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NEWSLETTER ISSUE 94 / April 2018

Dear Friend,

Watermill's new kitchen and dining door

We hope you and yours enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing Easter. We were at The Watermill, enjoying time with friends and continuing our work preparing for the next busy season of creative courses. The big project this year was a complete revamp of the communal kitchen, where coffee, tea, biscuits, water etc. are always on hand for our guests, and where we prepare the evening aperitivi. And as part of its role in catering for the inner man and woman, the new kitchen also has a library section, with books to nourish the mind, too. The new area looks splendid, as you can see from the pictures above, but we are not sure what to call it! We thought of Buttery, in college terms a store where provisions are kept, by that didn’t seem quite right, or Bottega, but that’s more a shop. Or how about a Caffé/bar/biblioteca, because that’s what it is? That’s a bit of a mouthful, however, and we still haven’t found a satisfactory answer. Have you any thoughts?

We’ve also completely renovated the Vasari Suite and that’s looking splendid, too, not least the new doors in the main archway to the courtyard. Not only do they bring more light to the Vasari sitting room, they also look splendid as you come down the drive to the Watermill.

Come and see for yourselves. 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. Booking are continuing to flow in, so if you’ve a favourite tutor, a specific 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 click here, 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.

In this month’s newsletter there are also stories on:

  • Terry welcomes the Spring
  • a new Tuscan landscape from Maggie
  • avoiding alliteration (always)
  • a reminder of our photographic competition
  • fast and loose buildings
  • knitting projects inspired by Italy and the Watermill
  • giving birth to a book
  • why 17 is unlucky here
  • yoga with your eyes shut

Intrigued? Read on....

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.

painting by Terry Jarvis at the watermill in Tuscany

Terry’s welcome to the Spring

As the seasons have changed at last, here’s a colourful Welcome to Spring.

It’s by Watermill painting tutor Terry Jarvis, who will be returning for anothersun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring course in watercolours (and in oils, pastels and acrylics) at the Watermill this Summer.

More details below and on Terry's Profile Page.

Another captivating Tuscan landscape from Maggie

Painting by Maggie Renner-Hellmann

Here’s a beguiling new acrylic from our tutor Maggie Renner Hellmann. She calls it Last Light Tuscany and it captures the spirit of the rugged, unspoilt scenery around the Watermill. Maggie has built up quite a portfolio of works from her visit to the Watermill last year and we are looking forward to seeing even more great paintings when she returns this May.

We’d love you to join us, but you’ll have to hurry. We have only one bedroom left, the Ghiberti, with a wonderful view over the Watermill gardens and the mountains beyond. It is suitable for single occupancy or for a couple or two friends sharing.

More details below and on Maggie's Profile Page.

Avoid alliteration (always) and shun clichés like the plague (they’re old hat!)

William Safire

If you are in a creative writing mode, I thought I might share with you some excellent, but firmly tongue-in-cheek writing tips, courtesy of famous New York Times columnist, the late William Safire. Some are his own, some came from other writers. All, while amusing, are also very true.

As well as urging us to avoid alliteration and clichés, Safire also advised:

  • Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  • And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
  • Sentence fragments? Eliminate.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  • Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
  • If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

Good stuff, and there’ll be plenty more sound, practical advice, too, from Jo Parfitt, during her Write your Life Stories weeks at the Watermill. Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, so ‘by popular demand’, we’ve opened a second course: Her new week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018. Come and join us: you won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

More details below and on Jo's Profile Page.

Don’t forget the Watermill photographic competition....

.... It’s your chance to capture the unique ambiance and fun-filled atmosphere of The Watermill during our inspiring creative courses -- and win a free creative holiday. The competition is open to anyone who has stayed at the Watermill, this year or in previous years (except professional photographers).

Dont Forget the Watermill Photographic Competition
(Left) A humming bird moth at the Watermill by guest Ron Ploeg and
(Right) Concentration on a knitting course by guest Phil Wright

First prize goes to the photograph we judge to be the one that most reflects the ambiance of the mill. We are particularly interested in shots that show our ‘students’ in action, both at ‘work’ and play, although we’d also like to see great photos of the Watermill, its grounds and the surrounding countryside, and of the flora and fauna that abound in this environmentally protected area. The winner will be offered a free week-long creative holidayat the Watermill in 2019, of his or her choice, subject to availability. There will be five runner-up prizes, of £GBP 200 off a creative holiday at The Watermill in 2019, subject to availability.

You can find out more below and by clicking here. Please join in the fun and submit the best photos taken during your visit this year. We look forward to seeing them all.

Watermill in Tuscany's Painting NewsPAINTING NEWS

Fast and loose buildings with Andrew Geeson

Paintings by Andrew Geeson

We’re impressed by the way watercolour tutor Andrew Geeson captures the essence of his subject in a few fast and loose brushstrokes, like the apple and cherries and the poppies above. But he’s also fast and loose with buildings (below), too, and we are looking forward to seeing how he will capture the walled Medieval towns, castles, convents and hilltop villages we’ll visit during his week-long painting course with us in June.

paintings by Andrew Geeson

So, whether you want to draw fruit or facades, geraniums or gables, Andrew’s your man. Come and join him for a fast and loose watercolour time at The Watermill. He will be with us from Saturday 23 to Saturday 30 June 2018. We already have 10 bookings for this course, and we have two bedrooms and one apartment suite left.

Andrew Geeson

Andrew Geeson, from Leicester in the UK, has been a professional watercolourist for more than 20 years. He has taught hundreds of students on holidays and in workshops and, increasingly, on-line were he enjoys a large following.

He says: “I love the simplicity and joy of watercolours and my passion is to inspire and encourage students to paint in a loose a free manner. The joy it brings is unmatched and everyone should try it. I am keen to share my excitement with others.” As one of his students says: “Superb work. Beautiful loose style, this is how watercolours should be!”

Painting by Andrew Geeson at the watermill in Italy

Back on fruit and flowers, here’s a pair or Andrew’s pears!

Andrew specialises in a wet-into-wet style of watercolours: “This quick, fun and rewarding approach to watercolour painting allows you to capture your subject, whatever it may be, in the most atmospheric way without the constraints of over detailing. Being spontaneous, immediate and atmospheric, it allows you to express more than the subject of the painting Come along and give it a try. I think you may find a new world of painting.”

You can find out more below and by visiting Andrew's Profile Page.

Painting holidays: the inspiring 2018 line-up

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 - one place left (or two sharing)
‘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
- one place left
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 - one place left (or two sharing)
16 June to 23 June 2018
- one place left (or two sharing)
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 - three or four 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 single or double rooms available
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 - course full, waiting list open
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 - course full, waiting list open
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 - course full, waiting list open
To learn more about Tim, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

Onion Cartoon
Our Summer painter in residence,
Sandra Strohschein

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

*** Why not bring your non-painting partner as well?

There’s a generous £250 discount for him/her if they share a room with you - and there’s plenty for them to do. Have a look at our Partner’s Activities Page for suggestions.

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

Watermill in Italy's Knitting NewsKNITTING NEWS

Sarah’s Watermill knitting projects are inspired by Italian design

Our lovely knitting tutor Sarah Hazell has been developing the special projects she and her guests will be working on during her knitting week here. There are two specially designed projects incorporating cable knitting and sequence knitting, and a third for those who have already tried the sequence-knitting project and would prefer an introduction to chevron knitting and stripe sequences. Sarah’s projects for her week here are inspired by the Watermill location and Italian design.

Project by Sarah Hazell at the watermill in Tuscany

Creative Cables Sarah says: “A cabled scarf/cowl reflecting all the twists and turns that you will encounter during your stay – from the winding landscape through to the vines at the Watermill.” In the picture above you can see Sarah’s example knitted in Mrs Dalloway (a stunning ochre), but it will work equally well in Ballet Russes (a luscious pink), Kanoko (chalky blue), Clarissa (a warm neutral) and French (a bold, purply-grey). You choose which colour you prefer.

Sequence Knitting Sarah says: “This project uses the sequence knitting technique to create a beautiful shawl with lots of drape. It is knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious DK and comes in a choice of Old Lace (cream) or Sandstone (marled ochre): you decide which colour you prefer.”

Kniting projects by Sarah Hazell<

Missoni-inspired chevron patterns Sarah says: “This project will enable you to design your own scarf using a simple chevron pattern. We will explore how different colours relate to each other, look at some of Missoni’s sketches and designs and discover how altering the proportion of colours within a striped sequence can affect a design.”

Sarah adds: “Workshop sessions tend to start with a technique focus linked to the projects and then a chance to work at your own pace with me on hand to offer support or advice if you need it. I am always happy to help with any other projects that you bring with you.”

Sarah will be joining us again for her Knitting and La Bella Vita week from Saturday 5 May to Saturday 12 May 2018. We’re almost fully booked and have room for just one more knitter (or two sharing).

Sarah Hazell

Sarah Hazell is a designer in knit and crochet, and author of several books. She says,“I have a passion for beautiful yarn and textiles and am endlessly fascinated by colour, pattern and texture.” She loves to teach new techniques and inspire confidence in others. Sarah’s workshop at the mill will show you to elevate your knits from homemade to handmade.

Here’s what one of our guests had to say about last year’s course: “Thank you for the invigorating knitting experience last week. The weather cooperated beautifully and the food at the Watermill and the other locations was excellent and varied. It is a plus for you that Sarah will return next May. She is prepared and organized; flexible and patient with attendees of all capabilities with a good sense of humour.”

Onion Cartoon
Knitting, chatting and laughing
on Sarah’s course last year.
Picture: Phil Wright

Sarah’s relishing her return, too: “A knitting holiday at The Watermill offers so much – splendid location, delicious food and opportunities to explore some of the local region. There is also a real sense of community, with Bill and Lois employing and supporting lots of local people. And then there is the knitting of course!”

We have three knitting weeks this year, but only one place left, on Sarah Hazell’s week in May. There are waiting lists on Marie Wallin’s and Lisa Richardson’s courses.

Here’s the current 2018 knitting line-up:

Sarah Hazell

Sarah Hazell - one place left (or two sharing)
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 - course full, waiting list open
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

Thirty-two babies and it’s not getting easier! Jo on the birth of her new book

Our talented and inspiring writing tutor Jo Parfitt has just published her 32nd book and she says: “I have often compared writing and publishing a book to having a baby. Not only does it take about nine months to gestate but then, once it is in your arms, it takes over your life!”

Jo Parfitt's new book Monday Moerning Emails

Monday Morning Emails is co-authored with Canadian Terry Anne Wilson, who, like Jo, has lived abroad for about three decades, has sons in their twenties and is not quite sure where to call home. This book is very different from Jo’s usual ‘how-to’ books, telling of the vicissitudes of living abroad and bringing up a family: “The birth was fairly long and painful. The third stage of labour took us to well over 25 edits and read throughs, times when gas and air did not quite hit the spot and we needed wine. But, in the end, about a month ago, our baby slithered off the press, silky skinned and gorgeous. My heart was on my sleeve and as the book arrived in the world, my heart was in my mouth....Until Monday Morning Emails I had not really known how it felt to be faced with writing raw, authentic, vulnerable truth about myself and those close to me.”

The book was launched in The Hague on March 7th and at the Families in Global Transition conference two days later: “And only then did I dare to peak over the back of the sofa where I discovered words such as:

  • “I wanted to thank you both for putting those issues on the table in such an honest and compelling manner. Already, it has been a catalyst for my parents to discuss decisions they made all those years ago, and ask me what I think now, as an adult.”
  • “It's the best thing you’ve ever written.”
  • “Thank you for starting the conversation.”

Jo says: “As with the birth of any baby. The hardest work of all begins after it arrives. Terry Anne and I have work to do. There is a website, a new blog, flyers, reviews to elicit, a book trailer, book club questions, promotions, articles to write and readings to do. Thirty-two babies in and it has not got any easier....”

So, we’re not promising book writing is easy, but with Jo as midwife, you can begin the exciting process of giving birth to your own creation during her unique and inspiring Writing Your Life Stories courses at the Watermill. We’ve had such a demand for Jo’s courses this year, that, with her first week fully booked, we’ve opened a second week for her.

If you’d like to give birth to some of your life stories, be it a full-blooded memoir, or a shorter journal, or even a blog, we’d be delighted to welcome you here. Jo’s new week will run from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018. We’ve been told that this is an ideal time for many people, such as people who work in schools and universities, who can only take time off in the academic holidays and, of course, anyone who want to come is welcome. You won’t regret it! As one student on Jo’s last course here said: “I can honestly say it’s been life changing for me and the setting could not have been more perfect.”

Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 - still plenty of places
22 September to 29 September 2018 - course full, waiting list open
Write Your Life Stories
To learn more about Jo and her course at The Watermill, please visit her Profile Page



Why Italian hotels don’t have a Room 17 (or a 17th floor). Mere heptadecaphobia!

No room 17

Have you ever noticed that Italian hotels never have a 17th floor? (Yes, we know, most of them don’t go that high, but when they do, they don’t, if you see what we mean.) Apparently, Italians dislike the number so much that in some tall hotels the floors go from 16 to 18. And you’ll be pushed to find a Room 17 in many hotels, too. The Italian airline Alitalia doesn’t have a row 17 in its planes. You might call it heptadecaphobia!

Friday the 17th = friday 13th in Italy

Friday 17th is the Italian equivalent our Friday 13th. Here’s a picture of sign on a shop door: Oggi Venerdi 17. Chiuso per scaramanzia. ‘Today is Friday 17. Closed for Good Luck.’

There seems to be several explanations. First, the number 1, written with that conspicuous continental tick, resembles a hanged man, while 7 looks like a gallows. Then, if you re-arrange 17’s Roman numerals you get VIXI, often engraved on gravestones and meaning ‘My life is over’. So, you’re tempting Death to pay you a visit. (Stick with VIVIT, ‘He’s alive’, which sounds like a fine acronym for living well in Italy.)

Ghirlandaio' last supper

While 17 sends shivers down Italian spines, they rather like 13. It’s associated with the old pagan mother goddess Cybele and with lunar cycles and fertility: it will bring you life and prosperity. The Italians think that’s good news, even though 13 sat down to the Last Supper. (This is Ghirlandaio’s version (above) in the Ognissanti refectory in Florence.)

Come and learn more about life in Italy on our Italian language course this Summer:

Giulia Balestri

We’ve teamed up again with the prestigious Florence language school, Langues Services, and tutor Giulia Balestri 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.

Ordering lunch in Italian

couple of comments from last 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…”

We’ve 12 people booked in for the week, one a non-participating partner, so we have room for just two more people.

Giulia Balestri

Giulia Balestri
30 June to 7 July 2018 - two places left
7 July to 14 July 2018 - possible course if there is demand
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

This yoga tip is so simple you can do it with your eyes closed, says Amy

Eyes closed

To have a deeper sensory experience of your yoga practice, try closing your eyes, says Watermill yoga teacher Amy Rogg. Of course, you should establish your pose or a movement, first, but Amy says: “We use our eyes to take in information and scan our environment and doing so can also stimulate our intellectual system, causing our brains to analyse, compartmentalize, judge, and compare. This causes a “busy-ness” in the body. Once our eyes close, it’s easier to drop into the simplicity of feeling and to sense the body moving in space.

 “It also brings our focus in instead of out. When we have an inward focus, we become aware of our emotions, physical sensations, and the rhythm of our breath. “Busy-ness” begins to ground and we find ourselves in a calmer state–we shift from our head to our heart,our intellect to our feeling body.

“So, the next time you are resting in a pose or even doing a dynamic movement like cat/cow, try closing your eyes for a few minutes and notice what happens!”

Amy and her colleague Joanne Brohmer are running a wonderful yoga retreat at the Watermill this Summer. So, close your eyes and dream of beautiful Tuscany, amazing food and restorative yoga. With their students using words like ‘joy’ and ‘magical’ about them, Amy and Joanne will help you to awaken and restore your true passion and self-worth. We are sure this is going to be one of our most inspiring retreats – a sun-filled, fun-filled week where we’ll nurture your mind, body and spirit.

2018 Yoga retreat

Amy Rogg and Joanne Brohmer

Amy Rogg & Joanne Brohmer
25 August to 1 September 2018 - still plenty of places
Nourish - mind, body and soul
To learn more about Amy and Joanne and their course at The Watermill, please visit their Tutor 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