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Have a glorious night on the tiles.

How a night on the tiles with paella, Porcelanosa and a pukka geezer left Justin and Colin completely floored.

We've had paella in Barcelona and we've had it in Madrid.

We've chewed it in the Canaries and gorged it in Grenada, but never have we scoffed it so heartily as a few days back in good old Blighty.

On our last free week we found ourselves in the new and utterly gorgeous showrooms of tile company extraordinaire Porcelanosa.

But why was the paella so good a in a tile retailer? Well, because of its creator, of course, celebrated uber chef Jamie Oliver, engaged by the company to create a banquet for guests at the launch of its Scottish flagship store.

And boy, did he go to town. To report that his food was extravagant would be a devilish understatement. His canapAs were divine, his culinary titbits sublime, the paella was heaven.

Cooked in the biggest frying pan we've ever seen (it must have been five feet across) it was an explosion of mussels, clams, squid, chicken, celery, parsley, prawns, lemons, chorizo and more.

Since it was staggeringly tasty, we ate till the guilt set in (about three platefuls). Oh well, the diet starts Monday. After photocalls and an enlightening mooch about we hooked up with Jamie, who we found to be surprisingly fresh, bearing in mind he's on a whistlestop tour promoting Jamie's Dinners, his new book.

Our favourite recipe is Jamie's chicken and sweet leek pie and in the week or so since the event we've made it twice.

But back to Porcelanosa (0800 915-4000, www.porcelanosa.co.uk) which has an outlet in Shields Road, Newcastle. Its current collection is awesome.

We came across it first a couple of years back when we used its product during one of our shows. We were renovating a house in Bristol and creating a jaw-droppingly gorgeous bathroom (a little modesty never goes amiss) using its toffee-coloured mosaic tiles to set the scene.

Since then, we've been bitten by the tiling bug and have discovered other fabulous companies, such as Fired Earth, which has a shop in Blandford Square, Newcastle, and Architectural Ceramics UK Ltd (0121 706-6456) which carries brilliant collections.

If the budget is tight, we'll scan brochures by Topps Tiles (0800 783-6262) or even consider Homebase (0845 077-8888) which does a surprisingly good limestone interpretation.

We've used genuine limestone in the past and it's cost up to pounds 100-plus per metre, but perfectly acceptable ceramic options can cost 75pc less. Ceramic has lower water absorption than real stone, stains less easily and, because it's lighter, there are fewer weight issues to consider.

In some applications, when laying genuine stone it's necessary to consult an engineer to assess joist stress and it may be necessary to strengthen the whole floor.

Just watch those costs spiral. As with all health and safety issues, if you're worried, consult the flooring maker so you work on the side of safety at all times.

What are the tiling options? A zillion. Finishes are man-made to represent Mother Nature at her creative best.

While companies such as Porcelanosa also make, for example, genuine terracotta tiles that employ real clay extracted from mines years before it's finally used (allowing organic material to decay and thus create a sound, resilient surface) their ceramic versions cost substantially less.

Pretty much every type of stone finish is available as well as a selection created to look like timber.

A question we're often asked when doing a ceramic floor is whether or not it'll prove too cold underfoot. Well, British homes have some of the most efficient central heating in the world and are warm enough to cope with harder flooring finishes.

But we've got another trick up our sleeve ( we're becoming fans of under-floor heating. It's a product from which we previously shied away for no particular reason other than considering it difficult to fit. How wrong we were.

If you can draw a line with a felt-tip pen, you can lay it yourself. It consists of a power transformer and a coil of wire. You simply lay the wire around your floor following the pattern guide you get with the kit, then secure in place with tape.

The cost is about pounds 300 for an average room, but it's worth the effort for that cosy feel. Call Warmup on (0845) 345-2288, www.warmup.co.uk.

Whichever finish you like, you'll be spoilt for choice. But choice, of course, can lead to drawbacks.

The downside to having more choice is having to make more decisions, and with more decisions comes the risk of mistakes.

But don't worry. By this time, dear readers, you must have gained a multitude of decorating knowledge and confidence via these hallowed pages, so go for it.

Approach your tiling with the same conviction Jamie Oliver might show tackling a monster paella. With the right ingredients and a little planning you're sure to install pukka styling when you're tiling.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:833
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