The new year diary, 2022.

For me and many others, today has been the last day of the Christmas and New Year holidays and I return to my work routine tomorrow.

As readers of this blog may recall, I like to keep a diary, or journal, and to have about ten minutes each morning to sit with a fountain pen, to reflect upon and write up (and increasingly these days, try to remember!) the events of the day before. I prefer to do it when the day is past, when I have slept on it. My brain is then fresh and has had a chance to find some order in the previous day’s events. The diary is my record of what I did, not what I am going to do. It is a handy repository for films watched, books read, excursions enjoyed and so on.

An A5 page a day works well for me.

For working days, I have found that a balloon diagram is often best. A central balloon labelled “WORK” leads out to balloons each representing a different matter that I worked on. I can then easily insert bullet points next to each balloon, for lists of tasks or occurrences on each client (or “account” in the States). This is a process which my wife describes as “doing your bubbles.” It helps me to prioritise for the day ahead.

For the past few years I have used an A5 Page-a-day format. This year, I bought a Ryman Soft Cover Diary, page a day, which is a chunky and pleasing book, with a hardback cover that has the feel of leather. According to the paper insert, it features 80 gsm cream paper, a ribbon page marker, and expandable pocket, a pen loop and an elasticated closure. I have found this to be fountain pen friendly. This means not only that most inks do not bleed or feather, but also that the paper surface is nice to write on, not glossy and draggy and also that the colours show quite well. I have noticed that with some other papers, some ink colours loose their vibrancy, as though the paper has sucked all the joy out of them.

Equally important to me, is the fact that the lined pages feature a reasonably generous row height of 7.9mm, giving 23 rows per A5 page. And you still get a full page each day on Saturdays and Sundays.

My 2022 diary – a Ryman A5 page a day.

I used the same format diary last year and so much of my post The new year diary, 2021 still applies, except that this year I chose a navy blue one and the price has risen a bit, to about £12.00 I think.

In 2021 I decided to use a different pen after each month. I enjoyed that, and thought to do the same again in 2022. But then I used the same pen for January 2022 that I used for December 2021, for “continuity”. And then by the 2 January 2022, I had a new idea of picking a single pen to use for all my writing needs for a day, or even a week to see how that goes and that meant I already changed pens on 2 January. Another possibility is to change after each two page spread, as I did for the Marcus Aurelius project. In short, I have not yet decided.

I am not very good at sticking to resolutions, such as giving up chocolate. I have not set myself any particular goals or challenges for 2022 as far as the fountain pen hobby goes. I always start the year with good intentions to buy less fountain pens and to make more use of those I have. This applies now more than ever and I feel very fortunate to have accumulated a vast array of good pens, of which I can see 13 are currently inked, as I sit here. I have the urge after Christmas to simplify life and there is a certain satisfaction to be had from using the least expensive tool for the job. For example, over the holidays the pen I have reached for most, has been an Online Bachelor, a cheap plastic clear demonstrator but with a joyous 0.8mm stub nib which I like very much, currently filled with Rohrer and Klingner Salix, a blue-black iron gall ink. Another resolution is to write more and to empty some bottles of ink, such as the aforementioned Salix. I was inspired recently by Margana at Inkophile who kept a record of repeat fills of her pens and was able to tell me that one was on its 18th consecutive fill of Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro. The lesson was that once you find an ink you like, use it!

I realise that it is more effective to have goals that are achievable and measurable. This year, rather than say “I plan to do more walking”, I set myself a challenge to walk 1,500 miles in 2022. I have been using a pedometer app to count steps since August and found that I had 500 miles on the clock after 4 months. I would like to keep that up if I can, as I felt the benefits particularly when walking uphill. My job is a sedentary one and fitting in about 4 miles walking a day, is quite a challenge. But having a target now feels purposeful and every time I venture out on foot I can bank some miles and feed my ever-hungry app.

In my last year’s new diary post, I ended with the following words: “Flicking through the blank pages of my next year’s diary it is hard to imagine what I might be doing in the months to come. Let’s all hope for better times ahead.” I think that still applies. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year 2022.

The new year diary, 2021.

One of life’s great pleasures is writing with a fountain pen. My lifelong habit of journaling, or keeping a diary, is another and to combine these two makes for a great start to a day. Just having ten minutes, to collect my thoughts and reflect on the previous day and then record it in ink and “offload” this into my archive, is something I cannot do without.

I have been keeping a personal diary in one form or another since 1976. The size has varied over the years from chunky A6 page-a-day books in the seventies and eighties (in which I used “reverse writing” with my Sheaffer No Nonsense pens to get extra fine lines), to A4 volumes, 5 year diaries, and even tried typing for a few years. In recent years I have settled on A5 as being the format that works best for me. For some days, I write in longhand and for others, typically work days, I prefer to do a balloon diagram with bullet point notes, of what progress was made on my various ongoing tasks.

This year, I have enjoyed using an A5, page-a-day diary from Rymans. It has what they call a “Soft Cover” but is a stiff cover but finished in a soft texture material that feels like leather. The cream coloured pages give you 23 rows with a row height of 7.9mm which is reasonably wide and I find this ideal. Currently, I use my Diplomat Excellence A Plus, with a Fine steel nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Shinkai, blue-black ink. It is one of those combinations that is a marriage made in Heaven and which you never want to end.

Last week, while browsing in Paperchase, I spotted an A5, page-a-day diary in an attractive viridian patterned, textured soft-back cover . On a quick flick through, I noticed that the line spacing was wide (actually 7.5mm), that it was neatly bound with stitching and opened flat. It was also in a sale with 30% off and I decided to buy it.

Paperchase A5 Day to a Page diary. £7.50 in a sale, With a Sailor 1911 Standard for scale (not included in the price).

Only when I got home did I notice that the “page-a-day” description was a bit misleading for the weekends , as Saturday and Sunday had to share a page. At least this meant that you could always find your weekends on the right-hand page of a spread, but I was disappointed. My wife helpfully suggested that I “just don’t do as much” at the weekends to have less to write about but I was not convinced.

Paperchase diary: in fact Half a Page a Day when you get to the weekend.

Today, in a Goretex jacket for the rain, I trudged out to Golders Green High Road to visit Rymans to see if they had any diaries. I found the diary section and looked at a Ryman hard back, A5 page-a-day diary at £7.50 but the line spacing was clearly narrow, unlike my 2020 version so I dismissed it.

But then I noticed nearby, the Ryman Soft Cover Diary, also a page-a-day but a little more expensive at £10.99. I found a beautiful forest green one but could not inspect the line spacing or the weekend arrangements as it was sealed in cellophane. Other colour options were an equally lovely dark red or yellow ochre, which would have been great with my Diamine Cherry Sunburst ink, or perhaps a KWZ Honey or Diamine Honey Burst.

Since these were all sealed, I could not inspect any of them for row height or to check that Saturdays and Sundays were still afforded a page each as in my 2020 diary. Call me reckless, but I took a gamble and bought it anyway. I went for the green. The sales assistant favoured the yellow ochre version but when I said that I preferred the dark green he said “Like your jacket!” to which I had to admit that my colour choices were rather predictable.

Ryman, Soft Cover Diary, Page a Day.

Back home, I sliced off the cellophane for the moment of truth. Would there be wide line spacing and would there be whole pages for Saturdays and Sundays? Yes, to both! I can look forward to another year of journaling with my lovely Diplomat. It has a pleasant, fountain pen friendly paper. Other features are a ribbon book mark, an expandable pocket inside the back cover, and elastic pen loop (which I do not use) and an elastic closure – which is useful.

The Ryman diary, with a full day each for your Saturdays and Sundays. Happiness restored.

Today I have just seen the sad news that Sir Sean Connery has died, at the age of 90. How I loved all those early Bond films, and going to the local cinema with my late father. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!” So that is a piece of news for today’s entry in my diary. RIP.

This has been an unique year, “unprecedented” in our lifetimes as many have said and we still have two months to go. My year 2020 and lockdown activities are well recorded. Flicking through the blank pages of my next year’s diary it is hard to imagine what I might be doing in the months to come. Let’s all hope for better times ahead.