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

Friday, February 27, 2015

7 reasons your next short break holiday should be to a Scottish city

Scotland, place of my ancestry, the place I feel most at home when I hear the dulcet tones of the bagpipes as I rise from Waverley Station in Edinburgh.  I've been getting itchy feet of late, the ones that tell me it's time to pack a bag, grab my dog and get on a train, I think the promise of spring is almost too enticing and I know that it won't be long before I am planning a whole new season of travel.

With that in mind, here's some photos and my 7 reasons you should make one of the 7 Scottish cities your next short break or holiday destination this year.

  1. Visit the National Wallace Monument in Stirling and find out about William Wallace, pretend you are Braveheart and more importantly see the amazing views as you climb to the very top, when we were walking down last year we even saw a fawn in the woodlands only a few foot from us, it was rather shocked when it turned around and saw us!

  2. Search for the Nessie whilst you cruise Loch Ness on a Jacobite Cruise I did the 3 hour Reflection Cruise which sails from Tomnahurich bridge in Inverness, it then sails up the Caledonian canal and out into Loch Ness where it passes beautiful historic Urquhart Castle, it's the most relaxing reflective 3 hours I think I've ever had to myself, last year of course I didn't have Holly the beagle but looking at their website I see that they are dog friendly so guess where I'll be taking my favourite little beagle this year, I'm sure she'd love to find Nessie!

  3. Get with your science and other amazing museums in Glasgow, so OK, the Science museum is the only one you actually have to pay for and the other 13 are all completely free which I think is pretty staggering, if you are short of finances but want to be big on fun with the kids then why not go to Glasgow and visit some of it's fantastic museums.  My children's favourite is the Glasgow science centre and I want to go back this year to actually go up the Glasgow tower which has been broken on every single visit so far!  Hopefully this year I might finally be able to enjoy those amazing views of Glasgow though I have to say that they're pretty impressive from the huge windows in the Glasgow Science Centre 

  4. Rev up your physical activity levels, there's nowhere quite like Scotland if you love the outdoors, you can walk and walk and walk, we did that just last year when we visited pretty wee city Perth, we spent the entire day there just walking, Looby and I enjoyed it so much and they have one of the best parks for children that I've ever been complete with trampolines!

  5. Adorn yourself in tartan from head to toe, a visit to Edinburgh means you'll never be short of shopping experiences and with just about every single shop on the royal mile selling tartan you'll find everything from hats to scarves to shoes and ever underwear in pretty much every tartan you can imagine. You can even buy earmuffs with Highland Coos on them.

  6. Find out about Scott of The Antarctic - yes, I know it's not your first thought about a visit to Scotland but if you visit Discovery Point in Dundee, you can do exactly that, also don't forget to take a trip up to the Dundee Law and admire the Tay bridge, a thing of great beauty, especially from up high. 

  7. Marvel at the architecture, Scotland has it all when it comes to historical architecture and there's nowhere quite like the Scottish city of Aberdeen, I've been to a lot of cities and Aberdeen was just completely different to any other city, it has a beach, it has a teeny quaint Scottish fishing village, it has one of the oldest Churches in the country,  The Cathedral Church of St Machar and it has of course got a massive oil industry, take a walk and admire the diverse architecture Aberdeen has to offer. 

So with all of that and more that Scotland's 7 cities have to offer you really should make one of them your destination for your next short break holiday, quite simply, Visit Scotland.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Top 10 dog friendly places to eat in the North East of England

This blog post has been coming for a while, well mostly since Holly and I have been travelling the length and breadth of the North East of England looking for great places to eat/drink which also happen to be dog friendly.  You can add another request into that if you add Looby into the mix, dog friendly and child friendly don't always go together so it's taken a few months to come up with our top ten list.

I should state that this list is in no particular order, lots of these places Holly and I equally love and it doesn't seem fair at this stage to completely judge one over the other so here they are without further ado.

  1. Teasy Does It, this wonderful coffee shop is literally just around the corner from where I live in Heaton, it's on Heaton Park road and open every day apart from Mondays when they no doubt have a well earned rest!  Holly is always given a lovely welcome and treats and no one ever complains when she does her obligatory Aroo's.
  2. Kitscheners, based within totally dog friendly shopping arcade The Land of Green Ginger, Tynemouth, a friendly welcome awaits for both children and doggies at this vintage styled cafe, treats, water bowls and great food for humans plus a lovely friendly feel at this fabulous retro diner.
  3. Black and Grey in Morpeth is fabulous, within minutes the staff had all come to say hello to Holly and the food for humans is wonderful plus they do a 2 course special for under a tenner meaning you can take a friend for lunch and a soft drink for £20 or less!!
  4. Brandling Villa, based in South Gosforth so good are they with dogs that they even have a doggy menu, I recommend the chicken that comes in cat gravy, that's Hollys favourite, strange thing is that you can get a Sunday lunch for your dog but they don't do actual Sunday lunches.  They also have a resident beagle so that was always going to score extra points with me.
  5. The Red Kite, Winlaton, this pub is not at all far away from the National Trust property Gibside, because at Gibside you can't take your dog in the coffee shop this is a great place to do lunch and it's really reasonably priced and treats were offered to Holly upon our arrival much to her delight, she does love a treat does Holly.
  6. The City Tavern, based just off Northumberland Street in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne Holly was welcomed with open arms, I was attended to at my seat so I didn't have to leave Holly and go to the bar and they couldn't have been more friendly, a huge bowl of dog water and gourmet dog treats available at the bar.  I also loved their human menu, think Gastropub.  There are 3 residents dogs so do look out for them though they're not always mingling, if you're not a huge fan of the woofy friends then head upstairs.
  7. The Priory, that's the pub not the actual priory, based in Tynemouth, always full of the cutest doggies and their wonderful owners, a warm welcome awaits along with a tasty home cooked menu for all of the human family.
  8. The Surf Cafe, Tynemouth, yes if you're reading this list, Tynemouth is probably the most dog friendly village in the whole of the North East and this gem of a cafe is well worth a visit, it's not the biggest cafe and if you go at weekends then you might have to squeeze in but it's always full of people and dogs and really, seriously great food.
  9. The Waterford Arms, Seaton Sluice Holly and I just had Sunday lunch here yesterday and we were given a lovely welcome, no one minded that Holly was in a particularly Aroo'ing mood due to being mid walk rather than at the end of the walk.  I think she really enjoyed eating tasty morsels under the table though and the staff were lovely even though they were rushed off their feet. Not the prettiest pub I've been to but the food more than makes up for it.
  10. Vista Mar, Saltburn a bit of a random find when visiting this pretty little village by the sea last week, the food was lovely though and it's just situated in a really pretty place, I'd love to go back in summer when it's hot and sunny and sit outdoors on the decking looking out to sea.
I'd love to hear from you if you have any great recommendations for dog friendly places to eat/drink/shop in the North East of England or even beyond, Holly and I will be getting our travel on soon and roaming the length and breadth of the country for great places to eat/stay, are you a pub/hotel/coffee shop you'd like to invite Holly and I to, we're actively looking for great places to review on my blog so get in touch and then we can spread the word about how wonderful you are!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Exploring Newcastle Upon Tyne

Yesterdays half term activity involved just me and Looby, I was determined that I would smash my step target and that we'd also walk to somewhere we hadn't been before, I wasn't quite sure where we'd end up if I'm honest but I love to just go out and I love being an explorer in my own city, start walking and then keep walking and of course Holly never complains.

So we walked down through the Ouseburn Valley, past the farm and seven stories and then made our way along the quayside where we stopped for a quick backpack picnic and then we turned around and walked all the way along the quayside to St Peters Basin, somewhere I had never been!  Who knew that there's a beautiful marina less than 20 minutes walk from my house!  On a summers day I'm going to go and sit down there, have lunch at The Bascule and pretend I am somewhere overseas and cosmopolitan.

My only wonder about it is that it was so quiet, how can that be, why aren't there thriving little boutiques, coffee shops, tourists, surely somewhere so pretty deserves to have that?  All I can think of is that it's such a walk out of the city and you would never know about it unless you know where it is. I do sort of feel that more should be done to sell it and then maybe it could become a thriving tourist destination, it reminded me a lot of the marina at Hull and Looby said it reminded her of the Albert dock in Liverpool.

From there we walked along the Byker Link, again something I didn't even know existed, basically it goes from just behind Shields Road right down to the banks of the Tyne and again it's been a bit neglected and is very overgrown, goes through some slightly salubrious parts and I wouldn't fancy walking down there after dark.

I'd like to see more tourist developments in the East of the city, I know we have the Ouseburn Valley but even that is a bit neglected in parts, I love that I live in the artists area of my city but i'd love to see it become even more thriving than it is currently!

Here's some photos from our epic walk.

So 14,000 steps after we left the house we were back home again feeling healthy, happy and a little tired, I love being an explorer in my own city and if you don't have any plans for today why not go and be an explorer in your city and don't forget to tell me what you find.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Half term fun in North East England with the kids and dogs

Good Morning dear reader, it's Wednesday again, half way through the half term holidays so well done if you have made it to this point!  I'm having a bit of a chill this morning while I wait for Looby to come home from her friends where she spent the night!

It's been a bit of an epic couple of days here with days out at Kielder and my favourite National Trust property, Cragside

There've been a lot of giggles, a few hissy fits and the occasional 'What on earth?" and I have to say that I am a bit tired today but that's because I've been clocking up 12-14,000 steps a day!

There's no secret that I love spending time with the kids and I love school holidays, it just suits the way I live, no early mornings and waking up when your body (or your dog) thinks you should.  I've said for many years that if I had of known about home schooling much sooner than I did I would have done it, at least with Looby anyway as she's such a free spirit it would really have suited her and she's not at all looking forward to secondary school, she often says she'd love to just give it all up and travel around the country with me and she informs me that everything she needs to know in life she can learn from me or daddy.

I think the rest of the week we have a beach day planned tomorrow, sounds lovely, the reality is it'll probably be the coldest day out yet!  I also quite fancy a museum day but I think we'll have to leave Holly at home for that one unless we go to dog friendly Beamish, I should state now if you're reading and want to take your dog, I wouldn't if I was going for the first time as you can't take them in any of the buildings barring the pub but as we've been so many times before and a ticket lasts for a year it doesn't really matter if we just stick to the outside areas!

It's funny when you have dogs, you have to get to know places again, you need to discover the dog friendly spaces and places and I have a full blog post coming up soon all about the dog friendliest places in the North East, I am still on a voyage of discovery though so if there's anywhere you would like me to try or you run somewhere dog friendly you think Holly and I would love then do get in touch.

So lets have a few photos from Cragside and Kielder...

Petunia the Husky (Holly's BFF) doesn't like water, however, she's also a bit daft and didn't even realise she was in water until she was up to her middle!

I haven't been hiding an extra child, this is Looby's BFF who came along yesterday, she's exactly like Looby and together they're double trouble!

So that's been the week so far, I hope you're all having fun, do stop by and comment and let me know what you've been up to and I hope you all have the best time for the rest of the week.

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