Saturday, 25 April 2015

It's here! Stamford Traveller's Journal

It's here!! Actually, it arrived yesterday, but I've only had a chance to look at it all today.

Clockwise from left:
Traveller's Journal in calico bag
A goody
Sketch paper insert

I ordered the red version, with two lined notebooks from The Stamford Notebook Co. They very kindly also added a sketch notebook for me to review and another goody which I will tell you about on another day! [None of my photos manages to capture the right colour! They all look too orange.]

It came in a calico dust bag with black leather cord. To be honest, it would be easier to use the dust bag if it were a smidgen wider as it was a bit of a wriggle to get the journal in and out - too much of a wriggle for me to use it regularly. Not a major problem for me as I wasn't intending to be keeping it in the dust bag on a regular basis.

Red leather thongs are from the TJ;
Black thongs are part of the bag

The system is similar to the more famous Midori Traveler's [sic] Notebook, with notebooks held in place in the book and a closure, keeping the cover shut. Where the Stamford version differs is that it has leather thongs holding the books in place and a leather thong and a button to wrap the thong around to close the journal. I really like the button/thong combination but I realise that although you can trap a pen with the elastic system, you can't do that with the button/thong combo and that I'll need to think about the best solution for carrying a pen. I'm not keen on the Midori clip-on pen-loop as it will crush/mark the leather and I don't want to stick the Leuchtturm pen loops on the leather and they would be an expensive (and irritating once the book is complete) solution if they were stuck to the notebooks. I think I've seen a metal pen clip that could clip to the notebooks but any suggestions in the comments will be welcome!

You could (if you wanted) change the leather thongs holding the notebooks in place to elastic as the holes cut into the leather would allow you to string elastic through instead. I'll see how much the leather thonging hanging out of the bottom of the journal annoys me when it's in more use.

Okay, more detail on my journal!!

The colour of the leather is fantastic. It's a red at the bluer end of the red spectrum (rather than orange - none of my photos show it accurately) with variations in the shading both inside and out. I had my initials blind embossed into the cover and the bluish shading in the letters looks divine (covered deliberately in the picture).


The leather has a lacquered feel to it (which I hadn't expected - I had expected it to be softer I think) and the cover is very sturdy/stiff; not at all floppy. It is about 2mm thick. The inside is less suede-like than I expected and in a good way! I'm not a great lover of furry-feeling suede so the fact that this is harder is a bonus. There's a great leather smell to it too!

Inside front. The knot is for the button
Inside back. The knot is for the closing thong

The leather thongs are dyed to match the cover, as is the button. The thongs are made of 2mm leather. They are a little bit bulky behind the button and the knot holding the leather closure thong in the back cover. As these have to be in line, it does mean that there is some bulk at that point when the journal is closed. 1mm thonging might be better than 2mm, throughout.

Close-up of the button

The leather thong holding the notebooks in is a single strip, with the knot on the outside at the bottom. The notebooks are held in securely but don't have quite the feeling of tightness that you get with elastic, naturally. There's no way they'll fall out though!

Close-up of the top of the spine
Close-up of bottom of spine

The lined notebooks:
These were described as having 60 pages on the Traveller's Journal part of the site, with refills described as having 64. This is perplexing in itself, and then in the first notebook I counted 38 pages (76 sides) and in the other book 30 pages (60 sides). Maybe there were just bonus pages in the first book? Both notebooks are stapled, but both show extra holes in the centre-line as if they have been re-bound or re-stapled.

Extra holes like it's been re-stapled

The notebooks are 12.5cm x 21cm and more 'open' than Moleskines - i.e. the middle pages don't touch each other. This might be because the leather thong is quite thick, but the sketch book insert is also like that without having been in the journal.

Front cover of the notebook
In situ

The paper is off-white and each pages has 24 lines. Line-spacing is 8mm with a wider top and bottom margin. The corners are rounded off.

Notebook open (please excuse my fingers!)

The cover is made from 50% recycled single-use coffee cups from a place in Kendal, Cumbria. I think it is the same place that makes the red paper for the Royal British Legion's poppies. Normally, disposable coffee-cups have been difficult to recycle because of the layer of plastic on the inside, but (assuming it's the place I think it is...), they have found a way of extracting the paper pulp and saving the cups from having to go to landfill.
The front cover of the notebooks has The Stamford Notebook Co. logo in gold and the cover is a lovely ground-cinnamon brown.

Pen tests:
I don't really like having pen tests in the book so I did the test in situ and then I'll remove the paper afterwards, which is why I've done the pen-test in the middle of the 38-page book.

The paper of the notebooks is Scottish and comes from a paper mill in Glenrothes. The company used to have another paper mill in the village a few miles from me, but sadly it closed a few years ago.

The paper is glorious quality. It is silky-smooth and fantastic for fountain pens. My very wet nibbed Pelikan Script laid down a LOT of ink and it took a while to dry so, as is often the case, lefties, check your favourite ink/nib combo dries quickly enough for you.
There was zero feathering, zero bleed-through and just the faintest show-through to the other side.

Pen tests - front
Pen tests - reverse

The biggest issue was not the paper quality at all - it was the leather thong being so bulky that it creased the paper and was bumpy to try and write across.

[I will review the sketch paper insert later when I have had more time to play with it]

I love it. I may contemplate replacing the leather thongs holding the notebooks in with elastic, just because the leather thong is pretty thick and makes it difficult to write in the middle of the book. I may also pimp it with a couple of Midori TN accessories (such as the zipped pocket). The size is great - almost A5 and crucially, even though it's only a couple of cm wider, it feels like a better aspect ratio than the Midori TN.

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