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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The rules of being a hermit

Crocuses in Heaton Park, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger, rules of being a hermit, mental health, life, musings of a 40+ year old woman in Newcastle upon Tyne

Over the last few days I've reinvoked my hermit clause, that is, at any given time I may choose to retreat from the world as much as possible, speak as little as possible and sleep as often as possible. I'm binge-watching Sex in The City and so far this week I've eaten at least 3 bags of varying kinds of mini chocolate eggs (thank you Easter) and today I've even eaten Pizza courtesy of my kind son and Pizza Hut.  These are all items on my banned list and I really need to sort myself out soon before I end up looking like a cross between Miss Piggy and the Marshmallow Man.

My thumb is sore from swiping left too often on Tinder and I've officially run out of men in a 50k vicinity.  My work calendar is so quiet that I've questioned if I'm even still alive and it's still not spring, as the kids would say FML!!

Now I don't mean to get all maudlin and really, you shouldn't feel sorry for me but I do think soon the tides have to turn a little, for every bad time, slow time, down time I've had an equal an opposite period of joy and fun and glory, my life I guess is symptomatic of bipolar, go figure!

I keep thinking that transitional times are good for the soul, being a hermit is good for the soul, you have to be alone so that you appreciate the times when you aren't so alone. So I am embracing my hermitage even if it is 20 minutes away from the city centre and not on the top of a rugged cliff on a remote island somewhere in the pacific.

If I have to go out for work or groceries or if one of my teens isn't walking Holly Bobbins then I'm going but you can bet that as soon as I possibly can I am returning to my nest, my small quiet sanctuary where mostly life is quiet and straightforward, where 4 people can simultaneously watch Netflix at once (yes I upgraded) and where real life doesn't hurt quite so much.

I commented to Laura yesterday that I really need some sunshine and maybe a book or two which will restore my positivity, I'm usually one of the most positive people and I'm not sure how I've gotten to the point where I feel that life is genuinely beating me over the head with a big stick.  I'm sure I get to this point at the end of each winter though and then just when I'm about to give up all hope, spring happens, I get some sunshine in my soul and life feels good again.  I think I'm going to need some tactics to get through the next 22 days.  Did you know by the way, that spring officially starts on the 20th March at 10.30am, so 10.29am it's winter and then boom, 1 minute later and it's daffodils, tulips and the great slide into Easter, I think this year I may have some kind of ceremony at the exact moment of springs arrival if anyone wants to join me?

What do you say we all synchronously plant up a tulip at 10.30am on the 20th March followed by diving straight into a packet of Dime mini eggs?  A welcome to spring party we can all get on board with, feel free to pop in, the mini eggs are on me!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The unfortunate case of the manly man

Online dating with Eharmony, Tinder and Guardian Soulmates, does anyone read the profiles?  Mandy Charlton, Photographer, writer, blogger, dating, men, relationships, online dating

A couple of days ago, I got a match from a man who I'm going to call "The Glass Cutter" He quickly messaged me saying something about breaking the ice and I messaged back remarking that what he really needed was a ten tonne penguin, an exchange took place which was momentarily whimsical and then I had to go review Anton and Erin at the Sage, he messaged me several times and what I should have done straight away was asked the important questions - 

1. Do you like superheroes, sci-fi and Doctor Who?

2. If Metrosexual man is at one end of the scale and super butch manly man is at the other end, where would you place yourself?

3. Do you like musicals and cake?

4. Logans Run, was the carousel actually a quite brilliant form of entertainment?

If I'd asked these in the first instance then I would have quickly found out we were destined to be completely incompatible.

Oh and if you are wondering, a metrosexual who likes all of the above and knows Logan's Run is pretty much the jackpot for me, obviously some things I am prepared to compromise on, I mean, cake, well I think you're a weirdo if you don't like cake but I get that it's not a life or death decision and if it means more cake for me then I won't complain but everything else, they're pretty much staples of my average day, I can forgive someone for not having seen Logan's Run,  I get that it's kind of niche but if you don't like Doctor Who or musicals well dating me isn't even an option.

The thing is, I kind of have this written on my dating profile which begs the question?  Does anyone apart from me actually read the things people write on Tinder or is that just on Eharmony or Guardian Soulmates?  and if it is, maybe they're the sites I should be on, actually, I am on Guardian Soulmates, I've just haven't paid for a subscription but it's certainly a hub of interesting, deep, metrosexuals.

I should have known when I asked him what he did and he said he was a glass cutter, even more so when he said if he could do anything he would have been a soldier!  The thing is I have tried relationships like that before and they don't work, we politically disagree on everything, I emasculate them because I'm an independent business woman and although I might be lonely I certainly don't need to be saved by a man.

I feel what I'm doing now is somewhat groundbreaking (for me anyway) I am actively turning down men who are not suitable, I would never have done this previously for fear of spending my life alone but I've come to realise, give me Netflix and my beagle and I'm actually pretty happy, or maybe I'm just working my status as a professional part time hermit currently but sprinkle in there my best friends and I really am ok with just being on my own until I find my kind of perfect.

So, is it bad to have certain requirements or questions that you have to ask to find your kind of perfect?  I mean it's possible that I might have this all wrong and maybe I should be looking for the exact opposite of myself but somehow I think not, I have enough experience in relationships to know what does and doesn't work for me and you know what?  If you can't sing along to some of the musical numbers from Moulin Rouge or similar and you can't name at least some of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webbers greatest shows, if you can't tell me your favourite Doctor and why and if we can't have a discussion about DC vs Marvel then what in the hell are we going to talk about for the next 20 years?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Fundamentals of Attraction, Can You Retrain Your Brain To Like Just Anyone?

The fundamentals of attraction, can you retrain your brain to like just anyone with CBT, Mandy Charlton, Writer, Photographer, Blogger, dating, relationships, men, online dating

I want to take a moment to discuss an interesting point raised by one of my blog readers, Neil commented that my face could pretty much like anyone else's face if I just gave myself a few hours of self-cognitive behavioural therapy, now I don't know about you but to me that's kind of admitting defeat, ergo, I can't find anyone's face I like so I'll just train myself to like anyone's face and isn't being utterly attracted to someone one of the most exciting parts of meeting another person of the opposite sex?

In the virtually perfect relationship (there's no such thing as perfect, remember) this is what you get, you have attraction plus friendship plus X and X is the part that you can't define, the attraction and hormones will wear off, the friendship will remain but the X part, well that's the glue that is going to keep you together for the years to come.  I think the X is the spark you can't define and it's almost an evolutionary process which matches us only to a certain limited number of individuals, if Neil is right and you can change that to widen the field then I guess that's great in some respects but hell, I don't think I want to like everyone, I want to like the people I'm meant to like, it's inside me like my genetic code, I want to find a whole heap of X, I want to find so much X I am drowning in X.  

When Plato said we spend the whole of our lives searching for our equal and opposite whole I don't think he was thinking that you could retrain your thought processes.  I'm a great believer in the fact that all love is the pursuit of the whole.  I, however, don't believe that there's just one soulmate for everyone, if I did, then basically I've had my turn and I'm screwed!

I think we all potentially have a handful of soulmates out there in the world and I do think we are drawn to each other and eventually, we find them or they find us but we have to believe strongly in this for it to happen, what I and many others do is try to force this by actively looking and the reason for this, of course, is because of our sensitive hearts and the fear of loneliness and being alone.  We constantly put forward what we want and then we settle, we make too many compromises and before you know it we are trapped in ever unsuitable relationships, something I know I did in my first marriage.  In my second I do think we were soulmates at least for a while and our beautiful daughters are proof of that.

I'm not sure how I get to the point of being completely ok on my own but I do know that for each day I spend as a singleton I get better about keeping my own company, the more I fill my life with interesting people and creative work and pastimes the less I feel like I need to have someone of the opposite sex to fulfil the missing parts, like my friend Kelly says, she is the whole person, she doesn't need someone else to complete her, Kelly is a very wise woman, happy to be single and you know what I salute her, for me though I just have to get up each day, look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I'm good enough, I'm better now in my own company than I have ever been, in fact, some days like today I'd make the perfect professional hermit, as long as I have my dog, a pile of musicals, a nice environment with plentiful cups of tea (and of course HD TV and surround sound) then I'm a happy bunny, everything else I need I get from my closest friends anyway!

So while I am sure that there's a creative bohemian man out there for me somewhere, I am prepared to wait and not settle until I find him because as I have always said, you should never settle for anything less than your type of perfect, so, sorry Neil, but I won't be trying to retrain my brain for anyone, anytime soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Looking for Newcastle Photographer?

kids photography at home, newcastle upon tyne, mandy charlton, photographer, photography newcastle, kids, families, weddings

This is going to be the biggest image post I've shared for ages, being a Newcastle photographer I'm incredibly privileged to share in so many precious moments, both at home and on location with family portraits and further afield shooting beautiful weddings for my gorgeous clients who are so very much in love.
family photo shoot in Jesmond Dene with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot in Saltwell Park with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot at home with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot at home with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot on the beach at cullercoats with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot at home, in tynemouth with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot in Jesmond Dene with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot in Chopwell Wood with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot in chopwell wood with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

family photo shoot in armstrong park with Mandy Charlton Photography, newcastle photographer

Here's the thing, I wouldn't even have a business without my clients and being a single parent supporting an entire menagerie I sometimes have to take a moment to ask you, the good people of the internet to share that I want to take on more clients, it's not always the case but at the moment things are quieter and so I'm looking to fill my diary in the month of March and April, obviously further months are also available but right now I am super focused on getting us through the rest fo winter and spring.
family portrait in Jesmond Dene, newcastle photographer mandy charlton

I'd like to think after 10 years of professional photography that I'm pretty good at what I do and that's why many of my wonderful clients come back year after year, I like to shoot in Jesmond Dene most of all and Saltwell Park or on the beach at Tynemouth Longsands and King Edwards Bay, some of my clients have the most amazing homes and gardens and if you are one of them then why not have a session at home?
Newborn and sibling photography at home, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer

Newborn and sibling photography at home, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer

Newborn and sibling photography at home, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer

Newborn and sibling photography at home, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer

Newborn and sibling photography at home, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer

Everyone compliments me on the photos I take of newborns at home with their toddler siblings, let me just say now, what I do is a skill, it comes years of practice and much negotiating with 3-year-olds, it is the hardest thing you will ever do and yet when you get those images it's so rewarding, these are the photos which can't be reshot because newborns change every single day.  It's much like the wedding photographs I produce, each one should stand on it's own and give you joy each time you remember the most special days of your life, I've shot weddings all over the country but I definitely have favourite places like As You Like It, Newton Hall, Le Petit Chateau, Eshott Hall, Beamish Hall, Guyzance Hall, I love unique individual places which are a joy to shoot in and each and every one of my wedding couples get's at least 1 unique portrait I've never shot before, obviously after 10 years this is harder than you'd think but I still manage it!!
wedding photography, Healy Barn, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, As You Like It, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, Beamish Hall, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, Healy Barn, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, chinese wedding, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, Doxford Hall, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

wedding photography, Healy Barn, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

I might not talk about my photography business so much on my blog now that I have separate places for writing and photography but really, I can't do one without the other, I love taking pictures and I do it as much in my personal life as I do in my job, I shoot for travel companies and experiences and that's one of the reasons I love what I do, my life is so varied and I can't imagine ever doing anything else.

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, Alnmouth, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, Heaton Park, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, Bamburgh, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, Bassenthwaite, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, seahouses, holly bobbins, beagle, dog friendly, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, lake district, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, yorkshire dales, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, Keswick, Lake district, england, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, kirkstone pass, lake district, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, La Sagrada, Barcelona, Europe, travel photography

Mandy Charlton, Travel Photographer, sage gateshead, newcastle quayside, travel photography

So if anything, this bumper load of images should convince you more than anything of just how passionate I am about my work and also just how very hard I work, my mental health when I am working is always brilliant, I have a constant need to be busy and it's only in times when I'm not that I have way too much time to think or in my case overthink.

If you are looking for a photographer for your project or collaboration or you want some great family photos or you are inquiring about a wedding photographer then please get in touch


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Tale of 3 Men and A Prince

Prince Harry near the Baltic, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, a Tale of 3 men and a prince

In case you hadn't noticed by the plethora of small people around the streets of Newcastle, it's half term and that means the chance to spend time with my lovely children as well as living at my kind of pace, not that I don't anyway but I love school holidays, they suit the bohemian in me and I think they suit Looby also.  It's been a weird old week in some respects and it's only Tuesday, who knows what might happen in the rest of the week.  I mean, today we only went for big walkies when who should we bump into? (well kind of)  only blooming HRH Prince Harry, yes, can you see him in the photo, that's him behind the lady with the red skirt, yes go me, Holly Bobbins nearly met a prince!!

So let's talk men, you know it's what you come here for, some scandal to fill in your coffee breaks, some vicarious tales of dating and Tinder and my ever hilarious quest to find someone who's the same kind of weird as I am.

Firstly I have to mention my darling friend Laura who runs ELLEfluence, she tweeted to see if she could find any suitors out there worthy of dating me, she was actually pretty successful and should maybe consider setting up a dating agency once she's taken over the world of Influencer marketing and blogger outreach.

So let's have a look at 3 men who've been awfully nice to me in the last week, all complimentary and I have no doubt upstanding members of their communities, sadly none my type but it's always nice to be complimented.

Man 1 - Hairy, too hairy, lovely but not my type.
Man 2 - Unhappily married, very complimentary but see the aforementioned statement.
Man 3 - Describing himself as so weird even the weirdo's think he's weird, sadly after chatting with him I found out he was actually quite quiet, really quite normal and not even in the same category as my kind of weird.

It seems I have a big problem!  The men who like me I don't like and the ones I like don't like me, perhaps because I actually don't look that bohemian even though I am, I guess I'm weirder beneath the surface than I am on the exterior, I have no tattoos, my hair isn't pink, let's face it, I look more like a school teacher than I do a bad ass bohemian artist/writer, I always have!  This is of course where Tinder et al falls down because you're asked to make snap judgements on appearance alone and as the saying goes you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, you should however like the cover, it should make you want to delve into the book, the same can also be said in reverse of course, it could be the most exciting cover in the world but if the contents have no substance to make you turn the page then you get bored pretty easily and quickly put the book to one side.  There's another scenario where my dog eats the book but I'm not sure what that analogy means yet!

One of my lovely friends has just happened upon the most gorgeous bearded bohemian and she herself is a beautiful tattooed bohemian woman, he's a little younger and she's a minx, she's surely going to keep him in check, after just one date she was floating on air and they were laughing, sharing jokes and lots of cat photos and you know, that's how it's supposed to be, I am so happy for her and I can see this being a great relationship in the future, she's the lucky one and I hope one day it's going to happen to me too.   I have a definite shortage of places I go where I can happen upon real life men though and whilst Madame Koo might be a great place for the occasionally dancing dalliance with a young attractive man I doubt I'm ever going to bump into anyone in my own age-group, I think from Saturday I've assessed that mostly once youre over 35 you tend not to go out dancing every weekend.

Anyway, don't pity me or tell me that one day I'll meet someone because I kind of know I will really but I won't settle and you know what?  I like writing about this stuff way too much to settle down just yet, in fact mostly I think I like writing about dating a whole lot more than I actually like dating, sucks to be me eh?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

5 Great Views You Must See Before You Die

Since I really got the ability to travel a few years ago I've had some amazing experiences, not just overseas I should add, we have a plethora of amazing places in the UK as well as some more far flung adventures. My number one aspiration continues to be to travel as often as I possibly can, I love to explore new places whether it's somewhere tranquil and dog-friendly or a colourful paradise with friends overseas and so with that in mind and after chatting with my girlfriends about some of my favourite things I've ever done thus far I thought I would take the opportunity to give you my list of 5 things you must do before you die!

View from the top of the leaning tower of pisa, italy, Mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel , solo traveller

1. The view from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in summer you'll queue for hours to get tickets but in November you can pay and pretty much climb straight away, you also get to stay at the top a while and the views are amazing, as you climb the tower you are all too aware that the tower is leaning and at the top where they've rehung the bells it's even a little comical.  When I climbed I was on my own and after travelling through several countries on my own for the first time on a cruise with Norwegian Epic I sat at the top and cried realising just what I'd achieved, from agoraphobia to solo traveller in just a few years.  I love the fact that you can see Pisa and Tuscany from the top so if you get the chance go do it and for an even more special experience, why not do it on your own?!

Cannes, from le suquet, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, 5 great views you must see before you die

2.  Climb Le Suquet on a warm sunny morning and you won't be disappointed, Le Suquet in Cannes refers to the old town and right at the top you'll find a castle and a museum, for just a handful of Euros (I think I paid about 5 euros) you can climb to the top of the tower and be master of all you survey, just for a while anyway.  When I visited on a pleasantly warm Novembers day Cannes still felt like summer for this girl from the frozen North.

church of mount tibidambo, mandy charlton, photographer, writer blogger, travel, 5 great things you must see before you die

3. The view from the Talaia at sunset, Mount Tibidabo, Barcelona, Spain.  as well as being called the magic mountain, Tibidabo is home to a historic theme park, and it's signature ride, a rickety old basket (it's safer than it sounds) which takes you up 1500 foot above sea level for the most amazing views you have ever seen, when Harriet and I went in the summer we were able to experience it at sunset, it's one of the most magical views I've ever captured and an experience I'll never forget.

view from the shard, london, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, 5 views you must see before you die

4. The View from the Shard, London, you don't have to go too far afoot to discover the best views of London and for the best value ticket choose to go up at sunset, for one it will be quieter with no queues and you'll also be able to see London in the daytime and London as it lights up, London is the prettiest city in the world when viewed from above and as night falls it ups it's magic quotient to something akin to a fantasy world, you've seen nothing until you've experienced London twinkling in all its glory.

canals of amsterdam, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, 5 views you must see before you die, travel photography

The canals of Amsterdam, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, 5 views you must see before you die, travel photography

5.  The views of the winding canal network in Amsterdam, take a trip on a small boat with a local captain and you'll find out the most interesting stories from Amsterdam, there's nowhere quite like to soak in the atmosphere of one of the finest cities in Europe but definitely stay away from the larger tourist boats because it really is worth paying a little extra for a small tour along with 15-20 others. It's an experience Abigail and I both adored, even if she did lose my sunglasses over the side of the small boat, never to be seen again.

In the next year there are so many views I'd love to see, my biggest wish is to visit Japan and also I know that I must see New York from the top of the Empire State building, I'd love to hear from you if there are any great views you've experienced on your travels, any recommendations for places I need to visit?


Monday, February 20, 2017

Thaikhun Cooking School

I love cooking, it's well known that on any given Monday I'll be found in my kitchen for the afternoon cooking for all of my friends so when I was invited to the brand new Thaikhun Cooking School at Thaikhun in the Metrocentre, Gateshead I got quite excited and dragged along Harriet who I'll be honest, likes to come and eat at my house so that she doesn't have to cook herself, she's the master of a buffet though!!
Thai Green Curry, Mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, thaikhun cookery school, metrocentre, cooking

When I cook I love to make the British classics, I love my slow cooker and there's no end of recipe combinations, I also love the chance to cook stir fries and anything with noodles but I'd never actually cooked Thai before so it was quite an exciting proposition.

The Thaikhun cooking school costs £50 per person and the best part is that at the end of the experience you get to eat what you've cooked, you also get a goody bag and you can take home the recipe to cook for all of your friends and family, I have mine stored for a special occasion.

We cooked Thai spring rolls followed by a Thai green curry and it was so good, the tastiest thing I've eaten in ages,  our teacher was amazing and made the whole process fun, we were also allowed to adapt the recipes so for example in my case, I'm not a huge fan of really spicy food so where some of the students put all of the chillis into their curries I stopped at just 1 chilli, I know, I'm a lightweight but I'm also a super taster.  It was the perfect recipe for me though as I adore anything which is a coconut based recipe and if I make a curry at home it's almost always got a tonne of coconut milk in it.

Harriet loved the experience of being a chef for an evening, I'm not sure if it means she's likely to be whipping us up all Thai food on a regular basis but at least it means I can rope her in to help me cook recipes, she's got far better knife skills than I have!

I think the Thaikhun cooking school is the perfect friendship date night, I mean, we laugh together, cry together, so why not cook together.  It's also the perfect date night or even something different for a birthday or hen party, I'd certainly love to do it all again with some different recipes.  At the end of the day there aren't many restaurants who help you cook the exact same recipes as they're serving to customers, to me that speaks volumes and it doesn't mean I'm any less likely to eat at Thaikhun, in fact for me, I love the fact that they shared so freely but I still love to be cooked for!

Thaikhun invited us along in exchange for a blog post and you know what, that's just fine with me, whilst I'm pretty good at blogging, they're definitely the best at Thai cooking!
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