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03 September
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Leaving Emmerdale, working on This Morning and Freddie’s 3rd birthday

Hello Everyone,

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Its been quite an emotional month this month, as after five amazing years I said goodbye to Emmerdale and my character of Alicia, which I’m sure you can imagine was quite difficult and I shed a lot of tears. We also celebrated Freddie’s third birthday, which was a fantastic day, but still a little bit sad as it was such a reminder that my little baby has definitely grown up into a big boy! It’s also been an incredibly busy month as no sooner had I left Emmerdale, I then did a few presenting jobs for This Morning including jetting off to sunny Barbados for a piece that will be shown on the show mid-Sept. Now that was amazing!!

Bidding farewell to Emmerdale was extremely hard as I’ve made some wonderful friends there and it has been such a huge part of my life over the past five years and so the build up to it was really strange. On the one hand I was extremely excited to be able to spend more time with my family alongside taking on new challenges, but on the other I was very nostalgic about it all. The last two weeks seemed to be on a countdown and filled with thoughts of ‘that’s the last time I’ll work with that person, the last time I’ll be on this set, the last time I’ll wear that’ etc. and so by the end I’d worked myself up to the point where after crying pretty much non stop on my last day, I actually couldn’t cry any more for my last scene, which was actually quite ironic as playing Alicia over the years I’ve done A LOT of crying.

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I was lucky enough to film my final scenes with my amazing on-screen family and so in between all the crying, I did actually laugh a lot too, especially with Roxy Shahidi who plays my sister Leyla. It was such a hot day which was again quite ironic as I’d spent the previous five years freezing to death due to the fact that the village itself pretty much has it’s own climate and the majority of the time it’s cold! Anyway luckily for me it was lovely and hot, however Roxy decided to have an umbrella as a parasol to keep her in the shade (she’s great at protecting her skin from the sun) and huge sunglasses which made me really laugh as she looked like a 1950’s movie star who had stumbled into Emmerdale village! I loved her for it though, as it kept me smiling. I had a great time too on the night of my leaving drinks which resulted in lots of food, drinks and dancing! I’ve had an amazing time at Emmerdale and am so incredibly proud to have been part of such an iconic show and one that I’ve been a fan of since I was a child. There’s absolutely no doubt that I will miss my friends there but I’m also very much looking forward to the next chapter now.

Speaking of which, only a couple of days after finishing up at Emmerdale I was asked to present the fashion segment on This Morning, which I absolutely loved! As many of you know I love styling and fashion, and so I was thrilled to have been asked. As This Morning use real woman as their models it was lovely to meet the ladies that we styled, they were all so different and so it was great to explore styling for different body shapes and ages. One of my favourite sections was the ‘suede effect’, where we styled our beautiful model Kerry in a really gorgeous suede effect midi skirt and teamed it with suede sandals and a gorgeous khaki green knitted vest. She looked stunning, so much so that both Marvin and Rochelle (who were presenting that day) and myself couldn’t take our eyes off her gorgeous bottom, it looked amazing in the skirt. I loved the look we created and it was perfect for late summer but as I said on the show, it will look equally good with a roll neck jumper and knee high leather boots for a take on the 70’s trend that’s set to be big this winter.

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I’ve also put together another couple of outfits as 70’s trend alternatives below, hope you like them! I really enjoyed presenting the segment and it was lovely working with Marvin and Rochelle who were both fantastic and really welcoming AND my gorgeous friend Gaynor Faye was also on the show that day so I got to spend some lovely time with her too.

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Shortly after presenting in the studio for This Morning, I then went on to cover a couple of travel pieces for them. One in beautiful Clovelly in Exeter which you may have already seen as it aired a couple of weeks ago and the other in Barbados which was incredible and will be aired mid-September. Even though we were working we still managed to have a really great time, and I experienced some amazing things, such as swimming with turtles! Well I say swimming, in my head I was totally up for it and so got myself in the water all ready to swim with cute little disneyesque types, however I got a real surprise when I saw one of the real ones swimming towards me, they were huge and really fast and strong and so like a baby I scooted back up the steps of the boat we were on and interacted with him from there, I say him as I decided to name him Bob! He was such a gorgeous creature!

Whilst we were in Barbados we stayed on a beautiful exclusive estate on the west of the island which boasts incredible villas and colonial townhouses and has it’s own stunning golf club. We also chartered a luxury four-bedroom catamaran which had its own private chef and we sailed to some of the most beautiful spots on the island. The captain of the catamaran was a lovely man called Robert who owns one of the most popular cruise companies in Barbados. He and his wife set up their business 18 years ago and are the only husband-and-wife team who run a cruise company out there, which I thought was lovely and really romantic. I absolutely loved sailing on the boat as unlike flying I actually really enjoy being on the water and found it so peaceful looking out onto the horizon as the sun glistened onto the turquoise water.

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Another highlight of the trip for me was Oistins fish market which we visited on our final eve. It’s an amazing place, filled with music, dancing and wonderful smells of freshly cooked fish and barbecued chicken. I absolutely loved how rustic and alive it was. The rum punch was flowing amidst families laughing and eating together at the jam packed fish stalls, each running into the next. It was such an amazing experience and the atmosphere is so contagious that you can’t help but join in. I definitely couldn’t help but have a little dance myself! All in all it was a fantastic trip, where I learnt an awful lot work wise, whilst still having the opportunity to take part in some wonderful things and with a wonderful crew.

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Filming in Barbados meant I had to be equipped with the right clothes and the right beauty products to avoid becoming a sticky hot mess in the 32 degree heat with at times 80% humidity! It was hot I can tell you….but here’s a few of my favourite outfits and essential products if you’re taking a late summer holiday.

Barbados Style Diary

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Left to Right

Day 1
Kaftan: Steve Madden
Bikini: Miss Selfridge
Wedges: Zara

Day 2
Sunglasses: Oscar de la renta
Dress: Made in Italy
Bikini: Melissa Odabash
Wedges: New Look

Day 3
Dress: Peace & Love
Wedges: Zara
Bracelet: Links of London

Day 4
Dress: Zara
Wedges: New Look
Sunglasses: As before

Beauty Essentials

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Clockwise

John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves:
This is amazing at giving your hair an all day beach look that can take you into the night with a gorgeous textured fish plait! Fights the frizz and humidity!

Max Factor Miracle Touch Foundation:
I absolutely love this as it’s such a light foundation but has really good coverage. It’s so light that you don’t have the feeling of being caked even though I had several applications throughout the day as I was on camera. I would definitely recommend this if you’re planning a wedding abroad as it will look great on your pictures and gives a really natural finish.

Clarins instant Light Lip Balm Perfector
Another complete favourite of mine! This balm has a way of catching the light to make your lips look instantly full and luscious, however it doesn’t have the same sticky consistency as a lot of other balms and glosses, and so you won’t find yourself getting your hair stuck to it every two minutes. Pair with a nude matte lip liner for a deeper look to take you from day to night.

Urban Decay Naked Palette:
I swear by this palette as it’s amazing for all occasions! The shadows can be used in isolation for a gorgeous natural look or with each other to create darker more dramatic looks. I literally take it everywhere with me as there’s no need to pack any extra eyeshadows. I also use the lighter shimmery shades as highlighters, which is great for creating the strobing look which is such a current beauty trend. You can also use the darker shades to fill eyebrows. I really think this palette is such a great investment, the shadows are really good in the heat too, I very rarely had to reapply them throughout the long filming days.

Max Factor 2000 calorie mascara:
I have been using this for near on 10 years now and despite trialling other mascaras I still say this is the best for volume and durability. I’ve worn this mascara on the majority of jobs I’ve done as it very rarely slips off and so doesn’t give you that unpleasant panda eye effect that can really undermine your look. Again this is especially true in the heat, when often mascaras can seem to literally melt onto your face. I’ve never had that experience with this mascara and at less that a fiver it’s an absolute bargain!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please let me know if you want any more information about any of the things I’ve talked about. You can leave your questions in the comments box and I’ll get back to you but for now I’ll say goodbye and speak soon.

Love Natalie Xx

Ps we had the best time at Legoland in Windsor celebrating Freddie’s birthday! I still can’t believe he’s 3….growing up far to fast for my liking! It was an amazing day and there was so much to do, especially for kids Freddie’s age…including passing his 1st driving test in the Lego cars. We then took a train around the resort, which being a bit train obsessed he loved, before watching one of the most entertaining and energetic performances ‘The Pirate Show’. It is such a great day out for kids and grown ups alike, I highly recommend it!

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Xx

28 July
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My summer parties

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all well! Another busy month for me including filming, a visit to Goodwood festival of speed, ITV’s summer party, Wimbledon men’s final and Ian Bothams 60th birthday charity cricket match.

Not many people will know this but when I was younger I was a massive Formula 1 fan and went to several Grand Prix with my family. Although not quite as intense as when I was younger, ( I was a full on Ferrari girl, with branded hat, T-shirt, jacket etc) my love for motorsport still remains and so I was thrilled to be invited to Goodwood festival of speed just recently. We were incredibly lucky to have been invited by Williams Martini racing and we had the most fantastic weekend.

 

image1We met Felippe Masa who drives for the Williams team and the legendary Stirling Moss. The day itself was so much fun as we spent a lot of time with the team sponsors, I was taught how to make cocktails (although, I secretly already knew a lot of the recipes from years of working in cocktail bars) and we made a little video of James and I driving through the streets of Rome in a vintage car, which was hilarious! I actually thought I was a 1950’s screen siren. As fantastic as the day was, the evening was even more amazing. The festival ball was so gorgeous and unbelievably thrilling. After we had a beautiful dinner at Goodwood house which is owned by Lord March, we were then treated to one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen. It was about 30 minutes long and was very reminiscent of Cirque de Soliel as the fireworks accompanied the most incredible theatrical scenes involving tightrope walkers, acrobats and opera singers. As the display drew to a close, I thought what a wonderful way to end the evening, however we were then treated to a surprise set from the Kaiser Chiefs. The band performed amazingly and although everyone was dressed in cocktail dresses and suits we still rocked out sufficiently. It was such a brilliant weekend, with so many surprises and highlights, it made the scary flight back to Leeds very much worth it!

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After Goodwood I attended the ITV summer party, which is such a lovely event. It basically celebrates all the work we’ve done as team over the year, but it’s also a great chance to catch up with people you might not have seen for a while. Thankfully the weather was lovely and so I was able to wear a nice little playsuit with heels. One of my favourite things about the whole evening was getting to catch up with the very gorgeous Sammy Winward, who played Katie Sugden in Emmerdale. Sammy left earlier this year and we’ve all missed her a lot, however she has been extremely busy as she’s just finished filming Prey for ITV with Philip Glenister as well as writing her first children’s book “Princess Phoebe Meets the Tudors”. It’s so fantastic to finally see the book on the shelves as Sammy has worked so hard on it and I can’t wait to see what other stories are set to follow. It was also lovely to catch up with Leanne Brown who is currently appearing in The Real Housewives of Cheshire, which I absolutely love! Myself and Roxy Shahidi are a little bit addicted to all of The Real Housewives series and so we were thrilled when they began filming the Cheshire version. Leanne told me they are currently filming a new series for ITVbe and so I’m extremely excited to see the next instalment of the fabulous lives of the Cheshire wives.

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This month I was also lucky enough to attend the Wimbledon men’s final with my lovely friend Karin, which was amazing. I’ve never been to Wimbledon before, having normally watched the tournament at home and I have to say it is a very different experience actually being there. I really enjoy watching the tennis and so felt incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to watch an absolutely world class match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The thing I found most astounding was how quiet the court became when the players began to play, you could literally hear a pin drop and then the moment the play stopped it was as if someone had turned the volume up as the crowd erupted. My favourite part of the match was the second set which was fantastic, I’ve never seen tennis like that before, literally rally after rally, I found myself holding my breath until someone finally won the point. In the end it was Djokovic who got to claim the victory, even though I thought Federer played fantastically. It really was such a memorable match and one I was so privileged to witness.

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Finally this weekend, James and I attended Ian Bothams 60th birthday charity cricket match, which was so much fun. The match was played by two teams of all star cricketers including Darren Gough, Piers Morgan and Shane Warne and it was great to watch. The day was held at Wormsley cricket club near Thame in Oxford which was one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever been in for a day of cricket. Ian was hosting the event to raise money for Beefy’s charity foundation which is made up of five wonderful charity’s including leukaemia and lymphoma research who I also do a lot of work with as my grandad passed away from lymphoma in 2011. It was a fabulous event with the auction alone raising over 100k for the foundation. Ian is such a lovely man, who dedicates so much of his time to raising money and it was so nice to see him surrounded by his family and grandchildren on such a special occasion. My friend Peter will actually be joining Ian on 100km trek across South Africa raising money for the foundation ( If you’d like to help please visit https://www.justgiving.com/PeterSwannSUFC/ For more details). Even though the day was really about the cricket the highlight for me was watching Eric Clapton play a special set to Ian’s guests. I was literally reduced to tears as he performed one of my favourite songs ‘wonderful tonight’ and thought of all the people who must have beautiful memories of that song, be it from a first date, first dance or first kiss and there he was singing it live only a few meters away from me, I felt extremely lucky. It really was a brilliant weekend, filled with lots of laughs, amazing performances and great cricket!

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Well the next few weeks look to be just as busy for me as we hold Freddie’s 3rd birthday party (where has the time gone!) and I prepare to leave Emmerdale and look to the future…eek!

Speak very soon,
Love Natalie Xx

22 June
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My whirlwind month

So again it’s been a whirlwind month, with numerous trips to London and events to attend. I attended the Lorraine High Street fashion awards which was such a lovely evening, particularly as I got to catch up with ex-emmerdale actresses Adele Silva and Suzanne Shaw who both looked gorgeous! Suzanne is pregnant and looked incredible in a body con dress showing off her bump and Adele who is a new mum looked beautiful in an orange shift dress. I wore the mini Jennifer caped sleeve dress from our range to attend the event. It was lovely catching up with the girls and talking about fashion and our children and what we’ve all been up to as it was some time ago that we were all in Emmerdale together. It was a great night all round and I was particularly proud of myself as I pretty much got all of the winners right, much to the girls amusement. Well we all know I love any kind quiz!

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I then attended my friend Carolynne Pooles album showcase in Manchester which was brilliant. Carolynne and I went to school together and so have known each other for many years, hence I know how hard she has worked as a singer/songwriter, travelling back and forth to Nashville, appearing on the X Factor and Fame Academy and so to see her performing material from her self penned debut album, live on stage was fantastic. What was also lovely about the evening was so many of our school friends and their parents were there and it was actually really nostalgic. Our school was an amazing place but also incredibly strict. There were only 30 places a year for the performing arts course and as we were the only school in the area offering a performing arts course to rival that of the big London schools, competition to get in was quite fierce. It also meant that your grades in your other subjects couldn’t drop below a C and so it required a lot of hard work, time management and discipline to stay on the course. However I think that level of training at such a young age was great preparation for working professionally in the industry. Watching Carolynne made me and my friend Vikki quite emotional as we reminisced about us all performing in our school productions. We were all so young and desperately wanted to perform professionally and now here was Carolynne doing exactly that with her band and she was amazing!! It was a really great night and James and I also managed to have a good old chat with new mummy and daddy Cath Tyldsley and her lovely fiancé Tom. If you haven’t heard it yet Carolynnes debut single “I Love You but Shut Up” is available now on iTunes.

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This weekend I attended the Royal Television Society-Yorkshire region awards which was again a really great night. I’ve had a few weeks away from filming at Emmerdale and so it was lovely to see everyone. Being a proud Yorkshire girl it was also lovely to celebrate the regions talent and achievements. I personally was nominated for Best On Screen Performance for the Emmerdale storyline I had with Lachlan (played by Thomas Atkinson) earlier in the year. The nomination was a huge honour for me as I was nominated against Sarah Lancashire and Harry Gration, whom I have both hugely admired growing up and in particular Sarah Lancashire who has been a massive inspiration to me through the years. Needless to say the award actually went to Sarah for her incredible performance in Happy Valley however I was more than thrilled at simply having my name announced alongside her on the evening and so I went home very pleased and with the event programme as a memento. Happy Valley were the big winners of the night which was a bit disappointing for us at Emmerdale however I think the biggest winner of the evening was Yorkshire itself. It was fantastic to see how many productions were either made in the area or featured the region as their backdrop and it made me feel incredibly proud as when I graduated from drama school I was told that the only place i would get work was in London, however I can definitely say that is no longer the case, only last night ITV’s latest drama Black Work starring Sheridan Smith used Leeds as its location. It’s fantastic that audiences get to see what I love so much about living here.

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Finally on Saturday I attended Royal Ascot. Again another fun filled day, however this year I was not so lucky with my betting. I think I got a little bit too cocky with myself at having done so well in previous years and started to veer away from my usual method of picking horses based on the colour of the jockeys shirt or the name of the horse and started looking at things like form and trainers as if I was John Mcruick. Needless to say I only won on one of the six races of the day and therefore i will consider it a lesson learnt, that ‘Nanna knows best’ and so in the future I will definitely go back to my grandmas more traditional methods. However we still had a lot of laughs and I really loved getting all dressed up for the day. I decided to go for quite a different look this year as last year I worked with a fab stylist on a shoot I did with Hello! about Ascot style and she really opened my eyes to dressing for the occasion, which can often be problematic as the dress code can be quite strict. I really loved wearing a smaller hat and a bit of colour although Freddie decided to tell me my hat made me look like a clown! Oh well I still liked it and more than anything it gave me less of a headache then hats I’ve worn in previous years.

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Anyway I’ll say goodbye for now and speak again very soon.

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Love NatalieXx

15 May
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The Soap Awards, a trip to Edinburgh and finally visiting Rome with James

Hello Everyone,

Thank you so much for reading my blog. It’s been a busy couple of months with filming at Emmerdale and various other events but thankfully I’ve got a bit of time off now to spend with my family. Its been a bit of a whirlwind as I’ve filmed for ‘Good Morning Britain’, ‘Loose Women’ and ‘Play to the Whistle’ (which was hilarious!) took a trip to Edinburgh to present at the Young Scot Awards and finally visited Rome for a couple of days with James. Not to mention had numerous fittings for my outfit for the Soap Awards.

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Speaking of the Soap Awards, I’m really thrilled to have been shortlisted for both Best Actress and Best Dramatic Performance this year for my part in the Lachlan storyline. I was completely overwhelmed when I found out and am so thankful to everyone who voted for me and of course to Emmerdale for giving me the opportunity of playing out the storyline in the first place. I know I say it all the time but I really think Emmerdale deserves to win best soap this year as we’ve had some amazing storylines! The Donna cancer story with Verity Rushworth, Michael Parr and Mark Charnock was so heartbreaking but also so thrilling and the return of Robert Sugden with his new family has been amazing, his arrival back in the village leading to Katie’s death, followed by Andy’s grief (as a die hard Katie/Andy fan, I was devastated by this part of the story though!) and his on off relationship with Aaron has been totally gripping. Then you have the incredible Charlotte Bellamy playing out Laurels alcoholism story alongside Mark Charnock, Duncan Preston and John Middleton they have all been totally fantastic! I was always a massive fan of Emmerdale before I joined the show and am even more so now as I know how little time everyone has to produce such brilliant drama. And theres so much more to come too with a huge summer that involves so many other characters. Everyone at Emmerdale has worked so hard and I really really hope we can come away with something this year. If you’d like to vote for us then please visit www.britishsoapawards.tv thank you.

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One thing I’m very excited about is my outfit for the ceremony. My dress is a new design from Enais Chapman and I think it might actually be my favourite yet. I’m also wearing a gorgeous butterfly ring that I absolutely love! I met the very lovely and kind Jason Watkins at Loose Women this week fresh from his amazing Bafta win for Best Leading Actor, he won for ‘The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries’ in which he was absolutely incredible! He told me his wife Clara made bespoke jewellery and so I picked up my ring from her collection. It was such a coincidence as I’d been in Rome earlier in the week scouring the jewellery shops looking for a butterfly or dragonfly to go with my outfit and so it was quite weird that so much of Clara’s collection included butterflies. It was amazing to meet Jason as he is such an inspiring, funny and warm person who has so much experience and so to have the opportunity to chat with him and listen to his stories about his career was really lovely. I had a great time with the Loose Women on the show too, they were all very kind  and it felt more like a chat with the girls than an interview. It was also great to be able to talk about the Lachlan storyline again on a platform that inspires debate.

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As I mentioned earlier, this month I also went to Edinburgh to present an award at the Young Scot Awards which was such a fantastic event. The ceremony celebrates Scotland’s young people and their achievements both professionally and personally, in a similar way to our Pride of Britain awards. It’s safe to say I was an emotional wreck by the end of the evening after hearing stories of bravery, determination, kindness and success. It was such an inspirational evening, and I was taken aback at how passionate, articulate and confident all of the young people were and how much they really wanted to make changes in society. I also had the pleasure of meeting fellow soapie Jamie Borthwick from Eastenders and his friend Tony and a few of the cast from River City who were all so lovely. We were also treated to fantastic performances from Prides and Conor Maynard. All in all it was a wonderful evening.

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The next stop was down to London to film ITV’s new Saturday night panel show ‘Play to The Whistle’ hosted by by the super gorgeous Holly Willoughby. As a relatively new show as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect particularly as it’s content is mainly sport based and the majority of the other guests tend to be male and sport enthusiasts. Not to say that I’m not a sports enthusiast I obviously have a love of rugby league being a former cheerleader and I also enjoy Formula 1, tennis, athletics and always tend to take an interest in the big sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics. However I wouldn’t say I’m completely clued up on sport I mean it’s definitely not my best subject at trivial pursuit and I do get confused with the various off side rules, nevertheless I knew that there would be an element of fun to the show and so was still very excited to take part. And what a laugh I had! What I forgot to mention was that the other panel members also have a comedy background with the exception of Frank Lampard who is obviously the sporting professional of the group and therefore one of the team captains as well as being a very nice man. The other captain is Bradley Walsh, who I love! I’ve been lucky enough to work with Bradley a couple of times and he’s so lovely and so brilliant at his job, as is Holly I love watching them. On the odd bit of presenting I’ve done I’ve found it a little bit nerve wracking, particularly when you have people in the gallery speaking to you through an earpiece whilst your trying to engage in a conversation with someone on the floor. It makes me feel a little mad and out of sorts and so I have so much admiration for the presenters who just have it all under control and make it look like a walk in the park. I met so many lovely people on the show, Jimmy Bullard and his manager Jim had me in stitches. The episode airs in the next week and I can’t wait to watch it, particularly the games section! I laughed so much.

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Finally James and I took a little trip to Rome this week and it was amazing! It was a surprise present for James as his birthday is at the end of the month. James is a big foodie and so I’ve always wanted to take him to Italy and thankfully he really enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to visit Rome when I was younger with my mum but I have to say I never remember it being so pretty, probably because my mum had me in the museums though and not drinking Prosecco in the piazzas. It was such a gorgeous, romantic trip, I definitely felt a bit like Audrey Hepburn in a Roman Holiday.

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Anyway I’ll let you know how we all get on at the Soap Awards this weekend and say goodbye for now.

Love Natalie Xx

16 March
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My Emmerdale storyline has definitely been a challenge

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the milder weather we’ve been having!! I for one have absolutely loved it and am now so desperate for the summer to arrive after such a long winter. This year has seemed particularly dark as I’ve been filming the very complex Emmerdale storyline I’ve hinted about in my past posts, which by now some of you may be aware centres around the sexual assault of my character Alicia by 14-year-old Lachlan White (played by Thomas Atkinson). Previously I’ve been unable to speak about the topic and the complexities of the story due to it’s very sensitive nature however now that the episodes have been aired I can discuss in more detail how challenging it both has been and still is. I’ve said in numerous interviews recently how shocked I was when our producer Kate first told me about the storyline, as I thought it was such a sensitive issue to cover and with Emmerdale being aired pre-watershed I was aware that there may be some difficulty with certain scenes, however I completely trusted the team at Emmerdale and felt that it was incredibly brave of them to cover it, as I’m aware that socially something seems to be bubbling with regards to the impact of the internet on young people. I was also incredibly flattered that they felt our family could handle such a powerful story and was determined to rise to the challenge of telling it in the most truthful way we could. Kate first discussed the story with me last summer and so I had plenty of time to do as much research as I could before we began filming the bulk of it this winter.

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What I found was disturbing to say the least, which made me even more passionate about our part in highlighting such a worrying issue. Whilst trying to find real life accounts of sexual assaults committed by minors, of which I found at least four between the months of October and December 2014 in this country, not to mention the countless others I read about in America, Australia and Europe, I was then horrified to find a huge amount of websites/videos that seemed to glorify such horrendous behaviour and almost imply it was ‘funny’ and ‘cool’. The ease with which these sites were stumbled upon really alarmed me, especially as I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son who quite frequently uses our iPad as we’ve installed certain apps that are aimed at his age group. Granted Freddie won’t be typing things into Google yet but there are many children who are tech savvy who may be innocently looking for something else and before you know it are being subjected to pornographic imagery. I find it incredibly worrying that sexual content seems to have become so mainstream that Fifty Shades of Grey, a film primarily about S&M is being used to market laundry powder.

Children are not stupid, all it takes is for a nine-year-old to wonder what all the fuss is about and why it’s all over Twitter and Facebook to become curious themselves and Google it. As you can imagine the content that is then displayed on search engines centres mainly around S&M, which I personally do not feel is appropriate imagery for a young child to view. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for sexual content, as grown adults we should all have the choice to read and watch what we want, when we want, the problem I have is that such content shouldn’t be readily available to be viewed by children. Years ago you would have to walk into a shop and ask for whatever was on the top shelf before you were able to view such material, you would also most likely be asked for ID if the newsagent didn’t believe you were over 18. The middle person has disappeared with the internet and that’s what I find disturbing, as parents we of course do our best to put parental controls and privacy settings on our computers and tablets but the majority of our children are cleverer than us when it comes to advancing technology and so for me personally I would like to see the big internet companies stepping up and protecting our children by making such content much harder to access.

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In the storyline between Alicia and Lachlan, Emmerdale highlighted quite early on that Lachlan had been paying for online porn and in the episodes that air this week we see Lachlan use a scenario he’s seen on an online kissing tutorial, yes they do exist, to describe an intimate moment with Alicia, who he has implied, groomed him. I think Emmerdale have been so brave in choosing to explore this current issue alongside the other sensitive issues you get with a sexual assault storyline e.g. who’s to blame, what was the victim wearing, were they drunk, the effect it has on relationships and with our story Emmerdale are also looking at the impact the assault has on the perpetrator’s parents, in our case Lachlan’s mum Chrissie, played by Louise Marwood, which I find incredibly interesting.

Although the story has definitely been a challenge,  it’s one as an actor I’ve relished. To have the opportunity of telling such a complex layered story is a real privilege and one I’m extremely proud of. I feel incredibly lucky to work with such an amazing group of people at Emmerdale, writers, directors, costume, make-up and the technical crew, our wonderful cast and in particular my on screen family, Matthew Wolfenden, Joe-Warren Plant and Roxy Shahidi. We have all worked extremely hard on this storyline and yes we’ve had some negative comments however I feel that the fact people are talking about this very relevant issue is a good thing as by raising debate we are bringing the subject to the fore and I for one am very proud of that. The storyline continues for some time to come and over the coming weeks the viewers can expect twists and turns and real moments of heartbreak as Alicia’s husband David is pushed to the edge and Lachlan’s mum Chrissie is forced to see her son in a different light. I really hope people continue to tune in to see how the story unfolds and that they will hopefully keeping talking about what I feel is a very unnerving situation.

Emmerdale is on weekdays at 7pm.

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On a very different note I had the most gorgeous Mother’s Day weekend! Despite working early on Sat morning I had the rest of the day off and was able to spend it with Freddie and James. We decided to go and see Home, the latest film from Dreamworks animation. As with Big Hero 6 it was brilliant at entertaining both children and adults alike. Factor in a great soundtrack with numerous hits from Rihanna (who voiced the leading little girl character, Tip) and some emotive moral concepts and you have yourself a fantastic and entertaining family film. At one point I turned to see James with a tear in his eye as Tip desperately tries to find her mum with her little alien buddy Oh. Yet again Freddie sat like a little angel throughout the whole film, which was such a relief for us as recently we seem to be having another bout of the terrible twos. After the film we had a lovely dinner together with Freddie saying ‘I loved that film mummy, I’ve had such a nice day’. As you can imagine my heart melted a little bit, I’ve never known such unconditional love since becoming a parent, your child can seem possessed, pushing you to the end of your tether to the point where you’re pulling your hair out yet the minute they are polite and well behaved you feel all warm and fuzzy and like you couldn’t loved them any more if you tried.

That’s exactly how I felt on Mother’s Day itself. Freddie woke me with a huge ‘Happy Mummy’s Day’ hug and breakfast in bed (courtesy of James of course), it was wonderful. I had a huge lump in my throat, particularly when I saw the home made vase and card he’d made me for me at nursery. James also spoilt me by booking a spa visit for next month, which I can’t wait for! It was such a lovely morning.

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We then visited James’ mum and grandma before returning home where I made a lovely dinner for my mum. This was quite a feat for me as I don’t cook at all, I’m not terrible but I’m not very confident and the kitchen in our house is very much James’ domain. I always say he should enter Masterchef! Anyway as it was Mother’s Day I wanted to cook for my mum and I have to say I was quite impressed with myself. I made a hearty beef stew and dumplings followed by fruit crumble and custard and bar the custard I made everything from scratch! Nothing was burnt and everything was cooked on time, not bad for me. Mum loved it and James polished off the rest of the crumble and so I can happily say it was quite a success. It was such a lovely, relaxing family day, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I’ve got a little trip to London to see the lovely lot at Good Morning Britain at the end of the week in and amongst filming and other bits and bobs and so I’ll say goodbye for now and I’ll fill you in next time.

Lots of love,

Natalie

Xx

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P.S. Paris was amazing and I did get up the Eiffel Tower albeit only to the 2nd floor!! I freaked out a little bit in the elevator and so settled for dinner in the restaurant as opposed to Champagne at the top. I have a list of fears as long as my arm, flying, spiders, confined spaces, being buried alive, drowning, I honestly drive myself mad! However it was still an amazing and romantic trip. I love Paris so much, I’m already trying to plan when we can next go back. It definitely has a special place in my heart.

Au revoir!

10 February
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Excited for my Valentine’s trip to Paris!

Hello everyone,

Well so far I’m really enjoying 2015! I’m extremely busy at Emmerdale, in the midst of designing a new collection for Enais Chapman, still juicing and looking forward to a Valentine’s trip to Paris. It all feels very exciting! However more importantly than all of those things, I’ve also managed to spend some lovely quality time with my family and friends. In particular we attended my best friend Julie’s wedding, which was an amazing, emotional and beautiful day! image Also myself and Freddie had a gorgeous cinema date this weekend as James was STILL painting our house, it’s been nearly 3 years since we started working on it and it’s still not finished, I somehow don’t think we’d make it onto Grand Designs, even they’ve got time limits! Anyway it allowed for Freddie and I to have a lovely afternoon together. We went to see Disney’s Big Hero 6 which was fantastic. It’s such a great film for adults and kids alike. It was Freddie’s second visit to the cinema and I have to say he was so well behaved, I was really impressed that he managed to sit still and quiet all the way through and his attention didn’t wander at all. Yet another reminder that he’s growing up so quickly. We both stuffed ourselves with popcorn and I did laugh to myself as we were both simultaneously and compulsively sticking our hand into the box every two seconds… will someone please explain to me why popcorn is so ridiculously addictive! The film itself is excellent, it amazes me how kids’ films these days are equally aimed at entertaining both children and adults. The film explores the themes of loss and grief in the guise of a loveable marshmallow like robot called Baymack, who is programmed to provide healthcare assistance. The film essentially revolves around his relationship with highly intelligent, science whiz kid Hiro and is reminiscent of classic eighties children’s films such as E.T, Flight of the Navigator and Short Circuit although Big Hero 6 is animated. I would definitely recommend this film for both young and older children or even for those grown ups who are still young at heart. As I said at the beginning I am currently in the middle of co designing gowns for our new Enais Chapman red carpet collection which is always a really exciting time. The Davis dress I wore to the National Television Awards last month is the first gown from the collection that we’ve previewed and it received a wonderful response, Kate and I were thrilled. image_1 As with any art form it’s extremely nerve wracking when you put your work out into the public domain as you are essentially putting yourself out there to be critiqued and so it’s a lovely feeling when the reviews are positive. I loved wearing the dress, it made me feel both comfortable and confident, it’s definitely one of my favourites. I can’t wait now to see the others come to life. Kate and I always really enjoy the design process and not just because we tend to have a couple of glasses of champagne whilst we work (well it gets the creative juices flowing doesn’t it?) but because we bounce off each other really easily and so it makes it really exciting for both us, we often get so carried away that we totally loose all track of time and what feels like an hour has actually been 4! image_2 I absolutely love it though and feel so lucky to be able work in design alongside acting. Speaking of fashion as we are at the peak of awards season with the Golden Globes, Baftas and Grammys already come and gone and the Oscars and Brits soon to follow, it’s the best time of the year to see how a dress can translate from the runway to the red carpet. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed at this years Golden Globes choices compared to the previous year but feel that the Baftas and Grammys were a much better show. The Grammys especially seemed to be filled with lots of everything, sequins, skin, layers, frills. It was a bit mad, but there were some definite stand out gowns that I thought were amazing. Kim Kardashian looked stunning in Jean Paul Gaultier, as did Beyoncé in Proenza Schouler and Taylor Swift in Elie Saab. I’m still undecided about Rhianna’s Giambattista Valli gown. It’s an extremely brave choice with all that volume, however if you can’t wear it to the Grammys then where can you? image_4 From the Baftas my top picks were, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Bailey who I thought all looked gorgeous in block colours. I can’t wait for the Oscars and Brits now to see what glamorous choices our leading ladies will have picked to attend those ceremonies. image_5image_3 As I’ve got my design head on I’m very much looking forward to this weekend as James and I are off to Paris for Valentines day, it’s safe to say I’m beyond excited!!! Even though we’ve been lucky enough to visit numerous times now there’s still so many things we’ve yet to do. A trip up the Eiffel Tower for one. Hopefully we’ll manage to tick that one of the list this weekend. I loved the gowns that came out of Paris Haute Couture week last week, I honestly think some of the designers are absolute geniuses. Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab are my favourites as I love their silhouettes and use of materials and embellishments, I would wear every dress in every collection every season, I honestly don’t know how they keep producing so many stunning gowns year after year. I really can’t wait to get back to Paris, I’ll make sure I take a pic from the top of the Eiffel Tower, if we eventually manage to get up there that is. image_6 Anyway I hope you all have a lovely weekend too and I’ll speak to you all again next month. I’m a bit apprehensive as the storyline I’ve been filming at Emmerdale hits our screens at the end of this month and into the early part of next and so I’m feeling quite nervous, fingers crossed people will find the story both interesting and intriguing. image_7 Speak soon and lots of love, Natalie Xx

08 January
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Our mad Christmas and very happy New Year!

 Hello everyone and Happy New Year!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! Although I was a little nervous about saying goodbye to 2014 as it had been such a lovely year for us, I’m feeling very excited about 2015! It’s going to be a very exciting year particularly at Emmerdale where I’m currently filming for a storyline that will hit screens in February. I still can’t talk in too much detail about it, but I will say it’s definitely living up to my expectations in terms of being a real challenge as the writing is extremely layered and the issues we are dealing with are very complex. Nevertheless it’s been brilliant to really get my teeth into the scripts over Christmas and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story is received and how it plays out in the following months. Stay tuned!

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The Christmas break was quite mad for us as we had lots of people coming and going and we also travelled to see friends and family. It was definitely a lot of fun though especially as this was the first Christmas that Freddie had an idea of what was actually going on. Christmas Eve and Day were both gorgeous!! We had quite a few friends around on Christmas Eve before Freddie went to bed, he was in a very excitable mood as he knew that it was different to any other night. When he was ready for bed we did the traditional thing of putting out a carrot and mince pie by the fireplace for Rudolph and Santa. My grandma had a plate specially designed for Freddie. It has his name on it and an outline of where everything is supposed to go, it’s really lovely. He put everything out and then went to bed, with no fuss I might add! The next morning he woke to find reindeer dust leading from the fireplace to his presents and that the carrot and mince pie had been eaten. He was very excited by it all. The sweetest thing however was, he had a stocking hanging on his door which he saw before we revealed his presents that I’d popped a couple of miniature Thomas the tank engine figures in that he’d asked for. He opened the first one and was absolutely besotted with it, it took us all our time to get him to put it down so that we could show him all the other things that Santa had left. Even now those little miniatures are the things he loves most from Christmas which has been an extremely valuable lesson for us. I know it’s common sense not to spoil your children, but sometimes you can’t help it, especially at Christmas. However next year James and I very much intend to stick to the rule of less is more!

I was also extremely spoilt this year!! I got my beautiful French girl shoes I’d been desperate for. I was absolutely ecstatic to find a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes under the tree, alongside Victoria Secret gift vouchers… My husband knows me so well. I was genuinely thrilled though as James and I never normally spoil each other at Christmas and so he completely caught me off guard this year, particularly as I bought him the romantic gift of kitchen knives!! To be fair though, James does love cooking and had been complaining about our current knives and so I thought I was being thoughtful.

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Another first for Freddie was building a snowman!! Aptly my little sister Francesca had stayed over on Boxing Day and we watched Frozen (which I love!), and the following morning we woke to find we’d had snow during the night. Freddie straight away said “mummy it’s really Christmas now! Followed by “Can we build a snowman!” And so that’s exactly what we did. We went on a gorgeous walk near our house and then stopped to make a snowman on the cricket pitch. Although I have to say the snowman looked more like a snow bear. James likes to think he’s a bit of a sculptor and tried to be a bit too arty for Freddie’s liking, he really didn’t look impressed at all, however any snowman was better than no snowman as all hell broke loose as we tried to take him back home. Thank goodness I could still play the ‘Santa’s still watching and can come and take all the presents back’ card. It just about worked, but we had lots of tears in the first instance.

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New Year was a much more sober affair, as I like to start the impending year with a fresh head and so we stayed at home watching Jools Holland and the London fireworks, which I thought were amazing, the best I’ve seen in a long while. We did however celebrate a couple of days later with our lovely friends Chris Bisson (Emmerdale‘s Jai Sharma) and his girlfriend Rowena and their little boy Harry who is only a few months younger than Freddie. It was a lovely weekend and a great way to start 2015.

And so to 2015. After the Christmas madness and excess, James and I have decided to do a few days of detoxing and so we’ve started on the 5 day juicing detox. I’m a bit of a late comer to juicing as I know lots of people were doing it last year, however after seeing the benefits gained by people I know who’ve done it, including brighter skin, thicker hair and lots more energy we both thought January would be a great time to see for ourselves. I was even more inspired after watching the Super Juice Me documentary which charts the journeys of 8 people with varying illnesses who began juicing to see what effect it could have on their bodies and their symptoms, and showcased some amazing results. We are currently on day 3 and I have to say although it was hard at first, I’m definitely feeling much better in myself and much more alert. I’ve also seen a difference in my skin which feels so much smoother and considerably brighter than it was a week ago. We’ve got 2 more days left and then we will be back to our normal way of healthy eating. I’m very lucky as James pretty much cooks everything from scratch in our house and so the majority of what we eat is homemade and healthy but I definitely think we will try to incorporate a juice a day into our diet too now!

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The yummy green refresher!!

Anyway I’m going to get off now as I’ve got a fitting for my dress for the National TV awards which is in a couple of weeks. I’m very excited to be wearing a new design from our label. I can’t wait to see how it’s looking!

Lots of Love,
Natalie Xx

16 December
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Winter wonderland, the Royal Albert Hall and The X Factor final!

Hello Everyone, thank you for reading my blog. How are you all doing? I’m am so looking forward to Christmas! In fact id go as far as to say this could be my favourite ever Christmas as Freddie is so excited. It’s so lovely to see Christmas through a child’s eyes, everything is so wonderful and innocent. We recently went to London as I was filming for a new ITV show called ‘Get Your Act Together’ with Matthew Wolfenden, which is due to air in January. Whilst we were there we decided to take full advantage of the weekend and booked to go to Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland and to see Santa at Harrods. It was fantastic!!! One of the best weekends we’ve had as a family. xmas Although Winter Wonderland can be very busy, it’s definitely a must for getting into the Christmas spirit. With rides for both big and little kids, live music, a Christmas market, the alpine village, two circus shows and Santaland there’s definitely something for everyone. We went to see one of the circus shows called ‘Cirque Beserk’ which although is normally recommended for children over 6yrs, Freddie absolutely loved. It was more me peering through my hands as the acts were so daring and I had quite a few heart in my mouth moments. In particular the end sequence involves four motorbikes circulating simultaneously in a tiny cage with a woman standing in the middle, I could hardly breathe!! It was brilliant!! winterwonderland After our exciting time at Winter Wonderland the following day we booked to see Santa at Harrods which was just gorgeous. The grotto was so beautiful and when we got in to see Santa I actually cried (I’m always an emotional wreck at Christmas), he was so patient and kind to Freddie who was a little nervous at first but by the time we left had promised he was going to be a very good boy and would leave a mince pie and carrots by the fireplace on Christmas eve.  Following our meeting with Santa we then had afternoon tea at Harrods too. It was such a special treat and really family friendly, the pianist even played disney classics! They also had a children’s tailor made afternoon tea which consisted of snowflake shaped sandwiches and snowmen cupcakes whilst James and I had a lovely glass of champagne with our more traditional version. drink It really was lovely to see all the different families enjoying a beautiful and festive afternoon. I have loved everything about the build up to Christmas this year as Freddie is so much more aware of everything, in fact it was him that first pointed out Santa Claus on the TV a couple of weeks ago. I was actually a bit taken aback as I’d not had a conversation with him about Santa at that point, I said “do you know who he is?” He said “Yes mummy, its Father Christmas!” He then went on to tell me that he’d learnt about him at nursery school and proceeded to sing ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ followed swiftly by ‘When Santa got stuck up the chimney’, it was so adorable. cookies It’s also been a godsend in terms of keeping Freddie in line. I know it’s terrible really to resort to lies and bribery when disciplining your child but needs must! The slightest hint of bad/unruly behaviour and its “Santa Claus is watching you! He”ll take you off the nice list and leave you a lump of coal on Christmas Eve!” Or James and I will call each others phone and say “Oh dear Freddie, Santa Claus is calling because he can hear you crying and carrying on all the way from the North Pole” to which he will instantly stop crying and shout “I’m sorry Santa Claus, I’m being a good boy now!”…as I said needs must. Now I’m just super excited to see his reaction on Christmas Day when he sees his presents under the tree and that the mince pie and carrots will have disappeared, as a child I absolutely loved it and used to scream “he’s been!!” Part of me still likes to think that maybe there is a real Santa Claus out there in the world, its a nice feeling to believe it could be true. Other than our super christmassy weekend in London I think one of the most festive things I’ve taken part in recently was the annual ‘Christmas Carols with the Stars’ in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphoma research at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve been lucky enough to perform at the concert twice before as a soloist, most notably singing a song from my first album ‘Return to Me’ in 2008. albert It was particularly special for me as it was one of the last times my incredibly wonderful grandad got to see me perform before he sadly passed away from Lymphoma himself and so the concert and venue hold incredibly special memories for me. On this occasion however I was singing as part of the Emmerdale band and it was amazing. I completely understand why people who have previously been in bands embarking on a solo career feel really intense nerves going it alone as having other people on stage with you is such a wonderful experience. The band which also features Laura Norton (Kerry Wyatt) Michelle Hardwick (Vanessa Woodfield) and Dominic Brunt (Paddy Kirk) performed a mash up of Little Drummer Boy and Hallelujah. We were also accompanied my the legendary Frank Renton and his brass orchestra, it was amazing. We got such a wonderful reaction from the audience and it was such a proud moment for all of us, I actually turned to look at Dominic and we both had tears in our eyes. albert2 The Royal Albert Hall is such an incredible, iconic venue with the highest ceilings and at the very end chorus of the song which had built to a huge crescendo I really felt like my grandad was looking down on us and I had to really do my best to hold it together and not start full on sobbing! It was definitely my most enjoyable performance there as previously I had been so consumed with nerves at performing alone that I did’nt really enjoy it very much. However on this occasion I loved every second of it and felt it was a wonderful bonding experience for all of us involved in the band.   Speaking of music and singing, this weekend I have been completely and utterly consumed by the X Factor final. For the first time in a very long time I really couldn’t call who the winner was going to be and I have to applaud the makers of the show for really pulling out all the stops and acquiring the most amazing artists to perform this year. Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Take That, One Direction, Ella Henderson, Labrinth, Megan Treanor, Olly Murs and Demi Lovato were all fantastic and really added to the overall pizazz of this years show. Not to mention the contestants themselves who I thought were all worthy winners in their own right and all deserve to have a careers in the music industry. From a personal point of view I think I liked Fleur the most as she was so watchable and passionate and seemed the most polished as she combined live vocals with lots of choreography and confidence. I appreciate that perhaps she hasn’t got the biggest voice that previous finalists have had but for me she definitely has the all important X Factor. That special something where you can’t take your eyes off a person. Much in the same way as Kylie, Britney, and Madonna, who all have good voices but perhaps not in the same league as Whitney, Mariah and Leona Lewis and yet are 3 of the worlds biggest selling female artists. I definitely feel like Fleur will go on to be the kind of artist who puts on a show at every performance. I have to agree with Simon Cowell, her version of Macklemores ‘Cant Hold Us’ made me feel like I was watching a performance from a seasoned professional at the MTV music awards. I loved it! I really wish all three of this years finalists the best of luck with their futures.   With that, as much as I’m extremely excited for 2015 and all the exciting things I have coming up next year, I have to admit I will be really sad to say goodbye to 2014. After a somewhat manic 2013, this year has proved to be a year of calm and reflection. I have absolutely loved this year and have some amazing memories from it. Our trip to Dubai, camping, Paris, the Lake District and not forgetting some much needed quality time at home with my family this summer have all been truly lovely. Anyway I will continue to enjoy what’s left of it and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy new year! I look forward to seeing you all on the other side. Much Love, NatalieXxx

11 November
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A magical month!!

Hello Everyone,
Thank you so much for reading my blog, I’m sorry this is a bit later than usual but I’ve been suffering from the dreaded cold for the last week and it’s showing no signs of easing up. However I’m apparently not as bad as my husband who insists he has a much more aggressive strain than me….typical!

Anyway away from coughs and sneezes October was the most incredible magical month! Obviously it was Halloween which was lots of fun but it was also my birthday which I very luckily got to spend in Paris with James. I also spent the first part of the month in Greece with my family which was absolutely gorgeous, before beginning rehearsals for a secret project I’m taking part in! Phew!!

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I headed off to Crete with James, Freddie and my lovely mum to stay in the port of Elounda, which was absolutely stunning. It was so picturesque and really reminded me of a James Bond location, this was also helped by the fact that the hotel had a glass cable car from the reception down to the beach as it was built into a cliff. I’ll admit I did now and again have the odd moment of imagining Jaws (the famous Bond villain and not the famous shark of course) was about to bite his way through the iron bars of the cable car whilst we were travelling in it, however for the most part it was very relaxing and great for Freddie who got to look out at the view everyday as we headed to the pool. Freddie absolutely loved being in the pool, we had him at Water Babies classes when he was very little and I really think it was one of the best decisions we’ve made as he’s so confident in the water now. He was really trying his best to swim on his own which gave me a bit of a heart attack every now then as he pulled away from me shouting “watch mummy!!” I suppose its a sign of things to come and something i’ll have to get used to as he begins to assert his independence…..but i don’t like it… not one bit!!!

 

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Our hotel was situated next to the pretty village of Plaka and opposite the historic island of Spinalonga a one time leper colony and inspiration for the acclaimed novel ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop. Plaka is unbelievably gorgeous and has a number of traditional, pretty little tavernas where we spent most of our evenings. We made friends with one of the restaurant owners and his staff who were all so generous and kind, we often ended up chatting quite late into the night, full to the brim with delicious food and drink. It was such a gorgeous trip and we were really sad to leave, everything had been perfect especially the weather which was beautiful and really hot, as you can imagine I was more than thrilled!

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No sooner had we got back from Crete I was packing my case again for my birthday trip to Paris. As I seem to have spent the whole of 2014 being totally in love with all things french I was unbelievably excited, although a little nervous as it was mine and James’ first trip abroad without Freddie. We caught the Eurostar from St Pancras which was actually a great help for my separation anxiety as I didn’t feel we were quite as far away as we actually were as there was none of the usual rigmarole you get with airports, we literally got off the train at the Gare du Nord and were right in the heart of Paris. James and I had been to Paris twice before with friends and so had already seen a lot of the sights which was great as we got to explore different parts of the city this time.

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It was such a romantic trip, we wandered through the streets of St Germain, peering in the windows of the art galleries and book shops, drank wine and people watched whilst sitting outside the many cafes and walked along Paris’ most fashionable avenues in the rain (yes I did say in the rain) including the legendary Rue Cambon which famously houses the atelier and apartment of the late Gabrielle ‘coco’ Chanel’. Much to James’ amusement I actually got quite emotional as I stood on that street looking at the huge building before me, each window adorned with a canopy emblazoned with the famous CC design. When I was in my early 20’s I used to work for Chanel on the make up counters and I vividly remember my first training session in London. We were given the whole history of the company and of Gabrielle and straight away I fell in love with her story. The idea of an impoverished young girl who was taught to sew by the nuns that raised her taking both Paris and the world by storm and eventually leaving both a brand and legacy that to this day is so iconic filled me with real emotion. One of my all time favourite films is ‘Coco before Chanel’ with Audrey Tatou which depicts Gabrielle’s early life, her rise to fame and her heartbreak at loosing her true love Boy Capel. One of the last scenes in the film shows her on the famous stairway of mirrors inside the design studio on the rue cambon as she’s about to showcase one of her collections and so as I stood on the same street looking at the same building decades later I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed, James did however think I was completely ridiculous considering that of all the incredible historical buildings surrounding me, Notre Dame, The Arc de Triomphe, The Palais Royale the one that moved me the most happened to be one that housed clothes!

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On the night of my actual birthday we booked a dinner cruise on the river Seine which again was so romantic and I did feel a little bit like I was in a Richard Curtis film, especially when we passed the Eiffel Tower and almost on cue it lit up from top to bottom with twinkly lights (one of my favourite things, you could literally put fairy lights around a dustbin and I’d think it was the prettiest things I’d ever seen!) for a 2 min light show. We ate the most gorgeous dinner, drank champagne and I was surprised with a lovely birthday cake and a slow dance with my husband at the end of the night, which was a very big deal as James NEVER dances! He says I always get too carried away pretending I’m on the strictly dance floor whilst he’s swaying like he’s at the school disco, and so despite my giddyness at being in my own Parisian rom com on this occasion I tried really hard to just do the 15 year olds last dance at at a disco sway and to my delight we got through a whole song and it was beautiful and really special.

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On the second night of our stay we decided to book a last minute trip to one of the famous Paris review shows. We very luckily managed to get 2 tickets for the Mugler Follies which was created by fashion designer Thierry Mugler who had also previously been involved with the creative design of one of Beyonce’s tours and with the hugely famous Cirque de Soliel. We really had no idea what to expect but I can tell you the show was one of the most amazing pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen. The combination of song, dance, fashion, acrobatics, comedy and Parisian sensuality was incredible. It was definitely an experience and a show I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to watch a good old fashioned Parisian cabaret but without the predictability of can can dancers, the equivalent in the Mugler Follies were PVC clad, bug eyed dancers aptly named the muglerettes who I personally felt were a much more interesting and inspired troupe.

We really did have the most amazing, wonderful time and it was definitely one of my most favourite ever birthdays, I could’ve quite easily stayed another day however I had to get back to England to start rehearsals for a new show I’m taking part in with Matthew Wolfenden. I suppose we will just have to go back another time to continue our little French adventure….some time in the near future I hope!

I literally left Paris at 8pm on the Sun morn of our trip and by 2pm was in a rehearsal studio in Leeds beginning rehearsals for the secret new show I mentioned. Talk about back to work with a bang, I was definitely a little deflated, however a couple of hours in and I was raring to go again. I can’t really say much more about the project at the moment, but I’m sure details will begin to emerge over the next few weeks. What I can say is that I’m so excited to be involved with it and that it’s perhaps one of the cleverest and most nerve wracking things I’ve done, although great fun. Keep your eyes peeled for more details soon.

Well I’m definitely back into the swing of things at work now which is brilliant after having a lovely relaxing summer. I’m involved in a very big storyline in the new year which we begin filming very soon, I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it. My producer Kate Oates recently said in an interview that “it would raise debate” and I completely agree. I’m extremely proud to be part of Emmerdale as I feel we push boundaries and produce fantastic drama and I’m excited to begin playing my part in that over the coming months.

Anyway as always I’ve waffled on and on and so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Speak again soon
Love Natalie,

P.S: Freddie was furious with his Halloween costume!!

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08 October
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Awards ceremonies, fashion shows and the “Bare Necessities”.

Hello Everyone!

Well what a super busy month I’ve had! I feel like I’ve been 100 miles an hour after my leisurely summer. I’ve had weddings, baby showers, awards ceremonies, design meetings, business meetings and fashion shows to attend, not to mention filming on top of that as well as partaking in endless living room performances of The Jungle Books’ “Bare Necessities” and “I wanna be like you”. Freddie is absolutely obsessed with the Disney classic. Nevertheless I’ve loved every minute of it and it’s also been really nice to get back into the swing of work things.

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One of the most lovely events of the past month was The Inside Soap awards, mainly because Emmerdale picked up 3 awards, which was absolutely brilliant as more often than not we seem to get overlooked in favour of our Corrie cousins and Eastenders. However on this occasion the accolades of funniest female, best newcomer and best young actor went to the gorgeous Laura Norton, Micheal Parr and ridiculously talented Amelia Flanagan. We were all so proud! I love the Inside Soap awards as it’s much less formal than the other ceremonies and feels much more like a celebratory party for everyone involved in the land of soaps or ‘serial drama’ if we are to be given our official name which kind of makes me think of when opal fruits became starburst, somehow opal fruits sticks more in my mind. Anyway it was a fabulous night non the less, especially as it was a female majority group, no disrespect to the men in our cast of course, it was just nice to get to spend some time with the ladies. We all had a giggle and a natter on the train on the way down which continued whilst we were having our hair and make up done, it was lovely. It was also so nice to catch up with lots of people at the awards. I spent quite a lot of time chatting to my good friend and Wicked cast mate (not forgetting the nations ‘sexiest male’) Danny Mac and his lovely girlfriend Carly Stenson which was great as it’s been a while since we last saw each other. I also got to see the gorgeous Sheree Murphy who is perhaps the most glamorous yummy mummy I know and have a bit of a natter with her.

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I wore a new design from our label Enais Chapman to attend the awards, the Aztec dress, which I think has turned into one of my favourites as it’s quite a statement piece due to the metallic fabric and plunging neckline. However it’s also very comfortable and has built in pockets which not only give it a modern feel but are also extremely practical as you can keep your make up essentials in there and hence not have to root around your handbag in the dark looking for your lip liner which can end up being your eyeliner which can further be applied to your mouth and result in you looking like Morticia Adams…not that that has ever happened to me you understand. Anyway getting back on track I was really pleased with the response the dress received and am really looking forward to working on the new pieces from our label.

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Speaking of fashion, myself and a few of the other Emmerdale cast members attended the Harvey Nichols Autumn/Winter fashion show in Leeds. It was a great night and really insightful as Kate and I are currently designing for next years collection. I really love seeing the evolution of fashion and it was interesting to see that there were a lot of designers and stylists pairing their outfits with flat shoes for this season. Now as an absolute lover of a classic stiletto heel I think this maybe one trend that I may have to miss out on as other than pretty ballet pumps in the summer or my trusty work uggs I don’t think I can bring myself to wear a flat shoe for a civilised occasion, even though I really have tried. I purchased some extremely comfy biker boots earlier this month but have found that they have only ventured out of the wardrobe twice as I can’t seem to tear myself away from a good old fashioned heeled boot. Nevertheless in the name of fashion I will keep trying.

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I really loved the evening wear collection of the show and it was great to see some extremely classic cuts making their way down the runway. Both Kate and I obviously find a lot of inspiration in vintage glamour and so it was fabulous to see pieces with a real nostalgic feel to them. Again it was a really gorgeous evening spent with the Emmerdale gang that really got the inspirational juices flowing.

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As well as lots of work things I’ve had a few family/friend events this month including a stunning wedding in Yorkshire and my best friends baby shower in London. Both occasions were absolutely fantastic and it was so lovely to spend time with old friends and family. The baby shower was particularly special as it was the first time in about 2 years that all of my best friends were in one place at one time. There are 7 of us altogether who are all actor/singer/dancer/businesswomen types that travel around for work so you can imagine that trying to coordinate us all takes some doing, nevertheless it was a feat accomplished by my best friend Lauren’s sister Amy who miraculously managed to orchestrate such a gathering. It really was so much fun, I absolutely laughed my head off for about 4 hours straight! Lauren likes things that are a little bit off the wall and so we had a Halloween themed baby shower complete with cobwebs, spider cupcakes and bobbing for apples.

As always these ladies manage to bring out the game girl in me and so regardless of the fact I had arrived in black heeled boots and a very smart monochrome shirt dress with a skinny leather waist belt and my new sleek long bob I.e my best French girl style, I still found myself with my head dunked in a bucket of water trying my best to catch an apple between my teeth, soaked to the skin and looking more like a drowned rat by the end of the evening. Nevertheless I had a wonderful time and it filled me with so much happiness to be around the girls as we have so much love for each other. As some of you may know if you’ve read these blogs before I’ve been friends with the girls for pretty much 20 years and it’s a friendship we are extremely proud and protective of. Lauren’s baby is due in Nov and her and her husband have decided not to find out what she’s having and so we are all super excited to see wether we will be adding another little boy or girl to our mad gang. There’s been lots of baby news for me over the last few months as along with welcoming my gorgeous niece Belle in the summer, both my cousins and my sister are also expecting and I have to say it has definitely made me feel quite broody, particularly as we’ve recently changed Freddie’s cot into his big boy bed and so I feel like my little baby is suddenly very grown up. It’s true what they say, they really aren’t babies for long!

Anyway I’m going to say goodbye for now. I’m heading off to Greece with my family in the coming weeks which I’m extremely excited about…. you know me and the warm weather!! I’ll be sure to send you a postcard.

Speak Soon,

Love NatalieXx

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