Friday, 16 November 2012

Papelote elastic notebook strap: review

I’m not a big fan of pencil-cases. I’m not sure why. Maybe they remind me of school (which I largely loathed). I much prefer either tucking a pen into a horizontal closure on a notebook (e.g. on the Ciak notebooks) or having a stick-on pen holder (e.g. the Leuchtturm 1917 pen loops) or something like this: the Papelote elastic pen holder/notebook strap.

I have a number of A4 notebooks with no elastic closure on them and thought this would be a great combination for keeping the book closed and also carrying a variety of pens. I bought this one before I went to Malawi and road-tested it there and am now using it on the Clairefontaine Age Bag book (which I reviewed here).

I bought mine from The Journal Shop. I got mine in grey so that it would go with a number of notebooks but the band comes in lots of different colours.

Here it is loaded with some of my go-to pens:

Left to right:
Pilot V5 hi-tecpoint 0.5, Parker Vector fountain pen, standard pencil, a Bic crystal biro (don’t all kill me at once – they have their uses!) and a Parker Esprit fountain pen.

As you can see, despite the variety in size of writing implement (the pencil being the slimmest, to the Parker Esprit being the chunkiest), they are all held well by the elastic holder. Even when you take the elastic holder off the book, the pens are held together well. The band fits beautifully over the A4 notebook (which is about 1cm thick, but it would easily stretch to fit thicker ones) and holds it closed perfectly.

As I say, this got road-tested well out in Malawi and it stood up superbly to the rigours of being wrapped around a notebook and lobbed into a bag. No pen or pencil ever fell out and the band never slipped off the book by accident. All in all it worked exactly as you would hope and expect.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Review of the Clairefontaine Age Bag notebook

Apologies for the long delay in posting any new items. I was in Malawi for a while and I returned from there very unwell. Mostly better now (and thankfully I didn’t have malaria!).

Anyway, I know I owe a zillion other reviews of pens and ink and other things, but I’m going to review my new Clairefontaine Age Bag notebook from Bureau Direct for no better reason than I already want to write in it, and once I have written in it, I won’t want to take pictures for the blog of what I have been writing!

I wanted an A4 notebook because I’m wanting to rework the outline of a novel I’m writing. The writing filofax has been doing pretty well, but I have found that sometimes, I want the space to write and draw out huge mind-maps that A5 sheets in a filofax doesn’t help with. The first book I wrote, I planned out in an A4 Moleskine and loved that space etc. Admittedly, the writing filofax has been good for filing things and moving them around, but I really am missing that space.

I’d considered another A4 Moleskine, but frankly, they just cost too much! I wanted an A4 notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. Coming in at under £6, this notebook seemed ideal.

On to the walk-through.

The cover is thick card with an embossed in pattern to make it look like leather. I bought the green, but there are several colours available. On the front, in the bottom right-hand corner, is the Clairefontaine logo, embossed into the card fairly discreetly.

Front cover

Embossed logo

On the back cover is a self-adhesive label describing the paper, both in terms of its texture and its origins. My book has now had the label removed! It peeled off easily without leaving a scummy mark.

Back cover

Close-up of the label

The book binding is cloth-bound, rather than sewn and so it doesn’t quite have the flattability that a sewn binding would have, but, for £6 I can’t moan!

The only problem with it being cloth-bound is that the first lined page is starting to detach but as that first page is also stuck to the first page in the book – a white page – it’s not a problem for me. I will be using the first page as an index page.

First page becoming detached

Paper and Line-spacing:
The paper is white, with a gloriously smooth texture. Line-spacing is at 8mm, in feint, with no margins. There are 33 lines per page. The corners of the pages are rounded.

There is no elastic around the book to close it – neither a vertical band like the Moleskine (which I hate anyway) nor a horizontal one like the Ciak (which you can put a pen in). Nor is there any ribbon marker to mark the page. Frankly, neither of these factors bother me. As I say, I don’t like vertical bands as you can’t keep a pen in them. I also recently bought a Papelote elastic pen holder (shown below) which will hold up to five pens or pencils and also hold the book closed and I will be using that on the book. [I will review the Papelote properly soon!]

Papelote elastic binder (currently empty)
As for the lack of a ribbon marker – if I was really needing to mark the page I would stick a Post-It note in! It isn’t a deal-breaker for me, for what this book will be used for.

Fountain Pen Friendliness:
Now, you may have to take my word a little for this as I don’t want to photograph much of what I’ve written in it! I have used the wettest, most challenging fountain pen to write “Index” on the front page. There is no feathering and a little (acceptable to me at least) bleed-through. That was with the Parker italic nib and Waterman violet tendresse ink – by far the most challenging combination for paper in my fountain pen collection!

No feathering
Acceptable level (to me at least!) of bleed-through

 My more modest (less challenging) combo is a Parker Vector with J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink. I have written over most of the first page with this and there is no feathering and almost no bleed-through. Here are some close-ups of a few words!

No feathering - J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink, Parker Vecor nib

Reverse side - acceptable bleed-through
This is a good value, entry-level, fountain pen friendly A4 notebook. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a Moleskine, but it is a fraction of the price. If you want a reasonably priced, attractive-looking notebook that is fountain pen friendly, then this will suit your needs. If you want something with ribbon-markers and sewn-bindings and a bigger ‘name’ look elsewhere.