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Urban explorer discovered rundown remains of iconic cottage from 90s kid’s show Tots TV

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An urban explorer discovered the rundown remains of the iconic cottage from popular kid’s television show Tots TV – shortly before the owner burned it to the ground. 

Simon Stokes, 29, stumbled upon the famous cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon in November last year, but has now released the images.

Eerie photos show the dilapidated wooden structure overgrown with weeds and encroaching branches – a world away from its 1990s glory days.

Inside the shell of the set, crumbling wooden beams in the ceiling are seen, along with a rotting roof, broken windows and piles of leaves blown in from outside. 

Smash-hit children’s show Tots TV saw its three puppet main characters – ragdoll friends, Tilly, Tom and Tiny – use a magic sac or bag to help them on their adventures in the 20-minute episodes.

The puppets also had a pet donkey – creatively named Donkey – and a were offered a helping hand around their house from Jack the gardener. 

BEFORE: Eerie images show the dilapidated wooden structure overgrown with weeds and encroaching branches - a world away from its 1990s glory days (pictured)
NOW: The dilapidated building is captured in pictures taken by an urban explorer. It has been taken over by weeds and branches

BEFORE AND AFTER: Eerie images show the dilapidated wooden structure overgrown with weeds and encroaching branches (right) – a world away from its 1990s glory days (left)

An urban explorer has discovered the rundown remains of the iconic cottage from popular kid’s television show Tots TV – shortly before the owner burned it to the ground in Stratford-upon-Avon

Smash-hit children's show Tots TV saw its three puppet main characters - ragdoll friends, Tilly, Tom and Tiny (pictured) - use a magic sac or bag to help them on their adventures in the 20-minute episodes

Smash-hit children’s show Tots TV saw its three puppet main characters – ragdoll friends, Tilly, Tom and Tiny (pictured) – use a magic sac or bag to help them on their adventures in the 20-minute episodes

Simon Stokes, 29, stumbled upon the famous cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon (pictured) in November last year

Simon Stokes, 29, stumbled upon the famous cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon (pictured) in November last year

Stills taken from the series show the iconic blue staircase used by the puppets. The staircase still stands in the later pictures, but it is crumbling

The staircase in the show

Stills taken from the series show the iconic blue staircase used by the puppets. The staircase still stands in the later pictures, but it is crumbling

One episode saw the puppets take a trip to Loch Ness in Scotland where they went on the hunt for the world-famous monster. A total of 276 episodes were made before the show (pictured) was eventually taken off air in 1998

One episode saw the puppets take a trip to Loch Ness in Scotland where they went on the hunt for the world-famous monster. A total of 276 episodes were made before the show (pictured) was eventually taken off air in 1998

Mr Stokes, from Wolverhampton, located the cottage after researching the property and using a drone.

The images were taken shortly before the owner burned the house down, with some locals saying the number of trespassers eager to get a glimpse of it became a nuisance in recent years.

Mr Stokes said: ‘The cottage is quite hidden, so I sent my drone up to help me find it and I then discovered the roof of the property poking through the trees.

‘Since the lockdowns, I have become really interested in photography and exploring abandoned locations. With nothing open, it made sense to get out and explore.

‘I was excited to have found the location, but it was disappointing to see it had been left to rot and had been vandalised because I had grown up watching the programme in the 90s.

‘There wasn’t much left but you can see the iconic blue stairs which stand out and also the unique windows.

‘I was there for around 30 minutes to capture pictures and wondering how it got in such a state.

Mr Stokes, from Wolverhampton, located the cottage (pictured) after researching the property and using a drone

Mr Stokes, from Wolverhampton, located the cottage (pictured) after researching the property and using a drone

The images were taken shortly before the owner burned the house down, with some locals saying the number of trespassers eager to get a glimpse of it became a nuisance in recent years

The images were taken shortly before the owner burned the house down, with some locals saying the number of trespassers eager to get a glimpse of it became a nuisance in recent years

The house (pictured) has no floorboards so that puppeteers could hide below ground level - which was rarely shown on camera - during filming

The house (pictured) has no floorboards so that puppeteers could hide below ground level – which was rarely shown on camera – during filming

Tots TV - which was written by two of the show's puppeteers - first aired in January 1993 and continued until April 1998 when production stopped after more than 15 years entertaining British children on ITV

Tots TV – which was written by two of the show’s puppeteers – first aired in January 1993 and continued until April 1998 when production stopped after more than 15 years entertaining British children on ITV

So popular was the show, that it was syndicated world wide, with Discovery Kids buying the series in 2000. Pictured: The cottage where it was filmed

So popular was the show, that it was syndicated world wide, with Discovery Kids buying the series in 2000. Pictured: The cottage where it was filmed

The series - designed for pre-school children - saw the little puppets rely upon a magic sac or bag to help them through the narrative of the episodes. Pictured: The cottage in the woods

The series – designed for pre-school children – saw the little puppets rely upon a magic sac or bag to help them through the narrative of the episodes. Pictured: The cottage in the woods

So popular was Tots TV (pictured), that it was syndicated world wide, with Discovery Kids buying the series in 2000

So popular was Tots TV (pictured), that it was syndicated world wide, with Discovery Kids buying the series in 2000

The series - designed for pre-school children - saw the little puppets rely upon a magic sac or bag to help them through the narrative of the episodes. Pictured: The puppets' cottage

The series – designed for pre-school children – saw the little puppets rely upon a magic sac or bag to help them through the narrative of the episodes. Pictured: The puppets’ cottage

‘Although, since I was there, I have read that it has been destroyed by the owner.’

The house has no floorboards so that puppeteers could hide below ground level – which was rarely shown on camera – during filming.

It is not the first time the dilapidated cottage has been discovered by a passerby.

In 2018, Youtuber ‘Lost with Lou’, from East Sussex, tracked down the secret location and shared footage of himself wandering around.

Tots TV – which was written by two of the show’s puppeteers – first aired in January 1993 and continued until April 1998 when production stopped after more than 15 years entertaining British children on ITV. 

During that time, producers won a number of accolades including two BAFTAs.  

So popular was the show, that it was syndicated world wide, with Discovery Kids buying the series in 2000. 

It is not the first time the dilapidated cottage has been rediscovered. In 2018, Youtuber 'Lost with Lou', from East Sussex, tracked down the secret location and shared footage of himself wandering around (pictured)

It is not the first time the dilapidated cottage has been rediscovered. In 2018, Youtuber ‘Lost with Lou’, from East Sussex, tracked down the secret location and shared footage of himself wandering around (pictured)

A number of Tots TV Christmas specials were made - including one filmed in Rovaniemi, Finland - which were also released to acclaim, and made available as educational video specials which went on sale in 1997. Pictured: An image taken in 2018 by Youtuber 'Lost with Lou' of the dilapidated house

A number of Tots TV Christmas specials were made – including one filmed in Rovaniemi, Finland – which were also released to acclaim, and made available as educational video specials which went on sale in 1997. Pictured: An image taken in 2018 by Youtuber ‘Lost with Lou’ of the dilapidated house

This put it on television screens in Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Falkland Islands.

A series of episodes were then set in the USA due to its popularity across the pond.

A number of Christmas specials were made – including one filmed in Rovaniemi, Finland – which were also released to acclaim, and made available as educational video specials which went on sale in 1997.

The series – designed for pre-school children – saw the little puppets rely upon a magic sac or bag to help them through the narrative of the episodes.

It aimed to introduce youngsters to nature and a plethora of animals and aquatic life.

One episode saw the puppets take a trip to Loch Ness in Scotland where they went on the hunt for the world-famous monster. 

A total of 276 episodes were made before the show was taken off air in 1998.

The programme was the second puppet show by producers Ragdoll Productions. A previous show called Rosie and Jim featured little puppets who lived aboard a narrowboat. 

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Djokovic violated Australia’s highest national value – a ‘fair go’

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Every few years, a celebrity tries to test out the Australian border and in a nationalistic show of strength they are sent packing.

To the outside world it might seem from time to time that Australia chooses a celebrity to sacrifice at the altar of sovereignty. It must seem we make an example out of them, to scare everyone else off lying on their immigration forms and from smuggling forbidden, squashed fruit from the aeroplane meal into the country.

Things got a bit heated back in 2015 when Johnny Depp and Amber Heard sneaked their dogs into the island nation with a delicate ecosystem and a fondness for biosecurity. It escalated when the now deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to have the dogs put down.

Depp and Heard ended up copping a fine, complying with procedures and were made to film a video apologising to Australia in a performance as natural and warm as a hostage proof of life tape.

Depp eventually turned around and said Joyce looked like he was “inbred with a tomato”, but only after he was safely back in the US, like the notable big man he is. Deputy PM Joyce recently shot back in trademark eloquence calling Depp a “deadshit” live on national breakfast television.

Citizens of other (more boring) countries might be dismayed that their national 2ic would trade verbal blows with Captain Jack Sparrow. Not Australians though, who are taught in high school that our economy and trade could be threatened by an outbreak caused from improperly imported fauna and flora. We said “Good onya Barnaby” for applying the rules fairly and squarely, regardless of stardom.

There was broad support for his actions at the time, just as there has for the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa. There has been a lot of legal wrangling involving the Balkan bad boy of tennis, who is now to be deported, but for Australians the stoush was really over one thing: did he try to get around the rules?

There’s a lot of overseas analysis around the Australian public and the political will behind pursuing the case against the tennis star. After all “Djoker” (Jock-a), as he’s known here, is one of the biggest crowd-drawing players at the Australian Open, a banner event in a country where sport is the default religion. Why not let this one slide?

It’s being said that Australians just love rules. But I think this is over simplistic. What Australians actually love is fairness. In past surveys Australians have listed “fairness” and getting a “fair go” as their highest national values. There is an expectation that it doesn’t matter who the person is, they should be treated equally. We hate special treatment, particularly when it’s a public figure appearing to bend the rules the rest of us are following.

In Ireland sometimes there is the ‘ah here, sure look, go on ahead’ approach. This can be a publican letting patrons stay for a sneaky lock in, the bus driver letting you on when you don’t have correct change, but also includes say a person keeping their high-profile job after attending a certain golf function.

Rules in Ireland are bent for people we know, just as we give jobs, rentals and sometimes vaccines to people we know, in the name of “helping out”. This is seen as a positive thing by those receiving the favour, and “nepotism” by others.

Of course, Australia also has favouritism and nepotism but we like to think we don’t. Rules equate to fairness. Everybody has to be inconvenienced equally. Someone trying to get around rules when the rest of us are stuck following rules, even if they’re ones we hate, deserves to be punished.

Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation. No one is enjoying Covid rules. “I am doing the right thing, and it’s deprived me of joy just so this utter tiprat next to me can ignore them at will” is the angry thought rattling around in our rage filled brains.

Australians have not forgotten the 40,000 or so “stranded Aussies” who remained stuck overseas thanks to strict border controls during the pandemic. Those who did not get to see dying parents or hold their own children. A multi-millionaire tennis player seemingly looking for a loophole to hit a ball about for a few weeks because he refused to be vaccinated was never going to go down well.

When Djokovic stayed at the Park Hotel, the only people who might have been happy to see him were the asylum seekers who have been held there for years by the Australian Government while they await processing. They made signs and waved to TV cameras, hoping to draw attention to the “rules” keeping them locked up without an end in sight.

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Interiors trends for 2022: It’s all about vibrant designs and natural textures

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Some home trends last the course (think sustainable design and open-plan living), while others are, thankfully, fleeting (goodbye matching furniture and round beds). 

But there are a few we can count on to stay the distance this year.

So here’s what we think will be in vogue for the next 12 months.

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Soft shapes

Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play.

‘You can expect to see more organic shapes coming to the forefront in terms of furniture,’ says the Dining Chair Co’s Amanda Huber. 

‘Curved designs feature softer lines, creating a less strict and more informal setting.’ Check out the gracious shape of Soho Home’s Luciana sofa, £2,495.

Playful pieces

The latest interiors don’t take themselves too seriously — the idea is to elevate simple materials or use them in a creative way.

Think wide, jaunty stripes on an overscaled armchair (take a look at Buchanan Studio’s Studio chair, £2,394, for inspiration), half-length linen café curtains used as cupboard skirts, and trims, tassels, bobbles and fringing on curtains, lampshades and upholstery. 

Relaxed, unfitted kitchens also feed into this look: Buster + Punch’s latest foray into freestanding cabinetry is designed to easily adapt to lifestyle shifts.

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year 

Colour confidence

More of us are experimenting with colour — whether that’s mixing bold primary tones, colour washing our walls or choosing confident finishes such as all-gloss or soft plaster. 

Warm hues and nature’s tones are set to prevail, from rich terracotta and sand to olive and deeper greens.

This calming, earthy palette suits our renewed connection to nature during the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, when ‘home’ has become a byword for sanctuary. Look out for calming and uplifting bright blues.

Handcrafted appeal

Items that feature the hand of their maker inject individuality, such as the beautifully detailed pieces of Galvin Brothers: the Bobbin Side Table, £375, or the Fluted Cabinet, £4,800, both future design classics, which take inspiration from the shape of ancient columns.

Introduce handcrafted appeal through lighting, too. Susie Atkinson’s Plato lamp bases, inspired by 1940s conical leather lamps, are coated in high gloss colours. They work well with a hand-painted or trimmed shade; Rosi de Ruig’s are a timeless option, priced from £60.

Swish: Bert & May¿s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Swish: Bert & May’s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Mindful design

Lessening our impact on the planet remains key. 

‘Sustainability is not a trend, but a key design principle,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. 

‘It’s about changing our mindset to embrace upcycling, reupholstering and repairing.’ 

This also translates into buying fewer but better pieces and researching provenance.

‘Seek out items made from recycled materials, such as outdoor furniture produced from recycled aluminium, upcycled fabrics or fabric leftovers for upholstery, and recycled glass for tableware and tops,’ says interior designer Claudia Ludwig.

Flexible living

With many of us required to work from home at a moment’s notice, our living spaces need to accommodate relaxing, escaping, cooking and working. So quality joinery is high priority.

‘All of my projects focus on it, from library style shelving and desks to concealed storage,’ says interior designer Louise Robinson.

‘Another trend that has become hugely popular is open-plan layouts and indoor/outdoor living, which is set to continue as we try to reclaim our homes from pandemic living,’ says Fionnuala Johnston, senior home designer at John Lewis.

Try textures

The trick is to look for less obvious ways to introduce these familiar elements. Try opting for warm oak internal doors rather than ubiquitous Crittall; lining front door surrounds and frames with richly veined marble or using tactile Zellige tiles in bathrooms and kitchens.

Check out Bert & May’s new Ric Rac collection with designer Samantha Todhunter, whose pattern is inspired by the ric rac ribbon she used to sew onto the Spanish dancing skirts she made as a child.

Global interiors

Armchair travel is on the rise as many are reluctant to take risks.

That translates to confident interiors that are embracing global design motifs, from deeply pictorial wallpaper such as Osborne & Little’s Portovenere, featuring retro Ligurian village scenes, £94 per roll, to patterned flora and fauna soft furnishings.

Charming ceramics

Spanish and Italian handmade pottery is enjoying a resurgence. See the vintage collection at The Edition 94, from £40 per plate and the range of decorative jugs, plates and dishes by traditional maker Cerámica J. Marín, available at Liberty.

Savings of the week! Winter duvets

Dunelm¿s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Fuel bills are set to soar. Since turning up your thermostat against winter chills will harm the wallet this year, consider a new duvet, an item on which heartwarming savings are now available,

This will also be an investment in better sleep, improving your health and mood in the morning. 

If you share your bed, a 10.5 tog rating duvet should be sufficiently cosy.

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size, a 20 per cent reduction. 

A kingsize costs £33.60, down from £42. For a little more, you can have the microfibre-filled Feels-Like-Down duvet from bedding store Julian Charles, which costs from £55 to £85, a 50 per cent reduction. 

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The price of the kingsize is £75, down from £150.

Happy to splurge? Then prices for Marks & Spencer’s Luxury Siberian goosedown duvet start at £192, down 40 per cent.

Should you dream of snuggling up under a British wool-filled duvet, the Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction. 

The kingsize is £157.50 down from £210.

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One winner claims €19m Lotto jackpot in first ‘will be won’ draw

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After more than 60 draws over seven months the €19.06 million National Lottery jackpot was finally won tonight by one person who matched all six numbers.

The jackpot had remained capped at €19.06 million since October 2nd and had not been won since June last year. It is the biggest National Lottery jackpot win in in the State.

The jackpot numbers drawn were: 2, 9, 16, 30, 37, 40 while the bonus number was 23.

Tonight had been the first “will be won” National Lottery draw which could have seen the prize shared among those who matched five numbers and a bonus number, or, if still no winners, those who matched five numbers, in the absence of an overall winner.

However, this process was not required as one lucky person matched all six numbers.

Almost €5.5 million was shared by 149 players who matched five numbers and the bonus number.

The National Lottery said it would will reveal details on where the winning ticket was sold in the coming days.

A spokesman for the National Lottery advised everyone who played to check their tickets.

“If they are the lucky winner, we encourage them to sign the back of the ticket immediately and contact our prize claims team on 1800 666 222 or email claims@lottery.ie , and we will make arrangements for you to collect your prize.”

Earlier the Lotto app and website came under severe strain ahead of the first “will be won” jackpot draw.

Some users of the Lotto App were confronted with this message in the minutes shortly before the cut-off to buy tickets.
Some users of the Lotto App were confronted with this message in the minutes shortly before the cut-off to buy tickets.

Some players seeking to play via the Lotto app shortly before the 7.45pm cut-off were told that “due to high traffic volumes we are experiencing technical difficulties”.

The National Lottery website was also displaying a “currently unavailable” message shortly before the draw at 8pm.

Sales of tickets for tonight’s draw were reported to have been significantly higher than a standard draw.

The succession of jackpot rollovers had prompted the operator of the National Lottery, Premier Lotteries Ireland, to seek the addition of the “will be won” draw.

In future lottery jackpots will only rollover five times once the prize cap has been reached.

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