Archives for October 2020

Where you will be on the first day of your interactive ‘virtual’ Watermill painting week with Mike: a little background to Pisa

Don’t worry: You won’t have to draw this in detail!

In a major new initiative we have set up an exciting ‘virtual’ online painting week at the Watermill. Every day of the week, for a couple of hours, you will be able to paint along with inspiring tutor Mike Willdridge, capturing with your brush beautiful scenes at the Watermill and nearby. As well as painting in and around the Watermill, you will ‘visit’ an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background. And the location above.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days. And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouthwatering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory.

There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

*Because of all the work involved, we are going to have to make a small charge for this course, but we think it’s very reasonable: just £70 (GB pounds) for all seven sessions. (This is a block booking, but if you can’t make one of the sessions, you will still be able to catch up with access to the video, and still be able to see the Gallery and have a chance to win one of Mike’s paintings.) Please register using the watermill contact form, selecting ‘Week’s online courses, Mike Willdridge, Nov 28-Dec 4’. We would love you to sign up and join us.

On the first Saturday you will sketch the Statue of the Cherubs in Pisa. That’s a photograph of the statue by Alfonso Romero at the top of this article. You may recognise the building in the background!) Don’t worry: on your virtual session in Pisa you will be expected to draw that statue above in any great detail. Mike says: “I’m including this statue in my view of Pisa, but only briefly drawing it – nothing too detailed or challenging.” Mike’s view looks more like this:

Pisa is the city where most of our guests on a Watermill painting course arrive for their week , so we thought it would be instructive to tell you a little something about the place.

holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture: Pisa Today

As the guidebook Lonely Planet has it, Pisa “is best known for an architectural project gone terribly wrong.”

But there is much more to the city than the Leaning Tower and the Piazza dei Miracoli, in which the tower, the cathedral and the baptistery are located. Nonetheless, it is not to be missed. Visits to the tower are well organised and controlled and it is a ‘must do’ to climb to the top, so you can suffer from both seasickness (the lean affects your sense of balance as you spiral slowly up the staircase) and vertigo as you totter towards the balustrade at the summit.

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

In our opinion, the most glorious building in the complex is the baptistry. Started in 1152 and completed in 1363 (you can’t hurry these things), it shows the transition from the Romanesque style, with rounded arches in the lower section, to the Gothic above with pointed arches.

You can see these styles in the city, too, with Romanesque palazzi and Gothic churches, as well as elegant neo-Classical squares. Pisa was once a powerful maritime city-state, but silt and the Genovese eventually put paid to that, the silt clogging up the harbour and the Genovese defeating the Pisans in a decisive naval battle. Later, the Florentine’s took over.

The city has also been long famous for its university: Galileo Galilei was the teacher here and today it is one of the best in Italy. This makes a great contribution to an exuberant city life away from the tourist melee, with busy restaurants, cafés and bars. Many of our guests spend a day in Pisa before or after coming to us and we can give you their recommendations for hotels, boarding houses and places to eat, on request.

I have made one of those 30-second Facebook slideshows showing all our stunning locations for the virtual week, which you can see by clicking here.

Please register using the watermill contact form, selecting ‘Week’s online courses, Mike Willdridge, Nov 28-Dec 4’. We would love you to sign up and join us.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

Our largest night-time visitor yet

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

Here is the largest night-time visitor we have spotted yet. Or rather, Flavio Terenzoni has captured him using one of those nocturnal-vision cameras. He’s a cervo, a deer. Above is a still from the video and you can see the whole sequence (only lasting a few seconds) by clicking here.

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


I am no naturalist but it looks to me as if he (and I guess it’s a he) is using his antlers to scrape bark from the tree. We have had to protect the trees in our orchard for the depredations of his brothers and sisters and is smaller cousins, the caprioli, roe deers.

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

The protected environmental habitat around the mill not only shelters for boys like that deer and his smaller cousins, but also porcupines, beech martens, badgers, foxes and wild boar. We even saw a coypu bathing in the river a couple of years ago, though we haven’t seen hide nor fur of him since.

As a guest a the Watermill, you will hardly be aware of our nocturnal visitors as you sleep soundly in your comfortable beds in your elegant bedrooms, but it is pleasing to know that we are sharing the wonderful countryside of Lunigiana with a host of other animals. Come and enjoy your own protected environment and sample the unspoiled Tuscan countryside with us on one of our renowned creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. There is more about everything on the Watermill website, which you can see by clicking here.

Here is the latest availability on all our creative courses. Book now to avoid disappointment!

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

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2) Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge  New course; places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Jude and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown Three or four places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Three or four places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

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


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Places available

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



Almost as good as the real thing! Spend a ‘virtual’ week painting at the Watermill with Mike

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

The Watermill is proud to announce an exciting new initiative to help you beat the coronavirus blues! We have teamed up once again with our friend and inspiring painting tutor Mike Willdridge to produce a fascinating virtual painting week here.

Yes, every day for a week you will be able to join Mike online and paint along with him live as we make ‘virtual’ visits to the stunning locations we enjoy during our Watermill painting holidays: an imposing castle, market day in a walled mediaeval town, a sunlit café by the harbour in a nearby fishing village, the cloisters of a quiet convent and a hilltop village with imposing mountains in the background.

You’ll enjoy daily interactive sessions on Zoom. Full of fun, it’s just like an international painting club where you can enjoy the convivial company of like-minded people. You will paint along with Mike every day from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December inclusive. Each session will last a couple of hours or so. It’s the next best thing to being here and it will bring Italian sunshine and memories of la Bella Vita to brighten your days.

And don’t be daunted, as well as being fun, Mike’s virtual week is very much a ‘mini course in watercolour painting. He says: “I have laid out to assist the beginner: we start easy and progress through the week and each day is related to the others, so it will benefit both the beginner and those with more experience.”

To help give you the real flavour of a Watermill painting week, as well as those live daily paint-along sessions, you will also receive mouth-watering Watermill recipes, for you to try out at home. After each painting session there will be an exclusive video of Mike’s demonstration to refresh your memory. There will also be a daily gallery where you can post your paintings and admire the efforts of your fellow participants paintings. and you’ll even have a chance to win one of Mike’s outstanding paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Fivizzano market, where you will pay a ‘virtual’ visit on Tuesday.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge works in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics. A comment from a previous painter: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive. Another said: “Mike is a superb tutor and his online, interactive painting sessions our inspiring and fun.” 

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

Unlike many online painting programmes, Mike’s will not expect you to ‘look over his shoulder’ for a long demonstration, and perhaps be allowed to ask the odd question or two. No, you will be painting along at more or less the same time, trying out the watercolour techniques that Mike has shown you, step-by-step. He will demonstrate some basic techniques for only a few minutes before you start painting the same subject at home. Then, after you have had your turn, Mike will move onto the next part of the process. Lois Breckon will be on hand to feed your questions. Each session will last a couple of hours.

Before each session Mike will supply a photograph, a practice painting, and, if appropriate, a drawing of what is going to be painted, plus a list of equipment and colours for your palette. We will send these to all the participants in the session. After the session we will send you a link that will enable to you revisit Mike’s step-by-step teaching, and you will also be able to see the paintings sent in by the participants.

he Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A montage of mouth-watering Watermill dishes. Picture: Pam Smart

And there is more: Lois will supply you with recipes for some of the renowned mouth-watering Watermill dishes, from Gorgonzola soufflés to Capri chocolate cake; from tasty appetisers to succulent chicken involtini.

And there is even more: At the end of the week we will put all the participants’ names into a lottery and the winner will be sent one of Mike’s original paintings from the online course. (To comply with the law there has to be an element of skill in a lottery these days, so were going to ask you a question about the Watermill and its painting locations. Readers of this newsletter will have a head start: the question is what is the name of the walled mediaeval town where we go to paint on market days on Tuesdays?)

The cost?

It obviously takes a good deal of time and effort to organise the sessions and in administration and personal communications with each of the participants. So we think the virtual painting week at the Watermill is incredibly good value for money: £70 (English pounds) for all seven daily sessions and all the add-ons. That’s just £10 for each one of these inspiring, interactive online sessions. (This is a block booking:If you can’t make it each day, you will still receive access to all the videos, the daily gallery and have an entry into the lottery for your chance to win Mike’s original paintings.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
You could win a painting like this.

Here’s how to register

Please register for Mike’s virtual online, interactive painting week at the Watermill from Saturday 28 November to Friday 4 December 2020 by using the Watermill Contact Form, which you can find by clicking here. Select: Week’s online course, Mike Willdridge 28 Nov – 4 Dec.

After a week online, why not also paint with Mike at the Watermill for real next year?

When you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real, on his Watermill course next year?

Mike Willdridge 

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 AND Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

You can also learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

Coming soon to your laptop: another Rebecca masterclass in pastels

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy

We are delighted to report that, following the success of her first, online session on pastels, hosted by the Watermill, Rebecca de Mendonça is to join us for another pastels masterclass next month. Details are still being worked out, so watch this space! We will let you know the hows and whys and whats and whens in upcoming blogs and Facebook posts.

More than 100 people participated in Rebecca’s first session, many of them trying pastels for the first time. The subject was a view (above) from the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano, looking down the Valley of the River Rosaro towards Posara in the distance. That’s Rebecca’s demonstration above and below is a montage of a few of the paintings sent in by participants at the end of the session.

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

So you can see them a little larger, I made one of those fun, 30-second Facebook slideshows with these and a few other images. You can see it by clicking here.

We are looking forward to Rebecca’s next online session, but even more, to meeting up with her again for another of her friendly and inspiring pastel weeks here at the Watermill. So, why not try the ‘real’ thing and join Rebecca for her week-long course in pastels here next year summer? We would love to welcome you here, to share the joy of pastels (and other media) with Rebecca.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Rebecca di Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

English pastellist Rebecca de Mendonça’s  teaching and painting are the result of a varied career in the arts. Having completed her degree in Theatre Design, she worked on projects ranging from Harrods Food Hall to the Phantom of the Opera and has been commissioned to paint dancers at English National Ballet and actors in West End Shows.

Her atmospheric pastel above is of an archway in the walled village of Verrucola, one of our painting locations, while below is the stunning ‘Sitting on the steps”.

Painting by Rebecca de Mendonça, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

I have made one of those 30-second Facebook slide shows with more of Rebecca’s lovely pastels, which you can see by clicking here.

Rebecca will help you to capture the architecture and landscape of the beautiful Watermill painting venues with a combination of materials: soft pastels, pen and ink, Conte crayons and pastel pencils, separately and in combination, to achieve lively sketches and finished pieces.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre).

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

And you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

You can learn about all our renowned creative courses, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, by clicking here. We would love you to join us!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

One of our most versatile and admired painting tutors, Sue Ford

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

The Watermill creative courses for 2021, in painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language, are now filling steadily: we have some 210 reservations out of a potential total of some 260 or so. Five of our painting courses are already full, with waiting lists, as is Louisa Harding’s knitting course. So, as we always say at this time of year, to avoid disappointment get your reservation in now. I thought it would be useful to makes a blog about courses and tutors where we still do have availability and today we feature one of our most versatile and most loved painting tutors, Sue Ford.

Sue has experimented with almost every conceivable media in her career. Sue says: “I just love creating pictures in any medium – and I love passing on what I’ve learned to other people, helping them to release their creativity.”  Her wonderful pastel above is of the Cinque Terre. And below is a watercolour of the archway from the Watermill courtyard to the walled garden.

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

Sue’s week-long course, in watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic, will run from Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021.

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

She says: “Each student will be guided carefully throughout the day, from initial demonstration to ‘getting started’, followed by patient, professional tuition.

“The aim is to stretch all students, regardless of their ability, in a relaxed learning environment, giving them a foundation of artistic techniques, as well as developing their own style.

I want 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.”

Painting by Sue Ford, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
This collage of a nearby fishing village hangs in the Watermill sitting room!

A guest on Sue’s previous painting course here said: “I had a wonderful time. Everything was superb – the accommodation, the trips out and the food! A wonderful experience that I will treasure. Sue Ford is an exceptional tutor with a lovely manner and treats all with respect and kindness.”

Sue Ford painting tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays and art courses in Tuscany Italy
Another pastel demonstration picture by Sue Ford.

I have made one of those fun Facebook slideshows with more of Sue’s paintings in different mediums, which you can see by clicking here.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre).

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

And you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

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

Sue Ford 

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Come and join us and make 2021 a year to remember.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

Venice is dry the Italians are experiencing something unfamiliar – hope

From the Guardian: People walk in St. Mark’s Square, Venice, during high tide on 15 October, as the Mose flood barriers are raised for the second time, successfully protecting the lagoon city from flooding. Photograph: Manuel Silvestri/Reuters

In these difficult times, we are today feeling rather buoyed up by an excellent article in the UK newspaper The Guardian, of all places. The Guardian is renowned for its doom and gloom and invariably finds the cloud in every silver lining. But in this case, bravo, for making us feel good about our adopted country.

The article, by Gianmarco Raddi, was inspired by the completion of the Mose flood-defence system in Venice, which has now twice successfully protected the sublime city from the scourge of flooding. Signor Raddi, a student doctor in England, writes: “Italy is usually portrayed as a land of untold beauty and charm, fated to be governed by corrupt, greedy, incompetent politicians.

“But in 2020 we have first been praised by pundits worldwide as a beacon of collective civility for our response to Covid-19. Then, our country played an important part in the renewed European taste for federalism by lobbying hard for – and obtaining – a common recovery fund.

“A soft nationalisation of Italian highways smoothly concluded the tragic saga of the Morandi bridge collapse. And now, a massive public infrastructure project has been successfully brought to completion. Fiercely criticising our country – except when we win at football – is our favourite national sport. Together with carefree hugging and kissing, could that soon also be taken from us?”

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Incidentally, on 3 October, the same day that the Mose flood barrier was raised in Venice for the first time, Riccardo Muti conducted a morale-raising Concert for Dante in Rome.

Picture: RAI

Tougher new restrictions have just been announced by the government in response to escalating cases of coronavirus in Italy, but here in Posara, and in Florence where we spend much of our time in the winter, Italians seem, by and large, to be going about their daily business in a calm and polite manner, and there is a general feeling that the government is managing our affairs with a quiet competence. Add to that, the grapes have been picked for this year’s wine and the olive harvest is getting underway — and while ‘all might not be well with the world in the best of all possible worlds’ there are reasons for optimism.

We are certainly planning for a full and inspiring season of creative holidays here next year, and already some 210 people booked their places in happy anticipation. We would be delighted if you could join them. You can see more by clicking here. In the meantime, take care and stay safe!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The sun breaks through into the Watermill walled garden on a morning last September…

Availability of Watermill 2021 creative courses at 25 October 2020: time to book your place

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

The Watermill’s world-renowned creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language – are filling up. We already have some 210 reservations for next year’s courses, out of a potential maximum of some 260 or so places.

So, as we never tire of saying, now really is the time to reserve your place on one of our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring weeks next year. Cast off the coronavirus blues and give yourself months of warm anticipation of a week at the Watermill in 2021. (And don’t forget, just in case it’s not all over, we have a generous coronavirus cancellation scheme, which you can see by clicking here.)

Here is the latest availability on all our creative courses. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Our inspiring painting weeks

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

Keiko Tanabe Places available

Saturday 17 April to Saturday 24 April 2021 

Watercolours 

To learn more about Keiko and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mary Padgett Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 1 May to Saturday 8 May 2021 

Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air

To learn more about Mary and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Carl March  One or two places remaining

Saturday 15 May to Saturday 22 May 2021 

Drawing and watercolours en plein air

To learn more about Carl and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Grahame Booth  Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Grahame and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (1)  One or two places remaining

Saturday 5 June to Saturday 12 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sandra Strohschein (2) Three or four places remaining

Saturday 12 June to Saturday 19 June 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Sandra and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Paul Talbot-Greaves Places available

Saturday 19 June to Saturday 26 June 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Paul and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Rebecca de Mendonça  Three or four places remaining

Saturday 26 June to Saturday 3 July 2021 

Pastels and mixed media

To learn more about Rebecca and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Vicki Norman  One or two places remaining

Saturday 3 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 

Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)

To learn more about Vicki and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Sue Ford Places available

Saturday 10 July to Saturday 17 July 2021 

Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic

To learn more about Sue and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Caroline Deeble Places available

Saturday 7 August to Saturday 14 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Caroline and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Randy Hale Places available

Saturday 21 August to Saturday 28 August 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Randy and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Mike Willdridge  Just opened, places available

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics.)

  To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Mike Willdridge Fully booked, waiting list open

Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Milind Mulick  Places available

Saturday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 2021 

‘Colourful Watercolours’

 To learn more about Milind and his week at the Watermill please click here.

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

Brienne Brown one or two places remaining

Saturday 18 September to Saturday 25 September 2021 

Watercolours

 To learn more about Brienne and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

Charles Sluga  Places available

Saturday 25 September to Saturday 2 October 2021 

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Charles and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Tim Wilmot One or two places remaining

Saturday 2 October to Saturday 9 October 2021 

Watercolours

To learn more about Tim and his week at the Watermill, please click here.

Ali Hargreaves, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Ali Hargreaves Two places available

Saturday 9 October to Saturday 16 October 2021 

Watercolour and mixed media

To learn more about Ali and her week at the Watermill, please please click here.


Our elevating knitting weeks

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

Norah Gaughan Places available

24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Louisa Harding Fully booked, waiting list open

29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please click here.

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

Knitting retreat Three or flour places remaining

17-24 July 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita

To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please click here.


Our illuminating creative writing weeks

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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Places available

8 -15 May 2021

Scriptwriting

To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please click here.

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

Jo Parfitt Three or four places remaining

14 -21 August 2021

Writing your life stories

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


Our impassioned Italian week

Francesca La Sala Four or five places remaining

16-23 October 2021

A novel approach to learning Italian

To learn more about Francesca an her course at the mill, please click here.



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Sketch, paint, be inspired and have fun with Mike: We’ve opened up another week

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The painting group on Mike’s last course, being less than serious.

Following the success of his interactive online painting sessions, more people have decided to follow Mike Willdridge to Posara and sample the real thing with a week at the Watermill. So much so that Mike’s week here in September is completely booked up. So, by popular demand, we have opened up a second week for him, from Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September. We have just opened this course and we are now taking bookings, so if you’d like to come with Mike for a glorious week in unspoiled Tuscany, now is the time to reserve your place.

As well as painting in and around the Watermill, we will be visiting an imposing mediaeval castle, sketching on market day in a walled town nearby, enjoying the quiet calm of an old monastery and painting in the hilltop village with towering mountains behind. So please come and join Mike for his additional week which, to recap, will run from Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September. Mike will be teaching in watercolour and drawing (and also gouache and acrylics).

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A sketch made by Mike on market day in a nearby walled mediaeval town.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike works in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics too.

A comment from a previous guest: “Mike Willdridge is a most inspiring tutor whose energy and enthusiasm encourages students to develop both their visual awareness and confidence. His patience and good humour create an enjoyable atmosphere in which students thrive.” 

And the ambiance? One guest said: “A wonderful holiday. You were such generous and friendly hosts.”  Another said: “The food was exceptional and the mill itself is great, in such a beautiful setting. A truly wonderful week.”

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the mill stream bubbling under one Flavio’s famous wooden bridges

I have made a fun,30-second slideshow of these and other of Mike’s paintings, which you can see by clicking here.

Mike Willdridge

Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

 

Saturday 28 August to Saturday 4 September 2021 (New course, now taking bookingsAND Saturday 4 September to Saturday 11 September 2021 (Course full, waiting list open)

To learn more about Mike and his weeks at the Watermill, please click here

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre).

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

And you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

The health benefits of knitting… enhance your well-being with a Watermill week

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
Knitting under the shade of the vines in the Watermill garden. Photo: Phil Wright.

We are sure that every knitter knows it: knitting and crocheting can bring great health benefits, not least in stitching away stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga.

We were recently reading an article in the New York Times which confirmed all that. The author, Jane Brody, also said: “Perhaps most exciting is research that suggests that crafts like knitting and crocheting may help to stave off a decline in brain function with age.” Yes, a 2011 investigation by the Mayo Clinic found that people in their 70s and 80s had less chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss. Now we know why our Watermill knitting guests so bright and interesting.

Another study, at the University of Texas, showed that learning to quilt, (or incidentally learning digital photography) enhanced memory function in older adults, improvements not seen in activities that were not so mentally challenging.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Picture: New York Times

There is the social side, too: Ms Brody reported: “Given that sustained social contacts have been shown to support health and longevity, those wishing to maximise the health value of crafts might consider joining a group of like-minded folks.”

As we said, we are sure that knitters have known all along about the health benefits of their hobby, and in these difficult times knitting and crocheting are undoubtedly a great comfort to many.

Why not add to the pleasure and the therapeutic effects by coming on a week’s knitting holiday at the Watermill at Posara? Not only will you enjoy knitting therapy and the convivial company of like-minded people, but also savour the delights of unspoiled rural Tuscany, the warm hospitality of the Watermill and delicious healthy food. And if you book yourself a place now you will have the added benefits of warm anticipation.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
Knitting in the Watermill sitting room, surrounded by original art

We have organised three delightful knitting weeks at the Watermill next year. Two of them are with renowned designers: Norah Gaughan from the United States and Louisa Harding from the UK, while the third is a Knitting Retreat, with no tutor, just a relaxed group enjoying knitting and each other’s company

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

Norah Gaughan is an independent knitting designer working out of her studio in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA. She has just been appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting, the premier knitting publication in America. “I’m inspired by nature and science, while at the same time keeping an eye what’s happening in the fashion world. My teaching style is rather relaxed. My goal is to have the class be fun and interesting.” Norah will bring two special projects for her week, based on her new book, Twisted Stitches, which will be out in 2021. There are more details below.

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

We are delighted also to welcome Louisa Harding, the celebrated cashmere knitter and yarn producer, to the Watermill knitting team. She has also established a new brand, called Yarntelier, combining the finest yarns from the English county of Yorkshire with beautiful designs, to make each item a piece of hand-crafted couture. Louisa’s Knitting and La Bella Vita, week will run from Saturday 29 May to Saturday 5 June 2021. She is now planning the projects she will bring for our knitters during her week and is talking of a cashmere shawl, where you can draw on designs in the Tuscan countryside and incorporate them in your knitting; and another, smaller project, involving beading using a crochet hook. Again, there are more details about Louisa’s week below,

Many of our knitting guests at the Watermill have asked is whether it would be possible to run a knitting retreat here, in which there would be no tutor, but rather individual knitters would bring their own projects and enjoy convivial like-minded company in the peaceful ambience of the Watermill, as well as our usual offering of wonderful food and outings into the surrounding unspoiled Tuscan countryside of Lunigiana. So, by popular demand, we are doing just that, in our first-ever Knitting Retreat. Since there is no official tutor, we are offering a special blanket discount of £200 per person.

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

If you would like to see these images a little larger, I’ve made one of those short, fun Facebook slideshows, capturing the essence of our Watermill knitting holidays, which you can see by clicking here.

As a ever, your knitting weeks at the Watermill will combine expert tuition, like-minded company, wonderful food and the delightful ambience of the Watermill, it’s gardens and riverside walks, and outings into the surrounding unspoiled countryside of Lunigiana in Tuscany Italy.

Here are the dates and links for next year’s knitting courses:

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

Norah Gaughan
24 April – 1 May 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita
To learn more about Norah and her week at the Watermill, please visit her 2021 Tutor Profile page.

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

Louisa Harding
29 May – 5 June 2021 

Knitting and la Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her week at the Watermill, please visit her 2021 Tutor Profile page.

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

Knitting retreat
17-24 July 2021

Knitting and la Bella Vita
To learn more about our knitting retreat week at the mill, please visit the 2021 Knitting Retreat Profile page.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
A tableful of local yarns will greet you on the Watermill’s vine verandah

Some comments from guests on our previous knitting weeks:


The Watermill is an idyllic setting for a knitting course – beautifully situated on the river, you are lulled to sleep in your comfortable room by the sound of the millstream. Bill and Lois are perfect hosts and your every need is catered for. BE


Thank you and for such a lovely week at the Watermill. It was truly a memorable week to stay at the Watermill, knit, meet new friends, enjoy fresh Italian cuisine and be shown such a glorious part of TuscanyEP


Thanks for such a wonderful week! It had everything: fun, knowledge, good food and drink. Like a week out of time. RG


Thank you both for making a brilliant week of knitting even better. As usual, the Watermill was amazing with wonderful food, great rooms and wall to wall sunshine. JMcB


Bill and Lois have the knack of making everyone feel special. Add a magical knitting tutor, and the result is an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to go back! Excellent food, relaxing atmosphere, lovely people. Perfection! Thanks to you both for another wonderful knitting holiday. I feel ten years younger! NB


Absolutely loved my stay for the knitting week. The food was so yummy, I had the best sleep, and the ambiance of the Watermill and its surrounds is pure bliss. PM


Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation, pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre).

You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

And you will be Cool and Green: all our rooms are air-conditioned, powered by photovoltaic panels which make us self-sufficient in electricity.

The Vasari suite: a self-contained apartment celebrating another Renaissance polymath

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

Today we reach the end of our tour of the Watermill bedrooms, with the second of our self-contained apartment suites, The Vasari Suite. As usual I have made one of those short Facebook slideshows, which you can see by clicking here.

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

Giorgio Vasari, who lived and worked in Florence in the 16th century, was another of those great multitalented Renaissance men: painter, architect and town planner, as well as writer and historian. His most famous for his book, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, the first book on art history, in which he lauded Michelangelo as the apotheosis of artistic development.

He painted (with others) the inside of the dome of Florence cathedral, wonderful frescoes in the palazzo vecchio; he built the uffizi, creating a unique Renaissance street with unified architecture, the first regularised streetscape in Europe. Oh, and the Vasari corridor, linking above street level the palazzo vecchio with the Pitti place, so his Grand Duke, Cosimo 1 de’ Medici, wouldn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi on his way home.

And he built the Fish Loggia, one of my (many) favourite buildings in Florence.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Courtyard and corridor: two of Vasari’s great architectural feats.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
A wonderful piece of architecture.

The Vasari Suite at the Watermill has an elegant sitting room and a double bedroom, with views over the mill cascades and the River Rosaro. It is ideal for a couple, or two friends sharing. (We can make a bed in the sitting room for two friends sharing the apartment.)

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

We’d be delighted to welcome you here for one of our caring and inspiring creative holiday weeks – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language. Come and join us and choose your favourite bedroom.

You can find out more about all our fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring creative courses by clicking here. https://watermill.net/

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Painters in the Watermill walled garden. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci