Saturday, 8 June 2019

HUGE pen test on pocket size notebooks!!

This post was born out of writing a post for Nero's Notes on whether my dislike of Moleskine and Field Notes was justified (spoiler alert... it is). They really don't play nicely with fountain pens, but then I wondered which pocket notebooks actually did.

Enter the biggest test I've done yet, with 10 notebooks getting tested. I used 5 fountain pens and I also tested 11 non-fountain pens too.
Warning! Post is very picture heavy!

The Notebooks:
Field Notes
Story Supply
Rhodia Webby
Clairefontaine 1951
Pebble Stationery

The Fountain Pens:

(top to bottom)
Parker Vector with calligraphy nib. Ink = Iroshizuku Shin kai
Tombow Object m nib. Ink = Iroshizuku Ku jaku
TWSBI Eco m nib. Ink = Diamine Burnt sienna
TWSBI Diamond 540, 1.1 mm stub nib. Ink = Sailor Yama dori
Conklin Durograph, 1.1 mmstub nib. Ink = Iroshizuku Shin kai
Platinum Preppy - UF nib. No idea what the ink was and anyway, it ran out...

The Other Pens:

(top to bottom)
Pilot V5 hi-tecpoint 0.5
Uniball vision needle micro
Scheider slider memo XB
Uniball signo RT 0.7
Uniball Jetsream 1.0
Stabilo worker medium 0.5
Zebra J roller RX 0.5
Zebra Z-grip medium (biro)
Uni jetstream 0.7 (biro)
Calepino bic biro
Field Notes bic biro

The results:
A lot of pictures... left side of the picture shows the pen test; right side of the picture shows the reverse of the page.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

My Every Day Carry (#EDC)

It's been a while since I shared my set-up with you, so I thought I'd give you all a quick look at what I'm using at the moment.

I need my EDC to have everything in it. There's no point me having a separate wallet and diary/notebook, because I'll forget one or other of them when I leave the house! But, I need to have something small enough that I don't wreck my back carrying it around! I'm somewhat in awe of people who merrily lug a well-stuffed A5 Filofax or planner around with them. Despite the fact I do always appear to have an enormous handbag, my EDC is pretty small.

For a long while, I'd been using my undyed extra wide pocket from Meadowgate Leather, which is slowly turning the most delicious caramel colour. But this week, I've changed out of that and into another Meadowgate Leather cover that I bought from a Facebook group.

Pocket TN from Meadowgate Leather
with extra width

Friday, 3 May 2019

B5 bonanza!

There aren't all that many places that sell B5 (at least, not in the UK) and those B5 notebooks that are reasonably easy to get (via eBay or Amazon) are often poor quality. These ones are okay, but just don't play nicely with fountain pen.

Well, despite the fact I'm deep into editing the fantasy trilogy I've been writing for a few years (hopefully published later this year... watch this space! Or watch my author website - I'm more likely to talk about it all there!), the next book is giving me the occasional poke. And so (naturally) I start thinking about new notebooks.

I've been through a variety of notebook sizes while writing (and even dabbled with a writing Filofax at one point, which didn't work out anything like as well as I hoped it would). But at the moment, I've settled on B5 as a good size for me. Partway between A5 and A4, it offers a decent amount of real-estate without taking up the entirety of my desk when lying open. I've also renovated an old Filofax Deskfax into a B5 traveller's notebook (to use as a writing TN).

This week was National Stationery Week and The Journal Shop did a site-wide 15% off. They sell quite a few B5 books, most of them Japanese and therefore amazing paper and so I treated myself to a small (ahem) selection.

The haul:
1x Life Kappan Note
2x Tsubame Notebooks
3x Penco Hightide Notebooks (purple, black, pink)

How do they compare and contrast?

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Current set-up: diary, to do/notes, and Travellers Notebook

I haven't blogged on here for a while (I've been busy writing and editing my novels, as well as writing for Nero's Notes), but I did tell you about my 2019 diary a while back, so I thought, since we're now in the second quarter of 2019, I should update you on how it's going.

I'm pretty much using the same system that I've used in the past, but with a couple of tweaks. I have my main diary/planner, which lives on my desk and never goes anywhere else, I have a running list of 'stuff to do/remember' and I have my Every Day Carry that is usually in my handbag as it's predominantly a wallet.

Main Diary:

This is still the Box Clever Press one I blogged about. This has honestly been one of the best diaries I have ever used! I'm even using the month at a glance pages (and we all know how terrible I am at knowing what they're for!).

So, why is it so good?

Saturday, 9 February 2019


Logo of a black dog with a monocle and the name Nero's Notes

Those of you who've followed me for a while (bless you!) will know that as well having an addiction to stationery, I also write books (you can see the covers in the sidebar here!). Well... I'm now managing to combine both loves as Stuart Lennon has asked me to write for the blog on Nero's Notes.

I first 'met' Stu a couple of years ago. There are quotation marks, because in fact, Stu and I haven't ever met in real life (though I hope we will one day). We were both part of a #writingchat chat on Twitter (where various writers come together via Twitter on a Wednesday night from 8-9 pm UK time, to talk about a range of topics relating to writing) and the topic for the night was writing buddies. Neither Stu nor I had a writing buddy, nor were we in any writing groups. To cut a long story short, Stu and I swapped a small chunk of writing, gave feedback to each other and have ended up good buddies ever since!

Stu is now one of my beta readers - a very select group who read my books when I'm happy enough with them I can bear the thought of someone else seeing them, but with still some work to do on them. He also shares my love of good stationery. In fact, so much so that he bought a pocket notebook company! It was originally called Pocket Notebooks, but under Stu's guidance, has become Nero's Notes. You'll have seen a number of reviews of things from there, over the last wee while (and in case you missed them, I'll pop a list at the end).

Picture of pen, paper, envelopes and ink bottle, for letter writing
Stu is also one of the friends that I write to. Yes, I still write proper letters to people, on proper paper and put them in proper envelopes, add a stamp and post them. In fact, my very first blog post for Stu is on writing letters and it comes out on Wednesday. Please pop over to the blog and check it out? It should be up after 2 pm.

If you're reading this blog, the chances are that you share my love of good stationery, so go and have a rummage through the Nero's Notes site. There are notebooks, pens, pencils, accessories and some excellent subscription boxes to feed your habit. There's some amazing stuff on there, including some things you won't be able to get anywhere else in the UK. Hopefully see you all over there!

Reviews of Nero's Notes (originally Pocket Notebooks) things:
(Each link opens in a new window)
PapioPress A6 Notebooks
Darkstar Collection
Write pocket notebooks
Rhodia Rhodiarama
New Darkstar Collection
Stationery Box (subscription)
Word. notebooks
Inky Fingers Currently Inked (sadly no longer available)
6 for £6
Leuchtturm lined slim softcover
Poach My Lobster notebook

Friday, 14 December 2018

My day to day diary for 2019

In my last post, I said how I was staying in my Field Notes sized TN from Meadowgate Leather as my everyday carry. I only need a month to view calendar while out and about, but I need a larger diary to plan my days, so am finishing up using my standard sized TN diary (that I've used all year) until the end of December.

For 2019, I'm staying in the Field Notes sized TN and using the A5 Everyday Diary from Box Clever Press.

I can spend a ridiculous amount of time choosing a diary (often time I can't really spare, but hey ho). To work well for me, I need a diary that:
  • is about A5 size
  • has a week to a view with the days in vertical columns (so I can time-box)
  • has equal sized columns for Saturday and Sunday (my life isn't less busy, just because it's a weekend!)
  • has the week starting on a Monday (who in their right minds splits the weekend so that it bookends the week? It's a weekend)
  • has space to list tasks for the week
  • preferably also has space to list Most Important Tasks for each day
  • would help me with planning my week/month/year
  • preferably is pretty/attractive because I have neither the time nor talent to do it myself but like the look of them
  • will lie flat on the desk
  • preferably has 2 ribbon markers, but at least one
Not much to ask for, is it?? You can see why I can end up trawling shops and the internet for yonks, trying to find this mythical beast.

Well, this year I have struck gold!! I've got the 2019 A5 Everyday Diary from Box Clever Press.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Short-lived experiment!

Towards the start of October, I was wondering what to use as my diary set-up in 2019. It had been a choice between three TNs (standard, B6 and Field Notes size) or go back to a Filofax. You can see my thoughts about it all here.

I was itching to use my Field Notes size TN, but wasn't sure if I could make it work as wallet, planner and notebook.

Short answer... Nope. Well, not quite as I had thought I would.

I'd bought a fairly cheap diary to fit in it (the teNeues one... see here for the blog post on it), which had a vertical layout. It fitted in okay, though the TN ended up a bit of a chunky monkey with that, a wallet insert and a home-made credit card insert. The teNeues diary started in December, so I thought I would trial it, and see how it went (while I still also had my standard size, vertical layout, Midori TN diary to hand). I could have made it less chunky by removing the cover of the diary, but it wasn't really the chunkiness that made it not work, it was the fact the small diary wasn't big enough for me to plan my days and weeks in.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

teNeues Cool Diary 2019 Weekly diary review

I've been umming and awwing about what to use in 2019 (see here for latest witterings) and bought myself a small diary to use in a Field Notes size Traveller's Notebook. The one I bought is a 9 x 14 cm TeNeues Cool Diary weekly diary (that is how the capital letters go in the label...). I got mine in blue, but it comes in a variety of colours.

It arrived the other day, so here's my review.

The cover is a hard cover with nothing more than 2019 in silver on the blue on the front and the teNeues logo on the reverse. The cover is soft-touch synthetic. I'm not a huge lover of that, because I'm trying to reduce my plastic/non-recyclable purchases, but it's understated and fairly classic. That said, I'm in two minds over just removing it altogether, because it takes up thickness in the binder and the pages of the diary don't need protecting if it's in the TN cover.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

What diary to use in 2019?

I know... it's barely October! And I don't normally have things planned hugely in advance, but we have just booked our summer holidays for 2019 and I'm feeling a bit twitchy that other than scribbling them down on the 'forward planner' bit I've created on the inside cover of my current diary, I have nowhere to put them down! I don't even have a wall calendar for 2019 and I'm sure magazines (like Country Living etc) have included them with the magazines by now.

Anyway, it's got me thinking about what to use for 2019. I currently have three options, though I may throw in a fourth just for shits and giggles.

1. Keep going with my standard-size Traveller's Notebook
2. Move to my B6 Traveller's Notebook
3. Move to a Field Notes size TN
4. Go back to using a Filofax

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Poach My Lobster Notebook Review

Many thanks to Stu from Nero's Notes for sending me this notebook to try out. This is my honest review of the notebook.

Recently, I've been shifting away from the A sizes of notebooks (A4, A5, A6 etc.) and turning more often to the B sizes (B5, B6 etc.). B5 (176 x 250 mm or 6.9 x 9.8") is an excellent size for me for writing/planning books and B6 (125 x 176 mm or 4.9 x 6.9") is a great size for a handbag-notebook. The notebook by Poach My Lobster is 128 x 202 mm, or pretty much exactly 5 x 8". Although not a true B6 size, it's a pretty good size for my bag.

The corners are rounded and the paper is glued in (making the flattability score for me pretty low).

The label on the back said the following:
128 pages of Fedrigoni Arcoprint Edizioni Avorio 1.5 100gsm
Cover printed on G. F. Smith's Colorplan Claret 270gsm with buckram embossing
Books Good Enough To Eat™: designed in London, printed in Italy, made by Poach My Lobster.
The pages are blank throughout.

The Cover:
I really like the cover. There are a variety of covers available (see the full listing on Nero's Notes here). I was sent the one with the quote about wine. The colour is a dark red (my crime-writer-brain is saying the colour of dried blood, but I realise that might not be a selling point for everyone 😄). It's a sturdy enough cover that the pages are protected, but not solid or heavy. And, it doesn't appear to contain plastic (though the notebook did come shrink-wrapped in single-use plastic that I almost opened an artery trying to remove). The logo of a lobster on the back is the only branding on it.

The Paper:
The paper is lovely to write on, both with fountain pen and also pencil. It's quite toothy, so calligraphy nibs may catch a little, and the paper is matte and so there isn't much sheen to fountain pen ink (though there is shading). I quite like the fact that the paper is blank as it means I can write in it and also sketch in it (yes, I do sketch occasionally - hence the wide array of pencil tests to come!). As this is more likely to be an 'out and about' notebook (as opposed to one used for planning, or for writing books), this makes for a good combination as I can scribble down thoughts and ideas, but I can also do sketches and drawings. If you prefer lined books because your writing stays neater, rest assured that a line-card shows through pretty well, to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Pen/Pencil Tests:
As you all know, these can make or break it for a notebook with me. The pens I currently have inked would present quite a test to the paper (and many a notebook would have failed abysmally!).
This paper sailed through. No sign of any feathering, absolutely no bleed-through and absolutely no show-through, either. 'Pen Tests' was written with my Pilot Parallel pen with 1.5 mm nib - almost everything fails with this, even Clairefontaine at times! This paper - absolutely fine. No feathing or even a hint of show-through, despite the fact it's a wet pen! The paper was a little too 'grabby' for my Rosetta Mosaic, and for the Parker Italic (though almost anything except Clairefontaine is too grabby for that little pen!). Beautifully smooth with my bamboo pen (bought as cheap as chips from eBay and one of my absolute favourite pens - always writes beautifully and is so easy to rinse out!).

The pencil tests were great - there is enough tooth in the paper to make sketching fun (no slippy-slidey shiny stuff!). I'm actually really looking forward to drawing in this wee book.

Pen tests (apologies for low exposure - it's Scotland!)
Reverse of the page - no show-through or bleed through
Pencil tests

I am very impressed. The paper is fabulous, the cover great (and quirky) and the size just right. The only thing I'm slightly less happy about is the low flattability. Maybe I'll just have to be a bit more brutal with it, but it currently does not lie flat.

Thanks again to Stu for sending me this. As I say, all views are my own and reflect my honest opinion of the book.

You can get these notebooks from Nero's Notes - click HERE to go to the full range.