22 May 2019

introducing the pilot lucina yellow fountain pen with a fine nib

Yellow is a colour I often overlook for fountain pens (not quite sure why!) so when I saw this Pilot Lucina, I knew it would be a perfect addition to my pen collection. The yellow was the first thing drawing me to it and knowing that I would more than likely get on with the nib instantly, I knew this pen would be a winner. And I wasn't wrong.


Design and Usability

I love the bright yellow barrel with the black and gold coloured accents. To me, it's a cheerful pen which will always raise a smile each time it is used. The only thing I don't particularly like is the word 'Lucina' across the black band on the cap - but that's such a minor thing, I can overlook it.

Made of plastic, it is lightweight in hand and ensures an even distribution of weight whether or not the cap is posted when in use. Honestly, I have found this pen a pleasure to write with during long periods.


Nib

As always, not a bad word to say about the nib. Pilot really do know how to knock it out of the park with excellent nibs. Predictably, I went for the fine nib and it writes a true fine line with no feedback, no scratchiness and excellent ink flow. With finer nibs, we often say that inks with sheen don't show off this property as much as it could; however, I have inked this pen with Diamine 'Robert' and there was sheen aplenty.


Price

I ordered this all the way from Japan for around £40 including postage and I definitely would pay that again. But I would say that for many of Pilot's fountain pen offerings. The main selling point would be the nib and I guess you could say that the Pilot Metropolitan would be just a good a pen for a fraction of the price.


Overall

I bought this pen because I wanted an affordable yellow fountain pen. This one came within budget and was from a brand I trusted. The nib was pretty much guaranteed to be perfect for me and I knew that the build quality would be decent.

However, for the price, you might be better off going for a Pilot Metropolitan. If, however, you're thinking of this or a Pilot Prera, I'd probably recommend the Pilot Lucina. The Pilot Prera is a short pen whereas the Lucina is more 'normal-sized'.

In my opinion, this pen is perfect for students, essay writers, story writers and just anyone who writes for long periods of time. The lightweight pen is perfect for those long sessions (precisely what I need for those long ramble journaling sessions or study sessions) without inducing severe hand cramp.

15 May 2019

smythson of bond street duke's organiser (A5 size equivalent)

Back when I was still a student, I had a Smythson Bond Street organiser which I absolutely loved. However, I stopped using it because it seemed a bit too small for me and the A5 seemed to be too large a size for my needs. The Smythson A5 size is called the 'Duke' whereas the personal sized one is called the 'Bond street' - bit misleading as their brand name is Smythson of Bond Street! 

Anyway! When I was hunting for an A5 Filofax to use, I found this Smythson Duke's organiser on eBay for a fairly good price. I just couldn't resist and before long, it was in my hands. It's a neutral colour with the gold accents coming from the clasp. 

Comparing it to the A5 Filofax Original I have, this Smythson is much heavier and feels like it is made of better leather (as expected with its RRP!). The clasp on this Smythson seems a bit more flimsy compared to the A5 Filofax one and one other negative is that the pen loop is made of leather and can only take a slim pen as a result. I guess some elastic would have cheapened the look somewhat but it would have been nice to be able to put a fountain pen in the pen loop!

The layout inside is exactly the same as the Bond Street sized organiser by Smythson. 

This really is a lovely organiser but due to its weight and inability to hold a fountain pen in the pen loop, I think the A5 Filofax may be my everyday carry, with the odd moment in this Smythson (for when I want that bit of luxury)! 

8 May 2019

introducing: the moonman 80, a modern ode to the parker 45

Back when I was about 14/15 years old, my mum let me use her Parker 45 fountain pen. It had a gloriously fine nib and is potentially the start of my obsession with fountain pens. Since then, I've not found a Parker 45 in the same design (red barrel, steel cap) which writes as finely as hers did. Even when I tried to insert the nib into another Parker 45, it didn't seem to write as finely as I remember?

When I heard that Moonman were releasing a tribute to the Parker 45, I wanted in to see if it could be just as good. I opted for the olive colour and the teal offering too.


Design and Usability

The design is similar to the Parker 45 so aesthetically, it looks good. The plastic barrel and steel cap make for a lightweight pen, cap posted or unposted. I can't really fault its design but it does feel more flimsy than the two other Parker 45s I have used (one being the one mentioned earlier and another being an all-steel offering). The slip cap glides on smoothly and seems to form a tight seal. 


Nib

I found both nibs a bit disappointing. Poor ink flow, scratchy and although I went for a fine nib, it wrote a disappointingly broad line. All in all, not really the ideal nib for me and the line was too broad for me to consider tuning the nib for better ink flow.


Price

Extremely cheap - they came whizzing all the way from China for less than a fiver each if I recall correctly!

Overall

Although the Moonman 80 looks like the Parker 45 in design, it does not match up in usability. I guess you really do get what you pay for sometimes! I think I'll stick to the real thing in the future... That said, it's not a bad starter pen which sports a classic design.

1 May 2019

full circle: back in a filofax but this time, an A5 original!

Many moons ago, I wrote about my disappointment with the Filofax brand. There were many things: the ring problems, the paper quality, the leather quality, etc. Fast forward a number of years and I have decided to give them another try - mainly because my sister uses an A5 Filofax and has had no issues with hers. Back in the day, I preferred the 'personal' size but reflecting on my needs now, an A5 size felt like the better fit.

I compared the prices of current A5 Filofaxes and narrowed it down to a few options. I knew I wanted leather and something timeless and neutral in colour. It just so happened that this A5 Filofax Original in nude turned out to be the cheapest and I succumbed to ordering it from Amazon as I had a gift card to use, bringing the cost down further. This happens to be the exact same model as the one my sister has too and we're embracing being Filofax twins.

When it first arrived, five of the six rings were perfect. The top ring had a 1.5mm gap to it and I noted that pages kept catching on it so back it went. A replacement arrived a couple of days later and I'm pleased to report this one had no page catching issues though the top ring still looks a bit precarious.


The leather is a lovely patent nude with rough edges which I'm okay with. These pictures make it look lighter than it is - it is more of a true nude in real life.

On the inside, there is an elasticated section which can potentially hold two pens (one would have to be a slim one!), with two card slots and a larger full length slot for anything you choose. As always, I have made a dashboard at the front using the clear plastic that initially came with the Filofax. I have replaced the Filofax dividers with Smythson ones (more on the Smythson in the next few weeks). I prefer the thicker card of these Smythson ones as they feel a lot more durable.


Behind the first divider is a page with some essential info on and to-do lists.


Hiding behind the second one are budget planning sheets and notepaper.

Behind the third section is my planner which I have opted to get from Kikki-K. Let me just say, the paper is unrivalled. It takes fountain pen ridiculously well and the bright white paper is a nice contrast to the blue ink I have decided to use (Kyo-no-Oto Hisoku). There is a year planner, a month planner and a weekly planner within these inserts.


The month inserts have clean lines with a handy 'notes' section on the right side. Each box leaves plenty of space for events that need noting down.


At the top, I have used a Midori clip to denote which month we are currently in and of course, from today, I will be using number '5'.


The inserts themselves are minimalistic and have the bare minimum on them. My only gripe is that there is a slot each day for a 'birthday' which seems a bit excessive. However, I've found more than enough space for each day. Next year, I'll probably go for a week on one page with a notes page on the other side.

Going back to my old ways, I like to add in colour, stickers and washi tape :-)


The final section has a host of notepaper in too. I've got an assortment of notes in here and the one I've shown is what I need to finish this year in training (which runs until August 2019) and what I need if I decided to opt for Emergency Medicine as a career. This is so I can stay focussed with my eyes on the prize.

Unfortunately, I'm still finding the Filofax paper to be a bit shoddy on quality so I've resorted to ordering some 90gsm A5 plain paper to print on and punch myself.


At the back, I have a zipped pocket from Kikki-K, currently empty but will fill up in no time. There is also an A5 Tomoe River paper notebook (unfortunately, I've forgotten the brand!).


Though still early days in this Filofax, I am already preferring it to the Leuchtturm I was using. As much as I liked using a bound diary, it did irk me that I'd have to transfer information from one planner to another. I also don't like writing things down and then not being able to rip it out and shred/recycle it once no longer needed. Hopefully, this Filofax will serve me better!

24 Apr 2019

introducing the kaweco student 70s soul fountain pen in extra fine

So, I must confess. I have a weakness for the colour orange. The Platinum Procyon is proof but that wasn't enough. Enter this Kaweco Student in 70s soul! My experience with Kaweco has been mixed. My first Kaweco was the Skyline Sport in mint and I didn't get on with it very well. I still have it but apart from the initial use, I've not used it since. The pen was too small and too light - I can deal with one of those qualities but both in the same pen? It was never going to work out.

It took me a good few years before dipping my toe in the Kaweco waters again and this time, it was for the Kaweco AL Sport in Rose Gold. I went through a rose gold phase (didn't we all) and that pen was one of the results of said phase.

In late 2018, I found this offering. And well, the retro colour scheme attracted me initially. I just can't explain it and I can imagine this design being a niche one but it just appeals to me.


Design and Usability

The pen is predominantly made of plastic so is lightweight in hand; perfect for those prolonged writing sessions or your rambling 'dear diary' entries. With the cap posted or unposted makes no difference either - both are nicely weighted. I prefer my pens longer (I have big hands) so I prefer to use it with the cap posted.

Lengthwise, it isn't too long, nor does it feel short in the hand (like the Skyline or AL Sport) but those with smaller hands may find it too long when used with the cap posted.

The grip section looks like it could be slippery but no such problems for me so far...

Can we talk about the colour scheme again? I absolutely love it. The orange cap with the cream body and the gold coloured accents. *insert love heart eyes emoji here*

The cap closes with a couple of turns which gives it a secure feel.


Nib

Extra fine nibs often get a bad rep: scratchy, full of feedback, poor ink flow, etc. However, none of these issues with this nib at all! Even from day one, it wrote perfectly. Not scratchy at all; in fact, extremely smooth and no discernable feedback either. I have used a variety of inks in this pen so far: De Atramentis, Diamine, Pilot, Lamy, Monteverde, J. Herbin, etc, and I have had absolutely no issues with flow so far.


Price

Priced at £60, it is in the medium price range. For me, it definitely feels like a step up from the Kaweco Skyline but whether it should be priced almost the same as a Kaweco AL Sport is another question. For a few pounds extra, you can get a pen made of metal, albeit on the smaller side. So I guess it comes down to what you want from a pen: pocket and metal or normal sized and plastic?

Overall

This pen has been constantly inked since I got it and I think that speaks for itself. I genuinely love this pen and use it pretty much daily. Everyday, I write in my 'One Line A Day' journal, my other journal where I just ramble and in my planner to ensure my tasks for the day are accomplished and to plan the following day too.

For me? The only things that could make this pen even more perfect would be ink cartridges/a converter with a larger capacity and a snap-cap. However, I'm still very impressed!

NB: this pen was bought with my own money and I have not been paid to endorse it. All opinions are my own.

17 Apr 2019

katie leamon lay-flat notebooks

Most of you probably know this but I am currently a Foundation Year two (FY2) doctor within the NHS. After an FY2 year, some doctors choose to go into specialty training - that is choose what to specialise in, be that surgery, medicine, A&E, GP, etc. More and more FY2s are choosing to do a gap year, or an 'FY3' year which is not counted towards training. I know of people who have even done two or three gap years before going into specialty training.

Anyway, I have opted to take a 'gap' FY3 year and have secured a role combining my clinical interests (Emergency Medicine) with some education bits and bobs. I'm very much looking forward to it as the job description sounded like my perfect job so when I received the job offer, I was pretty much over the moon.

A new job and new role calls for new stationery (as always) and I knew a dedicated notebook would be ideal for it. There will be a fair few projects on the go within the job and this notebook will help me stay on top of things (along with my planner... but more on that in the coming weeks).

What I wanted was a notebook which has a substantial number of pages, can lie flat but also have paper of a high enough quality to take fountain pen ink. Enter... Katie Leamon.

This notebook claims to lie flat, contains 300 pages and has 90gsm paper. I chose the yellow one to try and bring some sunshine into my life ;)


First impressions are as follows:

1. This notebook definitely lies flat. And astoundingly so.

2. The 90gsm paper is amazing - barely any showthrough, a small amount of bleeding (but not enough to bother me) and is smooth with my fountain pens gliding on it like butter.

3. The plain pages are ideal for drawing arrows from one thing to another, noting down diagrams and gives me the freedom to use the pages how I please. Perfect for project management!

4. Love at first sight!

It's rare to find a notebook which ticks all the boxes as often, I have to compromise on one of them: be it the number of pages, the quality of the paper or its ability to lie flat (without being a spiral bound notebook).

I've written a few pages of notes in it already and though I can't show those, believe me when I say that this notebook is one that has me liking it more and more with each use.

10 Apr 2019

introducing the platinum procyon fountain pen in orange, fine nib

My only other Platinum pen is a Platinum 3776 Century Nice and it's not really one I feel comfortable taking to work with me just in case I misplace it. So when I heard about the Procyon, I knew it could be the pen to replace my current work pen of a Lamy Al-Star. The fact that it came in orange was perhaps the main reason I gravitated towards this pen. I decided to order it from Appelboom, having never used them before, and I was very impressed with the service. Because they also sell a wide range of De Atramentis fountain pen inks, I added a few of them to the order as well (trust me, it was tough to find only a handful I wanted - I want all of them!).


The Procyon came in a lovely black box with a black sleeve. And upon opening the box, we see the fountain pen lying there comfortably.


I would liken the colour of the pen to a salmon-pink but leaning more orange than pink? If that even makes sense? Kind of like smoked salmon. And I quite like it - it's orange but not an 'in-your-face' shade of orange.


Design and Usability

The pen is lightweight and when closed, is the same length as a Pilot Capless. It feels lovely in hand and evenly weighted, with the cap posted or unposted. It is simplistic in design with a barrel that is thicker in the middle and thins towards each end. The only way to describe it without a picture is to say it has soft lines! The grip is made of smooth plastic but despite this, I've not encountered my fingers slipping.

I mentioned the colour earlier and for me, it is a true orange with a tinge of salmon pink in there too.

In terms of ink flow, it is excellent - I've experienced no skipping or hard starts.

The cap is secured with a couple of turns - I like this as it ensures the nib does not drive up - but for work purposes, this is not ideal. Sometimes, I need quick access to the nib for some swift note taking.


Nib

I chose the fine nib because, well, I'm a creature of habit. I have small handwriting which looks best with a thinner nib and this Platinum fine nib did not disappoint. It is a true fine and writes with a small (and bearable) amount of feedback. It is quite a stiff steel nib so don't expect any flex! For a fine nib, it is not scratchy at all.

Next are some writing samples on Tomoe River Paper in an old, partially filled Hobonichi planner. The ink is the standard Platinum blue cartridge that comes with their pens.


Price

I paid just under £50 for this fountain pen which is on the pricier spectrum for a work pen that is not intended to be used as a desk pen. For another £20 or so, you could get a Platinum 3776 on the grey-market... Make what you will of that!


Overall

Overall, Platinum pens write wonderfully for those who want a true fine nib. Although this one writes wonderfully and is great for long note-taking sessions, I don't think the price matches up to the target market.

As an aside, my pen came with these special commemorative inks with an ink mixing guide too!



NB: this pen was bought with my own money and I have not been paid to endorse it or Appelboom, where I bought the pen from. All opinions are my own.