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25 March
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The Mum of the Year awards was so inspiring – I can’t wait for you to see it all

These last few weeks have been super busy!!

Firstly myself and a few of the other Emmerdale girls went to the Harvey Nichols Spring/Summer fashion show in Leeds and it was brilliant!! As I’m working on the Enais Chapman line at the moment it was a bit of a school trip as I was able to observe not only the clothes but the production as a whole. The models, set, choreography and music were all fantastic and definitely gave me some food for thought as we are obviously in the very early stages of planning our first showcase.

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However it wasn’t just an evening of learning it was definitely an evening of fun too as me and the girls enjoyed a gorgeous post-show dinner followed by some very lovely and decadent cocktails. I seem to have developed a thing for French martinis at the moment!! In fact I seem to be going through a whole French phase as my favourite saying for everything I like is “Oh it’s very French”!! Needless to say I’m extremely excited to be going to watch YSL, the Yves Saint Laurent movie with Roxy Shahidi next week as firstly it’s all about the world of fashion and secondly it’s in French!!

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This weekend I was thrilled to be invited to the Tesco Mum of the Year awards held at the beautiful Savoy hotel. It was an absolutely wonderful day and I met so many amazing and inspiring women. All of the winners were so deserving and had overcome so much in their lives from beating cancer, campaigning for change within European law, channelling profound grief and selflessly giving to others who need the most help, I felt truly privileged to have spent the day with them. I was also extremely honoured to have been asked to present the Lifetime Achievement Award alongside my cast mate Jason Merrells (Declan Macey) to a wonderful Yorkshire lady. I don’t want to give too much away as the awards will be screened on Channel 5 on Mother’s Day and so you can see for yourself just how special and inspiring this particular lady is. Nevertheless I can say I was absolutely thrilled to be able to give her the award and to have had a lovely chat with her and her husband. She definitely had a few lessons for me!

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The event was absolutely amazing and highly emotional topped off by a stunning performance by third time mum-to-be Sam Bailey. She performed her version of Shania Twain’s From this moment (one of my all-time favourite ballads) and Jennifer Rush’s Power of love. I shed quite a few tears as Sam’s voice is just so powerful and emotive and she gave one of the most incredible vocals I have ever heard. Needless to say the audience were up on their feet for standing ovations after each song!!

We’ve had some really gorgeous weather over the last week or so and so Freddie and I have taken advantage of it and got out in the garden and to the park. I can’t believe how big he’s getting so quickly!! He’s nearly 20 months now but it seems like yesterday that he was a little tiny baby. James was trying to teach him how to play rugby in our garden and I managed to get a picture of him. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at it though as he looked about three!!! Far too grown up for my liking!!

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Anyway I’ll speak to you guys again soon!!

Love Natalie Xx

03 March
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It’s all about the Oscars!!

Last night saw the 86th annual Academy Awards and with Ellen DeGeneres holding the fort it was sure to be an entertaining evening. Pizza delivery, selfies, fancy dress and Pharrell, it seemed like an awful lot of fun and somewhat less formal than previous years. There were some big winners and losers on the night. I was absolutely thrilled that Matthew McConaughey took the prize for best actor for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club as I’ve always been a huge fan of his, but at the same time so disappointed for Leonardo DiCaprio who lost out on the accolade for the fourth time despite being what I believe ‘one of the best actors of his generation’.

Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Actress for a second time for her role in Blue Jasmine and looked absolutely stunning in a nude embellished creation by Armani. It was a huge night for newcomer Lupita Nyong’o who after being beaten at both the Golden Globes and the Baftas by American Hustle star Jennifer Lawrence, took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 12 years a Slave. Former teen heartthrob Jared Leto (anyone over the age of 30 will forever be in love with him after he played the role of Jordan opposite a very young Claire Danes in 90s teen angst series My So Called Life) won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Dallas Buyers Club. The oscar for Best Picture went to British director Steve Mcqueen’s 12 Years a Slave which was also produced by Brad Pitt and depicts the true story of Solomon Northop, but the biggest winner of the evening was Gravity which picked up 7 awards including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron.

I personally feel that the Oscars is traditionally the most glamorous event of the awards season and as I’m launching my own design label this summer with my friend Kate Chapman I couldn’t wait to see what everyone was wearing. I have to say I felt most people played it quite safe on the red carpet last night as there were lots of column dresses, black, navy and nude and very few what I would call show-stopper gowns. I’m so old fashioned, I love to see a huge dress on the Oscars red carpet a la Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior and Givenchy. My personal favourite from last night was Kate Hudson who looked absolutely stunning in a vintage inspired Atelier Versace creation, with its plunging neckline, exquisite beading and soft cape. Kate definitely channeled the old school Hollywood glamour that I’m a huge fan of. Kate clearly gets her style from her mum Goldie Hawn as I thought she too looked fantastic in a classic gold satin gown. My other favourite was Lupita Nyong’o custom made baby blue, pleated Prada dress which showcased her amazing physique.

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Our label ‘Enais Chapman’ has its roots firmly set in the golden age of cinema and combines the elegance of a bygone era with modern femininity. All of our dresses blend traditional techniques and luxury fabrics with classic tailoring. My friend Kate and I are inspired by the red carpet dresses of the 30s, 40s and 50s and have designed all of our dresses with the screen icons of this era in mind. I’m a huge lover of Audrey Hepburn and Joan Crawford and Kate adores Marilyn Monroe and so our dresses combine both sexiness and subtlety. I hope that anyone who wears our dresses will feel super glamorous and like they are walking their own red carpet.

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Kate and I are real perfectionists so it’s a good job we are such good friends as we both have very definite opinions about our designs, however nine times out of ten we completely agree on everything as our inspiration totally comes from the same place. I’m so excited to launch the collection later this year as we’ve worked so hard on all of the designs.

Anyway as always I’ll keep you posted with how everything is going.

Lots of love,

NatalieXx

PS Freddie decided he’d like to join the likes of David Beckham and get a tattoo!! What do u think?

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And I celebrated my sister Leah’s 26th birthday!!! We had a night of fun and French martinis!!!

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17 February
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I can finally reveal what my secret project is…

Well February is definitely turning out to be an extremely busy month!!!

Last weekend I filmed an upcoming episode of The Chase, which although absolutely terrifying in parts, was extremely good fun!! I can’t say who was on my team or the outcome just yet, but I can say we bonded really well and had a great time and I even surprised myself with some of my answers. I’ll let you know when the episode is due to air as there are some real laugh out loud moments. The other contestants, Bradley and The Chaser were so funny!

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As we we were in London, James and I took advantage of spending some quality time together to celebrate Valentine’s Day as unfortunately I was working on the day itself. We enjoyed a night on the tiles drinking French martinis followed by a lovey stroll around Covent Garden and a gorgeous lobster lunch the next day. It was really lovely, although we were both thrilled when we got back home as even though we’d really enjoyed our time together we’d both missed Freddie like mad.

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This weekend I performed at a Valentine Ball in Durham to raise much needed funds for the “Fraja Ellie Appeal,” which is a charity that raises money and awareness of children’s cancer. Fraja is a little girl who has been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer called Neuroblastoma with MYCN amplification which places her in the very high-risk category. Even with the multi-modality therapy that she is currently receiving, there is a relatively high chance that her cancer could relapse. Should this happen, there is generally a very poor long-term prognosis.

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Sadly, around 80 per cent of children with Neuroblastoma will relapse, and there is currently no UK relapse protocol. However, there are options available abroad. These treatments could cost in excess of £500,000 and therefore the charity was founded so that her family can be ready to send Fraja at a moment’s notice should this happen. Fraja is an amazing child who despite fighting such an aggressive form of cancer remains bright, energetic and full of fun. If you would like any more info on the charity then please visit www.facebook/frajaellieappeal.

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So a few weeks ago, I mentioned I was working on a secret project. Well I’m thrilled to finally be able to say that I will be joining forces with my good friend and couture bridal designer Kate Chapman and launching our own design label this summer. Over the last few months we have had endless meetings to discuss sketches, fabrics, embellishments and patterns and I have absolutely loved it! Our first red carpet collection is scheduled to be ready for early summer, which is extremely exciting and yet nerve-wracking at the same time. I will definitely keep you posted over the coming months with how everything is going….eek!

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Speak soon,

Love Natalie xx

06 February
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Denise van Outen was brilliant in her new play

Last night I went to the national premiere of Denise Van Outen’s new one woman play, Some girl I used to know. I went along with a few of the Emmerdale girls and we had a really great night. Denise has co written the show with Terry Ronald and last night it proved to be a real success as the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The show is basically played out over a few hours in the life of successful lingerie designer Stephanie Canworth (played by Denise) and revolves around her reminiscing on her carefree past whilst dealing with her present troubled marriage and features well known pop hits of the 80s and 90s. It’s incredibly funny in parts, particularly when Steph tells anecdotes about her friend ‘slaggy Sue’ and her ex boyfriend’s mother.

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Denise plays Steph brilliantly, her blend of comedy, cheek and vulnerability really allows you to jump on board with the character as she journeys down memory lane. It’s a huge feat taking on a one woman show and I think Denise did a fantastic job and kept the audience thoroughly entertained for two hours by belting out huge pop songs and portraying the colourful life of Steph. All in all I think Denise deserves a huge well done and I really hope the show goes on to achieve so much as she seems to have put her heart and soul into producing an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre. I loved it!!

It was lovely to have a night out with the Emmerdale girls and I also managed to have a good old natter with Kimberley and Amy Walsh who were there supporting Denise on her big night.

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I’m feeling slightly nervous for this weekend as I will be filming an up coming episode of ITV’s The Chase!! Although I wouldn’t say I’m completely brainless I’m also definitely not a mastermind and unfortunately for me the game relies on your general knowledge being somewhat more than average…eek!! Obviously as with everything I do I will give it my best shot and hope for the best and fingers crossed I’ll be able to raise a good amount of money for my chosen charity Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Speaking of gameshows, this weekend will see my family taking on Sir Steve Redgrave on All Star Family Fortunes. We filmed the episode in November last year and had such a fab time, so much so that I thought we were going to have to bring Sir Steve’s daughter Sophie home with us as Freddie took a real shine to her. I can’t let you know the outcome of the game, however it will be shown at 8pm on ITV1 on Sunday and it’s fair to say there were definitely a lot of laughs…..particularly at my mum and dad….oh dear!

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Anyway hope you all have a lovely weekend and speak soon,

Love Natalie xx

27 January
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I’m working on a secret project so watch this space!

Hello everyone,

Well it’s been a really busy week of work and play!!

I’m still cracking on with my January detox and have been trying out Raw Food. At first I was convinced that it was going to be a crazy fad diet that consisted of wet lettuce and carrot sticks and was therefore extremely boring, however my best friend Mariesa, who has just started a raw food business, has actually managed to change my opinion by treating me to a raw food buffet at her house.

I sampled kale crisps, homemade hummus, vegetable wraps and cheesecake made from cashew nuts! It was delicious, so much so that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon a little bit and she’s even been delivering lunches to me at work.

I don’t intend to completely change my diet and become 100 per cent raw as I don’t believe in cutting out food groups, however after a week of adding in a few raw snacks and one or two meals I feel so much more energised and my skin seems a lot brighter. I’m definitely going to stick with it for a while, especially as every time I see Mariesa she seems to look more and more radiant. Yes I’ll definitely be having some of that ha ha!

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The past week has been really lovely as I’ve been able to catch up with my fantastic friends. From girly lunches to cosy evenings in and nights on the tiles with the ladies and husbands – we’ve had a lot of laughs!

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This week has also been extremely exciting as I’ve started working on a secret project with my good friend Kate. I can’t say what it is just yet as it’s still early days, but what I can say is we’ve gone through A LOT of pencils and paper already! Definitely watch this space for more details over the coming weeks.

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Anyway I’ll say bye for now.

Lots of love,

Natalie xx

15 January
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Little Freddie’s helping with my fitness regime!

Well after a very indulgent holiday followed by a nasty bout of the winter sickness bug I am definitely getting into my January detox, a little late I know, but better late than never I say and so I’m back at the gym, eating healthily and feeling motivated. It helps that my on-screen husband and sister happen to be an ex DOI champion and Yoga instructer!!

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They are both super fit and so have been instructed to keep me on the straight and narrow. I’m such a firm believer in a little bit goes a long way and so rather than feeling like I’ve failed just because I didn’t get going on the 1st of January, I’m cracking on now and trying to make small changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Waking up at 6am and seeing it’s dark is incredibly depressing and so it’s very easy to start the day feeling lethargic and if you’re anything like me, reaching for the tea and biscuits as soon as you get to work only to suffer from the dreaded sugar crash at 11 am. This little cycle would normally repeat numerous times during the day for me as I love the comfort of a hot drink and something sweet when we are working outside for such long hours, which means that by the time I get home I feel sluggish and not in the mood for exercise. However I aim to be fitter and healthier in 2014 and so have been replacing (some of) my Bourbon biscuits for nuts and fruit and reduced my caffeine and alcohol intake and I have to say I’m starting to feel the benefits already and am feeling a lot more energised.

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This is proving to be extremely helpful as Freddie now insists on us either dancing to Little Mix or doing about 20 verses of ‘The Music Man’ as soon as I walk in from work at the moment. I have to pay particular attention to the piano verse and sing along with him whilst doing all the actions at full force otherwise he gets quite cross and says, “Again mummy”… He’s obviously destined to be a very strict director!

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Anyway I’ll keep you posted as to how I’m getting on, I’m hoping to be able to bend my body like a contortionist by the summer with all Roxy’s expert yoga teaching… one can only dream ha ha!

Love Natalie xx

05 January
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I’m loving my winter holiday in Tenerife!

Hello all,

Happy New Year!!

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After an extremely busy autumn and Christmas at Emmerdale, James and Freddie and I decided to go on a much-needed holiday and so we’ve jumped on a plane and headed to western Tenerife to find some winter sun and I have to say, thankfully we found it and it’s boiling!!

 

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The run up to Christmas was so busy as not only was I filming Emmerdale but I also sang on ITV’s Christmas Carols and at TV Times ‘ Christmas Carols with the stars at The Royal Albert Hall in aid of leukaemia and lymphoma research and then filmed for Daybreak and This Morning with Matthew Wolfenden and that was all before we got to Christmas itself where we had friends and family coming and going the whole time… (just how I like it though!) By the time we got to New Year I was shattered and so ended up spending it watching Gary Barlow on the TV in my onesie and drinking red wine with James. It was perfect!

 

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This Morning with Matthew Wolfenden

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ITV’s Christmas Carols

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Happy New Year!

The day before New Year I had the fabulous opportunity of filling in for the very lovely Richard Arnold as Daybreak‘s Guest Entertainment Editor. I’ve held the fort before for Richard and I have to say the Daybreak team do such an amazing job of making you feel at home, especially when you’re out of your comfort zone. Presenting on live television is a totally different skill to playing a character in a drama and so I always get a touch of nerves. However I always think if you’re not a little bit nervous then you might not do as good a job as the adrenaline helps you focus. Anyway suffice to say I did my spot and thoroughly enjoyed it, I really enjoy new challenges and learning new skills and I have to say being bright and bubbly at 6am is definitely a skill, hats off to the whole Daybreak team who make it seem so effortless!

Well it’s back to the day job at Emmerdale next week and after a lovely long break I’m very excited as my characters sister Leyla played by my gorgeous friend Roxy Shahidi has returned to the village and is causing chaos for Alicia and so there’s exciting new storylines to film and get my teeth into. I can’t wait! It’s been two years since Roxy left but it feels like she’s never been away. I absolutely love working with her as not only is she such an amazing actress, but she’s one of my best friends. It’s funny because I never actually screen tested with Roxy before I started playing Alicia, our then producer (the late Gavin Blythe) said, “I know 100% you will get on and work as sisters,” and so the first time I met her was on my first day on set when I said, “Hi I’m Natalie, I’m playing your sister”, and he was totally right we instantly clicked and over the last two years I’ve really missed her.

 

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Me and my beautiful friend Roxy Shahidi (Emmerdale‘s Leyla)

Anyway that’s enough from me as I have a very mischievous 17-month-old who is trying to splash me and do I have to run away.

Speak soon.

Love Natalie

X

05 September
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Birthdays with babies – what a change from our Sex and the City days!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for reading my blog!!

This last week or so has definitely been about catching up with friends and family before I start to get really busy again with Emmerdale.

As I’ve said before, I have a really close group of friends that have been with me since my school days and although the time we spend together is limited, it’s incredibly precious.

It was Sharon’s birthday last week, but because she is starring in the hugely successful production of ‘The Book of Mormon’ we were unable to celebrate with her on her actual birthday, and instead we had a belated tea party at my house. I even baked cupcakes…..well I say baked, I actually mean James mixed the contents of the Aunt Bessie’s DIY cupcake box I bought and baked them…but I displayed them very nicely on a cake stand!

 

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Me and the girls!

 

It was such a lovely day as it was the first time all of our children were together since my other friend Donna had her baby. It did make me feel very grown up though – prior to this Sharon’s birthday celebrations have always normally happened over the August bank holiday weekend and involved lots of cocktails, high fashion and nightclubs in a very ‘Sex and the City’ way. So it was quite a change to be celebrating in the middle of the day, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt while chasing the little ones around the garden. Nevertheless our conversation was the same as ever, fun, free and full of laughs!

 

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I’ve also been busy this week rehearsing with the Emmerdale band as we’ve got a charity gig at the end of September. Sian Reese Williams (Gennie) and Tom Lister (Carl) normally sing with them, but they are both busy at the moment and so myself and my gorgeous friend Michelle Hardwick (who plays Vanessa in the show) have stepped in to cover. It’s been absolutely fantastic because I’m not only getting the opportunity to sing again after ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar’ but I’m also getting to spend some time with Michelle.

Like my other friends I’ve known Michelle for nearly 20 years now; we started off at the same drama club when we were young, and then more recently we worked together on another ITV show called ‘The Royal’. I was devastated when I left the show as we’d shared a dressing room and pretty much lived in each other’s pockets for the whole time.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled when she was cast in Emmerdale last year, thinking it would be just like old times, but I hardly ever get to see her! I know that must sound crazy as you’d probably think I see her everyday, but as our characters’ paths rarely cross we actually don’t get to spend much time together. So to be singing together with the band has been really lovely and we’ve had such a laugh – it definitely feels like old times!!

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Me and Michelle

 

Speaking of singing I am absolutely loving this year’s X Factor!!!

I really didn’t realise how much I missed Sharon Osbourne as a judge until she returned to our screens this weekend. She is so fabulous and fantastically funny and seems to bring out the best in everyone. Gary Barlow has reportedly said that she brings the fun factor to the show and that she’s inspired him not to take himself too seriously, and having watched the first two shows I can see exactly what he means. I laughed so much just watching the other judges laughing together like naughty school children in an assembly, it was so contagious!

I also like that Sharon is a real matriarch and as much as she gives a lot of love to the contestants she also gives a lot of truth. I think the line-up in general is brilliant as you have two artists and two managers and each individual judge brings something completely different to the table. The talent has also been fantastic, with the standouts for me being Sam Bailey, the police officer, and 16-year-old Tamera.

Sam’s voice is truly incredible but in terms of being a ‘popstar’ I think Tamera’s potential is massive. She’s extremely beautiful with an amazing voice and you can already see the beginnings of a performance attitude, which could grow into a Rihanna/Rita Ora style. If this is what we get in week one, I can’t wait to see who the other weeks are going to reveal!! Roll on cosy Saturday nights in and the unofficial countdown to Xmas!!

 

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Speak soon,

Love Natalie xx

PS. Don’t think I’m going to bother getting Freddie any presents, the only thing he loves at the minute is the sweeping brush!!

24 August
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Happy 1st birthday Freddie!

 

Hey everyone,

Thank you so much for reading my blog!!

I feel like after the madness of Your Face Sounds Familiar I’m finally getting back to normal!!!

Firstly we celebrated Freddie’s 1st birthday with a lovely garden party at home with all the family. I’m from quite a big family so there were about 35 of us altogether with the majority being children under 6!! It was definitely a baptism of fire with regards to children’s birthday party etiquette.

I pride myself on being a really good hostess and organiser but the realm of children’s parties is a whole other ball game!! Catering, drinks, entertainment, prizes. Who knew musical statues could be so competitive, not to mention pass the parcel!! Thank god the other females in my family were there to dish out much needed advice. I definitely have to be better for next year when we have Freddie’s friends around.

 

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Although I’m back at Emmerdale full time now we very luckily managed to get a last minute break before the end of the summer. We decided to head to Whitby as its not very far from us and is such a pretty place, with lots of tea rooms, cobbled streets and a gorgeous stretch of beach…perfect for Freddie’s first holiday in the UK. He absolutely loved playing in the sand, so we bought him a bucket and spade to make sandcastles, although his favourite bit is knocking them down.

He also loved paddling in the sea. As he went straight to water babies when he was very little he’s really not frightened of water at all, he really enjoys splashing about. We’ve had some lovely walks with him in the pushchair along the coast and then stopped for lunch at some really gorgeous beauty spots.

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The sea air totally knocked Freddie out one day and James and I were able to enjoy a lovely seaside meal….I opted for champagne and oysters and he went for full on fish and chips and tea, typical!

It’s been so nice to get away for a few days before the madness of the autumn begins at Emmerdale. I’m so excited as we’ve got an absolutely fantastic year ahead, with so many different storylines. Obviously I can’t say anything in detail but it’s definitely worth tuning in for.

Watch this space!

Love Natalie xx

15 August
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Farewell to ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar’

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re enjoying my blog.

So it’s been just over a week since Your Face Sounds Familiar ended and I can definitely say I’m really missing everyone. I literally went straight back to work at Emmerdale on the Monday and before I knew it, it was the weekend again although this time I had nobody to be but myself!

Your Face Sounds Familiar was such an amazing show to work on and I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of it

The costumes, the makeup, the routines, the laughs, the tears and of course the people – it was all so brilliant. It felt incredibly strange this weekend not being dressed to the nines as somebody else, standing in the Your Face Sounds Familiar lift bubbling with nerves, ready to perform live to the nation. Instead I was sat in my PJs with a list as long as my arm, prepping for Freddie’s first birthday party!!!

 

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A collage made by a lovely fan

 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the show I have to be honest and say that juggling it with everything Emmerdale and Freddie’s teething did sometimes get the better of me and I had the odd emotional moment – but no more so than when my name was announced as the series winner! Although I’d done well in the previous weeks, the final prize money was still very much all to play for as everyone’s performances were fantastic, especially Matt’s Robbie and Xander’s Susan Boyle!

 

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Me as Jessie J

 

I’d done an awful lot of travelling up and down to London that week and of course we had double the work load as we were performing as two people (I was Jessie J and Mariah Carey). To top it off I twisted my knee during my Jessie J rehearsals on the Friday and therefore had to sit out for a bit while my knee was on ice and then have it strapped up!

As you can imagine going into the Saturday live show I was feeling exhausted and in quite a lot of pain as my knee was still in bandages and I was literally relying on adrenalin to get me through to the end. In fact if you watch the show again you can see me holding on to Xander’s arm for dear life at the end as I’d had to take my shoe off because I couldn’t stand up properly! When Alesha said my name as the winner, I really couldn’t hold it together any longer.

 

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And the winner is…

 

I was so unbelievably overwhelmed at the amount of money that was going to my charity, I couldn’t help but cry. £80,000 for my charity Bliss is just amazing and will pay for a specialist nurse for 3 years to support and care for very sick and premature babies and their families.

I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who picked up the phone to place their vote and to all who supported the show by tuning in

I really hope there will be another series next year that other charities can benefit from, and that we at home can enjoy, I for one will definitely be watching!

Love Natalie xx

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