6 Jan 2021

a twsbi 580AL rose gold with an extra fine nib

Last year was the year of rose gold for TWSBI. Ever since they came out with the 580 mini in rose gold a few years ago, I've lusted after a rose gold TWSBI. I put off purchasing one a few years ago because of the reported quality issues but for the rose gold editions of 2020, they reassured customers that the problems had been fixed. So far so good!

Today, I'm going to introduce the 580AL in rose gold with an extra fine nib.

As always, the 580AL comes in their standard packaging. Within the box is a toolkit to disassemble the pen if you so wished. They've also included a small amount of grease if the piston requires a bit of a service.

I know that this caused a bit of a marmite moment with some of the fountain pen community with the semi-transparent black bodied sections but I personally love it. I also like the rose gold accenting all throughout the pen. It contrasts well with the smoky black sections (yes, that's what I'm now calling them).

The pen is weightier than the Eco but still light enough to hold for long writing sessions. The clear piston design allows you to see how much ink is left and trust me, this bad boy can hold a lot. I end up filling it up to about a third just so I can change inks regularly enough to keep me interested. If you're someone who writes a lot or hates refilling pens often, this will be the pen for you. It could be a workhorse work pen for me (especially on a busy run of shifts) but I don't dare take a pen of this price point or above into work. I'll stick to my Lamy Al-Stars/Safaris and my Faber Castell Essentio for now.

The first nib that came with this pen was a bit faulty and wrote much thicker than one extra fine line. I bought it from Pure Pens and when I sheepishly contacted customer services about this, they sent me a replacement which writes excellently. Smooth with little to no feedback and excellent ink flow. 

The build quality seems decent enough (I've taken the pen apart once so far and it seems sturdy). 

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with this pen. I like my fountain pens pretty and my nibs on the finer end because of my small handwriting and this one lives up to both of those requirements. 

16 Dec 2020

fountain pen ink: de atramentis santa claus and a very merry christmas!

I'm a big fan of De Atramentis inks: they have so many ink lines with interesting ink colours. A chocolate scented ink called Santa? Sold. I also like to write my Christmas cards using an ink that feels a bit festive and one called Santa sounded like a good one to consider for this year. Last year, it was J. Herbin's Emerald of Chivor so I needed one that would live up to its (literal) dazzling heights.

The bottle even has a picture of Santa on the label! Can a brown ink really be festive? Well...

It did end up being my Christmas card ink of choice this year and I hope the chocolate scent stayed for long enough for the recipients of my cards to get a whiff.

Up until now, I've still yet to be disappointed by De Atramentis inks and this one has proved a worthy addition to my (extensive) ink collection.

And as this is the last planned blog post for 2020, I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. I hope you all have a restful festive period.

25 Nov 2020

revising for postgraduate exams resulted in this 'random nuggets of knowledge' notebook

During the last twelve months, I have taken two surgical exams. Postgraduate exams are a whole new kettle of fish! At medical school, we needed to know a little about everything so you'd think revising for exams that were for a subset of that 'everything' would be easier? Nope. Turns out there is still a mountain to learn for surgery. The little about everything still applies, but for everything to do with surgery and every surgical specialty out there.... And it's actually a 'little bit more' rather than just a 'little'.

In September, the first exam I took was a written one and it was a multiple choice question exam. Easy enough - question banks were how I approached my revision and they served me well. I passed and then decided to sit the next exam in February which was a practical one. It is 'OSCE'-based (obstructive structured clinical examinations) where there were anatomy stations, practical skills ones, communication ones and anything you can imagine that is related to every surgical specialty out there. This was more difficult to revise for!

During my shifts at work (I was doing my clinical shifts in the Emergency Department at the time), I approached every potential surgical patient as if it was part of this exam. I did pretty well in the examination stations so that must have worked!

However, for the more knowledge-based stations, I used another question bank. This and revision for the first exam resulted in the most random notebook full of nuggets of knowledge from pretty much every surgical specialty.

I have to admit, this wasn't my most organised way to revise for an exam but it seemed to work ok. Part of it was that I didn't expect to pass the second exam as it was meant to be a practice one, albeit an expensive one!

My next exam won't be for another five years or so but for that one, I'll make sure I'm much more prepared and organised!

11 Nov 2020

three months using the bullet journal system. Is it working?

Having now used my bullet journal since the beginning of July 2020, trial and error has enabled me to figure out what works and what needs to re-visit the drawing board. I'm still in my Papier bujo and with the aid of various pens and paper materials, I've developed a journal that is a pleasure to use on a daily basis. 

My monthly layouts are ever evolving. September was a liner top to bottom style whereas October is in a grid format. I'm still trying to decide which one works best for me - both have their pros and cons! For once, I'm sitting on the fence with this one until I give both systems a few more uses. 

August was a busy month; I moved to a new area and also started a new job. As a result, the space I left for each day felt like it just wasn't enough. I ended up using two columns a day on some occasions. However, as the months have gone by in this new job, I've needed less of the two columns and the space has been enough. I also tried out @ellolovey's Instagram 'doodle a day' which explains the appalling drawings down the right hand side. 

There isn't a colour code as such; I just use whatever colour I feel like to accent some important events or tasks. 

I've enjoyed looking for an interesting quote for each double page spread. Some are quite motivating and some have really resonated with me. The one by Tina Fey below is one that I quite like; I was going through a phase where I felt quite disillusioned with things because I had noticed that assertive women are treated differently to assertive men. They are often called aggressive or obstructive and this is something I've noticed throughout my short career so far. I have no idea what the solution is because I have noticed some women calling other women these names too! 

Each month, I sit down to review my goals. I like to exercise as much as possible (but without injuring myself) and the use of a MyZone belt (a gift from my sister) helps with this. The time I take to reflect on the month also allows me to see what worked within my bullet journal. I'll often know if my system is working or not because I'll either feel calm and organised or burnt out and frazzled! 

What I've enjoyed is the flexibility with the set up. Mid-way through my currently bullet journal, I decided I needed a revised Bucket List. And that is what you can see below! 

And no bullet journal is complete with something Animal Crossing related! Below is a list of Redd's paintings and statues I still need to complete my museum. Very important pages indeed. 


- I've really enjoyed the flexibility with the pages. I can use as much or as little as I want for each week. So far, I've stuck to a double page spread but for 2021, I'm going to freestyle it (I think). I also like that I can have random collections in my bullet journal. 

- Using a bullet journal has allowed me to stay creative (within my limited capability!). I aim for a minimalistically creative look (if that's such a thing) and I think for the most part, I've achieved that. 

- Goodbye to wasted pages in pre-set up planners! I've never had much use for address pages as I usually send e-cards/emails instead of post to try and cut down on my environmental impact. 


- A lack of structure is something that is very unlike me! I think bullet journaling has been good in that regard as it has allowed me to learn a bit about spontaneity and how to adapt when things don't go to plan.

- The time taken to set up some weeks have been much more than I would like. 2021 will look very different as a result; much more minimalistic!

- Choosing which notebook to use for my next bullet journal. This really is a pickle!

Overall, there are very few cons to using a bullet journal. There is a set-up for everyone; you don't need to copy someone else's system as what will work for someone else will not necessarily be a system that works for you. Much of the fun is working out what does work for you and how to adapt it to make it even better. Let's see how my next three months fare!