Archives for June 2017

And for that minute a blackbird sang…

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Our gardener Flavio Terenzoni is very fond of birds and fashioned this little woven haven from willow, bamboo and a small slice of acacia. Beyond it the roses bloom, their pergola leading to the walled garden. We have not enticed a bird to Flavio’s ready-made shelter, but just beyond, deep in the dog roses, a blackbird has made a nest and four eggs laid.

The dawn chorus here is lusty and reminds me of that wonderful poem Adlestrop by Edward Thomas, capturing the essence a Summer day in deepest England:

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

For us, our blackbird sings close by, and round him, softer, calmer, farther and farther, all the birds of Lunigiana and Garfagnana.

Plenty of activities for partners while their other halves paint!

Language restuarantWe have no fewer than five non-painting partners on Keiko Tanabe’s watercolour course starting on Saturday and you can be sure will be offering them plenty of activities while their spouses and partners paint away at the Watermill and in the glorious surrounding countryside.

First of all, we’re going to feed them delicious meals, both at the watermill and at lovely, traditional local restaurants. Then we are going to take them on an excursion on Wednesday to the Cinque Terre or to Lucca.

The precise itinerary for the painters will depend on the weather and other unforeseen factors, but you are more than welcome to join them at any of their locations (all of which involve lunch!)

The stunning view from one of your lunchtime restaurants

The stunning view from one of your lunchtime restaurants

As well as painting around the mill, their partners and fellow-painters will also be exploring the nearby hamlet of Verrucola with its impressive Malaspina Castle; the walled town of Fivizzano, with its Museum of Printing, ancient convent (now a library), Medici walls, market in the piazza, shops, cafés etc.; and the gourmet Il Vecchio Tino restaurant at Monte dei Bianchi with its spectacular setting in the mountains. Non-painting partners (‘NPPs’) are more than welcome to go on any of these outings to great locations.Sue Ford Joy and Sanjana at Convento

But if ‘NPPs’ want to explore on their own, enjoy other activities and visit other attractions, here’s a suggested itinerary – none of which, of course, is obligatory.

Saturday:                Arrival day. Explore the mill, its gardens and the riverside

Sunday:                   Leisure at mill; fish in the river? Tennis in Fivizzano? Borrow our bicycle?

Monday:                  Verrucola Castle and valley walk to Pognana

Tuesday:                  Fivizzano market day; trip to Carrara, Pontremoli or Equi Terme? Walk in the Appennines?

Wednesday:           Cinque Terre or Lucca?

Thursday:               Lucca or Cinque Terre? Carrara, Pontremoli or Equi Terme?

Friday:                     Monte dei Bianchi vineyard or Equi Terme?

Saturday:                Departure day. For those with late flights: sightseeing in Pisa

One recent NPP Alastair Hunter and his wife Sheila took a trip to see the famous marble quarries of Carrara. Here’s their report: “On Wednesday we were free to roam and we knew where we wanted to go, to Carrara.  The two regular options of visiting Lucca or the Cinque Terre were not so exciting for us.  We already had a holiday planned in Lucca, and the steps at Cinque Terre would be too steep for Sheila to climb.  But, reading The Agony and the Ecstasy years ago I wanted to see the quarries where Michelangelo selected blocks of marble for his sculptures.  Here was the chance I had been waiting for.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Taxi and train resolved the journey from The Watermill down to Carrara, where Reike our guide was there to greet us.  She is a German lady living in Italy for twenty-five years, and very accomplished in providing visitors with a comprehensive tour of the marble quarries.  For good reasons that soon became very clear we travelled by long wheelbase Land Rover.  Our party were an Austrian who was camping locally, a Scots couple, a Netherlander, and a Russian sommelier who were travelling aboard a cruise ship docked at la Spezia, and ourselves from Scotland.  We set off together for the mountains.

In the commercial town of Carrara, we passed endless marble stone companies.  Carrara provides the entire global supply of pure white marble, as it has done for over two thousand years.  In the old town we saw every single building constructed of marble including footpaths and pavements.  As we left the town and started to climb we began to witness the vast scale of operations ahead of us on the mountain.  Enormous lorries sometimes filled with only a single marble block edged past us on the road.

VISITOR PARTY AT CARRARA MARBLE QUARRY (002)Higher up as we entered the quarry areas the surface of the roads gave way to rock hardcore, slopes nosed skywards and hairpin bends took two goes for our vehicle to get around.  At each successive level, from near sea level right to the top of the mountain, the quarry floors are vast.  Looking down from the top, huge dumper trucks look like toys.  The main quarry processes have continued for centuries.  They drive the quarry faces back into the mountain, they open new quarry floors at levels higher up, and they quarry down into the floors.  There are underground quarries as well, unfortunately not for the public to see.

 Operations on the mountain are self-contained and nothing is wasted.  Marble is cut out from the quarry using endless loops of steel rope impregnated with diamond.  In earlier times the cutting medium was a slurry of water with sand.  Marble quality ranges from entire blocks of white purity, through veined blocks, cracked pieces, crushed stones, right down to marble powder, all having commercial or industrial value.  A fascinating and memorable day, with many thanks due to Bill Breckon for his organisation in advance, which all ran smoothly.”

Come and join us and bring your own NPP!

Preserving the memory of the last miller of Posara

AA shutterThe last miller of Posara was Alderico Alderici, from whom we bought the Watermill in 1989. A charming, friendly man who was so strong in is youth that he thought nothing of lifting sacks of grain weighing a quintale (100 kgs, or some 220 lbs) on to his lorry.

When we were restoring the 17th Century past of this mill this year, we found his initials AA incised in the shutters on one of the windows, together with a P, which presumably stands for Posara.

We thought we would like to preserve Alderico’s memory, so our talented factotum Karsten Müller has beautifully restored the shutters, which now grace the windows of the bathroom in our new Ghirlandaio bedroom.

And we also restored two unusual features of this level of the old mill: small wooden plugs set in the floor, each now overlaid with strengthened glass. These plugs cover tubes which lead down to the hoppers above the ancient millstones on the floor below, through which grain was poured to be ground into flour. There is one in the atrium leading to the two new bedrooms and one in the shower room of the Uccello bedroom.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

The wooden plug on the ‘grain feeder’, before being covered in strenghened glass

Come and see all this and learn more about the intriguing centuries-old history of the Watermill when you enjoy one of our sun-filled, fun-filled creative courses. We’d be delighted to welcome you here.

Here are two pictures of the 17th Century watermill restoration, taken by our gardener Flavio Terenzoni, who is also helping to make the 21st Century Watermill lovely than ever.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Restoration 1 edited

How to paint the Leaning Tower!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.We have just had a charming note from Biddy and Clem Danin, who were with us for Sandra Strohschein’s lovely painting holiday here.

They say: “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.”

Clem sent us the amusing carton above, with a suggestion on how to paint the Tower of Pisa! Thanks to you both – and see you again soon, we hope.

Want to join us in 2018? Here’s an offer for extra-early Early Bird bookers

Painting by Doranne Alden, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.We’ve had a lot of interest in our course NEXT year, even though we’ve started on our 2017 season, so to meet that demand, we’ve a remarkable offer for those who want to book a year or so ahead.

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

We won’t actually be publishing details of our 2018 courses on our website until 1 September this year –it is too confusing. But for those who want to book before that, our offer is: you can have a place on any of our 2018 creative courses at 2017 prices. Please email me personally at bill@medialliance.net if you would like to reserve your place.

Knit Judy and Jean show their work - square

Here’s the list of courses so far:

28 Apr-5 May 2018 Painting course Paul Talbot-Greaves

5-12 May 2018 Knitting course Sarah Hatton 1

12-19 May 2018 Knitting course Sarah Hatton 2

19-26 May 2018 Painting course Maggie Renner 26 May-2 Jun

Painting course 2018 Sandra Strohschein 1

2-9 Jun 2018 Painting course Sandra Strohschein 2

9-16 Jun 2018 Painting course Sarah Yeoman 1

16-23 Jun 2018 Painting course Sarah Yeoman 2

Yoga portrait shape 323-30 Jun 2018 Yoga course Dina Sheldon

30 Jun-7 Jul 2018 Painting course Lea Nixon

7-14 Jul 2018 Painting course Terry Jarvis

14-21 Jul 2018 Knitting course Marie Wallin

18-25 Aug 2018 Sculpture course Jason Arkles

25 Aug-1 Sep 2018 Yoga course Claire Murphy

1-8 Sep 2018 Painting course Rebecca Mendonça

8-15 Sep 2018 Painting course Mike Willdridge

15-22 Sep 2018 Painting course Claire Warner

22-29 Sep 2018 Writing course Jo Parfitt

Suzanne at work 1

29 Sep-6 Oct 2018 Knitting course Lisa Richardson

6-13 Oct 2018 Painting course David Taylor

Francesca vine verandah

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

Knitting courses – the bad news and the GOOD news

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Free yarn from Rowan at the start of Marie’s course

We’ve just finished a lovely knitting week with, internationally renowned designer Marie Wallin, following an earlier fun-filled week with Lisa Richardson.

The bad news is that the next two booking courses for this year are fully booked.

The GOOD news is that we are already taking bookings for 2018 – and if you make a booking now, you can enjoy one of our 2018 knitting weeks at 2017 prices.  Just email us at info@watermill.net  to reserve your place

We’ve had wonderful feedback form out first two knitting holidays. For example, for Lisa Richardson’s knitting holiday one guest said: “Had the most wonderful knitting holiday at the Watermill in Posara! Really 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 huge thank you to all.” Another said: “A simply heavenly knitting retreat at the Watermill with the lovely Lisa Richardson. Many thanks to Lois and Bill for being the perfect hosts.”  And a third added: Such perfection, I am spoiled for anywhere else!”

Marie Wallin 2And for Marie’s course: Thank you so much for your wonderful Watermill hospitality last week. It was a brilliant week which could not have been bettered. Utterly brilliant! Perfect hosts, fabulous food…” And another comment:Thank you and Bill so much for making my holiday in Tuscany perfect.  I had a wonderful time and have so many happy memories; wonderful company, weather, food and trips out, not to mention all the knitting time and help from Marie and Gwyneth. I am already looking forward to coming to The Watermill again next July. Thank you once again for a fabulous holiday.”

As I said, we are already taking bookings for 2018 – and if you make a booking now, you can enjoy one of our 2018 knitting weeks at 2017 prices.  Just email us at info@watermill.net to reserve your place.

 

2018 knitting course dates:

Sarah plus picKnitting and La Bella Vita with Sarah Hatton

Saturday 5 May to Saturday 12 May 2018 AND

Saturday 12 May to Saturday 19 May 2018

Details of our 2018 courses will not be on our website until September 2017. To learn more about Sarah and her 2017 course at the mill, please click here. If you would like to reserve a place, please email us at info@watermill.net.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Marie Wallin Knitting and La Bella Vita

Saturday 14 July to Saturday 21 July 2018.

Details of our 2018 courses will not be on our website until September 2017. To learn more about Marie and her 2017 courses at the mill, please click here.  If you would like to reserve a place, please email us at info@watermill.net

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Lisa Richardson Knitting and La Bella Vita
Saturday 29 September to Saturday 6 October 2018.
Details of our 2018 courses will not be on our website until September 2017. To learn more about Lisa and her 2017 course at the mill, please click here. If you would like to reserve a place, please email us at info@watermill.net

Come and join in the fun!

Enjoy knitting on the Watermill's vine verandah

Enjoy knitting on the Watermill’s vine verandah