British brand

Mid-Week Mini: Rollo London A6 Hardy Notebook

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Rollo London sent me over a copy of their new Paperchase Hardy notebooks to test run before the launch. All the thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

I have reviewed a Rollo London Hardy notebook in the past. Alex from Rollo got in touch recently asking if I would like to review another one of their notebooks that will be featuring in Paperchase in the UK.

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The red A6 Hardy notebook is much like its larger partner. There are 192 pages of cream lined paper. The hard cover exterior has a textured finish with the Rollo London dog charm attached to the front.

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There is an elastic closure, rear pocket on the back inside cover and a black bookmark. The Hardy comes with most of the things you would expect from a high end notebook.

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I have been using this notebook for a couple of weeks testing out various different pens and pencils. The paper handled most of the pens I use everyday pretty well. There was however quite a bit of show through on the page particularly with fountain pens, with some of my heavier marks leaving a trace on the reverse page.

The lined ruling feels a little tight on the page. I have quite big handwriting and found it hard to keep within the ruling. I also wish the line shade was a little lighter so it was less distracting. Finally it would be good if the ruling was across the full width of the page and the blank boarder disappeared.

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You can tell the Hardy notebook is quality and high end. The finish is excellent, but for me a few improvements to the paper would really elevate these notebooks and make them even better.

The Hardy can now be found in Paperchase. I would like to thank Rollo London for sending me the Hardy to review.

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Rollo London Hardy Notebook Review.

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[Rollo London] contacted me asking if I would like to review one of their notebooks here on the blog. I have been using this notebook for a few weeks and wanted to share my thoughts.

I really like using and reviewing British products on the blog. Sometimes it feels harder than it should to find British stationery brands and products and I think there are some great products out there. Rollo London contacted me and asked if I would test run their [Hardy] notebook.

The Hardy Notebook Specifics.

This is an A5 hardbound notebook which comes in numerous colour choices. I requested the British Mulberry which is a beautiful rich purple colour.

The cover has a textured grain effect but with a smooth finish giving it a premium feel. On the cover you have the signature Rollo dog pin in gold, the most visible bit of branding on the exterior of this notebook.

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There is some impact of this pin on the inside front cover that did leave an indent on the pages when it arrived, but once I started using the notebook I hardly noticed it.

There is an elastic closure in the same purple and a single long purple bookmark.

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On the inside back cover there is a handy pocket for any loose bits of paper or ephemera you may need to carry around.

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The edges of the notebook are gilded in gold foil. This is not something thats overly common on notebooks, Field Notes released the [Ambition] limited edition and one of the unique but [complicated aspects] of that edition was the gilded edges. The gilding adds to the premium feel of the notebook and makes it feel a little bit special.

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Inside the notebook is cream coloured paper with a dark, thin line ruling. At the top of every page you have space for the date and at the bottom the same dog branding is mirrored inside.

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I like ruled notebooks especially for long form writing. I also enjoy cream coloured paper and find this nicer to write on than bright, stark white. The ruling however falls down for me with the Rollo notebook. It’s too dark, a lighter ink colour would make the ruling blend into the background and be the guide its designed to be. The spacing is also too thin for my personal preference forcing me to use every other line.

Paper Performance.

The paper on the whole held up well. I have been using my notebook for morning pages which I like to do in fountain pen and ink. Some of my fountain pen and ink combinations performed well. The Lamy LX and Sailor Blue Black worked particularly well. There was some show through on the page but this doesn’t personally bother me too much when I know I’m writing on the full page.

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Then there were other inks such as the Lamy Dark Lilac in my Lamy Aion with a medium nib that bled through the page quite a lot. The heavier, wetter inks with a wider nib fountain pen were too much for the paper.

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With all other pens and pencils they performed fine with no bleed or show through. The paper worked quite nicely with pencils, there isn’t a lot of tooth which means the paper doesn’t eat up the graphite but it glides nicely over the page.

Overall thoughts.

There is a lot to like about the Hardy Rollo notebook. It’s a well made and finished notebook that comes in some lovely colour options and would make a really nice gift because it’s a notebook that feels special. Personally I think the paper should be better especially in a premium notebook. I would rather not have to consider my pen choice but just pick up anything and write, but this isn’t a deal breaker it would just make this notebook even nicer to use.

If you’re interested in what Rollo London has to offer head over to their website. They have several other notebook options available and some lovely colour choices.

Thank you Rollo London for sending me the Hardy notebook to play with and test for the blog.

Dark Star Collection Notebook Review

The Dark Star Collection Notebook in hand

The Dark Star Collection Notebook in hand

Dark Star Collection are a UK notebook brand that I discovered through a post by Hey Matthews blog. They have a strong social media presence and have been lauded for their high quality paper stock. Being a bit of a paper junkie I had to give this notebook a test run. I was also drawn to the brand as they were British and felt a strong desire to support a home grown stationery brand.

A nice and simple title/cover page 

A nice and simple title/cover page 

Initial impressions.

First up the notebook looks good. It's simple in terms of design with a standard card stock cover and a simple logo, which looks like a tattoo I have. There is a nice little cover page allowing you to note down the intended use of the notebook.

Close up of the binding and glue holding the pages together. I think the excess glue here, which is coming away may be the source of my page problem

Close up of the binding and glue holding the pages together. I think the excess glue here, which is coming away may be the source of my page problem

A used page beginning to come away from the notebook binding

A used page beginning to come away from the notebook binding

There is a thick black binding on the left hand edge of the notebook, which kind of looks like gaffa tape. This binding is designed to allow the notebook to lie flat when open however it has not been without faults. The binding is designed to help this notebook lie flat. Lie flat notebooks have become a big selling point that are discussed a lot. Baron Fig talked about this with their Confident notebook and now Dark Star Collection are focusing on the same selling point. This notebook does lie flat and also closes after use. The only issue I have found with fulfilling this lie flat feature is that the binding of this notebook is not strong enough to hold the pages together securely. I have found some of the pages are becoming detached from the binding. You can see from my photo above a large lump of glue at the top of the binding. As I am working my way through the notebook this is becoming detached which I think is contributing to some of the pages becoming lose, as you can see on the right. As I work my way through the notebook I think this could get a lot worse and I am guessing I will loose some pages. So the lie flat works, but you may not keep all of your pages.

Lie flat view

Lie flat view

Paper quality.

The paper stock is a high quality dot grid with an off white colour. I have been using this notebook as a morning pages / journal to document everything going on in my life right now. Being a new mum and trying to remember all the small things going on with the little man is a challenge. My mind is a complete sieve at the moment so I have dedicated this notebook to capturing all the stuff, big or small, interesting and mundane. I have been using all my different fountain pens in this notebook and the paper has held up well. There is some tooth on the page and I have noticed that you get some feedback when using the fountain pens. With my finer Japanese nibs it can feel a little scratchy but with the German nibs the performance is a little better.

Pen and pencil test

Pen and pencil test

Some shadowing with fountain pens 

Some shadowing with fountain pens 

I have tested a number of different pens and pencils on this paper. Whilst it performs well with fountain pens and there is limited bleed through and feathering I actually think that the performance with pencils is really good. This is one of the only notebooks that I can say the performance with both fountain pens and pencils is good.

Overall impressions.

I think that the Dark Star Collection notebooks are one to watch. The brand is new and through their social media account the guys there are always looking at ways to improve the quality of their notebooks therefore I am not overly disappointed with the binding problems I have experienced. The paper quality is good and as I can use my fountain pens and different inks this is a winner for me. This notebook cost me a mere £6.99 which is a fab price for a good quality notebook.

I love finding a UK based company and want to support more local companies. I think we need more UK stationery makers emerging.

I would love to see some additional notebook sizes and ruling options at some point in the future. A pocket notebook (which seems to have been teased on their Instagram account) would be interesting as would a larger size.

The reverse of the notebook. Unfortunately the branding and information on the back has not been aligned with the binding width taken into consideration.

The reverse of the notebook. Unfortunately the branding and information on the back has not been aligned with the binding width taken into consideration.