Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Bernabéu – One of the Greatest Football Stadiums in the World

The home of Real Madrid FC the “Estadio Santiago Bernabéu” to give it its full name is quite simply one of the most sublime and impressive places to both watch and play football in the world. It took almost three years to build and was first used in December 1947. In the intervening years it has witnessed some of the greatest footballers ever to grace the game. It has hosted the Champions League Final on four occasions and was a central platform of the World Cup in Spain in 1982.

It is the third largest stadium in Europe behind Barcelona’s Camp Nou and of course the New Wembley with a capacity of just over 85,000 but has seen in the past in excess of 125,000 fill it to the rafters.

Construction

Construction on the stadium began in late 1944 with club Chairman Santiago Bernabéu looking to make what was the second best team in Madrid at this time into world beaters. To do this he considered a new stadium a necessity.  It was built next to the old stadium and named the “Nuevo Estadio Chamartín” or “New Chamartín Stadium” when it first opened. Over the course of the next decade it was continually improved by Bernabéu and in 1955 it was renamed in his honour. At this time the club were in their heyday and dominating European football. By 1998 safety concerns and the implementation of an all-seater policy had reduced its capacity to the 85,000 mark but there are plans afoot to increase this once more.

Who was Santiago Bernabéu?

Santiago Bernabéu Yeste is widely considered to be the most important man in the history of the club. He is credited for turning Real Madrid into the force that they became in the 1950’s and shaping the club into one of the worlds most influential in modern times. He was the clubs President for 35 years but was so much more than that in his lifetime.

His life dedicated to Real Madrid

Born in June 1895 he was first a regular fan of the club before signing for their junior side at the age of 14. During the next 18 years he played as a striker and captained the side before retiring in 1927. After leaving the playing side of things he became a club director, assistant manager and then the manager of the club before the Spanish Civil War in 1936 overtook football in its importance. Three years later and with the Civil War at an end but the Second World War just beginning it fell to Bernabéu to rebuild a club with many of its administration, staff and players either dead or chillingly having disappeared. Many of the clubs trophies had been stolen and the club was at an all time low. Bernabéu spent those first few months restructuring the club, firstly by contacting ex players and staff still alive and then helping to develop the club in what must have been an incredibly difficult period as the Second World War drew to a close. His efforts were so successful that in 1943 he took over as club President – a role he held until his death in June 1978. It was a slow and laborious process but he gradually changed the club into the most dominant force in football during the 1950’s.

His influence in Europe and legacy

Bernabéu’s policy of recruiting the best players in the world not just Spain was at this time unheard of as the first Galactico’s were signed. Among these were players recognised as some of the best ever to have graced a football field like Alfredo di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás. Indeed, di Stéfano now aged 87, is still a big part of Real Madrid as an honorary President. As well as playing a large part in Madrid’s history Bernabéu was also largely responsible for creating what was the forerunner of the Champions League when in 1955 acting upon an idea mooted in the press by French journalist Gabriel Hanot he helped to organise a regular coming together of all the top European sides.

How do I get to the Bernabéu Stadium?

The ground is reached via its own metro station not unsurprisingly called the Santiago Bernabéu and is served by several bus routes including 14, 27, 40, 43, 120, 147, and 150. As for driving to the ground well honestly I’d give that a miss. Parking is extremely limited and as someone who has had to negotiate the gigantic 16 lane carriageways within the city unless you know your way around Madrid like a local it’s very easy to get lost.

What does the future hold?

As recently as October 16, 2013 club President Florentino Pérez announced that Real are seeking to sell the naming rights for its stadium and are hoping to attract a sponsor to fund the €400m development planned. So if you have a few bob stuck down the back of your sofa it might be worth considering. Perez has described the ambitious project as “providing our stadium with an outer skin that will be a crowning architectural achievement. The Bernabéu has to become a unique stadium, the best in the world and the crowning achievement of 21st Century stadium architecture.

Wet room designs to fit awkward angles

At its simplest, a wet room is just that, a totally watertight room with a shower.

Designs vary enormously, and some wet rooms do contain screens and shower trays. However, many are free from any sort of enclosure or cubicle. Instead, they’re entirely open and fully watertight throughout.

The advantage of a wet room without any tray or enclosure is that it can be formed from a small or unusually shaped space. Because it doesn’t need to conform to a structure, it can be created to fill the most awkward of angles.

There’s no required minimum or maximum size for a wet room. This makes them an ideal solution for otherwise unusable areas. Wet rooms have been built in under stair cupboards and loft conversions.

Why choose a wet room

Not only are they easy to clean and maintain, wet rooms are also highly convenient. They’re perfect for anyone with a mobility problem, and they also offer straightforward access for children. Wet rooms can add value to a house, although perhaps not at the expense of removing a bath.

A wet room can be as compact or as spacious as you choose. You can turn a large bathroom into a wet room, complete with shower, basin and toilet. It’s not as advisable to change a tiny bathroom into a wet room as everything, including towels and toilet roll, will end up getting wet.

The main benefit of a wet room is that it can make the most of an impractical area where it’s impossible to create an entire second bathroom. Rather than trying to squeeze all your bathroom components into a cramped space, just focus on creating a luxurious shower room.

Call in the professionals

Clearly, creating a totally watertight environment is the main priority in constructing a wet room.

Floor and wall tiles must be properly grouted; though this does not make them completely watertight. A tanking system must be applied beneath them, and there are several ways to tackle this. Laying a membrane before tiling integrates the walls with the floor, providing a continuous water-resistant layer. A concealed sunken tray that can be tiled and sealed is another option.

Designing and installing a wet room should be done by professionals. The floor of the wet room needs to be subtly styled so it has a gradient that channels water to drain away. Ventilation must also be taken into consideration. Extractor fans are vital to reduce humidity and stop mildew forming.

Sleek and stylish wet room designs

Wet rooms naturally have a contemporary feel due to their streamlined and open plan design. Work with this in mind when you choose tiles. And remember, tiles can cover a multitude of sins. Ignore what the walls are like now and try to imagine them fully tiled from ceiling to floor.

There are a wide variety of wet room tiles to choose from. Ceramic, porcelain, even glass tiles can be used to conjure up every type of image, from a Mediterranean mosaic pattern to a recreation of a Grecian temple. As well as looking good, your tiles should also be slip-resistant.

Natural stone is a popular choice as it never dates and gives a classically elegant appearance. The other benefit of natural stone is that it has a riven texture, which provides surface grip. Tiles are the most essential element in any wet room design as they are generally used throughout.

In summary, wet rooms are great for transforming an odd space into a practical and stylish feature. They not only add value to a property, they also change a functional shower into a luxurious experience.

Who Shot The Bride? Wedding Video Production

It’s your big day. Months of meticulous planning are crammed into 24 hours that pass in a blur. How will you recall your wedding day in the future: by watching a neatly-edited wedding video production that captures every key moment, or hunched over a laptop sifting through hours of dodgy footage? If you’re looking for professional wedding video production London, here are some handy hints to help you get the best of the most important event of your life.

The casting couch

Choosing how to record your special day is tricky. Today, most cameras have video, and user-friendly editing software makes everyone think they’re an expert. It’s tempting to ask a friend or family member to do the honours, or perhaps pick the cheapest videographer to save money – but set an appropriate budget for your video. Anything else is false economy in the long run.

  • Look for a wedding video production company with a great track record – don’t put trust and money in someone who’s just starting out or is using you as a guinea-pig to build their portfolio. Check they have plenty of recent examples on their website and for added reassurance, contact couples who’ve used the company before – what was their experience like?
  • Meet the team you’ll be working with on the day, not a sales rep acting on their behalf. Feel comfortable that your videographer understands your wedding theme and your personality; and look for some chemistry between you so you can trust them to carry out your wishes. On a practical level, check you’re not going to be let down at the last minute – have they got the resources to cope if they over-commit or someone calls in sick?
  • Establish what you’ll be getting for your money and how it will be filmed. Do you want something special like live streaming, social media and mobile video or even HD or 3-D? Or simply copies of DVDs to send to family and friends? Take their advice, but don’t be afraid to express your own preferences.

The all-important script

Planning is everything. You don’t want to lose the spontaneity but remember: you only get one shot at this.

  • Agree a filming schedule in advance to ensure the videographer covers every key moment before, during and after the ceremony. You’ll be busy on the day, so you’re relying on them to capture treasured memories.
  • Share the programme for your day with the videographer and don’t forget to discuss any music you’d like using on the backing track.
  • It’s a great idea to ask your wedding video production team to attend the rehearsal, but if this isn’t possible, allow them to prepare adequately by describing the venue in detail. Where will the action take place – is it mostly indoors or outdoors, for example? How will they handle lighting and sound?

Lights, cameras, action!

It’s your day – who’s calling the shots? When it comes to orchestrating your wedding, you’re in charge. Check that your wedding video production company will be discreet and unobtrusive. They’re there to capture the atmosphere and excitement after all, not direct a home movie.

Happily ever after?

A survey of brides from 2005 by Wedding and Event Videographers Association International (WEVA) found that 98% recommended future brides have their wedding videoed and of those who didn’t do so, two thirds said with hindsight, they wish they’d paid for a professional wedding video production. So plan ahead, and you’ll have a lasting reminder of your wedding day that captures the action perfectly, allowing you to relive it and share it with friends and family, now and in future.

Eight Amazing Facts You Never Knew about Your Kitchen

A place for everything and everything in its place.  It’s one of those sayings – which, if you like a perfectly tailored kitchen to your needs, may be true.  Whether you have the most wonderfully organised fitted kitchen or one that needs a little more TLC, discover some interesting facts about the treasures that you can find in your trusty kitchen. And some points that you may not be so keen to read about.  Read on…

1.  There’s more to your cutlery drawer. 

If you’ve always thought that cutlery just means a knife, fork and spoon you’d be wrong.  There is such a thing as a spork – a cross between a spoon and a fork.  In fact there’s even a splade – a spork with a blade.

2.  Quick – there’s a spillage.

There’s nothing worse than an overspilling saucepan when you’re cooking pasta.  Trying to clean up dried boiled water after it has boiled over is not an easy task.  If you place either a wooden spoon or fork across the top of the pan, it will prevent any spillages.

 3.  No tears please – it’s only an onion.

There are several ways to avoid the dreaded tears when chopping up an onion.  Carefully cut your onion under cold running water.  Alternatively, try putting it in the freezer for a short while before chopping.  And once you’ve chopped your onion, use lemon juice to remove the smell from your hands.

4.  Clever cheat to rid freezer smells.

This is a kind of a cheat as it involves the bedroom rather than the kitchen.  A sock filled with coffee granules can remove musty smells from a freezer.  Odd, but it works.  Obviously the sock needs to be clean… you don’t want to defeat the object!

 5.  Your kitchen – is it really the cleanest room in the house?

Most people think that the toilet is the most unhygienic place in your home but they are wrong.  The kitchen sink is the worst culprit, with over 100,000 times more germs than a bathroom or toilet.  Although it would be difficult to imagine eating near a toilet.

 6.  Think about your chopping board.

Did you know that the average chopping board has more than 200% more germs than the average toilet seat?  Keep your kitchen healthy – make sure you use separate boards for raw and cooked food.  Always wash after use with hot soapy water.  Also, glass boards are a lot more hygienic than wooden ones as they’re less likely to retain liquids.

7.  The gadgets you simply had to have.

How many gadgets do you own?  Are you the proud owner of a melon baller, an avocado slicer or herb scissors?  A massive 87% of us own a kitchen necessity that we simply had to have – but never actually use.  This may possibly rank with the gym membership that was a great idea at the time…  What was that – you’re going next week?

8.      Become a better friend with your oven.

Does your baking not go to plan?  Are you sure if you’re cooking your dishes correctly?  Invest in an oven thermometer to restore your faith in your oven.  No more baking disasters – well hopefully not.  One of the most useful kitchen gadgets.  Ever.  If you care for the temperature in your oven, you’re more likely to create a culinary masterpiece rather than a disaster!

 9.  Don’t waste the wine.

If you’ve had a great evening but haven’t quite finished off the wine bottle don’t waste it.  Pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze.  Perfect for using in sauces, waste not want not!

Seven Fun Ways to get Kids into the Kitchen

You have a beautiful kitchen.  The heart of your home, it’s never too early to get children into the enjoyment of cooking and appreciating the delights that can be found within.  There are many ways to start your children becoming more aware of their food, how it’s cooked and most importantly – how enjoyable it can be to get busy in the kitchen.

1.  Something a bit different – cooking up spellings.

For a great way to make learning to spell more exciting, how about baking biscuits and icing the individual letters of the alphabet onto them?  Ask your children to make words out of the biscuits.  Start with their names.  You’ll have a delicious smelling kitchen and they’ll enjoy a great treat for getting their spellings correct!

 2.  Make healthy eating fun.

Invite your children to discover healthy eating for themselves.  On your worktop, display lots of different coloured salad and fruit ingredients.  See if you can track down a safety knife that is suitable for children to handle – making sure that small children are supervised.  Perhaps ask them to cut the fruit and vegetables into interesting shapes.  How about making a funny face fruit salad?  Think kiwis for eyes, orange segments for eyebrows, a carrot for a nose and maybe even some blueberries for a smile.  The possibilities are endless.

3.  Great ideas for pocket money.

Are you looking for ways to encourage your children to appreciate the beauty of your designer kitchen at the same time as the value of money?  Why not ask them to help empty the dishwasher if they’re old enough.  Always be careful of sharp cutlery though!  For every time they carefully empty and put away the clean items, give them a small reward.  Not only will this help you with your own kitchen chores, it encourages children to respectful of their own property for their future.

 4.  Let your child become a TV star

Make your child a TV chef in your own home.  Ask them to create a favourite dish and help them to prepare and cook it.  Video them explaining exactly how to make their chosen dish.   Kids love to watch themselves on the big screen and you will too.  You never know, you could be unleashing the next Jamie Oliver!

 5.  Create your own menu.

Children love to create.  Ask them to make up a menu – choosing a starter, main and a dessert.  Help them to make the dishes, and ask them to write and colour in a menu for the table.  Enjoy a wonderful dinner with the family.  Perfect for birthdays and special family occasions.

 6.  Design a kitchen.

A bit daring this one.  If you’re thinking of having a new fitted kitchen, why not get your family involved.  Think about all of the functions that you dream kitchen would have.  You might be pleasantly surprised with suggestions from your children – although you may have to explain that a magic everlasting pot of chocolate is unlikely.  Ask them what designer features they think would be great in their kitchen.

 7.  Teach them to take pride.

Now this needs to be done carefully and cleverly.  If you have a stunning luxury kitchen that you’re willing to invite your children to enjoy, they also need to appreciate the importance of keeping it looking wonderful!  Surprisingly, children love to wash up and feel involved.   Hand them the marigolds and give them the responsibility of restoring your kitchen to its former glory.  Although you might want to save your best china for another day – just in case.

Fancy a Change in Your Kitchen?

They often say that a great party ends up in the kitchen. So is your kitchen ready for visitors?  And what does the décor of the hub of your home actually say about you?  Whether you have a modern kitchen that has been tailored to your individual needs or a traditional country-esque theme, it’s likely to indicate the type of personality you have – or indeed wish to have.

Paint the town – or your kitchen – red.

Do you have a passion for all things hot and spicy?   Something a little more gourmet?  A dramatic colour – red – can make a real impact on a modern fitted kitchen.  Perhaps you’re not quite ready to go all out and paint the whole kitchen red.  Why not consider a red feature wall.  Think shiny red, or if you’re not feeling that brave, how about muted colours – you could go as far as burgundy or a lighter red.

White for a fresh look.

If you’re passionate for the simple life – perhaps no clutter, no fuss, how about a white kitchen?  If clean and simple appeals, this could be the option for you.  A white fitted kitchen means that it will be easier to match your appliances to your colour scheme.  A fitted fridge freezer, dishwasher, all perfectly in their place in your bespoke kitchen.

Dare to go back to black.

Definitely a showstopper.  A luxury black kitchen says striking, individual and out to impress.  Does that sound like you?  Match with a gorgeous mirrored splashback to create a feature.  Not only will it look good, but it will also enhance the practicality of your kitchen.  Easy to clean, you’ll certainly have a kitchen that stands out.

For some sunshine just add yellow.

If you’re looking way to bring warmth to your kitchen, look no further.  A yellow kitchen is great way to boost your spirits and make you and your guests feel welcome.  Make a small kitchen feel larger and introduce white appliances to create a much more airy feel to your home.  For a family looking for a warm and friendly feel, yellow is a great option.

Fancy something on the blue side?

There are so many shades of blue – where do you start?   Perhaps you’re a lover of all things vintage.  Think pale and patterned.  Perfect for a vintage style, why not combine with some classic pale blue and white wall tiles.  Blue can be very elegant and has lots of different options.  Maybe you’re an assertive type of person, so perhaps a bolder blue colour would be right for you.

Eat your greens in your green kitchen.

If you have a green kitchen, chances are you’re more likely to be laid back, perhaps even someone who is at one with nature.  Green is a refreshing colour, it works great in combination with wooden cabinets for a lovely traditional kitchen style.  Go for chrome appliances such as a toaster and a  kettle to finish off your kitchen beautifully.

Are you a vibrant purple person?

The life and soul of the party, you like your kitchen to stand out.  With a shiny purple luxury kitchen, you’ll certainly do that.  Also effective when combined with another colour.  You could even choose to have a feature wall in purple and have the rest of the walls in a lighter shade to complement the colour.  Will work better with a larger kitchen – something to bear in mind.

Where to start?

If you’re thinking of having a new look in your kitchen, why not pick up some tester pots.  Try before you buy if you prefer.   You might discover something different about yourself!