Welcome to apackedlife.com.

This blog launched in 2017 for people with a passion for travel, planning and getting the most out of life.

What brings you here?

Love travel, preparing to travel, and writing about your travels?

Have little and not so little stationery stashes all over the place, and love journals, planners, diaries, washi and stickers?

Have a desire to organise your world, discover life hacks and enjoy your leisure time more?

Then this is most definitely the place for you.

Well howdy, Y’all.

And forgive my broad Tennessee.  Since we got back from our road trip taking in Nashville, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta last year, I’ve loved the thought of Y’all.  To me it encompasses all that’s right about southern courtesy, and bringing people together.  Let me pour you an iced tea, and we’ll sit on the porch awhile.

Despite that introduction, I’m actually a Brit.  I live in Middle England, in a ramshackle old house which is home to me, my husband and a growing collection of books, stationery, planners, travel accessories and music.  Together we love travel, books and music.  Separately, I like stationery and bringing order to things.  He likes to create chaos.  So we were made to be together.  You’ll get to know us a bit better here.

When I’m not travelling, rustling papers or getting on with life in general, I have a property business and a little gluten free bakery.  After signing up for National Novel Writing Month last November I realised how much I like writing.  This blog was born out of that love, although I’ve been blogging elsewhere for more than ten years.

What you’ll find Here

I cover all kinds of travel: travelogues, planning for travel, equipment and luggage, packing and preparation, and a look at some favourite destinations.  I talk about my secret love for Belgium here, share misadventures aboard Juliet in St Petersburg, and encourage you to hit the road.

In a similar planning mode, we talk about stationery and planners, journaling and record keeping.  If you know what washi is, we may be part of your tribe.  And if not, hang around here and let us bring you over to the sticky patterned side.  We have bullet journals, confessions of a stationery addict and perhaps unsurprisingly, travel journals.

The lifestyle section covers life hacks, how to guides, including how to live your best life, healthy living, goals and self-development.  I share my old house blues, secrets of getting a good night’s sleep, and how to tame a wardrobe behaving badly.

Welcome, And Let me Show You Round

The headers will take you to the blog’s main topics: travel, planning and lifestyle.  The side bar breaks that down a bit more.  If you’ve come here for something specific like packing advice, or bullet journaling I’d suggest starting there.

Subscribe to stay up to date

I’d love you to stick around.  Why not subscribe, and I can let you know about new content on the blog.  And I’d love it if you told me what you’d like to see more of.

How can I help?




We visited Nashville in an autumnal heatwave, when it was t shirt weather on the streets.  This was the first leg of our music tour of Tennessee and Mississippi, taking in Highway 61 to the Delta Blues and Memphis.

Nashville: First Impressions

From the moment you set foot in the airport buildings, you know you’re heading somewhere special.  Instead of the antiseptic corridors and bland background music of so many airports,

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If you’ve never even considered visiting Birmingham, England, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Nestled modestly in the West Midlands, an hour and a half from London and about the same from Manchester, Birmingham doesn’t like to brag about its copious charms.  Join me, and a million other locals, and let’s go explore!

First Impressions of Birmingham

When you arrive in the city, you’ll be amazed to see the contrasts within the city centre.  

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Cabin choice may seem to be an odd issue to consider if you’ve not cruised before.  After all, you don’t choose a hotel room other than by its size and facilities.  But you do get the opportunity to make a choice on a cruise ship, and here’s why it may matter to you.

Things to Consider When Choosing A Cabin

Let’s deal with the similarities to hotels first.  On a ship, as on land,

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We may be a small island, but affordable travel in Britain isn’t always easy to come by.  Here’s my local’s guide to making the best of your travel pounds for affordable travel in and around Britain.

Affordable Travel: Taking the Train

As is often the case, you’ll pay more for your ticket if you simply walk up to the counter or ticket machine on the spur of the moment.  Even by buying online the night before,

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You may have gathered by now just how much I love trains.  From the excitement that is diving beneath the waves on the Eurostar, to the glories of the overnight sleeper to the Scottish Highlands described here, show me a train line, and I’m happy.  (Well, mostly.  At some point we need to talk about Casey Jones’s railroad beside my bed in Nashville.  But that’s another story.)  So when a journey on the Settle Carlisle line was suggested as part of our Yorkshire Dales

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The Yorkshire Dales is one of the UK’s fifteen National Parks.  Beautifully described as “Britain’s breathing spaces”, they punctuate our small island with oases in which to hike, meander, and simply appreciate the joy of being outside amidst beautiful scenery.  Over the years, I have been lucky enough to visit each of the National Parks, all of which have their own distinct beauty.  You’ll have to allow me a particular soft spot for Dartmoor, as I grew up on the very edge of it,

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This was the last leg of our journey through Tennessee and Mississippi in search of the Delta Blues.  By the time we arrived in Memphis, we had already spent time in Nashville, followed by a road trip down the Mississippi via Brownsville and Clarksdale.

If you too have decided that you’d like to be walking with your feet ten feet off of Beale, here are the highlights and lowlights of our trip.

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I’m an ambivalent flyer.  There, I said it.  My love of travel, and of seeing the beauty of the world, is offset by my dislike of many of the things that come with flying, especially long haul flight.  I’m not great on confinement.  I’m not very fond of noise, unless it’s intentional noise, like being at a gig.  And while surfing above those beautiful clouds is a fine thing, the sense of being processed as part of the experience is not.  

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Stratford-upon-Avon: it’s not just all about the Bard.  We recently had the pleasure of 24 hours in Shakespeare country.  There was so much to do, we couldn’t possibly fit it all in.  So here are my recommendations for some of the things we did, others we have done on previous visits, and some that remain on our list for future visits.  So without further ado (about anything whatsoever), let’s head to Warwickshire.

On the road from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon

The A3400 from Birmingham passes through a number of places that are worth a visit in their own right.  

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It was Bill Bryson who called England, quite rightly, a small island.  I don’t recall he ever visited the Marches, but I have the feeling it’s the kind of place he would love.

We’re fortunate enough to live very nearly at the centre of that small island.  It would be difficult to find a better place from which to enjoy all kinds of overnight travel adventures.  Adventures of the kind that involve throwing a toothbrush and your undercrackers in the car and hitting the road.

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