One book July drop-out!

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Ah, One Book July, it wasn’t you, it was me.

It was always quite a stretch of the imagination to think I’d commit to following something like this for an entire month, and no surprise to me that I decided to drop it. Not that it was in any way a waste of time because it afforded me a pause in which to look at what exactly I feel is lacking in the planning/motivation/time management area of my life.

Ryder Carroll’s “The Bullet Journal Method”

At the beginning of July I was keen to take part in the community read-through of this book because I started it in June but got slightly bogged down. What has been interesting to me is that throughout July I have continued to get bogged down with it and have pretty much ground to a halt at Page 183. The book contains some interesting thoughts, and Ryder Carroll has a very compelling narrative to tell about his own struggles with finding the best way to record and appraise his activities, but I find it impossible to complete the parts where he asks me to work through an exercise to uncover things about myself. It isn’t that I am averse to self-analysis – I do it all the time, so perhaps the problem is that I don’t need to go through more ‘why’ processes; I need to nail down a firm ‘how’ process.

Using the “Method”

I was going to use my Filofax Notebook incorporating the Mark and Fold week-to-view diary because that has been serving me as well as anything does. Then I decided to go whole-heartedly into the Method: use a bound notebook and follow Ryder Carroll’s guidelines by approaching each day one at a time, listing everything you need to do, bringing forward things you haven’t done previously, and making notes on anything you do or think during the day. Ever since I first read about using bullet journals, this was the way it made sense to me, however after a couple of weeks it really wasn’t hitting my sweet spot.

First and foremost, I wasn’t actually achieving anything more than I do with any other method, and it certainly didn’t motivate me to get on with the highest priorities in my life. Then there was the fact that whilst Ryder Carroll advocates what he calls rapid logging with very brief bullet points capturing just the essence of each idea or action point, I found it impossible to set aside my story-teller instincts. In fact, in a free-format notebook I was actually less inclined to be brief than I am using a traditional printed planner with its associated space limitations. One very strong positive thing to come out of the two weeks I spent doing the bound bullet journal was finding that I enjoyed recording more information about my daily exercise and activity than I had previously done in my week-to-view diary.

At the end of the second week, I tried one or two different ideas in my bound notebook to personalise it to my tastes, then returned to the Filofax Notebook/Mark and Fold diary combination for the third week. However, I already know that this is a system which doesn’t push me to do my most important tasks. All of which leaves me pondering…

The way ahead

Now we are in the fourth week of July and I am doing something that I have previously found useful in paid employment – keeping a log of what I am doing as the day progresses so that I can try to identify why I don’t do the things I should be doing, and what I do instead. One thing I’ve taken from Ryder Carroll is that you need to understand why you are avoiding doing particular things. It may be that you’ve chosen totally the wrong path (he gives a very good example of his own experience in the book); it may be that there are certain items that appeal to you, but that in reality you are never going to follow. For me, bullet journaling appeals, but it’s not a system that is going to add anything to my life, at least at the current time.

I’m doing my logging electronically and have stepped away from the whole notebook and diary system until I’ve sorted out my thinking.

The things I do anyway

This is not to say that I have abandoned my notebooks and pens, even briefly. Whatever happens, my morning routine includes writing my journal in a notebook with a fountain pen. It’s where I record the things I’ve done, write about what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy, and make my plans for the future. It is probably the reason why the analytical side of The Bullet Journal Method book failed to gel with me.

Another thing I do every morning is read my horoscope. I don’t believe in horoscopes, per se, but it is no more and no less useful than reading a motivational quote every morning, or reciting affirmations. I don’t need it to do anything more than remind me that no two days are alike and that life ebbs and flows according to principles that cannot be altered by mere mortals.


Disclaimer: after I wrote the title of this post I had to nip onto YouTube and watch “Beauty School Drop-out” from “Grease”. Feel free to follow suit.


 

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New Ink (not a tattoo!)

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Last Wednesday we had a three-sisters day at Bury St Edmunds, complete with lunch and associated new-home admiring (my oldest sister has recently moved to the town) and a saunter around the Wednesday market and general window-shopping.

I made a small detour to The Writing Desk to purchase some Diamine ink, having been influenced by YouTube ink reviews from Writerly Witterings over the past few months. I tried some ink cartridges from this brand some time ago and at that time I wasn’t too keen; I thought it was a shame as they are a British brand and I do try to “shop local” when I can.

I have to say this time I am both impressed and happy with the inks I chose. I wanted to get one called Sunset which is an orange tinged with red, but they didn’t have that one in the shop so I went with the Wild Strawberry which is a red tinged with orange. I have filled my Lamy LX pen in the rose gold finish with this, and I must say it is a lovely combination. There isn’t any reason to use certain coloured inks in certain coloured pens, but there are some combinations that make me smile as I use them and this is one of those.

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I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the Sunset colour would look even more spectacular in this pen.

I definitely have a penchant for red – ink, clothes, shoes, handbags, even hair sometimes – so I doubt this will be the last red ink I buy, although I already have enough to see me through many years to come. I have only used a few millilitres of the Lamy Crystal Ruby ink which I got for Christmas, and I still have three cartridges of J Herbin Rouge de Caroubier as well as this new shade. The Wild Strawberry and Rouge de Caroubier are definitely similar in tone and I don’t see a purpose for both in my collection. The Lamy is more on the pink side and I can see me using that and the Diamine turn and turn about.

The Majestic Purple was the more sensible purchase; I have no other purple ink at present and have been planning to rectify that for several months. I used it to fill my original black Parker 51 with the fine nib and was pleased with the colour, then I decided to go ahead and also put it in the burgundy Parker 51 so I could do a comparison. Loved it! I have not been happy with any of the other inks I’ve tried in that pen, because I don’t generally like a broad nib, but this just hits the spot. It is bold and well-defined, with none of the wishy-washy watercolour vibe I have had from other inks in this pen.

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The Diamine inks come in a host of shades and a variety of formulations, from the Registrars’ Ink which is permanent, waterproof, and of archive quality, being the ink used by registrars and clergy to sign official documents, to Washable Blue which, as the name suggests, is not waterproof at all. The Writing Desk offers the following:

30ml plastic bottle (the ones I bought) – 20 shades from the Music and Flower series at £3.99 a bottle; 112 standard shades at £2.35 a bottle.

80ml glass bottle – 113 shades at £5.85.

40ml glass bottle – 16 shades of the special range released to celebrate Diamine’s 150th Anniversary at £7.75 each.

50ml glass bottle – 40 shades in the Shimmer range, inks with a metallic undertone selling at £8.95 a bottle.

For someone based in the United Kingdom, these inks are great value for money. For comparison, the most expensive single bottles of ink on The Writing Desk’s website are the Pilot Iroshizuku at £29.00 for 50ml and the cheapest (ignoring the 30ml Diamine bottles) are inks from Rohrer und Klingner at £4.25 for 50ml. I like the fact it’s so easy to buy a a small bottle so you don’t have to invest in a full-size bottle to try out a colour. That being said, good pen retailers such as The Writing Desk and Cult Pens (two online stores I have personally used) offer ink samples in many of the inks they stock so that you can test out a colour before you buy.

(All the prices I quote are inclusive of VAT and shown on the website of The Writing Desk at 14th July 2019.)

If you are the least bit interested in fountain pens and inks, or in the current celebrations of the first footsteps on the moon, I would suggest you watch the video by Brian and Drew of Goulet Pens as they unbox the Colorverse Limited Edition First Moon Landing Ink Set. Inspiring stuff.

Of course, The Writing Desk doesn’t just sell ink and, although I kept my visit pretty brief, I did have a quick look at some of the fountain pens on display. I was particularly taken by the Pelikans, but the pen that really caught my eye was one of the less expensive offerings – the Faber-Castell Essentio in the Rose finish. The shop owners were unpacking some items when I was there and I am glad that they were not displaying the new Lamy Studio 66 in the limited edition Aquamarine colourway – I’m not sure I would have been able to leave the shop without it!

Now I have a full complement of pens inked up with a variety of colours, all that remains is to use them, so I had better make sure I do plenty in my bullet journal during this third week of One Book July.

I hope you have found some useful, or at least interesting, information in this foray into the wonderful world of ink. See you on Wednesday for a knitting update (and there has been knitting).


I should also point out that The Writing Desk is far from the only stockist of Diamine inks and I would highly recommend also checking out Cult Pens (Diamine produce a special range of inks specifically for them in “deep dark” shades) and Diamine’s own website. I know they are stocked by Goulet Pens (online USA) and Wonder Pens (bricks and mortar stores, Canada) and I’m sure in tons of other places too.


 

One book July? I’m in!

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You’ve seen it all before, but here it is today

Since 2014, some enterprising ladies on the internet have been running a challenge called One Book July. If you’re not part of the “planning” community everything I am going to write from here on in will seem a little odd, or totally crazy, to you, but you may enjoy it all the same.

What is One Book July? Why One Book July? Well, there are an awful lot of different planning systems out there in the universe nowadays, and if you find you have even a slight interest in time management/planning/personal productivity, in a very short time you are probably going to fall down a massive rabbit hole and find you go from owning one little week per view diary that fits in your pocket to one of every type of diary/ring-bound planner/Travelers’ Notebook/Erin Condren Spiral Bound planner/Cocoa Daisy insert….. you get my drift.

Noticing the growing tendency for people to become overwhelmed by the choice available, and by the number of planners they personally own, a group of ladies suggested that for the month of July 2014, interested members of the community should pick one planner and one pen and use them exclusively. Some people managed it, some people found out a lot about themselves but didn’t complete the challenge. Each year since then, the challenge has been issued, but each year it has a new twist and members of the community can choose from a number of options that have built up over the years.

As a person who has stood on the edge of the rabbit hole, but not disappeared down it, I haven’t previously been enticed by the One Book July challenge, although I’ve often watched videos about it. This year, however, I’m going to break with tradition and take part. That’s because this year the group are putting their focus on The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and I am still reading this so I think there is a lot of value to taking part in a group reading of it.

My planner/bullet journal set-up is going to be the one I’ve been using the past couple of months – my Filofax Notebook with the Mark and Fold weekly diary pages at the front and lined notepaper behind them. This is a departure from the standard Bullet Journal set-up, particularly in that the optimal paper suggested is always dot grid. I love lined paper and hate any kind of grid so I’m following my own heart on that particular point. I find the pre-formatted diary pages work well for my future logging and as a repository for upcoming events but I hope to put into practice a better way of processing information on the collections and longer-term lists side of the equation, and learn a lot about the goal-setting and reviewing area which I am poor at, to say the least.

Just a word, before I depart, about the one pen part of the original challenge. Really? One pen? No way! One book, all the pens – that’s the way to do a challenge!

For the expert information about this year’s One Book July challenge, check out Dispatches From The Frat House https://www.carieharling.com/one-book-july-2019-introduction/ or search for One Book July on YouTube for a plethora of videos.

Not a whimsy

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This week, I’ve been paying my respects to the late Paul Darrow by re-watching the 1973 BBC production of Murder Must Advertise in which he plays an advertising copywriter. It’s a role which grows in complexity as the four-part story unfolds and Darrow is excellent in it, capably portraying the character as ingratiating, bullying, enmeshed in a derailed lover affair, and, through it all, managing to be utterly charming. He wears the sharp 1930s suit and tie very well, and ultimately, he gets a chance at heroism of a sort. It’s a very good performance as part of a very good ensemble cast.

Five years later, Paul Darrow would don the iconic leathers to portray Avon in Blake’s 7 with pretty much the same set of characteristics! Indeed, Vila (Michael Keating) was often to be seen in a similar pose to the above when Avon spoke to him. I see many parallels between the two performances and I salute Mr Darrow for being able to play characters who might, on the surface, not seem worthy of our admiration, and show that they, too, have their good sides as well as their bad.

I do enjoy this particular set of Lord Peter Wimsey adaptations, the ones starring Ian Carmichael. If you can track down Murder Must Advertise it’s well worth a watch, as are all the other stories in the series. (Blake’s 7 is also represented via an appearance in Wimsey’s The Nine Tailors by David Jackson who played Gan in the sci-fi series. That story also provided a part for a young John Duttine who went on to star in the BBC production The Devil’s Crown in 1978, then To Serve Them All My Days and The Day of the Triffids in 1981.)

Actually, mentioning To Serve Them All My Days leads me nicely into the tin shown in this photo:

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I use it to store ink cartridges, but I am unsure of its original use. It belonged to my maternal grandparents and had been used for many, many years to store a lock of hair, although I have no idea whose hair it was.  For some reason, I always think this tin dates to the First World War, thus the connection with To Serve Them All My Days which begins in that era. This is one of those little items that provides a tangible link with people I loved, and it is my joy to be able to put it to a useful purpose and cradle it through another generation. It also reminds me I am going to have to use up those ink cartridges and to do that I am going to have to use up the red ink in my Cross pen. Perhaps when I finish the green ink I’m currently using to write my daily journal I will have a couple of weeks of writing that in red. Sounds like a plan.

Finally, I wanted to just refer back to last Friday’s post where I wrote about trying to use my memory more. Starting with small steps, this week I’ve been doing a memory exercise which I think some people would think is ridiculously simple and others ridiculously hard. Each morning, immediately upon waking up, I tell myself what day of the week it is and what one thing I really need to get done. It’s easy to wake up befuddled and with a firm belief that it is totally the wrong day of the week, and so this is an interesting challenge.

I hope you have had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend. At the moment it looks like we can look forward to rather less rain next week which will be a pleasure.

Call the sock police

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This week I made my second attempt at sock resurrection and I came to the same conclusion as I did on my first attempt, namely, when socks get to the pont where one bit needs mending they are probably telling you that they have come to the end of their life.

I would quite like to be the type of person who mends clothes or re-fashions them so they can go on being useful, but in my heart I feel that life is just too short for such endeavours. I will return to this point later, but first, let’s examine what I learned from my attempt to mend these socks.

I finished this particular pair of socks in September 2015, so I got a good four winters out of them. To provide some context, I have worn my hand-knit socks exclusively – by which I mean no shop-bought socks and no tights or stockings – for at least the past five years. It’s either been hand-knit socks or bare feet, and in England bare feet only happen in a minority of months. There are two reasons for using my hand-knit socks so consistently: firstly, although my feet are unexceptional, I have never found a pair of shop-bought socks that fitted me and, secondly, until this past winter I’ve been dressing in a strict uniform of leggings or trousers paired with tunic tops/short dresses so socks have been my default foot covering. This has changed somewhat over the past nine months as my weight has reduced and I’ve become more confident about wearing skirts or dresses with tights some of the time. Even so, I still wear trousers and socks a lot.

I think in all the time I’ve been wearing hand-knit socks, I have had one pair which sprang a hole in the heel and one pair that wore through on the ball of the foot; apart from that the point where all my socks wear out is at the toe. This year, with make do and mend becoming ever more popular, I started to think that I could just re-knit the toe of socks when it starts to wear and I made an attempt at repairing one pair, only to find the wool was so felted together that it was impossible to unpick the original toe and knit a new one. “Life is too short,” I thought.

Yesterday I was packing away some of my socks until the autumn, and I put several pairs to one side which are getting perilously worn on the toe. I picked the pair shown above and cut off the toes then proceeded to pick back to a suitable point to knit a new toe. Once again, the wool was felted, but I managed to get the first one done with a new grey toe and it went quite well. However, when I turned to the second sock, I realised that I would have to get rid of almost all of the foot area and re-knit it because there were several patches where the fabric was wearing thin. And so it struck me all over again that these socks probably aren’t worth the trouble of repairing – they have served me well and now they are ready to retire. “Nothing,” my mum would say, “lasts for ever.”

In a situation where we have no alternative but to eke out our clothing for as long as we possibly can, such endeavours are well worth doing. Ecologically, wearing old is many times better than producing new. Yet we have to balance this out with how we can best use all of our resources and that includes our time. I do not feel my time is well-used repairing socks, or re-fashioning clothes that are too large for me so that they fit again. I would rather knit a new pair of socks from scratch, which keeps manufacturers in business and employing people who need jobs. I’d rather donate the over-sized clothes to charity and replace them with more appropriately sized clothes that someone else didn’t want. I am not championing profligate shopping, and I have never been one to wear clothes once, or even for one season – the clothing industry has never got rich from my shopping tendencies. However, I think I will continue with my long-held system of wearing it until it threatens to fall apart then accepting the inevitable. To salve my conscience, I am going to investigate the textile banks which take items too worn to donate so they can be recycled into something else of use.

I’ll just finish up with a quick photo of the pens I am currently using. One YouTube channel I enjoy is Waski the Squirrel who does a weekly video series called “Pens In Use”. My own pen habit is much less extreme, but every so often things have moved on sufficiently to make an update worthwhile. So here is my current set:

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I’ve got one more cartridge of the Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue ink, then I will be using my bottle of their Cobalt Blue as my main blue ink. The rather old bottle of MontBlanc blue/black or Midnight Blue (I can’t recall which they called it) still has plenty of fills in it. I’m not sure about this ink in the gushy Parker 51, but basically I am going to try this pen with all the inks I can lay my hands on until I find a combination that I think works really well. My second Waterman Hemisphere is uninked at the moment, as are my Lamy Safari and Lamy LX. The Safari may sit on the bench for some time, but I think the other two will be back in action fairly soon.

I will finish up by wishing you all a lovely weekend, and sending commiserations if you have to work. See you again on Monday.


 

I’m doing this…

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Here’s a snapshot of what is going on around here these days. This is what was piled on my settee when I started to tidy up last night prior to heading off to bed (before I took the photo I did move them into a more pleasing arrangement than the ‘old heap of stuff’ that they had naturally formed!).

The new Avon brochure commences today, so I had been busy setting them up and getting a .pdf version of the brochure up on my beauty blog  – feel free to head over there, or visit my webshop where you can browse through the products and, so long as you are in the United Kingdom, order online for delivery direct to you from Avon’s warehouse. I’m trying out the Vitamin C Serum that’s launching this month. I like a nice serum and, truth be told, I’d rather use one cream day and night but add in a serum in the evening than have separate day and night moisturisers.

Then, of course, there has been knitting. The photo shows how far I have got with the first sleeve of my cardigan. I have been resting my hand but still doing a few rows each day just to make sure the cardigan continues to grow. I am enjoying working with this yarn and the pattern is really simple but effective.

The book, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, was an impulse purchase this week. I have been following the buzz about this method of planning/tracking over the past few years, but ultimately have always felt that a lot of it is not for me. Then again, the basic concept of keeping all your incoming information in one distinct place is very much to my taste. I find having things scattered all over the place makes them easier to ignore. In one of the best jobs I have had, it was common practice to keep a hardback notebook in which you noted whatever needed to be done – in my secretarial role this meant I had lots of notes every day on responses I needed to send to e-mails on behalf of my manager. I found it a very workable system and the Bullet Journal is not dissimilar to that. I am enjoying reading it so far, although I may not adopt the method in its entirety. I decided to buy it after watching a video online that was originally shown at the European Planner Conference; this runs to just over 30 minutes, but I think it’s well worth watching because Mr Carroll comes across as such a genuinely lovely chap. Earlier in the year I read about nine-tenths of Getting Things Done by David Allen, but it didn’t entirely gel with me. It felt to me like it was devised by, and addressing the needs of, business owners and top-level managers, whereas Ryder Carroll seems to be coming from, and addressing, a much broader base of both workers and creative professionals. Have to see if I make it to the end of this one!

I am consistently referring to the diary pages in my Filofax notebook, and also using it for broader list-making and note-taking. I am still very pleased with this set-up and I can foresee it serving me for some time to come. I chose a verse by Dorothy Parker for the creative area this week and I used my fine-nibbed Parker 51 filled with the Lamy Peridot ink. When I am writing in the diary I mainly use the Waterman Hemisphere in the blue finish which you can see in the photo, and that is filled at the moment with Graf von Faber-Castell ink in Midnight Blue. Underlining is done using my Cross Century II filled with the Lamy Ruby ink (speaking of which, I am in love with all the red inks Michael Jecks has been testing recently on his Writerly Witterings YouTube channel – you can check out Ink Comparison: Red and/or Ink Comparison: Red Second stage if you’re interested). I use my other Waterman Hemisphere – the Rose Cuivre finish – to write in my journal every morning. That one is currently filled with J Herbin Poussiere de Lune which is a purple-to-brown ink. In this way I am getting to play with a lot of the pens and the inks in my small collection. I feel a return to a brighter purple ink is imminent when one of the pens runs dry.

The final item I had to clear away was a tube of hand cream because my hands have been very dry recently. This particular hand cream is from one of Avon’s fragranced bath ranges and it is a lovely consistency, but there are more subtle fragrances around. I happen to like this one, but I don’t imagine it would be for everybody – but then, what is?

After a few nice sunny days, we’ve got a fine drizzle this afternoon although it held off until I was back from my regular Friday-morning swim so that was good. Our electricity went off for a few minutes at lunch-time, and all the alarms in the neighbourhood started ringing so it was an exciting few minutes.

Now we are heading towards another weekend which I hope will provide plenty of opportunities to knit, read, and ponder the meaning of life.


 

Planning – a new experiment

*For a better view, click on any photo to see the full-size image.

As I mentioned in my wrap-up post from National Stationery Week, I was unlikely to continue using the ring-planner I had set up due to size issues and personal preferences. The more I think about it, the more useful I find that experiment was – it forced me to consider what does and doesn’t work with the planning set-up I have been using this past couple of years.

My very strong preference has always been to use an A5-ish size page which hits the sweet spot of portability and ease of use. For a while now, I have been eyeing the Filofax A5 Notebook which offers minimal ring intrusion coupled with the ability to move pages at will and, with the correct punching, to add your own items. I was loath to try one, though, because of my experience with the paper quality in Filofax’s other notebook system – the Clipbook – which I tried a few years ago. I had a couple of big problems with that design:

  • The cover felt unpleasant, particularly where it bulged around the 6-ring mechanism and I found it awkward in use.
  • The paper was thicker than the standard Filofax used for their traditional ring-planner inserts, but the quality wasn’t up to using fountain pens and inks. There was feathering and bleed-through a-plenty.

Whilst many users had said the paper in the Notebook products was fountain-pen friendly, I wasn’t sure if I should trust that. However, this design did seem to offer the potential to incorporate my diary and notebook in one very portable cover, so yesterday I trotted off to my local department store’s stationery shop* and purchased the Vista Blue notebook. I must say, so far I am very impressed with it and it scores highly on the following points:

  • The paper is really good as the above pen test photos illustrate. The only pen to bleed through was the Pilot CD marker which is not a pen I would ever use on paper anyway. The wet-writing Parker 51 with a medium (?) nib produced the most show-through, but my regular pen and ink combinations were perfect, I certainly wouldn’t have any trouble using both sides of the paper.
  • I like the cover which is a stiffened plastic with a very pleasant feel and lays completely flat when open. When required, the cover folds back on itself allowing you to write easily with it held in one hand. There is an elastic band attached to the back cover to hold the notebook securely closed when you have it in your bag.
  • Because the wire binding is almost completely covered, it is a lot less likely to squash than a standard wire-bound notebook; I think it also gives a very neat look to the book.
  • You get 56 sheets of 6mm ruled paper – I’d prefer it a bit wider ruling, but it’s still practical, plus an additional few sheets of plain and 5mm grid paper to try out. You can buy replacement paper pre-punched from Filofax in various designs.
  • The notebook includes four dividers which seem to be made of a slightly plastic-feeling card – one of these is designed to form a pocket which is useful.
  • The size is just perfect, giving plenty of space to write easily on either side of the paper but in a format that slips easily into a handbag to carry out with me. It’s nice and lightweight, too, which increases the portability.
  • There is a good choice of covers online, but availability locally will be dependent upon the retailer.

I have just a couple of very minor negative points:

  • The plastic ruler/page marker included with the notebook is very flimsy and doesn’t stay securely attached to the rings. I have now covered mine completely with washi tape on both sides and re-cut the holes which seems to make it a bit more secure. I can see good reasons to keep the marker as thin as possible, but having it detaching from some of the rings as I’m turning it is a slight irritation.
  • From watching a few review videos on YouTube (I can recommend the bullet journal one from Goldspot Pens), I could see that it can be difficult to turn the pages if you have the notebook stuffed. I’ve gone for a minimal layout, incorporating three months of week on two pages diary and 25 sheets of lined paper, with three of the dividers.
  • The replacement paper packs are not badly-priced, but they only appear to have 32 sheets of paper which is rather meagre and I envisage I’d be buying more than one pack at a time – a lot of plastic wrap could be saved if there were 50 or more sheets to a pack. The pastel and marble papers Filofax offer appear to have 60 sheets per pack which is better.

Filofax sell a punch to cut holes of the required size and shape to suit the notebooks and I think that would be a useful tool to buy in the fullness of time. The ability to punch different papers and other items to slot into the notebook is one of the primary selling points of these notebooks. Whilst I have the A5 size, they also do this design in a pocket size and an A4 – the hole spacing is uniform across the different sizes and the hole punch will work for any of them. However, you don’t have to have the special punch – it is possible to use a standard hole punch and cut slots into each hole, which is how I have incorporated the pages from my A5 Mark + Fold diary into this cover:

10-05-19 Diary FoFN

I shall be very interested to see how this notebook holds up over time, but my first impressions are positive and I am more likely to use this long-term than the ring-planners I have used before, or than a bound bullet journal style of book.

Hope this has been of a little interest to you. I feel next week it would be nice to get away from the stationery theme and share something different – we shall see. Until then, I hope you all have a good weekend and find some time to enjoy yourselves.


Jarrolds is a department store based in Norwich with a long history of stationery and art products, not to mention a decent book department. They have gone rather up-market over recent years and have recently moved their stationery from the ground floor up to the third floor, but I am trying not to hold that against them.


 

Ring planner experiments – the inserts

National Stationery Week Day 4

02-05-19 Dividers

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 4 and my second post showing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner (previous post here). I have been concentrating on the nerdy part – testing various pens and papers to see what might or might not work and some of the results have surprised me.

First, though, I have made some dividers from heavy-weight scrap-booking paper with typed labels. I haven’t laminated the dividers and there are two reasons for that. Whilst I accept that lamination increases durability, it also adds bulk and it covers paper (a material that can be recycled) with plastic (a material that cannot). Previously when I’ve used Filofax and Kikki K systems I have not had any problem with paper dividers. Protection comes in the form of the clear plastic flyleaf from my Filofax Original which sits in front of the first divider and a decorated flyleaf from a Kikki K planner add-on set which lives at the back. I also use a bit of clear sticky tape to cover the label area, but that’s as far as I go.

(Photos of the ink tests are at the foot of this post; click on photos to go to full-size.)

In choosing which paper to print my experimental inserts onto, I have used the paper from Mark and Fold (120gsm, made in Aberdeenshire) as my benchmark. It’s what I have in my current diary and it’s a very hard act to follow with no bleedthrough from any of the pens tested and less showthrough visible to the naked eye than caught on camera.

I also used the following pens:

  • Parker 51 medium nib filled with Lamy Peridot ink – this pen writes much wetter than many of my fountain pens and there was bleedthrough on the majority of papers.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue ink – this is the combination I’ve been using extensively in my current diary.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink – I find Herbin inks often bleed through paper.
  • Cross Century II  filled with Lamy Ruby ink.
  • Parker 51 fine nib filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink.
  • Uni Emott pens in pale pink (colour 68), deep pink (colour 67), plum (colour 80), lilac (colour 34) and pale blue-grey (colour 81).

 

I tried these out on a selection of papers with my fountain pens and had the following results:-

  • Some random notepaper from The Works, gsm unknown – no bleedthrough, and less showthrough than many of the others I tested; stood up surprisingly well to the pen test. I just have a few sheets of this paper which I will use in the Notes section
  • Kikki K standard inserts which came with the ring-planner, gsm unknown – bleedthrough with Lamy Peridot ink in the medium-nib Parker 51 which is a gusher, showthrough with all the inks. I have a lot of To Do sheets and note sheets to use up (anyone who has bought a Kikki K planner knows they come with a lot of note sheets)
  • Filofax floral decorated inserts (the 2016 iteration) – some bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough minimal as it is disguised by the pattern. I just have a couple of To Do lists to use up
  • Basildon Bond Personal Writing Paper, possibly 90gsm, but not confirmed – no bleedthrough from any of the inks, showthrough was pretty much in line with Kikki K paper
  • Copier paper, 120gsm – just to prove the weight isn’t the only deciding factor, this has significant bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination and a tiny amount from the Herbin Poussiere de Lune in the Waterman Hemisphere and from the Lamy Ruby in the Cross Century II, however there was almost no showthrough.
  • Copier paper, 90gsm – I would say worst performance overall with bleedthrough on Parker/Lamy, Waterman/Herbin and Waterman/Graf von Faber-Castell combinations, showthrough about on a par with the Kikki K inserts.
  • Coloured copier paper, 80gsm – I tried two colours with no bleedthrough on the blue paper and bleedthrough on the cream paper only using the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough was negligible on the blue, more pronounced on the cream but still at an acceptable level.

 

Initially, I intend to print my diary inserts (week on two pages horizontal format from Philofaxy free printable) onto the cream 80gsm paper simply because I don’t intend to use the sheets long-term. When it comes to preparing for next year I would be tempted to buy an A4 pad of Rhodia paper which is well-behaved with fountain pen inks. I would also probably choose a paid-for printable from one of the many on Etsy over the free printable, just based on the fact that it really irritates me that the format I prefer doesn’t use capital letters for the names of the days and months.

This is a mega-post, but I want to mention one thing before I go – how much easier it is to print out your own inserts if your printer does duplex printing. My new-ish HP Envy printer is a big improvement in this regard.

Thank you if you have stuck with this through to the bitter end. Here is your reward – the dividers in the planner!

02-05-19 KK + Dividers

See you tomorrow when I should have photos of the filled planner.


Ring planner experiments – the basics

National Stationery Week Day 2

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 2 and the first of four posts in which I will be detailing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner. Today I have chosen the planner I will use for the experiment – I thought I would use my Filofax Original Fuchsia Patent, but instead I have chosen my Kikki K medium size in the blue colourway from their We Are All Creative range released in 2017. Got to go with what calls to you on the day, right? This is a leather planner with a fabric lining and their standard pocket layout inside. It is a structured binder (as opposed to floppy ones like the Filofax Malden and the offerings from Gillio and Van der Spek), this is just my preference. It is quite lightweight without any inserts, but if you choose you can fit plenty in it on its 30mm rings. The hardware is silver-coloured although it looks rather gold in this photo.

30-04-19 Creative

As to inserts, it is my intention to print these using papers I already have to hand using free printables from Philofaxy or to my own designs. Keep an eye out for more on this subject in my next National Stationery Week post where I will be experimenting with combinations of pens and paper to come up with the best pairing for the experiment.

First, though, I want to quickly address why I am calling this is an experimental set-up. I am pretty sure that I will be happy to keep using my Mark and Fold Diary for the rest of this year, but National Stationery Week seems like an opportunity to play about with a Filofax-style planning set-up and it may give you some ideas, or helpful information. I have to stress that this won’t be a tried-and-trusted planning system, although it will be one I intend to work with for a while, with an eye on next year’s requirements. There is a lot to like about my current diary: the paper quality, plenty of room to write in a quote each week which I do like in my diary, clear minimalist aesthetic. On the downside, some days I don’t have quite enough room, I generally prefer something other than the vertical column design, it’s an A5 bound book and I don’t tend to take it out of the house because I also have to carry a separate notebook. Taking everything into account, the paper quality really is good enough to balance any number of other design elements.

As to the pens I will be using, the set-up needs to accommodate my fountain pens shown below (left to right these are the recently acquired Parker 51 which is a bit of a gusher compared to my other pens; the blue Waterman Hemisphere; the Rose Cuivre Waterman Hemisphere; the blue Cross Century II looking just gorgeous in this photo; and my original Parker 51). Also in the photograph is a set of Uni Emott coloured pens bought specially for Stationery Week so I can show you some colour-coding. These write very well, although the pale pink and pale blue-grey are very pale indeed.

30-04-19 Pens

I hope this has piqued your interest and you will join me later in the week as the set-up progresses.

Tomorrow, though, for my knitting fans, I’ve got a finished object and I am over the moon!


 

“The Way We Were”

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?

19-04-19 Black 51

Ah, the good old days, the good old days. You will remember them – back at the end of March when I was writing about the black Parker 51 fountain pen pictured above. But time moves inexorably on and now…

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There’s a new kid on the block!

There’s a ‘new’ old Parker 51 fountain pen for me to play with (many thanks to my mate Glen). I am in the process of doing the soaking and flushing routine to get it completely clean then I will see if/how it writes.

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These two pens are remote siblings. The big differences are in age and location. The burgundy pen was made in the USA whereas my black version is marked Made in England. I am pretty sure the burgundy version is the older of the two, but dating is not the easiest thing (I have spent an hour this morning sitting in a dating rabbit-hole of my own making). However, at the end of the day dates are of minor interest only; the important thing is enjoyment and I am certainly enjoying the new addition to the pen family. It may be a temporary resident chez moi – if I get it working well then I will offer it back to its real owner. If it does end up with me long-term then I certainly won’t complain.

I hope your weekend brings some pleasurable finds with it.