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, May 30, 2018

A progress report...

"Where in the heck have you actually been?"  I hear you ask?  Well, apparently in the 19 hour workday's I've been working for the last month, no one really left any spare moments to come and update my poor blog, it's like that year when I started my first business and only blogged 34 times in one year, shameful really and it's kind of the worst because so much has been happening that it would have been great to tell you all stage by stage!  

So, I took over as CEO of The Inspire Network International Ltd when the company was formed on May 2nd, my manifesto for Inspire is to educate, inspire and empower entrepreneurial women at every stage of business and my main task for May was to launch 30 new licensed groups which would mean meetings all across the NE of England and beyond, ready for our June 1st launch when we become national (or international if we can find the ladies out there who want to come and join this thing we're building).

We've successfully launched 25 groups all over the NE and one in North Yorkshire so I'd say it's going well.  We've made a profit from our first day but we're still a very long way from being able to employ me formally, we will though and thankfully I have Mandy Charlton Photography to fall back on which just about feeds the kids and Holly Bobbins although there'll probably be no holidays for us this year, no matter though, I had good holidays last year and I know it won't always be this way, times of transition are always the toughest and also the most character building.  I do need to find some time to try and get away to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere though just for a few days, I have so much planning I need to do and I need quiet, time and no wifi to be able to achieve that.  The business plans in my head need to be written down!

Our first event is tomorrow night, we had 75 tickets which were gone in 24 hours and that's very heartening though I still have to finish writing my TED talk "You can do anything you want as long as you do it on your own terms".  I want to Inspire women no matter what situation they're in that the can go out there and change the world, in fact, it's one of the reasons I took on the company because I fundamentally believe that I can change women's lives for the better.  When I first spoke about my crazy ideas to Julie and Amy (my board of directors) I said we were going to become a for profit company but with philanthropy always at the heart of it.  I want to always give more than we receive and no one should underestimate my power and strength in making things happen.

Overwhelmingly I've been met with joy and anticipation, the kind words of support are so encouraging, last week at the launch of a delicious summer menu at Mr Petit, a small, chic Tapas bar situated in old Eldon Square (check it out if you're in the area, the food is delicious and they make their own magical blend of Sangria, sadly I was allergic but I am allergic to most alcoholic drinks these days) I encountered so many enthusiastic friendly faces who were all excited for the future of Inspire.

My work in June is just to continue the work that I've started, at weekends I go back to my first love, photography and it's really like a holiday in itself because it's so completely different to being a CEO although when I get into bed exhausted on a Sunday evening, I wonder just how many hours someone can work in one week!  Thankfully I'm superwoman and because I announced next year I'll be only doing photography part time I know there's an end in sight although not necessarily to the 19 hour days.  I took one whole day off in May, that was on Monday this week, it was such a big help just to have fun and not worry about a thing, I'm aiming to do the very same kind of thing a couple of times in June, after all you have to look after your own health before you look after the health of a company!

Abigail is coming to work for Inspire as a paid intern once she's finished her exams and that's going to help so much as she'll be handling many of the administrative tasks which take up time but aren't necessarily the most productive things I need to work on.  It's going to give her so much work experience to add to her CV and we'll be looking at setting up our not for profit Young Woman's Inspire group over the summer too.

In mid-June we'll be having a summer social for the whole network and I'm hoping these become a staple of the calendar, a time to kick back, relax and for the first one at least, there'll be artisan pizza's courtesy of our friends at The Northumberland Hussar.

If you thought May was exciting, you won't believe what's coming next...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

My Night with John...

A couple of weeks ago I spent the night with John, actually my favourite John in the whole world...

My happy place, my go to mood uplifter and the place you'll often find me mooching around when I'm procrastinating and planning the day I actually have a mansion.
Garden pod featuring newcastle bloggers, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

The second floor and basement have always been my domains, furniture, soft furnishings, cooking utensils, gifts, garden furniture and of course at Christmas, the Christmas shop is always in the basement.  Yes I love John Lewis, it seamlessly changes with the seasons, did you know that you'll never see the change from spring/summer to autumn/winter?  You might in other shops, but never in John Lewis and I guess that's what makes it so very magical.

We discovered a terrace outdoors that looks out over our beautiful city of Newcastle, up on high, I'd never noticed it before, secreted away only for staff and special occasions, views as far as the eye can see of buildings and rooftops with the hustle and bustle down below.

After the views came the enchanted walk through the kitchens to find a buffet of tiny foods fit for tiny fairy fingers, the foods showed off the kitchens in all of their magnificence, and not just any kitchens, kitchens fit for country homes or chic urban city flats of bohemian owners who like books, poetry and wandering around with a Holga around their neck, taking low fi photographs of curious parts of our historic city.

Then to the back of the basement to see magical garden buildings, some big enough to fit a handful of bloggers and surely sit in your family garden with enough space for you, dad and the kids, covered over for even the rainiest of British summers, nights spent playing draughts or fighting over Monopoly or maybe enjoying a pink gin or too when the kids are in bed.

The upstairs we traversed to mooch and marvel at the grandest furniture department in Newcastle, styles brought straight from Morocco or that chic London gentleman's club of the 60's, you know the ones with the velveteen furniture.  Styles for everyone from the modern to the retro and even something students can purchase without breaking the bank (of mum or dad).  Each element we found in the room designs had been carefully picked and placed and if you ever turn around in John Lewis you may even find your own point of interest as you look down the aisles, not placed their by magic or mystery but by clever elves using years of research to make the department pleasing to the eye.

Styles to lust after, furniture you want so badly that you spend hours looking for just the right cushions to go with the chairs in the soft furnishing department, with rooms to plan and in need of help and assistance the worker bees in the home design service will carry the load for you, in store by complimentary appointment or for the full service to your humble abode they will come carrying swatches and samples of the most divine colours to help you create your own desirable residence.

All too soon our journey was complete and as we said our goodbyes leaving the vast perfect landscape of chairs and beds and tables and drawers I felt that thought which crossed my mind, maybe I could just live in the land of John Lewis forever, I could camp in their beds and dine in their kitchens, I could change the curtains and swatches without anyone noticing, after all, if I was going to do that, then surely I would shrink myself to 6 inches tall so I'd never be discovered.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Trying to be more body confident

You know what I love, women who support women, feminists who believe in equality, body confident bloggers and girls who always have each other's back.  A couple of weeks ago when I was having a rough time I messaged Naomi to see if she could send me some body confident Instagram accounts to follow, Naomi of course being one of those ladies who fits into every category in my first statement.  I looked at all of the accounts and found women who love themselves for who they are,  women who've not only accepted every curve but also love them.  It made me happy and warm inside and I decided that I need to be one of those women.

Today was my 4th weigh in as part of the #Boostbuddies for XLS Nutrition, I missed out a week writing about it last week because of my appointment to CEO of The Inspire Network International Ltd

So here's my catch up, last week I lost a whole three quarters of one pound and this week I lost nothing but I didn't gain anything either, I am now half a pound heavier than when I first got weighed which means it's not a plan that works for me, add that to the rosacea and for me personally it's not a success but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be for you.

In my life as an influencer I often get sent beautiful things and JD Williams offered to send me a beautiful Monsoon maxi skirt and some rose gold Sketchers.  I was going out for Harriet's birthday and being that we had the sunniest weekend in the northeast I wanted to wear them as an outfit to the pub on Saturday night.  Only problem was, the top I wanted to wear, showed my arms and not to mention my foldy bits, you know, more doughnut than love handles but as part of me trying to love me more at the age of 44 after 3 children, 2 C-Sections, a full on Hysterectomy, I decided just to go for it.  My lovely OH said I looked great and that meant the world to me and no one shouted "oi fatty" when I walked in the pub.  So, I decided to go a step further and asked Harriet to take a photo.

I literally adore this skirt so much, it's been an age since I even wore a skirt and I know even though I'm a little short to wear it with trainers that it's going to keep me cool during the summer months, it's light and airy and I love the cut of it, even being a size 16, I felt it's a skirt which is absolutely suitable for the larger lady and I might even wear it with heels next time.

The Sketchers are simply divine, I wear trainers all the time, you can't wear heels so much when you have a beagle by your side at all times so these are perfect whether I'm off to the pub, going out for dinner or just wandering in the park with Holly Bobbins at my side.

Something good has happened, you know the full length photo?  I don't hate it, I don't love it but my face doesn't look too bad in it and even though I look like I'm disappearing into the pavement and have a rubber ring around my tummy to stop me from sinking, I think I could look much worse.

Now I realise this is a long, long way from being body confident but that's me, too many knocks about my face, my weight, my body when I was young, well let's just say to any mums out there with daughters, just tell your daughter they are gorgeous every day.

So, now my epic quest this week is to just love myself more, to keep up the walking, maybe even try a little more speed walking although if you ask Holly she'll probably tell you that a stroll is just the right pace for her.
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