Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ryman soft cover notebook: review

This was a total impulse buy! I was in Rymans the other day and about to pay for my goods when I saw that they were doing Buy One Get One Free on their notebooks. I've just started doing another couple of Future Learn courses and one of them ("Identifying the Dead" ... hey, I write crime novels!) runs for six weeks, with four hours of work per week (though it always takes me a lot longer than that because I make a lot of notes as I go along).

So, what other reason did I need for trying out a couple of new notebooks? I need one for the course and the other came free.

I got two of the medium sized, soft cover notebooks; one in pink and one in navy.

192 pages
cream paper
70 gsm
210mm x 130mm
top margin:13mm
bottom margin: 12mm
side margins:10mm
line spacing: 7mm
matching pen loop in back cover
vertical elastic closure
expandable pocket in the back cover
ribbon marker
£6.99 (for 2 at the moment)

Walk through:
There is a lining page which (naturally) has the first lined page stuck to it. It's actually stuck to it really badly about 2cm in from the central binding, making that first lined page totally unusable. The back page wasn't stuck anything like as badly to the next page!
There is no page numbering. The pages are sewn and glued and lie pretty flat, with a bit of help. The end of the ribbon is heat-sealed (I think). The pen loop, elastic closure and ribbon are all a good match (these things bug me when they're not).

horrendously glued first page
The cover itself has an odd texture. I don't like it all that much. It's quite 'grabby' although smooth (you know, I've just realised what it makes me think of - slightly damp cat paws, albeit warmer!).
The pen loop is a good size - most of my standard sized (9-10mm diameter) pens fitted in well.  My chunky fountain pens don't fit (but then, they don't fit anything!). Slim pens (e.g. Parker Sonnet ballpoint - 7mm diameter) were held well too.

Pen Tests:

I had no great hopes over the paper at all. I only had three fountain pens inked up (I know... amazing!) and although writing was pretty smooth on the paper, and there wasn't too much feathering, there was some show-through to the other side. Depending on the colour of ink used though, probably manageable. I could probably use both sides if the ink was fairly light and the nib not too wet.
[update: I've been using it with a variety of inks now and I've been able to use both sides of the page okay with all of them] 


The Pilot V5 hi-tecpoint 0.5 were a different matter!
The black had about as much show-through as the fountain pens. The other colours all feathered more and bled through to the other side. I wouldn't be able to use both sides of the paper with any of the coloured Pilot V5 pens, which is a shame as I had hoped to be able to colour-code my notes if needed.

For an impulse buy, pretty cheap notebook, this was a lot better than I expected! I've been using it for a couple of weeks now with no problems. There is some show-through to the other side, but it's all bearable. I've only used fountain pens in it so far, with a variety of inks and none of them has ghosted through so much that the reverse side has been unusable. If they're still on offer when I go into town this weekend, I may grab a couple of the A4 versions.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Leuchtturm Bullet Journal - update

About 6 weeks ago, I got a Leuchtturm Bullet Journal from Bureau Direct (I blogged about it here). At the end, I said I'd give you an update "in about a week"... well, it's been a bit more than a week, but here's the update!

I'd love to say that I've embraced the bullet journal but I'm really struggling to fit it in with the rest of my system (which is not broken and therefore doesn't need fixing!). My current system uses a combination of three things:
  • a week + notes diary (where the diary side holds the few appointments I have and notes page is used for the next actions I'm aiming to complete in the week, split into life areas)
  • a note book for jotting stuff down while out and about
  • an A6 squared notebook (by Clairefontaine) that is used for day planning. This has a page per day, and is the place where I time-box my day, list day tasks, plus it has space for jotting small things down
The first 2 of those are held in my Meadowgate Leather TN which is also my wallet (see here for details); the A6 sits open on my desk.

So, how am I using the A5 Leuchtturm bullet journal?

I was never going to use the first few pages as a 'future log' as all future log stuff can go straight into the correct date in the diary, so I used correction tape over the labels on those pages. So far I haven't used correction tape over the pre-filled entry in the index, and if I do use the index (which, technically, is a table of contents...) I will do.

What it's ended up being is a "book of stuff I've jotted down". I started out with a page for email reminders, then a page for blog post ideas, one for random jottings (lyrics from a song I heard so I could find it online), some marketing notes, notes about how a Facebook ad had done, a list of book finds (for my author blog - I do a book finds post once a month), notes for social media scheduling, and notes about book promotion sites.

It's just over six weeks since I started using it, and I've used 12 pages. One of those is a failed attempt at doing a weekly overview layout (to see if it would work better than my diary. It didn't.). I genuinely don't know what to use it for other than a day book. I started doing marketing notes in it but then decided that actually, I'd prefer to keep all the marketing notes together rather than them ending up distributed throughout the book, so I re-wrote all of them in a different notebook. The rest of my notes are what I would think of as 'day book' notes - and maybe that's where its use lies - somewhere to jot down stuff.

The kind of thing I would usually use
for a scrappy notebook!
I know that other people use them in the way bullet journals are intended to be used - to clear everything out of your head and put it all in one place. However, I don't think my brain works like that at all. I like diary stuff in a diary; I like to journal in my journal; I like to keep scrappy notes (that can be tossed after they've outlived their use) in a scrappy book; I like to keep project notes all together in a notebook dedicated to that project ... you see my problem. I really don't like things all jumbled up together. So, short of using it as a project notebook (which I don't want to do now that it's got all this other stuff in the front), the only thing left is to use it as a scrappy notebook for jotting throwaway things in.

My problem then, is that it's an expensive book for using as a scrappy notebook! I have a zillion other books that I could use for jotting things down that don't need keeping. Anything that does need keeping should have a proper 'home'. But because it's such a nice book (the paper is surprisingly fountain pen friendly - some show through, no feathering, no bleed through) I feel like I'm not doing it justice merely using it for a "book of stuff I've jotted down". It's falling between two camps for me. I will keep using it as a high-class day book but it does feel a bit too nice for that.

I received the notebook from Bureau Direct, but the opinions are entirely my own and unsolicited.