Out in the garden

The puppy got her first tennis ball to play with today and is very pleased with herself.

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I took the opportunity of a self-amusing puppy to play with the portrait function on my iPhone 11. Not on people, ooh no, why waste it on humans when plants are so much nicer!

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These shots are of a large viburnum in my back garden, which flowers later than some of my others. Yes, I’m a fan - evergreen, early flowering and the buds and flowers are just exquisite.

Charles Lethaby Ion Fountain Pen

I backed the Kickstarter for this pen after it came up in one of my social media feeds. The price was good and in the photos the pen looked gorgeous.

Charles Lethaby is a brand better-known for its lighting products - very nice and rather high end. Part of what appealed to me about this project was that it was a British company, making the process rather easier for me. So, I pondered the options, of which there were plenty. The pen is now on the company website so you can take a look at the various options. Most notable to me is how the character of the pen seems to change depending on which end cap is selected. I was so very tempted by the flat knurled caps and, had I not chosen the brass, I would probably have opted for knurled caps. As it was, I felt the brass looked so very sleek with the domed caps, so that is what I chose.

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The Kickstarter experience was very smooth, unlike some experiences I have had with other pen projects. There was a delay with the Bock nibs (I almost expected that), but I was kept updated in a timely and very polite fashion.

I missed the initial delivery, as I was away, and hadn't expected it to arrive so quickly. Redelivery booked and the pen duly arrived yesterday. The box is classic, sleek and does its job, with just the name of the pen on the outside. Inside was the pen, along with a hand-written thank you note - a very nice touch.

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The pen, as stated in the Kickstarter, has no branding on it; it is simply a long, shiny tube. My pen is heavy, as expected, but once the cap is off, the balance is fine in the hand, despite the fact it seems to be quite a long pen. The Bock nib is large, so if you like to hold your pen close to the paper, then this isn't the one for you. My nib was slightly loose in the grip when it arrived, but a quick twist fixed that. The section is reasonably slender, much thinner than, say, the Namisu Nova (the only other brass fountain pen I own). I found the pen comfortable to write with, but I do have fairly large hands. I'm also ambidextrous so I usually allocate a pen to one hand or the other. This one suits my right hand better. I have no specific criteria for this choice, it's merely a gut preference thing.

The section feels long, but it isn't really, and the screw thread for the cap isn't sharp, nor does it get in the way at all. As with most metal pens I've used, the body can become unscrewed from the grip with use, but there's a decent thread, so that's not a great concern. Interestingly, the threads are only on the grip and both the body and cap screw onto the one thread, meeting in the middle. On other pens I have, the body screws onto the grip and then the cap onto the body. That's certainly the case with my Nova and my Kaweco brass rollerball. Is one approach better than another? I have no idea. This one on the Ion certainly looks sleek and the body and cap have beautiful bezels so they meet and slightly overlap on the inside. I do love a nice bezel; it makes me think quality for some reason. I ordered this pen with a broad nib. I usually write small, using a fine or extra-fine, but sometimes a juicy broad is needed. I think it suits this pen.

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All in all, I'm very pleased with the Ion, although I've not had it long. It's heavy, but not too heavy; it's very well made and exudes quality. As it's a new pen which is still going out to backers I haven't seen many reviews yet, but check out this review from Scribble Monboddo. Naturally he filled his pen with purple ink. Mine is currently filled with Waterman Serenity Blue, but I have a feeling it might get Diamine Monboddo's Hat next, a Fountain Pens UK Facebook group ink, named in honour of the aforementioned Scrib. Until our 2020 teal ink comes out, of course - watch this space!

Kingston Lacy

Another lovely walk at a nearby National Trust property. Snowdrops out in force, along with some early Camelias.

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A walk in the park

Taking advantage of the sunshine for a long stroll in the park with the puppy and my camera.

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Fayre Wood

Afternoon stroll around a nearby copse, which is the remnants of an ancient wood which covered the area; the "Fayre Wood" after which the town is named.

Very quiet, just me, the puppy and plenty of birdsong.

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Frosty mornings, sunshine and snowdrops

This morning brought a sharp frost, still in evidence at 10am during a walk in the forest.

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After that, we went to Kingston Lacy to see the start of the snowdrops and the hellebores.

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Puppy's first visit to the beach

Puppy had her first trip to the beach today, Avon Beach, in Christchurch, which she enjoyed immensely. For once it actually wasn't raining!

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After the beach, we stopped off at a viewpoint which overlooked the floodplain of the river Avon; a very wet plain after all the recent rain.

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Time Out

Five days of not working weekdays have now passed. It's a very unfamiliar situation for me, as I have been lucky enough to have been continuously employed for over thirty years (in the same field - even more unusual nowadays, I'm told). However, this change was very much my decision; after a tough few years, including a breakdown earlier this year, I desperately needed some significant time and space to heal. Counselling has been a huge help and has given me a lot of tools to help with my anxiety and I believe I am no longer officially depressed, which is great. Just the anxiety then… Something had to give and the only thing it was easy/practical to remove was the day job, so I did. My employer was great and worked with me to expedite my departure. I have promised myself at least six months of not even thinking about working - and yes, I'm fully aware that I'm very lucky to be able to do that, as not many people are. I suppose I could have taken more sick leave, but underlying that is always the worry of going back to work, as well as that of feeling a bit like a fraud - I'm old enough to have the view that being off sick should mean in bed, unable to function completely, otherwise one struggles on.

Anyway, the decision was made and here I am at the end of the first week. Already I am more relaxed, although I know that my instinct is always to look for something to worry about, so I am making a conscious effort to be aware of that; I don't intend to replace work worries with fretting about when I go to the supermarket (yes, I do that - I did it last night, until I gave myself a mental slap). I have spent a couple of days being ridiculously tired, but then I have been surviving on an average of 5.5 hours sleep per night for the last five years.

I have set some goals for myself - only loose ones, no pressure.

I want to develop some of my artistic/crafty skills, which essentially gives me permission to draw, knit, crochet, paint, make cards, carve wood and anything else that takes my fancy. Ideally I'd stick at one thing and become very skilled at it, but I've always been a bit of a butterfly mind - good at most things I turn my hand to, but not brilliant at any one thing.

I want to increase the amount of piano/organ time I have - already I have made myself more available for Sunday services at the local parish church, so that's in progress. Add to that I'd quite like to improve my guitar/mandolin/ukulele playing, too.

I want to get fitter (and, hopefully, slimmer as a result). I'm walking more, because I'm not finishing work at the last minute before I go out, and because I have the time in the day to do so. I prefer to take specific walks, not least so that I can take my camera(s) and I have resolved to get out in the misty Autumn mornings, to see what I can photograph. How long the walking lasts when the winter chill arrives remains to be seen. Although, I won't have to fit my walks into weekends, or early morning/evening.

I want to learn something new (-ish), whether that be picking up some more Esperanto, or refreshing my last-century programming skills. At the moment I haven't decided what the new thing will be.

All very introspective and probably quite dull to the outside world, but I thought if I published this to my blog it might act as a kind of contract with myself and it also serves as a starting-line against which I can measure my progress.

New Ink

Fountain pen ink, not a new tattoo (yet).

A new, brass, fountain pen, snapped up at a discount, naturally turned my mind to my brownish inks…

I have a few:-
Diamine Autumn Oak, Ochre and Chocolate Brown;
J Herbin Lie de Thé;
Waterman Absolute Brown;
Monteverde Canyon Rust, Scotch Brown and Brown Sugar and
Akkerman SBRE Brown.

As I chose an extra-fine nib I initially opted for Ochre, which looked fine, but, of course, I wasn't entirely satisfied.

I considered KWZ Honey, and some of the Robert Oster inks, but then my mind turned to L'Artisan Pastellier Califolio ink. I love their Andrinople, so I thought I'd give some of their others a go, and selected Inti and Heure Dorée. I thought the latter would be too pale in an EF nib, but I liked the look of it. It is now in the Namisu Nova, although Inti will get its turn. Very nice inks.

A little doodle done on Tomoe River paper:-

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Handwritten/splodged sample:-

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Wildflowers

This morning I took some flowers over to the burial ground where my parents’ ashes are interred. It’s a beautiful setting, a woodland burial ground. This time I took the new camera and was very pleased to find a bank of wildflowers by the entrance. Yes, more photos of poppies…

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