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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time and Space

Time and space dear reader, it sounds like the start of a Doctor Who episode, I nearly actually called this blog adventures in time and space but that might just be seen as plagiarism and quite frankly I am way too original for such nonsense.

Just now I'm at a point in my life where I finally have aforementioned time and space to think and be myself.  I set out my stall that what I needed was a month of complete space to think, mull things over and make one final decision because I've never done that before, i'm usually entirely heart lead which gets me into trouble over and over and at the age of 40 it's time for this to cease.

You know what though, I'm actually loving not having to answer to anyone but myself and perhaps the children, I finally actually feel in control of my own destiny something which I've never felt for the last 15 years, it wasn't that I didn't have the room to go off and achieve stuff but it was far more controlled than I would have wanted it to be even if it wasn't meant to be.

I actually think I make a pretty good single mum, I'm old and wise enough to have patience and I rarely if ever raise my voice, I have pretty fabulous kids which of course helps but I really don't see the point in screaming and shouting if you want to achieve something anyway.  I also think I'm young enough to still be silly and have fun with the kids, I am seen as slightly eccentric anyway so I can get away with a multitude of strange behaviours without anyone raising an eyebrow, if I feel like dancing along Northumberland street then I do, I did once get told off for twirling in Sainsburys but in my defence Looby had just twirled before me and she was the one telling me off!!  Parents, they're supposed to embarrass their kids right?

I'm actually feeling overwhelmingly positive and happy about the future at present, I can't wait for Christmas and to share that with my lovely friend Li and her daughter, you should see my growing pile of Christmas decorations/homeware I have been collecting on my travels, it's now a rather large pile in the corner of the kitchen, can't wait until I can festoon it around the house, I am going for the full on Christmas house from the movies feel this year, festive duvets on every bed, I do hope I can get all of the decorating done in time.

I'm sure there are going to be times when the loneliness hits and I haven't exactly decided how I'll deal with that if I'm honest but hopefully it'll be with a clear head so I can think it out logically rather than just making stupid decisions which in the end just lead to more pain and heartbreak, don't get me wrong I do believe in true love and soul mates, I do believe that love is the most important thing but that doesn't mean it's enough, it's just not that simple.  If you do have it though, embrace it and enjoy every sweet minute of it, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all as they say...
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This is half term...

Apologies for the lack of blogging dear reader, it's half term and I'm currently dog sitting for my lovely friend Aggies baby spaniel who isn't so much of a baby, he's an 8 month old cocker spaniel and he is completely bonkers and he turns my usually quite quiet and calm Petunia into a completely bonkers husky.  I was out with them both at 7am and after a half hour of chasing each other and the other dogs in the dog park and then an hours walk they're both completely passed out, fingers crossed they stay like this for enough time for me to buy paint for the bathroom and toilet, ingredients for my Christmas cake and if I could also have enough time to make said Christmas cake and pop it in the oven that would be great too!


I'm sure I was a confirmed cat lady until Petunia came along and now I just feel like Doctor Dolittle with a house full of animals and children!  I love it though, it totally takes my mind off everything which has been going on around me lately.


I've been thinking a lot over the weekend about being on my own for the short or long term and I think I've come to the realisation that I might actually want to be on my own for a while, I need to find out who I am again and I want to be able to concentrate on my kids, animals and business without having extra things to worry about.  Life has been so overwhelmingly stressful for the past couple of months that I am literally and emotionally exhausted and I just need a break from it all.

I'm making myself really think with my head for a change instead of my heart because my heart just gets me into trouble.  I also have my house which I am renovating and want finished by Christmas if possible so I figure if ever I get a spare moment then I'll just grab a paintbrush or power drill and do something instead of sitting feeling maudlin.

I've always been of the opinion that if you can face even the toughest times with a bit of positivity then they will in the short and long term be a lot easier to deal with.

This half term week I have 20 photo shoots spread over the week and then the days off are going to be spent sharing quality time with my kids interspersed with decorating, emptying the upstairs bedrooms and planning for the future.

I will try and keep up with blogging as much as possible this week but I hope you'll forgive me if I stray a little from my daily posts because life is just so busy and with that I am off to buy that paint while the kids are relaxed and the dogs are sleeping, have a great Tuesday everyone!

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Trying to regain control of my life

I wasn't sure I was going to blog today, I'm trying to take some time to process everything that has gone on lately, I realise how little control I've had over my own life and my destiny and I am trying to regain some of that at the moment.

I'm not really sure what I want from my life from this point on, happiness and contentment with my children and dog?  That's not too much to ask for is it?  I have no great plans to be with anyone other than myself for now and maybe forever, I just don't know really, I know that I have the best friends and the most supportive network of wonderful people who care about the kids and I.  I'm going to get some more therapy to help me process everything that has happened and hopefully change my behaviours so that it never happens again.

I have nothing to offer my children but love and affection which can't really compete with promises of ski-trips, puppies and whole new wardrobes of clothes but then I have no other financial support than what I earn myself, I just hope that the kids in the end will realise that feelings and love can't be bought, I fear this realisation may take a while.

Last night was movie night, our new weekly tradition, it went so well and my chalkboard is already full of suggestions for next weeks movie and food choices, it makes me happy that something which cost so little could be embraced so well.


Excuse the not very high quality of the iphone snap, it was getting dark and it's a miracle they're all actually in it together.  We did have Tacos and then we watched Malificent and of course there was popcorn and ice-cream.  Next weeks suggestions all seem quite Halloween related, I can't think how that happened ;)

You know, I think my main worry in everything that's happened is the misinformation being fed to the impressionable young minds I love, I'm only ever honest but it seems the very things which manipulated my mind for so very long are being used against the kids and I really have no control over this, I can only hope that one day they'll all read my blog and they might understand fully and completely how much I loved them and how hard I tried to stay married and how many chances I offered, I gave until I could give no more and I relinquished any control I had over and over again just to try and find some happiness and stability for us as a family as a whole, I thought we would be a family forever and right up until the very last juncture I tried to hold us all together.  I hate how fractured everything is now and if I had a magic wand or a time machine I would transport us all to a time of happiness and love.

Have a great weekend and I'll be back on Monday, hopefully much more positive, i'm really going to work on that this weekend.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Leopards can't change their spots

Yesterday I was faced with the horrible heartbreaking realisation dear reader that leopards really can't change their spots and no matter how many false promises someone makes their true colours will always show.

In the whole of my heart I lived with the hope that we would all be together again as a family one day, I didn't want to give up and I didn't want to have a failed marriage, I never wanted that but I realise that all of the things I have inside of me which make me feel like I've failed and make me feel like I wasn't good enough again were not caused by me.

Life I think in some respects is about to get much harder, without hope I have to go through the breakdown of utter heartbreak again but I was deluded to think that things could ever have been different, in as much as I wanted to hold together the fabric of our family I should have realised that it was ripped to shreds beyond repair long ago.

I think in some sense it's a bit of a relief because now I know the path before me and although I'm facing being lonely for a while I know in the end I'll be ok, one day I'm going to be quite brilliant and I shall sparkle on a daily basis.  I know now that I'm going to work hard to make my business amazing so that I can provide my children with every thing they'll ever need and I will do it on my own without any financial support and without complaint and each moment when I am not at work I shall use it to spend with my children so they know just how much I love and adore them, we'll make our house the best home ever, we'll have as many friends around as we want, we'll continue to rescue animals who need a second chance but I think we'll stick to the four legged ones.  We'll go on adventures to wherever we want and no one will ever be able to say "you can't do that."  I think I'm still in a better place than I was at the beginning of September because a lot of the things have just become clearer to me.  I know this much is true, if you love me, you love the whole of me and all of my children equally because all of my children are fabulous amazing people and I'll continue to tell them that every day.  When you're in a marriage or relationship you have to accept everyone in that unit, you can't pick and choose and you can never expect the other person to allow you to ignore or turn a blind eye to your hatred of any of them.  Mums will always choose their children above a man no matter how old their children are.

It's been hard of late with Abigail spending more time at her dads than at home but today she's going to be here when she finishes school, Iain broke up from college for half term on Wednesday and Looby broke up yesterday so by later this afternoon we'll all be together my children and I and we're having Tacos and it's movie night, Malificent being the movie of choice as it is a tenuously linked movie to Halloween and it's of course that time of year, let me just say that some of the suggestions on our board for this weeks movie had a definite Christmas theme but I am saving Elf  (btw, it's only £8 on blu ray on that linky thing) for another day.

Tomorrow I have a day off and I honestly have no idea what we'll do, we did have family plans but it really looks like we can't pretend anymore and they're just not going to happen, I think the most I can hope for is friendship one day, in the end you can't have someone on your own terms, I think my analysis of the situation was that while I wasn't wanted completely I was wanted enough to make sure that I could never move on and you can't do that, it's pretty clear cut for me, together as a family forever or get on with our own healing and lives being co-parents to our children and dog, you can't have it all and expect someone to have a weird courting sort of relationship with their own husband without a promise of anything else for years, I'll never accept second best even if it's heart breaking, one day someone will love me properly with their whole heart without any conditions or expectations that I'll ever be anything other than just me, it may be years before that happens, it may never happen but you never really truly know what's around the corner.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to love the ones you're with and be with the ones you love.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oh how I wish I was a minimalist

Life would be a lot easier if I was dear reader, I could have spent years moving nothing around a virtually empty house musing about the spaciousness of it all.  Sadly I like stuff on the walls, the shelves, in fact pretty much every surface I have has something on and when it doesn't I feel it looks empty, I like a homely home, I like a cluttered home, I like vintage trinkets and treasures to adorn the furniture which is also usually used because I hate new stuff.  This of course is a problem with wardrobes because of the weird town house we live in I can't actually get assembled wardrobes up the stairs. The one in my bedroom which is from around 1930ish had to be dismantled and reassembled and you can imagine the glee that caused ;)  The only solution to the top floor bedrooms will be to buy flatpack Ikea wonders...harumph!

Halloween is almost upon us, I'm also not a huge fan of Halloween because I feel it gets in the way of Christmas but the kids like it and the Amazon Halloween department has just about everything you could ever need for next weeks spooky spectacular.  Looby has her costume already, she's going to be little red riding hood and Petunia is going to be the ferocious wolf, I'm not sure she's going to be able to carry that performance off quite frankly!  Abigail mostly hasn't decided if she's joining in because she's at that funny age where she'd still like the big haul of candies which make your teeth fall out but she feels she's to old and sophisticated to go and knock on neighbours doors wearing a witch costume.  I have a feeling knowing Abigail that she will as ever decide right at the last moment and I'll be ordering the day before hoping that Amazon haven't sold out.

I've decided that I'm not buying house decorations this year, I only end up throwing them away the next day whereas I always store Christmas decorations but I just feel it's an unnecessary spend and after taking 3 black bags full of stuff to the Charity shop yesterday, giving away some Disney costumes, a slow cooker and a hoard of craft supplies I am definitely trying to downsize the clutter I have an not increase it with dead hands and rubber faces.



I finally framed some of my recent images and they'll make the perfect Christmas gift if you're planning ahead, the rustic framed ones are only £25 and the black framed ones are £35, if you would like to purchase one just send me over a quick email and if you would prefer to do your own framing then you can purchase any prints from my Etsy store Philomena's Boutique

It looks like a beautiful day out there, I am going to Jesmond Dene for a couple of photo shoots and it looks like being a sunny lovely morning so whatever you are up to today make sure it's a fabulous Thursday






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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The continuing quest to have a house just like everyone else

Yesterdays weather rather wrecked all of the plans I first had, I wasn't a huge fan of Washington Old Hall and Gibside was closed due to high winds so Petunia didn't have the huge day of walking but I did go and buy some storage and a shoe rack that matches the coat stand I have in the hall, all I need now is a console table and my hall will very much look like the halls other people have, instead of somewhere filled with clothes horses, ladders and bikes which is pretty much the way it's been for 10 years.


I framed photos yesterday and these two frames are now proudly hanging on my lounge walls, I think there's only 1 gap now that needs a picture/painting/photo, I'm never painting the walls or moving, the displacement of about 50 photos/paintings/pictures would be a nightmare!

Speaking of decorators, I spoke to one yesterday and even though he can't fit me in until the end of November I have hope that by Christmas my house will be fixed and beautiful and in the mean time I'll soldier on and see what more I can achieve.  Both of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor are being gutted and 1 is having a New York loft industrial feel and the other is mostly going to be Maroon with black accents, that's because it's Iains bedroom and he needed something manly and they're his favourite colours.  The NY loft was a theme suggested by Abigail and then I've developed that, it'll be a great teenage bedroom.  My bedroom has a hunting lodge theme and then my living room is overwhelmingly a tribute to a Highland home, my kitchen doesn't really have a theme but at Christmas it becomes Narnia.

I really need to have people over soon, just 1 or two so I can work through the terror of having people in my house, I'll get there one day I'm sure and then I plan to have a house which is constantly full of people, it'll be a lot cheaper than meeting in coffee houses that's for sure!

work continues to be so busy and I thought I would share a few portraits I've shot lately, if you would like to book a family portrait photographer in Newcastle just click on that link and send me an email and I'll try to fit you in as soon as I can either at a location of your choice or I have lots of photo shoots coming up in Jesmond Dene, in fact sometimes I'm there just about every day.








Now go forth, have as much midweek fun as you can and may all of your Wednesdays be wonderful.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fenwicks Christmas Window 2014, what could the theme be?

Good morning and welcome to Tuesday dear reader, as I type it's incredibly windy out there, the remains of Hurricane Gonzalo has lead to a very windy wake up this morning and that's outside, that's not my internal wind before you ask.

Yesterday I didn't get nearly as much done as I had planned but after school Looby and I went for a wander in town.


That'll be Looby demonstrating her bendiness then, I don't know exactly where she gets that from as I don't ever remember being that bendy and I can safely say that if I tried that now I would be in hospital after the first attempt.


Whilst we were in town we sauntered around the Christmas department at Fenwicks and Looby was very impressed by their seasonal offerings, there seems to be an Alice in Wonderland theme and I wonder if Fenwicks Christmas Window is going to also have an Alice in Wonderland theme for 2014, it would seem likely but of course not even the staff know at the moment, I'm guessing though we won't have too much longer to wait as i'm nearly sure that it's usually the half term of October when it's revealed.  It doesn't matter how old I am I always view a visit to Fenwicks Christmas window as a Christmas tradition.

I spoke yesterday about the launch of our own new traditions, i.e. I bought a chalk board and am accepting weekly suggestions for favourite meals and a weekly vote on a Friday night movie, I'm pretty sure that this weeks movie is going to be Malificent  which I shall be ordering a copy of today, probably the blu ray though as I'm trying to exchange all of my DVD's for Blu Rays.

I seem to have an even bigger obsession with Christmas this year than ever before, maybe because I am trying as much as possible to focus on something positive which will make us all happy, the best part of this year is that we're having guests, I'm so excited that my lovely friend Li and her daughter will be joining us for Christmas shenanigans this year and yesterday I despatched an email in a panic to a trusty decorator to give me some help with sprucing up my house, I'm getting there, last night I assembled a coat rack with my trusty power drill but there's still so much to do and some jobs are just too big for me to manage on my own.  I'm also going to get a cleaner in for a couple of hours every week just to give me a hand, being a single parent is an ongoing challenge mainly because I haven't a clue how they fit it all in.  I'm grateful for having an 18 year old and he's started a new tradition of collecting Looby from school on a Monday and then they go to Mcdonalds, it's a bit of a bonding thing and I really encourage it as they're getting on better every day.

It's my day off today and I'm supposed to be going out with Petunia to Washington Old Hall a National Trust property I've never been to, well overwhelmingly this morning I do hope that I don't get blown away.

Throw your anchors down dear reader and battern down your hatches, it's going to be a gusty one

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Monday, October 20, 2014

and that was the weekend....

Monday again dear reader and my body is feeling the effects of the lower light levels already this year, last night I found myself having an anxiety attack and it's only October, I dread to think what it's going to be like for me in January this year, S.A.D. is a cruel mistress for sure, I think to protect my mental health as much as possible I'm going to have to buy a SAD light.

This weekend has been pretty good if I'm honest, I had a lovely day on Saturday with the girls and with Paul on Saturday when we all met up to have a family day at Tynemouth, I even bought myself a vintage milking stool for my lounge, I'd been looking for a footstool for ages but never found one yet and the milking stool is the perfect height.  I love spending time together as a family so much and it's always so sad when it's over but I think it's something which we have to do to create stability for the children and while we keep on doing it there's always the hope that one day that things will be better.


Yesterday I worked all day shooting portraits in Jesmond Dene and barring the wind it was the perfect autumnal day and I really took lots of beautiful photos yesterday, it's the best time of the year for photography so get out there and celebrate life, love, family, an hour spent with me having some fun together in a place you love and you will be creating memories which will last forever.

This week isn't hugely busy like next week which already looks chaotic and there's still a week to go until half term.  We're dog sitting for Aggies baby spaniel (8 months old) for 4 days and I have lots and lots of portraits booked with very little availability so if you want a photo shoot during half term get in touch sooner rather than later.

It's a good thing I think that my business continues to grow and thrive even though my life at home is far less than perfect.

You know what I am doing though?  Starting new traditions, I bought a noticeboard and on that board we're suggesting meals for the week ahead and movie choices for our new weekly movie night, I think starting new traditions is a great way to build foundations when all around you is changing and Looby and Iain seem to think it's a great idea plus it's a lot easier than me having to think up a whole weeks meal plan.

Onwards we go dear reader into a brave new week/world



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Friday, October 17, 2014

Did I really spend an evening sorting out my Christmas DVD's?

It's Friday dear reader, the end of another week, 2 photo shoots for me today, 1 outdoor autumnal photo shoot in Jesmond Dene this morning and then an indoor family portrait photo shoot this evening to celebrate someones Golden wedding anniversary.

Yesterday as it was raining Petunia and I had a lovely time at the garden centre wandering around the festive displays, it's funny how you only find huskies in the Christmas section


She's been having a lot of fun going undercover in these scenarios, maybe she could be the pinnacle of this years festive decor, heehee!

I have a large pile of Christmas things I've been collecting on my travels accumulating in the corner of my kitchen ready to festoon at will once we get to the end of Nov, it usually takes me a couple of days to decorate the whole house as I have the reds and greens on the big tree upstairs in my living room and then I have my Narnia theme of blue and white in the kitchen with another tree down there and I never usually manage to hold out until the first of December but if I can make it to the 25th of November before decorating then I've done well!

Last night I sorted out my Christmas DVD's and Blu Rays all onto their own special shelf and then I watched The Holiday which is definitely going to be one of my favourite festive movies and you know what, it's one of those movies you can watch at any time of the year, it's set at Christmas but it's not about Christmas if you know what I mean, it was the second time I'd watched it last night and even my son said it was ok, it's a funny thing you know, I'm always putting on movies and he acknowledges that some of mums movies are actually quite good!

I did wonder just how tragic my life had become sorting my DVD shelves of a Thursday evening but I did do it with a really good glass of white burgundy, I only really drink a bottle of wine a week or sometimes it's a month so I buy really good lovely wine to enjoy.  It's my present to myself.

I have a day off tomorrow and it will be spent with Looby doing fun things, no idea just what we're likely to get up to and knowing Looby it could be something completely left of field but whatever it is I shall be embracing the beautiful weather and the glory of a Saturday without working, it's really hard to turn down work for weekend days but the reward of time spent enjoying quality family time more than makes up for the financial loss accompanied by it.  Speaking of which, I am pretty busy now right up until Christmas so if you would like a photo shoot between now and January please don't leave it until the last minute before getting in touch or you might have to wait until January for your Christmas family photos!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Family portrait photography in Newcastle by Mandy Charlton

Yes dear reader it's that time of year again when people all over Newcastle and the north east of England are looking to book photographers for family and kids photo shoots at wonderful autumnal outdoor locations like Saltwell Park, Tynemouth Longsands, Jesmond Dene and also Wharton Park in Durham is also a popular choice so I hope you'll forgive me dear reader if I just take a days break from telling you the minutiae of my life and instead simply share some of the photographs I've shot over the last week or so.

It really is my favourite time and my busiest time of year, there's just something special about photographs taken during autumn, they seem to be the ones we have on our walls all year, maybe it's because they're so colourful and pretty and the kids all seem to be having such fun.

If you would like to book me for a photo shoot to capture your family or kids please get in touch, here's the type of photo shoots you can partake in - 

Weekday photo shoot in Jesmond Dene, these are currently only £25 and include a web gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first week, they take around 30/45 minutes.

Weekend photo shoots at a location of your choice start at £40 depending on location and how much time I need to take out of my diary, suitable for any number so great for larger family portraits.  you get a web gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first week and your favourite image as a 12x8 print.

Mini sessions on Sunday 23rd November at Jesmond Dene - £25 and you get a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and your favourite image as a 7x5 print and photo shoots are limited to a 30 min maximum.  There are just 2 time slots still available and they are 10.30 and 11am.

If you would like to book all you need to do is click through to my website, my facebook page or you can email me

and to whet your appetite, here's some I've shot over the last week or so...

















So there you go, small family, large family, bring your pets or just have a photograph with the one you love but do get out there and create some memories today which will last forever!


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Petunia the husky goes undercover at Heighley Gate....

Being that Petunia is a husky and therefore the ultimate Christmas dog it seemed only right that I should take her to enjoy some festive pleasures and exactly as I suspected dear reader my doggy is going to be the best Christmas dog ever!

Look how well she blends in seamlessly with the Christmas decor...


and look at her going undercover with the out door Christmas decorations at Heighly Gate garden centre, you would barely even know which one is Petunia ;)  Say nothing, she's deep undercover...


One thing I have worked out is that this year I can't have any decorations which have feathers on them/in them, well not unless I want them eaten, she might not want to kill small fluffy things but she does like to kill feathers.  She also got very excited about Christmas and decorations so I think our house is going to be the ultimate Christmas house this winter, actually when Looby and I were watching the Christmas movies on Monday we noted that in the modern day movies you quite often find a husky or two, maybe she has a future in the movies?!

I'll keep this blog post short and fun because if I stray into other areas my brain my just explode all over the rug, suffice to say that I'm 40 and at 40 I really thought I would have my life sorted out and I would be the happiest most content I'd ever been, apparently for me that was mostly in my 30's though, I loved my 30's, I really was so happy and content, 40 actually sucks and I can't wait to be 41 so that 40 will be over forever.

I just keep telling myself, one day everything will be fine and then I repeat this often over and over until I try to believe it, Stability, I've never really craved anything quite so much as I crave stability but for the future of my health, happiness and mental health I really do need to find it all quite soon.

Have a great Wednesday, it's all down hill to the weekend from here on in and as I have a Saturday off this week I am quite excited about the prospect of a trip to the local churches autumn fayre, how life has changed dear reader, how life has changed....


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Feeling festive far too soon...

I know what you're thinking dear reader, it's just too early to be even feeling a little bit festive but the truth is that for years I have held off until at least October half term to start watching Christmas movies but yesterday Looby and I threw ourselves into the murky world of the Netflix Christmas movies and watched 3 in a row, terrible made for TV American Christmas movies and you know what we loved every single one, it was just the ticket after a weekend spent constantly working.  I think really there's always a place for Christmas movies, they're like Disney movies I find, easy watching, there's usually a bit of love or loss in there but in the end it's always Christmas day and everyone is happy again by the end of the movie.  A bit like real life really muahahaha....

So I'm thinking about what's on the planner for the rest of the week and it really is hectic, photo shoots every day, 2 weddings to edit, a ton of admin, I'm still trying to readjust to single parenting, I have no idea how single parents manage to hold down a business, keep a tidy house, look after the kids, pay all of the bills and not look at total mess, I'm pretty sure it's not possible to have it all.  I do sort of have a plan that once I've financially readjusted I'm going to get a lovely cleaning lady in to help because I think it's a necessary with 3 kids, a dog and 3 cats.

I did also manage to run around like a crazy woman yesterday tidying and cleaning and thankfully had a bit of help from Iain and Looby, we are a pretty good team really.

One of my biggest tasks I have to sort out is the decoration of the house and that's starting with the bedrooms on the top floor and I would also like to get everything done in time for Christmas so that we have a bedroom fit for guests being that my lovely friend Li and her daughter are coming to us for Christmas this year, yes I am going to have a houseful of people for the first time ever, that's going to make me the happiest woman in the whole of the world.

I'll keep it quite short this morning as I must get dressed and I have a hangover from the migraine medication I took at 4am, that's a sure sign that I must actually have my day off and not be tempted to work through it.  I think Petunia perfect paws and I should get on our boots and go for a big walk with some cake and coffee at the end of it and maybe even a light touch of Christmas!!
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Monday, October 13, 2014

All work and no play...







Makes Mandy a very tired lady dear reader, I am shattered this morning after 14 photo shoots over the weekend at 2 separate locations, Saturday was Saltwell Park and yesterday was Jesmond Dene, I lost 2 photo shoots along the way, one due to a sick toddler and one where traffic stopped clients getting to me until 5 minutes before the end of their time slot so those will both be rescheduled.

I went through a lot of coffee, energy drinks and batteries and my hand is like a claw this morning but it was a great weekend as you can see from the photos.  The weather was pretty amazing on both days and I have to say a big thank you to Looby and Stacey who were both there helping on Saturday.


I've decided to give mini sessions one more roll out this year and you can now book for Jesmond Dene on Sunday 23rd of November, I'm calling them Christmas mini sessions but Christmas jumpers are not compulsory, although they're a lot of fun so why not?!  Sessions are available at 10, 10.30, 11, 11.30, 12,30, 1, 1.30, 2 and 2.30pm and they're £25 which includes a complimentary 7x5 print, a web gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first day your gallery is live.  There will be no further mini sessions after this until sometime around Mothers day so don't delay and book today!

On a personal level I literally did nothing apart from come home, eat and sleep, it makes me realise how much I love only working 1 day over the weekend and I'm delighted that I have this Saturday off to spend with my children, I am working a couple more full weekends before Christmas and I have bookings in my diary right up until the middle of December so I'm finding that although it's taken a little adjustment it's still mostly possible to have a career as a single parent although that's mostly thanks to being able to be co-parents without arguing, fighting or squabbling with Paul.

Today I have a photo shoot this afternoon and this morning, well I need to go lie in a bath and try to sort out my aching muscles, you know I used to do up to 17 photo shoots every single weekend, no wonder I was exhausted in January.

Have a great week and I promise to get back to regular blogging even though I have another 8 photo shoots coming up over the course of the week.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn in Newcastle and a wedding in Harrogate

Well better late than never dear reader but I've just come home from shooting a lovely little wedding in Harrogate and a beautiful wonderful thing it was too!

Yesterday I was walking home from some photo shoots in Jesmond Dene so I thought since I had my camera I might capture just a few images which will soon be going into my Etsy store, Philomenas Boutique, I think they're going to make fabulous Christmas gifts for the lovely people you have in your life.







If you look closely at this bottom one you'll see the shoe tree, people have been turning up to throw their shoes into the trees as a form of celebration since John the sheriff of Newcastle threw his shoes up there in 1684 after the birth of his first child.  Some say this is all myth and legend and it's just silly students but the romantic in me wants to believe it's true.

So that wedding I shot at the Hotel Du Vin in Harrogate today, beautiful, intimate and some gorgeous autumnal light for the portraits.


Tomorrow I have 11 photo shoots in Saltwell Park, trying to catch up from the horrid weather of last Saturday and thankfully it looks like it's going to be a gorgeous sunny weekend so I'm going to cheer loudly at that and I can't wait to share lots of highlights with you over the coming weeks.

Have a wonderful weekend, I can't promise to blog as regularly over the next few days but I'll be back to normal again by this time next week hopefully. 
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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Sea Fever

Yesterday was a day of 2 halves, 1 half was extraordinarily amazing, a wonderful morning spent embracing the sea air walking to Cullercoats and back again to Tynemouth all along the beautiful Tynemouth Longsands beach.  I didn't have my camera with me but I did take just a couple of Instagrams.


Being there yesterday reminded me of one of my favourite pieces of poetry by John Masefield, if you don't know it dear reader, it's called Sea Fever and goes like this - 

"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
 
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
 
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over."


I love the sea, I always end up there whether I am stressed, happy, troubled, confused or content, I love the sounds of the sea, it's just the most calming place for me, perhaps something to do with being an Aquarian?

I can't really say anything about the other half of my day, it was just so awful, faced with the most impossible decision I can't ever make and now in a state of almost purgatory trapped within a sea of uncertainty.

I don't want to focus on that.

Today, I have 2 photo shoots in Jesmond Dene, one of my other favourite places in the North East, the woodlands I find offer quiet solace and time for reflection when I'm not working and when I am working the backgrounds provide the most spectacular photographic location.

These next 5 days are all about photography and my soul gives a happy smile that I get to go out there and do the thing I love.

Today, I hope you get to do something you love, embrace it dear reader and enjoy every single moment.



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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dog walks, confusion and instability

My dog has been on a mission to get up and embrace the morning since 3am dear reader, I finally gave in at half five so you'll excuse me if I am the queen of sleepy this morning.

Yesterday did not go as planned due to Looby being home from school all day, in truth I think she just wanted a day of being waited on hand and foot, she certainly achieved a lot considering she was supposed to be so poorly, I will give her the fact that she was full of cold but I'm pretty sure she could have gone to school and that's where she'll be trundling back to this morning.

On a positive note I did have a lovely dog walk yesterday at Gosforth Park, autumnal afternoon walks in beautiful spots are quite what life is all about.



There's something I wanted to get off my chest this morning, mainly because if it's written down then it's out of my brain.  There are 2 things in life that I hate, Confusion and Instability and I am living with them in my life on a daily basis without any end ever being in sight.  I honestly have no clue what path God or the universe has in store for me but I hope that I look back in 5 years time and I'm in a place where I feel clear headed and surrounded by stability.  I seem to have an inner turmoil on a daily basis and it's that which stops me concentrating or getting on with things I really should be attending to.  I think I look each day for guidance but I just can't find it.  I've assessed my life and come to the conclusion that I'm actually a pretty insular person, no one ever comes to visit and I rarely go out with anyone, I don't even have a visitors permit to park outside my house because I've never needed one, in 6 years I've had approximately 2 visitors.  It doesn't sit well because I feel that within me is a highly social butterfly just waiting to spread her wings, it's no wonder that I end most days feeling quite lonely and alone.

I think maybe I just need to start inviting people over for dinner or coffee or maybe just to go out on a dog walk, I do see people, I go out for coffees and teas and indeed today I am going out for coffee and a wander along the beach with lovely friend and spiritual diva Susan.  For the friends I do have I am truly thankful and if there's one thing I do know it's that online friends are just as important as real life friends.

Today I'm saying to you go and phone a friend, they'll be delighted you did, well unless it's me, I never ever answer the phone because I'm pretty phobic when it comes to the phone, I prefer to communicate via email!  But get in touch with a friend, fix up a time for coffee and hugs, neither of you will regret that and you'll enrich each others lives beyond belief. 
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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Christmas Shopping, supporting small businesses and blissful dog walks

Yesterday I started my Christmas shopping, "it's way to early" I hear some of you cry dear readers but I figured this year I had to be extra organised and that if I started now with my bumper bargain Christmas I would have some chance of actually being able to afford it all.  I think there's so much pressure placed on parents at Christmas and if you're a single parent then the chances are that the kids actually see that as an excuse for double presents and not that they might get less, perish the thought!  To be fair though I have pretty good and understanding children, I've told them my budget is £100 per child for them to choose whatever they want and then I'll spend around another £50 on surprises and you know what, being a bit of a bargain hunter I reckon they'll all get a very nice size pile of presents for that amount, for me it's not so much about the value I just like a big pile of presents which look pretty around the Christmas tree.  I've said for years that I am Christmas, it's just my thing, I love every second of it and I'm one of those who's always just a little sad when it actually gets to Christmas day because I know that the magic and excitement is over for another year.

Maybe that's why I've really embraced autumn this year, because I know after autumn comes winter and in winter we have Christmas!

Yesterday was a rainy horrid day but it dried up just in time for Petunia and I to trot down to the park which was bathed in autumnal glory.  I love walking Petunia and please don't judge me but I like it best when it's just me and the dog, doggy and me time is the loveliest time of day and it's funny but I never feel quite so lonely when Petunia is around, last night as I did some window shopping on Etsy she lay on the sofa next to me nuzzled into me and I embraced the love you find in having a pet dog.  I'm so head over heels in love with Petunia and I'm thankful every day that she came into our lives.


On the subject of shopping for Christmas I've decided that for as much as I can I am going to do my Christmas shopping either on Etsy or within the Inspire Network so that I can support as many micro business owners, crafts people and artisans.  I read an article last year that if you supported your local business every £1 you spent was worth £50 to the local economy as opposed to spending that £1 with big businesses and obviously as a small business owner myself I appreciate all of my clients, you know I have an Etsy store full of gorgeous prints, why not consider purchasing your loved ones something lovely from Philomenas Boutique this year or failing that a gift certificate for Mandy Charlton Photography is the gift which keeps on giving!

Once again the rain scuppered an outdoor photo shoot yesterday meaning I have 18 photo shoots and a wedding in Harrogate in the next 7 days, even I think that's a lot of work and I may just squeeze in some extra vitamins and jumping beans, actually I have to say after losing a stone since the beginning of September I am feeling a lot more bouncy and full of energy anyway, 1 stone down and 1 to go, I shall be a leaping jumping bean by the time I am finished!

Today dear reader have a think about your Christmas shopping, if you are a parent be kind to yourself, tell your children this year will be about family and being together and special presents which mean a lot but might not cost a fortune and consider making some of your purchases from local businesses instead of those big corporate faceless organisations who steal our souls when we walk through the doors.

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