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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

09 September
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Camping with Freddie and my new hairstyle

Hello Everyone!!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the last few weeks of the summer. I for one have definitely got that back to school feeling. I quite enjoy it though as the start of September brings summer to a close whilst opening the door to autumn, which I have to say I love, as the leaves start to fall from the trees and we have to snuggle up a little bit more. If I’m honest though, it’s mainly because my birthday is in October! Rounding off the summer was quite hectic for me as I took Freddie on the camping trip I mentioned in my last blog, visited Ant and Dec on their Takeaway tour twice, filmed at Emmerdale and finally, had a girls weekend in Manchester. I’m definitely ready to get my head down and back into a routine.

Even though I was slightly nervous as Freddie’s temper tantrums have become so erratic and intense, the camping trip was fantastic and he was so well behaved. He was once again my little angel child, which definitely says something about the great outdoors. My favourite moment was waking up with him after our first night and him looking at me in amazement and saying “Mummy we slept in the tent!…wow”. He loved every minute of it. He was running around and eating breakfast outside the tent with the sun shining down (thankfully the weather gods were kind and we had mostly sunshine). We stayed at a lovely little campsite just outside Whitby and so I was able to take him to the beach as well. I wanted go show him that you can have a really fun and adventurous holiday without the luxuries of a hotel! It was brilliant and something we will definitely be doing again although I think we might have to wait until next year now as you know me and the weather.

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Fresh from our camping trip I was very kindly asked to present an award with Matthew Wolfenden on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Tour in both Leeds and Sheffield. We had such a good time! I have nothing but admiration for Ant and Dec as, despite being national treasures and excellent at their job, they are thoroughly nice guys who always make you feel welcome. The tour is brilliant and so funny, one of my favourite bits was watching Ant and Dec perform ‘Riverdance’. They were brilliant and so serious I couldn’t help laughing my head off. As much as I love Riverdance and am in complete awe of the dancers, it does always tickle me how fast they swing their legs back and forth and so you can imagine my eyes were streaming watching Ant and Dec do the same. We had a really great night on both occasions and the crowds were fabulous.

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I spent this weekend in Manchester with some of my girlfriends which was so nice. It was my first girls weekend away in nearly three years, the last being my best friend Donna’s hen do. My very close girlfriends and I, who I often speak of in these blogs, used to make a habit of trying to do a SATC style trip at least once or twice a year, but since having Freddie I’ve not really had the opportunity, and quite a few of the other girls also have young children now too. It was lovely to be invited to my friend Judy’s 30th birthday weekend as well. It was such a luxury. Waking up after 8am, having lunch with afternoon drinks, taking a trip to the spa followed by gorgeous dinners out, it was bliss and guilt free as the trip had been planned for quite sometime. Also it was lovely for Freddie to spend the weekend with his daddy as I had taken him camping with my mum and friends as James was at the rugby. It was funny really as I felt a bit like the old me in Manchester. I was saying to one of the other girls on the trip who had older children that when you first have a child you can feel like you’ve lost yourself a little bit. You don’t really have time for yourself anymore, whether that’s going to the gym, going shopping or even something as simple as having a bath, as you’re too busy either looking after your child or perhaps, like me, working as well and so you want to spend all of your spare time with your family. Your sense of style changes too as you can’t run around after a toddler in 5 inch heels, even though we all want to because we’ve seen Victoria Beckham do it….four times (I’m sure behind closed doors she has a track suit and trainers just like the rest of us) and so you look to other, more practical, ways of being fashionable. I know that I definitely tried to cling on to my 30 year old self with my skyscraper heels and little dresses but as Freddie’s got older, I’ve definitely had to adapt and I have to say I do actually quite like it. It’s quite refreshing to be a bit more relaxed. Nevertheless, during our trip to Manchester I did wear my 5 inch heels with a super tight LBD as the only person I was running after was the birthday girl, from the hotel to the restaurant to the bar and so on. It was so much fun and it’s quite nice to play at being Carrie Bradshaw again from time to time.

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Speaking of changing styles, I’ve recently had my hair cut from very long to shoulder length. It’s quite a change for me and was a bit of a shock at first, so much so that I’ll admit I did nearly cry when the hairdresser first took the scissors to it, but by the time she’d dried it it was exactly what I wanted. Although I’ve been a fan of the long bob for sometime now, the main reason I did it was because when I first had Freddie I lost an awful lot of hair. It terrified me as each day more and more seemed to fall out and I thought it was never going to stop. I’d always felt able to hide behind my hair, as even if I’d been feeling a bit rubbish it had always been in relatively good condition and looked nice, so I did feel a bit exposed losing so much at once. However, then I gave myself a good talking to as there are many people who lose all of their hair through illness or indeed after pregnancy, and so I count myself very lucky to still have mine. Nevertheless, I had become frustrated recently as the underneath that had fallen out was shoulder length whilst the top was past my chest, and so after speaking with the Emmerdale make up supervisor we decided that now was the time to get it chopped. I’m really happy with it, and again it’s great because I can style it quite quickly which really helps when I’m running around after Freddie.

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Anyway I will speak to you all again very soon, but if you’re in on Saturday night, as I probably will be as I’m already obsessed with this years X Factor (mainly Cheryl and Mel’s outfit choices) then you can catch the episode of Through The Keyhole I filmed a little while ago straight after it. It was so much fun, I can’t wait to see it.

Speak soon,

Love Natalie Xx

P.S I’m super excited about the news of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy! A huge congratulations to them all. Xx

15 August
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Freddie’s Terrible Twos, a birthday party and an Emmerdale cricket match

Hello everyone,
I hope you’re all well and as always thank you so much for reading my blog. I know I seem to say this every post but yet again it’s been a jam packed couple of weeks.

Firstly it finally happened, my little baby became a big boy and turned 2…..and don’t I know it. I can categorically say that the terrible twos are definitely not a myth. Most of the time my gorgeous boy Freddie is an absolute angel, full of character and personality, but the minute he doesn’t get his own way at the moment it’s as if he’s possessed by another being. There’s screaming, shouting, flinging himself about and lots of crying with very little reasoning to be had. It is hard work. How can you reason with someone who can’t quite communicate what and why they want/don’t want to do something? Well it requires a lot of patience and understanding which believe me is so much easier said than done when you are struggling with a 2-year-old who has no fear of chucking himself backwards and whose growing arms and legs pack a real punch when being flung around in an outburst of rage. Such was the case on the day of Freddie’s birthday party.

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I was so excited this year as I felt really organised and much more like super mum than the previous year. I’d arranged soft play, face painting, a mascot visit and a proper children’s party tea at a lovely play gym near our house and so was feeling quite confident and I suppose a little bit smug with myself. That was until we had to put Freddie into his car seat to get there. Not quite at the age of understanding that a birthday party is generally a nice event that is solely focused on spoiling and entertaining the birthday boy or girl, he threw himself on the floor and began crying hysterically whilst shouting “No….I don’t like car seat”. For the next 15 minutes we had all on trying to get him in the car, all the while I was internally panicking as I knew our guests would now be arriving at the party. When we finally got there all the other children had begun playing in the play gym and having their faces painted, birthday boy however was still screaming his head off and so I felt hot, flustered and like the worst mother in the world. 2 party rings and a packet of crisps later he was absolutely fine and my angel child had returned and so the party continued.

The children played and had their party tea and then they all sang happy birthday to Freddie which I found really emotional as opposed to last year when he didn’t really know what was going on. He really seemed to enjoy his little moment and absolutely loved his Thomas the Tank Engine cake, it was also so cute watching him trying to blow out his candles, I’ll admit there may have been a little mummy magic in helping them go out as I blew super quickly at the side of him. Nevertheless he was thrilled, I therefore couldn’t wait for my next surprise for him. After spending all summer obsessively watching Peppa Pig I thought I’d get him a mascot visit from Peppa herself and so I excitedly said to Freddie he had another party guest and Peppa was revealed. His face however dropped and went red and then the tears began again as Peppa walked towards him. He cried “Mummy no like Peppa Pig”. He was obviously overwhelmed and a bit scared of the giant version of Peppa that stood before him and so I felt like the worst mother….again. Thankfully the other kids loved having their picture taken with Peppa and slowly but surely Freddie came around enough to say hello before nervously running off again. At the end of the day and feeling a little bedraggled I asked him if he’d enjoyed his party and he said yes and then I asked what his favourite bit was and he said……”Peppa Pig Mummy!” Hurray….last minute goal for mummy!

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As an extra little treat during the week of Freddie’s birthday we went to see the touring version of Shrek with some of the other Emmerdale cast members. Obviously with Freddie being so young we were a bit nervous taking him as we weren’t sure how he was going to react to sitting still and quiet through a musical extravaganza and if we were going to have to make a speedy exit 10 minutes in. However to our delight he was completely mesmerised throughout the whole thing. He absolutely loved it and even proclaimed that he’d seen a dragon as we were leaving the theatre at the end. It was a fantastic show. James and I had previously seen it in the West End but I think I laughed even more on second viewing. It’s so well produced, the acting, singing, set design and score are all brilliant and I would highly recommend it to anyone but especially those with children looking for something to see at the theatre as it’s so much fun.

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The following weekend the Emmerdale cricket team were due to play a match at Crakehall in North Yorkshire in aid of the Fraja Elle appeal and so Chris Chittell (Emmerdale’s Eric Pollard) suggested that we camp at a tiny little campsite next door to the village. Although some of the others were a little hesitant, I for one was really up for it. I’d spent what felt like my whole childhood camping and the idea of it normally provoked memories of being freezing cold, listening to my parents arguing over how to put the tent up and how to read a map and so in my adult years I’d rebelled and gone for 5 star luxury holidays. However since having Freddie I now look at my own childhood holidays with great fondness and remember laughing a lot whilst getting soaked and running for cover with my mum or inventing new games to pass the time because we daren’t step outside our tent, it felt like now was the perfect time to revisit the camping holiday. As it was only one night and James and I were both due to be playing cricket, we decided to leave Freddie at home, plus I was very aware that the putting up of a tent between couples can sometimes result in the threat of divorce. It was such a great little trip and I was incredibly proud of James and I as despite a few niggly little things “the tent peg does not go that way!” we did really well.

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Chris Bisson who plays Jai Sharma also came along with his super gorgeous girlfriend Rowena which was fantastic as they also have a little boy called Harry who is a couple of months younger than Freddie and we try meet up outside of work when can, however this trip was adults only.

Chris Chittell set up a BBQ on the eve and cooked the most gorgeous ribs, sausages, burgers and steaks. There was music, wine and lots of chatting under the stars whilst huddled under blankets. It was brilliant!! Unfortunately hurricane Bertha decided to make an appearance around 10am the next day and we had to very quickly decamp as the rain started to fall which made me giggle a bit as that’s generally how a camping holiday ends anyway. Sadly we didn’t get to play the match as the rain got so heavy which was such a shame for the charity, although lots of people still braved the elements and hung around anyway buying cupcakes and tea which I thought was really lovely. Hopefully we will be back at Crakehall next year bigger and better and I’ll probably have an 8 man tent!!

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I’ll also be camping with my family over the August bank holiday next weekend and so I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on. A tent AND a two year old…wish me luck.

Lots of Love

Natalie xxx

Ps if you’d like more details about the Fraja Ellie appeal please visit. https://m.facebook.com/FrajaEllieAppeal?refsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fuk.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch&_rdr

Xxx

25 July
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My lovely summer: Work trips, filming and family time!

Hello Everyone!!

I hope you’re all enjoying this amazing weather we are having!

What a gorgeous couple of weeks I’ve had!! I feel like for the first time in a very long time I’ve achieved the famous but almost unattainable work/life balance. A few work trips to London combined with a spot of filming and lots of family time has equalled the most lovely summer.

First and foremost when we last spoke I was heading off to see Keith Lemon as I was due to film an upcoming episode of ITV’s Through the Keyhole, which I did and absolutely loved!! I was always a fan of the original series as I’m a bit of a nosey parker, but I have to say I think the new version is even better as it combines an insight into people’s homes with lots more laughs. If you’re a fan of ITV’s Celebrity Juice then I’m sure you’re already well aware of Keith’s humour and hosting skills and so I was indeed subjected to much mickey taking and innuendo, although I have to say Keith was actually pretty tame, almost gentlemanly on this occasion compared to Jimmy Carr, my fellow panelist along with the lovely Dave Berry, I could hardly breathe for laughing at some of the jokes he aimed me, in fact between keith and all the guests involved I laughed so much my eyes hardly stopped watering throughout the whole 2 1/2 hour shoot. As with all of these things unfortunately I can’t tell you which celebrities were brave enough to let Keith wander freely around their homes but I can say its definitely worth tuning into when it does air mid August, in fact it’s almost educational viewing thanks to one of the fantastic guests. I for one can’t wait to see it!!

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I decided to wear a customised version a little red dress from my own collection for filming Through the Keyhole, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to wear my own designs as it means I always feel comfortable, which is such a big thing when your being filmed or photographed.

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So that was a bit of work and now onto a bit of life. Whilst sitting in the Emmerdale Village green room a couple of weeks ago, I randomly decided to book a log cabin in the Lake District for the following weekend. I called my best friend Donna to see if her and her husband and their one year old daughter Emily were free to join us and as luck would have it, they were. It turned out to be such a fantastic weekend and our first (hopefully of many) holidays as families. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been best friends with Donna since we were at school and so it was really special for both of us to be living out one of the little daydreams we used to have whilst sitting in registration about what we’d do when we grew up (I use that term very loosely). We went for long walks with the kids, had bbqs, went on a boat on lake Windermere and sat up until the early hours having wine and chats. It was lovely! I think one of the best things was that we had very little phone service and so I personally felt really relaxed as my phone is normally attached to my hand ready for me to receive emails, texts and phone calls and that’s before we even get to the social media side of things. Prior to our little break I’d become a little bit addicted to twitter and Instagram and found myself checking it constantly, and so loosing the ability to access both apps was actually quite freeing and something I’m trying to keep up to, albeit the said nosey parker in me can’t help but sometimes have a sneaky peak, mainly to see what Kim Kardashians been upto this week! Ah we all have our guilty pleasures.

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Freddie loved his little trip, and whilst we were there he decided to what has now become the norm, march up and down the lodge decking singing the Grand Old Duke of York as loudly as he possibly could. I think he believed he was defending us from the lions and tigers and bears that were obviously hiding in the woods!

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After our lovely little break I headed back to London to do some pick up filming for the episode of Tricked I did with Matthew Wolfenden and to attend the ITV summer party, which was so much fun. It was a beautifully warm night which was fantastic as the event was held outside and it was a great opportunity to catch up with lots of people you meet throughout the year but don’t necessarily get to socialise with. For instance I met the super gorgeous Claire Richards at another event recently and so it was lovely to spend some time with her, especially as we both have young children and so we had lots of mummy talk. Also this time last year we were right in the middle of filming Your Face Sounds Familiar, so it was really nice to see both Matt Johnson and Paddy Mcguiness at the party as we reminisced about the previous year and how much fun we’d had working on the show. I can’t believe its a year ago!! Time goes so fast these days. All in all it was a really fun evening with gorgeous food, drinks and company.

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Speaking of time I can’t believe Prince George celebrated his 1st birthday this week! In my mind he was still only a few months old. I feel the same about Freddie as he will be 2 next week. I can’t believe my little baby is nearly 2 already. I’m currently making arrangements for his party, which I’m really looking forward to as I’m hoping my children’s party skills have vastly improved since last year, where I basically ran around like a headless chicken trying to make up for the fact that I’d catered really well for the adults but terribly for the children (how was I to know that children under three don’t like pepperoni pizza, it HAS to be margherita!) Anyway as always ill let you know how I get on.

Speak Soon

Love Natalie

07 July
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Ascot, Emmerdale cricket, BBQs, fittings and Le Tour!!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for reading my blog. It’s so lovely to hear your thoughts.

What a super busy couple of weeks!! Ascot, Emmerdale cricket, BBQs, fittings and Le Tour!!

Our trip to Ascot this year was absolutely fantastic! We always have a great time but this year was just brilliant as the sun was shining brightly and to top it off I had a winner in each race! I absolutely loved my outfit, the dress was a new design from our Enais Chapman label. I had some amazing comments from people and was interviewed by Martha Ward (Stylist and contributing editor for Vogue) on Ascot TV about it, who said I was “one of the best dressed of the whole week”. Needless to say I was absolutely thrilled as Kate and I had designed it as part of a new line we are developing and so I felt very proud.

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Apart from its legendary glamour and style one of the other reasons I love Royal Ascot is that members of the Royal family attend the meeting throughout the week. Now anyone that knows me will tell you I’m a huge fan of our monarchy and in particular The Queen and so you can imagine how excited I was to see her look DIRECTLY at me as she made her way to the Royal box, only for Prince Philip to do exactly the same.

And just to show you I’m not making it up I have photographic evidence. Now yes I appreciate from my pictures it could be perhaps argued that although she is definitely looking in my direction, her gaze may not be solely upon me, however until the day I actually get to meet her properly I will continue to insist that she is indeed looking DIRECTLY at me. It turned out to be an extremely lucky day for me as I also managed to have a winner in every race! This may sound quite funny but I always bet by my grandmas rules. She is of Irish Liverpudlian descent and it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about horse racing, so much so that by the end of the day our other friends were asking me who I was backing as I kept winning. It’s a very simple method…..choose the Irish jockey with a blue jersey! Well it definitely always works for me.

 

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Next stop for me was the Emmerdale charity cricket match in Northwich in aid of St Luke’s hospice, The Joshua Tree and Halton Haven hospice. It was an absolutely fantastic day and again topped off by the fact the sun was shining. There’s obviously a running theme here, the quality of my days out seem to be determined by the appearance of the sun! Now normally I would say that I’m absolutely dreadful at cricket and am probably more of a joke addition as apposed to an actual valued member of the team, however on this occasion I didn’t do half bad. Ok my bowling was abysmal but I’d say my fielding (or catch, as I frequently refer to it) has definitely got better and as for my batting, well I even surprised myself. I managed to hit the ball a number of times and even scored quite a few runs, eventually retiring myself!! Now that is a first! I suppose it helped that I was playing opposite my husband and so the (very) competitive edge came out in me as I wasn’t about to let him mock me all the way home for playing as terrible as I normally do. In fact I got quite serious and even ended up wearing the full kit, of pads, helmet and gloves, which made me look a bit scary. It was lovely to have a day out with other members of the cast away from work. Chris Chittell, Bhasker Patel, Matthew Wolfenden and Joe-Warren Plant who plays my on screen son Jacob were also in attendance and so it made for a fun filled day. The crowd in Northwich were so lovely and supportive and so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for making it so wonderful day which raised over £5000 for the charities.

 

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Obviously this weekend Yorkshire was in the spotlight as we hosted the Tour de France, Grand Depart. What a weekend it was! The atmosphere in my home county was just amazing and I felt incredibly proud to be a Yorkshire girl. The tour started on the Harewood estate which also houses the Emmerdale village and then went on to Otley and Ilkley which are just on my doorstep, before heading off to Harrogate and York. I have to say even after 8 years as a cheerleader I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much lycra in my life. Cycling fever had completely taken over, fans, media, cyclists and members of the Royal family had all descended on Yorkshire.

 

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I know I’m biased but I think that the coverage of the race really showed how amazingly beautiful our county is AND yes the sun was even shining again as if to show us off in all our full glory! Nicola Wheeler (Nicola King in Emmerdale) was quite heavily involved with the lead up, taking part in the ITV Corrie to Emmerdale bike ride and attending the pre event dinner. We designed Nicolas outfit and I took all of her fittings on my own, which I was quite proud of as obviously I’m still learning about that side of the design process. Thankfully she was really happy with the dress and so consequently I was too….phew!!

 

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Anyways Its going to be a super busy week with a trip to the Lake District and filming for Through The Keyhole with Keith Lemon….eek!! I’m sure that will be fun and games. I’ll make sure to tell you all about it, next time.

Bye for now,

Love Natalie Xx

20 June
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I had the family holiday I’d always imagined…

Hello Everyone!!

 Hope you’re all well and enjoying the sunshine!!

Well following on from last week I managed the 7 hour flight to Dubai unscathed, I only wish I’d’ve been as chilled out as my son, who totally put me to shame as he lay in his PJs watching films before casually falling asleep, whilst I routinely sat with my hands gripped on the arm rests awaiting the slightest bump and so for me it was a VERY long flight. Oh to have no fear!!

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It was so hot this year and so I was very grateful that Freddie took swimming classes last year as thankfully he spent most of his time in the pool with us splashing about and marching up and down the shallow end singing ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ at the top of his voice. Consequently I’m also very thankful for the invention of headphones as most of the other holidaymakers were oblivious to his very loud performances which varied between him singing lovely little songs and screeching like a banshee when he didn’t get his own way.

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We really had the most incredible time and there were moments when I felt a bit overwhelmed as I was having the family holiday I’d always imagined we’d have when James and I first got married. It was also really lovely as whilst we were there we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We’d chosen to stay at the same hotel as where we’d honeymooned and so it brought back lots of very happy memories whilst creating new ones with Freddie.

He really came into his own whilst there, I felt like he turned into a proper little boy as I watched him chatting to people and playing games with James in the pool, in particular ‘let’s pretend to be crocodiles and get mummy’. I loved it!! Listening to his laughs and squeals as they got closer to me was so wonderful as I’m away at work so much I don’t get to hear them so often.

We also paid a visit to the Dubai Mall which was amazing as it hosts the largest indoor Aquarium. Freddie’s face was such a picture when he saw all the amazing creatures swimming around. All in all we had a really fabulous time, in fact I was quite sad when we came home. Oh well I’ll just have to book again for next year!
So no sooner had I unpacked my case from Dubai I had to pack again for a little trip to London with the Emmerdale gang as we were nominated for Best Soap at the Freesat Awards. Even though sadly we didn’t pick up the prize (that went to our Corrie cousins) it was a really fun night. As I’d been away it was lovely to catch up with people and see what everyone had been up to. Most people had taken part in a huge charity event in Aberdeen which takes place every year. This year was particularly successful as the Emmerdale team helped to raise over £100,000 pounds for the Funding Neuro charity. http://fundingneuro.com
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I’m really proud to be part of Emmerdale as I feel as a collective we try so hard to raise funding and awareness for so many different charities. We have a cycling time, a running team, a charity band, a football, cricket and netball team, everyone tries to get involved in whatever way they can.
I’m heading off to Royal Ascot this weekend, which I’m so excited about! I love having a little bet on the horses and Ive been quite inspired by my Ascot themed Hello shoot for my outfit choice. I normally choose monochrome but I’ve gone for quite a striking colour this year. No doubt I’ll post some pictures in next weeks blog and let you know if I had any big wins. Fingers Crossed!!
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Bye for now!
Love Natalie Xx
09 June
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Fun on BGT and my super glamorous HELLO! shoot

Hello Everyone!!

As always thank you so much for reading my blog and for leaving your comments.

It’s been a manic couple of weeks with a trip to Britain’s Got Talent, filming Emmerdale and a super glamorous HELLO! shoot, and that’s at the same time as trying to pack up my family for our holiday to Dubai!!

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Britain’s Got Talent was so much fun and I am so pleased that my favourites Collabro were the winners of the whole competition. I’ve championed them from the start as I thought the were all individually very talented but as a collective they were amazing!! Their vocals were beautiful and complemented each other wonderfully and I felt they were different to anyone else on the market as they were a musical theatre harmony group as opposed to opera or swing which we’ve already seen before. I think my opinion was also helped by the fact they chose songs from one of my favourite musicals ‘Les Miserables’. I went to watch the last semi-final with my lovely friend Nikki as I was appearing on Britain’s Got More Talent alongside the super gorgeous and glamorous Laura Whitmore and Jason Gardiner. It was a really fun show which saw me not only giving my opinions on the acts of the night but also dancing away to the Klaxons and playing ‘Give us a clue’ with its original host and legend Lionel Blair! I absolutely loved it and I think Stephen Mulhern was even more brilliant than normal, this years slightly different format really suited him. All in all Nikki and I had a brilliant night which ended with super late night food in soho and a rickshaw back to our hotel! Only the best for us!

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Last week I flew to London to do a gorgeous ‘what to wear for Ascot’ shoot for HELLO! I’ll actually be attending the meeting on the 21st of June so it was fantastic to get some tips and advice as the rules for the dress code can be really strict. It was a fabulous day albeit absolutely freezing! None of us could believe it. There we were shooting beautiful summer clothes and it felt about 2 degrees. Nevertheless it was still a really fun day and definitely one of the most glamorous shoots I’ve ever done. The team on the shoot were so lovely and really helped me feel at ease as obviously I’m not a model even though I do really enjoy dressing up. I loved how daring the stylists choices were as it made me feel even more distanced from myself, I felt like I was a 1950′s Parisian socialite in some of the outfits! I loved it! Diana, the photographer really helped me to get into character too as she has the most gorgeous Venezuelan accent that made me feel a million miles away from London and she was also really helpful at giving me lots of direction so I could get into character otherwise it’s very easy for me to become really self conscious as obviously I’m an actress and not a model. I can’t wait to see the final pictures, fingers crossed they look as glamorous as I felt doing them.

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After the Ascot shoot I hopped back on a flight to Leeds, which was actually quite a big deal for me as I absolutely hate flying and yet there I was on a 40 minute flight home all by myself!! I’ve found the best thing for me is to actually get a window seat so that I can see exactly what’s going on outside and almost convince myself that I’m flying the plane in a kind of Krypton Factor way, otherwise I get freaked out quite easily, the slightest bump has my heart beating ten to the dozen. The flight was also good practice for the 7 hour flight to Dubai I was about to embark on the following day. Eeeek!!!

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Anyway I can tell you all about that next week as I’ve probably waffled on as always, so I’ll say goodbye for now and speak very soon.

Lots of love

NatalieXx

27 May
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Seeing my dresses on the British Soap Awards red carpet was amazing!

Hello everyone!!

Thank you so much for reading my blog. It’s really lovely to hear your thoughts so please feel free to leave your comments.

What a weekend!!! After months of planning and preparation the day of the British Soap Awards finally arrived and more importantly for us, we launched our ‘Enais Chapman’ online boutique. I was so nervous I could hardly breathe.

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Although it was quite a stressful weekend it was also so much fun. I loved being with the Emmerdale gang. There’s only a few occasions throughout the year where a lot of us can get together as our work schedules are so hectic, people generally need to spend their free time with their families. However this weekend the majority of the cast and crew came out to play and despite only picking up one award at the ceremony, albeit a fantastic award (we won Most Spectacular Scene) everybody really seemed to let their hair down. I think what’s really lovely about our cast is that we are incredibly supportive of the other soaps as we know how tough it can be working on what at times can feel like a treadmill of never-ending episodes and so we were really pleased for Corrie and particularly Julie Hesmondlaugh and David Neilsen (Hayley and Roy) on picking up so many awards for their excellent portrayal of the ‘Hayley’s cancer storyline’. I personally was also absolutely thrilled for Hollyoaks and their Best Soap award as like us they tend to be the underdog and so it was a wonderful achievement for all involved.

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The weekend was also a huge achievement for all of the Enais Chapman team as four of our dresses were showcased on the red carpet and our website and online boutique were officially opened. As I said I have been so nervous these past few weeks as obviously we are opening ourselves up to criticism and opinion however we have received some really positive feedback about the collection which is amazing. Our Harlow gown (the dress I wore on the evening) has even made it onto several of the best dressed lists which is absolutely amazing!! It was such an wonderful feeling seeing the other girls in their dresses too. To watch them evolve from sketch to toile to production and then finally gracing the red carpet was incredible. Laura Norton who plays Kerry Wyatt opted for a bespoke apple green creation which we aptly named the Laura gown and Roxy Shahidi wore our Cate gown which will be available later in the year and Michelle Hardwick wore our Bergman gown. Anyway it’s back to business for us now as alongside working on our next made-to-order collection we are also developing the Ready to Wear side of our label which will be available online in the autumn. No doubt we will be buried in sketches and swatches over the next few months, however as always I’ll keep you all posted with how it’s going.

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This week I also revealed my inner minx as I took part in playing an epic trick on my on-screen husband Matthew Wolfenden for ITV2 show ‘Tricked’. If you’ve not seen the show show before it basically sees magician Ben Hanlin play tricks and perform illusions on famous faces. Our trick was incredible and we really got Matthew good. He had absolutely no idea that he was being tricked which I found hilarious as he’s always poking fun at me and telling me how gullible I am. Unfortunately I can’t give away any real details about the trick itself however I can assure it’s one you won’t want to miss when the new series airs in September!!

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Matthew and I with magician Ben Hanlin.

I’m absolutely loving Britain’s Got Talent this year and so I’m incredibly excited to be going to the live finals this Saturday as I’m appearing as a guest on Britain’s Got More Talent. I think BGMT is having it’s best series ever as everyone looks like they are having so much fun although having watched last night’s first live show I’ll admit I’m a little worried about what the lovely Stephen Mulhern has got in store for me as last night it was games galore…oh well I just need to remember I was once Justin Beiber on national TV, I don’t think anything will ever beat that in terms of making a fool of myself. I’ll be sure to fill you in on all of the fun and gates.

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Anyway I’ll say bye for now and speak soon.

Lots of love

Natalie X

P.s. We celebrated my lovely hubby James’ birthday too this weekend. I think Freddie enjoyed the chocolate cake don’t you….look at his mouth!

15 May
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I’m so inspired by the red carpet gowns at Cannes for my own dress line

Hello everyone!!

Thank you so much for reading my blog and for leaving your comments, they’ve been so lovely to read, especially the recent ones about our dress line. They’ve been extremely encouraging, particularly as I’ve been feeling a little frazzled over the last week and so in need of a good energy boost. As my mum would say I’ve definitely been burning the candle at both ends, learning lines, performing with the Emmerdale band, travelling to London, having dress fittings and design meetings and trying to build our business, whilst of course being a wife and mummy. Oh the perils of being a modern day woman! I’m starting to feel really ready for my holiday to Dubai, which thankfully is only a few weeks away. I’ve splurged on a few nice treats for my trip as since I went on honeymoon (a whole 6 years ago) I now have a thing where I can’t go away without a couple of shiny new bits and bobs e.g. make up, handbag, bikinis, beach wear etc AND I have to dress appropriately for the airport and plane, which for most sensible people is comfortably, however for me it’s anything that Joan Collins would deem to be acceptable i.e. heeled shoes, huge sunglasses, smart/casual dress and a little pashmina (in case I get a bit chilly…of course). In my head I’m totally sashaying around like 1950′s Elizabeth Taylor, however in reality I probably look a little bit worse for wear with grubby hand prints all over me, baby wipes hanging out of my pocket and shin and heel bruises from where I’ve walked into Freddie’s pram, still I refuse to give in to dropping my standards of Joan Collinsness and so will persevere with trying to be incredibly glamorous….(I’ll let you know how I get on with it).

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As I said it’s been a manic week or so, with the highlight being seeing Eden Taylor-Draper (Emmerdale‘s Belle Dingle) in our first Enais Chapman gown. It was an incredibly special moment as Eden had chosen us to design her prom dress, which I felt was a real privilege as proms have become extremely popular in the UK over the last 10 years and choosing the right prom dress has become nearly as important as choosing the right wedding dress. I suppose you could say the prom dress is a ‘coming of age dress’ and that’s exactly what it was for Eden. I along with the rest of the country have watched Eden play Belle Dingle for the last decade. She’s grown from being a tiny, cute little girl with a cheeky smile into a beautiful, elegant and truly talented young lady and so to be part of that moment in time when she’s saying goodbye to her schooldays and embarking on the next chapter of her life was truly special. Needless to say we all had a little tear, and I have to say it was the most lovely, rewarding feeling when she said how much she loved the gown and how amazing she felt in it. It was also wonderful to get such a positive response from her parents as designing for a 16-year-old can be a little daunting. Obviously you want to keep the client happy, but at the same time reassure the parents that you’re not going to put them in something more appropriate for the Moulin Rouge. I hope you’ll agree that Eden looked absolutely stunning and we were all very proud of her.

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As the Soap Awards are drawing nearer we’ve also been doing numerous fittings as we are dressing a few girls (including myself) for the event. I love doing fittings as that’s when you see a dress really take shape and work with a person’s body. It’s so important to get the right fit, that extra half inch really does make all the difference and you can always tell the moment the perfect fit happens as suddenly the person who you’re fitting totally changes the way they carry themselves. They become more confident and they stand upright with their spine elongated which looks really elegant. Essentially this is what Kate and I want to capture as we want every woman who wears one of our dresses to feel – strong, confident and elegant. I really can’t wait until we open our online boutique and present our collection to the general public. Only 2 weeks to go!!

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It’s an extremely glamorous time of year as obviously we’ve just had the Met Ball held in New York and now the Cannes Film Festival is under way. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful gowns that will be showcased on the red carpet over the next few days. Kate and I will be watching with an extremely close eye as these events provide us with so much inspiration when designing pieces for our collections. I think my favourite look from last year was Cara Delevigne at the premiere of The Great Gatsby movie. I thought she looked incredible, the jewels, the dress, the make-up were all perfect and really channelled old Hollywood in an extremely modern way. Everything that I like!

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Whilst obviously prepping for the Awards with Kate and overseeing the art direction for our branding, I also travelled to London this week for a couple of meetings regarding the development of the label into next year, which was very exciting. I really enjoy the business aspect of building a company and admire women like Karen Brady and Michelle Mone, who are incredibly strong, intelligent women who built their own hugely successful companies at a young age and are now incredibly influential in the business world. This is definitely my kind of girl power and something that one day I hope to have myself. Speaking of girl power I’m also a huge fan of Victoria Beckham and find her transition from pop star to fully-fledged designer incredibly inspiring. Building a company whilst being a mother to four children is an amazing achievement and so I have huge admiration for her.

Anyway I’m going to stop talking now and say hope you all have a lovely weekend and speak again soon.

Love Natalie Xx

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