Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Love and Regret

I can remember the moment I fell in love with my husband, it was 15 years ago and we were on a date, Iain was there too and he met me in town, gave me flowers, took us out for dinner and watching him with Iain I just knew that I'd fallen in love with him, it took approximately 7 weeks for that to happen, the funny thing is that I think falling in love is always something you are so aware of, it hits you like a big love soaked punch in the face.  

Even at that early stage though things were not straight forward, he felt he could only tell me he loved me when he was drunk and it took a very long time for him to say it sober.  I perhaps should have seen this as a sign.

He didn't like Christmas, I am a complete addict to Christmas (I'm sure this you already know even if you've just become a regular blog reader) another sign for sure, sometimes though when you're in love you ignore warning signs because those chemicals overwhelm all sensibilities you might have an as I've already proclaimed on more than one occasion I am a woman who is most definitely ruled by my heart over my head.

You can't of course live your life having regrets because after all if it hadn't been for those 15 years I wouldn't have my beautiful daughters and they were worth every single second of pain and anguish. There were also many amazing times and I am so conscious that in those first months after separation that you can lose them to anger and pain.  I don't want to lose those stories, they're the ones I have to tell my children, my grandchildren, it's part of who I am and who they'll be, every effect has a cause after all.

I am all too aware that I don't want to become a bitter and twisted effigy of my former self, after all I've pretty much lied to myself and everyone else that I was the happiest person on the planet for a long time, the thing is that often I lied to myself so well that I did feel that I was the happiest luckiest person on the planet.

I think I was often too guilty of putting so much love and effort into my marriage that I should have just put into the relationships I had with my friends and children, I'm just glad they forgive me and are letting me make it up to them now.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to share that with you today dear reader, one day I think I shall write a book and maybe put things into proper chronological order but I think for the time being you might just have to bear with the rambled thoughts of a scatterbrained 40 year old who still feels 30 until she looks into the mirror, maybe that's why I only have 3 of them in my whole house and no full length mirrors, I'd rather not look at the whole package thank you very much.

On a lighter note the wonderful lady from Beagle Welfare came yesterday and yay, it looks like we can have a Beagle as soon as the right one needs a new home and a lot of love, I'm so happy about this as are all of the children.

Oh and one more thing, after looking at my blog stats I found that I'm being discussed on a Sunderland supporters forum, I clicked off after the first page but if you're reading this, no it's not HDR crap, I don't use special software and if it was on the front of a Nanna's magazine then it would be the best damn Nanna's magazine that there is, also it's Nanna, not Nana!

Have a fabulous Sunday everyone, find some fake snow and pretend you're in a movie blizzard!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Remaining availability for family portraits before Christmas and a Black Friday offer

Dear reader, yes it's another work post so skip on through if you're just here for the juicy personal stuff, heehee!

So here's my remaining availability for the rest of the year - 

Monday 1st December 10-1.30 at any location
Thursday 4th December - Jesmond Dene 1pm
Friday 12th December - 10-13.0 at any location
Saturday 13th December - 12.30 at Tynemouth Longsands
Sunday 14th December - Saltwell Park 11.30, noon, 12.30, 1pm
Monday 15th December - 11am - Jesmond Dene
Wednesday 17th December 10-1.30 at any location
Thursday 18th December 10-1.30 at any location
Friday 19th December 10-1.30 at any location
Saturday 20th December 11am, 11.30, noon, 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm
Sunday 21st December 10-2.30pm at any location

Half hour photo shoots are £25 at Jesmond Dene, Tynemouth and Saltwell Park, all other locations, at home and larger family portraits are £40, all come with a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and a complimentary print (7x5 for 30 mins and 12x8 for the full photo shoot) 

Last orders if you want to get your prints by post is midnight on the 15th December or if you can collect your prints from me in Heaton last orders will be Midnight on 21st December.

Black Friday offer - get 40% off at Philomena's Boutique with the code BLACKFRIDAY until Midnight on Monday

1 more thing, if you buy gift certificates before Midnight on Monday I will add an extra 20% of value, this offer will end at Midnight on Monday!

Have a wonderful weekend, I have photo shoots in Jesmond Dene tomorrow and then the lady is coming to do the home check from Beagle Welfare tomorrow afternoon (fingers and toes crossed please) and then Sunday, well I'm sort of dotting about the North East after a photo shoot in Ponteland I am off to Gosforth in the afternoon, it's going to be a busy one so whatever you do my lovelies make sure it's a brilliant one and make every single second count and as I always say, love the ones you are with and be with the ones you love.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas photo shoots in Newcastle with Mandy Charlton Photography

Another later in the morning blog from me today, I went to bed with a migraine and I've woken up with a really dull throbbing migraine which is just ridiculously annoying, I think I have decorators neck, if that isn't a condition I am naming it now, I think it comes from having your arms in the air with the brush for too long!  I did finish decorating the downstairs loo and actually it looks better than it has for years, i'm quite chuffed with it all, just Abigails room to go and that's pretty much ready to paint but I'm having a couple of days off to allow the swelling to go down in my neck and spine.

I am going to go for a visitors permit today so that I can openly welcome visitors into my house, maybe they'll come armed with a paint brush ;)

The hall and stairs are still desperate for redecoration but I just can't see how we can do all 3 floors before Christmas so I'll just ask visitors to shut their eyes when they're going up and down the stairs, maybe I could blindfold them?  Might be a little dangerous on the stairs!

Can I talk about work for a bit today?  So, it's not all that long until Christmas and do still have some availability in my diary for weekends and weekdays so here's the full rundown

I have availability on the following days - 

Thursday 6th December, Friday 12th December, Saturday 13th December at Tynemouth Longsands, Sunday 14th of December at Saltwell Park in the morning and Jesmond Dene in the afternoon.

Wednesday 16th December, Thursday 18th December, Saturday 20th December in Jesmond Dene and Sunday 21st of December

All orders placed by Midnight on 15/12 will be dispatched to reach you in time for Christmas, Orders placed before 22/12 will be with you in time for Christmas as long as you can pick them up from me in Heaton.  Time is running out to book your sessions though so do it today via email, my website or my facebook page

Half hour sessions are £25 at Saltwell Park, Tynemouth Longsands and Jesmond Dene, All other locations, in the home and larger family portraits are from £40 and these prices are due to rise in January 2015 so book your sessions today and you get them at this years prices.  With each photo shoot you get a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first 7 days your gallery is live and a complimentary print (7x5 for half hours, 12x8 for hours).

Here's some photos from recent sessions that I love - 

So hopefully I have shown you enough to whet your appetite, quick go and book a session or maybe you could buy one for a friend or family member for Christmas, for a limited time only you can get an extra 20% value on all gift certificates, well what are you waiting for email me now!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A short Wednesday cornucopia

After spending most of yesterday with 2 migraines, one when I woke up with it at 4am in the morning and then the other yesterday afternoon I really don't have a lot to blog about this morning dear reader, I did in between times manage to put the first coat of paint on the walls of the loo, we're going Urban Jungle though if I'm honest it looks a bit like urban mould after the first coat, buying more paint today after my one photo shoot of the day which is thankfully in doors at home, it's the best time of year for at home type photo shoots, I also like indoor photo shoots because mostly I get cups of tea and coffee and my toes don't go numb and they're never cancelled due to bad weather!

I didn't even make it to slimming world last night though to be honest all I have been doing of late is really keeping a check on my weight, I haven't really lost anything but it definitely means I'm more conscious of the things I eat so I am at least not ballooning to the size of a large portion of butter!

It's the 26th of November and at that means it's only 29 sleeps until Christmas, as I was saying yesterday I was just sneaking bits and pieces out of storage and putting them where no one would notice, well of course now I'm trying to distract myself in moments of festive need by cracking on with the decoration of the house, one more coat on the loo and then Abigails bedroom which should at least be empty tomorrow after a visit by St Oswalds Hospice to take 20 charity bags and then another visit from the council to take the rest of the rubbish.  The partial end to the decoration is in sight, it's not going to be truly finished until way after Christmas as Iains bedroom needs decorating and the hall on all 3 floors is abominable but I am only 1 woman and though my children offer to help they do get exceedingly bored quite easily, Looby lasted about 10 minutes painting yesterday before declaring mass boredom.  If anyone fancies coming and giving me a hand with some painting I'm open to bribing you or imbibing you with copious amounts of mulled Cider and mulled wine!

Well dear reader that's your lot for today, whilst life here continues on a daily basis it's mostly same old, same old, I'll be back tomorrow with perhaps some news of a black Friday/sofa Sunday/cyber Monday offer, to be honest I haven't actually decided yet but it feels appropriate to do something wonderful to celebrate the decline of society into the free for all that is the proper start to the Christmas shopping period, I'm nearly done with mine, thanks of course mostly to Amazon, I know some people have major ethical issues with Amazon and I totally understand but if you are a busy single parent trying to run a house, a family and a business there's nothing quite like doing a 1 click purchase from a wishlist and having it arrive the very next day!  They have some really great deals on this week too!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moving onwards

The first thing I need to do is thank so many of you for getting in touch after yesterdays blog post, the sheer amount of support from people who've been through similar things and some who are still going through it, it seems to me that it's something that we're just not talking about, maybe we need to have more open conversations about control and passive aggressiveness so that people know how wrong it is and how much damage it can actually do to someone.  I was heartened to hear from so many who were much further on in this turbulent journey, people who have been able to find themselves again and move on, many in wonderful new relationships which actually came as a shock or surprise because they didn't contain the same behaviours.

Well for now for me I can see what lies ahead and that is time spent with my children, hopefully a new forever dog (Beagle Welfare home check on Saturday afternoon) and of course my beloved kitties.

One of the things I am building up slowly to do is going out more and not being so scared by that prospect, I definitely seem to have lost the ability to be socially confident, even in recent weeks with Slimming World I find myself going, getting weighed and then coming straight home again. but I do know there's a sparkle burning in there somewhere and once it's at it's brightest no one is ever going to take it away from me again.

Day off today and Tuesdays are my favourite day, my cleaner is coming, my groceries are arriving and later we're moving about 20 bags of junk downstairs for collection by a charity tomorrow, the council are coming to take lots of wood and more rubbish on Thursday and by the end of the week I'm hoping Abigails room will be finished, Iain's room is getting there, yesterday he got black curtains which are far superior to the pink spotted ones he was using, they're not really befitting of an 18 year old teenager you know.

I've been sneaking odd bits and bobs out of the Christmas collection so I hung up a fabric wreath on the inside of the front door and I got down a china ornament from the top of the cupboards in the kitchen, it's like if I do it slowly no one will notice and before you know it we'll be in Christmas land! It is of course only a month until Santa pops down the chimney now so the rest of my week is mainly taken up with photo shoots and the editing that goes with all of that, those 2 weeks off at Christmas though are firmly in sight and I can't wait!  I might just have actually finished my Christmas shopping by the end of the week, well I should have at least cleared the Amazon wish lists with any luck, oh and if you're an Amazon fan, remember that it's Black Friday deals week on Amazon and there are bargains amongst the various effluvia on offer but you have to be quick!

And so off into Tuesday I go and I hope it's terrific, not just for me but for you too dear reader, may it be the best day of your week so far!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Who the heck am I again?

For 15 years I've lived a life of being controlled and often without actually knowing that it was happening, for instance, I was never ever stopped from doing anything I wanted throughout my entire marriage, however often things were made to be so displeasurable that I would stop doing them because it was just so difficult, it's like being encouraged to go out and then getting accused of cheating when you come home or being encouraged to follow your dream and write a book and then as soon as you start you get accused of never being at home and not loving the other person enough or giving them enough attention.  It's also small things like being able to watch whatever you want on TV but if the other person doesn't want to watch the same programme they'd sit with their back to the TV in a room where all of the chairs point to the TV or they'd spend an hour with their hands over their face so that you can't miss their disapproval.  Another tactic of course is being out with friends and then getting a flurry of text messages encouraging you to come home because you're being missed so much or maybe it's just not speaking to you and switching off every single emotion towards you if you do anything that the other person disagrees with.  Every single one of those things is a subtle form of control and I'm speaking out about them now because every single one happened to me and I don't want anyone else to have to go through that.  At the time I often didn't even know it was happening, it's only when you have time to walk away and digest it all that you realise the extent of the damage caused.

This weekend as I found myself watching Strictly, X Factor and I'm a Celeb I noticed that I was really enjoying them, it seems I like reality tv and you know the scariest thing about all of this?  I have no idea who the heck I actually am, I was talking about this yesterday and nearly burst into tears because it's a bit of a terrifying prospect.  I assume I'm a bad person and that I deserved it all in one part of my brain and then in the other part I know that I couldn't have forseen all of this and all I ever tried to do was make my marriage work.

I really hope now that I am a good person, a kind person, a happy person and a good mum, they're the most important things to me, especially being a good mum because I adore my children and want to be the very best example of a person to them and more than anything I never want them to be in a position where any of these controlling behaviours are allowed to happen to them at any point in their lives with anyone they meet.

But what's next for me?  Well I haven't a clue really, I know that I like reality tv, Barbra Streisand, musicals, Christmas, vintage things, animals, kids, photography, craft, Cath Kidston and soft furnishings, I know that I like the UK more than overseas and I love going to castles and museums and I adore going on the train but beyond that I'm not especially sure, I guess though I have very many years to find out!

If you're reading this and you're identifying with some or any of the things I've written about then my advice would be get out of that situation as quickly as possible for that isn't what love or a relationship should be about, control and love are not the same things even if the person providing them thinks that they are.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Loneliness, Hermitude, Christmas and not being a social butterfly

I wasn't planning on blogging today but since my body clock decided that I might want to be awake at 6am on a Saturday I have a few hours to fill before I leave to go to Durham for some photo shoots, I have 4 lovely photo shoots right on the top of the hill at Wharton Park, I've been visiting this particular park for several years, well since I started my business, it's the place my Durham clients always request and as it's just a short hop up a very steep hill from the train station it's nicely convenient.

I am hoping that when I am done this afternoon I can have a stroll down into the city and have a wander and hopefully pick up a few Christmas gifts, I love shopping in Durham, it's one of those lovely cities with quirky little shops which sell unusual gift items, I think Santa would probably give Durham 2 thumbs up!

Both of the girls were at dads last night so after a couple of more lively lovely days last night was just far too quiet for my liking, it's never a good thing to be in bed before 10pm, I think that's the worst part of separation and divorce, being apart from your children a lot more than you would like, I'm the first to admit that I'm not exactly the most social butterfly of the year and I would much rather be at home with the kids, I have a couple of Christmas party invitations this year and I am going to drag myself out to them otherwise I think I'll be giving legendary hermit Hannah Hauxwell a good run for her money although I have to say I couldn't live without gas, electric or running water!

It's a little bit of a quandary really to have bouts of loneliness but not actually want to go out into the world and socialise with people because that's far too terrifying, even my recent weekly visits to Slimming World have been just to get weighed and then straight home.  At Christmas I am throwing the doors open to visitors and anyone who wants to come to my house for mulled wine and mince pies is absolutely welcome, especially on Tuesdays once the cleaner has been ;)

and so off into the world I go, well not now, I'm still in my pyjamas writing this from the comfort of my cosy tartan clad bed but soon, on the train for another photographic adventure filled day, oh and if you just happen to be popping in to get the low down on photo shoots, my latest availability is that I will be at Jesmond Dene on November 29th, Saltwell Park on Sunday 7th of December and Tynemouth Longsands on Saturday 13th of December, all have a little availability so get in touch if you would like a photo shoot and as long as you place your order by December 15th I will personally make sure that you have your goodies before Santa Claus pays a visit with Rudolph et al, I'll leave you with my thought for the day... What in the heck am I going to write about in January?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Single parenting, I've got this!

It's been a full on week of sparkle barring the last couple of days when I've been pretty ill, still feeling quite horrid this morning but I'm off into the world for 2 photo shoots in Jesmond Dene this morning and then I'll run home to a blankie on the sofa I think!

This weekend I have 4 photo shoots in Wharton Park, Durham and then 6 in Jesmond Dene on Sunday so it's a much busier weekend than the last couple of weeks but that's a good thing, I really need those 2 weeks off at Christmas without worrying about financial implications, it's always a bit of a battle taking time off when you are self employed!

I have kept up with living a life of sparkle and yesterday once the bin men had taken the 20 black bags I'd cleared from Abigails bedroom I managed to make our seating area just a little bit more sparkly and festive.

It's still a little too early for the Christmas decorations but it's never too early for a bit of extra sparkle in our lives.

I also made a practice batch of peanut butter tablet, a roaring success containing about a million calories in every bite but what the heck, it is going to be for Christmas presents after all.  I've amazed myself this year, I've made blackberry jam, I've pickled beetroot, I've made my own sweet mincemeat, my Christmas cake is maturing nicely, I've made quite good progress with Christmas shopping too, amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it!  I think I might be getting good at this single parenting thing, if I manage to get Abigails room decorated next week then I've nailed it, if only the cats could do housework ;)

So whilst you go about your wonderful weekends enjoy every minute of them and remember that being nice doesn't cost anything at all, be kind to yourselves and others dear reader and I'll be back on Monday to regale you with tales from my weekend, hoping to fit in just a little festive stroll around Durham tomorrow after my photo shoots!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Germs, Christmas Lights and photo shoots

Good morning dear reader, you find me full of germs and other yucky things this morning after I was floored with a White Christmas related cold, yes it's true, when I started watching White Christmas last night I felt fit as a fiddle but by the time it ended I was sneezing my literal head off and so this morning I am hot, full of cold, have a huge headache and I'm sure there's a teeny tiny person sitting in my throat dancing on razorblades!  It's lucky that I am up to date with work and I am also staying home with Abigail today anyway as she's done something to her arm (her right arm) so she's having a day of rest from school and we're going to try and go to the walk in centre to see what she's actually done with it!

Yesterday I found myself completely up to date with work so it feels ok to be ill, I don't feel horribly guilty about it in the way that I sometimes have in the past but it does need to sort itself out and go because I have a super busy weekend with photo shoots in Jesmond Dene tomorrow and Sunday, and also Durham on Saturday.  Really looking forward to the 4 photo shoots in Wharton park, Durham as I don't get there nearly enough anymore and I have lots of lovely Durham clients, I'm always happy to go to Durham when I can find the gaps in my diary, sometimes it's easier than others dear reader!

What else is on the schedule today, well it's the annual Christmas light switch on in Newcastle this evening and somewhat of a tradition for Looby and I, we haven't really missed a year for about 5 years so I am going to stuff myself full of cold medications and vitamin C and we'll hopefully get there as it's always such a festive highlight in our Christmas calendar, singing along en mass to Christmas songs can make even the biggest scrooge feel just a little festive.

So that's your lot for today dear reader, it's been quite a quiet week and I love that, I'll be quite happy to have many many more of those thank you very much!

Have a totally top-tastic Thursday everyone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Groceries, Business, Christmas and Facebook Unfriending

Well good morning to you dear reader, it's Wednesday again, aka hump day (fnar fnar) and what do I have in my schedule?  A photo shoot with an adorable little one in Jesmond Dene and I will be awaiting with eager anticipation my grocery order, my Waitrose driver was so delighted to see me last week "Mrs Charlton, I haven't seen you for ages" he said and that dear reader is why I get my shopping delivered by them.  I was going to sample another supermarket but what a faff it is to actually set up your shopping from the beginning whereas because I'd used Waitrose before I could just go into an old order click everything I wanted and then add other things, I did my Christmas grocery order at the same time, just a warning if you are thinking you might want to do the same, the Christmas delivery slots were already gone, the latest I could get was the 22nd but that's ok, we'll cope I'm sure!

Not wanting to spend an entire blog post talking about my grocery shopping habits, it's well, erm, a bit boring but if I'm honest there's not really a lot going on apart from hard work and enjoying being with the kids when they're around, it's become a quiet period of my life and I for one couldn't be more delighted about that, seriously a few years without any drama whatsoever will be just what the doctor ordered.

Business is incredibly busy and you should note if you want to book a photo shoot that the last order date to guarantee your prints arrive before Santa does is the 15th of December, any orders placed after that date will be available for collection from me in Heaton so there's always the chance you could have a photo shoot on the 20/21st of December and still have prints as long as you can pop down to collect them, I promise to give you some festive sweeties or a mince pie, it is the loveliest time of the year after all.

I realise of course that Christmas is the time of year when many families are together for maybe the only time that year so if you would like to book a photo shoot during my Christmas break please do get in touch, all photo shoots during this time will be from £40 depending on the location you choose.

Finally, I was on my iPad last night when I stumbled across the fact that it's much easier to have a Facebook clearout than ever before, it's literally one click and so I had the biggest clearout ever, I noticed this morning that I'm still on about 750 friends but that's a marked improvement, tidy Facebook, tidy mind people!!

So off you go dear reader, skip and hop all of the way through Wednesday and whatever you do make sure that it's a wonderful thing indeed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Living a life of sparkle

It's been such a long time since I could say that I feel like myself again but I think I am finally getting there, yesterday I caught up to date with work for the first time in a year, mainly thanks to going into my office for a Colleagues On Tap event, surrounded by other business owners with a healthy dose of Jayne Grahams amazing millionaires chocolate shortbread I completed everything that had fallen by the wayside over the last couple of months.  I can't recommend Colleagues on Tap highly enough if you need to just go somewhere and get stuff done, Jayne is also one of the most experienced and knowledgeable business consultants I know (as well as being a whizz in the cake making department).

I think I really started to feel myself again on Sunday, I'd actually been thinking for a few days that living a life of sparkle is the only way forward and believe me when I say that I might not quite be full on sparkle yet but I am definitely getting there and that feels good!

I've ramped up my marketing efforts and I'm pretty sure that I can fill all of my work days from now until Christmas so that I can give the kids an amazing Christmas both by making sure Santa brings some lovely gifts but also by making sure that I am financially stable enough to be able to take the whole of the Christmas holidays off at home with them doing wonderfully festive activities every single day!

So far on the menu for Looby at least is a trip to see Peter  Pan at the Whitley Bay Playhouse, and Get Santa at the Northern Stage and we'll mix that in with lovely long crisp frosty walks and cosy hot chocolates and christmas movies under fluffy blankets, I'd say in front of the fire but the reality is that my fire is electric and it's only ever been used once when the central heating broke, it's definitely not economical and it has a strange smell so no one is going to be cosying around that!

If you are doing your Christmas shopping currently I hear the number 1 best selling Christmas present of 2014 is the Frozen Elsa doll now Looby hasn't mentioned that she wants one but she does still have a bit of a penchant for dolls, I did note that you can get Frozen Top Trumps and they seem like a good stocking filler for under a fiver, they're my top bargain tips for this week, buy them early before they sell out!

So my wish for you all today is to sparkle like a festive thing, I'm not encouraging you to put up your Christmas decorations just yet although I was speaking to someone yesterday who had put their Christmas tree up and when I exclaimed it was quite early they replied telling me that they're quite late with it this year, do people really put their Christmas trees up before the very end of November/beginning of December, when is the correct time to adorn and festoon your halls with holly and such festive decoration, do leave a comment and let me know

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kirkley Hall Christmas Fair, Newcastle Christmas Continental Market and festive photo shoots in Saltwell Park

Good Morning dear reader, it's been a bit of bumper weekend and I'm not sure how we managed to squeeze so many wonderful things in but it's definitely been a good one.

On Saturday the girls and I went to the Kirkley Hall Christmas fair and had a thoroughly festive time, I had mulled cider, the girls did zipwiring, Looby rode a pony, the both went on a big wheel and we bought just a few Christmas presents, it's been lovely this year not working the whole weekend and being able to get into the Christmas mood doing festive things on the 1 day off at weekends.

Yesterday Looby and I went to Saltwell Park for a couple of early photo shoots and then into town for the Christmas continental market which is as ever based around the monument area of Newcastle, I really do recommend a trip, I had an obligatory mulled cider though if I'm honest it wasn't as nice as the one I had at Kirkley Hall but Looby didn't complain about the crepe she had and you know what? It's lovely just wandering around and it definitely fills you with a little festive spirit or actual spirit if you indulge in one too many mulled beverages!

Last weeks suggestions on our family to-do board were written by me and Looby and I managed to do all of them, they ranged from cuddling friendly animals to talk to squirrels, last night I noticed that Looby had written this weeks suggestions which made me smile a lot, I think if we can do all of these things this week it'll probably be the most amazing week we've had this year, I especially can't wait to sing a happy song together as a family and obviously I'm crossing my fingers for adopting a beagle though we still haven't heard about the home check, it'd be good if that happened on a tuesday after the cleaner has been, it's the highlight of my week you know!

Today I am going into my office and I am so near to being up to date for the first time this year that I hope I can achieve everything I have written on the business to-do list on my head, oh and let me share a couple of photos from this weekends family photo shoots in Saltwell Park, since I've changed my pricing to a flat £25 for a half hour in Tynemouth, Saltwell Park or Jesmond Dene things have gotten busy so if you would like to capture some wonderful family memories before Christmas please do get in touch, it'll be your most favourite thing you've done this year...hopefully!  Get in touch via my website, my facebook page or via email


Friday, November 14, 2014

34% off at and Philomenas Boutique, it's the Christmas Shopping Weekend

That's right dear reader today I have spectacular news, it's my annual Christmas shopping weekend and you're all invited and what's more, I have 5 mounted and framed art prints to give away.

To win a framed and mounted copy of The Secret Garden and Ranunculus all you need to do is one of the following things - 

Book a photo shoot (to be taken at any time in 2014) before midnight Sunday and you're entered to win 2 of my framed and mounted art prints.  (remember half hours at Saltwell Park, Tynemouth Longsands and Jesmond Dene are only £25, all other locations and at home start from £40 depending on where you are)
Buy a gift certificate (and get an extra 20% value added) and you'll get an entry.
Place an order from a live gallery on (get 34% discount on many items with the code CHRISTMAS) and you'll get an entry.
Finally make a purchase from Philomenas Boutique and you'll get an entry. (get 34% discount storewide using the code CHRISTMAS)

and I also have 3 more framed and mounted prints which I'm also going to give away randomly throughout the weekend to people who've done one of the above things so there'll be a draw on Friday Evening to win - Freesia

If you do any of the things on Saturday you can win - Hyacinth, Freesia and Anenome

and if you do any of the things on that there list on Sunday you can win a framed and mounted copy of Autumn in the forest at Wallington

That's just three of them, took a quick photo of them as they were framed this morning, you know I would love these on my walls and it's going to be a wrench to actually give them away!

If you have any questions or queries about any aspects of the weekend or you want to purchase gift certificates or book a photography session you can email me here

For each draw over the weekend there must be a minimum of 5 entrants, if there aren't 5 the prize will roll over to the next evening with the maximum roll over being through to the grand prize draw on Monday morning when all 5 prints will definitely go.

Please help me to spread the word about this super Christmas shopping weekend, I couldn't exist as a business without all of my lovely clients and there's a whole lot of thought and preparation gone into this years, more than ever before so tell your friends, shout for your family and there's almost certainly something for everyone.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Headaches, Freedom of Speech and 34% off at Philomena's Boutique

Wow it's 11am already and I'm still in my pyjamas dear reader, tartan pyjamas non the less!  The truth is that I woke up with a huge headache so I've just been bumbling around this morning and not attempting anything too energetic.  I've had this recurring headache for most of the week so I can only assume that it's wholly stress related.  I actually can't wait for the Christmas break this year so I can just spend the 2 weeks at home with my children.

Speaking of my kids, hello to Abigail if you're reading, we went out for dinner last night and she said she skim reads my blog most days but it's not got enough appeal for 12 year olds so just for you Abigail "teen angst, hunger games, mocking jay oh my life is so bad I could cry and everyone hates the world and I hate the world and no there's nothing wrong with me"  There you go, that should appeal to you and any other tweens or teens looking in.

The truth is that I really don't write my blog for anyone but me, it's just kind of an accident that 15,000+ people a month happen to read it, I know it's helped lots of people in similar situations to mine over the years though because I get the emails and the comments and I don't intend to stop writing any time soon, freedom of speech is probably the most important civil liberty we all possess whether that be speaking out about a personal situation or something political you feel must change, i'm actually so proud of Abigail being on the Youth council and I think she can run for a seat in the youth parliament next February, destined to be the next female prime-minister that one!

oh and if you are here to read the exciting news, well 6pm today is the start of my festive shopping weekend where you can win 2 of my framed and mounted art prints, more news of which ones in tomorrows blog post which will be all about this Christmas shopping weekend but just to whet your appetite if you are a lover of my fine art prints get yourself over to Philomena's Boutique and when you are checking out enter the discount code CHRISTMAS and you will bag yourself a whole 34% off just for this weekend, tell your friends, your family, do all of your Christmas shopping and you'll also be entered into that competition to win both of the framed and mounted prints.

There are more ways to win and more ways to save but at the risk of crashing severs I'll just leave you with that first offer until tomorrow.

May your thirsts be quenched with the fabulous flavour of a festive Thursday.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fairy Godmothers, Book bargains and emergency cuddly paws

Wednesday again dear reader, it snuck up upon me like the cheeky little midweek thing that it is, when my alarm went off this morning I could quite happily have switched it off and gone back to sleep, the dark months are coming!

My wonderful cleaner from spark plus services came yesterday and 4 hours later my house looked like it had been magicked by Fairy Godmothers, we could lie on the kitchen floor and eat our dinner from it if we wanted to, that's how clean it is!  I of course don't recommend eating your dinner from the kitchen floor!

Mandys Christmas Bargain - yes it's that day of the week again and this week it's all for the book lovers, until 5th December you can get 3 books for £10 from Amazon, 3 whole books, that's a whole lot of lovely smelling paper, they have adult books and kids books, a really great selection and if you're like me and love something bargainous, that's 3 more Christmas presents sorted and it's not even the middle of November yet!

I had an emergency cuddle from these paws yesterday, lovely to see Sid again and he's a great tonic to the loneliness of being without a dog and only having 2 cats.

Hopefully the loneliness is only temporary and we'll have some new paws to cuddle soon, we're actually just waiting for the home check from the Beagle Welfare association and then we'll hopefully be able to rescue a beagle who needs a new chance in life, we have all of the equipment needed already so it's just a waiting game and we must remain patient, it's not my strong point dear reader but I'll give it a go!

On the work and business front it's my Christmas shopping weekend this weekend with lots of discounts, giveaways and all kinds of fun on both and also Philomena's Boutique, i'll have more news on that over the next couple of days but if you want to be the first to know then you need to be on my lovely mailing list so just click on that link, sign up and you'll be the first to know, you have to wait patiently next to your email box on Thursday at 5pm and then all will be revealed.

And that's all for today dear reader, i'm still a bit battered and bruised because of the events of the last week but I'm trying to be positive every day in many, many ways so go forth and make sure your Wednesday is a wonderful thing.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't ever let yourself be silenced or controlled...

Good Morning dear reader, I just want to start by thanking everyone for their support yesterday, well in fact not just yesterday but on the whole, I feel so many warm thoughts from you and have had literally thousands of readers, hundreds of comments, emails, beautiful words over the last few months and I don't think I would have got through some of the hardest days without you all, you're all amazing.  Of course there are those who would wish upon me to be silenced but one thing I've learnt is that you can't let bullies control your life, obviously they don't want you to speak out, they'd rather no one ever knew of the traumas they'd cause or the hurt they'd inflicted upon you but no one should ever have that power over you and if you are in a similar situation as I know some are then please make a stand and get out of that situation, it's terribly hard but I promise that being in control of your own destiny is so much better than spending a life being controlled.

Today some lovely things are going to happen, my cleaner starts today and that is going to give me back some valuable time, I really am not superwoman and can't do everything so a little help every week from Spark Plus Services is going to go down a treat.

My lovely friend Aggie is also going to come over this morning and bring Sid the spaniel, I really needed to spend time with some cuddly paws and so I guess Sid is my therapy dog for the morning.

I've also just promised Looby I'll do an online grocery shop today, Old mother Hubbard would be impressed if she looked in my cupboards right now!

One thing I am going to treat myself with today is a browse of the very sparkly and lovely Amazon Kitchen and home store, full of festive lovely things as well as everything you need in the home sense to prepare for the upcoming season of holidays as well as some great gifts.  I have my eye on this Dr Who heat reveal mug for a certain teenager, he's very difficult to buy things for and I think he might just like this as a stocking filler.

More than ever at the moment I am forever trying to teach myself to look for the beauty in every day life, it's something I was brilliant at before life was turned upside down and I will be brilliant at finding it again, some days I manage, some days are so overwhelmingly hard it feels somewhat impossible but I keep on striving to do it, todays photo is a sunset that happened last week just as Looby and I were going into town to the Fenwicks Christmas window switch on, it reminds me that even in the darkest moment beautiful things occur all of the time.

Whatever you do today I hope you can find a little beauty in the mundane or the ordinary, just remember when you find it to grasp on to it with all of your heart for it might just get you through an impossible time.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Magical Highs and deep dark lows

This weekend dear reader has mostly been a wonderful magical thing, Looby and I saw Fenwicks window switched on and they made it snow and we saw the Christmas light switch on in Jenners, Edinburgh yesterday,  2 wonderful magical Christmas moments captured forever for Looby and I. We had a wonderful spontaneous day in Edinburgh yesterday, I think we went in every single shop with the name Scotland or Scottish in the name of it, they all sell the exact same overpriced cornucopia of crap (sorry Looby, she hates it when say that C word) but Looby loved every second and we did pick up some thoroughly Scottish Christmas gifts and Looby got a pink kilt which I'm putting under the care of Santa until Christmas day.

Christmas in Edinburgh officially kicks off on the 24th of November so we'll be back in a couple of weeks time for our official Edinburgh Christmas trip, a yearly tradition which helps build our festive feelings, I know you're probably thinking "yeah, like they need help" and it's probably true although of course this year Christmas is a little tinged with sadness and the news that we are no longer allowed to co-parent our beautiful Petunia came out of nowhere last night, it's a pretty heartless man that can refuse to let his own child have the care of the dog we all love so much, for some time now Petunia has thrived and loved every minute that she's spent with us and had I known that the rug was about to be pulled from under us I never would have let her go last week, it's the final act of a desperate bully and Looby cried herself to sleep last night as did I, I just don't think I've anything left in me but fight now and fight I will, I might not win but I will give it a good go.  I guess I never thought it would come to this, I think this has to be the lowest point so hopefully now the only way is up.  

Friday, November 07, 2014

Photographer Newcastle - Changing the way I do business forever....

Good Morning dear reader, I have been thinking about this for a while now and I'm about to announce something historic.

 Being a photographer in Newcastle since the change in my circumstances it's been amazing how much my portrait business has continued to flourish and grow and that's testament to each and every one of you and the support that you've shown.

For many years if photo shoots were at weekends I'd always charged £40 and allowed an hour but because I'm so quick I often end up with spare half hours or 15/20 minutes where I usually just sit around or get a cup of tea and so from today you can choose whether you think you'll need a half hour photo shoot - £25 or a 1 hour photo shoot - £40

The half hour shoots are available at Tynemouth Longsands, Jesmond Dene and Saltwell Park and I am available on Mon/Wed/Thurs/Sat/Sun although I only usually work one day at weekends now.  If you have a family of 4 or less then usually unless your child/children are particularly shy you will only need a half hour photo shoot.

If you would like a photo shoot at home or you have a large family or you want to have your photo shoot somewhere different these will cost from £40 depending on your individual circumstances and requirements and I hope that this pricing is fairer for everyone.

For £25 you will get a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and a complimentary 7x5 print and for £40 you will get a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and a complimentary 12x8 print.

Until Sunday at Midnight if you book a photo shoot you will be entered into a competition to win a framed and mounted print entitled "The Secret Garden" which is from my collection on Philomena's Boutique, it's worth £35 and so not to be sniffed at!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Special offers, Mini Sessions and Loobys continuing quest to own a Unicorn

Brrr, it's freezing this morning dear reader, more than a distinct nip in the air!  I have portraits to shoot in Jesmond Dene this morning and it's definitely going to be chilly ones!

Loads of stuff to tell you about if you are interested in the goings on of my business, if you're not then you should probably just skip through this post, haha!

So, until Sunday if you book a photo shoot or buy gift certificates you will be entered into a competition to win this framed and mounted print worth £35, it'll definitely make someone a lovely Christmas present or if you can't bear to give it away then stick it on your own walls and it will look fabulous!

To tempt you even further if you buy gift certificates before Sunday you will get an extra 20%, so for a half hour session voucher for £25 you will get a gift certificate worth £30 which means more prints for you!

I have a new last minute date for mini sessions at Saltwell Park on Sunday 16th November, I have been getting so many enquiries about doing more mini sessions at Saltwell Park, all the details below

So lots of lovely worky things going on, I'm actually quite blessed with great weather lately, it's been such a lovely dry autumn and that's fab if you work outdoors as much as I do!

Lots of enquiries coming in about doing some mini sessions at Tynemouth even though it's a bit brisk at the coast at this time of year so I may just have a think and announce a date at the beginning of December down by the sea, if you would be interested please do email, send an enquiry through my website or facebook page

Last night we had a great night Looby and I, we went to our local fireworks display and had a ball, then we noticed that 3 separate flats on the way home had full on Christmas decorations up, now I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a Christmas addict but even I think that the 5th of November is a bit early to put your Christmas tree up, presumably none of the trees were real or they'll all be dead by December!

Looby wrote her Christmas list last night, amongst others on the 30 item list is a kitten, a pony and a unicorn, I did tell her that she would have a £100 budget but clearly she has no concept of my budget, item number 26 was "anything else you think I would like"  let me tell you now that she's going to get a lot of item number 26!  I'd actually love to have all of the money in all of the world and be able to buy her everything on the list (Unicorn a bit more tricky unless you're in North Korea) but single parent budgeting is a tough one, it's not that I got any help anyway but I could at least come and go and I pleased and it didn't matter when I racked up 70 hours a week but now I'm working about 20 - 30 hours a week my income has taken some adjustment, I think the biggest impact has only been working 1 day at a weekend instead of 2 but I don't regret that I get to spend a lot more time with the children, I just have to keep working on that residual income, did I mention that Philomena's Boutique is the perfect place to do all of your Christmas shopping this year? 

Whatever you are doing today make sure it's a Thoroughly thankful Thursday!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Bathroom Painting, Frozen Christmas Jumpers and other miscellaneous items!!

The house decoration started in earnest yesterday with some painting of the bathroom, and the painters and decorators of the world need fear nothing, I am quite possibly the worst at painting in the world, thankfully though after 2 coats on the wall that bit is done and I'm doing the second coat on the coving and bathroom door tonight.  Looby helped to paint last night when I got home from Slimming World and for that I am so grateful, apparently she likes painting, maybe she has a future career as a painter and decorator, actually don't tell her that or she'll be horrified that I would suggest anything other than a farmer!

So, I've been thinking about helping you all with your Christmas shopping, it's no secret that I am, well a bit of a bargain hunting shopaholic so I thought I would try and post bargains that I find and then that's your Christmas sorted really, I keep filling my Amazon basket, at the moment it's got 3 very expensive games in it for Iain, lets hope they last him longer than a day!

Mandy's Christmas Bargain - Olaf Christmas Jumpers which start at £5, yes the cheeky snowman from frozen has his own selection of Christmas Jumpers for sale on Amazon and they start at a fiver which is cheap at half the price!  If Olaf doesn't take your fancy, I honestly think you won't find a better selection than the second link and they're all so much cheaper than I've seen on my travels.

You know I mentioned Fenwicks Christmas Window a couple of blog posts ago, well on the official Fenwicks Facebook Page I noticed that there's a big thing on Friday when it's unveiled at 5pm, and yes of course Looby and I will be there, we may even manage to drag along Iain and Abigail if she's here that day.

Sad kitty news as Abigail is moving Cupcake the cat to her dads, it's only fair really as it's her cat and she pines terribly for her on days she's not here, she also doesn't like anyone else apart from Abigail and I suspect that she's always wanted to be a lone cat, I will miss her but much like Abigail I'm rarely her favourite person.  I do think though that if we are down to just 2 kitties and 1 part time woofy that we may have to consider some new paws in our house, probably just a kitten though as Petunia is the best dog in the world and I am definitely not a 2 dog lady!

This morning I am off to my Inspire Network meeting and we've got ourselves a Christmas showcase so I am taking along some exclusive framed prints which are going to make perfect and excellent home gifts for Christmas, what I don't sell will go on my wall and I may even do a giveaway so if you would like to win one of them stay tuned for more news, if I sell them all don't worry, I will get more frames and still do a giveaway very soon!

More bathroom painting this evening, more catching up with work this afternoon but I am nearly there now, just a couple of album tweaks and I will finally be caught up for the first time in forever to pinch some lyrics from Frozen, well everyone else does so why not?

May all of your Wednesdays be wonderful!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Stress, Decorating and Infuriated Voices

I've always hated early mornings, I much prefer late nights if I'm honest but I do seem to achieve more between the hours of 5 and 7 than I do for the rest of the day sometimes dear reader, my mind seems to have greater focus when I've just gotten up so I try to embrace that every day.

Yesterday partially went to plan, I did 2 photo shoots, edited lots of things, did a little album design but most of the day was spent trying to download 1.3gb of images from my good friend Jamie, my goodness, it would have been quicker to walk there and transport them myself, I still don't have them, the interwebs conspired against both of us, I'm trying once more to download again and the great thing about early mornings is that the downloader is saying that it'll only take 23 minutes currently which is slightly better than between 9 hours and 3 days.  I really needed the images yesterday so i'm quite keen that they download!

At the moment there's an infuriated voice which keeps shouting at me, usually when I'm trying to work, the space I asked for really didn't equate to a month, in fact it seems to happen every time I try to work so maybe my calendar is being looked at and it's being done on purpose, anyway I finally snapped and fingers crossed I won't have to deal with anything now until at least after Christmas, surely it's not too much to ask for a month of space so you can think and reflect and make proper decisions which will last for the rest of your life.  The truth is that the more that I get bothered the more I realise the level to which I was being controlled and the happier I am to be free of it, I actually love life on my own with my kids, cats and dog and even though I'm a little bit knackered fitting everything in all of the time I think I do a pretty good job of single parenting, I just have to remind myself that I am not actually wonder woman and stop setting myself standards that are unachievable by anyone other than actual superheroes.

I bought the final paint for my bathroom dear reader, a trio of shades for what is going to be one of the most luxurious rooms in the house, the plan is dark duck egg walls, silver coving and  light grey satin wood, I then need to investigate the possibility of a tap set which has a shower thing on it, in the 10 years of living in my house the one thing I have hated is the fact that if I want to go in the shower I have to do it in a hotel, well now I know there's nothing I can't do without the trusty help of a plumber, I'm looking for recommendations if anyone knows of one who speaks in the queens english and not grunts!

So this is my plan for today, edit wedding even though it's my day off because I should have finished it yesterday but those files, yes those damn files.... (10 minutes it's taken this morning, thank you universe) paint bathroom, meet with Janet from Spark Plus Services, yes that's the lovely cleaning company I mentioned, hopefully by this time next week my kitchen floor will be gleaming!  Oh and then it's Slimming World tonight which is pretty much going to be a bust again after I consumed too much chocolate because I was so stressed out yesterday.

Come on Tuesday, be terrific, you can do it!
© Mandy Charlton - Photographer, Writer, Blogger | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig