‘…back to the roots’ – testing small portable notebooks – Prolog

Just before Easter, I received a small cool looking box full of goodies, kindly sent by Stewart from Pocket Notebooks which is a small British company who makes a great deal about portable good quality notebooks. The mission they have to bring back the power of hand written notes is very important and very close to my heart. The Pocket Notebooks slogan is:  Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that … and I can’t agree more. This is actually why I am here dealing with inks and pens. This is why I returned to use fountain pens, which quickly became my passion three, or four years ago. I was using my tablet, phone and notebook as much, that one day I have realised  that I am missing something very important to me which I used to like a lot – a handwriting.

For heavy testing  purposes (which I did ! )  Stewart sent me a bunch of different notebooks he has in his store, made by different people and companies. Some of them are ‘big’ and ‘very small’ and here ‘small’ not necessarily means bad. Some of these notebooks are really good but also some are not that cool as they meant to be. But that is life, and I really appreciate the fact that I can compare them together side by side.

So, what I got? Well, I got seven notebooks total and I think they cover quite nicely a wide spectrum of different paper types, built and quality, which for me and as end user is one of the most important things. I got three Fieldnote size notebooks: ClaireFontaine Retro Nova, Story Supply  Co and Inky Fingers, then I got two completely different ones from Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork which have interesting size in between Fielnote and Midori passport. The last one is a fairly small but handy pocket notebook from Silvine. I will split this post into parts (likely 4) where I present some tests I did and what I honestly think about them.

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Taroko Design notebooks

Few weeks ago Mishka from BureauDirect, UK asked me if I would like to try and test very hard one of the A5 size notebooks (or A5 notebook insert) made by small Taiwanese company called Taroko Design (name after very beautiful Taroko Gorge in Taiwan).  I already had another two large Midori traveler’s size Taroko inserts, which I bought some time ago from BureauDirect at 2016 London Writing Instrument Show and I was about to review them too. I will call it as good coincidence .

What is very interesting about these Taroko notebooks/inserts is a paper they use to make them. Taroko uses incredibly light and at the same time satin smooth, famous among all fountain pen users (and not only)  Tomoe River paper. 

Taroko for their notebooks (at least for these I have) uses 68 gsm grade Tomoe River paper. Each notebook contains 64 pages ( 32 sheets) . The A5 notebook I received for review is made out of white paper. In fact, white paper has very subtle creamy hint which I really like. The two Midori size inserts I have are made of  white and truly creamy type of paper respectively. Because Tomoe River paper is available as blank sheets, Taroko is offering three types of press printed pattern they do themselves: graph (or squared), dotted and ruled. I must say Taroko did a vary good job and the patterns are very well printed and all lines and dots are visible but not overwhelming. They also offer blank notebooks too. Dots in A5 are evenly distributed and the way each sheet is cut makes all pages within notebook look very consistent. Interestingly, the line position in Midori size ruled notebook varies slightly from page to page. But this is very minor issue an possibly most people will not notice it to be absolutely honest. It may be also an older batch. 

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J. Herbin – Vert Olive and other


Just a quick update. My review of J. Herbin – Vert Olive ink is live, so please have a look. Possibly not for everyone, but still this is very interesting ink and colour.

There is quite few different reviews in the pipeline on the write up stage being very close to completion. These are (in no particular order):


  • Taroko notebooks with Tomoe River paper


  • J. Herbin – Lie de The
  • J. Herbin – Larmes de cassis
  • KWZ – Flame Red
  • KWZ – Grey Plum


  • Pelikan M805 (F)
  • Platinium Century 3776 (Soft Fine)

….so, stay tuned folks 🙂