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We did it! We took our first trip abroad with Otis and it turned out pretty lovely. He slept on the plane, enjoyed all the attention, and Steve and I still felt like we had a holiday, even with a baby in tow. This post is filled with all our tips for travelling to Barcelona with a baby, including how to get around, where to stay, where to eat and ideas of things to do. 

Why Barcelona?

We were in Barcelona for four nights, choosing it in part because we both know the city really well, which meant we wouldn’t feel any pressure to see everything or feel like we were missing out. It’s also one of our favourite cities, so we’re always happy to have a reason to visit.

However, even if you’ve never been there before, Barcelona is still a great place to visit with a baby. The Spanish love kids, so we were welcomed everywhere, from the hotel to bars and restaurants. It’s culturally normal in Spain to take kids out at night, so we were spared the guilt of taking Otis out too late, and it was good to see how a different culture approaches childhood.

Baby travel to Barcelona

Otis was three months old when we visited, so at a relatively easy age. He essentially slept, ate, and had little periods of play during the day. He’s not mobile yet, which I’m sure makes things easier. Many people say that pre-crawling/walking is the easiest time to travel with a baby and, while I don’t have any point of comparison yet, I can definitely see how that would be true. I’ll be writing more about travelling with a baby as Otis gets older, so I’ll report back as I go.

But for now, here are my tips for travelling to Barcelona with a baby.

Things to do in Barcelona with a baby

As I said, we’ve spent a lot of time in Barcelona, so didn’t feel the need to try and see all the big sights. Instead, our main motivation was to relax, so we took our days slowly and spent our time walking around our favourite places and eating at our favourite restaurants, while also discovering some new things along the way.

However, had we wanted to visit some more of the sights, we still could have done that with Otis, especially if we timed our visits with his naps. I just wouldn’t recommend trying to cram too much in – just one or two things per day is enough. For more ideas of things to do in Barcelona, see this post, Barcelona Favourites, or explore the Visit Barcelona website.

This time, this is what we did:

Montjuic Cactus Garden and Teleferico

Montjuic is a big hill in central Barcelona overlooking the city. It’s home to all sorts of things to see and do, from the Montjuic Castle to the Olympic village, to a whole host of museums. On this visit, I heard about a cactus garden on Montjuic that I’d never been to before. It’s called Mossen Costs I Llobera garden and is a stunning display of cacti with gorgeous views out to sea. The gardens are close to the teleferico stop, so we combined the two, visiting the gardens and then taking the teleferico down to the beach. I’m not a huge fan of heights so the teleferico was somewhat hair-raising, especially with Otis on my lap, but it’s definitely worth it for the views. I think they’re likely the best in Barcelona. We also had a picnic on the hill.

However, there is one thing we did that you probably shouldn’t! We originally intended to get the teleferico from the beach up to Montjuic. But, due to some unfortunate map reading, we ended up navigating to the teleferico stop at the top of the hill. This meant we found ourselves at the bottom of a flight of around 200 steps up to Montjuic. As we had our friend Shannon with us, and weren’t feeling inclined to walk to the beach and correct our mistake, we ended up carrying the pushchair up all the steps! It was a bit mad and not something I’d recommend, but we managed. A better option would be to get the teleferico up the mountain as we had intended, or to get the funicular from Parallel station. Alternatively, if you had a baby carrier, the steps would be fine.

Walk around the city

Barcelona is a perfect city for walking. The architecture is stunning and there’s so much to see within a small area, from the beach to the parks to the picturesque streets of the Born and Gothic quarters. We spent hours wandering around. It’s especially nice in good weather to walk down to Barceloneta and take a stroll along the beach promenade.

Ciutadella Park

Otis with our lovely friend Shannon

I put this park in every post I ever write about Barcelona because I absolutely love it. It has a chilled out, friendly vibe and is the perfect respite from the city. It was especially good with a baby as it gave us somewhere to relax for a few hours during the day. We brought a blanket with us and Otis was entertained staring up at the trees while we all chatted, read and snacked.

La Boqueria

The Boqueria market is easily one of the most touristy places in Barcelona, but I still love it, and on this occassion we went there to collect some picnic materials before heading up Montjuic. Yes, we could likely have got it cheaper elsewhere, but then we wouldn’t have had the atmosphere – I think sometimes it’s worth paying that little extra.

Places to eat and drink in Barcelona with a baby

I was worried that travelling with Otis would mean that we couldn’t go to our favourite restaurants in Barcelona, either because babies wouldn’t be allowed or because Otis would be grouchy in the evenings, but luckily that wasn’t the case. Otis slept through all our evening meals apart from the last one, which we cut a tiny bit short so we could take him home to bed And all the restaurants were fine with him being there in the pushchair – as I said at the start, it’s very common for Spanish people to take their babies out in the evening. That said, we did go out for dinner very early by Spanish standards, booking our table for the earliest sitting at 7pm with the aim of being home by 9:30pm, which tended to work out. If your baby has a routine that would make going for dinner harder, you could prioritise lunch as your main meal, and then try going out even earlier in the evenings, or perhaps get a takeaway, self-cater or order room service.

These are the restaurants we went to:

Brunch and Cake by the Sea

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One of the first things a girlfriend of mine asked when I told her I was pregnant was whether or not I would give birth without painkillers. It was one of the first glimpses I had of the pressure that women face about giving birth. A natural, non-medicated birth tends to be held up as a beacon of goddess-like triumph. And my hat is off to all the women who achieve it. I know it’s not an easy route and it’s one that certainly takes courage. But a natural birth is also a privilege and I think it’s wrong that so many of the women who have medical intervention during birth are left feeling as though they failed or achieved something lesser than those who didn’t. After all, every birth is a triumph. And varying circumstances, bodies and minds mean that the options are different for everyone.

My birth story

When I first found out I would likely have to have a caesarean, I stepped out of the doctor’s office and cried on Steve’s shoulder, feeling instant grief for the birth that I had imagined. For months I’d been preparing for a natural delivery, going to antenatal classes and practising hypnobirthing techniques. I was excited more than scared and I looked forward to the intensity of the experience. I guess I wanted to be that goddess. 

But prior medical issues with my pelvic floor meant that I was eventually advised to have a caesarean. If I didn’t, it was likely I’d need surgery afterwards or, worse, that there would be complications with the delivery. No-one could say for sure what the outcome would be and I was given advice not firm instructions, so I had to make the final decision myself. There were lots of things to weigh up, from the pluses and minuses of natural/caesarean birth to the consequences if things didn’t go smoothly. My consultant had told me that the worst option for my pelvic floor would be an instrumental delivery, but that’s not something that’s easily avoided if you need it in the moment. The whole decision-making process was a string of ‘what ifs’, nothing certain and all options with their own risks. So in the end, we made a compromise: we booked a date for an elective caesarean, but if I went into labour before then, I planned to see how labour was progressing and potentially try it naturally. 

This meant I continued to prepare for both a natural birth and a caesarean right up until the day Otis was born. In a way this wasn’t weird as all births could end up either way regardless of your situation, so I think it’s wise to prepare for both. However as the date of our elective neared, I knew my chances for a natural birth were slimming. I did all the things to try and speed things up, from eating dates to trying acupuncture, but nothing seemed to work. In hindsight, I think that was for the best. 

My final bump photo on the morning of Otis’ birth

Preparing for a c-section 

We booked the elective about three weeks in advance, but we kept the date a secret as we still wanted the birth to be a surprise for our loved ones. In the UK, electives tend to be done at 39 weeks because any earlier than that ups the likelihood of the baby having breathing difficulties, and any later means you get increasingly likely to go into spontaneous labour and potentially need a less calm, emergency c-section. We booked ours for 39 weeks plus three days, on 23 January.

One week before the op we had an appointment at the hospital where a nurse and an anaesthetist talked us through what would happen on the day and the things we needed to do to beforehand. There were meds (antacids and anti-sickness) I needed to take the night before and the morning of, plus a glucose drink to have beforehand. I needed to fast from midnight, so the glucose drink kept me going before the op at 8am. A benefit of an elective is that you have the chance to take these precautions that help the operation go nice and smoothly. 

We made a birth plan for the caesarean that outlined all our wishes. Happily, everything we wanted was in line with our hospital’s standard procedure. They deliver babies slowly, which helps to squeeze fluid from the lungs as would happen in a vaginal delivery. They delay the cutting of the cord, so the baby gets that extra placental blood. The baby is placed on the mother’s chest almost immediately for that special skin-to-skin bonding. And they encourage breastfeeding as soon as possible. All of these elements were things I was worried about missing out on because of having a c-section instead of a natural birth, so it was reassuring to know that the hospital was already on the same page. It’s not that long ago that caesareans were all done under general anaesthetic so the mother would be unconscious for the whole thing. In this case, I’d be fully awake and Steve would be there beside me. 

Us at the hospital just before the birth

We were also allowed to play our own music during the operation, which entailed hours of agonising over the perfect playlist and trying fruitlessly to time what would be playing when he was actually born! In the end it was a song by Einuadi followed by some Edward Sharpe. The surgical team complimented us on our choices as just the week before they’d been subjected to Ed Sheeran on repeat!

The night before the elective had the feeling of Christmas Eve when as a child you can’t sleep for the excitement. We knew when we closed our eyes that the next morning would be our son’s birth date. I held my belly and sent messages of strength to the baby that had grown inside it. It felt beyond comprehension that tomorrow we would meet him. 

The next morning, after some final bump photos and a shower, Steve and I drove to the hospital with our empty baby car seat and carefully packed overnight bag, filled with things I’d never needed before, like giant knickers and lanolin cream. We were headed out for our most monumental trip yet. I’d never had surgery before, so I was unsure what to expect. My main concern was that the spinal block wouldn’t work and I’d have to have a general anaesthetic instead. I was desperate to be conscious for the delivery. 

Once at the hospital, we were shown to the recovery room where the staff all came to introduce themselves – the surgeon, midwife, anaesthetist and nursing assistant. They talked through what their role was and read through our birth plan. We couldn’t have felt in better hands. 

Preparing for my spinal injection

The operation

With Steve in scrubs and me in a fetching open-backed gown, we made our way to the theatre. “Welcome to our office” smiled the anaesthetist and kept up a jolly banter as things got started. I was given my spinal injection, which gave no more than a short-lived stinging pain and feeling of warmth as the anaesthesia began to take hold. It was an odd sensation as I began to lose the feeling in my legs, but a relief to know it was working. A canula was also placed in my hand and I was hooked up to a drip. The anaesthetist had control of this during the operation, regularly checking in to see if I felt light-headed or nauseous and the meds needed adjusting. 

Behind the curtain as the surgeons prepare for the op

Once the anaesthesia was fully working from the chest down, tested by a spray of freezing cold water, the operation could begin. Steve was by my side, with the anaesthetist at the other. There was a curtain between my chest and the surgeons, so I was shielded from the more gory side of things. But I did request they lower it a little when Otis was born, so I could see him as soon as possible. The anaesthetist also talked us through all that was happening, again at my request. Despite being numb during the op, you can still feel that something’s happening. It’s most commonly described as feeling like someone’s doing the washing up inside of you, and to be honest that’s pretty accurate! 

The whole atmosphere was calm and despite being in a brightly lit theatre, I still felt in a protective bubble, anchored by my eyes on Steve.

Our first sight of Otis!

The birth 

It was only around five minutes into the operation that the anaesthetist turned and said they were ready to reach for our baby. He lowered the curtain and within seconds I heard the best sound that’s ever reached my ears – the wail of our son’s first cry. My sense of relief was huge – he was here, alive and breathing. Our son had entered the world. 

The midwife hands Otis to me

After a moment, Otis’ cord was cut and he  was very briefly taken to the side of the room to be checked and weighed by the midwife before being placed upon my chest. For me, there’s never been a more magical moment: Otis stopped crying as soon as he was on me and that’s where he stayed for the remainder of the operation, curled up on my chest as Steve and I gazed at him in awe. I didn’t even notice when they finished stitching me up. 

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Slovenia was a surprise to us. We went there for a festival and ending up falling in love with this deeply underrated country. It’s a small place that packs in a lot of delights – from a lively, picture-perfect capital city to fairytale castles and magnificent nature at every turn. Add to that mountains, lakes, wine valleys, and some of the best food we’ve ever eaten, and you have the perfect holiday destination. We highly recommend it, and in this post we’ve put together the perfect 10-day Slovenia road trip itinerary, including where to stay, what to do, and how much it all costs.

About our Slovenia road trip

As a thank you to Steve’s parents for all they did to help with our wedding, we decided to plan a holiday for them. We chose Slovenia because of all the reasons above: it’s an ideal European trip and we were confident they’d love it. We put together a 10-day itinerary based on all the things we’d done on our own trip, adding one place that we haven’t been to – Piran. The feedback was positive: they loved Slovenia as much as we did. This post details all you need to replicate that 10-day Slovenian road trip.

An overview of our 10-day Slovenia itinerary 

Days 1- 4: Ljubljana

Days 4-6: Lake Bled

Days 6-7: Vršič Pass and Soca Valley

Days 7-9: Piran

Days 9-10: Vipava Valley

Day 10: Return home

How to make the most of 12 days in Slovenia

Ljubljana

Days 1-4

We recommend three nights in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s tiny capital. We found it to be an enchanting little city and especially loved spending time wandering around the old town. As well as exploring Ljubljana, we also recommend taking a day trip to the east of the country where you can explore Slovenia’s second city and the Jerusalem wine region. Get a taste of the city in this photo essay of Ljubljana.

Getting to and around Ljubljana

You can catch a bus from Ljubljana airport to the centre of town, or alternatively take a taxi. There’s a photo essay of Ljubljana.

Where to stay in Ljubljana

When we went to Ljubljana, we stayed in the Tresor Hostel, which was nice and clean and very central but it lacked character if that’s what you’re looking for. We heard that the Celica Hostel ( a converted prison) is also a great option and more social. Celica is next to Metelkova Mesto, which is an old Army Barracks that has been squatted since 1993 and now houses artists, galleries and bars with an alternative edge. If you’d like something more than a hostel, we booked this Celica Hostel for Steve’s parents, which they enjoyed. Book with Celica Hostel to get £25 off your stay.

Where to eat in Ljubljana

Open Kitchen

Open Kitchen is an outdoor street food market that takes place on Fridays from 10am-11pm in the Central Market, from spring to late autumn. There are around 30 different stalls selling meals from all over the world.

Spajza

Spajza is a lovely Slovenian restaurant in the old town. Mains costs around €20.

Valvasor

Valvasor is a high-end Slovenian restaurant in the old town. We didn’t get to try it, but it’s highly recommended and is number 3 on Tripadvisor.

Gelateria Romantika

If it’s a nice sunny day, you could grab some gelato from Gelateria Romantika place near the castle – considered by many to be some of the best in the world, with a wide variety of interesting flavours.

Things to do in Ljubljana

Walking tour

It’s worth doing a walking tour of the city, which will take you to all the main sights and give you some insight into the history and culture of Ljubljana. Nearly all of them include a trip to the castle, as well as the Triple Bridge and Robba Fountain. Some of the tours include a little boat ride, which is a lovely way to see the city. You can take a free tour with this company or there’s a full list of more formal tours here.

Day trip to Maribor, Ptuj and Jeruzalem wine region

This day trip includes a visit to Slovenia’s second largest city, Maribor and the Jeruzalem wine region, which is said to be one of the most picturesque wine routes in Europe. It also includes a visit to Ptuj, the oldest town in Slovenia. The tour costs €59 per person.

Ljubjana Castle

You can either walk or take the funicular to the top – or do one on the way up, and the other on the way down. There are great views of the city from the top, and you can get a cup of coffee from the little cafe up there.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas

This early 18th century Baroque cathedral has an amazingly intricate interior, and an interesting bronze door created in 1996 for Pope John Paul II’s visit.

Tivoli Park

The city’s biggest park is a beautiful place to go for a walk. The promenade in the centre often holds photography exhibitions.

Food walk

We’ve also been recommended food walks with Ljubljananjam.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery, Slovenia’s foremost museum of historical art, holds the country’s largest collection of fine art from the High Middle Ages to the 20th century. It also houses a permanent exhibition of works by Zoran Mušič (1909–2005), one of Europe’s leading modernist painters, and various temporary exhibitions.

Arboretum

The Arboretum Volčji Potok is about 25 minutes from Ljubljana, which you might be interested in visiting. It’s a public park extending over 85 hectares, including tulip gardens, rhododendrons, roses and water lilies, trees, shrubs, natural forest and wet meadows.

Lake Bled

Days 4-6

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most iconic destinations with its fairytale castle, island and church set on an cobalt-blue lake surrounded by mountains. It’s pretty touristy, but beautiful nonetheless. You may also like to visit Lake Bohinj, its less touristy neighbour. 

How to get to and around Lake Bled

Depending on your priorities, you could either spend a little longer in Ljubljana on the morning of 28 August or head straight to Lake Bled. Bear in mind that you need to leave Lake Bled early on the Tuesday morning. The trip from Ljubljana takes just under two hours.

This is where the road trip part of your journey begins, so go to collect your car just before your drive to Lake Bled. We recommend searching for car hire with RentalCars.com who always have the cheapest deals in our experience.

Where to stay in Lake Bled

We stayed at a special eco resort in Lake Bled called Garden Village, which offers stylish glamping in gorgeous nature with an environmental conscience. There tree houses are particularly amazing, and I’ve written a full review here. Prices start at around €80 for a tent beside the river. There was no availability there during Steve’s parents’ stay, but they enjoyed two nights at Penzione Berc, which costs around €85 per room.

Where to eat in Lake Bled

Garden Village

The restaurant at Garden Village is brilliant, and very unusual in that they serve all the food on a small lawn of grass embedded in the table!

Finefood Penzion Berc

The restaurant at Penzione Berccomes highly recommended. They serve local produce in a lovely garden setting.

Grajska Plaza

Penzione Berc restaurant comes highly rated, with a great view of the lake.

Things to do in Lake Bled

Lake Bled..

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This is one of those posts where, if you’re here for travel stories, you might want to head over to the travel section instead. However, lots of people have written to me expressing interest in my fertility journey. I struggled to find stories when I was going through all of this, so I’m sharing mine with you. So, here’s the personal and somewhat technical story of how I came to be pregnant. It also explains why our trips were so last-minute in 2017! The first part is about the journey, and the end gives my advice for people going through something similar.

I always knew that getting pregnant might not be easy for me. My periods were slow to start as a teenager and have only ever been regular when I was taking the pill. Like my Mum, I have polycystic ovaries, which means my ovaries contain lots of fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs. Despite the name, they aren’t cysts, but under-developed sacs where eggs develop but then struggle to be released. That results in irregular periods, which can in turn result in difficulty getting pregnant. No-one knows how many people have PCOS, but the estimate is as high in one in every five women in the UK. You also don’t necessarily have PCOS if you have polycystic ovaries: they tend to diagnose you when you have two of three symptoms: irregular periods, polycystic ovaries or excess androgens in your body.

PCOS and fertility

Not everyone with PCOS struggles to get pregnant, but it does tend to make things more difficult. One of the hardest things is knowing when you might be fertile. Steve and I had a year of trying before we started treatment, and as my periods were so irregular, it was hard knowing where I was in my cycle. That raises two issues: first, you don’t have the advantage of being able to optimise when you have sex at the most fertile times; and second, you can’t be sure if/when you’ve ovulated, so there are periods of time where you have no idea where you’re at: pregnant, waiting to ovulate, about to get your period, or in the middle of a cycle where you failed to ovulate at all! The not knowing is difficult, but we remained pretty relaxed about it for that first year, travelling often, staying healthy and trying not to get consumed by it all. During that time, I had six periods, so even though we were trying for a year, in reality we only had six chances rather than the 12 that one would normally have.

Temperature tracking and OPK sticks

One of the things I tried during that time was tracking my temperature to map my ovulation. Your basal body temperature (BBT) rises slightly after you’ve ovulated, so by taking your temperature as soon as you wake up each morning, you can, in theory, track when you ovulate. The problem is, this doesn’t always work if you have PCOS. On some months I could see a pattern, whereas other months I couldn’t. In the end I decided to stop as looking for a non-existent pattern was somewhat crazy-making!

I also tried using ovulation predictor sticks, which are meant to tell you when you’re having an LH surge (a hormone that peaks just before ovulation). However, these tend to be unreliable for people with PCOS, and I definitely found that to be the case.

I did, however, try both of these things again when I started fertility treatment and I was able to see patterns and positive OPKs then.

We travelled in New Zealand during that first year of trying to get pregnant. And also went to Japan, South Korea and Mexico.

When we decided to get help

As soon as Steve and I started trying for a baby I went to my GP to let her know and she referred me to a pregnancy specialist immediately, which is quite unusual. The specialist did an ultrasound, confirmed I had polycystic ovaries, but that everything else was okay, and said to try naturally for about a year before going to a fertility specialist for treatment. In that time, I also saw the hormone (endocrine) specialist who said that despite my polycystic ovaries, my hormone levels were in the normal range. 

So, after a year if trying unsuccessfully, we went to the fertility specialist. Straight away I was prescribed Metformin, which is a drug often given to women with PCOS. It’s primarily a diabetes drug, but women who have PCOS also often have insulin resistance, so it’s used to control the symptoms. I didn’t notice a tangible difference for the three months I was on Metformin alone, but I stayed on it until I got pregnant as it’s recommended alongside the other treatments. It’s well known for having side effects, but I only felt a little nauseous for the first month of taking it, or if I ever took it without eating first.

The tests

At that first fertility appointment, we were also sent for tests: Steve for sperm tests and I for a series of blood tests, mostly testing my hormones. Steve’s were normal and the only one that was unusual for me was the AMH test, which measures your ovarian reserves (how many eggs you have left). Mine was sky high, which is typical for people with PCOS, and meant that any fertility treatment I did would need to be gentle so I didn’t get overstimulated, releasing too many eggs and being at risk of a multiple pregnancy.

Our treatment journey Clomid

Other than trying Metformin for a few months, the first course of action prescribed by the fertility specialist was to try clomifene, a drug also known as Clomid. Clomid encourages monthly ovulation, so, if it works, it gives people with irregular periods more chances to conceive. You take it for five days, from day 2-6 of your cycle, although some doctors vary this slightly. You then have to go in for regular ultrasounds from about day 11. This is so that the medical team can monitor how many follicles are developing. If more than two start to mature then the cycle has to be cancelled as you are at high risk of having a multiple birth, which is dangerous for both the mother and babies. If you have just one or two follicles, they monitor you until one of them reaches around 20mm. At that point, they say that ovulation is imminent and send you off to do your business and hope for the best. It’s also possible to get a HCG injection at that point, which stimulates the follicle to release the egg, meaning you know for sure you’ll ovulate in the next couple of days. I did six rounds of Clomid in total and had different experiences each time. Here’s a summary of what happened. I started on 50mg of Clomid per day.

Cycle one

For my first cycle, I went for three scans, every other day, starting on day 11. On the first scan, my biggest follicle was 14mm, and on the second scan, I had two big ones of 17mm and 18mm. For the final scan, even more follicles had developed/grown, and I had four measuring 18,19, 15 and 14. It was deemed that all four follicles could potentially release eggs, so the cycle was cancelled.

Cycle two

I also had three scans for the second cycle, with a dominant follicle appearing at the second scan, measuring 19mm. But he third scan, I had three follicles: one at 23mm and two at 17mm. A different doctor was on duty this time and they said that it was highly unlikely the two 17mm ones would release, and they gave us the go ahead to try. But we didn’t get pregnant.

Cycle three

The third cycle was odd. I only went for two scans, an the biggest follicle at the second scan measured 14mm. The doctor was happy with this as that was the only dominant follicle, so said I didn’t need to come back for more scans and could continue with trying that cycle. I used OPKs throughout my Clomid cycles, and on this one I never got a positive result and my temperature didn’t rise. My period was also very light, so I’m not sure if I even ovulated for this cycle. Whatever happened, I didn’t get pregnant.

Cycle four

Cycle four was the worst. When I went for my first scan, there was already a follicle measuring 29mm, which was more than likely a cyst, potentially created by a follicle that didn’t release in the last cycle. I also had two 15mm follicles, so had to cancel the cycle as the risk of multiples was too high. I was pretty fed up at this point and booked a last-minute trip to Iceland!

Cycle five

Cycle five was another bad one to start off with. Because of the situation last time, I had to go in for a scan on day four to check that the cyst had gone. Unfortunately, it was still there, so I couldn’t start taking the Clomid and was told to go on the pill for three weeks to make it shrink. We were fed up again so this time we went to Lapland!

Happily, on day four of my next cycle, I went for the baseline scan and the cysts had gone, so we were able to take Clomid again. This time they reduced my dosage, so I alternated 50mg with 25mg for five days. I went for two scans on day 11 and 16. On day 11, there were no dominant follicles, but by day 16 there were two juicy ones measuring 20mm and 17mm. I was given the HCG trigger injection and given the green light to try. But alas, no pregnancy

What to do when you’re cycle is cancelled? Book a trip to Lapland!

Cycle six

My final cycle of Clomid was the most straightforward. I went for one scan on day 15 and had a 19mm follicle already, so they gave me a prescription for the HCG shot to administer the next day at home. My OPK showed positive for ovulation and my temperature went up, but no, I didn’t get pregnant.

Some thoughts on Clomid

The plan was always to only do six rounds of Clomid. I could have opted to do more, but I found the whole process pretty draining, especially when I kept getting overstimulated and had to cancel a cycle or when I got a cyst and had to go on the pill. I also found the side effects quite tricky as it tended to make me very emotional for the five days I was taking it and for a few days afterwards. It was manageable but unpleasant.

While monitoring the size of your follicles on Clomid, they also measure the thickness of your womb lining. I noticed that mine was getting thinner with every cycle, which isn’t a good thing as you want it to be nice and thick for the egg to implant. A thin womb lining is a common side effect of Clomid.

Transferring to Bristol

All of my Clomid cycles were done at Kings Hospital in London as that’s where I was living when I started treatment. However, I moved to Bristol half way through, so had to travel up to London for cycles 4-6. Most of the time I was able to time it with other appointments in London, but when I couldn’t, it meant a lot of time and money spent on trips to London. I could have transferred to Bristol at any time, but I knew that would mean a disruption to the treatment. The hospitals aren’t joined up, so I’d have to start again with the investigations and so on. I decided to do all six cycles in London and then transfer to Bristol. I started the process of transferring while I was still in treatment in London as I wanted to try and avoid any long breaks or delays. This involved getting a referral to Bristol’s fertility centre from my GP, waiting for an appointment with the specialist and then doing all the tests again. It took about six weeks. So here’s what happened in Bristol…

Gonadotropins

I was given the option of continuing with Clomid for a few more cycles or trying another type of of treatment called gonadotropins. Interestingly, in London, they had intended to move me straight to IVF after  Clomid, so I was pleased to hear there was an intermediary option. Like Clomid, gonadotropins stimulate ovulation. They are the same hormones (LH and FSH) that stimulate ovulation naturally, and they’re also used at the start of an IVF cycle to stimulate egg production. Gonadotropins are given via an injection, which you do yourself at home, and the one I used was called Gonal-F.

[How many injections and how much?] I went for four scans during this cycle, ever other day from days 8-14. By the fourth scan, I had two follicles measuring 17mm and 21mm, and my womb lining was 8.4mm, which was thicker than it had ever been when I taking Clomid (on my last round the womb lining was 6.5mm). I was given the HCG injection that day, and as before sent home to try and hope for the best.

A positive test!

The HCG injection is the same hormone that you produce when pregnant, so if you do a pregnancy test in the two weeks following that injection, the test will show up positive. That means you have to try hard not to test too early. I failed on that account and tested on day 13 after the injection. I couldn’t wait! But, of course, when it then showed positive, I couldn’t be sure it was the real thing. I got Steve to buy a less sensitive test and that one showed negative. I then used the less sensitive one the next day, and this time it showed positive! I still couldn’t believe it, so had to double check for the next few days, but each time the line got stronger. It had actually worked – I was pregnant!

Early scan and pregnancy care

If you’ve been in fertility treatment, you can go for an early scan at seven weeks to check everything is okay. All we could see was a little pulsating blob, but it was probably the to exciting thing I’d ever seen. There was the beginning of our baby! Following that appointment, we were discharged from the fertility clinic and from then on, we followed the same protocol as anyone else who gets pregnant, visiting our community midwife and having scans at our local hospital. I also have hypothyroidism and a few digestive issues, so had to see a consultant a few times, and as I’m writing this, I’m 34 weeks and waiting for an appointment to find out if I should have a c-section. But other than that, the pregnancy so far has been straightforward. I can write more about that side of things in the future.

Some thoughts on my fertility journey

As you can see from this post, it took us about 20 months to get pregnant and at times those months were slow. But in the grand scheme of things, we were lucky. For some people it takes years, and for others it doesn’t happen at all. Sitting here, 34 weeks pregnant, it’s been interesting to revisit the journey that got me here, and I feel immense gratitude for where I am.

It’s hard not to get consumed by the desire to get pregnant and the disappointment of so many negative tests. That day when you see your period appear is the saddest one of all. And when things don’t go to plan with treatment, it’s difficult not to lose hope. A lot of people say it puts a strain on their relationship, but I don’t think this was the case for Steve and I. We made sure to keep in good communication throughout the whole thing, talking through our fears and concerns. We also kept ourselves busy, continuing on with all the other parts of our lives, so that becoming pregnant didn’t become our only focus. We tried to keep the perspective that even if we couldn’t have children, our lives were still full and happy.

Telling other people

For me, I think it also helped not to talk to too many people about what we were going through. It’s certainly a good idea to have some key confidantes, but I found that when I told too many people, I started to feel the weight of them waiting for news. Some people also say the wrong thing. I had one friend who instantly asked if I’d thought of surrogacy, which wasn’t helpful as it’s kind of akin to telling someone you’re going through some relationship issues and them saying ‘Have you thought of meeting someone else instead?’. You want encouragement and understanding that what you’re trying to do might work out, rather than a suggestion that implies no hope.

Us in Iceland after one of our Clomid cycles was cancelled

Travelling during treatment

Travelling during our Clomid cycles was a challenge. If we could have known exactly when our scans would be happening then it would have been much easier, but I ovulated on..

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Melbourne is the king of brunches and some of the best places can be found in the hipster-filled borough of Fitzroy. We were there for two weeks and made it our mission to find the best vegetarian brunches in Melbourne. Not only do the cafes take their coffee seriously, they also come up with inventive menus that go way beyond simple avo on toast. As a shameless millennial, I was in heaven. So here’s my round-up of the best brunches in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Although I’m focussing on the vegetarian side of things, these places are great for all food.

Archies All Day

I still sometimes dream about the egg brioche roll at Archies All Day. They managed to make something so simple into something extraordinary and it goes down as the best egg sandwich I’ve ever had. The dirty eggs are also amazing, and there are plenty of other experimental dishes, such as a vanilla bean oatmeal with red quinoa, caramelised mandarin compote, sweet dukkah and mandarin gel. The decor is cute and kitsch with pastel ceramics and artworks from the seventies.

Addict

As the name would suggest, Addict is the perfect place for those with a love for coffee. Serving fancy brews in classic white walled, chunky-wooden-table-top setting, it’s filled with Melbourne hipsters. The crumpets are a highlight and another favourite, which we loved, was the potato hash with mushroom duxelle, field mushrooms, caramelised onions and poached egg. The chelate fondant pancakes also sound tempting.

Breakfast Thieves

“We are all thieves when it comes to fine food” says the Breakfast Thieves website, and this popular places has built itself a reputation for some of the best breakfast in Melbourne. It specialises in modern Australian cuisine with an Asian twist, such as french toast with pandas cream or matcha, or pickled daikon with sweetcorn fritters. The lunch menu is also great.

Industry Beans

Industry Beans made it on to Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s best brunches and when we went it was seriously good. Housed in a  shipping container, it’s quintessentially hipster with clean, minimalist design and a detailed, technical coffee menu. And the food is exquisite, filled with seasonal dishes such as a kale kimchi bowl with broccoflower, activated charcoal puree, pickled beetroot, avocado cashew butter, puffed grains and activated buckwheat. This is what we mean when we say Melbourne brunch is a cut above the rest!

Proud Mary

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It’s a bit of a silly word, but a babymoon refers to the final holiday a couple takes by themselves  before their baby arrives. When I heard about the concept, I didn’t need convincing to take one. Not only do I take any excuse to travel, but I also genuinely think it’s a great idea to take some precious couple time before you welcome someone new into your life…forever!

Steve and I went away on many short trips while I was pregnant, from festivals to film-making trips in the UK (see a full list at the bottom of this post), but we also wanted to take one big babymoon, a special, long and indulgent holiday. We chose an Italian babymoon for a variety of reasons, mostly because we adore it – the food, culture, nature, and the food again – but also because I didn’t fancy travelling long-haul while pregnant, and because a huge swathe of the world is currently out of bounds for pregnant women because of Zika. We also took a shorter babymoon to Barcelona.

All our trips were relatively tame. I know pregnant women who have been far more adventurous, backpacking India, hiking mountains and travelling much further afield, but for Steve and I, after so long trying to get pregnant, we wanted to play it safe.

This post is about all the things we took into consideration, and the the tips we learned, when planning our babymoon and the travelling we did while pregnant. I’ve also written individual posts about our trips to Latitude, Italy and Barcelona, as well as one specifically about what foods to avoid while pregnant in Italy.

With all of these tips, it ultimately comes down to how you personally feel. Pregnancy is a unique journey for everyone, so it’s hard to give blanket advice. Some women travel loads, while others can’t face it at all. Here are just a few pointers that will hopefully help you work out what’s best for you. Enjoy!

When to travel

Most people say that the best time to travel is during the second trimester when your energy is hopefully higher and morning sickness is behind you. I did six small UK trips during my first trimester – to Devon, Wales, the Cotswolds, Liverpool and Latitude Festival – and was definitely more tired than usual, but still had a great time. I just went to bed earlier than usual. However, I was lucky and had very little morning sickness.

To be on the safe side, the second trimester is your best bet. I went to Italy when 17-20 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty good, so we barely had to adjust what we would normally do on holiday. We also went to Scotland during that time, which involved  a lot of walking and late nights at the Edinburgh Festival, which again I managed fine. And we went to Barcelona at the very end of the second trimester, which although wonderful, was also when the tiredness was starting to creep back in. For that reason, I’d recommend planning your babymoon for the early-mid part of the second trimester.

Once you get into the third trimester, tiredness often returns, plus you’re physically a lot bigger and may not be allowed to travel by air anymore. This can be a good time for a shorter trip somewhere closer to home. We went to Bruton in Somerset for a relaxing weekend away.

How to travel

It’s important to check with your doctor first, but women with an uncomplicated pregnancy can normally fly until up to 38 weeks of pregnancy, although after 28 weeks you tend to need a letter from your doctor to confirm it’s considered safe. Always check with the airline before booking your trip.

One thing to bear in mind is that flying during pregnancy can slightly increase your risk of developing DVT. You can wear compression socks/stockings during the flight to reduce the risk, and also make sure to take breaks from sitting still by walking around the plane or doing some simple stretches. And drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.

I personally didn’t fancy doing any long-haul flights while pregnant as I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling, plus I didn’t want the jet lag to compound my pregnancy tiredness. Perhaps if Zika hadn’t been an issue, I may have been tempted to fly somewhere tropical, but I decided that Europe offered plenty of good options and came with the benefit of a short flight. If flying is off the cards for you, you could consider an alternative, such as train travel, a road trip or a cruise.

Luggage

Pregnant women are advised not to carry heavy objects, so bear this in mind when packing for your holiday. For example, you probably don’t want to be lugging a huge backpack around with you. To Italy, I took a cabin-size wheelie bag. We hired a car from the airport so I barely had to move it at all aside from going in and out of hotels/BnBs. The problem was, some of our AirBnBs didn’t have lifts, or they involved up to 300 steps to get to! Because I knew about this in advance, I also packed a big empty shopping bag in my luggage. For the places with steps, I unpacked the stuff I needed for the nights we were there and transported them in the shopping bag, while leaving the rest of my stuff in the car. However, it was Steve who was carrying the shopping bag (plus his luggage), so it’s important you either pack extra light or have someone like Steve who’s willing to help!

Packing

I’m a big fan of comfortable, loose clothing anyway, so when pregnant, I didn’t pack very differently to how I normally do. But I did prioritise bringing comfortable shoes. Converse and Doc Martens were ideal for the colder months, and Birkenstocks were perfect in the summer. I bought a maternity swimsuit for our Italy trip.

I also brought a yoga mat with me, which was good for stretching away any aches and pains, as well as remaining fit and calm.

The pace

A lot of people advise babymooners to have a holiday that is as relaxing as possible, for example staying in one place for the whole duration. I personally think it depends on how you’re feeling, how far along in your pregnancy you are, and what type of holiday you normally enjoy. Steve and I love to do road trips, taking in a few different places along the way. For our Italy trip, we stayed in seven different places over a period of 17 days. Aside from one place where we stayed one night to break up a long car journey, we stayed in most locations for 2-3 nights. And each car journey was no longer than three hours. If you’re the type of person who likes to arrive somewhere, unpack and switch off for at least a week, then you might find this a bit hectic, but for me it worked well.

However, one thing to bear in mind is that how you feel during pregnancy is unpredictable and, as people tend to book their holidays weeks or months in advance, it’s hard to know how you’ll be feeling once you get there. Just two weeks before our holiday I was exhausted quite a lot of the time. But I think our itinerary would still have been okay because, although we chose to be active in most of the destinations, we could also have chosen to relax for the entirety. And as Steve was driving, the car journeys were pretty restful too.

The locations

As with setting the pace of your holiday, choosing a location follows a similar rule – choose what appeals to you and try to build in some flexibility so, if you don’t feel like hiking or sightseeing, you have other alternatives to choose from. For example, I wouldn’t recommend planning a holiday that revolves around a big hike that’s the centrepiece of the trip and offers few other options. Although you might be able to do it, you might also be going through a tired patch and then feel disappointed. Instead, choose a location or itinerary that has options – perhaps there’s a great hike you can do if you feel up to it, but you’d be equally happy relaxing at the hotel or beach if needs be.

In Italy, Steve and I stayed in a mixture of cities, coastal towns and countryside. When booking the trip, I was slightly concerned that the cities would be too much. I was worried I might be exhausted and disinclined to wander around. As it turned out, I walked about 40km over two days in Rome (in the August heat) and felt fine! I walked a similar amount in Barcelona. However, even if that hadn’t been the case, I reasoned beforehand that even if all I wanted to do was sit in a cafe and people-watch, that would also be okay. One thing I did avoid was going to a lot of museums or galleries. I didn’t feel like standing around in queues and Italy in the summer is jam-packed with tourists. Instead, we wandered the streets, stopped in cafes, soaked in the atmosphere and ate all the gelato we could.

Also, if you do set out on a long journey, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan. For example, when walking around Rome and Barcelona, I knew that if I needed to, I could get a taxi back to the hotel at any time. My cousin made a mistake on her babymoon to Italy when she did a hike to a neighbouring village. Her intention was to get a taxi back from the village, but once there it became clear there were no taxis in sight, so she had to walk the whole way back. Make sure to plan ahead!

Your level of fitness

Although it’s hard to know how you’ll feel during pregnancy, I think it’s worth bearing in mind your general level of fitness. For example, in Italy we spent a lot of time in very hilly places along the Amalfi coast. If walking up 300 steps is something you’d normally struggle to do, then it’s likely you’ll find it even harder when pregnant, so now isn’t the time to stretch your limits. We had five nights staying in places that required this much climbing several times a day. I was 18 weeks pregnant at the time and I managed, but after five days, I’d had enough of steps and was relieved to say goodbye to the cliffs! If I’d been in the third trimester, this would definitely have been too much.

The temperature

Some people thought I was crazy to go to Italy in August at all, let alone while pregnant. But I like the heat and made sure we stayed in places with air-conditioning. The days averaged around 32 degrees, rising to 34 on particularly hot days. I wasn’t suffering from hot flushes, so I found the temperature ideal. Plus floaty, summer clothes are perfect for pregnancy. However, if you do struggle with the heat and you’re feeling particularly hot while pregnant, then perhaps choose cooler climates. But, if you do go somewhere super cold, remember that your usual cold-weather gear may not fit you anymore, so you may have to shell out for some maternity-sized merinos, fleeces etc.

Accommodation

I stayed in all sorts of place while pregnant, from camping at festivals to luxury hotels. Like with everything else, it’s a lot about what type of travel you normally enjoy, but there are a few key things to bear in mind. The first is where the toilet is! If you’re in stage of pregnancy when you’re often rushing to the loo then the last thing you want is a long journey to get there. At campsites, stay close to the loo, and in hotels/guesthouses, consider where the loo is in relation to the bedroom. We stayed in one place that had an attic bedroom, which meant a climb down some steep steps every time I went to the bathroom. It was manageable, but not ideal.

Also think about how you get to the accommodation from the car/station/airport or however you’ll be arriving. Are there lots of steps involved? If so, think about your luggage and consider doing what I did, leaving some in the car while you carry a smaller bag.

And as you reach the third trimester, remember that you’ll be feeling heavier and might not fancy climbing up to a treehouse every night (worse if the toilet is at the bottom of the steps!).

Health

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I’d like to say I’m a minimalist or someone who makes all their own clothes, but truth be told, I’m a sucker for shopping for great design. And now that Otis is here, there’s a whole new world of temptation and all of it’s so cute! While dreaming of his arrival, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest coveting all the cuteness, and this is a collection of the brands I came to love. What unites them is their Scandinavian style, which is a design aesthetic I’ve come to love through my travels in the region. In my mind, you can’t beat it for stylish and functional yet cosy design. You can see lots of these brands in my travel-themed nursery post and in my stylish baby gift guide. Do let me know if you have more to add to the list.

MORI

MORI sells the softest baby clothes I’ve come across, made from organic cotton and bamboo. I wish they sold adult clothes too! They use a soft colour palette and simple designs, including a range of sleepsuits and swaddle bags that come highly recommended. They sometimes have great deals on, which I took advantage of at Christmas to buy lots of gifts.

Cam Cam Copenhagen

Danish brand Cam Cam Copenhagen is a perfect example of gorgeous Scandi design, creating timeless pieces in muted, dusky tones. I’m a fan of their blankets and bedding, and I also have two of their mobiles (this balloon one and this peacock), which are looking beautiful in the nursery. The company is run by architect couple Sara Giese Camre and Robert Warren Paulsen, which explains the beautiful attention to detail.

Aden + Anais

Aden + Anais is my favourite brand for beautiful prints, which they use on their signature muslin fabric for clothing, swaddles, blankets and more. I’ve fallen in love with the metallic gold deco range, and I’m a big fan of this zebra-print swaddle, which Otis looks super cute in! The clothes are also lovely, such as this cute sleep suit with a starry pattern.

Finn + Emma

Finn + Emma first caught my eye when I saw their beautiful wooden teething toys. Everything they create uses natural products, including organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes, and they also adhere to fair trade practices. The design is gorgeous, using whimsical prints and sweet, animal motifs. I have one of the wooden rattle teethers, as well as some clothes and pram toys. I especially love this little viking outfit, which is perfect for Steve’s viking blood! To buy Finn + Emma products in the UK, visit the Natural Baby Shower, which has a great selection. The play gyms are also really popular.

Snüz

Snüz are based in England but have a clear Scandinavian style. We have both the SnüzPod and the SnüzKot. The first is a bedside crib that attaches to the bed and opens up on one side so you can be extra close to the baby without having them in your bed. We’ve loved having Otis so close! And the SnüzKot is the most stylish cot I’ve come across, plus it can be extended to last until a child is up ten years old. It looks gorgeous in our Scandinavian-style nursery. Snuz is owned by the same company as Little Green Sheep who also make lovely, natural products. You can buy both Snuz and Little Green Sheep products at the Natural Baby Shower.

Sleepyhead

The Sleepyhead is the product that most people recommended to me, saying it creates a cosy little nest that babies love to sleep in, and so far it’s been a godsend for us with Otis – it’s the only place (aside from on us) that he likes to sleep. All the Sleepyheads are handmade they come in two sizes: one suitable for babies up to 8 months, and the other up to 36+ months. There’s a whole range of stylish covers to choose from, plus some cute toy arches too. 

Studio Romeo

French brand, Studio Romeo, sells a dreamy range of eco-friendly swaddles, baby carriers, blankets and bags. The brand was created when Mum Jeanne Dieuzaide couldn’t find a baby carrier she liked, so decided to come up with her own simple design. I have the boho print carrier, which I can’t wait to try out.

Nuna

Nuna is my favourite brand I’ve come across for designing pushchairs and car seats. The Danish brand’s Suited collection favours clean and simple design with touches of luxury including a brushed gold metallic frame and two-toned tweed fabrics. We did a lot of research into different pushchairs and eventually chose the Nuna Mixx pushchair and Pipa Icon car seat, which combine to create a travel system. I’ll be writing a full review soon, but so far we’ve absolutely loved it. It’s so easy to collapse and perfectly light to push around – we’re really happy with our choice. I also have my eye on the the Leaf Curv baby rocker.

Albetta

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When I first started blogging five years ago, I ran a series called If I had a Superpower where I interviewed people I met on my travels, asking a revealing set of questions that always included, ‘If you had a superpower, what would it be?’. Interviewees ranged from people I met in Rio’s favelas to Tony Wheeler, the founder of the Lonely Planet. Time meant that I stopped doing the interviews so often, but I loved it and I miss it, so I’ve decided to revive it. You can have a look at some of the archives here, including a round-up of some of my favourite interview answers. But for the first in the revived series, I’ve interviewed Brenna Holeman of This Battered Suitcase, who started as one of my favourite bloggers and then became a friend. I’m a big fan of her writing, especially her personal stories, such as the brilliant ‘The last time I saw you‘ series. I included Brenna in my list of the best female bloggers who write well and my favourite Instagrammers. She has a particularly great skill for bringing a lot of personality into her writing, which you’ll be able to tell from the interview. Enjoy!

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Does being able to sleep on airplanes count? I guess it would be cool to fly or be invisible, but I’d also like the ability to speak any language and/or play any instrument. So maybe my superpower is that I’m just really, really, really smart? Is that a thing?

All I know is you couldn’t pay me money to be able to read people’s minds. How horrifying.

If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?

Dorothy Parker, Katharine Hepburn, and Eartha Kitt. Throw in some Manhattans and we’ve got a party.

When and where were you happiest?

I always think about this one moment in my life that just epitomises my happiest self. I was travelling around Southeast Asia without a care in the world; I wore piles of jewellery, my hair nearly touched my waist, and I had just fallen in love with someone. Him and I spent a week riding around Cambodia on motorbikes, getting lost and drinking cheap whiskey and taking silly photos. This one evening, after spending the day exploring and eating delicious food, we rode down a quiet dirt road. We were soon joined by a few monks on motorbikes, and we all rode slowly together, enjoying the incredible sunset as we smiled and pointed at the pink sky. That memory always makes me smile.

What’s the love of your life?

The loves of my life are my mother Linda, my father Jon, my sister Zalie, and my brother Kitt.

Describe your perfect day.

I’m definitely on a tropical island or beach, I can tell you that!

I wake up in a big bed with white sheets; my room opens up right onto the beach, and it’s a sunny day. I’m with the people I love most – my family – and we have a huge breakfast on the porch complete with strong coffee. We spend the day swimming, scuba diving, reading, napping in the shade, riding bikes, drinking from coconuts, going to a craft market, and walking in the sand, then hit up a little local seafood place for an amazing dinner. We end the day with a lot of cocktails and a dance party on the beach, and then fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.

Oh, and if there can be a really hot dude somewhere in there, that’d be nice, too.

What’s your earliest memory?

I have a lot of fleeting memories from when I was a kid, but perhaps my most vivid early memories are: my parents telling me I was going to have a baby brother or sister, my mum’s water breaking as I was eating popcorn, and going to the hospital to meet my baby brother (I was five). I distinctly remember being angry for having to wear my sister’s hand-me-down snowsuit to the hospital because my mum hadn’t fixed the zipper on my new snowsuit, because, you know, she was having a baby. The nerve!!

What’s your greatest fear?

I actually don’t want to type it here for fear it comes true. Also, there’s a super creepy attic in my house that I assume I’ll soon hear a ghost child crying from. Or laughing. Either way… NOPE.

What’s your worst habit?

I am highly ambitious but incredibly lazy. I procrastinate with just about everything (except binge-watching shows on Netflix, I can strangely always find time for that) and can always find an excuse why I shouldn’t do my work and watch a movie/go for a walk/read a book/call a friend/drink some wine instead.

What trait do you most like in yourself and others?

I like my confidence and my independence. I appreciate the same in others, though I’d also add a crude sense of humour. I can’t be good friends with you unless you’re a bit crude.

What trait do you most dislike in yourself and others?

In myself, I’d say I don’t like how lazy I am. In others, I can’t stand flakiness. In relationships, I loathe when people leave you hanging on the blue ticks. Like, are we hanging out this Friday or not?! It doesn’t take two days to answer, MATTHEW.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Be present. Be here, right now.

Where’s your favourite place you’ve travelled?

This is even harder than the superhero question! I’m a huge fan of Italy – I try to go a few times a year – and I’d also have to mention Colombia, Japan, Kenya, Thailand, Bhutan, Rwanda, Canada… OK, I’m going to stop right there because now we’re getting into bragging territory. Basically, there are a whole lot of places I love for a whole lot of different reasons, but Italy tops the list because a) pasta b) wine c) beautiful villages d) a beautiful language and e) really beautiful men.

What’s your greatest achievement?

That I’m living my best life. I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in my life when I was a kid and I’ve actually done them. That feels pretty good.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I’d like to be remembered for being a loving person, for making people laugh, and for being a good writer. I’d say “great writer”, but c’mon, let’s get real.

What’s the closest you’ve come to death?

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few close calls: nearly drowning in Sri Lanka, getting into a bus accident in Nepal, and, OH YEAH, crashing my bicycle on Death Road in Bolivia.

If you could travel in time where would you go?

Considering it sucks to be a woman in pretty much any single era in history, even if you’re royalty, I don’t think I’d really like to travel back in time unless as I could travel as a really wealthy man. I’d love to be able to see how beautiful our planet used to be, long before industrialisation and overpopulation took over. I’d love to see the Serengeti before poaching, or the Brazilian rainforests before deforestation.

I have no desire to see the future because technology already scares me enough as it is, and I’m worried there won’t be a planet left to see.

What’s your biggest regret?

I have a lot of little regrets (see: my entire wardrobe from 1995 to 2008) but so far no major regrets, thankfully. Off the top of my head, I can really only think of one, which is that someone I loved didn’t love me back, but obviously that should be HIS regret… ahem.

What do you have for breakfast?

My routine is usually to have a coffee in the morning while I check social media and emails, and then make a big brunch around 11am. I go all out as it’s usually my only meal until dinner, so I’ll eat grilled salmon, scrambled eggs, half an avocado, some tomatoes, and steamed mushrooms and spinach.

Have you ever seen something you can’t explain?

I have seen both the movies Piranha 3D as well as Sharknado THREE TIMES EACH, so yes. More puzzling to me is why I’ve watched these movies in the first place… THREE TIMES.

On a more serious note, I had an experience in the Ugandan jungle with about 60 chimpanzees that I will never, ever be able to explain accurately, as it was one of the most exciting, adrenaline-filled moments of my life. Basically, I was standing there when all of these chimps started running on the ground around me, swinging through the trees, hooting and hollering to one another… everywhere you looked, there was a chimpanzee. I was with three other tourists and a ranger and we all just stood there in shock and awe. I still get goosebumps thinking about it today.

I’m not sure if this question is meant more in a supernatural way, but as I’ve never seen anything I’d classify as supernatural, my inability to articulate an experience about chimpanzees it is.

Follow Brenna on Facebook and Instagram, and read This Battered Suitcase here.

All photos on this page are from This Battered Suitcase. And I’d like to say a huge thank you to Brenna for taking the time to do this interview and helping me through my maternity leave!

The post Interview: Brenna Holeman, This Battered Suitcase appeared first on Bridges and Balloons | Places worth sharing.

    
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