The old man and I tried it once and we liked it so much, we decided to do it again!
Before any of you get the wrong idea, I’m talking a painting holiday – not some outlandish sexual position.
This was our second trip with Flavours Holidays and once again the company did not let us down. There were 14 of us at Villa Aragonese in Sicily, divided equally into chefs and artists.
Jenny, pictured with her painting teacher Hugh Tuckerman, spent a happy week with Flavours Holidays in Sicily taking painting classes
We were a fascinating mix of couples, attractive singletons, divorcees, widows and widowers, ranging in age from a gorgeous 40-year-old to a very hale 80-year-old. And I am pleased to say we all got on famously.
That was very welcome, especially as I’d fallen out with a woman in the departures lounge at Gatwick Airport after she accused me of pushing in to a queue.
Following an ugly exchange (I told her to try some HRT), she ended up sitting a couple of rows behind me on the plane and I spent a traumatic few hours worrying whether she was booked on the same holiday.
Luckily she wasn’t, and once I saw the back of her, I relaxed.
The rules of a Flavours holiday are simple: there are no rules. Instead, there are some very relaxed guidelines so that you get the most out of your break.
Basically, you don’t have to be at your chopping board or easel at 10am sharp, but if you want to get the most out of the tuition on offer, then put on your pinny or get your paintbrushes ready.
In their downtime, guests can either lounge around at the villa, or join organised trips to historic cities in Sicily (pictured) for some sightseeing
We were on the painting course, so I have no idea what went on in the kitchen. All I know is that when it came to drinking, the cooks beat the artists hands-down. By the end of the week, their stash of empties was far bigger than ours.
Their job was to get lunch prepared Sicilian-style, which meant cooking plenty of hearty and delicious meat and pasta dishes, while our job was to create some watercolour masterpieces under the cool stone arch of a sun-filled courtyard.
With the calm, capable and endlessly encouraging Catherine on hand to nudge us in the right direction, this proved almost possible.
I liked the fact that no one thought you were weird if you sloped off for an afternoon nap
Although, if I’m honest, at the beginning of the week some of the results were what you might call variable.
But the great thing about Flavours is that you don’t need to be experienced to join any of the courses (in addition to art and cookery, the company offers photography, Pilates and languages). Complete novices are welcome, although obviously it helps if you know which end of a pencil to hold.
On the cooking side, I think some of the older women were pretty accomplished, while on the painting team, I’d say there were two men (my old man included) vying for top of the class.
However, the rest of us (five women) improved rapidly by the day, so much so that when I got home, I staged an exhibition of my work in London. OK, so it was in my own sitting room and nothing sold, but even so, I brought home some pictures that I am really pleased with.
There were 14 guests in total at Villa Aragonese (pictured) divided equally into chefs and artists
I may still struggle with perspective and err on the side of garish, but I got to try out some new techniques and I am delighted to say that my candle wax and paint-wash veg and cacti pieces were pretty impressive.
One of them got 80 ‘likes’ on Twitter, which was obviously #cool.
All of us learnt something new. When he wasn’t having to walk to the bottom of the garden to answer annoying work calls, my old man started to experiment more with colour, while the least experienced artist in the group realised she didn’t need a ruler to draw a straight line and began to really loosen up.
Once lunch was served and classes were over for the day, there were afternoons free to loll by the gorgeous swimming pool, or to join organised trips to historic cities for some sightseeing.
We were also taken out several times and treated to very generous meals in restaurants in nearby towns such as Ragusa, where the wine flowed freely.
This was one of the most stress-free holidays I’ve ever had. Flavours staff take care of everything: you barely need any pocket money, breakfast, lunch and supper are taken care of, and they get you to and from the airport, even supplying bottles of water for the journeys.
The accommodation was simple but comfortable, and there were no single supplements, which I know is something that puts a lot of people off booking these holidays.
I liked the fact that no one thought you were weird if you sloped off for an afternoon nap. There was plenty of time to be sociable over the long and chatty dinners. In fact, I think the only moment of dissent during the whole week involved a storyline in The Archers!
So if you like your holidays to involve a healthy combination of activity and relaxation, culture and creativity, in company or on your own, then check out Flavours.
You may even make the sort of friends who buy tickets for your shows. Mamie and Barbara, I salute you!
Flavours Holiday (flavoursholidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night painting holiday in Sicily from £1,599pp.
This includes full-board accommodation with wine, tuition, sightseeing, and transfers from Catania airport, with £100 towards flights from the UK.
British Airways (ba.com) and easyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Catania from the UK.