Review - Stojo reusable coffee cups
Review

Review – Stojo Coffee Cups

Review - Stojo reusable coffee cups

Introduction

With the current focus on plastic and its effects on the environment plus the interest in the reusable water bottles we have taken on recently, refillable coffee cups seemed a logical next step. Not keen on the thought of carrying a big cup around though, collapsible cups seemed to be a better idea to me and the best cup around seemed to be the Stojo. But did it really work? As with all new products here at Bureau, we like to be sure that we are selling things we ourselves would happily use so I set out to test one….

First up, the cup itself. It seems to be a sensible size to me, just about the amount of coffee I can manage and it collapses neatly into a smaller disc which is easy to pop in a bag. It collapses quite easily though a small slap on the cup bottom can be necessary to get it to fully retract and there is a removeable band which goes around the outside to insulate your hand from the contents.  When new it smelt a little rubbery (it is made from dishwasher -proof silicon) but a quick rinse sorted it out. And with that, I set off on my morning commute.

Queueing up at the coffee place in Euston I was the only person with a resusable cup. I handed it in and they happily filled it up but offered no discount sadly. The cup didn’t feel hot particularly though the coffee inside was, the protective ring doing its job well. There is a cover for the outlet through which you drink which can be open or closed so your coffee won’t spill as you carry it around though I managed fine with it open. With some time to kill before my train I wandered around the shops with my drink and it was sturdy enough to put down on counters whilst I paid. Once on the train I could place it on the floor with the outlet cover in place without fear of it falling and spilling. Best of all, when I finished the coffee long before my journeys end, instead of having an empty cup to carry around in search of a bin, I just collapsed it, sealed it and zipped it in my bag ready for a quick rinse out at work.

 

Review - Stojo reusable coffee cups in several colours

So pretty successful really and a good addition to your bag if you drink on the go. I don’t tend to eat or drink whilst travelling so rarely use disposable cups but for those occasions I do – longer train journeys, park cafes that insist on paper cups – I like the idea of avoiding these single use cups. I always have a foldable bag and will carry armfuls of shopping before I’ll succumb to a plastic carrier. Plus I now have my Memo Bottle filled with water on me at all times. The collapsible cup is a logical step forward in the war on plastic and I hereby officially recommend it  – it works!

Postscript

Two weeks on and I have used the cup several times including once at Pret in Leicester Square where they only offer paper cups, even if you are staying in, and once in the very fabulous Swedish café Bageriet because their dishwasher was broken. I have still to be offered a discount for bringing my own cup but that is sure to come one day and in the meantime I have saved about six cups from landfill.

Style
Features
Usability
Value for money
what is the best album cover of all time?
Ideas

What Is The Best Album Cover Of All Time?

what is the best album cover of all time?

What makes a classic album cover?

Inspired by the new Blackwing pencil, we got to thinking about vinyl and all our old albums languishing in the loft. How fondly we remembered the crackle of the stylus, the paper sleeves and those rectangular black cleaning things. But most of all we remembered the covers. And so we wondered what was the best album cover of all time?

When CDs came along the artwork seemed a lot less important and now with Spotify I hardly notice it at all. But once they were an integral part of the experience, something to be studied and cherished, almost as much as the music. But which were the best examples? We discussed this in the office and I looked through my dusty boxes for inspiration but it turns out to be a lot harder than I thought to find the best three.

What makes a classic cover? Is Abbey Road a classic cover because it is a great piece of design? Or is it great because it has become a cultural icon over time? Much copied and mimicked? The more I looked at covers the more I couldn’t decide what made a good cover. Dark Side of the Moon seems to appear in most lists of great covers but to my mind it is rather boring though again, a cultural icon now. I preferred Pink Floyd’s cover for Animals with the large inflatable pig flown over Battersea Power Station. Apart from it being a great photo, the pig apparently escaped and caused havoc at Heathrow, resulting in cancelled flights and eventually upsetting a Kent farmer after it landed in his field and frightened his cows.

Which brings me to the conclusion that what I like is a good story and so my choice of the best albums covers is based on that. Feel free to disagree and if you have your alternative best three please comment below.

My best three (or four) record covers of all time

Blue Monday – New Order

The design on this 12” single was made to resemble a 5¼” floppy disc, cutting-edge technology for 1983, and the cover die-cut to resemble the sleeves they were stored in. There was no text but a colour code which, if decoded, stated the title and band and other info.

The story goes that manager Tony Wilson, having been told it would lose money for each sale due to its high cost to produce, went ahead anyway as he liked it and thought it wouldn’t sell anyway. It did of course go on to be the best-selling 12” ever ensuring Factory Records made no money from it and, some time later, went bust. Not sure how accurate it really is but it is a story we love and often quote here in the office….

New Order Blue Monday

Metal Box - PiL

Ever the innovators, the original design for this album cover was to be made from sandpaper so as to damage any other albums placed on the shelf next to it, your own included – shades of Banksy and his picture shredding surely? In the end they settled on a cannister which contained three 45rpm discs, deliberately tricky to remove, easy to scratch in the process and needing regular turning and changing to get through all the tracks. Apparently it rolled off the record store shelves too. Completely brilliant.

PiL Public Image Limited Metal Box

God Save the Queen/Never Mind the Bollocks – Sex Pistols

The 7” single cover looks like a subversive postage stamp and was very much frowned upon in its day – the silver Jubilee year. I still have my copy purchased as an entranced 12 year old which my mother raised her eyebrows at and said “I’m not sure I approve of you having that”. Which made me very happy of course. The ransom note style of cut-out lettering came from the have-a-go culture of punk. In the days when Letraset transfer lettering was a common solution for designers, it was simply easier and cheaper to not bother and cut out letters from newspapers and magazines.

Their subsequent album Never Mind the Bollocks landed them in a courtroom after a policewoman decided to arrest the manager of a Virgin store over the album window display on obscenity charges. In court they were defended by John Mortimer, he of Rumpole of the Bailey fame, who argued successfully that since the Guardian and Standard had printed the word in their coverage and not been arrested, it was discrimination. Those were the days.

Sex Pistols God Save The Queen
Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks
buckle files in Spiral TV drama
Stories

Spiral – French Buckle Files In Action

french buckle files in Spiral TV drama

Aka 'Chemise Dos Extensible'

Spiral, the addictive French thriller, has recently finished its sixth series on BBC4 with storylines clearly left open for a seventh. The gritty French police and legal drama is set in the parts of Paris you rarely see and gives an interesting insight into the way the French justice system works as well as being a brilliant if gruesome watch.

Why am I talking about this? Because all the characters, from Police Captain Laure Berthaud through to investigating magistrate Judge Roban, carry their documents around in Buckle Files. This piece of standard French stationery, essentially an expanding document holder, is a staple of all French offices from schools to, well, police stations and law courts.

french buckle files in Spiral TV drama

The name Buckle File is actually an invention of ours here at Bureau since the correct name is Chemise Dos Extensible which translates literally as stretch backed shirt and doesn’t really help much. They were one of the first items we imported back in the dark days of the mid-90s when exotic stationery was still something you had to acquire on a trip abroad. The brightly coloured folders with their distinctive buckle straps were both unusual and practical and like nothing we had seen over here.

french buckle files in Spiral TV drama

The USP of these files is their expanding spine which has several folds scored to allow for different widths. The extendable part tucks into the back cover which means that if you have but a few papers to carry, it is virtually flat but if you need to hold say a weighty and complex legal case about people trafficking in the Banlieues, then no problem. And they really do use them extensively. During a Spiral scene where Judge Roban is required to clear his office, large piles of these folders are stacked on desks and being handed over by clerks. And spiky flic Laure also keeps her grim autopsy pix safely stored within a smart dark blue file ready to torment the villains of Clichy during their surprisingly physical interviews.

If you missed Spiral then its probably been whipped off iPlayer already to make room for a show about buying bric-a-brac to make a £5 profit. Still you can console yourself with a chic French Buckle File and carry your documents around with a swagger and a sense of Parisian style.

diamine moondust shimmer ink
Review

Review: Diamine Moondust

diamine shimmer moon dust ink

I don’t usually do ink reviews, I leave them to Mishka. But since she has been away and she tends to favour colours, I thought I would slip in a quick monochrome review while she isn’t looking. My current (and only) ink is Diamine Moondust. It is one of their Shimmer range which contains metallic particles giving it a subtle glimmer. The colour itself is a sort of dark grey, or grey black, it sort of changes depending on, well I’m not sure what. Sometimes it writes as black, sometimes grey and sometimes silver, you can never be quite sure what you will get. Some might find that inconsistency annoying but I love it. Much as I like the bright colours we have here, as with clothes and much else, I find myself choosing black or grey so the chameleon-ish nature of this ink makes it more interesting than a standard black.

diamine moondust shimmer ink
It's the same ink, but is it grey or black?

I can’t give you stats on saturation or shading, you’ll have to wait for a proper review for that but hopefully the photos capture the nature of the colour variation and if you don’t like writing in bright colours, Diamine Moondust might be the ink for you.

left handed fountain pen nib
Q&A

Q&A: What Is A Left-Handed Fountain Pen?

Lamy Z50 left handed fountain pen nib

How well suited are pens to left-handed people?

We are often asked about pens for left-handers, specifically left-handed fountain pens. Given that a lot of people are left-handed this market is poorly catered for. Apart from those designed for young children, there is not much available.

Although some 10% of the population are left-handed, as a child I was the only one in a class of 39 pupils apart from my teacher. She, being a no-nonsense type, was determined that if she could write ‘properly’ so could I. Properly meant ensuring my writing sloped to the right and not backwards and she would return all my left-sloping efforts to me with a big red ‘NO’ all over them. After being kept in for seemingly endless lunchtimes being made to write out over and over the handwriting cards we used, she declared herself reasonably satisfied. My writing was and still is, forward sloping.

left handed writing with a fountain pen
Left-handed writing that avoids smudging the ink (it's a Caran d'Ache 849 fluorescent orange fountain pen, nail varnish model's own)

These days children are allowed to develop their own style and backward sloping writing is considered fine. The problem many left-handers have though is that they find it difficult to see what they have written as they are going over the text as they move forward This then leads to the curled hand or hook many people end up developing to avoid smudging. The answer is to try and learn to hold the pen under the writing so that you can still see. The grip should be well back from the end of the pen so as to keep the hand back and the wrist should be straight. Turning the paper by 45 degrees clockwise makes it easier to slant the writing forwards if that is preferred.

But what of specialist pens? Many pens have a universal grip but with fountain pens there is the question of the nib. Of the brands we sell, only Lamy offers a left-handed fountain pen nib. Opinion is divided on how useful this is with some feeling there is no real difference between an LH nib and a medium. When I have tested them out I can feel no difference but that may be because of my writing style which is more akin to a right-hander (thanks Miss) but others may find differently. One of the issues to consider is that the left-handed nib only comes in medium so if you want a fine or broad, tough, they don’t make them for left-handers. Italic nibs can be difficult for those with overhand styles as contact with the paper can be lost with some angles but again, all these things depend on the writing style.

Certainly for children there can be an advantage of offering a left-handed nib. Even if the difference is slight or non-existent, the child may feel they have a special writing instrument that will help them and sometimes small things make a difference. Arguably fountain pens in themselves can help as they require careful positioning which encourages a proper grip and of course they are a bit special. For adults though it is a harder choice. Ultimately, if you are happy with a medium nib then it may be worth trying the left-handed version to see if that feels comfortable. If you want a fine or broad though, give it a go and you may be surprised to find it works just fine. If not, you’ll have to come see me at lunchtime I guess.

10 things you didn't know about the kanken
Ideas

10 Things You Need To Know About The Fjallraven Kanken

10 things you didn't know about the kanken
A well used Kanken backpack from the Fjallraven archive, used daily sine 1982

The Iconic Fjallraven Kanken Bag

1. Back Support

The Fjallraven Kanken backpack was developed in the late 1970s to help Swedish schoolchildren cope with their heavy loads. Backache in young children had started to be a problem and the Kanken was designed to spread the weight evenly. The backpacks soon became a common sight in Swedish schools with their huge range of beautiful colours.

2. Popularity

200 Kankens are sold every hour worldwide such is their appeal now. The bags have gone on to become an iconic product, much loved by people all over the globe. Spotting fellow Kanken owners is now a legitimate pastime on the London Underground.

3. Genuine

Beware the fakes – with huge popularity comes the inevitable fakery. Fake Kankens can be seen everywhere now but they are easy to spot. The fabric is usually different, much softer like a standard bag and you don’t get the telltale creases on the front pocket. You also don’t get the water-resistance.

Kanken fake or genuine?
Kanken: Fake or real?

4. Water-Resistant

Fjallraven Kankens are brilliantly water-resistant. Vinylon F, the synthetic fabric they are made from, behaves more like a natural fibre and swells as it becomes damp. As it swells, the gaps between the woven fibres close more and thus it becomes more resistant to water penetration. This means there is no coating that needs to be maintained and this property lasts the life of the bag.

5. Vinylon F

Vinylon F is made in Japan but the original Vinylon was invented in North Korea. Made from polyvinyl alcohol and using limestone and anthracite as raw materials, it is the fabric of choice in North Korea where it is used for clothing and shoes and pretty much everything else. Though great for bags, it is hard to imagine what trousers made from this fairly stiff material would feel like.

Kanken information
So many useful features including the Vinylon F fabric

6. Lightweight

The use of Vinylon F makes the Kanken amazingly light, much more so than most other backpacks giving you an advantage before you fill it up. It also becomes more durable with time and softens as it ages so maybe the trousers would be ok.

7. Space

The trademark rectangular shape means it fits A4 books, files and laptops in easily unlike bags which narrow at the top. Not mentioning any other brands here!

8. Extra-Long Zips

The zips go all the way around and allow you to open it up like a suitcase. This makes it by far the easiest of bags to locate stuff in.

9. Environmentally Friendly

The Kanken is made by Swedish brand Fjallraven, a serious player in the outdoor gear market. Fjallraven means Arctic Fox which is a charismatic little predator on the brink of extinction and the company is involved in many conservation projects to help reverse the decline. They take their green credentials very seriously and whilst their products are not the cheapest, they are made to last and created with as little environmental impact as possible.

10. Art & Design

The Kanken is a piece of art, it’s official! In 2016 the Swedish Government listed and protected the Kanken on Svensk Form, the Swedish Society of Crafts and Designs. New special editions versions of the Kanken have been released with different webbing straps to celebrate and here at Bureau we have managed to get a few of the black versions with their Pippi Longstocking stripy straps.

Fjallraven Kanken special edition webbing straps
Kanken special edition webbing straps
colour choice
Ideas

What Is Our Favourite Colour?

colour choice
The team in our colour choice. See, we do like the colour we chose!

And what does it say about us?!

Here at Bureau we spend a lot of time choosing colours for our products, everything from notebooks, bags, pens and of course inks. Everyone here has their favourite, usually reflected in their clothes, but also in their ink choice. But what does your colour choice say about you?

We decided to investigate with a thoroughly non-scientific piece of research and found that even the most sceptical (that would be me) found something to cling on to. Some of it was spookily accurate so check out our findings and see what you make of it all.

Black

Lovers of black typically have a secretive, hidden nature and an air of mystery. It can be sophisticated and elegant with artistic and intuitive leanings but can hide vulnerabilities, creating a barrier between you and the outside world.

Jo’s Choice

I feel black has a bit of a bad rap here but I do like pink too so maybe I have tempered my dark side a little. My current ink choice is Diamine Moon Dust, a sort of black/grey with silver particles.

colour chart black
Colour chart red

Red

Those who love red are pioneering, ambitious and strong-willed. They tend to be optimistic, confident and competitive with great determination and drive. They are also risk-takers and crave attention.

Dominic’s Choice

I chose red before reading the description of it and so I am having to retro-fit that description around myself. Pioneering? Well… maybe. Ambitious? OK. Strong willed? Is that the same as stubborn? Whatever, red it is. Occasionally in what I wear, sometimes in my pen (Robert Oster Fire Engine Red is there right now and it’s a stunner), and always in my choice of football team (Arsenal, since you ask).

Green

If you love green you will be down to earth, practical, calm, loyal and frank. Good in a crisis and quick to learn, your reputation is important to you and you like to belong to social groups.

Mishka’s Choice

I have hundreds of pens and more inks than Bureau so my current ink is hard to define. One of my all time favourites is Herbin Vert Olive though and I am just about to put Diamine Golden Oasis in a pen.

Faisal’s Choice

I find green very calming and my current choice is Herbin’s Lierre Sauvage which reminds me of the peace and tranquillity of forests.

colour chart green
colour chart blue

Blue

If blue is your go-to colour then you are likely to be conservative, reliable and trustworthy. You think before you act and you are genuine and sincere, taking your responsibilities very seriously.

Des’s Choice

In all honesty I don’t write much, I’m a computer guy, I type it up and print it off. If I do write though, I use blue, always have. Current ink choice is Lamy Blue.

Purple

Purple indicates a sensitive, compassionate and understanding nature, sensitive to hurtful comments, dignified, creative and perhaps a bit unconventional. You are a perfectionist and a good humanitarian.

Armi’s Choice

I have Diamine Purple Pazzazz in my TWSBI Eco and I write with it daily here at Bureau and at uni. My notes are definitely unconventional and hard to follow but purple makes them magnificent.

 

Colour chart purple
colour chart yellow

Yellow

You are happy, fun to be with, creative, analytical and independent. Though methodical in your thinking you can still be impulsive and are prone to snap decisions. Yellow lovers tend to prefer small groups of close friends rather than big social groups.

Emma’s Choice

I’m using a brown ink at the moment but accenting it with a yellow felt pen to give my diary a bit of colour. Current ink choice: Herbin Caroube de Chypre.

 

Pink

Unsurprisingly, pink is strongly connected with the feminine side of our nature, in both women and men. A love of pink is associated with a warm, kind and generous nature. The maternal instinct is strong and care of others is paramount.

Monica’s Choice

I love pink and as a passionate animal lover I have to agree with this. My current ink is Diamine Hope Pink.

 

 

colour chart pink
colour chart orange

Orange

If you have chosen orange then you are probably warm and optimistic as well as friendly and good natured. Likely to be a bit flamboyant, you are often the life and soul of the party and need people around you.

Sadly we had no takers for orange but if this is your choice then we can wholeheartedly recommend Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin  or Herbin Orange Indien.

Grey

If grey is your choice then you are likely to be unemotional, neutral and impartial. Other traits include practicality and calmness and you are likely to want to keep the peace. Your cool nature can come across as indifference though and you are no attention seeker.

Pawel’s Choice

I have a lot of pens with different inks including grey but at the moment I am using an orange – Diamine Ancient Copper though I am definitely not flamboyant!

 

 

 

colour chart grey
colour chart brown

Brown

If it’s brown then you are likely to be steady, reliable and approachable. You are hardworking with a dry sense of humour and people like to confide in you. You make a great friend and family is very important to you.

Again, no one claimed brown as a favourite so we simply don’t know if it is spot on or not. If you are a brown lover though we still have the very amazing Herbin Caroube de Chypre – brown with flecks of gold. So pretty.

White

This indicates someone who is neat and immaculate in appearance and presentation. Well balanced, positive and careful, the white fan has good self-control, high standards and is very discreet.

And no takers for white though it is quite hard to write in so probably just as well. If you want to then we do offer the Herbin white ink but you must never ever put it in a fountain pen! Dipping pens only please.

colour chart white
president trump signing executive order with cross pen
Stories

All the President’s Pens

president trump signing executive order with cross pen

Donald Trump's Choice

When Donald Trump recently started being photographed signing various Executive Orders, the Bureau Direct office took an obvious interest in the pen he was using. Turns out it was a Cross Century II rollerball which then prompted the question – what pen does the President usually use? And what about other world leaders? Do they choose a pen manufactured in their own country? Are they free gifts? Is it their own pen? Well after a little research, it seems the answers vary quite a bit but for sure, the pen has been present at many interesting occasions, often proving the maxim that the pen is mightier than the sword.

The Treaty of Versailles, which brought an end to the First World War, was signed by Lloyd George, British Prime Minister with a Waterman Ideal fountain pen. A Waterman was also the writing instrument of choice for King Edward VIII in 1936 when he signed his abdication. Neither of these men were presidents though and where presidents and top ranking generals are concerned, the Parker Pen is king.

parker 51 pen
The Parker 51 Pen

Parker Pens - Choice Of Presidents Past

Parker was the original pen of choice for US presidents. An American company (though now the pens are made in France) they pop up at many key moments in history. The Parker 51, considered by many to be the best pen ever made, was present in the hand of General Dwight D Eisenhower, later President Eisenhower, when he signed the treaty that brought about the end of World War II. Actually he had two of the pens and, such was his disregard for the Nazis, he refused to be in the same room as them and had the pens sent in alone to be used.

A Parker 51 was also used by Field Marshal Montgomery when signing the terms of Germany’s surrender. Later still, Parker pens were used on board the USS Missouri to agree the surrender of Japan. The Parker Big Red Duofold was used by General MacArthur though it was his wife’s pen. He had it specially sent for to use for the historic signing. Admiral Nimitz went with tradition and used a Parker 51 for his part in the signing.

parker duofold pen
The Parker Duofold Pen

Parker pens went on to be used to sign arms reduction and peace treaties into the seventies, eighties and nineties. The Camp David accords, signed at the White House with the ubiquitous Parkers, brought about the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and earned President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin the Nobel Peace Prize. Camp David incidentally, was named after President Eisenhower’s grandson as he felt the previous name -Shangri-La – a little too fancy for his tastes.

Parker’s involvement with peace in the Middle East continued with the Oslo Accords of 1993. Though negotiated with Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO’s Yasir Arafat, the actual agreements were signed with a Duofold Centennial rollerball at the White House by Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas. Peres, Rabin and Arafat also went on to gain the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts though Rabin was assassinated the following year for his support.

parker pens used by presidents
Parker Pens - The Choice Of Presidents Down The Years

The Ceremonial Use Of Pens

Pens are also used in a somewhat ceremonial capacity to sign bills in to law by the President. Because of the historical nature of the event, several pens are used and then donated to those who have helped create the bill. This is a White House tradition that dates back many years. Barrack Obama signed the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) with 22 pens and Bill Clinton used 40 pens in 1997 for the Taxpayers Relief Act, all the pens then being passed on as gifts. Astonishingly though Lyndon Johnson was said to have used as many as 75 pens to sign in the Civil Rights Act in 1964, all for one signature! Unsurprisingly perhaps, JFK would write out his name in full, to make the task of using all those pens a little easier. George W Bush however preferred to use just the one pen for signing, hanging on to it and then sharing the unused pens as souvenirs.

Cross pens for the president
Cross pens waiting to be used for signing

Lately though the Parker has been dropped as the go to pen. German manufacturers Montblanc were said to be very unhappy when Bill Clinton not only used a fake Montblanc to sign in a bill, but then gave out other fakes as souvenirs. American brand Cross (mostly made in China these days) has been the presidential pen of choice for a while now which brings us back neatly to Donald Trump. Whether Cross are happy that their pens have gone from signing in Obamacare to the current executive orders is anybody’s guess. No doubt they would say it isn’t about politics. But still, don’t be surprised if there is a change of pen sometime quite soon.

president obama signing pen
President Obama signs an executive order
washi tape
Ideas

3 Reasons You Can’t Live Without Washi Tape

washi tape

Discover how washi tape can transform your life!

Firstly, for those of you who don’t know what Washi Tape is, it’s a Japanese low tack masking tape made in bright colours and beautiful designs. The low tack adhesive allows you to remove it without marking and reposition it easily making it great for labelling and decorating. It is one of those products which can at first have you scratching your head and wondering what you would do with it but eventually you realise just how useful it is and wonder how you ever managed without it.

In an attempt to show just how useful this stuff is, I did a quick check around our office and asked people for their top three uses of Washi Tape. Some people chose the same reasons but then I guess that just demonstrates how good it is for certain tasks.

3 washi tape tips: Dominic's choices

First off, Dominic who has gone for three practical ideas:

1. Marking chargers and leads. Anyone who has had to share a phone or laptop charger will know the familiar issue of ever finding the right charger again. A simple bit of washi tape on the charger and plug and it’s easily identified as your charger. No more arguments over who’s USB lead that was!

washi tape tips - charger leads
Use washi tape to mark your charger leads

2. Keys. A similar idea but again,once you are faced with more than a few spare keys you can never work out which one fits which lock. A small bit of washi tape and you can colour code your keys. Pop them in an envelope, add a bit of washi tape to the envelope as well and you can create a handy key (no pun intended) to the keys.

Washi tape ideas - mark your keys
Mark your keys with washi tape

3. Make your own noticeboard. This one takes a bit more effort, I know, but with a spirit level and pencil (and some patience!) you can easily mark out where to put the tape, and if you neatly trim the ends then you too can end up with your own version of our staff noticeboard. If I can do it…

Washi tape ideas - noticeboard
Make a noticeboard with washi tape

3 washi tape tips: Emma's choices

Emma has chosen the same top use as Dominic proving how brilliant the idea is but then gets a bit more creative, as is her way.

1. Tagging electronics cables. So I know which is which (or whose) iPhone, camera, Kindle.

2. Marking page edges in my notebook (predictable, I know..). This is done by wrapping a piece of tape over the edge of a page vertically so that you get a coloured marker to divide up the book into sections.

Washi tape ideas - page edge markers
Make simple page markers using washi tape

3. Decorating wrapped presents. Creating borders, using tape as a label, patterns using tape, decorating the tags. You can also decorate letters to make them stand out.

Washi tape ideas - wrap a present
Decorate a wrapped present with washi tape

3 washi tape tips: Faisal's choices

Faisal, a keen photographer, has a more unusual use for the tape.

1. Holding things in place. When taking photos or marking out the “stage”. This is useful when you need to remember exactly where an item was between shots.

Washi tape ideas - floor markings
Use washi tape to create a simple marker

2. Food packets. Closing half opened packets of food e.g. crisps, cakes, pasta.

3. Sticking notes to things. Like a Post-it note.

Washi tape ideas - post notes
Don't mark that wall! Use washi tape instead

3 washi tape tips: Mishka's choices

Mishka shares the love of page marking with Emma but has a couple of other ideas.

1. Pen grips. A piece of tape around the top of your fountain pen can make grip less slippery and easier to hold.

Washi tape ideas - pen grips
Washi tape can mark up pens or create pen grips

2. Paper reinforcing. You can use tape to reinforce punched paper in folders. When holes have torn or before they do, you can add strip of Washi Tape and punch through that. Super strong!

Washi tape ideas - punched paper
Washi tape can reinforce punched paper

3. Bullet Journaling! Bookmarking pages for Bujo or Bullet Journaling. Easy way to divide up your book in to sections, can be on ends of page to make index or to make markers.

Washi tape ideas - bullet journals
Washi tape in your bullet journal!

3 washi tape tips: My choices

For myself, I keep a couple of rolls at home and mostly use it for practical purposes.

1. Food. My absolute top use is labelling food, especially for the freezer. I use the plain tapes and then label and date everything I put in there. I forgot to do this recently and was rewarded with a bag of tagliatelle for my stir fry instead of noodles. Very annoying.

Washi tape ideas - food packets
Use washi tape to mark food packets or containers

2. Sticking notes up around the house. To remind teenagers to do stuff – “Unload the dishwasher please”, We need milk” and “Do Not Eat This!” would be examples

3. Emergency wrapping paper. Making plain or kraft paper into emergency wrapping paper for a present when I have run out. The patterned versions are good for this. It can look fantastic.

Washi tape ideas - wrapping a present
Make a plain present amazing with washi tape

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kanken goes for a walk
Review

Kanken Review: The Kanken Goes For The Summit

kanken goes for a walk

This is an unusual way to do a Kanken review but since this bag not only has history on its side (it’s a Swedish school classic) but it also has some great outdoors credentials, so what better place to roadtest it than on a walk to to the top of Helvellyn?

The Fjallraven Kanken Backpack In Action

I had been looking for a new rucksack for ages but could never find the right bag. Everything was either too heavy or not wide enough to carry lunch boxes, didn’t have compartments to organise everything, looked too executive or too camping store etc. When we got the Fjallraven backpack range in I wasn’t really thinking I would go for one because they looked too basic with not enough pockets and features. But, as is often the case, when you have one behind your desk for a couple of weeks you start wondering and checking it out and so I decided to give one a go because I really liked the simple design and the red fox logo.

footprints

This summer we were heading for the Lake District for a change. The (teenage) boys had got fed up with driving to France and begged to go somewhere in the UK. Having decided on the Lakes, I suggested the challenge of climbing up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and, once shown some spectacular pictures, the boys were very keen. Having recently acquired my Kanken, I packed it up with food, water (in the handily accessible side pockets) and other useful items, like our car keys, and off we headed, up the mountain.

Kanken Review: Striding Edge on Helvellyn

At 950m (3,117ft), Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England and commands some spectacular views. The most exciting way to go up is via the narrow ridge of Striding Edge and then down the other side over the marginally less alarming Swirral Edge. Both promise a ‘path’ but the whereabouts of this is not always apparent and the ascent/descent requires a fair bit of scrambling. We set off in full sun and started the long slow climb up the side of the mountain which was easy going but hard work. A few hours later we reached the Hole in the Wall, actually a ladder over a wall, which marks the divide between hill climbing and scrambling. Here the heavens opened and we were instantly soaked, our so-called waterproofs offering hopeless protection against the driving rain.

fjallraven

This then was the first test of the Kanken, its ability to protect my belongings in a serious downpour. Actually it stood up quite well with all the contents kept dry, especially my phone which I was worried about. The rectangular shape is good for keeping items organised (our lunch) and upright (our drinks) and the way the front unzips completely, a bit like a suitcase, makes it easy to find things. The straps are well padded and the bag sits very comfortably on the back making it quite easy to carry despite all the bottles ending up in my Kanken.

Having had a rest and some food and guessing the rain was a permanent feature of the day, we headed off towards the summit which looked surprisingly vertical. Here the terrain changed to slippery wet rocks and it was necessary to climb up the rock face using our hands. The boys came alive at this point, having slogged for hours up a steep path, this was where they felt confident and they were suddenly able to swap roles with me, recommending footholds and easier routes up and leading the way. We did see a few families with younger children and I wondered if I would have been happy to do the climb when the kids had been younger. Not without one to one supervision I decided as it was a sheer drop down the sides of the mountain. I had read a few articles about the climb and most people seemed to say it was quite manageable but no one talked about how easy it might be to slip off. In the wet and the wind, the edge was sometimes very narrow and the drop on either side of you was hundreds of feet of rock-strewn steep-sided mountain.

Kanken Review: The Fjallraven Kanken makes it to the summit of Helvellyn

After what felt like a very long climb later, we finally reached the top and were rewarded with another downpour and some additional high winds. The view was still spectacular and we celebrated our victory – all decided it was the high point of the holiday and something we would all remember. We took some photos and then headed off down Swirrel Edge, by now the wind was blowing hard and it felt rather precarious. Again I wondered what it would be like with a ten year old in tow. Finally, after a good six hour round trip, we were back at the car park and looking forward to some well deserved local beer.

footprints

Once back at our cottage and still feeling surprised by the possibility of falling that the mountain had offered, I decided to google Striding Edge deaths to see if anyone had actually fallen off. In fact five people had fallen off and died in 2016 alone, six the year before, either off Striding or Swirral Edge and they had mostly been experienced climbers. The deaths had sparked safety calls for guided walks only or warning signs to be erected as every year people slip and fall. I can’t say I would want to be ‘guided’ or have a load of signs everywhere but it was rather sobering to read and I was glad I read it after and not before and I honestly don’t think I would take a young child up there. That’s just me though and no children appear to have fallen off so perhaps I am being a bit over protective. The Kanken backpack though was a great asset, working for wet and windy hiking as well as the urban commute – result.

fjallraven

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