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Berlin city guide



When it comes to city breaks, Berlin pretty much has something for everyone. 

Be you a culture vulture, foodie, history buff or party animal, Berlin can check each and every one of those off quite easily. There's fascinating history - the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and so on and then on the opposite side of the spectrum, there's also a vibrant club scene, amazing street art and some seriously tasty German sausage...eh um (minds out of the gutters people!) 

So whether you're looking for a lazy afternoon wondering round the historical district of Mitte or a pub-crawl venturing into the East Side, Berlin has it all! It's a lot cheaper than some of its neighbouring European countries (the beer is often the same price as water - GET IN!!) 

So after a fabulous few days, here's my top tips... go ahead, grab a cuppa (and perhaps a biscuit too) get comfy - it's a long one!

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How to cleanse your life in 4 simple steps

Before we get to the main focus of today's post I just have to point out the babing coat and bag I adorned when shooting this look. I mean, a pink pastel coat paired with a printed backpack... Dreamy! Whilst out scouting locations with my lovely photographer Zoe we literally jumped for joy when we saw this pastel house peeking out in the distance, I pretty much ran toward it with tears in my eyes because it was such a perfect backdrop! Anyhu, the coat is from Boden and the bag Radley and they are both currently my wardrobe favourites so I just had to take a brief moment to share my love for them both. So now that's done, lets get down to the nitty gritty. A post with a few tips and tricks on how to switch off, tidy, organise and streamline your life and most importantly be present!
Day in day out I constantly find myself thinking - 'why is life so exhausting?' This thought usually occurs when I'm mid commute - phone's ringing, coffee is spilling and my oyster card wont let me through the barriers (cue 150 aggressive Londoners tutting simultaneously behind me) Give me a break! And if it's not the little things it's juggling the every day deals of family, friends, work, chores, hobbies, fitness... the list goes on and on and sometimes it can leave me feeling a tad overwhelmed. Well fear not my lovelies, there are a few things we can do to make all seem cleaner, calmer and a whole lot easier!
Say 'NO' to invitations
We all love getting invited to things, it makes us feel happy, wanted, included - yadda yadda yadda... It's great! However, after birthdays, baby showers and Tim from down the roads annual house rave... It can often leave us feeling drained. You can say no! As much as you'd love to go to the pub quiz with Lucy from work, if you already made plans to spend the night alone with a take away and Netflix - stick to it! What tends to happen (and I am highly guilty of this) is that we say yes, but we don't mean it. And then we spend the time in between the 'yes' and the actual event worrying about how to bail at the last minute. All that angst and anxiety could have been spent doing things you actually want to do instead of stressing over how to get out of something you don't. So next time, be upfront. If you're busy say 'no thank you, I'm busy that day.' No one will cry, the world will not end and you'll feel no pressure whatsoever *breaths a sigh of relief*

Focus on the now
I've yarped on about the benefits of meditation many a time on this blog (take a peek here and here) and I still stand by the fact that mindfulness and being present 'in the moment' helps a huge deal with productivity. You may argue that more time spent ummming and ahhhhing is less time spent completing your urgent tasks but I can assure you that ten minutes spent focusing on whats going on in your own head and ignoring outside distractions will have you feeling calmer and more in control, enabling you to tackle your to do list like a pro.
Coat c/o - Boden, Dress - Marks & Spencer, Bag c/o - Radley
Shoes c/o - Boden, Glasses c/o - Superdrug, Brooch - Chanel
Photography by - Zoe Griffin
Digital detox
Although in all honestly this is something I've not yet done (being a blogger means I'm pretty much connected 24/7) It's something I've read into a whole lot and something I really want to give a try soon. So, why not join me? One or two days without your phone, without Facebook or Instagram... no big deal right? Or is it? I know I'd find it hugely difficult to do, but I also know it would give my brain the time out it really needs. I often find when I sit down to write or scribble ideas into my notebook, my best work comes when my phone is charging at the other end of the room out of reach. I often get stressed about my social stats, Instagram engagement and blog traffic so I'm continuously checking and re-checking all of my social platforms all of the time... it's so annoying! So if you're thinking about doing a digi detox, by all means do it. I adore what I do, I love creating content for you guys to enjoy but I've got to realise that by me taking a step back and a couple of days off - NOTHING WILL HAPPEN, no one will get hurt and the world won't cease to exist.
Do the essentials
Life admin, be it emails, tax returns or laundry, together they rack up quite the hefty to do list. Now I'm a fully fledged list lover (yay for alliteration!) This means I tend to spend more time writing the lists that actually doing the task, annoying I know. I've had to be brutal and look at each to do list I make with a ruthless eye. Yes alphabetising my DVD collection makes the OCD side of my brain jump for joy however essential... I think not. So now I look at my initial list and cross off any of the unnecessary (read: procrastinating jobs) immediately. It gives me a sense of priority and control and leaves me feeling instantly better seeing a list I can realistically manage within my set time frame.
So there you go, a few things you, me, everyone can do in order to be more present in our everyday lives. Switching off isn't always easy but it can benefit us in so many ways! What do you do to switch off? Is it a good book? A bubble bath? Let me know in the comments below and if you have tackled the digital cleanse, I'd be eager to hear your thoughts!


Kate x

Spa Review : Beauty At The Gate

I've been so excited to write this post. I love doing beauty reviews and this one is extra special because it's about a spa in my very own home town of Grimsby.
Beauty At The Gate was opened in December 2013 and has gone from strength to strength since the day it opened its doors. Offering a wide range of treatments from nails and massages to body wraps and waxing. The spa had been recommended to me several times by friends and family however it's not just the locals that are raving about it, Beauty At The Gate was also a professional beauty award winner at the 2016 UK Salon of the year awards.... swanky eh? 
I was invited for a special treat on my birthday a few weeks ago, to be pampered head to toe and treated like a real birthday princess!
First up (after being welcomed by the lovely BATG team) I was introduced to my therapist for the day, Sophie. 
Sophie was so friendly and the type of beauty therapist you see in the movies, like when Elle woods meets Paulette in Legally Blonde and they just hit it off straight away. This is exactly what happened, we chatted about life, love, beauty tips - you name it, we covered it. She was just so lovely and made the whole experience even better. The selection of nail polish was unreal, I mean hundreds and hundreds to choose from! I went with a black/glittery Shellac nail as it seemed the perfect amount of glitz to enter the New Year with...(you all know I'm a sucker for a bit of sparkle!)
After having the most wonderful manicure, sipping champagne and giggling with the other girls at the salon, it was time for my massage. 
A 60 minute full body, deep tissue massage...bliss! Sophie escorted me into the treatment room and took me through a few options of different styles of massages she could offer and also asked if there were any specific areas I'd like to focus on. For me I hold all my tension in my shoulders so they was my first point of call! Once the consultation was over Sophie left me to get ready.
The treatment room itself was beautiful, the gentle music and candles created such a relaxing vibe. The salon uses Elemis, so whilst getting undressed I went through the various lotions and potions until settling with the Frangipani Monoi Body Oil. The room itself was decorated so well, the small touches made such a difference and really made the experience that much more luxurious. Skip forward an hour and I was practically like jelly, so relaxed, so zen, it was as though any stress I had had disappeared. Sophie was truly excellent start to finish and I was gutted that the hour came to an end so quickly... I could has stayed there all day! 
Afterwards Sophie poured me a glass of ice cold water and left me to get dressed. I can honestly say it is one of the best massages I've ever had, not too soft and not too firm (I literally sound like Goldilocks RN) Sophie checked in with me now and again to make sure the pressure was to my liking and to make sure everything was ok.
With my pamper day complete *sob* I was treated to a sneak peek of the brand new Man At The Gate. From sports therapy massage to men's waxing, MATG has everything a man could want, need and desire. With a separate entrance and separate salon, it has quite the bachelor pad vibe. With beers on entrance and a chilled masculine decor, this is the new place to go if you're a man wanting a little down time or freshen up!

All in all I had the most wonderful time at BATG, everything from the treatments to the staff was so lovely. They made my birthday extra special and without a doubt whenever I'm home I'll be booking in another visit. They offer a wide range of treatments both for men and women so do check them out if you're ever in the Grimsby area. The prices are affordable and fair and the experience as a whole really is first class!

Kate x

Get off your ass, girl!

It's easy to be complacent, easy to ride along the undisruptive waves of normality. I often find myself complaining about a situation but doing absolutely nothing to change it. Instead I continue plodding along, hoping things might change for themselves. That was until I read Michelle Visage's book Diva Rules. If you're not familiar with Michelle, she is often the only biological woman in a room full of drag queens and a fierce judge on the fabulous Ru Paul's Drag Race and if you haven't seen that then, errr.... why in the hell not?
Anyhu, I picked up Michelle's book for some light reading expecting it to be funny (which it is) heart-felt (yep, that too) and fabulous (...you really have to ask?) The one thing I wasn't quite expecting though - was for it to inspire me, push me and in many ways, give me the kick up the bum I desperately needed!
Like most of you probably have at some point, I too have read 'The Secret' and pretty much every book covering the law of attraction theory and although I'm not for one second saying it doesn't work, for me it's all just a bit airy fairy. I like the harsh truth, handed to me on a plate and said to me like a friend would say it and that pretty much sums up Michelle's writing style to a T.
The title of this post and the title of chapter five in Michelle's book 'Get off your ass, girl' is exactly what I needed to hear and it's exactly what I've gone and done.
So without further a do, let's address the elephant in the room shall we - HELLO BRAND NEW WEBSITE!
Yes, as you can see, this little corner of the internet has had a fresh lick of paint and some serious lovin' and I'm so blooming happy with it!
After taking Michelle's wise words to heart, I decided that enough was enough, if I wanted to see changes in both my professional and personal life, these changes had to start with me. So the first thing I wanted to change was my blog. What started off as a hobby is now my own mini #GirlBoss empire and I wanted a website that matched.
So after weeks of researching and talking to fellow bloggers, I emailed the wonderful Cat from Gatto Web. Now before I go on, I just want to say a huge thank you to Cat for all of her hard work and commitment. Spending hours reading countless emails from me, discussing fonts, layouts, branding and usability. I honestly could not have done it without her and couldn't recommend her enough to anyone looking to spruce up their website!
Jacket - Topshop, Top c/o - Wolf&Whistle, Skirt c/o - Boden,
Shoes c/o - Boden, Glasses c/o - Glasses Direct
 Photography by - Zoe Griffin
So here we have it, a domain I am truly proud of and that I'm inspired to create content for.
I got off my ass, made the changes I wanted to see and I honestly couldn't be happier with the result. I now have a gorgeous home page with all the categories clearly laid out, my Instagram feed running along the bottom of each page and a cute little (bespectacled) logo... I love it! The blog of course is only one change in what I plan to be dozens. Health, fitness, love life, travel - the list could go on and on but I'm determined, more so now than I have been in a long time.
To sign off from this post I think it's only apt to quote Michelle -
"If you really want something, you've got to go out and get it yourself.
DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. Put yourself out there, every interaction you have is a new opportunity, so don't waste it by sitting on your ass - even tiny things can lead to something bigger.
Don't ever count on anybody else to do the work for you. It's all on you, and that's as it should be. If you don't earn your success yourself, I guarantee that it's not going to last. You've got to work to get it and then you've got to work to keep it."
...Can I get an amen?!
I hope you like the new layout as much as I do, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and over on my social channels and if there's anything you want to see more of on here, let me know! This blog is for you as much as it is for me.

Kate x

"So what do you actually do?" - Demystifying the world of blogging

So what do you actually do? A question I've become oh so used to hearing, time and time again.
Questions - fine but passive aggressive comments like "I just don't understand who care's about what you think" not so much. The term 'Blogger' gets batted around quite a lot these days, in both positive and negative lights. So as this is a question I get asked a whole lot and I'm sure this goes for most bloggers, youtubers and influencers out there, I thought I'd address the question, explain what it is I do on a day to day basis and give you a behind the scenes peek into the kind of things I get up to.
Firstly - yes, I am incredibly lucky in the fact that I do get to go to fancy dinners and events and get sent beautiful clothes and beauty products however, that did not happen over night. Blogging for me started as a hobby, an online diary of sorts where I could chat about my favourite trends and my recent travels. Since it started (back in 2014) however, it's become my own little business. Yes it's only small and no I'm not quite ready to leap into the world of full-time blogging but for me, where I am with it right now is something I'm pretty damn proud of. So, with that said I get really annoyed when people just assume that no work goes into it and that I just waltz around London goings to events and attending press trips...how I wish this were true. 

I had my blog up and running for a whole year before anything like that happened. I worked hard and slowly but surely began to meet other bloggers and establish relationships with PR companies which led to collaborations and partnerships. I sat and I wrote my blog because it was something I simply loved to do, I didn't do it in the hope of bagging some freebies (I didn't even realise that was a thing back then) I did it because for me it was a form of escapism so when that perk did come along I was thrilled!  
Blogging and this little blog is somewhere I come to share, to vent and to (hopefully) inspire. Everyday when I view my traffic analytics I'm always stunned that people do actually click their way to this site and read what I've got to say, I don't know why you do but you do so... thaaaaanks! As I said, I'm not quite ready for the full-time blogger life so alongside maintaining my little corner of the internet I also have a full time job in order to pay the rent/bills and other necessities, yet still "get yourself a proper job" is another comment that seems to be thrown out there a lot. Blogging is a very individual thing and no it’s not a traditional ‘job’ there’s no job description, job titles or contracted hours but believe me when I say that a lot of work, time and effort goes into it. So to help demystify the world of blogging I’ve answered some of the Q's you guys seem to want to know...
Blog
noun 1. 
a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

I thought I'd start off with the technical dictionary definition, which does a pretty good job of summing up what a blog actually is. It's a small corner of the web that a person owns and writes about things they are passionate about.

Writer
I suppose arguably the integral part of any blog is the writing. Now by no means would I ever consider myself to be an actual 'writer' but essentially it is what I spend the majority of my time doing. My writing process starts with jotting down ideas in the morning when I wake up, anything and everything I think might make an interesting blog post I'll scribble down to come back to at a later date. Once I've picked one of the topics to focus on, I then grab my note book and write down a few notes on the subject, exploring different possible avenues and any angles I could look into. Once that's all done I then get onto my laptop and start typing. Writing the post will usually take around 2 - 3 hours from start to finish with a number edits and revisions.

Photographer
Again, another profession I don't for one second claim to be a part of is photography however, as I quickly learned the photographic content within a blog is super important! 
At the end of the day, people see pictures, it's the first thing our eyes land on whatever we are looking at and so simply put, I want those pictures to be good. Whilst I realise some blogs aren't quite as photo heavy as mine, I take great pride in my photography. Along with my own captures I'm also lucky enough to work alongside some amazing photographers that help me bring my vision to life. 
Whenever I'm thinking of a post I always think about the overall layout and look first. For fashion I'm thinking which locations will match the outfit, for food - which angle will compliment the dish. Whether it's behind the camera, shooting travel destinations or in front of the camera, modelling my latest #outfitoftheday I'd say per post around 100 pictures are taken with on average 5 - 10 being used in the final blog. Once I've picked the ones I'd like to feature then starts the editing, adjusting contrast, exposure and of course the holy grail *photo shop* this all takes a whole lot longer than you might think.

Social Media
With social media literally taking over the world right now, it's important for any business (not just bloggers) to know their way around the multiple different social platforms. 
Blogging is much more than just maintaining and updating the blog itself now a days. Writing and posting the content is step one, the next is to do a 'social push' posting updates across all of your platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (snapchat too if you fancy it.) For me when each blog post goes live I will follow it up with 1-3 pictures on Instagram, an article share on Facebook, several comments and conversational posts on Twitter highlighting the article and finally snapping some videos for Snapchat and Instagram stories. This in between all the general upkeep, posts and interaction. Social media is a round the clock job!

Marketing/PR
As I mentioned earlier, to take your blog from hobby to business takes a whole lotta work! Blogs rarely become popular out of thin air, there's usually an incredibly driven individual behind any successful blog, typing, editing and posting away. Think of the famous duck analogy - 'calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddling like crazy underneath.' That's the reality. You may see the glamour on social media, the dinners, the press trips, the fashion hauls but behind that is hours upon hours of work. Blogging is a hugely saturated market and so it's really tough to stand out and make brands want to work with you over hundreds of others. So on goes the marketing and PR hat. Through social media, word of mouth and networking you start to build new relationships, grow your audience and pitch yourself to potential partners.

Email
The never ending inbox is something most working people will be all to familiar with, it's as though every time you read and reply to one, another 50 come through. As a blogger emails literally come in all day every day, morning, night and weekend. Answering emails becomes a whole other job in itself but sometimes, amongst the admin and everyday updates comes a really exciting message which makes everything worth it.
Photography by - The GY Photographer


Blog + Brand
So as with everything in the blogosphere, the relationships between blogger and brand is something that has changed quite a bit over the past couple of years. There was a huge turn around a few years back where more and more people became disillusioned with the traditional advertising methods. Be it magazines, tv or runway - the photoshopped, unattainable images where just not selling the product as much they once were. Instead people started turning to bloggers, youtubers and social influencers for honest, relatable reviews and opinions. Therefore blogs became increasing popular with brands as a way to reach their target audience...yay!

How do you work with brands?
How I work with brands now is very different to how I worked with brands when I first started blogging. Back when I first started I was so thrilled that anyone showed any kind of interest in working with me that I jumped for joy and would write, post and picture whatever products they wanted me to feature. Obviously I still only wrote about things I genuinely liked however, I would ask for nothing in return. For me it was just exciting that a brand I liked knew who I was and wanted to work with me. That's all well and good but as you've probably realised by now, blogging takes a heap of time and effort and so as I became a bit more experienced in the world of blogging and how other brands and bloggers collaborated I started presenting myself as more of a business. Sometimes there's a contract, sometimes it's just a verbal agreement. There are lots of different ways in which I collaborate with brands, each with a different set of requirements and goals. At this point I would like to make it clear that brand partnership or not, all the words and opinions I post on this blog are my own and are honest. 

A few of the different ways in which I work with brands are:

  • Gifting - After building relationships with brands and PR companies, some will often send any new or soon to be launching products for me to review or if clothes, style for a blog post. However this is entirely up to me, the majority of brands send me numerous packages each month and if I happen to love something sent then of course I want to share it with you guys, if not then that's ok too. It's not so much a collaboration but chances are if it's a brand/product I love, it'll probably make an appearance in some way, shape or form whether it be on the blog or social media.

  • Sponsored posts - This is where I am paid to work with a brand. This can be anything from writing an article for my blog, a guest article for their online community, social media posts or live Q&A's. Often the brands I do paid content for are brands I've worked closely with before or have met numerous times at events or meetings. I take this very seriously as although they are paid posts I always want the content to be honest and fitting with my other blog posts. For example it would be really odd for me to post about holidays for the over 65s when this blog obviously isn't aimed at that particular audience. Keeping my integrity and carefully picking which brands make sense for me to work with is really important, otherwise you guys would think I was a total sell out and probably stop reading - bad times.

  • Press trips - I've recently moved a bit more into travel and it's something I wish to expand more into next year. With that, I find press trip opportunities cropping up more often. These are when a brand, maybe a tourism board or hotel chain will organise a trip to show me (usually along with other bloggers and journalists) around a hotel, city, beach resort or spa. In return we provide content, posting pictures/videos on our social channels and writing a travel guide/ hotel review for our blogs.

When working with a brand, whatever form that may take, it's essentially my job to promote and give them exposure. The better the job I do the better the relationship with the brand, hopefully leading to an ongoing partnership. Again, as with most professions word of mouth is everything! It's always important to me to do the best I can with each and every post I produce be it sponsored or not. That way when people visit the blog they know the standard I like to work to.
So there we are, the answer to the frequently asked question. 
Don't get me wrong blogging does have it's perks and since starting I've been lucky enough to experience some truly amazing things, however none of this has been handed to me on a plate. It's just me running this little blog, a one woman business if you will and that means I take on all the roles. So when you see me on Snapchat swanning around with canapés and cocktails in my hand, it's not because of a one off Instagram post, it's down to hours of email answering, editing and scheduling. I work on my blog everyday alongside my 'day job,' social media and emails during the day then editing photos, writing content and planning by night.  My hope is that if I keep on keeping on, I aim to reach a place where I am able to go into blogging full time *gasp* but for now I am just fine working my (not so little ) booty off and creating content you lovely lot actually want to read. 

I hope this post has given you some insight into what I get up to when I have my blogger hat on. Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below, I'll do my best to answer. Also if you fancy starting a blog - DO IT! It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Kate x