Pregnancy Update: Weeks 17-18

Friday, 30 October 2015


I was too busy to get to the blog earlier in the week, so this bumpdate is coming to you in between weeks. I'm currently 18 weeks and 4 days pregnant to be exact, which means I'm about 4.5 months into my pregnancy and almost exactly halfway through! How scary is that?! It seems like only yesterday that I was passing my positive pregnancy test to Mr Sunshine with a shaky hand and wondering what the next few months were going to bring!

But anyway, back to the bump. This week, people have started to notice I'm pregnant a lot more without me having to say anything, which makes me think the bump must have grown again. I'm not surprised, because the little one is now almost 6 inches long (think the size of a sweet potato) and weighs nearly 7 ounces! No wonder my back aches if I lie flat on my back for too long!


One of the reasons for the late post is that at the end of last week we had another pregnancy scare. Without going into too much detail, it involved quite a bit of blood and me having to call a cab and rush from work to our maternity clinic as quickly as I could. Luckily the doctors there are amazing, and as soon as arrived I was up on the bench for a scan. I have never felt such a rush of sheer relief and joy as the bub appeared in front of us, wriggling around looking contented. The doctor couldn't find the source of the bleed, and said it was definitely nothing to do with the baby, so I was packed off home with strict instructions to rest up for a couple of days and report back if anything changed. Everything was OK after that. I still don't know what the source of the bleed was, and probably never will, but I would like to pass on the message to any other mummies-to-be out there that if this happens to you IT DOES NOT SIGNAL DISASTER! Millions of pregnant women experience some sort of bleeding every day, and go on to give birth to perfectly healthy, happy babies. It's always best to get it checked out with your local GP or clinic, but please don't panic until a doctor has examined you.

After resting up last weekend, I was back to feeling full of energy and raring to go. I have been constantly hungry, a little achey but generally very happy and contented this week.

What I've been eating

I've been to a few food blogger events this fortnight,  which means that I have been trying out a few foods and cuisines that I haven't eaten since I've been pregnant yet. I have discovered that very spicy food, although delicious, gives me terrible stomach ache. And the donuts at newly opened Monte's are the most addictive thing I think I have ever eaten.

How I've been feeling

Relieved, excited, happy. Because we had a scan last week, we're now not having our gender scan until a week later than we were expecting to have it. Instead of tomorrow it will be next Saturday, and we're waiting on tenterhooks for it. We are organising a big reveal party for a few weekend's time and I can't wait to share the news with all of our friends and family...I just hope the little one is going to play ball on the day and open their legs for long enough to show us who they are!

What I've been wearing

I am finally big enough to start wearing some of the maternity clothes that I purchased recently. This dress from ASOS Maternity is one of my favourites because it is soo comfy!

ASOS Maternity navy blue polka dot dress.

When I have been at home, I have been living in two items of clothing that my wonderful mother-in-law Christine bought me for my birthday: gorgeous silky pink pyjamas and warm and snuggly Ugg slippers! Oh, and I've mainly been wrapped up in this blanket too (see tomorrow's blog post for the details of this one).

B by Ted Baker 'Botanical Bloom' pyjama top and shorts. Ugg Moraene slippers in Espresso.

Products I've been using

My face has been pretty dry and patchy this week, so I've been keeping it hydrated with lots and lots of moisturising lotion and lip balm. Check out my favourites here and here.

Baby bits

We have our eye on a cot that's currently in the sale. Check back in next week to see if we bit the bullet and bought it!

Link of the week

The absolutely hilarious, heart-warming and positive Life, According to Pinky and Pug has been getting me excited about motherhood, as well as serving me a big dose of reality this week.

Final words

I am devouring pregnancy blogs at the moment, so I would love to hear from any other mummies that are blogging their way through their pregnancy like me! Please post your links below and I will be sure to check them out :-)

Our Honeymoon: The Gran Melia Hotel, Rome

Friday, 23 October 2015

We landed in Rome early on a balmy morning in July, less than 48 hours after we had said our wedding vows, and we were exhausted. Adrenaline had kept us going for the past few days, but suddenly, as we trundled off the flight I felt the inevitable crash. I was ready for a sleep, but first we had to find our way to our hotel.

Situated in the heart of Rome, the imposing villa of the Gran Melia Rome sits in beautiful grounds just a few steps away from the entrance to Vatican City, and just a short stroll away from the Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angello and all of the restaurants and amenities of historic Trastevere.

We were greeted with the warm welcome we had been expecting from the Gran Melia brand, which puts hospitality and guest comfort above all else, and were immediately ushered outside to the terrace bar for a glass of prosecco while our bags were taken to our room for us.

I always experience a feeling of awe when I return to Rome, for the history and vibrancy of the city and it's breathtaking views, but I will always remember that moment in particular, sitting with my new husband, glass in hand, looking out over the hotel's expansive pool, with its modern, LA-like vibe with an ancient backdrop, and how I felt somehow complete. We'd done it! We were married, and now we were in the most romantic city in the world, at one of the most elegant hotels I have ever stayed in. I couldn't think of a more fitting way to begin our honeymoon.

All tiredness had seeped away with the last of the bubbles, and I was ready to check out what the hotel had to offer.

First, our room. The hotel had kindly upgraded us from a deluxe to a premium room, which meant that we had ample floorspace. Big, heavily draped floor to ceiling windows looked out over the grounds and flooded the room with colour and light.

I loved the exposed wooden floors and Roman artwork on the walls; a little reminder that we were in a grand and ancient building which was once owned by the mother of the Emporer Nero.

The bathroom was separated from the main room by another drape, and featured a huge bath, with rain shower, and my favourite clarins products.

Rich got distracted by the Nespresso machine in the corner, while I marvelled at the dressing room, and excitedly discovered the bottle of prosecco and chocolate-covered strawberries which had been left for us.

Is there anything better than enjoying a panoramic view of Rome with a glass of prosecco in hand?

Needless to say, it didn't take us long to get stuck in.

The treats that were left out for us became a bit of a feature throughout our three night stay, and I remember pondering each time we entered our room what special surprise would be awaiting us on the other side.

Yes, our room was glorious, but it didn't even come close to the beautiful spaces of the rest of the hotel.

As we walked through the bright and breezy corridors, we marvelled at how the interior designers had retained the character of the villa, while giving it a modern edge with plenty of colour and light.

Get my look. Dress: Ted Baker (last season) - similar here; Bag: Mulberry Bayswater Double Zip Tote in Regal Blue; Sandals: Accessorize Lara Leaf Sandals (last season) - similar here; Sunglasses: Tiffany Cat Eye Sunglasses (last season) - similar here.

The grounds outside were no less impressive, with plenty of space and lush green grass, alongside dedicated spaces for relaxing, eating and drinking.

On our last morning, the General Manager, Franceso Ascani and Head of Public Relations, Valentina Marucco sat with us to tell us all about the hotel and its history, as well as the Gran Melia brand, and its prestigious 'Red Level Service' which has been making ripples in luxury travel the world over. It was a very kind gesture of them to give up their time, and one of many considerate acts of hospitality which we experienced throughout our stay.

Regrets? That we hadn't checked out the world class VivaVoce restaurant due to mealtimes being full to the brim with various pre-bookings and appointments prior to our arrival. That we hadn't had a chance to visit the Clarins Spa. That we were having to leave already!

We reluctantly packed our bags. The next destination on our tour of Italy was calling...

Richard and I were not guests of the Gran Melia Rome, but we were offered a room upgrade for our stay. As always, I only write honest reviews, regardless.

Pregnancy Update: Week 16

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


This week, I knew that my bump must have grown a little because my favourite pants no longer fit. It was a sad moment as I placed them back in the drawer and realised that I wouldn't be wearing them for another 6 months at least. Yes, I've reached that point in pregnancy where I'm starting to wave goodbye to a few beloved but impractical items of clothing in favour of more comfortable options to house the ever-expanding bump. Substance over style people!

Can you see the difference this week?

Notice the tummy button is still looking super weird, and my tummy is quite hairy these days. Yummy!


Very little to report apart from feeling flipping fantastic! I've been so full of energy this week that we've even managed TWO nights out past 10pm! This is big for me these days. OK, I still need a little nap every now and again, and when we don't go out, my bed time seems to be creeping earlier and earlier, but for the majority of this week I've been full of beans, happy as Larry and every other smug cliched phrase you can think of. I am sleeping much more contentedly through the night, and waking at 6.30 rather than 4am to go to the toilet, which to be honest is really when I should be getting up anyway.

This blissful slumber has been punctuated by some really horrific, vivid dreams however, and I usually wake up sobbing into my pillow or shouting at Rich about something or other. Apparently this is completely normal for this stage of pregnancy, and many women enjoy this new sleep wonderland. These people are obviously encountering far fewer axe-wielding murderers during sleeping hours.

What I've been eating

Towards the latter end of the week, my appetite grew and grew, to the point where I found myself starting to hoard snacks in my desk drawer at work...

I have been experiencing my first real cravings too which has mainly taken the form of a hankering after chocolate and sweet things (which was luckily satisfied when Tania, my friend from school turned up in the desert last Wednesday evening with a bag full of Cadburys, Chocolate Oranges and Maltesers). And I am also obsessed with cheese. Lots of cheese. This craving got so strong at work the other day that I had to pop out to the supermarket at lunch, where I bought a whole wedge of Edam which I promptly demolished in front of my poor boss who is trying very hard to embrace a new healthy, vegan diet. I'm sorry Rosa, I did feel bad, but needs must!!

How I've been feeling

Mainly elated. My best friend from school was with us for most of the week, and I talked baby at her for far too many hours! Whoops. I was just so excited to be able to share it all, from the everyday stresses and worries, to the seriously amazing bits. She did a fair amount of taking the mickey out of me, as she seems to do so well, but also listened hard and empathised with the serious parts when the time was right. It's why I love her!

Now, Mr Sunshine and I are looking forward to just over a weeks' time when we have our next scan and are very likely to find out the baby's gender! For those of you that have been asking, yes we are going to find out. There are lots of practical reasons why, but the main reason goes beyond simply being able to buy the right coloured clothes or decide on a name before the big day. I am really relishing the thought of being able to get to know our baby as a real human, with a gender and personality; to be able to call them 'him' or 'her' instead of 'it'; to be able to really bond with them and look forward to who they are going to be when they arrive in this world in 5 months' time.


What I've been wearing

Pyjamas. Jogging bottoms. Snuggly jumpers. Anything soft and loose. I haven't been a fan of figure-hugging this week.

Products I've been using

The same old really. I'm still sticking to my routine of smothering my torso in Mothers Balm every night, and I've been sticking to using organic products where I can on my skin. Tania and I spent a bit of time on the beach at the weekend, so I made sure that I covered up with lots of sun cream too, especially as I've started to notice that the melanin on my arms has turned quite patchy. Yet another glorious pregnancy symptom that people neglect to tell you about until you wake up one morning looking like you've applied your fake tan in the dark.

Baby bits

No extra purchases this week as Tan was here, but we're heading to the shops this weekend so let's see what happens. No doubt we will return with half of Mammas & Pappas...we just can't seem to help ourselves!

Link of the week

The absolutely fabulous Baby Centre. Have a pregnancy question? Want to track your baby's progress in minute detail week by week? Just fancy a chat with other mums who are giving birth around the same time as you and going through some of the same things? This is the website for you. They also have a super-helpful smartphone App. which I check first thing every morning. Yes, even before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! I know!!

Final words

After falling out of love with blogging temporarily while I battled sickness and exhaustion, I'm now missing it terribly and I'm ready to get back on the wagon. Rich and I agree that this little space on the internet is going to be an even more important memory bank for us as our family expands, and it's about time I got back into the swing of things. Expect a few more frequent posts on here from now on, starting off with some very belated honeymoon posts!

Once again, thank you to everybody that has sent such amazingly supportive and sweet messages over the past few weeks. You really kept me going when the going got tough!

Pregnancy Update: Week 15

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

I came to the sudden realisation the other day that I'd missed two weeks of pregnancy updates. Sorry about that - this seems to be what happens when you're pregnant (or, when I'm pregnant anyway!). You can have the best intentions with everything, but then sleep or planning for the future or doctor's appointments take over, and suddenly you find you've missed that party you said you'd try to pop along to, and come to the sudden realisation that you had an appointment with your bank manager two weeks ago which you never turned up to. 'Baby brain' hasn't been helping the situation either...more on that later.

Right now, I have just entered week 16 and our baby is about 12 cms long (an Avocado this week!), and weighs nearly 100 grams.


When I'm alone with the bump, I think I'm really huge. My body has started to feel a little more cumbersome than it was before, and I'm now permanently into my maternity jeans on my down days.

Luckily for me, I have a great set of friends to bring me down to earth with a bump ('scuse the pun). The girls at work joke that my bump looks exactly like theirs does after lunch. The Essex girls took one look at a recent photo and said "Why are you sticking your stomach out like that to make it look bigger?!" OK, I concede, it's not massive yet, but it's definitely there! Look!!

(and yes, you might have noticed that my tummy button looks like it is about to pop's freaking me out!).


So I've already mentioned the baby brain. Most of the time I can contain it by being extra organised, but other times it can be really embarrassing. That guy that has sat behind me at work for forever? Yeah, I forgot his name last week. I've also been incredibly sleepy a lot of the time and I've been napping most days after work. My social life has taken a bit of a nose dive as a result, but you know what, I'm OK with that!

Despite the sleepiness towards the end of the day, I have noticed a considerable lifting of my energy during daylight hours, and this has been accompanied by a generally more upbeat and positive outlook on everything. Pregnancy hormones have settled by this stage, and bar the occasional emotional outburst (sorry Mr S!), I have been pretty happy and chilled.

I'm still drinking water by the gallon-load and getting up to go to the toilet every single night, which I have finally got used to. Want to know the best bit though? My appetite has returned!! I've gone off fish in a big way, and am a little pickier about what I eat, but I am now constantly grazing. In fact, I'm chomping on a bowl of chopped banana and yoghurt right now as I type.

What I've been eating

Porridge is my staple go-to breakfast item, and throughout the day I gorge on anything healthy that I can get my hands on: fruit salads, yoghurt, crudites and humus, homemade soups and smoothies, veggie pasta dishes, cheese and crackers with grapes, baked sweet potatoes with beans... Mr Sunshine has been treating me like a toddler (practicing maybe?!) and sneaking food that he thinks I should be eating and I'm not getting enough of into my meals, meaning that I sometimes end up with a little more than I bargained for. Thanks hubby!

How I've been feeling

Just over a week ago, we had another scan, this time at a brand new maternity clinic, which is so much better than the hospital we had been visiting before. This time around, not only were we given the chance to ask all of the questions that we have been bursting to ask for so long, but we got to see our little one in all their glory on a 4D scan! For those of you that have no idea what this is, Google it - it's pretty much the best invention I've ever come across. We watched our little monkey wriggling around for a full 10 minutes, and we were told that when we come back in three weeks time, they will definitely be able to tell us the gender! After this scan, I felt like I was walking on air for days, and I don't think I've quite hit the ground yet. Being able to see our baby's tiny fingers and toes, their tiny scrunched-up eyes and iddy button nose was one of the most monumental and life-affirming moments I have ever experienced.

In between these light as air moments though, things have begun to get a little serious. We're busy researching the baby's passport and Resident's Permit process (who knew that having a baby in Qatar came with so much admin attached?!), and making big decisions about money and maternity leave and housing and the all important which-pram-is-the-best-one-to-buy-type decisions. All of this has the potential to become all too stressful, but we're determined not to let it consume us. Besides, we have a super mummy advisor in my friend Donna, who gave birth out here earlier this year and knows everything there is to know about everything, and is willing to offer advice wherever we need it. Couldn't do this without you Don!

What I've been wearing

Two words: Belly Band.

Products I've been using

I have enjoyed using the dr. organic Manuka Honey Skin Lotion so much, that I decided to try the face scrub too. It's not the best at removing my make-up at the end of the day, but it smells heavenly, and so far has kept any hormone-related breakouts at bay.

Organic Manuka Honey Face Scrub by dr. organic

Baby bits

We can't seem to go shopping anywhere these days without returning with a few items. How adorable are these latest purchases?!

Rabbit onesie from Mothercare

Queen's guards t-shirt from the Houses of Parliament Gift Shop (we are proper London tourists these days!!)

Link of the week

I recently discovered that one of my old school friends Milly has also been blogging about her pregnancy experience, and her posts are so heart-warming and beautiful! She's a little ahead of me in her pregnancy journey, so if you're interested in what's happening a little further into the second trimester, then check out her beautiful blog Pearls & Poodles.

Final words

My best friend from school, Tania arrives in Doha tonight for a few nights' stay. I can't wait to have someone from home here to share all of this with; feeling a bit isolated from loved ones has been one of the biggest struggles since I became pregnant. One thing that's becoming clearer and clearer as the weeks go on is the importance of family and friends. Yup, I think pregnancy might just have turned me into a sentimental old fool!

A New Favourite Restaurant: Porcini at the Ritz Carlton, Doha

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Before I press on with my honeymoon blog posts, I have to pause for a moment to tell you about a new favourite restaurant of mine.

Having lived in Doha for two years now, Mr Sunshine and I were starting to feel like we'd begun to exhaust all of the fine dining options available to us. We are both complete foodies, and love nothing more than getting dressed up and heading out for an evening of good food, great wine and excellent company...and we've pretty much been doing this every week since we arrived in the country!

I was therefore over the moon when The Ritz Carlton contacted me to tell me about new chef Moreno Miotto's new concept and menu for Italian restaurant Porcini. Tucked away on the ground floor at the back of the hotel's grand lobby, I had walked past the restaurant many times on my way out to the grounds and the pool beyond, but I had never ventured inside, tending to bypass it as a dining option in favour of old-time Ritz Carlton favourite La Mer.

Two years later, having returned from Italy a few weeks earlier and craving some authentic Italian cooking once more, we felt that it was about time we addressed this by heading out for a slap-up meal with all the trimmings. After all, we had a lot to celebrate; not only was it my birthday, but we had also just told our closest friends and family about our exciting baby news!

I was bowled over by our warm welcome to the restaurant. Manager Felix was on hand to introduce the menu and tell us all about the new concept, and despite a modest number of diners, Chef Miotto made time to come to speak to us as every course was laid in front of us. This meant that we could ask questions to our hearts content, and that I could put to rest any concerns about what I couldn't eat because I was pregnant, something which was kindly accommodated. 

We had taken up Chef Miotto's suggestion of sampling a selection of his favourite dishes from the menu, and having glanced over the delectable items on offer, I was quite glad that I wasn't going to be forced to choose!

Having settled into our seats, and been handed a couple of drinks (a Chianti for him; plain old water for me), we took the opportunity to survey the room. The combination of terracotta reds, golds and dark wood interiors combine to give a dark and grand, yet cosy feel, and you could almost imagine that you are in some up-market Trattoria on the outskirts of Florence.

Mr Sunshine and I discussed the exciting few weeks we had ahead of us. First, my birthday the next day, and our first visit to Banana Island (more on this to follow in due course) followed by a trip back home to see family and friends and celebrate my pregnancy all over again.

The food at Porcini was a perfect complement to our mood: simple, Italian flavours, but using fine ingredients; it was a meal fit for a celebration.

Allow me to apologise for some of the slightly blurry shots from the evening. It really is incredibly dark in the restaurant, and my camera doesn't fare too well in low light situations - but I couldn't miss out on including a picture of this gorgeous bowl of bread. The crisp, buttery grissini were among the best I have ever eaten (and this is high praise considering that we had just returned from three weeks of eating at some of the finest restaurants in Italy!).

Chef Miotto had chosen exceptionally well for our starters. I had Gnudi, which were spinach, ricotta and cheese dumplings with black truffle and pecorino cheese cream. They were described to us as a kind of deconstructed ravioli. And they were delicious.

Mr Sunshine's dish was an all-time favourite of mine, and I looked on with envy as he consumed his beef carpaccio with Panzanella. He commented that the salty and sweet parts of the dish were perfectly balanced, and everything tasted clean and fresh.

Up next, an Italian classic of Caprese salad, which we largely shared. We had been craving fresh, sweet tomatoes and 'real' mozarella ever since we had returned from Italy, and despite being initially skeptical that this dish would match its Italian cousins in terms of freshness and taste, it really hit the spot.

The Bresaola con Melone was mainly consumed by Rich, because I wasn't sure whether I could eat the meat, but the melon that I tasted was perfectly ripe and more-ish.

It was pasta time, and I was delighted when Chef Miotti told me that I was going to have gnocchi. These little plump parcels are another favourite of mine, and I don't think I'd ever tasted them smothered in rich, thick beef ragu like this. I scraped the plate clean.

Mr Sunshine had Spaghettini with crab, and he allowed me a taste. I immediately knew that this is the dish that I would opt for on the menu ifI had the choice next time, as the flavour of lemon, tomato and a slight tang of chilli was sharp, sweet and fresh, and reminded me of balmy afternoons on the Amalfi Coast.

Now I have to admit that my small pregnancy appetite had been satisfied by this point, so Mr Sunshine had the tough job of polishing off most of the mains. He obviously protested about this...not. Actually, I think he had probably been waiting in anticipation for the entire meal for the magic words, "I'm full" because his fork seemed to be hovering already, waiting to swoop in and steal the food from my plate! He's going to make an excellent daddy dustbin.

I'll rely on Mr S's thoughts for these ones, although I did force myself to have a taste of elements of both dishes. The rosemary marinated lamb loin was cooked to perfect tenderness, and fell off the bone. It was complemented nicely by a zingy mint salsa verde. The Sea Bass fillet with cherry tomatoes, olives and potatoes was another knock-out dish. Mr S commented on how everything tasted so fresh, something which is so rare for Doha, and when asked about this, Chef Miotto explained that he was very careful in selecting specially shipped ingredients, and using things that were in season, just as you would in Italy.

By the time our desserts were brought out, we were very happy customers, and even I found room to taste the semi-frozen hazelnut parfait with chocolate ganache, and the Chef's special take on Cannoloni (I won't give too much away on this one, I suggest you go there yourselves to try it!).

I wasn't sure that the night could get any better, but suddenly I saw a sparkler coming my way, and there was singing....

I have a sneaky suspicion about who organised this one. Thank you very much, Ivana!

I always say it. The food can be top notch, the ambience electrifying, but if a restaurant does not have great staff then the night will always fall flat on itself. Porcini has all three in abundance.

From restaurant manager Felix, to the entire kitchen staff, everyone was kind, welcoming and generous. As we left, we both said at the same time, "How nice were they?!!"

I was a guest of The Ritz Carlton Doha on this occasion, although the alcohol that Rich had was paid for ourselves. As always, I only write honest reviews, regardless.