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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Live a Life More Colourful #JBColourful

When Joe Browns got in touch to say that they wanted to work with me I did a little jump in the air, I've long been a fan of their quirky boho fashions, a brand who are all about living for the moment and enjoying yourself is most definitely something I can get on board with.

I've been wearing their clothes for a few years now but I'd never tried their shoes so when they told me I could pick anything for their #JBColourful campaign my eyes fell straight upon these beauties.

Joe Browns, Mandy Charlton, Photographer UK

I loved shooting this series of images, it's great to do something completely different and being someone who loves a colourful life I feel they definitely chose the right photographer for this job.

I also had the perfect location with lovely coloured walls, it's just a shame that 55 Degrees North have repainted the pink wall blue, that pink wall was my favourite!

Luckily there's still the awesome yellow wall to add to the blue so I had a lot of fun with these pretty vintage shoes against all the various colours down there.

Now then, you may be wondering about how I managed to do this, was it a tripod and a remote trigger or did I simply detach my own ankles?

Luckily I had a secret weapon for this photo shoot, my lovely daughter Looby!  Looby as you know has had a rough time of it lately but we were delighted to get home from the hospital on Friday evening and she bounced out of the doors this time, I feel we have beaten the infection this time and so we finally went to shoot these images last night, I had backup feet on standby but I'm so glad I didn't need them as Looby had so much fun being a model, it's great when you can share shoes with your mum because they have the same sized feet.

When you look at her on these photographs you wouldn't realise that she'd had surgery a week ago and two rounds of surgery this month, kids are so very resilient and Looby is a lesson in just how brave we all should be in times of tension.

I think Looby exemplifies everything that Joe Browns is about, she certainly makes every day more colourful, she always lives life to the fullest and leaps and bounds through the weeks, there's always a cartwheel here and a handstand there, I don't know where she gets the energy from but I hope she always remains this way.

So go ahead now people, use Looby as your example and go live a life more colourful!

Mandy Charlton for Joe Browns #JBColourful


Thursday, March 24, 2016

And so this is Easter....

This year for Easter I made big plans, I invited my lovely best friends Li and Harriet over for a big family Easter lunch along with Paul and Abigail, Looby, Iain and me, it's been in the planning for quite a while and I wanted to cook and bake up a storm, there would be spring decorations in the house and fresh floral arrangements everywhere, oh and don't forget chocolate eggs so affluent that a whole farm of magical hens must have laid them.  And then Looby got sick...

Spending the last month in and out of surgery and hospitals has meant, I haven't done any grocery shopping, I haven't bought a single easter egg and all of the other decorations are now sold out of every shop I might have thought of getting them from.

We're still here today, we don't know if we'll get home and if we do there's guaranteed to be nothing left in the supermarkets, I can't even do a pre-emptive online order just in case our going home doesn't happen, they mentioned it yesterday and then we got a no today so what on earth can you do?  
We're lucky and blessed that this isn't forever and today we've seen not just one but two Easter bunnies, I'm not sure if one was just a helper or maybe they were Mr and Mrs, you know how prolific bunnies can be, they both brought chocolate eggs for Looby though so I sort of feel better about my lack of Easter egg purchasing, as for my poor other children I think they're going to have to be happy with some spare cash (that's a hilarious thought after spending so much time in hospital, do you know how expensive it is?).

My lovely friends are still coming for Easter wherever we happen to be and for that at least I am truly thankful, If we do make it out of here I may suggest an Easter picnic, maybe at Kielder or one of our other favourite Easter picnic spots, Looby is champing at the bit to get up and out for a while and though I know I am the ultimate protective paranoid mummy at the moment I think in reality that getting out into the air for a big walk would do us all the world of good.

What lies ahead in the next 2 weeks school holidays is still uncertain, next week will be Loobys fifth week of absence from school (her very kind of head of year sent flowers today and Iain arranged them for me because I haven't actually been home since Monday) and virtually none of it has been any fun.  We have zoo tickets for the Yorkshire Wildlife Park at the end next week so we're focusing on that.  It's very much a baby steps situation but I am still confident that we can have her back to full fitness and back at school by the start of next term and definitely well enough for her school farming trip to Treginnis farm, we need to get her to those animals by hook or by crook.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

When your child is in hospital, part 2....

girl, beagle, dog, family portrait, newcastle photographer, mandy charlton
Looby and Holly Bobbins last October

I find sometimes that life has the ability to throw lemons at any unexpected moment and as it stands currently you could say we're feeling a bit, well, err, lemony!

Quicker than I could say to Looby "you're off the antibiotics would you like to celebrate with an adventure" she was once again back in hospital hooked up to 6 hourly antibiotics by IV on a Children's ward in the wonderful Great North Childrens Hospital.  These bugs from the orbital cellulitis will not die it seems and we have no choice but to throw every antibiotic that every existed at the infection in the hope she'll beat it.  It seems insane to me that she hadn't even been off them for 36 hours when she spiked a temperature of 39.3c and we headed back (where upon arriving she promptly threw up).  We are in good spirits although slightly (very much) bored beyond belief.  We count our blessings though when we see some of the tiny babies in the other rooms who seem so poorly.  At least Looby can verbalise what's wrong with her which aids in the diagnosis and treatment.  How bad it must be as a parent to not know what's wrong with a baby who cannot tell you why they're in such pain or suffering.

This week that past had mainly been a good one, life at a relaxed pace, you have no other choice but to slow down when you are in our current situation.

Today and yesterday I escaped the hospital for spring mini sessions in Jesmond Dene and the joy of smelling the air as you leave the hospital is like nectar for the soul, when we were in hospital 2 weeks ago I noticed then that hospital air doesn't smell of anything and even if there is a smell of food it's the same smell, the sterile air kills the uninhibited joy of smelling the spring air.

I've chosen to keep working through this period because I have to, because if I stop and we become financially unstable our whole family life would fall apart and I've worked so hard for that not to happen that I never want to go back to the point where I have to worry about every single small payment I need to make.  Looby always has people who are eager to spend time with her for an hour or two and that's what I do, I work in little bursts, an hour here, a couple of hours there, it's good for my own soul to get out for a little while, to do something fun and something which isn't about Cannulas and names of drugs ending in "Illin".

When your child is ill your whole world stops, you press a large pause button on the world, when you are self employed and a single parent though you just can't do that, you have to juggle, some days it's six or seven balls all falling to the ground at the same time, but still you have to catch them.  I am lucky, I have a great support network of wonderful friends and Paul is here with Looby every day and when he's not here he's got Holly Bobbins who must be wondering what on earth is going on, why do Mama and Looby keep disappearing, at least I know she's having a good time when she's with Paul and her best friend Petunia the Husky.

The week we are about to enter into is an unknown quantity, of course we'll do whatever the doctors decide but our hopes are that they will swap to oral antibiotics and we'll be able to go home, I have work planned for a couple of hours on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday and there are a couple of sessions still available on Friday and Monday.  Whatever happens Looby will spend time with people she loves and I'll continue to support us and be with her as often as possible, on Sunday we're having a friendship Easter Sunday, another open house for lovely people who want to celebrate Easter with us and today I am grateful for friends who help me take those life lemons and turn them into big lemon meringues!

EDIT - Update on Tuesday 22nd March -

So, it's Tuesday now and we've actually moved hospitals over to the Freeman Hospital which is in the East of Newcastle (for anyone not from the area) it's actually about the same distance from home as the RVI where we were until we were transferred yesterday.

Looby is due to have surgery again, another op, this one will drain the sinuses and wash them out completely, not just one side but the whole side and the cheeks, it's amazing that they will just go in through the nose this time, no more scars, for that we are so thankful.

We thought it might happen today but Mr Carey, our surgeon who did the original surgery wants to do this surgery too and his list isn't until tomorrow so another long day in hospital ensues.  Looby spiked a temperature again last night so we are definitely in the right place and taking the right course of action, she's already on 2 types of IV antibiotics so if you have a fever when you are on the heady mix she's on then you know there's something seriously wrong.

The Freeman hospital was a new hospital in 1977, when you walk through the doors you quickly realise that you have returned to 1983, rigid visiting hours, bays of beds, no parents beds (I slept in a hospital bed opposite Looby in the bay last night), I've heard the food is award winning though and once I have someone to come sit with my beautiful girl I shall nip off to eat.  We are so thankful for the thoughts and words and support of everyone we know, and some we don't know too.  Each day we have been surprised by cards and packages, many of which are simply addressed to "Looby, queen of the unicorns".  Those things, they keep us sane, they make her smile and so that makes me happy.

Upon hearing about more surgery I really did have a slight breakdown yesterday, my random bursting into tears is still sitting in my throat along with my heart.  Having an ill child is one of the most stressful things you can ever go through as a parent.

We are thankful though, thankful that I am self employed and can be with Looby as much as she needs me, thankful for her dad being also self employed so we can juggle the many balls between us with kids and dogs and jobs and life and we are thankful that this isn't forever, so many parents go through this and worse and for some it's endless with no good outcome, to those parents I want to give you my whole heart and a cyber hug from the north, you are all amazing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

10 Reasons to Love March....

tynemouth beach by newcastle photographer, mandy charlton
Tynemouth on a March afternoon, alive again after it's winter slumber

Yesterday I was listening to the radio, I do that you know, usually in the afternoons when I am preparing dinner which we eat at five o clock because we are a household with children and children do not do dinner at eight!  Anyway, as I was saying, I heard the presenter remark that it was still light when people were leaving work and could we remember just a few weeks ago when the world was dark?  I laughed as I quipped that it's funny how we are always amazed by the days lengthening,  the temperatures rising and the light levels getting just a little sunnier.  Each March it seems we are amazed that spring is just about to come once more, everything old is new again...

Just as I was giving up hope in the weather it seems we were presented with the most beautiful springlike weekend and I was reminded just why I love this month so very much so without further ado, here's my 10 reasons to love March.

  1. Yes, I mentioned it before, Spring, on March the 20th it's my most favourite season of all, the light fills my heart and soul with warmth and my energy levels return to a very bouncy happy level.
  2. Easter is just around the corner, eggs and chicks and bunnies are as brilliant a reason to celebrate if going to church is not your thing.
  3. Baby Animals are everywhere in March, a trip to even the local city farm happily presents baby animals, we actually have some nesting blackbirds just by our back gate, I watched Mrs blackbird building her nest today and smiled, last year baby bird had an accident and was quite poorly, would you believe our cat stepped in and kept it warm one night and now they quite happily come into our back garden, it makes this city dwelling girl feel like David Attenborough.
  4. Spring is my most favourite of all seasons for photography, the light is just yummy and the golden hour is still early enough in the evenings to take advantage of, you know that until April 11th you can benefit from the best ever value spring mini sessions and I've availability right through the Easter weekend (with the exception of Easter Sunday).  Book one today!
  5. Gardening, my garden is just springing back into life after it's long winter rest and the Camelia I planted last year is going to have it's first flower, a lucky event!  My primula denticulata, my gunnera and my rhubarb are all showing signs of growth.
  6. Spring Breaks, usually spring is when I plan our first adventures away, not the work ones, the family ones, the ones Looby, Holly Bobbins and I adore so much.  We were lucky enough to win some vouchers for Virgin Experience Days recently so there should be enough to pay for a hotel in London and some tickets to London Zoo, obviously Holly won't be coming to the zoo though.
  7. Longer days and shorter nights, I love the light in March, it's not so harsh as summer but by the end of the month when the clocks go forward the extension to the day will be much appreciated, I love a good second stroll of the day with Holly on a spring evening.
  8. Trips to the coast - Have you ever noticed that winter on the beach you can take your dog and not see another living person, on Saturday when I went down to work at King Edwards Bay in Tynemouth I noticed how alive the beach was, teaming with people and dogs all having fun in the springlike sunshine, 1 more reason to be cheerful.
  9. School holidays are fun again as many attractions open again for the first time of the year after their winter breaks, I can't wait to have a trip to the National Trust Cragside, I miss that walk during winter and though there are usually complains from tweens and teens they secretly enjoy it and soak up the history like osmosis.
  10. Flowers, I've mentioned the garden but I adore flowers, and spring flowers are my favourite, I love wild flowers, meadow strewn floral carpets, I love Poppies and Ranunculus and anemones, just having them in the house gives me a thirst for nature and outdoors, I always have flowers on my console table in the hall, every time I see them they make me smile and that is what it's all about really, things that make you happy and glad to be alive.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Book a spring mini photo shoot in Newcastle upon Tyne

So that was the week that was, 7 days in hospital, surgery, antibiotics, steroids, a hole in the forehead, double vision, glasses and 1 very brave 12 year old who I'm so thankful has come through it all still smiling and being a mostly excellent patient.

We had the stitches removed today but she still has a small open hole where the surgeon drilled to put a drain in so it's covered over until it heals, suffice to say it's amazing to have her home and I'm not at all bothered (in fact I'm quite delighted) that she's not going back to school until after the Easter break on April 11th.

It's been the most traumatic time to watch your little one get ill and from other parents I've spoken to I hear the same thing over and over, you just want to put yourself in their place, to take the pain away, to suffer for them so they're better.

We see the ophthalmologist on Thursday to check on her eyesight, it's hoped that she'll make a full recovery but it's such a scary thing to think all of this has happened as the result of a cold!  

I've tentatively returned to my desk today and I have a way to go before I'm even vaguely up to date, the situation forced me to completely stop, I had no other option, for nearly a week I could think of nothing else but Looby and praying that she would get better.  It's a funny thing though isn't it, after nearly 2 weeks off you take your foot off your marketing pedal and you find yourself with a much more empty diary than you would prefer.  I had an idea, a way to make those lemons life throws us into a sort of photographic merengue.  I'm reintroducing mini sessions and they're available until April 11th.

Here's how they go - 

Book a mini session at Jesmond Dene, Saltwell Park, or Tynemouth Longsands, it's a 30 minute session and it's £125, you get all of the edited images via a digital download and you can do whatever you want with the digital images, they are yours to keep.  Bearing in mind that the least you can usually have a session with digital files for is £250 it's extraordinary value but it's a good way for me to get my family back on track and my business to.

So here's what you need to do to book -
Email me to book your session, then all you do is pay a small £25 retainer and on the day you just need to bring along the other £100 in an envelope in cash and that's it.

This Saturday and Sunday I will be at Jesmond Dene, Next Saturday I will be at Tynemouth Longsands, you choose your location and I will see when the next date/location I can do.  They're available all through Easter, the Easter weekend, the school holidays, whenever is good.  The only catch is that I won't ever shoot more than 5 of them a day because the rest of my day is devoted to being with Looby!

So, go tell your friends, your family, anyone who'll listen, book your mini session today because they're only going to be around until April 11th!


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

When your child in in hospital, why I support the junior doctors strike.

There's nothing worse than when your children are poorly, as a parent there's only so much you can do until you yourself feels completely useless and when your child ends up in hospital it's a million times worse.

I was speaking to a friend of mine who actually took part in the fight for parents to be able to stay with their children in hospital, for that I am truly thankful.

You all know Looby is a bright,bouncy unicorn even if we occasionally have tween angst.  I can tell you that seeing the light vanish from her has been the scariest thing.  For anyone who has t been following my updates Looby is currently in the RVI with orbital cellulitis.  On Sunday she had an operation to scrape her sinuses and surgeons also drilled a hole in her forehead to put a drain in.  Since Friday we have been in an eternal cycle of pain, morphine, tests, CT scans, more tests and still today we are here with her sleeping better but still waking up crying with pain until morphine has been administered.

It's all been very concerning but the doctors and nurses are amazing, the level of care is incredible and we are so lucky that we still have the NHS, can you imagine having 3 CT scans in 2 days if you were in the USA, the costs would be prohibitive.  

Our NHS is a wonderful, beautiful British institution, free healthcare for all, no matter what age, status or circumstance.  When Looby needed an operation on Sunday it was a combination of a 2 consultants and a senior registrar who performed the surgery.  We have seen consultants every single day and yesterday we saw the very top eye doctor in the whole of the hospital (she's lovely) and they're monitoring her eye sight so closely as she's got some problems from the infection.

Today as the junior doctors strike happens I'd like to throw my hat in to say I support the junior doctors strike.  The doctors, all of the doctors work under the most immense stress and pressure making life or death decisions, I can't even imagine how that feels.  Yesterday even though our consultant had a day off he still consulted from home about loobys care.  I don't think it's possible to feel more cared for.  The nurses are just incredible, there for the parents as much as the children, that hug I received just after I kissed  and said goodbye to my poorly child as she slipped under the anaesthetic was the most needed hug I've ever had.

Quite wrongly the NHS is not today run by doctors but by politicians and beurocrats.  The decline of the NHS is wholly upon their heads, not the nurses and doctors who love their jobs so much, those who always give more than is asked.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

A day out to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire

There are few things in life which are better than a big walk, good company and a pub lunch in a country pub.  Taking a day off is as good as a holiday or so they say and I'm inclined to agree, sometimes you just need a day away from the world, a day to be with nature, a day to stand and stare as long as sheep and cows as WH Davies reminds us we need to in his poem (one of my personal favourites) leisure.

Fountains Abbey isn't too far away if you live in the North East of England, a mere sneak over the border into North Yorkshire and a prettier alternative to Lightwater Valley which you'll find in mostly the same direction but you'll more of a contented sigh than a scream at the former of the two.

Fountains Abbey consists of a cistern abbey, a Georgian water garden and a deer park, steeped in history, beauty, peace, and tranquility, it's the perfect place to take time off away from the hustle and bustle of real life for a few hours and with very little in the way of phone signal you'll be able to justify not answering calls or checking messages, well just for a little while anyway.

I find sometimes I miss my big girl, I see her nearly every day but I don't often get to spend quality time with her, especially without Looby also being there but Looby, infested with cold germs had decided to spend the day at home with Iain and so off we went.

Abigail is perpetually hungry as most teenagers are so we just kind of stumbled upon the Galphay Inn near Ripon.  I'm so happy we did because we were welcomed by an open fire and a gastro pub which is both dog friendly and child friendly.  If you're ever on your way to Fountains Abbey and you see the board at the side of the road gesturing you down to the Galphay Inn take a chance and do it, don't eat at Fountains Abbey, whilst Fountains Abbey is lovely and dog friendly you can't take your dog into the cafe so why not have good hearty food at very reasonable prices where your dogs would be welcomed with open arms, the staff fussed over Holly and Petunia and to me that's dog friendly.  I have to say that one of my problems with the National Trust is that they set themselves out there as dog friendly but not one of their properties has space in any of their cafes for people with dogs, this is fine in summer, I don't at all have a problem with sitting out in sunshine but what are you supposed to do in the rain or mid-winter, I'd say the National Trust are more dog tolerant than dog friendly but that's just my personal opinion.

One thing the National Trust does excel at is beauty, tranquility and history all within reach of most peoples doorsteps, I pay just over £9 a month for a family membership so that Looby and I can have days out, Paul and Abigail can have days out and if we're all having a family day we can use it together.  Fountains Abbey has all of the above qualities, you can almost feel the history seeping through your skin like osmosis and when you leave you feel enriched and full (possibly from all the cakes the NT are so good at making).

And so we come to the photos of quite a lovely day out.

Mandy Charlton


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

8 Great Ways to Show Mum You Love Her

newcastle photographer, portrait photography north east england

Mum's, they're amazing, it's the hardest job in the world for no pay and sometimes you actually hold your head in your hands and wonder "Why on earth did I actually sign up for this?"  Conversely of course you have those days where everything seems to fall into place, your parenting day is a good one, your children are thriving, excelling and generally being well balanced and wonderful and you feel on top of the world.

For almost 20 years now I've been a mum, I don't actually feel old enough to achieved that!  I'm proud I have 3 reasonably well balanced young adults who've made mostly excellent life paths so far, you never know what's around the corner of course but I cross my fingers and toes that they're wise and wonderful enough to go on to great things.  I adore my kids, they make me smile every day and even my nearly 20 year old who works for me reminded me that I needed to pay him early this week so he could send off for my Mothers Day present.

Now it may be that you are reading this having a panic about what to do for Mothers Day, I'll actually be going to Nethermined 2 with Looby as we have press passes, a thanks for being their official photographer for the original Nethermined Event, it's not my ultimate Mothers Day but I know Looby at least will have the time of her little life and it's already been put out there that we should go out for dinner on a different day.  Well at least I suppose I get to have a lie in.

If you are still struggling with ideas, here's 8 great presents to show mum you love her

  1. On Saturday as always I have my Mothers Day Sessions, these are really an amazing way to tell mum you love her, there's still an available session at 1pm in Jesmond Dene, this year they're a 45 minute session and they're just £45 and include a 7x5, 9x6, online gallery for 30 days and 15% off if you place an order in the first week your gallery is live. Just email me and we can set that up.  Don't worry though if it's a little short notice because what you could do is purchase a gift certificate and give that to mum on Mothers Day, she gets to open something on the day and then you can take the photo shoot at any time you want in the next year or so.
  2. Why not take mum for a favourite day out? If I had my choice I would be spending the day in Seahouses, walking along the beach with lunch at the Bamburgh Castle Inn
  3. If you don't have any money at all but you still want to show mum you care you can get a mention in the Chronicle if you are local to Newcastle or the North East of England.
  4. Why not get mum an experience to remember, a hot air balloon flight at dawn is something I have always wanted to do, Virgin Experience Days is your best website for that one.
  5. Another creative way to show mum you care would be to collate all of your best photos, the ones that make you smile and make mum a slideshow, you could take it into her on a tray with the breakfast you've just prepared and play it on an iPad, honestly, a slideshow of cuteness with twinkly music is always guaranteed to reduce me to tears and I'm sure most mums are exactly the same.
  6. Draw a picture, create some art, stick things to other things, mums like me adore handcrafted gifts, they're made full of heart and warmth and love.
  7. I think I speak for most mums when I say that the best way to spend Mothers Day is with the whole family, all together in one place, I love busy family days so why not just take time out of your busy lives and go be with your mum wherever she is.
  8. There's always a chance that you don't have a mum so why not use the opportunity to just send someone a card who means the world to you, maybe a special mentor or friend, your friends mum who treats you like one of the family?  It's always lovely to feel loved.
So that's my quick last minute run down of things you can do to show your mum just why she's so special.

Mandy Charlton
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