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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Whatever Happened To Martyn?

People often ask me this very question, like it's some great unanswered hanging speech bubble and some things have happened lately that I wanted to talk about so, armed with a keyboard and some coffee it seems as good a time as any.

I love Martyn, not in that way before you all get overexcited, I love him because he's my friend and I love all of my friends, he's witty and clever, we both like superheroes, musicals and cake and on many subjects we have the same kind of viewpoints. In some ways, we are so completely different though but that's what makes a good friendship!

Martyn recently fell in love with his own beautiful princess and you know what, that's what you want for your friends, you want them to be happy, in love and live happily ever after.  I know, you're wondering why I'm telling you this, it's my blog where I write about my stuff but hang on in there because this is where it gets interesting.

Sometimes for whatever reason, love, relationships, they don't work out and watching your friends go through heartbreak is hard, even harder when they live so far away and you can't just pop in.  

So now I want to tell you some of the things my friend is not - 

He is not a threat to women, 
He is not a sexual predator,

You see it's bad enough that he had his heart broken but then this princess turned out to be more like Maleficent than Sleeping Beauty, she started stalking him, calling him repeatedly and when he refused to give her the attention she invented the most incredulous lies, lies that threatened to actually not only ruin the life of a good man but lies which also severely threatened his mental health. 

That's not even the worst part, the worst part came after the radical feminists got involved!

I want to state for the record that I identify as a feminist, an egalitarian feminist, my ancestors were actually suffragettes so we're all strong independent women who believe in equality for women, what we are not (unlike radical feminists) are Misandrists!  Recently it's come to light that some kind of underground network is currently gunning for Martyn and any men who stick up for him, women who stick up for him are blocked, they choose not to listen to what the female friends and social media followers think because to them, that means that my friend has brainwashed them.

Now, I've spent time with Martyn in real life, I never once felt threatened, he's certainly never brainwashed me, it didn't work out because we're far better friends than anything else (and why ruin a great friendship?) he didn't try to silence me, he certainly was not a sexual predator (I'm a big girl, thanks very much) and our friendship only continues to thrive and flourish.  Surely if he was this evil villain that he's purported to be I would know about it?   I don't suffer fools and I'm only friends with a select bunch of utterly fabulous people I adore so if I'd even had one hint that he had some kind of sinister side I would have ran a mile!

How is it that we live in a society where a woman makes up horrible lies about a man we believe them and yet if it were the other way around there is a witch hunt?  I'm ashamed to say it for my own womenkind but sometimes women are bad people too.

I'm speaking out today because there's an assumption out there that I am one of those mistreated, abused, silenced women that Martyn has used and I want to tell you that it's just not true, choose to believe whatever you want but today I'm standing up for my friend and should anyone want to question that, go ahead, I'm an open book, I have absolutely nothing to hide and neither does he.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I am not dating so why did I just subscribe to Eharmony?


I am not dating so why did I just subscribe to Eharmony


I am not dating,
I am not dating,
I am not dating....

Okay so I had an offer I couldn't refuse and joined EHarmony, they claim to have the best success rates and for what I actually ended up paying I'm happy enough that if it doesn't work with my 3 months initial membership then I'm not going to cry about it.

Now, as I've already said, I'm at a place in my life where I'm just happy being me, I have a life I love and for me to give up my solitude it's really going to take someone amazing with a capital A!

The worrying thing is I no longer even really know what I'm looking for, I mean, beardy would help being that I kind of like bearded sorts, bohemian is a statutory requirement because otherwise, they're quickly going to find me quite odd, height isn't important, they should obviously be hilarious otherwise they'll never keep up with my quick witted responses to pretty much everything, not saying I can't be serious but I do deal with a lot of things with humour.

Obviously, they should be a little cultured, a bit of a geek, mainly high functioning and overall if they don't like Doctor Who, Sci-Fi and Musicals then what the heck are we going to talk about.

I do feel though that because I'm narrowing it down so much that although I'm likely to get a much lower hit rate the chances are that the matches I do get will be more likely to be successful.

Except that, I'm not looking, I am not dating and I am not going to put any serious amount of effort into looking, if someone should fall from the heavens by chance then that's a different matter of course.

I actually have no idea why I even filled in the profile although that was a while ago, maybe my inner consciousness is trying to tell me something, maybe it's all Freudian and it's coming from my dark brain that even I don't know about.

I just can't see how someone could actually enhance my life at present, I have friends, amazing teens, I'm financially comfortable, I have several jobs I adore.  Do you think this is genuinely my most ridiculous move yet?

I guess the best we can hope for is that I can regale you with some tales of the men I encounter, like my initial frustration that no matter how many men I hide more appear and no matter what I do I cannot deselect men over the age of 43 or under 34, I literally have 105 potential matches sitting there and you know what, not one of them is an actual match, they're all "well you could choose, we think he would be perfect even if he's just outside your requirements.." No, no, no, stop doing this, I don't want you to pick outside of my requirements or what's the point of putting my bloody requirements in the first place?  Is this like buying a TV when they show you the next model up just in case they can upsell you?  Well, that's all well and good but honestly, most of the "upsells" I wouldn't even last 5 minutes with.  Eharmony I think suffers from the same fate as Match Affinity, yes you're matched on personality but that's not going to work if you don't even stand a chance of liking their faces.  Yes it's me, we've spoken about this, I can't date someone I don't fancy!!  It's not my fault, it's a genetic thing!!
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Monday, April 17, 2017

That's my kind of Easter Weekend


That's My Kind of Easter Weekend, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, blogger, writer, life, love, business



So I've finally made it to some time off after a super busy weekend, I say time off, I still have 10 photo shoots to edit but that can wait for a day or so.  I didn't get any chocolate at all for Easter but I did stuff myself with spring lamb at my Easter open house last night, 8 of us gathered and I served Lamb, a chicken crown and a Quorn roast, I have never felt the need for a bigger cooker/oven more than I did yesterday, in fact, I'm reassuring myself that one day I'm going to buy a double oven/cooker, I entertain so often that it just makes sense!  Now when I say entertain, what I actually mean is that if you ever turn up at my house I will feel compelled to cook or bake for you, it's just my thing, I am never happier than when I am cooking for 8 or 9!  I can tell you that Alexa came in really handy to play kids music to Stacey's little one who at 15 months is completely adorable, I literally get a bit melty every time he comes to see me and does something new, he dances now, it's the sweetest thing!!

You know what this week is about, well mostly it's not about work, I mean I need to work smart to keep an income coming in but mostly, it's about spending time with my kids and any friends who happen to be free, I have no real plans other than I know I am now on the 1 week countdown to Palma de Mallorca.

Yesterday when Abigail came across we looked at restaurants, activities, sights we want to visit and let me tell you, I thought I was a scheduler, the girl is on a mission, it's a minute to minute type action plan, I do hope she's factored in a little do nothing by the pool time although if I'm honest, an hour a day and I'm good, too much to see and do, so much culture to soak up, you only get a few days in these splendid cities so you really do have to see as much as you can whilst you are there.

I'm glad I get to go away with Abigail though, she and I might have our occasional differences but I miss my big girl, she's lived with dad now for 2.5 years and I hate the days when I don't see her, luckily she quite likes spending time with Mama and she's such good company, both my girls are really, they're so completely different, the idea of a cultural and sightseeing holiday is Looby's idea of a nightmare and whilst I want to take her away at the end of May, I'm having to negotiate in some time where we're not just spending time by the pool.

I have weighty issues on my mind currently, since moving onto the HRT patches I've put on more than a stone and I've officially had enough now, I'm doing everything just as I always have and I hate myself in photos so this week I'm going back to the doctors to work on an action plan, whilst I need to be on HRT that works properly, I can't bear being so rotund and with the exception of Easter open house, I am eating well and exercising a lot, particularly with steps so I know where I should be and it's frustrating when my weight isn't shifting at all, I have cut down on a lot of things and so I seem to have stopped gaining but I can't lose the rest!  Meh, it's infuriating!

Other than that though life is pretty splendid and I am feeling so happy and fulfilled in my life and work, it's almost like once I'd removed that pressure to date and find someone that I realised I not only didn't need someone but I was actually happier on my own.  I've been discussing this with friends tonight and here's the thing, I had movie love, whilst my marriage was far from perfect, particularly in the end, I had times where we were just there for each other and nothing else mattered in the whole world, I don't believe that lightening can strike twice like that, that meeting of minds and souls and hearts, I likened it to finding a diamond just lying in the grass, it's so unlikely, not impossible but I won't compromise, you should never compromise, it always ends badly!

And so I hope that this week holds wonders for you and yours and if I don't blog much it's not because I have nothing to say, it's just because I'm out there having a life, building a life and a future for my family and me to truly look forward to.
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

When a holiday to Palma de Mallorca is cheaper than a Caravan in Bamburgh




When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca



So, here's the thing, as I've been working really hard lately and because my girls don't go back to school until the 2nd of May we decided to book a little mini break, I looked at various destinations and we settled on Bamburgh, a luxury caravan for a week for around £370 which seems not too bad to me, we could have got the bus there and had a lovely week, of course we've been there many times before but it's a place we love.

And then I happened to do a search on flights with Skyscanner, £19 to Faro, Portugal and £35 to Palma de Mallorca.  As Looby is already going to Tenerife later this year with Dad I decided the best course of action would be to see what kind of deal I could get with Abigail and we got flights, transfers, 5 nights accommodation and 15kg of luggage for £337.90 for both of us, cheaper than a caravan in Bamburgh!!  We have lovely daytime flights so we fly at 9.40am on Monday 24th and come back at 7.45am on Saturday, just in time for me to go to work in the afternoon!

I booked with lastminute.com because it's ATOL protected and easy to arrange everything and I checked on Tripadvisor and found very good reports about the studio apartment we've booked, The Isla del Sol apartments in Ca'n Pastilla are only a mile or so away from the airport, 5 miles from the capital of Palma and it has a pool for that mid-afternoon nap in the sunshine or a quick dip if it's warm enough which is should be, it's currently 20-25c during the daytime which is perfect as both Abigail and I hate it when it's too hot, we're not beach fiends at all, we love exploring and there's really plenty of things to do in Palma, it's 1.5€ on the bus or 12€ in a taxi from our hotel to the city centre.

I was in Palma in November 2014 on the last day of a cruise with NCL it was the last day on assignment for Cruise International and I remember wearing flip flops and a summer dress even though it was at the very end of November, I got the tourist bus to Bellver Castle and rested taking in the magnificent scenery all around me, I adore Spain, it has so many charms for me and whilst I'm not a fan of beach package holidays I've loved all of the places I've ever been, I just hope I can happen upon some Iberico Jamón which is quite possibly my favourite food in the whole world!!

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca


After my visit to Bellver Castle I walked down the side of the hill towards the sea passing a mature Spanish gentleman, as he said something I didn't understand with a kindly smile I felt like I was in a scene from An Affair To Remember (for the pedants and purists, yes I realise, that's in France where they go to visit Nicky's grandmother, Villefranche Sur le Mer to be exact) suffice to say I have longed to go back and I especially wanted to take Abigail with me as she's my cultural daughter, Looby, well she loves daddy holidays because they love, pool, beach, pool!

So here's just a few of the photos the last time I was there and let me tell you that I cannot wait to go there with Abigail, travel is one of the things that completely nourishes my soul, it makes me feel alive and the sunshine, well vitamin D is my favourite drug!  Whilst the North East of England is currently around 11c I shall be digging out my swimming costume and packing my shorts, I shall be planning 20k a day in a beautiful Mediterranean destination and I shall be thanking God and the universe for every moment that I am there.

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Photo Shoots in North East England

In 10 years of being a northeast photographer, Spring remains my favourite season to shoot in, crisp beautiful light at beautiful locations as nature bursts forth after it's long winter nap, I fall in love with photography all over again and I don't believe I've ever been so enthusiastic about this career that I adore as I am currently, I don't know why I fell out of love with it but maybe it was so I could embrace it again with the whole of my heart.

If I've met you lately then you are now the proud recipients of the most gorgeous images, I don't know if it's made a huge difference editing on a 21 inch retina display screen but I know that I've changed the way that I edit and I literally sit and say "Aww" quite a lot.

If you can view these images on a big screen then you should do, I love my images when viewed as big as I can, it's the only way to get the impact, and one of the reasons I hate selling 6x4 photographs, I've never been so happy that so many people are going away with full-sized digital images.  While most of my work of late has been outdoors I've also been shooting some newborn lifestyle at home sessions, these sessions are so special and I often get just a little misty eyed when I meet newborns because heck, they're just so beautiful and you know the wonder of photographing babies, you can't hear photographs!
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families
So I want to share some images with you now all from recent sessions, consider this a portfolio update if you will, have a look through the image and then get to your email and book me to photograph your family, your babies, your wedding (although I do cap those at 10 a year) and what I can assure you is that when you book me, you get someone who always gives extra, who always works with all of her heart and someone who truly adores sharing in the most special moments of people's lives.
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

So whether you want to book an all inclusive mini session where you get to own all of the images for just £100 (30 minute sessions on selected dates and locations) or if you want a newborn session at home where you own all of the edited images for just £250 or you want to celebrate with your family at your choice of location and date and own all of the edited images for just £250 I can promise you, that I don't believe you will find someone who loves what they do quite as much as me.
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

07918 121838



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So, what happens now?


So what happens now, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, life, love, business


Since I took some time away from the world and came back more refocused on my work and the future, I've had to make some decisions.  Everything that has happened or that is happening is having a direct effect on my blog.

I can't give blogging up because it's just something that I do and though my reader numbers have dropped people still come to read and for that I am grateful.

The thing is though that I have nothing salacious or even vaguely interesting to write about currently, I literally start work when I get out of bed and do as much as I can barring taking Holly for her daily constitutional and popping out for occasional photo shoots, coupling that along with being the best mum I can be, my life is busy but to you the reader, completely boring.

I have had people asking why I'm not writing about dating anymore and it's because I'm not dating, I literally gave up, I'm not in the right place in my life because I am always single-mindedly focused on the things that I want to achieve and dating just isn't one of those things.

I did try hard but I think the last straw was talking to someone, getting along fine and then when he asked to take me on a date I couldn't find a gap for 2 weeks and for him that was too long, or there was another man who pretty much called me boring because I'm all about work and family.  I don't have the energy to go and look for a long distance relationship unfortunately because really, that's perfection, someone where you can make a splendid effort to be together but ultimately one which doesn't overwhelm the rest of your life, selfish on my part I guess and maybe that's why the decision to stay single was any easy one.

I'm very fulfilled in my professional life, I love creating an income which has hope for the future, an income which promised fun and adventure for the girls and me, yes it would be nice to be able to share some of those adventures with someone special but really, a soulmate is one in a million and I don't have the time to find them.

I'm lucky to have friends, male and female, online and offline so I have pretty much everything I need, I have a massage chair too now so there's another thing I don't need a man for...

Blogging is the thing I have put the most work into for the smallest reward for over a year, I wanted it to lead to regular writing jobs and in small ways it has so I can't help but be grateful for that but in some ways I'm happy to be up to date with blogging commitments currently because there are very few companies I like to work with, they have to fit with me, with my brand and with my style and because of the way that I write that's not always possible. My blog is very much still a diary of my life and it always will be.  It's the same with photography, I am very honest with potential clients in drilling down that I am not X, Y or Z, people come to me because after 10 years I am very good at what I do and I am also different to everyone else, I do my own thing and I'm happy to walk away if I don't think our collaboration is going to reward both parties equally and it has to be this way because when I give my whole heart to a project it's exhausting but also amazingly rewarding.

If you have stuck with me through thick and thin, through my dating disasters and my parenting successes and fails then thank you, thank you for always being there, I'm going to take it easy with blogging for a while now and just write when I feel compelled but please don't give up on me because you never know, maybe the best, is yet to come.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Quick and Healthy Lasagne Recipes

I love Lasagne, it's literally one of my favourite dishes to eat and to cook, the problem is that my waistline has rather extended over the winter and so bechamel sauce is not exactly a friend I want to have for dinner.

The lovely people at Dolmio got in touch recently and challenged me to come up some recipes using their sauce which by the way is so healthy now, it contains exactly what you see in this photo and is even included in your five a day!!


Ther best thing is that my children will eat this, they hate tomatoes if there's even a hint of something lumpy and tomato like so I've managed to bamboozle them with the joys of Dolmio, I should also say that the chicken lasagne recipe is also just as good with Quorn if like me you have a veggie child or two!

So it's basically the same recipe using either chicken or mince but I have only got photos of the mince version, the first time I cooked for all of my friends, the light was awful by the time we ate and food should never be photographed under artificial kitchen lights, luckily by the second time of cooking the clocks had gone forward and it was ready in daylight hours!


So here without further ado is my recipe for a healthy, quick lasagne and can I just say that with chicken it's amazing!

So use either 400g of chicken breasts (chopped) or a 400g pack of mince (or quorn etc) and then brown that off.

add a jar of Dolmio and then cook down so you have a lovely thick sauce

meanwhile, layer your dish with lasagne sheets (or butternut squash lasagne sheets if you want to be super healthy).

Now, you're going to layer up your dish with the sauce and then instead of adding the bechamel sauce layer you simply substitute that with Quark, yes Quark, that slimming world staple, when it's raw I hate the stuff but when you cook it in lasagne or cauliflower cheese it's amazing, so cheesy, so tasty and so healthy.  I used 2 standard sized tubs for this recipe.

On the top you can sprinkle grated cheese, low fat, a mix of cheddar and parmesan or whatever cheese you want and then, I like a sprinkle of ground black pepper, a grind of Himalayan pink salt and some freshly ground nutmeg, nutmeg and melted cheese go together so well!

After that, all you have to do is bake it in the oven at gas mark 5 until it's cooked and then it's yours to eat as quickly as you can before other people try to pinch it because it's so good!!


This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness





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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Easter Homestyling

In just 1 week my girls will finally break up from school for the Easter holidays, I love these holidays so much, it's nice enough weather to do things and life feels good again thanks to the increased daylight and more importantly, the sunshine!

I love Christmas and styling my house but over the last few years I've started to style parts of my house through all of the seasons, my fireplace, for example, gets a restyle every month to reflect the time of year and it makes me happy.

I'm also very lucky that I get to work with my favourite stores TK Maxx and Homesense, even when we do collaborate I end up spending way more of my own money on things I see.

So this month for them was all about styling for Easter and they couldn't have picked a happier person because I had that fireplace to fill and as always my first stop was to visit TK Maxx/Homesense in the Metrocentre.

Wanna see what I bought?

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

Now I must state with absolute honesty that on this particular trip with a £50 budget I ended up buying a desk also so I spent way, way over the budget but that's testament to it being my favourite store, I literally jump up and down every time they want to collaborate because I can't believe how lucky I am that my career has lead to this, I will never stop being thankful!

So before I show you my desk lets look at the above, the solid marble spring sign was £12.99 and now I have signs for Christmas, Valentines and Spring, they had Easter ones too but I figured I could keep this out until summer!!

The cute bunny was £7.99 and she's watching over us and luckily too sturdy for a certain beagle to eat although a certain beagle has been seen wandering off with those there plastic eggs which cost £9.99 and fill my fireplace beautifully.  The chick plate at the back was an absolute steal for £3.99 and finally, I even got the girls their Easter eggs and today, 1 week after I took that photo they are still sitting there and haven't been pinched, I couldn't be more impressed, they have though, chosen who gets which!

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

So my desk was £129.99 and I think an absolute steal, it's so sturdy, I didn't have to assemble it and it was pretty easy to get home!  It's solid wood and a thing of beauty!  I love sitting at it every day, it's the perfect size for my bedroom/home office, oh and if you look, there's a wooden star at the back, also which came from Homesense in the Metrocentre when I was working on the Christmas campaign!

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

So that's me, I feel more ready for Easter than ever before, this time last year of course we spent in hospital when Looby was poorly and only got released on the evening of Good Friday so this Easter I have so much to be thankful for and I'm hosting a big friends for dinner on Easter Sunday for anyone who wants to come, it's open house and consider this your invite if you are spending the time alone and unwillingly, we may not have enough chairs or table but there'll always be wine, dinner and really good company.


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