Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lola Jeans Summer Menu Preview, Newcastle upon Tyne




I adore Lola Jeans, both the original in Tynemouth and little sister on Market Street in Newcastle are dog friendly, have a great relaxed vibe, stylish decor and food that tantalises the tastebuds with each exciting mouthful.



Last night I excitedly went along to an exclusive evening to sample their brand new summer menu which launches on Tuesday 3rd May at the Market Street bar and on the 10th of May at the original Tynemouth bar.  I wasn't sure what to expect and hoped they weren't changing things around too much as I love the food so much but I couldn't have been happier, they've not only enhanced the range with some sparkling new choices but some of the firmer favourites still remain.

We started the evening with a welcome cocktail, a Lady Eleanor non the less, they actually go to the trouble of juicing pink lady apples which is then combined with Prosecco, I can see my girlfriends and I happily sipping away on one too many of those on a sunny afternoon and that's what the whole summer menu is really about, even if it's raining (or snowing, heaven forbid but it's possible given the current weather conditions) the menu is so sunshiny, fresh and vibrant that you won't even notice the abhorrent weather outside of the windows!

I won't talk you through every single dish as I know you come here for the photos so I will share with you my highlights and then we'll get straight onto the sumptuous images of the most delicious food I've had for ages.



I think my favourite savoury morsel I stuffed into my greedy little mouth last night was the Chicken Parmigiana sandwich, yes you did hear that right, a Panko and Parmesan breaded chicken breast topped with home made Napoli sauce, crispy rocket and mozzarella all served up in a brioche bun, it's like heaven for your tastebuds, it's sparkly and zingy and every bite makes you feel like you are sitting in Napoli itself.




I won't talk too much about the tribute to Monsters Inc in a burger because I don't want to spoil the surprise but if you are manly and you like a big high stacked rich burger with steak then you want to make sure you order the James P Sullivan, this is definitely one for those who have a man sized appetite!

There was only one sweet treat on the menu last night but it did not fail to disappoint, the gooiest chocolate fudge sauce all enrobed in filo pastry and served up as a chocolate fudge spring roll, oh my goodness, I had 2 of these because I am not ashamed to say that I adore puddings and in fact I hadn't eaten all day in preparation, nothing quite prepares you for the scrumptious delight that is a chocolate fudge spring roll.


and with that I'll just tempt you a little more with my favourite images from last night 




Best friend Harriet was of course ready for the challenge of another night accompanying me to an event but she's definitely got the blogging bug and her Twitter account which concentrates on the delights and wonders of Heaton so go check her out!



Now then, the food I tasted last night was divine but if I'm honest I to eat clean as much as I possibly can and that's not easy when you're eating out with friends so imagine my delight when I received a copy of the new Lola Jeans clean eating menu which launches on the same dates at the summer menu, I just can't wait to try the superfood salad, the clean and mean bun-less burger and Lolas steak and eggs, they've even introduced a brand new baked sweet potato.

I can see Holly Bobbins and I will be frequenting Lola Jeans a whole lot more often when we're going to the beach at Tynemouth or maybe I'll just drag her for an urban walk and call in at the Market Street bar instead.





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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spring Photo Shoots in North East England with Mandy Charlton Photography

It's spring now you know, it really is, even if you can't see it out of your windows, feel it in the air or you keep thinking it's Christmas because it's started to snow again (it never snows at Christmas when you want it though does it?) it really is actually spring and I know it in my heart that the weather is going to break soon and we'll be blanketed in wall to wall sunshine, May is always the loveliest weather month and there's really no better time to embrace the spring flowers, the blanket of wild garlic in Jesmond Dene or Armstrong Park or the Rhododendrons and Azaleas in bloom in most of the wooded areas around our region.  Or maybe your garden has just sprung back to life and you want to have photos at home to celebrate that, whatever the reason it's simply a wonderful time to get outdoors with your families and have some updated photographs.








Did you know that for the month of May the £30 mini session is back?  A simple 30 minute session outdoors at Jesmond Dene, Heaton Park, Armstrong Park, Leazes Park, Saltwell Park or Tynemouth and you'll get a complimentary 7x5 print upon placing an order from your online gallery which you'll have access to for a whole month.  I'll even give you 15% off all of the prices for the first week your gallery is live.







Winter has seemed the longest this year not only from a personal perspective but also a business perspective so I'm so thankful that I have at least met lots of lovely babies at home and if you're just about to have a new lovely addition to your family you might want to enquire about a newborn lifestyle at home, suitable for all babies under 6 months and usually shot on the family bed, it's different, it's relaxed and it'll give you images you'll cherish forever.  It's only £75 for the session and you'll get a 12x8 print and online gallery/discount as above.








Of course you may be one of those super lovely clients who wants all of the images and you want to have your photo shoot at a location of your choice, my all inclusive sessions are available for only £250 (Just a £75 retainer to book) and they're a little longer than the regular ones, they're great for family gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries or just because.

I love doing what I do, I think that shows in the images, in a saturated market place I think my images really do stand out from the other stuff out there and whilst business becomes more of a challenge I'm always going to keep on fighting and while there are babies to photograph and families to capture I'll keep on going.

To book your session email mandy@mandycharltonphotography.com today

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Monday, April 25, 2016

How to edit your photographs with Instagram






I've been wanting to talk about this for ages but 2 things have finally inspired me to sit down and write it, firstly I went to give a talk to the Jesmond WI last Monday about photography and Instagram and the ladies were so lovely and very receptive and I feel I gave them something solid they could go away and experiment with as well as telling them some stories of my life and travels including the infamous story of Wakefield, if you've not heard about how I accidentally ended up in a hotel which was being used as a brothel do ask me about it the next time you see me!  Secondly I read Lucy's post about Instagram this morning, I love her blog and her Instagram, I find her inspiring, her style of photography is so different to mine and I am overawed by the way that she sees life through her lens.

I see the world in photographs, something has happened to my brain I think because it wasn't always the way, I see every light change as an opportunity, just ask my friends, no one gets quite so excited about changes in the light as I do, I walk around constantly stupefied by the beauty I find which surrounds me everywhere I go, no matter how many times I take the same dog walk I can always find something different and beautiful to photograph.

I use three cameras for the photography you'll find on my Instagram, A Canon DSLR, a Fuji CSC and my iPhone6s and often no one can tell the difference which is quite interesting but it's maybe because for the most part I am sharing travel photos and panoramas or Holly out on a walk in her surroundings.  Mostly if I want to share a portrait it will be something I've captured with my DSLR because I'll need to use that depth of field, something an iPhone really can't capture due to the teeny weeny sensor, on the whole though it does a pretty good job.

For editing big projects, weddings and portraits it's all DSLR and it's all edited in Photoshop and Lightroom but sometimes if I'm travelling I have no issues with using the wifi on my camera, and then doing a simple edit in Instagram, after all, my images pretty much look as they should when they come out of my camera after 10 years, I'm also not that good at Photoshop, haha!

So, I want to give you an example of an image which was taken with my iPhone6s in low light and then I'll show you what you can do with Instagram, it's all sliders so it's so easy to use and you can make beautiful images using just an iPhone and Instagram, I think especially with the 6 and 6S models as with each new iPhone the camera has just got better and better.


It astounds me, firstly that the recent models of iPhone really are as good as they are at low light photography, it has definitely not always been that way!  Instagram though, not using any filters just knowing what to do to manipulate an image so that you can bring the most out in it, usually to get a shot in the city in the evening you would have had to go along with your big DSLR, set up your tripod and then edit in Photoshop or Lightroom or both but now you can take it and share it within minutes something which has proved to be invaluable if you are taking travel photos on assignment, people love to be immersed in the places you share because they want to feel like they're there with you.

So here's the down low on Instagram editing and I hope that you can use the tips here to take better instant photographs on the go.


Of course there's still the old adage, you can't make a bad photograph look good with excessive editing so try to take something which looks not unpleasant before you pop it into Instagram.

There are other simple editing apps but I wanted to go with the most popular and easily accessible, it's also super simple because it's a combination of sliders, just remember to try and achieve these effects on your own, don't be temped to use filters if you can because ultimately you will be able to define your own style on Instagram.  I was delighted to discover that I now have over 4000 people happily following and commenting on my Instagram, it's been a pretty fast growth once I finally had it all figured out but I adore Instagram because I love sharing images of beautiful places and people and things and making other people happy when they see them and really that's what it's all about for me, creating images which make people smile, which make me smile, which add some quality to life and future history and memories.

Now go on, get out there, take photos, edit sympathetically and then share with me what you've been up to.







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Friday, April 22, 2016

Great Brazilian Food in Newcastle? - Cabana Brasilian Barbeque

I love a good BBQ, so does Looby and Iain, so much so that this year we bought a fire pit and if there's even a hint of a vaguely sunny day we get out there and we start a barbeque, sometimes though Newcastle upon Tyne doesn't exactly have a sunny climate all year round and so I was thrilled to read about Cabana Brasilian Barbeque coming to Newcastle and even more thrilled when I got the invitation to the launch night!

When I arrived with one of my very best friends Harriet I was actually surprised just how busy it was at 6 in the evening, the music was playing, the place was packed and there was a fabulous Brazilian buzz all around.

I wanted to take more photographs of the decor, the ambience but it was just so very busy that I soon went and pinned myself to the nearest seat and barely moved all evening.  That's not to say everyone was the same, once the dancing girls arrived (erm, I want a body like that when I grow up) the party atmosphere had people twirling and dancing and being happy, and when you add to that Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil, well now you are talking, I adore tequila so this is a restaurant I can get on board with!




The food is mainly skewer based and that suits me just fine, it means that even on the rainiest of days you can go out for lunch (they do a special at lunchtime which is super reasonable) and feel a little bit of Brazilian sunshine in your soul.

Cabana is the second restaurant to arrive in the newly redeveloped sparkly old co-op buildings on Newgate Street, everything old is new again and both Cabana and Turtle Bay, the Caribbean food based restaurant have been great additions to that part of the city.  It's such an exciting time in Newcastle if you are a foodie and the great thing about these new restaurants which are springing up all around us is that they're new, they're different and I think they're all going to thrive, we Geordies love good food, a good night out, a great cocktail and a bit of a party experience.

I actually didn't take many photographs of the food because they were bringing them around on platters rather than leaving some on each table but I can totally recommend the BBQ Chicken, the dough balls and the raindrop doughnuts with Nutella in the middle.

When I decided to walk home at nine the night was still pretty young but after a few of the aforementioned Caipirinhas I thought it was better to leave early and not have a hangover the following morning.

Cabana also offer a kids menu and that's bound to be a hit, the next time I go I am definitely taking Looby, I think she'll love it, it's just so bright and happy, it's the perfect place for she and I, it's just a shame you can't take your dog!









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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How to get a better nights sleep, the Resmed S+






Holly Bobbins has lots of talents and one of them is the ability to sleep wherever she is, sometimes she even likes to be tucked in like a todder (see first photo) but I have the worst sleeping patterns, last night for instance I woke up 14 times according to my Resmed S+ sleep monitor, just to put some perspective onto that, I think my score last night was 68/100 erm, not so good!

Why am I telling you this, I hear you asking, well before Looby went to hospital, when it was still winter a collaboration happened with the lovely people who make the S+, they were about to launch and offered to send me a sleep monitor to see if it could help me get a better nights sleep.

So fast forward to coming home and sleeping in hospital had been so bad that it had reset my sleep patterns and I found I was suddenly able to get 11 hours of unbroken sleep, now I obviously wouldn't recommend this as a course of making you get a better nights sleep and it didn't last unfortunately as you can probably guess from the first lines I wrote.



So, let me tell you about what's going on with my Sleep+, it's a nifty little box which sits beside your bed and all you need to do is take it out of the box, plug it in, make sure it's aligned with your chest when you lay in bed and then connect the app on your smartphone.  It took me about 5 minutes to set the whole thing up.

 

Once you have it set up and you've answered some questions about where you sleep, your age, health etc you press the button to start sleep and every day you're asked how much alcohol you've had, how much caffeine you've had an how much exercise you've done that day as well as how stressed you were that day, for me it's always 3-4 cups of coffee, mostly 20-30 mins of exercise, mostly no alcohol and very nearly always slightly stressed as I have anxiety!

Once that's all done you can choose if you would like a helpful sound to get you to sleep and do you need a smart alarm, I like waking up to the sounds of the birds in the forest every day, it wakes me up in a half hour window when it thinks it's best, I have to say I usually get annoyed with it if it's even a minute before the time I wanted my alarm to go off but that's just me, haha!

In the morning when you end your sleep, the fun begins, you get all manner of information in the form of pie charts about how you slept, you get an over all sleep score which is scored out of 100 and then the sleep mentor gives you tips about what you could do so that you get a better nights sleep.


Now a couple of weeks after I received my S+ they offered to send me another for Iain, Iain has a melatonin imbalance which is quite common in people with Aspergers, his sleep scores range from 50-70 and this week he's started to take the actions that the sleep mentor suggests (much to my actual shock, it's not easy to get teenagers to do anything you ask).  We're now wrangling over who takes Holly Bobbins for walkies as the S+ keeps suggesting that he gets some exercise, this of course doesn't help me in my quest to do 10k a day!!


I think the S+ is a great machine and I still feel I haven't had enough time to tell you if it's going to work or not, I do follow the suggestions every night but I think these things take time and what I'd love to do is write another article 6 months from now so I can really tell you about the changes in our lives it's helped us to make.  Iain has never slept well or had what you would call normal sleeping patterns so if it manages to help him do that then we really could put it in the "life changing" box.

I know there are other sleep monitors but this one is unique because you don't have to stay attached to it, I have an Apple watch for example but I can't wear that at night because I need to charge it every night.  I would say that you have to keep your phone beside your bed plugged in but I always charge it overnight anyway.

I want to also thank the S+ for helping me actually have chats with my teenager, every day when he wakes up we now swap tales of our nights sleep, what our scores were and what suggestions we had for the day and I can tell you, anything which provides a reason for a teenager to talk to his mother is not a bad thing at all ;)

The Resmed S+ is available here and costs £129.99, I was sent two of these monitors in exchange for writing a review but as always these are my very own thoughts and opinions.
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Best cocktails in Newcastle? Head to the Science Bar


There are so many places serving cocktails in Newcastle now that it's hard to know where the best places are, well if you want something completely different and a little bit science themed or even science fiction themed, you need to head down to the Science Bar which is just next to central station in Newcastle upon Tyne.

I went along to sample a preview of their new cocktail menu which launches this Thursday, yes that's right, only 2 more days to go and then you too can get down there and sample the wonders of the Einstein or the Asimov.

The Science bar is just a little bit geeky and you know what, I love that, in a world where all cocktail bars look exactly the same I love the fact that there's really nowhere else quite like it.

I can quite imagine hanging out with friends on an impromptu Sunday evening night out and whiling away a couple of hours chatting about life over the coolest cocktails in Newcastle.




I love science and science fiction, I would say I love it but i'm not a geek if that makes sense, well maybe I'm a little bit geeky, I'm certainly a Whovian, I adore Doctor Who, I love sci-fi movies and watch lots of sci fi on tv, oh wait, maybe I am a geek after all?!

One lady who certainly knows her science fiction from a science fact is one of my very best friends Harriet and she came along as my last minute plus one and watched closely judging whether the science facts about each drink were truth or just a little made up.  I'm pleased to report that mostly of their science fact is actually well researched and if they have been just a little creative it's all in a good cause.

I'm going to leave you now with some photos of cocktails, the green one with the lime in had tequila in it and that was the only one I managed to bag all to myself, I'm a huge fan of tequila as anyone who knows me well will know.  I only ever get accidentally drunk these days as I am way too old for hangovers but if it does happen you can guarantee there was tequila involved (Holly Ball at As You Like It, I am looking at you!)

I always think that cocktails are an art form, well when you decide to mix that with science and chemistry it's another thing completely, these drinks take months and months or research (and hangovers no doubt) to get just right so the least we mere mortals can do is get down to the Science Bar from this Thursday and check them out!!


















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