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, August 28, 2019

The diary of a slightly demented middle aged woman, part 2 #todayihave

Today I have...

21st August 2019

Sighed more times than humanly possible at finding the following problems upon my return home - 

1. hanging baskets wilted and droopy despite asking son to water them, emergency watered at 1.30am whilst loudly proclaiming "Uy"

2. 3 tiles from downstairs loo missing and large holes in the wall from the plumber reattaching the basin, little did I know that he would leave a path of destruction in his wake from fixing something.

3. Sunflowers in the community garden, not only dead but also pulled up by random morons.

Went out to lunch with daughter and best friend, Holly Bobbins is back, she is now a slinkier beagle after losing nearly a kilo in 19 days, happy skips and waggy tails all round.

Came back from lunch to discover random morons had emptied my pond, it was either in the process of being stolen or just vandalised.

Lament ever coming home from beautiful sunshiny Tenerife.

Had approximately 750 anxious thoughts about the return to work tomorrow.

Had a serious talk with myself reminding myself that I live the dream with jobs that I actually love.

Smothered myself in various restorative aloe vera products I brought home from the Canaries, expect to look like a 22-year-old by Sunday.

Given daughter slightly confused souvenir lizard, she loved it (hurrah), I can always depend on Looby to love cheap souvenir chat, you should see her on the 2p machines, the girl is a maverick at winning piles of cheap tat no one ever wanted.

Found the first Elmer Elephant, ironically called Holibobs, it was a meeting of two minds, not sure Holly Bobbins was as impressed as I was.

22nd August 2019

Lamented at the state of Italian peaches but it was all I could get from Amazon Prime Now.

Gave a heavy sigh at the weather which meant the postponement of today's photoshoot, as a portrait photographer who works mainly outdoors I'd like to kick this year's weather in the face, Mother Nature you are testing me...

Caught up on Sky+ recorded shows, it's not that I watch a lot of television but The Handmaids Tale and Gardeners World are essential viewing, although I'll admit that Gardeners World is a less traumatic watch mostly.

Put Frontline on cats and dog, we are not doing "flea explosion" in this household!

Been to a swish event organised by a gorgeous lady who has the energy of a litter of beagle puppies, she could sell it by the bottle and I'd definitely buy some.

Briefly looked at Airbnb for the bank holiday weekend as I'm off work on Sunday/Monday but had a word with myself and declared "I do not need a mini-break, I have just had a life-changing holiday, calm yourself and step away from booking button Mandy"

23rd August 2019

Did not have a good nights sleep due to beagle lying lengthways over my pillows and snoring loudly in my ears, apparently, Looby could hear it too as she came in and removed her from my bedroom and put her in her bed in the lounge declaring "No, you too loud, you are going in your bed".  Thank goodness if I snore I mustn't do it too loudly or I would end up waking up in the dog bed I suspect, the joys of living with a teen who has misophonia.

Had early (11am, not that early) photoshoot with a lovely lady who saved my morning by buying me a latte, my shock at finding out the card machines were all broken at the cafe momentarily traumatised my uncaffeinated self. I do not carry cash ever, well unless I am overseas and then I refuse to pay in anything other than cash.

Reminded myself that I am a weirdo.

Gently guided precious beagle back into the house ("Get in the house now") after she ran "arrooing" towards a large man on an even bigger ride-on mower, how can she be scared of everything and yet she things she's going to win in a standoff between herself and a mower which is so big it can go on roads?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Tenerife Trip Which Changed Everything. #todayihave

(n.b. if you are confused about the writing style of this blog, you need to read this post)

Mandy Charlton on life changing trip to Canary Islands, Today I have, photographer, writer blogger

Today I have...

14th August 2019

Walked from one side of Puerto de la Cruz to the other,
Chatted with a dog and his owner,
Booked trips to go up Tiede and to see the dolphins in the wild,
Watched a woman telling her husband to photograph her being fun with a fountain 🤣,
Found out that yes, you can crochet a house I have seen the proof!
Swam, am now an olympian swimmer!
Read some of a book,
Walked over 9 miles or 22,000 steps,
Put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean,
Fed my Jamon addiction,
Sunbathed for more than 5 minutes,
Ate a peach that was so good I nearly cried with joy!
Thought to myself that you can fit quite a lot into 1 day when you’re on holiday on your own.

15th August 2019

Finally spotted a Canarian beagle, he looked quite happy and beagly

Went to Loro Parque

Cried because...
1. Baby Robin the dolphin hasn’t learnt all of the tricks yet but he tries hard.
2. They have a rescue Orca who’s deaf and she’s just had a baby orca, she would have been euthanised without the zoo’s intervention.
3. Sea lions just being adorable
4. Life is wonderful really

Got soaked by an Orca 

Walked 7.6 miles 


Sunbathed for 1 whole hour, this is a relaxation miracle for me!

Went out for tapas and an Aperol Spritz.

16th August 2019

Climbed a volcano

Stood in a crater

Took the highest cable car ride I’ve ever been on
Realised I’m not cut out for mountain climbing

Had an altitude headache 

Ate tapas 

Spoke to a Spanish speaking cat who didn't respond to hello but once I said a cheery "Ola" he was my new feline best friend!

Drank Sangria 

Decided I like the green mojo sauce better than the red one 

Found out there’s a better 4g signal from the top of a volcano than there is in some parts of Northumberland, how can this be in the year of 2019?

Had an involuntary 1-hour nap, I lay down and it just accidentally happened!

Read 50 more pages of a book

17th August 2019

Decided to be terribly virtuous and walk to the botanic gardens instead of getting a taxi.

Regretted decision to walk after realising it was 1.5 miles up twelvty billion steps, at points I thought my heart would explode.

Felt very fit having completed exercise goals and move goals before 9.30am

Watched bright red dragonflies frolicking amongst the water lilies.

Became slightly horrified realising just how big your average houseplant really grows when it’s in the right conditions (run, triffids, help, never underestimate a ficus).

Spoke to a cat who was quite vocal that I’d disturbed him whilst he was eating a small lizardy thing.

Chatted with a much friendlier lizard, disabled with only one front foot but living the dream living in the Orchid gardens.

Tried to cunningly plan walking out of the orchid gardens with all of the orchids, not the most practical idea I’ve come up with.

Had my first and last bubble waffle, probably more addictive than heroin and destroyed all of my earlier virtuous exercise goals.

Had disappointing tapas at a touristy restaurant, my own fault (stick to the back streets Mandy).

Had a fish foot spa followed by a deep tissue massage resulting in a headache and lie down for 2 hours.
Complained to myself about the heat this afternoon at least 4 times, 34c does not like Mandy.

Ate steak at a restaurant with the best view this evening and realised it was cheaper than tapas.
Hatched plan to move to the Canary Islands once the kids have left home, cheap steak, sunshine every day and no way can their political system be any more screwed than ours. (Actually impossible if you ask me)

Took the perfect Insta-Moron photo with all of the filters, my career as an influencer is unlikely to blossom because of this.

18th August 2019

Went on a boat trip to see Whales and Dolphins in the wild.
Saw a pride of pilot whales

Saw a pod of dolphins

Swam in the sea at Masca but only for 30 seconds as the cold water made me panic that I would drown, I don't like swimming in deep seawater where I can't touch the bottom even though I am a proficient swimmer with childhood badges to prove it!

Took approximately 1 photo and 1 video where you could actually see any of the whales due to the boat being full with twelvty thousand Spanish and German “National Geographic Photographers” all clambering to the side of the boat,  the only photo I got was from underneath someone’s armpit!
Uy’ed at the bad buffet

Uy’ed at the fact that my P20 factor 30 did not help at all with the Canarian sun

Uy’ed at all of the people who got seasick ( its a 4.5 hour cruise in the Atlantic sea, what did you think would happen?)

Spent 4 hours on a bus to get to and from the boat trip wishing I was not on said trip.

Had a sudden anxious thingy about filling in my tax return even though it’s only August and my accountant (God bless her for putting up with me) mostly does everything anyway.

Booked a trip to La Gomera by jeep for tomorrow to restore faith in my trip booking abilities.

Lost Harriet’s sunglasses

Found Harriet’s sunglasses

Made plans to buy me some sunglasses of my own.

Lamented the fact that tomorrow’s trip pickup is at 6.30am and not even from my hotel.

Had a conversation with my son about moving to Scotland when they declare independence because of Brexit clusterfuck.

Decided a career in wildlife photography is not for me.

Ate Cheetos and giant corn for dinner because I couldn’t be bothered to go back out for dinner.

19th August 2019

Got up at 5.30am to go on today’s trip (Uy) 

Realised since I decided to replace swear words by just saying Uy, I say it approximately 7936 times a day...

Shared a jeep with Margaret and James from Glasgow, hurrah for the Scottish!

Also shared a jeep with an angry Russian woman who seemed awfully cross for someone on their holidays.

Went around the island of La Gomera in a jeep, probably one of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve ever had, La Gomera is so breathtaking that photographs will never match seeing it in real life.

Watched a demonstration of the whistling language of La Gomera, I can’t even speak Spanish nor can I whistle, decided this is not a language for Mandy.

Ate almond cake, finally! 

Swapped peaches for nectarines because it was all I could get, disappointing!

Decided I should skip Christmas after last years disappointing year and subsequent meltdown.

Lamented that children might disown me if I skip Christmas.

Asked Looby if we can travel in September only to be told “No” (Uy)

Booked a late checkout for 3pm for my transfer at the oddly precise time of 3.38pm (sob...)

Decided on new blog format (Today I have) which will surely become an award-winning tv show/movie/book  😉
Lamented the state of the British political system to my son, again!

Noticed my shoulders drop and then realised the irony of this happening on Day 6.
Finally smashed the happy and relaxed selfie!

Wondered (at length) why Margaret and James didn’t take one single photo, not even a camera phone snap, I bet they’re those weird sorts who haven’t a single photo in their house 🤦🏻‍♀️🤣

Decided I’m much more fun/humorous when I only have to exist inside my own head and made a note to self to travel much more to destinations where no one speaks English.

20th August 2019

Sighed 495 times because of impending departure back to rainy old England.

Walked the whole neighbourhood of Puerto de la Cruz taking more random photos in case I forget what it looks like.

Had last Canarian peach of the trip (sob).

Made plans for a sit-in and subsequently refuse to leave.

Had word with self to remind self that a holiday is only fun because it’s a holiday, even Canadians must sigh or Uy occasionally.

Finished a whole book,  I am now top bibliophile of the year
Had approximately twelvty hundred anxious thoughts about the return to rain, work and Brexit.

Decreed to never watch the news again or think about rain, politics or Brexit.

Got quiet transfer to airport noticing no one spoke although did observe at least 22 inward sighs from surrounding passengers.

Decided after an important business convo with my best friend that “Today I have...” will be converted to a weekly blog post, she remarked “Well I find you funny with your random mandyisms”
Forgave best friend for lack of capitalisation of own name...
Spent money on random guilt souvenir tat for daughter including slightly confused looking lizard cuddly toy which was an improvement on sad-looking squashed faced parrot toy.


I'm changing my blog, here's why...

Mandy cHarlton, photographer, writer, blogger, i'm changing my blog, here's why

I've always been a great documenter of things, I scrapbooked, I take a billion photos, much to my families dismay and I have been a blogger since bloggers weren't even in fashion.  I've loved my blog, I've hated my blog and my writing style and photography has changed a lot over the last 13 years.

Here's the thing though, my brain doesn't work as many people's, my part autistic, part bipolar thought processes are not quite so straight forward and add some long term bipolar meds in there and wahey, you're in for a mixed-up cornucopia of nonsense on some days.

I've just come back from a (possibly life-changing but too early to tell) solo holiday to the north of Tenerife, I left my Macbook at home and took only my camera, my iPhone, oh and an overpacked suitcase filled with more than I needed.

I wanted to remember everything that I'd done and as I had no one to remind me and my thought processes are often jumbled, I started writing a kind of list every day on Facebook, not just a list, it had an added commentary as well as the collected thoughts of the random things that go on inside my head every day.  After a week I'd grown to love the new shorthand way of writing and after doing a little research I've found it also makes good accessible reading.

I've had so much great feedback from it and found a whole new love of writing in a completely different style that I've decided to start writing my thoughts on my everyday life in the same way.  The only thing is that I'm not always standing in the crater of a volcano or going on a jeep safari so I've decided to just start by doing a weekly post but it will be a collation of my daily thoughts.

My next post will be a collated post of my week in Tenerife as it was written in the moment every evening, although I might correct some of my "in the moment" grammar as writing long posts with one finger is trepidatious, to say the least.

Now, I could have just started with my "Today I Have..." posts but not all of you lovely readers are also friends with me on Facebook and I did it through my personal profile and not my page because it was intended to just be something for me. 

It may not work, it may not translate to my everyday life and that's why I'm doing a roundup post each week at first. If I can think of enough to write though, well, we see how it goes and if you are one of my Facebook friends, feel free to skip the next post and I'll see you all on the other side, probably on a Wednesday!

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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