Friday, 8 December 2017

What I'm using in 2018... part 2

I posted about which planner I would be using in my last post. In this post, I'm going to talk about which diary I'll be using (by diary, I mean the thing I would journal in/reflect about my day, not something used for planning).

I'm quite picky about what I want to journal in/write my diary in. It has to have a page per day - none of this nonsense with Saturday and Sunday sharing a page. It has to be A5 or thereabouts. By preference it should have a horizontal elastic closure (so I can tuck a pen in it) and a ribbon marker.

I don't really care whether there are monthly pages at the start or information pages, or maps or any of that... but I do like to have a few pages for notes at the back to record what I've been reading, plus log a few other things.

After much searching, I finally bought next year's diary a couple of weeks ago.

And... it's not a Ciak (unlike the last umpteen years).

Oh, and it's definitely not a Moleskine (been there, done that, never doing it again).

So, what is it?

Monday, 20 November 2017

What I'm using in 2018... part 1

Hello all! Remember me?? I'm the blogger who used to post a LOT more regularly about stationery...

Where have I been?

Publishing another book for a start... "Lies That Poison" came out in September and I was super-busy getting that ready... then The Wrong Kind of Clouds got re-published as "The Call" this week and I was super-busy with that too!

But, back to stationery... I've just about got sorted with what I'm using next year! This post will be about what I'm using as my planner in 2018.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

New Traveller's Notebook from Meadowgate Leather

new TN!! Undyed leather
I already had a Traveller's Notebook by Meadowgate Leather - my everyday carry (EDC). It has extra card slots, my diary, a notebook and a wallet insert and is just glorious! I blogged about it here. Now I have two!

As many of you know, as well as my EDC, I also use a small notebook for everyday planning/bullet-journalling (of a fashion) that's just under A6 size. I use Clairefontaine notebooks, which are the same size as Field Notes (but made of nice paper and there are lots of pages in them). I use a page per day and down the left-hand side of the page, I have timed slots and on the right, I jot down tasks I'd like to get done and any notes that crop up in the day. The timed slots are used for appointments and for time-boxing. I also have a Word. notebook with lists of people to write to, emails to send and general stuff that doesn't need doing on a specific day. Until now, these books have sat naked on my desk. In all honesty, they probably didn't need any protection as they just sat on my desk, but, you know me and stationery... why should I not buy things, when they're lovely and I could just buy them?

I've been tempted by undyed leather for a while. My good friend Stuart (writing buddy, and he of Pocket Notebooks) had an undyed A6 TN from Meadowgate Leather last year and it's steadily been turning a gorgeous caramel colour. So, I finally got round to getting my own undyed Field Notes size (plus good overhang) cover from Meadowgate, with red elastics. This is the listing here.

Ordering from Meadowgate Leather is easy-peasy and there are so many ways to tailor your order - colour of stitching (if you have a TN that has stitching), colour of elastics, pen-loop/no pen-loop, position of pen-loop, size of pen-loop, amount of overhang, name tag... LOTS of options. I went for: undyed leather, Field Notes size, medium pen-loop stitched facing outwards and 3/4 up the back cover, red elastics, bigger overhang than standard and... I asked if Mike (the owner) had any especially scarred or interesting leather and if so, could he use it on my TN.

The TN arrived very swiftly and is beyond gorgeous. It was nigh on impossible to photograph and get an accurate representation of the colour, given that it's Scotland and 5 inches of rain fell the day I was trying to take pictures. The pictures with flash are too pale and those without are too dark... click on any to enlarge.

Front cover - reasonably accurate colour
Back cover (more on the marks soon)
Interior - I'll explain the R in a moment!

You remember that I'd asked for scarred/interesting leather? It just happened that Mike had had some leather arrive with a big branding mark on it. Perfect timing! I don't especially like the fact that any animal gets branded, if I'm honest, but it didn't get branded on my behalf. Anyway, that's what the R in a circle is - it's much more prominent on the interior, but if you look closely at the picture of the back of the TN, you can see it.

Mike's undyed leather comes with no treatment at all - no wax or protection. I decided that I would put some leather cream on it as protection as it might not get a lot of oils from my hands given that it mostly sits on my desk. Naturally, any treatment will cause some colour changes to the leather. All of the above pictures were taken before treatment. The next was taken with just the RHS (front) cover with leather cream on:


This is with all of the cover (minus the pen loop) treated (cream on, not yet buffed):


And this is after the cream has been buffed:


It's been on my desk for 2 days and I left it out yesterday, closed. Here's a picture of the front cover now...

front cover 2 days later

Can you see the faint paler horizontal line? That's where the elastic was fastened. I suspect this TN is going to turn an even more fabulous colour with time!

So, what's in it? Currently, only two of the elastics are used - one with my Clairefontaine day book, one with the Mist Word. notebook. If I'm honest, the interior elastic feels a bit too big/tight for small notebooks and I may swap it out for 1mm elastic instead. I'll see.

Anyway, just as I was the first time I ordered from Meadowgate Leather, I am absolutely thrilled with the product. Mike is a treasure to deal with and his products are incredibly well made. If you can't see quite what you're after on the site, just send him a message and ask. That's what I did with my first TN, to get card slots in the back and the front. He will do his best to make you just what you're after. His prices are very reasonable and the craftsmanship is superb. Go on... go and check him out!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Inky Fingers Currently Inked - Review


This is a notebook I should have bought years ago! I got it from Pocket Notebooks and this is how it's described in the listing:
Keep track of what pens you have inked, when you inked them, and with what you inked them. The Inky Fingers Currently Inked Log will allow you stay on top of your pen rotate and maintenance by providing a simple, unified place to keep track of how you use your collection.

Inky Fingers notebooks feature 44 sheets of environmentally-friendly and sustainable wheat straw paper, which is made from the agricultural byproducts of wheat farming. Our 80gsm paper has a bit more texture than other fountain pen friendly papers, for those who enjoy feeling the pen on the paper. It is also more absorbent, resulting in shorter dry times without feathering or bleeding through.
  • Pocket Notebook Size
  • 3.5″ wide by 5.5″ high. (89x140mm)
  • 44 Pages
  • Slots for keeping track of up to 132 inkings
  • Fountain pen friendly and environmentally sustainable 80 gsm wheat straw paper
  • Rounded corners
  • Glossy cardstock cover
As you'll have seen from my notebook reviews, half the time when I do a pen test, I can't remember exactly what is inked in a pen and also, when I'm refilling pens, I can't quite remember what an ink looks like in writing (rather than in the bottle). Many inks dry to a very different colour than their wet colour!

Hence, I bought myself this logbook.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Word. notebooks - Review

I had a bit of stationery splurge recently (as you do) and bought myself a set of Word. notebooks, an Inky Fingers Currently Inked notebook (both from Pocket Notebooks) and (from The Journal Shop) an A6 Midori 2017 diary (bought in their recent half price sale).

More on the Inky Fingers notebook and the Midori diary another day. Today I want to review the Word. notebooks.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Stationery box from Pocket Notebooks

Stuart, from Pocket Notebooks very kindly sent me the April box of stationery to play with. You can get these specially curated stationery boxes monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly for £21/box. This is what it says on the site:
Personally curated by Stuart, this is a blend of category leading brands and outliers. Each edition will be different and designed to delight. All packed into a letterbox-friendly box and sent through the post.
A box might contain two three-packs of pocket notebooks. It might contain a three pack and larger format book. It might contain all sort of stationery related 'extras'.
Limited Editions will be included in some of the subscription boxes.
Second payments and beyond are all taken on the 5th of each month, and boxes sent on or around the 15th. Normal shipping policies apply.
For every curated subscription box shipped, £1 will be donated to The National Literacy Trust.
 You can also buy the box as a one-off, which takes the price up to £22.50.

So, what's in the box? Is it worth it? Should you sign up for the box immediately? (the short answers are lots of goodies; absolutely; and absolutely!)

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Review of New Darkstar Collection Notebooks

Stuart from PocketNotebooks kindly sent me two of the new notebooks in the Darkstar collection. These would make brilliant Bullet Journal notebooks!

So, what's new? I reviewed their original notebook here which was a lined notebook (that came in packs of three). The new notebooks have both a black and a kraft coloured cover and the paper is grid.

Darkstar is a UK based company and the notebooks are made in the UK. They come as a set of three notebooks in a pack, currently priced £8. I got one prototype of the Black Space version and one prototype of the Nomad to try.
[click on any picture to enlarge]

Darkstar cover - Black Space

As before with deliveries from PocketNotebooks, the attention to detail was great. I was addressed this time as "The Awesome Dr Fleet" and there was the PocketNotebooks slogan stamped on the back of the parcel: Forget the app, there's a pocket notebook for that. Inside, the notebooks were wrapped in purple tissue paper with a branded sticker, plus there were two small packets of sweeties (that took me back to childhood).

Nicely wrapped!

So, where do these notebooks sit on the "Pretty-Functional" grid? I don't find them especially 'pretty' but they do have an understated class to them. The black cover is a matte black and the only branding on the cover is a small, satin-finish black star on the front. It's easier to see the branding on the kraft/Nomad cover. Whereas before, the first page of the book also had the Darkstar branding, these open straight into the grid pages on the notebook.

The Nomad notebook, as well as being a lot easier to photograph to show the logo, has a slightly toothier feel to the card. Both the Black Space and the Nomad versions are lovely. In my original review, I commented on the finish being a bit untidy. In these versions, the trim is much better, and the small staples are holding the pages better.

Darkstar Nomad

There are 28 pages (56 sides) in each book in a pretty heavyweight paper (100gsm, same as in the originals). The corners are rounded. Page size is 10cm x 14cm.

The Grid
The grid is actually made up of tiny crosses, though at a distance, to my 40+ year old eyesight, they look like dots:

From a distance
Close-up
Centre-cross to centre-cross is 4.9mm vertical and 5.6mm horizontal (not sure why it's not 5mm in each direction...):


As you all know, the deal-breaker for me is how they perform with fountain pens. I used the central fold of paper to do the pen tests (mostly because almost all of my notebooks have the first page taken up with pen tests and it's harder to remove the first page than the central pages).

General writing feel:
The paper was pretty much the same feel as the original notebooks. The paper was reasonably toothy though more so for some nibs than others. I actually have a killer/probably unfair collection of fountain pens inked up at the moment - either massively broad/calligraphy/wet nibs or ones that always seem to bleed through on the majority of papers. As a consequence, I also tested some hybrid gel-ink pens and some others. The Jetstream uniball zipped across the paper and felt almost frictionless. (For someone so used to writing with a fountain pen, this came as a surprise!)
4.5* out of 5

Feathering:
Well, the pens I used were an evil test!  The Pelikan Script is inked up because I've been writing certificates for Rotary and I fully expected this to be a no-no! However, I was more surprised to see other pens also having issues, especially as they hadn't (with same ink/nib combos) in the original notebooks. The Pelikan did pretty well, really! None of the uniball pens had any issue. Whereas the Jetstream black zipped over the paper, the light blue (finer ballpoint) didn't.
3*/5

Zoom-ins on all of the inks

Given that these are grid, rather than lined, I suspect there are many out there who will eye them up for a small bullet journal and they would be excellent for this. To that end, I also tested them with my collection of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, as these appear to be a staple for many bullet-journallers as well as the gel pens I have on my desk.

Reverse

Show-through:
Fountain pen test (reverse)
Close-up (fountain pen reverse)

Actually, not as bad as I feared! The very wet/broad nibs have shown through but the others aren't too bad. There is more ghosting than with the original paper however.
3.5*/5 for FP

The Fineliners only showed through to the other side a little.
4.5*/5

Bleed-through:
There is some bleed-through, of the wet nibs: Pelikan, Tombow and Conklin all bled at least a smidgen. Not too horrendous.
4*/5 for FP
There was no bleed-through at all from the Fineliners.
5*/5

Flattability:
The books are pretty much as good as any stapled notebook for flattability. They don't open flat and stay flat without persuasion, but it's easy to make them lie flat!

Overall:
I liked the notebooks. Granted, they're not as pretty as the Papio books, but not everyone will want that. There's a classic, understated feel to the cover that makes it suitable both for business as well as casual use. The paper stood up better to Fineliners than to fountain pens tests which will make them even more suitable for bullet journals.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Rhodia Rhodiarama - review

Stuart from PocketNotebooks kindly sent me a Rhodia Rhodiarama A6 Webbie to review. The notebooks have 192 pages of 90g ivory brushed vellum paper. The hard cover is leatherette in a series of bright colours. There is an expanding pocket inside the back cover, an orange ribbon bookmark, and an orange elastic closure. They are available on the Pocketnotebooks site for £7.50.

The one I was sent was turquoise and the contrast between the turquoise and the orange was very appealing. Where is it on the pretty/functional grid? The bright colours are attractive and the contrast with the ribbon/elastic is also good with the turquoise. That said, the orange doesn't go well with a lot of the other colours (the pink/orange combo is especially horrible!).

Front cover
Back cover
There is the Rhodia logo blind embossed in the middle of the cover (picture from Pocketnotebooks.co.uk as I forgot to take one and it's now rubbish lighting in Scotland!)


When you open the cover, there's a zebra!

Inside
The notebooks is 9.5 x 14.5cm, the paper is cream and paper size is 8.8 x 13.9cm with rounded corners. Line spacing is 6mm with a top margin of 6.5mm and 22 lines per page. Ruling stops about 4mm from the outer edge of the paper and 8mm from the inner edge.

The ruling is a bit narrow for me (as you'll see in the pen tests where my letters almost overlap) but then, I'm using stub nibs! One thing that did annoy me though was the shortness of the ribbon. It's only just longer than the page.

Woefully short ribbon!
In the back of the book is a pocket for slipping small items in, with more zebra patterning.

Back pocket

So, what's the paper like? Well, it's Rhodia so it's going to be better than many, but as Stuart has kindly pointed out in the past, I can be really picky!

General writing feel:
The paper is very smooth and fountain pens glide easily over it. Drying time is a little longer than many papers so if you're a left-hander who tends to smudge their writing, be aware of this. It's not too bad but if you write very quickly there's a possibility of smudges.


Feathering:
None. And there's some fabulous shading going on there too!


Show-through:
There is some ghosting to be honest. I wasn't expecting any but there's some.
4*/5

Bleed-through:
Again, I wasn't expecting any but there is some. Not so bad it would stop me using the page, but not none either. It's more noticeable with a light backing to the page than my desk (which is brown).
4*/5 

White background to the page
Dark background to the page
Flattability:
It's a hard back book so naturally won't lie as flat as soft-backed books with many fewer pages. The pages are sewn (I pulled one out to do the pen tests and have managed to pull the stitch undone, though the pages are still holding well). It can be persuaded to lie flat but won't lie flat on its own. It doesn't however need as much effort to hold it flat as the Write Notepad & Co. books I reviewed in the last post
3*/5

Overall:
This is a nice, robust little notebook. It isn't one for the back pocket (at least, don't sit on it and end up giving yourself sciatica!). The writing experience is good and there are lots of pages to the book. The ribbon marker could have done with being a bit longer - it feels stingy - and I'm personally not a fan of leatherette but otherwise, it's great.

My thanks to Stuart at Pocketnotebooks for sending it to me to review.

Disclaimer:
I was given this notebook free to review. However, this is an honest review and not influenced by it being a gift.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Write pocket notebooks - Review

Stuart from PocketNotebooks kindly sent me a pack of Write Notepads & Co. Pocket Notebooks (set of three) to review. The company is American and "every pack sold triggers a donation of a notebook to a school back in Write's hometown of Baltimore" according to the website. They come as a set of three notebooks in a pack, currently priced £10. The set comprises one plain, one lined and one graph paper notebook.

The three notebooks come in a blue and silver box which is delightful. The actual notebooks themselves have fairly plain covers.
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Outer box:
Still in wrapper
Back of box (still in wrapper)
Unwrapped (foil is silver, not gold as depicted here!)
Top flap of box opened

Friday, 17 February 2017

Darkstar Collection - Review

Stuart from PocketNotebooks kindly sent me a sample from a pack of Darkstar Collection Handcrafted Traveler's Notebooks to review. The company is UK based and the notebooks are made in the UK. They come as a set of three notebooks in a pack, currently priced £10. I got one from a pack to try.
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