Dress rehearsal


Years ago, around this time, the title of my blog, dress rehearsal, might well have referred to pantomimes. I only ever did four; one at the City Varieties Theatre in Leeds, two at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon and one at the Palace Theatre in Watford.

Julia and Barbara Windsor

Julia hugI was part of the dancing chorus in all four productions and understudy to a main role in three of them, including being Barbara Windsor’s understudy in Dick Whittington. I never had to go on in a lead role as there is a saying in show business ‘the show must go on’ but we had to rehearse each week just in case.

Anyway, the dress rehearsal I am referring to is nothing to do with a show, it is a practice run of having all three cats, Poppy, Milo and Wilfie, over the Christmas period. Daniel has come to stay for a few days and, rather than sleeping in his old room, which is where Chris’s mum will sleep, he is up in the attic. Initially we thought this may be a problem as there is no way we can get a double bed up the tight twist of the spiral staircase until I remembered the Aerobed. I wonder if any of you still have yours?

We used to sell them on QVC and this was a new one I had bought, with extra stability, that had never been out of the box. So many times during our moves Chris has said, ‘Why don’t we get rid of this?’, but now I’m rather glad we didn’t. There is also no heating in the attic so the Dyson fan heater came in very handy. I’m glad he’s trying it out now as it would be awful if it was really uncomfortable and spoiled his Christmas. We may even be able to rig up a TV for him as there is an aerial point up there so he can have a bit of down time. Unfortunately the cats will be banned – don’t want their claws puncturing the Aerobed!

Well, I haven’t written any Christmas cards yet but I have made one of the two Christmas cakes I make each year – one for home and one for backstage at QVC. I’ll make ours tomorrow when the whole family will have been able to have a stir and make a wish. It’s not too late to make it if you want to try out my recipe so here’s a link to ‘The Icing on the Cake’, one of my blogs from 2010 if you fancy giving it a go.

I will be doing a lot of baking this next few days as I am organising a bake sale at QVC to raise funds for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. Organising a charity event was one of my five key objectives for 2014 and although I’ve left it a bit late and it’s not on the same scale as the swimming gala, I’ve just squeezed it in before the end of the year. I’ll let you know how much we raise on next week’s blog – I’m hoping my friends and colleagues will dig deep for the mince pies, cakes, scones and biscuits that I will be baking.


This afternoon I am on air at 3pm with Diamonique and again at 6pm, and today’s Fashion on Friday is Earth Spirit … I have two pairs of their boots, really comfy and good prices! Then I’m off for the weekend but do remember to tune in for The Saturday Night Show with Miceal and Will (we are all back together for the last one next week) and the gorgeous L’Occitane TSV (above) on Sunday.

I must confess I’ll be enjoying Strictly, X Factor and I’m a Celebrity … I wonder who your favourites are?

Have a great weekend whatever you are up to,

Much love, Julia xx


  1. Annette Roberts December 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Memories…love the photos and am I right in say that you are hugging Norman Vaughan? I used to love him years ago and also Dickie Henderson with whom I used to tap dance (well, my version) in the corner of the living room every time his show was on, when I was little. Not sure if this works but I’ve put a link of him singing ‘one for the road’, not quite the Frank Sinatra version though lol!

    What a house full you are having over Christmas, good job you’ve got the Aerobed for Daniel, we bought one when we moved, whilst waiting for our new furniture…not the most comfy, but did the job! You’ll have to video the cats together.

    Its a year today since we moved here and I had already baked my Christmas cake before the move, which actually spent the night in the removal truck because the guys packed it away…a bit behind this year and will be making it on Sunday.

    I bought the Dallas Earth Spirit shoes from Q the other day, which are on the way via Parcel Net, I hope they fit, I’m really struggling at the moment, as I still can’t wear heels and trainers with dresses don’t really do it for me! Will be watching this afternoon.

    Have a lovely weekend!
    Annette x

    • Julia roberts December 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm -  Reply

      Hi Annette
      Good spot it is indeed Norman Vaughan – do you remember the Roses chocolates advert he did? ‘Roses grow on you?’ We alway used to watch Dickie Henderson too as my parents were big fans.
      Is it really a year since you moved …. 11 months today for us and so pleased we did it.
      Daniel was quite happy on the Aerobed but just remembered I have a fleece topper that I can put on which should make it even more comfy.
      I made the Christmas cake on Saturday – looks and smells delicious.
      I hope you’ve received your Earth Spirit ok and that they fit?
      On my way to a Liz Earle facal so must dash.
      Speak soon
      Julia x

  2. Jane Lynch December 6, 2014 at 8:43 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia. Reading about your houseful at Christmas made me realise that at my sister’s this year, there will be 9 of us plus 5 dogs. Happy days! I love reading your blog each week. Happy Christmas! Love Jane xx

    • Julia roberts December 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm -  Reply

      Hi Jayne
      Now that really is a houseful! – I hope all the dogs get on?
      So pleased you enjoy reading my blog.
      Merry Christmas to you too
      Julia x

  3. TINA S December 6, 2014 at 10:38 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Gosh you are really going have a house full over Christmas, and that’s just with the cat’s! We’ll be having a very quiet time as it’s just me and hubby. Talking of Christmas,
    I posted a card to you yesterday. My husband Dennis spotted it and thought it very apt with a Welsh theme! I hope it brings a smile to your face , it certainly did for me.
    I used to like going to the panto’s at Swansea Grand. We saw Christopher Biggins and one of the Nolan Sisters.
    I am a Strictly fan and will be glued to the box over the next few weeks. It’s going to be a close call I think as the remaining contestants are all excellent. Usually by now we get an idea of who will be in the finals but it could be any one of the remaining pairs.
    Well I must dash , the sun is shining so must make the most of it.
    Take care, and I hope you like the Christmas card (I think its hysterical!!)
    Tina S.

    • Julia roberts December 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm -  Reply

      Hi Tina
      Although I was at QVC yesterday for the bake sale I didn’t go up to my dressing room so I didn’t receive your card yet – thanks in advance though.
      I saw a panto in Bromley years ago starring Christopher Biggins – he was brilliant! We all went for dinner afterwards so I guess one of my friends that I went with must have known him … My memory is getting worse!
      I was very surprised that Pixie was voted off Strictly, thought she might win it – but a you say they are all good now.
      Julia x

  4. Beth Morton December 7, 2014 at 10:56 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Firstly, can I wish you good health – I apologise if I’ve missed it in your earlier blogs but I hope your test results came back fine.
    Seeing the photo of you in Panto with Barbara Windsor – it struck me how similar you and your daughter Sophie are. I felt I was looking at her!
    What a lovely Christmas you will have with your family. I thought it was sweet that you were thinking of putting a t.v. in the attic for Daniel but then you are very thoughtful.
    I do hope the cats will be fine – good for you to have a practise run!

    You take care and very best of luck with selling lots of cakes – I found out only yesterday that a work colleague is having treatment for leukaemia and research is so vital.

    Lots of love,
    Beth XXX.

    • Julia roberts December 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

      Hi Beth
      It’s funny you thought that I looked like Sophie on those photos because that is exactly what I thought … great minds!
      I didn’t say too much about my last test results cos they weren’t quite as good as we had been hoping. It could just have been a glitch with the test so we repeated it last week and I get the results tomorrow – thanks for asking and I’ll keep you posted.
      The cake sale went very well – it was supposed to be from 12 until 3 but we had sold out of everything by 1.45! I’ll put some pictures on this week’s blog.
      I hope your colleague will be ok
      Julia x

  5. Jean Pugh December 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I am sure the Cat’s will have a great time together, especially if you have a Christmas Tree.
    Yes I agree you can see the likeness of Sophie in you.
    Hope your Cake sale goes well, I am sure Charlie will buy a lot. Just been watching him on Thornton’s, he is terrible for his food.
    Missed seeing you on the Saturday Night Show but I believe you are back for the last show.
    Happy baking.
    Take Care.
    Love Jean XX

    • Julia roberts December 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm -  Reply

      Hello Jean
      Unfortunately Charlie missed the cake sale as it was too early for him but it went very well – will put some pictures on this week’s blog.
      I’m hoping the cats will behave with the Christmas tree but definitely the unbreakable baubles again this year rather than my precious glass ones!
      People have often remarked that Sophie looks very like me at her age but it shows particularly in that photo.
      Yes we are all back together for the final Saturday Night Show of the series this weekend – hope you’ll be watching as we have some surprise guests

  6. Dee December 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm -  Reply

    lucky you having all the cats get on! My nephew died in the summer and we took his in, we still need a shut door between her and my own one, can’t stand each other! I have been using your christmas cake receipe every year, never fails

    • Julia roberts December 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm -  Reply

      Hi Dee
      Glad to hear you’ve had good results from the Christmas cake recipe. Try the Cheese Spelt Scones on this week’s blog they are scrummy.
      Yes we are lucky with the cats … Wilfie & Milo are brothers and Poppy just can’t be bothered to argue with them except to hiss or bop them on the nose if they get too close.
      Much love
      Julia x

  7. Hefina December 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm -  Reply

    Merry Christmas Julia to you and your family, hope you get good results health wise ,I dont write every week but I do read your blog without fail,you allways seem so happy enjoy your facial x
    Hefina x

  8. Julia roberts December 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Hefina
    Thanks for reading my blog – I enjoy writing them so it’s good to know they are being read.
    So, better news from the hospital yesterday – while I am still not in remission my levels of disease have slightly decreased again. It’s been a very stressful six weeks wondering if the drugs had stopped working so effectively but looks like I am back on track.
    Thanks for asking
    Julia x

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