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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I finally learnt how to be single...






It finally happened, the summer holidays have hit and as happens every year the reader numbers drop, it's not that I write for anyone else but me really and I very much understand, after all, this week I haven't exactly been the most consistent in my blogging because very much like many if not all of you I am also here, there and proverbially everywhere at the moment.  The pace of life hasn't so much slowed down as it's massively taken off. 

I'm sitting here writing this from bed this morning, I have 2 pre-wedding shoots with meetings to go to this morning and should be home by lunch time, both meetings are in different coffee shops, I guess that means that technically I could do double cake, oh if only my waistline wasn't already asking me what the hell I've been doing for the last week.  Yes, my healthy lifestyle seems to have already left for it's summer break although I did do 15k yesterday as well as walking up many hills at the Northumberland national park with my girls.

I feel like I should do a roundup post of what we've been up to each week, each place and event of course deserves it's own post but at the same time as being out and shooting a lot is happening, the admin and the editing, well who has enough hours in the day at the moment, I'm squeezing it in at every spare moment but thankfully I have amazing patient clients who know that their images are worth waiting for.  What I could do with is some little power mice to come and do it all for me.  I'm sure every working parent feels the same right now and we're only a week in!!  I'm going to Perth on Monday for a couple of nights with Looby, it's her favourite place, mostly due to the trampolines in the park.  There's actually not very much at all to do in Perth so I'm imagining a pretty restful couple of days and maybe switching off for 48 hours, I have the biggest pile of books next to my bed that really deserve to be read and I don't think it's going to happen when I go to Stratford Upon Avon with Abigail, she tells me there are 3 museums dedicated to William Shakespeare and she wants to go to them all, I did ask if all of the foodie places might be Shakespeare themed too, like "Much Ado About Muffins" and "A Midsummer Nights Bean Burger!"

Something extraordinary has happened of late, I think I'm actually starting to become more relaxed and laid back again, I keep bursting into hilarious laughter, my girls seem to have become a hilarious double act and they literally crack me up, Looby seems to have learned sarcasm and she's just the funniest 12 year old on the planet whilst Abigail has a very mature and cutting sense of humour, it seems I have taught them well and this week I have laughed so much I gave myself an asthma attack and I've laughed more than I've laughed in years, in fact it's happened so frequently that they keep asking me if I've remembered to take my medication.  That's got to be a good thing!

Harriet, Li and I watched "How To Be Single" again last night, I think we appreciate it because we're all exactly that and none of us mind one bit really, it's pretty awesome being single when your friendship group is all in the same position, it's fun to be single in your 30's and 40's, I never really appreciated that until lately, I think I might have learnt how to be single over the last few months and for the first time in my life I'm truly embracing it, I have no wish to be with anyone other than enjoying fun and laughter with my friends and my children, all of whom get along famously, I have the best life now and I am not giving that up for anyone!
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Friday, July 29, 2016

How To Help A Friend With Anxiety

Mandy Charlton, travel blogger, yorkshire, roseberry topping

I have anxiety, overwhelming, life interfering, pain in the ass anxiety, I've had it for as long as I can remember and every day I actively fight against it.  The only time I don't have anxiety is when I am working, once I am behind the camera I am in control and my body knows this, I guess after 10 years you could say it's a blessing and maybe that's why I work so often because when I pick up my camera my brain is instantly programmed to know that I am in charge and it better not mess with me!

I wonder then if there's some way of transferring this to my normal every day life, I'd like to share with you some of the things that make me anxious.

1. Being on time
2. Being late
3. Going out with friends
4. Staying home alone
5. Going to events
6. Not being able to attend events
7. Not blogging often enough
8. My children (this in itself has about a million different anxieties)
9. Spiders

Now this is just a top level list, on any day I may have all of these anxieties and yet still find even more things to worry about, strangely my dog has more anxieties than I do, I think we were made for each other.

This blog post isn't about pity or sympathy though as I thought I would try and help people, you see I live a life where I function in the real world, and not only that I run businesses, I write, I travel, I have the best friends, I'm a great mum and I think it's because I live life on my own terms and I'm surrounded by people who never judge me and always encourage me, I have friends with whom I can share my anxieties no matter how crazy they might seem in the outside world.

If you have a friend who has anxiety then I want to tell you this, in the past there were people who would tell me "come on, snap out of it, you are fine, pull yourself together, are you not ok yet?"  This my dear readers is the 110% wrong way to treat someone who is having an anxiety attack and most probably you will find that they will end up having a meltdown, panic attack or they will simply hyperventilate and perhaps pass out!

If someone you know is anxious then you must embrace them and love them, you can reassure them that they are going to be alright and then maybe ask them how can we make this better, what can we do together to help this awful feeling go away, do you need me to maybe just be there?  Can we both be in a cocoon together?  Sometimes a hug will make things go away, sometimes you don't want to be hugged, sometimes you'll want to all be together sitting on your bed (I had a sitting on my bed hour with Li and Harriet today, we're all grown up's and we sat on my bed together, it was an entirely epic hour) and sometimes you will just want to be alone, respect your friend and help them in whatever way they can and understand that this anxiety will fade and your friend will be fine, it's all you can do really.

It's so hard to understand the anxious mind, and believe me, I haven't figured it out yet but to me it feels like 100 pointy things all stabbing you in the head at the same time and by pointy things, I mean hard emotions like being worried or scared, it's an overstimulation of your negative neurons and synapses, too many thought processes and questions and not nearly enough answers.

Anxiety is a debilitating condition but with a little self care and a lot of love and friendship you can still truly do anything, I still have anxious moments when I travel but would I ever let it stop me from exploring the world?  Hell, No!  And you shouldn't let it stop you doing anything you want to either, every time we do things in spite of anxiety we kick it in the head and make it powerless, so come on, lets just go for it, lets support each other and show anxiety that it can't rule us because we're the ones in charge now!



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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The summer of friendship and extraordinary experiences...

I'm sitting writing from a lodge located in the most beautiful nature reserve just a stones throw away from the Humber bridge, it's been the most incredible day, I've laughed until my tummy hurt, I've seen sharks and I've cuddled sheep, I've met an adorable Dalmatian called Ozzy and I've snuggled with a guinea pig.  Truly today has been a day the soul requires to keep you sane.  We've been to The Deep in Hull, Bridlington for ice-creams, lunch and amusements and finally we arrived at our lodge in the late afternoon.


travel, airbnb, marshlands nature retreat


The summer of friendship and extraordinary experiences is something I've been waiting for my whole life, I embrace each moment of my singleton status and although I am sure that one day I will want to settle down, for now I feel younger and more free than I have ever felt before.

travel, airbnb, mandy charlton


Airbnb really is about finding the most incredible spaces and places and that's what we have found here, I'm going to write a full article and review when I have the time to get all of the images from my camera but I recommend to anyone who wants to come and cuddle a tame sheep you should come stay in the Lakeside Nature Retreat in Barton-upon-Humber, it's around £60 a night but if you sign up with that link (the one that says airbnb) you'll get £20 off your first trip which is what Harriet did and so we paid £20 each for me, my girls and her, that is a bit of a bargain when you think of your average BnB, we all have our own bedrooms, and I don't think we would run out of things to do if we stayed for a week because although it really is a tranquil getaway it's also near to so many places like Hull, Lincoln, Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough and that's where we are heading tomorrow, back to Scarborough, back to the sea life centre, Harriet and Abigail haven't been there yet and like Looby and I, we're all ambassadors for this year.  Hoping to see the otters this time, in fact I'll just sit and stay there until it's feeding time I think.
travel, mandy charlton, airbnb, blogger


I've spent many years travelling both on my own and with my girls and when I was married we travelled as a family, that was often tinged with anger and moods (not my own, I hasten to add) but the brilliant thing now is that when you have a break with a friend every moment is filled with joy and often hilarious laughter, one day I'm sure I'll find someone to have a relationship with like that.
pokemon hunting, bridlington, pokemon go

Tonight I sat outside as the light faded, I listened to the geese and the ducks as they quietened for the night, all in the world seemed calm, serene, a stillness I'd not felt for such a long time, whilst I'll always be anxious, it's just who I am (only my dog has more anxieties than me) I've never felt quite so calm and relaxed as I have these past few months and I think that's amazing, to feel your shoulders drop and your neck not always be sore and stiff from the constant tension in your body as you await the next upheaval or upset, well that is something that money definitely can't buy.

pokemon go, bridlington, yorkshire

bridlington, beach, yorkshire, travel

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Monday, July 25, 2016

A dog friendly stay at the King's Head Inn, Yorkshire





Holly Bobbins, now a dog friendly four pawed travel expert, the canine equivalent to Alex Polizzi, was invited to stay at the dog friendly King's Head Inn, Newton Under Roseberry in Yorkshire, the sister Inn to the Kings Lodge Inn, Durham where Holly and I have given our dog friendly stamp to!

Now I think somewhat Holly and I might have been spoiled by the amazing experience we had when we ate there last month as I would say that although the food at the King's Head Inn was delicious, hearty and the portions large it wasn't quite as good as the King's Lodge Inn.  









Our room at the Kings Head Inn was functional, quite small for two grown ladies and a dog, very hot with a lack of air conditioning but again, it was good but just not as good as other places I've stayed with Holly, the desk for instance was scratched and stained, the beds were hard and the pillows even harder.  There were no little touches like stationary or toiletries just a functional pump dispenser on the wall.  It's just the little things for me that make a hotel stay stand out, those little extras really can turn a stay into a magical experience.



I think though that the staff were so lovely and I don't want you to think that this was an unpleasant experience because really it was lovely, it's always lovely to be able to go somewhere your dog is openly embraced and I loved that there was a big jar of dog biscuits on the bar and masses of water bowls around the inn, the seating in the bar is brand new and dogs are allowed anywhere there's no carpet which is fair enough, the outdoors and courtyard were pretty in the sunshine and the real joy of this inn is that it's location is right in front Roseberry Topping and so what else was there to do on a whim after a 3 course meal than decide to climb it...









When you look at Roseberry Topping from afar it does seem a little intimidating, when you get up close I think it's even more intimidating and when I say that it's not an easy climb it's a total understatement although Harriet and I did bump into a man who was making his 3rd descent of the week, 3 times a week, why on earth would you want to climb it 3 times a week, I can honestly say here and now that it's a magnificent hill and the views are superb, there's also a Pokestop on the top but having climbed it once I can safely say that I don't think I'll ever feel the need to climb it again for when I stumbled upon to the precipice I thought I was surely to die, my heart racing at 161bpm, my body shedding all of it's inner fluids upon my brow and chest, sweating buckets is an understatement, thank goodness then for the endorphins you feel as you realise you've climbed higher than ever before, that drug that keeps us running, climbing, a natural painkiller, the reassurance that this time I was not to die just yet.

I would return to the Kings Head Inn again, my dog and I like to be in the countryside so why wouldn't I go somewhere that would welcome us with open arms, the rooms seemed to be around £100 per night including breakfast which isn't too bad and I assume it gets very busy with walkers and climbers who bring their four pawed companions, what I'd like to see though are just those few extra touches which can make a night in the countryside feel like a magical experience in the countryside.
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Clarty Hen Launch Party, Bells of Hemscott, Northumberland

The Clarty Hen is a new collaboration between Clarty Events and my favourite Bells of Hemscott so when an invitation to the launch at Calico Barn, Bells of Hemscott, in Northumberland came my way mentioning the words, cake, party and Alpacas I thought it would be a splendid way to spend a day and I took Stacey and Harriet along for good measure.



Calico Barn is the newest addition to the thriving Northumbrian business Bells of Hemscott, where as the bell tents are still available to hire for the summer season, Calico Barn, a swish bunk barn will operate all year round with the Clarty Hen stepping in for hen weekends, it's a move in a different direction and as the wedding market in Northumbria continues to grow and thrive I think it's a valuable addition, something different to do.  I've noticed a trend over the past few years of hens wanting to do something a little different from the old style going out, getting dressed up and often falling down because of tipsy shenanigans.  The Clarty Hen is a much more exciting prospect.











The Clarty Hen is a weekend spent in a luxurious bunk barn,  for just £175 per person (minimum 12) it includes a continental breakfast each day, a lunch on the Saturday, an activity pack  for the Friday nigt and 4 organised activities on the Saturday, Clarty activities ranges from team games like Sheep herding (don't you think that Harriet and Stacey make a good sheep and sheepdog?  I have blindfold anxiety so I was the shepherd herding the blind sheep to safety with the help of a blind sheepdog) to clarty arty, a crafts based activity or if neither of those are your thing then why not add on an alpaca walk, I'd like to just say at this point that I've seen alpacas at farms but until last week I'd never cuddled one and now I have and I can tell you it's the most special experience, they are like a cross between a 3 year old child and a huge teddy bear, they are adorable and gentle and time spent trekking with them is a magical money can't buy type experience, Alpaca walking is available at £20 per person for an hour and you don't even have to be a Clarty Hen, the bunk barn is also available for events,  families and individuals throughout the year and I'm going back during summer so I can give you a full low down on the experience of sleeping in a bunk barn, something I've never done but now I've seen the luxury I really want to try it.






Such attention and care has gone into the decoration of the bunk barn, pretty patchworks hang from all of the walls, a tribute to Alisons mum who made them all over the years when it was her barn, Alison wanted to create something really special in memory of mum and I think she's achieved much more than that, I'm not quite sure what I expected to find in an old barn at Druridge Bay but it certainly wasn't the luxury we experienced last week.  Cosy sofas, usb charging points and wifi, this isn't camping as you used to know it but then that's the Bells of Hemscott for you, it's not camping, it's comfortable camping and all in the surroundings of a working farm, new arrivals in the form of piglets have arrived since my last visit with their little muddy paws and noisy oinks, to spend an hour on that farm you feel like you have left your cares and woes behind you, to spend a weekend in the company of your best friends with laughs and drinks and cakes and activities, well that's got to make for the most memorable hen weekend ever.  I can't wait to go back myself with my daughters and Harriet so we can enjoy the quiet beauty of Northumberland, the lapping of the nearby seas and golden sands that stretch as far as the eye can see, on a warm July afternoon you could be anywhere in the world it's so inspiringly beautiful and oh, oh, oh those huggable, loveable alpacas who stole my heart and calmed my mind, the Bells of Hemscott is truly an escape from the stress of reality.













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