Paper

Foyles A5 Hardbound Notebook Review

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Folyes sent me one of their new hardbound A5 notebooks to test and review here on the blog. All thoughts expressed in this review are entirely my own.

I wasn’t aware that Foyles had their own range of stationery items so it was a very nice surprise when they contacted me asking if I’d like to check out their new A5 notebook. Folyes has always represented quality to me and their stores have a good range of stationery items, so I had high hopes for this notebook.

Design.

There are four different colour options available with this notebook but for this review I opted for the Blush version. It has a hardbound cover with a geometric design. The cover design continues onto the inside with more flare. With the Blush notebook there is a sort of blue chevron design with some hot pink foiling.

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The notebook is ruled with a light grey ink on cream coloured paper. Personally I enjoy using paper which is off-white or cream as I think it’s less harsh.

The ruling in these notebooks doesn’t run the full width of the page but leaves a small boarder around the side. The ruling width is good giving you plenty of room if you have larger handwriting.

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Each page is numbered, however there is no index at the front of the notebook which kind of makes this addition a little less functional.

Finally there is a thin ribbon style bookmark in a hot pink to match the foiling on the front of the notebook.

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Using the notebook and paper quality.

The design of a notebook is important. Quality materials and a strong design always make them far more appealing but really the paper quality is the selling point. It’s no use having a gorgeous notebook if the paper is poor.

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With the Foyles notebook I tested out a range of different writing tools I would typically use everyday to see what it could take. This ranged from fountain pens, pencils, drawing pens, gel pens and liquid ink pens. The performance was mixed. The fountain pens feathered and bled quite a bit. More than I am comfortable with or would be happy using. The paper is 100gsm and should be able to handle the fountain pens a little better.

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With the feathering came some show through which again I would expect. This doesn’t bother me too much personally but it’s worth noting.

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All the other tools worked well. Pencils were nice on the page, their glided over the paper so there was very little tooth. Drawing pens and liquid ink pens were nice too. Gel pens were a little scratchy but I find that a lot with these types of pen and paper combos.

I did also throw a Copic marker at the paper too to see what happened and as expected there was loads of bleed through.

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Overall thoughts.

The style and design of these notebooks is nice. The hardbound covers feel traditional and sturdy, perhaps a little too much. They add bulk to the notebook and don’t exactly make it slim line. I can see people being attracted to the design and colour schemes chosen and honestly I don’t think you’d be super disappointed if you were to receive this notebook as a gift. However I think it falls short in a few areas and for a similar price point at £12.99 I think there are better alternatives available.

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However despite all this I think it’s great that there are more British companies and brands producing paper products.

Thank you again to Foyles for sending me over their notebook to review.

The Big (Plus) Baron Fig Confidant Review.

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Over the years I have used numerous of Baron Fig paper products and they are a brand that I keep coming back to. My usage has been mainly around the Flagship, or A5-ish, sized Confidants or Vanguards, but recently I decided to give the large Plus sized Confidant a try.

Unsurprisingly when I bought the Plus Confidant I didn’t have a specific use in mind. I felt like it could work during NaNoWriMo or for a larger scale planning project. But as its happened I’ve not used it for either of these things but taken the plunge and dedicated this as my journal.

There is so much space.

This is a much larger Confidant than the Flagship size, as you can see from the photos below.

The yellow Confidant in the Flagship (A5ish) size and the charcoal in the Plus size.

The yellow Confidant in the Flagship (A5ish) size and the charcoal in the Plus size.

It’s a little unusual to get a hard bound notebook in this size, the only comparison I can think of is the A4 Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim. With the Baron Fig however you get full use of the page unlike the Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim, where there is a huge (and unnecessary) boarder on each page.

I’ve found myself more focused using the Plus, like it’s more of an event to sit down to journal in the morning and evening. I jumped from the Field Notes Signature into this, so the change was quite drastic but I like it.

It’s the Confidant...just bigger.

Everything else is what you expect from a Confidant notebook. The hard bound cover is strong and I really like the texture of the cloth. It may not be water resistant or stain proof, but its really nice and tactile in hand. I have the charcoal version, my first, and I really like the dark colour with the bright yellow bookmark.

Creamy ruled pages...the dream

Creamy ruled pages...the dream

There are 200(ish) pages in the Plus Confidant too which means there’s plenty of space for your master plans, brain dumps or general story-telling. The paper is friendly to almost any writing instrument, fountain pens and ink work nicely but these notebooks are also great with pencils.

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Like with all Confidants I really wish the bookmark was a tad longer. I really like the way these bookmarks look and wear, they fray quite a bit, but a bit of extra length would make them practical not just pretty. I’m not sure that will ever come though.

Those short bookmarks....

Those short bookmarks....

Overall thoughts.

I’ve ended up liking this size a lot more than I thought I would. It works great as a journal and I feel like I am writing more because there is a sense of freedom with the additional room. It may not be a travel friendly size and it does take up some valuable desk space but its a great notebook.

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Using my Hobonichi Techo as a Wellness Tracker.

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It appears I have gotten a point (age) in my life where I need to be more mindful of my health, be more aware of the things I am doing to my body and to take better care of myself. There have been some ongoing ailments I have been dealing with since my son was born. They are relatively small but, now 2 years later, they feel like they’re hanging over me. In part I was not doing enough to get rid of these things, and on top of it there were new challenges that I had to cope with. This reached a boiling point in May when a ridiculous bout of eczema and psoriasis cropped up out of the blue and left me feeling quite down.

So in order to try and make sense of things and understand what was going on I needed data. I turned to my stationery as a way of tracking what was happening. After enthusiastically buying the Hobonichi Techo Cousin in January and, for the first time in a few years, not actually using it, I decided to dig this out and use this as my wellness tracker.

The Hobonichi Techo Cousin was the ideal choice; predated pages, a good size page to record everything and then for an added perk I could use my fountain pens on the sweet sweet tomoe river paper.

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Priority One: Tracking my food.

The first thing I needed to track was my food and drink intake. There are various suggestions that dairy, caffeine and various other things can irritate skin conditions. Therefore I wanted to see if I could find any patterns and truth to this.

Each page of the Hobonichi Techo comes with a 24 hour clock on the left hand side of the page and I have been using this to track what I am consuming and when. This has been fairly simple and just requires a little honesty even on those indulgent days.

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I would also note down my water intake. I am usually pretty bad at drinking enough water, but since tracking this I have noticed a huge improvement. The heatwave we’ve been experiencing may also have played its part here.

Priority Two: Tracking my ailments.

The second thing I needed to keep track of was what was causing me problems/grief/irritation and when. Too often when trying to relay things to doctors or physios I couldn’t quite pin down how long something had been a problem, or when it had started, or the level of discomfort, and where it was occurring.

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Underneath the time bar there is enough room for these notes each day. In here I have been adding in other things during the day that are relevant. For example I am taking a few liquid supplements at the moment, both of which are included in here if I have taken them. One of them is particularly disgusting and so I am not the best at having this everyday but knowing when I have taken it makes me more self conscious of making sure I do.

I also write down if my eczema was particularly irritating and where I was suffering. I would record if and what medication I was taking to alleviate the irritation. I don’t like to rely on medication for my eczema so it’s useful to know what I use and when.

I also have a flat foot from a longstanding childhood condition. Since gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy and all the crazy hormones that come during pregnancy this condition has gotten a lot worse and now requires regular consultations with doctors and physio appointments. In order to get the most from this I have also been using the daily pages in the Hobonichi to note down issues with my foot, any days where I am struggling, any pain I feel. I also track my physio exercises here and when I am increasing the exercises. I hope that by tracking this information, during consultations I am far more aware of how my foot has been during a given period and what exercises help, or in some cases don’t.

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I track my exercise, how long I exercised for and what type of exercise I’ve done. Part of getting back to myself was re-adding exercise back into my life. But there was another reason to track my exercise, I could see if a particular exercise what irritating my foot too.

The last thing I track here is my meditation. I have been using Headspace to try and learn how to manage my thoughts and anxiety, to try and carve out a bit of quite space within my day and generally to be more mindful. In order to ensure I am doing this everyday and taking the time writing it down in my Hobonichi focuses my attention.

Overall Thoughts.

This is all really very simple stuff, I’ve not invented anything particularly special, it’s just something that takes time. I have my Hobonichi by my desk so its easy to note these things down through the day as I need to.

The idea of the wellness tracker is just that, to try and make sure in my Year of Me, I am doing everything I can to be a healthier person and take care of my body rather than being passive through this process and losing more time. There are other things I want to include within this such as my mood for the day, my stress levels and what may be triggering this and my control over them. Given some more time working with this system I will be looking through the information I have gathered and see if there are any patterns. While taking the effort to note these things down I also have to do something with the information in order to really utilise it.

This post has been a little different, with a loose link, to my stationery habits but I wanted to share how my simple stationery tools have helped to focus my mind. There are plenty of digital tools I could have used for this but they have the potential to complicate and distract. Pen and paper means I get down everything I want, quickly, without fuss in the way I need it. And the act of writing this down has forced my brain to acknowledge what’s happening in my body and perhaps is helping in the healing process.

This could prove to be one of my most valued and treasured notebooks.

Mid-Week Mini: Field Notes Three Missions Summer 2018 Colors Edition

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The Field Notes summer limited edition this year is called Three Missions and is centred around a space theme. This edition is different in that it features a photograph cover, similar to America the Beautiful and Campfire editions.

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Each notebook features a different American space mission photo on the cover which has a glossy shiny feeling to it. The front shows a photograph of the shuttle, or a specific moment from the mission. The reverse includes the information on that mission and some interesting facts. Internal cover stock is a really nice light blue shade which compliments this edition nicely.

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The books show the progression of the American space race, from orbiting the earth with Mercury, walking in space with Gemini and then walking on the moon with Apollo.

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The paper inside is the standard 60#T paper in white with a really nice subtle grey ruling for the grid paper. The paper performs like many of the recent Field Notes limited editions working really nice with pencils, gel pens and ballpoints. Fountain pens not so much.

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My feelings on this edition are mixed. I have been using the Mercury because I liked the lighter cover colour but these photograph covers are not really my cup of tea. I can see the appeal and I am sure lots of people, even the non Field Notes enthusiasts, will snap a pack of these up.

I do like the feel of the covers with the ‘aqueous coating’ that makes it feel a bit more hardwearing. The paper is nice and I have been using my notebook with a Blackwing 54 a lot and the pairing is really nice.

I would say from the releases this year, as part of my subscription this has been my least favourite. They are more likely to be a notebook I will share with others and give out, rather than keep and use for myself.

On the extras that came with this edition, the build it yourself space crafts and a decal, these were great additions. Mine sadly did not last in the hands of a 2 year old. They were quickly ripped up. I found them fiddly to put together, but its a really cool addition especially for the space lover in your life.

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Finally, the video that compliments this release is probably my favourite yet. The fact they actually sent one of these models into space is crazy, but then thats the Field Notes crew. If you haven’t watched the video, or read the accompanying blog post go and check them out.