SilverSpoon London is a fun and fabulous blog fusing London life, foodie adventures and luxury travel. The blog gives a low down on Londons hottest new restaurants as well as cool and inspiring destinations globally.
The sweet smell of flowers, stunning views across the coast line, fresh pasta on the menu and a vintage ice cream van… what more could a pregnant lady ask for?
It wasn’t easy to choose the location for our babymoon (our last hoorah before the arrival of baby Silver) and we asked ourselves many questions before making the final decision… is the flight short, is there a hospital nearby, will I be able to eat the food… will the weather be reasonable in mid-May with that being the only time we could go? Eventually it seemed like a foregone conclusion that we would choose our favourite country… and we settled on one of my bucket list locations… at hotel that had been on my wish list for years. Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina in Sicily was just as beautiful as I hoped… a stunning historical property, dating back to 1873 and surrounded by perfectly pruned gardens.
Back in the beginning the hotel was a five room guest house, and owner Don Francesco La Floresta would rent out rooms in this beautiful location, particularly popular with artists. Working with his son Giuseppe, the guest house was enlarged to 12 rooms, and in 1896 on the death of Don Francesco his son inherited the hotel and expanded it to 60 rooms. It became renowned and was visited by emperors, kings and grand dukes including Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany in 1896 and King Edward the VII of England in 1906.`
It’s not hard to see why so many people fell in love with this pink palace surrounded by blooms over the years… The hotel remained in the Floresta family until 1981, for nearly a hundred years before it passed through another few families who modernised the hotel before in 2010 it was sold to the prestigious Belmond Group (then known as Orient Express).
The hotel was loved by literary greats such as Truman Capote (author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Tennessee Williams. English author DH Lawrence lived there for four years and it is where he penned Lady Chatterley’s Lover… It is these famous visitors that provided the inspiration for the name of the bar, The Literary Terrace, where you can sip a mocktail whilst gazing out on views of Mount Etna and the Bay of Taormina.
You can also choose delicious local classics from the hotel’s all day dining menu – I absolutely loved the simple spaghetti and tomato sauce but there are salads, sandwiches and plenty more to enjoy. The arancini balls are a must as the much-loved nibble is said to have originated from 10th Century Sicily.
I was invited to attend the Sweet Treats Adventure and my tour was complimentary. I was not paid to visit and was not under contractual obligation to write this blog post or create content on any platform.
There are so many great ways of seeing our diverse city of London … but what could be better than eating your way round the city? Especially when you’re eating the very best sweet treats! That’s what the Chocolate Ecstasy Tours are all about and I was lucky enough to be invited on the Sweet Treats Adventure in Chelsea Tour which not only covers my favourite areas of Belgravia and Chelsea, it started only about a ten minute walk from where I live. Better still the tour is led by Jennifer Earle, a lovely lady who I’ve known since my early days of blogging, in possession of a vast knowledge of all things sweet as well as the history of the area.
The tour has a rather unexpected beginning, kicking off in a cheese shop. But the sweet-toothed can rejoice as The Fine Cheese Company on Motcomb Street also serve a damn good hot chocolate and chocolate cake which was sampled as we listened to Jennifer tell us about the origins of chocolate. Whilst at the cheese shop we also go the chance to sample their signature product – cheese!
Starting in Bath, they have been cheese specialists for over twenty years, supporting British cheese makers as well as importing artisan cheeses from France, Italy, Spain and Holland.
We didn’t need to go far for our next stop, as Ottolenghi’s Belgravia deli is almost right next door with a vast takeaway selection of sweets and savouries. Yotam Ottolenghi needs little introduction nowadays but the Israeli-English chef is know for his inventive middle-Eastern cuisine and not only owns six restaurants and delis but has seven cook books. Jennifer picked a few of the best items for us to share and try out all sweet treats with the signature Ottolenghi twist.
Another Belgravia institution is Rococo Chocolates – beautifully British chocolates in different styles and flavours. But the childhood book worm in me was drawn toward the Roald Dahl collection, with flavours inspired by his books. There’s plenty to enjoy at Rococo, you can even take their chocolate making class.
I won’t reveal everywhere that Jennifer took us to cos that would just spoil the surprises but we wondered through beautiful Belgravia hearing interesting tales of the buildings and the notorious people who lived in the area.
After a few other stops, our destination was Bread Ahead, a fab bakery on Pavillion Road just off Sloane Square. I’m loving Pavillion Road at the moment as there are lots of new artisan food shops to enjoy. Bread Ahead was founded by Matthew Jones who wanted to bring good quality baking to a wider sphere. He also started the Bread Ahead Baking School to allow people to learn proper artisan baking. Here, Jennifer suggested trying the doughtnuts which I imagine as very popular there.
The final stop on the tour was Dominique Ansel on Elizabeth Street. This gorgeous cafe first became popular for the invention of the cronut and is now well-loved for the beautiful floral facade, great brunch options and delicious cakes. Of course the cronut was what we ordered, and there’s a different flavour every month.
A big thank you to Jennifer and her team for a seriously fun tour that will definitely leave you on a sugar high! Check out the Chocolate Ecstasy Tours website to book.
It was with great relief that I entered the second half of the second trimester. My anxiety about the baby’s and my own health started to lift and I was able to enjoy a chilled out press trip to Jersey followed fairly shortly by my girly trip to Babington House. Getting the all clear on the 20 week scan was an absolutely huge relief and it really felt like it marked the beginning of a new phase and a more enjoyable pregnancy.
As I mentioned, my symptoms weren’t particularly extreme so it was mentally that things were harder. After a quiet and anxious February and March, I was keen to get in a few last trips before flying was no longer possible. With that in mind, we booked our trip to Stockholm and a few nights at Ett Hem, one of my bucket list hotels. I loved Stockholm and it was the perfect babymoon city break – a short flight and a place that felt very clean and safe! However, at around 22 weeks I did start to feel the effects of pregnancy on my body, we had a city tour in a jeep and getting in and out of the car plus walking left my legs, hips and abdomen really aching at the end of the day. I enjoyed casual dinners and early nights – a new me! The old me was always keen to get to the next place, have another drink and stay out late.
There was still some lingering anxiety as at 22 weeks, I still wasn’t really showing… in the mornings my stomach was only a little rounded and in the evenings I just looked like I’d had a big meal rather than being pregnant. Comparing myself to people on Instagram, I kept questioning where my baby bump was! I also hadn’t felt any movement from baby Silver so it was constantly on my mind if he was ok as again I’d read many people felt the baby earlier than this. But my 20 week scan had confirmed an anterior placenta (this means the placenta is at the front – a totally normal position for it to be in but it makes it harder to feel the baby move) which alleviated some of my worries on this matter.
At this point we’d told all our close friends and family about the pregnancy but I still hadn’t said anything on social media. This was due to my anxiety and wish not to ‘tempt fate’ by making a big announcement. Of course, we could have kept it quiet for the entirety of the pregnancy but as Instagram / blogging is my job it was hard to keep hiding it and there would become a point when hiding behind tables and well placed teapots just wouldn’t work anymore. Plus my passions were beginning to change, I didn’t want to just write hotel and restaurant reviews anymore I wanted to incorporate baby and pregnancy related content to my blog. This was the stuff I was reading about, and I was interested in and as my blog has always reflected my life, I wanted to continue for it to do so.
So it was at this point I decided to have an early pregnancy photoshoot, with my bump looking more like a food baby than an actual baby it took some posing and posturing and bump-emphasising to get the shots, but I was so happy with what we got! I chose the picture that I loved and finally made the announcement at 23 weeks, a hefty 11 weeks after most people choose to break the news. But honestly, finally announcing our special secret on social media was such a relief as I kept worrying someone would accidentally do it for me!
The announcement meant I could finally talk about it on stories, and start writing all my pregnancy posts which I was really excited to do! Of course these diary posts were already sitting in drafts, just waiting to be made public! It was also about this time – the 23 week mark that I started feeling the baby. I guess I expected something a bit more monumental but I was just sitting in bed reading a book when he made himself known. Now I’m feeling him move all the time which is very reassuring!
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that it was at the time we took our Stockholm trip that we started the renovations on our flat. I hadn’t mentioned at that point that we were also redoing our spare room to serve as baby Silver’s nursery! But after I announced the pregnancy I announced this too. The two bedrooms were completely stripped of furniture, carpet and fittings all ready for a fresh start. Now, I was very excited to share my renovations both on here and on Instagram and for now and I don’t want to go into too much detail but we’ve actually hit a bit of brick wall with our designer and had no choice but to move on to someone new.
Normally this would be rather a nuisance but with my due date just a few months away and a half finished bedroom, this has caused some stress. At the moment the nursery is painted and has a carpet so that’s ok, we’d always planned to do the rest of it ourselves so we’ll be ordering the furniture soon. Everyone has reassured me newborn babies need very little anyway but even so, I was excited to have a completed nursery. We haven’t started buying too much for baby Silver, save a few clothes and toys out of excitement but I’ve been reading lots of blog posts and watching YouTube videos about newborn essentials. We’ve made nursery appointments both at John Lewis and Mamas and Papas and I’m planning on choosing the essential stuff (pram, baby bath, feeding stuff) at these and then getting it all sent to our flat. I’ll chat about these appointments on Instagram stories so that you know how they’ve turned out.
My family trip to Chewton Glen, followed by our last minute trip to Geneva passed relatively uneventfully… the only thing to note in terms of pregnancy was that by now I was really feeling soreness in my legs, back and stomach plus waves of nausea at night. But again, nothing extreme or really bad. Actually I’d say weeks 23 – 26 were my ‘golden weeks for pregnancy, my bump was growing and I was feeling continuous flutters from baby Silver which went a long way to easing my anxiety but I was still fairly small with minor symptoms so overall feeling good!
I had my whooping cough jab and we attended an (again quite uneventful) 26 week appointment with our doctor. At this point she wrote me a ‘fit to fly’ letter as we had our babymoon coming up and I would be flying back two days after the 28 week mark at when you may need written consent from your doctor to travel.
Every appointment you have your blood pressure done and the nurse weighs you. Admittedly (and I know you shouldn’t think about these things) I was worried about my weight having had trips to Babington House, Stockholm, Chewton Glen and Geneva since my last weigh in but the number on the scales showed I was gaining weight at the correct rate so that was another thing to feel relieved about.
If you watch my Instagram stories, you’ll know that I’ve been finding it a struggle to find clothes to fit that also look stylish and not frumpy. Generally I’ve still stuck to my normal clothes with elasticated waists and more floaty tops but with a few special occasions I needed something a bit more special. For my niece’s Bat Mitzvah, I ended up rejecting all the maternity stuff and falling back on my favourite brand, Kate Spade and in the end I was really happy with what I got, plus I picked up a few dresses perfect for the babymoon. I still have a wedding coming up and my in-laws special anniversary dinner by which time I’ll be thirty-five weeks pregnant… so God knows what I’ll be wearing for that.
On to the babymoon! We fell in love with beautiful Taormina and Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo despite very inconsistent weather! I mentioned in my tips for planning a babymoon that I thought weeks 20 – 25 were the best time to go or your ‘last’ holiday but due to timings we had to go when I was just about to hit 28 weeks and transition into the third trimester. I must say those extra few weeks made all the difference and I’d definitely suggest going on a babymoon earlier in the second trimester, especially as you need ‘fit to fly’ letter for travelling after 28 weeks. Though this wasn’t a problem for me as I have a low risk pregnancy I still definitely didn’t enjoy the three hour flight due to back pain and once we were there bad weather scuppered our plans to just sit by the pool and..
I was invited to Lucknam Park and our stay, food and drink and my spa treatment was complimentary. I was not paid to visit and was not under contractual obligation to write this blog post or create content on any platform.
What does a travel blogger do when she can no longer fly? Go on a staycation, of course! Technically I can still fly for another six weeks but to be honest the thought of flying at 30 weeks pregnant doesn’t hold much appeal for me whereas an easy hour and fifteen minute train journey seemed much more palatable.
18th century English country manor house, Lucknam Park is the perfect place for a UK babymoon, with a gorgeous spa, tranquil gardens and a choice of restaurants you can’t go wrong. And for me it was that very easy train journey from London (an hour and fifteen to Chippenham or an hour and a half to Bath followed by a short drive to the hotel) plus a chance to spend some time with a good friend who lives nearby. Theresa has been my travel buddy for the last few years and with my baby due in two months, I knew our trips would be put on hold for a bit and we needed one last girls getaway before that. A girly babymoon!
Arrival at the hotel is via a mile long avenue of four hundred lime and beech trees and the hotel itself is set in 500 acres of parkland. A grand columned facade is the first thing you’ll see, setting the tone for a rather majestic interior.
The reception is brightly lit and flower-filled and we were given such a warm welcome. Elsewhere a cosy lounge boasts stunning traditional decor and the dining room is gorgeously grand with swathed curtains, chandeliers and gilded mirrors.
The Restaurant by Hywel Jones has a Michelin star and is a jewel in the crown of the hotel, we didn’t actually try the food here but it’ll definitely be on my list for next time!
With only 42 rooms, Lucknam Park definitely falls into the intimate and boutique category of hotels. Our Park Room had a gorgeous princess bed topped with a crown and beautifully soft sheets.
A lounge and desk area completed our deluxe room with fruit and rock awaiting us on arrival and the view from the window overlooked the courtyard. There was a flat screen TV, digital radio and coffee machine though I was a little surprised not to find a mini bar / fridge in the room.
The bathroom was also gorgeous, lined with marble and with a traditional roll top bath.
The hotel’s grounds are simply gorgeous…
With our trip to Geneva being so last minute, I was somewhat underprepared for finding things to do, but with my trusty Pinterest and Instagram research, I soon located a few hot spots!
Geneva is a relatively small city and we found it very easy to walk around and for anywhere a little further out it was easy to get an uber!
1. The Flower Clock in the Jardin Anglais
Geneva is well known the long running watch-making tradition and the Geneva Flower clock oe L’horloge fleurie was created in 1955 to honour this.
The clock can be found the Jardin Anglais, which is a super pretty and chilled place to take a wonder in.
2. Check out Jet d’Eau
The Jet d’Eau is a large fountain in Lake Geneva and one of the tallest fountains in the world. It was originally built in 1886 to control the pressure of a hydraulic plant at La Coulouvrenière but as it became a symbol of the city it was relocated to the centre of the lake.
3. Stay in a Luxury Hotel
We really loved our stay Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva and I would highly recommend this city hotel. It’s known to be like a mini version of the iconic Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, and the public rooms and bedrooms are just gorgeous. We were super impressed with the attention to detail which you can read about in my review and with three restaurants, this gorgeous hotel covers all bases.
The hotel also boasts a top notch spot right on the lake and we found everything we needed in very easy walking distance. There’s no shortage of luxury hotels in Geneva, with Ritz-Carlton de la Paix, Hotel d’Angleterre, Le Richmond and Mandarin Oriental Geneva all being along the same strip. We had a nose in all of these and came to the conclusion that the Four Seasons was still our favourite.
4. Go Shopping!
Once again, there’s no shortage of luxury when it comes to shopping in Geneva and you’ll find plenty of designer shops and all the luxury watch brands.
Again because Geneva is rather small in size, we found everything that we needed located very close together and easily accessible.
5. Eat in a Michelin-starred Restaurant
We some how managed to fit three Michelin-starred restaurants into a short last minute break! My favourite was Italian restaurant Il Lago at our hotel but we also loved Windows at Hotel Angleterre and enjoyed Tsé Fung. You can read this post for more detail on the restaurants.
Also recommended but we didn’t make it to were Domaine de Châteauvieux (just outside the city), Auberge du Lion d’Or (by the lake) and Bayview by Michael Roth.
6. Eat Chocolate
Switzerland is a pioneering country when it comes to chocolate for example it was Swiss chocolate manufacturer Rodolphe Lindt who invented conching, the process that makes chocolate so melt in the mouth. The country is also home to Nestlé, Toblerone and Cailler, Switzerland’s oldest chocolate company! It was accidentally on purpose that we happened to be in Geneva over Easter!
Being there over Easter did mean that many of the chocolate shops were shut but we did get to try the very fine patisserie at the Four Seasons including a gorgeous Easter egg left in our room and ‘the best hot chocolate in Geneva’ in the bar. Other recommended chocolate shops (which we sadly didn’t make it to) are Auer Choclatier, Stettler, Du Rhône Chocolatier and Farvager.
Ice cream is a must too and I’m sure there are lots of great artisan Ice cream parlours in the Geneva but I must confess we were a bit basic due to our lack of planning and just went to a lakeside parlour of Swiss ice cream brand, Mövenpick which was good too!
7. Brunswick Park
Check out the first ever Mausoleum built in Geneva, in neo-Gothic style built on the death of the Duke of Brunswick, Charles d’Este-Guelph who left his fortune to the city of Geneva on the proviso that he get a beautiful funeral and a monument dedicated to him.
8. Geneva Old Town
Geneva’s Old Town is charming maze of cobbled street and cafes with plenty of historical landmarks to take in. It’s definitely worth a visit during your time there.
The Bourg-de-Four was once a Roman marketplace and is the oldest square in Geneva. Here you’ll find St. Peter’s Cathedral, Maison Tavel (museum of history) and the Old Arsenal.
9. Lunch By the Lake
Another great way to spend the day is a lunch by the lake! We couldn’t get a reservation at Michelin-starred Auberge du Lion d’Or but we did enjoy casual dining and local perch at La Belotte, located about ten minutes out of town in Cologny. I would recommend with a caveat to mind all the flies!
10. Get out of Town
When I asked for recommendations in Geneva, many of the suggestions were a day trip out of town. If I’m honest, short notice, Bank holidays and pregnancy made us too lazy to do this but I did love some of the ideas which include a trip to the gorgeous city of Annecy in France, the Gruyeres cheese factory and Chillon Castle.
One place I can personally recommend is Lausanne, a city on Lake Geneva around a fifty minute drive away. I visited this beautiful place around three years and loved wine tasting in Lavaux, strolling through Ouchy and a trip to the Olympic Musuem.
When dining with a conscious is just as important as the food tasting good… for this month’s travel link up focussing on sustainability, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite London restaurants that promote eco-friendly dining.
1. Island Grill at Royal Lancaster London
I was fortunate enough to dine at the Island Grill a few months ago and I was happy to discover it was so much more than your average hotel restaurant! The newly refurbished Royal Lancaster Hotel has stunning views of Hyde Park and the restaurant itself is flooded with light from floor to ceiling windows. Being a grill we were a little concerned that the vegetarian in our party might struggle to order but actually there are ample options for both vegetarians and vegans.
I loved the wild mushrooms on toast with apple balsamic whereas my companions were big fans of the queen scallops, roast cauliflower steak and crisp polenta. And yes, this is still a grill with British organic beef on the menu, free range chicken, burgers and lamb chops. Food waste is kept at a total minimum whilst fish is sourced from their own boat in Kent and honey from their own bees! The old cooking oil is even recycled as biofuel.
I was invited to review Island Grill
Spring Restaurant at Somerset House is well known as one of the most beautiful restaurants in London, but this gorgeous place with a focus on seasonal cuisine isn’t just a pretty face!
Chef Skye Gyngell has pledged to reduce single use plastic, first eliminating plastic straws and then looking into bio-degradable clingfilm alternatives. She is now looking at getting rid of all plastic containers in the restaurant with a focus on being London’s first plastic free restaurants. Skye is committed to responsible consumerism at her ground breaking restaurant.
The pre-theatre Scratch menu is created using waste produce – basically those ‘ugly’ vegetables not sold in the super market that are still perfectly good to use.
Well known for serving some of the best steak in London, but Hawksmoor is also proud to be shortlisted as one of the country’s most sustainable restaurant groups by the Sustainable Restaurant Association and have a three star rating. The restaurant only uses the very best quality British meat from trusted sources where kindness to animals is guaranteed. They are also committed to sustainable seafood, supporting local breweries and charities such as Action Against Hunger and One Water Foundation who provide clean water to third world communities.
Restaurants in Regent Street and St James’s are working with the Sustainable Restaurant Association as part of the The Food Waste Pledge in order to give diners options for ‘conscious’ dining. Renowned restaurant sketch, is one of eleven restaurants as part of their commitment to social responsibility which also includes working with charities such as Place 2Be and Hospitality Action.
5. Adam Handling Chelsea
Adam Handling’s newly opened restaurant at Belmond Cadogan, Adam Handling Chelsea, see the continuation of his commitment to zero waste, use of sustainable practices and seasonal products. It was also one of the best restaurants that I tried recently!
I was invited to Corazon and our food and drink was complimentary. I was not paid to attend and was not under contractual obligation to write this blog post or create content on any platform.
There aren’t many seriously good Mexican restaurants in London which is why I’m always excited to find the hidden gems. Corazon, on Poland Street in Soho, is one such gem…a cosy and casual place, it’s perfect for a lunch time feast or just a few nibbles before a night out. Owners, Laura Sheffield and Chef Paul Daniel wanted to create food that made people happy… not particularly fancy just tasty and hearty.
My sister was my lunch time companion and she opted to start, as Mexican feasts such with a Margarita. She was advised to have the Corazon Margarita, the signature drink and the restaurant’s take on the classic with homemade grapefruit sherbet and Olmeca Altos Blanco, served on ice. I stuck with the water!
For starters, chips and guac just have to be done really don’t they? And here they’re served with toasted arbol chile salsa and xni pec. Both big fans of spicy food, we loved these! From the small plate selection we chose braised chicken thighs, pasilla and ancho chile with queso fresca and crema tostadas. I wasn’t such a huge fan of these as I expected them to be hot and they were a little cold. My sister enjoyed the contramar tostadas with marinated yellowfin tuna, chipotle mayo, crispy leeks and avocado though I didn’t try these as I’m avoiding raw fish.
There’s a whole taco menu using home made tacos and we opted for the ‘farm to taco’ with grilled courgettes, roast sweetcorn, pumpkin seed and serrano chile cream these were lovely despite being heavy on the onion.
For main course we ordered up a host of dishes to share including a fillet of sea bream grilled in banana leaves, with achiote, orange, olives and capers. served with pickled onions, chayote, habanero salsa was really delicious and I enjoyed the fruity addition of orange. Laura’s salad with mixed leaves, jicama, grilled corn, tomato, boiled egg, avocado, tostada, and a homemade spiced ranch crema with added chicken was simple but my favourite dish of the day. For side dishes was had super tasty mole skin on fries with house made mole coloradito, queso fresco and sesame along with a morish grilled sweetcorn with guajillo chile powder, epazote mayo, lime and cows milk cheese.
Corazon is a lovely fun and casual place for tasty food, definitely recommended for lovers of Mexican food!
As our trip to Geneva was booked super last minute, I didn’t put the hours of research into finding restaurants that I normally do. Instead we enjoyed the fantastic restaurants at the hotel as well as taking local recommendations from the concierge. Despite the last minute nature, we didn’t have a problem getting tables and we very much enjoyed the highly international food scene in the city.
1. Il Lago
Il Lago is the Michelin-starred South Italian restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva where we were staying. Serving a tasting menu and a la carte for lunch or dinner, the restaurant interior was utterly stunning. Well every interior at this hotel is stunning!
And the atmosphere was buzzy whilst still being softly romantic! The service was also excellent, I think every member of staff at the hotel had already been briefed that I was pregnant (as I still didn’t look very pregnant!) and had been told my dietary requirements so this was utterly stress free.
Mr S started with lobster risotto and I had the Chef’s garden salad with 21 varieties of vegetable topped with truffle…such a delicate and delicious dish.
Mr S and a Milanese-style veal chop with tomatoes rocket and balsamic vinegar while I had a seasonal special of homemade tagliatelle and morels. Unfortunately as it was a Easter Sunday and we’d had a day of eating chocolate (Mr S especially!) we couldn’t finish our main courses, let alone eat dessert which was disappointing as everything was so so good!
2. La Belotte
We asked the concierge at FS Geneva to suggest a casual lake side restaurant for our Easter lunch and they recommended and booked La Belotte.
We really like the setting of La Belotte and we had a really casual, tasty lunch of salads, Mr S had steak and fries and I got the opportunity to try the local Perch from Lake Geneva. I had a few conniptions about this place as when we got there the kitchen was closing and they had to serve our starters with our main courses, they could have asked us to arrive half an hour earlier to avoid this. There was also rather a lot of flies but I’m guessing this is unavoidable at a lake side restaurant.
Another of my favourite restaurants was Izumi, the Japanese-fusion Nikkei restaurant at Four Seasons Geneva. The restaurant occupies a beautiful indoor space but in the warmer months, guests can take to the rooftop and admire a panoramic view of the city. As we booked in late, we were sat at the counter at first watching the chefs at work but as the restaurant cleared out, we were moved to a terrace side table.
The restaurant had a fab atmosphere with music and a buzzy lively crowd! I was very jealous watching Mr S have a glass of bubbles as I sombrely suck with the Evian water! I was also reassured that the sushi and sashimi was pregnancy safe (ie it had been frozen before) but I’m very paranoid about sticking to pregnancy dietary rules so I still avoided it.
I’m seriously not a spontaneous person especially when it comes to planning trips… everything is sketched out months in advance, booked and spreadsheeted to avoid FOMO and not being able to get sought after reservations. But Mr S suggested I come to Switzerland to meet him as he finished his ski trip for us to have a special Easter weekend together … hmmm Switzerland…Easter… chocolate…it did all add up quite nicely.
I booked flights to Geneva on Wednesday, the hotel on Thursday and I headed on a solo trip to the airport on Friday… if you watch me on Instagram Stories you’ll know our first hotel wasn’t exactly as I expected it to be and we made the decision to leave after a one night… And Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva was booked the next morning, an hour before we arrive. I mean how much spontaneity can this Type A personality truly take?
Anyway, it turned out to be 100% the right decision because as soon as walked into Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva, I was truly taken by the place.
As a truly dedicated ‘Floralista’ how could I not be taken by a lobby filled with such magnificent flowers and add to that marble floors, proud duck egg blue pillars, gilt trimmings and dripping chandeliers… it is simply the height of elegance. Utterly lavish yet totally tasteful.
Dating back to 1834 with a solid 180 years of history, the hotel was actually the very first luxury hotel in Geneva and it was in 2005 after a meticulous restoration that this grand dame reopened as a Four Seasons property.
Perfectly placed right on Lake Geneva, it’s also only a short walk across the bridge to the elegant shops and restaurants of Geneva.
We booked into an entry level standard room but despite our very late booking, my travel agent got us a free upgrade to a junior suite. The 115 rooms and suites at the hotel have been designed by renowned French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon who has created a gorgeously soft colour palette with just a touch of French decadence.
The spacious room was the perfect place to relax after exploring for the day and had everything you need such as tea and coffee making facilities, packed mini bar, and iPod station. Particularly useful was the subtle leather box by the bed that contained USB ports for phone charging. It’s a real bug bear of mine when a hotel doesn’t have a socket by the bed.
The hotel had left us with a gorgeous array of treats, fresh flowers, stunning cakes from the pastry chef…
But for me, best of all was this mock-up magazine cover using the image from my Instagram feed that I’d used to announce my pregnancy, I thought it showed incredible attention to detail, especially bearing in mind that we’d literally booked this hotel an hour before arriving. And for those wondering, this wasn’t a press stay, I hadn’t even had contact with the hotel, but my agent must have told them I was Instagram 0bsessed!
The second trimester began characteristically with more anxiety, though the moment I got through the 13th week, I felt I could breath a small sigh of relief!
The first thing the internet told me to do was go and tell my GP, if you read my other pregnancy posts you’ll know it was a GP that told me I was pregnant the first place but having been in shock at the time, I hadn’t really asked her what to do next. Mr S and I decided it was was probably best to revisit the doctor’s surgery and officially tell them… living in Central London, I don’t actually have a personal GP, I go to a local medical centre so I booked an appointment at the Maternal Heath Clinic.
Other blogs I’d read had told me this initial GP visit could be a bit anti-climatic but personally I found it reassuring as we met with both a nurse and doctor who alleviated me of lingering worries and helped advise on next steps. Finding out at 11 weeks meant I felt ‘late to the party’ but the doctor reassured me that most appointments schedules kicked off at 12 weeks and as we’d already had two scans and the Panorama test, we were still ahead of the game.
Mr S and I had already decided we’d be having the baby privately meaning our next step was to choose a consultant and hospital for the birth. Again living in Central London meant we had several hospitals to choose from with at least four being only 10 – 15 minutes drive away. I won’t dwell too much on what led us to choose how we wanted to have the baby, where and who would be delivering as everyone has very personal reasons for making their choices and I don’t want to sound like I think people are wrong or right! But anyway we put a lot of research into choosing hospitals, visited for ourselves and met with the midwives.
Our first meeting with the consultant was a long hour and a half in which we discussed everything baby related including my diet and exercise. I also had my blood taken, and blood pressure and I was weighed, given my maternity book and we were sent on our way.
And how was I feeling? Well one thing I definitely wasn’t feeling was pregnant… I think by now we were at around week 14 and the tiredness had mostly subsided, I had a little nausea in the morning but was fine after breakfast and I didn’t really have craving or food aversions, I just wanted light and healthy food. Physically I didn’t look much different, my boobs were a little bigger and I’d actually gone up two cup sizes but my stomach remained the same. Of course, it was far too early to actually feel the baby which at the moment was the size of a pear so at this point, it still felt hard to believe I was actually pregnant.
Weeks passed… and I got to week 16 still symptomless and looking the same as ever… I almost missed that reassuring nausea! It had been four weeks (four weeks felt like an eternity) since seeing our little one on the ultrasound screen, floating and flickering around with his little hands and feet waving… and my anxiety levels were getting very high. Was something wrong? I counted down the days to our 16 weeks appointment, very keen for the reassurance and when the day arrived, I was so nervous that my blood pressure was very high in my initial checks.
The consultant could see my nerves and didn’t mess around! She did the ultrasound nearly as soon as we stepped into the office and there he was bobbing around happily in his amniotic fluid and totally oblivious to his mum’s anxieties in the outside world.
After the ultrasound the doctor sat me down and explained why I didn’t have any of the bodily changes I’d been expecting. Which was of course reassuring and I hope reassures other ladies who are in the same boat … spoiler alert, I didn’t start showing until 22 weeks and now as I write this at 24 weeks (though I’m now publishing at 27 weeks) I can still hide the burgeoning bump if I want to and I haven’t needed maternity clothes. Anyway, after the reassuring chat, I had my blood pressure taken again and it was all normal, which I knew it would be once I’d seen the baby. Then the doctor talked us through his measurements and explained that everything was exactly on point as it should be at 16 weeks.
Feeling reassured and with more lovely scan pictures to add to my collection, we headed home happily chattering about future plans and popped into to M & S to buy him a little gift. Every time we had an appointment I felt a little less anxious and more confident about telling people but I was still far from ready to announce it on social media.
The second trimester is known to be the easiest and the next few weeks passed pretty uneventfully, though I did develop night-time nausea which I found was best combatted with a light and simple dinner and some dry crackers or biscuits before bed. Regular followers might have noticed there was very little travel in March as at this point I’d slightly lost the will and had started nesting. You may have seen in my Instagram stories that we were redoing our bedroom… but what I didn’t tell you was about the changes that we planned for the spare room that would become the nursery. At this point we’d bought very little for the baby apart from a few cute outfits and cuddly toys cos we were so excited but once the nursery is done, we’re planning to get shopping.
I realise all this talk of anxiety is making me sound like I’m not enjoying pregnancy, I guess these updates are more about the extreme feelings of pregnancy when for the majority of the time it’s actually been uneventful for me. I always thought I wouldn’t enjoy pregnancy with the discomfort of getting big, the tiredness and inability to travel as much and eat certain things. But it’s been quite the opposite, apart from aches and pains and the occasional nausea, I’ve actually really enjoyed pregnancy. I feel like I’ve been nourishing my body more, sleeping better, clearing out my flat and seeing more of my family and friends. Pregnancy also give you a brilliant excuse to go to bed early, avoid lifting heavy things and gives a break from gruelling work outs!
Of course I was nervous for the pending 20 weeks scan – it’s the biggie where the sonographer examines the baby’s anatomy in detail to check for problems and if you don’t already know, many people find out the gender at this point. We had our twenty week scan at the Portland as our doctor advised that this was best done by a different pair of eyes and then she would follow-up on it a few days later.
The scan takes a long time as the sonographer looks at the baby in minute detail which is rather thrilling and we had front row seats to see every element of our baby. It was a huge relief to be told everything looked good and I really felt like we’d past a major milestone. Not only was the baby looking good but we were now at the half way mark and everything just felt a little safer. It was actually the next day that I headed off to Jersey on a press trip, which was good fun and with nothing else in the pipeline, I realised it would be my last press trip for a while. Though I still had a few personal trips with Mr S to look forward to!
I thought I’d finish off by telling a few things that helped me out in the first half of my second trimester in the hope that they help you too!
The classic – What to Expect When You’re Expecting – it’s a large book so I thought I’d skim read through bits and then read the important parts but I found myself reading it quite thoroughly. It’s very comprehensive regarding pregnancy, birth and the first few months with the little one. Plus a surprisingly easy read.
The Day-by-Day Pregnancy Book – is a big hard back book detailing your baby’s development and how you can expect pregnancy to progress day by day. I enjoy having it on my desk and referring to it every day to see what’s going on.
How to Grow and Baby and Push it Out – A friend bought this for me and it was a really fun and chatty easy read – I read it really quickly. Despite being informal it’s full of useful information as it’s midwife and mum of four Clemmie Hooper.
I love having everything digital and I have two apps which I check every day. Pregnancy + gives you a daily blog post plus it’s a great way to keep on top of your pregnancy timeline, log photos, list baby name ideas and keep track of appointments and other important things like your weight. One of my favourite tools is seeing how big the baby is compared fruit, animals and sweets. As I write this I’m 24 weeks (as I publish I’m 27 weeks) and he’s the size of a papaya! I love it when it gets to the beginning of a new week as not only am I one step closer to meeting my baby boy, but I also get to see what size fruit he is! Ovia is my other favourite app and it’s very similar to Pregnancy + but I still like checking both for different daily articles and tips. I also check the What to Expect app but on a slightly less regular basis. This is great as it includes videos too.
As we don’t agree on names, Mr S and downloaded another app called Kinder… it’s like the Tinder for baby names. You swipe right if you like the name and left if you don’t so that you build up a list of names that you both like.