The babymoon: Checking into Champneys
We’re actually at a point now where Jenna doesn’t even fancy going to the cinema these days. She finds it extremely uncomfortable to sit in one position for too long, coupled with the fact the Toni Braxtons are causing havoc.
It’s bad news for me too, as it means I’ll be forced to eat a large bag of popcorn to myself if I go to the pictures without her. Nightmare…
That said, we have done some adventuring during the pregnancy. We went to Paris for Christmas, which fell during week 17. This was followed up ten weeks later with a weekend in Manchester as we were on the cusp of the third trimester.
After the two-night city break up north, we made a promise to ourselves that we’d go on one final retreat ahead of Bump’s arrival, which I came to realise is quite a common trend known as the babymoon.
It’s a word the dictionary defines as “a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born” – presumably because “calm before the storm” wouldn’t have the same rose-tinted effect.
We planned our escape for the end of week 36 – a one-night retreat on Saturday 13th May, which took us to spa resort Champneys. Originally a health farm back in 1925, the business today has been owned and run by a mother and son duo for the past 15 years.
Now, with four resorts to choose from, it was Champneys Tring in Hertfordshire (the original Champneys location) that we made a beeline for – just a 45-minute drive from home.
We thought it best to stay within the county so that, in the event of labour suddenly coming about, we weren’t too far away.
Arriving at the enormous gates and grand driveway that led into the Champneys grounds set the standard for what we were going to experience over the weekend.
Upon entering the lobby, which felt anything like that of a traditional hotel, with its low, warm lighting and welcome smoothies, the receptionist booking us in was thorough as she went through a Champneys Tring brochure before we were escorted to our room, which was more like an opulent home than anything else.
There were many facilities available to us during the stay. The ones we used between us were 170 acres of land to explore, though we barely scratched the surface of that owing to all of the alluring amenities inside the building, 20m swimming pool, hot tubs (indoor and out) and the gym.
The calm and buzz created by those can be topped up with massages, facials, beauty and all sorts in the treatment area. As such, I went for a relaxation massage and Jenna had the beautiful bump package, a medley that worked the feet (giving me a night off) with a soak, as well as massages for the back, arms and scalp before culminating in a bump rub.
We didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves after that slice of heaven, so we retreated to the room for a bit, before going for a swim.
Personally, I’d have rather taken myself off to the hot tub for a kip, but first I dutifully went along and played my role of lifeguard (you hear that, Rock?), as my presence generally puts Jenna at ease when physical activities arise.
Fitness is a huge passion for us both, in fact it’s Jenna’s day job, but the pregnancy has slowed that down for the pair of us. The physical changes she’s undergone has meant she hasn’t been able to do her usual weight-based routines, so having me there in the later stages has been reassuring.
And with fitness in mind, even the food on offer continues the health farm vision that started 92 years ago. The visit includes three meals, dinner on the day of arrival, then breakfast and lunch the next day. While robes can be worn at almost all times at the venue, dinner is when guests are asked to, you know, wear trousers and stuff.
So when the evening came, we slipped into some adult attire and made our way down for eats. Special mention goes out to our server, Gabor, a friendly young lad who was only happy to meet our demands for more and more all of the bread without question.
As with most swanky joints, the food menu was laced with innovative options, but the trusty classics via the grill – chicken and so forth – came with a £5 additional charge, which we decided to opt for in the end, because steak.
Breakfast was an equally confusing affair. While all the cereals, bread and spreads under the sun were all up for grabs, anything cooked came with an additional fee.
Lunch was when we struck gold though. A traditional buffet met our eyes and eventually stomachs, with hot and cold meats, pasta, rice, potatoes, hot and cold meats, salads and hot and cold meats all waiting to be devoured.
It was a strange change of pace for us though. Ordinarily we eat healthily and indulge while away, especially during the pregnancy, so be filled up with such conscientious food on an escape was quite jarring.
We were even told ketchup is forbidden from the premises for being considered too unhealthy. Thankfully though, our bag of Haribo Starmix made it across the threshold without raising suspicion on check-in.
In Jenna’s words: “The stay at Champneys was exactly what I needed – wearing my robe all weekend, being able to totally relax and take my mind off the pregnancy symptoms.
“I loved the pool, the room was absolutely amazing and the grounds are great for walks, which is what I’ve really enjoyed during pregnancy.”
She’s not lying about her love of walking – I’ve been drafted in for a number of those too – and doing so on the Champneys grounds, which were accessible from our back door, was ideal. Especially in nothing more than a robe and flip flops; sheer liberation.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to explore more, but it’s safe to say we know the inside of the building like the back of our hands now.
Jenna even knows the outside with the sole of her foot pretty well too – one last stroll before we were heading off resulted in her treading in a suspicious brown substance; it was at that point we decided to jump in the car and shoot off.
In my view, I loved the stay and it was a perfect bubble away from the world that really offered an environment in which we could switch off. For a couple of expectant parents (and those with kids already, I suspect), you can’t really ask for much more.