20 Jun 2018

introducing: the pilot vanishing point decimo champagne fountain pen in a fine nib

When I graduated from medical school, it felt like a real accomplishment: so many years of hard work getting to this point, striving towards what I had wanted for years. And to commemorate this, I wanted to get something special. One option was jewellery but anything on the wrist or hands would not be allowed at work and necklaces don't go with every outfit.

The obvious choice was therefore... a pen. I bet you didn't expect any less, right?

This pen wasn't purchased until a few months' into my job because I wanted to feel like I really earned it. And as I'm doing some paid teaching of medical students, I used those funds to go towards my chosen pen. A pen I had been yearning after for years... The Pilot Decimo in champagne pink.


It really as beautiful as I had fully expected. The thinner barrel, compared to the standard Vanishing Point, makes for a pleasant writing experience. I find it is more comfortable in the hand compared to the Vanishing Point. The retractable nature of it means a cap can never be lost and if you're writing something where there may be long pauses, retracting the nib isn't as tedious as capping and uncapping.


The champagne pink colour is sophisticated and isn't overly feminine. This pen definitely feels grown up enough to represent a major landmark in my life so far. 


The nib is just... amazing. It writes a smooth, fine line with little to no feedback. Because of the slimmer barrel and fairly lightweight nature of this pen, it would be a comfortable pen to use for longer note taking sessions. However, I tend not to use it for too long and that's maybe because when it comes to things I treasure, I use them sparingly! I guess this thought will have to change.

As always, the clip location isn't for everyone but it encourages you to hold a pen in the conventional way. If you're unsure if the clip will bother you, I'd encourage you to try one of these pens out in person. Though if you did, you'd run the risk of not being able to resist taking one home with you...

Overall, this is a pen that'll always remind me of finishing medical school and starting my life as a doctor. And whether that's a good or bad thing will remain to be seen... But I'm sure this pen will always be too beautiful for me to hate. Thus, making me look back at this period of my life with a heartwarming feeling.

13 Jun 2018

pen comparison: wing sung 3008 and the TWSBI Diamond 580AL

The Wing Sung 3008 is an almost identical copy of the TWSBI 580AL Diamond. There are a few differences but these are fairly minor. These include that the grip section is clear on the Wing Sung but is a block colour in the TWSBI, then there is the TWSBI logo at the end of the cap whereas the Wing Sung one is blank and finally the nib has more engraving on the TWSBI offering.

When it comes to performance, the Wing Sung is lighter but it doesn't feel badly made either. Both are comfortable in hand and neither seem to feel evenly weighted when posted. In terms of writing experience, the Wing Sung seems to be better for longer sessions due to its slightly lighter design.

Both nibs are smooth and the Wing Sung nib is actually pretty amazing for a pen costing so little. It is  smooth, very little feedback and consistent - more than can be said for some other nibs on the market at a higher price point.

The TWSBI appears to have a higher ink capacity though I haven't formally measured the two pens to compare. Both piston mechanisms are easy to use and don't feel flimsy. The big selling point of TWSBI originally was that they offered fountain pens with a piston mechanism at an affordable price-point but I would argue that the Wing Sung is just as good an offering at a much lower cost, especially if you're new to piston fillers.

Both pens have their merits and it'll all come down to what you want. The ink capacity is similar, the design is similar and both nibs appear to write equally well. The main differentiating factor is the price difference.


6 Jun 2018

lamy safari limited editions

It all started in 2014 with the Lamy Safari in Coral Pink and since then, I've 'collected' every colour that has appealed to me. The only one I missed out on and sorely regret missing out on is the Copper Orange Al-Star. Otherwise, I'm in possession of all the colours I have wanted since 2014. Safaris and Al-Stars are inexpensive fountain pens that write well and work well for me so this is an (relatively) inexpensive hobby.

To see their individual reviews:



(I've left off the Blue Green as that was initially a limited edition but is now a part of the regular line-up.)

As bad as this will be for my future wallet, I do look forward to seeing what each year's limited edition colours are. Sometimes, I get excited and sometimes, I shrug my shoulders and go 'meh'. This year, I was half and half :)

30 May 2018

365 notebooks: 4 set in A5 plain paper

As a notebook and fountain pen junkie, I am constantly on the lookout for notebooks that may be fountain pen friendly. Especially now that I go through journals at the rate of knots! I saw these 365 Notebooks on the Cult Pens website when I was having a casual browse and decided to give them a go. They're not cheap - they are £27.99 for a set of four in the colours of grey, brown, blue and pink - with these colours representing the seasons of Japan.

Each notebook has 100 sheets, with the sheets possessing an almost tracing paper-like quality. As a result, each notebook is lightweight and thin. The paper is shiny on one side and matte on the other and how they fare with a fountain pen can be seen later in this blog post.

The notebooks come with a guide than can be slipped under each page - with one side lined and the other one grid. So in a way, you have the best of three worlds: the potential to use plain, ruled or squared paper.


Apologies for the slight blue tinge in the lighting of the next few photos! The first photo is of my fine-nibbed Pilot Metropolitan on the shiny side of the paper. There is considerable feathering, bleeding and showthrough. The three worst qualities paper can possess! However, when you write on the matte side, the feathering isn't as bad. The showthrough is present regardless of which side of the paper you use so even though this notebook possesses 100 pages, you can only use 50 if you decide to choose fountain pen as your writing tool of choice.


And this is how fountain pen looks on the matte side. Much less feathering!


Overall, if you're a fountain pen user, I would stay away from these notebooks. They look nice but are not worth the price tag if you use an inky pen. Rhodia, Clairefontaine and Oxford notebooks would be a far better options in that regard. I suppose they could be passable as a travel journal if you use one side for writing on and the other side for sticking in a momentos or souvenirs.

23 May 2018

re-visiting the TWSBI Diamond 580AL in Purple with a fine nib

When I first got this pen a few years' ago, I loved the design but I didn't particularly love the nib or how unsteady it felt with the cap posted. Fast forward to now and well, I actually really like it but due to already having many pens I love more, I am undecided about whether to keep it or sell it.

Design

This was my first piston filler pen and boy was it an introduction and a half! At the time, it was one of the cheaper piston fillers out there and the reputation was a good one. And it did not disappoint on this front. The purple accents were what initially drew me to this pen - this was before Lamy came out with the Dark Lilac Safari and the options for a purple fountain pen were limited. 

Usability

This pen is definitely a pen you can leave for a while, pick up and expect for it to start writing straight away. And with its huuuuuuuge ink capacity, this might be a legitimate thing that can happen to many of its owners. 

In hand, it is a fairly weighty pen to the point where it could even double as a paperweight! As someone who is used to the lighter pen in the form of the Lamy Safari or Al-Star (the pens I usually use for work), it does take a bit of adjusting initially. However, I've come to love this weight and it is a well-balanced pen with the cap unposted. 

Nib

I plumped for the fine nib and whilst it is fine enough, I do often wish it was finer. However, it writes smoothly and perfectly and it is still finer than my Lamy extra fine nibs (I think I have about five of them now!). There is some beautiful engraving on the nib too. 

Overall

The fact that this pen is a limited edition colour which is fairly difficult to find, writes like a dream and has a huge ink capacity makes it a huge winner. 

16 May 2018

introducing: the wing sung 3001 green fountain pen in a fine nib review

Wing Sung may not be a brand you're familiar with if you're a frequent browser of mainstream pen sites. However, they are actually a pretty decent brand who produce good quality pens at a approachable price point for most.

Today, I have the 3001 to show off - it cost me around £3 including postage (the only negative being that it came all the way from China, boo for not supporting a local business). It came with an international converter, which on its own, can be worth a few bob! Another thing it came with was an extra nib section - so you have the choice of a extra fine nib or a fine. I opted to use the fine nib.

Design

The 3001 is a really classic design with a somewhat vintage air for a modern pen. The green colour is a lovely forest green and the gold accents make it look more expensive than it actually is. The design is unisex and simple enough to be used as an every day carry without being overly flashy.

Usability 

Incredibly lightweight in hand and equally balanced posted or unposted, it is comfortable to hold for long writing sessions. The cartridge/converter system means that it is the perfect pen for most beginners and even most seasoned users. The screw cap unscrews with ease and adds that extra level of security. However, the one downside is that if you've been storing the pen nib up for a bit, it can take a while to start up again when you decide to write with it.

Nib

The gold nib is just for show (what did you expect for a £3 pen?). One point of interest is that the feed is transparent which I've never seen before. With the feed the way it is, you can actually watch the ink flow down it during the initial inking. The fact it comes with two nibs mean that you'll always have a back-up if one fails on you. Both nibs write incredibly smoothly with little to no feedback.

Price

As mentioned before, ridiculously good. Comes with two nibs and an international converter!

Overall

This is a good pen to gift someone as their first fountain pen. It is also good for someone looking for a cheap and high functioning every day carry or someone who wants to try out some of the better known Chinese brands (the others being Hero and Jin Hao). I personally think Wing Sung is the best of the current Chinese brands out there and this pen is the perfect example of that. There's not really much wrong with this pen for most but for me, the fact it takes a while to start writing if stored nib up is a bit of a deal breaker (but then again, I'll happily admit that I'm a fairly tricky customer!).

9 May 2018

book reviews: the girl before by JP delaney, trying by emily phillips and this could change everything by jill mansell

The Girl Before by JP Delaney


"Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price? 

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. 

As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession."

I do love a good thriller and The Girl Before looked to be a book that wouldn't disappoint. And it didn't.

The characters are all a little creepy and it was hard to know who to trust. The chapters just about alternate between the previous tenant, Emma, and the new tenant, Jane. And even with all this, it was hard to deduce who were the good guys and who were not. And with each character that is introduced, it muddied the waters even more. Just when you had one person figured out, a bombshell would be dropped.

When the house is first introduced, it sounds pretty cool - minimalistic, technologically advanced and in a good location. But over time, these features begin to seem more of a hindrance than a bonus.

I actually read this book really quickly but I have to admit that the ending felt really unsatisfying and like it wasn't really an ending.

Overall, 7.5/10. It is a good read and some parts actually sent a chill down my spine but marks taken off for the ending unfortunately!


Trying by Emily Phillips



"Olivia and Felix are trying for a baby. They even moved to the suburbs in anticipation of their future family. But despite approaching her cycle and their sex life with military precision, there's still no sign of what felt like the sure next step, whilst friends' broods seem to be growing by the week. Meanwhile, vying for a promotion at work under the (very attentive) watch of a new boss sends Olivia down a dangerous road of risking it all. Does a happy ever after, she starts to question, even have to include a baby?"

So I'll be honest. At the moment, I can't really relate to babies and marriage and all that stuff (I am most definitely not mature enough for either of those things at the moment - after all, I recently moved into a bachelorette pad!) but that doesn't mean I don't like a good chicklit book.

Trying is quite a long read ringing in at just under 400 pages. And at points, the texts and bits of calendar entries felt a bit tacky and too try-hard. I also found myself disliking Olivia as the book went on - her inability to feel happy for her friends dragged on for a bit too long. After all, most of us will have been in the position of being jealous of our friends before letting that feeling go and actually being happy for them. Towards the end of the book, she is more able to be pleased for friends rather than wallow in self pity and became a bit more likeable.

Some books can be hundreds of pages long and not feel that way (the later Harry Potter books for instance) but this book was almost 400 and you could definitely feel it. By about page 200, I stalled a bit but persevered with it.

Although I've been quite negative about Trying, it is actually pretty well written and the storyline isn't too far-fetched. The whole plot around Olivia and Felix trying for a baby sounds pretty realistic based on things I've heard from an experience I had as a medical student, sat in an Infertility clinic.

Overall, 5/10 as it wasn't really a book I enjoyed reading. However, don't let that put you off - it is well written and can be relatable if read by the right person! Just that this person isn't me :)


This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell


"If only Essie hadn't written that letter - the one that went viral... 

On the one hand, if Essie hadn't written that letter - the one that only her best friend was meant to see - then she'd still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding... 

On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn't accidentally taken the internet by storm, that is) she wouldn't have moved into the attic flat on the square. She would never have met Conor. Or got to know Lucas... 

And she wouldn't have found herself falling in love with someone she really, really shouldn't fall in love with..."

Jill Mansell is an author I turn to when I need a feel good story and what better feel guarantee of a good story for those lighter evenings than her latest offering of This Could Change Everything. Each of the main characters are lovable, realistic and relatable. We follow Essie's journey from an email that was a bit too honest to how she meets Conor, Lucas and Zillah and the adventures they have along the way.

It is quite a predictable storyline (aside from possibly one 'twist') and the ending is more and more obvious, the more you read. However, that's what I was looking for at the time and this book certainly satiated that need.

Overall, a solid offering from Jill Mansell and if you're a fan of chicklit books, this one will be right up your street. 8/10

2 May 2018

new ink: diamine bilberry

Using black ink at work gets a bit boring after a while and so starts my quest to find an ink that isn't black but is dark enough to be suitable for work. Here's where this ink comes in.

Unfortunately, I think Diamine Bilberry isn't quite dark enough to be suitable for work. Though I'm tempted to whip them out for on-call shifts when things can be a bit dreary and lonely. Someone convince me that this ink is work-safe? Or give me a suggestion (preferably Diamine) that is dark enough for work but isn't black?

25 Apr 2018

on a mission to improve my handwriting

My handwriting has evolved an awful lot over the last few years. From being purely printed in 2013 to being a different type of print in 2014 to being slightly joined up in 2016 to being straight and joined up in 2017.

I'm not totally happy with my handwriting and want to improve it, so the way I've done this is to write as often as possible in a dedicated Rhodia notebook. I write about anything and everything. I am trying out a way to write with upright letters that are joined up as you can see here:


And also cursive, with a right slant, as below. I even write song lyrics when a song comes up on iTunes which helps me learn to write neatly and quickly too.


Hopefully, in time, my handwriting will be super neat when written quickly. At the moment, it can be extremely messy when writing quickly (especially during busy on-calls!).

18 Apr 2018

new pen: wing sung 3008 turquoise in an extra fine nib

The Wing Sung 3008 (2017 edition) looks almost identical to the TWSBI Diamond 580AL. Already in possession of a TWSBI Diamond 580AL, a comparison will come in due course; but for now, let's concentrate on the Wing Sung offering.

Wing Sung is a Chinese pen brand who produce cheap fountain pens of a decent quality. I remember paying around £3 (including delivery) for this pen and for the price, I was impressed. Let me explain why.

Surprisingly well built, the pen is pretty solid for the price and the piston mechanism locks with a faint click. This makes posting the cap feel a bit safer. For a pen costing a few quid, it feels pretty weighty in the hand. The clip is also sturdy and ready to clip onto a lanyard/shirt pocket/anywhere you wish.

I chose the extra fine nib because of my small handwriting and though it's not the finest nib I've ever tried (The Pilot Kakuno fine holds that record so far), it is fine enough. It is smooth as butter and a pleasure to use. It's not the most ornate nib but it does the job extremely well.

If you're new to a piston-fill mechanism, this pen would be a perfect starter pen. It is at a price point where you can decide if you like the mechanism before shelling out for a more expensive one.

Overall, the Wing Sung 3008 won't be the fanciest pen you'll ever use but it does the job. How it holds up in the long term is another question and only time will tell with that one!


4 Apr 2018

mission accomplished: journal once a week for a year

When I first started journaling, I did it sporadically, too sporadically for it to make a difference. Therefore, I made it a goal to journal once a month back when I wrote my '101 in 1001' list in 2014. When I wrote my '100 things in 2016' list, this was upgraded to journal once a week. This was also a feature in my 2017 list. I now journal almost once daily!

And it seems to have made a difference. Journals have been filled with thoughts from every crevice of my mind and I have noticed a change in how I approach different situations in my life. My stress levels are lower, my mind is more rational and I just feel happier in general. Reflecting on what I perceive to be the negative points of my personality and life have allowed me to tackle them head on - and those sort of changes take time.

If you struggle to journal (which I also do on occasion), just write whatever comes to mind - no matter how silly. Alternatively, google a list of journal prompts and have them to hand during your journaling sessions.