Monday, 17 February 2014

Shortest filofax change ever?

Following on from my last post, where I started to hum and haw about whether I could use a pocket Holborn, I thought I would switch the contents of my Baroque into my wine Holborn, just to remind myself about the leather and the feel of the thing.

I haven’t quite moved back yet, but I was itching to, only seconds after moving in. Although the leather in the Holborn is beautiful and supple, it isn’t the full-on floppiness of the Baroques!

This might be the quickest in-out (shaking it all about) ever for me! I might not stay in it for an hour, never mind any longer...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Pocket Holborn...?

Oh, Shadow Wolf has gone and done it now...! Between her saying how fabulous her pocket Holborn is, me having looked and looked and looked at the pocket Holborn over time and eBay having a new one for a good price right now... enabling!!

So, in an attempt at sane rationality, I’m going to compare and contrast the Baroque and the Holborn. Hopefully, I will find that the Holborn is no better than the Baroque I already have and so there is no point buying it.
[This is also known as the null-hypothesis and we all know that that’s actually what you’re trying to disprove!]

Shadow Wolf assures me of flattability, so we needn’t compare on those grounds, which leaves pockets, rings and colour.

a) Baroque
There are four card slots plus a curved pocket that can be used for cards.
There is a full-height pocket behind the card-slots, then a zipped pocket, then another full-height pocket behind the zipped one and another full-height pocket behind that.
In the back there is a note-pad pocket.
There is no full-width pocket along the back.

b) Holborn
There are three card-slots and a curved pocket that can be used for cards.
There is an outward-facing full-height pocket behind the card-slots. There is also an inward-facing full-height pocket behind the card-slots.
In the back cover, there is an outward-facing full-height pocket (and I think there is a zipped pocket inside here - Shadow Wolf can you confirm or deny?). There is also an inward facing full-height pocket.
There is a full-width pocket along the back.

a) Baroque

b) Holborn

The Baroque I have is black. If I had a turquoise or pink one, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion! The black is okay – redeemed by the embossing inside, but nonetheless, black.
The Holborn on eBay is wine. The wine-red personal Holborn I have is a gorgeous colour. I could certainly live with it in pocket size.

The crunch is the pocket layout I think. If I work through what I would put where, maybe that would help?

a) Baroque
In the past I have had 4 cards in the card-slots, stamps in the pocket behind, other cards in the zipped pocket, in the full-height pocket behind the zipped one I put vouchers and the other full-height pocket was too tricky to get things in and out of so I didn’t use it. In the notepad pocket in the back I put paper money. Coins went into a zip-loc bag at the back and there was one card-holder on the rings.

b) Holborn
Since I have never held one, I will have to predict how I would use the pockets...
4 cards in the card slots. Other cards in the zipped pocket at the back. Stamps in one of the full-height pockets (probably the front inward-facing one as there is never a rush to get to them!). Vouchers in one of the other full-height ones (probably front outward-facing for easy access).
Paper money and receipts would go in the full-width pocket along the back; coins would go in the zip-loc bag.
Now, this leaves me an inward-facing pocket and an outward-facing pocket still to assign things to! I have a pocket-size address book which I got with the Flex which I could probably slot into the inward-facing pocket at the back, which might (might) free up the rings so that 15mm ones would be okay. The other 15mm ring versions of filofaxes always fail because I have to carry the cards on card-holders on the rings which leaves no space for paper contents.

Hmm... Shadow Wolf – if you’re reading this, will the Holborn work how I think it would??? Because if so, I may just succumb!

Review of Air Conqueror A4 airmail paper (30gsm)

I realised that I haven't done any reviews for a while. Let me remedy that!

I have a number of overseas friends that I write to and find it hard to get airmail paper locally. It used to be everywhere – especially in those bargain-basement bookstores that sold filofaxes and paper and notebooks as well as books. I haven’t seen airmail paper on sale in a shop in ages! The last lot I bought was from an online store and was still fairly pricey.

Anyway, I saw this A4 airmail paper on eBay for a good price and got it. I used it for the first time yesterday.

General feeling:
It feels a lot thinner than the Basildon Bond paper that I usually use, but then, online searches for the gsm for that seem to have 70gsm as a consensus, c.f. 30 gsm for the new lot, so there’s no great surprise at that!

The paper is very thin (unsurprisingly). It’s also pretty heavily watermarked, which once you write on it, isn’t too obvious, but before being written on is quite intrusive. The watermarking says ‘air conqueror’ with a symbol underneath. The colour of the paper is halfway between white and ivory – an off-white (except that phrase makes me think ‘grubby’ rather than the colour it is). In the picture below, it looks darker because I’m deliberately photographing it on a dark background to show the watermark. [click on any picture to enlarge]

Photographed against a dark background to show the watermark

The Basildon Bond (70gsm) paper will cope with being written on both sides; this paper wouldn’t have coped with black biro on both sides (which is what I was using). However, if the gsm are correct, it weighs less than half as much so doesn’t matter.

The paper has a fairly ‘grippy’ feel to it (not exactly rough – but not polished like higher weight papers) and one side is smoother than the other. It’s easy to tell which is the writing-surface side.

I did a pen test – not because I wanted to see if there was bleed-through because I knew there would be – but to see how well the paper coped with fountain pens as well as a couple of roller-balls and a biro. The paper was surprisingly nice to write on with fountain pen, given the ‘grippy’ feel to it and there wasn’t a hint of feathering (or whole spiders – unlike the Peter Pauper book!). A couple of ink/nib combinations took longer to dry so left-handers might need to be careful, but otherwise it was a lovely experience writing on it.

General pen-test
Close-up 1
Close-up 2
Reverse (no surprise at the bleed-through!)

I’m glad I bought the paper. It was cheaper than the equivalent amount of Basildon Bond (given that this was 50 sheets of A4 paper, rather than A5) and although I can only write on one side, the thinness of the paper makes it still lighter than the same amount of writing on one sheet of Basildon Bond. Also, there’s a nostalgic bit of me that loves the crinkling sound of it!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pockets, pockets, pockets

Well, I gave myself a stern talking to after the last yearning and convinced myself that I should stay in a personal size and that if I really, really needed a change of scenery with it, I should move into the pink one or into a Holborn.
But the pocket “itch” is still there! The thing is, I think I know what the ideal pocket layout would be and I don’t think it exists in any binder.
I want:
  • At least 4, easy-to-get-things-in-and-out-of card slots
  • At least one other pocket for things like stamps
  • A zipped pocket (for the other cards that don’t sit in a card-holder or in the card slots)
  • Flat-as-a-bat floppiness
  • 19mm rings
  • A back pocket that runs across the full width of the binder to put paper money in

Other pockets would be good as long as I can get things in and out of them reasonably easily.

So how do my current stash of pocket-sized binders fare?

No. card-slots?
Other pocket(s)?
Zipped pocket?
19mm rings?
Back pocket?
1 full-height

3 full-height plus note-pad pocket




2 full-height
yes (on back)
no – 15mm
2 full-height
Mulberry (Loki)
2 full-height
yes (but v small)
no -15mm
1 full-height
no – 15mm
Urban (possibly)

1 full-height plus note-pad pocket
yes (on back)



You’ll see added to the table an Urban, which I don’t actually have as yet, but am bidding a miniscule amount on, on eBay. It might have the layout and functionality I want (I would need to see how flat-as-a-bat it is if I win it) but will I love it? It’s not leather and it’s a bit dull-looking. I suppose if I win it, I could potentially decorate it so that it looks less drab.

Monday, 10 February 2014

What a difference a year makes

Not strictly on stationery or filofaxes... humour me. Or don’t read. I will never know.

This time last year, I was about to abandon writing “book 4” (it still has no title. But then, it still isn’t written or have an ending I’m completely happy with. These are all linked...). I was beginning to feel that describing myself as a writer (even a part-time one) was in breach of the Trade Description Act as writing seemed to be the last thing I was able to do. My inspiration was withering on the vine and my other novels were all still just in my laptop.

This is where the novels were, a year ago:
Book 1: “Trust Nobody”
This is what I still think of as ‘my practice book’ – the one I made all the mistakes in when I was writing and one that will probably never be released into the big wide world. It’s a thriller.

Book 2: “Fault Lines”
Something completely different – an exploration of how a series of friendships are fractured when one of the group is diagnosed with cancer. I stopped sending it out to agents in 2011 because The Black Dog would have eaten me alive if I hadn’t. Vain as this will sound, I love this book. And it never fails to make me cry when I read it.

Book 3: “The Wrong Kind of Clouds”
Another thriller. Another one I’m happy with and would like to release into the wild. See the comment about The Black Dog above.

Book 3a:
Fully plotted out but never written. The thrill was in the chase, not the writing and this was a notebook with fully-formed plot, twists, character notes... and no more.

Book 4:
No title, no ending, not finished. About to be abandoned with despair.

Book 5:
Not even conceived never mind born.

I was languishing in that hell that is Writers’ Block (when your imaginary friends stop talking to you) and hoping that somewhere down the line, inspiration would strike again.

Where am I a year on?
  • “Trust Nobody” is still a practice-run and may never see the big bad world but that’s fine. Who pays to listen to a concert pianist playing ‘A tune a day’? Exactly.
  • “Fault Lines” is off to a competition. Regardless of the outcome of that, it’s getting published this year because I will self-publish it.
  • “The Wrong Kind of Clouds” will also get published this year, for the same reasons.
  • “Book 4” is itching to be finished and I have some idea of how to do that. The 50,000 words that are written are okay. It was the 50,000 to come that were the problem! But I think that’s sorted now.
  • “Book 3a” is going to become a screenplay sometime this year.
  • Book 5 is at the end of the first draft stage and I am about 20% through a first edit. It will get published this year. It also has a name: Six Deaths (yep, it’s another thriller).
  • “Book 6” (which might become “screenplay 2”) is bubbling away and I am scribbling things down like mad to capture them before they go.
  • "Book 7" is also slowly emerging from the ether and announcing its arrival and I am desperately trying to capture its essence too before it fades (I can only cope with so much writing at one time - some of all this will have to wait its turn!)

I live in hope that this will continue and that my imaginary friends will always want to talk!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Ah, here we go again... Pocket? Personal?

I know. I’ve been here before. I hum and haw about this for a while, decide ‘yes, I can make it work in a pocket’ then I move over, lock, stock and barrel. And then about a month later I move back into a personal.

I’ve done the scoping exercises. I know exactly what I need in a planner. It’s exactly what a personal sized Baroque looks like. End of.

Except... Except... Except...

I have a drawer full of pocket filofaxes (and a Mulberry or two) looking doe-eyed and appealing. And small.

Oh, and there’s the rub.

There is no getting away from the fact that my Baroque feels huge sometimes. It’s not just a planner, it’s a wallet too so needs to have space for cards and money and receipts and vouchers and all that guff. And since I seem utterly incapable of working out that a monthly sheet would save having to have an entire year of week-to-view diary in the binder weighing it down and taking up ring-space, I have an entire year of week-to-view diary in there, weighing it down and taking up ring space.

I would LOVE to move into the pretty little red Portland (15mm rings... 4mm too small). But to do so would probably mean carrying a wallet as well as the filofax and that then defeats the point of carrying something small... There would also be the very strong probability that I would leave either filofax or wallet behind when leaving the house and then find I needed them.

I have made a pocket work for me before – I’ve had months in both an Aston and in a pocket Baroque (well, months if you combine the time in each of them) but it always feels a bit of a struggle in comparison with using the personal. If I could somehow convert that bit of my brain that struggles with being able to use a monthly planer I could probably drastically reduce the pages carried in it and really work the weekly reviews (take out the past week of week-to-view and replace with one more so there is constantly a month’s worth in there, plus the monthly planners). It’s always how to carry the cards that gets to me though. I carry bank and credit cards, but then there are all those other cards that no, I don’t use on a weekly or possibly even monthly basis, but if I don’t have them with me I will either lose them completely or find I need them and don’t have them with me. So I carry all of them and that takes up ring space since the card carriers for the pocket size only have 4 slots and are arranged in a way to make the binder really bulky since the cards overlap so much.

Does anyone use a pocket-size as both a well-functioning wallet and a well-functioning planner? Do you also blog? If so, please, please link to a blog-post showing how you get it to work? If you don’t blog – fancy doing a guest post on here to show how you make it all work? If you do blog, would you fancy doing a guest-post on here...?

 [569... still counting]