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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Part Time Digital Nomad



the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger

It's half five in the afternoon, it's 23c and the hazy sunshine feels warm on my face.  I'm sitting on our sunny balcony at the Isla Del Sol apartments in C'an Pastilla which is around 7.6k from Palma de Mallorca.
the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger



Life, you could say, is very good, today we've walked just under 6 miles which is far from what we did yesterday, by the time we came back to our apartment we'd walked over 31,000 steps or 12.6 miles.  I'm not sure who decided after walking to Palma and all around the city that we should walk home again when we could have gotten a bus for 1.5 euros, oh hang on, that would have been Abigail, a teenager not known for wanting to go on big walks, it's true she did complain a little but to be fair, 12.6 miles is a long blooming way!
the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger


My plan to be a digital nomad during the week and just be at homes at weekends, at least on school holidays, seems to be working, I can achieve most things from just about anywhere in the world and to me a Monday to Friday in the sunshine is just enough vitamin D to keep me going.
the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger

the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger




C'an Pastilla is a small resort which connects to S'Arenal, I would, however, say that whilst C'an Pastilla is lovely we hopped aboard the road train today and got off in S'Arenal to walk back and that's not the nicest place, there are approximately 2 "looky looky" men to every tourist and we even passed a Cavernous pub with dancing ladies on the tables, really not my kind of place.  C'an Pastilla though is quieter and Abigail and I are happy here.

Mallorca was really made for walkers and the coastal walkways are quite breathtaking as you amble along them towards the capital, small resorts along the way break up the journey with occasional beach bars and ice-cream shops tending to the needs of tourists who have become too hot, much like Abigail and I yesterday really, I think it was a pleasant walk in 22c sunshine but I can't imagine it's something I would have attempted in July or August when the temperature soars.

We only arrived on Monday afternoon and yet our trip has had so many highlights, Palma de Mallorca cathedral with it's interior designed by Antoni Gaudi who spent 14 years living in Palma whilst he finished the design and building, a glorious work of art and design, if you have already seen some of his work in Barcelona then you really must plan a visit across to Mallorca to visit the Cathedral.
the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger

the part time digital nomad, palma de mallorca, spain, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, travel, european travel, travel blogger


Today our highlight was visiting one of the biggest aquariums in the whole of Europe, the Palma aquarium certainly didn't disappoint and do pay the €25 per adult to get in because it's absolutely worth it.  We paid an extra €7.50 each to go on a glass bottom boat across the shark tank, yes the cavernous tank which holds millions of litres of water and 5 huge sharks has a boat which goes across it!  To be near such beautiful yet dangerous creatures was surely a thrill, don't worry if you don't fancy it though, the floor to ceiling tanks the height of several double deckers give you a serious thrill as one of the sharks goes past, especially if it's the one that is nearly 3 metres long.

My only gripe on this tour has been my awful prolapsed disk, every day I've woken with migraines and I've now given up on carrying a bag completely, luckily my lovely daughter doesn't mind shoving my camera and purse in hers, she really is a gem and despite wanting to stop and eat every fifty paces she's a real pleasure to spend time with.  We have talked about so many different things and there's been a hefty amount of her laughing at me but that's normal and I'd be disappointed if she didn't!!

At the end of May, I'm going to take Looby away, it'll be another last minute bargain and I don't really care where it is, as long as there's sunshine and I can do a couple of smart work hours a day then I'm a very happy digital nomad!







Share:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Whatever Happened To Martyn?

People often ask me this very question, like it's some great unanswered hanging speech bubble and some things have happened lately that I wanted to talk about so, armed with a keyboard and some coffee it seems as good a time as any.

I love Martyn, not in that way before you all get overexcited, I love him because he's my friend and I love all of my friends, he's witty and clever, we both like superheroes, musicals and cake and on many subjects we have the same kind of viewpoints. In some ways, we are so completely different though but that's what makes a good friendship!

Martyn recently fell in love with his own beautiful princess and you know what, that's what you want for your friends, you want them to be happy, in love and live happily ever after.  I know, you're wondering why I'm telling you this, it's my blog where I write about my stuff but hang on in there because this is where it gets interesting.

Sometimes for whatever reason, love, relationships, they don't work out and watching your friends go through heartbreak is hard, even harder when they live so far away and you can't just pop in.  

So now I want to tell you some of the things my friend is not - 

He is not a threat to women, 
He is not a sexual predator,

You see it's bad enough that he had his heart broken but then this princess turned out to be more like Maleficent than Sleeping Beauty, she started stalking him, calling him repeatedly and when he refused to give her the attention she invented the most incredulous lies, lies that threatened to actually not only ruin the life of a good man but lies which also severely threatened his mental health. 

That's not even the worst part, the worst part came after the radical feminists got involved!

I want to state for the record that I identify as a feminist, an egalitarian feminist, my ancestors were actually suffragettes so we're all strong independent women who believe in equality for women, what we are not (unlike radical feminists) are Misandrists!  Recently it's come to light that some kind of underground network is currently gunning for Martyn and any men who stick up for him, women who stick up for him are blocked, they choose not to listen to what the female friends and social media followers think because to them, that means that my friend has brainwashed them.

Now, I've spent time with Martyn in real life, I never once felt threatened, he's certainly never brainwashed me, it didn't work out because we're far better friends than anything else (and why ruin a great friendship?) he didn't try to silence me, he certainly was not a sexual predator (I'm a big girl, thanks very much) and our friendship only continues to thrive and flourish.  Surely if he was this evil villain that he's purported to be I would know about it?   I don't suffer fools and I'm only friends with a select bunch of utterly fabulous people I adore so if I'd even had one hint that he had some kind of sinister side I would have ran a mile!

How is it that we live in a society where a woman makes up horrible lies about a man we believe them and yet if it were the other way around there is a witch hunt?  I'm ashamed to say it for my own womenkind but sometimes women are bad people too.

I'm speaking out today because there's an assumption out there that I am one of those mistreated, abused, silenced women that Martyn has used and I want to tell you that it's just not true, choose to believe whatever you want but today I'm standing up for my friend and should anyone want to question that, go ahead, I'm an open book, I have absolutely nothing to hide and neither does he.
Share:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I am not dating so why did I just subscribe to Eharmony?


I am not dating so why did I just subscribe to Eharmony


I am not dating,
I am not dating,
I am not dating....

Okay so I had an offer I couldn't refuse and joined EHarmony, they claim to have the best success rates and for what I actually ended up paying I'm happy enough that if it doesn't work with my 3 months initial membership then I'm not going to cry about it.

Now, as I've already said, I'm at a place in my life where I'm just happy being me, I have a life I love and for me to give up my solitude it's really going to take someone amazing with a capital A!

The worrying thing is I no longer even really know what I'm looking for, I mean, beardy would help being that I kind of like bearded sorts, bohemian is a statutory requirement because otherwise, they're quickly going to find me quite odd, height isn't important, they should obviously be hilarious otherwise they'll never keep up with my quick witted responses to pretty much everything, not saying I can't be serious but I do deal with a lot of things with humour.

Obviously, they should be a little cultured, a bit of a geek, mainly high functioning and overall if they don't like Doctor Who, Sci-Fi and Musicals then what the heck are we going to talk about.

I do feel though that because I'm narrowing it down so much that although I'm likely to get a much lower hit rate the chances are that the matches I do get will be more likely to be successful.

Except that, I'm not looking, I am not dating and I am not going to put any serious amount of effort into looking, if someone should fall from the heavens by chance then that's a different matter of course.

I actually have no idea why I even filled in the profile although that was a while ago, maybe my inner consciousness is trying to tell me something, maybe it's all Freudian and it's coming from my dark brain that even I don't know about.

I just can't see how someone could actually enhance my life at present, I have friends, amazing teens, I'm financially comfortable, I have several jobs I adore.  Do you think this is genuinely my most ridiculous move yet?

I guess the best we can hope for is that I can regale you with some tales of the men I encounter, like my initial frustration that no matter how many men I hide more appear and no matter what I do I cannot deselect men over the age of 43 or under 34, I literally have 105 potential matches sitting there and you know what, not one of them is an actual match, they're all "well you could choose, we think he would be perfect even if he's just outside your requirements.." No, no, no, stop doing this, I don't want you to pick outside of my requirements or what's the point of putting my bloody requirements in the first place?  Is this like buying a TV when they show you the next model up just in case they can upsell you?  Well, that's all well and good but honestly, most of the "upsells" I wouldn't even last 5 minutes with.  Eharmony I think suffers from the same fate as Match Affinity, yes you're matched on personality but that's not going to work if you don't even stand a chance of liking their faces.  Yes it's me, we've spoken about this, I can't date someone I don't fancy!!  It's not my fault, it's a genetic thing!!
Share:

Monday, April 17, 2017

That's my kind of Easter Weekend


That's My Kind of Easter Weekend, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, blogger, writer, life, love, business



So I've finally made it to some time off after a super busy weekend, I say time off, I still have 10 photo shoots to edit but that can wait for a day or so.  I didn't get any chocolate at all for Easter but I did stuff myself with spring lamb at my Easter open house last night, 8 of us gathered and I served Lamb, a chicken crown and a Quorn roast, I have never felt the need for a bigger cooker/oven more than I did yesterday, in fact, I'm reassuring myself that one day I'm going to buy a double oven/cooker, I entertain so often that it just makes sense!  Now when I say entertain, what I actually mean is that if you ever turn up at my house I will feel compelled to cook or bake for you, it's just my thing, I am never happier than when I am cooking for 8 or 9!  I can tell you that Alexa came in really handy to play kids music to Stacey's little one who at 15 months is completely adorable, I literally get a bit melty every time he comes to see me and does something new, he dances now, it's the sweetest thing!!

You know what this week is about, well mostly it's not about work, I mean I need to work smart to keep an income coming in but mostly, it's about spending time with my kids and any friends who happen to be free, I have no real plans other than I know I am now on the 1 week countdown to Palma de Mallorca.

Yesterday when Abigail came across we looked at restaurants, activities, sights we want to visit and let me tell you, I thought I was a scheduler, the girl is on a mission, it's a minute to minute type action plan, I do hope she's factored in a little do nothing by the pool time although if I'm honest, an hour a day and I'm good, too much to see and do, so much culture to soak up, you only get a few days in these splendid cities so you really do have to see as much as you can whilst you are there.

I'm glad I get to go away with Abigail though, she and I might have our occasional differences but I miss my big girl, she's lived with dad now for 2.5 years and I hate the days when I don't see her, luckily she quite likes spending time with Mama and she's such good company, both my girls are really, they're so completely different, the idea of a cultural and sightseeing holiday is Looby's idea of a nightmare and whilst I want to take her away at the end of May, I'm having to negotiate in some time where we're not just spending time by the pool.

I have weighty issues on my mind currently, since moving onto the HRT patches I've put on more than a stone and I've officially had enough now, I'm doing everything just as I always have and I hate myself in photos so this week I'm going back to the doctors to work on an action plan, whilst I need to be on HRT that works properly, I can't bear being so rotund and with the exception of Easter open house, I am eating well and exercising a lot, particularly with steps so I know where I should be and it's frustrating when my weight isn't shifting at all, I have cut down on a lot of things and so I seem to have stopped gaining but I can't lose the rest!  Meh, it's infuriating!

Other than that though life is pretty splendid and I am feeling so happy and fulfilled in my life and work, it's almost like once I'd removed that pressure to date and find someone that I realised I not only didn't need someone but I was actually happier on my own.  I've been discussing this with friends tonight and here's the thing, I had movie love, whilst my marriage was far from perfect, particularly in the end, I had times where we were just there for each other and nothing else mattered in the whole world, I don't believe that lightening can strike twice like that, that meeting of minds and souls and hearts, I likened it to finding a diamond just lying in the grass, it's so unlikely, not impossible but I won't compromise, you should never compromise, it always ends badly!

And so I hope that this week holds wonders for you and yours and if I don't blog much it's not because I have nothing to say, it's just because I'm out there having a life, building a life and a future for my family and me to truly look forward to.
Share:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When a holiday to Palma de Mallorca is cheaper than a Caravan in Bamburgh




When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca



So, here's the thing, as I've been working really hard lately and because my girls don't go back to school until the 2nd of May we decided to book a little mini break, I looked at various destinations and we settled on Bamburgh, a luxury caravan for a week for around £370 which seems not too bad to me, we could have got the bus there and had a lovely week, of course we've been there many times before but it's a place we love.

And then I happened to do a search on flights with Skyscanner, £19 to Faro, Portugal and £35 to Palma de Mallorca.  As Looby is already going to Tenerife later this year with Dad I decided the best course of action would be to see what kind of deal I could get with Abigail and we got flights, transfers, 5 nights accommodation and 15kg of luggage for £337.90 for both of us, cheaper than a caravan in Bamburgh!!  We have lovely daytime flights so we fly at 9.40am on Monday 24th and come back at 7.45am on Saturday, just in time for me to go to work in the afternoon!

I booked with lastminute.com because it's ATOL protected and easy to arrange everything and I checked on Tripadvisor and found very good reports about the studio apartment we've booked, The Isla del Sol apartments in Ca'n Pastilla are only a mile or so away from the airport, 5 miles from the capital of Palma and it has a pool for that mid-afternoon nap in the sunshine or a quick dip if it's warm enough which is should be, it's currently 20-25c during the daytime which is perfect as both Abigail and I hate it when it's too hot, we're not beach fiends at all, we love exploring and there's really plenty of things to do in Palma, it's 1.5€ on the bus or 12€ in a taxi from our hotel to the city centre.

I was in Palma in November 2014 on the last day of a cruise with NCL it was the last day on assignment for Cruise International and I remember wearing flip flops and a summer dress even though it was at the very end of November, I got the tourist bus to Bellver Castle and rested taking in the magnificent scenery all around me, I adore Spain, it has so many charms for me and whilst I'm not a fan of beach package holidays I've loved all of the places I've ever been, I just hope I can happen upon some Iberico Jamón which is quite possibly my favourite food in the whole world!!

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca


After my visit to Bellver Castle I walked down the side of the hill towards the sea passing a mature Spanish gentleman, as he said something I didn't understand with a kindly smile I felt like I was in a scene from An Affair To Remember (for the pedants and purists, yes I realise, that's in France where they go to visit Nicky's grandmother, Villefranche Sur le Mer to be exact) suffice to say I have longed to go back and I especially wanted to take Abigail with me as she's my cultural daughter, Looby, well she loves daddy holidays because they love, pool, beach, pool!

So here's just a few of the photos the last time I was there and let me tell you that I cannot wait to go there with Abigail, travel is one of the things that completely nourishes my soul, it makes me feel alive and the sunshine, well vitamin D is my favourite drug!  Whilst the North East of England is currently around 11c I shall be digging out my swimming costume and packing my shorts, I shall be planning 20k a day in a beautiful Mediterranean destination and I shall be thanking God and the universe for every moment that I am there.

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

When a holiday to Mallorca is cheaper than a caravan in bamburgh, travel, mandy charlton photography blog, cheap travel, last minute deals, palma de mallorca

Share:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Photo Shoots in North East England

In 10 years of being a northeast photographer, Spring remains my favourite season to shoot in, crisp beautiful light at beautiful locations as nature bursts forth after it's long winter nap, I fall in love with photography all over again and I don't believe I've ever been so enthusiastic about this career that I adore as I am currently, I don't know why I fell out of love with it but maybe it was so I could embrace it again with the whole of my heart.

If I've met you lately then you are now the proud recipients of the most gorgeous images, I don't know if it's made a huge difference editing on a 21 inch retina display screen but I know that I've changed the way that I edit and I literally sit and say "Aww" quite a lot.

If you can view these images on a big screen then you should do, I love my images when viewed as big as I can, it's the only way to get the impact, and one of the reasons I hate selling 6x4 photographs, I've never been so happy that so many people are going away with full-sized digital images.  While most of my work of late has been outdoors I've also been shooting some newborn lifestyle at home sessions, these sessions are so special and I often get just a little misty eyed when I meet newborns because heck, they're just so beautiful and you know the wonder of photographing babies, you can't hear photographs!
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families
So I want to share some images with you now all from recent sessions, consider this a portfolio update if you will, have a look through the image and then get to your email and book me to photograph your family, your babies, your wedding (although I do cap those at 10 a year) and what I can assure you is that when you book me, you get someone who always gives extra, who always works with all of her heart and someone who truly adores sharing in the most special moments of people's lives.
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

So whether you want to book an all inclusive mini session where you get to own all of the images for just £100 (30 minute sessions on selected dates and locations) or if you want a newborn session at home where you own all of the edited images for just £250 or you want to celebrate with your family at your choice of location and date and own all of the edited images for just £250 I can promise you, that I don't believe you will find someone who loves what they do quite as much as me.
Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography in north east england, kids, newborn lifestyle, families

07918 121838



Share:

So, what happens now?


So what happens now, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, life, love, business


Since I took some time away from the world and came back more refocused on my work and the future, I've had to make some decisions.  Everything that has happened or that is happening is having a direct effect on my blog.

I can't give blogging up because it's just something that I do and though my reader numbers have dropped people still come to read and for that I am grateful.

The thing is though that I have nothing salacious or even vaguely interesting to write about currently, I literally start work when I get out of bed and do as much as I can barring taking Holly for her daily constitutional and popping out for occasional photo shoots, coupling that along with being the best mum I can be, my life is busy but to you the reader, completely boring.

I have had people asking why I'm not writing about dating anymore and it's because I'm not dating, I literally gave up, I'm not in the right place in my life because I am always single-mindedly focused on the things that I want to achieve and dating just isn't one of those things.

I did try hard but I think the last straw was talking to someone, getting along fine and then when he asked to take me on a date I couldn't find a gap for 2 weeks and for him that was too long, or there was another man who pretty much called me boring because I'm all about work and family.  I don't have the energy to go and look for a long distance relationship unfortunately because really, that's perfection, someone where you can make a splendid effort to be together but ultimately one which doesn't overwhelm the rest of your life, selfish on my part I guess and maybe that's why the decision to stay single was any easy one.

I'm very fulfilled in my professional life, I love creating an income which has hope for the future, an income which promised fun and adventure for the girls and me, yes it would be nice to be able to share some of those adventures with someone special but really, a soulmate is one in a million and I don't have the time to find them.

I'm lucky to have friends, male and female, online and offline so I have pretty much everything I need, I have a massage chair too now so there's another thing I don't need a man for...

Blogging is the thing I have put the most work into for the smallest reward for over a year, I wanted it to lead to regular writing jobs and in small ways it has so I can't help but be grateful for that but in some ways I'm happy to be up to date with blogging commitments currently because there are very few companies I like to work with, they have to fit with me, with my brand and with my style and because of the way that I write that's not always possible. My blog is very much still a diary of my life and it always will be.  It's the same with photography, I am very honest with potential clients in drilling down that I am not X, Y or Z, people come to me because after 10 years I am very good at what I do and I am also different to everyone else, I do my own thing and I'm happy to walk away if I don't think our collaboration is going to reward both parties equally and it has to be this way because when I give my whole heart to a project it's exhausting but also amazingly rewarding.

If you have stuck with me through thick and thin, through my dating disasters and my parenting successes and fails then thank you, thank you for always being there, I'm going to take it easy with blogging for a while now and just write when I feel compelled but please don't give up on me because you never know, maybe the best, is yet to come.
Share:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quick and Healthy Lasagne Recipes

I love Lasagne, it's literally one of my favourite dishes to eat and to cook, the problem is that my waistline has rather extended over the winter and so bechamel sauce is not exactly a friend I want to have for dinner.

The lovely people at Dolmio got in touch recently and challenged me to come up some recipes using their sauce which by the way is so healthy now, it contains exactly what you see in this photo and is even included in your five a day!!


Ther best thing is that my children will eat this, they hate tomatoes if there's even a hint of something lumpy and tomato like so I've managed to bamboozle them with the joys of Dolmio, I should also say that the chicken lasagne recipe is also just as good with Quorn if like me you have a veggie child or two!

So it's basically the same recipe using either chicken or mince but I have only got photos of the mince version, the first time I cooked for all of my friends, the light was awful by the time we ate and food should never be photographed under artificial kitchen lights, luckily by the second time of cooking the clocks had gone forward and it was ready in daylight hours!


So here without further ado is my recipe for a healthy, quick lasagne and can I just say that with chicken it's amazing!

So use either 400g of chicken breasts (chopped) or a 400g pack of mince (or quorn etc) and then brown that off.

add a jar of Dolmio and then cook down so you have a lovely thick sauce

meanwhile, layer your dish with lasagne sheets (or butternut squash lasagne sheets if you want to be super healthy).

Now, you're going to layer up your dish with the sauce and then instead of adding the bechamel sauce layer you simply substitute that with Quark, yes Quark, that slimming world staple, when it's raw I hate the stuff but when you cook it in lasagne or cauliflower cheese it's amazing, so cheesy, so tasty and so healthy.  I used 2 standard sized tubs for this recipe.

On the top you can sprinkle grated cheese, low fat, a mix of cheddar and parmesan or whatever cheese you want and then, I like a sprinkle of ground black pepper, a grind of Himalayan pink salt and some freshly ground nutmeg, nutmeg and melted cheese go together so well!

After that, all you have to do is bake it in the oven at gas mark 5 until it's cooked and then it's yours to eat as quickly as you can before other people try to pinch it because it's so good!!


This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness





Share:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Easter Homestyling

In just 1 week my girls will finally break up from school for the Easter holidays, I love these holidays so much, it's nice enough weather to do things and life feels good again thanks to the increased daylight and more importantly, the sunshine!

I love Christmas and styling my house but over the last few years I've started to style parts of my house through all of the seasons, my fireplace, for example, gets a restyle every month to reflect the time of year and it makes me happy.

I'm also very lucky that I get to work with my favourite stores TK Maxx and Homesense, even when we do collaborate I end up spending way more of my own money on things I see.

So this month for them was all about styling for Easter and they couldn't have picked a happier person because I had that fireplace to fill and as always my first stop was to visit TK Maxx/Homesense in the Metrocentre.

Wanna see what I bought?

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

Now I must state with absolute honesty that on this particular trip with a £50 budget I ended up buying a desk also so I spent way, way over the budget but that's testament to it being my favourite store, I literally jump up and down every time they want to collaborate because I can't believe how lucky I am that my career has lead to this, I will never stop being thankful!

So before I show you my desk lets look at the above, the solid marble spring sign was £12.99 and now I have signs for Christmas, Valentines and Spring, they had Easter ones too but I figured I could keep this out until summer!!

The cute bunny was £7.99 and she's watching over us and luckily too sturdy for a certain beagle to eat although a certain beagle has been seen wandering off with those there plastic eggs which cost £9.99 and fill my fireplace beautifully.  The chick plate at the back was an absolute steal for £3.99 and finally, I even got the girls their Easter eggs and today, 1 week after I took that photo they are still sitting there and haven't been pinched, I couldn't be more impressed, they have though, chosen who gets which!

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

So my desk was £129.99 and I think an absolute steal, it's so sturdy, I didn't have to assemble it and it was pretty easy to get home!  It's solid wood and a thing of beauty!  I love sitting at it every day, it's the perfect size for my bedroom/home office, oh and if you look, there's a wooden star at the back, also which came from Homesense in the Metrocentre when I was working on the Christmas campaign!

Easter homestyling with TK Maxx and Homestyle, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, Newcastle upon Tyne

So that's me, I feel more ready for Easter than ever before, this time last year of course we spent in hospital when Looby was poorly and only got released on the evening of Good Friday so this Easter I have so much to be thankful for and I'm hosting a big friends for dinner on Easter Sunday for anyone who wants to come, it's open house and consider this your invite if you are spending the time alone and unwillingly, we may not have enough chairs or table but there'll always be wine, dinner and really good company.


Share:

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Why don't companies want honest reviews? Brand influencers, read this now!



Why don't companies want honest reviews anymore?  Brand Influencer?  You need to read this, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer


Influencer marketing is on the rise with companies paying bloggers and vloggers varying amounts of money or product to gain their endorsement through reviews but I've recently become acutely aware that some in the community are only interested in having good reviews, now, I guess that might make sense but I'm talking about 3 separate situations I've encountered where my free speech was encumbered.

Situation 1, when I took my critical concerns about a product to its supplier I was asked: "will you mention this, will it affect your review?"

Situation 2, a review was changed and all of my irks were removed making it look like I was ridiculously over-enthusiastic about something which I actually didn't like.

Situation 3, a holiday cottage owner wrote to me after my honest review of his property and said he was disappointed by my review and I shouldn't have written the things I did, especially as a travel writer.

A great business mentor once told me one of her most valuable pieces of advice, that you should always be true to yourself and that's how I approach blogging, content creation and reviews.  I am one of the most positive people and so if I find issues with things, be it a product or a service, you can be sure that I'm not just doing it for the sake of it, it's like my blog, one of the things I hear from my readers is that they appreciate how honest I am about my own life, I never pretend to be living a perfect life with the most amazing children doing extraordinary things every day, that's why I don't blog every day because sometimes I'm just busy with work and nothing else is happening.

I am slightly irked and visibly cross at being asked to only provide positive reviews, I do always say good things but if there are issues then you, the reader, the consumer who might buy that product or service need to know about these things, after all, you are never going to trust a word I say again if I fail to point out a serious shortcoming and you go and part with your own hard earned cash only to get less than you expected.

As long as I share my life and my work on this thing we call the internet I will continue to write honestly, the good with the bad, the positives and the negatives, I will not only be true to myself but also to you, the readers whom I hold so dear in my heart.

If we, the writers are not allowed to give honest opinions is this not a form of dictatorship?

I've actually heard of someone giving an honest review this week and being told that she wouldn't be writing that if she were paid, that's not true actually, she would, she has integrity and is one of the most honest people I know.

I'm not sure what your opinions are on this but I feel really strongly that if anything, influencers should not just be saying positive things because they're paid for a review, isn't an honest brand endorsement far better?

With this kind of marketing technique getting bigger all of the time, we need to do something before it's too late and I for one would rather walk away from a company expecting a dishonest review just because they've paid me.

Share:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Become a small scale philanthropist and make life better today!


practice small scale philanthropy and change your life, throw love at it, mandy charlton photographer, blogger, writer


Every day I hear someone say that life is hard and I wonder who first said this, why did they say it? The truth is, I think that life is only as hard as you make it and I for one am as guilty of over complicating my life in so very many ways and once that train has left the station, well it just ends up spiralling.

Recently when I had my epiphany, walking with my dog in the Northumbrian countryside I made a vow that I would re-embrace my positivity, start throwing love at everything and one month on, I am happier, my life is more positive and my business is more prosperous than ever before, I am focusing only on happy things, and on helping people as much as I possibly can.

I always wanted and still do, to one day become a great philanthropist but you know even on a smaller level we can practice philanthropy, we can help people with the knowledge we've gained and we can use our talents to enhance the lives of others.

We can give charitably albeit in smaller ways and we can practice random acts of kindness.  With each and every aspect of small-scale philanthropy what you notice is just how much better life gets, I can't even begin to tell you how much happier and better my life is than it was a month ago.  One thing has also become blatantly apparent to me, I have stopped craving to find someone to love me, I am so busy fulfilling my own life and that of others that I have removed the neediness I was exhibiting.  Now whilst I can't promise that I won't suffer from the occasional pangs of abject loneliness I do think I have found the answer.  

I'm 43 now and I know that one day I'll meet someone and we'll have movie love but the universe will decide when that's right and that's all I need, I just need the belief and I also need the knowledge that I'm so happy on my own surrounded by friends and my darling teens that I don't have to desperately seek the company of someone who I might settle for and we all know what happens when you settle, that never ends well does it?

So if you are currently lost and feel alone, try to remember that you are loved by many, that you have friends and children who love you, try to focus on the good things in life, try to even focus on one good thing and with every positive thought you have you are stopping a negative thought from entering your head, we can't feel sorrow and happiness at the same time and for a good day, a positive day you only need to have 51% positivity.  You'll get there and you'll win and then we can all practice small-scale
philanthropy together because when we do good things, amazing things happen.
Share:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Don't Judge Me for Shooting £100 Mini Sessions


£100 mini sessions in jesmond dene, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer, don't judge me for shooting £100 mini sessions




This June marks the 10th anniversary of Mandy Charlton Photography, it's been a rollercoaster of a ride but at the end of the day I love what I do.  I've been through recessions and turbulent economic times, I've seen the decline of the wedding photography industry and the days where photographers could charge thousands are almost certainly over although I'm sure the rockstars will be along any minute to tell me that I'm wrong.

Whilst it's true that photography will always be a recession proof industry because people continue to get married and have babies, I do believe that the marketplace has suffered due to saturation and the worldwide economic decline that we've ultimately seen.

£100 mini sessions in jesmond dene, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer, don't judge me for shooting £100 mini sessions

In 2007 when I started my business I was charging a little less than I do now and in 2008 I charged more per wedding than I do now, except now I have 10 years of experience and this goes for portraits as much as it does for weddings.
Someone wise once told me that if you compete on price alone then you will always lose because there's always someone out there who's cheaper than you and I still agree with this statement, except...

For every time when I have had to go away and readdress my pricing structure and I've wobbled in my business thinking that I couldn't stay afloat and be bringing in enough of an income to support the kids and me, I have had to use special offers to draw people back in again.  This is not because I'm not good enough but simply because it's a buyers marketplace and those buyers are also having to watch their purse strings.
£100 mini sessions in jesmond dene, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer, don't judge me for shooting £100 mini sessions

I genuinely love my clients, many of them have been with me for years and I've watched their children flourish and grow up, it's one of the things I am so thankful for.  I love that my clients have supported me through difficult times and that no one questions how brilliant I am at what I do just because I'm an active advocate for someone who lives with bipolar, incidentally, I'm sitting here feeling poorly, I rescheduled a client this morning due to being ill, full of cold ill, it's the first time I've had to do that for about 2 years, I take what I do so very seriously.

So, lately I have been at a precipice of my business not knowing which way to turn, I now share my days with a freelance writing career which is still in its infancy, I want to continue to photograph kids and families but I had to make a decision, stay afloat and come up with an offer so competitive it can't be beaten or watch my business die and risk losing everything.

I genuinely believe that you will not get a better quality of mini session with the edited digital images for £100, I usually offer all-inclusive portrait sessions for £250 and for my level of skill and expertise it's probably still not enough however, I'm not too proud to eat humble pie and if people can only afford £100 then I want them to have the best damn photographs on the planet.
£100 mini sessions in jesmond dene, mandy charlton, newcastle photographer, don't judge me for shooting £100 mini sessions

Even at £100, there are still photographers out there who are cheaper but I honestly don't know if they're better.  Being a children and family photographer it's not all about the photography, there are so many skills you need to have and I will do whatever I need to get those shots, each and every child who's ever been photographed by me has gone away having had fun because that's what it's all about, it's about fun and it's about not feeling rushed and with only 30 minutes per family it could feel that way.

So for now, I am shooting £100 instead of £250 all inclusive mini sessions on selected dates and at selected locations around the North East of England and if you would like to book one you just need to message me, some upcoming dates and places where I have remaining availability are - 


2 April - Jesmond Dene 12, 12.30, 1.30
23 April - Tynemouth Longsands 12, 12.30, 1, 1.30, 3, 3.30, 4, 4.30
30 April - Saltwell Park - 1, 1.30pm
6th May - Jesmond Dene 9, 9.30, 10.30, 11

There may be other dates as whenever I've announced them I've sold out so if you would like one for your family please email me.
Share:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How I turned my life around in less than a month



newcastle quayside, sunshine, and positivity, how I turned my life around in less than a month, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger


February was such a hard month for me and by the end of it I'd slumped into a depression for the first time in ages, I wasn't earning money, no work was coming in and I wasn't even sure if I could afford to pay our basic bills, at one point my best friend even offered to buy us groceries to get us through the week, my life was just a quagmire.  Then my girls told me they'd had enough, they weren't happy and Looby went to granddads giving me two weeks to sort my life out, at the very darkest edge of my sanity I could have given up.  Life as a freelance photographer/writer had become increasingly difficult.  In photography at least it's such a saturated market, we're all suffering from the harsh economic environment and understandably it's the luxury items that go first and whilst I think photographs are so important, it seems food it mostly higher up on the list for most people!

Understandably after my girls were so annoyed with me I was deeply upset but they did have some valid points and I knew I had to get away and clear my head and luckily I had a ton of Airbnb credit so I went to Northumberland, just Holly and I, I didn't speak out loud for 3 days but I planned, I walked 10 miles a day and I started to earn money, I'll be honest, I had a couple of ideas, one of which I used my last £30 to advertise and it worked and from there, in the midst of the peace and quiet, I relearnt just how positive I was, usually I am a pretty happy and positive person who can make things happen just with the power of self-belief, positivity, a little asking of the universe (I'm a fierce believer in the laws of attraction) but somewhere along the way I'd just got lost and bogged down by winter, relationships, life, love, single parenting, I juggle a lot and to coin a phrase, I'd dropped my balls!!

Since I went away, I have worked so very hard, I've re-embraced my own values, I throw love at everything, I try to be the best person I can in life and business and I say thank you a lot, I am so grateful to have the talents I have and to live the life that I live, a life of freedom and happiness, somewhere along the line I stopped appreciating that, my jobs are jobs that other people just don't get to do.

You know, I made up my own jobs really, I just decided 10 years ago that they were the jobs I wanted to do, I wanted to be a writer and a photographer and so I became that and I'm still here, and I'm lucky to be successful, yes I might have made mistakes along the way, I might have stopped appreciating the world I live in but I know now, just how grateful I am for everything I have been able to create, sometimes on a wing and a prayer.

I'm going to tell you a story, when I first started my business I dreamt one day I would have an area in my house and I would have the best camera, an iMac to edit on and a lovely desk area to work from and you know what, today my business got a retina display iMac, I finally get to edit on a big screen, I have the best cameras for the job and I'm starting to catch up on our life commitments, it's not going to happen overnight but I have big plans for us and I know now how I'm going to achieve them, you see somewhere along the line I forgot that I can earn a pretty significant sum from working hard for just a few days a week, I didn't do it because I was tired and worn down with life I guess and you know what?  That's okay because my career is like love, sometimes you forget just what you have and then you get to see it with a brand new vision and then you fall in love with it all over again.

My life, work, career and I guess love, well it's all a work in progress but I know that one day I'm going to have it all and you know what else, when I do I'm going to make sure that I give back just as much as I get because I always remember that what I give out will ultimately come back to me tenfold.

So the next time when your life is in a slump, take a moment and then just get up and be positive, focus only on positivity and shove all of the bad thoughts out of your mind and you too will get to experience the truly magical power of living a positive life.
Share:

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Most Wonderful Weekend


The Ouseburn Valley, home of seven stories, Mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger, the most wonderful weekend, life, work, newcastle, love, beauty and the beast


It's certainly a sign of the times that I'm blogging less and getting outdoors much more often, it must be spring!  Seriously, though, the weather is better, work is better, and my girls love me again!

It's been the most wonderful of weekends, I was supposed to be in London but stayed in Newcastle to work for a charity photographing some disabled children with their parents at the Seven Stories, a much better use of my time and talents.  What a wonderful fulfilling day, I do love my job!

Saturday night just as I was about to go in the bath, Abigail messaged to say "Be ready in 10 minutes, I'm taking you out!"  so I sprinted back into my jeans, both girls arrived carrying glorious bunches of flowers and then Looby went off again as she always does so she can go riding on a Sunday but Abigail took me off to a fair trade chocolate tasting evening at one of our local churches, a lovely surprise, and a great Mother's Day gift.

Sunday dawned and Abigail walked down to the quayside market, we ambled along the pretty stalls in the glorious sunshine until we ended up at the Great British Cupcakery, Abigail had been long admiring their freak shakes since Looby posted a Snapchat of one she'd had in the February half term, suffice to say Abigail ended up being a very happy teenager as we made our way up the steep bank towards the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast.

Can I just say that Beauty and the Beast is, in my humble opinion, one of the best movies I have ever seen, it's beautiful, it's magical, it's sad, it's happy, it's heartwarming and most of all, it makes you believe in the power of true love, you know we can all do with that reminder every once in a while, especially when life and love isn't so straightforward.  I've always believed that true love has the power to change lives, true love can heal even the deepest wounds, I guess it's why we spend our whole lives searching it out.  My true love might be currently beagle-shaped but it's enough for me.

Last night Looby arrived home (to stay, yay) carrying all manner of stationary gifts for me to put on my desk, such a lovely thought, my favourite present, though?  A small sign which says "Crazy doesn't run in our family, it sprints!"  It made me laugh out loud and it's scarily true, especially in my case.

Looby also wrote in her Mother's Day card "Thanks for taking the last 2 weeks so seriously", clearly it's the desk, I've become some kind of crazed businesswoman on a mission, I think I always was, I think that winter and S.A.D. gets in the way of that every year sadly but for now it's spring, the days are longer, the nights are shorter and there's sunshine in my heart again.

As Anne Bronte said "A light wind swept over the corn and all nature laughed in the sunshine"
Share:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Win Your Own Star with Star Name Registry

win your own star, name a star with star registry, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger



Every night I wish upon a star, I believe that stars have the most magical properties, we're never as connected to the universe as we are when we are under skies filled with shining blankets of twinkling stars.  In my years of blogging, I've collaborated with so many companies and it's brought me the most amazing items and trips away but this collaboration is without a doubt the most special of all.

a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star


The lovely people at Star Name Registry asked me if I wanted to name a star and so after much thought I came up with the name Abilaurain Bobbins which is a combination of Abigail, Laura, Iain and of course wonder dog Holly Bobbins, you also get to choose a memorable date so I chose my birthday and that way our family star would have a bit of me in as well and now for all eternity we have our own named star, whenever and wherever we are, we will always be able to look to the skies and see the place in eternity where we'll always be together.
a starry sky, embleton, northumberland,  star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

You know the best thing about naming a star?  I got to choose the constellation and being the biggest fan of greek mythology I had to choose the constellation of Cassiopeia, a story which I love.

Cassiopeia is the mother of Andromeda, she boasted that both she and her daughter were the most beautiful of all of the Nereids which angered Poseidon who threatened to flood Ethiopia, to cut a long story short, Andromeda was going to be sacrificed but was saved by Perseus who she married. Poseidon still believed that Cassiopeia should be punished so he tied her legs to a chair and she dangles upside down in the heavens with her dress covering her face so even though she's holding a mirror she can never see her reflection again.
a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

In star terms, Cassiopeia is always visible in the northern hemisphere as it is so near to the pole star and even though I live in the city where light pollution is bad, I can always see Cassiopeia so everytime I glance upon her I'll know I'm with my family and my dog.
a star deed from star name registry, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, win your own star

Now here's the best part, would you like to name your very own star?  Star Name Registry are giving one of their extra bright star packages worth £24.99 to one of you lovely readers and here's all you have to do, leave a comment below "I want to win a star because..." and I'll choose the best entry on 31/3/17 and that person will win and get to name their own start and you'll receive a certificate, guide to finding the star and a sky atlas.
Share:
© Mandy Charlton - Photographer,Writer,Blogger | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig