When I was a wee lass, adventure was very much on my mind. My mum recalls that when I decided to leave home aged seven – as inspired by Robinson Crusoe – the first items I packed were pens, notebooks and books. (Not all of which featured in the items Crusoe took from the shipwreck, it has to be said.) In truth little has changed, although these days I’m packing my planners and travel journals.
At school, I was always the one with the massive pencil case. I had a territorial instinct to protect my best pens from marauding pen chewers. I went on to marry a pen chewer, although he has learned not to chew the good stuff. I chose my first rented flat on account of its extravagant amount of shelf space and the presence of a desk. Now I have the joy of a room with All The Books. Then there are all the desks: three so far, tucked away in different rooms. Oops. So at this stage in life, there’s no hope of rehab.
We stationery addicts have varying forms of the addiction. For some it’s planners, and a comprehensive collection of all the colourways in a specific style. Other people are ink completists, and have a delicate rainbow of inks to fuel their beautiful writing. I’m much more of a generalist, spreading my favours easily across planners, journals and pens.
Here are some of the things that make my stationery loving heart beat a little faster.
These wonderful notebooks and diaries come in all sorts of sizes, colours and types of binding. There are the cahiers, the soft cover diaries and the smaller hardcover notebooks. All are united by a paper so silky and of such beautiful flow that it’s a pleasure to write on. These fine books will take on all kinds of roles. At the moment, I’m using:
- A small spotty hardcover notebook for my travel planning lists
- A hard cover white grid notebook for blog planning
- A hard cover purple notebook for blog post ideas
- A passions notebook for recording all my travels
- A number of travel journals for places we revisit
I’m planning a 2017-18 diary in my immediate future.
Leuchtturm 1917 Notebooks and Bullet Journals
I first discovered these beauties as a gift. The paper is glorious, and the Leuchtturm reputation for bullet journaling is unrivaled. The dot grid, page numbered bullet journal is on my wants list. They are available in an absolute rainbow of colours, including some new metallics.
Muji Pens and Notebooks
Straightforward, simple, but oh so useful, Muji stationery seems to be vastly underrepresented in planner and stationery hauls. I love their .38 pens, which come in a great selection of colours. The A5 notebooks fit well into a Filofax Flex, and seem to have endless pages. I’m giving a shout out too for their miniature desk sets for an office on the go.
Hema Pens and Notebooks
Hema is a relatively new kid on the UK block, although this rids me of the excuse to visit Belgium (or London) to restock. The range is simple and effective, but with more of a fun element than Muji. I highly recommend their fine pens, which come in plastic boxes of 12. The same box arrangement is used for a set of 12 highlighters in six colours. Hema has A5 notebooks in value packs of three, and in bright colours which make it easy to spot the one you need.
(Flying) Tiger Notebooks, Planners and Desk Accessories
Again, a newer shop to the UK, Tiger is Fun with a capital F. The shop layout is designed like a maze from which you will never emerge. It contains a veritable cornucopia of things you did and didn’t need before you went in. Our local branch is Tiger, but elsewhere in the UK, the original Flying Tiger name is back. Bargains include notebooks, ring bound planner, brush pens, bright desk accessories, bottles of peach iced tea and vast reusable shopping bags. Stock is always changing, especially when it comes to inexpensive travelers notebooks and planners, so buy early.
Paperchase Planners, Pens and Notebooks
Funky stalwart of the UK stationery loving market, Paperchase balances striking themed collections with an assembly of basics. I love the fact that they have very reasonably priced ring bound planners, and that there’s always something new to browse. If you like a seasonal range, don’t dither, because it won’t be around forever. Great buys are their disposable fountain pens, sectioned notebooks, desk files and storage. They also have a small but stylish selection of wedding planners. Don’t forget their loyalty card for discounts and birthday treats. And their sales…
Typo Notebooks, Pens and Travel Gear
Typo’s another relative newbie, and for most of us almost exclusively online save for the occasional trip to London. Typo has all my bases covered: stationery, travel, craft, and home gear. In fact, it’s as well there’s not a branch near here, or I’d be camping out and rather short of cash. My favourite buys include slogan notebooks, pens (the Easy Writer takes endless notes flowingly), water bottles and travel mugs, luggage tags and travel pouches with lots of zip compartments. Be aware too, that they have plenty of sales with generous discounts, so get signed up to the newsletter. Postage is free for orders over £25, which is pretty easy to achieve.
I am ready to out myself as being so old, I had my first Filofax in the 1980s. Bit of a shocker, that. Currently there are twelve in my collection, including an ancient Deskfax. I’m a sneaky lover of the Domino for its unassuming finish, and its “don’t you worry, just stuff me in your bag” approach to rough working conditions. My A5 Finsbury is equally good at putting up with dust, brickwork and other tough operating environments while retaining its suave good looks. Next on my list is one of the new squishy pastel Dominos.
Kikki K Planners, Pens and Paper Lovers Books
For most of us, Kikki K is an online shop, except for London trips, as the concession in Birmingham Grand Central has closed. People love the elegant pastel planners, but I’m mainly a fan or their Paper Lovers Books crammed with all kinds of printed beauty. I also love their most gorgeous pens (silver, rose gold, slogan).
Cross Planners and Pens
This brand doesn’t always get a lot of attention, but I love tracking down their products. The Ion pen is a star writer, with its pull apart structure revealing the nib. The metallic versions have little gripper dots at the business end, making them a pleasure to hold, and the plastic ones have a comfortable finish. The Cross A5 zipped planner is as large as the Filofax Deskfax and contains a plethora of pockets for the most accessory-loving planner person. I also have a chunky A5 bound notebook with a pen tucked into a pocket in the spine.
Kate Spade Planners and Card Cases
The stationery range is stocked at Selfridges and John Lewis (plus I think in Foyles) and there’s the outlet store at Bicester. I love the clear lines and tongue in cheek vibe to this range. And the spots. Gotta have spots. Having been lucky enough to get to the Nashville outlet last year, I can only say that if you can make it to an outlet, you should fill your (cowboy) boots. As far as I can see, these planners also command a high resale value should you ever (shock horror) fall out of love with yours. I’ve been using my KS black and white spotted planner since I bought it in October last year. In my books, that’s a long term relationship with a single planner.
This colourful explosion of the stationery world is only available in the US, so brace yourself for shipping/customs charges unless you can score an eBay buy. Lily’s chunky planners will never get lost in a crowd. I’m a fan of the smooth-writing pens which have highlighter tops, and also the zingy post-its. With this year’s tropical vibe very much in planner fashion, I’m surprised not to be seeing more of Lily’s products around this year.
TK Maxx and Homesense: All the Stationery
Both of these sibling companies have a fine stash of papery items. Stock has been known to include Filofaxes at bargainous prices, Kate Spade and Ban.do planners. There are all kinds of notebooks, laptop and tablet cases and other stationery items from brands such as Emma Bridgewater. You can always rely on there being a wide choice, but you cannot rely on specific items being available. So visit often, hunt carefully, and don’t think you’ll pop back for it later. And bear in mind that someone in my local branch is prone to hiding the good stuff at the very back of the shelf. Just sayin.
So what have I missed out? I’ve tried to focus on things that are widely available. There are a whole host of etsy shops and other small businesses (I’ll be heading there for future posts), but I’d love to know your favourites.