Monday, 30 July 2012

100th post!

When I started this blog all those moons ago, I would never have believed I would still be going, 100 posts on, nor that I would have ANY followers never mind almost 60 of you (thank you!!) or that I would be clocking up this many page views (over 56,000).

Thank you, all of you, for finding this little piece of my world interesting enough to visit.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Another Mulberry

Having bought an A5 Mulberry planner from eBay a while ago I have since bought another (also from eBay).


Because it was beautiful.
Because the hole spacing is the same as in a personal filofax, which means I can print my own stuff and use my Rapesco punch, rather than the sorry bit of rubbish that filofax produces. Win, win in my book!

I had originally intended to write about my new planner and do a poll as to which A5 organiser should get used at work – the first Mulberry or the new one – but since the new one arrived I have fallen in love with it and there is no way on earth that thing is going into work!

Why do I love it? Let me count the ways… I do indeed love it to the depth and breadth and height…

Let me walk you through it.

Front cover

It’s a very understated cover – none of the crocodile leather style here – just smooth brown leather, with the Mulberry tree in the bottom corner. It has the double popper (why don’t all planners have this??) and has contrast stitching. As those of you who read the review of my Holborn will know, I didn’t like the contrast stitching on that and toned it all down with leather polish. This one either started out with less contrast-y contrast stitching, or it has grubbied down to being less stand-out, but either way, I like it.


Inside, it is almost all leather, unlike the first Mulberry I bought which had a tartan lining. The full-height pocket  on the inside left cover is cloth-lined, but the others are all leather. The largest pocket is also completely straight-edged, unlike the other Mulberry. There is no Made in England tag either (so was it made somewhere else?). The ring mechanism is much smoother on this one. (Newer? Better looked after?)

It came with a load of paper (cream lined and blue plain). Far better quality than filofax (but probably umpteen times the price…). I’ve yet to do a fountain pen test on it, but I’m hopeful!

Back inside cover

The back inside cover has a zipped, gusseted pocket (cloth-lined) and a full-height pocket behind. Again, the pocket is straight-edged and again it is lined with cloth. The pen loop is not elasticated but is bigger than the filofax ones (not difficult – in most of my filofaxes I am struggling to get even a very slim pen in!).

I know that Mulberry are discontinuing the planners (though they promise to make the inserts for about 10 years). They are mad. Don’t they realise that they are the best of both worlds – superb quality planners with a hole-spacing that makes producing your own inserts a cinch? If I had discovered these size organisers before, I would probably have never bought an A5 filofax.

There. I said it out loud.

What do people think of my new family member? I will blog about what it’s getting used for soon…

Monday, 16 July 2012

What's In My Bag?

I don’t normally do posts like this. When you see how little I actually have in my bag, you’ll understand why!!
But, I have just bought a new bag and swapped filofaxes and now there’s a bit of a matchy-matchy thing going on.

New bag and its contents

1. The Bag:
The bag came from Accessorize and was £15 in their sale. I bought it entirely because it was bright and it cheered me up. My mood is quite dependent on the weather and the almost incessant rain, grey skies and lack of sunshine has started to get me down. As my friends will readily attest, I am no great follower of fashion, but I gather ice-cream colours are ‘in’ and it does look like a Neopolitan!
Inside, the bag is lined with pink fabric, has one main compartment, two slip-in pockets on the front inside and a zipped pocket on the back inside. The cream oblong is another separate pocket on the front of the bag. Items 2 and 3 live in the main pocket, item 5 lives in the phone-sized slip pocket and the other items were all in the cream front pocket. [My keys, which are not in the picture, live in the other slip pocket]. The long handle is detachable (and is in fact, a tad too long for me, even wearing the bag across me, so will get some holes punched in it soon!).

2. The Filofax
For much the same reason as needing a bright bag, I have swapped out of the brown Holborn and back into the pink Baroque. The inside set-up hasn’t really changed though. I’m still using the plastic zipped pocket for coins rather than the in-built one, mostly because I’ve been enjoying being able to see how much money is in there before reaching a till. The bright pink is cheering me up no end!

3. Kindle
Hmm. Not so much matchy-matchy as clashy-clashy with the red Kindle cover and pink bag, but there we go. I still prefer a proper book most of the time, but I do also enjoy reading on my Kindle and it is lighter and thinner for carrying around.

4. Hand-cream
L’Occitane’s dry skin hand-cream. I love L’Occitane’s products! I almost always have a tube of their hand-cream with me and my bathroom cupboards are full of their products.

5. Phone
In a similar vein to not being much of a follower of fashion, I don’t have a swanky phone. In fact, this one is new! The shop assistant wasn’t too impressed when I asked for the cheapest and most basic phone they could sell me (presumably because the commission on it is non-existent). It’s a Nokia 100. It makes/receives calls. It sends/receives texts. It does have a torch and a radio too. But that’s it. I have no need for a smart phone or anything. This does everything I need it to and a single battery charge lasts about a week. In fact, my DH has an identical phone, bought at the same time (and for the same reasons) so mine has a blob of nail-varnish on the front so we can distinguish them. That’s what the small pale circle is!

6. Lip-balm
More L’Occitane! This is Pivoine Delicate lip-balm. It’s very slightly coloured, slightly scented and in the prettiest tin. I also like the fact it’s small as I have had the bigger Vaseline tins before and they last too long.

7. Tissues
I’m never without tissues.

8. Patchwork fabric sample
I’m usually without samples of patchwork material though! These were in my bag because I’m in the process of making a single-duvet-sized quilt with William Morris fabric and was taking my Mum some samples to show her.

As you can see, it’s a fairly minimalist bag and probably extremely dull as a post, but the pink is making me smile, which the weather most definitely isn’t.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Review of the Oxford International A5 Activebook

I had seen the Oxford International Notebook reviewed onPhilofaxy and thought it interesting that the paper came able to fit a variety of different ring spacings. I wasn’t able to get the notebooks, but I did get some of the Activebooks. I ordered them from Amazon (UK) and had to buy a pack of five, although that didn’t bother me as I knew I would use them. They may be available singly in stationery shops but I live in rural Scotland and have limited access to such a delight.

First Impressions
Generally good! The cover is a strong polypropylene cover – thick enough to be able to write whilst leaning on it when you’re out and about and good protection for the notes inside. It’s a bit orange for my taste and I would have liked it to have had an elastic fastening to keep the pages closed, but neither of these are deal-breakers for me.

As said, it has a tough polypropylene cover, front and back which is more than sturdy enough to lean on if there wasn’t a table etc. nearby.
The front has the tag line
for demanding and well organized business people and academics
(er, that would be me, huh?)
and grey and red blocks with white spots indicating holes. Don’t let those white spots fool you – that’s not what the holes look like when you get inside!
The cover is quite orange though.

front cover
Immediately inside, there is an information page in several languages. As well as repeating the tag line in 10 languages, it also has this information:
(click to enlarge)

Information - detail

Reverse of front cover to left; information page to right
On the reverse of the information page is a map of world time zones and a list of international dialling codes. Again, quite orange. There are indications of where to cut this page to file it in your binder/organiser, should you wish to.

Following this, there is a card page with a pocket on the reverse, again, hole-punched for putting in a binder/organiser, but oddly, there are no perforations or indications on where to cut this page in order to do so.

Card page with pocket on left; removable divider on right
There was then a removable divider made of plastic. I removed it and replaced it (replacing it was a bit of a fiddle) and I couldn’t say that it felt very secure after I had replaced it and it certainly came out much easier a second time. It’s designed to be moved around in the notebook, but you could also trim it and use it in a binder/organiser as it is punched.

The paper has a wonderful layout I think – not just lined, but with header boxes and a whole variety of features.

Close-up of paper layout

 The header box has three lines and two columns – for my OCD-like mind, I would have preferred that the column of the header box matched with the right-hand column of the main area, but it doesn’t.
The main writing area has rulings in feint grey, at 6mm spacing, with two margins (left and right), each of 1.5cm. Along the top and the bottom of each writing space there are small marks at 5mm spacing – presumably so that if you wanted to add more vertical lines, they would make life easy. These marks are also in both margins, as well as the main area.

The page tears off from the spiral binding without needing to be folded back on itself first, and tears cleanly. There are several holes punched, including one long oval one, allowing the paper to be filed in a variety of binders or organisers (more on that in a moment! See The Icing on the Cake, below).

Fountain Pen Testing
I prefer to write using a fountain pen, but many papers are not compatible with this, and the ink feathers, making the lines blurry rather than crisp and/or the ink bleeds through to the other side, making the reverse of the page unusable.
I tried a variety of pens on the paper.

Fountain pen test - front

Reverse of the page - not a mark!

The wettest ink is always the Watermans/Parker italic nib combination and I am pleased to see that the paper sails through this test with flying colours. Not only was there no feathering, but there was also no bleed through at all, with any of the inks, including the Watermans and the Parker Sonnet/black ink – both of which can have terrible feathering and bleed through.

In comparison, here are the same inks/pens with filofax cotton cream paper…

Fountain pen test on filofax cotton cream: some feathering...

and some bleed-though, but bearable

and with filofax day per page diary paper…

Fountain pen test on DPP filofax diary insert - horrendous feathering with some of the inks

Fountain pen test on DPP - reverse. Utterly unusable. Ugh.

The icing on the cake
For me, the absolute icing on the cake was not just that the paper did so well in the fountain pen test, but that the paper is punched so that it fits my A5 filofaxes perfectly AND it fits my A5 Mulberry planner perfectly, so even if I chop and change my work filofax/organiser around, I can still always file my notes.

Fits perfectly in an A5 filofax

Fits perfectly in an A5 Mulberry Planner

Hope that you have enjoyed reading my review and that you found it useful.