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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A half term trip to the South Lakes Safari Zoo

Continuing on from our restful stay at St Mary's Inn we had hatched a cunning plan with my lovely friend Harriet to have a half term day trip to the South Lakes Safari Zoo, just 1 day of nothing but fun, animals and friendship, Looby, Harriet and I set off at 7.30am with excitement in our hearts and a tune or two on our lips with lots of singing along to "old people music" as Looby likes to call it.

The weather I think you would say was dreich, lots of rain and mist and fog but it didn't for a moment dampen our excitement, Harriet knew Looby and I would love the South Lakes Safari Zoo, the animals are so free, it's not unusual for a cheeky lemur to jump on your hand or for an Ostrich to suddenly stop you in your tracks because it's inquisitive and wants to know exactly who you are.  Every enclosure brings you closer to the animals than in any other zoo I've been to and the fact that a lot of the animals just have the run of the park is amazing!

One of my favourite findings was that the South Lakes Safari park is free for children and that's all children, not just the under 5's, the only extra cost was if you wanted to feed some of the animals, which of course we did, have you ever fed a giraffe?  I can say I have and I adore Giraffes, I think I adore them even more now.

The food selection was pretty good although there wasn't a great deal in healthy choices but you do usually find that's the case with most zoos, theme parks and the like, Dorito seemed to like the chips though!

Looby absolutely loved the whole experience but I would have to add that Harriet and I were probably the biggest children there, I nearly cried after my giraffe experience as it was so magical and I didn't even mind when I got jumped upon by an aforementioned cheeky lemur who put his muddy footprints all over the sleeve of my new Joules jacket!

When we left the park we did a quick detour past lake Windemere just after sunset, I quickly shouted to pull over the car as I'd seen the extraordinary colours of the sky and in a perfect moment I managed to catch the last red hued light of the day as it set over the autumnal landscape.

It seems like weeks ago now and I've been booked solidly ever since even if the weather has lead to one or 2 more rescheduled sessions than I'd like.  I'm pleased to say now though that weekend photo shoots are booked right up until Christmas with the exception of 2 half days, PM on the 13th and 19th of December so if you would like to book a photo shoot at weekends before the end of the year those are your two easy choices, just send me an email or a Facebook message and we'll get that set up.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Dog Friendly Accommodation at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth

Let me take you back a couple of weeks when the weather was warm and sunny and the leaves were still mostly on the trees, the whole of the North East was basking in unseasonable gorgeous warm sunshine and I felt glad to be alive!  I mostly feel glad to be alive but it was half term week and I had a few days off so when the lovely people at St Mary's Inn asked if we wanted to come for a night with Holly the Beagle to check out their dog friendly accommodation I jumped at the chance for this was time I could not only take out of my busy schedule but also that I could freely embrace the quality time spent with Looby and Holly, something which doesn't happen as much as I'd like right now with our increasingly hectic schedules, Looby is of course a social butterfly and goes out to things more often than I do, don't let her tell you any differently!

The St Mary's Inn is based just outside the centre of Northumbrian market town Morpeth on a private estate in Stannington Village, Morpeth is one of my most favourite towns as as well as being beautiful in all seasons it's also one of the most dog friendly towns you could hope to visit up in the North East.  The St Mary's Inn with it's dedicated dog friendly room for those wishing to have a night away with their beloved pet fits in brilliantly as the perfect dog friendly destination. The colourful history of St Mary's Inn is that it's been converted from the administration centre of the former county asylum though these days you're more likely to find relaxed tranquility than 2000 patients which is housed at it's peak.

The dog friendly room we stayed in was so lovely and new and sparkly clean that I was a little worried about letting Holly off her lead to start with, she really loved it and I'm pleased to say that after a couple of hours running around in the surrounding fields she was super quick to settle in, especially when she noticed that her needs had been catered for, a smart dog bowl, blanket and some tasty gourmet treats made this room fit for Queen Holly of the beagles.  We humans were also spoiled with the extensive selection of Aaron Aromatic toiletries, a company I adore.

On the afternoon of our arrival after bounding through the long grass I decided to treat Looby to her most favourite thing ever, an afternoon tea, can I just say that it was possibly my favourite afternoon tea of all time, not expensively priced and available every day I can't recommend you go highly enough.  I'm not even sure how we managed to fit in dinner later in the day but we did, I had the Cote de Beouf and well, there are not enough delicious words in the English language to accurately describe a dish which was more of an experience than a main course.  If they have it on the menu when you go please do try it!

I have to say that I had a great nights sleep, it's so lovely being in the middle of the countryside when you live in the city, there's a calm and peacefulness about the location of the St Mary's Inn and when Holly and I went for morning walks it felt like we had the whole of the Northumbrian countryside to ourselves.  All too soon it was time to come home back to real life and work but not until we'd eaten a splendid full english breakfast full to the brim with locally sourced produce.  We had our breakfast and evening meal in the bar as the restaurant is dog free and quite rightly I feel as not everyone wants to sit next to Holly whilst having a quiet dinner, especially not Holly, a hound known for her expression and shall we say conversation.  

we did meet several other dogs in the bar, all friendly and all seemingly enjoying the cosy comfort, Looby said she felt so relaxed she wanted to come down for breakfast in slippers and pjyamas, I think we may have been taking it a step too far to try that though, oh well, there's always next time!!
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