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Spurs kick managerial woes to touch with superb display

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Tottenham Hotspur 4 Sheffield United 0

It is not all doom and gloom for Tottenham. Although there is no end in sight to the search for a new manager, Ryan Mason is doing everything in his power to ensure that whoever takes over has European football next season.

This was a reminder that Spurs can play. Gareth Bale scored a splendid hat-trick and Son added a beautiful fourth as Mason’s side moved up to fifth place, five points below Chelsea with four games remaining. Champions League qualification is not out of the question yet.

There were times when it felt like Spurs were trying to remember their values. Although they raised their level now and then during the first half, there were long spells when they lacked cohesion on the ball. They looked unfocused, distracted, not quite at it. They were better than the visitors, which is hardly saying much, but overall there was a listlessness to their play, a sense of a team lacking in confidence and struggling to find an identity.

Perhaps that is inevitable when the man in the dugout is a 29-year-old caretaker with no managerial experience. It is, of course, not Mason’s fault that he is in this position. This is on Daniel Levy, the chairman who was blinded by the supposed celebrity appeal of José Mourinho after sacking the best manager Spurs have had in the Premier League era.

Spurs have fallen a long way since the heady days of challenging for the title under Mauricio Pochettino. The past week has been tough. After seeing their top choice to replace Mourinho, Julian Nagelsmann, agree to join Bayern Munich and another target, Erik ten Hag, extend his contract at Ajax, there is little sense that Spurs know where to turn next.

Desperate

For all the uncertainty, however, Spurs were more than capable of opening up Sheffield United, who had the air of a team desperate for the season to end. It was hard to detect much of a plan from the visitors. The division’s bottom side repeatedly invited pressure with sloppy attempts to play out from the back and it came as little surprise when Spurs finally broke through in the 36th minute.

The goal, coming moments after Rhian Brewster had almost hit the corner flag with a rare effort at the other end, was deftly constructed when it arrived. Serge Aurier earned the assist with a neat pass over the top for Bale. He dinked a clever finish over a hesitant Aaron Ramsdale, who had received treatment for a foot injury a few minutes earlier.

Spurs deserved their lead after controlling much of the opening period. Bale had fired over and Son Heung-min had threatened from 20 yards, bringing the best out of Ramsdale. United always looked vulnerable at the back and they were fortunate that Harry Kane wasted two clear sights of goal.

Mason could be reasonably satisfied, even if there were moments when attacks broke down too easily. Dele Alli, starting in the league for the third time this season, was busy in the No 10 role and Giovani Lo Celso, who was fortunate to escape serious injury when John Fleck trod on his head at the start of the second half, was eager to seize responsibility in central midfield.

Revenge

Lo Celso was soon exacting his own brand of revenge on Fleck, nutmegging the United midfielder with an impudent pass. There were bright flashes from Spurs and they appeared to have made the game safe when Son beat Ramsdale after latching on to a raking pass from Toby Alderweireld in the 51st minute, only for a VAR review to show the forward was offside.

Reprieved, United tried to summon a response. They looked slightly sharper after introducing Oliver Burke and Sander Berge at half-time and began to enjoy some possession as the hour approached.

They should have known better. After 61 minutes, United won a corner and piled forward. Moments later, the ball was in their net. Spurs cleared their lines and Son led an electrifying counterattack down the right before releasing Bale, who raced clear and steadied himself before smashing an emphatic finish past Ramsdale.

The individual quality was too much for United, who will start over in the championship next season. Bale, teed up by Aurier, completed his hat-trick from 20 yards and there was time for Son to complete the rout with a glorious bending effort.

– Guardian

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Everlasting appeal of dried flowers: Chic, sustainable and great value

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The roots of the dried flower revival, one of this season’s biggest style movements, lie in the new love affair with floral patterns. 

At this week’s Decorex, the London trade show that features the key trends for the year ahead, blooms and foliage adorned cushions and wallpapers, as the era of minimalism retreats further into history.

But there are other reasons why dried flowers — which were one of the smartest home accessories of the 1980s — have returned from obscurity, making the latest in a long series of comebacks.

On trend: Dried flower bouquets - which were one of the smartest home accessories of the 1980s - have returned from obscurity

On trend: Dried flower bouquets – which were one of the smartest home accessories of the 1980s – have returned from obscurity

The ancient Egyptians were the first to dry flowers, decorating tombs with sacred lotus blossoms. The drying and pressing of flowers was also a favourite Victorian pastime.

Today, amid growing concern for the planet, dried flowers are increasingly considered to be the eco-friendly choice.

Interiors expert and entrepreneur Alison Cork says: ‘Thanks to new techniques, dried flowers are more beautiful than ever before; they are no longer the second-class citizens in the floral hierarchy.

‘Also the zeitgeist is changing. Dried flowers are seen as more sustainable. People do not like the waste involved in fresh flowers — or how expensive they can be.’

Bouquets, particularly those with orchids or out-of-season roses, can harm the environment, either through the use of pesticides in their cultivation, or through their transportation. About 86 per cent of cut flowers are imported.

 Anyone raising an eyebrow at the return of dried flowers will be relieved to learn that they are not accompanied by other 1980s’ accessories, such as floor-sweeping curtains and swagged blinds

Cost-consciousness is another major factor behind the rise of what people are calling ‘brown flowers’, although many displays are colourful, and contain twigs and leaves.

With a little maintenance, a £25 bunch of dried flowers will delight for years, while a fresh flower bouquet may be consigned to the bin only a few days after its delivery.

Anyone who is raising an eyebrow at the return of dried flowers on snobbish grounds will be relieved to learn that they are not accompanied by other 1980s’ accessories, such as floor-sweeping curtains and swagged blinds.

The interiors of the lavish homes in the shoulder-pad TV saga Dynasty were the influence for these pieces, which, for the moment, are not predicted to burst back into fashion… although never say never.

Pick of the bunches: John Lewis offers the Luxury Brights priced at £69.95

Instead, those people who always prefer an understated interior style will choose a dried flower arrangement as a nod to the vogue for florals. 

If you prefer neutral shades, Phohm, a business based in Brighton, offers the £45 Ombre, a bunch of Pampas grass, palm leaves and reeds.

Beards & Daisies has the £32.99 Wild Honey, a mix of papaver, plume, protea and ruscus (beardsanddaisies.co.uk). The £50 Sinead from Bloom & Wild contains a blend of blues and autumnal hues.

John Lewis has a wide selection including the Ixia Meadow (£44.99), ideal for a pine table in a cottage kitchen; and the Luxury Brights (£69.95), whose pinks and purples would provide a bolt of colour in a pale bedroom.

If off-the-shelf bunches are not to your taste, making your own dried flower arrangements can provide an outlet for your creativity — and also a form of therapy. This is how it has always been regarded in Japan, where Oshibana, the pressing of flowers, is considered an art form.

Learning the finer points of this craft was part of the training of 16th-century Samurai warriors, who needed better powers of concentration, rather than ways to beautify their homes.

Jennifer Stuart-Smith of Blooming Green, a floristry business, based in Yalding, Kent, which grows all its own flowers using chemical-free methods, says that it is easy to dry your flowers in an airing cupboard or in a warm, dry place in your home.

She says that one of the best guides on the subject is Cut & Dry: The Modern Guide To Dried Flowers, From Growing To Styling, by Caroline Dunster.

Stuart-Smith adds: ‘I had always been a bit sniffy about dried flowers, considering them to be dusty and old-fashioned, but then I started to see how they were being used in interiors in hip East London homes and restaurants.

‘We were also getting requests for wedding bouquets with pampas grasses.

‘I realised this was a trend that we could not ignore — and that we could dry our own flowers and also reduce waste, which is one of the goals of our business. We now supply dried flowers to Planet Organic, the organic supermarket.’

Such is the interest in the DIY approach to dried flower decor that Blooming Green is running £180 one-day courses on the subject, which combine practical skills with mindfulness. The next will be held on November 7.

Besides busting stress, dried flowers also provide an excuse to show off vases which sit unused in the winter months when your garden is no longer an easy source of greenery.

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Leinster power past Scarlets to make it five wins from five

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Leinster 50 Scarlets 15

The Leinster pack can legitimately claim ownership of this victory. Seven tries and five try-scorers (all forwards), best encapsulated where a fourth victory started and finished. That’s not to say that the backs didn’t contribute; as the game broke open late-on, they chipped in with some searing line-breaks but the pack deserve the kudos.

Dominant in the scrum, they emphatically outmuscled the visitors, often from close range. Once they got the hang of using footwork to win the collisions, they cut the Scarlets open time and again. It could have been a great deal worse for the visitors on the scoreboard but not too many in the crowd of 14,055 will grumble.

Leinster didn’t start slowly, there were times when their handling and decision-making was a little forced but for the most part, there was enough to admire in the performance. The tempo and width were good and when they got into the Scarlets 22 most of the time they came away with points.

The home side started slowly and a penalty try in first half injury time put a bit of a sheen on a first half performance that was fitful. The Scarlets produced one or two moments of enterprising back play but dominated up front they were always going to be second best.

The Leinster pack was largely excellent, Garry Ringrose the pick of the backline, while the bench provided the desired impact, Ryan Baird’s athleticism and Dan Sheehan’s brace of tries providing the headlines.

Scarlets’ Gareth Davies and Ryan Conbeer compete in the air with Hugo Keenan. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Scarlets’ Gareth Davies and Ryan Conbeer compete in the air with Hugo Keenan. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

After last week’s shellacking, the Scarlets would have been keen for a positive start to the match and they managed it as the home side lost a couple of aerial duels and when man of the match Ciarán Frawley was pinged for not rolling away at a ruck on the Leinster 22; Sam Costelow kicked the resultant penalty.

Johnny Sexton’s chip and chase was the catalyst for Leinster’s response on seven minutes, the Leinster captain posting a penalty after the visitors transgressed at a ruck and his boot almost provided a conduit to the game’s first try, a cross-kick towards Caelan Doris was just undercooked, allowing Ryan Conbeer to get his fingertips there first and crucially divert the flight path.

It was the visitors that registered the first try, a well-worked blindside move that owed hugely to a lovely offload from Scarlets centre Johnny Williams out of the tackle and the fact that James Lowe bit in unnecessarily. Fullback Ioan Nicholas timed his pass perfectly to allow McNicholl scoot over in the corner.

Leinster might have snatched an equalising try when Nicholas made a hash of a cross-kick for which he should have been odds-on favourite. Jordan Larmour did well to force the Scarlets fullback to lose the ball but following a TMO review Hugo Keenan, hunting the bouncing ball, was adjudged not to have grounded it correctly in the in-goal area.

The Scarlets respite was short-lived. A brilliant 40 metre surge from Jack Conan was the most telling part of the preamble to a try from hooker Rónan Kelleher, following a well-crafted lineout drive. A second soon followed, this time Jamison Gibson-Park’s dancing feet close to the Scarlets line, allowing the outstanding Andrew Porter to power over from close range.

Leinster’s Rónan Kelleher scores a try at the back of a maul. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Leinster’s Rónan Kelleher scores a try at the back of a maul. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sexton converted the latter to give the home side a 15-8 lead after 29 minutes. Leinster’s enterprise could not be faulted but a lack of accuracy prevented them from extending that advantage on a more regular basis. They did finish the half with another scoring salvo.

The Scarlets conceded two scrum penalties five metres from their line and, from a third, referee Marius van der Westhuizen, having issued a collective warning to the visitors, walked under the posts to signal a penalty try. Leinster’s 22-8 lead was a fair reflection of their dominance.

Once Porter, Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong and Conan started to win the collisions on the gainline – Garry Ringrose was excellent in beating the first tackle time and again – the home side had the platform they needed to inject pace and width that allowed them to corral the Scarlets in their 22 for large periods of the half.

Doris grabbed the bonus point try five minutes after the restart which owed to a touch of good fortune initially as the ball pinballed around until Kelleher took control, surging 20 metres before passing inside to his teammate to touch down. Frawley kicked the conversion but was forced off from the restart following a clash of heads with Scarlets scrumhalf Gareth Davies. He was replaced by Tommy O’Brien but later returned.

The Scarlets responded with a try from flanker Tomas Lezana, converted by Dan Jones on 49 minutes, but Leinster’s power game was soon in evidence once again, first earning a scrum penalty with the pack collaborating again soon after to shunt replacement prop Cian Healy over the line.

Dan Sheehan crossed for Leinster’s sixth and seventh tries, the first another example of their physical superiority. A lineout maul enabled the replacement hooker to force his way over from close range; the second came from a Byrne cross-kick after excellent work by Larmour and Ringrose in which Sheehan re-gathered the breaking ball to dot down.

Scoring sequence – 2 mins: Costelow penalty, 0-3; 7: Sexton penalty, 3-3; 17: McNicholl try, 3-8; 23: Kelleher try, 8-8; 28: Porter, Sexton conversion, 15-8; 40 (+3) penalty try, 22-8. Half-time: 22-8. 45: Doris try, Frawley conversion, 29-8; 49: Lezana try, Jones conversion, 29-15; 61: Healy try, Byrne conversion, 36-15; 69: Sheehan try, Byrne conversion, 43-15; 77: Sheehan try, Byrne conversion, 50-15.

Leinster: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose, C Frawley, J Lowe; J Sexton (capt), J Gibson-Park; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Furlong; R Molony, J Ryan; C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan. Replacements: T O’Brien for Frawley 47-57 (HIA) and 65 mins; R Byrne for Sexton 50 mins; L McGrath for Gibson-Park 56 mins; D Sheehan for Kelleher 56 mins; C Healy for Porter 56 mins; M Ala’alatoa for Furlong 56 mins; R Baird for Molony 60 mins; Moloney for Ryan (HIA) 68 mins; R Ruddock for Doris 69 mins.

Scarlets: I Nicholas; J McNicholl, J Davies (capt), J Williams, R Conbeer; S Costelow, G Davies; W Jones, K Owens, WG John; S Lousi, L Ashley; A Shingler, T Lezana, B Thomson. Replacements: T Rogers for McNicholl (HIA) 20-29 mins; S Lee for John half-time; R Elias for Owens 47 mins; D Jones for Costelow 47 mins; R Evans for W Jones 56 mins; K Hardy for Davies 56 mins; Rogers for J Davies 61 mins; S Evans for Shingler 61 mins; M Jones for Ashley 73 mins.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa).

Sin Bin: J McNicholl (Scarlets) 68 mins.

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Which of these two homes for sale on Zoopla would you buy if you won the EuroMillions jackpot?

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Which one of these mega homes would you buy with a £184m lottery win? We pick two for sale that require extremely deep pockets…

  • We take a look at two homes costing about 10% of the EuroMillions jackpot
  • One is a luxury London penthouse and the other is a Surrey mansion
  • The Surrey pad has a 2.6 acre garden while the penthouse overlooks a park 










Have you checked your ticket to see if you have won the EuroMillions jackpot of £184million?

The huge prize has snowballed in recent weeks and has had many Britons daydreaming about how they would spend the cash – and most likely at the top of the agenda for many would be a new mega pad.   

We have taken a look at two homes for sale each costing around 10 per cent of the jackpot, giving you plenty of spare change to fulfil your other lottery win dreams.

The properties are featured in our latest property battle series, in which we pitch two homes and ask which one would you choose.

Which property would you choose: A London penthouse or this eight-bed mansion on a private estate in Surrey? (Scroll down for details on both properties)

Which property would you choose: A London penthouse or this eight-bed mansion on a private estate in Surrey? (Scroll down for details on both properties)

In this case, while they both have mega million price tags, one is a penthouse in London and the other is a contrasting mansion on a private estate outside of the capital.

However, it might be worth holding off from starting to picture your own furniture in either of the properties as the odds of having won the jackpot are stacked against you.

For many the properties will remain just a window shopping exercise as the EuroMillions website says the odds of picking five numbers and the two Lucky Stars is one in 139,838,160…

1. Seven-bed flat, London, £18m 

This London penthouse is on the market for £18million and is being sold via estate agents Garton Jones

This London penthouse is on the market for £18million and is being sold via estate agents Garton Jones

The flat boasts a huge private terrace and enjoys =views across the green open spaces of Battersea Park

The flat boasts a huge private terrace and enjoys =views across the green open spaces of Battersea Park

This property has a price tag equivalent to around a tenth of the EuroMillions jackpot.

It is on the market for £18million and is being sold via estate agents Garton Jones.

The leasehold flat has seven bedrooms and is on the banks of the River Thames and Chelsea Bridge.

The luxury development has a 24 hour concierge and is close to London's Sloane Square

The luxury development has a 24 hour concierge and is close to London’s Sloane Square

There is a lift that takes you up to the penthouse on the 11th and 12th floors of the building in Chelsea Wharf Bridge

There is a lift that takes you up to the penthouse on the 11th and 12th floors of the building in Chelsea Wharf Bridge

The leasehold flat has seven bedrooms and is on the banks of the River Thames and Chelsea Bridge

The leasehold flat has seven bedrooms and is on the banks of the River Thames and Chelsea Bridge

Thankfully there is a lift that takes you up to the penthouse on the 11th and 12th floors of the building in Chelsea Wharf Bridge, which enjoys west-facing views across Battersea Park.

The development has a 24 hour concierge, while the flat boasts a huge private terrace and two secure underground parking spaces – which can used for any luxury vehicles acquired via the remainder of your EuroMillions win.

2. Eight-bed house, Surrey, £17million

This property is called Park Hill and it is for sale for £17million via estate agents Beauchamp Estates

This property is called Park Hill and it is for sale for £17million via estate agents Beauchamp Estates

The house has a large living room with bi-fold doors overlooking the lily ponds in the garden

The house has a large living room with bi-fold doors overlooking the lily ponds in the garden

The house is set in a generous 2.6 acres of landscaped grounds near the St George¿s Hill Lawn Tennis Club

The house is set in a generous 2.6 acres of landscaped grounds near the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club

If you decide to spent a little less of your EuroMillions prize money on a property, and are looking for somewhere with more private green outdoor space, this house on the St George’s Hill private estate in Weybridge fits the bill.

The property is called Park Hill and it is on the market for £17million via estate agents Beauchamp Estates.

It is set in a generous 2.6 acres of landscaped grounds near the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club.

There are eight bedrooms, a self-contained staff apartment and a large living room with an open fire and bi-fold doors overlooking some lily ponds in the garden.

The property also boasts a gym, an indoor swimming pool and underfloor heating.

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