Blowin’ A Hooley

Hells teeth it was literally ‘blowin’ a hooley’ on Sunday for the unveiling of a blue plaque for Tom Hadaway, on what would have been his 95th birthday.

Tom was a bit of a late starter as a professional writer having been encouraged by CP Taylor, who apparently heard one of Tom’s stories on the radio, and put a note through his door telling him to start writing plays. Stroke of luck there then!

Tom first made an impact on the national scene with a television play, “God Bless Thee Jackie Maddison” (1974), and went on to write memorable episodes of “When The Boat Comes In” (1976), along with Sid Chaplin and Alex Glasgow.

Despite the bitter cold (and snow) – lots of people turned up to hear the speeches by Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE, Michael Chaplin, Val McLane and Tim Healey.


Tim Healey did the honours and revealed the plaque seconds before the curtains practically blew off of their own accord!

Just time for a few photos before the snow really started and then back to the Old Low Light Heritage Centre on the Tyne Idols bus to warm up!


At the Old Low Light Heritage Centre we were treated to a superb performance of “The Filleting Machine”, by a theatre group – aptly named ‘Blowin’ A Hooley’

They received some fabulous and well deserved feedback from Tim Healey and Charlie Hardwick – as you can see they looked suitably blown away!


What better way to end a fantastic day than having a bit of a mingle, followed by fish, chips and fizz before heading off to the Low Lights Tavern !

p.s. Dave Young did a cracking job organising it all – Well done Dave!

Tom Hadaway Blue Plaque 18.3.2018

Dave Young – Trustee of The Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields




Want to live longer?

You betcha!

One of the ways to help you achieve this I learnt today was to have a good network of friends. We take having friends pretty much for granted – but people with autism find it much more difficult to make and keep friends, and as a result can feel particularly lonely and isolated.

I have just begun volunteering at Friends Action North East – (FANE)  and today was my induction. The group have been supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism to build and maintain friendships in and around Newcastle upon Tyne since 2004.


A little group exercise exploring the difficulties people with autism might face when deciding to meet a friend

People with autism face many barriers when making sustainable friendships – finding accessible venues is one of them. To help combat this, FANE has an on-line rating system called NEAR (North East Accessibility Rating – a bit like Trip Advisor) which encourages people to rate and review venues across the region – but with a strong focus on accessibility information, service and the whole experience.

My role as a volunteer will be to help with the website and NEAR, designing posters for FANE events,  and getting the message out on Twitter.

I’m looking forward to getting started properly next week. If you are on twitter and are feeling generous today – please give Friends Action NE a little follow on Twitterhere’s the link

A few re-tweets every now and then wouldn’t go amiss either …….   thanks! 🙂





I do… I do… I do!


Yea I am photographing a wedding ….. in my home town!

That is actually a first for me – every wedding I have done so far has been either abroad, down South or in the North West of the country – so it’s lovely to be able to actually walk to one for a change!

… Well I probably won’t “walk” to be honest (too much camera kit to carry) – but you get my drift.

I was married at the old Registry office in North Shields myself 25 years ago – not the most salubrious of locations so fortunately for my bride, the offices have moved to the riverside, and there will be an opportunity to go out onto the balcony and take some shots overlooking the River Tyne.

Co-incidentally the location for the wedding was hosting a wedding fair this weekend so I popped along to have a wee look. There were about 30 suppliers there – so it was a fantastic opportunity to have a look at what’s out there locally for North Tyneside brides.

Vintage Tea Party – Julie Clay hires out bunting and vintage crockery which is absolutely gorgeous….. and the best bit… all of her prices include the washing up!


Maureen at Whitley Cakes had a fantastic semi-naked cake on display which looked to die for! I would have given almost anything for a slice of this cake…. it was sooooo pretty….. And if it had been served on one of Julie’s vintage tea plates she wouldn’t have needed to wash up because the plate would have been licked clean 🙂


Leanne from Cygnet Events and her team were also there with the landtrain beautifully decorated – what a novel way to transport your guests to the reception!


I’m really looking forward to photographing this wedding! And of course, it goes without saying …. they will live happily ever after!


What’s next?

“Fiddler’s Green” Fishermen’s Memorial being made in Ray Lonsdale’s workshop

Yes indeed … what’s next?

Since December 2015 I’ve been helping the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP) raise £75,000 for a Memorial to fishermen lost at sea from the port of North Shields. I was responsible for Press/PR/Social Media/the newsletter …. amongst other things.

By May 2017 the £75,000 target was reached and on 24 September 2017 the 2.25x life size cor-ten steel memorial was in place on the North Shields Fish Quay. It took about 10 months of serious fundraising to get to the target with the help of the local community, local businesses, Trusts and North Tyneside Council.

So it’s in situ – and I have left the Project to pursue other projects.

The Group continue for another year with a view to carrying out the things outlined at their AGM in December:-

A Memorial Book

Working with Amber films

An Annual Fiddler’s Green Day event on/around 24th September

… and what about me? …. “What’s Next?”

The priority first and foremost is to get back into shape – the last two years sat at a PC writing press articles, newsletters etc for NSFHP together with being a slave to social media to get the word out about the project has paid a toll (a large one!) on my waist line – I need to shed several pounds 🙂

I have joined a gym and have signed up to five classes a week – so I am really hoping to see some positive results soon!

Unfortunately I will still be somewhat ‘chained to the PC’, because as well as pursuing my photography in 2018 (which entails some sitting at a PC) – I also plan to write a book about how the fishermen’s memorial was made.

I visited the sculptors workshop 15 times and photographed it being made – so it seems a natural step really to do something with the 400+ so far (there are more) edited photographs.

2018 is therefore looking quite busy and exciting from where I am ‘sitting’ – or should I say from where I am ‘leaping about’!

Here are a few images by way of a sneaky little peek …

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

And it looks like ‘being beside the seaside’ is set to become an altogether more enjoyable experience very soon!

The Dome in Whitley Bay is an iconic structure being originally completed in 1910 but sadly over the years fell into disrepair.

After massive investment and almost 18 years after it finally closed it’s doors for the last time – it is almost ready to be re-opened in magnificent style!

North Tyneside Council and the construction Group Robertson’s’ have been working on  regenerating the Spanish City Dome at Whitley Bay in North Tyneside.

The Council have invested £4m, secured £3.47m of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as a Coastal Communities Fund grant of more than £2.5m – bringing the total investment to a whopping £10m. So far the project is on budget and on time – can’t ask for more than that!

Work is currently underway and includes the restoration and repair of many previously lost original features and the addition of modern extensions. Much of the inside was rotten (as you can see from the picture above) – but features have been faithfully restored as far as possible by local companies and people.

The ceiling of the central space has also been removed from the ground floor, so visitors will see the dome in all its glory from inside for the first time in over 100 years – a floor to ceiling view from the Rotunda.

Seaward-facing full height windows have also been fitted in keeping with the original Spanish City, revealing incredible views of the coast and St Mary’s Island.

I was lucky to be selected from over 1,000 applicants to view the progress being made last week in advance of it’s completion in Spring 2018 and opening to the public in late spring/early summer 2018.

I took a few 🙂 photos whilst I was there and as the tour programme is now closed – the next ones I’ll be taking are when it’s fully open to the public – I can’t wait!

If you are in the North East next summer be sure to come and have a look – there will be restaurants, tea shops and an ice cream parlour, plus of course (wouldn’t be complete without one) …. a fish and chip shop! More info on the progress can be found here.

Lights, Camera, Action!

I would love my own photo studio at home, but I live in a terraced house that just doesn’t have the space to allow that little luxury unfortunately.

That’s why most of my portrait shoots tend to be ‘outdoor’ photo shoots. I like to connect my subjects to a place that they love – the park, the beach… wherever is special to them.

If I lived somewhere warm – I could do outdoor portrait shoots throughout the entire year!

The North of England – a mile from the beach, can start to get pretty chilly from November – April. Coats and hats need to be put on, taken off, put back on again and I have to be really quick on the shoot…… Mind ‘Northerners’ are pretty tough cookies and are often seen without coats on a night out in Newcastle!


A dining room tends to be my preferred ‘go to’ spot for re-arranging if I want to do an indoor shoot during the colder months. It takes a bit of re-arranging of furniture, but it can be done.

I tend to just use one Studio light with a white umbrella that I shoot through and it gets a really nice effect. Here’s a few that I took recently.


If you fancy a mini photo shoot in your own home – all I need is something like 4-5ft behind the subject (with less clutter the better) plus about 4-5ft in front of the subject, something for the subject to sit on and finally maybe you’d like to add a few props (a book, cuddly toy etc) and then away we go!

To book – please email

Take a look at my website for prices.


A Walk in the Park

Autumn is a fabulous time of year for family photo shoots – wonderful colours and backgrounds make the perfect setting for some lovely photographs.


Once a photo shoot has been booked, a question that I get asked time and time again is “What should we wear?”

Deciding what everyone should wear can be pretty stressful. Let’s face it, it’s normally tricky enough getting the whole family out of the house clean and presentable let alone in co-ordinating outfits!

I always think about the location and background when suggesting what a client should wear.

I went scouting for new locations last week in North Shields/Tynemouth area, and found this wonderful spot in a local park for my next few photo shoots. A great colour palette to choose for shoots at this time of year are earthy colours (brown, mustard, beige, yellow) as they look so good with the beautiful autumnal colours around…. or a nice white top and blue jeans with boots would also look great.


I have three separate photo shoots booked in for next week in this location – all will have a different feel to them (a young girl in a Disney character outfit, a young woman with two small dogs and finally, an elderly couple). Within a few hundred yards there are some beautiful spots to capture some unique and personal shots.

4 Panoramic

Here are just a few suggestions and pointers from me on “what to wear” …….

· Wear what’s comfortable for your body because being comfortable in what you’re wearing will have a huge positive impact on how happy you look in your photos. However, if the photo shoot is on grass or sand I wouldn’t recommend that you wear high heeled shoes!

· Wear something that reflects who you are because you want to be able to look back on your photos and recognize yourself.

· Bring along accessories to add variety to the shots e.g. a scarf, pashmina, sunglasses.

. Wear solid coloured clothing so that we see all everybodys face and no one person stands out (unless of course you specifically want one person to stand out). If you wear stripes or strong patterns, you will stand out from the rest of your group.

· Families or other groups might want to think about co-ordinated colours. Choosing clothes with same or similar colours unifies a picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture rather than on all of the different patterns on shirts/blouses.

· As an example, a group could all wear a simple white top and jeans, although some people might regard this as clichéd, whilst I really like the look and would prefer to describe it as “classic”.


. Rather than trying to think of everyone at once, I find it helps to think of a patterned outfit that one family member could wear, then pick out colours from that pattern for everyone else. Then hey presto, everyone is in co-ordinated outfits without being too similar.

· Co-ordinated outfits are lovely and is best achieved by choosing a colour palette and everybody varying the shades. As in this photograph, I was really lucky the group had somebody who took charge of this and organised everybody! Blue was very cool for this family photo shoot and worked really well with the background.


So …. all that said, I really wouldn’t want to stress anybody out by saying “Don’t wear this – or don’t wear that!” … at the end of the day It’s your photo shoot so wear whatever you want to wear and above all, wear something that you feel comfortable in!”

If you fancy a ‘walk in the park’ for a one hour local portrait shoot – please get in touch!

I’ve become a bit of a flasher!

Before you get the wrong idea …. I mean using flash photography !

Until very recently I have avoided using a flash when taking photographs like the plague – I have dabbled with it, but generally the results haven’t been that pleasing to be honest.

Rabbits in headlight and harsh shadows are generally what spring to mind when people mention flash photography – so I have stuck to natural light on the whole.

When I ‘broke free’ from full time 9-5 work almost a year ago, my colleagues bought me a snazzy Canon flash as a leaving gift. I initially thought that I would make great use of it photographing a steel sculpture that was being made by Ray Lonsdale in his workshop.

The workshop was pretty dark and had some challenging light conditions to overcome. Tungsten light mixed with natural light coming through the doors mixed with harsh sunlight streaming through the roof lights, mixed with the sculptor welding. Adding flash to the mix was just a step too far for me to be honest! The ISO went up a bit, I used a tripod and the aperture was widened – it worked.


So the snazzy flash has been pretty much in its box for 9 months …. until recently that is.

Way back in the spring I was asked to photograph a joint 50th ‘cowboy’ style private birthday party which was being held in a local civic centre theatre, in the evening, in September with very low level lighting…. and not only that …. the light that there was just happened to be a mixture of red and green spotlights 😦

There would be zero opportunity for natural light photos – flash was a must. So after a lot of background reading on my friend ‘Mr Google’ plus several practice shots with my hubby and a friend, I felt confident that I could do it and wouldn’t end up having to convert them to black and white …. *sigh of failure to get a decent image*

The client (and me) were over the moon with the end results.


Flush from the success of 4 hours of flash photograph and 175 images later, like this guest I “wanted” more 🙂

I thought I’d try outdoor flash photography mixed with natural light… in the form of an after school photo shoot at the beach.

I usually rely on my hubby wielding a reflector to get catch lights in a clients eyes, or if I’m doing a studio style portrait, the studio lights adding them. Otherwise the eyes look a bit ‘dead’…..


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With the after school shoot, trying to ‘direct’ two children and not ending up with the reflector in the sea, I opted for my snazzy flash again.

And boy was I chuffed with the results – it gave a real ‘pop’ to the shot – and I will deffo use it again on future photo shoots.

If you would like a photo shoot, pop over to my website for prices

To book one – my email address is

I also do vouchers, which last for 6 months if you fancy buying one for a gift 🙂

Christmas is coming 🙂

Are you a hot ‘Domestic Goddess’?

Before we start … just to set the record straight …. I am not a hot domestic goddess… but I do like cooking and always … well usually… actually sometimes – eat healthily!

I have a Grade A at ‘O’ Level in Food and Nutrition from circa 1975 (if that means anything at all to anybody …. it probably doesn’t)…. but that’s by-the-by.

On a wet and miserable Wednesday afternoon, I thought that I might try something a little bit different. A cookery blog (with a few photos of course 🙂 !)

Today’s food blog extravaganza will be ….

Sweet Potato, Chick Pea and Spinach Curry (with rice)

This is low in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar…. win-win!

And yes…. you have probably sussed out that I am a veggie (and have been one since 2001 thank you to the Foot and Mouth outbreak in Great Britain)….. don’t give up on the recipe though it will be nice (honest)!

And I suppose if you are meat eater you could proabably add meat (but I don’t know what that would do to the “low in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar claim”.)

It ‘must’ be nice because it’s from the British Heart Foundation Healthy recipes

What I NEVER do is follow a recipe to the letter (because where is the fun in that?) – so I have adapted it slightly.

It’s a practice run – because I have some friends coming over to dinner next week…. and it’s never good to practice a new recipe on the night is it – I’d probably end up ordering a take away!

“Practice makes perfect” – so here we go….

Ingredients (enough for 2-3 people)

3/4 mug of long grain rice (washed thoroughly with cold water) and 1.5 mugs of cold water to cook

1 sweet potato (about 250g/9oz total/unprepared weight), peeled and cut into small chunks

2 teaspoons Olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (it’s the seeds that are the really hot bit… so I always leave a few in 🙂 )

1cm (1/2in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon medium or hot curry powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

227g (8oz) can chopped tomatoes

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) vegetable stock

215g (7 1/2oz) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

115g (4oz) frozen spinach (which you need to boil pe instructions on the packet)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

After about 15 minutes of chopping it should look something like this – this obviously took me longer because I took a few photos along the way 🙂 :-

  1. Wash the long grain rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Pop it in a pan and then add twice the amount of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until all the water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat off and allow to continue to cook in its own heat. This takes about 30-40 minutes. Make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the pan but don’t keep stirring the rice otherwise it will be a big globby mess.
  2. Cook sweet potato chunks in a pan of boiling water for about 7 minutes or until tender. Drain well; set aside.
  3. Boil the frozen spinach per the instructions on the packet.
  4. Heat olive oil in a non-stick saucepan; add onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, chilli and ginger; cook gently for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ground spices; cook gently for 1 minute, stirring.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, stock, chick peas and sweet potato chunks. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the pre-cooked spinach, cover and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir in chopped coriander (if using); serve with cooked hot rice.

There… that was easy wasn’t it!

All you have to do now is tidy up the complete mess of a kitchen that you have created and eat the delicious results of the fruits of your labour! Not necessarily in that order…

Ta da….

p.s Serve with wine 🙂