Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner review

The Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner arrived today, and it is a beauty.

I’m not a big planner user, but over the past year I’ve used a weekly planner just to get a better idea of how my week looks like and how to plan ahead accordingly. The slim, minimalist setup of the Moleskine Pocket Weekly planners is perfect for this.

Beyond the regular planner editions, Moleskine offers a wide variety of planners in their various limited edition designs (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Peanuts, Le Petit Prince and more), among them in their Denim collection, which is one of my favourites.

The covers are covered in Denim fabric, with jeans-like labels on them. The craft sleeve around the planner turns with a few minutes of work into bookmarks perfectly sized for the planner:

The endpapers are really nicely designed to evoke various denim labels, and the red elastic closure is echoed in the small back pocket:

As usual with Moleskine limited editions, it comes with a little something extra in the back pocket, this time stickers:

As for the internals, it’s the same as other Moleskine weekly planners, with a weekly schedule on the left side of the spread and a ruler page on the right, monthly calendars and information pages at the beginning of the planner, and a few general planning pages.

If you’re looking for a pocket weekly planner that’s beautiful, lightweight and not overly structured, I highly recommend this planner.

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Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner review

Deep Sea Adventure board game review

I bought this game at Jeux Descartes while I was in Paris, as an interesting looking short game with simple rules that can be played as an interstitial game during a longer game night. I highly recommend going to Jeux Descartes shop if you’re in Paris and checking out their fantastic board game and mini selection. Don’t be daunted by the French, as board games include rules in multiple languages out of the box, and Board Game Geek lists which games are language dependent and which aren’t.

Technical details about the game can be found here, and this is not yet a full review, as I’ve only had the chance to play it with two players, and the game is definitely better with more players.

The rules are simple and easy to learn, but take the time to read them carefully, as there are a few important nuances there that make the gameplay more interesting and strategic than what it would seem.

Visually the game is stunning, and a lot of fun to set up. It takes about 5 minutes to spread out all the tiles, shuffle and organize them, and the game itself from start to finish takes about 30 minutes, as written on the box.

The concept is original: you’re a group of poor deep sea treasure hunters trying to get as much treasure as possible with as high a value as possible, while being forced to share valuable oxygen amongst each other. You either move forward or backwards with your delightfully designed meeple (a choice that you can make only once per round, so there’ not much room for cautious play here — you’re an adventurer after all), and as you pick up treasure it becomes more difficult for you to move and oxygen runs out of your sub — and with it the time for the round.

There are three rounds, each one with several turns that are played very quickly, as even though there’s quite a bit of hidden strategy in the game, there isn’t a lot of choices each player can dawdle with. You either move forward or back, pick up a treasure tile or don’t, and in rare cases, drop a treasure tile. The more players there are the faster you can move deeper down the sea, because you skip other players’ tiles, and the line grows shorter the more treasure is picked up in a round. The deeper you go, the more valuable the treasure is, but if you don’t return back to the sub by the end of the turn, you drop your tiles at the end of the line in very nifty little piles of three. And here is where the real genius of the game comes in, because each of those piles of treasure counts as only one treasure in terms of oxygen and weight, so you can pick up much more treasure and move much faster that way. A strategy of picking valuable tiles up on the first round so that you can drop them and pick them up on the second and third rounds becomes pretty enticing. As you can organize your dropped tiles in whatever order you like, and other players will want to try for that strategy too, not to mention that there’s an element of chance to dice controlled movement makes for a very interesting game. Plus, players closer to the sub can play to deliberately shorten the game by picking up lower value treasure to run the oxygen timer up.

All this makes for a very interesting short game that is a lot of fun to play and is pure eye candy to look at. I highly recommend it.

Deep Sea Adventure board game review

Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao

Though I’m a fan of the colour blue, I tend to shy away from blue inks, since they tend to be boring. That’s why I wouldn’t have splurged on a (pretty expensive) bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao myself – I got it as a gift with a pen purchase a few years ago.

Online pictures of this ink tend to give it a more purplish tint than it actually has. In reality it’s a slightly dark cobalt blue. It scanned a bit lighter than it looks like on the page:

Asa Gao

Here it is in natural light, for a bit of reference (this is bit darker than it actually is):

This is the pen I used for this review, a medium nib Pelikan M620 Place de la Concorde:

There’s some red sheen to it, but you’ll probably only see it on Tomoe River Paper, and then only if you look closely. The shading is a little less subtle, but not by much. You’ll see a bit of it using medium nibs and broader, again, particularly on Tomoe River Paper. It’s a “dirty little secret” ink – the kind that looks pedestrian to all but the knowledgable observer. A fun way to put a zing into office work, as it is totally appropriate for office writing.

As usual with Pilot Iroshizuku inks, the bottle and packaging is gorgeous, the ink is well behaved enough for vintage pens, and it cleans out pretty easily without staining. A good choice for a demonstrator pen, if you’re looking for something that will fly under the radar.

Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao

Pen Review: Staedler 308 Orange and Purple Pigment Liners

A first look at the new Staedler 308 colour pigment liners. The standard black ones are my fineliner of choice, since their barrel is more comfortable than the Sakura Pigma Micron or the Faber-Castell ones (Copics are overpriced, and I’ve had bad luck with them drying out).

I made a quick sketch of the vintage Parker ink bottle promo pen cup that I got at the local flea market. The ink spread a little, as most ink does on the Lebuchtterm sketchbook. Strangely enough that doesn’t bother me, and I still am a fan of these notebooks. The Staedler pigment liners are a joy to use, and their colours pop off the page:

Scanned in, you can see the ink spread, but also how vibrant the colours are.

Bottle of Ink Sketch 1

All in all, I’ll probably pick up a few more of these once I get the chance.

Pen Review: Staedler 308 Orange and Purple Pigment Liners

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Before I got into fountain pens and gel ink pens became available in the market, I used to use ballpoint pens for taking notes, and the Parker Jotter was my favourite. It was the first pen I invested “real money” into when I was still in high school, and I still have that purple pen knocking about somewhere in the house. The refills were always a problem, with blobbing, streaking and hard starts something common to all ballpoints, even the Jotter with its “Quinkflow” refills, but you could shade with the pen, which meant that you could doodle in your notebook while bored — a big plus for me.

I switched to fountain pens when I started my BA and my wrist pains got worst than ever, because I was practically carving the words into the page. Since then, gel pens and fountain pens have ruled the roost on my desk, with only a Kara’s Kustoms Render K with a Schmidt easyflow 9000 M in black filling my few ballpoint needs. When they don’t blob, ballpoints are great after all, especially if you want to jot something down and not have to wait for the ink to dry.

But when Jet Pens added four limited edition Parker Jotters, each one celebrating a different London architectural icon (Bronze for Big Ben, Red for Buckingham Palace, Sky Blue for the Shard, and Black for the Gherkin), I knew I had to reopen the ballpoint chapter in my life.

The packaging is stunning, as you can see for yourself:

Not many pens at this price level come in such nice boxes, which makes them perfect gifts (I bought all four pens and intend to give away three of them as gifts).

Ballpoints aren’t much fun for me to write with, because I have RSI problems and they require pressure to use, but they are fun to sketch and doodle with. So much shading with one pen:

The etching on the pen makes it very easy to grip once you start writing or sketching, but it does feel a bit rough on the fingers when you just pick the pen up or fiddle with it. The click mechanism and clip are Parker solid, and colours and design of these pens are fantastic:

The minus is of course the refill, which is smooth with no railroading, but does blob a bit, mostly when you sketch, not so much when you just write with it.

The funniest thing about these pens that celebrate such very British icons, is that they are made in France (until 2011 Parker pens were made in the UK).

If you enjoy ballpoint pens and don’t have a Parker Jotter or like the look of these pens, I recommend these. They are tough workhorses and good looking pens.

If you love London as much as I do, I recommend these.

If you’re looking for a nice gift for someone, particularly an architecture or design student, I recommend these.

For me personally, gel pens and fountain pens will continue to rule the roost.

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Olive Traveler’s Notebook

My new Traveler's Notebook arrived yesterday, the Olive limited edition, and I took some time tonight to customise it.

That's my favourite part of starting a new Traveler's Notebook – setting it up, making it my own – and the main reason I enjoy them so much. This is my fourth TN. I have a Camel limited edition from their 5 year anniversary, a black one, and a pocket one. The camel is my most used
one.
First I decorated the notebook it came with, using Windsor Newton gouache. I love ivy and the greenish tinge if the cover inspired me.

I added a leaf charm to the bookmark and slotted in another notebook — an old Midori sketchbook I had laying around.

That's it, now all that remains is to use it.

P.S. I read a review in some site that these TNs have a suede like feeling to them, but they feel like a normal TN to me.
P. P. S. These covers don't stay pristine for long (and that's their charm), so if you're precious about your things, these aren't for you.

Olive Traveler’s Notebook