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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Field View Cottage, a dog friendly cottage on the Solway coast

self portrait, pixpro AZ527 Kodak, dumfries and galloway, mandy charlton, airbnb

Last weekend feeling rather numb and overwhelmed with life, I booked an Airbnb dog friendly cottage on the Solway coast, waiting until the last minute paid off as we ended up paying just £187 for 3 nights at Field View Cottage in Port Carlisle, a small village on the Solway coast just 4 miles away from where Hadrians Wall ends.  The cottage had only been a holiday let for around a month and was one of those properties that really justifies just how wonderful an Airbnb stay can be.  To be fair I've only had one really unhappy experience of Airbnb and it wasn't anything to do with the site, it was the horrid owners.
a dog friendly airbnb cottage on the solway coast, field view cottage, mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger

Not the case with Field View Cottage though, it had been sensitively renovated keeping all of that beautiful character a cottage is supposed to have and then to add to that it was a two minute stroll down to the banks of the estuary, a village so quiet that Holly Bobbins barely had to be on the lead and she was free to pop outside the cottage for a wander into the small lane without fear although she did find one or two people to "Arooo" at but really, that's kind of obligatory if you are a beagle.

I'd travelled to cumbria to really give a roadtest to the Kodak Pixpro AZ527 kindly given to me by the lovely Kodak folk, I knew I wanted to put it to the test somewhere really special and somewhere it would be given a run for it's money for Cumbria, The Lake District and the Southwest coast of Scotland are some of the most beautiful areas on earth, if it couldn't do a good job there, it wouldn't do a good job anywhere.

Now I should point out if you've just landed here for the first time that I've been a professional photographer for 12 years, the last bridge camera I owned was circa 2005 and I'm pretty used to doing everything manually and the longest zoom I own is 24-70mm, I had to remove everything I knew from my brain to put myself in a position where I could really gauge who would buy the AZ527,  for one it has a 52x optical zoom, AZ stands for Astro zoom and although I didn't have my tripod handy in Cumbria, I did test it on the big shiny moon one evening and yep, it certainly works, it's the closest I've ever seen the moon, I've promised myself an evening with a tripod over the next few weeks to try and get something close up because at 52x zoom, even with optical stabilisation, you really can't handhold, once I got over about 5x zoom I couldn't hand hold.

So, back to the beautiful lazy cottage stay, my brain was furiously working overtime when we left Newcastle and I felt I hadn't breathed properly for weeks, the virus I'd had plus a busy time for photography and running Inspire, suffice to say I was a huge ball of anxious energy, luckily within hours of reaching our destination I felt my shoulders relax, now it may have been the beautiful scenery or it might have been the smell of biscuits in the air as we picked up some shopping at Sainsbury's in Carlisle, for anyone who doesn't know, it's next door to the Mcvities factory and the air is thick with the scent of sweet biscuits, every time you breath it's just delicious.

We'd decided that we would have a day exploring the Lake District and a day exploring the southwest coast of Scotland, and we planned to spend the hottest day of the year in Scotland because the temperatures rarely made it over the low twenties, perfect for Holly Bobbins although she was super grateful to be travelling in a car with gorgeous 15c air conditioning, a happy girl she was only out for short strolls in shady places or a trip on a boat or a quick tasty lunch at a pretty cafe out of the glare of the sun.

For 3 days I managed to completely relax, I took late evening sunset walks with Holly along the estuary, I explored our chosen destinations with Abigail and Harriet and I laughed with them a lot, much more than I usually do because with chronic anxiety, I'm often scared of laughing too much, it induces asthma attacks so i've learnt to try and not let myself truly laugh or indeed relax but for a couple of days at least I tried not to worry so much and just let myself go, I ambled around villages snapping everything in sight, I tried pet mode, beautify mode, landscape mode, all of the things I'd never usually do with a camera although I stopped short of testing the pop up flash, on board flashes are the work of the devil!

The Kodak really handles most situations well, I hated the fixed screen, even with the brightness turned up, I think we're now in the realms of the adjustable screen although it does have wifi and an app you can connect to if you want to shoot remotely or maybe you want to film yourself and you're a budding Youtuber, it does output full HD after all.  I think this is the perfect camera for beginners, teens who want their own camera or people who love simplified processes, although it does have a manual mode I'm not sure you can push it to any better results than the myriad of scene options, it's always a little weird for me using camera's which don't have an eyepiece and that's where an adjustable flip screen would have been a real boon but perhaps this is a consideration for the future.  You know, Kodak were the pioneers of photography so it's a shame that they don't have a professional level camera currently and if they ever release a DSLR I'd certainly love to compare it to my CSC Fuji's and my full frame DSLR Canon.

As soon as we arrived home from our trip the anxiety made it's come back and yesterday I had a full on anxiety attack leading me to believe that I am so much better when I am in remote and relaxing places.  I try to get away around every 4-6 weeks just to keep myself sane and I know I'll return to cumbria time and time again just because it offers that life of calm and idillic living that I crave.  For someone who lives on the edge of the city but craves to be a rural living lady, Cumbria is only a short distance away, I'm not sure if I'm trying to constantly escape or if it's just that I need to calm my psyche often so that I do stay sane.  My life at home is demanding, filled with questions and queries, strategies and way more numbers that I'd ever envisioned and yet when I am away I come up with the most brilliant business strategies and ideas, perhaps because I'm not overwhelmed with the constancy of it, the email pings every 3 seconds, the perpetual messenger alerts (I've had to switch those off as they had gotten too much) and really it's not that I'm scared of hard work but I do acknowledge that life with chronic anxiety is a constant battle when you seek success.

And as for the Kodak, would I use it again?  I would, I think it's a great camera to pop in a bag if you want a day without too much thinking knowing that in landscape mode it'll deliver as well as thinking seriously about your DSLR and all of it's manual settings.  I think this particular camera is going to find a home with my son or my teen daughters who love it and find it super easy to use, much like life, overcomplicating things is never a good idea so it's nice to have a camera which will do the thinking for you and whilst you might not be able to have the moon on a stick the AZ527 will certainly let you capture a photograph of it.

Disclaimer -

I was given the Kodak AZ726 in return for an honest review and this is exactly that.


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