North of Rosemont Notebook Review.

North of Rosemont sent me a couple of their pocket notebooks to review for the blog. All thoughts shared in this post are my own.

North of Rosemont are a notebook company based out of Montreal in Canada. They create pocket notebooks, in their own distinct size, with a sturdy cover and high quality, fountain pen friendly paper. When my package arrived it included a few extras including some postcards, pins and a couple of pencils. I have been testing their notebooks out and putting the paper through its paces.

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Notebook Design.

The first noticeable thing about the North of Rosemont notebooks is they look refined. I was sent two notebooks, one with a silvery blue cover and the other navy blue cover. The cover includes the company name and a few other particulars that are lightly debossed in white on the front and on the back is a logo and their website address. The branding is all clear and and easy to read.

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End Papers.

One flourish with the North of Rosemont notebooks is the inclusion of end papers which is a little unusual for a pocket notebook. I don’t think they are traditional end papers, they are the same paper thickness as the grid pages and have a very muted speckled grey design. I found that they almost acted as a little notebook gatekeeper keeping the contents covered and away from prying eyes.

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These notebook don’t have a dedicated space for your personal contact information. You could use the end papers for this purpose as the paper is thick enough.

Paper.

The paper stock is bright white with a small cross grid which look like blurry dots to me rather than a defined grid pattern. It would have been better to have this printed crisper on the page.

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The paper has a coated feeling to it which I thought may impact the ink dry times. I didn't notice any issues or notice waiting for the ink to dry before turning the page or closing the notebook.

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The size.

Finally on the design, the size is not a true pocket notebook size. To me it feels like we’re creeping towards an A6 size notebook. This is far bigger than a Field Notes pocket notebook. It feels like it follows the Baron Fig style of a little squatter and fatter, but the North of Rosemont notebook is far bigger. Essentially, this is a large pocket notebook which means you wouldn't be able to fit this into a pocket notebook cover.

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Using the North of Rosemont notebook.

I used my North of Rosemont notebook as a journal for a few weeks to really get a feel for how the paper felt and how the notebook held up. As this has fountain pen friendly paper I focused more on ink and testing out different nib widths to see how it took to the paper.

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On the whole the ink performance was fine. Dry times were good and some of the shadier inks showed up nicely. There was some feathering and ghosting with my wetter fountain pens. Ghosting doesn't bother me on this size notebook and the feathering was minimal and therefore not too off-putting.

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I also tested out pencils which were fine, although on this sort of paper I think they’re less enjoyable. Gel ink pens and rollerballs performed well. I also find gel ink on paper such as this less enjoyable and a little scratchy. A thicker pen seems to absorb and sit on the page better.

Overall thoughts.

There is no doubt the North of Rosemont notebooks are nice to use. They have decent paper which caters more for an ink user in a pocket notebook size. If you’re not tied to a notebook cover the size is good and the additional paper space is always helpful.

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There are however some small things that leave me wanting more. The grid could be cleaned up a little and really defined. Some additional grid options would also be great. The covers feel safe and conventional and in the crowded pocket notebook space potentially could get lost. The pocket notebook market is full of choice and options and sometimes it’s about standing out and producing something really nice and I just feel like I want something more from these notebooks. Perhaps working with local Montreal artists would really give North of Rosemont something different for pocket notebook users.

I would like to thank North of Rosemont for sending me their notebooks to use.

Mid-Week Mini: Stockholm Travel Kit.

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Carrying on from my Travel Sketching post, I have a weekend away planned and I wanted to share with you the stationery items I will be taking with me.

Notebook.

I will be taking my Travelers Notebook on this trip with the same two inserts from my previous post. This simple set-up gives me my faithful insert for daily journalling and also my travel sketchbook for sketching, longer form journaling and collecting any interesting ephemera.

It’s also nice and slimline and easy to carry.

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Pencil case and writing tools.

I will take a very small and thin Caroline Garner pencil case with me during this trip. This will include a few Caran d’Ache coloured pencils for accenting any drawings I manage. I will also take a couple of Sakura Pigma Micron drawing pens, a few Zebra Sarasa Vintage gel pens and then a couple of pencils for drawing.

This scaled back and simple kit has worked well for me recently and allows me to at least do something if I find the time while away. For any additional flourishes I will do these when I return home and have everything at my disposal.

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Extras.

The little extras I will be taking with me are some washi tape samples, a few stickers, a tape roller and some loose sheets of paper. This isn't too burdensome to carry, doesn't feel too wasteful and means I can make a spread feel that little more special.

Overall thoughts.

This set-up for travelling does seem to work well. Over the course of travelling this summer I have missed my watercolour palette. I feel the most inspired while on holiday and find that there is a little more time to play around with my paints. I will continue to refine my travel kit with each trip I take and consider where I am travelling and what tools work best for each trip.

My Journey with Travel Sketching.

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As a Travelers Notebook user you can’t help but lose time admiring the way other people use of their notebooks. One of the many things I enjoy is the ways they are used for travel journaling and sketching. There are numerous benefits to sketching when travelling such as observing your surroundings in detail, really looking at the architecture, getting a feel for a place...the list goes on. I have just never been that good at it.

With this in mind I decided recently to take a punt on this elusive task. I would be travelling, first on my own on a work trip which is highly unusual, and then again on our annual family trip. This was ample opportunity to draw and I wanted to take advantage.

The ‘well-travelled’ travelers airport sketch.

Now from my online observations the airport sketch seems to be a travel sketching essential. You need this sketch in there for a multitude of reasons. It shows you have time to sketch in the airport. You can show what airline you fly with. It shows that you love drawing so much that you’ll draw planes.

For me this was a challenge on perspective. My airplane sketch was not done on location but from a photograph I had taken. I did want to try and capture some of the detail of the gate without getting bogged down in the minutia.

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For my second airplane sketch I took a different tact. Again this was done from a photograph but this time my son was the focal point rather than the scenery.

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The inflight sketches I actually did on the flight in a bought of boredom. There are loads of things wrong with these sketches, but they were fun and they were definitely a challenge.

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The hand drawn map.

Another thing that has fascinated me are people who sketch maps. The ability to look at a real map, pair this back to the essential areas, make this fit on a small page and illustrate landmarks is fascinating and frankly a little mind boggling. I attempted this with a route I had walked in Austin to minor successes. It’s definitely something I want to develop and work on, it’s like a small puzzle to solve and fun at the same time.

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Page layouts.

Trying to find the right format for the travel journal, while not thinking too much about it was tricky. I wanted the journaling to be the priority and not the decoration. I wanted to include some drawing and try to be varied. I did this to varying degrees of success. Some pages I really like and others ended up looking too flat.

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I also tried to vary the orientation at times and flip the Travelers Notebook on its long edge. This helped with some of my doddles, one in particular from my family holiday in Portugal.

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Photos.

One element I really struggled with for my travel journal was trying to incorporate photos in with my doodles and journal entries. I printed out a series of photos after these trips but what I have found is I hadn't planned space for them. The prints I have are also too heavy and end up pulling on the page.

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I think to really have a good travel journal with photos you either need your Instax on hand all the time, which is an additional item to carry, or to use a photo printer and print off photos I take with my phone. I don't own one of these, but I think it’s something I will invest in for future trips and journaling. The inclusion of photos for me would really elevate my travel journals.

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What I have learnt.

There is an element of travel journaling that can appear stressful which defeats the purpose. I have stopped comparing my spreads to others and worrying that it’s not perfect. Only by playing around with different layouts and attempting to draw, do you learn and know how to improve on it for the next time. The fear of it not being perfect only stops you doing something rather than taking enjoyment from the activity.

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I have enjoyed travel journaling over the past couple of months. Giving myself some time in the day and having my regular Travelers Notebook with me has helped, as this isn't something I normally do. I really like attempting the maps. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but it helps me get a sense of a place, and to mark out those important places I visited.

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I have a trip coming up in the next couple of weeks and I will put a small element of planning into the travel journal, but on the whole I will take it as it comes while I am on the move.

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My travel journal essential tools.

Part of my pre-trip planning was to keep the stationery to a minimum. What I have found useful was to have my usual Travelers Notebook set-up (for this trip I have the dated weekly + memo planner and the new cream paper insert), one drawing pen, one pencil, a couple of rolls of washi tape and a few pens that I like writing with. This gives me everything I need to journal on the go.

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Field Notes Summer 2019 Release: National Parks Review

National Parks is the latest seasonal release from Field Notes created in conjunction with Fifty-Nine Parks. This edition is made up of three three packs with nine illustrations dedicated to Americas National Parks. This seasonal edition is utterly beautiful.

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To compliment the individual cover designs, each notebook has a different coloured card stock, mainly in pastel shades. They compliment the designs nicely, but they’re also really pretty colours.

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The usual Field Notes inside cover information has the addition of information on the National Park the book is dedicated to. Field Notes have included general knowledge style information on previous seasonal editions and it’s a nice touch. It gives you a chance to learn something while enjoying the notebook.

Information on the illustrator who designed the artwork is also included in each notebook. I have spent a bit of time down Instagram rabbit holes looking at these artists work.

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A few differences from the Field Notes norm.

This is the first edition where we see the Field Notes logo repositioned in order to support the cover design. Yosemite National Park from Series A and Rocky Mountain National Park from Series C have the focal point of their artwork to the top of the notebook. I am glad Field Notes didn't sacrifice these two notebook designs because they are beautiful and I am sure the stag has become a fan favourite.

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This edition doesn't include the normal belly band. As an alternative there is a sheet of kraft card stock including miniatures of the designs included within the pack and some general knowledge on all nine parks.

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My feelings on this edition.

This is the first Field Notes I have bought in some time and the first edition I felt compelled to snap up since Coastal. My infatuation with these little pocket notebooks has waned this year. The slightly odd format and design changes dampened my excitement around the seasonal releases and I got a bit tired of it all.

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And then came National Parks. I snapped up Series A and Series C. Honestly two packs were still too many but I just couldn't resist the artwork. I have used the Acadia National Park book from Series A. This is my favourite by far. I am currently working my way through the Great Smokey Mountains because the bears are just too cute. The little one reminds me of Brother Bear.

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Overall thoughts.

For the past few months I have been using passport size notebooks enjoying the marginally smaller size. But the National Parks designs are beguiling that I can’t stop looking at them. I have been pining after the Wilco x Field Notes limited edition in a similar way. Field Notes working alongside some interesting illustrators feels like its given these little notebooks new life. It’s got me excited about the brand again and I am interested to see what the next seasonal release brings.

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