Archives for June 2018

A trip to the marble quarries of Carrara: brace yourself and have fun!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture: Ray Warren

Watermill non-painting partner Ray Warren fancied a trip to the marble mountains of Carrara while his wife Carole was enjoying her painting course with Andrew Geeson. We fixed him a trip to the marble quarries with the Cave di Marmo tour company which, he says, was “excellent and expertly done.”

Here’s his report: From Carrara Avenza Station the trip in the Landrover Defender weaves through the streets past the 17 individual factories that shape and polish the marble. They operate individually but cooperate when large orders need to be filled. A sort of strange broken family who begrudgingly help each other out as often as they step on each other to win the business in the first place. In typical Italian style our driver described it as a mother in law to daughter in law relationship where cooperation is needed but contact not sought. 

“It takes about 15 minutes to reach the shop, the starting place for the tour proper and where our vehicles were allocated. The journey up starts with steep hairpin bends on firm roads but soon we were on rough marble and rocks. The road getting ever steeper and the drop off over the side ever more sheer. The Landrover is the best tool for this terrain and eats up the ground quickly and noisily. Then you remember that the lorries with tons of marble use the same roads. This is dangerous work and surely very skilful. 

“At the first stop we saw the village below that once housed the workers. Some still live there but it is now open to others and seems to be a thriving place. The views down the valley were wonderful with the green of vegetation split by huge white fissures of marble quarry. 

Picture: Ray Warren

“The second stop allowed our guide to explain the cutting and harvesting process. Drilling and diamond encrusted cables are used to saw and separate the blocks which are then hauled down by huge earth shifting tractors operated by drivers with the skills of surgeons. Intricate moves and precise grabs have the block falling into soft dust beds to then be dragged away and trucked down to the factories. The process runs 24/7 and demands skill and judgement from seasoned quarry foremen.

Picture: Ray Warren

“Our guide is an expert driver as well as an experienced and knowledgeable person. She needs to be as the slope down seems more steep, more rocky and more sheer than on the way up. The Landrover laps it all up.” 

“A great trip. A definite choice if you love a little science mixed with some adrenaline inducing driving. Worth the time to understand the history, economics and importance of Carrara in Italy as well as the world of marble distribution. Brace yourself and have fun.”

Thank you for your intriguing report, Ray. This is just one of the many activities we offer non-participating partners on watermill creative courses. Find out more by clicking here.

Why not join us next year for one of our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring courses? If you book now, there’s a special offer (until 1 September): book a place on any of our 2019 creative courses at 2018 prices. For a preview of our 2019 courses, please click here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, yoga holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

A wonderful picture by Watermill guest Ron Ploeg

Tai Chi on the terrace: just the way to start the painting day

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.With all the diverse talents and interests of our guests at the Watermill there is never a dull moment conversation-wise – and from time-to-time, activity-wise as well.

That was certainly true this week, when painting guest Pam Paszke, ably assisted by another guest, Lesley Dench, organised impromptu pre-breakfast Tai Chi sessions on the roof terrace above the courtyard dining doom. Above are some of the group in gentle action. Our thanks to Steve Harger, a non-painting partner, for the picture. Not a bad way to start the day, especially with stunning views of the Apennine mountains, the backbone of Italy, in the distance…

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.We can’t promise you Tai Chi every week, but we can promise you sun-filled, fun-filled, stimulating and inspiring creative weeks, whether it’s painting, writing, knitting or learning Italian. Come and join us this year or next: We’ve a (very) few places left this year, and we’re also taking bookings for 2019: there’s a link below, too.

Painting:

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 Two or three 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 and Bec mountains cropped

Nel Whatmore and Rebecca de Mendonça

1-8 September 2018 One place or two sharing          Pastels

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

 

On our Writing your Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 Two or three places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 One place
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

** We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture Keith Strohschein

 

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Are you a writing gardener or an architect? Find out more with Jo

A lot of gardening went into Game of Thrones

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture: Gage Skidmore

George RR Martin, the highly successful author of Game of Thrones, reckons there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. He says: “The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be.

“They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what the seed is, they know if they planted a fantasy seed or a mystery seed or whatever.

“But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Jo Parfitt, our inspiring writing course tutor, seems to be a bit of both, and during her week-long Writing you Life Stories course here she’ll help you both with your writing gardening and your storytelling architectural design!

The gardening bit: Jo says: I always include plenty of spontaneous exercises where I present an idea and immediately give students five, 10 or 15 minutes in which to write something. I give them with a seed of an idea, let them start gardening and just see where it takes them; how it grows. For me, I start with the germ of an idea, one that is not yet fully formed, put fingers to keyboard and go with the flow, writing from my gut until my ideas run out. I work out what I am going to say while I am writing it.”

The architect bit: Jo says: “After a break (a few hours or more) I return to the piece to put some structure onto it, adding subheadings if I feel I need them, maybe moving the text around a bit and cutting unnecessary words. I always ensure I include some kind of insight or takeaway because I like my readers to feel that my words are worth reading enough to come back again.”

Jo adds: It makes no difference whether you are a gardener or an architect, or, better still a bit of both. It is okay to start off with a detailed plan or with just a seed. What matters is that you accept who you are and learn to craft your natural style into a coherent piece worth reading.”

Learn more and be inspired on Jo’s wonderful Writing your Life’s Stories week here. Jo says: “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.”

She adds: “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.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

A safe haven in the Watermill Walled Garden. Picture: Sandra Strohchein

One of the best way to begin writing is with stories from your own life, whether it’s for a short blog or  full-blooded memoir. Or just a record for your grandchildren to enjoy and to understand what you did and how it was when you were younger. You’ll need motivation and courage, but the rewards will be great. 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.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Writing under the Vine Verandah

Jo’s first week with us, from 22-29 September, is now completely full, but we still have a few places on her second Write Your Life Stories course, from Saturday 18 August to Saturday 25 August 2018.

Jo Parfitt has published 32 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 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 plus pic

Write Your Life Stories
Jo Parfitt

18 August to 25 August 2018 two or three places left

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

Find out why William returns to the Watermill again and again – and again!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.This man deep in concentration on his painting is William Shand, a retired eminent surgeon, an English gentleman and a true friend to the Watermill. He has been on painting courses with us no fewer than 15 times and this week he is with Sandra Strohschein. We must be doing something he likes. And we love his unfailing enthusiasm and impeccable courtesy.

Not only that, he shares a passion with me for the poems of Hilaire Belloc and, suitably prompted, we can be prevailed upon to recite after dinner some of the master’s witty and amusing poems, which are old-fashioned in having both meter and rhyme.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture Keith Strohschein

Why not come and see for yourself why William loves the Watermill so much. We’re now taking bookings for 2019.The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

***STOP PRESS: William has just booked for Sandra Strohschein’s week from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019! Come and join him for a fun-filled inspiring painting week – and probably Hilaire Belloc, too.

An artistic Watermill get-together – and the masterly result

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.Here’s a lovely idea. On the last afternoon of her week-long painting courses, Sandra Strohschein encourages member of her group to paint a picture together. Above are some of them, enthusiastically at work in the riverside gardens. And here’s the finished picture. Rather good, I think.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Here’s some of the group relaxing after their efforts.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture Keith Strohschein

And here’s the group photo in the Walled Garden. There were eight painters and two non-paining partners.

Here’s painter Polly Moseley with Sandra’s husband Keith.

This week is Sandra’s last week with us as painter in residence and our new group seem just as much fun. We’ll keep you posted!

We are already taking bookings for Sandra’s courses in 2019. She’ll be here for two weeks next year, from Saturday 1 June to Saturday 8 June 2019 and from Saturday 8 June to Saturday 15 June 2019. But it looks like you’ll have to get your skates on to be sure of a place: we already have eight bookers and one enquirer for the first week in 2019 and three people have just expressed an interest in the second. So, as they say, ‘book now to avoid disappointment’, especially as there’s a 2019 courses at 2018 prices offer’ until September this year. You can find out more about Sandra’s sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring weeks and all our other creative courses in 2019, by clicking here.

Come and join us!

 

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Dappled sunlight in ancient tranquillity

Painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Yesterday everyone in Sandra Strohschein’s enthusiastic group went painting in the tranquil surroundings of the Convento del Carmine, a 16th Century monastery set in beautiful grounds near the Watermill. It’s a relaxing day after the excitements of excursions to the Cinque Terre or Lucca on Wednesday. Our guests enjoy the exclusive use of the convent and grounds. Sandra has been before, of course, so this year she chose to paint the dappled sunlight in the convent grounds (above).

Our painting guest Penny Cwynarski enjoying a shady spot in the convent grounds

Here’s the list of the few places left on our creative courses this year.

Painting:

Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein
16 June to 23 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing
Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 

Andrew plus pic

Andrew Geeson
23 June to 30 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing

Watercolours
To learn more about Andrew, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 Still 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

 

mike plus picMike Willdridge
8 September to 15 September 2018 1 place
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

On our Writing you Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 2/3 places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 One place
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

** We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

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

Imagine a rainy day… it’s an illusion!

Painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Above is a dynamic watercolour demonstration painting by our ‘ tutor in residence’, Sandra Strohschein. It’s of the consequences of a sudden rain squall as our painting guests worked to capture the sights of the imposing castle of Verrucola and the village nestling around its 13th Century walls.

Sandra is very proud of this dramatic watercolour, and so she should be. But one small meteorelogical point: it didn’t rain at all during that morning painting session! Despite squally forecasts, the rain held off until lunchtime, but Sandra really wanted to show her students the techniques of capturing the effects of wind and rain on the landscape, so she made it up!

All great art is an illusion and what a fine example we have in Sandra’s demonstration picture.

It did rain later in the day, but undaunted, or guests carried on painting in the light and airy Watermill studio. Here are guests Christine Booton and Doreen Smith doing just that.

Come rain or shine, you’ll have a wonderful time at the Watermill. Why not join us? We still have a few places left this year and plenty for 2019. Details below:

Ths year’s remaining places:

Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein
9 June to 16 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing
Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 

Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein
16 June to 23 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing
Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 

Andrew plus pic

Andrew Geeson
23 June to 30 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing

Watercolours
To learn more about Andrew, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 Still 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

 

On our Writing your Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 2/3 places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 One place
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

** We are already taking bookings for our 2019 creative courses, with a special offer of any 2019 creative week at 2018 prices. Please go to our 2019 courses preview section, by clicking here.

A painting by Sandra Strohschein, a tutor on painting courses at The Watermill at Posara, Tuscany Italy

Sandra’s painting of a red house in the square in nearby Fivizzano on market day. It DID rain that day!

Two Watermill friends in convivial conversation

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Picture: Sandra Strohchein

This delightful picture, which captures some of the atmosphere on our Watermill creative courses, shows our guests Katherine Rice and BZ Meyers enjoying sunshine and convivial conversation in the Walled Garden during Sandra Strohschein’s painting holiday.  Our thanks to all our gusts for making it a fun-filled week and to Sandra for inspiring painting tuition.

Now we are looking forward to Sandra’s second week, with 12 guests (10 painters and two non-painting partners), no fewer than five of whom have been before. It’s great when people want to come again (and again, the record is 12 visits!)

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, come and join us.  There are still a few places left this year. And we are already taking bookings for next year’s fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses. There’s a link below.

Painting:

Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein
9 June to 16 June 2018 2/3 places
Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 

Sandra plus picSandra Strohschein
16 June to 23 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing
Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra, her course at the mill and to see more of her pictures, please visit her Profile Page

 

Andrew plus pic

Andrew Geeson
23 June to 30 June 2018 1 place or 2 sharing

Watercolours
To learn more about Andrew, his course at the mill and to see more of his pictures, please visit his Profile Page

 

terry plus picTerry Jarvis
7 July to 14 July 2018 Still 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

 

mike plus picMike Willdridge
8 September to 15 September 2018 1 place
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

On our Writing you Life’s Stories week:

Jo plus pic

 Jo Parfitt
18 August to 25 August 2018 2/3 places
Write Your Life Stories

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

On a knitting course:

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

Lisa Richardson
9 September to 6 October 2018 One place left
Knitting and La Bella Vita

To learn more about Lisa and her course at the mill, please visit her Profile Page

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

Terry Jarvis’ lovely watercolour of market day in nearby Fivizzano, where we go on location during our painting week

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