Quick Sketch from Amsterdam

This is a quick sketch from last year’s trip to Amsterdam. It isn’t the greatest but it was done quickly, balancing on my lap, and it brings back nice memories of an unexpected trip. (We’d planned to go to Barcelona but a French air traffic strike scuppered that idea.)

Paper-Oh featured

Paper-Oh Notebooks Review

Paper-Oh review

I first discovered Paper-Oh notebooks when a couple were included in a Spotlight Stationery box that I received via their sponsorship of Pens! Paper! Pencils! I liked them a lot and so bought three more.

Size: A5 (also available in A7, A6 and A4)
Price: £6
Pages: 112
Cover: hard card with a dot pattern and magnetic closure
Paper: not known
Ruling: lined or blank
Binding: stitched

Paper-Oh Ondulo edge

The Paper-Oh range includes many different cover designs and all sizes from A7 to A4. Most are available lined or blank but a couple are also available with grid ruling. The selection I’m looking at here are all A5 and lined.

Paper-Oh Ondulo open

The paper in all the notebooks I’ve tried is quite good. It does well with most pens but fountain pens with broad or wet nibs feather and bleed. It’s quite absorbent so dry times are good but it can take the shine off your more vibrant inks. The first Paper-Oh notebook I used, the one I got with the subscription box, dealt much better with ink than the ones I bought subsequently. Either the paper they use has changed or it’s a little variable. However, the paper in all the notebooks is good enough for day to day use.

Paper-Oh ink test front

Paper-Oh ink test back

Paper-Oh’s covers are fantastic. They’re all made from stiff card and have a variety of designs.

Paper-Oh Yuko-Ori

This is the Yuko-Ori design. It’s corrugated cardboard and available in cream or grey. It looks great, is a little out of the ordinary, but the ridges are a little prone to getting squished down, which is more clearly seen below, with the Ondulo design.

Paper-Oh damage

Paper-Oh Ondulo

Another corrugated cardboard design, the Ondulo’s available in black and a natural cardboard colour. The ridges are a little firmer than with the Yuko-Ori. The cutout, revealing the red inner cover, is a nice touch. The back cover folds over and closes the notebook using a magnet. This is a good system: it’s quick and effective.

Paper-Oh Ondulo magnetic closure

Paper-Oh Circulo grey

The Circulo has a cover made up two layers, with the outer layer punched with holes to show the bright colour of the second layer. Various colour combinations are available and it has the same magnetic closure. The best word to describe these particular covers is jaunty.

Paper-Oh notebooks have reasonable paper and really fun covers. They’re also well made with stitched binding which lays nice and flat, and are a good price.


Good value
Practical and good looking covers
Lay flat


Some feathering and bleed-through with some fountain pens

Paper-Oh in Start Bay cover

Pocket Notebook Selection Giveaway

Pocket Notebook giveaway

There are a lot of companies making notebooks at the moment and most of them, I have to say, are really very good. However, most are sold in packs of three which means if you want to try out different brands you soon spend a lot of money and acquire a lot of notebooks.

Therefore I’m giving one lucky reader a chance to win twenty pocket notebooks made by twelve different companies. A few are limited editions are hard to get now. All are good quality.

You can win one of each of these notebooks:

Field Notes Cherry Wood, Baron Fig Apprentice (not pictured), three Word. notebooks with different cover designs, Nib London (A7 size), Calepino plain, lined and grid, Petit Punnet, Write Notepads Lenore (limited edition), Story Supply Co, Field Notes Snowblind (limited edition), Hobonichi Tomoe River, Forest Choice, Pen Addict Podcast Kickstarter (limited edition), Field Notes Kraft, Midori, Whitelines.

Pocket Notebook giveaway spread out

You can enter via Rafflecopter and have until 6 August 2016. This is open internationally and the winner will be picked randomly using Rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pocket Notebook giveaway side on

Kaweco Elegance cap

Kaweco Elegance Fountain Pen Review

Kaweco Elegance review

The Elegance is a long slim aluminium pen. Kaweco’s metal pens tend to be pretty good, so how does this one stack up?

I was loaned this item by Kaweco for the purposes of review. I have since returned it. No money exchanged hands and these are my own honest opinions.

Price: £69
Nib options: steel extra fine, fine, medium, broad, double broad
Barrel options: black aluminium
Filling system: standard cartridge/converter
Size: 14.1cm capped, 12.1cm uncapped, 16.8cm posted; 1cm diameter
Weight: 32g

Kaweco Elegance uncapped on a chair

Unfortunately it isn’t great. The barrel and section are the same as the AL Special and suffer from the same issues. Only the cap is different and sadly the cap adds to the problems.

The barrel is well constructed. It’s very slim but as it’s made from aluminium it feels reassuringly robust in the hand. It’s a little short and you may want to post the cap. The cap screws onto the end but the clip doesn’t line up with the nib. Not only does this not look good, it makes the pen less comfortable than it should be.

Kaweco Elegance posted

Unless your fingers are either very tiny or numb from, say, years of working in a steel foundry, you will find the section too small and uncomfortable (because of the threads) to hold. It’s so small it isn’t so bad to hold the pen above the threads but if you do that you will definitely need to post the cap and then the clip not lining up will irritate you.

Kaweco Elegance in my big hand to show its small

The clip itself is strong and clippy though very much on the stiff side.

Kaweco Elegance cap

The medium nib on this pen was good. It was smooth and had good flow, with no issues. I’ve used a lot of Kaweco nibs and their extra-fines to mediums have, with one exception, been excellent. Broad and double broad have been a little less reliable: sometimes good, sometimes not.

Kaweco Elegance nib

You can use standard international cartridges or converters, which is always a good thing.

Kaweco Elegance deconstructed

I think Kaweco spent more time considering how this pen looked than thinking about how it would be used. It looks great but it’s not at all pleasant to write with.


Good quality construction
Good smooth nib
Looks good


Section is short and uncomfortable
Clip doesn’t line up with the nib when cap is posted

Kaweco Elegance handwritten review

Mam Tor featured

Mam Tor – the Shivering Mountain (sketch)

Mam Tor

Mam Tor is a hill in the beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire. It’s known as the Shivering Mountain because it’s made up of very unstable layers of shale, which frequently slip. In fact these landslips have created in lots of little baby hills below: Mam Tor means Mother Hill.

I started drawing this at the beginning of April and then I became ill. Although the trigger was a virus of some unidentifiable kind, I’d been trying to do too much for too long and it completely wiped me out. For five or six weeks I couldn’t do a thing and only recently have I been starting to get back to normal. There’s still a way to go but I’ve finally been able to finish this picture.

You may think you’re invincible and can do it all but take it from me: you can’t. It will catch up with you eventually and, really, it’s just arrogant to think it won’t. Good is coming from all this and I’ll be a much healthier and happier person at the end of it but learn from my mistakes! Look after yourself and be sensible about what you try to do. You owe it to yourself and to those who love you.