The Press Room Coffee House, Surbiton

This coffee-house could not be more suitably located. Not only does it allow for those going to and from Surbiton station to obtain fantastic coffee without a substantial detour, but for those doing a bit of shopping, going to the bank etc, it is primed and ready like a big bear hug, waiting to embrace you. Surbiton has various cafes and coffee shops along ‘the strip,’ including the obligatory Costa, Caffe Nero and Starbucks located a mere stone’s throw away from this delicious haven. However, none of them radiate quality, knowledge and a welcoming aura like the Press Room and it really is like a breath of fresh air. I’d heard how good their coffee-sourcing is (Has Bean Coffee) and their pastries are from the fantastic north London’s Galeta.

So, instead of defaulting to the nearest Costa (for comfort of seats over anything else), I thought I would give this newcomer a go. Well. It’s more than you could ever ask for: welcomed with big smiles and the freshest aroma of baked yumminess and coffee. A coffee-that-barely-qualifies-as-a-c0ffee (you know the type) later, I dug into one of their mozzarella, tomato and pesto ciabatta. Utterly scrumsome.

What’s more, they have very comfortable, padded benches along the back and one side wall (perfect for us preggies) AND a full-on baby-changing room complete with mat and wipes. What with plenty of room for pushchairs to boot, it is definitely on my hit-list for when baby is here and lots of times beforehand!

http://pressroomcoffee.co.uk/

Natal Hypnotherapy Weekend

On the 2nd and 3rd of February, my husband (Mr.M) and I took part in a Natal Hypnotherapy course, run by Himalee Rupesinghe (http://www.allaboutbirth.co.uk/).  I had come across the practice of Hypnobirthing (as it is usually referred to in the States) while reading about birth options and the small amount of information I found really struck a chord with me. So, having been recommended Maggie Howell’s book ‘Effective Birth Preparation’ which also comes with a ‘Birth Preparation CD,’ I bought it and got stuck-in! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Effective-Birth-Preparation-Hospital-Centre/dp/1905220502/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360672461&sr=1-1

Having read part of the book and listened to the CD a couple of times, I came across Himalee on Twitter (https://twitter.com/allaboutbirth) and enquired about the course that she ran. I felt that, although the book and CD were exceptionally helpful tools, we needed a bit more guidance into how this really could work for us and the birth of our baby. We went to a taster course run by the NCT at Earthlife in Richmond http://www.earth-life.co.uk/. After an hour, we were entirely convinced that this was for us and we wanted to learn and experience more. I got in touch with Himalee to see when her courses were running and she luckily had a space on the February course for us.

Now, if you’re thinking (as we were) that hypnosis is for poor victims of Paul McKenna, made to dance naked on tables and/or cluck like chickens at the mention of a particular word, I’d advise you to wipe that clean from your mind. Hypnosis has been given a poor reputation due to people using it as a form of entertainment, and true it can be used like this (as we all know). However, this isn’t the principle use for it. In this case, it is used to heal, help, soothe, relax and aid mentally switching-off. To be honest, I didn’t think I, or Mr.M in particular, would be able to do it. However, throughout the two days and the hypnosis sessions that we did with Himalee, we both were transported to a different place through visualisation and deep relaxation. I really knew I could do it when Himalee gave all the women from the five couples on the course a hard wrist-burn. None of us flinched and there was no stinging or red mark left afterwards. Once fully awake again, one of the women questioned if it would hurt more now that we weren’t in the relaxed state. Sure enough, Himalee gave her the same treatment which she found to be very painful and it was left sore, tingling, red and still hurt the following morning. This was the biggest turning point for me: to know that we were in control of our feelings and sensations once we had reached such a deep level of relaxation.

We dissected our fears, that we have in general as a westernised race, about birth, why they exist and the history of birth from the very beginning. After this part, we all left with a new view and understanding of why our ‘Fears Board’ was loaded the way it was. With this new understanding, it meant we could mentally reconfigure how we viewed and thought about birth. We also delved into how other cultures and other mammals birth which also brought a back-to-basics, naturalistic approach to the forefront of our minds.

The couple of days were also priceless for the birth partners, or ‘gatekeepers,’ who may have been feeling unsure of their role within the birth process. They were taught triggers that would aid relaxation for the mother and their fears were addressed as seriously and as concisely as those of their partners. I know that Mr.M certainly left with a new outlook on the birth which matched, if not exceeded, my newly found levels of excitement.

Natal Hypnotherapy does not promise a painless, perfect birth but it does make you feel like you have done all you can to prepare for that to potentially happen. It also sets you up with skills that can be used in many other situations throughout life.

You can find out more information at http://www.allaboutbirth.co.uk/ and http://www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk/87.html

Baba Joe

Last Friday, I met up with the lovely Cara Bell who runs Baba Joe; a company specialising in organic baby wear but also where you can find beautiful toys, art and nappy bags, all made to the same exacting standards. Cara happens to live locally so she brought along some of the range that she sells as well as her gorgeous three-month old, Rose, who was impeccably behaved while we nattered over coffee. She showed me various outfits, ranging from babygros to pinafore dresses and I must admit, I was amazed by the detail and flawless finish to each and every piece. Below are pictures of my favourites:

Pink Bunny Outfit Set Ditsy Floral DressStripy Rosette Cardi

Robot Sleep SuitSporty Dino Long Sleeve TopMulti Stripe Hat

She also brought along one of the sheepskin flat bears. The softest thing I have ever felt and reminiscent of a flat bear (due to being lay upon rather than intentional) that I had as a baby.

Honey Sheepskin Baby Flat Bear

I’ll certainly be looking into getting my little one some delights from this range. You can find it all at http://www.babajoe.co.uk/

Lists Part 1: Birth Bag

I’ve been very lucky to have found and been given some definitive lists by bloggers and friends respectively, regarding what one needs/would like whilst being pregnant and becoming a mum. I combined all of them to build a few lists* of our own which I’m happy to share with you. Take them from what you will but I know I found it exceptionally useful when drowning in the smog of ‘THERE’S SO MUCH WE NEED TO BUY AHHHH.’ You can of course go to the extreme (volume and expense) but I’d like to think I’ve kept to a happy medium of having just what we need, the right amounts of it, spent when necessary and gone down the cheaper route when possible and when quality isn’t compromised.

*which are likely to have admissions and submissions along the way and beyond

The list below are items that I’ve packed to take to the hospital, including what I’m bringing for husband and baby:

For husband and I:

  • Maternity sanitary pads
  • Breast pads
  • Disposable knickers
  • Nipple cream
  • Nightie/pyjamas
  • Slippers you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Snacks (I plan on taking jelly babies, granola bars, wine gums)
  • Drinks (in 500ml bottle)
  • Bendy straws
  • Glucose tablets
  • Change for car park
  • Birth plan and maternity notes
  • Lipbalm
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairdryer
  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairclips/hairbands
  • Dressing gown you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Pillows
  • Plastic water jug
  • Flannel
  • Entertainment – books, magazines, games (UNO)
  • I-pod
  • Water spray
  • Clothes to go home in
  • Camera
  • Towels
  • Arnica
  • Make-up
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Plastic bag for dirty bits

For baby:

  • Bodysuits/sleepsuits
  • Blanket
  • Nappies
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Muslins
  • Swaddle
  • Scratch mitts

Also, and it may sound obvious but, don’t forget the car seat! I’ve heard that hospitals tend not to let you leave if you don’t have one.

If you think there’s anything I’ve missed off or have included that really isn’t necessary, please post in the comments section below. All suggestions very warmly welcome.

L’Affamato, East Molesey KT8

This is my local and is exceptionally convenient for me to pop to for a bite to eat or a coffee. However, this does not lead me to be biased about such a fantastic place. It is run by Attilo, a lovely Italian gentleman who has got the offerings, and quality of them spot-on. The staff there are top-notch, very friendly and attentive. I’d say there’s approximately 20 seats in there which are very much in demand once lunchtime hits. However, it is buzzing at any time of day.

L'Affamato

Young mums with their babies and/or toddlers are the main demographic that are attracted. Having a safe, sleepy village-like feel, prams and pushchairs are left outside while the mums and little ones make their way in for some delicious cake (carrot or coffee and walnut are particularly good), panini, ciabatta, pizza that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a back alley restaurant in Naples, salad or soup. There’s also proper Italian ice cream and coffee along with all the Italian staples you may need – chocolate baci, biscotti etc.

What’s also fantastic is the fact that they serve dinner (eat-in or take-away) and have recently introduced BYO on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s brilliant value, second-to-none quality and very family friendly.

One drawback is that due to lack of space, the chairs are fairly stark and wooden, thus not so comfortable for pregnant ladies. However, this is a minor point, and any discomfort that may result is soon forgotten with the arrival of a big slab of cake and steaming hot chocolate!

Book Review: ‘Eating for two’ by Annabel Karmel

There is so much conflicting information out there in the ether with regards to what one should and (more commonly) should not be eating when pregnant, it’s easy to lose the will with it all and stick to cheese (HARD cheese) sandwiches for the whole nine months. However if, like me, you have always enjoyed a wide variety of cuisine, cooking and going out to eat, it’s important to find a trustworthy source and stick with it. The first GP we saw simply advised ‘you can have everything as much as you like with only a few things like shellfish, blue cheese and wine in moderation.’ Fantastic! And then we saw the midwife. She gave us a LOOOOOOONG list of foods I mustn’t even think about, let alone eat them. For a few weeks I was in a panic about anything and everything that I ate.

eatingfortwo

I then went to the library and found this book. Having come across Ms.Karmel before and knowing how well-regarded she is within her field, I trusted the advice that she was laying out within these pages. Not only does she offer an introduction of what’s considered safe to eat but she also works through the book in trimesters, advising on the changing nutritional needs for mum and baby throughout the different stages of pregnancy. In addition, she offers delicious, easy (because let’s face it, the fervour with which we once approached the kitchen has been dramatically silenced by tiredness and the odd bouts of nausea), nutritious, simple, and budget-friendly recipes which are suitable for dinner parties as well as dinners a deux.

I strongly recommend getting yourself a copy of this if you’re struggling to be inspired at meal times. I have my beady eyes already on her ‘Top 100 Baby Purees book.’

The Sand’s End, SW6

http://www.thesandsend.co.uk/

On Monday, I went for lunch at this cosy, neighbourhood spot and had an absolutely marvellous time. My dining companion, Neil (thank you for the photos…) were long overdue a proper catch-up and I know that once little one is here, it may not be so easy to partake in long lunches without any interruptions. So to the Sand’s End we went, mainly due to the fact that a very talented chef friend of mine, Nathan Green, is heading up the pass there and we are both aware at his outstanding skills in the kitchen. He’s also leaving in a month so time was of the essence to get there while he was still in situ.

Sands End Playhouse

Upon arrival, due to my persistently sore, preggie back, I decided the bench I was sitting at was not going to make for a comfortable time. Thankfully, I was in very understanding company and we had the choice of the table next to us which had a high back and squishy cushioned seat. Perfect. So we moved there. Changing tables always pains me as my mum and nanna both have the affliction of having to change tables, on average, three times or so when eating out. I am blaming the pregnancy and WILL NOT succumb to this afterwards.

So, comfort attained, we could get down to business. The menu read like a dream but on each course (as in most restaurants) there was something on the ‘how could you dare risk eating this’ list. Luckily, they have a fantastic set lunch menu which suited me perfectly. To start with, I had braised chicken wings and lentils. Followed by sausages and mash, set to challenge Robuchon’s. The food was altogether wholly delicious and the environment, very warming.

Half-way through the meal, two women and a toddler came in for lunch. The little girl played some games and toddled around with no issues at all. I did learn, however, if giving a child an iPad to play a game on that makes a high-pitched, grating, constant noise, turn the sound right down or, preferably, off as I don’t think this would be welcome in even the most child-friendly of places!