Mandy Charlton - Photographer,Writer,Blogger

Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Meeting Mr France - 7 Day's To Go

London, looking towards canary wharf, meeting mr france in London in 7 days, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Don't you ever wish that for each perfect moment in life you had some prior warning so you could record it in your mind, the moments that we are the happiest are often forgotten at the time and it's not until we are flatter and more introspective that we realise that it was that moment, that pinnacle that we felt the happiest we'd ever felt in our whole entire lives, I think hindsight is a blessing and a curse.

I went in search of the first conversation I'd ever had with Mr France on Twitter, I know it wasn't too long after I'd published my dating article on my blog and I know there were early discussions about Moulin Rouge and also him sending me cakes but the weird thing about Twitter is that everything gets a bit lost and complicated, twice I've had to ask him for his address because it's impossible to find 54 direct messages later, it does seem a shame then that it's there, written down and recorded in history but it's ridiculously hard to decipher, I can't imagine my descendants wading through that, I wonder what they would think anyway if they came across two people discussing the creation of a musical about a Koala or the production of a TV show where the Chuckle Brothers are introduced to 3 angry seagulls (TV Gold), I do know however that some of our most joyous conversations are by far the more absurd and ridiculous ones.  I remember on our first Skype date that I'd just relaxed and fell into myself 4 hours in and telling him my greatest fears one of them being bananas because they're sinister and suspicious, I should have known by the fact that he didn't run away at that point that he was as crazy bonkers as me.

We're 3 months in now and our first real date is in a week, without a doubt, I've had my greatest whimsical adventures in conversation with Mr France, I'd have to hope that in person it's even better, I can get a little tongue-tied in the presence of men I find attractive, in fact, I'd go so far as to say I can't speak to them, I literally lose my voice, now I haven't thus far with Mr F because it's been Skype, I just hope face to face I don't come across like a blabbering idiot but if I do then, Mr F, if you are reading, it's only because you're my kind of hot 😉

I think this week I'll have much excitement and many panic-stricken moments as I worry about our first date but it's only because I want it to be wonderful and I don't want to make an idiot out of myself and I don't want to disappoint him, I'm sure he's having the same exact thoughts, maybe it wouldn't be so terrifying if we hadn't spent a lot of time Skyping and we only lived around the corner so we went for a quick coffee, actually no, I know what would have happened then, I suspect I would have still been there 3 days later talking about writing a new detective show where he solves crimes whilst I assist wearing a ballgown.

I want to tell you now that Mr F isn't perfect, he has his faults just as I do, he can be grumpy, he's terribly forgetful and he's so clever that some of the low-level stuff completely surpasses his brain, he has as many issues like the rest of us , I write about him like he's a superhero because isn't that the way we should all be written about, like photographs, it should be the very best version of ourselves and I'm sure that I'll complain about him at length in the future, I am an honest blogger and this is my diary after all but this brings me back to the point I opened with, pressing record, because at the start of any new adventure, especially dating, you have that window where you only see each other as magical figureheads or Grecian Gods and Goddesses (I should be so lucky) so it's good to write it down this time, I want to make sure I capture those thoughts and feelings so that when the challenges hit I can revisit them and with 2 months between our first and second real life date I feel there are times when I'll just stop by and remind myself of a beautiful beginning.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Pickled Onions Will Never Be Cake...

Tardis Cake, because cake is always the answer, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, writer, blogger

Let's face it, the darkest days of January are no fun for anyone, I know that Sweden, Denmark etc are busy embracing their Hygge but I'm not sure it's ever going to translate to Britain really, I think we the British, well, we sort of excel when things get a bit "whiny" shall we say, if people ask us how we're doing we say "oh, I'm ok" and then we quickly find things we can complain about like the weather, the light levels, the fact that it's not yet spring, things that deflect from why we're actually unhappy.

I feel right now that I need some sunshine, in 9 days I'm off to London to meet Mr F and currently I am as pale as a cucumber and my hips have about an extra stone of sponge cake on them, my quest to lose a stone in the first few weeks of January failed in style, don't get me wrong either, this week, as advised by the bouncy slimming world lady I swapped cake for pickled onions (yes, she really did suggest that) did it work?  Well erm, no, actually I put 3lb on when I weighed in last night, I am currently a rotund barrel of pickled onions, I hope Mr F likes a barrel-shaped jar of pickles in lady form.

I'm going, to be honest, actually meeting Mr F in the flesh (gosh that sounds ruder than it's meant) is currently feeling 52% exciting and 48% full on terrifying, I mean up until now, we've only really seen the top half of each other on Skype, what if he actually thinks me a fat buttered baked potato?  I realise it's not massively likely because I think he likes me for me, for my brains and wit (ha, it's bad to say this out loud isn't it, I'm not being arrogant I promise), well you have to hope so because if he's expecting Miss World to turn up and it's me, well that's not going to work is it?

Okay, so I've been on first dates before and I've mostly just winged it, none have been too disastrous but then it's probably because I didn't care whether they worked or not, this is different because whilst it's technically a first date, we have been Skype dating for 3 months, please tell me it's not all going to fall apart because my body is akin to that of a giant white jelly baby!

I think I picked the wrong week to rejoin Slimming World, withdrawing from medication plus a new healthy eating regime was always going to be a bit of a fail but hopefully getting back on the meds plus regaining my happy outlook and I should be able to say no to chocolate and yes to spinach once again, I love spinach, no, really, I do.  One thing we must note, though, Pickled Onions will never be cake and it doesn't matter how many ways you try to introduce that subject or theory (who's theory, I'm not entirely sure, clearly they're deluded) it's just not true, I get none of the pleasure from a pickled onion that I do from cake or chocolate and if I ever hear this untruth at any time in the future I shall be tempted to throw a jar of said pickles at the proclaimers head (not at the Proclaimers, they're lovely bespectacled geeky singers with guitars, I'm sure they wouldn't say such things).  We do know though and there's no doubt about this, my funny, my humour, my whimsical synapses, they're definitely returning and that's something to be celebrated and you know the best way to celebrate...

Slice of Victoria sponge anyone?


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why coming off Reboxetine didn't work for me

Today, I took a choice, I took the choice to be happy rather than being medication free, after 9 days the withdrawal was intolerable, every measure I have in my self-care checklist told me that I needed to do something to rescue myself from the place that I've slipped to over the last couple of days.

Okay you're thinking, 9 days wasn't exactly the biggest victory and really you are right, I could have given it a little longer but as I sobbed to Harriet on the phone at the end of an afternoon of crying for no other reason than the effects of withdrawal I just knew that it wasn't worth it anymore.

Right now, my heart is the saddest it's been in a long time but for no known reason and that's the worst part, over the last couple of days my moods have plummeted to the very depths of depression like they used to when I was on the worst downswing of bipolar and I'm sitting her now writing this with tears rolling down my cheeks because I feel in such despair.  The fact that I've gone from happy to this in such a short space of time is scary, really scary.

I have not given up,  going back to the half dose is half the dose I've taken for nearly 15 years and yes I may lose out on getting back some of my muchnesses but it is better to have my high functioning quality of life back than to go through any extremes of mood ever again.  How I feel now is too familiar to the long dark days of depression.

The article I released on Blue Monday was actually written last Friday when I was still doing amazingly, had I written it on Monday it wouldn't have said what I wanted and so I'm glad I was still in my happy place when I wrote it.

I took some meds about half an hour ago and so I know it is now just a matter of sitting and waiting, in a few hours the physical side effects from withdrawal should disappear without a whisper, it may take several days for my moods to get back to tip top and full on sparkly but hopefully by the time I go to London on the 28th I'll be back to my old new sparkly wonderful self.

I have to forgive myself for not succeeding, I wanted to do it so badly, I wanted to be the success story but really I'm more than a little cross that these things aren't spoken about when you go onto the medications in the first place, yes it makes you better but you also lose facets of your personality, no one told me that I wouldn't be able to laugh for 10 years, nothing like that was ever discussed and whilst I now might be on this half dose for the rest of my life I'm not even sure what I'm giving up to be this way, are there parts of my psyche that I'll never get back, it makes me sad and it makes me wonder.

I don't think anyone will judge me for taking the action that I have taken but if there are one or two naysayers out there I just want to say one thing, in the last 6 months on the half dose I have had the happiest life that I can ever remember, it can't be such a bad thing to want to remain in that state forever.

Update -

It's 10pm and within a couple of hours of taking the medication pretty much all of the medical withdrawal symptoms disappeared, the emotional ones will clear up within a couple of days because I do at least have the medication still in my system.  Harriet hugged me and took me out for dinner and I've spoken with friends and Mr F tonight, all who have reassured me that I haven't failed.  To not try something is to fail, to try something that doesn't work is just a learning curve and this has by far been one of the tougher lessons I've had to experience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Who Are You Mr France, The 11 Questions You want to know

Most of the day spent feeling sad and anxious made better by Skyping Mr France, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, writer, blogger

It's Tuesday evening (only just) and I've just climbed into bed after what will forever be remembered as a bad day made better by Skyping Mr France, I love that Looby just came and plonked herself down for a while and chatted to him tonight, it's kind of weird but good weird if you know what I mean.
I'd been feeling horrendous due to the withdrawal from Reboxetine, I have every withdrawal symptom on the list and there was a point today when I was weeping over a Toblerone for some unknown reason, even tweets today have made me teary and add to that feeling jittery, anxious and having 17 million purple sparkly (I'd imagine) crawly things running all over your body whilst feeling like you're wearing invisible giant mittens and having electric shocks every 30 seconds and that's pretty much how Tuesday, at one point I'd even decided that I wasn't going to Skype Mr F tonight because he shouldn't have to deal with me but I also know he understands and really he did, we talked about some serious stuff tonight, not all of it was the most fun subjects but that is us, it's usually absurd to deadly serious back to absurd or laughing at each other or with each other. Anyway, I managed to gently prod (imagine a fully charged fluffy cattle prod) Mr F for his answers to our questions and without further ado, here's my interview with Mr France.

1. Lisa from Little Orange Dog asks are your friends all as crazy bonkers as you are?

Imaginary ones that talk to me or real life? I think that answers that. 

2. Tracy from Hooks and Dragons asks if you could host a dinner party for 5 people past and present, who would they be and why?

Four of them would be my comedy favourites.

1. Norman Wisdom. He's not only hilarious but a musical mastermind. 

2. Kenneth Williams. Deep, emotional and brilliantly funny. 

3. Ronnie Barker. Do I need to explain why for him?

4. Hattie Jacques. She was beautiful, funny and personally, could produce a look that would have perfect comic timing. 

5. My Mum. She always loved the above. She was my the person to introduce these old time comedians and prompted the things I find funny and built my humour the way it is. So I could share the funniest favourites with me. 

3. If you could visit any place in time and space which would it be and why?

I'd like to travel 100 years into the future and meet my descendants. 

4. What's your favourite version of you in the multiverse and why?

The one where I have perfect hair and it doesn't take me ages to sort it. It has a mind of its own! Imagine the free time I would have not faffing around with it. I could solve so many problems in that time. 

5. Harriet asks Are you an African Prince?

Ek kan nie vir jou sê, want ek die geheim Wet onderteken

6. What is your favourite song and why?

It's a split between 

Everyday by Buddy Holly. Just makes me happy.

Have you ever seen the rain by credence clearwater revival? It encompasses the hard days.

7. Name 5 things that make you happy

My children. 
Playing the piano

8. What is your philosophy in life?

"It's better to be a live dog than a dead lion"

9. If a genie granted you 3 wishes right now, what would they be?

To eat whatever I liked without gaining weight. 

To be taller....and before you say it...I'm short it will make a difference! 2 inches would be nice. I'm sure the ladies would agree that an extra 2 inches makes all the difference. 

To be able to transform into various animals

10. What makes you smile without fail?

One of those deep belly laughs that really reaches the soul of a child....especially my own. 

11. Abigail would like to know, if you could change one thing about the world what would it be?

The destruction of wildlife to create and use palm oil. The use of Palm oil is ridiculous. 

And the quickfire round where I asked Mr F not to think too much about the answers

crusts - on or off? On
Crocs - right/wrong? Wrong
Snacks - sweet/savoury? Seriously, it's food, I don't care
Bed - soft/firm? Soft
cats or dogs? Dogs
brains or beauty brains
Marvel or DC? choice
Romantic or cold hard Pragmatist? I'm somewhere in the middle. 64% romantic maybe
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Cake or Chocolate? It depends on both. I would choose cheesecake over an orange aero but would choose a dairy milk over a carrot cake

So there you have it, Mr France has spoken, I think he gave some great answers, we're having a tiny fight over Marvel vs DC but only because my favourite superhero is The Flash, we might also fight over cheesecake because I hate chocolate and orange as a flavour but I don't like Dairy Milk so I'll have the carrot cake instead, I am glad we have the same stance on Crocs though, that might have been a fail from the start.

A note to Mr F,

I want to say the biggest thank you for answering all of these questions, especially some of the more ludicrous ones, you've had lots going on and I really appreciate that you took time out to do it, I also want to say something else, something that I couldn't say to your face earlier, or at least I couldn't find the right words, you worry that when people find out who you really are that it will be disappointing and you worry that you are at some point going to disappoint me but we are a couple who met in a weird situation and have the weirdest early relationship I know of but there's nothing of you that I expect that would disappoint me, I read pages and pages and pages of your blog before we started Skyping, possible before we'd even done little more than chatted on Twitter, we have spoken for hours, we talk every day and I'll never expect you to be anything that you are not capable of giving, we laugh together, we discuss, life, the universe and everything in between and I'm sure we'll end up crying together and some days you'll shout and scream and so will I but what we have started with is a really honest trusting friendship where we can talk about anything and where we just get each other, my expectations are only the things that I already know and that is that we are going to have lovely adventures together so removing all of the other stuff, thank you for being a friend who I can trust, a friend who cares and a friend who made the end of my day far better than the start of it

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Keeping Your Dog Happy and Healthy

How to keep your dog happy and healthy, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Keeping your dog healthy and happy
There’s no relationship quite like the one you’ll have with your dog; loyal and loving to a fault, dogs are our best friend in times of crisis, our partner in crime during those lighter moments, and a constant presence in life regardless of what we’re going through. Though you may have chosen to adopt a dog under the pretence of getting more exercise, or because you wanted to feel safer, you’ll always end up with a best friend in training – and there’s no feeling quite like it.

How to keep your dog at its healthiest and happiest
As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your pet is fit, happy, and healthy, and provided with everything they need to enjoy life to the full. While all of that love, care, and attention is going to do your dog the world of good, it’s also likely benefit you, enriching your relationship with a dedication that’s shared wholeheartedly. Dogs have an amazing way of returning the love that they’re shown. Whether you’re considering getting a puppy, have already adopted your first rescue dog, or have been enjoying the company of a dog for years, here are some of the things that are expected of you.

Ensure that your dog’s medical needs are met
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your dog’s medical needs are met. It’s up to you to keep your puppy’s vaccinations up to date, regularly treat your dog for fleas and worms, and to seek medical advice immediately if your dog becomes unwell, or displays distressing symptoms. Yes, such care can be expensive – but that cost is your responsibility. You’re also going to need to establish a routine of oral care for your dog, whether that involves regular cleaning or the supply of dental health snacks. These days, it’s a great idea to insure your dog from the moment that you adopt them; this can really help out when bigger bills rear their ugly heads, and ensure that your pet is cared for no matter what comes their way. You’ll also need to get your dog micro-chipped, which is a procedure now required by law.

Feed your dog the right diet
The best way to keep your pet in great condition is to provide a healthy diet for your dog. Familiarise yourself with the kinds of food that definitely shouldn’t be given to a dog, such as dairy products, onions and garlic, tea, chocolate, grapes, raw eggs, and bones. It’s a common misconception that dogs eat bones, but this treat could actually cause more harm than good; bones are prone to breaking up, exposing sharp edges that could pierce your dog’s digestive system on their way down. Instead, stick to foods and treats that have been created especially for your dog’s breed, size, and age. It’s a good idea to research the brands that feature the most natural ingredients, using supplements that will promote healthy bones, muscles, and joints. The benefits of such a diet should never be underestimated. You must always provide a steady supply of water. 

Go For Walks
Your dog is going to need a lot of exercise, including at least one walk a day. While it’s certainly true that some breeds require longer walks than others, getting outside into the fresh air is one of the best ways to bond with your dog – and to improve your mood. The daily walk can also be a great way to socialise your pet, bringing them face to face with dogs of other breeds and ages in order to make friends. You may even make a friend or two yourself. Depending upon your dog’s breed and age, it’s recommended that you aim for at least two 15 minutes walks a day, though you may prefer to enjoy a longer walk all at once. If possible, give your dog access to an outside space so that they can stretch their legs at intervals during the day, and provide chew toys, treat-dispensing toys, balls, and comforting soft toys that your dog can enjoy with you, and when you are out.

Master the tummy rub and grooming
More than anything, it’s important to be there for your dog. Dogs are the most sociable pet you can imagine, and will crave your attention, approval, and love. Perfect the art of the tummy rub, spend hours grooming your dog’s fur, and curl up together once the walk is over; the healthiest dogs are those that have that unbreakable bond with their owner, so do all you can to nurture it. If you’re likely to be out all day at work, consider meeting your dog’s needs in other ways, such as hiring the services of a walker or sitter to provide company and exercise. Your dog will still look forward to the sound of the key turning in the door as you come home.

The best way to ensure your dog’s happiness and health is to ensure that you’re providing the basics of pet care, and then some. Your dog needs a warm place to sleep, plenty of exercise, the right diet and access to water, medical care, stimulation by way of toys and company, and grooming on a regular basis. More than that, though, your dog needs love, which will be returned to you in ways you could never imagine; there’s no relationship quite like it. 


Why I am protective of my Mum, a guest blog by Abigail aged 14.5

After last week's blog, I wasn't sure what to expect from my dear daughter this week, she's obviously a teenager with a lot to say and whilst she feels she doesn't have the time or energy to blog herself I'm quite happy to let her publish a weekly article.  I'm not going to lie, there was a sharp intake of breath when I read this one and I totally understand why she feels the way that she feels, I should also say that we talk about this stuff often and it's only going to be time, and time itself that is going to heal things and make them better, I know one day she's going to meet Mr France and I hope that when she sees he's not a fly by night that she'll learn to trust him but I appreciate how difficult it must be for her to see both her dad and me with new people in our lives, one thing we do agree on though is that it is right that we were apart.

Over to Abigail - 

"If you hadn't heard my mum is dating Mr France, Mr France won't have it easy getting my approval. My siblings and I are very protective of my mum, however, neither of them are as protective as me. 

In my lifetime I've seen my mum feel heart broken too many times. I swore to stop it happening as much as possible. Luckily my mum respects my opinion and if I don't like someone or feel that they are going to hurt her I will tell her to steer clear. I have done it before and will do it again. My mum is a hopeless romantic which is both her best and worst characteristic.

It's important to say however that thus far Mr France has been given my approval but my opinions change like the weather and are not permanent (remember that Mr France).  I have wholeheartedly accepted that my parents have split up for good, what I have not accepted yet is the fact that they have both moved on and found other people, other people that I will have to get to know".

For children with parents who split up it must be agony to watch the people who love you and care for you separate, to see people you thought loved each other not love each other anymore, I can imagine it's heartbreaking, especially if you are a teenager who's only just formulating their own identity and don't forget that it's families and the people around the kids who do give them their identity and shape their personalities in the formative years.

To Abigail...

I can tell you, I love and adore you Abigail and I know you had to go through so much hurt and heartbreak yourself to get to this place you are in, you and I we have great times together and a relationship where we can discuss anything and everything, you are brilliant beyond brilliant my darling girl, in getting to this point in my life I have had to forgive myself for the hurt you had when your dad and I parted and there is still much to do.  Please don't think that you, Looby and Iain aren't my entire life and I wouldn't let anyone into my life unless I thought they were the best kind of person, the kind I'd want to introduce you to one day, someone worthy of meeting my amazing children, the most amazing teenagers on the planet.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Blue Monday, Why I'll never apologise for being happy ever again...

It's Blue Monday, traditionally the most depressing day of the year and so all over the internet bloggers like me are writing about it in various articles and a lot of them relate to mental health awareness which in my opinion can only mean good things.

Whilst January itself is the dark, bare and sometimes bland month after the sparkly, glittery month of December and I'll be the first to admit that it's usually the month where I want to hide under my quilt and hide from the world but this year is different for a few factors.

Firstly I only shot 184 portrait sessions in the whole of 2016, this means I wasn't completely exhausted by the time I got to Christmas and this usually stretches right through January.  Secondly, I have given up alcohol due to being intolerant and while I had a bit of a sad face, I hated hangovers and was pretty much a lightweight anyway, My doctor did say that I would probably get away with having a couple of glasses of wine a month due to the way the lack of enzyme works so it's not all bad!  Thirdly, a huge contributing factor is that I'm just altogether happier, I feel like I've got my shit together, I'm such a lucky person, I have a job that I love, amazing teenagers, I have friends I adore and I, of course, I have my Mr France who makes me smile every day.

My motivation to blog has never been higher, it takes me next to no time to write what I think are pretty good articles every day, now that I have my writing style I find it easy to sit down for an hour just about every day.  I guess the best thing about my blog is that it's a diary of my life, some people tell me it's like Sex in the City (it's not quite that fruity, I'm sure) and some people tell me it's like Bridget Jones diary but it's not quite so sweary as her life although we are the same age you know!

It's testament to the happiness and positive influences in my life that I have reduced my bipolar medication again and I've done it in January, I was going to wait until spring but I feel I'm coping with life so well and my doctors agree so why not do it in January, the leap from 8mg of Reboxetine to 4mg wasn't actually that painful although it was completely life changing, so far the leap from 4mg to 2mg is pretty much just physical withdrawal, I feel a bit fluffy and have headaches, my sleeping is also a little out of sync but I know in a couple of weeks I'll see the changes there too.

I think just like any day of the year can potentially be the best day of your life, every day also has the ability to become the darkest and depressing and please don't think I'm being glib with that statement but part of self-care is I believe setting your intention for the day,  you have to be kind to yourself and think, today I am going to have a good day, if you can't quite manage that then think about what you can do to break the days down into hours, and really, when I was super poorly with bipolar I would focus on the hours rather than the whole days, I would force myself to get dressed or to go in the bath and then I would reward myself for achieving the small tasks I'd managed, please don't ever think I know how it is to be trapped in the dark abyss of depression, the kind of depression which makes you question if anything is worth it anymore, the kind of depression which makes you wander to the side of a busy road thinking how easy it would be to just walk out, get hit and escape the quagmire of depression forever.  That was life, 15 years ago nothing I was then is the person I am now other than the fact that I am a fighter, I am a survivor and in the end I chose life over death, maybe through stubbornness more than anything else but in the end it was my children who got me through the darkest days, their laughs, their smiles, their hilarious behaviours, some things never change in that respect.

So I hope you'll excuse me if I skip through this Blue Monday, I hope you won't mind that I have a spring in my step, I hope when people call me the bounciest person they know that you won't ever underestimate what I had to go through to get here.  I feel I have earned the right to be this brilliant, bouncy unbeatable woman I've become and so I will never apologise for my happiness, life isn't and will never be perfect but that doesn't mean that every day I live can't be perfectly wonderful.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why I Hated La La Land

It's Sunday afternoon, the end of the first weekend in ages where I haven't had any photo shoots, quite frankly not working at weekends always kind of perturbs me although not as much as sitting through La La Land.

I love musicals, no one else I know loves musicals as much as me, I mean, since Friday I've watched Rent, Moulin Rouge, Jesus Christ Superstar and Hercules and these are just regular days of my life, I adore musicals, I actually believe that if life was a musical we'd all be a lot happier.  I can't dance for toffee but I'd be more than happy to spend the rest of my life singing my way through it, actually that's pretty much how I live, it's a bad day at Black Rock if I'm not singing...

When I first heard about La La Land I was excited, I heard the soundtrack and loved it mostly although I did have a couple of issues and they were justified when we sat through the movie today.

I don't want to be too unfair or scathing as there are moments of pure joy in the movie but - 

Emma Stone, isn't a singer worthy of a big musical, she sounds like a small baby bird and not in a good way,  when in one song where she was allowed to get loud and really open her lungs I thought she faired a lot better so I'm not sure why they wrote a soundtrack which mainly has her singing in a quiet voice.

Ryan Gosling is pretty and can dance, he looks so good but again, there are actors who would have sung much better.

The Cinematography is a delight, it's beautifully shot, the lighting, the vistas, it reminded me of some of the 1940's greats of MGM etcetera and there are some stylish, slick dance scenes which I just adored just like some of the bigger joyful songs, I mean toe-tapping, songs you can't help feel happy in your heart when you hear them but...

I hated the ending and without wanting to give away too many spoilers the movie itself has gone for a style of Casablanca ending and it did not sit well with me.  The story is bland and strung together, it's almost a not even a story, I didn't feel passion or any depth to the characters, I didn't cry, I didn't feel anything for most of it and some of the dramatic parts felt like they were almost part of another movie.

I felt the movie was choppy, not in a good Luhrmann type way but in a no fluidity to the story type of a way.  I felt almost like they'd taken great actors and put them in the wrong movie, surely Anna Kendrick would have been a better choice to play Mia and Ewan Mcgregor (I know I'm biased) could have played the male lead brilliantly, he did after all excel at old school when he was in Down With Love.

So ok, to say that I hated the movie might be a little strong but I have such huge problems with some of the things that I came away unhappy and disappointed by the experience.  Obviously this movie has been heralded a huge success by the critics, the awards and most of the people going to see it but maybe it's because they're not watching musicals every day of their life and understanding the nuances of how a truly great musical works, maybe it's because it was an original and not something adapted from the stage, maybe it's because it wasn't Les Mis, or Phantom or Moulin Rouge, I just don't know, I can't put my finger on it, I can only give you one woman's thoughts, a woman who lives, breathes and dreams of musicals.
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