Sunday 4 January 2015

Lamy Safari Vista Rollerball review

Would you believe that I only own two Lamy pens? 
The first one is a Tipo and the second is this Lamy Vista rollerball.

Vista : Noun : A pleasing view

I was originally attracted to the transparent barrel, hanging on the peg, inards exposed as if to reassure me there would be no nasty surprises.

Two things crossed my mind while I was deciding whether I should take this pen home. The first was - Great! I can see how it works without even unscrewing it. It's simple and that means less things are likely to go wrong with it.

The second thing was that maybe I ought to avert my eyes. It was like being asked on a date by a really hot guy who I've had a crush on for like, forever and then realising he's naked. Nothing has been left to the imagination so now I'm not nearly as excited to get him home and try him out. But if I leave him *ahem* hanging  there, I might be missing out on some hot stuff so I take him home anyway to see what he can do. THE PEN! I take the pen home, what did you think I meant? Tut Tut, this is a pen blog not Mills and Boon.

So anyway, I put the naked pen in my basket and take it home. (actually that's a lie, my mum took the pen home, but I got it back a few weeks later, gift wrapped on my birthday).

One delicious pizza, a bit too much cake, a weeks worth of caffeine and a full tummy later, it was time to go home and see if I was right to choose the Lamy Vista.

If you want to see ink, try the Lamy Vista fountain pen instead

I gave the clear plastic barrel a few hard taps, trying to get a feel for the pens strength. Would too much uncapping or unscrewing cause the pen to crack over time like many of the plastic pens I've used in the past? I hoped not. The plastic felt thick and strong. I felt reassured.

Upon closer inspection I realised that although I could see the refill, I couldn't see the ink inside, not that I'll lose any sleep over it.

It's quite a chunky looking pen but after removing the lid, wrapping my fingers round the triangular grip and feeling surprised at how light it felt, the pen didn't seem so chunky after all.

Triangular grip

As someone who spends alot of time writing, a functional grip is important to me. Slip sliding my way through a notebook is not my idea of fun.

The triangular grip area on the Lamy Vista makes the lack of a textured grip OK. There's no fumbling around for a comfortable position and the subtle flick cleverly positioned at the end of the grip prevents my fingers from slipping.

So here comes the important question. Does this Lamy Vista with its impressive physique know what to do with its ink?

Vista handwriting sample

Of course it does! You only have to look at my writing sample to see that this pen can make even the most boring text look inviting. The ink flows with confidence, easily keeping up with all of the loops and curls, making sure every letter is complete and skip free. The ink is kind to my notebooks, shadowing ever so slightly but showing no signs of bleeding through the page.

Left handers - this is a pen I think you might like. The ink dries instantly as far as I can tell. I had absolutely no problem with smudging. The only time I felt I needed to take extra caution was while writing out a birthday card. The ink looked beautiful on the glossy surface but took quite a while to dry so I had to resort to wafting the card in the air to speed things up a bit.

OK, don't laugh, but so long as I have this Lamy Vista in my hand I think I could copy pages from the phone book all day and actually enjoy it. It makes writing so easy. It feels silky smooth on paper and even when applying the tiniest amount of pressure it still produces a flawless finish.

Couldn't be easier if it tried

The only way refilling this pen could be any easier would be if it refilled itself. Unscrew the pen, slide the old refill out, slide the new one in, screw back together. No faffy springs to lose, no messing about. Job done. You don't even need to open the pen up to see that it takes a Lamy M63 rollerball refill.

Jiminy Cricket? Is that you?

The lid posts nicely on the end although I'm not a poster. I don't like the extra weight dragging me down, although to be fair the lid is light so it doesn't make a huge difference, but I like what I like so I'll be holding the lid in my spare hand like I always do. And anyway, I have to keep my spare hand busy otherwise it starts reaching out for desk snacks. Not good.
The lid is secure. I have no worries about it coming loose while clipped to my lanyard.

The clip certainly catches the eye, it's big enough. It's reliable, safely clipping to most things thanks to it's flexibility and that will do for me. It looks a bit like a Cricket, don't you think?

I have much love for my Lamy Tipo but it has to be said, the Vista makes it look pretty crappy in comparison.

EDIT: I also own a Lamy ABC fountain pen - how could I forget? So that's 3 Lamy pens I own, not two.. ooops

Monday 29 December 2014

Crackers about pens or just crackers?

Awwww, Christmas is over for another year but before I take down the tree and store away the decorations I'll do one last Christmas themed post to help me get it out of my system.

I loved Christmas day for the following reasons:

  • I got a day off work (I was exceptionally lucky this year and bagged myself Boxing day off too).
  • The shops were shut so it was impossible for me to spend any more money (unless I have a sneaky peak on the laptop) but I didn't so all was well. My bank balance has taken a beating so it will be extremely grateful for this recovery period (I know it's going to take a little longer than a day until it's fully re cooperated, but we're on the right path)
  • I got to watch my son open the presents he so desperately wanted but thought he wouldn't get. After being told one present was still on a boat from China, the other was out of stock and another arrived but was broken so had to be sent back, he truly believed this was going to be the worst Christmas ever. Instead he got everything he wanted. 
  • Everyone knows I'm a stationery geek so I can pretty much count on the fact that my presents will be mainly stationery themed.  I have to say this year I was especially spoilt. The amount of stationery I received would probably last anyone who doesn't spend all of their spare time obsessing about stationery a lifetime. 
I know! How amazing is this?!
  •  Then there was Christmas dinner at my parents house. My mum always decorates the table so beautifully, my Dad cooks a feast fit for a king and my brother burnt the pigs in blankets. And I, well I, erm, ok I did nothing but isn't that what you're supposed to do when you go to your parents for dinner? Probably not - bad daughter!
  •  Then there was the age old tradition of pulling Christmas crackers. They are always filled with bad jokes that only I laugh at. The paper hats that despite being far too big for my head I always manage to rip no matter how delicately I attempt to put them on. And not forgetting the naff cracker gifts.
Speaking of naff Christmas crackers, they were actually the real reason I sat down today to write.

Christmas cracker time for me this year was way more exciting that it should have been. Embarrassingly so in fact.

So here is my version of the cracker pulling events:

We all grab the end of a cracker and pull. From here on everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

The popping sounds were like my firing pistol signalling that the race was on to grab the best crap gift. Folded hats, terrible jokes and even worse gifts flew out from all directions, narrowly missing the Yorkie puds and the gravy boat. As the cracker gifts bounced about on the table my eyes locked onto the pen, still spinning from the impact.  A PEN CAME OUT OF THE CRACKER!! I grab it, shout 'mine'and pull it in towards me before anyone else gets their hands on it.

Time returns to normal, I put on my hat and joined in with the cracker jokes.

What everyone else saw:

We all grab the end of a cracker and pull. As they do every year, the gifts fly out from all directions, luckily none made it into the food this year.
I spot the pen at the same time as my son and with a crazed look in my eye I dive out of my seat, dip my sleeve in my plate, swat his hand out of the way and snatch the pen whilst shouting 'MINE'  before he has any idea what just happened. I hold the pen close to me, laughing hysterically while the rest of the cracker gifts are claimed. I start writing my name on my napkin with a satisfied smirk on my face, feeling like the cat that got the cream.

I then realise that I might have gone a little overboard (the clue was in the odd looks aimed in my direction) so I pop on my hat, join in the the cracker jokes as though nothing happened.

But it did happen. Want to see what all the fuss was about?
The delicious looking chocolates are there to distract you from the plastic naffness of the actual pen

Ok, so I got a little over excited. It is after all, just a plastic pen, likely to snap if I press down too hard or sit on it but it did make the cracker pulling event of 2014 unforgettable so I will keep it as a reminder. It writes pretty good considering!

Oh and the little notebook came from another cracker and I think after the crazy pen incident no one dared not hand it over so that too is all mine!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday 26 December 2014

Christmas with the Cactusmases

It's Boxing day and the Father Cactusmases are feeling a little sad.

Christmas is over and the cheeky duo are concerned for their future. What will become of them? They've spied the Christmas decoration box and I think they are worried they might suffer the same fate as the tinsel and the tree. It's pretty cold up there in the attic so I can understand why they're anxious.

They've had so much festive fun and they really don't want it to end.

Is it my turn yet?
They took a shine to my Lamy Vista and had a selfie session, only it was more me, myself and the Father Cactusmas behind me.

writing cards

They discovered the Christmas cards and couldn't wait to write them out. There was quite a bit of bickering about who's name would appear on the card first. The Wise owl had to swoop in to help, although explaining to the Father Cactusmases that it didn't matter because they shared the same name proved to be quite a challenge. Same name or not, it seemed to really matter to them!

making music - or more accurately, noise

They practised carol singing and even recorded a Christmas album, doing their best to ignore Spongebobs annoying 'I'm behind you' panto tricks. Unfortunately Simon Cowell said it was the worst thing he's ever heard so we won't be seeing it in shops any time soon.

I have to say, I've really enjoyed their company and despite them messing around with my stationery I think I'd really miss them if they were gone. I think even the real Santa has a soft spot for these two as he left them a little present. Some stationery of their very own - a cactus pen!

over the moon

The Cactusmases spines tingled with Christmas glee. They were so happy that they forgot to argue and had fun taking it in turns to test out their new pen.

sharing nicely

What do the Cactusmases love most about this pen? It can be refilled so their fun never ends.

Seeing the Father Cactusmases so happy made me happy so I've decided to let them carry on living on my desk. They've promised to leave my stationery alone now that they have their own and they have agreed to take off their hats until next Christmas.

So now the Cactusmases may look like ordinary Cacti, but we know their secret....sshhhh!.... until next year!

Father Cactusmases in disguise

Monday 24 November 2014

Pens - To lend or not to lend

Something happened at work the other day. I left my pen in plain sight, something I very rarely do anymore. You'll understand why very shortly.

So I'm a checkout assistant, till op, cashier, whatever you want to call it. My job is simple, scan the shopping, take the money, be polite and courteous at all times. ALL TIMES.

A customer approaches the checkout with a trolley full to the top. As she starts loading onto the belt it becomes apparent that she is shopping for her whole neighbourhood and wishes to pay for three items at a time so she can get separate receipts. OK fine, I'm here all day anyway, so it makes no difference to me.

She unfolds the list from her pocket and starts rooting through her bag. Uh oh, she hasn't got a pen.
At the exact same moment, both of our eyes land on my pen, the one I left in plain sight. How could I be so stupid?

"Can I use your pen for a sec" she asks. I knew it was coming but hearing the words out loud still paralysed me for a moment. An excuse, I need an excuse. Should I say it doesn't work? Not believable, why would I have it just there if it didn't work. And she might ask to try it anyway.
Too late, I hesitated for too long so she grabs it anyway and begins crossing off items as she removes them from the trolley.

Right OK, it's done now. Note to self, do not leave pen lying around. I continue scanning. I tell myself to get a grip, the world won't end just because someone used my pen.

I press total. That will be £4.95 ple... WHAT ON EARTH?

My pen is hanging from her mouth. I don't mean just held between her lips, shes sucking on it like it's a lollipop. My stomach does a weird flip like I might be sick or something. I resist the urge to snatch the pen from her mouth and ask her what she thinks she's doing. I need to politely ask her to remove my pen from her mouth but I can't speak.
I notice her friend is staring at me with an odd expression on her face. That's when I realise I'm gawping at my pen in horror. My friendly smile and professional manner have failed me. What must I look like?

After what seems like a lifetime, she removes the pen from her mouth and that's when I see the string of saliva stretch out and the drop onto the conveyor belt. It was like a horror movie. I didn't want to look, I wanted to scream and run away but at the same time I couldn't tear my eyes away from this disgusting scene.

I leave the pen where it is for now. I need to psyche myself up before I can retrieve it. It's the same panicky feeling I get when I see a spider and theres no one else around to move it.

The rest of the transaction is a blur. I scan but I'm not there. I'm in my safe place, waiting for her to leave so I can grab my hand sanitizer and plan my next move. I don't know whether I should go and wash the pen, whether I should throw it in the bin or whether I should leave it where it is and for the first time in my life hope someone comes along and gives it a good home.

As I looked at the pen, covered in spit, I felt sad. I had no love for it anymore.

I'm not completely heartless. I couldn't just leave it there, abandoned and alone. I did eventually take the pen, wash it thoroughly with soap and put it in my locker. But that's where it's been ever since.
Will I ever use it again? I don't know.

I'm sure the customer who caused all this heartache has no idea what she's done, it wasn't done intentionally so I'm prepared to forgive although I'm not sure I'll ever forget.

Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you because I wan't to raise awareness and let people to know that it is NOT OK to put someone elses pen in your mouth. Next time you are tempted to pop a pen that doesnt belong to you into your mouth - stop and think. Do you really want to force this pen into early retirement? Do you want this pen to live the rest of its life in a dark locker or worse, in the bin?

If I can save just one pen from suffering the same fate as my poor promotional pen then it won't have all been for nothing.

Monday 17 November 2014

NoteShel Review - An end to my notebook buying addiction?

I've finally got my mitts on a NoteShel thanks to a competition on the NoteShel Facebook page.

I've wanted a NoteShel for a little while now but with Christmas just around the corner I thought it best to press pause on the stationery spending and start preparing for the big day. It's been tough, like being on a diet. The more I deprived myself the more I craved so hearing the thud as my precious prize dropped through the letter box filled me with excitement. I raced to the door but the Chihuahua had beaten me to it, growling and snapping at my parcel with a crazed look in her eyes. It was then that I realised I wasn't the only one affected by this temporary stationery ban. The dog had clearly missed giving the postman a fright and was making the most of this unexpected visit.

I wanted to savour the moment so I opened it slowly, feasting my eyes on the vibrant colour, feeling the weight of it, running my fingers over the NoteShel logo. Pure Bliss. It's colourful, it's magnetic, it's mine.

The case itself is part rubber, part plastic and I could tell immediately that this NoteShel is durable and built to last. The post it slot is refillable so I can change it up a bit with extra colour. The funky little magnetised pen clings the the NoteShel quite impressively and believe me when I say that no amount of shaking would persuade it to loosen it's grip.That pen knows where it belongs.

So I had this fresh, unopened block of post it notes and I wanted to make sure that the very first mark I made would be an important one. In bursts the boyfriend closely followed by our son, both claiming to feel faint with hunger, insisting that the only thing that could possibly save them was a trip to the McDonald's Drive Thu. On any other day I would have refused to go until they finally wear me down with their nagging or they get bored and start rummaging through the freezer. But this wasn't any other day, this was NoteShel day. So I took down their order and got in the car. Not quite the important mark I was looking for but it would have to do.
With the boy and manchild fed I could go back to giving the NoteShel my undivided attention.

The unique looking ballpoint felt light in my hand and had no trouble with ink flow. The metal parts of the pen look attractive but together with the smooth round shape are slippery customers after prolonged use. But do you know what? It doesn't matter. The pen isn't designed for prolonged use, it's designed for taking notes, for being there when you need it.
I was especially pleased to find that this stylish pen is refillable. My NoteShel and matching pen will remain together, forever.
As I popped the NoteShel in my handbag, smiling at how perfectly it fits into the zipped compartment, I noticed the tatty old notebook in the bottom of my bag and was overcome by a rush of mixed emotions. What would become of it? NoteShel has swooped in and taken care of all my note taking on the go needs. No more dog eared notebooks, no more digging deep for a pen that works. Does this mean I never need to buy another pocket notebook?

Of course not! Once a stationery addict always a stationery addict and if there's one thing a stationery addict is good it, it's finding a use for yet another notebook.

Friday 17 October 2014

It's #Ink to Win time

After picking up a fountain pen for the first time in years and liking it, I decided it was time to experiment with ink. I don't do anything by halves so when Pen Heaven offered me the opportunity to try out the new Platinum Mix Free Inks I jumped at the chance.

These are no ordinary bottles of ink, they can be mixed together to create your favourite shades. So whether you are working on a stunning piece of artwork, doodling in a meeting or you want your personality and unique style to shine through the squiggles on your page, these inks may be just what you've been waiting for. My favourite ink colour is green so it's exciting to be able to mix inks to make my favourite shade. I don't need to hunt high and low for my perfect shade. I can create it myself.

But that's not all. To celebrate the launch of Platinum Mix Free Inks, Pen Heaven wants you to get creative with ink and in return are giving you the chance to win the most amazing prize with their #Ink to Win competition.

                                                           What you can win:

First Prize is this handmade Platinum 3776 Maki-e 'Aurora' fountain pen worth a whopping (you may want to sit yourself down for this) £2000!

Two runners up will receive
  • A sample kit of Platinum Mix Free Inks consisting of 5ml vials of each colour (and one of the diluting fluid)
  •  A Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen + converter

What do you need to do to win?

It's simple - get creative with ink.

You can use a fountain pen, dip pen, feather, shoe, your own head, it really doesn't matter as long as it's done in ink. It can be a picture, a piece of calligraphy, abstract art, whatever you like. Just have fun with it. It doesn't even have to be on paper so you can be as imaginative as you like. Remember to include info on how your piece of art was created as it really helps the judges when it comes to choosing the winners.

Think your art isn't good enough? Think again. Entries will be judged on creativity and innovation with the medium of ink which means everyone has a shot at winning.

What are you waiting for? Head over to the Pen Heaven Blog to submit your entry and read the full Terms and Conditions

I used my Platinum Mix Free Inks to create a mass of colours and patterns using a dip pen. What will you create?

 Competition starts Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at noon BST and ends Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at midnight GMT. Competition is open to European Union residents only! If you are located outside the EU, you cannot enter (or win). You cannot be an employee of or affiliated with Coles Pen Co Ltd, and bloggers and judges involved in the competition cannot enter. Only one entry per entrant is permitted. Fraudulent entries using multiple social media accounts will be eliminated.
Only one entry per person. Postal entries are not permitted.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Lamy ABC Fountain pen review

I always tell people I hate onions. One day my boyfriend challenged me. He asked me when I last ate an onion. My reply? Years ago, that's because I hate them ...duh!

Recently I was asked about my favourite fountain pen. My reply? I'm not really a fountain pen person. I love the look of them. There are some ridiculously beautiful fountain pens out there but they are far too high maintenance. That's why I use rollerballs. Fountain pens are the divas of the pen world, they need regular cleaning, they can have nib issues and some have really complicated filling methods. Not to mention the fact that they can get expensive.

Then came the onion question. When was the last time you used a fountain pen? Which filling method did it use?
I realised then that I hadn't used a fountain pen since my school years. I used a cheap cartridge pen which I loved until the nib broke. A rollerball saved the day and the fountain pen ended up in the bin. It's quite sad really.

The only fountain pen I own is a Lamy ABC. It's designed for children. It's a beginners pen. I'm relying on this pen to gently ease me back into fountain pen use. Will this pen inspire me to experiment more with fountain pens? There's only one way to find out ..... It's time to ink up my Lamy ABC and get writing...

It feels right that I'm starting at the beginning with this fountain pen designed for children. I'm hoping that the fact that this is a childs pen doesn't mean it will be of a lesser quality. Children are like sponges, soaking up information and experiences that will shape who they are. If a childs first experience of using a fountain fails to make a lasting impression then I can't see why they would want to continue using one throughout their school and adult life. A pen that makes a child feel special, a pen that has the ability to enhance handwriting and get children to enjoy writing is a pen that a child will remember.

The maple wood body of this pen conjours up images of classrooms with neat rows of wooden desks with the lift up lids, an abacus on the window sill and well behaved, cane fearing children perched on wooden chairs, fountain pens at the ready. Most of the children I know have never used a fountain pen in their life.

The rubber grip is great for encouraging children to employ the correct grip from the very start. 
It's successful in reducing any slipping which in turn keeps fingers clean of ink. The shape of the grip really helped me keep the pen in the correct position. After years of only using ballpoints and rollerballs I'm pleased to say that readjusting to using a pen that has a 'right side up' wasn't difficult at all.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between my rollerballs and this fountain pen is how tightly I need to grip the pen. My fingers are so much more relaxed with a fountain pen.
I could write an entire novel if I wanted and I know that hunger and tiredness would strike long before hand fatigue.

The cube shaped plastic on the end of the pen may look like its just there for decorative purposes but I've discovered that it does actually have a job to do. It helps create an even balance whilst writing and if the pen does happen to roll away the plastic cube will slow the pen enough to give you a decent shot at catching it before it tumbles to the ground. The cube shape prevents the cap from being posted which doesn't bother me but may spark a cap hunt at some point during the school day.

So how do I feel about the steel nib? Pretty good actually. 

It feels sturdy and strong enough to survive the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom as well as an inexperienced user. I was surprised at how little pressure was needed in order to get a decent ink flow. I barely had to press down at all.
Once I'd gotton a feel for the pen and holding it in the correct position I was really pleased with the ink flow. I do have some amazing rollerballs that have the same inkiness but the fountain pen just adds that extra sprinkling of character and individuality to the page. I imagine this is one of the many reasons people who use fountain pens never look back.
It's true, a fountain pen does feel pretty good on paper. So velvety smooth and easy. I had heard that fountain pen ink is notoriously difficult if used on the wrong type of paper but I found with this pen 80 - 100 gsm paper caused me no problem whatsoever.
There is something about writing with a fountain pen that makes me want to take my time. I don't think this pen would allow me to scribble my thoughts hurriedly and scruffily even if I wanted to. I can see this pen making handwriting practise for children easier and more enjoyable.

I'm fairly sure the medium line width will suit the childrens slightly larger handwriting perfectly and it's suits me too.

The ink isn't as quick to dry as some rollerballs and ballpoints which may be a problem for left handers like myself. In primary school I was always given blotting paper to help reduce smudging. I feel fortunate as a lefty to have learnt to use even the inkiest pen and very rarely smudge. It may look strange as my notebooks are always at an odd angle but that way my hand is always underneath the words I'm writing and never drags through the ink.

One of the things I hear alot from the 'for' fountain pens camp is choice of ink. There does seem to be so much more choice when it comes to colour. I haven't yet experimented with bottled ink but when I do I know this pen is compatible with the Lamy Z24 converter so it won't be a problem.

I'd love to try some different shades of green. The pen came equipped with a Lamy cartridge (also available in a variety of attractive colours) which I'm using for this review. The installation of the cartridge was straight forward although it didn't click or pop so I had to double check it was secure before screwing the pen back together. I'm sure with a little more experience, refilling fountain pens will become second nature.

The Lamy ABC is missing a clip. I do like my pens to have a clip. Even if I intend to keep a pen in my bag I like it to be clipped and secure so when I grab for it I know it will be exactly where I left it.

I can't see the lack of a clip making much difference in a classroom. A lost pen will soon be returned to it's rightful owner thanks to the name tags. As well as having a choice of colours there is also a clear plastic protective sticker to ensure names stay in pristine condition for as long as possible. I love being able to personalise my pens. It's like gently marking my territory, letting people know that the pen belongs to me. I really must learn to accept that most people are not in the slightest bit interested in running off with my pens.

I've surprised myself with how much I enjoyed using this pen. I don't have any other fountain pens to compare it to but this pen is definitely on par with my favourite rollerballs. I doubt very much that I'll suddenly do away with my rollerballs and use nothing but fountain pens. Rollerballs will always be part of who I am, like my favourite dressing gown that I'll never part with no matter how scruffy it gets. However, I'm sure my rollerballs won't mind me making a little room for the occasional fountain pen now and then.

Now that I've conquered my initial fear of using a fountain pen I do want to continue on this journey of rediscovery. I want to avoid getting too overwhelmed so one step at a time. My next step is to experiment with ink and I can tell you, I have been invited to take part in something very exciting, and it involves ink. It's going to be heavenly. Watch this space.

But first, I need to see a man about an onion...