The Semikolon Grand Voyage notebook; a brief review.

With the London Autumn Pen Show just a week away, it is natural that my thoughts may turn to what I might buy there.

In London we are fortunate to have two pen shows a year. At the Spring show on 6 March 2022, my modest haul included a notebook from a brand that was new to me, called Semikolon. It was a chunky A5-ish size, offered in a selection of colours and for a tempting show price of £10.00.

Specifications.

  • 152 sheets (304 pages) of Swedish, fine laid watermarked, plain, cream-coloured paper;
  • Page size: 135mm x 180mm;
  • Stiff board covers, and cloth-bound;
  • Stitched spine – opens flat;
  • Two ribbon bookmarks (matching the cover);
  • Elastic closing loop;
  • Elastic pen loop with a Semikolon pencil;
  • Expandable pocket in the back cover;
  • World map with time zones, inside the front cover.
Semikolon Grand Voyage notebook.

I was informed that Semikolon is a sister brand of Leuchtturm, whose hardback A5 notebooks I have used a lot. However the cloth-bound notebook from Semikolon feels rather more luxurious in comparison and the paper feels heavier (although I have not found a reference to the weight in gsm).

How have I used mine?

Naturally, I began by paginating the book, in pencil. I sampled the paper by trying one of my purchases from the same pen show: an Esterbook Estie Nouveau Bleu with a broad nib filled with Waterman Serenity Blue. I also tried an Opus 88 demonstrator pen, in which I had installed a new Jowo-fit Titanium nib in an ebonite feed and housing, from the London pen show last year. This was (and still is) filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink. I would be keen to pick up another of these nibs, in a Bock fit housing next time to upgrade another steel nibbed pen.

Replacement Titanium fine nib with ebonite feed, installed in my Opus 88 demonstrator.

I was very pleased with the notebook. There was no bleed through from my fountain pens and also very little show through. I generally use a row guide sheet behind the paper, used from a pad of Basildon Bond writing paper. Flicking back through the pages, I see that I started with the paper-testing writing samples on the back pages and then just carried on with the pen and ink sampling, working from the back of the book all the way down to page 72 which is where I am now. The page numbers therefore tell you the number of pages remaining. This was not intentional, but illustrates that this is a notebook that I pick up often when just wanting to write a paragraph or two from whatever pen catches my eye in the pen cups. My tally of currently inked pens at home is at twenty (after flushing three this morning).

A few pen and ink samples in the Semikolon notebook.

I have also started filling the book from the front too, where I had the idea of inserting the date at the top and writing a page about the events of the day, using a different pen and ink each time. For example, on 2 June I wrote down some reflections on HM The Queen’s birthday parade – the Trooping of the Colour in Horseguards Parade, watched on TV. Little did I know that she was to pass away a little over three months later.

Admittedly I have filled far more pages with idle paragraphs of pen and ink sampling from the back, than I have with any meaningful writing from the front, but then it has been a source of recreation, reached for often when tired from the working day and in need of some pen-time escapism, writing simply for the joy of using a fountain pen on nice quality paper and seeing paragraphs of handwriting from different pens, nibs, and inks and in different writing styles.

A colourful paragraph from the currently inked pen cups.

The “Grand Voyage” theme is supported by the expandable pocket inside the back cover for tickets, post-cards or travel souvenirs, and by the world map in the front cover. I had not studied the map closely and it was literally only today, that I noticed the Semikolon Islands lying to south west of Australia! This is a notebook that does not take itself too seriously.

With a casual glance, you could easily miss the Semikolon Islands, and their punctilious inhabitants.

I am looking forward to next weekend’s pen show and would be happy to pick up another of these notebooks if the opportunity arises and in a different colour next time. How would you use yours?

Observe how these demonstrator pens cleverly adopt the colour of their surroundings.