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, July 30, 2014

UK Cityscapes, then and now, a progress update

When I started the UK Cityscapes project I thought that it would be easy, I mean, there's only 69 cities, that's just 69 days out of 365, I gave myself a year to do it and for me I just thought it would be easy, I was so very wrong...

Since April I have travelled to 22 different cities and I have loved pretty much all of them, there have been ups and downs (did someone mention Wakefield?) and what started out as an idea for me to just take 69 photographs of the cityscapes of our great cities of the UK has become something much more.  I have absorbed myself in each city so I could come up with an unbiased view, I have explored, I have literally walked for miles, sometimes with a guide or a companion and sometimes with just me.

This week I made the tough decision to take a week off from travelling, my family complained that the only see me in passing, I'm super busy shooting weddings and portraits and I find myself exhausted and my mood is dipping, and that's accompanied by spots, a cold sore and yesterday I woke up with a migraine, this is always a sure sign that I need to step back and reassess.

I am worried though that I am completely behind schedule and that I'm letting people down by not achieving the goal quickly enough.  It's very much more expensive than I ever thought it would be, even with the crowd funding, every single penny I earn is going into this project.

Why am I writing this, well it's my blog and therefore it's a good place to put my thoughts and I really needed to do this, don't worry, I'm not even thinking of giving up, I just need some time. I've already got my tickets and hotel booked for Sheffield next week but I have nothing further booked after that trip so I really need to book more and decide what action plan I am going to take, on average it's £100 per city for travel and hotels if I can do it in 24 hours and I think the easy way would perhaps be for me to see if I could just turn up at a city, take 1 photo and get back on a train, however, I think if I do that I am essentially letting myself down and therefore letting everyone who's supported me down too.

For the rest of this week though I am doing family things, I have a wedding on Friday and then I have the weekend off as it's my hubby's birthday and I think he wants to go to Redefest, a music festival in Northumberland.  On Monday I hope to have made the decisions and I'll be filled with renewed energy and my mojo will reappear.

Until then, I shall muse about the next step, suggestions though, are gratefully received.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Top 10 holiday destination wish list


amadores sunset, gran canaria, travel photography, mandy charlton



Dear reader it's the summer holidays and I've been feeling a little sad that we can't go away for a family holiday this year, this time last year we were gearing up for 2 weeks away in Gran Canaria, it took me 6 years of business to be able to afford that one and the combination of writing a book, a wedding cancellation and general busyness within my business just means we won't get away at all this year.  I'm not going to be all sad and maudlin about it because I am in such a privileged position to be travelling from city to city in the UK writing about our great cities but I have been thinking I'd like to plan 2 weeks away of family time which leads me to write the top 10 destinations I would love to travel to with my family.


  1. Japan
  2. Machu Picchu
  3. Florida
  4. Italy
  5. San Francisco
  6. Venice
  7. Barcelona
  8. Cape Verdi
  9. Switzerland
  10. New Zealand
You see the thing is that I might be an expert on the cities of the UK in fact I'm pretty good with all aspects of travel in the UK but because I had my children when I was young I didn't do all of the travelling that some people get to experience, I don't regret a thing though because now the kids are older it means we can all get to experience these places together and as a travel writer, blogger and photographer I feel I'll appreciate them a whole lot more now than I did in my twenties (the travel, not the kids, I loved them from the day they popped onto the planet).

So I thought I would write this list and I would put it out there into the universe and see what happens, after all, when I started my photography business back in 2007 my business goal was to shoot a wedding at Durham Cathedral and I finally achieved that yesterday (that's going to be a post coming soon you do not want to miss).

If you are a company looking in and wishing to hire a travel blogger/writer/photographer then please do drop me an email and get in touch.

And back to my current summer schedule, this week I shall be mainly travelling to Preston in Lancashire and Lakeland in the lake district, it's the only city which is in the lake district and I have high hopes that it'll be as pretty as the rest of the region, Preston is a brand new city so I am eager to see what they have to offer and it'll be lovely to spend some time with Looby who returns from Turkey tomorrow after being on holiday with her best friend.

Whatever you are doing this summer holidays, make sure you make some time for family time and some time to do something you have never been done before
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Trains, trains and more trains

Beautiful Hull marina, I'll definitely revisit Hull

It's Friday dear reader and I'm writing this on the train on my way home from Manchester, I've achieved cityscapes of Hull, Manchester and Salford and so that's cities 20, 21 and 22 of the UK Cityscapes project wrapped, or shot but not edited and who knows when I'll squeeze in the editing time for tomorrow I have a blessing I'm photographing at Durham Cathedral and then on Sunday I am photographing family portraits at Tynemouth Longsands.

Abigail loved Media City, Salford



In the last week I've been on 5 trains, 5 trams and 5 buses plus 5 taxis, that's a whole lot of transportation!  My calendar is usually full of hotel and train reservations and in some weeks there are so many layers that my eyes water every time I look at my schedule!

Meeting the Teletubbies, they're must smaller in real life!


I love it though, I love being a writer, I love being a photographer and I love being a professional traveller, with each experience I have I remind myself just how lucky I am.  Yesterday I went to Cloud 23 which is on the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower in Manchester, the views are astounding and the best part was that I got to share the experience with Abigail, she said she had the best hot chocolate she'd ever tasted which is probably a good thing at £5.50, was it worth it? Yes absolutely, every penny!  Just to be so high up surveying the land below and beyond was a quite special thing, it reminded me why I'm doing this project, this crazy thing which takes me away from the man I love so much, I couldn't do any of this without his support, I'm so thankful that I have the most supportive husband. (Thanks Darkling, I love you)

The views from cloud 23 at the Hilton, Manchester


So this weekend as I shoot in the cathedral I've always wanted to photograph someones wedding in I'll look up to the heavens and give a special word of thanks for life is, well it's wonderful, I may have only 1 but I'm sure to make it the most splendid experience that ever there was!
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aberdeen, City 18/69 in the UK Cityscapes project

For many years I'd wanted to visit Aberdeen, the granite city and coming in on the train from Inverness where I'd just spent 2 nights I wondered what delights Aberdeen would throw up, it was to be my last Scottish city in the UK Cityscapes Project and it was also my very first AirBnB experience so I was a little nervous.  No need though, Pat who I stayed with was the loveliest lady, she even offered to come and rescue me when a rain shower hit and on the day I left for home she met me at the station with my backpack so I didn't have to carry it all day, I have to say that I love AirBnB and have no problems with using it again in the future, I think all you really have to look out for are the properties where the hosts have lots of good reviews, it's a much more personal service than a traditional B&B though they still have their place but when we have our late summer holidays we'll probably look at renting a house on AirBnB for a week.

Aberdeen is a strange city I found, there's nowhere I've been with such an odd juxtaposition of old with new, industrial with beautiful, for instance a tiny quaint fishing village which backs on to the industrial harbour of Aberdeen (Footdee) or if you walk just a mile or so out of the city centre you get to old Aberdeen, they even have their own language (Doric).

I loved that the beach is so near to the city centre, they even have a theme park and it's just about 5 or 10 minutes walk from the shops, I've been to a lot of cities and there's none with such a mish mash of old, new, industrial, heritage, ugly, beautiful...

I think the images explain so much more than my words.  I'll definitely revisit Aberdeen and I'll probably take my daughters, I know they'd love the theme park but I'd love to know what they think of the rest of the city.



















































































































So there you have it, I hope you see what I mean, all of these images were shot within the city of Aberdeen and yet it could easily be three or four different cities, on the whole I loved the old, the quaint and the beautiful, I've never been a fan of massively industrial and of course Aberdeens main trade is that of oil so it was always going to be an industrial place, I'm glad I got to experience it though and I'll look forward to coming back again.

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