 safe and supportive environment this course is for you. It is appropriate for students of any level.”

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
22 September to 29 September 2018 -
two or three places left

Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at The Watermill, please visit her Profile Page



Dress like an onion in this doggy weather. And watch out for the basins!

Onion Cartoon
These days one never knows
how to dress.
Speak for yourself!

Dress like an onion! That’s what Italians do when it’s cold! Catherine Edwards from The Local, the online English newspaper here in Italy, tells us that you are really beginning to understand Italian when a sentence like “It was raining sinks and it was dog cold, so I had to dress like an onion” makes perfect sense to you. Yes, Piove catinelle, literally “It’s raining basins” means, as we say in English,“It’s raining cats and dogs”. And when it’s really cold, it is dog cold: “Fa un freddo cane.” The solution: wear lots of layers: “Vestirsi a cipolla,” dress like an onion.

It’s not going to be cold, for sure, during our unique language course at the Watermill, but you’ll learn lots of other unusual and useful Italian phrases with our lovely Italian teacher, Giulia Balestri.

Giulia Balestri

We already have eight people booked in for next Summer’s course, so we only have room for a few more people. We’d love you to join us. You’ll learn more of the beautiful language from the Italians themselves and also savour la bella vita italiana. We’ve teamed up again with the prestigious Florence language school, Langues Services, to design a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way ever.

There will not only 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 you’ve learned.

Learning Italian in situ

A couple of comments from this year’s language course:

“We would like you to know how much we appreciated our stay with you at Posara. As hosts, you made us feel most welcome; and the combination of language lessons, food and excursions was excellently balanced. We were unaware of the Apuan mountain region – it is spectacularly beautiful. Altogether a unique and delightful experience. With fond memories of your lovely home and very personal hospitality.”

“What an amazing week. Thank you, Bill, Lois and your excellent team. Giulia was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip. Can’t wait to do it all again…”

Giulia Balestri

Giulia Balestri
30 June to 7 July 2018 - three or four places left
Italian language week
To learn more about Giulia and her course at The Watermill, please click here

Yoga News at the watermill in ItalyYOGA NEWS

“A fabulously revitalising week.” Claire’s amazing yoga retreat

Onion Cartoon
The Walled garden at The Watermill,
the perfect spot for yoga and church bells

“The air, the sun, the sound of the church bells brought a special feeling of lightness and childlike joy to the proceedings.”

That’s a comment from one of the participants on Claire Murphy’s relaxing and inspiring yoga retreat at The Watermill last year. Another said:“The Watermill is such a stunning, peaceful, green and quiet. We are pampered and well looked-after”

As for the yoga, here’s what another of last year’s guests had to say: “The yoga retreat was the perfect mix of physical postures, meditation and thoughtful contemplation in glorious mountain surroundings. I particularly appreciated how you created a gentle space for all attendees no matter where they were on their yoga journey or what physical issues they were dealing with. The journaling and art prompts offered the opportunity for creative experimentation and expansion. All in all, a fabulously revitalising week.”

Yoga Strtch

Claire’s yoga retreat is inspired by the beauty of this area and by the elements and she’s been working hard on an even more inspiring itinerary for 2018. She tells us:“The title of the retreat is Nourish Your Elemental Self and it will include yoga, meditation, creative writing & art journaling.”

Claire has been allotting themes for each day: Sunday:Earth; Monday:Water; Tuesday:Fire; Thursday:Air and Friday:Ether. It’s all part of our aim to nourish your mind, body and soul. Claire’s working up the itineraries, which will include activities in the Watermill gardens, along the millstream and river and, of course, breathing in the wonderfully pure air of this environmentally protected area. And we’ll visit mountain villages, a market in a walled Medieval town and practise yoga and meditation in the peace and solitude of a 16th-Century monastery.

Yoga, meditation and massage have been a way of life for Claire Murphy for more than 25 years and she’s passionate about teaching them. Together we’ve created a unique seven-day programme, which will be tailored to the needs of the group.

2018 Yoga retreat

Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy
25 August to 1 September 2018 - still plenty of places
Nourish - mind, body and soul
To learn more about Claire and her course at The Watermill, please visit her Profile Page


The watermill in Italy's newsletter specialsNEWSLETTER SPECIALS

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

Don’t forget that everything is included in the cost of a painting holiday, yoga retreat, knitting, personal development 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 this year, 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