Pregnant and Traveling: London at 7 months (How’d it go?)

Pregnancy Travel by Natalie Parker (1)

I wrote earlier about booking a business trip to London for when I was 7 months pregnant.  Check out that post for everything I considered when booking.

How’d it go?

It was fabulous.  My pregnancy was not an issue during the trip and I’m so glad we went.  I cannot stress how happy I am that I made plans that I could cancel because it opened the door for me to go if I felt fine.  I felt great!

No comfort issues at all during the flights.  At that point in the pregnancy, sleeping sitting up was honestly more comfortable than lying down (I was still getting used to having to sleep on my side at night at that point).  I had no issues sleeping beyond what I’d normally feel on a flight.

Glad I didn’t upgrade to business class.  We could have done this with points.  Instead, we kept seats in premium economy.  Lie-flat business class seats would have been a waste: I cannot comfortably sleep on my side in business class even while not pregnant.  Business class lie-flat seats don’t have enough padding.

I took several copies of my doctor’s note and medical record.  I carried a note in my carry-on.  Mr. P carried a copy in his backpack and I put one in the suitcase just in case.   My doctor also printed a complete copy of my medical record for me to carry in case I had an emergency.

I didn’t get asked to prove I was fit to travel.  But I’m glad I had medical clearance with me just in case.  The flight attendants kept offering me alcohol on the flight, so maybe it wasn’t that noticeable?

Glad we went with hotels instead of AirBNB for comfort reasons.  We use both AirBNB and hotels when we travel.  I find that hotel beds are more reliable comfort-wise than beds in European apartments, so I’m glad we went with hotels here.  I was also able to have several extra pillows sent up since I didn’t pack my pregnancy pillow with me.  It helped me sleep better and made sitting up in bed more comfortable.

We didn’t do many evening activities outside of dinner.  I think this was a combination of the fact that I would get tired more easily plus that we both have west coast jobs.  We were often in our hotel room answering emails or taking calls after dinner.

We stuck close to London for weekend activities.  Honestly, I was feeling so great that if we’d found a cheapo fare to Paris or Marrakesh for the weekend, we would have done it.  But, the weather was so cold in the rest of Europe during our trip that it didn’t make sense to travel someplace cooler when we didn’t pack for it.  It even snowed on us in London!  We went to Bath and Stonehenge the first weekend and stayed in London the second weekend.

Pregnancy Travel by Natalie Parker

We did some fun kid shopping.  We visited the toy department at Selfridges and picked up a stuffed bear for the baby.  We both had bears growing up so it was a big deal picking him out!

Again, travel insurance is great and made this entire trip possible.  Read more about travel insurance for pregnancy here.

A pregnancy disclaimer:  I’m writing to share my experiences.  Your experiences, resources, and situation may be different.  My choices might not be the best choices for you.  I thank you in advance for trusting that all health decisions were discussed with my doctor and husband. 

London: The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

One of the more random things I got to do during my month-long work stint in London last year was watch the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.  Or simply, The Boat Race.

It’s an annual race on the Thames between eights from Oxford and Cambridge and people take it seriously.  The rivalry between both schools is akin to an Alabama/Auburn or a Michigan/Ohio State, if you will.  Since I love spectacles and sporting events, I was there!

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

I actually got wind of it from my coworker, a Cambridge alumnus himself, when he was asking me about the finer points of college football rivalries.  He said the only thing Britain has like that on the non-pro level is the Boat Race and it was happening that. very. weekend.

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

I took the bus to Putney Bridge and met a coworker and friends to check it out.  People crowd into pubs, houses, yards, and all along the bank of the Thames.  Much beer, bubbly, and Pimms is had by all.

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

As seriously as the rivalry is, the socializing is as well.  Walking around, one can’t help but think, “can this be any more British?”

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

Seriously, a bicycle cart with champagne.  I can get behind this.

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

I was in luck last year and got to see a major milestone.  Although the men’s race has been run over a hundred years, the women’s rowing teams have been competing for around ninety.  Last year, 2015, was the first year that the women’s race took place on the same day and at the same place as the men’s.  I got to watch the ladies put their boats in and cheer with the rest of the crowd.  You go girls!

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

If you go this weekend

The 2016 race is this Sunday, March 27.  Women start at 3:10pm and men at 4:10pm.  Get there at least an hour early to get a drink and take in the scene.

Head to Putney Bridge.  The race starts at Putney Bridge and ends in Mortlake.  Putney is easily accessible by bus or tube.  Use the Putney Bridge tube stop and cross over the Thames, or East Putney and walk down Putney High Street to the river.

Blink and it’ll be over.  Here’s the thing, it’s a boat race.  Everyone will cheer when they get ready to go and the boats will be by in a matter of seconds.  On the one hand, it’s not hugely exciting all told.  On the other hand, it doesn’t take up your entire day — I visited the Tate Britain earlier in the day.

Who should you support?  If you’re a person who expects to win, like a Yankees fan, go with Oxford.  If you’re someone who supports teams that tend to let you down and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (like myself), go with Cambridge.

Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, Putney, London

I inadvertently supported Cambridge by sporting my new scarf that happened to be the Cambridge color.  It all worked out in the end!

London: Tate Britain Musuem

Tate Britain Museum, LondonTate Britain Museum, London

When I was in high school, a few of my English teachers had posters of Tate artworks in their classrooms.  I remember the poster of Ophelia in my Shakespeare class and “The Tate Gallery, London” printed underneath it.  Every time I saw it, I told myself someday I’d go to London and see her in person.

I’d been to London three times before this year and never made it to the Tate Britain.  I was determined not to miss it during my April trip!

It can be tough to fit in a visit because it’s not near any huge tourist attractions.  Plus, every time I go to London I’m working and my leisure time is limited.  The Tate closes at 6pm daily, which makes an after work stop impossible.

Tate Britain Museum, London

Some Pointers for Your Visit

This post is about the Tate Britain, not to be confused with the Tate Modern.  I feel like the Tate Mordern is getting all the love these days.  The Tate Britain houses British artworks from dating from 1500 to the present.

Admission is Free.  Donations are appreciated.  I dropped in a donation when I picked up a museum map.

There is a free coat room.  I love the UK for its abundance of coat rooms.  I got caught in a rainstorm on the way to the museum and was happy to shed my coat and umbrella.

What I Thought

I spent just under two hours there.  Everyone has their own museum philosophy and I think it’s a-okay to see the artworks you want to see and move on.  It’s actually quite fun to hunt for the must-see paintings and be totally shocked when you see them in person.

So happy I got to see Ophelia and The Lady of Shalott (another that I’d seen in posters umpteen times).  Ophelia was smaller in person than I thought she would be but she was just stunning.  There’s so much depth to the painting that can’t be seen with a print.

Tate Britain Museum, LondonTate Britain Museum, London

I’m glad I finally made it to the museum!  Have you been?

IF YOU GO

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited.

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.

London: Paper + Design Shopping in Marylebone

Marylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie Parker

On my second weekend in London, I took a walk around Marylebone!  Here are the highlights so you can plan a visit yourself!  Make sure to visit the map to see all my stops with links to the store websites.

Start your walk at the intersection of Marylebone Road and Marylebone High Street.  Walk down Marylebone High Street toward Oxford Street — that way you end up at Selfridges plus a lot of central tube and bus lines.

I started at the top of Marylebone High Street and stopped at any cute shops on the main road.  There’s a map on the left side of the street near the start that shows all the shops along the street so you don’t miss any.

Marylebone, London by Natalie Parker

How do you pronounce that?

Marylebone.  There isn’t exact agreement on how to pronounce it.  I’ve heard “Mary-la-bone” and “Mar-lee-bone.”  When in doubt with British place names, subtract syllables and run the rest together.  I say Marley-bone (no one laughed at me).

Highlights from My Walk

I popped into Oliver Bonas to make sure I didn’t miss anything after I stopped at their other location on my Shoreditch Walk.  One can never be too careful.

Caroline Gardner made me consider stuffing throw pillows in my suitcase.  I settled for some cards and a cute gift instead.

Daunt Books.  Enough said.

Marylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie Parker

I could not get enough of the neon at Designers Guild.  Give me one of everything please!  Such lovely home goods as well.

Lots of neato Scandinavian style at Skandium.  Cute gifts too!

Cath Kidston: pattern exploding everywhere!  I picked up a polka dot neon pouch to hold travel stuff and some gifts for my niece and nephew.  They sell the prints they use in their products by the yard!

Marylebone, London by Natalie Parker

Afterward, I had a snack at Roti Chai and then hit Selfridges.

A perfect ending to the day would be this: picking out cards at Selfridges, sampling chocolate, then heading to the manicure stand.  Alas, I was in a hurry to get to a pub and catch the Manchester Derby and couldn’t stay.  I’m totally getting my nails done there next time.

What are your favorite shops in Marylebone?

If you go

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited.

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.

Good Eats in London

London Eats by Natalie Parker

Here’s a roundup of places I’ve liked from my last few trips to London.  When I’m in London, I’m always working, but I try hard to fit in good food!

Roti Chai

This is a trendy Indian place located just up the street from Selfridge’s.  I popped in here for a quick afternoon snack since I accidentally skipped lunch.  I ate upstairs in the “Street Kitchen,” which serves food all day.  There is also a restaurant downstairs that serves dinner.

London Eats by Natalie Parker

My favorite thing I ordered was the bhel puri — puffed rice mixed with tamarind and spices.  The samosas were huge, but not quite as good as the bhel puri.  I wish I could have ordered more dishes but I was by myself!

Leon

Leon is a healthy fast food chain with around 20 of locations throughout London.  There was one on my commute home in the Victoria Train Station so I decided to give it a try.  I got a chicken superfood salad that included grilled chicken, quinoa, and peas.  It was pretty good for a quick weeknight dinner.  My only issue with it were the huge chunks of parsley stems mixed in.

London Eats by Natalie Parker

Leon serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it’s a great option to get quick and healthy fresh food when you’re on the go.  I really recommend this if you’re looking for a quick bite on a long day of sightseeing.

Chotto Matte

Chotto Matte is a restaurant in Soho that serves Nikkei cuisine, or Japanese-Peruvian fusion.  I have to admit I was very skeptical, especially since I don’t care for sushi or nigiri.   I was totally blown away — the food was that good.

London Eats by Natalie Parker

In addition to my finickiness about sushi, we had a vegetarian with us.  The menu is vast and we had no problem finding something for everyone to share.  My favorite was the pollo del miso, pictured above (split by the omnivores at the table).

Little Social

Little Social is designed as an upscale diner serving British food with a French influence.  Got that?  It’s well done and delicious.  My coworker took Mr. P and I out and it was the perfect combination of a beautiful restaurant with fantastic food that wasn’t too pretentious.  Mr. P and I split the cottage pie for two and it was to die for!

As seems to be the trend with some restaurants in London, when we booked we were told there was a time limit and we had to finish our dinner by a certain time (I think two hours?).  Due to service that was a tad slow, we ended up leaving about 15 minutes after the deadline but no one said anything.

Muriel’s Kitchen

I popped into Muriel’s Kitchen in South Kensington for tea while I was waiting for my AirBNB host to let me into my flat.  Muriel’s has three locations in London — the one I sat at in South Ken is right outside the tube station.  The staff were super nice and helped me wheel my 50-pound suitcase into a side room so it wouldn’t get in the way.

London Eats by Natalie Parker

I ordered a cup of tea and a scone — the waiter looked at me a bit weird because I wasn’t ordering more.  Then I noticed everyone around me was digging into huge desserts!  Muriel’s also serves lunch and other savory foods — it all looked fresh and delicious.  My scone was huge and it and the tea were excellent!

If you’re looking for a place to try proper tea and scones without having to commit to an afternoon tea or high tea, put this on your list.

The Kati Roll Co.

With locations in Soho in London and New York City, this place is excellent for quick, delicious Indian food.  Mr. P and I stopped here for dinner last December.  They serve various kati rolls, both vegetarian and non.  I thought they would be small but one was quite enough for a light dinner.  I had the chicken tikka roll and it was fantastic!

Morada Brindisa Asador

London has a love affair with Spanish tapas.  I loved this place because it was Spanish food but actually not tapas!  My coworker and I split some cava and dinner.  What we didn’t realize:  even though it is not a tapas restaurant, the dishes are still served family style.  We ordered a tad too much food!

London Eats by Natalie Parker

I’m still having dreams about the jamón ibérico (hand carved right in front of us) and the roast pork.  The pork was absurdly expensive (but makes sense when one realizes it’s to be shared) but totally worth it — it was charcoal-fired and crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside.  I’m taking Mr. P here next time we’re in town.

Dosa World

Dosa World is just off Brick Lane in East London and specializes in, yep, Dosas.  Tourists tend to associate Brick Lane with Indian food.  Actually, the restaurants tend to be Bangladeshi and while you can get a Bangladeshi curry, the curries tend to be a bit fruitier and sweeter.

Dosas are southern Indian, so a bit outside of the majority in the area.  Mr. P and I ordered two dosas plus a lamb dish to split and it was fantastic.  The restaurant was pretty empty, but they sure did a robust take out business (kind of feels like a Chinese food place in the US that does more take out than dine in).

My coworkers tell me that if I want “proper Indian food” I have to venture outside central London to Wembley.  I still haven’t had time to do that, so I’m glad we were at least able to get southern Indian at Dosa World!

If You Go

Roti Chai | Leon | Chotto Matte | Little Social | Muriel’s Kitchen | The Kati Roll Co.Morada Brindisa Asador | Dosa World

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited in London

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

London: Visiting Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, London by Natalie ParkerKensington Palace, London by Natalie ParkerKensington Palace, London by Natalie Parker

On one of my days off during my long work trip to London, I decided to check out Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace is for You if

You’re a royal watcher (like me).  If you are at all interested in monarchy generally or the British royal family, you’ll love this.

You are interested at all in Queen Victoria or Princess Diana.  Queen Victoria lived in Kensington Palace before she became queen and had her first privy council meeting in one of the rooms available to visit.  Princess Diana also lived in Kensington Palace.

You’re interested in what’s on the rotating exhibition.  Exhibitions rotate at the palace.  What drew me there was actually a fashion exhibition of the Queen’s, Princess Margaret’s, and Princess Diana’s dresses.  The exhibition on Queen Victoria’s life, Victoria Revealed, was also on when I visited.

Kensington Palace, London by Natalie ParkerKensington Palace, London by Natalie Parker

Tips for Your Visit

Tickets aren’t free.  But I had no problem walking up and buying them on the spot.  Click here for pricing information.  Tickets purchased online in advance are slightly cheaper.

There are real guides, not audio guides.  Real guides are available throughout the exhibits to answer any questions you may have.  They are incredibly knowledgeable and really love their jobs.  I overheard one say that they decided to dump audio guides a few years ago in favor of the more personal touch.  Still . . .

. . . that means things aren’t labeled.  I find that kind of annoying.  In the Queen Victoria rooms, there was one small booklet at the entrance to each room that you could grab and flip through to see what a painting was or whose doll house that was.  One.  Other than that, you had to ask the guide.  I’m glad they’re there, don’t get me wrong, but I wish stuff was labeled.

Don’t expect to run into Will and Kate (Kensington Palace is their London residence). But I swear, I swear, I saw an assistant and a security guard walking Lupo one morning when I was running through Kensington Gardens.  Just sayin’.

If you don’t have time to go in consider taking a walk (or run) through Kensington Gardens.  The outside of the palace is lovely and can be really peaceful in the mornings.  I ran through the gardens three times a week during my month in London and loved it.

If You Go

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited in London

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

Have you visited Kensington Palace?  What did you think?  Did you know the grounds can be rented for weddings?

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.  

London: Daunt Books

Daunt Books London by Natalie Parker

Daunt Books.  I’m already planning my return.

In a perfect world, I would spend at least a half a day there and bring an empty suitcase.

Daunt Books is a traveler’s paradise, whether you’re planning to go somewhere or just want to learn more about a far off place.

Daunt Books London by Natalie Parker

When I’m planning a trip, I want to learn everything I can (not just what’s shared in a guidebook).  I want to read books that take place in that place.  I always find it difficult to search for those, especially online.

At Daunt everything is arranged by geography.

Get that?  It means that I found a guidebook on visiting Russia right next to a copy of War and Peace.  And I almost fainted.  Not really.  Almost.

Daunt Books London by Natalie Parker

I never thought there would be a place that arranged books the way I wanted to see them.  I started thinking about all the trips we’ve planned (and the ones we’re just dreaming about) and considered buying all. the. books.

Daunt Books London by Natalie Parker

They have cards too!  And a few other little items that make crafty folks and letter writers happy.

Daunt Books London by Natalie Parker

Daunt Books, we will meet again!

If You Go

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited in London

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.