Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oxford Pocket Notebook

I picked these pocket notebooks in Tesco the other day. They were in a pack of two for £1.20. They are branded as Popnotes and are 90mmx170mm in size and made by Oxford. Basically pocket notebooks of the cahier variety with a range of different covers obviously some aimed at women (i.e. they are pink zzzz) and some aimed at men (i.e. dark colours zzzz).

I chose these pinstripe ones as I quite liked the office style of them. They are part of the Oxford office range I think and contain their 90g white lined Optik paper (48 pages) which they say can be written on both sides without show through. It certainly isn't too bad for that. I wonder if someone can tell me however, why Oxford branded products have such a poor web presence? There is a link on the back of the notebooks which takes you to a portal of European sites. The only UK one is for the Black and Red brand. I finally found these particular products on the German site which is way better. I guess it's the result of lots of brands owned by one unmbrella company but their products are good and marketing is so poor.

Anyway I thought they seemed great value for a good quality product so had to pop them in my trolley. They seem much better than Moleskine cahiers though not everyone likes good quality white paper... Compared with Field Notes and Doane Paper notebooks they perhaps lack the 'cool' but in terms of use I think they will hold up well.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Quo Vadis Notebook-first impressions

I came home this evening to find a parcel all the way from the USA in my post box. How exciting! In it was a Quo Vadis Habana Notebook from Karen Doherty at Exaclair. This company is the US distributor of Clairefontaine, Rhodia and Quo Vadis. European brands of course which makes it slightly bemusing that I was sent one from the US. It's also not that easy to get access to these brands in the UK, certainly not the whole range pf products which is even more bemusing.
Karen sent me a black, 6"x9" lined Habana notebook that contains 80 pages of 90g Clairefontaine paper. I loved my visit to Cuba so I like the name already, and surprised that it's allowed in the US with a name like that! I guess it's the Hemingway connection to notebooks being used again. Incidentally i didn't bother going into Hemingway's cocktail haunt in Habana (La Floridita) but had plenty of mojitos and Cuba Libras on my travels.

So I must admit I am writing this while the initial excitement is still with me. Once I start using it I shall review properly and this is where I come to my first problem. I already feel this is too good to use! I've raised this problem before. I have no hesitation in getting stuck in to an inexpensive notebook but often have more luxurious notebooks lying unused. So it has a luxurious feel about it. The cover is leather-like and is flexible. I like this. It is perhaps in between a hard cover and soft cover Moleskine in it's flexibility. It has an elastic closure and pocket on the back inside cover. All familiar stuff. The size makes it about 3.5cm longer and 1.5cm wider than my usual A5 sized notebook and it does feel oddly long in my hands so it remains to be seen if the size will suit me.

However it is what's inside that counts (as your mother will tell you) and I have to admit up front that I love Clairefontaine paper. What's interesting is that this journal contains extra white paper and it looks to me as if the ones I can buy here in the UK contain ivory paper. Many folk prefer ivory I know but this 90g extra white paper is a favourite of mine and is contained in Clairefontaine's stapled exercise books which I use. At £1.99 for a 48 page exercise book you can see why I might use more of them than a £16 Habana journal ($20 in the USA). However this is a notebook that I wouldn't use to scrawl down my meeting notes, more likely I will use it for journal style writing. I don't keep a regular journal as such but do write down thoughts, interesting news stories, poems etc. I can imagine myself carrying it about in my Timbuk2 messenger bag (yes I still love it) and sitting in a cafe having coffee and bringing it out to write amazing pieces of prose. I've seen another blog where the white paper was described as office type paper but I don't feel that way about it.

I was also interested to see it is made in the USA but obviously uses French paper. I thought it would have been imported.

So while I haven't yet used it I already know that the paper is a joy to write on in pencil, felt tip, fountain pen and liquid ink pens because I'm familiar with the paper. Now the only thing I need to do is work up to writing something in it...after I've picked it up and looked at it and put it down and picked it up another few dozen times.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Field Notes

I've started writing in my Field Notes notebook. I succumbed after a particularly bad journey home frm work. One of those pitch black, raining can't see a thing nights. I just clicked the Buy button at Paperie. They had the colors items in stock. I had to choose between the Green Letterpress edition and the Autumn colors. I liked them both and it was hard to choose but I couldn't justify buying them both. I plumped for the green as you can see. I liked the idea of the green colour ink for the grid. UK postage is free on this item and when it arrived I saw it cost 72p. So it was okay for £8.25 for a special edition (the standard Field Notes is £7.95 with free delivery). The service was great from the Paperie and the notebooks arrived in 2 days.

I felt that these should be used for data though I may change my mind for the other ones. So it seemed right that when as part of my mid life crisis I bought a step machine that I would use it to record my progress. I also decided to lose a bit of weight too so I am also recording my food intake. I have done Scottish Slimmers in the past and use their 25kcal=1 check counting method. So I'm recording weight, exercise and diet plus any wee snippets of inspiration. I've gone for colour with my pens too and have been using Stabilo Pen 88 minis with it. They go well on the paper with not much show throw on the other side of the page. The paper is much better than the terrible paper in Moleskine cahiers and maybe a bit smoother than Doane paper utility books but same amount of show through I'd say.

I like the way it will fit in any pocket and it's image of utility forms part of my perception of it so I'm happy to pop it in my pocket or throw it in my bag. It's not precious I guess is what I'm trying to say. I do like it a lot. So much in fact that I ordered a pack of the Winter Colors direct from Field Notes Brand in the USA. A total extravagance with $11 postage but I figure it works out about £12 rather than £8. Christmas to myself? I'm hoping that the fact that I like recording stuff in it will keep me going with the fitness regime. I have a habit of losing a bit of weight then stopping recording what I eat when I'm happy with the weight I reached and it's better to keep a food diary all the time, then it's obvious if you're eating to much too often. That sounds like I'm obsessive about my weight but I'm not. Just know it's easy to ea too much in this world.

So I think they are a winner with me. Using my Doane Paper Utility notebook too so may contrast and compare sometime soon

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


I was walking past the bookcase today when my beloved Filofax caught my eye. I've had it for a long time now. It's personal sized leather with a clasp and pen loop. It's maybe 10-15 years old I'm not entirely sure. I used it faithfully for work until 2005 then as my appointments seemed to become more complex I had turned first to a Palm and then back to analogue but not to my Filofax. I seem to remember it being reduced in WhSmith or somewhere like that.

Before this I'd used a pocket Filofax. A simple black leather one that I carried everywhere in work for notes. My diary wasn't very complex back then but I needed to be able to keep my notes safe yet discard them later.

Well imagine my surprise today when I picked it out and it wasn't a Filofax at all it was a Microfile! All this time I'd thought I as a Filofax owner and in act I've been a (I assume) cheaper imitation. I cant think when I saw a Microfile brand so I guess Filofax maintained their existence better than Microfile did. Some of the inserts inside were original microfile but most were Filofax.

Then I came across a plastic Filofax style binder with Savory and Moore priced on the front. I guess lots of companies were keen on providing filofax style binders in the late 80s and early 90s and encouraging time management activities. Sadly Savory and Moore a small pharmacy chain didnt stand the test of time either and were taken over by another company. I shall try and post photos of these items soon.