Monday, 27 May 2013

Back in a Personal size

Which one? The wine Holborn. At least for the moment (though if I'm back here saying I'm in a Baroque, no-one will be surprised now, will they?)

Current squeeze - Holborn in wine-colour
Oh my word, it's a behemoth in comparison with a pocket! But, the pocket was too stuffed and I wasn't looking at it. Not that I'm necessarily looking at the Holborn any more, mind, but there is a greater likelihood that I will because I can put everything in it better.

I used to have a great working system where I had weekly pages and daily pages and all my to-do were put on my daily pages (along with other stuff I felt I wanted to track). I'm not sure when I abandoned this system in its fullness, but I have been running a halfway house of weekly pages (with not much written on them) and scraps of paper to plan the day (with equally not much written on them) and things have started to slip between the cracks. I've stopped doing my weekly plan, which is probably the origin of the state I've reached, but I had gone back to feeling over-planned (and worse, guilty that I hadn't achieved things).

What is more than likely to be at the heart of it all is the fact that I was ill for what felt like forever, but in reality was about two and a half weeks. Too ill to run (which is the thing that centres me the most) and too ill to achieve even a limited number of things on my to-do list. Not focused enough to clear my head and stray notes into one place and too fed up to even open my filofax. You can see why I've gone to hell in a hand-basket!

In an attempt to rectify this sorry state of affairs, I did a brain-dump of all the things I needed to do/should have done (none of them part of my goals/projects; just stuff). This has now scared the bejabers out of me as the list is enormous! In fact, it freaked me so much I promptly put the list in my filofax and closed it! Which of course, helped to shift so many of the items off it!

The current set-up is pretty much what I have had before in many ways:
Plastic protector sheet
Notes: General capture area. It just has a handful of lined sheets.

Notes section. Post-It is just to hide my bank-cards

Projects: Quote from Inception: “You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger darling” followed by a list of life areas and goals/projects associated with them. Some of these goals/projects have changed/been abandoned since I wrote the list (I've been out of personal-sized filofax for so long!). My problem at the moment isn't that I'm afraid of dreaming bigger; it's that I'm getting sod-all done really.

Projects section. Quote is from Inception

Diary: Before I get to the diary are some to-do sheets – one of small things that need doing, one of larger projects (that aren't part of the goals/projects) and one for the garden.
Then I have my monthly goals sheets. They are currently blank because, like the weekly review, I haven't done them. Sometime when I'm not exhausted I will get on with them! Right now I have such a back-log of other stuff that it would be madness to add more pressure to myself and start including things from my goals/projects lists.
Next up is the standard filofax diary fill – week on two pages with no lines and squished up Saturday and Sunday. I'm persevering with it because I waste too much money on crap like switching diary formats and I should give it to charity instead.

Diary. Not the kind I like but it does.

Lists: Books to look for, websites to check out, apps to investigate, log suppliers, blog post ideas, waiting on, things bought for birthdays in the past, Christmas presents bought/received, packing lists for various types of trip, things to buy for the garden when I pass a garden centre.
Info: Personal info, random other things I don't really know where to file, the info sheets that come with a diary, UK map, world map, meter readings, lists of maps I have (Landranger OS and Explorer OS), addresses.
Plastic protector sheet
Card-holder with non-bank cards
Zipped pencil case which I use for cash and vouchers (but which is possibly too big...)

Zipped pencil case with cash and vouchers

There are a trillion pockets in the Holborn. The outward facing one in the front is being used for paper money; there are 6 card slots in the front cover plus another larger pocket and another full-height pocket behind. I have bank cards and my Waterstone's card in the card slots, stamps in the last card slot and nothing in the bottom pocket. In the full-height inward facing pocket, I have nothing because it's a pain to get anything in or out of it easily.

In the back cover I have nothing in the inward-facing full-height pocket for the same reason. In the outward-facing full-height pocket I did have vouchers/coupons but I moved these to the zipped pencil case as they were easier to see there. Currently it has a print-out of a train timetable and a hotel-booking confirmation as I am about to head off external examining. In the zipped pocket inside the outward-facing pocket I have other cards I want with me but don't need to have quick access to (library card etc.). My trusty Zebra diary pen/pencil combo is in the pen holder (though this interferes with the outward-facing pocket a tad).

How long will I cope with this behemoth? Who knows. It's working well enough at the moment as I can carry everything with me (but I am still looking longingly at the Baroque...).

Liebster Blog Award


The Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Thank you to Skybluepinkish, Cloudberry, My Once Upon The Moon and Joseph Qinton for nominating me.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:

When you receive the award, you post eleven random facts about yourself and answer eleven questions from the person who nominated you.

Then you pass the award onto eleven other blogs (making sure that you tell them you nominated them) and ask them eleven questions. You are not allowed to nominate the blog that nominated you.

So, to collect my award:

11 random facts about me:
  1. I drink tea, but never coffee
  2. I can write with either hand
  3. My favourite colour is green
  4. I can speak a little Chichewa
  5. I did Latin rather than French at school
  6. I'm a Rotarian
  7. I love running in the rain
  8. I do yoga
  9. Cockroaches give me the eeby-jeebies
  10. I have been able to recite the Greek alphabet since I was 10 (don't ask!)
  11. My cat weighs twice as much now as I did when I was born

My answers to Skybluepinkish's Qs:
1. Have you ever had a dream come true?  How?
Yes – meeting Jason Isaacs. I went to see a play he was in and met him at the stage door.
2. What was your most serious misdemeanour at school?  Were you caught?
Playing (field) hockey in the corridor (practising 24 yard hit-outs with a proper hockey-ball – it was a long corridor!). And yes, I was caught.
3. Do you snore?  Have you ever voluntarily or involuntarily tried any cures?
4. What was the last song that stuck in your head?
"This Big Hush" by Shriekback
5. Tulips or daffodils?  Why?
Daffodils. They last longer and have frills.
6. Do you prefer to cook or to eat?
7. Are you a Townie or a Country bumpkin?  Not in reality but in your heart.
Country bumpkin.
8. What is in your handbag/briefcase/rucksack/pockets right now?  Chose one or more
Lip-salve, tissues, keys, propelling pencil (filofax is currently on my desk)
9. Do you think beauty is in the eye of the beholder or are some things inherently ugly?
Eye of the beholder
10. Do you have a party trick? (and what is it….)
11. What do you do when faced with a big spider staring back at you from the bath?
Get a glass and a piece of paper and evict it into the garden.

Answers to the questions from My Once Upon a Moon:

1. What made you decide to start a blog?
I enjoyed reading stationery reviews so decided to write some of my own.
2. What is your favorite song?
Sarah McLachlan “Possession”
3. What is your dream job?
No idea. Still looking for it!
4. What is your favorite holiday?
Walking with my husband in glorious countryside
5. IPhone or Android or neither?
6. What do you collect the most?
7. What is your favorite sport?
To play or watch? I love to run (but not watch it) and watch tennis (but hate playing it)
8. Who would you invite to a BBQ (alive or dead, famous or not)
Tom Hiddleston
9. What would you serve at said BBQ
Food?? Lots of veggie stuff (as I don't eat meat) and stuff on skewers.
10. Your favorite ice cream flavor
11. How would you spend a 1 million dollar lottery winnings?
I would give it charity. No-one I know needs as much as those in need elsewhere.

My answers to the questions from Cloudberry:
1. What is the first thing you do every morning?
Have a cup of tea
2. Why did you start your blog?
I enjoyed reading stationery reviews so decided to write some of my own.
3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I assume you mean What DID I want to be, since I am now a grown up! When I was little I wanted to be a vet. I'm currently a university lecturer. That's more a question of happenstance than design.
4. Who do you consider your role model?
Ooh, tough one. Anyone who refuses to be beaten by what life throws at them.
5. If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
To have sensible redistribution of wealth and food throughout the world. To see an end to conflict. To get any of my books published.
6. Favourite family activity?
7. What is your sport to watch or play? 
I love to run (but not watch it) and watch tennis (but hate playing it)
8. If you were invisible where would you go or what would you do?
I genuinely don't know. Can I affect things while I am invisible? I would quite like to bang some heads together if that was the case. If it was just to snoop, then nowhere. That's not my cup of tea.
9. If you could go on vacation anywhere right now where would you go?
10. If your friends had to describe you in one word what would it be?
Generous (I hope!)
11. What is your pet peeve?
Poor grammar.

My answers to the questions from Joseph Quinton

1. If you could inhabit any book, what book would it be and why?
Oh goodness. Um. I genuinely have no idea!
2. If you were to win the lottery, what would be the very first thing that you would purchase?
Nothing really. I would give most of it away. I have a nice house, as do all my close family. We have food and heat and shelter. We all work. I would give it away to people who didn't have all that.
3. What are your 5 favorite books or books series?
I return time and again to Austen and Bronte. I don't really have a favourite series of books.
4. What magazines do you read on a regular basis?
Women's Running
5. What tool or tools do you use to organize your day?
Filofax/pen and pencil. Outlook at work.
6. What is your favorite television program?
The only thing I would try and tune into each day and am angsty about if I miss, is the news. I would watch almost anything if it had any of my favourite actors in!
7. Who is your favorite author and why?
I'm not sure I have one. Either Shakespeare or Austen, because the writing is so good and because they need concentration and submersion.
8. Physical books or eBooks and why?
Both, depending on circumstance. I have bad arthritis in my hands so big books are always on Kindle. Otherwise... either/or.
9. Do you have an eReader.....which one?
Kindle (the most basic version)
10. What blogs do you read on a weekly basis?
Too many to list! I have about 30 on Google Reader but I pick and choose which posts I read. I'm not sure there is any one blog where I read all of the posts each week (time is finite!)
11. What is your best character trait?
Trying to see the best in everyone

I'm really struggling to find eleven nominations – either the blogs I follow have more than 200 followers (and are therefore not eligible) or they have already been nominated a zillion times! So, forgive me for accepting an award but not then passing it to others, which I realise is probably very bad form, but I just can't find eleven.

Thank you to all of those who nominated me!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Review of Sheaffer Calligraphy, fine nib

A while ago, I reviewed the Sheaffer Calligraphy pen with a medium (1.5 mm) nib. In that post I said that I would consider getting a fine nib for everyday writing (as the medium nib was too broad for my smallish handwriting).

Well, not long afterwards, I went ahead and bought one. They are fairly widely available, but I got mine for just under a fiver from Amazon, including P+P.

It comes in a card-backed blister pack and the pack contains the pen and two Sheaffer cartridges (which are different from both international standard and Parker cartridges) – one black and one blue. However, once I had opened the pack, I moved the cartridge I had in the medium-nibbed Sheaffer calligraphy pen (which had been filled with Diamine steel blue ink) and cleaned the medium nib (it is really too big for everyday writing. I will ressurect it if/when I start doing calligraphy again).

Blister pack
Unpacked. Top (L-R): black cartridge, blue cartridge, nib, cap
Bottom: barrel (showing cut-away)

The pen is lovely. Like the medium-nibbed version, it has a rubberised grip and is extremely light in the hand. There is a cut-away so that you can see how little/much ink is left in the cartridge. The nib is 0.8 mm wide which is a perfect width for my (admittedly quite small) writing. Here you can see a comparison of the medium nib and the fine nib:

Top: medium-nib (1.5 mm)
Bottom: fine nib (0.8 mm)

There's no denying it is a basic pen – plastic barrel and no presentation box (though sometimes, the presentation box is so not worth it! Yes, Ohto Tasche, I'm looking at you), but the nib lays down enough ink even with my fairly rapid writing (unlike the medium-nibbed version) and it is smooth and comfortable to write with. For less than a fiver, it is a great little pen!

[I have no affiliation to Amazon]

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Reviews of the Ohto Tasche fountain pen and J Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink

More stationery reviews! This time it's the turn of the Ohto Tasche pen and the J Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink. Click on any picture to enlarge.

I got the Ohto Tasche pen from Cult Pens and the Poussiere de Lune arrived as a consequence of some of the most fantastic customer service!
In a previous post, I had described the J Herbin diabolo menthe ink, which I got from The Journal Shop. I posted my review and then Tweeted its emergence into the world. The Journal Shop saw the post and noticed that I had bought two tins of the diabolo menthe ink (and hadn't much liked it). They asked if I wanted to swap one of the tins for another colour. There followed some brilliant, late-Friday-night tweet-exchanges, discussing the pros and cons of different colours and The Journal Shop pointed me in the direction of some ink reviews. The upshot of all this was that I decided I would swap the diabolo menthe for a tin of poussiere de lune. They promptly sent me out a tin of the cartridges and a pre-paid return envelope for the return of the diabolo menthe. How fantastic is that!!??

So, now I had a new fountain pen (the Ohto Tasche) and a new colour of ink to play with. Happy, happy, happy.

The Ohto Tasche
The pen came in a plastic presentation box, which I have to say looks cheap and nasty. And it is also about twenty times the size of the pen. I won't use it.

Nasty plastic box (bottom); gorgeous pen (top)

The pen itself is small and narrow-barrelled. The barrel is made of aluminium with the lower barrel in a natural finish and the other parts in a lacquered, glossy finish in a range of colours. I bought the blue barrel, but it is also available (from Cult Pens) in silver, black or pink. Capped/closed, it is tiny (just under 10 cm). It takes international standard cartridges (small) and they disappear into the nib part.

The nib+cartridge part has a base which screws on, covering the end of the cartridge and which the cap of the pen gets posted onto, to make the posted pen the full height. Posted, it is actually a little long in my hand and I almost prefer it un-posted, but then, maybe I'm a bit odd! Or maybe it's because my first favourite fountain pen was a platignum petite and it's ruined me for life!

L-R: cap, screw-on bit, nib+cartridge
Top: cap; bottom nib+cartridge with screw-on bit screwed on
All together!
All together plus ruler for scale
Un-posted plus ruler for scale

The nib is made of polished steel and is very smooth. It lays down quite a wet line (at least, it does with J Herbin ink) so left-handers may find they end up smudging their writing (depending on the ink used). The pen is light in the hand and lovely and smooth to write with.

J Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink
I think I should just give up doing reviews of ink as I am rubbish at being able to describe the colours accurately! The poussiere de lune is grey-purple. Dusk-coloured (which, as a physiologist I know is cobblers as the colour-detecting bits of the retina don't work at dusk!). What I mean is, it's the 'colour' that things look at dusk. And so I suppose it is perfectly named (moon dust)!

Although the (white!) paper is showing as dark, the ink colour isn't far off
Trying to show 'colour' and shading
Pretty close (on my monitor). Sorry it's blurred!
Another close-up. This is SO hard to photograph!
The 'colour' is gorgeous and quite dense for a greyish ink, with just enough purple/mauve in there to make it not exactly grey. Very beautiful!

All in all, both of them are fabulous!

[I have no affiliation to either Cult Pens or The Journal Shop; I'm just a very happy customer]

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Review of Sheaffer Calligraphy pen and Diamine Steel Blue ink

Ah... Stationery, stationery. Second only to running as a passion for me. And since I have been ill and unable to run for what feels like forever (but in reality is about 2 weeks), stationery has been the #1 recently.

As you'll all know, I have put in a lot of few orders recently and I am way, way behind on reviews. Anyway, today it is the turn of a Sheaffer Calligraphy fountain pen filled with what is rapidly becoming a huge favourite – Diamine's steel blue ink.

I think that I bought the Sheaffer from Amazon when I decided I wanted to learn how to write calligraphy (a while ago now!). As I recall, it wasn't at all expensive (and a quick check online has shown me that you can get them from between £4 and £8 roughly). I (sadly) have barely found the time to practise calligraphy, but the pen seems beautiful for the task (at least as far as my hand is concerned). My problem is that I get a bit too impatient, and start writing at my normal speed (which is not at all what is involved in calligraphy!) and then the nib skips. You certainly have to write fairly slowly and carefully with this nib.
The Diamine Steel Blue ink came from The Journal Shop in the last stationery haul.

The Sheaffer Calligraphy Pen (M nib - 1.3mm):
This has a plastic barrel and cap, with a rubberised grip which is extremely comfortable to hold. The barrel has a cut-out so that you can see how much (or little) ink there is remaining in the cartridge. Sheaffer have their own style of cartridge. That said, I usually refill most cartridges from bottled ink using a syringe and needle, so the fact the cartridges are different is no major issue. [If I didn't refill cartridges, then the fact that this pen differs from most of my others would probably bug me enough to buy a piston converter.]
The cap attaches with a very satisfying and firm click. As you might expect, the 1.3mm nib lays down a significant amount of ink, so this couldn't be used on flimsy papers (but why would you be doing calligraphy on flimsy papers?). The balance of weight in the pen (unposted) is perfect for me. With the cap posted the weight is too far back in my hand. Unposted and about half-full of ink, the pen weighs 10g (14g with the cap posted).

Pen capped
Pen uncapped. The blue next to the nib indicates that it is the M nib

I had to write slowly and carefully with this pen, otherwise the line broke up and there were missing parts to the letter. If I was using it for calligraphy, this wouldn't be a problem as I would be writing slowly and carefully! For an everyday pen this would drive me insane. That, along with the fact that my writing is twice its normal size as a consequence of the breadth of the nib.
However, fishing this pen out to fill and review has made me want to find the time to practise calligraphy more, it's so lovely to write with. I couldn't use it for everyday writing but I would happily consider trying a fine nibbed one for that as the pen is so light and comfortable to hold (I vastly prefer my handwriting when using an italic/calligraphy nib!).

The Diamine Steel Blue ink:
The ink is shown in a variety of hues on different websites, with some showing it as more blue and others more green. It's certainly a tricky beast to describe and photograph! I would call the colour  turquoise, but a dense, darkish shade, to my eyes fairly evenly balanced between blue and green. It was a nightmare to photograph.  Below are a selection of pictures to try and show the colour of the ink and the shading seen with the calligraphy nib. It is an absolutely gorgeous colour and has almost instantly become the ink of choice for me. The paper written on is standard printer paper, 80gsm. I have used the ink (in a different pen) in a Clairefontaine Age Bag A4 notebook and it is the same colour and shading.

[All of the pictures are showing as more blue than the original ink; the last picture is possibly the closest]

Overall – the calligraphy pen is great for calligraphy but would not suit me for everyday writing (but then, it's just doing what it says on the tin!). The Diamine steel blue ink is drop dead gorgeous. Treat yourself.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Review of the C.OVER diary/notebook

C.OVER notebook system
Well, this is a quirky little thing. I've been wanting to have a proper look at one for a while and so when The Journal Shop had a 25% off offer and it was also already reduced, I decided to get one. There was limited stock (understandably) so I ended up with a green one that is a shade too close to snot for my comfort, but there we go. [Still not affiliated to TJS. Still an exceedingly happy customer btw]

So what's so special about this little thing? Well, it has a nifty way of holding bound books in the cover, similar to the Midori Travellers Notebook in technique, but with a better fastener (in my opinion. I realise a Midori aficionado will disagree in all likelihood.)

What came in the package?
The cover (made from a soft plastic) (15.6 cm x 9.3 cm)
A 2013 diary, split into two 6 month-long booklets (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
A 32 page address book (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
A 32 page blank notebook (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
Credit card holders
A teensy pen
3 spare bands for connecting the booklets to the cover
An outer band to hold the whole thing closed

Top: cover plus the two diary sections;
Bottom: address booklet, notebook, credit card holder, pen and band

Card with three spare bands and instructions for fitting

The blurb says it will hold up to three different booklets (so, three types of notebook, or a notebook and the diaries, or the diaries and the address book etc. etc. etc.). However, if you use the credit card holder, this allows you to have four booklets in it.

How do the booklets fix to the cover?
In the same way as the Midori Travellers Notebook has elastic slotting into the centre of the notebooks, the C.OVER has elastic strands that attach the booklets to the cover. How it differs is that the elastic strands have bobbles on the end which slot into notches on the spine of the cover. There are three elastic fasteners and three notches, but... the credit card holders are designed to have the card holder in one side and a slot in the other so you can slot the cover of a notebook into each side and then add the credit card holder to the cover with one of the bands. The teensy pen slots into the top of the credit card holder too. You can hold up to 6 credit cards in the slots.

All booklets removed and one elastic strand unhooked to show you the bobble
Diary re-attached. Elastic goes up the centre of the booklet and
attaches top and bottom with the bobble

Credit card holder with one booklet slotted into the left hand side
Booklets slotted into both sides, plus some business cards in the holder to show them
Credit card holder about to be re-attached to the cover
All re-attached, including the pen

The cover
As I said, the cover is made of a soft plastic. It's soft to the touch in a way I'm a bit ambivalent about to be honest – it's a bit too soft but not quite so soft that it's truly unpleasant! It does smell quite plasticky though. The spine is a silver-coloured plastic with the brand 'Greenwitch'  embossed on it. The inside has (on the reverse of the front cover) 'C.OVER project Aldo Petillo Italy' The reverse of the back cover is plain. Both the front and back cover came with a harder piece of plastic in the full-height pocket to add some stability/stiffness to the cover I assume, but these could easily be removed to put papers/money/receipts in I suppose. I would have to carry a wallet with me as well as this little book though as there is no way of carrying coins in it.

Bit hard to see but this is the back cover with the stiffening plastic pulled out slightly

The diary:
It comes in two separate booklets, which somewhat randomly (and irritatingly for me) run as a week to view from 31 December 2012 to 7th July 2013 in the first booklet with the second one starting on 8th July. I know! Why would you not start on the 1st? It's a Monday after all.
After the cover, there is a page for putting your details. After that is a double spread with the year to view (6 months in open boxes down each page), called 'dates to be remembered'. I wouldn't find it all that useful, partly because the boxes are quite small and mostly because I would never look at it, regardless of size.

Page for personal details
Small month boxes for date to remember

After that comes a year to view whose sole purpose appears to be to tell you what day of the week each date falls on, though I guess you could circle important dates.

Next up is a list of public holidays and country dialling codes for a selection of countries.

Then is the diary itself. It is a horizontal, week per view, with Saturday and Sunday sharing the same space as a weekday gets to itself. The line spacing is minute (3mm) and there are lines for the hours from 8am to 7pm with some spare lines underneath. The month is given along the header in a variety of languages and the footer on the left-hand page has a list of the dates of the month with Sundays in bold.

After July 7th there is a double-spread of 2014 to view and the very last page is a page for notes.

Both diaries follow the same pattern except the second half runs to January 12th 2014 (making it doubly annoying that it started part-way into July. It isn't as if there isn't enough space to have started later and just had more notes pages at the back of the first one.).

The address book:
This has one side per letter and then six pages for notes at the back. The letters are laminated to make them a little stronger.

The notebook:
The one that came in the package was plain. There are apparently other refills but I don't know where you can buy them The Journal Shop doesn't have them (though they do stock the diary refills).

Paper Quality:
I would put the paper thickness at 70 gsm. Here are the results of the pen tests!

With most of the fountain pens it felt like the ink 'sat up' a bit on the paper. That said, there's not much feathering, even with my wettest combo of italic nib and Waterman's violet tendresse.

But ye gods look at the bleed-through! It makes filofax paper look half-decent! The other side is completely unusable. Not so disastrous in the notebook but in the diary this would be a nightmare. Pencil is okay!

The pen:
Throw it away. It's horrid. (the last line of the pen test was the pen that it came with. My pen-test text says 'The scratchy, unpleasant pen it came with')

The elastic closure:
Throw that away too. It's also horrid and doesn't have quite enough ping in it for my liking. Use a horizontal band and slot a decent pen into it (like with a Ciak notebook).

All in all?
Well, it's quirky and quite well designed but perhaps not so well finished. The idea is great – multiple, easily swappable notebooks/diaries/address books etc. but it's more than a little let down by paper quality and odd things like the second half of the year starting a week into July. My picky tendencies are also irritated that the cover has rounded corners but the notebooks and diary etc. all have squared corners. That lack of care for detail bugs me.

The good news is that Field Notes booklets fit in quite well without too much overhang (despite being a teensy bit wider).

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Reviews of: Tombow Object Fountain Pen and J Herbin diabolo menthe ink

Well, I've tidied the desk and had a play with the pen and ink combo. Both of these were bought from The Journal Shop in a spectacular 25% off for National Stationery Week offer (which, believe me, I took advantage of!!). No affiliation, just a very happy customer.

Stationery haul from The Journal Shop!

Tombow Object Fountain Pen
I chose the purple pen for no better reason than I liked the colour. The pen came with its own case (which itself was inside a card box). The case is simple but practical – a metal (aluminium I presume) box with a sponge slot to hold the pen.

Case with pen and the J Herbin ink behind

The casing of the pen is made of aluminium which makes the pen very nice and light in the hand. It takes standard size cartridges (so no needing to buy own-brand expensive things). It comes with a medium nib as standard (though you can order it with a fine or broad nib from The Journal Shop if you prefer). The nib is lovely and smooth and the pen is light so doesn't make your hand cramp up after writing for a while, but not so light that you feel it will fall out of your hand. The pen sat nicely in my hand and was very comfortable to write with. It does write quite wetly though, which may be a problem with some inks. Of course, I have only tried it with the J Herbin diabolo menthe ink so maybe it just writes wetly with J Herbin! If you find it writes wetly/less wetly with other inks, drop me a note in the comments?
The pen will hold two cartridges: one inserted into the barrel; one (the other way up) slotting into the rest of the case as a spare.
Overall: 4/5 stars. It may well become my new favourite pen.

The ink is just a bit too pale for my liking

J Herbin diabolo menthe cartridges
Whilst I was pleased with the pen, I was less enthralled by the ink I'm sad to say. The colour is just a bit too delicate for me. It's a very pretty colour, but it is too watery for my taste. This is a shame as I have loved most of the J Herbin inks I have used previously. I'm hoping that the delicacy of this one will grow on me without giving me eye-strain!
Overall: 2/5 stars. It is just too thin an ink for me.

Stationery reviews soon... but first this...

I will be reviewing the Tombow fountain pen and J Herbin diabolo menthe ink soon. But first I have to tackle this:

Very messy desk to sort out!

Back later!