Be in the vogue! Come knitting at the Watermill with Norah

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

Many congratulations to 2021 Watermill knitting tutor Norah Gaughan, who has just been appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting, the premier knitting publication in America.

As Art Joinnides, President of the company which publishes Vogue Knitting, says: “Norah needs no introduction—she is the best of the best. An editor, merchandiser, and designer, she has a passion for and true understanding of today’s knitter.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
An example of Norah’s work: Mollina

For our part, the Watermill team is looking forward very much to welcoming Norah here for her course next Spring. It is called Knitting and La Bella Vita and will run from Saturday 24 April to Saturday 1 May 2021.

Norah Gaughan is an independent knitting designer working out of her studio in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire, USA. She has spent her life immersed in knitting, including stints as design director at JCA and Berroco.

She says: “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. After I’ve explained the basics, students dig in and start knitting. I’ll give pertinent information as we go along, and questions will spur on more advice. My goal is to have the class be fun and interesting.”  

Norah will bring two special projects for guests to knit with her during her week, based on her new book, Twisted Stitches, which will be out in 2021. You can find out more about her at norahgaughan.com.

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

And as ever, your knitting week 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.

Full details of all our 2021 sun-filled, fun-filled creative holidays will not be up on our website until September 2020, but you CAN book this 2021 week now, at 2020 prices, by going to our 2021 Preview page, simply by clicking here

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.

A room with a view: we’re getting there

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

One of the highlights of our visit to the Watermill last week was to examine the wonderful new space our team has created in the interior of the old frantoio, the olive press.

You may recollect that we have completely reroofed this building and renovated its exterior walls, so that now the whole fabric of the Watermill is completely restored. We haven’t done any work on the interior of the moment, but all is ready for us to create a new exciting relaxing space for our guests at the Watermill. As you can see above we have a large window that looks out over the millstream and the campi beyond and will also be putting in a glass floor so you will be able to look down to the millstream gushing beneath your feet. 

We hope you will also enjoy looking at the machinery the controls the sluice that enables us to divert the millstream water: there’ll be a large window here, too:

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

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic, and governments’ reaction to it, has squeezed our cash flow, so our exciting plans for the interior of the frantoio have been put on hold until next year. But you can come and see the alluring space that has been created and dream with us about what it will look like in the fullness of time.

There will be another window on the opposite side, looking down on the bridges over the Millstream as it returns to the river:

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

All in all, it’s going to be a perfect setting for relaxing times. We will return to it next year: as the Medici used to say festina lente, make haste slowly. The frantoio is not an essential part of the mill complex (we run the laundry and store the linen in there at the moment), but our guests will still have the capacious sitting room, the airy dining room, the sunlit studio, the vine verandah, the courtyard tables, the roof terraces and river terraces, the walled garden, the riverside gardens and the millstream walks in which to spend their time!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The millstream will still be here when you return.

Why not come and see for yourself and enjoy our ‘work in progress’? We are still confident of running our creative courses from August onwards.

We do hope you will be able to plan ahead for when we are through this difficult time and you are ready for a relaxing and inspiring break away from it all. Please come and join us.

*Please rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course to later in the year or even until 2021. You can find out all about our coronavirus strategy by clicking here.

Below you will first find details of our rearranged inspiring painting courses, followed by information on our creative writing and Italian language weeks.

** By the way, the Watermill is renowned for its inspiring teaching, its beautiful setting, its delicious food and wine, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. We are also Cool and Green, even in the summer: all the bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our hidden array of photovoltaic panels, harnessing the sun’s energy to makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. So you will enjoy Tuscan sun and a cool watermill!

Updated 28 May 2020

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

Our inspiring 2020 painting courses


Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – two or three places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Maggie Renner Hellman
19–26 September 2020 – a few places left
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – one place left
Pastels en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course , please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing course


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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 August 2020 – two or three places left
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Our elevating Italian course

Francesca La Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Italian from the Italians
To learn more about Federica and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language, personal development and yoga holidays/vacations/retreats, Tuscany, Italy.
Waiting for you…

The solution to a Negroni problem

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

Lois and I have made it to the Watermill at last, after being locked in in Florence for the last eight weeks or so. It is looking marvellous and I will show you some pictures in another blog.

There was a further cause for celebration: my first Negroni for more than two months. A Negroni, you will recollect, is my favourite aperitivo-time tipple: an invigorating mixture of one part gin, one part Martini Rosso and one part Campari. Add a slice of orange and a few cubes of ice, and you have the perfect beginning to a convivial evening.

So last night, to celebrate, it had to be a Negroni. But there was a problem, see above left. You can’t drink a Negroni while you are wearing your protective mask. There is, however, a simple solution: pull the mask down (see above right). My brain cells were still working, then! I’m not too sure how well they were functioning when I finished the very stiff Negroni poured by Lois.

Things are rapidly returning to normal here in Italy, although we are all being careful in social situations. In a couple of weeks’ time all this coronavirus kerfuffle will seem like a bad dream.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, stay safe and keep smiling. Salute!

More pictures tomorrow

These rolling stones have come to rest

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

Above are the massive stones of the Watermill’s old olive-crushing machine, just placed in honourable and elegant retirement in our sunny courtyard. But it was a struggle and a half to get them there!

You may remember that a week or so ago we showed you a picture (below) of our manager Karsten and builder Nico puzzling on how to move the stones from the frantoio, the olive press.

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

This area, which currently houses our laundry, is being renovated and will eventually become a new sitting area, with large windows overlooking the gardens and the orchard beyond. and a glazed floor area, beneath which you will be able to see the millstream rushing back to the river. We have completely reroofed the building and renovated and repointed the exterior stonework. The final task was to clear space by removing the massive olive-crushing machine.

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

It was by no means the easiest job in the world to get them out: Karsten reckons each stone must weigh around two tons. But with the whole Watermill team banding together, and with a borrowed tractor, we managed it, manoeuvring the stones to their beautiful final resting place, which Flavio Terenzoni enhanced with flowers. There are some pictures of the process below and I made one of those fun 30-second Facebook slideshows which you may enjoy. You can see it by clicking here.

View Post

Getting there
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Thanks for the tractor loan.
The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy
Phew! We made it. Pictures: Flavio Terenzoni

The frantoio interior will remain Work in Progress for the foreseeable future as we consolidate our resources following the devastating effects of the coronavirus epidemic. It is peripheral, however, to the main buildings of the Watermill, which remain as spruce as sprightly as ever and simply waiting for our guests to arrive.

We are ready when you are: buildings renovated, walls painted, furniture restored, window boxes filled, courtyard full of plants: we just need your company to make it all perfect.

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

We do hope you will be able to plan ahead for when we are through this difficult time and you are ready for a relaxing and inspiring break away from it all. Please come and join us.

*Please rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course to later in the year or even until 2021. You can find out all about our coronavirus strategy by clicking here.

Below you will first find details of our rearranged inspiring painting courses, followed by information on our creative writing and Italian language weeks.

** By the way, the Watermill is renowned for its inspiring teaching, its beautiful setting, its delicious food and wine, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. We are also Cool and Green, even in the summer: all the bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our hidden array of photovoltaic panels, harnessing the sun’s energy to makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. So you will enjoy Tuscan sun and a cool watermill!

Updated 16 May 2020

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

Our inspiring 2020 painting courses


Carl March
18 – 25 July 2020 – three or four places left
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page


Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – two or three places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Maggie Renner Hellman
19–26 September 2020 – a few places left
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – one place left
Pastels en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course , please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing courses


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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 August 2020 – two or three places left
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Our elevating Italian course

Langues Service and Francesca La Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Italian from the Italians
To learn more about Federica and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Away from it all: the Watermill riverside

Mille miglia? No, just cento chilometri!

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

Hot (-ish) from my lockdown triumphs in the Round-Our-Florence-Apartment marathon and the 50-mile Kennedy March, yesterday I reached another milestone, or rather kilometre post, in my daily gyrations around the specially constructed circuit in Florence apartment: 200 steps round all the rooms and balconies, repeated 20 times each day. That’s two kilometres every day. I know every nook and cranny of the apartment intimately.

I think I’m selling myself short, because I calculated those 200 steps as just 100 metres, whereas I suspect each step is longer than half a metre and I’m striding much further than 100 metres on each circuit. But I’m not in it for the glory, rather the exercise, and it’s good to have some target.

Anyway, today’s milestone is that I have completed 1000 laps, or more than 100 km. Wow! I’m surprised I haven’t worn a groove in the parquet and the ceramic tiles. That’s me above at the finishing line yesterday, waving my chequered flag and clutching a winner’s bouquet. As the florist is closed, we couldn’t run to roses, but Lois thoughtfully wrapped a bag of fresh mint from the market in a red ribbon and presented it to me. It may not have been such a colourful floral display, but it certainly smelled good!

Now the challenge is to think about where to go next. I haven’t quite made up my mind, so watch this space. Meanwhile, enjoy your own lockdown exercise, wherever you are whatever you do: stay safe and keep smiling.

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

* Incidentally, I’m intrigued about the use of the word pace or step. My understanding was that a pace was two steps (i.e. returning to the same foot) and that the Roman mile was 1000 paces, or about 1500 metres. These days steps and paces seem interchangeable. The mille miglia is a thousand miles, but cento chilometri is not bad in the privacy of your own home.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
1955 Mille Milglia: Stirling Moss was the winner.

Until we learn how it was put together, we’ll never know how to take it apart!

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

Here are our manager Karsten and builder Nico puzzling on what to do next, as they examine the massive stones of an olive-crushing machine in the Watermill’s old frantoio, the olive press. This area, which currently houses our laundry, is being renovated and will eventually become a new sitting area, with large windows overlooking the gardens and the orchard beyond. and a glazed floor area, beneath which you will be able to see the millstream rushing back to the river.

We have completely reroofed the building, and renovated and repointed the exterior stonework. Now we need to clear space by moving this massive olive-crushing machine. Nico and Karsten have taken away all metallic bits but these two enormous stones remain. They rotated both horizontally and vertically to crush the olives and their pips into a paste, which was then squeezed between raffia mats in the olive press itself.

But how did the original makers put the stones together? And how are we to take them apart so we can clear the space to make another unique area for our guests to enjoy? That’s today’s dilemma, which we hope will soon be resolved.

The frantoio project will remain Work in Progress for the foreseeable future as we consolidate our resources following the devastating effects of the coronavirus epidemic. It is peripheral, however, to the main buildings of the Watermill, which remain as spruce as sprightly as ever and simply waiting for our guests to arrive.

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

We are ready when you are: buildings renovated, walls painted, furniture restored, window boxes filled, courtyard full of plants: we just need your company to make it all perfect.

We do hope you will be able to plan ahead for when we are through this difficult time and you are ready for a relaxing and inspiring break away from it all. Please come and join us.

*Please rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course to later in the year or even until 2021. You can find out all about our coronavirus strategy by clicking here.

Below you will first find details of our rearranged inspiring painting courses, followed by information on our creative writing, knitting and Italian language weeks.

** By the way, the Watermill is renowned for its inspiring teaching, its beautiful setting, its delicious food and wine, and its warm and welcoming hospitality. We are also Cool and Green, even in the summer: all the bedrooms and public rooms have air conditioning, powered by our hidden array of photovoltaic panels, harnessing the sun’s energy to makes us self-sufficient in electricity generation. So you will enjoy Tuscan sun and a cool watermill!

Updated 8 May 2020

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

Our inspiring 2020 painting courses

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

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – one or two places left
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Carl March
18 – 25 July 2020 – three or four places left
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page


Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


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

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – two or three places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Maggie Renner Hellman
19–26 September 2020 – a few places left
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – one place left
Pastels en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course , please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.



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

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 –  fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing courses

Jo Parfitt
11– 18 July 2020 – one or two places left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


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

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
8 – 15 August 2020 – two or three places left
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Our enticing knitting holidays

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

Knitting Retreat
4 – 11 July 2020 – one or two places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about this retreat, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview Page.


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

Renée Callahan
15 – 22 August 2020 – still a few places
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Renée and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our elevating Italian course

Langues Service and Francesca La Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Italian from the Italians
To learn more about Federica and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


We do hope that you will be able to join us, taking a well earned rest from the troubles of the world and enjoying our inspiring teaching, our beautiful setting, our delicious food and wine, and our warm and welcoming hospitality. And be Cool and Green.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Away from it all: the Watermill riverside



Brush up your painting skills with Mike Willdridge: join up for free interactive online sessions

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
The potato helps with basic skills!

Our friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge’s courses at the Watermill are inspirational, informative – and fun!

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

But Mike has noticed that many of the course participants are still a little unsure of some of the basic watercolour painting techniques. He is more than happy, of course, to help them master these during the week with us, but he also thought, in these weeks of enforced incarceration, of setting up a few online classes to reinforce those basic skills.

He says: “A little understanding of these basic techniques is a great confidence booster for the beginner and anyone who would like to brush up their painting skills.”

So, Mike has devised three wonderful online, interactive painting sessions where you can brush up those skills. You will find the sessions, which may be the first of many, informative, inspirational – and fun!

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. He will demonstrate some basic techniques such as wet onto wet, wet onto dry, light to dark etc. 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. The session will last about 90 minutes.

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

We had a little online rehearsal with friends and family earlier this week and, yes, it was informative, inspirational  — and fun! The subject matter was a common-or-garden potato. Mike showed us how to transform this humble tuber into a work of art. Here’s Mike’s demonstration spud and below, the efforts of two of our rehearsal participants.

Now we would like to invite all our Watermill painting friends to join Mike’s online Brush up Your Painting Skills programme. We are going to take participants on a first-come first-se rved basis. If you would like to join in – it’s free – please use our secure Watermill Contact Form by clicking here. In the drop-down menu, please select ‘Other’ and in the Message section, please put: ‘Mike’s online painting session.’ The first session is at 2:30 pm British Summer Time on Thursday 14 May.

When we have gauged the popularity of Mike’s first three online painting sessions, we are planning to do more and we will keep in touch about fresh opportunities. And when you’ve enjoyed working with Mike online, why not join him for real on his Watermill course this autumn?

Mike’s painting group last year, not being too serious!

Mike’s course, in watercolours and drawing (and gouache and acrylics) will run from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September. Details and link below. Why not give yourself something to look forward to and join Mike here? We think things will be back to normal by then, but don’t forget the Watermill’s coronavirus promise:

  • Rest assured that if travel restrictions in your own country or in Italy mean that the course cannot run on these dates, or that appropriate flights are not available, we will postpone your course until 2021.
  • If a workshop is cancelled, rather than just being postponed, we will refund any payment in full.
  • If a workshop is postponed and you cannot make the new dates for the tutor you have chosen, we will offer you alternative courses with others inspiring tutors.
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany Italy.
A lovely watercolour by Mike Willdridge of the millstream bubbling under one of our gardner Flavio’s famous wooden bridges.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mike-plus-river.jpg

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – three or four places left
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Below is Mike’s beautiful demonstration painting of the nearby church at Pognana. Come and see for yourself. We would love to welcome you here.

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

Videos, slideshows, words and music – a packed Watermill May newsletter

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

Yes, we have a full and varied newsletter for you this month, with two videos, a beautiful slideshow, amusing and wise words – and an exhilarating 10 minutes of piano playing virtuosity.

There are lots of pictures of the Watermill gardens and grounds, all blossoming in the spring sunshine. It is looking marvellous, thanks to Spring springing, Terenzoni tending and Müller maintaining.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Watching the world go by. Pictures by Flavio Terenzoni (while tending).

You can read all about it by clicking here.

There are stories on:

  • Vertigo from the Cathedral floor
  • Availability of our late summer and autumn creative courses
  • The World’s Slowest Marathon
  • Bees, honey and breakfast
  • Gone fishing! A peaceful pastel from a Watermill guest
  • Liszt and Lisitsa: exhilarating sounds
  • Grandparents, cousins, aunts — everyone wants to join Mike’s international painting classes
  • ‘Tune in‘ to a knitting chat with Renée
  • How quickly are you writing your book?
  • Italian words mispronounced by millions

Happy reading!

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

Kennedy conquered. Now for Puccini!

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

You may recollect that, after I had achieved the World’s Slowest Marathon (422 laps around a specially constructed 100 m circuit of our apartment in Florence), I went on to take the challenge of the Kennedy March. That’s a walk of 50 miles, which JFK suggested the American Marines could achieve in 20 hours.

Well, it has taken me rather longer than 20 hours to complete the 800 Florence apartment laps required, but yesterday I achieved it and you can see me breasting the finishing tape above. Hurray!

I did 20 laps a day, so you do not have to be a mathematical genius to work out that it took me 40 days. I am lapping at around the 2-minute mark, so my total time was 26 hours 40 minutes. (I rather think each of those laps is a bit more than a 100 metres, but I don’t want to cheat.)

So, what next? I had thought I might walk from the front door of our apartment in via Scialoia in Florence to the courtyard gate of the Watermill at via del mulino in Posara, but that is some 160 km, a bit too far even for someone with my long- distance walking experience. So after some considerable research (a couple of minutes on Google Maps) I decided to walk to the bar Stella Polare in the piazza veneto in Lucca, a mere 87.4 km from our front door. Since I already have 80 km under my belt, I’ll be there in no time flat.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Here’s to you, maestro.

The reason for the venue? Well, it was a favourite bar of Giacomo Puccini and I’d like to pay my respects by raising a virtual Negroni to the great man. I will tell you all about it when I get there.

Meanwhile, the Italian authorities have now eased some of our lockdown restrictions, so we can at last take recreational walks around our beautiful city of Florence. So today, as well as knocking off another 20 laps, Lois and I plan a stroll to the River Arno and a leisurely walk back to our apartment.

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

We hope you are keeping safe and well and enjoying our posts.

Telling the time Italian style: it goes backwards!

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

Continuing my musings on the art and architecture of Florence, in our enforced incarceration during the coronavirus lockdown, I’d like you to turn your head a little from contemplating the marvels of the Cathedral floor (click here to see my piece on this) and have a look at an extraordinary clock on the wall just inside the West doors.

It is still working after the best part of 600 years, but it doesn’t tell the time the way you and I know it. It shows ‘Italian time’ and it goes backwards!

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

The clock face, with pictures of the four evangelists, was painted by the Renaissance master Paolo Uccello in 1443 and the workings were made by Angelo di Niccoló, with later improvements, including a pendulum, by one Galileo Galilei).

There is only one hand, in the shape of a golden shooting star, and the time starts at XXIIII, the Roman 24, and goes backwards, anti-clockwise. The 24 doesn’t represent midnight, but rather sunset, when in the old days there was a curfew: the city gates were closed and no–one was supposed to be on the streets. The bells of the Duomo, timed by the clock, would ring at set intervals before the sun set.

That time, of course, varies throughout the year, so the clock has regularly to be adjusted, to ensure that the last of the daylight coincides with the Roman numeral XXIIII. Then the clock works its way backwards through the hours, arriving again at sunset 24 hours later.

Is it time for a coffee?

Okay, hold onto your hat and I will try to tell you how to tell the time on Uccello’s clockface. If the sun set at 6pm, then by 10am the next day, the hand will be on XXIIII minus XVI, that is, at VIII, showing there’s been 16 hours since sunset the previous night! You need to be a bit of an expert to tell the precise modern time from Uccello’s old clock!

It was in the 1580s that the French started to reorganise time into two 12-hour periods, starting at midnight (midnight to noon are the ‘morning hours’; noon to midnight the ‘evening hours’) but it took the Florentines decades to change to the new system. In the 1660s, however, Uccello’s 24-hour clock face was covered with a new one, showing just 12 hours.

Careful investigation in the 1960s, however, revealed Uccello’s original underneath the new-fangled clock face showing ‘French time’. Now the original is revealed, restored and once more displayed as it should be.

So, if sunset was at 8:20 pm last night and the hour-hand is now in the middle of III does that mean it’s half-past four? Answers on a postcard, please!

Later this week I’d like to return to Pietro Uccello and another of his masterworks on the wall of the Cathedral, and ask the question: Did the invention of perspective ruin his married life?

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