Archives for March 2017

Thank you friends!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.The Watermill Facebook page (click here to see it) now has more than 4,000 friends.

Our sincere thanks to you all for your continuing support. You can see all about the Watermill and its activities by clicking here – and, of course, we’d be delighted if you would like to join us on one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring creative courses. Come and see what all the fuss is about – and, if you are, thank you again for being a Friend.

Mill courtyard

Take rosemary to your hearts when you join our unique cookery course

Rosemary 2There’s an old English saying “Where Rosemary flourishes, the Woman rules” and it was believed that rosemary would not grow well in a garden unless the mistress was the master. Well, thanks to Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni (and presumably his wife Marida and my wife Lois), rosemary flourishes in the Walled Garden of the Watermill. (Flavio and I are not commenting!)

Sage, basil, mint, thyme, chives and other herbs also grow well here and we use them daily in our cooking. We’ll also be picking fresh aromatic herbs and using them during our unique L’arte di mangiar bene cookery course at the mill this Summer (details below).

In the Tuscan kitchen we tend to use rosemary to flavour meat and potato dishes, but Lois and Ingrid Fabbian, who will be running the course along with some fabulous local Italian cooks, including Marida, Mirella and Angelina, will also be showing you how to bake a moist and delicious apple and rosemary cake.

apple and rosemary cake

Here’s the recipe, to whet your appetite:

Ingredients
190g plain white flour
1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
85g unsalted butter, room temperature
85g dark brown sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 eggs
1½ tbsp olive oil
240g peeled and cored Bramley cooking apples, very finely diced+ (optional) 
one extra apple just sliced into thin slices either with a mandolin or carefully 
with a sharp knife.
½ tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
More sprigs of rosemary & a couple of pinches of brown sugar for topping 
& a handful of oats (optional too)
One 23cm round cake tin OR 10 individual cake tins,well greased with olive oil
Method
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan assisted.
Whisk together the flour, spices and baking powder to ensure they are evenly 
mixed. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – approximately 
4 minutes. 
Beat in the eggs, then add the oil and beat to incorporate. 
Mix in the diced apple and chopped rosemary, then fold in the dry 
ingredients.
Transfer into the prepared cake tin/s, lay the slices of apple on top,sprinkle 
with oats 
If using and brown sugar & press the extra rosemary into the top.
Bake for around 15 mins for mini cakes and 25-30 minutes for a larger cake – or until 
firm in the centre and a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely, or serve warm.

Put a sprig of rosemary on top, too – and, gentlemen, have a good sniff: A man who is indifferent to the fragrance of rosemary is unable to give true love to a woman and those who smell rosemary frequently will retain their youth.Rosemary 3

L’arte di mangiar bene, the art of eating well, lies at the heart of the Italian lifestyle — and that’s just what you’ll enjoy on The Watermill’s first-ever cookery week. ITINERARY page Mirella in kitchen croppedYou’ll learn the secrets of healthy eating from Lois and The Watermill team, among them an Italian grandmother (Mirella, to the right), an organic farmer and our gardener’s wife Marida. You’ll choose freshest local ingredients (we’ll pick many of them ourselves each day) and prepare them deliciously for the table.

We’ll visit markets, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards. The Italians are the healthiest people in Europe and this is due not just the quality of the food, but to la bella vita italiana, the relaxed lifestyle which means taking Panzanella 1time to talk to friends and to enjoy their company, not least in convivial meals around the dining table. You’ll be savouring all that, too.

Over the years Lois Breckon and The Watermill team have built a reputation for theThe Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy. quality of their food and we’re keen to share our secrets with you, from antipasti to dolci – and dozens of mouth-watering, freshly prepared, health-promoting dishes in between.

 

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italypanzanella19-26 August – L’arte di mangiar bene 

with Lois Breckon, Ingrid Fabbian and The Watermill team

To learn more about this delicious cookery course, please click here

A colourful corner of the walled garden

A colourful corner of the walled garden

 

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The sun and moon of alternate nostril breath: another yoga tip from Claire

Italy- Alternate Nostril Breath (002)Our delightful yoga and meditation tutor Claire Murphy is returning to the Watermill this September for a special seven-day retreat, called Nourish — mind, body, and soul. There’s a link below for you to find out more details of this unique, joyful yoga and meditation retreat. Seven people have already signed up, so we have room for only four or five more.

And to whet your appetite and get you into the right mode — mind. body and soul — Claire has prepared a series of relaxing yet invigorating exercises for the week, which you can enjoy NOW, even before you come (or even if you don’t!)

This one is Alternate Nostril Breath.

“The sun (right nostril) and the moon (left nostril) divide time into day and night”  —Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4.17

Claire says: The foundation of yoga is the breath. It is also an important aspect as a means of support for meditation too. So, throughout your time on retreat at the Watermill, you will hear me mention the breath an awful lot. We often give it very little regard unless we have a heavy cold and therefore blocked sinuses, or we may have asthma or other respiratory conditions.

“Our whole system relies on the nourishment that is provided with each breath that we take; it boosts our energy; improves our ability to focus; can reduce anxiety and bring calmness, plus many other benefits.”

 Claire continues: “Alternate nostril breath helps us to align and balance the energies of the inner body. Most are unaware, until they are experiencing a heavy cold, that one nostril will be more dominant for a couple of hours and then the other. This cycle continues throughout the day, mostly unnoticed, that is until we are congested. (We all know that scenario: we can only breathe through the right side of our nose, and then suddenly we feel the left side clearing, only for the right side to then become bunged-up!) The science of right/left side nostril breathing and how it corresponds to the hemispheres of the brain is quite a lengthy subject, and one best saved for another day.”

Practically, however, says Claire, “You can check right now which channel in your body is more open. Sitting upright, hold the back of your hand beneath one nostril and breathe out, then move your hand so it is beneath the other nostril and do the same. Notice which side is stronger? When repeated a couple of hours later, you may find it has changed – it normally does every 1 ½ to 2 hours.

“Practising alternate nostril breath promotes the balancing of the energies within the body, the masculine and feminine, the hemispheres of the brain and helps to prepare us for meditation.”

Claire adds: “I look forward to seeing you on the cushion in Italy soon where we can explore this and so much more.”

Yoga retreat at The Watermill in Tuscany, yoga and meditation retreats

We’ll nourish your soul on rural walks and visits to ancient walled towns and hilltop villages, castles and14432947_10154449229557557_403500150842892678_nconvents. You’ll also savour the relaxed atmosphere of la bella vita italiana in local cafes, shops, restaurants and markets. We’ll venture a little journal writing and painting in The Watermill studio overlooking the river or under the shade of the vine verandah to nourish your mind. And we’ll nourish your body with fresh, home-cooked, nutritionally balanced meals lovingly prepared by the Watermill cooks, with many of the ingredients freshly picked from The Watermill’s own gardens. There will be vegetarian options for every meal, of course. Private sessions with a local Shiatsu practitioner are also available, at cost, on request.
yoga Claire croppedYoga, 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. You can see the itinerary by clicking here.

Claire has a wealth of teaching experience in both yoga and meditation, primarily focused on women’s health. Claire currently teaches classes for women through all stages of their life and has even run sessions for women in recovery from cancer. In addition, her approach is very much from a remedial perspective in which she sees yoga being available to everybody.

 

Itali 4 jpgIn addition to her yoga capabilities, Claire has studied meditation within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for many years as well as being a qualified mindfulness for stress relief teacher. It’s this presence and focus that she brings to all her teachings and infuses all her sessions with mindful awareness. Claire’s style of teaching is very eclectic, borne out of studying and training in various traditions over the years across the UK and in many other areas of Europe and extensively in the USA. She brings a sense of humour and imagination to her teaching in order to make it accessible to everyone.

The sessions at The Watermill will be friendly and welcoming and no prior experience of yoga or meditation is necessary: all levels from beginner to intermediate will be catered for and we’ll also tailor our sessions to your particular needs. The classes are secular (non-denominational).

Claire Murphy head and shoulders 2Yoga portrait shape 39 -16 September Nourish — mind, body and soul 

with Claire Murphy Four or five places left

To learn more about Claire and her retreat at The Watermill, please click here

Come and join us and nourish your mind, body and soul.

Happy memories of painting at the Watermill from Sue. She’ll be creating more this Summer


Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Sue Ford
, our delightful and talented painting tutor from England, is returning to the Watermill this Summer. She says This is one of my favourite venues. My last course here, in 2015 was a great success: a lovely group of people and Bill and Lois made us very welcome. The authentic local food and the accommodation were beautiful — and we enjoying fabulous days our paining on location.” Sue’s painting above of the beach at Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, one of the locations for our Wednesday excursion during our week-long creative courses. We like it so much it is hanging on the Watermill sitting room wall.

Sue’s inspiring week-long painting course is in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic will run from Saturday 15 July to Saturday 22 July. More details below. Sue says: “I just love creating pictures in any medium – and I love passing on what I’ve learned to other people and to help them release their creativity.”

Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

A demonstration painting by Sue of the arch in the Watermill courtyard

Her students enjoyed their Watermill week with Sue, too: One said: “I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! Utterly wonderful. It was an experience that I will treasure. Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

Sue with studentsSue Ford was born in York, North Yorkshire and has experimented with almost every conceivable media in her career. She now a well recognised and admired professional artist and tutor. Here are some of her pupils at work in another of our great en plein air locations, an old monastery:

Sue Ford Joy and Sanjana at Convento

Sue says: “Each student will be guided carefully throughout the day, from initial demonstration to getting started, followed by patient, professional tuition. I aim to help my students to create paintings which will give them the confidence in their abilities and help them to develop their own artistic vision.”

sue plus pic15-22 July Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

with Sue Ford  Three or four places left

To learn more about Sue and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

 

 

Just two places left on Nel and Bec’s first pastel course at the Watermill

Nel and Rebecca head shotWe are delighted that Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça are coming to us for a unique week-long course in pastels this September. There are more details below. We are also delighted that 10 students (and two non-pastelling partners) are already booked in for this course, so we only have room for two more students (and possibly one more npp!) Nel and Bec will be with us from Saturday 23 September to Saturday 30 September 2017.

They say: “We are very excited about this course, as it is our first New Pastel School course abroad. The course will include some painting en plein air, some studio based work and trips out to beautiful locations. What we seek to offer is a new experience of using pastels outside and to introduce the joys of exploring how inspiring another countries landscape and countryside can be. As ever the atmosphere will be relaxed with one to one help, demonstrations and lots of lovely food! We seek to inspire you all to try something different and join us.”

Painting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

A pastel called Good Afternoon by Nel Whatmore

Here’s what one of their students on a previous course had to say: “I just wanted to write to say how much I valued the opportunity of being with you both again. You work so well together… Your teaching plan is extremely well thought out and balanced; it is highly intensive but you reach out to your students on so many levels, adding layers of experience and competence with every session.  The interactive classes had us all totally engaged and we learned so much more from discussing how to finish your picture. You are professionals with a capital ‘P’…”

Together Nel and Bec have created The New Pastel School, after years of friendship and mutual respect for each other’s work. Their course at the Watermill offers the unusual experience of having these two experienced pastel artists sharing the tuition, and combining their expertise and great enthusiasm for this versatile and exciting medium. As tutors, they can help people to see that there are always different ways to do things, even when working with the same pastels.

Nel's wonderful pastel 'Star of the garden.'

Nel’s wonderful pastel ‘Star of the garden.’

Nel Whatmore loves colour and paints in a very expressive way as her focus is on light and getting emotion into a painting. She particularly adores painting flowers, landscapes and seascapes. She has been a regular exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show for the past 10 years, where her stand has won multiple awards including a 5 star award in 2016. She has appeared on TV and celebrity collectors include Zoe Ball, Richard and Judy, Gary Neville and David Gower.

 

 

Rebecca's pastel Lying in the Sand

Rebecca’s pastel Lying in the Sand

Rebecca de Mendonça’s teaching and painting is the result of a varied career in the arts that has taken her from a degree at Wimbledon College of Art in Theatre Design, and working on projects ranging from Harrods Food Hall and the Phantom of the Opera to exhibiting at The Pastel Society and being a well known demonstrator. She has been commissioned to paint dancers at English National Ballet, actors in West End Shows, and has had work accepted by the Society of Equine Artists and The Pastel Society.

Nel and Rebecca head shotPainting by Nel Whatmore, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.23-30 September Pastels

with Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça One or two places left

To learn more about Nel and Rebecca and their course at The Watermill, please click  here

Spring into action to grab a place on a Watermill creative course

Lois primroses 1 Mar 17 reduced and croppedSpring is certainly beginning to Spring in Italy, as you can see from Lois’ picture above of primroses (and a plucky dandelion) blooming beside the millstream. We’re just back in Florence (our Winter quarters!) from a quick visit to the Watermill and we’re happy to report the new building work is going very well. The new bedrooms overlooking the river are going to be splendid. And bookings for our 2017 creative courses are also looking splendid, with more than 210 people already signed in. We’d love you to join us. Several courses are already full, but We still have plenty of lovely bedrooms (all with en suite bathrooms) and apartment suites to offer you. First, here’s the late painting courses ‘availability snapshot’


Doranne plus picDoranne Alden – four or five places left
13 May to 20 May 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Doranne, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 


Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein – fully booked, waiting list open
27 May to 3 June 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page.

 


Tom and picture

Tom J Byrne
3 June to 10 June 2017– new course, plenty of spaces
Oils and Watercolours
To learn more about Tom, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 


Keiko plus picKeiko Tanabe – one place left
10 June to 17 June 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Keiko, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 


mmaggie plus picMaggie Renner Hellmann – one or two places left
17 June to 24 June 2017
‘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

 


lea plus picLea Nixon – four or five places left
24 June to 1 July 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Lea, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 


terry plus picTerry Jarvis – fully booked, waiting list open
1 July to 8 July 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Terry, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 


sue plus picSue Ford – three or four places left
15 July to 22 July 2017
Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic
To learn more about Sue, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 


mark plus picMark Warner – three or four places left
22 July to 29 July 2017
Acrylics/Watercolours incorporating conte/pastel
To learn more about Mark, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 


varvara plus pixVarvara Neiman – fully booked, waiting list open
26 August to 2 September 2017
Water-based oils, acrylics and watercolour
To learn more about Varvara, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 


mike plus picMike Willdridge – fully booked, waiting list open
2 September to 9 September 2017
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


Nel plus picNel Whatmore & Rebecca de Mendonça
– one or two places left
23 September to 30 September 2017
Pastels
To learn more about Nel & Rebecca, their course and to see more of their pictures, please visit their Profile Page

 


charles plus picCharles Sluga – fully booked, waiting list open
30 September to 7 October 2017
Watercolours (and acrylics and oils)
To learn more about Charles, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 


Tim plus picTim Wilmot – five or six places left
7 October to 14 October 2017
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

 


And here’s the ‘availability snapshot’ for our knitting weeks

Lisa knit6 May to 13 May 2017 Knitting and La Bella Vita

with Lisa Richardson — One place left

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please click here 

 


Marie knit

20 May to 27 May 2017 Knitting and La Bella Vita with Marie Wallin — Fully booked, waiting list open

 

Marie knitAND 8 July to 15 July 2017 Knitting and La Bella Vita

with Marie Wallin – Two places left

To learn more about Marie and her courses at the mill, please click here 


Sarah knit

16 September to 23 September 2017 Knitting and La Bella Vita

With Sarah Hatton Fully booked, waiting list open

To learn more about Sarah and her course at the mill, please visit click here.  


And for our Italian language week:

francesca plus picSaturday 29 April to Saturday 6 May 2017 Italian Language course

With Langues Services — three or four places left 

Please click here to learn more about out Italian Language course at the mill, including the itinerary for the week.

 


For our cookery course:

Lois plus pic19-26 August – L’arte di mangiar bene 

with Lois Breckon, Ingrid Fabbian and The Watermill team — five or six places left

To learn more about this delicious cookery course, please click here

 


And for our yoga and meditation retreat:

Claire plus pic9 -16 September Nourish — mind, body and soul 

with Claire Murphy Four or five places left

To learn more about Claire and her retreat at The Watermill, please click here


So Spring into action and grab yourself a place!

A picture of the millstream taken by Lois last week.

A picture of the millstream taken by Lois last week.

 

 

Tom Byrne steps in for Sarah for a great oil (and watercolour) painting course

Painting by Tom Byrne, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

An oil of one of the hills surrounding Florence, by Tom Byrne

I am sorry to have to report that our lovely oil painting tutor Sarah Spencer has developed a medical problem, which makes her painting arm numb and weak. The diagnosis is currently inconclusive, but Sarah is on steroid injections to keep the mobility in her right hand and has been advised not to travel. We wish her the very best for her long-term recovery.

Sarah will clearly not be able to take her course with us this June, but we have happily been able to secure the services of a wonderful oil (and, an added bonus, watercolour) painter, Tom J Byrne, who lives and works in Florence, Italy. Some time back, Tom was a pupil of our friend Michael John Angel, Director of Studies at the Angel Academy in Florence – and ‘Johnny’ Angel was in turn a pupil of the great portrait and fresco painter Pietro Annigoni. So Tom has an impeccable artistic pedigree. We like his work so much we recently gave one of Tom’s paintings of Florence to a special friend for a special birthday present.

Tom's oil painting of Florence which which we bought and gave as a special birthday present

Tom’s oil painting of Florence which which we bought and gave as a special birthday present

Tom J Byrne is a landscape painter living in Florence, Italy where he specialises in plein air painting. He is from Ireland, where he studied and worked as an artist for 20 years, but for the last 15 years he has been living between France and Italy. In his workshop Tom will demonstrate in both oils and watercolours. He says: The simplicity of watercolours means they are a fantastic way quickly to grasp the principles involved in seeing and painting. Oils give us a very robust and powerful painting which is more easily appreciated by an audience.”

Painting by Tom Byrne a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Work in progress: another view over Florence

Here’s some praise from former students. One said: Tom Byrne is a charming host as well as a superb artist. He set up an easy and congenial atmosphere with fantastic food and plenty of wine. Tom is also an inspiring teacher. He’s serious and fun at the same time.” Another said: “Tom Byrne made the experience a special one by creating a friendly, collegial atmosphere among the guests with relaxed, interesting conversations over delicious Italian dinners. There was comprehensive tuition tailored to suit all levels of experience. I was amazed how much I actually painted while thoroughly enjoying myself.”

3 to 10 June 2017 Tom J Byrne

Oils and watercolours

To learn more about Tom and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

 

Come and join us at the Watermill and paint the glorious Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana with TomLunigiana Bardellino

Enjoy an ‘amazing’ painting — and gastronomic — experience with Lea

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea Nixon’s painting of a corner of the Watermill courtyard

Our talented and inspiring English watercolour tutor Lea Nixon is joining us this June for another sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring painting course and we’d love to welcome you here, too. Here’s what one guest said about Lea’s course here last year: “The whole experience was amazing … I loved it.”

Another said: “Lea was a wonderful tutor. He not only encouraged us to be productive but divided his attention equally with all his students, a hard task at times to achieve. I personally felt I came home with some worthwhile artwork but mainly came away with a wealth of new-found knowledge gleaned from watching and learning Lea’s painting style.”

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea’s painting of the market in the nearby walled Medieval town of Fivizzano, where we go to paint on Tuesdays

And it’s not just a painting experience. As well as Lea’s skilled and sympathetic tuition, you’ll also enjoy the Italian lifestyle, especially the food. Another guest on Lea’s last course wrote: I very much enjoyed my week at the Watermill. What you do is quite unique in that you get the gastronomy as well, visiting the various restaurants and your own excellent kitchen to experience the true taste of Tuscan food and wine. Furthermore, nothing is too much trouble and you have the personal attention of the owners to ensure that you have a good time.”

Another guest said: “I have been on at least 50 weeks of workshops in the last 12 years and I have to say that the last one with you was the best ever in terms of the organisation and the lovely food and wine we had. The local restaurants were very memorable – the sort of places you wouldn’t go to on your own, full of character and a quality experience.”

Dinner at the watermill..Great tastes, good company.

Dinner at the watermill..Great tastes, good company.

Lea Nixon head and shouldersLea Nixon is an exceptional watercolour painter from Wigan in the north-west of England for whom mood, character and atmosphere are particularly important. Lea specialises in watercolours, the magic of which excites him again and again. He has been a school teacher for the past 30 years in art and music, so creativity is in his blood – and he likes nothing more than to help others to achieve their artistic goals. Lea says: There are many different styles and ways to paint a picture and your own personal style defines you as an artist. I like to spot the originality in my students and work with them to develop their skills. It is fantastic fun.”

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Lea’s painting of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, one of our excursion venues

Lea’s course at The Watermill is for all levels of experience. He says: “We’ll learn about all the qualities to make a good watercolour and I’ll give you a procedure which will simplify the whole painting process. Watercolour is a captivating medium and there are so many ways to use it to make beautiful pictures.”

Lea Nixon head and shouldersPainting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.24 June- 1 July Watercolours

with Lea Nixon

To learn more about Lea and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Painting by Lea Nixon, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Tuscan poppies by Lea Nixon