Today I want to do a wrap-up of the lovely journal that I’ve been keeping since Tuesday 24th December 2019. It’s not technically full yet, but I will finish it at the end of this month and I thought this would be the ideal time for a review and a fond farewell.
This journal was purchased from the UK supermarket Morrisons in December 2019 and cost a little under £4.00.
In the past seven months, I have skipped 19 days of writing in my journal, which isn’t bad going at all. Mainly it’s been odd days here and there, with the only full week missed being my holiday in Helsinki and I kept track of that in a separate travel notebook. This consistency is probably more due to habit and circumstances than the book itself, but I think having a book you enjoy using helps you to feel motivated to come back to it each day. I’ve established a good journal routine in my life: I write first thing in the morning whilst I have my first cup of tea of the day, usually covering 1-2 sides of A5 paper, although some days I’ll write a lot more. Mainly I write about things that happened the previous day, but sometimes I will just want to talk about the day that’s beginning, or about something not specific to a particular date at all. Since May 19th this year I have been hand-writing the daily prediction from the horoscope book at the end of my morning’s entry, mainly to use a bit extra ink each day, but it’s helpful to do more than a quick scan-through of passages.
Well, I’ve gone and mentioned ink, so that’s my cue to talk pens, inks, and paper quality. I have already touched upon this back in May when I noted that the book has an impressive page-count and decent quality paper, but now I’ll expand upon that.
The book is hard-back with what I’ll guess is a vinyl covering printed with the stylised blue and orange flower design, very reminiscent of Orla Kiely patterns. The covering is still in very good condition on the front and spine, although there’s an area on the back cover where it’s bubbling and creasing a bit. I find that pretty impressive after eight months of daily use. Similarly the binding, which consists of 13 threadbound signatures, has stood up very well to general wear. Saying this, I need to make it clear that the book lives on a bookshelf when not being written in; I dare say if I’d been carrying it around for eight months it would have suffered more. There is the ubiquitous heavy paper pocket attached to the back cover which I never use, but always like to see, there is one cream-coloured satin ribbon bookmark which I note has not frayed in the slightest, and an elastic closure which is as taut as the day I brought the book home.
The page count is a commendable 208 pages (416 sides) and I have no complaints about the quality of the ivory-coloured paper. My preference is for lined paper and this comes with lines spaced at 7mm printed in a mid-grey which I find clear, but not too intrusive. The page header area is 21mm with markings to add the date at the right-hand side of each page; the footer section is 11mm deep. Although the book is 30mm thick including covers, the signature construction allows it to lay open flat pretty well and I have found it relatively easy to write on, but I have to say this can vary. I actually write my journal sitting with my feet up on the settee with a cushion on my lap and the book on top of that. In this way, the thickness of the book hasn’t been a problem at all. However, if I sit with it on a hard, flat surface then it does become more difficult to write due to the thickness of it, and I would slip another book under the ‘lower’ of the edges just to keep the writing surface flat.
I have used fountain pens and inks exclusively in this journal and have not encountered any bleedthrough at all. I don’t know the paper weight, and to be honest I don’t find that’s a very accurate measurement of a paper’s acceptability anyway. I’ve encountered truly terrible 100gsm papers and great 80gsm ones, so I’ve become wary of relying on the paper weight. There is some show-through/shadowing evident on this paper, but I am very picky indeed about this, and I find it is at an acceptable level. For comparison, I don’t find the shadowing on Leuchtturm paper acceptable and I can’t even imagine wanting to try Tomoe River paper. The paper feels less smooth than Clairefontaine, for example, but only in as much as I feel it absorbs the ink a little more as I write, however my handwriting remains crisp. If I was going to be overly fussy, I’d say perhaps there is a slight amount of feathering, but that you’d have to look through a magnifying glass and even then be hard pressed to spot it, and it only happens with certain combinations of pen and ink, for example Diamine Wild Strawberry in the medium-nibbed vintage Parker 51, which is the ‘wettest’ combination I would be likely to go for. That is far outbalanced by the fact that I even see some shading on this paper, specifically with the Waterman Inspired Blue ink.
I’m not a huge decorator of my journal or notebooks, but I have popped in the occasional sticker, and stuck in a couple of greeting cards, which is something I do to celebrate the special days for people who are no longer here to give a card to. On the internet, I’ve seen people who stuff their journals full of stickers and add-ins, paint washes on every page, and need paper and bindings which will stand up to a massive beating. I’m not sure if this journal would take that. However, for relatively standard use, if there can ever be such a thing, I think this has been a marvellous book, and I shall miss it when I have written the final entry.
On Saturday I shall be starting the deep sapphire ‘Aquarius’ journal which I bought at TK Maxx at the beginning of this year. From my pen tests, it seems the paper in that is a little less fountain-pen friendly, but still eminently useable.
I hope you’re off to a good start to your week and enjoying your journals, if you use them, or anything else that brings you joy.