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A WEEK PAINTING IN VENICE, ITALY

In total contrast to the disastrous disappointment last September this trip ticked all the boxes - and more. Several of us had flown in from different departure points and we were met at Marco Polo airport by Sheila de Vries, who promptly ordered and opened a chilled bottle of Prosecco to drink while we introduced ourselves to each other. Then a smooth trip across the Lagoon in a luxurious private water taxi to Venice Lido and a short walk to our hotel, the Atlanta Augusta in via Lepanto. The weather was perfect and remained so for about 4 days until the rain set in, but it remained warm. Each morning we painted with our tutor, Fiona Graham-Makay, an artist well-known for her portraits highlighted in last year's radio programme recorded as she painted the poet Andrew Motion.

Fiona's enthusiam was boundless and her tuition constructive yet gentle. In the afternoons we explored the city independently. In the evenings we met up in a variety of local restaurants where we enjoyed the a la carte menus - all included in the holiday price.