Sunday, 27 July 2014

SO many things to review!

I’m back!! And I have SO many things to review!
  • Two RAKs
  • Two new pens
  • A stationery prize I won (yay!)

Today though, I will do RAK #1 where my good friend sent me some paper samples from an order he put in at Jet Pens.

He sent me:
  • An old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
  • Enough monthly inserts by Davinci for a year’s worth of planning
  • A check list sample
  • Some Raymay Davinci lined refill for personal size planners (6.5mm line spacing) and some plain paper

1. The old Filofax ‘letter planner’ insert
Interestingly, the top edge and inside edge look as if they have been torn from a perforated sheet – I don’t know if it was a larger sheet that was then separated, or why these edges look perforated. Anyway, I do have a ‘letters filofax’ (A5) and I do keep notes about things I have written to people (to try and stop repeating myself too much!) but I have never used a specific insert for this – I just jot notes on notepaper. I get the feeling that the letter planner insert was more for a business letter than for a personal one (I only really write personal ones!).

Front page
Reverse side

The top section has space for date, to, address, copies to, enclosures and file. Then there are two sections for ‘main points’ on the first side and three of these sections on the reverse side.
The copyright date for the insert is 2010 (somewhat surprisingly – I would have thought these would have been discontinued earlier than that...).

2. The monthly inserts by Davinci
These are printed on thin, cream paper (though my friend says that it isn’t on the Raymay Davinci paper, but from the fill from a binder he bought). It feels about the same thickness as Filofax diary paper (70 gsm?).

Undated monthly pages

The picture shows a double spread. The months are undated, with a quick 1-31 on the left hand side, then the days of the week across the top and six boxes deep on the left page and five boxes deep on the right, with the bottom space labelled ‘memo’.

3. Check list
Again, on thin, cream paper with grey and green inks. I don’t know what the Japanese symbols mean, but there are two check boxes on each box – one open and the other lightly shaded green. Personally, the boxes are too deep for me, but as there are two check boxes per large space, they could be divided into two. The depth of the box is 17mm.

Check list

4. Lined refill
Nice, simple design with a top margin of 9.5 mm, a bottom margin of 4.5 mm (with a bold line border) and lines at 6.5 mm spacing in a feint grey. The lines stop 9 mm from the inner edge and 5.5 mm from the outer edge.
The lined paper is the only one that I did a fountain pen test on. Oh, if only Filofax could make paper like this!! The paper is silky smooth to write on, with no feathering or spidering at all. And despite the paper being incredibly thin, there is almost no bleed-through to the reverse – a little, but certainly not so much (except with a Sharpie) that the reverse isn’t usable. The paper was a complete delight!

Fountain pen test - front
Fountain pen test - reverse

5. Plain paper refill
Um, not much to describe – same thinness that the lined paper has, and the same light cream colour. I haven’t fountain pen tested it, but I would be surprised if it was different from the lined paper.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to my friend for sending me the samples and also for the offer of a combined order (to split the postage costs) – I may well be putting in an order for a lot of these beautiful papers!

Friday, 11 July 2014

There will now be a short intermission...

... as I am going away on holiday!

I promise faithfully to review my new pens, some paper sent to me in a RAK from a good friend and a MiracleBind A4 binder sent in another RAK from another good friend when I come back!

See you soon!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

de Villiers set-up (aka: have I found planner Nirvana?)

"New" de Villiers - front
"New" de Villiers - interior

I have moved in! I thought I would have to tweak and fiddle with my set-up in a major way in order to fit into the small rings, but actually, the thing is like a Tardis!

I thought that I wouldn’t be able to keep all of the rest of 2014’s week on two pages diary and so set about creating monthly sheets which had a list of ‘things to do this month’ as the first side, a double-spread of month to view, then the last side for a review (four sides in total; two pages per month).

I also thought I might not have space to have my contacts on the rings and rummaged around to find a satellite address-book that could slot into a pocket in the binder. I found three – the pocket-filofax size one that came with the pocket flex, a filofax one I had been given that was Swedish (?) and which also slightly bizarrely seems to run in reverse order and have some extra letters, and a Paperblanks one that came with a diary and which is a bit of a tight fit.

Satellite address book options

In the end, I needed neither of these alterations! I had a good long look at what I carry around and wondered – do I really need to cart all this around with me?? The answer was no, and so I could fit all that I wanted onto the rings!

Things that have stayed and where they have gone:
  • My cards – all in the ten slots in the front cover
  • Stamps (tucked into the vertical pocket behind the cards)
  • Plastic cover sheet to protect the pages
  • To do sheets (see this post about the latest tweaks)
  • Week to view diary (June to December, though still space for the whole year if needed I think)
  • Today marker (in the current week for once!)
  • Information tab
    • Personal information sheets
    • Books to look for
    • List of OS maps we have
    • A chart of my weight
  • Addresses tab
    • Lists of contacts
  • Notes tab
    • 5 sheets of paper
  • Zipped pencil case with coins in it
  • Paper money in the outer of the two vertical pockets in the back cover
To Do now up front and in my face
...including reminders to turn the page! I can see the next actions I should be doing!
Notes section tucked behind notes tab behind To Do
zipped pencil case from Tesco for coins
Paper money in vertical pocket

Things that have not been moved across (all have been transferred to the planning filofax):
  • General to-do sheet of big house-stuff things
  • Notes from Rotary Committees (it is the end of the Rotary year and the information has gone into the report!)
  • Year planner
  • Important dates sheet
  • Timetable pages (none of these last three things of these were filled in!)
  • Information pages – web things to look for; general other notes no longer needed; list of shopping sites; list of apps to look at; names/contacts for getting logs; random other bits of information like meter readings; maps; packing lists
  • Card holder

So what has changed in the de Villiers in comparison with the Baroque?
  • All of the cards are in the inside left cover rather than there being six there and the rest in a card-holder on the rings at the back
  • Up front (and in my face!) is my to-do list, with my next action sheet behind (see my last post for why this is here)
  • The notes section is now behind the to-do
  • The monthly sheets have gone (with the hope that their contents will get added to the to do lists a tad more regularly than the last few months)
  • I have removed both the planner tab and the diary tab, since the Today marker is all that is needed
  • Week on two pages is as it was (with the Today marker in the right place)
  • There is a slimmed down information section behind the tab
  • Addresses are as they were, behind the tab
  • The zipped pencil case for coins has moved to the back so that when I open the planner, the to-do list is the first thing there

I weighed the de Villiers, loaded up and it came in at 377g. If you recall, the Holborn and the Portland were weighing in at 530g. The de Villiers is MUCH less brick-like!

In summary, I have all my cards in, I have my paper and coins in (so wallet functions are covered); I have to-do, notes, diary, information and addresses in there (so planner functions are covered); it weighs ~30% less than the previous format. Oh, and it is blood-red (I realise this possibly only appeals to me...).

So, have I reached planner Nirvana?


The tabs stick out a bit beyond the cover, but nothing too drastic and there is no pen loop. However, I have ordered a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop in black which I will stick to the plastic cover sheet at the front.

Could this finally be planner heaven? I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Compare and contrast the black de Villiers and the red one

If you've been following the last few posts, you will know that I won a black de Villiers slimline binder on eBay and as soon as it arrived in the post, I sent it to Steve (from Philofaxy) as a swap for the red one that Anita had posted about on Philofaxy - see here - and given to Steve.

Still with me?

Anyway, followers of my blog (bless you! Have you nothing better to do?) will also know my love of red, shiny things (too many posts to list about red, shiny binders!!). I've been using the red de Villiers for about a week or more now and I still LOVE it.

Eagle-eyed readers of posts on the two de Villiers binders may have seen some differences, but for those of you who didn't, let me show you a couple.

The leather of the black version was quite grained and not smooth and shiny. I don't have any binders like it, but from pictures on the web, it might be a bit like the Richmond filofax leather (but don't quote me on that!). The red binder however, is shiny and smooth - almost patent leather in texture but not so plasticky! IT. IS. GORGEOUS. Just sayin'...

front of the black version
front of the red version
back of the black version
back of the red version

The interiors are mirror-images of each other. The black version has the card slots at the back, whereas the red version has them at the front:

Interior of the black version (also showing the grain of the leather nicely)
Interior of the red version

Well, there they are. What do people think?

Friday, 4 July 2014

de Villiers update

As I said in this post, I won a black de Villiers slimline binder on eBay. It arrived and it was lovely – in immaculate condition and absolutely divine.
Here are some pictures:


I haven’t moved in, because I no longer have it.

Before you all think I have gone even madder than normal, I still have a slimline de Villiers.

Ha! That’s confused you all!

I have Steve from Philofaxy’s (that was Anita’s) red, slimline de Villiers. Still with me?

When the black one arrived, despite its absolute gloriousness, I knew it was not to be because it was black and I need a colour pop and anyway, I had seen Steve’s/Anita’s red one so I knew red ones existed. I contacted Steve and he agreed to swap my black one for his red one.

So, last weekend, the de Villiers crossed the Channel (the red one must have been getting a bit fed up of this parcel to post existence...).

I knew the red one was ‘pre-loved’ (aka battered and well used) and indeed, it was in need of a bit of tender loving care, so I gave it a clean and some red leather polish and some love and now it is drop dead gorgeous (in a well-used kind of way).
[I did a guest post on Philofaxy on renovating it, which you can see here.]

Ta da!!

Interior - interestingly, the mirror-image of the black one

So now I just have to tweak my set-up a bit so I can move in.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Saturday, 28 June 2014

set-up tweaks – modifying how I cope with ‘to-do’

After blundering around in the dark for a while, I have tweaked my set-up. I wasn’t using my filofax very efficiently (um, at all) and I was struck by a post on Philofaxy about people not using their filofax when they were really busy/reaching burn-out and so on. I have been ridiculously busy recently and horrendously disorganised and I have hardly been even looking at my diary, never mind the weekly and monthly plans. In fact, when I finally sat down to do a weekly plan, I realised it had been 6 weeks since I last had and that all of my weekly planning pages were empty and/or had things on them that should have been done that week but which had been ignored and not done. Half of these weekly pages weren’t even IN my filofax and the ‘current’ month list was for April – everything was still in my holding-filofax. [I did this sort-out about two weeks ago!]

I needed to think about why I wasn’t using my filofax so much and what might make me start again and realised one of my main issues was with To-Do lists – I either have everything in front of me and then get annoyed if I have to rewrite anything not done, into the next week pages or, I realise I won’t get it all done and put it on a separate list that I then don’t look at (because it’s not in front of me). At this time of the year, my to-do lists can also terrify me with their colossus-like dimensions!

I have three kinds of tasks to do:
  1. things that are advancing projects (‘next actions’)
  2. things that are known about well in advance, that need to be done at particular times but which are not linked to a project (birthdays, car-insurance renewal, meter readings and so on)
  3. things that are neither of the above but are things that need to be done (usually sooner rather than later)

The problems arise like this:
Most of my projects seem to be big projects and even breaking them down into smaller things to manage them better, the time for them is elastic. For example, I want to finish the first draft of book 6 before I go away on holiday, but I don’t quite know how many scenes I still need to write. I have a rough idea, but not an absolute nailed down one. Even if I did know that I had exactly 8 more scenes to write, some days it flows well and some days it just doesn’t. As a consequence, a ‘next action’ can sit on my to-do list for days or even weeks. Do I have them on a separate Post-It note and keep moving them from week to week? That feels like failure. Do I keep them on a separate list and refer to it when I have time? That would then suffer from the “it isn’t in front of me so it doesn’t exist” issue I have where, despite quite a lot of education, I seem almost totally unable to turn a page to look at what is behind it.

Category 2 is okay as long as I look at my planner – these are all transcribed onto ‘do this week’ sheets and if I look at those sheets, I do them. And there’s the rub! IF I look at them. Often I don’t.

Category 3 can be an ever-increasing list of ‘stuff’ which can end up swamping the important things. I need to do a brain-dump into a to-do list to clear my head sometimes, but there is then a danger that the list turns scary!

I haven’t cracked any of these problems completely, really. What I have done is to have one giant to-do sheet at the very front of my planner, rather than on the weekly pages (since I don’t really have many appointments at the moment).  Everything is going on it. To get around the “it isn’t in front of me so it doesn’t exist” issue, I have added “next-actions” on my to-do list in bold (so I see something that might prompt me to turn to the page behind which lists the next actions!), added the weekly tasks to the to-do list from the weekly sheets (which I have given up on) and added the ever-increasing small to-do things as and when they occur. The hope is that I can see it all (or at least see a prompt to turn the page and look at it, oh over-educated one) and can try and limit how many ‘mosquito tasks’ get added to the list.

I have ‘next actions’ in black at the top, then weekly things in blue, then ‘other stuff’ in pencil underneath. Because there is now a danger of me not actually looking at the diary pages, I also have added any appointments I have for the week to the bottom of the list, in red.

the list!

At the bottom of the page (please don’t laugh) I have a reminder to turn over and look at the next page/reverse of the to-do list so that, although I have run out of space, there may still be things lurking on the other side of the page that I must get on with. Yes, I have a first class honours degree and a PhD and I need a reminder to turn the page. I know my limitations!!

On the next page, I have the next-actions for my current projects (colour-coded).

Next actions

I’m really hoping that this set-up with the to-do at the front, will keep me organised! I’ll let you know!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Betwixt and between – will a slimline de Villiers bridge the gap between pocket and personal?

My planning ‘system’ has fallen apart. I’ve missed half a dozen birthdays in the last month and feel about as organised as a bowl of spaghetti. Planner love is thin on the ground. I’m just not looking at my planner (and we all know that that road leads to hell...).

So what’s gone wrong? Where has the Baroque love gone?

I don’t know. I still love it and in many ways I just think it’s me being fickle rather than there being any major issue, if I’m being honest. I’m certainly not selling either of my Baroques, before you all start asking!

I had the urge to move into a pocket (again!) as my weeks are getting to the point in the year where they are low on appointments and high on ‘things to do’ and a full-sized planner seemed both overkill and underused. And like carrying a brick. The reasoning behind shifting to a pocket was that a DPP in pocket-size might be a better solution for me than WO2P plus Post-It note in personal-size, but then, I just know that being able to carry cards will be an issue unless I have 19mm rings in a pocket. And any regular reader will know how I have struggled even with a 19mm ring binder.

So... I have just bought a slimline de Villiers binder from eBay instead. It has 10 card slots with a vertical pocket behind, two vertical pockets on the other side, and oval rings which measure 16mm in the wider direction and 14mm rings in the narrower.

16mm rings...

I know, I know... I have never made small rings work for me before, but that’s because they have always been small rings in a pocket binder and the problem has been the ring space being taken up with card-holders. But, the de Villiers binder has 10 card slots in the cover, so I wouldn’t have to take up any ring space with card-holders!

The plan is to have a month or two of WO2P diary which I can just swap out of the Baroque, the rest of the year as monthly sheets and possibly a week of DPP (both of which I can print myself), plus the usual notes paper, addresses and other stuff I carry.

The hope is, that by limiting how many weeks of WO2P there are in there, it will force me to do my weekly reviews and then maybe I will start being more organised???

I’ll keep you posted. Review of the binder coming soon.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Review of the Midori MD A5 lined notebook

Two reviews in two days... At this rate, I might actually review all my new notebooks before buying some more...
[ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha... who are you trying to kid ???????]

Anyway, today it is the turn of the Midori MD A5 lined notebook, bought in The Journal Shop’s 20% off everything sale. Again, no affiliation, just a happy customer. As ever, click on any picture for a bigger version.

I bought the Midori MD notebook because I was intrigued. I haven’t got a Midori Traveller Notebook but I have heard good things about the paper and it is the same paper used in these notebooks.

It’s a good notebook. The paper is fabulous. I’m not convinced by the bold line across the middle. There are 176 non-numbered pages. The notebook is 149mm x 210mm.

Front cover


The notebook had a slip-cover of what feels like waxy tissue paper. I’m sure it has a proper name (tell me what it is in the comments if you know it!). Around the outside of that was a label, which was all in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says.

Back cover (still in the plastic wrapper)
Waxy tissue paper slip cover

Once you remove the slip cover and loose label, you see the cover of the notebook. It is made of thick cream card, with a small “MD paper Made in Japan” logo embossed in the middle of the RHS. The binding is hard to describe – it looks like an open-weave bandage that has been firmly glued to the spine. Again, this probably has a proper name and again, tell me in the comments what it is if you know it! The pages are bound with thread-stitching.

Front cover with slip-cover tissue paper reflected back

There is no pocket in the back – this is a basic notebook.

The first page has a space for putting something – title, picture, whatever. Underneath the space is MD Notebook Made in Japan and the Midori logo. Inevitably, this page is glued to the next (the next being the first lined page of the book) so that the next page doesn’t open out fully. There were two labels (and a blank one) – ‘idea’ and ‘diary’ though I am not sure where they are supposed to go – they are too big for the box-space on the first page and I think the spine is too rough for them.

First page

The pages have 27 lines with a line-spacing of 7mm, a top margin of 16mm, a bottom margin of 12mm and an inner margin where the lines don’t reach the spine of 2mm. The 14th line down (in the centre of the page) is bold.
I do not know why. Nor do I much care for it. It remains to be seen how much this will piss me off when I use the notebook, but at first glance it’s annoyed me.
The page edges are all squared and extremely smooth-feeling.

Bold central line.

The paper is lovely to write on. Forgive the crumpled look to the pages – I didn’t extract them from the book very well (I was worrying more about the book than the removed pages to be honest!). The book also lies as flat as a bat! The open-weave bandage/thread-stitching binding works a treat! There is a page marker of narrow, dark green ribbon.

Fountain Pen Tests:
The paper was glorious to write on (as you might anticipate, it being Midori and all that). No feathering, nice crisp lines, smooth and not too ‘grabby’ but one of my inks took a while to dry as a consequence of the surface of the paper, so lefties may want to just test out their pen/ink combos.

Fountain pen tests - no feathering...

Almost no bleed-through. When I first did the test I thought there was none at all, but there is a smidgen. It’s better than the Leuchtturm books but still not as good as the Clairefontaine Age Bags (what is??). bleed-through

Hmm. Only 3 ½ (out of 5). The paper is delightful to write on, but they are more expensive than my go-to Clairefontaine A5 Age Bag notebooks (about twice the price) and without many more bells and whistles. And that bold line is more irritating than I thought it would be (though it might grow on me).

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Review of the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks

New Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks
I have SO many reviews owing. Let me begin to make amends and review the Leuchtturm 1917 for a start – I bought two of them in The Paperie’s 3 for 2 sale (the 3rd book was the Paper Thinks notebook, reviewed here). No affiliation - just a happy customer.

The Leuchtturm notebooks are nicely designed books in my opinion. They have hardback covers (in a series of bright, cheery colours), with ivory/cream paper, numbered pages, a table of contents at the front, detachable pages at the back, an expandable pocket in the back, matching ribbon marker and a vertical elastic closure. The paper is lovely to write on. Notebook size is 208mm x 147mm. There are 249 numbered pages.

The Cover:

I bought two – an emerald green cover and a berry red one. I have only opened the berry red (I assume that the innards of the emerald green one will not differ significantly!). The colours are vibrant and intense and a welcome cheer on a rainy May weekend up here in Scotland!

Back cover

The cover is PVU with a leather-effect and no plasticky smell, thankfully. There is no branding on the front or on the spine, and just ‘Leuchtturm1917’ embossed on the back. The cover is rigid.
As a comparison with other notebooks/my filofax, here is the emerald green next to a Sea Green Cartesio notebook...

Leuchtturm on the left, Sea Green Cartesio on the right

... and the berry red next to my pink Baroque filofax...

The first page has a space for name and address. Personally, I would prefer just to have the lines and no instructions over what should go there, as I don’t put either my name or my address in most of my notebooks as they never leave my house.

Name/address page; booklet on the left
 There was a small card saying ‘thank you for buying this product’ inside and a leaflet about the notebook and the history of Leuchtturm. There was also a set of stickers for labelling the books (though personally, I have never used these and think they would detract from the exterior of the notebook. I might use one on the inside).


After the name/address page is a blank fly-sheet, then there are three pages of index.

First index page
Then a double spread of them

This is followed by a blank side (the reverse of the last index page) then the main notebook.
At the top of every page is “Datum/Date:” and at the foot of every page on the outer corner, is the page number. I like this, as I always number my notebooks and I always produce a list of contents at the start of the book, so for me, this detailing is a bonus. I’m not so convinced about having the date at the top of every page – that might grow on me!

The paper is ivory/cream, with a line-spacing of 6mm. The lining is feint (very light, actually – I like how subtle it is!). The lines go edge to edge of the paper and there is a top margin of 12mm and a bottom margin of 7mm. The outer corners are rounded.

The last few pages of the notebook are perforated so you can remove them (I removed the last page to test how easy this is and also to do the fountain pen tests). Initially, the idea of the last few pages being removable hadn’t appealed, but in fact, these are very subtly perforated so it isn’t obvious that they are, nor would it be easy to accidentally remove them, so if you didn’t want to take out sheets, the book would stay intact. The perforations are incredibly fine and the paper came out okay (though it was a bit of a tug to get it started).

The back, expandable pocket covers the entire back cover and is pretty gusseted – you could cram a lot in here if you wanted to spoil the look of your notebook!!

Pocket in the back. (the white thing on the RHS is the book label)

The ribbon marker is a good match to the cover and to the elastic closure (yes, we all know how picky I am about these things!). It is a relief that this all matches so well on a notebook whose strap-line is “Details make all the difference”!

I personally prefer a horizontal elastic closure so that I can tuck a pen in to it, but if you wanted to carry a pen, Leuchtturm do matching adhesive pen-holders and you could stick one to the cover very easily.

Fountain Pen Tests:
Again, I don’t have as many inked up as normal. I used three italic-nibbed pens (by far my favourite pens to use) plus one standard nib plus a couple of Pilot V5 pens.
The paper was a little bit ‘grabby’ on the italic pens and made them feel a little scratchy, but the non-italic nib flowed smoothly over the page and it was a dream to write on with it. The two Pilot pens were okay (but not my favourite to write with anyway). There was no feathering and ink dried quickly, so lefties would be absolutely fine (assuming my inks are representative).

Crisp - no feathering

Hmm. A little disappointing considering they go on about ‘ink-proof’ paper. I could read everything on the other side of the page very easily. I’m not sure if I would want to use fountain pen in the books as a consequence. Maybe. I was expecting better though.

This is looking better than the reality...

Gorgeous colour cover and well thought out interior. Good little notebook and one I am sure that I will use for book-plotting/writing. It’s just a shame that there was so much bleed-through with my fountain pens and that the page is a bit grabby on italic nibs.

I would award it **** (out of 5)