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

Monday, September 23, 2019

5 Ways to get ready for Christmas 2019

Christmas at Fenwick, 5 ways to get ready for christmas 2019, mandy charlton photography blog

This is a collaborative post

It's just 3 months until Christmas and before you run around screaming "I love Christmas" you can bet it will be here.  I am of course an enormous kid when it comes to Christmas and so I thought I would impart some wisdom with 5 ways to get ready for Christmas 2019.

  1. Start saving now, you can bet your bottom dollar that it's a lot easier to save a few pounds each week now than waiting until the last minute and then panicking. Setting up a savings plan with a service plan like Plum can really help, I have mine set up and it saves me around £200 per month currently.
  2. When you do your weekly Sainsbury's shop, try and buy something a little extra, a bottle of wine, a box of biscuits, if you start now your cupboards will be full and bursting by the start of the festive season.
  3. Start your Christmas shopping early, there are lots of bargains in the shops at the moment with the end of summer sales, it's a seriously great time to start stocking up rather than waiting until November when all products become premium prices.
  4. Set your dates on the calendar now, you'd be surprised just how quickly your friend's festive calendars fill up with events and parties, I try and set the date for my annual Christmas party at the beginning of October and then it means I know I can have all of my favourite people in one place at the same time.
  5. If you do end up in a panic at the last minute, days before Christmas, sometimes looking online for a loan is a good option, don't just sit worrying in a corner, you've got this!  

There's something about Christmas which fills my heart with joy and returns me to a state of childlike wonder even after all of these years, for a couple of months I get to have the twinkliest house, the best party and release my inner 3 year old.

Even though Looby is 16 this year you can bet we'll be planning some kind of festive adventure, we always go and see Santa, we've seen him at  the Bluestone  resort in Wales and last year we went to Santa on the rooftop at Fenwick, it was the most joyous of events, it was funny and magical and no one batted an eyelid that we were probably the oldest attendees.

Truly Christmas is a time for magic and wonder, a time when people are just that little bit nicer to each other and where love becomes the strongest message around the world, Brexit is forgotten for a short while and that's why I love it and embrace it with my whole heart.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I have something to say, after all of these years...

You know when you just get into your groove and then life throws something else up in your path and disturbs it?  Yeah, well, that happened.

It's okay though, as much as I loved my new off the cuff writing style, the numbers would suggest that not many other people did so I'm reverting to weekly updates and long rambling sentences (lucky you!).

It seems so long since the carefree days of my holidays, I currently feel like I've shot 100 weddings this year, I haven't but I have shot a lot and I've loved every moment. the editing pile though, uy!

You know I said that I'd stopped swearing and instead replaced it with the word "Uy" well, I now say that approximately 784 times a day and even more if I'm tuned into Sky News.  I'm grateful for my continued success in business.  Both companies are currently thriving, Inspire is only in its second year so it provides more challenges than photography which just continues to be a constant that I am supremely grateful for.

I decided that I didn't want to be alone for the rest of my life but at the same time I'm super picky, I installed dating apps and yet, I think I only did it to feel more normal, because window shopping is good in the quiet moments of the night.  I decided that I would truly be myself and so, choosing Pansexual from the list, I was emboldened, even though I've never declared myself to be anything really.

Oh and for those who wonder, what's Pansexual, the Wikipedia definition is - 

"Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others"

The truth is though, just between us, if you ask my friends, I've always been someone who thinks that attraction is based on the person rather than the gender and I've always been someone who's refused to give myself a title, there's  a "love without labels" movement for instance and I've always been a bit of a wild bohemian, though, let's be honest, I'm 45, I'm still a bohemian but my wild days are over.

So there you go, I just sort of came out (in public, on my blog, at least) I guess but that's what you do in your forties isn't it, you figure out exactly who you are, you redefine yourself because after so many years of being defined as mum, your kids are independent and you have to rediscover the whole of you.

I should point out at this point that generally I'm hoping that one day I'll meet someone in real life because it's easier to meet someone on a pub than it is online, I mean, after all, I am a bloody good photographer, I actually look nothing like my dating profile in real life.  At least if you meet someone at the pub then visually at least, what you see is what you get!  Will I ever meet someone?  Who knows, I favour Scottish men and men who have beards and are thin, it's no wonder my top 3 list is Ewan Mcgregor, Richard Madden and David Tennant.  For sure I have a favourite type, I can compromise on the beard and on the Scottishness but hair is super important.  I'm, also not willing to compromise on one other fact...

If you've never seen Moulin Rouge or you hated it, we're never going to have anything in common because to me, Moulin Rouge is more than a movie, I have a clip of it saved on my phone to watch whenever I'm feeling sad or distressed or confused, it always makes me feel better and I guess it has something to do with it being about the bohemian ideals of beauty, truth, freedom and love.  As long as they can put up with the fact that I watch it at least twice a month and that "Come What May" is an anthem for life, well we'll be just fine.  I remember watching it for the first time with my then-husband in 2002 and falling in love with it because we had both found what we were, although I always say, if you think I was a bohemian, he was the real wild one, that's why we fell in love in 1999 because we were the same, at least for a while.

So there you go, my life as it is, it has so much more freedom, something I've fought so hard for and something which has cost me more than you can ever understand.  To have this freedom, I've had to lose things I've loved with all of my heart but I'm happy now, whether that's on my own and accompanied by a beagle or out, at the local with my best friends and friends I've yet to meet.

Being free is future-facing, being free is me, now, and forever


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The diary of a slightly demented middle aged woman - part 3

#stopthecoup protests, the diary of a slightly demented middle aged woman, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

August 28th 2019

Sighed approximately 432 at the day's news, watched the news channel, signed several petitions and got quite cross at several points, getting cross is such a British thing isn't it?

I do think that we British are fabulous at protesting in a peaceful way so congratulations to the person protesting outside of parliament with his glockenspiel, I only really recognised "Wombling Free" and I can't work out what that's got to do with Brexit but bravo, it can't be easy carrying a glockenspiel around London when it's crowded.

Weighed myself, I've lost 3.5lb, weighed Holly Bobbins, she's lost another 100g, we shall be slinky Mandy with the slinky beagle before the end of the year.

Questioned why ready to eat peaches cost £1.85 but ripen at home peaches cost £1, now I think this is a scandal we should be protesting (with glockenspiels if necessary) I don't want to buy fruit I can only eat in a week or fruit which you put in the fridge and it never ripens until they day you want it and then it's magically overripe!

Bought unripe fruit with a very British resolve that I will just eat it hard and like it, screw you, supermarkets!

August 29th 2019

have resolved to go and peacefully protest on Saturday after work, did think about making a "Beagles against Boris" placard but called our quiz team the same name last night instead as a mini protest.  I bet Boris didn't even care, I doubt he even likes a pub quiz.

Spotted a few nice bearded men in the local, this, however, means I cannot speak to them, I go mute if they're even near me and I have to ignore their entire presence which doesn't bode well for me ever finding my lobster, who cares though?!  I have years before I am shrivelled and dead (she said, hoping).

August 30th 2019

Stayed in bed for most of the day, awoke with "driller biller killer" migraine and feeling rougher than a 45-year-old woman with a hangover, I don't even drink!  I am assuming my new resolve to be a social butterfly didn't account for the fact that the general public en masse is full of germs.

Sent Looby to Morrison's to look for emergency avocado's, apparently, there were none, not a single one, there must be some kind of avocado crisis.  She also came back with cat food when I asked for cat soup (for our old and infirm cat, Pyracantha who hates us) so I'm not ringing Huw from the BBC just yet!

August 31st 2019

Went to work followed by a protest against Boris Johnson and his crazy cabinet of wannabe dictators, proud of being there with my son (his first protest, proud mother moment), it turns out that protesting makes you really hungry so we went for lunch straight after the end of the protest which really, well it seems a terribly British thing to do!  We sit in the middle of roads, we meet others doing the same and then we have a terribly nice time getting to know each other.  I think we're the best at peaceful protests.  I did see at least 4 vicars leading each other through the crowd towards the end of the protest, again if a crowd of vicars are protesting then it must be bad, did Jesus ever stage protest marches I wonder?

September 1st 2019

The realisation that I am now nearer to 50 than I am to 40 has just hit me, mostly because my son turns 23 on Friday, even on my rough days I'm pretty sure I don't look like I am approaching 50, maybe there's been some kind of mistake with the numbers, after all, I was never very good at maths.

Unceremoniously fell out of my gate on my way to work, I tried to cling on with my nails as I saw myself in slow motion falling into next doors wheelie bins before I finally landed on my bottom with a thwack, luckily it was early and no one saw, my bottom has been hurting ever since.

Got caught in a super scary storm on the beach which seemed to go from 0-150mph in the space of seconds, couldn't catch my breath, though I might die and then I remembered it was Tynemouth Lonsgsands and not the Sahara, even though I was on the secret beach, it's not the same as being trapped in the middle of a desert in a sand storm.

Went to the pub quiz and had 3 whole glasses of Viognier (first time since February), did not die or have horrid hot flush, skipped home at 10.30pm in a haze of slightly squiffy happy bounciness.

September 2nd 2019

Stayed in pyjamas, headache caused by happy wine drinking, note to self, alcohol consumption is not big, nor is it clever...

September 3rd 2019

Finally caved into the young adults of the house and bought a microwave, thankfully technology has moved on since I had one 10 years ago and you can now cook things in dishes instead of having to cook everything in bowls, yes, a flatbed microwave, how very up to date!  I suspect all they'll use it for is the heating of beans and the reheating of Chinese food but I shall be stocking up on Jamie Oliver grains which never seem to cook as well in a wok!

Mostly felt dreadfully depressed at the political shenanigans going on currently, my son and I have decided that we need new swear words, ones you must never use, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg were the most hideous ones we could come up with.

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