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?




The National Herb Centre nestles into a hillside in the south of Warwickshire, England, between Southam, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Banbury.  It’s one of those places we didn’t set out to visit, but are mightily glad we did.  So I’m sharing this vibrant, riotously verdant and wildlife-friendly spot with you.  It’s somewhere to easily while away much of the day, and a great tribute to what happens when someone creates a place with passion and vision. 

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Warwickshire lies to the east side of Birmingham, taking up much of the space before you reach Oxfordshire.  It’s a county of big landscapes, ancient woodlands, castles, rivers and canals and manor houses.  And the former home of one William Shakespeare, the Bard himself.  Stay in one of the fascinating towns as your base for exploring, and you’ll never be short of things to do in Warwickshire.   From culture to history to the big outdoors,

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Continuing our voyage around the British coastline, today we’re setting out our recommendations for the best beaches in Scotland you must visit.  I’ve said before here that there’s a bit of coast for every reason and every season.  There are beaches that reward a long wild walk, when the sky is full of gloom and there’s rain in the offing.  Then there are the beaches that are just waiting for a bathing of sun, a big beach towel and a sense of childhood wonder. 

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If you, like me, are someone who is always happy to travel a few miles further in search of things unusual, then I have something rather special for you.  Here within this virtual page lies a rich collection of buildings that exist for no reason whatsoever.  A folly is an architectural concept of a place built just because you can.  And that’s a mighty fine reason to create something magnificent.  So here’s my quick tour of some of the most fabulous follies in England,

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Most of us are familiar with the honeyed stone charms of the Cotswolds and the legendary dreaming spires of Oxford.  But travel towards the border with Berkshire, and you’ll find a whole new part of Oxfordshire ready to share its hidden treasures with you.  Come with me to explore this land of small villages with first names and last names, Morris dancing, bun-throwing, Iron-age settling, folly-building, ancient footpath-hosting and magnificent horse-creating fabulousness.  Welcome to the Vale of White Horse.

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Brighton Rock.  To be more precise, Brighton rocks, whether you’re thinking of the Quadrophenia days of Mods and Rockers, Graham Greene’s ode to seaside gangster life, or a lot of sticky confectionery.  Just over a hour from London, Brighton’s been welcoming day trippers, holiday makers and visitors for centuries.  I’ve been heading to Brighton since I was a mere tot, and over the years, I’ve grown to love her many and varied moods. 

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Dave Woodhall, Editor of The Birmingham Press, reflects on where to find the best traditional pubs in London just off the tourist trail.  If you’re looking to experience British beer (or a chat over a coffee) at its best in atmospheric settings, join him on his wander through London pubs across the centre of the capital.  Here you’ll find real ale, pub cats, great food, and a sense of life as it’s always been lived amidst the hustle and bustle of London.

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Cornwall, also known by its Celtic name Kernow, is the most south westerly point of the south west of England.  It is surrounded by coast on all sides, except for its border with Devon.  If you love open spaces, spectacular coasts, big Atlantic waves, and the lure of legends, then the wild heart of Cornwall will have you entranced.

11 Things To Do In Cornwall, Land of Myths and Legends

This is not a county of big cities and urban pleasures. 

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“Let’s travel to see Belgium.”  Said way fewer people than should be the case for this small country with a big heart and so much to offer.  I make no apologies for donning my Belgophile hat to take you on this journey through brilliant Belgian as enjoyed by fellow travel writers.  Come with us to explore the very best of Belgium, from places to experiences and culinary treasures.

The Very Best Of Belgium - Great Places And Experiences - Brussels Grand Place

Belgium For Beginners

It’s a small,

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Afternoon tea.  You’d think that it’s a very English experience, and indeed the custom dates back to 1840.  Anna, Duchess of Bedford, would become hungry at around 4pm, and requested a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake.  The pause for tea became fashionable, and by the 1880s, society was buzzing with talk of afternoon tea.

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
― Henry James


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