Traveler’s Notebook and Me - Oct 2016

Photo taken when brand new

This isn’t really a review of the Traveler’s Notebook but rather a piece on how I use my Traveler’s Notebook. If you are looking for a review, check out the guest review of the Traveler’s Notebook here.

It has been 4 months since my initial purchase of the Traveler’s Notebook in Camel from Amazon Japan. Yes I knew it will be available in Singapore eventually but I just couldn’t wait. After my foray into the world of Hobonichi and various leather covers for it (Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter and Astrida Leather cover), I found I didn’t like the weight of an A5 notebook plus a leather cover. I made the switch over to the Traveler’s Notebook as my everyday planner. Happily I picked up a number of refills and accessories for it. After 4 months of experiments, I am quite sure that this is my setup going forward, for the rest of the year at least.

After 4 months of use

The Camel leather scars and ages really easily. Though it has only been 4 months, it looked as if my Traveler’s Notebook has actually been through a lot. Though I must admit, it was soaked in water when my water bottle spilled it’s contents inside my bag a number of times. There were ink splatters and I didn’t baby it in the slightest. The barcode charm on the exterior was picked up from a Malaysia based online retailer, Stickerrific. I had initially wanted to keep the exterior plain without adornments but I found having a charm makes it easier to find the elastic band and pull it down to unbind the cover.

After 4 months - Front

After 4 months - Back

First up is the kraft folder that holds all my loose paper such as receipts and the like. The folder also takes all the stickers that I’ve saving up, saving up for what purpose I have no idea so on they go. At least the kraft folder stays in the cover and won’t be switched out, so I get to enjoy my stickers. Then, my first notebook is a lined one. It holds all my lists and notes. It is barely filled at this moment. I use it to keep track my blog ideas and ink review progress. Sometimes it also double up as my ink testing notebook. I spilt it up into 3 portions the front contains my lists while the middle my notes about pens I am reviewing and the back my ink testing. After the refill is the other end of the kraft folder where I keep different paper samples folded down to fit. That way if I have a pen or ink to test on the go I have Tomoe River and Rhodia paper handy.

My second notebook comes after that. It is a grid notebook that holds my bullet journal. I don’t have a dedicated monthly refill instead I just draw my own. I want everything to be altogether in one refill and not spread out into two different refills. (Though I’ll be experimenting with this next year since I’ve purchased a 2017 monthly refill.) This is my most often used refill and I run through one refill in 3 months that’s why I have it in the middle for easy removing. I have my monthly calendar, weekly tasks and daily bullet journal all in just one refill.

After that is the fabric zipper pouch by fourrouf. This is available exclusively from Traveler’s Factory though you can find some sellers on Etsy reselling it. Thought Traveler’s Factory only ships within Japan, you still can purchase directly from Traveler’s Factory, all you need is Google Translate and Tenso. I am glad I picked the olive green one. I had another canvas card holder previously but the leather turned the white canvas into a light brown. With the olive green fourrouf it isn’t obvious if something similar is happening to it. In the larger pocket I keep some random stickers that I haven’t been able to bring myself to stick them on something. I keep some discount cards and the like in the card pockets but I hardly use them. The cards also keep falling out. It is rather annoying. My third and final notebook is a blank refill. It acts as my ink journal. I don’t really need it to be with me on the go but it is useful to have that as a reference. That way I know what ink is in which pen. And finally, there is a large zipper pocket that’s the other side of the fourrouf pouch. I keep random knick knacks inside.

Camel - new stock, Brown - old stock

I use Traveler’s Notebook brass index clips to label my notebooks on the top. I do not really need to do that but I thought it looked nice with the brass clips. I also have a pencil board that acts as a bookmark in my bullet journal. I have an index card that has been cut down to size to act as an ink blotter too. I had a pen holder too but I found it was difficult to pull the pen in and out of the pen holder.

That’s my setup. It isn’t the most compact one out there but it isn’t the most massive one too. I think it is of a nice size that makes it nice to have in the hand. I enjoy the Traveler’s Notebook’s versatility. It is as thick or thin as you need it to be and it has plenty of stickers, charms, bookmarks to deck it out with and show the world your personality.

Special Note: I did also purchased a Passport size Traveler’s Notebook but I found it mostly lay unused at home. Thus I’ve decide to sell the entire set. However you can still enjoy the photos I took of it when it was brand new.

Posted on October 21, 2016 and filed under Stationary, thoughts.

Review: Sailor Bungbox June Bride Something Blue

This is a Bungbox exclusive ink made by Sailor. Bungbox inks are quite expensive and are not easy to get your hands on either by lack of stock or expensive shipping costs. Availability issues aside, June Bride Something Blue is a very beautiful turquoise ink. It looked a little more green than blue to me, it shades and reminds me a little of Caran d’Arche Caribbean Sea. Bungbox June Bride Something Blue is a unique turquoise ink.

Similar Inks:

Posted on October 18, 2016 and filed under review, Ink.

Review: Faber-Castell Loom

The Numbers:
Weight: 33g
Length (capped): 134mm
Length (uncapped): 124mm
Price: USD$40 from Goulet Pens
Body Material: Metal body and plastic cap
Nib Material: Stainless Steel
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and converter
Colours: Various

I got the Faber-Castell Loom as a birthday gift from my aunt. She purchased it while she was on holiday in Malaysia so I don’t know how much she paid for it. She picked the lime green model with a M nib for me. Many thanks to her for my birthday gift, now on with the review.

The Loom came in a very nice white cardboard box with the Faber-Castell Logo on it. There is a small valley inside where the pen is resting in. It’s a compact and functional box that works well. It isn’t expected to protect the pen for any long periods of time.

The Loom is a pen with metal body, it has quite a heft to it. The shiny barrel and clip is an utter finger print magnet. The barrel is mostly a cylindrical shape before tapering down towards the grip section. In the hand, the Loom though heavy isn’t unbalanced. The plastic cap be posted but it doesn’t throw the balance off because the cap is light.

The lime green plastic is bright and stands out against the shiny pen barrel. The Faber-Castell Logo is stamped into the side of the cap. At the top of the cap you can see the Faber-Castell logo. The clip is the same shiny material as the barrel. It is a spring hinged clip that lifts easily. The shape of the clip is quite plain. It is the same width throughout and it is slightly upturned at the end of the clip.

The cap pulls free only with a deliberate pull. Pull it like you mean it. It snaps back with a satisfying click also requiring a deliberate push. The grip is chrome plated and has a brushed matte finish. The section has 5 raised rings around it which helps with the grip as well. The Loom’s section is generously long plus there isn’t a step between the barrel and grip, it is technically all one piece. The section though smooth does have adequate grip though not as much the Tactile Turn Gist. The Faber-Castell Loom is a cartridge converter fountain pen. It takes the standard international converter, long and short cartridges without any problems.

A medium nib won’t be my choice if I was the one who purchased the Loom. Faber-Castell’s nibs tend to write wet and their stainless steel nibs are reputed to be one of the smoothest in the fountain pen world. As expected, the medium stainless steel nib writes wet but not overly so. It is manageable as long as I pair it with dry inks from Graf von Faber-Castell or Pelikan. I can attest that Faber-Castell have some of the smoothest stainless nibs out there. My medium nib writes very smoothly right out of the box. It is that polished. The nib is so smooth that I find it hard to get it under control. It feels like the Loom is running away on its own especially when writing on good paper. Too smooth can be a bad thing too. It’s all a matter of balancing the trifecta between pen, paper and ink.

Personally I think I would enjoy the nib more if it was in EF or F but that’s just my preference. The Faber-Castell Loom is a great beginner fountain pen. It has a variety of colour choices and has a easy to maintain filling system. Plus it uses the standard international converter and cartridge system, there are a wide variety of inks available in cartridge form. Though it is not as value for money as a TWSBI Eco might be but that nib would help transit gel pen users to the fountain pen world, since they are used to smooth writing experiences.


  • Affordable
  • Variety of colours
  • Great beginner pen
  • Smooth nib


  • Runaway nib
Posted on October 14, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Blackstone Inks - Colours of Australia

Blackstone inks

My thanks to Cindy for giving me a full sample set of Blackstone inks!

Blackstone inks is made in Australia and as far as I can tell available only at Justwrite. Blackstone isn’t a well known maker of inks but they have a nice range of colours available for an affordable price.

I will be giving away the entire set of Blackstone inks. Read all the way to the end to find out how to win it.

Blackstone Daintree Green

Daintree Green is the green ink among Blackstone’s ink offerings. No, I didn’t spell that wrong, it isn’t raintree green. Daintree Green shades well even in my Lamy EF nib. It goes from a dark forest green to a bright grass green. I quite enjoy this ink. It is relatively wet and has nice flow.

Similar Inks:

Blackstone Sydney Habour Blue

Sydney Habour Blue is an interesting shade of teal. It’s on the teal side of the turquoise - teal spectrum. It’s a colour I am enjoying a lot. Sydney Habour Blue shades slightly even in my Japanese fine nib. I’ve never been to Australia let alone Sydney Habour so I can’t really say how accurately named this ink is. Sydney Habour Blue has a red sheen where the ink pools.

Similar Inks:

Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue

Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue is a wet, wet ink. Filling it in my titanium nib pen is probably quite a bad choice. Barrier Reef Blue shades well and has a strong red sheen when you have a good amount on the page, of course. It’s also dependent on the paper you use. Barrier Reef Blue goes from a light, bright sky blue to a deep saturated dark blue. When the red sheen shows through it feels like life surfacing on the reef. This is one of the surprising inks of the Blackstone Colours of Australia series. I had expected a standard blue but it has been a pleasant surprise.

Similar Inks:

Blackstone Uluru Red

Uluru Red is the red ink of the Blackstone Colours of Australia series. Uluru Red was strangely gooey and it was experienced by others as well. It was seemed to be caused by the surfactant trying to gel, according to an email with Blackstone. I’ve tried shaking my sample vial but it doesn’t seem to help. However it didn’t seem to do any harm to my Pilot Metropolitan. Apart from that, Uluru Red is a nice dark red that dries looking a little brownish. It shades well in wider nibs. There is a new version of Uluru Red that should have the gelling issue solved. Note my sample is at least many months old. Also though, I would like to give away a sample of Uluru Red, I’ve managed to spill the majority of my sample. Luckily there was enough to complete the reivew.

Similar Inks:

Blackstone Black Stump

This is the last Blackstone ink I have. Though it is named Black Stump, it has a decidedly brown undertone. I guess that’s very much in keep with the name of the ink in its own way. It has some subtle shading in the boarder nib size. Strangely, though it is quite a lubricated ink I had some ink flow issues when I had it in my Kaweco Supra. I’m putting it down to a bad pen and ink combination for now. This is an interesting deep dark brown ink.

Similar Inks:

For a chance to win my set of Blackstone Colours of Australia ink samples (minus Uluru Red, of course), drop a comment below. Tell me which among the Blackstone inks here do you like the best? This giveaway will end 17th October and is only for people residing in Singapore.

Posted on October 11, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Tactile Turn Gist

The Numbers:
Weight: 24g (average of both pens)
Length (capped): 131mm
Length (uncapped): 122mm
Price: From USD$99 at Tactile Turn
Body Material: Various variations available
Nib Material: Stainless steel, Titanium and Gold available
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge converter
Colours: Various

I’ve back the Kickstarter for the Tactile Turn Gist way back in October 2015. I got two polycarbonate bodies, one with a zirconium finial and grip with a titanium EF nib, another with bronze finial and grip with a stainless steel 1.1mm nib. I received both pens June 2016. For a manufacturing Kickstarter project I thought the timeline was rather reasonable.

I remember being very confused and unable to choose due to the sheer number of combinations that was available on the Kickstarter. I finally decided on zirconium because it was not a material that I’ve heard of. Pairing it with a titanium nib feels like a no brainer to make it the ultimate stealth pen. Whereas the bronze version I got pretty much on a whim, it was one of the cheapest combination with a metal grip.

The Tactile Turn Gist came with a very compact box but it protected the pen well. Slide the inner tray out by pulling on the fabric tab and you will find the pen resting in a foam cut out. I really appreciate the effort for designing a small foot print for the packaging. Storing the box isn’t going to be a huge hassle.

The Tactile Turn Gist is made of a polycarbonate material also known as Makrolon. It is the same material that the regular Lamy 2000 is made of. I do not know of any other pen is made of the same material other than the Lamy 2000. I’m not sure if the Gist was made in homage of the Lamy 2000 but it feels like it is inspired by it.

The Gist with a polycarbonate body isn’t a heavy pen despite having metal grips. I’m glad I had opted for metal grips. Without them I think the pen might turn out to be too light, making it hard to control. With the metal grips, it helps me to tilt the weight slightly towards the front with the bronze being the slightly heavier one between the two. Though I say the pen is slightly front heavy, it is really very slight.

The Tactile Turn Gist isn’t a large pen. It isn’t short enough to be called a pocket pen but it is not quite the same height as other regular sized pens. It is most comparable to my Sailor Professional Gear fountain pen capped or uncapped. Of course, this is easily solved by posting the cap. However not everyone prefers to post their pens so if you have large hands and do not like to post your caps do keep that in mind.

The Tactile Turn Gist has distinctive ridges that goes around the entire body and grip of the pen. It even extends to the edges of the finial as well. The pen feels very nice and grippy in my hand thanks to the ridges. I tend to have problems with some metal grips because my fingers slip on the smooth metal grips but with the ridges I have no problems at all. Plus, I can irritate the hell out of anyone (or everyone) sitting near me in a meeting by running my fingernail over the barrel again and again. Evil laughter…

The Gist comes standard with a regular metal clip with a upturned lip at the end. It also comes with the option of having the logo engraved on the finial or not during the Kickstarter. I found my pens have varying tension on their clips. The zirconium’s clip is so stiff that it is nigh impossible to lift with my finger. Pulling the clip over fabric to secure it in my pen roll takes quite an effort. However the bronze’s clip was slightly easier to lift and thus more useable though not by much.

It takes 2 full revolutions of the cap to uncap the Gist. When I first got the pens, there was this weird tactile sensation whenever I cap and uncap the pens. It feels strangely like cardboard rubbing against cardboard when I cap and uncap the pens. Maybe the threads on the inner cap isn’t as polished as it can be? I am not really sure what made it feel that way. It’s not a complain but it was a sensation that really stood out to me when I first used it. After using it for months, the sensation is gone. Maybe I’ve got used to it, maybe I’ve polished the threads just by using it?

The Gist has a generously long grip section. Together with next to nothing of a step between the barrel and the grip, it makes for a very comfortable hold on the pen for me. Not forgetting the ridges on the grip section, I have no problems holding and controlling the pen as I see fit.

The Gist is a standard international cartridge converter fountain pen but a regular standard international converter doesn’t fit due to the length of the barrel. A Faber-Castell converter I had lying around didn’t fit the Gist because it was too long. Comparing the length of a standard international long cartridge with the Gist’s provided converter, the cartridge is a little longer than the converter. Basically, you are stuck with using Tactile Turn’s provided converter or short international cartridges. It’s a bit of a bummer that it is like that. Though I really like the form factor of the Gist, maybe it would be more prudent to lengthen the barrel to fit a regular standard international converter?

The Gist comes with a standard #6 size Bock nib. Bock is a trusted and well known nib supplier. A #6 nib size on the Gist’s smaller pen body is really generous and makes for a very decent pairing between the pen and nib. An additional plus point of using Bock nibs, you can buy nibs directly from Tactile Turn and swap them out.

I had went with a titanium nib and a 1.1mm stub stainless steel nib. This was my first experience with a titanium nib. Titanium nibs tend to be soft, similar to some gold nibs but it sings as you write in a different way from feedback. Plus a titanium nib is slightly more prone to being over flexed and their tines not snapping back correctly. In a way, it is more fragile than a gold nib. I find myself being very gentle with my titanium nib. It hums and buzzes as I write with it. Though I had went with an EF nib it still writes relatively wet. It is not a completely smooth writer but I really enjoy the different resonance that writing with a titanium nib provides. On the other hand, the stainless steel 1.1mm stub nib is not tipped and it has a little feedback as I use it. It can be scratchy and have horrible ink flow if you don’t hold it at the correct angle but that’s just the nature of a stub nib.

The Tactile Turn Gist is an interesting fountain pen with a very nice grippy section. The combinations and nib choices that Tactile Turn provides is just bedazzling. Personally I wouldn’t want to keep both pens around. I hadn’t quite decided which pen or nib I want to hang onto. I am currently leaning towards the zirconium with the Titanium nib.


  • Grippy metal section
  • Compact pen size
  • Tons of variations
  • Inter-changable Bock nibs


  • Unable to fit regular standard international converter
  • Super stiff clip
Posted on October 7, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.