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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Come with me on a Scottish adventure

Well we did it, we made it to the end of term, the end of primary school forever and there were so many tears shed and hugs given to all of the teachers who'd played such an important part of my children's younger years, it was a day full of emotion and by the time we made it to our home for the week in Edinburgh Looby and I were both completely exhausted.

On Saturday we awoke to an incredibly windy day but for the most part it was at least sunny and not too cold, we wandered to Leith, back up Leith Walk and by the time we got back we'd amassed 20K

This last year I have blogged about pretty much everything from my life, business, work, relationship, travel so it seems quite appropriate to want to bring you dear reader along for the journey on our Scottish adventures.  It sunk in last night that I have a couple of weeks of not having to do very much at all, barring the odd 20K a day ;)

All of the photos I'm going to post this week are a mix of iPhone and Xpro1 which have been lightly edited using Instagram, yes I know it's a little lazy but that's the fun of a wifi card and it is my holidays after all.

Edinburgh is such a dog friendly city and it's also a child friendly city, its when you have both that there becomes a problem, lots of the pubs won't allow kids because of the Scottish licensing laws and so you end up with this strange problem of lots of places I could take Looby without Holly, Holly without Looby and not so many that meet in the middle, of course if it's sunny then options are extended, sadly it's rained nearly every day so far but I hold out hope that the weather improves over the next few days.

There are some places we have been which I feel deserve a mention for their welcoming attitude both to Looby and Holly and they are -

White Stuff on George Street, Holly has never had such a fuss and oh my, you must go and check out the changing rooms, no seriously, it's like a magic kingdom. I love to window shop in White Stuff, even if I mostly end up buying my actual White Stuff clothing from charity shops!

Gaia on Leith Walk, scrumptious Italian deli welcoming doggies and humans, it's only teeny tiny as is Castello Coffee just off Princes Street but they do lovely coffee and are both super cosy when it's throwing it down which is pretty much all of the time, did I mention it's rainy?

We also love The Roamin Nose in Stockbridge, lovely homemade granola and again super coffee.

We did also do something fun today for Looby and Holly, we went on the Majestic Tour, it was throwing it down and to be honest I was just glad to sit down for a while and see the sights.

We've now amassed nearly 50k in 3 days and had very little cake, we've been in the park across the road from us a lot and it would have been even more if that soggy stuff would actually just stop falling.

Tomorrow Looby wants to go to the charity shops of Stockbridge which means I'll be standing outside most of the charity shops of Stockbridge with Holly or maybe I'll just find the nearest dog friendly cafe and wait for her in there, wish me luck!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

End of Year Report...

School breaks up tomorrow for 6 long weeks of high summer, the peak of the year, my favourite part of the year, I don't know if it's because I have children but I always feel like that last day of term is also my end of year, this year has been the hardest work ever to get to this point, I am ready for 6 weeks of easier living, no early alarm calls and definitely no schedules! I have 2 weddings, one one the 8th of August and one on the 5th of September and that feels ok to me, I have weeks ahead where I have portraits every single day and in fact at weekends I don't have any availability until August 16th and for that I am truly grateful, I'm not one to sit on my laurels and take things for granted, well not now anyway, I know that things can change within the blink of an eye and I'll never stop being grateful for the things I do have.

So here we are, end of term, end of year, adventure awaits teasing us just hidden around that final corner and so it's good to look back over some recent highlights, since about April I have fallen in love with photography all over again, like any relationship there are ebbs and flows but I feel I am in my groove, in love with what I do and I think you can see it in the images.

Here's what I've been up to lately - 

It's mostly been a glorious summer so far and I hope that the sunshine doesn't go and hide now that the schools are breaking up, I've seen the weather for Scotland for the weekend and it looks like Looby and I will need to pack jumpers and waterproofs rather than sunscreen and swimming costumes.  I don't think we ever envisioned that Edinburgh would have the same temperatures as Majorca or the Balearics but it'd be nice if we came back with a bit of colour in our cheeks rather than full on wind burn, failing that we'll just have to find a dog friendly book shop and hide in there for the next couple of weeks.

I'm going to try and blog bits and pieces over the summer holidays but my reader numbers always drop as everyone goes away on holidays and changes their schedules and it's much the same here, I've done so well with blogging this year and increased my readership significantly, hello out there if you're reading, you're brilliant you are!

So let me take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful sunshiny summer full of paddling pools and picnics, beaches and BBQ's, sunshine and surf and even if you can't check in with me once a week lets all resume our thrice weekly meetings in September when we'll all be relaxed, refreshed and ready to go, new pencil cases in hand for a whole new year, I'll have got through a year of single parenting by September 4th, that's got to be worth a rosette or something!


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Dog Friendly Scottish Holidays are almost here....

I get really excited about holidays, I research them, I plan them, I read everything I can about the places I'm going to and this year is no different other than we're holidaying on a budget, 1 week plant sitting in Edinburgh, whatever I do, don't let me forget to water the plants or a very lovely person might go off me! and then after Edinburgh we're going to spend 6 days at an AirBnB in Bo'ness near Linlithgow, cost of holiday in it's entirety is so far under £250 including travel which isn't bad considering we're going First Class to Edinburgh.  By the way, if you click on the Airbnb link you'll get £16 off your first booking, every little helps!  Obviously we'll have food to take into consideration but I am sure that we will still end up having a 2 week holiday which costs a lot less than it would if we were going to somewhere overseas and of course we'll be taking Holly, something we definitely couldn't do if we were going to a beach holiday in Spain.

I think for me I'm an explorer, an adventurer, a mummy and a dog mummy and so all I need to make me happy is some good weather, some dog friendly hotspots and some nice people to spend the time with.

Our lovely Airbnb hosts have already asked us to go for a trip on their barge through the Falkirk Wheel so we couldn't turn that down as it's literally so exciting!

I'm also planning to visit a friend and her family, we have known each other for 10 years and yet, would you believe we have never met, I think hugging my lovely friend Kirsteen in person is way overdue.

I'm ridiculously excited to go on the trains of the Bo-Ness and Kinneil railway, It's totally dog friendly and you know how Holly loves her train travel.

I've also been doing a lot of consultation with the Dugs in Pubs website, as I may have mentioned previously there are pubs in Scotland which due to the licensing laws will allow you to take your dog in but not your daughter, luckily they have a list of family friendly pubs for us to partake in luncheons and evening meals.

I can't wait to visit the areas of Leith (my dad was born there) and Portobello as they're apparently 2 of the most dog friendly places in Scotland and the area of Stockbridge was already on our list from last time we were there because not only is it dog friendly it's laden with Looby's favourite shops (and mine too if I am honest), charity shops!

Some of the plans include Ice-Cream at Afoggato, I hear they're working on a gelato just for the woofy ones!

Lunch at Zazou, Edinburghs only floating cafe, I know Looby doesn't especially like boats and I've already mentioned two but I am determined that we can get rid of her fear of canal boats at least!

Pastries at Manna House which is a bakery, totally dog friendly and I'm sure full of cakey goodness. Let me tell you that I have a weigh in tonight and one next Tuesday and then all bets are off until I come back from my holibobs!  Hopefully Holly and I walking so much will at least offset some of the cake!

I'm also planning a day out at Helix & Kelpies which is in Falkirk, a huge outdoor space with giant metal horse heads, an enormous outdoor play area and also a water play area it's perfect for children and doggies, I am taking 1 of each as a precaution, haha!

There are I noticed several National Trust for Scotland properties nearby us in both places we're going so if I can squeeze in one or two of those subversively it'll be a very good thing,  dog friendly in the grounds mostly at all of them I might just need to trick Looby into going, she's not a big fan of "Historic" which is surprising considering she's my daughter.  Oh well, it'll be terrible if we just happen to stumble on some of them on any of our bus and train journeys whilst we're there!

If you are reading this and think there's anywhere essential I need to try out please leave me a comment or send me an email , you know I always love hearing from you.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Burglars, Heat and too much Rain

This week has been another odd one, ever since we were first burgled about a month ago we've had the same guys come back every single week and we think they even stole Loobys replacement mobile phone as she swore she left it on the kitchen table, went out to play and then came back and it was gone.  I've always felt safe in my own house, even when my agoraphobia was at it's worst I still felt secure in my own house but that's changed and now I am uber jumpy even when in my favourite spaces, every time Holly barks or the cats shuffle things about downstairs I get jumpy, even though I know we're locked in and no one can get us I find myself living in a constant state of anxiety.  This time when the burglars came I was in my garden, I ended up shouting at one of them, running into my house, locking the door and calling the police, who to their credit were with me in minutes.  It seems they still can't actually catch the perpetrators though and it's really starting to get to me, this time they advised me to buy some home surveillance stuff and of course I did that straight away so hopefully when that arrives we'll finally be safe because if they do try their luck again there'll be video evidence.

It's one of those times where if I could move house I would go tomorrow, whilst I'm not one for running away from problems in this case I think it could provide some of the solutions, sadly though until my girls leave secondary school and Iain leaves college it's not even an option.

This week has also been hot, really hot, too hot for Holly the beagle hot, we've started walkies at 6/7/8 or even 9pm at night when it's cooling down and it's definitely helped her feel better, yesterday I even resorted to giving her a cool bath which she wasn't amused about as she hates water but she definitely perked up afterwards even if she did have a bit of a huff with me about it!

I've had some lovely outdoor photo shoots this week, one on Monday when the weather was a little dull but quite warm and 1 on Tuesday when it was pretty full on hot up in my clients gloriously huge garden in Stocksfield, mostly though the weather continues to plot against me at weekends and I'm sitting here on a very rainy Saturday morning having moved all of  this mornings photo shoots to a hopefully much sunnier afternoon later today.  It's weird that the weekdays seem to be so sunny and the weekends rainy, maybe it's always like this but because I've shot mainly portraits instead of weddings this year I've noticed it more!  I've always been quite lucky when it comes to sunshine and weddings so once my diary is full again you'll be able to celebrate with sunny weekends again.

In just a couple of weeks it'll be holiday time and I can't wait, I am so ready for a couple of stress free weeks where I don't have to think about anything other than Looby, Holly and I, no alarms, no work, just adventures, speaking of which I haven't actually planned what we're doing on our second weeks holiday, I've offered Looby a flat in Glasgow and a houseboat near Stirling, both of which I found on Airbnb but she's not keen on either of them, she doesn't do flats or boats apparently, I may have to resort to a blindfold for her so that she can't see where we're staying, heehee!

Lets hope this week ahead brings more sunshine, less burglars and more holiday choices!


Friday, July 03, 2015

A dog friendly break at The Royal Mackintosh Hotel, Dunbar, Scotland

I just happened to check my blog this morning and realised that my last post was more than a week ago so huge apologies, time has just gotten away with me, wrapping up things for summer has overtaken the need for everything else and my life has become a whirl of photo shoots, editing and end of term commitments.

Looby has been really stressed about her transition from primary to secondary school, so much so that I decided to take her away on my latest travel assignment, a quick dog friendly break in Dunbar,

I've never been to Dunbar so didn't really know what to expect and imagine my surprise to discover that we were actually checked into the only dog friendly hotel/bar/restaurant in the whole town, living somewhere with dog friendly places in almost every area of Newcastle I still find it a little alien to visit places which aren't as accepting of Holly.

The train journey from Newcastle to Dunbar takes around an hour and for a cheap return ticket bought the day of travel with our friends and family railcard it was £29 which I don't think is bad at all.  Holly loves the train and she's always welcomed and fussed and petted by the lovely staff on Virgin Eastcoast.

The Royal Mackintosh Hotel is conveniently situated just a couple of minutes away from the train station which is a Godsend when you have bags, children and a dog in tow and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that our room was cavernous and contained not only a four poster bed but also a delightful settee with views out of the window down to the beach.

The weather was a little blustery, not so summery or sunny but we managed to have a wander around the town without getting too wet, we were sad to find that the hotel wasn't able to serve food due to a fault in the kitchen so we ended up getting fish and chips and bringing them back to our room, the hotel did try to find us somewhere dog friendly to eat but nowhere else in Dunbar is, shame on you Dunbar, you have such a beautiful seaside town perfect for long dog walks maybe you should consider that if you were slightly more accepting of our four legged friends you would attract more tourism into your beautiful town.

I have to say that I'd never expected Dunbar to be quite so beautiful as it was, I think it's somewhere I would love to wander around and what the town lacks in dog friendliness the Royal Mackintosh hotel makes up for, I spotted several dogs whilst we were staying, they're allowed throughout the hotel except for the restaurant, luckily the bar also serves the same menu and we had breakfast brought to our room on Friday morning, something that Looby loved, at 11 she still thinks that room service is a magical wonderful thing.

Holly slept on a little put me up bed at the bottom of our bed and she had a great nights sleep and the next morning we awoke to some temporary sunshine which we made the most of!

After a lovely 5 mile walk the skies became overcast and it wasn't long before there was a downpour, with 2 hours left until our train the only option we had was to return to the Royal Mackintosh Hotel for some lunch in the bar, if it had been sunny we could have sat outdoors at a couple of lovely looking coffee shops so it's a bit of a shame that we didn't get to experience anywhere else but our lunch at the Royal Mack was entirely delicious and I can't recommend their rooms or indeed their hospitality highly enough.

Will I return to Dunbar again soon? I'd love to but I'd also like the burgh of Dunbar to work on being more welcoming to our woofy companions!  Interestingly I don't know what I would have done if Looby hadn't been with me as I wouldn't have been able to go in to the fish and chip shop so I literally wouldn't have been able to eat for 24 hours.

Next stop Edinburgh in just a few weeks and after signing up to the dugsinpubs website I'm delighted to find that there are 378 listings for dog friendly places in Edinburgh, that makes this beagle mum a very happy lady!

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