28 Apr 2016

my study week #11: psychiatry notes

Last year on psychiatry placement, we had problem based learning on a weekly basis and this required some note-taking and self-directed learning on my part. Here were some of the notes I made :) I used a Pilot Kakuno in fine to write them, Diamine blue-black was my ink of choice and a Zebra Mildliner to highlight through some underlining.

26 Apr 2016

2010 - 2016: my archived planner pages

Last month, I dug out my old inserts from 2010 onwards and I thought it would make a nice blog post on how things have changed! Prepare for some shocking examples of my youthful mindset compared to my slightly more grown up one ;) I've put what planner I was using alongside each year too.

2010 - Filofax Finchley

Here, I actually used fountain pen to write in my Filofax! You can see that it is quite messy but still colourful and it actually makes me cringe looking at my 2010 inserts.

2011 - Filofax Finchley/Osterley

Here, we have a more muted layout. Much less colour but a bit more organisation. I also stuck in a business card from Harrods. One of my friends at the time had a penchant for expensive watches and I decided to go with him one day to look at some. It made for a fun afternoon out but also made me realise that I was happy not spending thousands on a watch!

2012 - Filofax Alice Temperley The Affair/Osterley

How much colour?! Washi tape?! Stickers? This was the year where I started to make my planner that bit 'cuter' and on reflection, it just looks quite juvenile to me.

2013 - Smythson Bond Street organiser

These Smythson inserts added a bit of luxury to my day-to-day planning but I still hadn't decided to calm down with my colour, sticker and washi tape usage. I do like my handwriting in these inserts though!

2014 - Smythson Bond Street organiser/Filofax Metropol Compact Orange

Back to those white Filofax inserts. Because the quality of them was so poor, I mainly used Muji Erasable pens in them and Muji gels. I like the amount of white space in the above example.

2015 - Seeso The Planner

My first year back in a bound planner and I was definitely enjoying the increase in space as you can see. I like how there is still colour but not to an excessive amount and it does look a bit more grown up than the previous years.

2016 - Rifle Paper Co planner

There is a distinct lack of stickers here and I quite like it. Although some weeks, there are a few dotted around, I've chosen to use more discrete ones now and washi tape is used much more sparingly. 

- - -

I've changed a lot as a person and not least as a blogger over the last six years and I think the same can be said for my planner weeks too.

Do you keep your old planners? If so, do you ever look back at them and then realise how much you've changed? It's fascinating, right?!

24 Apr 2016

my week #210

April has been a bizarre month for me so far: I've had a lot of personal life changes and news that's made studying difficult. Add on the various projects I'm currently doing to gain an understanding of the auditing and publishing process and you'll get one super tired Angela. Luckily, I've been on a week of lectures but even so, I feel drained this weekend. Definitely time for some R&R before two weeks of cardiology which starts tomorrow!

How has your week been?

21 Apr 2016

in search of the perfect blue-black ink #7: diamine prussian blue

Next up in my quest is Diamine Prussian Blue. Prussian blue looks a bit too washed out for my liking, however, it would look good in my journal though where I prefer something more muted. I think that's what it'll ultimately be used for. There is a slight green hue to it too and it is still a great ink (I honestly haven't had a bad word to say about Diamine inks so far!).

Previously tried and tested blue-blacks: 
Platinum Blue-Black cartridges / Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite / Diamine Twilight / Diamine Blue-Black / Lamy Blue Black cartridges / Diamine Denim

19 Apr 2016

fountain pens for beginners: from a novice to a beginner

Having been using fountain pens for the last three years 'full-time', I feel that I may have now crossed the line from being a beginner to a novice. I still have a lot to learn but I definitely feel a bit more confident when talking about nibs, tines, feedback, inks and all things fountain pen related. Today, I thought I'd write a bit of a beginner's guide to fountain pens for people similar to me: someone who wants a fountain pen that writes well, suits my handwriting style and also looks good.

How to choose a fountain pen?

Top to bottom: Pilot Kakuno, Lamy Safari, Kaweco Skyline Sport, Platinum Plaisir. Just a few examples of some great beginner fountain pens in my collection.
1) What will you be using it for? 
If it will be a heavy duty pen, you'll most likely want a durable pen that is a pleasure to use and look at. In this sense, you might want to pay a bit more but on the flip side, a pen that gets used a lot may also get bashed around a lot so you may want to limit how much you spend.

2) How big is your handwriting? 
If you have medium to small handwriting, you may want to consider a thinner nib. This is why I always go for at least a fine or an extra fine with most of my fountain pens. However, broader nibs can be good for calligraphy so again, it depends on what you want to use your pen for.

3) How big/small are your hands? 
Some pens, when unposted (i.e. without placing the cap on the end of the pen barrel), can be very short and would suit someone with smaller hands but may also suit others with larger hands with the cap posted. However, some pens are still short with the cap posted (e.g. the Kaweco Skyline Sport) so definitely bear this in mind if pen length matters to you.

4) Do you like heavy or light pens? 
Pens made of metal will obviously be a bit heavier than those made of plastic so if you're used to using a lightweight Muji gel or a Bic biro, a metal pen that could moonlight as a paperweight may not be the pen for you initially. Over time, you may prefer a heavier pen but it's best to start off with a lightweight plastic one if you're unsure or completely new to all this.

5) What is your budget?
This could be the biggest influencing factor in deciding which pen is your first. There are pens to suit all budgets and most brands offer an entry-level fountain pen.


Left to right: Lamy Safari in extra fine, Pilot Kakuno in fine, Pilot Vanishing Point in fine, TWSBI 580AL in fine, Pelikan M400 in extra fine.
Nibs are a tricky area. We mentioned earlier that you might prefer a finer one if your handwriting is small but how do you know if an extra-fine nib is too fine? Ultimately, it's hard to tell without trying a pen out but this page can give you an idea if a nib would suit you.

The main things to remember is that Japanese nibs are generally finer than their European counterparts. So for example, my Pilot Kakuno fine nib writes a much finer than than even my Lamy Safari extra-fine.

Some pens have nibs that are interchangeable and Lamy Safari and Al-Stars are the perfect example of this. With replacement nibs only a few quid each, they are an inexpensive way for you to find your ideal Lamy nib. However, the same nib width can even vary from pen to pen so often, it's best to buy in person if you can.

Finally, some brands have nibs that are beautifully designed. The most notable one in my collection is my Pelikan M400 (the one on the far right of the picture below).

Let's Talk Ink

Clockwise from top left: Sailor Jentle cartridge ink in blue-black, Pilot blue cartridges, Platinum blue-black cartridges, J. Herbin Rouille d'ancre bottled ink, J. Herbin vert pre bottled ink, Diamine blue-black bottled ink.
The main things here are bottled ink versus cartridge ink. Most pens give you the option to invest in a converter which can be refilled with bottled ink too.

Bottled Ink
An obvious advantage to bottled ink is that they are much cheaper compared to cartridges. My favourite beginner inks are Diamine ones and they are priced reasonably too. However, they can be messy and inconvenient to use but you can choose from a very wide variety of colours!

Cartridge Ink
Cartridges can be carried around with you whenever you're away from home but they are a lot more expensive (per millilitre) compared to bottled ink. There is also less to choose from in terms of coloured ink. Also, if you have a variety of fountain pens from different brands, you may find that some pens only take their own-brand cartridges. Do your research about this as I've found that my Kaweco Skyline Sport take international cartridges and they can be bought on the cheap from stores such as Rymans, WH Smith, Staples, etc.

These are great if you want to use your own bottled ink in an otherwise cartridge-only fountain pen. They are usually inexpensive but some definitely work better than others. Another way to use your own ink is to keep old cartridges, wash them out and then using a syringe and needle, refill old cartridges that way.

Piston Fillers
Piston filler fountain pens are usually in the mid-higher end price range. One advantage is that they can usually hold a lot more ink than a cartridge/converter and you can elect to use whatever bottled ink you want. However, they can be messy to refill!

Famous Last Words

Main Thing: do your research! Fountain Pen Network is a great forum to browse (and may also be the reason why you have no money left for food at the end of the month...!) and there are at least one or two reviews of most fountain pens out there. I'm not a member of the forum but it's a great resource for anyone interested in fountain pens and fountain pen ink.

- Start cheap then work your way up once you know what you're after!

- Try and see if you can try out the pen in person first before ordering online (or buy from an independent store!).

My Recommendations
Bear in mind that I have smaller handwriting so my recommendations will be slightly biased towards that! I've put what kind of pen they are in brackets too.

Low price (less than £10): Pilot Kakuno (cartridge/converter), Platinum Plaisir (cartridge/converter)

Moderate (less than £30): Lamy Safari (cartridge/converter), Lamy Al-Star (cartridge/converter), Kaweco Skyline (cartridge/converter)

Moderate (more than £30): Pilot Prera (cartridge/converter), TWSBI Eco (piston filler), TWSBI Diamond 580 (piston filler)

Unlimited: Pilot VP/Capless (cartridge/converter), Platinum 3776 Century (cartridge/converter)

I hope this is helpful for some of you :) 

17 Apr 2016

my week #209

Ten weeks of surgery placement done and dusted - and I'm left feeling a little sad. I loved the variety of theatre, clinic, ward work, ward rounds and everything else and now that I have ten weeks of medicine placement, I'm not quite sure how to feel. It could be really good though so my mind is staying open :)

The final years finished their exams earlier this week too and it's all a bit scary thinking that I'll be in that situation this time next year if everything goes to plan.

How has your week been?

14 Apr 2016

something different: 100 tasks in twelve months

Over the last few years, I've done various checklist-style challenges: 1001 tasks in 101 days, 30 before 30, etc. This year, I wanted to do something that fit in with my current 1001 in 101 challenge but was also achievable in the space of a year. Originally, I intended it to be 100 tasks in six months but I changed it to twelve because I realised some of them would be achieved in October time, thus breaching the six months!

You'll notice most of the tasks are quite simplistic ones (e.g. see a movie) but that's the whole point. Checking off tasks on a to-do list releases happy endorphins, for me at the very least, so I wanted to make them all achievable. I started this list on the 12th of February which leaves me until the 12th of February 2017 to get them all done. Some of them also belong to my 1001 in 101 days list. I've also tried to ensure that the tasks cover my career, personal life and blog life and it was fun thinking of small, simple but also slightly challenging things to add to the list!

Please excuse the rough nature of my list - it perhaps shows how short term this 'challenge' is meant to be :)

Are you tempted to do something like this? :)

12 Apr 2016

platinum plaisir: introducing and impression

Late in 2015, I acquired my first Platinum Plaisir because I really loved my Platinum 3776 Century Nice and wanted something a bit cheaper to lug around on the wards. I originally plumped for the silver one and then added a purple to my collection a little while later. Both are from Cult Pens, a company I can recommend for their amazing service, quick dispatch times and competitive prices.

The Platinum Plaisir is a super cheap cartridge fountain pen that writes extremely well. I think I prefer the purple one because the silver barrel is just a bit too reflective and shows up finger prints a bit too well for my liking. Though I like the weird metallic design, it does mean that it isn't the best for gripping. It's comfortable but in more humid climates or those with sweatier hands may find it a difficult pen to hold on to! It definitely feels very cheap but that's because it is! If I were to lose it on placement, I don't think I would be too gutted (though maybe mildly annoyed at myself).

It is a great starter fountain pen: lightweight, two nib sizes to choose from (0.3mm and 0.5mm), a wide range of barrel colours and easy and comfortable to hold. It writes like a dream (super smooth with little to no feedback) and it wrote as soon as the cartridge was inserted (some of the cheaper Parkers take a while to get going out of the box on previous experience!).

Overall, I am super impressed with this pen. I don't think it'll be replacing my Lamy Safari as my go-to placement pen anytime soon but never say never! I love the muted metallic lilac colour and how lightweight it is. Sometimes, I have more than one pen on my lanyard and this may well be my second choice alongside my Lamy!

Have you tried the Plaisir? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

10 Apr 2016

my week #208 - four years of this feature!

I can't believe it's been four years since I started this feature. Four years ago, I was in the final year of my first degree and now I'm in my penultimate year of medical school. How time flies and if you'd told me back then that I'd be just over a year from being a doctor, I think I'd have laughed it off as a mean joke!

Anyway, this week was actually pretty good. Breast surgery is really interesting and it made me realise that I'm a much bigger fan of open surgery rather than laparoscopic stuff. Breast surgeons are also really nice and have a great sense of humour. Friday was my theatre day and it ended up being a hilarious and educational experience! I love days like these :)

How was your week?

7 Apr 2016

year three: term two essentials

Third year is going by too quickly - I can't believe I'm 2/3 of the way through my penultimate year and before long, exams pending, I'll be 3/4 of the way through medical school. I definitely feel like I'm doing something I love with medicine and I don't regret choosing this journey. It's not been an easy one, that's for sure, and (without going into too much detail) balancing everything has made me grow up a lot and also made me a better student for sure.

Anyway, enough sentimental talk! Onto this term's essentials. I've mainly been on surgery (with the exception of a few weeks' where I was finishing paediatrics, had a week of palliative care and also a week of lectures).

From right to left: Hobonichi Techo, Oxford Handbook of Clinical Surgery, Diamine blue-black ink, Pilot Vanishing Point in Raden, Lamy Safari in Coral.
I've barely had time to study this term but fortunately, I'd done most of the hard work prior to this so all my revision notes are in place. My Hobonichi has been priceless in organising my daily and weekly timetables (really important for surgery as we have to keep a log book that gets handed into the admin people at university) and I love how well the Tomoe River paper takes fountain pen.

The Oxford Handbook has been super helpful when in clinic and when I urgently need to look something up! In terms of stationery, I've gone through a fair bit of Diamine Blue-Black ink this term too (I think it might be my favourite ink out of all the ones I've tried). My Lamy Safari and Pilot VP have seen the most use out of all my pens this term too.

I've managed to keep up journaling at least once a week so far this year. This journal my sister got me for Christmas has been great - the paper takes fountain pen extremely well and the prettiness of it makes journaling a pleasure. My go-to pen for writing in it is my TWSBI 580AL.

Finally, I definitely don't drink enough whilst on placement and these Bkr bottles are helping me improve on this. Each of them hold 500ml - one comes with me everywhere I go (clinic, ward round, etc) and the other one goes in my main bag. I know I said I would review these bottles and I promise I will soon!

That's pretty much it for my second term - it's just flown by and knowing that I'll be a doctor next year is a scary but exciting thought!

5 Apr 2016

in search of the perfect blue-black ink #6: diamine blue-black

Here, I venture further into the bottled ink world (I am still pretty new to all this!) in the form of Diamine Blue-Black. This was actually my first bottle of any shade of blue-black ink and so I've had the chance to try it out in a number of fountain pens: Platinum 3776 Century Nice, Pilot Kakuno, Pilot Vanishing Point and Pelikan M400. The great thing is that it looks good in all of these pens and I can't imagine it looking bad in any pen at all. So much so that I think we may already have a winner. However, I still have a few others to try yet so let's not jump to conclusions...

Previously tried blue-black inks: Platinum blue-black cartridgesPelikan Edelstein Tanzanite,  Diamine TwilightLamy Blue Black cartridges and Diamine Denim.

How it looks in my notes (written with a Pelikan M400 in EF):

Diamine might just be my favourite ink brand... (And no, I've not been paid to say this!)

3 Apr 2016

my week #207

My two week break has come to an end (say whaaaaaaat) and I feel like I've not done much at all! This week, the weather has turned nicer and as a result, I've definitely felt my mood lift. The clocks going forward have also helped.

With the release of Me Before You in June, I thought I'd take this break as an opportunity to read it properly (the first time, I only got to half-way before putting it down). I'm always apprehensive about seeing a film after reading the book as I've found that, on the whole, film adaptations don't tend to do the book justice...

This week was meant to be the end of my three month shopping ban but unfortunately, I only lasted two and a half months. As a result of this, I'm going to do another three month block in May, June and July. I'm going to write a list of things exempt from this (food, essentials, a limit on how much I'm allowed to spend on entertainment, etc) but it'll mainly be for clothes, shoes and beauty products (first world girl problems, eh).

How has your week been?