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?


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There’s something wonderful about taking a walk in the forest. That’s why I went searching for my favourite quotes about forests, trees and woodlands.

It’s not just that old adage about the importance of planting trees in whose shade you will never sit.  That magnificent investment in the future can also come to pass; here I sit under greengage and apple, and to a lesser extent the hazelnut which has grown a little more reluctantly in our garden. 

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The walled city of Chester on the River Dee has a long and fascinating history.  Founded as a Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix, it’s now a vibrant spot in which to spend time exploring.  With plentiful places to visit, you won’t be short of things to do in Chester.  We’ve visited many times before, and recently spent three days there to bring you the very best of this fascinating city.

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Whether it’s the sense of history, the fact that each castle is so different, or the power of imagination that sees us living the castle life, there’s no doubt that these historical buildings fascinate us.  With well over 1500 examples in England ready to be explored, I’ve chosen a selection of castles near London for your visiting pleasure.

Want to save this for later?  Why not pin it now!

12 Epic Castles Near London To Visit

Castles Near London: Visiting Tips

Castles vary tremendously in style,

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We’ve learned that if there’s something you love to read, it’s getting the lowdown on England’s secret spots.  For your travelling pleasure, we’ve added a new collection of England’s most beautiful destinations that are a little less well known. From small villages to vibrant cities, we’re recommending these beautiful places for your trip.  Be sure to check out these hidden gems of secret England.

Want to read this later?  Why not pin it now! 

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Do you want to explore the UK, but prefer not to drive?  Here is one of our choices of the best 10 day UK itinerary, letting someone else do the driving.  With the UK being a collection of relatively small islands, it’s well served by public transport options.  So whether your preferences are big cities, historic sites or seeing these green and pleasant lands, you can rely on seeing them without having to drive.

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Away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities of Honshu from Kyoto and Tokyo to Yokohama and Osaka, Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido is home to Hakodate’s attractions.  First settled some 20,000 years ago, this land of fire and ice became home to the Ainu people from the twelfth century.  Hokkaido island is best known for its capital of Sapporo – home to festivals and winter sports.  Aside from the mountains, forests and coasts,

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So you’ve decided to plan a trip to the UK?  That’s a great choice, and we’ve got plenty of advice for you from a local’s perspective.  Whether this is a return trip or your first time in the lands of big coasts, verdant countryside and vibrant cities, we’ve got something here to help you.  Let’s start to get your trip planning UK underway.

Want to read this later?  Then why not pin it now! 

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If you’ve found yourself in the Lake District National Park, you’ll know that it’s full of superlatives.  Jaw-droppingly beautiful, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with exceptional places, inspirations and spots that will simply take your breath away.  We’ve put together this collection of fascinating Lake District facts to encourage you to explore a little further in this gloriously wild and wonderful area of north west England.

Want to visit later? 

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Devon is one of England’s most rural counties.  It’s unique in having two coastlines, one north and one south.  There are also areas of moorland, making up two National Parks, and rolling verdant countryside.  No wonder this part of south west England has such beautiful villages.  “Proper job” is a Devon expression of delight for things done well. And I’d have to agree that Devon’s villages deserve this praise.   This is where I grew up –

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The UK’s second city with a population of just over a million, Birmingham is bursting with things to do and see.  Even better, a lot of them are free or nearly free.  From activities to culture and history to future possibilities, here’s your guide to the best free things to do in Birmingham.  Plus a few nearly-free things to enjoy too.

Want to enjoy free things in Birmingham later?  Why not pin it now!

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