I might be a bit tardy about many things in life (unblocking drains, ironing, picking up spiders) but never let it be said that I shirk my responsibilities when it comes to the investigation and sampling of notebooks.
For years I have been a Moleskine diehard; embellishing my book journals with a picture of my choosing, the notebook of the moment is never far from my hand and my pen. Then I migrated to Muji for a while and that was fine too.
Occasionally I found myself going astray with a Ryman copy or a Paperchase gimmick, but eventually finding my way back to the notebooks made famous by Bruce Chatwin, because it was his picture of them that first set me on the path.
But in recent times there has been some serious Moleskine wavering chez dovegrey.
Is the paper getting thinner or is it me?
Suddenly they soak up ink like a sponge making the reverse of the page unusable.
'Use biro or pencil,' I hear you say.
'Absolutely not.' I reply.
I happened to be in Waterstones a few months ago and noticed a wondrous display of new-to-me notebooks in sizes and colours various made by Legami in Milan.
A soft leather-like cover in petrol blue caught my eye (petrol blue, mmm...is there a lovelier colour), elastic fastener, rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark, a nifty little page marker that doubles as a pen holder, 192 numbered pages, a monthly planner in the front along with a world map and a pocket at the back, and with this mission statement on the final page...
Obviously this notebook isn't really meant for me is it...
I'd be mutton dressed as lamb writing in this wouldn't I...
It did make me think twice before deciding you're only a old as you feel and why should all the Bright Young Things have all the nice notebooks, so I bought one, 5" x 7". It's the size that tempted me as much as anything. Roughly that of my Kindle and fits perfectly in the little book bag that the Kayaker bought for me while he was in The Strand Book Store in New York (he had very kindly sent me a message asking if there was anywhere I wanted him to go).
Oh if only he had been able to carry more home from this little shop in India...
To my joy the smooth Legami 90gm ivory paper accepts ink properly like a good notebook should, so I dashed back to Waterstones to stockpile another one, only to find they had sold out and they weren't at all sure they would be stocking any more.
Sold out...I obviously wasn't the only person to have fallen in love with the Petrol Blue Legami Milano.
In deep despair (sorry this will only be making any sort of coherent sense if you have an empathy and affinity with notebooks) I looked online and ended up in Milan . Less than a week later enough Petrol Blue Small Legami notebooks arrived by UPS to see me through about another year or so.
On an interesting note, I've ditched the lines. I have transferred my allegiance, probably in place since primary school, from lined paper to plain, and can't quite believe the freedom of unrestrained writing it encourages.
I had huge fun with The Odyssey. A book a day of Emily Wilson's translation for twenty-four days through June, and finally I have untangled my confusion based on a lifetime of Homeric odds and ends and made sense of it all. If you are still wondering whether to give this one a try I can highly recommend.
I am really enjoying the freedom that plain pages offer and which lines seem to preclude, and can't think why I haven't explored this before. I have also gone over to the dark side with Uniball Eye pens which is another new departure for me. They suit my hand and are comfortable to hold, the colours are very pleasing and they seem to last forever.
So over to you.
Fallen in love with any nice stationery lately...
Found something new that we should all know about...
Old favourites still going strong...