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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

14 years of blogging, what's next?

My blog is 14 years old this week and I feel like I'm at a great crossroads.  I have blogged about anything and everything for more than a quarter of my life, there's so much history, so many memories, the good, the great and the super sparkly.

Colourful interiors, mandy charlton, 14 years of blogging, photographer newcastle

I blog less now that I ever have but just because it's hard, I Instagram almost every day and that's really taken over as a daily document of my life online, it's just so much easier to post in the moment and since I was diagnosed with Hyperparathyroidism my memory fails me more often than not, nothing like an (currently) inoperable tumour on your parathyroid to interfere with your life.  It could be a lot worse though and it's totally workable.  I have found the greatest therapy is to work on my home day and night.  This week the transformation of my livingroom is well underway and I spend every spare second when I am not out working either planning or doing.  I have taken a week off currently though as painting the ceiling grey when you have fibromyalgia hurts a lot!!


Other than the transformation of my home, there's really not a lot to write about, I lead the most sedate life and live like a hermit, anyone wondering if I've been on a date lately, I haven't, not for at least 5 years but the single life is the happy life and the stable life when you're me, I've an inability to deal with conflict and when I think about relationships I immediately worry about what would happen the first time we have an argument so suffice to say, it's easier and less anxious to remain as I am.

I don't want to give up on blogging and it still makes me a few pounds every year in the form of sponsored ads/products/articles and indeed it's not like my traffic has slowed down, the last couple of months I've been getting over 30,000 hits a day, maybe it's even better when I blog sporadically than when I do it every day.

I still think about writing but most of the time, I'll have a thought and by the time I sit down to write about it, I'll have completely forgotten what it was.

I have this great plan to throw Harriet a fabulous party for her upcoming special birthday when she's 20 for the second time, I was just thinking today how I could recreate her favourite nightclub by having the rock room upstairs, the pop room downstairs and who knows what we could do in the garden on a sunny May evening, chillout room in the bedroom obviously 😉

I have also just launched my mentoring services today if you have need for photography mentoring, the time just feels right and now I have the perfect home to do it from, and I'm also teaching "Everyday Photography Masterclass" for business owners next month at my home through my other company The Inspire Network, if you're a maker this is the masterclass for you and you don't even have to be a member to join us.

So that's you and me, dear reader, we are caught up, we are reconnected and I would assume that the best is always just around the corner so onwards to our next adventures together and thank you always for reading.
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

In renovating my home, I found myself {ad-affiliate}


*This article contains affiliate links

Identity is everything, authenticity is everything and learning about who you are can come from so many places, I did not expect to find myself whilst renovating my home but that's exactly what happened.


Flashback to February 2019, I'd had a fully assembled wooden arbour in my Amazon basket for over 12 months and finally, I managed to buy it through a lot of hard work and some affiliate marketing, I only wanted a fully assembled one because DIY and building furniture in 2983 parts, it's just not my strong point.  I can visualise creatively (and I'm bloody good at that) but spacially and logically, my brain does not excel at.  Over the next few weeks, I furiously worked on my garden every day, every bit of money I earned went into building this vision for my dream garden that I had in my head, finally at the beginning of May it was complete.
DIY home renovations on a tiny budget, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

I spent the rest of the spring and summer spending as much time outdoors as I possibly could and I found it improved my mental health to the best it had been for years,  I had BBQ's, I sat in the evenings amongst the twinkly lights with the chiminea lit and the tiki torches burning. I finally had a garden I didn't want to run away from.

inside mandy charlton, phototographers home, a home designed on a budget


Fast forward to November and I randomly came across a guy who transformed kitchens by wrapping them in vinyl and though I didn't have the money at the time, he was so kind that once I did have it, I went straight back to him and booked him in, there was absolutely no going back, especially as the mural had also been ordered and my friend Steve had been booked for a day to help me put it up, the transformation was instant although for a while there, it actually looked worse as the bright colours of the new colour scheme clashed badly with the old, grubby flooring and I knew I had no way of replacing them until some income in and in the winter as a wedding photographer, well it's not the easiest.  


Whilst I was waiting for the income to replace the flooring I started painting the hall and the design there happened organically, I realised there was enough room for a small sofa and off I went to look for bargains in the Wayfair sale and found a pink sofa, I initially wanted ochre to match the retro yellow and cosy grey walls but my knowledge of colours from many years as a photographer told me I'd be safe with a fuchsia colour and lo and behold, it looks fantastic.


Finally, just a couple of days ago, the flooring went down and I realised that in completing the whole of the ground floor I'd finally found myself.  No one would question who lives in my house but me because it's got all of my personality stamped all over it.

I'm so happy with all that I've done, I've realised that I am to finding bargains on Amazon what Mrs Hinch is to eBay and I'm okay with that, it's perfect for someone who doesn't go out very often, click a button and a man turns up with your order the next day.

In finishing the hall, the stairs to the first floor, the kitchen and the garden I've given myself the confidence to go on further through the house and you can bet every wedding or portrait session I shoot this year will help me to complete the work and then, well, my grand plans include teaching makers the art of using a smartphone to create visually engaging images to use in their business and also a course to help future wedding photographers learn the business of weddings.  The weather may be dark and gloomy right now but this Saturday is my first wedding of the year and I can't wait to get back out there because I know I'm building my dreams with each and every assignment I take on this year.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The costs of renovating your kitchen on a budget

[Ad, the mural in this article was gifted to me] Over the last few weeks, I've been furiously renovating my kitchen, decluttering the hall, decorating, wallpapering, pretty much my goal for this year is to extend on the garden that I created last year and have a house I truly love.

2 cats stand in the kitchen of Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger, the costs of renovating your kitchen featuring Photowall, FMS Tints and AO.com


Being a self-employed single mum supporting all of us, it was always going to be done on a really tight budget but at the same time I want it to be lovely, I want it to have my personality stamped all over and it and I don't want to have to go so cheap that it looks cheap if you know what I mean.

The Kitchen Units

3 weeks on from when I started and it's a wholly different kitchen, I have had the kitchen units and the fridge wrapped by an awesome local company, it took about a day and a half, cost £350 and I can't recommend them highly enough, they're called FMS Wraps and based not far from me in Newcastle.  Aaron was so lovely to deal with and there are a couple of other projects I have in mind which I'd like to get him back for in the future.

The Mural

Just before Christmas when I didn't have any plans at all, Photowall got in touch and asked if I wanted to collaborate, I'd just put the Christmas decorations up at that point so it wasn't really doable but then they contacted me in January and I decided to go for it as I really wanted colour, pattern and impact in my kitchen and I knew I could do it with them, I found the perfect mural, ordered it and it arrived just a couple of days later along with instructions and a kit to put it all up with.  Now at this point, I must insert a large caveat, I didn't put it up myself, my handy friend Steve did it for me, I was too worried that I'd make a mess of it and didn't want to ruin something which will be on my walls for at least the next 10 years.  It took around 5 hours to put it up, Steve tackled the installation like the Jedi he is but when I come to install a mural in my living room I'd probably give it a go myself as it's a much smaller space.


Once it was up though, we felt the immediate impact, it's just the loveliest, brightest, happiest pattern in the world and an instant mood lifter, I smile whenever I'm in the kitchen.  Photowall has given me a code which is "mandyphotography2020" and that's going to give you a massive 25% off so you can get yourself something transformative.

The Paint

Jedi Steve put me onto Wilkinsons Durable paint, you can paint your wood and walls with the same paint so I went for Cosy Grey for the walls and wood and then Crushed Almond for the ceiling as I hate white ceilings, it cost £26 in total for the paint and around another £10 for brushes, rollers and trays.  I'm not using gloss paint at all, I don't like its impact on the environment and I don't enjoy the finish or actually trying to paint with it.  I loved the finish on my walls and doors and I'm extending into the hall with both colours plus adding one other colour I haven't decided on yet.

The Cooker


When I went to clean my 40-year-old secondhand cooker I found it disintegrated before my eyes and that was before we even found out that flames were coming out of the top of it from the grill, I went on AO, ordered this Zanussi 55cm cooker and paid £599 for the cooker and another £100 for the delivery, gas fitting and recycling service which I can't recommend highly enough. 

The Accessories

I've tried to keep spending to a minimum but I did splurge on the cocktail chair below which cost £40 from B&M and I also bought a few little things from Homesense which remains my favourite homewares store.

The Flooring

And here we reach the end of the project so far, I've chosen the flooring options I love, there were a multiple options, the cheapest works out at around £260 and the one I love (and my Instagram love) is about £370 so I'm going to have to work like hell to actually get the work done, I would have loved to get it all done at once but I ran out of cash and we still have to pay our bills as normal.  It's chosen though and I know I'm coming into a popular time for couples booking their wedding photography packages so it's just a case of waiting and then paying to have it done at the first moment I get some income.

Next up, decorating the hall, the downstairs loo, the stair and then my bedroom and the living room, I cannot wait, I'm so excited to have the home I've always wanted, a house full of colour with a personality as big as the family who lives within it.



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