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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

One Year On, Just Being Me!





It's funny I think how we fixate on dates and anniversaries, I'm pretty sure it's a female thing, 1st February, my birthday, 14th April 2000, date I got married, 4th September 2014, the date my husband walked out on me...

I remember writing at the time that I wish I was a year on, or even 6 months because I knew that I would be better, that life would improve, that my heart wouldn't feel quite so broken.  So now I sit here just approaching the first anniversary of that momentous day and truly I do feel better.  Don't get me wrong, there's still an ache in my heart which may always be there, it creeps up on me every now and then and suddenly I'll feel catastrophically sad, I still ask myself the same unanswered questions, where did it all go wrong?  What did I do wrong? Could I possibly have saved it?

For the most part though, I am happy and bouncy and quite possibly even more whimsical than I ever was because it's quite possibly the first time in my life I've actually enjoyed being me on my own, making my own company, having conversations with my dog, she doesn't always answer but I'm sure she knows exactly what i'm thinking.

So much has changed in the last year, I rescued myself and I not only rescued my business but completely turned it around, I blogged my way not only back to happiness but also to success, I sit here today with excitement in my stomach that in just a few weeks I depart for my first international travel writing/photography assignment, the anticipation to see Rome and Barcelona in November is the thing that I'm holding on to whilst my girls are in Majorca with dad at the moment.  I hope it's the first of many assignments which will help me tick some treasured places I've dreamed of photographing, it's quite a long list but I get stupidly excited when I go on airplanes, just taking off makes me feel giddy, you know that bit where your head is pushed back into the seat as the acceleration and G force kicks in, it's a simple pleasure I suppose but it's connected to adventure and you all know how I love an adventure.

Whilst I can't say that this has been the best year of my life, I can say that in retrospect it's been a lot better than I ever imagined it would be, I want to give hope to you if you're sitting there reading this in the place I was this time last year, just keep holding on, those first few weeks and months seem like an eternity, one day though, you'll wake up and smile and feel happy again, it takes time, it only really happened to me one day during early summer, I felt happier than I had felt for years, I guess it was the day I knew I had become me again, the new me, the me I quite like, I'm a stone lighter than I was this time last year, there's an eternal battle between me vs the cake but a certain beagle ensures I get enough exercise to beat it, well just about...

I have great friends who've helped me get to the place I am now, they've laughed with me, cried with me, hugged me when I needed it and said nice things when I couldn't even bear to think them of myself.

This next year, well I'm just putting this out there but for me it's going to be the best year ever, I intend to travel and work (possibly combining the two) and I'm going to make sure I have the happiest children (and dog) on the planet, I want to spend time feeling the warmth of sunshine on my face and I want to have the glow of happiness in my heart.  You never really know what's around the next corner but if you set out to believe that there's happiness and adventure then I think maybe you're giving yourself a head start so lets all just do it, lets all just say that today, tomorrow, next month, the next year will be the very best!
Share:

Friday, August 28, 2015

London from above, part 2, as viewed from The Shard.

Ever since I first saw images from The Shard in London I've wanted to visit, I mean I've really wanted to visit, a bit like an expectant child on Christmas Eve, it's something of a photographers dream being so high above the city and although the entry fee is high (£30.95 for just me) I would have to say that it is worth every penny.



 Now I should add to that statement, I think if you're a family with little ones then maybe they're not going to get the most out of the experience but if you are at all interested in cities, London, viewing great landscapes, taking great photographs well then this might just be the experience you've been waiting for.

 I chose to go at sunset because for me that's when the magic happens, the fading natural light of the day adds to the quiet beauty of the city down below.  You stand watching amazed as the city starts to light up artificially with something akin to the biggest set of illuminations you've ever seen, this is something so incredible that you can't possibly imagine it until you see it, I've viewed a lot of cities from above both during daylight but this one was the first I'd managed to view at night, mostly because London is just open later for business, especially during the months of chaotic tourism in summer.


 I'm so glad I went in late though as it wasn't busy or crowded and there was an easy pace of gentle calm as the remaining guests, lets call them guests because that's what you feel like, you feel like London itself has invited you to view it's iconic structures, it's crowded urban landscapes from such a height that the whole city looks like an enormous ever changing piece of art.


There are two heights on which to view these epic landscapes from, the 68th and the 72nd floor both offer amazing vantage points, I wandered around for just over an hour collecting more and more images that I can keep, to enjoy forever.  

On the 72nd floor you can grab a deckchair, you can buy a cup of tea from a little Fortnum and Mason cart or a glass of champagne to sit enjoying the views with that special person, for me though, a champagne glass would have inhibited my ability to hold the camera so I was happy just to wander around the 360 degree panoramic windows drinking in the sights whilst all around felt eerily calm, I don't think there are many places in London where you get such contrasts of calm and quiet whilst knowing that down below the hustle, bustle and chaos of the city continue long into the night.













When I return to London again in the autumn I will return to The View From The Shard again, there's no question that the seasons change the light just as the hours of the passing day does and I'm fairly sure I could never get bored of towering above the beauty of the urban landscape and photographing it slowly and carefully with love.  For me, this is what travel and photography are all about, whilst you can press record in your mind and whilst you can accurately describe a place or view to take people to the same places in their mind if you can put together those images with gloriously worded descriptions then you can truly take people on a journey with you time and time again.


Share:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

London from Above Part 1, as viewed from the London Eye

Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time will know how much I love viewing cities from above so when I had the opportunity to spend 48 hours in London I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to do some climbing, I'm actually pleased to report that unlike Edinburgh where I've climbed both the Scott Monument and the Nelson monument it's significantly less energy consuming in London thanks to The View From The Shard and the London Eye and whilst you may feel a little faint when you discover that it's going to cost I can attest to the fact that it's absolutely worth parting with your hard earned cash.  

I paid £29.50 for a fast track ticket on the London Eye during the daytime and got on in 15 minutes (totally worth spending the extra if like me you are too disorganised to book in advanced and don't want to wait until you retire to get on there I saw people turning up at 10am to be told they couldn't go on until after 5 or 6 in the evening and I'm told that on some days it's so busy you might not even be lucky enough to get on).  I think on the London Eye that it's a shame there's no commentary, to me it would only add to the experience which lets face it is costing more than your lunch (for 1 obviously) for less than an hours entertainment.

I loved the pace of the London Eye, it felt about the right amount of time to be up there,  What I didn't enjoy was the fact that they take your photo and then want to sell you it for £22, all I wanted was a magnet, surely they'd make more money selling things separately and most people just laughed at them when they announced the price, especially as you end up with up to 5 complete strangers in the image with you!

The views though, even on a cloudy day make London look like the most magical place in the world and that's how I feel about London, it's special and magical and beautiful, serene and awe inspiring, at least when viewed from above whilst at ground level it's hustle and bustle and chaos, something I don't think I'll ever get used to, I could spend a month in London but I don't think I'd live there, I'd miss the calm of the North, the sight of the sea, the green of the Cheviots all being just 30 minutes from my door and I'm fairly sure I would spend a fortune visiting the London Eye and The Shard just to remind myself of the beauty from above.














So London by day from the London Eye, just want until my next blog post, part 2 from The View From The Shard after Sunset, I promise you won't want to miss my next post!
Share:

Monday, August 17, 2015

The summer of crazy, the summer of work..











This has been the summer of crazy, the summer of work, the summer of feeling like I've hardly a spare moment to breathe, life has become like a Japanese Bullet train hurtling along at a billion miles an hour.  In past years summer has been the calm time, the quiet time, the time to take it easy, not this year, I can't even remember a busier summer, I'm glad we took a holiday at the beginning of the summer holidays because it's looking doubtful I'll get one at the end.



Far from complaining about it, I love it, I'm in a place where I adore what I do, my clients are so lovely and wonderfully grateful for the images and experiences I am able to hand them, perfect galleries of expertly curated capsules of our time together, each photo shoot, no matter how it can seem at the time with the little ones looks like the easiest most amazing times spent together, charming families playing together, taking a walk or a stroll, laughing, giggling, a moment in time preserved forever.



The sunshine it seems has come out from hiding and these past couple of weeks have provided the ideal weather for fun photo shoots and on rainy days I've not worried when photographing families on their beds in their homes, an intimate view into a family in their living space, the places they love and cherish, people have such beautiful homes, it's a joy to shoot in their treasured spaces.

So, what now for the dog days of summer, midweeks are quieter whilst weekends seem to be full to the brim of kids, families, babies all looking for that most smily portrait to preserve forever.



Each day I come home and reflect upon my day, I go to sleep tired but with a smile, I'm happy and confident in what I but I'll never be complacent, my most important goal in life is to make other people happy and that in turn makes me happy, i want to bring joy into peoples lives with thoughts, words, deeds and photographs, I am the same in my private life as I am in business, I exist to be happy and for those around me to be happy too.



Next week my girls fly to Majorca with their daddy for 2 weeks in the sunshine, I can't help but feel just a little sad that they'll be so far away and envious that I want to be with them but this is what life has set out for me, and I know the weeks will fly over, particularly if I can keep a full diary, so that's where you come in, if you can do a midweek photo shoot get in touch, if you are bound by weekends then please book now for September, October and November, never underestimate just how busy work becomes in portrait season and now that I only shoot 3 or 4 sessions each weekend space will be at a premium.

Book a session via email, my website or facebook
Share:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's Wrong with Airbnb?


Just to say that the blog you're about to read was written just after we came back from our horrid Airbnb experience but I've had to wait until the review period of 14 days closed before I made this go live to stick to my agreement that I wouldn't leave a review...


There's no doubting that Airbnb has completely changed the face of travel all over the world, it removes the boundaries of accommodation offered and it gives the traveller endless options of unique and interesting places to stay and people to stay with.  It's completely changed the type of person who offers accommodation of course, people keen to meet travellers, swap stories and tales of their own travels as well as offering a clean comfortable bed and often a delicious hearty breakfast.  Sounds perfect right?

Well, that's all good and great except sometimes Airbnb can go terribly wrong, I've heard some tales I can tell you and now it seems I have my own to tell.

I have to start by saying that I was given a refund of some of the money I paid on the condition that I did not leave a review, oh yes, you should always bribe the people who stay with you when things go wrong, oh and don't forget to make a single parent with a puppy and a child feel so uncomfortable that they leave the property quicker than their legs can carry them, paying treble the cost of travel just so they can get home right now.

There are lots of details I can't tell you about for it might come across like I was leaving a review and so I won't mention the owners of the property but I will say don't ever go and stay in an airbnb property in Bo'ness, it's near Lilithgow in Scotland in case you were wondering.

Some points of note -

Paint so yellow it clearly hadn't been touched for years
Toys left stranded in the gardens with cobwebs covering them like the gardens that time forgot
A trampoline so covered in bird poo Looby wouldn't even get on it
A dirt infested bedroom which looked nothing like the photos
A kitchen so grim that it could only be described as a hovel and I refused to cook in it at all
A supposedly dog friendly owner who I asked for suggestions of dog friendly places and was asked if Holly wouldn't just sit outside the places whilst we had a cup of tea etc?
An owner who sat and criticised every single guest who'd been there before me, every single one had something wrong with them, I can only imagine what she's telling people about me

I could go on, really there's even more but I'll stop there because that's quite enough to be going on with but it did bring home to me the risks of booking with airbnb, what you're essentially putting out there along with the lovely owners who don't want you to come to living room recitals and who can provide a proper breakfast that isn't in an outdoor shed with cardboard sugar filled cereal cartons and nothing else, you're also opening it to people who will abuse the system, lunatics, weirdos, the crazies and of course if you are going to ask people to leave and then scare them into not leaving reviews then other people aren't going to find out about the situations they're facing.

My thoughts on this were that at least I have a voice, I don't really need the Airbnb review system because up to 20,000 a month read my blog and they also know that I have a reputation in the world of travel, I travel a lot, I travel alone, I travel with my daughters and I travel with my dog, a dog which is loved and embraced the world over, we are responsible lovely travellers, we like to do good deeds and kind gestures, for the most part we'd never speak ill of anyone but this was the straw which figuratively broke the camels back.  I won't get back that week with my daughter, that holiday which I scraped together enough to pay for it because together time is so precious, I'm only glad that our first week in Edinburgh was so amazing, we were so sad to leave because of the wonderful adventures we'd had and the quite brilliant people we'd met.  The dog friendliness of Edinburgh stands out in Scotland because as a whole Scotland isn't all that dog friendly, it's child friendly but not if you have a dog and it's raining, the licensing laws prohibit children in lots of places that serve alcohol but welcome dogs so you have a strange thing where potentially you could take your dog for a warm sit down but your child would have to be the one tied to a lampost outside, you wouldn't do that would you?  No you wouldn't and that's the same reason I'll never leave Holly tied to a lampost outside a pub/cafe/restaurant.

So, will I travel using Airbnb again?  I've thought about this over and over since I got back on Tuesday night and the answer is that whilst I'll use the service again I'll also make sure that I only ever book somewhere where I get the whole property, I won't ever take a room in someones house again, there's just too much risk of crazy, particularly since I like the quirkier experiences and staying somewhere different.  I will search for commercial based alternatives, after all Airbnb isn't any cheaper than the professional lets out there, it's just that it's handled differently, certainly in this country anyway, it may be different in the rest of the world.

So sorry for the long essay of a post but I felt the world needed to know just what we'd had to deal with, as I said, that's not even half of it...



Share:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Catching Up and Working Hard with the CAT Active Urban iPhone Case

This summer has been such an adventure for me, we've been on holiday in Edinburgh and I've been all around the region meeting families and catching up with clients new and old, I can't think of a summer I've ever worked more than this one and it's a lovely feeling, I am so happy in my work at the moment, I seem to be pushing my own boundaries and I'm delighted with the work I'm producing for my clients. 


Summer has never been busier and I am the first to admit that I would be lost without my trusty iPhone which I always have with me and which I am endlessly dropping and scratching and smashing the screen with my wibbly wobbly klutzy fingers so when the lovely people at CAT offered to send me one of their new Urban Active iPhone covers I practically snatched their hands off, yes there were concerns about how manly I would now look but when the package arrived and I popped the cover on my iPhone 6 I was so impressed.






Insert moment of implied peril as they say in the cinema ;) apparently if you drop this case from 6 foot your phone will be fine, it's got reinforced steel in the sides, you don't get that with your average phone case, the other thing I have noticed since using it for the last couple of weeks is that it gives me a grip on my phone, those new pesky iPhone 6's are slippy and this of course leads me to drop them but not this, I can honestly say I haven't had one fall or tumble and I have been the length and breadth of the north east in this last couple of weeks, I have shot portraits up at Druridge Bay, down at Durham Cathedral, from retired couples to 9 day old newborns I am fairly certain I have given this phone cover a run for it's money and it's passed the test, so much so that I am a convert and will be using this exclusively even though I'm usually known for a more floral case, maybe CAT could consider something floral in their future?

Anyway, enough talking about the portraits (and a wedding) shall I share some photos with you?
























So if you would like to book your family or newborn or kids photo shoot with me I can tell you that it's super busy, for weekends my next availability is Sunday 30th August and for weekdays it's Wednesday 19th of August so needless to say I'm not only booking for August but I already have a busy schedule for September weekends and also October is not only open for booking but some people already have their weekends booked, if you would like to know more about photo shoot prices with Mandy Charlton Photography and if you would like to book you can do so by email, facebook or my website.

Tomorrow I am off on a train early in the morning back to Edinburgh to photograph some lovely Edinburgh clients, if you live in Edinburgh or close by and want portraits I am up there around once a month so get in touch and I can put you into my shooting schedule!




Share:
© Mandy Charlton - Photographer,Writer,Blogger | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig