Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Review: Mead Five Star Stand ‘N Store™ Pencil Case.

Look what my darling daughter bought me! She arrived home from a shopping trip last weekend with this Mead Five Star Stand 'N Store pencil case:

I’ve ordered so much stuff from those wonderful people at JetPens that my pen/pencil collection is rapidly outgrowing the storage space I have for it, so the new Stand ‘N Store couldn’t have come at a better time.

Measuring approximately 8” tall x 4½” wide (203mm x 114mm), the Stand ‘N Store is available in a variety of colours: pink, grey or blue polka dot and plain green or black. The top half is of nylon fabric construction featuring a zip round three sides, the bottom half is nylon mesh allowing easy viewing of the contents.

The design makes the Stand ‘N Store a slim pencil pouch while on the road, and an open pen holder when in use. Simply open the zip and fold the top half of the pouch down to make a pen/pencil holder perfect for any desk. There is a small Velcro-closure interior pocket measuring 2” x 3” (45mm x 85mm) on the inside of the top half of the pouch, ideal for carrying mechanical pencil lead, fountain pen cartridges or other small items.

The pouch features two cord loops along one side, which allow the Stand ‘N Store to be easily carried in a binder.

Overall, I am impressed with the Stand ‘N Store – it is well constructed and large enough to comfortably carry 15 – 20 pens/pencils without becoming too bulky; it would also make an ideal carrying case for a mobile sketching/watercolour set. My only reservation is the mesh section, which seems a little fine compared to other similar pouches I have seen, but appears strong enough for its intended function; a long-term carry test is needed here. The thing I am most impressed about is the price, only 99p each (approx. 64 cents at today’s exchange rate)!

At a Glance:

Size: 8” x 4½” (203mm x 114mm).
Colour choice: Pink, grey or blue polka dot and plain green or black.
Price: 99p
Available from: Home Bargains stores in the UK, or online at
Overall rating: 4 out of 5.


Friday, 15 May 2009

Sam is...

...a very happy bunny this morning! Look what turned up in the mail yesterday, no, not the hand, the pen!

Pilot Prera, Lime Green - Fine nib

Ordered only the other day from those wonderful people at JetPens. I've been drooling over this fountain pen for a while now and I'm so glad I finally ordered one, it's gorgeous! A full review to follow, when I get a minute.


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

I Blame Paper Mate

It's all their fault. It was Paper Mate who kindled the spark of pen-thusiasm in an impressionable young mind. They were the ones who alerted this pen-thusiast to the idea that the world of pens did not extend only as far as Bic ballpoints or those green Pentel rollerballs (the height of fashion when I was young), and I thank them for it, though my bank manager doesn't!

So how did they do it? They produced a multi pen and what's more sold it in the UK, that's how. I picked this pen up at my local stationery store (sadly long gone) in the late eighties, intrigued by its being both a black ballpoint and a 0.5 pencil at the same time. Yes, at the same time! Imagine my delight when I tried it, it was the first multi pen I'd seen.

My old Paper Mate multi pen.

I had that pen all through 6th Form, through university and into my first job, then I moved house and lost it. I was heartbroken. From time to time I wondered what had happened to my favourite pen but I never found it, not that is, until I moved house again recently and there it was, languishing in the bottom of a forgotten pencil case at the bottom of a forgotten box of childhood 'stuff.' It still worked. I was elated!

My old Paper Mate multi pen with its clothes off!

Re-discovering my best 'Mate' got me to thinking - I wonder if anybody still makes multi pens? I hadn't seen any for sale in the UK. Some research on the internet lead me to the JetPens website which, I discovered, even had a 'Multi pens' category; I almost didn't dare click the link!

Stop dithering, just calm down and click the link... Wow! A positive Alladin's Cave of multipens in all shapes and sizes, and colours, and colours of ink, credit boy...there's a good credit card...

Less than a week later, I was cradling a package from JetPens, shipped to the UK in four days (faster than some UK companies can manage), and containing a replacement for my venerable old Paper Mate - a black-bodied Uni-Ball Signo MF3 2 colour 0.5mm Gel Ink Multi Pen + 0.5mm Pencil. JetPens sells the MF3 here in a variety of body colours and all of them feature a black gel ink pen, red gel ink pen, 0.5mm pencil and an eraser under the end cap, but the best bit, the absolute best bit for a UK pen-thusiast is, not only does JetPens sell refills, they also sell eraser refills for the MF3!

This might not mean much to those outside the UK, but experience has taught me that eraser refills in general (and for multi pens in particular) are the Holy Grail here in the UK - I tried for years to find a replacement eraser for my 'Mate' but, despite scouring stationery stores the length and breadth of the country I couldn't find one, not one, not even another manufacturer's that would fit. Needless to say I stocked up with refills and eraser refills when I placed my order.

So now I have a new favourite multi pen, all thanks to those wonderful people at JetPens. I still have my favourite 'Mate,' but have allowed it to retire gracefully as befits such a venerable old friend.

Postscript: I'm sure there was a sticker on my old multi pen when I bought it and with hindsight I'm kicking myself for having removed it as I can't remember the model number, so if any of my readers can shed any light on the pedigree of my old 'Mate,' please leave me a comment as it's bugging the life out of me! Thanks.


Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Cat is Dead, Long Live the Cat.

After eighteen and a half years' sterling service, No. 2 Cat has passed away. He has expired, turned up his toes, snuffed it, shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to a better place. He is dead, deceased, stiff-as-a-board, in short, he is an ex-cat.

No. 2 Cat belonged to my wonderful wife, who got him from our local animal shelter. They said he was at least eight weeks old, our vet said four so we split the difference and said he was six weeks old. And when my wonderful wife brought him home, she neglected to mention he came with 'extras' - cat flu, ear mites, an eye infection and a very healthy population of the biggest fleas I'd ever seen. If we hadn't, at that time, qualified for free veterinary care he could have quickly become a 'Money Pit' of a cat, as it was our vet said the only treatment for his cat flu was a dose of full-strength medicine which would either kill or cure him, and could ultimately leave him with brain damage.

It was touch and go for a while, but he pulled through, the fleas, mites and infection were soon dealt with, though the cat flu medicine did have a lasting effect - for his entire life, No. 2 Cat thought he was a kitten. He just never grew up, he was the Peter Pan of cats.

No. 2 Cat's first meal with us was good old-fashioned British fish 'n' chips - I found him sitting on my plate, happily devouring my portion of cod. He ate the lot, which was no mean feat because he could fit in the palm of your hand at that stage. I didn't have the heart to stop him. After his tea, No. 2 Cat set off diagonally across the room looking like a furry tennis ball with a leg at each corner; it was only now we realised he couldn't walk properly, he used to go sideways while looking at where he wanted to go.

From those humble beginnings grew a wonderful cat who will forever be remembered with much fondness.


Gas Attack

My darling daughter's just tried to poison me. There I was, minding my own business when I heard it. Psst, psst-psst-psst. No. 4 Cat shot off at the speed of light, she knows what that sound means. I was frantically reaching for my painter's face mask (kept handy for just such occasions) when the cloud of my darling daughter's new body spray wafted silently through the open door, meandered casually up my nose and began throttling the life out of me. I gagged. Till she got this new one, I'd never come across a fragrance that could exfoliate the surface of my eyeballs. I choked, she laughed, I choked some more. Can't...write...more...still...choking...


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

First Post

Greetings all, and welcome to the blog! Expect more in the coming days as I begin to get to grips with how this blogging thing works. For now just consider this a test post.

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