Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Only In New York - Tobin / Meegan / Harrison [International]

Black Ice & Royal Blue

Before the airwaves  are completely swamped with Christmas songs I have unearthed a recording that has had me foxed for the last couple of weeks.

In 1959 Peter Sellers was enjoying  record success with his LP Songs for Swingin' Sellers, a spoof of the contemporary album by Mr Sinatra  Songs for Swingin' Lovers. Producer George Martin wanted a Sinatra sound alike for the opening track and hired Matt Monro who, some say, launched his career with it ... thanks to the ultra conservative BBC adding it to their radio playlist.

So that was long ago and far away. I was reminded of it a couple of weeks ago when Classic FM began broadcasting a Cunard commercial for trips to Manhattan aboard their flagship Queen Mary 2. The first few seconds sure sound like Frank Sinatra, but I was unaware that he had ever cut a track that began ...'Only in New York' with a big band backing.

I have found it on YouTube, performed by Alex McDougall and I am happy to share it with you today.

This black and blue post is scheduled to go live at 0330 GMT so I have posted a new one 'Only in New York' to be broadcast around 0700 so that you can skip it if you don't want to wake the neighbours.

From Field Notes Brand website
Some good news from Field Notes Brand, especially if you live on England's coast.

My main gripe about the famous Field Notes Brand is that they use rubbish staples. Oh sure, they hold the pages together OK but the damn things go rusty in anything approaching a damp atmosphere.

I was so delighted to hear about their latest limited edition with perfect binding that I immediately ordered a pack direct from USA.

It promises a lot of other happy differences too so will it deliver as well as other creative designs from the DDC/Coudal partnership?

I shall report back anon.

Meanwhile another brand has come to my notice with a very similar 'rustic USA traditional offer'. It too has a subscription service and regular quarterly limited editions. Write &Co founder Chris Roth of Maryland is a third generation bookbinder who launched his pocket notebook range a couple of years ago.

His current creation is the Royal Blue collection paying homage to an historic railway.

Good idea except that over in Japan the Travelers Notebook Factory has created regular transport related limited editions featuring, for example, Hong Kong Star Ferries and even the last HK tram. Visit Travellers Notebook Times.

TN do it sooo much better with branding and ephemera offerings, albeit at significantly higher cost for more up-market system notebooks.

You can begin your own research by Googling pocket notebooks and getting lost in a maze of offerings [including those with a notebook theme] listed alongside here.

Ah, these shots of Heidelberg presses instantly transport me back to 1967 ... but that's another story altogether.

Royal Blue images via Write & Co
Under the motivation of wanting to give back to the community, Chris promises to donate a free book to deprived local schools in his area . You buy one and they get one free and then, when you go on line and quote the unique code stamped in your book you can discover which school  was the beneficiary.

Helps salve our consciences about a profligate notebookism addiction a little bit!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Treats while recovering from a cold

Photo via

Scanned at home
Hopperesque photo Clffes Cafe Northdown Road Margate  via #lovemargate 20.11.16

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Thanksgiving, pride and a young lady with a notebook



Back on November 7 I wrote about a colourful edition of Field Notes Brand.As these hail from the USA I meant to comment on how national pride is seemingly alive and well and far more evident than over here in Britain.

Take look at this legend across the back cover of each of those Field Notes.

Wonder why we don't make more noise about our home country's design, innovation and products? It may happen on our exported goods but I reckon a little bit of national pride would appeal to shoppers here too. Some supermarket food has a Union Jack label ... but why stop there?

I have just remembered that traditional English notebook brand 'Silvine' which I can recall from my childhood and a quick surf revealed that they are still using their original putrid terracotta colour and logo. Their history is quite interesting at yes, they DO have a flag and made in Britain  legend on some belly bands. Here's the evidence ...

And finally for now, a happy shot from elsewhere on the web. No matter what age we reach, old seafarers can always appreciate a well presented young lady!
Gee! She's even using a notebook and a camera. Now that really IS cool!

Pics via

THANKS FOR BEING HERE FOR MY                              100th POST.

Friday, 18 November 2016

My Original Journal

Apart from assorted school projects in a variety of exercise books, or copy books as the Brothers would refer to them, my first journal was as heavy as a kerbstone and reeked of leather and quality. 

My father took me on the 630 trolley-bus from our Mitcham home to Croydon and the [even then] old fashioned stationers and printers shop called Roffey & Clarke. On the list of 'essentials for a deck apprentice', my chosen shipping company had thoughtfully included 'blank hardcased personal journal'.
The one we chose was probably designed as a ledger with pages of light grey cartridge paper. It was quarto size and about 1" thick and it survived the first three years of my apprenticeship from 1956 to '59 with weekly entries in fountain pen.

There was no choice. Captain's Sunday inspection included sighting of our journals to ensure that they were maintained.

The habit was formed and, during the next decade I filled a much slimmer foolscap notebook each year.  All were eventually destroyed. It would have been nice to have kept that first one tho,

Just one small regret from an otherwise happy life of not ever being a hoarder.

The top photo is from the internet courtesy Francis Frith postcards. The bigger one is a mock up that I made this morning with a cut out picture of a similar book and a few pictures from an album.

Stay safe and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Pictures in a journal

If you take a look at Wakako's recent post [] you can see that she uses an LG personal printer to create stickers for her travel journal. Seems like a good idea until you do the math.

The printer is around £90 and a pack of thirty dry-ink stickers will set you back another £14

Because I rarely, if ever, need to print out pictures on site I am quite happy to use my Epson printer here at home. A pack of 100 A4 labels, each sheet having eight 2.25" x 3.25" costs £5.99on line including postage.

I already have Word 2010 on my laptop so it is easy to select 'mailings' then 'labels' then 'new document' and 'Avery A4/L7165.

This takes longer to describe than it does to actually do it! You then simply place your selected photos in the spaces - one picture per label.

Load a sheet of labels into your printer and, hey presto you can run off all eight in next to no time.

You may need to fiddle about with image size. You can see from these first attempt examples in the pages of a passport size Traveler's Notebook that I missed the margins a bit.

Even so, with costs at a small fraction of the LG set-up I am more than happy to play around a bit.

Thanks for stopping by and happy printing.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Aaron James Draplin

Portrait by Michael Poehiman
Please meet Aaron James Draplin. He perfectly epitomizes why I love stories about successful brands, their origin and the people who made them happen.

Aarons' story outline follows in a moment but first a warning. His language is ripe so if swearing offends you, please go and play someplace else.

His name may be unfamiliar to you but, as you have arrived at this blog, it is a sure bet that you will have heard of his creation, those little objects of  desire, Field Notes.

Earlier this year he published his story ... around £17 but maybe cheaper on Ebay. It discusses his fascination with design and eventual link up with Coudal studios to create 'just paper with a few staples' ... a notebook brand which sells on subscription globally with four new limited editions per year.

Go to where you will find plenty to keep your surfing fingers amused for ages. Scroll through 'Dispatches' from the home page for stories with loadsa links.

From Field Notes launch in 2009 it has gone stratospheric with around 80,000 copies of each little A6 notebook sold. Many limited editions are already collectors' items attracting premium prices on auction sites.

Aaron is also a sought after public speaker. See him in action on Youtube and don't be deceived by his 'Good Ole Country Boy' persona. He is one clever cookie, full of creativity, enthusiasm and loaded with self promotion.

Read on line, watch, enjoy, buy the book [£17 or less] if you have any trace of interest in what makes a designer tick and then create a low cost product with appeal.

At the foot of the page you can see a couple of well used examples from various internet sites.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Magnificent Margate

Every once in a while I come across a picture that, for me, has a real 'Wow' reaction.

There are several inside the current exhibitions at our Turner Contemporary gallery.

But, today I want to share one taken from outside the gallery by Michael Child who blogs as Thanet on Line [link to right of this page]

Yesterday was a pretty rough day weather-wise although Michael was clearly in the right place at the right time for this shot as dusk descended.

Margate is always Magnificent and even the bad times are usually good here.
Photo by Michael of Michael's Book Shop King Street Ramsgate

Friday, 11 November 2016

Hopper, Turner, Fountain Pens.

Last month I touched on my enjoyment of paintings by Edward Hopper

Three years ago I took this photo during an Autumn coffee break at Margate's Turner Contemporary Art Gallery - which has a couple of amazing free exhibitions at the moment.

I no longer have the tiny film camera and have replaced it with a similar size digital job.

The point is that I feel this photo has a touch of the Hopper about it ... as if it is a detail from one of his interior studies.

Friday November 4 was National Fountain Pen Day in USA. The following clipping is from the blog by Wonder Pens......... if you click on it it may get bigger. If you still cannot read it then use the link on the right. The pen is my Lamy Safari.

[via internet from Nate on 03.10.2016

Then add a fountain pen to your Christmas list!

Be happy and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Size Matters

Left to Right: White A4, odd notebook, B5, magazine, A5 paperback, A6 pocket book.
I grew up happily accepting that paper came in strange sizes.

Newspapers were massive, magazines and comics were smaller and Mum's pad of Basildon Bond notepaper came in an odd size and a strangely insipid shade of pale blue.

At school we had foolscap or quarto although some exercise books came in American quarto. All were measured in inches.

Decimalization changed all that and we are now familiar with A2, A4 and A5. I really cannot be bothered to go and look up their dimensions in centimeters.

At last there appears to be a rebellion against such mediocrity. I have been delighted to find notebooks that are a tad smaller  than A4 [another USA variation perhaps] and magazines that are slightly larger than A5 [Could be B5]

In the absence of any real stationery stores in Margate I have found the best range of odd sizes in TK Maxx. Beware that even there the stock is  limited and watch their prices VERY carefully!

Happy Christmas Shopping!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Field Notes and Compo Book

Thanks to The Well Appointed Desk post of November 3rd headed 'Link Love' I found these limited edition [5000 sets] Field Notes, the iconic US brand of A6 pocket notebooks.

I love products that have a small company start up tale to tell.

On the same blog there is a Kickstarter project for Comp books.

Pictures below ....

In the early 1950's the UK education system was still enduring immediate postwar lack of funding and materials with many items coming from prewar stocks.

The church grammar school that I attended as a 'scholarship boy' was luckier than most in this respect when one of the Brothers had found a cache of American Meade Composition books.

I can still remember when an English Composition lesson would begin with his desk stacked high with homework essays a bit like this pile. He would comment on selected highlights before sending each book with a flick of the wrist, roughly in the direction of its owner.

These books had hard covers and thus woke us up and kept us alert as we ducked to avoid being hit or else improved our skills at catching these ballistic missiles.

Similar experiences clearly had an effect on one Aron Fay who is going all out to recreate a modern high-end version of this masterpiece of US history.

You can follow the link from The Well Appointed Desk [see right] or dial yourself in at:


OK if you live in USA but beware it'll cost you at least £65 or so in the UK.
You can surely find similar on Ebay for less?

Happy noting and composing!
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Caught In The Web

With a little time in hand I paid my usual visit to the 'More To Explore' roll call on the right of this screen. This is my go-to source of information, inspiration, motivation, education and entertainment.

With a profound dislike of ebooks and a love of real books it was pretty obvious that I would explore the link to Reasons To Buy Paper Books via the Cramped blog. [left]

A couple of quick clicks of the mouse took me to the appropriate site, where I enjoyed reading Mr. Chilvers's 15 reasons [No name so I assume that CJ is a he!] header coming up.

Intrigued to learn more, I explored the 'books', 'blog' and 'archive' areas of the site.

By now my time in hand had slipped away, so I put them on hold for a day or three.

Back at the screen again I saw that CJ was the author of A Lesser Photographer which was published in 2014 and only as an ebook. Would you believe it?

Ignoring this apparent anomaly I loaded my printer and ran off 20 pages at '4 pages per A4 sheet' to read comfortably. The reduced print size was still preferable to staring at a screen like a zombie and anyway, I wanted to be sure that I could find his words of wisdom again.

It was a surprise to discover from the colophon that one David du Chemin was his 'Editor In Chief and Publisher'. I was already familiar with David's work as author of my three all-time favourite photography books wherein he writes of the importance of the photographer's eye and imagination over the nuts and bolts of the gear and equipment used.

Surprise surprise again. That's CJ's take on photography too!

Here is the cover of his book in the hopes that it will inspire him to print it as a real book on paper. I am sure Blurb could do it for him at around a fiver a copy.

And here are the covers of David's books which still command sky high prices on Ebay.
Thanks for staying with me to read this far. I just have two more points.

The first is that I have been inspired to start another project with a book as the end product, but don't hold your breath 'cos the planning is fun but the action is knackering.

The second is that I do have form in the shape of my 2013 book Viva La Vivi - a tribute to simplicity. It is the story of my adventures with a cute analogue 35mm camera ... the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim.

It is still available from and, last time I looked, was priced at around £8.75 but beware their extravagant shipping charges. I DO have a draft copy on PDF and maybe one day someone will tell me  how to link to it in this blog.

Anyway, thanks to CJ, to David and to you for stopping by.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

One Hour on Sunday

 Dateline Margate Sunday

In just one hour - we saw 8 film crew members shooting a bike and trailer on the harbour steps ...

A witch had apparently magiked a couple of cavaliers from somewhere ...

And the inshore rescue RNLI team practised in the shallows at high tide