Thursday, 25 February 2016

Singing in Sri Lanka ~ one of the best holidays we've ever run!

Singing Holiday in Sri Lanka ~ January 2016

We've been overwhelmed with the incredible feedback from our guests who joined our latest singing adventure on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. It's the first time that we've run a singing holiday in this location, and it was a huge success.
The combination of very high quality hotels, our fantastic singing tutor, FaithWatson, wonderful local Tour Manager, Dileep, a huge array of activities on offer, joining a local choir, the magic of a group coming together in harmony......well, just read these amazing testimonials to see for yourself:
I liked swimming at 7am in the outdoor pool at Aliya Resort with a view of the famous Sigiriya Rock ~ the sun was shining!
Singing sessions with Faith were a joy as always, she makes teaching and learning songs seem so easy. To be singing three and four part harmonies within an hour or two, as part of a group who’ve never sung together before, is a very special experience,” Bronwen Hunter

“I had a marvellous holiday in a lovely country, and am extremely pleased to have experienced so many diverse activities….elephant rides, white water rafting, whale watching, local train ride through the tea plantations and so much more,” Linda Baldwin
“As many times before, Faith cannot be bettered, in my opinion,” Monica Richmond
“All in all, a dream holiday,” Monica Richmond
“Faith, as ever, gave us some wonderful singing! We rounded it off by doing a Flashmob in the departure lounge of the airport when leaving. It was well received!” Pushka Dalewood

“I have sung with several tutors, but Faith was exceptional. You have a treasure there, hang on to her!” Stella Hurley

“I can hardly believe how many stunning experiences we fitted into two weeks,” Stella Hurley

“It was a brilliant holiday – my head is full of memorable experiences and constant tunes! Many thanks for being such a lovely and ethical company to travel with,” Gill Ruffles

“Just clone her to cheer up the world!” Bronwen Hunter shares her love for tutor Faith Watson!

“It is the best holiday I have ever had!” Bronwen Hunter
"Wonderful, smiling, adaptable Dileep - nothing was too much trouble for our local guide - not to mention his "song of the day" !" Stella Hurley
"Faith has huge ability when it comes to teaching singing. She makes it super fun! Faith, as ever, gave us some wonderful singing! We rounded it off by doing a Flashmob in the departure lounge of the airport when leaving - it was well received!" Pushka Dalewood

Singing tutor, Faith Watson

Singing with a local choir of school girls!

Faith teaches the whole group!

A singing session.
Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel

We are very proud to say that our Singing Holidays are some of the best in the UK

We welcome everyone who loves to sing!

Our singing holidays are uplifting, rejuvenating, joyful and sociable.

We are one of the most experienced singing holiday operators in the UK, organising acapella group holidays since 2003. We believe that everyone, no matter what their level of skill, can enjoy the thrill of singing in harmony.
All the songs are taught by ear, so there is no need to be able to read music. We pride ourselves on providing a friendly and supportive environment where every voice is heard. Our maximum group size is 25, but holidays often run on smaller numbers. We are one of the few singing holiday companies who are ATOL protected – travel with us in confidence.
You can find more information about our singing holidays on our website:
and you can always call us in the office ~ we would be more than happy to welcome you on a singing adventure ~ 01453 823328.
Sign up to our regular newsletters to be the first to hear about brand new holidays.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Our Tour Manager in Ischia, Marianna Polverino, gives us her favourite local recipe!


Coniglio all'Ischitana


Recipe for the traditional dish of Ischia, Coniglio all'Ischitana a type of rabbit casserole or stew.

Coniglio all'Ischitana (Ischian Rabbit) is the typical dish of Ischia and has been for centuries due to the abundance of wild rabbits on the island.

Nowadays many farmers breed rabbits in cages but the ancient and traditional way to breed rabbits in Ischia was to let them live freely in narrow tunnels of 3 or 4 metres long underneath the ground, tunnels that the rabbits dug themselves. In this way the rabbits lived in their natural environments, making their meat firmer and healthier as they were not constricted to live in tight cages. 

Rabbits bred with this method are called “Conigli di fossa” (“fossa” meaning “hole”) and lately many associations are trying to restore the ancient traditions to save the old “fosse” in order to encourage this more humane method of breeding.

Coniglio all’Ischitana (Nonna Rubina’s style)


A skinned rabbit of about 1 kg, cut into pieces

A terracotta pan

White wine, half a litre

A bunch of herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme or marjoram, tied with a string

Extra virgin olive oil


Half an onion

Chili pepper

Salt and pepper

5 or 6  Cherry tomatoes


Rinse  the pieces of the rabbit in water, bathe them slightly in white wine and then dry with a cloth.

Put the terracotta pan on the hob with a generous amount olive oil, 2 whole cloves of garlic and chili pepper.

When the garlic turns golden, put the pieces of rabbit into the pot, stir slightly and leave cooking on a slow heat (do not cover).

When the meat starts to turn gold, add half a litre of white wine and half a chopped onion.  Let the wine evaporate (do not cover).

Add the cherry tomatoes cut in large pieces, the bunch of herbs, salt and pepper and then cover the pot. Let the rabbit cook on a slow heat, turning the pieces in the pan once in a while. Add more wine if too dry.

Let it cook until the sauce becomes thick and of a brownish colour (around 45 minutes).

Enjoy and buon appetito!
Marianna Polverino
Our holidays in Ischia:
Painting in Ischia with Susanna Bailey and supported by our Tour Manager, Marianna:
6th May 2016 - 7 booked already, more places available.
7 nights
Walking in Ischia led by Tour Manager, Marianna Polverino:
17th September 2016
7 nights
For more information, please contact Zoe or Eva in the office on 01453 823328.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Introducing Sarah Gillard - our new painting tutor and ex-colourist at Liberty's.

'Island colours of Gozo'

Sarah Gillard

On a rainy day in May, we head off to meet Sarah Gillard in her home just beyond the pretty market town of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire.

The rain pelts down in monsoon sized droplets, gulleys and drainpipes gush with water. We peer through the windscreen wipers and slowly make our way up the winding lanes that lead upwards out of the town, past honey coloured stone cottages with views across the valley. We are surrounded by lush green fields and the faint smell of wet grass and wild garlic. Even so, on such a rainy, grey day we weren't expecting such a blast of colour....

Sarah has left clues for us - a trail to follow, leading us to the front door - a washed out canvas covered in bright colour, a porch filled with vivid red geraniums and a welcoming front door with a brightly coloured home made stained glass. We begin to understand Sarah's obsession with colour!

A warm welcome awaits, and we are soon cocooned inside her comfortable home, surrounded by confident, bright and warming paintings. We get straight to it with talk of the new painting holidays she will be leading for Authentic Adventures - 'Island colours of Gozo' on 3rd October 2015, and a completely different palette will be required for Morocco in Autumn 2016. She enthuses about her many painting trips abroad, in particular a visit to Greece in 2014, staying for six weeks in a simple stone dwelling, that led to a series of wonderful paintings. She says, "I've never felt so inspired, and leapt out of bed each morning to go and paint for hours and hours uninterrupted," there speaks a truly passionate painter.

Sarah's work and gouache colour palette

After graduating in 1983 with a Fashion Textiles degree (at her end of year show she presented a series of colourful rugs) she was commissioned to produce a rug for The Conran Shop in South Kensington. Some years later her dream was fulfilled when she joined The Liberty Design Studio. This was her first introduction to using gouache, a perfect medium for colourists. It was during her time at Liberty's that she began painting and experienced her first painting holiday in Italy. The Liberty Design Studio used gouache for colour mixing - an ideal medium in order to produce the flat colours for the colourways. Gouache is a water based paint, like watercolour, but whereas watercolour is transparent, gouache is opaque. It can therefore be applied in multiple layers of the same hue, reinforcing visual intensity.

From 1989 - 1994, Sarah worked in a team of seven colourists, which was responsible for producing the entire colourways for the fashion fabrics. This consisted of two collections a year - Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter for a variety of fabrics eg. Tana Lawn and Varuna Wool. The studio colourists would produce four colourways per design and occasionally produce colourways for Mulberry and Jean Muir.

Liberty has a strong collaborative history, notably commissioning William Morris as designer during the Arts & Crafts period. The company helped develop Art Nouveau through its encouragement of English designers and soon became associated with this new style.

Sarah recalls the thrill of seeing her design on a gentleman's tie whilst sitting opposite him on the tube, and proudly showed us a quilt that she has been sewing for years, which incorporates many of her colourways.

Liberty colourway

It was whilst working for Liberty that Sarah embarked on her first painting holiday to Tuscany. It opened her up to painting en plein air, and she's never looked back. It's where she feels happiest - in a field of wild flowers with her easel. We spend the morning looking through her sketchbooks full of eye popping colour, filled with notes - she's quick to offer anecdotes, "this painting was inspired by a dove that an artist borrowed from a local farmer in Italy...." or, "This sketchbook was based on a painting of a boat each day seen from my window in Devon" - intense colour sizzling off the page.

'A boat a day' on a painting holiday

Her painting has taken her all over the world in search for light and inspiration. She has used colour as the basis for all her work, and the vivid, happy colours are a reflection of her warm and positive personality. She has a plethora of palettes, ideas and techniques to ensure that all her pupils return home with crammed sketchbooks, full of energy for new projects.

Sarah in her 'happy place' - a field full of flowers


For more information about the painting holidays and workshops Sarah will be leading, please contact us in the office: 01453 823328 or send us an email:

Island Colours of Gozo
3rd October 2015
7 nights
£1,199 (including £100 off offer)
No single room supplement

Thursday, 19 February 2015

From dark to light by painting tutor Kevin Dean - painting on location, as seen in The Leisure Painter magazine April 2015.

From dark to light

The watercolour of this modest church was painted in the early morning, just as the sun rose over the beautiful city of Orvieto in Italy. A few days before I had spied it as a possible subject for a painting, tucked away in a small piazza close to the city wall, overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Orvieto is full of the most amazing and often very grand architecture, but I am generally  more interested in subjects that are a little hidden, less obvious than more showy attractions, the neglected allotment rather than the manicured garden, the alleyway rather than the high street. Camile Pissaro  put this idea very well when he said ‘Blesssed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing’.

Whenever I reach a new destination, I like to spend time noting possible locations - where I might sit on my fold-away stool, my paints and water   pot at my feet, will I be in shade or sun, am I safe from traffic and how noticeable will I be to passers by? Surprisingly, most people, especially in Europe, barely notice an artist working in situ and those that do, are almost always very complimentary and kind. Beyond Europe the attention might be more intense, but again, well intentioned. In Malaysia a shopkeeper gave me a large rattan hat to shade my head, in Trinidad a man directed pedestrians behind me, allowing me an uninterrupted view of my subject!

It all makes for a better interaction with the people nearby and for the occasion to be even more memorable.

Light is also a consideration, as contrast created by strong shadows or colour is essential to give drama to a painting. Which is of course, one of the great advantages of painting in countries such as Italy, as the light tends to be very bright. The painter may have even more chance of creating something with lively contrast in the early morning, or at dusk, when the light can often be at it’s most dramatic. Of course the shadows are constantly changing, but that just makes me work more rapidly, which hopefully gives the painting an immediacy and a sense of place, something I value more than flat, even washes, or carefully rendered detail.

I began painting watercolour using the traditional technique of laying a series of pale washes, gradually building the right tonal values.  After leaving Art College I found some freelance work, producing watercolour illustrations for a large format book about the British countryside. The publishers asked me to follow the style of   another of the illustrators working on the book, Brian Sanders. Apart from his fresh, lively brushwork I guessed Brian painted all of the dark tones first, without using the preliminary washes that I had been using. Although I wouldn’t compare myself to the inimitable Brain Sanders, it is an approach that I have used ever since. It’s also a similar way to how John Singer Sargent worked, (1856 – 1925). Although probably best known as a society portrait artist, Sargent’s luminous watercolours are often thought to be his greatest achievement.


Fig 1.

After quickly drawing the main components of the scene with a soft pencil, I paint the darkest tones first. This gives me a dramatic starting point and the confidence to apply bright colours and rich tones in the rest of the painting. I was keen to paint the intense, Mediterranean blue sky, as this gave me another opportunity of creating contrast against the white façade and statuary. 




Fig 2.

Colours were then applied to the walls and door. I try as far as possible to just put down the one wash, working wet on wet if more colour , or texture is needed, this helps keep the paintwork looking fresh and not overworked. More washes may be needed but as far as I’m concerned the fewer the better.  It was relatively straightforward to just use one wash of Rose Madder, along with a touch of French Ultramarine blue, on the walls of the church.  Other darker areas needed more layers but I always try to keep the number of  washes  to a minimum. I also began picking out a few details with a dip pen and dark brown, (waterproof) ink and scratched a few touches of candle wax on to the paving area to create a slight resist effect - once the paint was applied.


Fig 3.

With all the underlying colours painted, including a suggestion of the hills in the distance and what must have been hints of a waning moon in the sky, I mixed   French Ultramarine and Alizarin Red together with plenty of water, to paint the shadows.

The main shadow had probably moved by the time I came to add it, but I’d kept it’s position in mind, as I liked the shape it made.  Painting a large area of shadow using a very wet wash will invariably disturb the paintwork underneath, but if painted both quickly and without  ‘scrubbing’ the surface,   it should not cause too much of a problem.  

Fig 4

Something I like to do, is to make   monoprints based upon a one of my pictures, sketches or photographs, either making the print broadly the same, or changing the image completely. It’s a versatile and very painterly form of printmaking   and like watercolour, the results are often quite unpredictable, but using printing ink and a press, the colours and textures are always rich and satisfy.

In this example, I decided to isolate the church and surround it with what might be  an overgrown graveyard.

Fig 5.

The print is created on a perspex sheet/plate. I cut a paper stencil of the areas I wanted to keep white and laid this over the colours - already painted or rolled on to the plate. Once ready to print, the plate is put on to the bed of the printing press and a sheet of paper placed over it. Put through the press the image on the plate is transferred to the paper. It’s possible to paint more ink   on to the plate and to take further impressions, but each print is unique, hence the term monoprint . I often paint into the print further, using a mixture of watercolour and gouache.

It’s possible to make monoprints without a printing press, by painting or rolling paint onto a sheet of Perspex, or glass, using oil or acrylic paints. The print can be taken by hand burnishing the back of the paper laid over the printing plate.

Southsea Pier - woodcut 45 x 65cm. This was produced using another favourite printmaking medium, the woodcut or woodblock printing, cut from plywood and hand-printed using water-based printing ink.


A versatile artist, Kevin Dean has illustrated numerous books, magazines, designed textiles, wallpapers, ceramics and exhibited his paintings/prints all over the world. A graduate of The Royal College of Art, Kevin also designed much of the floral marble decoration   at   The Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi.

Kevin also tutors painting holidays for Authentic Adventures, this year he is leading a holiday in Cinque Terre, Italy 30th May – 6th June 2015.
 For further information contact 01453 823328 or visit


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Why I love Italy, by David Paskett painting tutor for Authentic Adventures

"When I am pretending to speak Italian, painting, walking the streets or sitting in a café in a piazza in Italy, I imagine I am almost the person I might be!"

David Paskett


A rainy day in Perugia by David Paskett

Towards San Giovenale by David Paskett


David will be leading the following Painting holidays in Italy in 2015:

26th September 2015 - Casentino, Tuscany

He will also be leading Painting Day Workshops in Gloucestershire.