All hail the Metal Rat

My Metal Rat Talisman

Much to the despair of my grandson (who, for the purposes of this blog, I shall call ET*) I have an abiding love of horoscopes, both Western and Chinese. ET thinks horoscopes are twaddle – well, that’s Leos all over! To be fair to him, I don’t entirely believe in horoscopes in any logical way, it simply seems to me that they are no less plausible than most belief systems and only dangerous when taken to extremes.

My own horoscope consumption goes as far as buying a cheap, mass-market book each year for my star sign, Aquarius, which gives a few daily lines of prediction. I buy mine for £2 from The Works, from which we can deduce that there has not been a lot of scientific research put into the text!

When I look back, I don’t recall my family being particularly influenced by such matters, but then again I have always known the astrological signs of my family and my mum used to read her horoscope if she came across it in a magazine. Indeed, I recall her dismay when, laid in bed with a bad chest infection, she read that she would be having a great time and be the life and soul of the party. I believe she black-listed Russell Grant after that! (Interesting fact – I share my birthday with Mr Grant – day, not year!) Also, the clock that hung on the chimney-breast in our living room had the twelve zodiac signs around its perimeter and my parents must have chosen that from a range as being the one that appealed to them the most.

At some point I started to take an interest in the Chinese astrological system, and familiarised myself with my sign, the Rat. In the Chinese system, each sign gets a year and the zodiac runs on a 12-year cycle. On top of that, each sign cycles through the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal, water – so you only come round to your birth-year combination after 60 years. I was born a Metal Rat and today we’re going into the year of the Metal Rat,  so I reckon it’s something special. I am valiantly ignoring the general opinion that the return of your birth sign is considered to be a bit unlucky in Chinese astrology.

Many years ago I bought the little Metal Rat figure from an extremely dodgy local bric-a-brac shop and I have decided to keep it in a more prominent position through this year to remind me of my heritage and perhaps bring me luck. For the past eleven years I have been promising myself that I would buy the Cross Year of the Rat fountain pen as a 60th birthday treat-to-myself when 2020 finally rolled around. Now it’s been released, the £336 price tag combined with the fact I’ve already got the gorgeous Aquamarine Lamy Studio has made that pretty much 100% less likely to happen. I do love the colour and the decoration and, being metal, it reflects my birth year’s element precisely. With silver-coloured accents instead of gold it would be perfect, but I probably still wouldn’t buy it.

Cross Townsend Year of the Rat

Don’t worry, though, I have a totally different 60th birthday treat-to-myself to reveal next time I write!

* I’m not calling my grandson ET because I think he’s an alien, although I sincerely hope he is. I think I can safely assume he’s from the same spaceship as me and the rest of our family and will be part of the crew when our time on Earth is done and we re-group to travel onwards. I think he will probably turn out to be the captain! I am calling him ET because they are the initials of his first and middle names – I am the proud parent/parent-in-law of an awsome couple of film buffs!


Ring planner experiments – the basics

National Stationery Week Day 2

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 2 and the first of four posts in which I will be detailing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner. Today I have chosen the planner I will use for the experiment – I thought I would use my Filofax Original Fuchsia Patent, but instead I have chosen my Kikki K medium size in the blue colourway from their We Are All Creative range released in 2017. Got to go with what calls to you on the day, right? This is a leather planner with a fabric lining and their standard pocket layout inside. It is a structured binder (as opposed to floppy ones like the Filofax Malden and the offerings from Gillio and Van der Spek), this is just my preference. It is quite lightweight without any inserts, but if you choose you can fit plenty in it on its 30mm rings. The hardware is silver-coloured although it looks rather gold in this photo.

30-04-19 Creative

As to inserts, it is my intention to print these using papers I already have to hand using free printables from Philofaxy or to my own designs. Keep an eye out for more on this subject in my next National Stationery Week post where I will be experimenting with combinations of pens and paper to come up with the best pairing for the experiment.

First, though, I want to quickly address why I am calling this is an experimental set-up. I am pretty sure that I will be happy to keep using my Mark and Fold Diary for the rest of this year, but National Stationery Week seems like an opportunity to play about with a Filofax-style planning set-up and it may give you some ideas, or helpful information. I have to stress that this won’t be a tried-and-trusted planning system, although it will be one I intend to work with for a while, with an eye on next year’s requirements. There is a lot to like about my current diary: the paper quality, plenty of room to write in a quote each week which I do like in my diary, clear minimalist aesthetic. On the downside, some days I don’t have quite enough room, I generally prefer something other than the vertical column design, it’s an A5 bound book and I don’t tend to take it out of the house because I also have to carry a separate notebook. Taking everything into account, the paper quality really is good enough to balance any number of other design elements.

As to the pens I will be using, the set-up needs to accommodate my fountain pens shown below (left to right these are the recently acquired Parker 51 which is a bit of a gusher compared to my other pens; the blue Waterman Hemisphere; the Rose Cuivre Waterman Hemisphere; the blue Cross Century II looking just gorgeous in this photo; and my original Parker 51). Also in the photograph is a set of Uni Emott coloured pens bought specially for Stationery Week so I can show you some colour-coding. These write very well, although the pale pink and pale blue-grey are very pale indeed.

30-04-19 Pens

I hope this has piqued your interest and you will join me later in the week as the set-up progresses.

Tomorrow, though, for my knitting fans, I’ve got a finished object and I am over the moon!