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, July 16, 2019

Let's start this again shall we?

You may remember me from previous blogs such as...

Yep, I haven't blogged for nearly a month for a variety of reasons - 

  • I've shot a lot of weddings lately and in between shooting them, (often with smoke bombs) I've been a slave to editing and to all manner of portraits and client work.
  • When Google+ closed its doors it slashed my traffic by around a third and that's hard, especially as a blogger who does occasional sponsored posts but I've given myself a talking to about why I started blogging in the first place and I still hope to be writing my scattered thoughts for the next decade or so.
  • Abigail cut me out of her life because I shared a post about coercive control on Instagram and I still can't process it months later, being silent about any kind of marital or relationship abuse just leads to more abuse, we can only stop this stuff from happening if we talk about it.  I'll always be here for her and she knows that and that's all I can really say right now because I still can't talk about it without feeling my heart actually hurt.
  • I went on holiday with Looby and Holly Bobbins and actually did no work whilst I was there, this is a rare occurrence for me.
  • I started to live the slow life, I've spoken about this before but these days you will mostly find me in my garden.
So, a lot of things have happened and yet, nothing has really happened, just life.

The summer holidays are just around the corner and for the first time I'll be spending more time alone than ever before, Looby will be off with friends and horses for most of it and I haven't really worked out what I'm going to do with myself as yet.  Harriet finishes work on Friday and we're going away on the 28th to Cumbria and then a couple of nights near Aberystwith, all with wonder dog Holly Bobbins of course.

I was also trying to plan a one-woman trip to the highlands but coach companies are so complicated and it doesn't seem like I've been able to find one which works with the dates when I'm actually available.  I have been thinking about whether I can do a one-woman rail and Airbnb  (if you click that link you can join Airbnb and get £23 off your first trip and I'll get some credit towards my travels) trip to the highlands but it just depends on the price of rail tickets etc.

I really want to make the most of summer even if I'm childfree but for me, I'm still trying to process that my kids are older and the summer holidays aren't that magical thing they used to be.  I'm sure like Christmas I just need to redefine them for myself, I'm sure if I don't it will end up in knocking off my depression and that's not what I want at all.

What I need I think is some kind of grown-up summer holiday bucket list I can check off and live my best life but I think I'm currently going through some kind of mid-life crisis in all kinds of areas of my life.

One thing that is definitely happening, I campaigned for a community garden and it's happening with the help of the NCS (national citizen service) I cannot wait to help build a garden for my local community with the help of 15 or so enthusiastic young people.  The plan is to remove a massive box hedge and a boulder from a disused and nettle filled flower bed, then to put in herbs and bee attracting flowers as well as putting a park bench and maybe a picnic table, finally I want to get lots of outdoor toys for the local small ones and hold a big party in my community to really bring them together.  Hopefully, it's the start of something amazing and I've already pledged to contribute time and financially so much as I can.  After all, I believe that small scale philanthropy can change the world, I know I am imperfect but that doesn't mean that I can't do amazing amounts of good for the community.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Prep Kitchen - An honest review {ad gifted}

A few weeks ago a company called Prep Kitchen contacted me.  They asked if they could send out a week's meals in exchange for an honest review.  I accepted and not knowing exactly what kind of meals I was about to be sent I was a little scared of receiving ten portions of pre-prepared mush because you know, it's a rare thing indeed when a ready meal actually looks like it does in the ads.

Prep Kitchen is a British company and they believe in healthy ready meals, they offer several options from fat loss to muscle gain to performance meals for the serious pro's out there.  They sent me 10 separate meals and as soon as they arrived and I opened them I noticed that there was nothing I immediately didn't like and for me, that's actually a miracle as I can be a little fussy.

Each meal is freshly prepared, comes ready to store in the fridge and cooks at 200c in the oven for 15 minutes so again, for me who never knows what to cook myself, someone who lives like a student when Looby isn't here, the concept is brilliant.

But get this...

The food is blooming lovely, during my week of trialling the ready meals, there wasn't anything I didn't like and not only that, I also gave them to Harriet on one occasion and Looby twice after she'd come home from the stables (I gave her the high protein muscle gain ones perfect for her sporty self), now it's fair to say that Harriet will eat most things without complaint but Looby is fussier than me and she loved the meals she tried.

The price of each meal is between £5.75 and £7.75 depending on which plan you're going for and I guess, that's quite expensive in some respects but if I'm eating just that for 5 days a week I guess £57.50 isn't too bad.

For ready meals, it's quite hard usually to make them look attractive once cooked, and sometimes uncooked but these meals actually look good and that's part of the fun of eating isn't it.  There are lots of choices too from tasty things like Persian Chicken with middle eastern giant couscous and harissa spiced aubergine to Fresh herb chicken with Gnocchi and ratatouille.

They offer veggie options and the ones I tried in the selection were all great too.  Prep Kitchen also sent some of their snacks which you can use for breakfast or just when you need a lift but I honestly wasn't too fussed on them.

Honestly, I thought it was great, so great that I actually want to subscribe to the fat loss plan to see if it does work, I've felt I wanted to do something for a while but didn't want to go back to Slimming World and I just need a helping hand so doing this for 6 or so weeks until I had a good loss and didn't feel the need to cook my own things (with just a little extra this or a portion of yummy that).

To wrap up, yes, I would definitely use them, I absolutely recommend them if you need a meal plan which caters to your health needs and lead a busy life where you just want to shove something quick in the oven or microwave.  I do think the cost is high but for fresh ingredients being prepared well, I can't imagine that these meals would be cheap if you had to go and eat out.

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