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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Uk Cityscapes, My story and why I need your help...

You find me back in Newcastle today dear reader, I'm home to do some admin, catch up with some of my regular work and above all do some planning for the next stage of my UKCityscapes challenge

I've been thinking about writing this since I started the quest to be the first person to visit, document and photograph all 69 cities of the UK and I feel it's probably important to provide some background into the reasons I'm actually doing this.

Here's the thing, I started my business in June 2007, before that point I was recovering from agoraphobia, for 3 years I'd barely been past my back gate on my own, when I was getting better I would take Looby to the park for protection, she was 3 years old at the time!

You see in 2003 during my 3rd pregnancy I was finally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder something which had been in my life for as long as I could remember but without any diagnosis other than depression and I knew myself it couldn't just be depression, I went through long periods of being quite happy, too happy, trapped in a whirlwind of euphoria, when my hubby met me in 1999 I was the most fun girl at the party, we know now it was because I was not a well person.

It's often common for bi-polar to lead to agoraphobic symptoms and in 2004ish it happened to me, I was attacked in the park while walking our dog and I just stopped going out on my own, the open world became a scary place and it was just easier to stay at home, in these days of the internet you would be surprised just how easy it is!

I have to say that from the day Looby was born I was put on the right medication and started the long process of getting better and being well and since 2007 I have been completely well, yes I still have days where I fight harder and in January this year I felt myself slipping into the not going out pattern, mostly because i'd worked too hard doing stupid amounts of work for very little reward and I was exhausted, this project is the perfect antidote.

When I am on top of the highest building in the city right out in the open, often feeling so high that I am amongst the Gods it's an amazing feeling to remind myself just how free I am, like I've taken all of my demons, lined them up against a wall and conquered them one by one.

I am making a commitment today to donate a percentage of the royalties from my eventual book to the charity MIND.

and that's why I need your help to succeed, I can't do this on my own, the cost of travel alone would make your eyes water but I want to do this to tell the world that you can do anything as long as it's on your own terms, I want to stick two fingers up at mental health and say we're all fantastic and we can do things in spite of long term health conditions.  I want to inspire other people to go and have adventures and conquer their own demons, some times it is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.  You only have 1 life and it's a big adventure, you must do something to make it count.

Thanks for listening and even if you can only support me by sharing the crowd funding page on your social media feeds as long as we can all crowd together and get this thing funded to wonderful fabulous fruition then that's all that matters.

Thanks for listening, coming up soon is city 7 of 69, Glasgow.
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Edinburgh, city 6 of 69, The UK Cityscape project by Mandy Charlton

So it's 7.20am on Monday 28th April 2014 and I've woken up to a sunny morning in Edinburgh, the 6th city in my UK Cityscape Project to be the first person to  document and photograph all 69 cities of the UK.

I've had a pretty good nights sleep at the Old Waverley Hotel on Princes Street, I still can't quite believe how lucky I was to find that this hotel had a massive discount on lastminute.com  The staff here have been lovely even though we were only staying for 1 night, we've a great view of the Scott Monument and our room faces onto my favourite department store Jenners. I'd always wanted to stay at this hotel, just for the views really and I thought i'd won the jackpot when the promised internal room actually happened to be one with a view, some of the front facing rooms which look directly onto the Scott Monument and Princes Street are definitely worth paying a little more if you are in Edinburgh for the whole Scottish experience.

So, what can I tell you about Edinburgh?

Well it's of course home to 2 very famous Pandas who live at Edinburgh Zoo, no time to go and visit them on this trip sadly but I'll be back with the girls in the summer for our fun trip!  Oh and just a warning, click on that link and you'll be transported to the Edinburgh Zoo panda cam, you may spend the day doing not very much else ;)

Apart from the Pandas -

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, population is around half a million or was when it was last counted in 2012.  It's home to the Queens official Scottish residence the Palace of Holyroodhouse, I've never actually been inside, the next time I must visit!

Edinburgh is a city steeped in so much history your head might just explode if you try to absorb it all at once, it's not a city you can just spend one day in, I've been visiting for many many years and still haven't seen all of it, there's just so much to do whether you have kids or not, to name a few things there's the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery, Dynamic Earth, the royal yacht Britannia, the botanic gardens, and of course Edinburgh castle a place I can finally say I've visited, just 1 note about Edinburgh castle, it's amazing, however it's also got a very expensive coffee shop, if you're on a visit you might want to avoid the £3 cup of coffee and the £3 cake, just because they're expensive does not mean they're the best coffee and cake you'll ever experience ;)

And so onwards with our photographic journey, lets enjoy slightly misty murky Edinburgh, at one point I thought we would have to give up as you couldn't even see your own nose never mind a cityscape but lucky it cleared a little later on in the day.





 I have Abigail joining me on this leg of the journey as she's still got another week left of her Easter holidays even though it seems like Easter was weeks ago, if you're wondering what the heck she's doing, well I think she was either trying to hold up the ice-cream van or she's being a tour guide.











yes I think we all wish we could do this to our beloved Tweens every now and then.













and so that was Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities and I suspect when I get to the end of the project it will still remain as one of my favourite cities, everywhere you go in Edinburgh there's beauty to find, the magnificent layered landscapes our cities provide is really in evidence in Edinburgh and although the layers combine the old and the new it's really the old which stands out more than anything else, inhale and you'll breath in thousands of years of history, so much so you better hope you don't get some stuck up your nose!

and so onwards we go on this crazy journey, we leave on a train for Glasgow this morning, luckily it's only a half hour journey and luckily for me I love train journeys.

If you would like to grab yourself a pre-order of the book, find out more about the project or sponsor my campaign you can do so here
If you're a business and would like to discuss corporate sponsorship and working together to show how magnificent your business is in your city you can email me here
and if you would like to purchase any of the cityscapes from any of the cities you can drop me an email or there's a selection in my fine art Etsy store Philomenas Boutique

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Uk Cityscapes - Edinburgh and Glasgow here we come....

It's a rainy misty murky Sunday morning and I'm just getting ready for todays first journey to Edinburgh, unlike my recent trip to Edinburgh a couple of months ago today I intend to get some great cityscapes from this amazing Scottish city.  One of my favourite cities in the whole world I've always felt when I heard the bagpipes as I ascended the slope from Waverley station that I was home, my heritage is Scottish, my father being born in Leith means I am probably more Scottish than I am Geordie.  Tales that my ancestry was from the clans Buchanan and Mcdonald only being eventually scuppered by the fact that I chose to marry a Charlton who's heritage was wholly from the border reivers who helped to keep the Scottish out of England and the English out of Scotland employed by whoever would pay the highest fee, no wonder I have so many inner demons.

This first week of the project proper, I feel like it is because my crowd funding efforts began on Tuesday, before that it was a jolly jaunt, a crazy idea, well now it's more jolly, more crazy and some days it feels a long way from being achievable.

I'm learning to have thick skin by not being frightened to approach corporate sponsors but I'm also learning that there might be a fair few negative answers before I find one who's willing to take the chance and support a crazy artist to follow her dreams and in the process celebrate all that is great about the UK.

I'm lucky that my daughters had split holidays from school as it's kind of handy to borrow them for train travel, thanks to our railcard it's cheaper to take a child than it is to travel alone!  I did think about bus travel but dear reader I need to finish this project before I am 103, bus travel isn't exactly speedy!

I've also found that my new best friends seems to be the last minute booking sites lastminute.com and laterooms.com, maybe I should approach them for some sponsorship, one thing I do know is that without them I wouldn't be staying in the Old Waverley Hotel for less than £50 tonight without them. One of the best hotels in Edinburgh with amazing views from many of the rooms which face out onto Princes street, sadly we're staying in an internal room with no windows but hey, i'll feel the views by osmosis.

Tomorrow in Glasgow we'll be staying at the Argyll Hotel in Glasgow, again it's around £50 a night including breakfast and don't get me wrong there are cheaper options but being an avid reader of Trip advisor I think it's safe to say that it's probably not safe to stay in many of them.

So here's just a couple of images from my last visit to beautiful Edinburgh and here's hoping that on this visit I achieve my goal and get some amazing cityscapes.







yes that's me, wind blown and messy, I do try to not look like that but generally do even half an hour after hair straighteners!

To support me on my quest you can crowd fund me or if you want to speak to me about sponsorship opportunities please email me

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dan and Claires Pre-wedding photoshoot on Newcastle Quayside

On Thursday I went out for a lovely lunch with Dan and Claire who are getting married at the end of June at the Garden Station up near Hexham, it's a totally unique venue very much like Dan and Claire who are wonderful!

After lunch we went out onto the quayside to shoot their pre-wedding photo shoot and here are the results, all images were shot with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the 35mm f1.4 lens, it's the ultimate combination if you're a portrait photographer.



















and I can honestly say that was the best pre-wedding shoot to open this years wedding season, lots more coming up on my blog over the next few months.

If you would like to book a couples shoot with me please email me or click through to my website or Facebook page.




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Friday, April 25, 2014

Sunderland, City 5 of 69 in the UK Cityscapes Project (Postcards from the city)

So far I have photographed the cities of Newcastle, Liverpool, Carlisle and Durham and today was the turn of sunny Sunderland.

Sunderland is a fairly new city, it was granted city status in 1992 and has a population of over 275,000 people, it has it's own football team, a museum, the winter gardens which are in the city centre in Mowbray Park.  What it doesn't have is a cathedral or a castle but it was home to Terry Deary, author of the Horrible History books.

It was a gloomy day when I arrived in Sunderland, being from Newcastle I only had to hop onto the Metro, a snappy £4.50 got me a day return and a 25 minute journey brought me right into the city centre.

So onto my photographic journey....










clearly Sunderland is growing, evolving and transforming every day and when I was there today it did seem like it was partially still being built.



In all of the times I've visited Sunderland over the years I'd never really realised just how close it is to the sea, the city centre is actually within walking distance which must be lovely if you live in the city but want to escape to the seaside on sunny hot afternoons (we usually have at least 2 of them throughout the year in the UK)



some of the views were not quite so inspiring as others but it's all part of the rich landscape which makes up our great cities.





The Winter Gardens in Mowbray park are definitely worth a visit if you have kids plus the fact that it's positively tropical in there make it a great option for chilly british spring days when the weather isn't so great.


I don't know how many cities have parks pretty much right in the city centre, I'm sure I'm about to find that out though, I did find this lovely view in the park though with the bandstand looking so pretty underneath a cascading waterfall of cherry blossom


I climbed up a hill in Mowbray park called Building Hill which is a pretty weird name for a hill, sadly most of the views towards the city centre were shrouded by trees.  I'm actually as you can imagine doing a lot of climbing on this great adventure so it's quite handy that I'm using the Fuji X-Pro1, the lightest professional camera I've ever owned, I can't imagine doing this with all of my old kit which weighed an absolute ton.

So that was Sunderland, City 5 of 69 in the UK Cityscapes Project, City 6 is going to happen sometime next week and if you're a local business who would like to talk to me about exclusively sponsoring your city and have your business featured on the blog, social media and in the eventual book please get in touch by emailing mandy@mandycharltonphotography.com

If you would like to find out more about the UK Cityscapes project you can find out all you need to know on my Crowd funding page and please keep helping, I can't do this without you!

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