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, March 24, 2017

Win Your Own Star with Star Name Registry

win your own star, name a star with star registry, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

Every night I wish upon a star, I believe that stars have the most magical properties, we're never as connected to the universe as we are when we are under skies filled with shining blankets of twinkling stars.  In my years of blogging, I've collaborated with so many companies and it's brought me the most amazing items and trips away but this collaboration is without a doubt the most special of all.

a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

The lovely people at Star Name Registry asked me if I wanted to name a star and so after much thought I came up with the name Abilaurain Bobbins which is a combination of Abigail, Laura, Iain and of course wonder dog Holly Bobbins, you also get to choose a memorable date so I chose my birthday and that way our family star would have a bit of me in as well and now for all eternity we have our own named star, whenever and wherever we are, we will always be able to look to the skies and see the place in eternity where we'll always be together.
a starry sky, embleton, northumberland,  star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

You know the best thing about naming a star?  I got to choose the constellation and being the biggest fan of greek mythology I had to choose the constellation of Cassiopeia, a story which I love.

Cassiopeia is the mother of Andromeda, she boasted that both she and her daughter were the most beautiful of all of the Nereids which angered Poseidon who threatened to flood Ethiopia, to cut a long story short, Andromeda was going to be sacrificed but was saved by Perseus who she married. Poseidon still believed that Cassiopeia should be punished so he tied her legs to a chair and she dangles upside down in the heavens with her dress covering her face so even though she's holding a mirror she can never see her reflection again.
a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

In star terms, Cassiopeia is always visible in the northern hemisphere as it is so near to the pole star and even though I live in the city where light pollution is bad, I can always see Cassiopeia so everytime I glance upon her I'll know I'm with my family and my dog.
a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

Now here's the best part, would you like to name your very own star?  Star Name Registry are giving one of their extra bright star packages worth £24.99 to one of you lovely readers and here's all you have to do, leave a comment below "I want to win a star because..." and I'll choose the best entry on 31/3/17 and that person will win and get to name their own start and you'll receive a certificate, guide to finding the star and a sky atlas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Love, it makes you crazy, Fact!

Why love makes you crazy, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, love, dating, mental health, bipolar

So I haven't blogged for a little while and although I would love to now reveal that the reason is something incredibly exciting and important, I have to admit that I've just had nothing to write about. Life has generally been quiet, smooth running, business has picked up, I've been working super hard and in reality, the most exciting thing I've done was seeing Iain Stirling live at The Stand, I laughed and laughed, best night out I've had this week, actually the only night out I've had this week!

So you might be wondering what's been happening in my exciting quest to find my soulmate the second time around, well, nothing, I suspect there are no eligible men left in the world, at least on the dating sites I use, I've all but given up on Tinder and Match Affinity is brilliant, it's finding people I have 80/100 of affinity with, sadly, it's not a case of my face not liking their face, I mean in some cases I'm kind of repelled by their suggestions!!

I think if I was going to invent a dating app, it would have to be a cross between Match Affinity and Tinder but more sophisticated.  Scientifically successful couples have facial symmetry and they're also matched on an attractiveness level so what you would do is describe your ideal person both physically and emotionally and then it would use its clever algorithms and come up with matches, now there would be fewer matches but the chances of them being successful would be surprisingly higher.  Now surely if we can come up with ways to find out the fundamentals of the creation of life in the universe we can find clever enough mathematicians and tech heads to make an app which actually works!

A couple of weeks ago I went to a brilliant talk about the science of love, it was fascinating, it was about digital dating and the stages of love as well as how animals approach love, I seriously love this stuff.  Did you know that every country in the world has the Tinder app, even the poorest most war-torn ones?  it's mind blowing!  I hope they're having better luck than me!

The thing is that it's spring now (thank heavens for spring) and I'm quite happy, settled and have returned to reasonably well balanced, well for me anyway  and I just don't know if I'm ready for the craziness of love, I always get to that point of maybe thinking about going on dates and then talk myself out of it and I think the reason is that I know what love does to you, love makes you crazy, chemically crazy, to get from stage 1 which is lust to get to stage 3 which is true love, you have to go through stage 2, romantic love,  stage 2 is the part which makes you crazy, it's partly obsession, it's a little stalky and this, of course, is even worse now that we have social media, who amongst us can say they haven't searched on FB for someone they've started dating?  

Romantic love makes us sick and dizzy, it makes us paranoid, it's the curse of the overthinker and yet we seek this out with our hearts and heads and minds like addicts and that's what love is, the romantic stage at least, it's an addiction! So when you couple that with your own mental health, it can often be a recipe for disaster.  You see I believe in true love but I also have bipolar and I never do anything by halves, in my life, work and almost certainly love, if I commit to something it becomes almost obsession-like and I guess that's why I do hold back, because once I've given away my emotions I literally lose the plot!!

There's no answer to this, I can't stay single for the rest of my life but I need to make sure that when I fall in love, as Nat King Cole once sang, it will be forever because I have enough crazy without tipping it over the edge with the craziness of romantic love.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Just Throw Love At It

Just Throw Love At It, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Love, The Secret, Positivity

Several years ago when I took my vow of positivity to the universe, I learned the most valuable lesson, to just throw love at every situation, in life, in business, in friendships and of course in love.

Just lately when life has been tumultuous I've had to remind myself of this so many times, you see when things aren't going your way it's so easy to get angry with the world or irked with the people you should be showing love and kindness.  You know when you have a bad day, especially in business and you are cross and cranky and then someone sends a query or says something you disagree with, in that and every other situation the best thing is to throw love at it.

There have been times in the last 10 years when I've made mistakes and I've had to go to clients or friends and say, I did something wrong, I made a mistake, I'm sorry, what can I do to put this right? It really is okay to make mistakes because none of us is perfect but sometimes we can get angry or defensive and you know what, if you show that to someone else then you'll only get anger or sorrow back.  In every situation where I have made mistakes, I've always found a kind reaction to saying sorry.  I guess after my angry rant last night with Deliveroo, I'm hoping they'll do the same, incidentally, they've still not gotten back to me but I'm trying to be patient and accepting that it's the weekend and they do care.

I've also figured out that sometimes, I think I have it all and I rest on my laurels, something you should never do because you should never stop trying, in life and in business and heaven forbid in matters of the heart.  You should never believe you have it all and things will always stay that way because if you do, one day your complacency will be punished.

I know now that one day I will have it all but when that happens I will never stop being grateful, I'll never stop trying and I'll never become complacent.  When you are in your 40's you have the benefit of hindsight and life experience and I do know that when I finally find that special person that I'm looking for that my next relationship will be the one which lasts forever, until then I'm just going to keep throwing love at the world in life and in business because what you give out, you most definitely get back.

Friday, March 17, 2017

An Angry Rant About Deliveroo

An Angry Rant About Deliveroo, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, writer, blogger, byron burger, food ne, newcastle upon tyne

Now I'm not someone who gets angry about things, usually, I get a little sad and disappointed but what's happened tonight with Deliveroo has me more than irked, if I was an average Joe in the street I reckon I'd be apoplectic with rage right now.

You see, there are so many issues with Deliveroo but my son deserved a little treat and Deliveroo was what he requested.  This is the first takeaway we've had for months so I was quite excited

So in case you've lived under a rock, you'll know that Iain has Aspergers, this means he has a restricted diet and likes things the way he likes them, tonight he said he fancied a Byron Burger, so we ordered, except there was no option to remove the various sauces so I emailed and got a reply that because they were so busy I needed to start a live chat, I did that and requested the changes and 25 minutes later our burgers arrived....Cold!

The burgers were cold, inedible and had extraneous Gherkins in the box even though I'd requested no extraneous items, you can't imagine the meltdowns this kind of thing has caused, I know to you and I it might be a small thing but to someone with autism, it's a whole lot more serious.

I contacted Deliveroo and spoke to Ramil, I explained the situation and requested replacements, preferably hot ones, I told him if we were in the restaurant I would have sent them back without question and I rarely complain in restaurants.  Ramil said that he couldn't get replacements as the restaurant were not responding so we could have credit which would expire in 3 months or a refund but that takes 3 days, as Iain was still without food I requested the credit and then we started all over again.  
So this time we ordered from Iain's favourite restaurant, Wagamama, he loves Cha Han with no mushroom, mange tout or spring onion but there was no option or notes section so we could request that so I had to order and then go back into live chat again, this time Abylane was on hand but he said "It's just as well I got through to the restaurant before they started cooking"  now hang on a minute, there's no way for me to order and request changes before I pay so what the heck am I supposed to do?  I mentioned this and he suggested that I should speak to the restaurant direct which rather negates the point of Deliveroo who are supposed to coordinate everything for hassle free delivery of restaurant quality food!

At this point I requested to speak to a manager but was told I'd have to email the support address and would have to explain everything again step by step, he then left the conversation after I rated him as unhelpful.

So, the Wagamama order turns up for Iain, Holly is a happy puppy as she's had cold burgers and I'd given up on eating or reordering anything,  Iain removed the lid from his Cha Han and guess what? Yes, after 2 conversations where I'd asked for no mange tout, it had mange tout in it, seriously all Abylane had to do was copy and paste my request or read it to them over the phone, I could start a new chat but my life is too short for this.

Deliveroo, should you wish to get in touch for a chat please email me at

Next time I think we'll just brave the weather and go for decent burgers at The Grind!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why I'm Happy To Be In Seclusion

It's Thursday morning and the last time I had to speak to anyone out loud apart from my dog was on Monday, it's been the most amazing retreat and I think this is going to be something I'm going to start doing more often.  I think I'm actually pretty happy living a life in seclusion every once in a while although I would be utterly lost without my four-pawed best friend who it's fair to say is having the time of her life.  We've walked 10 miles every day and I can say that it's no wonder that Embleton won Countryfile's best beach in the UK yesterday, such a beautiful, serene place we have retreated to, it's so good for the soul.

Beach Huts, Low Newton By The Sea, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger, A coastal retreat

Some walks I've loved are Bamburgh to Seahouses via the beach, Embleton to Craster via Dunstanburgh Castle and yesterday we walked from Embleton to Low Newton and back as I puzzled inside my head, how had the residents of the Low Newton beach huts (huts which sell for up to quarter of a million yet only have water for 6 months a year and no access to cars) managed to get their furniture into them when they're perched up on the sand dunes miles away from the nearest parking spots?  They were originally built by golfers who wanted to stay next to the golf course and there's a rule which says they can't be sublet so they've been passed from generation to generation, I think staying in one would be amazing but unless any come up for sale in the same week I've won the lottery I'm not sure it's likely, plus if you are talking about a holiday cottage I'd want somewhere you could stay all year round.

A couple of friends messaged yesterday to see how I was and I couldn't actually give them a straight answer because the truth is, I don't know, since Monday I have just sort of existed, I am being, I am walking 10 miles a day with my dog and I don't feel sad, I think I'm quite at one with nature and the wilderness.  I did buy a random scratchcard yesterday and won £20, a definite sign that I am abundant and the tides are turning in my favour.

I always feel at my most peaceful when I am out in the countryside, I think living in the city dulls my spirit and one day I hope I can live permanently in the wilds of Northumberland, I don't even mind if it's just in a beach hut or a rickety old caravan, I don't even care if it's just in seclusion, as long as I have my canine best friend by my side I know I'll be okay.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Dog Friendly Break in Embleton, Northumberland

dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger
The best thing about booking accommodation for holidays and short breaks with Airbnb is that you always end up having a completely unique experience and so when you book and then discover that you've actually booked a cottage company it's always just a little bit disappointing.  The authentic Airbnb houses tend to be full of special touches whereas holiday cottage companies are all pretty much alike and you don't tend to get the special touches.  I genuinely don't think companies should be allowed to advertise on Airbnb or I think you should be notified if it's a private house or a holiday let. There's a huge list of rules around the "dog-friendly" element of the cottage and let's just say that while we're at home, Holly will be encased in a blanket!
dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

In saying all of that, the cottage that I have let for this week is very small, very cute and perfect for Holly and I, I think if I was a family of 4 there's a chance it would feel far too small, though.

The great thing about where Holly and I are staying is that it's 10 minutes from the beach, it's a tiny village and at night the stars twinkle like a giant glittery blanket in the sky, perfect for moonlight walkies.  Holly is currently the happiest little dog in Northumberland, she woke me up at 6.30am (usually she hates mornings and anything before 10 am isn't doable) and by half eight we were out the door, by 9 am she'd rolled in sheep poo and the day just got better and better for her, we walked the coastal route from Embleton to Craster via Dunstanburgh Castle which sadly doesn't open for another 2 weeks, we had morning tea in Craster at Shoreline which is very dog friendly and welcoming and then by the time we got back to the cottage we'd walked over 18k steps.
dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

There's something wonderful about holidaying with your dog, especially if you are alone, I think if I'd been completely alone I might have felt a touch lonely but that hasn't really happened with Holly by my side, she's such good company and very undemanding which means I have lots of time to think and plan for the future.
dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

I love that it's nearly spring, whilst I often crave to be in a relationship during the dark winter nights, once the spring comes I am far too busy planning my next adventure and I guess that makes me a pretty difficult person to have a relationship, I know from conversations I've had during online dating that men don't seem to like women who are 100% committed to their work, they don't understand my work ethic even though I think I have the most fun jobs ever.  Who knows what the answer is there, my girls want me to work harder so that it brings in the benefits of more income which mean we can do more extracurricular activities but I'll likely never find someone who's going to tolerate me at my workaholic best/worst!
dog friendly holiday cottages in embleton, northumberland, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

One thing is for sure, though, whilst my life seems to be a double-edged sword, at least I can guarantee that my dog is happy!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Modern Hermit, an escape to Embleton, Northumberland

The modern hermit, an escape to embleton, dog friendly break at snowdrop cottage, airbnb, mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger

So here I am, the middle of the countryside, in a teeny tiny cottage, 10 minutes from the beach at Embleton which if you're not from the North, it's part of the Northumbrian Coastline near Craster where the kippers come from and where I'm going to walk with Holly tomorrow, it's near Dunstanburgh Castle and it's around 7 miles from Seahouses, there are buses approximately once every 3 hours and there's a village shop which also doubles as the post office.  There are however 2 pubs and both seem to be dog-friendly.  I have no phone signal which is perfect as I hate using the phone, I do however have reasonable wifi which is a must, even Hannah Hauxwell tweets these days!

I think I'd make a fairly good hermit though I must admit I did bring a Sainsbury's shop with me, some Lavazza coffee for the cafetiere and a bottle of Sancerre so I'm far from roughing it.  I have a Velux window in my bedroom and because there's no light pollution if I'm lucky I might just be able to see the stars tonight!

I didn't bring masses of camera gear with me, just my amazing Fuji X70 and my Joby Gorillapod, I mean I have to at least be prepared in case the Northern Lights show their face this week, it would be a travesty not to photograph them.

So, what do I do now?  What changes can I make to be a better person, a better mum, a better businesswoman, I really thought that life was going in the right direction and that the kids were happy and appreciate just how hard I work and how much I want things to be good for us all the time. It's upsetting because we've gotten along so well for so very long, I simply did not see this coming at all!

The girls really seem to want me to shoot more weddings and whilst I don't want to increase the number of full-day gigs I'm quite happy to shoot more short small weddings, I love short weddings, I'm great at sweeping in, photographing a great outline of the day and then sweeping out so maybe if you know someone who's getting married who needs 2-4 hours of coverage this year or next you could send them my way.

Being discovered for my writing is just going to take time and hard work, I've only been pushing it for a couple of years now whereas it's nearly 10 for photography, I know only too well just how hard it is out there in the world of freelance writing but I do think I have something unique to offer the world so I'm just going to keep writing for myself as I've always done, for my editors at Huffington Post and Nights Out in Newcastle and of course I'll continue to do portrait photography, travel photography and travel writing for anyone who'll pay me.  It's not like I'm not trying!  If anything I am a serial entrepreneur and if I get an idea about something which can potentially make money you can be sure that I'll do it.

A life lived in fear is a life half lived!
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