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

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Christmas at the Charlton's 2020

It's Christmas at the Charlton's 2020 and Abigail commented yesterday that I hadn't blogged a lot this year and I should be blogging now because other people might want to read about what you do when you are at my life stage, i.e. with an empty nest! Well, the truth is that I've blogged less this year because I've just done less exciting things than ever before.  There's just not been a lot to write about and having just survived my first year in E-commerce at Philomena's Boutique I'm actually pretty tired right now!  I did realise, however that I hadn't shared this year's festive house and I like to write about the year's festive decoration as much as a record for me than anyone else!

Not going to lie, this year I went big as an antidote to 2020, I put up my decorations on the 2nd November with the help of lovely Looby and I've been living the twinkly life ever since.  it takes approximately 50 batteries to refresh all of the various sets of fairy lights and twinkly decorations, thank goodness for large multipacks you can get these years!

Christmas at the Charlton's 2020,  festive decoration at Mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

I can't remember a year when my home has been more twinkly, cosy or welcoming, renovating my home throughout 2021 remains to be one of the best things I've done because my home is me! I'm pretty sure everyone would guess correctly on "Through the Keyhole".

The latest room I've worked on is my spare room and it's such a lovely cosy cocoon, I've really been enjoying having Abigail stay since she came home from Uni for Christmas, it's actually not quite finished as I still have some art to go on the wall and actually I think this room is going to end up being my bedroom, I just need to swap the beds over and then my bedroom will become the office and the office will be a spare room, yes, still lots of changes to make in 2022 but I am really looking forward to doing more renovation.  I lost my zest for it during the first lockdown but I'm raring to go again during the winter when I doubt we'll be able to do much else really!

This year I'm counting myself to be very lucky as I'll be spending Christmas Day with both Abigail and Looby and it's the first time in a few years, it's really the only Christmas gift I want or need so even if I have to spend a lot of the next few weeks alone, this last week that I've had with Abigail and Christmas Day, well it's enough really in this very weird year of 2020.


Friday, December 04, 2020

How to survive Christmas if you're on your own

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Surviving Christmas 2020 if you're on your own is admittedly going to be harder than ever, for people who live alone or for many reasons won't see family this year, loneliness threatens to be much worse than ever before.

During the first lockdown, I managed 9 weeks alone but it was sunny and I spent most days in the garden pottering.  This time it's been different, the light levels are awful, it's cold and the twinkliest time of the year reminds us even more so of the people we're really missing right now.

I do have some experience of spending the Christmas holidays alone, I've seen people on odd days but for a while, I thought I'd be completely on my own on Christmas Day this year.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago Abigail and Looby told me they'd be spending Christmas Day with me this year and that's the only Christmas gift I really need.   Still, though, I've had a yearly campaign to end loneliness, not just with the old and frail but for everyone, as no one should be alone at Christmas, I've had an open house for the last few years and it breaks my heart that I cannot offer that this year but I acknowledge that it's just not safe to welcome strangers into my home or even people I know, I don't believe it's okay for us all to abandon the caution like Boris has told us we can, I think that's a recipe for causing the death of your nan if I'm honest and a lockdown in January will be horrific. 

There is great hope, of course, we now have a vaccine in the UK and I'm in the 6th category myself to get vaccinated, I cannot wait, I'll queue for it now if they'll let me!

Christmas Day Alone

Almost certainly for a lot of people, this will be the hardest day to spend alone but there are things you can do.  Sarah Millican has a hashtag on Twitter #joinin and it's for people spending the day alone to just be able to talk, I did tweet last year when I was alone for part of the day and it's a really lovely community feel.

My first thought is that to get you through the day you are going to need treats, so get yourself a box, a hamper, something to put wonderful things in over the next couple of weeks, it could be a book you've wanted to read, a bottle of amazing gin or maybe even a special present like a subscription that brings you treats once a month for the rest of the year, Willies Cacao has a chocolate subscription full of wonder and when I was talking to them about this article and my gift guide they asked if they could send me an example of what you get every month through your letterbox and wowser, it's a load of chocolate so you can spoil yourself throughout the month whilst learning about chocolate.  They'll even send you the tasting notes, maybe when all of this covid nonsense is over you could throw a chocolate tasting party, that's my plan!

another subscription you could try is the Craft Gin club, I mean, who wouldn't want a monthly treat of craft gin with accompaniments, a magazine and all kinds of extras, I've been a member now for 3 months and I look forward to it's magical arrival every month, oh and they even have a special Christmas gin produced in association with Philip Schofield,  you can bet I'm having a bottle of that in my love yourself Christmas hamper. If you sign up with my link you'll get a massive £16 off your first delivery.

Christmas TV

This year it seems the TV channels have pulled out the stops and so the schedule is going to be a bumper one with more people staying at home than ever before and I for one shall be fixed to the sofa for this year's festive Doctor Who with my favourite Captain Jack, I honestly can't wait, I haven't read all of the schedules just yet but I will be heading out very soon to grab my yearly copy of the Christmas Radio Times, it's a yearly tradition since Childhood, you know that Christmas is definitely here when the special Radio Times appears in the shops, I definitely buy it for nostalgic reasons more than anything else as I would never usually buy a hard copy TV guide.

How to survive Christmas 2020 with a mental health issue

I've written previously about how to protect your mental health at Christmas so I'll let you pop over and read that but I still stand by the fact that for me, Christmas is a season, it's not just one day so embracing the whole of December is the best way to enjoy it rather than focusing on the one day, putting all of your hopes, dreams and aspirations into that and then ending up depressed and anxious as I have over the years.  Now I try to embrace each twinkly moment of joy and it really helps.  This doesn't mean, however, that we will manage the whole period unscathed so just know that it's okay not to be okay and that this isn't your whole story, it's just a brief pause before the next wonderful chapter.

Without a doubt, the festive season this year is not going to be the same and I'm so happy that I had the best New Year's Eve last year because there's obviously not going to be any hint of a New Year's Eve party nor indeed my annual Christmas party, honesty, no one is going to have the best Christmas ever this year so please don't let social media fool you that they are.  in many people's lives, they will be mourning the loss of normality or even worse, they'll be mourning the loss of a relative with an empty space at the table so please do not put pressure on yourself, just be kind to yourself as much as you possibly can.

I also want to write about the fact that whilst many will be having Zoom Christmas parties and virtual present openings with their families and friends,  I cannot think of anything worse, I loath the phone, and even more so I hate video calling.  For me, it's in person or nothing and I already have my plan on the Saturday before Christmas to be Santa to all of my friends I can't be with, I'm off to deliver special packages to them all,  I will be using hand sanitiser, masks and I'll be stepping away from the door to a safe distance for them to retrieve their parcels but because for me, spoiling my friends is the best part of Christmas this will mean everything.  I'm making a lot of gifts this year because of the restriction of budget due to covid but that doesn't make them any less special.

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