Thursday, 25 September 2014

Snake charmers, acrobats, camel herders and you! Photographic adventure at the Pushkar Camel fair, Rajasthan.


Pushkar Mela

26th October 2014 & 14th November 2015, 13 nights with Jonathan Perugia (2014) and Hamish Scott-Brown (2015)

Dancing camel

Once a year, the hamlet of Pushkar - a remote collection of cobalt blue buildings, edged with whitewashed temples that fringe the short of a tranquil lake in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan - erupts into a cacophonous frenzy of colour, music, prayer, incense, magic and madness. By the night of the full moon of Kartika Purnima a quarter of a million semi-nomadic Rajput camel and cattle herders have set up camps in the desert around the oasis, with all their herds around them. For five days and nights this is the biggest livestock fair in India, attracting snake-charmers, storytellers, acrobats, conjurers, mystics, snake-oil sellers, tourists and traders or paraphernalia to do with camels. Wandering minstrels sing for their supper as they move between the thousands of camp fires. There is a funfair with giant ferris wheels, camel races, food stalls, moustache-twisting and tuban tying contests and live bands.

The mela (gathering) reaches a crescendo when, under the rising full moon, the chanting pilgrims launch butter-lamps on tiny leaf-boats into the scared lake, then take a ritual dip in the waters to cleanse themselves of sin.

Written by Chis Caldicott and taken from FT Travel.
All images by our tutor Jonathan Perugia.

Watch this short movie for a taster of our Photography Adventure in Rajasthan.

Be quick to book onto this holiday, places sell fast!

t. 01453 823328


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New in 2015: The Amalfi Coast


Sunshine, sea & lemons on the Amalfi Coast

Painting, Photography & Walking in 2015
Authentic Adventures have another UNESCO World Heritage Site in its sights – the beautiful Amalfi coast. One of Europe’s most breathtaking stretches of coastline. The terraced cliffs are famous for their cultivation of lemons – known as sfusato amalfitanoa larger, local kind, grown along the entire coast. Limoncello tasting anyone? Visit iconic towns such as Positano, arguably the most pretty, Ravello, Amalfi, the Vesuvius National Park and Pompeii - our walking groups climb the volcanic paths to an astonishing view of the Bay of Naples, whilst photographers immerse themselves in Naples itself. Take a boat ride to the island of Capri on your free day! Such an inspiring holiday - be quick to book, we are selling places already!

Click here for more information about Painting, Walking or Photography holidays.

More about citrus........written by Bee Wilson, The Kitchen Thinker - Telegraph's Stella magazine.

When the Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen travelled to Italy in 1833, he was dazzled by the orange and lemon trees. "How unfairly we are treated in the North," he wrote. "Here it is paradise."

A paradise of citrus is how I always think of Italy too - where ice-cold limoncello is sipped from tiny glasses on piazzas, and everything from ricotta cake to osso bucco is enlivened with zest. What a joy, therefore, to read Helena Attlee's The Land Where Lemons Grow which tells the story of Italy through its citrus fruit.

For ages the only citrus in Italy - or indeed in Europe - was the citron, or cedro, which was brought to Calabria by the Jews around AD70. It would be another 800 years before sour lemons arrived with the Arab invasion of Sicily. The citron is something else - a truly outlandish object. Ancient Romans used these giant yellow fruits as room fresheners. In Britain we mostly encounter them in the form of candied peel, but fresh citrons are extraordinary, like the gigantic malformed lemons but with a scent that is, as Attlee says, like "spice and sweet violets". they are still grown in Calabria, and the finest, largest specimens can sell for up to £250. Attlee suggests slicing the pith into thin strips to make a salad with parsley and olives. The great surprise is that the pith is the sweetest part. Italian citrus is full of surprises. Attlee, a gardening expert, sees and tastes many weird fruits on her travels. In Tuscan gardens there are fingered lemons "like yellow hands", a throwback to the Renaissance fashion among rich families for collecting rare mutations of citrus trees. The mutations continue in modern Italian citrus farms. Attlee visits a farm in Liguria where there are pink grapefruits and green limes, golden citrons and sweet lemons, navel oranges and multiple varieties of mandarin. One farmer shows her a spherical lemon that "got too friendly with an orange." In Sicily the Aranacia Rossa comes in many varieties. As well as the dark-red Moro and Sanguinello, there is the Tarocco, sometimes called 'half-blood' whose marbled flesh, for Attlee, makes all other oranges seem 'cloyingly sweet'. Despite the depth of Italian citrus mania, it's not easy making a living growing organs. The Mafia used to run the industry but moved on when profits dwindled. Sicilian farmers now suffer at the hands of of super markets that buy cheap and sell at a 500 per cent mark up. "Watch our for China," warns a Sicilian journalist who fears that Italian organs will soon be unable to compete with Asian imports. Let's hope this is wrong. It would be sad indeed if Italy stopped being the land where lemons grow.

For more information about our holidays here, sign up to our mailing list, newsletters and Facebook page - you'll be the first to hear, and you will receive our 2015 brochure in September. We have already taken bookings for this location, so be quick to bag your place.

Call us anytime on 01453 823328 - we are here to help.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Painting Workshop with David Paskett 26th & 27th July.

David Paskett

Join David Paskett on a Painting Workshop in the Queen of the Cotswolds, Painswick, Gloucestershire as part of the 2014 Painswick Arts Festival.

26th July, 10am – 4pm £95 - NOW FULLY BOOKED
27th July, 10am – 4pm £95 - 3 PLACES LEFT

Sketch & paint en plein air in and around Painswick, in the churchyard of St. Marys and inside The Painswick Arts Centre studio. On each day David will demonstrate different techniques, and throughout the day will consider themes, abstraction, shadows, spatial awareness and the use of
mixed media. David Paskett is a past President of the Royal Watercolour Society, a fine painter and highly experienced teacher. Learn from one of the best, in one of the most beautiful villages in England.

Look out for more painting and photography workshops coming soon. Please sign up to our newsletters to make sure you hear about them first.

For more information about David, click here:

A quintessential Cotswold village scene.

Visit us at the Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival 13th - 15th June

Cooking Holidays with Authentic Adventures - find out more at our first food festival!

Join us on a culinary adventure to Puglia where fresh figs, sunshine and olive groves are all part of the experience. Situated in Southern Italy, the region of Puglia received a UNESCO World Heritage award for its Mediterranean cuisine. Famed for it's peasant cooking, the area produces 40% of Italy's olive oil.

With fifteen years experience, we know a thing or two about what makes a holiday come alive! In Puglia you will be looked after by our local Tour Leader who works with local 'mamma's' who will share their kitchen secrets with you. Learn how to cook local specialities such as pane, orrecchiette pasta and pasticiotto. Wine, cheese and olive oil tasting all feature highly.

Stay in modern and stylish Masseria Provenzani-Alcaini, set in the heart of ancient olive groves. As President of the 'Strada del Vigna del Sole' Puglian wine route, tour leader Ylenia Sambati is also an expert in this field.

Come and meet the Authentic Adventures team, and watch Ylenia demonstrate her cooking skills in the Pitville Bathrooms & Kitchens Chefs Kitchen on Saturday 14th June at 11am.
We will have a stand, G99, throughout the event and look forward to seeing you there.

For more information, and to buy tickets go to

If you are inspired to go on a cooking adventure, and would like to find out more, visit:
We will be launching new Cooking Holidays in 2015 at the event - watch this space!


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Light fantastic - bring drama to your paintings with the help of Christine Russell

As featured in The Leisure Painter magazine, July 2014

Our painting tutor Christine Russell demonstrates how to bring more contrast and drama to your paintings through the use of colour and tone in a practical step by step exotic-themed painting in pastels.

Christine's painting is set in the late afternoon light coming from the top left, just behind the row of trees, with the artist looking directly into the sun.  The trees filter the sunlight and the figure, trees and coconut stall are effectively silhouetted.  Lengthened shadows are projected diagonally in front of the scene.

Step 1
Christine makes a simple outline drawing with a magenta pastel pencil.

Step 1

Step 2
Working broadly and lightly with the pastel on its side Christine blocks in the sky, sea and some of the foreground working around the tree trunks, stall and figure.  She uses separate strokes of pale cream and cerulean for the sky, cerulean for the sea and warmer shades of peach for the foreground.

Step 2

Step 3
Working on the tree canopy Christine uses a very dark indigo and Prussian blue pastel overlaid with strokes of mid-tone green.  Working from dark to light to produce a three dimensional quality.  She uses indigo and dark brown to establish the remaining dark areas.

Step 3

Step 4
Further touches are added of lighter foliage and pale brown on the tree trunks; pale orange for patches of soft dappled light; warm blue for the figure's shirt; deep burnt orange for the shadow areas of the coconuts, topped with bright yellow-orange.

Step 4

Step 5
Christine added more dark blue, green and bright yellow green to develop the foliage; violet for foreground dappled shadows and occasional dabs of green contrasting with pale cream and peach for the dappling.  Finishing touches included developing the foliage on the right, inserting sky colour,  darkening the figure's shirt, adding some pale sky colour into the sea and some violet and cream to the hut roof to enhance the dappled light effect.

Finished painting

Christine will be leading painting holidays with us to Puglia on 27 September 2014, Sri Lanka on 6 December 2014. We have spaces left on all of these holidays at present (only one room remains on the Puglia holiday).

We are planning more holidays with Christine next year to Madeira on 9th March 2015.
For more information, or to book, call us on 01453 823328, or visit:

Photography Holiday in Rajasthan with Jonathan Perugia

White robes and Orange turbans at the Pushkar Camel Fair.
Leading camels at the Pushkar Camel Fair
The dune-like humps of huddling camels shift against the faint purple bruising of the dawn sky. Primeval groans and grunts float on the chilly air, and campfires flicker into the distance on the immense undulating plain, illuminating the eyes and teeth of men who have lived long hard lives in the desert: lives entwined with those of their animals.

In the ashy blueness of the growing light, a boy stirs, stumbling sleepily to a dozing camel. He strokes its bristly hair. 

As the sky starts to glow orange, we have reached the highest point of the festival site, looking back at the animals, carts, and tents stretching into the distance, and the smoke hanging in wisps across the valley.

I’m leading a small group of photographers to choice vantage points by a small group of huts, where herds of camels will soon be driven in from the desert through the skeletal trees. 

As golden sunrise light slants through the brush, the first camels gallop and thud down the hill, cajoled and thwacked by whistling men in white robes and bright orange turbans.

Dancing camels

We spend an exhilarating hour crouching, running, shooting, and finding our own favourite spots, as group after group of camels kick and canter through the backlit dust.

By around 830 most of the groups have passed, and we head back to the main site, splitting up to gorge on the photographic feast all around us. It’s a great place for portraiture, landscapes, details, and vignettes of life. Women in immaculate vivid saris collect balls of dung for the fires; muttering groups of men inspect livestock, bargaining and striking deals; camels’ coats are groomed, shorn, and dyed. They bellow cantankerously throughout.

By 11, the light is getting harsh: and it’s hot. We head back to the cool oasis of our heritage hotel for breakfast, a dip, and a welcome nap. Later we head back out to the stadium, where earsplitting music obliterates the sounds, but not the sights of tightrope walkers, dancing camels, moustache competitions, and racing horses in an endless throng of colour and energy.

Hundreds of holy men, and pilgrims from the desert and all over India, come to Pushkar, to bathe and pray, haggle, barter, gossip and make merry. They gather outside temples, and pose patiently. Spending a little time with them allows a connection that can raise a portrait above the ordinary, and allow situations to develop around you.

As the afternoon light starts to glow golden, we head to the bathing ghats by the lake. Groups of pilgrims are silhouetted and reflected in the water, birds flit across the pink sky, and humped cows munch and snuffle their way along the steps.
Jaunty turban of the day

We walk barefoot around the sacred lake as night falls and the drumming and chanting builds and becomes more and more mesmerizing. It’s a wonderful time to shoot with high ISOs and fast lenses, or tripods, using the flare and colour casts of floodlights and the electric blue dusk. Finally we drag ourselves away, for a rickety rickshaw ride back to dinner in the comfort of the hotel.


We arrive for our two nights in Pushkar after about a week of the tour, so we’re already acclimatized, and I’ve had an opportunity to have 1 to 1 time with every photographer. This is very important, and helps me get a clear idea of their interests, style, and what they want to work on during the holiday.

We spend our first four nights in Udaipur, staying in the Maharaja’s former country retreat by a lake. His immaculate Marawari horses are stabled here, and young men play cricket on an immaculate pitch. This is the ideal place to recover from the journey.

The city immediately enchants with the classic romance of Rajasthan. The late afternoon light on the lake is sublime, silhouetting rows of hills in the misty distance, especially viewed through the carved marble windows of the exquisite palace.

Photographic highlights include a busy ancient temple, life by the lake at sunrise, a busy pungent bazaar, and a boat trip to an island where the kings used to cavort with their concubines.

Jodhpur is next, with its immense fort looming over the narrow streets of the old blue city; a sprawling, fascinating market; and a visit to a cloth dying community, where some photographers end up being invited into houses spontaneously and popping up on the roofs to shoot down at the groups of feisty kids waving and jostling below.

After Pushkar, we head for Jaipur, regional capital and an intense assault on the senses. We’re up early for the best of the light, avoiding the insane traffic, before heading to the truly astonishing Amber Fort outside the city, to shoot tawny reflections rippling in the lake, before a jeep ride up the hill to explore the opulent marbled halls, mirrored ceilings, narrow passageways, and the views of the fortifications snaking along the tops of the surrounding hills.
The priest arrives


I fell in love with photography in India in the early 90s, and have spent the subsequent twenty years fulfilling the vow I made on a starlit bus ride to Bombay: that I would travel the world making pictures, and get paid to do it.

The process of finding my creativity has changed my life. My teaching is inspired by a belief that we all benefit enormously from exploring and expressing our creative impulses; and that we all have an eye, a story to tell, and a unique take on the world.

I love photography, and people, and it’s very exciting for me to try to inspire people to experiment and enjoy their photography and to develop their own style: and to have a lot of fun doing it.

So I make time to listen to people’s wishes, before and during the holiday, and I work with every guest individually to encourage and guide them on their own path.
Smiling Jonathan!

We have some group sessions, where we study and discuss images; I offer small workshops on techniques the guests want to practice, like night photography, portraiture, and capturing movement; and I review their work as we go along.

I set lighthearted (optional) ‘competitions’ with silly prizes, and am always available to answer guests’ questions. And I generally stay on for a spell after all the guests have gone, so I do my own photography then: while the course is running. I’m focused on the guests’ photography, not my own.

I love India, and know it pretty well, and we have excellent local guides. Between us, we will unveil the delights and guide you through the challenges of this spectacular region of this wonderful country.

Join Jonathan on his next Photography Holiday to Rajasthan on 26th October 2014 - only a few places left. 12 nights, £3089 excluding flights.
This blog, written by Jonathan Perugia, was featured in the June edition of Photography Monthly magazine.
Call our office for more information - we are here to help: 01453 823328

Friday, 23 May 2014

Pizza - the 'authentic' recipe.



250 gr “00” flour

2 tbsp kosher salt

50 gr yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Warm water (2 tea cup)

1.      Combine warm water, sugar, oil, yeast, and 2 cups cold water in bowl.

2.      Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Mix until a smooth dough forms, 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Divide dough into balls and cover with plastic. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours.

3.      Top with your favourite ingredients.


Bake in pre heated oven for about 15 minutes.
Join us on our next Cooking Holiday in October this year and learn how the Italians do it.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tutor Profile: Chloe Hall

Chloe Hall


Q & A with Chloe Hall - solicitor turned photographer.

Q: What is your name?
A: Chloe Hall (I'm eternally grateful to my parents for not giving me a middle name at all)

Q: What's your special skill?
A: People photography both portraits and documentary. I love the interaction with my subjects - if you travel 3000 miles to a great location, it's a shame to spend all of it behind a telephoto lens. Also Street Photography. Sometimes it's great just to be an observer, to try to capture the day to day goings on and the energy on the streets.

Q: Why do you love being a tutor for Authentic Adventures?
A: I get to visit fabulous locations and be part of the process of people learning to develop their photographic skills. It's incredibly rewarding to see beginners being able to grasp the technical aspects of photography over the course of an AA holiday, and when we share our images I get to see how imaginative everyone is - we visit the same places but everyone sees and captures it in a different way. Plus the clients are great company so the social aspect is great fun too.

Q: What's your top tip for future clients on an Authentic Adventures trip?
A: If you have never been aon a group holiday before and wonder what it will be like, or worry that you'll be our of your depth, or have never travelled alone before then you could not have picked a better company, and dare I say it, a better tutor! From a teaching perspective nothing give me more pleasure than helping beginners master their cameras and develop their eye, and the groups are always a friendly sociable bunch so there's nothing to worry about. You will have a wonderful time and come back with happy memories and some photographs to be proud of.

Q: Which Authentic Adventures trip are you most excited about in 2014?
A: That's impossible to choose between - I've never been to a Greek Island (ridiculous, I know) so am excited about the visual possibilities of Santorini. But I've also had a long term love affair with Asia - the people, the culture - so I'm more than a little bit excited about exploring Sri Lanka.

Q: What has been the best holiday you've worked on for AA and why?
A: Will you stop with these difficult questions?! I've love many of my trips, each one is so very individual. But to try to narrow it down - the very first in the Alpujarras in Spain was special because the group was so diverse and so enthusiastic and it was my first trip. Many of those clients have come on subsequent trips with me. In terms of location and photography I think it would have to be Kerala - I had a wonderful group there too, but India in all it's visual richness and diversity was a treat for any photographer.

Q: Holiday tales - funny, anecdotes, memories - weird moments!
A: As they say - what goes on tour, stays on tour. I'm too discreet.....sorry!

Q: Tell us something we don't already know about you.
A: I also teach group fitness - indoor cycling (spinning) and something called Body Balance which is a class blending tai chi, yoga and pilates to music.

Q: Where would you like to travel to next with AA that we don't already go to?
A: I visited Mallorca on holiday last year. Whilst most of it I spent horizontal enjoying the sun and pool, with a bit of exploration I would find some great photographic locations. Plus the food is wonderful.

Q: Tell us about forthcoming exhibitions, masterclasses that you are running.
A: I recently had an interview with Outdoor Photography Magazine so will be their featured photographer in a forthcoming edition. Once Spring arrives, my London Street Photography workshops will kick off, as will a masterclass on Lighting I run together with a corporate photographer. Get in touch if you'd like to come along - you'll be able to practice what you learn on your next Authentic Adventures holiday.

Chloe in Kerala

Chloe and her photography group in Kerala 2013

Chloe is leading groups to Santorini and Sri Lanka in 2014. Sign up to our newsletters to find out about her forthcoming trips in 2015.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Guest blog: Gill Stafford writes for us about "The Golden Hour" for photographers in Puglia, Southern Italy.

Gill Stafford - photographer and guest blogger!


The night before……

I’ve come a long way with my photography since my first Authentic Adventures photography holiday with Chloe Hall.  Building on the knowledge I gained in Morocco, I’ve upgraded my camera, completed an Open University photography course and joined a local photography society, being promoted to the Advanced section after only one year of entering club competitions as a Novice.

When I first saw this holiday advertised, I was delighted as early morning misty olive groves, the seaside and Italian trulli houses combined with characterful Italian faces really appealed.  Lashings of Italian ice-cream, strong coffee and excellent pasta - I would be in foodie heaven! Shooting poppies, pigs and priests really sounded too good an opportunity to miss. My usual Shoot-and-Run street photography would be replaced by time to really get to grips with camera settings.

Chatting to Hamish Scott-Brown, the tutor, on AA’s Facebook page wetted my appetite further and I can’t wait to meet him and the other seven fellow photographers booked on the holiday.  Keeping the groups small, means everyone gets attention from the tutor and no-one is left struggling.

Day One: making new friends

What a co-incidence!  Quite by chance, I found myself seated on the plane next to a guy of my own age who recognised my camera rucksack and was going on the same holiday.  Even more amazing was that he was born in the same Welsh County Town as I live in.  We chatted nonstop for the duration of the flight. 
After a bonding coffee in the airport cafeteria with other members of our group and Hamish, who was waiting for us in Bari Arrivals Hall, we drove through torrential rain on flooded roads to our first hotel, our base for the first three nights.  Hamish stayed on at Bari to meet the remaining guests arriving on different flights but we all met up for an excellent three course dinner.  I was pleased to see vegetarian food was served on request with a smile!  A quiet corner for coffee, an explanation of the proposed itinerary and the first of many hints for those of us who are  less experienced photographers from Hamish had me itching for the trips to come.

Day Two:  Monopoli, poppies and olive groves

Coffee and a local cake started off our morning in the fishing port of Monopoli.  Narrow winding streets with local people taking a slow Sunday walk; washing flapping languidly from balconies under a cloudless blue sky.  Peeling paint on houses with rotting doors gave us many photographic opportunities while, in the main square, locals milled around while children rode bicycles and took rides on a round-about.  One small alleyway unexpectedly opened out onto a small quay with local fishing boats and a tiny beach.


Beautiful red olive groves that surround the Masseria

Lunch in an agroturismo restaurant was enlivened by the noisy antics of a large Italian family celebrating their Grandfather’s birthday.  We were fascinated by the constant movement of family members as they couldn’t sit at their table for more than a few minutes, babies toddled, children ran round and young women tottered on impossibly high stilettos as the men gossiped accompanied by much arm waving!

Hamish had scouted out the most scenic olive groves and poppy fields to photograph so we returned to our hotel stopping to photograph landscapes and flowers at several locations.  Hamish announced a competition for the best photograph of a tree which he would submit to AA to judge.  We were only allowed one entry each and entering the competition was compulsory!

An optional trip to capture sunrise means early to bed tonight although I’m not sure that I shall be able to get up early after today’s fresh air.

DayThree: Cheesemaking children and  Trullis in a wildflower meadow

A pre-dawn start for those of the Group who did manage to rise early (I didn’t), saw them capturing early morning life in a small town, the weather precluding the proposed sunrise photography.  After breakfast, we headed to an artisan cheese maker.  Mozzarella cheese-making was demonstrated by a large Italian who stretched and twisted the strings of white cheese stopping mid-stretch to allow us to take photos.  We were invited to watch - and photograph - a small class of young schoolchildren learning how to press ricotta cheese into moulds.  the children bustled around oblivious to our cameras allowing us candid shots. 

Turning off a country lane, our minibus headed up a single track into a meadow of wild flowers, fruit and olive trees. The owner greeted us, then we were free to follow a footpath meandering past tumble-down Trullis, beehives and even an old church.  Wild flowers of many colours appealed to flower photographers and we could explore inside the Trullis, all to a background of birdsong.   Hamish skittered between us giving valuable advice and pointing out items of interest that we might have otherwise missed. Lunch, Italian tapas style, in an organic restaurant , saw us tasting produce grown nearby along with delicious still-warm granary bread and a freshly baked chocolate cake.

The afternoon downpour started just as we arrived at Arbrello, a town of well-preserved Trulls. Finding a quiet spot to shelter, I took many shots of tourists of all nationalities who head to this spot.

Dinner and anecdotes around a large table, discussing where we’d been and the wonders still to come.


Tuesday: a diverting transfer to the Lecce region

Leaving at 10.30am for the short (1hr 15 min) drive to our second Masseria, we had many interesting diversions and distractions, making our journey some seven hours in length. Our first diversion, came as we stopped at a particularly attractive poppy field. Framed by limestone dry walls and edged by olive trees, it was a carefully selected spot to spend time taking photos from the quiet roadside verge. Driving near the city of Ostumo, the driver decided he should direct us to a panoramic view. Heeding Hamish's safety instructions we squatted by the crash barrier on a sharp downhill bend to photograph the rooftops and churches. Several further 'distractions' later, we were met in Lecce by our tour leader for the second part of the week and taken to an old traditional Italian trattoria for yet another delicious lunch. A visit to a traditional papier-mache figurine maker saw us marvelling at his skills and taking photos of both him and his cluttered workshop. A walking tour of Lecce's historic centre was scheduled by the, by now familiar, afternoon downpour saw us take refuge in a very acceptable coffee bar instead.
Our Masseria for the rest of our stay was bran new; we were the first guests and were welcomed with wine and nibbles which stretched into dinner.
Wednesday: Sunrise to sunset, and everything in between!

I managed it!! Up in time to watch sunrise from a tiny fishing harbour before photographing olive groves in the “golden hour”,the first light of day after sunrise.  Wild flowers dripping with dew, backlit by early sunshine started off a day of adventure.

Following the coastline, we stopped off at a disused lighthouse, taking photos of the adjacent deserted beach.  A derelict beach cafe proved so much more fascinating than the more pristine affair where we’d earlier enjoyed coffee and the one-and-only ice cream cornet of the holiday.

After lunching at a cafe overlooking the huge Ostello Castle, a slow amble through narrow, but touristy, streets brought us to the town promenade and harbour where local boat builders were happy to demonstrate their skills before our cameras.

Shelagh Wooster photographing sunset in Gallipoli

Sunset in Gallipoli

A disused bauxite mine, now a milky pale-blue lake was worth the short hike through a nature reserve; the colours of blue, brown and green delighting us. I was even handed samples of tiny round bauxite balls, heavy like ball-bearings, by a young Italian man who scrabbled in the ground to retrieve them. 

After a long drive to Gallipoli, we crossed the bridge into the old city.  A saunter through narrow alleyways with our tour-leader pointing out places of interest and back onto the seafront just in time to set-up our cameras for a perfect sunset.  Instructed by Hamish on the ideal viewing spot and camera settings, I took my best sunset photo ever!

Gills entry for the 'Trees' competition.

Thursday:  Abandonment and Beatrix Potter
We were met at large rusty gates by the local Chief of Tourism. After shaking our hands, he slowly undid the large padlocks and invited us inside the overgrown garden while he guarded the entrance of this secret abandoned winery.  We couldn’t believe what we saw; was this really a film set?  Rust, dust, holes in roof and floor; bottles and discarded labels strewn across the floor, machinery unused for many years.  A car, it’s rusty engine spilling out of open bonnet - this was a photographers dream!  We explored various halls, smaller rooms and overgrown yards with further rusting vehicles.  It was worth coming on this holiday for this visit alone!  How could the early morning walk and talk in an olive grove accompanied by an expert in olive tree management compare with this?
A blacksmith demonstrated his craft allowing us to take his portrait framed in orange sparks before we wandered through several abandoned farmhouses and a monastery museum.  All seemed tame after the winery visit but a further delight was in store.
As we alighted from our minibus in a muddy farmyard, an elderly farmer shook each of our hands.  A gaggle of geese, dogs chasing cats, cats chasing dogs, flapping hens - this was a scene straight out of the Beatrix Potter books of my childhood.  Through an open barn door, more hens and several cockerels perched on a wooden rack, a kitten dozed on the doorstep of a dilapidated farmhouse; then there were the pigs! Two sows and assorted offspring rushed to the corner of their large muddy field expecting food rather than cameras! Two cows and a calf and even a white peacock added to the farm menagerie.  We explored sheds of old tractors and cars before meeting the architect of our hotel who was converting a cottage in the farmyard for his own use.  Offering us home-made grappa of high alcohol content and showing us his current modest living quarters he seemed an eternity away from the highly talented acclaimed architect who also holds a UN post.
I hope the Mayor of Lecce forgave us; we had been invited to visit him but the abandoned winery and traditional farmyard made for much more enticing photographic opportunity.



Friday: Market day and a preening peacock.

Much to my own amazement, not being a “morning-person”, I rose early and went for a walk through nearby olive groves.  The golden hour really is, I’ve discovered, a time of long shadows and gentle sunlight.  Maybe I should try getting up early when I’m home!  It’s interesting how much olive groves vary; some have red soil underfoot whereas others may have granite or yellow or white flowers while looking down in some reveals a poppy field.

Today is our visit to Lecce indoor market.  While markets provide opportunities for candid photography, it is harder to make contact with stallholders and shoppers and ask their permission to take their photograph although many people are only to happy to acquiesce to a request, language seeming no barrier when a camera is shown to them.  Hamish ably demonstrated how a smile can rapidly have the unlikeliest people looking into a lens. Ylenia, Authentic Adventures food holiday tutor, circulated among us introducing us to several stall-keepers and offering us samples of cheese and ham.

Back at Masseria Provenzani, I was fascinated by the solitary peacock living in a cage of hens.  With his tail feathers extended he really was a beautiful bird and I spent many minutes photographing him before joining the rest of our Group enjoying the food prepared by the USA guests.
A welcome two-hours back at our own Masseria (a sister hotel to the more-established Provenzani), before a final dusk walk in the surrounding olive groves.  Hamish even taught us a technique of capturing trees and reflections - shooting into a muddy puddle.  Strangely, it works!

A last dinner and a look at everyone else's photographs.

This was an amazing and varied holiday and the techniques I learned will improve my photographic skills.  Not only did I learn from Hamish, but from other members of the Group who were supportive and gave advice to the lesser skilled people among us - there were some superb photographers on the course! 
This was a very well researched trip, ideal for keen photographers of all standards.  I look forward to building on the new skills I learned and, hopefully, knees permitting, travelling on future Authentic Adventures!
I may not have photographed Pigs, Poppies and Priests but I still snapped my three P’s, Pigs, Poppies and Peacocks!


For more information about our Photography Holidays, follow the link, or call us in the office - we are always here to help. Our photography tutors always contact our guests before the start of a holiday to introduce themselves, discuss the trip and find out what they hope to achieve during the course of the week.

As you can see from Gills blog, our tutors make every effort to take you to really special places - before each trip, they go to the location and suss out all the best places, the perfect light, the transport, the rest stops - every detail is covered. If you are interested in this holiday, or any other, please give us a call in the office and we can put you in touch with the tutor who is happy to discuss the trip in more detail.

Office: 01453 823328 - we are here to help.

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Photography in Puglia 2015 date will be announced shortly.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Tutor profile: Kevin Dean - our new Painting tutor!


We're really excited to be welcoming Kevin Dean onto the team in 2014, and looking forward to his new energy and commitment to our vision for painting holidays! He's got a tremendous C.V, lots of teaching and travel experience, with a varied creative flair. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Kevin has illustrated numerous books, designed textiles, ceramics and also much of the marble decoration of The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. He is a keen traveller and has exhibited widely. He is currently the Associate lecturer at Southampton's Solent University.

Read more about his interesting life below.....

Your name please....
Kevin John Dean. Not a very artistic name, (Kevin), it's a name that's often used on TV for petty criminals or stand up comedians but I guess my parents thought it was original at the time of my birth.

What's your special skill.....
If we are talking art, my preferred medium is watercolour, but recently I've been experimenting with adding gouache, ink and even pastel to my paintings. Also I really enjoy printmaking, especially mono-printing which is very similar to painting in many ways.

Otherwise, I am ok cook and with three hungry boys to feed - pasta, in large quantities, is often on the menu. I'm also a very fast walker, much to my wife's annoyance!

Why do you love being a tutor for Authentic Adventures?
Lots of reasons, I like people and hearing about their lives and experiences, I love talking about painting and imparting what little knowledge I have. Also there's the reflected glory of being part of a great holiday experience, which I hope will have happy memories for the rest of their lives.

What's your top tip for future clients on an AA trip?
Just to relax and enjoy the experience, I find people often put a lot of pressure on themselves to produce great work, which can be counterproductive. Sometimes the best pictures happen when you stop thinking about the outcome.

Which Authentic Adventures trip are you most excited about in 2014?
I've been to Italy quite a few times when I was working on some marble decoration for a Mosque in Abu Dhabi, a long story....but that was mainly around Pisa and Milan, so I'm really looking forward to seeing both Umbria and Cinque Terre to see how these regions might differ from the North of Italy.

Holiday Tales...funny anecdotes, memorable holidays - weird moments!
When I was much younger, I travelled all over S.E Asia. I met a zoologist who knew the Headman of a tribe living in the interior of Borneo. Carrying a short letter of introduction I boarded a small plane that landed on the edge of a village in the middle of the rainforest. After reading the note I was welcomed to the Headman's Longhouse, where I stayed for about three weeks, people were so generous. I did lots of paintings and just before I left I had my first one man exhibition. I gave most of the pictures to the villagers.

Tell us something we don't already know about you.....
I like painting the sea in the middle of a heavy storm, my brother was once a professional footballer and I never leave home without having had breakfast!

Where would you like to travel to next?
I know it sounds a bit unlikely as a painting holiday destination, but I know the United Arab Emirates very well and I think it would be a great place to try. Even Dubai, famous for it's huge malls and sky scrapers has a wonderful historic district that I've often painted. Not forgetting the deserts and mountains....

Tell us about any forthcoming exhibitions, masterclasses etc. that you are running!
I'm very excited about my latest project, designing all of the architectural patterns for a Mosque in Kano Northern Nigeria. It's an existing Mosque which was built about 100 years ago but has fallen into disrepair and generous benefactor is paying for it's renovation.

Another interesting point is that John (Brough) lived in Kano as a boy, as his Dad worked there after independence, although it sounds as though it was a rather different environment than now!

In the New Year, I'm planning to have an open studio, which will be a good excuse to finish some pieces of work and have a good tidy up.

Kevin will be leading painting holidays in Cinque Terre and Orvieto.

For further information please have a look at his website:

Grande Mosque in Abu Dhabi - awe inspiring decorated marble by Kevin Dean

The Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai