Thursday, 30 August 2012

New pocket Baroque

It’s been a bit of a binder-buying week I have to confess. I’m sure you all understand.

First of all I caved in and bought a pocket Baroque from Italy.
Then last night I bought a Mulberry agenda…

I will blog about why I bought the Mulberry when it arrives, so first things first: Why did I buy a pocket Baroque?
Well, because I love my personal sized Baroques and I also have a mini (which I no longer use but am keeping ‘in case’) and I wanted to complete the set whilst I could (sad but true).
I also did enjoy using the pocket Aston – having found it hard to move from A5 to personal, I found the jump from personal to pocket easier than expected, but I think a pocket only works well for me during the academic year time (and not the summer). My summer is always busy with home stuff as I usually claim back my accrued TOIL from work then, so a pocket is too small. But once teaching starts again, I may be able to move back into a pocket (as I did in Spring).

So, the tour:
It arrived in a HUGE box. I mean, seriously, about 45cm x 45cm x 45cm! For a pocket-sized filofax. No wonder the shipping costs are so high! (€15 on a €30 filofax…)
I also bought a frosted divider (personal size) and a pad of lined paper for the pocket.

The haul: frosted today marker, extra diary I wasn't expecting, the Baroque, some extra paper

The Baroque came in a slip-case. Surprisingly, they included a 2013 diary with the Baroque, as well as the 2012 inside the binder (which, considering it was in the sale was generous). Since the binder and the diary were jammed into the slip-case together, it took a bit of effort to get them both out unscathed.

Flattability: it’s not quite flat as a bat yet, but I know that my other Baroques lie flat really easily (and the pocket is very nearly there!).

Almost flat as a bat
Front cover

Back cover

The inside front cover has four vertical card slots, a pocket behind them, a zipped pocket behind that and a full-height pocket behind that. I know from experience with the mini Baroque that the zipped pocket will be useless for coins once my cards are in the slots, but I will probably use it for stamps or other things I don’t need quick access to and use the coin-purse hack I made for the mini. Other cards will go in the notepad slot in the back cover. Paper money will go behind the cards. I have never seen the point of carrying a filofax and a separate wallet.

Opened, as it arrived

Inside cover (front)

Back cover, with notepad slot

The pocket Baroque was supplied with the two diaries (2012 and 2013) – week to view, in five languages. I am not sure if I will use the 2013 one or not… the system that works for me so well in the personal size doesn’t use them. Earlier this year I switched to week on one page with notes (a Ray and Steve special) which when I have few appointments and lots of to-do, works well in personal size. It sort of worked okay in pocket size, but sometimes my to-do filled the space. Consequently, I have been trying to keep the task list space solely for tasks that relate to projects (next actions) and keep non-project based to-do (call X about dinner; send faulty charger back; do housework etc.) on daily lists so that I can see how my projects are progressing. If I can stick to that principle, the week plus notes should work okay.

Sadly, the only ‘colour’ I could get was black (I know… other countries did the other colours ages ago and I missed the boat), but I am hoping to brighten the inside with home-made dividers.

Paper I might use for dividers

Of course, once the Mulberry arrives, it could be all change again!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review of the Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 book

In my last post, I reviewed the Clairefontaine A5 clothbound exercise book, but in the same parcel from Bureau Direct, I also got two Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 books. I had originally ordered the turquoise cover and the pink cover, but the pink was out of stock, so I opted to get the blue cover immediately, rather than wait for new stock.

Again, these notebooks were bought for three primary reasons:
  • Clairefontaine paper to be able to handle fountain pen
  • A5 to be able to be pulled apart and put in my writing filofax as needed
  • Light and portable so my handbag doesn’t weigh a ton from carrying the notebook around
So, how do these 1951 vintage-style exercise books measure up?

The cover is made of card with a textured finish on the outside. There was a binding around the notebook which said “Back to Basics 1951”, and had the Clairefontaine logo and a description of the product on the front, and on the back, a small description in French and English: “For you, Clairefontaine has reintroduced its original notebook covers with a modern twist of the iconic French notebook. Collection 1951, combines Clairefontaine’s renowned satin smooth 90g paper and the timeless look of the original covers. An exceptional collection, offering a high quality and a vintage look.” Next to that is this claim:

So true!

The front cover has a large rectangle in which to write a title (or your name if you really like the back to school feel!), with the Clairefontaine logo beneath. The back cover has the logo in the middle and a small description of the paper (Douceur de l’√©criture Papier veloute 90g/m2).

The two books still in slip wrappers

Front cover in detail

For my use (scribbling whilst out and about), a hard cover would have been nice (but would have detracted from the vintage exercise book design and affected the binding method too).

The binding:
The paper is, as you might expect from something mimicking a school exercise book, stapled into the cover. For my purposes, this will make it easy to dismantle when needed, ready to file in my writing filofax.

The paper:
Clairefontaine describe their paper as the best in the world and I would have to say they are not boasting undeservedly. The paper in the exercise book is 90g/m2 but I’m sure most of us would know that it isn’t just the weight of the paper that counts, but the finish. The same weight paper can behave very differently with fountain pens.
The paper is white with no margins. The size of the exercise book is 14.8cm x 21cm. There are 48 sheets/96 pages and since they are stapled in, this means all of them are removable (unlike in a glued book when the first and last pages always seem to be glued to the cover).
The corners of the pages are squared off rather than rounded.

Not flat yet, but it will be...

Line spacing:
From the top edge of the paper to the first line is 19mm. Then the lines are 8mm apart, with the bottom line being 15mm away from the edge of the paper. There are 23 lines on the page. The line colour is a purple-grey and feint.

Good. It doesn’t lay flat without being opened right out, but after a bit of bending it lies flat easily.

Fountain Pen Test:
The paper is gloriously smooth to write on and even my wettest ink/nib combinations worked fabulously with no discernable feathering or bleed through. The toughest combination I use is the italic Parker vector with an italic nib and Waterman’s ink, but this was a dream to write with on this paper.

No discernable feathering

or bleed-through

I love the paper. I also love the fact there is no margin and that the pages are A5 (and not wider like the cloth bound book pages are). It will be easy to dismantle, but unless you chose to do this, it would hold together absolutely fine. The whole look of the exercise book is fun too. For all these reasons, this will be the one that goes in my handbag, rather than the cloth bound one.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review of Clairefontaine A5 cloth bound exercise book

Happy day!! A parcel of new notebooks arrived this morning from Bureau Direct (my new favourite stationery store).

Those of you who are cast in the same mould as my DH will be saying, “Why do you need more notebooks, oh owner of The Notebook Emporium*?”
*the name DH gives to my stash of books

Because, this happened when I started to write in my Cartesio notebook the other day!!

Cartesio acting like blotting paper


Now, I love my Cartesio notebooks (see where I have blogged about them here) but, oh heavens, what a mess!

I had wanted a nice notebook that I could stick in my handbag to use for jotting notes for a book in. Cartesio books are just about perfect for it, except the paper seems to have converted itself into blotting paper!

So, I did a search for Clairefontaine A5, and a few options came up.
Why Clairefontaine? This picture sums it up…

Label from another Clairefontaine product
Why A5? Because my writing filofax is A5 so I wanted to have the freedom to take the book around with me for jottings on the go, and the ability to take the pages out and file them in the filofax.

That of course, led me to want a Clairefontaine notebook that I wasn’t going to be precious about!

Anyway, the two kinds of notebook I ordered were the Clairefontaine A5 cloth bound exercise book, and two Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 books. Today I will review the cloth bound exercise book. (The vintage-style books will be reviewed soon.)

Front and back covers:
The cover is made of stiff card with a glossy finish. I bought the purple, but there are a variety of colours to choose from. On the front cover, at the bottom right, there is the logo with Clairefontaine written beneath it. The pattern on the cover reminds me of when our digital TV receiver has a hissy fit and pixelates everything, but as this is a notebook which will ultimately be ripped apart, I don’t mind that I don’t really like it.
The back cover has the logo and Clairefontaine in the middle and then the bar-code and a small description at the bottom.

Front cover

back cover
The binding:
The binding is, as it says, cloth, with the pages glued in. I’m sure people who know more about binding would be able to tell me the proper phrase, but that’s the best I can describe it. The pages are glued in, in a block, not in sets of pages. They are glued in pretty tightly and there would be no chance of pages becoming detached by accident. I have torn one page out and it didn’t tear cleanly (but maybe as more pages are removed this will be easier?)

The paper:
Clairefontaine describe their paper as the best in the world and I would have to say they are not boasting undeservedly. The paper in the exercise book is 90g/m2 but I’m sure most of us would know that it isn’t just the weight of the paper that counts, but the finish. The same weight paper can behave very differently with fountain pens (um – see above pictures!).
The paper is white with a wide margin on the left of 3.75cm. For me (who is going to be taking the pages out) this will work well in the filofax for the RHS page, but when I turn over, the wide margin could be a pain. Although the book was described as A5, it is actually larger than A5 at 16.5cm x 21 cm.
There are 96 sheets/192 pages in the book but as usual, the front two pages are hard to remove. The first one (which is plain white on both sides) can’t be easily removed as it is stuck to the cover; the second page (the first lined page) is stuck to the plain page. It is the same for the final two pages of the book, so really, there are 94 removable pages.
The corners of the pages are squared off rather than rounded.

Open. Not much flattability.
Line spacing:
From the top edge of the paper to the first line is 12mm. Then the lines are 8mm apart, with the bottom line being 14mm away from the edge of the paper. There are 24 lines on the page. The margin is in red and the line colour is a purple-grey and feint.

Limited. I’m sure that with some vigorous bending and persuading it could lie flat, but it doesn’t at the moment.

Fountain Pen Test:
The paper is gloriously smooth to write on and even my wettest ink/nib combinations worked fabulously with no discernable feathering or bleed through. The toughest combination I use is the italic Parker vector with an italic nib and Waterman’s ink, but this was a dream to write with on this paper.

No discernable feathering...
No bleed-through
I love the paper. I’m less enamoured of the very wide margin, I would have preferred it to be A5 (not wider) and I would also prefer to be able to tear out the pages more easily, but on the whole, this is a great, fountain-pen friendly notebook at a decent price.

Monday, 13 August 2012

New work diary

Hmm. I was supposed to be writing letters this morning. But then I got distracted. As you do.

I was looking at my work diary and contemplating what I would use next year. I had five potential options:
  1. Quo Vadis Timer 21 Planning
  2. Quo Vadis Timer 21 Prestige
  3. Mulberry diary
  4. One of the Philofaxy range
  5. Make my own
I’m quite fussy about my diary and each of the diary formats had their pros and cons.

Quo Vadis Timer 21 Planning

(screenshot from

This isn’t bad as a format, though I don’t especially like the task space being designated into calls etc. I also have no major need for Saturday or Sunday to have much space and the big Saturday, small Sunday just annoyed me.

Quo Vadis Timer 21 Prestige

(screenshot from

I really liked this one, especially for that real estate on the right-hand-side which made it almost into a vertical week plus notes format. However, that made the width of the columns quite narrow and I also didn’t need all that evening space as this was a work diary.

Mulberry diary

(screenshot from

Beautiful, simple layout. Very clean and uncluttered. I would quite like a bit more note space however.

One of the Philofaxy range
The vertical week on two pages was one I had been considering and had in fact printed off a few pages, to see what they looked like.

Already in the work diary - see the extra hole!

They were okay, but, having had a play with the source files in order to design my diary for next year for the personal filofax, I thought I would have another go, this time for my work diary.

Making my own:
I started with the base files for the Philofaxy vertical WO2P, so I absolutely cannot claim to have done most of the work here – that must go to Steve from Philofaxy and Ray from My Life All in One Place.

I didn’t want all the task list space at the bottom of each day, so I removed those lines, then changed the time slots to make half-hourly intervals. I designated the last part of the column space as ‘evening’ (though very little will go in there as that would be in my personal filofax).

I also had no need for Saturday and Sunday to have so much space, so I moved Sunday into the same column as Saturday and made the time slots hourly.

I then deleted the last column, changed the width of the (now) final column (after the days) and renamed it ‘notes’.

Then, because I wanted something a little softer, I changed all the lines to being dark green, made the font Shaker 2 (thanks again, Gerard!!) and the font colour the same dark green as the lines. Finally, I shaded the column headers in a pale green.

Why green? To match the planner. And because I find it softer than black.

Here is the finished version (click on the picture to enlarge; my camera is not doing justice to the green shading):

My version!
  1. Space for brief notes about the week
  2. Vertical format - my definite favourite at work
  3. Half-hour appointment times
  4. Small evening space (this is a WORK diary after all...)
  5. Saturday and Sunday share a column (as I don't work at weekends so this will be just to note anything exciting coming up so I can look forward to it!)
  6. Notes space - for to-do, project notes, whatever...
What do people think?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mulberry Goes to Work

After I abandoned the set-up with a satellite diary, I was back to my original work diary which was designed to fit in the A5 filofax, not an A5 Mulberry. There were also a whole load of other pages for work, punched to go in the A5 filofax. All of this needed either adapting to go into the Mulberry, or recreating.

Of course, I could have waited until the new year and only moved into the Mulberry when I had a new diary for it, making there one less thing to be adapted/recreated.

Yeah, right.

Recreating would be a total faff and since the Mulberry ring spacing is the same as the personal filofax, and since a personal filofax sheet fits in an A5 filofax if you snip the bottom corner off, I only needed to punch one more hole in the pages to make them fit in the Mulberry. So that’s what I did.

Granted, the pages all now sit low in the binder, but they don’t stick out at the bottom (which would have been more than my OCD-like brain could have coped with).

So, here goes:

Front (slightly battered) cover


The dividers you see are just cheap A5 binders, re-punched. I may make some nicer ones! The sections are:
  • To do
  • Notes
  • Diary
  • Module notes
  • Other (largely meeting notes, plus other bits and pieces)
I may separate out ‘other’ into more divisions, as it was in the filofax, but it can wait for the moment.

Although there is an A5 pad tucked in the front (and I have punched an extra hole in all the pages that are left in it) I will probably use the Oxford International paper for notes at work once I have used this up as it is much better paper.

To Do

I do actually have some ‘to do’! Just none from work that I can show you. These are home-made pages, done originally for the filofax, but you can see that I have just punched one extra hole in them to make them fit the Mulberry.


Again, home-made. I like this style. The Oxford paper will be what ends up in here, ultimately.


The filofax vertical WO2P, with an extra hole punched. There are currently about 18 months of diary pages in here – all of last academic year and up to December this year. In a few weeks I will be able to cull last academic year’s pages to make some space.

The back

I can’t show you any of the module notes or the information pages as they are largely private or confidential. I have my business cards in the zipped pocked at the back.

So, there it is, all ready for work.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The kindness of others

This post is very late and I apologise enormously to my hugely generous friend

Once upon a time, there was a woman who started a blog about her love of stationery. She thought she was just a lone soul, crying into the wind and that no-one would hear her.

She was wrong.

It seemed she was not alone in her love of organisation and stationery! Other people in the world shared these passions. Some of them followed her blog. Some of them became her friends.

At least one of them is incredibly generous and kind and this post is dedicated to him.

This friend knew the woman wasn’t looking forward to going back to work after her vacation. He knew she loved stationery and that a packet of goodies would not only make her day but quite probably her week and month too.
When the woman returned to work, there was a large package on her desk. She peeped inside it, knowing who it was from and not wanting to open it at work and risk being mocked by her fellow office workers clutching iPhones and iPads. She put the parcel carefully in her bag and avoided nosy questions from others.

At home, she ripped the envelope open. She knew there would be goodies, but the friend had said there were just a few things he had put together from his stash.

He lied!!!!!
THIS is what he sent…. (click on the pictures to enlarge)

The haul!!

Second picture

The items are:
1. Some cotton cream to do/don’t forget sheets
2. 5 activity plans that fold out to show a 52 week check box (I can see me planning another half marathon with them, though I suspect they are designed for business!)
3. A Danish telephone and address book to slot into a filofax pocket
4. Some fabulous post-its shaped like oak leaves
5. A Levenger wallet that holds 3x5” cards
6. A little memorandum card from Midori with wafer-thin paper in it
7. The gentleman in question’s business card
8. Some ridiculously cute four-leaf clover/shamrock paperclips (I suspect the latter since there is an Irish connection!)
The Mulberry Haul
9. A set of 5 dividers plus paper (white lined behind the white tab; equivalent colour lined behind the others) 
10. A today marker 
11. Cream lined Mulberry paper 
12. Meeting Notes (hmm – maybe some of these goodies will have to go to work after all…) 
13. A full set of A-Z dividers and address sheets 
14. A self-inking star stamp (so I can reward myself for clearing my to do list!) 
Second picture: 
15. Some very cute sticky tabs 
16. A block of mini to do sheets (5cm x 5.5cm) that can go on filofax/Mulberry rings and be moved around. These are genious!

Can you believe it?? In fact, there was so much that a couple of things escaped the first picture – hence the second one. What makes this even more amazing is that I know this man entirely because we both love stationery. We’ve never even met

Anyway, to my fabulous friend…


New set-up (rapidly abandoned!)

I have been fiddling about, trying to work out if I can move to a different set-up next year for my filofax. I currently have two main planners – my work one (which used to be an A5 filofax but is now an A5 Mulberry) and a personal one (current squeeze is a pink Baroque). Hence I have two diaries – one at work and one for outside of work. In my personal, I have a year (or so) of week on two pages and a week at a time of day to a page. This year I switched to a week on one page plus notes (see here - which shows the set-up in pocket but I did the same for personal). This is working so well for me I don’t really want to change. I even have next year’s diary all figured out (see here).

However, a whole heap of people have said that running two diaries is daft. In all honesty though, there hasn’t really been a major issue with the two diaries for me – all work stuff goes in at work; all home stuff goes in the personal (which I carry to work and keep in my handbag. The work diary stays on my desk unless I’m blogging about it ). My work and home lives do not mix. Quite deliberately.

So what’s the problem?

I do like to have some inkling of what’s coming up before I get into work, especially as I generally work only Tuesday through Thursday. However, any memory of having looked at my work diary before leaving on a Thursday has become a dim and distant smudge of knowledge by Monday night!

Anyway, for all of about three days, I had considered a satellite A5 diary (bought for £2 at a cheap stationers) that could slot into my binder at work and come home with me when I left.

This concept lasted all of about three days because
  1. I like the week to a page plus notes more than anything else
  2. I like having my diary in my personal filofax
  3. The cheap diary has horizontal days and I prefer vertical
  4. The cheap diary has paper about as good as filofax paper which made me not want to use it
Consequently, I have returned to the original set-up and have a post-it in my work planner (so it can move from week to week) saying, “diary” to remind me to note what’s coming up in the following week in my personal diary.

Lesson learned:
If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!