Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Monday, August 12, 2019

Why I'm going on holiday on my own...

Mandy Charlton and Holly Bobbins, end of term report, midlife crisis holiday

I guess today is the end of the year for me, well, the end of the summer term.  Tomorrow I leave for Tenerife, a week, on my own, I'm hoping to find out who I am again.  I'd wanted a holiday for ages, I'd have loved to have taken Looby but she refused on the grounds of wanting to be with the horses more than her old mum (in the nicest way, obviously).  I'd never push any of my children to do anything they don't want to do and she'll be fine, she'll be great!  Initially, she was going to stay at her dad's until he told her I would have to pay him £300 which she acknowledged was not okay so she's going to stay with Harriet and Holly Bobbins instead.  Thank God for a best friend who's been like a second mum (or dad, they do call her Bruce thanks to an old inside joke) to all of my kids.

It's hard when your children get older and more independent, when you have focused your entire existence around them and suddenly they don't need you anymore, it's a tough break.  It's my own fault, of course, I intentionally bred independent, forthright, confident feminists for daughters (and a feminist son too).  It's only right that they should be out there, with their own jobs, with their futures ahead of them being the bright shiny things that they are.  I haven't heard from Abigail in months but I'm sure she's still out there changing the world and one day I hope she sees through the destructive mind control, I can only hope that university gives her that distance that she needs to see the world more clearly.  Suffice to say, I still pay her phone bill every month and if she ever needs anything or anyone, I am there the second she asks.

NCS, Langhorn Community Garden, Mandy Charlton, Photographer

Last week I spent most of it with a group of teens from the NCS and the Newcastle United Foundation building a community garden practically right outside my front door, it was an unloved patch of overgrown weeds and I wanted to brighten the place not just for the bees and the butterflies but also for my own community so with the help of Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle we actually made it happen.  It's just really the start as my £90, the NCS put in £50 and the council's £60 did not make for the best budget but one of the beds is nearly finished and though it looks sparse, the flowers and plants will soon grow, if not this year then next.  It's proof that you can change things in the world, even if it's only on a small scale.  last week it brought out some of the children on our estate, they helped with the planting and some of the spadework and to me, that's proof that kids need to have things to do.  No one starts out bad or committing crimes, how we nurture kids from an early age really can shape their lives.  I hope that as we go through the years they'll help with planting seeds and generally care for the gardens that we've built.

Tenerife Here I Come

In choosing to go to Tenerife, I've chosen the canaries because they're gloriously sunny, perpetually springlike and safe for solo female travellers.  It's not the first time I've been overseas alone, back in 2016 I went on a cruise for solo travellers on assignment for Cruise International magazine, it was life-changing and I really found myself.  That one was a little different because I was staying somewhere aimed at singles where you could go out to dinner as a group every night.  In Tenerife, I will be completely on my own.  The main guests at the hotel I'm staying will be mainly Spanish or German, I barely speak a word of either language and I'm not really a chatty Cathy anyway!

It's weird though, the joy of solo travel is the choice to do whatever you want, when you want without judgement from anyone, it's kind of like my life in general where I've chosen to be on my own because the thought of being with anyone is imposing someone else's judgements on me and I can't ever do that again.  I can't even dare to think of being with someone without the fear of being controlled, in that sense, I am damaged to the end and I know there are people out there who wouldn't try to control me but it's too dangerous a chance to even try and take, especially as I fall for the same kind of people over and over.

I do hope to try and find myself again though, I literally have no idea who I am or who I want to be for this next stage in my life, I guess you could say it's a midlife crisis of confidence but I'm guessing every mum who has children who fledge from the next will at some time, feel exactly the way that I do right now.

There is one thing that I know though, if you are going to take the midlife crisis holiday, there's no better place to do it than somewhere in the sunshine.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A dog friendly adventure in Cumbria and Wales {ad}

Dog friendly accommodation in cumbria, mandy charlton, the plough lupton
During Spring we were invited to review The Plough at Lupton, luxury dog-friendly accommodation in Cumbria which offers suites at incredible prices, I was excited, Holly Bobbins was excited but our calendars we all so busy that it took us until a couple of weeks ago before we could arrange it all.

We had a plan to go to Wales and the fact that Upton is next to Kirkby Lonsdale, literally on the way to Wales, it seemed to be a good idea to start our adventures off with a night at the award-winning Plough.  We stayed in the Bellingham suite and I can't even tell you how much I loved the luxury of it all, at some hotels when you have a dog you end up in a room which is unloved and sometimes broken but not at the Plough.  All of their rooms apart from the honeymoon suite are dog-friendly and they're all equally as luxurious.  Holly particularly loved the cool floor tiles on a day which was warm and a little sticky.

I wish I could say the rooms were the best thing about the Plough, Lupton but no, for the biggest treat was yet to come as we ate in their delicious bar, surrounded by the other happy diners, no being thrown in a corner because Holly Bobbins was with us, no, Holly was quite the little celebrity graciously accepting all of the attention as she sat under the table hoping for tasty morsels to be dropped.

Sadly for Holly, there was no such luck although I did share a little steak with her because she'd done so much exercise on our earlier ramble around nearby Kirkby Lonsdale, we'd walked to see Ruskin's View, previously loved and painted by Turner, it's not a massive walk from the main parking area and I recommend it if you're are staying locally.

It's no wonder we were exhausted and very full after all 3 courses and we all fell into bed, Harriet and Bobbins had a great night's sleep, I know this because I had to listen to their snoring... all night!

After a delicious cooked breakfast and an amazing shower, it was time to say our goodbyes and head for the green and pleasant land of Wales!  

The last time I went to Wales, (with the exception of going to Bluestone in 2017) was when I was just a teenager so I'd been looking forward to it for ages and really it could not have been more perfect, we stayed 8 miles away from Aberystwyth, in a little Airbnb (if you click on that link we both get some travel credit) studio in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.  It was literally in the middle of the Cambrian mountains and not even 1 bar of phone signal but thankfully we did have wifi (couldn't miss the Love Island final now could I?).  

To say we had the best time is an understatement, we walked for miles, we got lost at the top of mountain roads and we visited Devil's Bridge, Aberystwyth, Machynlleth and Llangollen where we went on the highest navigable aqueduct in the world in a canal boat, it was an amazing experience and we all loved it.  I think Holly has been on more modes of transport than most children, she's not been on a plane yet but I'm sure if there were pet-friendly flights she would love it.

For me, there are no better adventures than the ones I have with my best friend and my dog, we laugh so much and it's when I'm at my most relaxed, I'm even pretty funny when I relax you know 😉 I think there's just something brilliant about travelling with friends, it's definitely not the same as family travel because truly you are free to please yourself and Harriet just kind of goes with the flow, well I say that but as long as I choose child-friendly activities for her inner 5-year-old she's usually happy.  I already can't wait for our next adventure even though we don't know where or when it's going to be.  

We stayed at The Plough, Lupton, a luxury dog-friendly Inn near Kirkby Steven in Cumbria, we were given a suite plus bed, breakfast and evening meal in return for an honest review.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

{AD} Tyneside Cinema Christmas Events 2019

Santa, the Grinch and the controller from the Polar Express at the Tyneside Cinema Christmas 2019 launch, mandy charlton, Photographer, writer, blogger

{AD} I was asked to attend the Tyneside Cinema Christmas 2019 launch event, I received some lovely gifts but was not paid to write this article.

I was asked along to our favourite independent cinema in the north, the Tyneside Cinema for the launch of their Christmas 2019 programme.

As Christmas events get bigger you have to book earlier or risk missing out and the Tyneside Cinema has all kinds of pre-Christmas treats to get you in the yuletide mood (as if I needed an excuse) as well as having lots of lovely gifts which will transcend the passage of time into 2020.

My personal favourite, The Holiday screening which comes with a survival kit of Prosecco, chocolate and tissues for those moments, you know the one where Jude Law is crying and he's telling Cameron Diaz that he loves her... Suffice to say, I shall be booking a ticket for that one!

There's also lots for the little ones like a special screening of the polar express or for the slightly bigger ones, a screening of the Grinch, yes, I met him, and yes, he's hilarious although not too scary...

There are also festive afternoon teas, screenings of your favourite Christmas movies and a pile of gifts to pop under your families tree.  Although it must be said that the event just happened to be on the hottest day since records began it did not dull my festive spirit and after I'd cuddled Santa like the rockstar that he is, I left with a bounce in my step and a very familiar Mariah Carey Christmas tune stuck in my head, well it's never too early to start celebrating is it?

You can book your favourite festive events by following this Tyneside Cinema Christmas Events 2019 but be quick, some of the events, especially the ones like the Polar Express, they're expected to sell out quickest.

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