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Single father is overcome with emotion after home is transformed on Filthy House SOS

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A single father whose rare lymphatic illness left him with a severe hoarding problem was overcome with emotion after a ‘life-changing’ home transformation. 

Bob, from Newport, was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphoedema in his legs, and 10 years ago he became housebound due to breathing difficulties and significant disabilities. 

He lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit to cope with his underlying depression, filling entire rooms of their home with years full of junk.  

On the latest episode of 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night, master cleaners Brennan and Richard were called in to meet with Bob and Tom to overhaul their house.  

Master cleaners Brennan and Richard travelled to Newport to meet with Bob on 5Star's Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night. Pictured: Bob's bedroom before the clean

Master cleaners Brennan and Richard travelled to Newport to meet with Bob on 5Star’s Filthy House SOS, which aired at 9pm last night. Pictured: Bob’s bedroom before the clean

Bob lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit. Pictured, Bob's kitchen before the clean

Bob lives with 29-year-old son Tom and admitted that he developed a compulsive shopping habit. Pictured, Bob’s kitchen before the clean

Introducing himself at the beginning of the show, Bob said: ‘I live with my son Thomas, he has some additional needs and I care for him and he cares for me and we get on great. We bond together and get on together.

‘I’ve been housebound now for 10 years because I have lymphedema in both legs. It’s very difficult for me to do any exercise, so I’ve put on weight which has brought on diabetes, which has brought on sleep apnoea. 

‘My legs used to weep and even though I’d have two or three towels under my legs they would still soak through and the carpet is black and brown and horrible and stained and absolutely ruined.’ 

Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean due to his medical conditions. As well as the lack of cleaning, Bob has spent years accumulating clutter. 

Bob, from Newport, (pictured) was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphedema in his legs

Bob, from Newport, (pictured) was a lorry driver before he developed serious medical conditions as a result of lymphedema in his legs

Tom said: ‘I’ve spoken to my dad quite a lot of times saying, “You need to stop buying stuff now, you’re buying too much”. I’d like my house to be like a home again.’

Bob added: ‘I’ve outgrown my house with the amount of stuff I’ve been purchasing and collecting, and that’s why I’m asking for help and I appreciate any help I can get now.’ 

The father had been sleeping in his living room for over a decade, with experts Richard and Brennan fearing dog Ace could be the source of the fleas within the home. 

The bedroom which was once so packed full of clutter Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed is pictured looking clean and tidy following the transformation

The bedroom which was once so packed full of clutter Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed is pictured looking clean and tidy following the transformation

In the kitchen junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. Pictured, the kitchen after the transformation

In the kitchen junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. Pictured, the kitchen after the transformation 

In the kitchen, junk including electric scooters, car parts and garden equipment littered every inch of the room while heaps of flammable material sat on the cooker. 

The cleaners discovered curry sauce that was nine years out of date and unopened spices purchased 20 years ago.  

What is lymphoedema? 

Primary lymphoedema is caused by alterations (mutations) in genes responsible for the development of the lymphatic system.

The faulty genes cause the parts of the lymphatic system responsible for draining fluid to not develop properly or not work as they should.

Primary lymphoedema often runs in families, although not every child born to someone with the condition will develop it themselves.

It’s a rare condition affecting an estimated one in 6,000 people. 

Secondary lymphoedema, which is more common, develops in people who previously had a normal lymphatic system that then becomes damaged.

‘This has got hoarder written all over this kitchen, every conceivable surface is full of a mismatch of all sorts of stuff,’ Richard observed. 

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels of 20,000; any reading over 60 is considered unhealthy. 

The bedroom was also packed full of clutter, so much so that Richard and Brennan could barely see the bed. The room also had to be fumigated when the cleaners discovered fleas.    

Revealing the source of his buying and hoarding, Bob told: ‘I comfort buy and that’s how things have kept me sane.

‘I put it down to sort of fighting a bit of depression, not going out, being stuck in all the time, I’m bit sad.’ 

Tearing up, he went on: ‘As a way of beating my depression, rather than saving my money, I’d rather spend it on things that, for me, I thought were practical at the time and it’s just got out of control. It’s time for change.’  

Bob was left traumatised after an incident which left him afraid to leave his home – when he was mocked while waiting at his local doctor’s surgery because of his weeping legs. 

Asked by Richard how often he leaves his home, Bob replied: ‘Very rarely, once you’re scarred psychologically and I have been, it’s hard to un-see that moment. 

‘About eight years ago my legs were really weeping even through I was having the dressings changed every day. 

‘I had to go to my doctors surgery to have them dressed and there were people nudging each other saying, “Look at the state of him, he looks like he’s wet himself with that puddle on the floor”.

‘So I got up and cried and went home and thought, I’m never going to go outside again, because of that one moment.’ 

Bob's home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean up his home due to his medical conditions. Pictured, clutter removed from Bob's home

Bob’s home spiralled out of control when he and his ex-wife split up, and he has been unable to clean up his home due to his medical conditions. Pictured, clutter removed from Bob’s home 

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels showing a result of 20,000

In the upstairs bathroom, walls and the ceiling were thick with dirt and mould, with a swab test measuring bacteria levels showing a result of 20,000

Bob's legs used to weep through his dressings, leaving a black and brown stain on the carpet near his bed

Bob’s legs used to weep through his dressings, leaving a black and brown stain on the carpet near his bed 

But the kindness and positivity of the cleaning team inspired Bob to change his life for good: ‘In the last few days I’ve been surrounded by so many positive people with positive thoughts,’ he said.

‘It’s given me the motivation to change my whole life, to start a new life and start a new me.’

At the end of the three-day deep clean, Bob was keen to see what his new home looked like, and was overcome with emotion at the ‘life-changing’ transformation. 

‘It looks amazing, this is a room I’ve been longing for for so long. I’m not embarrassed anymore,’ he said. ‘It’s everything and more than I could ever possibly have asked for.  

‘I’m floating at the moment, so much weight has been lifted off my shoulders, it really is amazing. I feel so much safer here, my whole house was a health hazard. 

‘I thought for a long time that was my life and I was going to die in a pile of boxes, this is life changing stuff.’ 

Filthy House SOS continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on 5Star.

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Disenchanted? Surely not, as Enniskerry gets a magical Disney makeover

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The village of Enniskerry in Co Wicklow was en fete on Sunday afternoon with locals, tourists and film crew all mingling among flower-festooned buildings and pubs serving food in the open air.

The normally flowery-but-sedate village seemed to lose all sense of sedateness and go all-out-twee, as plastic garlands of wisteria flowers almost smothered real-life wisteria-clad houses facing the town’s iconic clock tower.

The clock tower itself, built by the 6th Viscount Powerscourt to commemorate the centenary of the 1743 creation of the first viscount, is already an ornate affair, built on a shamrock-shaped base. But for Disney which is filming Disenchanted, it was not enough. The clock tower was clothed in artificial shrubbery, more purple wisteria, bunting and its flower beds brimming with multi-coloured, plastic, daisies.

The entire looked across the square at a grand imperial building where, last week, no grand imperial building was located. Visitors posed for photographs in front of its granite-looking steps, just a blue line around the roof giving the game away.

Yellow roses were trailed through the iron railings of homes on the streets approaching the clock tower, while The Reluctant Dragon Tavern, a Tudor-looking structure, leaned perilously into the – suddenly cobbled – roadway. A small sign to one side announced: “Enniskerry Inn, business as usual”.

Ever more garlands

Indeed, with tables set out on the road in the sunshine and visitors eating and drinking as workers added ever more garlands seemingly to any structure that stood still, it was hard to know what was real and what had changed.

The local chemist was there, renamed The Village Cauldron, Potions, Notions and Lotions. Next door was Prince Ali’s Magic Carpet Shoppe, while across the road was Beauty and the Book. A house had been renamed “Ratatoothie”, and declared it was a dentist’s practice.

People work during the week on transforming Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow into part of the Disenchanted film set, where Disney are filming. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People work during the week on transforming Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow into part of the Disenchanted film set, where Disney are filming. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

All afternoon, visitors and locals alike trailed through the centre of the village, cameras aloft or staring from cars as gardaí from the Roads Policing Unit tried to keep things moving.

Disney did not respond to requests for commentary on what was happening over several days. A local retailer said she could not say anything because “Disney have told us not to”.

“I can say Enniskerry will be closed next week from Monday, but I can’t say anything more than that – I don’t know anything more then that anyway,” she said. Two further businesses in the village declined the opportunity to comment.

Disenchanted is a sequel to the Disney movie Enchanted, featuring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey as princess Giselle and divorce lawyer Robert Phillip. It follows on from Enchanted, which ended with the baddies destroyed, Giselle (Adams) married to Robert, and running a fashion business. But what happens then is seemingly the tightly guarded secret.

The village will be closed from June 14th to 18th, from 7am to 10pm, with other dates in July, and even “night shoots” towards the end of next month.

At another location, Erskine Avenue, in Greystones, a modest Arts and Crafts Edwardian home has also been given the Disney treatment, complete with turrets and masses of blossoms, and of course onlookers and a closed road. A local told The Irish Times “it was fun at first, but now I’m browned off”.

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Madison International Realty invests in London Salesforce Tower (GB)

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Madison International Realty has acquired a minority stake in the Salesforce Tower, London EC2, through a Jersey Property Unit Trust (JPUT), joining other investors including Heron International.

 

The 230-metre tower, completed in 2011 at 110 Bishopsgate, is an island site in the City of London and provides 441,000ft² of office space over 37 floors. The property is over 93% let to a range of tenants, the largest of which is Salesforce. The Salesforce Tower also has an outstanding food and beverage offering with Duck and Waffle and Sushi Samba at the very top and the Drift on the ground floor. The building has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for design.

 

The asset’s central location in the core of the City of London means it benefits from excellent transport connectivity, with Liverpool Street and Bank within a short walking distance. Similarly, there are a large number of new world-class food, drink and entertainment options nearby including the new Pan Pacific hotel adjacent at Heron Plaza and Eataly in Broadgate. In January 2021, an ING-led syndicate of lenders completed a €465.2m (£400m), five-year refinancing of the Tower.

 

Alex Lukesch, Managing Director at Madison International Realty commented on the investment: “This acquisition has allowed us to secure a stake in a prominent London office building, which we believe delivers space that meets the demands of modern occupiers looking for world-class offices in one of the world’s leading financial centres. The investment reflects our conviction in the ongoing resilience of the office sector and the role we believe it will play post-pandemic. We have observed that demand for quality, well-located space remains robust, while companies are increasingly looking for properties that also have strong ESG credentials to help meet their own sustainability targets. In Heron, we believe we have an experienced and highly regarded partner and we look forward to working with them on this venture.”

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Britain’s blossoming love for Japanese design in the home

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The design has a red lid and a narrow neck which widens to form a base of sturdy hips. When poured, the contents flow in a singular, uninterrupted stream.

The Kikkoman bottle hasn’t changed since it was designed in 1961 by Kenji Ekuan for the world’s largest soy sauce producer.

Simplicity has made it ubiquitous. And crucially, it works — think of wrestling with glass Heinz ketchup bottles or constantly wiping lids on plastic iterations. Likely, Kikkoman’s bottle is the reason we’re so familiar with soy sauce.

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country's influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country’s influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

In the introduction to her book Japanese Design Since 1945 (£35, Thames & Hudson), Naomi Pollock writes: ‘In Japan, good design is everywhere. But most of all, it’s in the home.’

The trend for Japanese-inspired, UK-based brands, such as Wagamama, Superdry and Yo! Sushi, is well worn, but the country’s influence is likely seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes.

Inspired idea 

The Japanese approach to design is summed up well by a single product – Muji’s right angle sock (from £3.50, muji.eu). 

As the foot is perpendicular to the leg, the sock should follow the shape of the body: design centres on the user rather than the designer.

The word ‘Muji’ translates as ‘without brand’ and the company invites (often renowned) designers to create reasonably priced products anonymously. 

Design guru Naoto Fukasawa is an adviser to Muji, and his wall-mounted CD player for the company (£149) is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Naoto Fukasawa's butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

Naoto Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

In the UK, Chaplins stocks a large selection of products from Japan, including some from the designer.

‘The idea is to create designs that appear to have been sculpted by the elements,’ says Ludovic Aublanc, creative director at Chaplins. ‘It’s the kind of minimalism that brims with emotion, that makes you grateful and happy to come home.’

The company stocks Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Papilio range – chairs and sofas sporting headset ‘wings’ to protect the user’s head (Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair, £2,869, chaplins.co.uk).

Simple seating

Japanese designers have described the chair as the centre of design and an extension of the human form. It follows that these things should be easy on both the body and the eye.

Habitat’s Mori charcoal two-seater sofa (£716, habitat.co.uk) certainly fits the bill. It is compact, unfussy and elegant with its plush curved armrests and contrasting thin, wooden legs.

Simple unfinished woodwork is a key part of design in Japan, like the solid oak dining chairs from Oak Furnitureland (£140, oakfurnitureland.com) which would pair well with the Japanese oak Castor Table by Karimoku New Standard (£1,169, nest.co.uk).

Clutter free

Last year, decluttering guru Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her hit Netflix show. The programme has been talked of plenty, but we’re perhaps unaware of how key these principles are to Japanese design.

A large part of the focus on user-friendly products comes down to space. As ever, it’s important for Muji, with its storage bed (from £299) which has spacious drawers to banish clutter. Loaf has the Woody storage bed (from £995, loaf.com).

Simple boxy shelving units such as the Ikea Kallax range (from £15, ikea.com) are practical, but can also be used for displaying plants, books and records.

Or, for a modern twist, try the John Lewis Dice shelving unit bookcase (£450, johnlewis.com). The company also stocks Japanese brand Like-it’s clear storage products (from £8).

Crockery that rocks 

Japanese pottery has long been a feature of our homes, and a collection by John Lewis is a nod to this. Inspired by woodblock prints, the range includes glassware, plates, mugs and even Christmas decorations. 

It’s all delicate, bright patterns and the infuser mugs by Tokyo Design Studio (from £25) are a highlight.

But elegant motifs are only part of the story. The earthy charcoals, whites and beiges of Hasami Porcelain (hasami-porcelain.com) are a calming, elegant addition to any kitchen.

Hasami teapots start from £65 and mugs from £22 (la-gent.com) – also pick up a copy of Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book Of Tea, written in 1906, an insight into the Japanese ritual of tea-making. Elsewhere, an Oriental Hobnail tea set costs from £22.98 (wayfair.co.uk).

For eating, Denby Pottery has Japanese-inspired bowls from £58 for four in grey and white (denbypottery.com).

Finally, being able to serve Japan’s other favourite drink – the highball – is a must. Try LSA’s Mia Highball glasses (£27 for four, lsa-international.com) or, for something cheaper, a set of six Duralex Prisme highballs is £11.99 at rinkit.com.

Then grab a bottle of Akashi whisky (£28.50, waitrosecellar.com), add ice, stir clockwise 13 times, add soda water, stir again and appreciate another example of elegance and simplicity in Japanese design.

What your home really needs is… a Christmas throw

At this time of year, people fall into two groups: those who believe more is more, with bright lights and decorations aplenty; and others who keep things simple, with a few holly sprigs and a carefully adorned tree.

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

But whether you’re a maximalist or a minimalist, your home will need a Christmas throw because someone in your festive bubble is bound to complain about being cold.

If glitter is your thing, you’ll like the fleece star throw from Marks & Spencer (£25, marksand spencer.com). 

Or snuggle up under Dunelm’s red cable-knit design with a fleecey inside (£60, dunelm.com).

For something more fun, Redbubble has one that reads: ‘This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching blanket’ (£34.73, redbubble.com).

Going low-key? How about a white and grey reindeer pattern with red pompoms (£40, barkerand stonehouse.com)? 

Or this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw , £99.50, notonthe highstreet.com), which you could use all year round.

Anne Ashworth 

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