Saturday, 5 September 2015

Review: Hightide A5 foolscap notebook

I have been very remiss in my reviews! I have a heap of stuff to review but not so much time... LOTS more time after the end of September of course (when I leave purgatory work).

Anyway, I recently purchased a couple of A5 notebooks by Hightide (Penco), from The Journal Shop (no affiliation). The Journal Shop site describes the notebooks thus:
"Penco's Foolscap Notebooks are typical of high quality Japanese paper (the likes of which you may already be familiar with in other brands such as Life or Mnemosyne). Smooth, fountain pen friendly paper is a pleasure to write on, and the paper suffers very little showthrough and no bleed or feathering. The notebook lies open perfectly flat (with hardly any coaxing). Sewn and glue bound, not stapled."
I thought I would give them a try and a couple arrived the other day. [Click on any picture to enlarge]

Cover; first page:
The cover is card, with space on the front to write a title.

Front cover

The back of the notebook has a bit of information about the paper.

Back cover
The first page inside is a pale green (not coming out well in my pictures) for producing an index.

Index page

Evidently you are meant to write pages and pages about each thing as there are 20 spaces and there are 100 pages (200 sides) in the notebook. The reverse of the index is plain - it doesn't carry on overleaf.

Size and lines spacing:
As you can see from the information on the back cover, it is almost A5 size at 138 x 210mm. There is a blue line at the top and the bottom of the page and the other lines are in grey. Line spacing is 7mm and the top margin is 16mm and the bottom margin is 12mm. There are 26 lines per page.

Lines; line spacing
The photo shows the centre of the book and yes, it does lie flat. That said, now it has been opened out like that, the edge of the notebook is no longer smooth. There is a break where the very centre is (i.e. where I opened it out flat). This is much like what happened with the Quo Vadis APB2 (see here as long as you're not squeamish about stationery-abuse).

Pen tests!
I much prefer to write in fountain pen and so for a notebook to be worthy of further purchases, it has to be able to handle a fountain pen and for a) the ink not to bleed through, b) the ink not to feather, and c) the ink not to show through to the other side. So, how did this little notebook do?

Well, the surface is nice. It's a little 'grabby' but not too much. The pen doesn't glide in quite the same way as it would over Clairefontaine paper (for example) but it doesn't snag. The texture also allowed ink to dry quickly - faster than it does on Clairefontaine. There was no feathering and no bleed-through. However, there was show-through to the other side.

Fountain pen/ink tests
Reverse. It's actually worse than this picture indicates
I quite like the book, though I'm disappointed at the level of show-through. It's enough to stop me wanting to use it for book plotting, but it's okay for me to use as a general notebook.


  1. Thanks for the great review (as always) & it would be very easy for me to spend way too much at the Journal Shop! It looks like a great notebook, but it's such a shame that so many have paper that isn't very good with fountain pen ink.

    1. Hi Anita!
      Thanks for the kind words. I know what you mean about notebooks and fountain pens. To my mind, it's pretty hard to beat Clairefontaine Age Bag notebooks if you want something fairly cheap (or Rhodia A5 cahiers if you want something REALLY cheap!). I too could spend a fortune on stationery. In fact, I do spend FAR too much on stationery but I am trying to curb that habit!