Sunday, 21 October 2012

Off to Malawi

I will be taking a short break from posting as I am heading off to Malawi (again) for a couple of weeks, both to work with the University of Malawi and to see everyone at Chimwemwe.
Reviews of pens, ink and a Papelote pen holder when I get back!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Time for a small rethink

I realised the other day that I’m carrying around a lot of stuff that I just don’t need out and about with me, and that it should all stay home in a non-planner filofax. Then maybe one of the ones partying languishing in the bottom drawer of my bureau could be in use.
I decided to go through my Mulberry and work out whether each page should be ‘home’ or ‘away’ (this is now sounding like a football fixture list, buy hey ho). ‘Home’ would indicate it could stay at home; away means I would want that information on me out and about so would stay in the Mulberry.

Section: Notes
Blank paper for jottings

Section: Goals
A list of all the projects I am currently working on, with a fabulous quote at the start then my Life Grid, then the projects for the Life Grid.

The quote is from the film Inception

Hmm. This could really stay at home, but I like to have all my ‘planning’ stuff in one place so that I could do my monthly and weekly plans anywhere. And I love having that quote with me…

Section: Months
Currently there are the monthly sheets for the rest of 2012, but nothing for 2013 yet.
I’ve recently tweaked the monthly pages so that each month has four sides of paper:
1: a list of to-do for the month, relating to my Life Grid projects
2 & 3: a month to view with important things indicated (birthdays, when I’m in Malawi, vet/doctor/dentist/hair etc. appointments) but not fine detail.
4: a page for reviewing the month
In this section, there is also a monthly review check sheet and a forward planner for noting down things for 2013 and 2014 (when the car-tax is due, when the broadband deal is up etc.)
Again, these could stay at home, but again, I would want them with me for planning.

Section: Diary
This has a general to-do list at the very start (with a tag on it so I don’t forget it’s there), then a week plus notes section, then a day per page section.

Section: Lists
This is where things could be pruned!!
First up is a ‘Waiting on’ page – where I’m supposed to list things I am waiting for (deliveries, payments etc), but I usually forget.

Then there is a list of potential blog-post topics. Since I only write blog posts at my desk and can add any jottings made out and about to this list when I come home, it can be removed.

Then comes a list of websites to look out for. Again, I do my browsing at home, so this can come out.

Then there is a list of books/ things to look for in shops, which obviously I need whilst out and about.
Away (but moved to another section otherwise there will be just one sheet in this section!)

Then there are lists of topics I have written about in letters to friends. I realise that probably sounds really bizarre, but I write to about 20 people and I can’t always remember what I last told them about, so I keep a list to stop me repeating myself! Now that I am also writing to people in the Filo-pal project, I am thinking of keeping a whole filofax just for correspondence – to keep the letters from people in that project and then also notes of other letters written.
Home/correspondence filofax

Section: Info
First up is a list of log-suppliers for feeding the wood-burning stove.
Erm… Home!

Then there is a list of meter readings (gas, solar PV and electricity).

A print-out of the maps you get on the UK on the back of an OS map, with all the maps I have ticked off, both for Landranger maps and for Explorer maps. These are so that if DH and I are out and about and see any on sale second-hand, I know if we already have them or not.

To help me know which maps I have

Then there is a list of Mulberry shops worldwide, a map of the world, an out of date tube map, conversion tables, travel stuff…
Other than the list of Mulberry shops worldwide (I’m not that obsessed with the thing!) most of the rest can stay as it’s useful enough.

Then I have my addresses section, which I do use out and about.

Right at the back are cards and money and in the zipped pocket are stamps and other bits and bobs, which all need to be with me.

What I do note is that there isn’t an ‘In an emergency, contact…’ page or even details of ‘If found…’ Something to remedy this afternoon!

Having cleared out the lists section almost in its entirety, I’ve freed up a bit of real estate. I have been dickering about (as I have before), over the diary section(s). Now that work is hotting up again, the week plus notes is not as useful as it was in the summer, as the diary side isn’t detailed enough and so I find I am flicking straight to the day per page sheets to see what I have on, not the weekly page. I rarely have to write an appointment in to my diary more than six months in advance and I am seriously considering shifting to the monthly sheets (in the format they are in now), then just a list of to-do for the week rather than the week plus notes, and six months of day per page diary. The page per day diary is the very cheap one I bought recently and the paper is thin, so six months isn’t that thick. Despite the thinness of the paper, it’s better quality than the filofax diary paper!

But… I have tried relying on the monthly view before and it failed miserably, so it may not be that long before I revert to monthly lists, weekly lists, a year of week to view and a week of day per page! Plus ├ža change…

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Why am I looking at another organiser??

I’ve just done a series on “Where are my filofaxes now?” (A5, personal, pocket and mini) so why have I been looking at this: (image taken from the Amazon site)

Collins Rochester from
It’s a personal-size Collins Rochester (Mr Rochester, anyone?). The dimensions given are 4cm x 15.6cm x 19.3cm. To compare, my Baroque is 4cm x 13cm x 18.5cm (roughly). So (enabler alert here…) if the Collins is the same ring-spacing as a standard filofax, but is >2cm wider, won’t it take the Franklin inserts really well???

Okay, more enabling

The planner is listed as leather and to me, the layout of the inside front cover looks great – enough space for cards (I count 7 slots), with an outward-facing pocket (which I loved on my Holborn) and another, inward-facing pocket which looks like it is placed slightly more usefully than the one in the Holborn (which was too close to the rings for easy access). I can’t quite see the back cover but there looks to be a small pocket to put a packet of stamps in at least…

Hmm… to summarise then:
  • it looks like it would hold both standard filofax inserts and also the wider Franklin Planner inserts
  • it is made of leather
  • it has some sensible pockets on the inside cover
  • it has a useful 7 card slots
  • there may be other surprise pockets on the inside back cover
  • it costs less than a plastic filofax
Does anyone have one of these?? Is it as useful as it looks?

Should I be utterly fickle and get one, so soon after I have been extolling my love for the Mulberry?? There’s a poll on the side for your votes!!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Review of the Parker Esprit fountain pen

I am waaay behind with my stationery reviews! Not only have I promised reviews of this pen, but I still haven’t reviewed the Moleskine diary yet and then… for my birthday, I got another fountain pen and some J Herbin inks from my DH, so I will be reviewing them too soon.

But, let’s start with this pen. I bought it because I wanted a fine-nibbed fountain pen. I seem to be the only person in the world who doesn’t like Lamy pens, so I was on the hunt for something else. Anyway, I have always liked Parker pens, this came up and I decided I would give it a whirl. I bought a Parker converter too but, as you will see below, it doesn’t fit (but has been put to good use elsewhere!).

small cartridge, collapsed pen, pen carrier

It came in the carrier (on the right of the picture above). I doubt if I will ever use the carrier on a day to day basis. It’s a bit too big and chunky and I wouldn’t really carry a fountain pen around in my handbag. They tend to all live on my desk/in my desk drawer. Inside the carrier is some foam padding with a hole in the middle to slot the pen into and it holds the pen very snugly. The dimensions of the carrier are 12.5cm length with the three sides of the triangle each about 3.25 cm.

The pen itself collapses, which is why it takes the small cartridges and why the piston converter didn’t fit! Whilst this is nifty and all that, it’s not really why I bought it (and if you used the enormous carrier, it would hardly be space-saving either). However, having said all that, in the collapsed size, it is a perfect fit in the pen loop of the Mulberry! The length of the pen (collapsed) is 11.4cm; its length (uncollapsed but still capped) is 13.2cm. End to nib point is 11.8cm.

Uncollapsed but still capped

Uncollapsed; uncapped

Feel of the pen:
The pen itself is a comfortable fit in my hand. It’s quite light and the weight distribution feels good, though I never post the cap. With the cap posted, it would feel too tipped towards the back and not the nib, for my taste.

The nib:
The nib is described as fine and it does lay a much narrower line than most of the rest of my pens but possibly not as fine as some might expect. I have a Japanese fine-nibbed pen (I have no idea of the make) which lays down a significantly finer line than this one and is also merely labelled as Fine. I also find that the thickness of the line depends enormously on the paper used.

This is what the line looks like on Cartesio (aka blotting!!) paper:

But this is the same pen and ink combination on Basildon Bond writing paper:

Huge difference!

Ink supplied:
I’m not a big fan of Parker blue ink – I find it a little bleugh in colour – neither vivid enough blue to dazzle, nor serious enough to demand respect. The cartridge fitted is one of the two blue ones that came with the pen, merely because I wanted to use the pen and also use up the ink so I can refill the cartridge with better stuff. When the ink runs out, I will use the J Herbin sapphire blue ink (using a syringe and needle-type filler to refill the cartridge).

Writing with it:
I have used this pen to write a few long letters and some notes etc. It’s light in my hand, doesn’t need a tight grip, the ink flows easily without applying pressure and my hand doesn’t cramp. I couldn’t really ask for more.

The cap closes with such a firm click that this is one of the few pens I would actually trust in my Mulberry! Most of my other pens have a less positive closure and I would always fear that they were spilling their insides whilst I wasn’t watching. This one has an extremely satisfying closing. It collapses down first, then clicks shut very securely.

Very nice fit in the Mulberry

Overall, I am really pleased with the pen. My handwriting always looks better with an italic nibbed pen, but this pen is very smooth to write with.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My filofaxes – where are they now? (part 3)

In part 1, I described why I had bought all of the A5 filofaxes I own and what they are being used for now. Almost all of them are in use, I am pleased to say.
The same couldn’t be said about the collection of Personal sized filofaxes I own, which I covered in part 2!
So what about the Pocket-sized filofaxes and the mini that I own?

Pocket sized

Aston in Orchid
Why did I buy it?
I bought it because it had 19mm rings and reasonable pocket format and I wondered if I could down-size to a pocket from a personal. In fact, I did use this for several months, but it proved just too small once summer started. I blogged about it here, here and here. And probably in other places too... (like here).
Where is it now?
In the bottom drawer of the bureau. I’m not sure if I will sell it or not. I did like using it, but it was always pretty stuffed!

Black Portland
Why did I buy it?
I bought it because I wondered about down-sizing and it seemed to have a good layout of pockets and so on. I never used it though. The 15mm ring size was too small.
Where is it now?
My DH uses it! See here.

Black Cavendish
Why did I buy it?
Same reasons as other pockets – I thought about down-sizing into it but then felt it was too small. The back slot for paper money made it a better candidate than others but the 15mm ring size defeated me. I did a compare and contrast of these three pocket-filofaxes here.
Where is it now?
With all the others, in the bottom drawer of the bureau. I may well sell it.

Black Baroque
Why did I buy it?
It was being discontinued and I adore my personal size baroques. Just a shame it was in black. It has a good selection/layout of pockets (apart from the zipped pocket) but doesn’t have the back slot that is useful for paper money. It does however have 19mm rings. I reviewed it here.
Where is it now?
Still in its box, in the bottom drawer. In the same week, I bought the Mulberry agenda and moved into that instead. Of all the pockets, this is the one most likely to be used.

Mini Baroque in Pink
Why did I buy it?
It was on sale and I didn’t know better.
I used it (briefly) as a wallet and for that, it was okay, but not great. Worse than carrying a proper wallet and a notebook. I blogged about it here.
Where is it now?
Oh, you can surely guess! Where are most of them???
I am contemplating selling it. I honestly can’t imagine using it again – the layout was all a bit odd for me and it seems daft to keep it just because it matches the personal sized baroque!

So, there you have it! The whole, shameful story in three parts. Am I a lost cause? Are there others out there just like me? Is there any hope for us???

Saturday, 6 October 2012

My filofaxes – where are they now? (part 2)

In part 1, I described why I had bought all of the A5 filofaxes I own and what they are being used for now. Almost all of them are in use, I am pleased to say.
The same cannot be said about the collection of Personal sized filofaxes I own! Where are they? Well, the quick answer for almost all of them is “In the bottom drawer of the bureau in here.”
So, if I’m not really using most of them, why did I buy them in the first place? And why aren’t they in use? (and um, again, why aren’t I selling them??)

Here we go!

Personal Size

Pink Baroque
Why did I buy it?
Because it’s gorgeous! In fact, this is what I said when I bought them:
Because they were there, they were lovely, they were in the sale and because you just never know…
I did move into the personal baroque and I used it a lot. I loved it. I still love it. Of all the personal size filofaxes I own, I keep on coming back to the baroques. I blogged about it here, here and here.
Where is it now?
In a box in the bottom drawer of the bureau. Why? Because I moved into a Mulberry instead of using the baroque, because the page size suits me better.

Blue Baroque
Why did I buy it?
See answer above! I love the blue baroque as much as the pink. More on some days.
Where is it now?
In a box in the bottom drawer of the bureau.

I can still see me moving back into the baroque(s) though, so I am not selling them. For most of the other filofaxes, I either never used them as my day-to-day filofax or I stopped for some other reason. The baroques were always the ones I wanted to use the most though.

Green Portland
Why did I buy it?
It’s British Racing Green. Seriously. I knew nothing about Portlands. I saw a green filofax on eBay and got it for about a tenner. Once I got it, I really liked it. It’s used as my Chimwemwe filofax (see here). It would work well as a day-to-day filofax too (and in fact, another member of my Rotary club has the exact same style/colour which he uses as his wallet!).
Where is it now?
In a bookcase next to my desk. I use it frequently.

Black Cavendish
Why did I buy it?
It’s a Cavendish. It has ginormous rings and a zillion card-holders. I blogged about it here, here and here.
Where is it now?
In the bottom drawer of the bureau. I may use it again – the ring space was fantastic. I stopped using it because I’m not such a fan of the black and full, it was pretty heavy, but I don’t think I will sell it.

Purple Finchley
Why did I buy it?
I really like the A5 Finchleys I have, and there was a purple one on sale at City Organiser.
Where is it now?
Who knows?? I hated it so much, it went straight back to City Organiser! (see here)

Grape domino
Why did I buy it?
It came free with a Gourmet card (well, that’s what I told my DH!). In all honesty, I quite fancied the Gourmet card and as I bought it later in the year, it was on sale. We did get our money’s worth out of the card but I have always hated the filofax and have never used it as a day-to-day filofax.
Where is it now?
In the bottom drawer of the bureau, storing spare inserts and bits and bobs. I would happily sell this, except it’s not worth enough to cover the postage probably. If anyone’s interested, let me know!

Brown Holborn
Why did I buy it?
I read several reviews and liked the fact it had so many pockets etc. The layout in general appealed. I blogged about it here and here.
Where is it now?
Oh for goodness’ sake… it’s in the massive filofax party in the bottom sodding drawer of the bureau!  
Why did I stop using it? Well, although I did like using it, it was just too dull a colour and in the summer, with all the rain, I needed a colour pop. Some of the pockets turned out to be less useful than I imagined too. I’m torn as to whether to sell it or not. Knowing me, I won’t!

I’m actually saddened that so many of my filofaxes are in a drawer, but I genuinely a) can’t think of another use for them and b) don’t want to sell most of them.
The same might not be so true for the stash of pocket filofaxes, which I will cover in the next post.