I work very close to London’s South Bank and I like to go walking during my lunch hour. Southwark, although it may not appear so on first glance, is such a historic area of London with so many hidden treats around every corner. I love walking around this area using my own sense of direction rather than relying on Google Maps and more often than not I will end up on a street I haven’t walked down before. I went to see the Danish Girl recently and was doing a bit of reading about it afterwards and I came across this interview with Eddie Redmayne where he talks about how much he loves this part of London. In fact, about three years ago I actually walked past Eddie Redmayne right outside my office and I started saying the word “Eddie” over and over to my companion. Not cool.
When I head north and west on my lunchtime walks I sometimes happen upon the National Theatre Bookshop and have a nose around. I love the NT Bookshop because it’s full of stationery goodies for all price ranges: they do a great selection of pencils (including Blackwings and Midoris), inserts for Travellers’ Notebooks, Kaweco products, washi tapes, cards, etc. They very often have different stock each time I go.
I popped in earlier in January and they had a small Christmas sale section. I picked up two HAY Bookbinder’s Notebooks which were literally a pound each. I’ve often seen HAY products in department stores or placed in “luxury” stationery sections and I feel it is a fairly aspirational brand. Their products, which span several different uses for the home, look quite functional and aren’t covered in brand names or any other giveaway logo that would catch your eye from a distance.
I’ve been using the small red Portrait Bookbinder’s Notebook as part of my daily tools since the beginning of January. which measures 18cm by 12cm and is sized somewhere in between a Field Notes memo book and a Moleskine ruled cahier.
I love the red of this notebook! It’s somewhere between a red and an orange. In fact, just for fun I had a look at Mac lipsticks to try and find one that matched the specific colour of this notebook. I found the shade and it’s called Lady Danger which I find really appropriate for this colour! One thing I appreciate with “blank slate” notebook covers are that they can always be customised with a bit of washi tape or a sketch.
The bookbinder’s stitching is a dark gold colour and has a slight shine to it. I love the symmetry of the horizontal bind. Internally though I find the bind slightly restrictive because obviously you get over a centimetre’s less paper to write on and as you move through the book the crease becomes more pronounced.
The notebook measures 18cm by 12cm and is sized somewhere in between a Field Notes memo book and a Moleskine cahier. It’s also ever so slightly squarer than other notebooks because of the extra space allocation for the bookbinding.
Overall it’s a good sized notebook. Having started using Field Notes notebooks during autumn last year I have come to appreciate that this is the size I would consider a “pocket notebook”. I wouldn’t place this notebook in the pocket notebook category because it’s just that fraction too large. Also it doesn’t fold over very well to use on the go like a Field Notes. But it is a very soft cover and so quite a malleable notebook in the hand, so if you were using it with something to rest on like a clipboard then it could very well be used for a pocket notebook purpose. I have gravitated towards using it for pocket notebook purposes, such as jotting things down, taking notes on site and making short-term lists, rather than it being one of my “for keeps” notebooks. I’m actually thinking about writing a future blog post about what I define as “pocket notebook purposes” and “for keeps” notebooks because increasingly I categorise notebooks that I buy and try into one of these two categories.
Having done a bit of online research I can’t find any particular claims about the paper used. It becomes apparent why when you start using it. The paper feels quite thin and I feel a slight resistance when I run my fingers over it. The paper is a subtle cream shade similar to the Moleskine ruled cahier and for general writing I think I prefer a slightly shaded paper. I find opening a notebook to find a bright Xerox white slightly strange and offputting for some reason.
The paper is of average quality. It seems pitched towards ballpoints, pencils or fine gel pens but I find it hit and miss with my fountain pens and I don’t think this notebook has been designed with fountain pens in mind. Diamine Sargasso Sea and Claret particularly showed feathering on the page. The paper is also thin enough to demonstrate bleedthrough pretty much with all the pens I tested.
I’m glad I picked this up (especially at such a bargain price) but I probably won’t buy it again to use as an everyday notebook. It’s simple and professional-looking and adds a fun pop of colour on your desk, and performs all the functions of a notebook just fine. In between these purposes I don’t have too much of a space on my desk for the HAY Bookbinder’s Notebook as a repeat purchase. It’s been fun to use and good to try out a brand of stationery that I haven’t used before. Buy this if you’re looking for an everyday notebook for your everyday needs and expect to use mostly ballpoints, gel pens and pencils. When they’re full priced they cost around £4 and also come in a medium and large size in a range of bright or subtle colours.