Friday, 14 December 2018

My day to day diary for 2019

In my last post, I said how I was staying in my Field Notes sized TN from Meadowgate Leather as my everyday carry. I only need a month to view calendar while out and about, but I need a larger diary to plan my days, so am finishing up using my standard sized TN diary (that I've used all year) until the end of December.

For 2019, I'm staying in the Field Notes sized TN and using the A5 Everyday Diary from Box Clever Press.

I can spend a ridiculous amount of time choosing a diary (often time I can't really spare, but hey ho). To work well for me, I need a diary that:
  • is about A5 size
  • has a week to a view with the days in vertical columns (so I can time-box)
  • has equal sized columns for Saturday and Sunday (my life isn't less busy, just because it's a weekend!)
  • has the week starting on a Monday (who in their right minds splits the weekend so that it bookends the week? It's a weekend)
  • has space to list tasks for the week
  • preferably also has space to list Most Important Tasks for each day
  • would help me with planning my week/month/year
  • preferably is pretty/attractive because I have neither the time nor talent to do it myself but like the look of them
  • will lie flat on the desk
  • preferably has 2 ribbon markers, but at least one
Not much to ask for, is it?? You can see why I can end up trawling shops and the internet for yonks, trying to find this mythical beast.

Well, this year I have struck gold!! I've got the 2019 A5 Everyday Diary from Box Clever Press.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Short-lived experiment!

Towards the start of October, I was wondering what to use as my diary set-up in 2019. It had been a choice between three TNs (standard, B6 and Field Notes size) or go back to a Filofax. You can see my thoughts about it all here.

I was itching to use my Field Notes size TN, but wasn't sure if I could make it work as wallet, planner and notebook.

Short answer... Nope. Well, not quite as I had thought I would.

I'd bought a fairly cheap diary to fit in it (the teNeues one... see here for the blog post on it), which had a vertical layout. It fitted in okay, though the TN ended up a bit of a chunky monkey with that, a wallet insert and a home-made credit card insert. The teNeues diary started in December, so I thought I would trial it, and see how it went (while I still also had my standard size, vertical layout, Midori TN diary to hand). I could have made it less chunky by removing the cover of the diary, but it wasn't really the chunkiness that made it not work, it was the fact the small diary wasn't big enough for me to plan my days and weeks in.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

teNeues Cool Diary 2019 Weekly diary review

I've been umming and awwing about what to use in 2019 (see here for latest witterings) and bought myself a small diary to use in a Field Notes size Traveller's Notebook. The one I bought is a 9 x 14 cm TeNeues Cool Diary weekly diary (that is how the capital letters go in the label...). I got mine in blue, but it comes in a variety of colours.

It arrived the other day, so here's my review.

The cover is a hard cover with nothing more than 2019 in silver on the blue on the front and the teNeues logo on the reverse. The cover is soft-touch synthetic. I'm not a huge lover of that, because I'm trying to reduce my plastic/non-recyclable purchases, but it's understated and fairly classic. That said, I'm in two minds over just removing it altogether, because it takes up thickness in the binder and the pages of the diary don't need protecting if it's in the TN cover.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

What diary to use in 2019?

I know... it's barely October! And I don't normally have things planned hugely in advance, but we have just booked our summer holidays for 2019 and I'm feeling a bit twitchy that other than scribbling them down on the 'forward planner' bit I've created on the inside cover of my current diary, I have nowhere to put them down! I don't even have a wall calendar for 2019 and I'm sure magazines (like Country Living etc) have included them with the magazines by now.

Anyway, it's got me thinking about what to use for 2019. I currently have three options, though I may throw in a fourth just for shits and giggles.

1. Keep going with my standard-size Traveller's Notebook
2. Move to my B6 Traveller's Notebook
3. Move to a Field Notes size TN
4. Go back to using a Filofax

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Poach My Lobster Notebook Review

Many thanks to Stu from Nero's Notes for sending me this notebook to try out. This is my honest review of the notebook.

Recently, I've been shifting away from the A sizes of notebooks (A4, A5, A6 etc.) and turning more often to the B sizes (B5, B6 etc.). B5 (176 x 250 mm or 6.9 x 9.8") is an excellent size for me for writing/planning books and B6 (125 x 176 mm or 4.9 x 6.9") is a great size for a handbag-notebook. The notebook by Poach My Lobster is 128 x 202 mm, or pretty much exactly 5 x 8". Although not a true B6 size, it's a pretty good size for my bag.

The corners are rounded and the paper is glued in (making the flattability score for me pretty low).

The label on the back said the following:
128 pages of Fedrigoni Arcoprint Edizioni Avorio 1.5 100gsm
Cover printed on G. F. Smith's Colorplan Claret 270gsm with buckram embossing
Books Good Enough To Eat™: designed in London, printed in Italy, made by Poach My Lobster.
The pages are blank throughout.

The Cover:
I really like the cover. There are a variety of covers available (see the full listing on Nero's Notes here). I was sent the one with the quote about wine. The colour is a dark red (my crime-writer-brain is saying the colour of dried blood, but I realise that might not be a selling point for everyone 😄). It's a sturdy enough cover that the pages are protected, but not solid or heavy. And, it doesn't appear to contain plastic (though the notebook did come shrink-wrapped in single-use plastic that I almost opened an artery trying to remove). The logo of a lobster on the back is the only branding on it.

The Paper:
The paper is lovely to write on, both with fountain pen and also pencil. It's quite toothy, so calligraphy nibs may catch a little, and the paper is matte and so there isn't much sheen to fountain pen ink (though there is shading). I quite like the fact that the paper is blank as it means I can write in it and also sketch in it (yes, I do sketch occasionally - hence the wide array of pencil tests to come!). As this is more likely to be an 'out and about' notebook (as opposed to one used for planning, or for writing books), this makes for a good combination as I can scribble down thoughts and ideas, but I can also do sketches and drawings. If you prefer lined books because your writing stays neater, rest assured that a line-card shows through pretty well, to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Pen/Pencil Tests:
As you all know, these can make or break it for a notebook with me. The pens I currently have inked would present quite a test to the paper (and many a notebook would have failed abysmally!).
This paper sailed through. No sign of any feathering, absolutely no bleed-through and absolutely no show-through, either. 'Pen Tests' was written with my Pilot Parallel pen with 1.5 mm nib - almost everything fails with this, even Clairefontaine at times! This paper - absolutely fine. No feathing or even a hint of show-through, despite the fact it's a wet pen! The paper was a little too 'grabby' for my Rosetta Mosaic, and for the Parker Italic (though almost anything except Clairefontaine is too grabby for that little pen!). Beautifully smooth with my bamboo pen (bought as cheap as chips from eBay and one of my absolute favourite pens - always writes beautifully and is so easy to rinse out!).

The pencil tests were great - there is enough tooth in the paper to make sketching fun (no slippy-slidey shiny stuff!). I'm actually really looking forward to drawing in this wee book.

Pen tests (apologies for low exposure - it's Scotland!)
Reverse of the page - no show-through or bleed through
Pencil tests

I am very impressed. The paper is fabulous, the cover great (and quirky) and the size just right. The only thing I'm slightly less happy about is the low flattability. Maybe I'll just have to be a bit more brutal with it, but it currently does not lie flat.

Thanks again to Stu for sending me this. As I say, all views are my own and reflect my honest opinion of the book.

You can get these notebooks from Nero's Notes - click HERE to go to the full range.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Leuchtturm lined slim softcover notebook

My good friend Stu, from Nero's Notes sent me a couple of notebooks recently. One was this little number; the other was from Poach My Lobster, and a review of that will be coming soon. Although these were a gift, these are my honest views on the notebook.

Stu knows my penchant for slightly differently sized books (see all my recent posts on B5 and B6 stuff). I find that A5 can be a little bit big for a handbag, but A6 is a bit too small for me. I've slowly been shifting towards B-sizes, using B5 for writing notebooks (see hereherehere and here), and looking at using B6 for a Traveller's Notebook (see here). So both of these notebooks were a brilliant size for me.

The Leuchtturm softcover slim notebook measures 125 mm x 190 mm (making it almost B6 size:125 mm * 176 mm). It would fit in my B6 TN cover, but it would be as tall as the cover (probably making the stringing a bit tight - I don't know, I've not tried it). But, I don't want this for my TN, I want it as a satellite notebook to keep in my handbag! The one I was sent is lined, but they are also available in dot grid or plain.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

B6 Traveller's Notebook

If you've read my blog much recently, you'll know that I've become a recent convert to the B5 size, having a) converted an old Filofax Deskfax to a B5 Traveller's Notebook and b) found that B5 is a great size for book planning notebooks (see my reviews of a Zhi Jin notebook here, a B5 Leuchtturm dot matrix book here, and a set of Rosaliny Green World B5 notebooks here).

Before my conversion to B5, I had already been exploring B6 as a size. Now, don't get me wrong, I do love my Traveller's Notebooks (original size), but sometimes they are a bit big. This is probably because they are wallet, diary and notebook, all in one, but sometimes I think I want something a bit smaller.

Way back in January (!), I decided to dip my toe in the B6 water and bought (secondhand) a B6 TN via a Facebook group. I don't know why I haven't blogged about it before now... perhaps because I'm not using it yet.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

6 for £6 from Nero's Notes

Loving the new logo!
(Another book as well as the 6 for £6 is in this wrapped selection)
6 for £6 (or, as it appears on the website, "six 4 six") does what it says on the tin! For £6 you get a random selection of 6 notebooks. As Stu describes it on the site:
Discount Sales are few and far between at Nero's Notes. We do our best to keep prices fair all the time. This is our lucky dip box. As the name suggests, there will be at least six books for six pounds. That might be two three packs, or it might be six singles or any other combination.

Great value for money, perfect as a stocking filler or just for a little treat. Who knows what extras Nero might throw in...
Despite having more small notebooks than I will possibly ever use in a lifetime, I decided to check this out. After all, I'm not sure that any of the books on the site are only a pound to buy!

As ever, the parcel arrived with everything beautifully wrapped. I love the logo for Nero's Notes on the stickers. In the picture above, there's also a Nero's Notes leather notebook which I'll be reviewing soon.

So, what were the six books that were in the "six 4 six"? Well, either Stu can't count, or Nero sneaked in an extra, because I had seven books! There are no pen tests for any of the notebooks - partly because I haven't had time to do them and partly because the post is more to show you the kind of contents you might get.

The seven books were:
[tl;dr An absolutely brilliant bargain. Now read all of the post!]

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Rosaliny Green World 4 Assorted Softcover B5 Composition Notebooks

I've been on a bit of notebook-buying spree. After renovating an old Filofax Deskfax to create a B5 sized Traveller's Notebook, I (naturally) needed to buy lots of B5 notebooks!

B5 is just about the perfect size for me, I think. I find A5 a little on the small side, but A4 a bit too large sometimes. B5 sits between those two sizes at 176mm x 250mm (c.f. A5 at 148mm x 210mm and A4 at 210mm x 297mm). And of course, it's the perfect size for my renovated Deskfax.

I use my Deskfax as a writing TN - if I'm travelling, it has enough cards and pockets and so on, that I don't really need to have anything else in my bag, and the covers are sturdy enough to lean on if there isn't a table. (You can see what features the writing TN has here.)

In the early stages of writing a book, I use small, slim notebooks to bounce ideas around. Some (most!) of these ideas may never make it to a full book, but I like to keep them anyway. Once I think an idea has enough legs to make it to being a full novel, I need a thicker book (like the Zhi Jin notebook, reviewed here). I quite like the slim books made by Penco or Stalogy but saw some slightly more attractive slim notebooks on Amazon, while I was looking at the Zhi Jin.

The Rosaliny Green World notebooks were £8.99 from Amazon with free delivery and looked like a nice set of notebooks, so I ordered a pack. They took forever to arrive, not helped by the first order getting lost. Once the seller sent a new set, they took about 10 days to get here and there were some very sweet post-it notes in the parcel too (which I forgot to take pictures of and have now given away).

The notebooks have a reasonably sturdy card cover with quite sweet designs of trees/leaves and cats.

Inside, there are 38 pages (76 sides) and they are sewn rather than stapled. 37 (74) of these are lined; the first/last sheet is plain.

On the lined pages, there is space at the top to note the date and also the day of the week. The very top and bottom lines also have small marks on them to facilitate drawing in columns, should you so desire. The spacing of the small marks is a slightly random 10.8mm (which doesn't seem to relate to a sensible fraction of an inch either). Line spacing is 8mm, with a top margin of 15.5mm and a bottom margin of 14.5mm. There are 28 lines (if you're happy enough to use the bottom line; it would be fine - the small marks are unobtrusive).

How well did they stand up to fountain pen? The paper is described as "100gsm acid-free high quality recyclable ivory paper". I'm not sure if they mean "recyclable" (which surely, all paper is?) or "recycled". The paper does feel as if it is 100gsm and is very smooth.

Amazingly, I don't have a zillion fountain pens inked up at the moment, but I tested the paper with what I had, and with a few other pens I had to hand. I used one of the plain pages at the back of the book to test the pages. I don't imagine the lined paper will perform differently.

The results are a bit mixed...
I tried a 1.1mm stub nib and wet ink combo (usually a bit of a killer in pen tests), plus another italic nib, a standard m nib and then some Pilot Hi-tecpoints and a ballpoint.

The good news...
There's no feathering of the fountain pen ink at all and the paper is smooth to write on.
There's no bleed-through of the stub nib or the italic.

The bad news...
There is bleed-through with almost all the other pens except the ballpoint. The Tombow Object nib was the worst; the Hi-tecpoints were a bit better.
There is show-through for everything. Depending on how much that bugs you, this might be the deal-breaker. For me, the pens I use the most are 1.1mm stub nibs, so the fact these worked so well and show-through isn't too dire, means that I'm happy enough to use them, but might not buy them again to be honest.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
Pen tests
reverse, showing bleed- and show-through
zoom in on the reverse
These are sweet little books which will definitely get used for initial notes on books or ideas. As for value for money, compared to the Penco notebooks, you get more pages (74 lined in this c.f. 60 in the Penco) for less money (£2.25 per book here, c.f. The Journal Shop selling Penco at £3.99). But... paper quality is significantly lower than the Penco.

As for comparing to Stalogy, the only UK seller I can find is Tokyo Bike (the listing for the Stalogy is here). They have 68 pages and are £5.50 (I originally got mine from somewhere else and they were £2.50. I wish now I'd bought more!). Again, paper quality on the Stalogy is better, but they are a lot more money per notebook. If you're US based, I think there are more options for purchasing them.

The covers are attractive and sturdy and I like that the pages are sewn rather than stapled. Paper quality lets them down, but at £2.25 each, I shouldn't really complain (I mean, Moleskine get away with charging a lot more money for notebooks and the paper is much worse!). I like the headers with the space for the date (and day), plus the marks to facilitate drawing columns. Line spacing suits me, though those with small writing or a penchant for fine nibs may find it a bit wide.

Overall, I quite like them!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Leuchtturm B5 dot matrix book

Following on from converting an old Deskfax Filofax into a B5 TN and getting a great new B5 notebook for it (review here), I also took advantage of the fact that Bureau Direct were selling off their Leuchtturm B5 dot grid notebooks. I just looked at the Bureau Direct site and they were out of stock and I suspect they aren't going to get them back in. But... Amazon do sell them (though not at 20% off like the Bureau Direct ones were...). If the price of them on Amazon is a bit rich (it seems to be going up and down), then there are also ZenArt's Bullet Journal Notebooks available on Amazon (but I don't know what they are like as I've never bought one).

But... back to the ones I do have! Given that Bureau Direct said that they were discontinuing stocking them and because delivery is free over £20, I grabbed a couple - a raspberry pink (berry) coloured cover and a sea-green (emerald) coloured cover.

There are 121 numbered pages, a blank table of contents, 8 perforated (detachable) sheets, an expandable pocket, and a page marker. The pages are thread bound so the book opens flat and paper is cited as ink-proof and acid-free. I've found other Leuchtturm paper a bit iffy with fountain pen ink (see a review from a few years ago here) and I haven't yet tested these ones. I suspect I will find them a bit iffy too, but I'll use them nonetheless.

Dot spacing is 5mm and the dots are fairly unobtrusive. Although the notebooks are described as soft-cover, the cover is nonetheless pretty sturdy and certainly withstands being slotted into the slip pocket in the cover of my Deskfax TN.

These would probably make a great bullet journal. I wouldn't know... I've tried to bullet journal and it doesn't work with my brain. For me, these are notebooks to go in my renovated Deskfax-TN as writing books - books to plan out new novels etc. I did a post over on my author blog about my "writing Deskfax" - see here.

I tend to use slim notebooks when I'm starting out on a novel - when I'm just noodling around, trying to work out if the initial thoughts will ever grow enough legs to make it to a full book (sometimes they do; sometimes they don't, but I keep them all, just in case!). But once I genuinely think a book will emerge from all the noodling about, I need a decent sized book to write in. I'm looking forward to using these for that.

For bullet journallers out there, these may be the missing size between A5 being a smidgen too small, but A4 being a bit too big to be portable. Page size is good, but the overall thickness of the book is manageable if you have a decent sized bag (or use a briefcase). If I could get my brain to work with bullet journalling, I might contemplate using these with a week to view layout including enough space for tasks for each day (though I do already have a B5 diary that would do just that, by United Bees. I've not reviewed it yet, but it's available here if you want to check it out).

Since I went on a bit of notebook-buying splurge, I 'm hoping to have more blog posts coming soon.

Still to review:
Ya Jin Classic Lined Casebound Hardcover Notebook
Rosaliny Green World 4 Assorted Softcover B5 Composition Notebooks
Nero's Notes Leather Notebook
Nero's Notes 6 for £6

B5 books at Amazon:

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Zhi Jin B5 notebook - review

Having renovated a battered old Deskfax into a beautiful B5 Traveller's Notebook, to use for writing, I was in search of some slightly thicker B5 notebooks. I have some slim ones (60-80 pages - Penco and Stalogy for example) but I'm getting to the stage with the new novel, where I'm going to need a chunkier book to hold more notes.

B5 isn't the easiest size to buy in the UK, which is largely wedded to the A-sizes (A4, A5, A6 etc) but I love B5 as a notebook size (and B6 as a smaller notebook size, to be honest). Leuchtturm do a B5 dot matrix book (and I've just snaffled a couple of those from Bureau Direct. They were reduced as they were discontinuing stocking them, so I don't know how long they will available). There is a Moleskine notebook which is approximately the right size, but hell hasn't frozen over yet, so I won't be buying it.

On Amazon, there are a couple of B5 books that I've been looking at, but this Zhi Jin one caught my eye as it had colourful covers and a rainbow edge.
I bought the blue cover and it's a fabulous, vibrant blue - Mediterranean sea colour on a sunny day. But what's it actually like as a notebook?

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Battered Deskfax to B5 Travelers Notebook

I love the B paper sizes - from B6 which is just a brilliant TN size (bigger than A6, but not quite so big as A5) and B5 which is the perfect size for notebooks (again, bigger than A5, but not so big as A4).

I have a number of B5 books that I use for writing notebooks. I usually have smallish (60-80 page) ones as general ideas/initial notes on stories with one for each idea, and wanted to have a way of keeping them together. To buy a B5 Travellers Notebook would be expensive, but...

... an old Filofax Deskfax is exactly the right size! I spotted a pretty battered Richmond Deskfax on eBay, put in the minimum bid and waited to see... and I won it!

I actually have a Richmond Deskfax, given to me by my wonderful friend Gerard, which does indeed make a great notebook size. But I wanted one to remove the rings from and then punch holes in it, so the lovely, perfect condition one from Gerard was altogether far too nice to be treated like this!

This is what the one from eBay looked like, before I started on it...
[click on any picture to enlarge]

Front cover

Back cover (apologies it's a bit blurred)

I got my hubby to drill out the rivets holding in the ring mechanism (as he isn't likely to drill through an artery in the process, whereas I am), then he carefully cut the lining, removed the backing plate and glued the edge of the leather back down over the slit with superglue. You can barely see the cuts!

So this is what the inside looked like after the removal of the rings...

Interior, no rings!

The rings removed, the cover still looked battered and pretty horrible. But black shoe polish works wonders! I know some purists out there will be grinding their teeth at the thought, but I wanted a nice looking notebook and don't care.

So, here we go, rings removed and the leather cleaned up with a leather wipe and then covered in black shoe polish...

Rings removed and cleaned up, all that was left was to punch the holes in it and thread the elastics.

Three tips for you:
1. Use a leather punch. You need to get through the leather cover, a card inner and the lining fabric. I used a 1.5mm punch, bought pretty cheaply from eBay. Remember to protect the surface you have the Filofax on before walloping the punch with a hammer. I had a chopping board underneath.

2. Use a bit of masking tape/washi tape to mark up where the holes need to go as it's easier to write on that than on the leather.

Washi tape on the leather ready to mark up
where the holes need to be punched

3. Use a wool needle to help thread the elastics through the holes - it's a lot easier than trying to poke the elastic through the holes, especially from the inside.


The Richmond is a great layout for a TN - there's a set of 8 card slots on the left, with what was a floppy disk holder (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!) at the bottom, but which could be used for stickers/Post-Its etc. Behind that is a full-height slip pocket. Behind that is a zipped pocket and behind that is another full height slip pocket.

The right hand side (inside back cover) has a full height slip pocket and a slot so you could put a notebook in it if it had the backing attached along the top edge, rather than the side.

There are two pen loops and it fastens with a clasp (so no need for an elastic round the middle).

Perfect B5 TN ! Here it is, loaded up with some notebooks, ready to go. I do admit, you might need a large handbag/briefcase to carry it around, but I want it mostly for train journeys (and have a huge bag...). All in all, I'm really pleased. For less than £14, I have a B5 TN that has all the features I want.

A Penco book on the left and a Stalogy 016 on the right

Not perfect, but less 'lived in' looking that at the start!

What do people think?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

"From Me to You"

As the title of the blog implies, I am a stationery fiend. I supply my habit in a number of ways, including getting an occasional subscription to Spotlight Stationery.

Part of the cost of each subscription is donated to charity and this year, the charity that has been chosen is "From Me To You". From Me To You encourages people to write letters to friends or family members who are suffering from cancer. It also has a "Donate a Letter" scheme where people can write to cancer patients who have requested a letter. I have joined the "Donate a Letter" scheme and last week, wrote several letters to be given to cancer patients, to show them that there are people (even strangers) who are thinking of them. You don't have to send long letters - even a card or a postcard will be welcomed.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Planner Peace

I've realised that the reason I've hardly been posting on here (apart from being ludicrously busy all the time, naturally) is that I'm not angsting or fretting over my planner. When I used a Filofax, either the size was all wrong, or the inserts were. I flipped back and forth from A5 to personal to pocket and back.

I've been using a Travellers' Notebook system for yonks now! I blogged about being in a TN way back in 2015. Then, I'd been in my Stamford Notebook Company red TN for six months (and thought that was a record!). I blogged about it here. Since I moved into the red TN, my system hasn't changed at all, though the actual TN being used has.

What I'm using at the moment: