It seemed that the planets just aligned for us on our latest trip – our babymoon to North Devon. When we booked a romantic break at the Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, Ilfracome back in Decemeber, little did we know it would actually be three of us turning up – well, 2 and a half maybe. (We found out we were pregnant in January 3 weeks later.) Nor did we know that our lives would further be turned upside down with another big house move. So when the time finally rolled around, we were so ready to sit back, relax and soak up the latest phenomenon of the ‘babymoon’.
The concept of a Babymoon has been growing in popularity around the world, and more recently making waves in the UK. The idea is for expectant parents to have a relaxing, adult break away before their little bundle of joy arrives. It’s a chance to reconnect, relax and strengthen your relationship in preparation for the imminent life change ahead.
Despite not realising at the time of booking that our romantic trip would turn into a Babymoon, I think we picked one of the best locations to enjoy ours. North Devon has so much to offer, and it helped that the sunshine came out, just for us. So here’s what we got up to…
Day 1 – Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, Hele Bay
I always enjoy the journey to new destinations. I pick out a comfortable travelling outfit – this time my new discovery and appreciation for hareem pants (a must for any maternity wardrobe!) – we fill the car with much needed car sweets, drinks, pillows and the all important Spotify playlist, and off we go!
This time around, Andrew decided to hire a car for the trip (as if the 3 on our drive weren’t enough!) Planet alignment number 1 – at the car hire depot we were given a complimentary upgrade, to a very comfortable (and rather swish) Mercedes. Complete with navigation gadgets, spacious interior and plush seats.
What we didn’t realise at the time – and this would be my top tip for any long distance car travel from now on – the satnav was set to ‘shortest distance’. Cutting a long story short, this led us down some rather questionable single track roads through the middle of Exmoor National Park. After 5 and a half hours in the car, windy bumpy dirt tracks were not exactly what I needed. So a tip for the future – always check the satnav is set to give you the ‘fastest route’!
But I would do that journey a hundred times over if it meant getting to our stunning accommodation… When we eventually did arrive in Hele Bay, just across from Ilfracombe, Devon, we were blown away by the beautiful little beach hut that would be our home for the next 5 days.
Although I say little, the hut was much more spacious than I had anticipated. Decorated in shabby chic beach hut style, and built to let the natural Devon light flood in.
The selling point of our hut was the stunning vista from the living area windows, straight out to the dramatic Devonshire coastline and turquoise blue waters lapping at the cove below.
The sea was mesmerising. So much so that, having arrived just after 4pm, we simply sat together and watched the changing tide until the sun went down.
Suitably refreshed, we were awoken by the warm, natural light that washed through the hut. Up we got, myself rather proud of my first pregnancy holiday outfit, and after a quick bacon buttie, off we went to explore nearby Ilfracombe and it’s famous Harbour.
The weather was kind in that the sun was shining and the skies were a bright blue (planet alignment 2), but there was a bitter wind sweeping in from the coast, so to get warmed up we took to a hill in the heart of Ilfracombe, atop which offered perfect views of the beautiful town on one side, and the stunning coastline on the other.
Using our new found vantage point, we navigated our way down to Ilfracombe Harbour.
Standing proud on the harbour edge and looking out to sea, Damien Hirst’s Verity statue depicts a pregnant woman of two halves. On one side is the naked form, on the other, the layers are stripped back to reveal the growing fetus. Knowing that I have my own baby growing inside me, the statue filled me with a sense of empowerment. This woman, standing so strong against the elements, protecting and growing her unborn child – there was something quite awe inspiring about it. So naturally, we had to compare bumps with a couple of snaps…
On our way back to the car, we spied an arcade. Now anyone who has read about some of our previous trips will know I’m a sucker for the claw machines, so with pockets packed full of 10 pence pieces, we empited them, to no avail, into the glittering machines. Oh the fun! I did actually win at one point, but alas, the lure of the slots called my winnings and thus we left empty handed.
All gambled out, we decided to make our way round to Woolacombe Beach, which I knew was about a 10 minute drive from Ilfracombe. The beach was stunning. It seemed to stretch along the coast as far as the eye could see. Before heading to explore it further, we needed to refuel. Cue our first Cream Tea of the trip – a staple treat of the region. We enjoyed a giant scone each, slathered in traditional Devonshire clotted cream and jam, all washed down with a hot pot of tea (and followed up with a tasty sandwich) from The Bay Brasserie at Woolacombe Bay Hotel.
Having indulged in a pretty active morning, our plan for the rest of the day was to relax and watch the world go by on Woolacombe Beach. After several attempts to put the wind breaks up in the correct direction – we were clear UK beach holiday amateurs at this point – we settled in for an afternoon in the sun.
Ordinarily I could have lay on the sand for hours, soaking up the warm rays, but now with the growing baby bump, even just a couple of minutes felt uncomfortable. Ok… what to do next…
I remembered I had packed a kite – and with all this wind, what a great time to send it flying. Well the idea was there, but 20 minutes and just as many failures to launch later, we gave up on that one too. Back to people watching then.
As I sat on Woolacombe Beach, I spotted a mum and dad with what must have been no older than a 1 year old girl. They looked to be all setup for the day, complete with beach tent (which actually seemed to be blocking the wind rather than redirecting it right into them like our wind breaks were doing!) They had their picnic, summer hats, and a bucket and spade.
I watched for a while.
I watched as the mother took her daughter on several tours of the little stretch of beach surrounding their ‘camp’. I watched as she raced back, shooing away the opportunist seagulls as they hopped in to steal bits of their picnic. I watched as the Dad held his giggling daughter in the air, pulling faces and blowing raspberries. I watched the mother, as she watched her family. And as I watched, my heart melted. That’s what I want. The simple memories – a day at the beach with our little pudding.
I remember looking over at Andrew and thinking , yep, he’s going to be so good at this…
By this time the arrival of several surfers hinted at the change in tide, so we wandered down to where the waves were lapping on the sand.
We paddled about, well and truly woken from my romantic day dream by the sheer cold of the water kissing my ankles.
As I sit remembering now, I wonder who might have been watching us, and what memories or daydreams our silly, pregnant paddling might have evoked in our own onlookers…
From cold sea to hot tub…
When we first booked our beach hut back in December, we hadn’t known that we would indeed be pregnant during our stay, so of course I had gone for the hot tub option. I imagined many a romantic time for the two of us relaxing under the stars. I was a little disappointed to realise that as a pregnant woman, a hot tub would be out the question.
Not to worry – instead I sat on the edge and dangled my legs in the bubbles – not so secretly envious of Andrew fully enjoying the facilities, beer in hand!
As luck would have it, the tub came with safety instructions for pregnant woman and as long as the temperature was below 38 degrees, I would be fine! Those well aligned planets once more… Elated by this revalation, I ran into the hut, scrambled for my phone and Googled the NHS to confirm if it could be true. They suggested that if taking a warm bath, keep it below 37 degrees, so I was sold! Bubbles off (just to be sure) I checked the temperature, left it a couple of degree points just to be sure, and climbed in.
Not wanting to risk it, I only stayed in for a quick 10 minutes at a time, but what a wonderful feeling. The warm water caressed the stiff muscles that had plagued me at the beach, and the unique view and lulling sound of the waves heightened the relaxation 10 fold. I made a mental note to soak it all in. The sounds, the smells. I could use this in a few months time as a relaxation technique during my water birth…
Our first full day in Devon had given us everything that we could possibly have needed from a holiday. The quaint beach towns were beautiful, and so welcoming. The sun was bathing us with that all important feel-good vitamin D, and our romantic, private setting was bringing us closer together.
We finished the day with a posh meal at a restaurant back in Ilfracombe Harbour that had been recommended to us in the guest book at our hut. The Quay was a beautiful, bright setting, again offering a stunning view of the sea, and the setting sun shimmering on the horizon. The perfect end, to a perfect day. And that was only the start…
Check back later this week as I recount our day around the mythical Tintagel castle, a romantic star gazing plan gone wrong, and a reflective trip to Exmoor National Park’s most beautiful twin towns… See you then.
What’s you view of a Babymoon? Have you had one? Where did you go? Or if you haven’t yet, where would be your perfect pre-baby break? Get involved in the comments below or join me on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog