Hello to 5-0

Hello

Hope everyone is keeping well.

I will only be writing this statement once in my whole lifetime. I’ve turned 50! Yes back in January I celebrated the start of a new decade… although when I read some of the biogs about me online, they’ve kindly put me at 51. Hey!! It’s an interesting one because during 2016 I spent many a moment trying to work out how I would feel about turning this momentous corner. Yes, I’m a woman so it is seen as ‘a big one’, and yes I work in the media and we read and see every day the pressures of keeping that’ youthful look’, whether you work in front of the camera or not.

So I was keeping myself busy trying to work out and analyse how I felt. And you know what, I felt good. I decided to embrace the big 5-0 rather than apologise and not think out it. I know we’re all different, so don’t expect everyone to feel the same way (whatever the milestone) but for me I had to give myself a reality check and talking to;

Am I healthy? Yes, mostly. Do I have a great circle of friends and family? I do, thank goodness.

I have a wonderful husband who is amazingly supportive and tells me that every day, and a job I adore. So with a small kick up the backside, I decided to embrace the age, embrace what’s happening to me on the outside and celebrate what’s on the inside. I might not always be in a good place further down the line, so celebrate!

There’s a great sporting saying… Look for the win in every situation. So here’s to being a woman who’s just turned 50. I’m smiling and I’m winning.

Love N x

Nicki Chapman celebrating her 50th birthday with family and friends at Home House, London.

 

October Update

Hello!

Yes, it’s time for an update and I hope you’ve all had a good Summer!

So, here we are in October, and already my mind is wandering towards Christmas… Too soon??  Ok.  I’ll hold that thought and update you on the last few months.
Another day at the office...

Another day at the office…

I’m a true Spring/Summer girl and this year didn’t disappoint.  June saw me disappear off to Australia to film Wanted Down Under and the WDU Revisits too.  The series has been extended by ‘Auntie’, so we now have 40 new or updated shows for you.  I’ve just found out that the series will probably start airing in November this year, rather than the usual January so keep an eye out for the new shows.  The repeats over the Summer got a huge response and you love to find out ‘what happened next’… hopefully these new programmes will give you the answers.  As soon as I know, I’ve put out a tweet with the start date.  Hate to crow, but I think it rained every day I was away from Blightly.  Good timing by me…  Here’s a snap which I like to call ‘another day at the office…’

Too excited about our mode of transport...

Too excited about our mode of transport…

Now here’s a name drop.  My husband co-manages Iron Maiden with the legendary Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor (awesome guys) so his daily commute to work has been on this beauty for the past 6 months or so whilst they’re on their world tour.  The band and management kindly allowed me to bag a lift to Oslo in Norway to join them.  Saw the band play in China back in April but sadly couldn’t quite get a seat on the plane… but this time. Oh yes!  Last time I went on a private plane was when I day to day managed the Spice Girls World Tour for Simon Fuller, but our plane was nothing like this work of art.  And what’s more, the lead singer flies it.  Double oh yes.  It’s times like this that I love my job.  Or should that be my husband’s ‘job’.  I might add my first visit to Oslo didn’t disappoint, but I was too excited about the mode of transport.

Celebrity Antiques Road Show

Celebrity Antiques Road Show

Look out for Jules Hudson and my ‘Celebrity Antiques Road Trip’ appearance with the fabulous Natasha Rankin and Philip Serrell who held our hands, talked us through our antiques, helped me find 1st gear in the old Morgan and showed us a whole new world.  It goes out shortly on BBC1 and I don’t want to say too much apart from if you love this series it will certainly be a show to remember…  Apologies to the drivers of Herefordshire who had to pass me on narrow lanes when I stalled a few times.  And as for finding reverse, forget it. Where’s my Evoque…? .

Managed a few days with friends in the South of France and then Portugal.  Both divine trips away which were over too soon..  Who doesn’t love a Summer escape?
Shacky and I by the pool.

Shacky and I by the pool.

Thanks for the wonderful day out with the North East Ladies (NELD) who organised a fabulous lunch and welcomed me to their fold.  All 600 hundred of them.  Empowering to see so many women in one room and hearing some moving and incredibly personal stories.  Also to the North Yorkshire West Fed WI girls in Bedale at the end of September for educating me in all things ‘WI’.  These ladies are certainly inspirational and never seem to stop let alone have time to bake cakes as some people may presume… although I’m sure they do a mean fondant fancy.

September and now October has seen me visit 9 counties in 9 days… From London, Wiltshire, Somerst to County Durham, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire then back to London then off to North Yorkshire and on to the towns or city gardens of Poundbury, Letchworth, Milton Keynes, Ebbsfleet finishing in my home town of Herne Bay. Phew. Why? Filming some exciting new programmes called ‘I Escaped to the Country’ or ETTC Revisits (yes, people who have bought our houses over the past few years) as well as a new series for the BBC on housing which has been fascinating.  More on that later, and I will let you know when they are due to air.

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Part of the family!

You may have heard my dulcet tones on BBC Radio 2 quite a lot over the Summer and now into Autumn.  I’ve been dep’ing for the hardest working woman in radio, Vanessa Feltz, as she sits in for Jermey Vine.  Not many things drag me out of bed at 3.30 am on a daily basis, but the Early Breakfast Show is one of them! It’s been an absolute joy and hope to do more over the coming months.  Many of you have been texting and tweeting in regularly, thank you. I appreciate all your comments, feed back and hilarious stories.  Makes me feel like part of the family.

Making my way to Bristol later for filming so look out for me around the city all this week.  I’m also hosting the Spanish Riding School of Vienna in November at Wembley and also the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, so if you love your dancing horses (and want to watch the oldest riding school in the world and also the most elegant display their expertise) do pop along.  It’s truly spectatular and I’m delighted to be a very, very small part of it.

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Heroes.

Finally, well done to Team GB and Paralympic GB this year at Rio. Let me leave you with a photo of yours truly with Charlotte Dujardin, Spencer Wilton, Fiona Bigwood and Carl Hester who won Silver in the Team Dressage this year at the Olympics and of course, Charlotte won gold too.  Our heroes.

It’s now time to sign off.  I know blogs are meant to be short but I haven’t written in months!
Much love
Nicki

June 2016 Update

So it’s early June, the weather has improved again thank goodness, and I’m sitting in my hotel room in Norfolk looking out over the most beautiful woodland.  I’m on location for Escape to the Country and when the weather, county and houses all work in unison, it has to be one of the best jobs in television.

Kelly & I

Kelly & I

Spring into Summer is always a busy time for me in a good way, with the month of May being dominated by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  And what an event it was.

I always talk of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show being the highlight of my presenting calendar and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. 11 acres which have been transformed within just 3 weeks into horticultural excellence with a few glasses of bubbles and pimms consumed along the way.  Glorious. For those who either haven’t visited the show, or missed the coverage on television, let me explain.  Take the catwalk of the fashion world, and then replace it with 17 Show Gardens, 7 Fresh (contemporary/cutting edge) Garden Designs and 6 Artisan Gardens, a Great Pavilion packed full of floral displays from nurseries around the world as well as glorious floral art plus the Floral Design Studio.  And that’s my office for the whole week.  Lucky me.

This year my guests included Kate Adie, Meera Syal, Brendon Cole (still no invitation to appear on Strictly sadly), floral king Simon Lycett, Noah Huntley, Kelly Brook, Monica Galetti, Alex Polizzi and Sol Campbell.  An eclectic mix all linked by their love of gardens and horticulture.

Joe, Sophie & I

Joe, Sophie & I

Just before the show, all the presenters were asked to arrange a floral container, or pot,  which would be included on the RHS Feature Garden, designed by the super talented Anne-Marie Powell, as part of the Greening Grey Britain campaign.  Imagine my delight when I spotted my floral container taking pride of place right at the front of her garden.  ‘Oh Anne-Marie, I’m thrilled you love my pot enough to have it right at the front’ I trilled… ‘Yes’ she replied, ‘I needed something to stop people stepping into the water feature…’  I think that elusive gold medal is still some way off for me.

Sol, Nick & I

Sol, Nick & I

It’s a huge team effort with hours and indeed pages of coverage and by the Saturday, I’m always disappointed that the show is over for another year. Here are a few snaps taken behind the scenes with guests and presenters.

Until next May I’ll just have to make do with my own small garden escape ….

Take care and thanks for all your messages on twitter, instagram and on this site too..

Nicki x

April Blog

Hello

Spring has sprung and I think the weekend was the warmest so far this year!

How are we all?  Last time I wrote, I’d just started my 6 weeks of Lent which I’m pleased to say is now well and truly over.  No bread, no alcohol, no sweets, no chocolate.  Boy, was I fun during that time… although I must admit, half through a fabulous evening at The Brit Awards at the O2 downing my third class of champagne, I suddenly remembered I’d given up drinking.  Well, I’m not perfect.

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Sara Cox, Emma Bunton & I

So back filming Escape to the Country (yeah!!) after a few months off. Cambridgeshire, North Devon, Dorset and back to Eat Devon this time with a new couple.  Great start to the new series, I’ve so missed it, and praying the sun continues to shine. What a wonderful place to go to work.  Jealous of my ‘office view’ every day?!!  Not only is Escape such a popular show over here, but also around the world.  Oh yes, we’re ‘global’ don’t you know.  Move over Top Gear… Always makes me chuckle when Aussies come up to me when I’m filming Wanted Down Under and ask if anyone ever buys the mystery house…?  Of course they do!!  Filming this year has already seen me name my own crisp flavour, ride in tanks and an SPG (self propelled gun!), and attempt to climb a cliff face on the Isle of Portland (nervous times).  All in the name of being a presenter.  Bring it on.  Talking of this show, I met up with a dear friend of mine a few weeks ago, the one and only Miss Emma Bunton.  She and the lovely Sara Cox have a new show on BBC2 called ‘Too Much TV’ and invited me on to discuss Escape, Wanted Down Under and my old Pop Idol days.  Here we are together.

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First Time Buyer Magazine

 

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Good Housekeeping Magazine

A couple of press pieces I’d love to share with you this time, firstly thrilled to be included in May’s issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine “A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self.”  An honest article about how I felt after leaving school at 16 with few exams and no direction in life and how I’ve changed over the years.  If you get a chance, please have a read…  Also I’m gracing the front cover of this quarter’s First Time Buyer Magazine and hosting their event later on this month.  I’m passionate about giving people honest advice and suggestions about how to get on the property ladder for the first time… it can be confusing and depressing time, a daunting thought especially when we look in the estate agents window or read the daily news.  I like to think there is light at the end of the tunnel for many people, and hopefully this mag may prove helpful.  Special thank you from me to Seb and Edward T Cooke @ WMA for the gorg photos!  

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On the set of Sky News

Back reviewing the papers again soon for Sunrise.  Been a regular guest so far this year and really enjoy being part of the news debate. Love this photo on the set of Sky News with the gorgeous pairing of  Stephen Dixon and Gillian Joseph with my fellow reviewer Kevin Schofield, Editor of PoliticsHome.com.

Kevin and I look like the ‘anchor couple’ but we all know it’s really Stephen and Gillian that are in charge!

So today I’m reading my scripts for another adventure in the country, meeting my producer at BBC Radio 2 for a catch up and packing for the week ahead filming.  Hope you’ve had a great Easter break and next time I’ll blog about ‘life behind the scenes on one of my shows’ plus my latest news…

Bye for now

Nicki 

February 2016 Update

Well I suppose I should start off by saying Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day!! And how’s Lent going, if you’ve decided to give something up for the next 40 days or so…?  It’s been a while since I last blogged and I really can’t believe it’s mid-February already.  So, talking of Lent, I’ve given up bread, sweets, booze, biscuits… well, safe to say anything tasty or bad for me has had to go. How long will I last? Ask me at Easter…

Since we last spoke, I had a ball on BBC Radio 2 over Christmas and New Year, plus also a week at the end of January sitting in for Vanessa Feltz on Early Breakfast.  After 20 years working in the music business (have I mentioned that before…? OK, don’t yawn),  playing and hearing great music again does take me back… I won’t dwell too much on my past life but safe to say it was some of the best years of my life and being at R2 takes me back somewhat. Plus it also introduces me to some exciting new music and artists too. On a sad note, we lost one of the greatest artists of all time. A man who they said was ‘often copied but never equalled’: David Bowie. I worked with him in the 90s. What an honour. Any words here would not do justice to what he achieved and gave us over the decades. A true legend and my ‘idol’.

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Shacky and I, OK! Magazine

January saw me return to BBC Belfast to finishing the voice overs for the new series of Wanted Down Under. This year the series is going out at a slightly later time on BBC1 in the mornings. These amazing families and couples are proving as popular as ever… It’s addictive viewing. Where can I buy those flags? (in joke). Talking of popular, those BBC2 bods have decided to give you a second helping every day at 7 am… Early I know, but now two portions of yours truly every morning can’t be bad? Perhaps don’t answer that.

I’ve been featured in quite a few press articles and interviews recently, that have run throughout December, January and Feb. My favourite piece was the ‘at home’ spread in OK! Magazine  talking about work, married life, filming commitments, as well as a sneaky peek around Chez Shack/Chapman, private plane rides with the Spice Girls and what makes me tick. Thanks to the OK! team. We donated our fee to The Truants, who have raised nearly £2,000,000 for three amazing charities to date, including Nordoff Robbins (music transforming lives), Teenage Cancer Trust and Childline – charities that are all close to both our hearts. On the morning of the shoot, I’d just arrived back from Australia and woke up at 1am –  so cleaned the house from top to bottom (thank you jet lag)! Cleaning aside we had a very special day.  Shacky doesn’t normally ‘do’ photo shoots or interviews, but it was a very enjoyable experience and I now have photos that I will cherish forever. Thanks also to the Sunday Telegraph (Fame & Fortune interview), Bella Magazine, The Daily Express, Woman’s Weekly and Daily Mirror.

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Before my talk at Arcadia, P&O Ferries!

I met the NAFAS team in London for a catch up and to talk about the future of this wonderful charity. Floral design with excellence sums it up. My floral efforts are always discussed during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show week, often in less than complimentary tones, but the group are determined to improve my designs. I love their enthusiasm and positivity and am honoured to be their patron. They have branches throughout the UK, so if you’re tempted go online and visit one near you. Everyone at any level welcome, even me!

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A Night At The Movies

The entertainment team at P&O Ferries kindly invited me back to give some talks on Arcadia, one of their finest ships, during it’s worldwide cruise which started in January. Yes January, the most depressing month of the year. Sadly I was only on one section of this fabulous cruise but hey, a wonderful way to gently ease me into the year. I spoke about my career, past and present. Thanks to all the super passengers who not only turned up in their hundreds to hear me talk (gulp), but also for the brilliant feedback and love for my shows. You always hope people like what you do when you’re a presenter, but it’s not until you get talking to the people that matter that you know for sure.

Although I mentioned a minute ago my stint in the music biz, I’ve never experienced a ‘Night At The Movies’ before, courtesy of the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra. A few weeks ago I hosted this wonderful family event to a a full house in the city. Surrounded by an 80 piece orchestra, it was quite remarkable, and at one point I don’t mind admitting I got quite teary listening to some of these tremendous movie sound tracks that we know and love. It’s extraordinary how music can effect your emotions and mood, and great to see so many young people in the audience. I’m talking little ones squealing with delight when they heard the Star Wars theme! Obviously I couldn’t pass on the odd photo or two with few legend characters…

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Back In The Saddle

The good news is I’m ‘back in the saddle’ (no comments please) after 5 months waiting for my ankle to heal. Still taking it easy but the gym, rehab exercises and two brilliant physios have made a difference and I’m getting there!  With a busy filming schedule starting in March, I’ve got to do all I can to get back to fitness. I’m a little rounder than I would like to be but hey, at least I’ve got a good excuse!

So finally, the BAFTA’s are on as I type, and we’ve just found out Best Documentary goes to ‘Amy’…Congratulations to all those involved for this extraordinary film on her life. Amy was just 16 years old when my partner Nick Godwin and I signed her to our management company, Brilliant!. Many things have been written about this woman but my lasting memory of Amy will always be this remarkably creative talent walking through our door looking, no searching, for a record deal. She made such an impression then, as she still does today.

RIP, Ms Winehouse.
See you soon
Nicki

Final update of 2015

Well, Christmas is literally days away and I thought I’d take this opportunity to say I hope you’ve had a good year, and you’re not still desperately wrapping presents – as I am!
Since I last did a blog it’s been an Autumn of two halves (hey, a football analogy from me, that’s a first!).  On the work front I’ve finished filming Escape To The Country for this year, starting again back on the road in March 2016.  Wanted Down Under has been extended and starts again on January 4th, so I headed back out to Oz at the beginning of this month to finish filming this popular series.

Filming in Oz

Filming in Oz!

 More sun, sea, tears, laughter and enormous changes to people’s lives… There’s no other series quite like it on TV, and no other series gives couples and families the opportunity to start again in a different country.  Expect some emotional scenes when it airs… BBC Radio 2 have welcomed me back once again, so if you’re up early during Christmas and New Year, join me for an early breakfast.  You supply the tea and toast… Worth texting in, hopefully you’re get a mention!  If you are an early bird, you may have seen me back on Sunrise for Sky News reviewing the daily papers.
Back in September I was honoured to present (or ‘host’ as our American friends like to say) The European Diversity Awards at the Natural History Museum. What a remarkable event and venue! In early November I was a guest of Weston College’s Business and Achievement Awards and I also joined the NAFAS teams in Blackpool for their Festive Flower & Food Show. December saw me as a guest for the week on Dictionary Corner for Countdown. Legendary show.
Sunrise for Sky News

Sunrise for Sky News

So, as you can see, it’s been pretty busy but there has been a slight downside – I mentioned earlier ’two halves’ and the second one came in the form of a much needed operation on my ankle. All rather dull but extremely painful.  Luckily I’ve been looked after by a great team and am making progress.  I still can’t walk any distance but I’m behaving, doing my exercises, trying to wear ‘sensible’ shoes and trainers and giving my ankle the chance to mend… I had to cancel a fair degree of filming but hey, these things happen and hopefully 2016 will see me return to the gym but in all honesty, I’ll never be a marathon runner…!

In hospital with a cuppa

In hospital with a cuppa

I squeezed in a holiday to Mexico (for medical reasons obviously haha) last month, and watched my husband cycle and raise money for three fantastic charities – Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust and Childline.  It was a fabulous trip for brilliant causes, which I’ll talk a-little more about next time… Talking of which, keep your eyes peeled for an interview I’ve done, which will go out in the next week or so…Shacky and I together.  If you don’t know, Shacky is my husband…
So I’m going to sign off now as it’s late and I’m up tomorrow at 3.30 am ready for work at BBC R2 HQ!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016.  Thank you for all your wonderful tweets and messages throughout the year.  I do appreciate your lovely comments and support.
Take care
Nicki

August Update

So it’s August and I’ve decided to have a mini break in the sun with one of my dearest friends… and as I sit here typing the rain is lashing down and we’ve had thunder and lightening… and I’m not even in the UK! I’ve just realised I haven’t updated my blog properly since at least April.  Apologies!  So here’s a whistle stop tour of the last few months for me…

Joe Swift, Monty Don, Carol Klein, Sophie Raworth and yours truly

Joe Swift, Monty Don, Carol Klein, Sophie Raworth and yours truly

May has to be the total highlight of my presenting year as it’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show for a whole week.  The one place I work where we’re all totally upstaged by the blooms, displays and gardens over the 11 acre, or so, site. And this year was no exception.  Here’s a snap of the presenting team (well, most of us) standing outside our ‘green room’ behind the scenes at Chelsea.

I talk about this show being my highlight, well I didn’t expect to be interviewing HRH The Prince of Wales on the preview day!  We chatted about sustainable urban drainage at the Greening Grey Britain garden which beautifully illustrated this theme.  His Royal Highness has been doing a lot of work on sustainable urban drainage through his Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. He was funny, charismatic and very well informed!  We’d met the week before at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. I went with my girlfriend and it was a truly wonderful day.  Here we are in all our finery and OTT hats.

Meeting HRH The Prince of Wales.

Meeting HRH The Prince of Wales. I’ve got this photo in a frame at home – v proud!

June saw the weather change for the better just as I jetted off to Australia for filming Wanted Down Under. I took the rain with me.  Typical!!  This must be a theme…..Hard to believe but it’s the 10th series and I’ve filmed 8 of them. It was a quick trip, visiting Melbourne, Cairns, Port Douglas, Sydney then home.. not even time for jet lag.

 

 

Filming in Australia with the crew

Filming in Australia with the crew

 So much work goes into making this remarkable series and I can take very little credit for the bulk of the effort! Months and month of preparation, finding the right couples and families, organising visas and travel details…..  In all honesty, it must be a logistical nightmare.  For me, the most rewarding part of the show is the final section, where we find out once and for all whether the featured family are going to make the biggest decision of their lives’ (I can even hear the drum roll as I type….) Filming with the majority of the families has now finished, the life-changing decisions have been made and either they’re now busy packing or looking at their lives back in the UK and thinking ‘well life isn’t that bad’.  Most of August is spent with the BBC Northern Ireland team who make the show in Belfast.  We’re currently busy in the edit (with the exception of a few days off to holiday in Majorca) where I’ve been voicing the first 20 shows. You’ll have to waituntil January 2016 to see the new series..

Filming ETTC with Johnny Wheeler & T'Peter

Filming ETTC with Johnny Wheeler & T’Peter

July saw me return to Escape to the Country, with it’s sister show Escape to the Continent back on our screens which I filmed in the Autumn last year.  Dorset and Devon both seem to be a popular choice for our contributors wishing to ‘escape’ and whilst in Dorset I tried my hand at Beach Polo. Yep, it does what it says on the tin and a truly splendid afternoon was spent in Sandbanks learning or ‘trying’ to master this skill.  Half the things I try my hand at are not only new to me, but courtesy of Escape I’ve had some fantastic experiences, for which I am very grateful, including this one … me, a beautiful polo pony, a gorgeous afternoon cantering along the sandy beach and once in a blue moon I even managed to hit the ball. I’d call that bliss.

I’ve been covering some holiday leave for Vanessa Feltz, or Lady V, over the past few weeks on BBC Radio 2. If you’re an early riser you may have heard me and for those who tweeted and text in here’s a big ‘thank you’!  Having spent so long in the music industry it feels like going back

Early Breakfast made up of cakes at BBCR2

Early Breakfast made up of cakes at BBCR2

to my roots… I’m still mastering the desk (I managed to lose the news for 15 seconds) and play in the right jingle at the right time but I adore being there and will be back again in September.

Some of you may have noticed from my Twitter account that I’m a professional and personal coach working with large corporations as well as with individuals, on a one to one basis.  On my next blog I’ll write in more detail about the kind of work I do (which I’m very passionate about) but for now I will share a wonderful book with you, which I’ve been reading on holiday – Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers… Let me know what you think.

Lastly, Wanted Down Under Revisited repeats have been going out again on BBC1 in the mornings and, by your reactions and the viewing figures, these are doing very well indeed. More to following in January….

Happy Holiday! Love this pool!!

Happy Holiday! Love this pool!!

Well it looks like the sun has decided to reappear so I’m going to try and grab a few more hours in the sunshine… .  I’ll spare you the bikini shot but leave you with this instead.

Wishing you all a good summer and a few more lazy, long days.

Nicki 

The Chelsea Flower Show

Being part of the BBC1 presenting team for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of my favourite jobs in the year – in fact I’d go as far as saying it’s the jewel in my presenting crown! Chelsea is such a heady mix of glamour and celebrity, drama, art and most importantly world class horticulture. Here are a few things I would recommend you don’t miss this year from our eleven hours of coverage…

We try to capture each and every aspect of the show throughout the week starting with the great build (filmed over the past 4 weeks or so come rain or shine) the official royal opening on the Monday afternoon, medals, tears and tantrums through to the individual designers, growers, plants men and woman and the teams and teams of horticultural experts and enthusiasts who make such a lasting impression on us all.

The Greatest Flower Show on Earth!

The Greatest Flower Show on Earth!

My week actually starts on the Saturday when I get a chance to walk along Main Avenue, marvel at the Artisan and Fresh Gardens and the explore exhibits and nurseries of the Great Pavilion, trying to ignore or perhaps pacify the odd stressed designer and have a very privileged view as everything begins to flourish and take shape. To me, a
passionate and enthusiastic amateur, it looks like organised chaos but in actual fact there’s precision behind the madness which is revealed first thing on a Monday morning.. but more of that later…

Over the coming week around 157,000 people will walk through the Gates of the show, but if you choose to watch from the comfort of your own home you’re certainly not going to miss out.. The screen team include Monty Don, Joe Swift, Sophie Raworth, Carol Klein, Rachel de Thame, Chris Beardshaw and Andy Sturgeon. I’m delighted this year to be joined by James Wong, garden designer and botanist for our daily afternoon show at 3 pm on BBC1 who, I’m hoping, will sharing plenty of ‘take home’ advice as well as his expert knowledge.

The highlights of the week would start with Monday which is the Official Opening of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Before the Royals arrive, in fact first thing, you can spot many a celeb and VIP person perusing the grounds. Dame Helen Mirren, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart… the list goes on. Monday is a very hot ticket. Tuesday is RHS Members Day but also Medals Day – I would say the true high point and it’s a very early start. The judges have decided and it’s time to see the results. Arriving at the grounds around 6 am in morning, I’ll head towards the Show Gardens in my best outfit and heels with my camera team ready to capture the moment as the RHS ladies tear around the site giving out those all important medals.. will it be a gold, will it be silver or a disappointing bronze?? Over the years we’ve seen every emotion from the recipients, with many a tear too – often from the men!

With Adam Frost, gold medal winner!

With Adam Frost, gold winner!

This year there’s plenty of anticipation as designing doyen Dan Pearson returns to Chelsea after an absence of 10 years, Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale will be exhibiting a design to draw attention to the plight of vulnerable children in Lesotho, Chelsea first timer Kamelia Bin Zaal aims to provide sanctuary to reflect the beauty of Arabic and Islamic cultures and Adam Frost, a particular favourite designer of mine, returns once again aiming for another gold medal.

I have to mention the expert floral designs and arrangements. Every year I attempt on my programme to improve my skills with a little help from the experts. I make up with enthusiasm from what I lack in talent. As a patron of NAFAS (floral design with excellence) as least I should get a gold for effort. These ‘attempts’ are much to Joe Swift’s amusement might I add..

By the end of the week I’ll either have been bronzed by the sun or soaked to the skin, I’ll have walked countless miles around show grounds and will have fought off the hay fever coughs and sneezes but who cares, because it will have all been worth it for the Greatest Flower Show  on Earth.

Update from April 2015

So as I sit here typing, it’s certainly warming up and my garden is beginning to look more like a garden … at last. When the weather changes for the better, it certainly makes filming up and down the country for ‘Escape…’ a lot more pleasurable.

Ricky Wilson - Kaiser Chiefs

Brit Awards 2015 with Ricky Wilson

My first admission is I failed with Lent this year.  I normally wax lyrical around this time, saying I’d given up chocolate, sweets, bread etc, etc but within two weeks of Pancake Day it was all over. I hang my head in shame. Wish me better luck in 2016

A few highlights I’d love to share since my last update.  Had a tremendous night at The Brit Awards as a guest of the sponsors Mastercard.  I was glammed and buffed to the max as this is the music industry’s biggest shindig of the year.  Bumped into the gorgeous Ricky Wilson and spent a fair while swopping judging stories and comparing my Pop Idol days to his experience on The Voice.  We both admitting to lovely ‘the journey…!’  I missed Madge’s fall which is hard to believe as I was seated so close to the stage.  Couldn’t understand the fuss until I saw the footage later than night. Ouch.  What a recovery, a real professional but we knew that didn’t we.  Although my feet said ‘home’ my heart and head took me to the Sony Music Aftershow Party… it didn’t disappoint.  Mark Ronson, Paloma Faith… and other artists far too young for me to recognize.  It’s times like this I miss my time in that industry…

Istanbul

Night time in Istanbul

I’ve had a couple of foreign trips, one for work the other play.  We’re just finishing filming Escape to the Continent and my final show or ‘proposed move’ for my couple was to Malta. Having been there on holiday but overlooked it’s historic past and incredible architecture, it was a delight to go back and see it at it’s best – in the spring with just the locals for company.  Can’t recommend it enough for a break.  Also on the vacation theme, the hubster and I decided to go to Istanbul with two of our closest friends for Easter (don’t mention eggs).  I’d thoroughly recommend going away with friends that are: a) really knowledgeable about a region b) book fantastic restaurants and c) great company.  We held on to their shirt tales and were guided throughout the four days.  Instanbul is a city of two halves, one side European, the other Asian.  In my book you get the best of two worlds… Had a guided tour and dinner at the newly opened Soho House Instanbul – a former US Embassy which has been transformed into the perfect weekend retreat in a bustling city.  It rocks on a Friday night. That’s all I’m saying…

Looking forward to hosting the First Time Buyer Awards later this month for the third year running and gearing up for one of the true highlights of my year, being part of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show team.  Which reminds me, must give the garden some attention…

Lastly, I’m back Escaping to the Country (with and without the thermals) and enjoying touring the UK once again.  May have secured a house sale already… don’t faint.  Interesting couples, some splendid houses and many a mile driven… it’s what my spring and summers are made of!

See you soon, Nicki

March 2015 update

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

Well March is now with us and as I sit and type, the sun is shining and spring has nearly, very nearly, sprung.

It’s been a really interesting start to the year with plenty of travels to places I’m not overly familiar with.  I was delighted when P & O invited me once again to join their ship Aurora on part of its world tour as one of their guest speakers.  Sadly I couldn’t spare the full four months (yep, that’s the full ‘world tour’).  In January, I flew to Rio to join the ship and its passengers after spending a few days in the city itself.  And what a city it is…  You do have to have your wits about you but if ever there’s a place on earth that celebrates it’s beaches, carnivals, music and football, it’s Rio de Janeiro.

Ruta del Fin del Mundo, or Route to the End of the World.

Ruta del Fin del Mundo, or Route to the End of the World.

The highlight of this part of the trip had to be visiting a ‘favela’ called Vidigal high up with views across Ipanema Beach… a once in a lifetime experience where we drank, sampled the local cuisine and ate like kings… From there we visited Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, Punta Arenas in Chile – a sprawling city on the edge of the Magellan Straits and the wonderfully named Ruta del Fin del Mundo (route to the end of the world) and then decided to add a few days in Buenos Aires before returning home.

In February we recorded some Escape to the Country Specials. It was great to catch up with the other presenters – Jules, Alastair, Jonnie and Sonali.  As we spend over half a year on the road recording the series we rarely get a chance to actually meet up, swap stories and find out who sold the most houses – not usually me sadly! These Specials will go out later in the year on BBC One.

Wanted Down Under is just finishing now on BBC One, but already the team are filming the new series which will air in Spring 2016.  I fly out to Oz later this year.  This series has been a huge success and thanks to all of you who have been tweeting or on Facebook with your views and thoughts on our families.  It’s a huge challenge and decision to move to the other side of the world… Could you do it?  Listening to your comments, it seems the Revisits are so popular and more will follow in 2016…

Vidigal, with views over Ipanema Beach

Vidigal, with views over Ipanema Beach

Most of last summer was spent filming Escape to the Country but also our second series of Escape to the Continent – it does what it says on the tin. I particularly love filming this show, exploring new areas of Europe, showing our couples a possible new way of life, but also giving them a reality check on what this ‘new life’ might entail.  We’re just finishing off this second series. I’m off to Malta with my next couple, and the show should air later on this year.  Hopefully early summer.

I’ve posted on Twitter a few photos from The BRITs, which was fabulous and brought back memories of my years in the Music Industry… seeing Take That perform again was like déjà vu! I met Ricky Wilson, currently doing great business on The Voice, and spent far too long swapping judging stories comparing Pop Idol to the entertainment shows of today.  We all love a ‘journey’!!

The tale of two judges!

The tale of two judges!

On a personal level, since being inspired by the Spanish Riding School in the autumn, I’m now back in the saddle and trying to ride each weekend.  You can call me the ‘happy hacker’.  I’m currently on Lent… I won’t bore you with the details, but will share that it’s been harder than ever. Hopefully by the time I write again it will all be over for another year….   I’m back on BBC Radio 2 in a few weeks time, just about to start filming the new series of Escape to the Country, and am starting to get excited about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. OK, it’s not until May, but a girl can dream….