Live somewhere as beautiful as the rugged south Devon coast and you can’t help but be inspired to do something: fish, make music, write books or let your creative imagination run wild. That’s just what happened to Peter Cattermole, the man who is Start Bay Notebooks. Not long after moving to live by the sea at Start Bay, Peter received a Traveler’s Notebook for his birthday and thought: I can make something better than this. So he did and, after a lot of trial and improvement, Start Bay Notebooks was born.
It is literally a one-man operation but, as Peter explained when I met him on a blustery and drizzly day in July (a typical English summer’s day), business is booming. Orders are coming in from all over the world: Start Bay Notebooks are very popular in Germany and the USA, among many other places. A Start Bay Notebook is a simple object: not much more than a piece of leather with some cord and elastic. But simple products only work if each component is sourced and constructed with the utmost care and it was clear from what Peter said that the reason these covers have proved so popular isn’t some random fluke. He cares deeply about making a quality product and puts prototypes through all the rigours this rugged, rocky English Channel coast can offer. He treats them in ways no self-respecting journaller should ever treat a notebook. They’re dropped, left out in the sun, the wind, the rain, and used and abused all to ensure the cover is going to last at least as long as its owner and probably a lot longer.
The hub of Start Bay Notebooks is a desk at the back of Peter’s home. There can’t be many houses where the first sight that greets you as you step inside is two huge rolls of leather: thick vegetable-tanned full grain leather, no less. Then, through the back, there are piles of fledgling covers, in various stages of completeness, setting my mind working overtime to think of reasons why I need more for myself.
When you buy a notebook cover like this, or like the Traveler’s Notebook, you are buying an idea as well as a cover. The idea you get with a Traveler’s Notebook is that you could be an adventurer, travelling the world, seeing exotic places in every corner of the Earth. This works even if you never travel further than Asda. With Start Bay Notebooks you get the idea of a life by the sea, outdoors on the beach breathing the fresh salty air and hearing the waves crashing onto the rocks. Now I’ve met Peter Cattermole (who is a lovely bloke, by the way), it’s clear that this isn’t simply down to clever marketing. The stunning Start Bay inspired him to create these covers and has, quite literally, been an integral part of their quality control. It’s no surprise that every time you pick one up, you feel some of the love that Peter has for this beautiful place.