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, June 16, 2021

This blog post contains no drama...

This blog post contains no drama, I just thought I would sit and write an update on a sunny June morning whilst the world is quiet and calm.  It's been the sunniest of weeks and life has had a gentle but upbeat pace for a little while and I for one, well I'm there for it, it's about time.  My businesses are far from perfect thanks to the "Pandemilovato" which just keeps on giving but last night there was at least an update that weddings have had the 30 guest restriction lifted so I hope this gives the couples the confidence they need to go ahead with booking their weddings and hopefully, me as their photographer.

Yesterday, after last week sorting out my wardrobe, taking 6 black bags to the charity shop and throwing away 3 black bags of rubbish, I commenced my quest to shrink myself enough to be able to wear all of the beautiful clothes I have left in the said wardrobe.

Mandy Charlton wears a gorgeous acai berry necklace, eco friendly from Philomena's Gift Boutique, a gift boutique full of gorgeous things for you and your home
Gorgeous necklace available from Philomena's Boutique

I have so many gorgeous dresses which just require a 2-inch shrinkage, I'm not going to get all obsessed about it but for a year I've not exercised enough and I've comfort eaten the contents of my home 132 times over.  I did spend a significant part of that scared to go outside and I think we're all a little heavier post lockdowns but I'm fully vaccinated now and I once again have things in my calendar I can wear dresses too so Pinch of Nom, Two Chubby Cubs recipe books and making sure I walk at least 10k steps every day and I reckon it's going to happen pretty quickly, (she said, hoping).

In February 2020 after being single pretty much since September 2014 I openly declared that I was healed, that I'd worked on myself enough and that I was ready to try dating again, I still maintain to this day that this statement did not make the pandemic occur nor did it make lockdown happen.  What actually happened was that I had another year to work on myself and honestly, I am in such great shape with my mental health, I've never been more stable.  In January I even got to reduce my meds to a half dose, and yeah, I will always have to take them but I'm about as well balanced as I could be and if this last year has taught me anything it's that I am at my best with lovely people in my life and that I don't want to be single for the rest of my life.  

Humans thrive in the right relationships, they bring out the best in each other, it doesn't mean they have to overwhelm each other's lives or be together 24/7 but I think (and I'm really channelling Simone De Beauvoir here) the right couple will enhance each other's lives, they will both have separate lives and go off and do amazing things and then they will come together and share those experiences, teaching each other things that the other might not know and when they are together because they're always growing and learning, they will be unstoppable.  No relationship will ever be perfect but if I've learnt anything from the past it's that if you can't communicate then you will always fail and that's the same for friendships and family relationships.  

I'm probably the least scared I've ever been about the future which is a huge statement for someone with anxiety but honestly, my anxiety levels have been much better lately and even using the metro seems to be a little easier.  I'm not saying I wouldn't feel scared in a crowd of thousands but I at least feel like when I go back to shooting full sized weddings soon with lots of guests that it will be okay.  My plan now is to hopefully take on more weddings, keep running the boutique but to do it all at a pace where I can squeeze in a great work life balance.  I gave up a lot in the past and really, photography will always be weekends but by taking less on and only really working 1 day at weekends I feel like I can achieve the peaceful, gentle and fulfilling life I really want to live.  It's not all about money, it never has been, it's about finding inner happiness, not worrying and about feeling genuinely fulfilled in my heart and soul.

Happiness, that's the real meaning of life and that starts with self acceptance, a little self love and learning to enjoy and appreciate the people and things you already have in your life for if you keep chasing happiness like it's always one more step and then you'll be happy, you never will be truly happy, it's taken me a long time to realise that but the future starts now.

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Friday, June 04, 2021

What I did in May (ish)


The Whey Aye burger, Hardrock Cafe, Newcastle, mandy Charlton photographer, writer, blogger


Consider this a catchup post if you will,  what I did in May, it's one of those posts dear reader, when, I'll be honest, I just could never sit down to write in the last month, it's not that I didn't have things to write about, it's that I couldn't find the time or concentration to write about them.  My usually distracted brain was even less capable of concentrating than usual so let's just round that all up now.

During the last month, I found a new gentle rhythm to my life and about time really, life was slow and steady and it contained lovely people.  I walked as much as I could and when it was with friends it was even better.  My life had zero drama in it and my goodness, that's so refreshing.  I didn't have to walk on eggshells with anyone, I was just me and that was okay.





I finally managed to catch up with a couple of dear friends I'd not seen during the pandemic but now we're all fully vaccinated we can once again enjoy each other's company.  I'll skip most of May as I don't really remember it but I did go to the press launch of the Hardrock Cafe in Newcastle which was amazing, I've been a fan of the Hardrock Cafe brand for years and I find it quite refreshing that the Hardrock Cafe in Newcastle is light and airy with shades of grey and turquoise.  The menu is delicious and the "Whey Aye Burger" is the star regional attraction.  You can sit next to Taylor Swift's dress or Ed Sheeran's jacket, you can even read a love letter sent from Amy Whinehouse to her husband at the time.  It's a very special place and it's no surprise that it seems to be booked solid.  Abi and I tried to get a table this Saturday and it was fully booked until later than I usually like to eat.  We shall go though, and yes there will be margaritas in Kilner jars.




On Friday my old friend Ron came over for a live stream concert straight from Sage Gateshead.  In this year of pandemonium, the thing I have missed most of all is live music, and especially the crescendo of an orchestra.  We were invited by Sage Gateshead and they were also kind enough to send us a Sage Hamper fresh from Blacks Corner, a deli based in the northeast of England who they've partnered with to make concerts at home just that little bit more special.  I can tell you, the cheese we were sent was perfection and John Wilson's Summer Songs concert was a most brilliant start to the bank holiday weekend.  Sage Gateshead is actually making their first tentative steps back to having live concerts with audiences and they have a Bach to Bach concert on Friday 11th of June.  Even though they will only have an audience of 300 to begin with I feel like it's a beacon of hope and I hope that I will be able to get back inside one of the magical concert halls soon for some beautiful melodious music as soon as possible.  It's also very possible that in the future Sage will not only have live concerts but they will also continue to use the live stream facility to bring musical performances to audiences who have never been previously able to partake.  This excites me as the more you people you can bring music to, the better the world is in my opinion.  I would like to also state at this point (as I have on many previous occasions before) that I am an absolute RHS orchestra fangirl and my absolute favourite orchestra member to watch at concerts is the Timpanist, there's something magical about the Timpani as it's an instrument no one would ever grow up wanting to play due to the size of the set of Timpani drums but I've always been a bit of a fan of percussion and tuned percussion.




Over the rest of the weekend, I refreshed my hanging baskets, and on Sunday I went for a walk to Rothbury with Li continuing our 40 coasts and country walks book, I'm not sure we actually did the walk in the book but it was so much fun getting lost.  After breaking in (and out) of Cragside accidentally we've now both rejoined the National Trust as penance and so maybe this weekend we should just play it safe and go to a National Trust property.  On bank holiday Monday, I went to the Punchbowl with friends, I think this may have been my first ever time going to the pub on a bank holiday Monday afternoon, I had 4 gins but by the time I walked home I was sober again, it was such a wonderful afternoon and a reminder that good friends are a wonderful thing.  On Tuesday still, in my happy vibe, I took a chance and did a scary thing and met a new person for a walk, I'm not one for meeting new people and certainly not on my own but it was so much better than I ever imagined it could be, a testament to the fact that sometimes it's worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because there are good things and new experiences to be found.



This weekend I am back to photography and have a busy June but there will still be time for walks with friends and shenanigans in the sunshine with gin or a crisp cool glass of rose, I've never really been a massive rose fan but on a warm evening, it's the perfect accompaniment.  I promise to try and do more updates in June and with any luck, it will be another gentle and lovely month, here's hoping!

Ways to support my writing


If you have enjoyed this article or found it useful and would like to support my writing I'd love a virtual coffee

I also have a lovely Facebook group I'd love you to come and join 

You could also come and follow me on Instagram  keep up with my adventures, I really am grateful for all

of your love and support.

Oh and of course, you could just treat yourself to something lovely from Philomena's Boutique, my gift boutique















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