Moleskine GPS

I recently wrote a piece for moleskinerie. It has been published today. It's reproduced below.

I like gadgets. It's a weakness. If it has buttons, or even better, lights - then I'm hooked.

Travelbug on moleskine

I've wanted a GPS for some time, mostly for the geek value - it's true. So, I began to look for ways to justify the cost, and I discovered Geocaching. Geocaching started just a few years ago (when Bill Clinton switched off the 'Selective Availability' which meant that GPS systems had accuracy of a few hundred metres), and has since grown into a worldwide sport. With a good GPS signal, your location on Earth can be known to within a few metres.

In the simplest form, someone hides a geocache. Someone else finds them. The caches could be hidden out in the countryside, or hidden (discretely) in a city centre. Just the other day I went into London and found 13 caches, some in very well trafficked areas.

Caches can be more complex, in a multistage cache a series of clues need to be solved to discover the final location - and in a mystery cache research may be needed before you even walk out of the door!


Simple Cache
GCGBGB : Last Delivery
GCVKR6 The Elvetham Heath Reserve
'X' marks the spot

When a cache is found, the finder writes in the log to claim a visit, replaces the cache and moves on. As caches are often (but not always) placed in interesting spots, I\'ve found that since starting to cache I've discovered places locally that I never knew existed. Geocaching provides me with a 'purpose' to a walk - a definite target, and it helps to keep each walk unique.

Where do the moleskines come in? When I started I decided to keep a personal log. In the log I record the cache name, coordinates, and any other piece of information. This may be a hint to the location, so that I can help anyone who gets stuck that follows, it might be a note about the weather. When I get home I log my finds on the geocaching website.

Geocaching website:

Another feature of geocaching is the gift. Many caches contain 'goodies' - these are usually small items. The rule of thumb is that for everything taken out, something else goes in. One common type of item is the travelbug. A travelbug is a trackable item with a unique serial number. When at a computer, the item can be logged independently and it can be tracked in it's travels. The number should not be revealed online, as it is evidence that the bug has been found. Travelbugs should be placed in a new cache within 2 weeks, and not taken unless this can be done.

Of course, if I take anything from a cache, this is recorded in my notes. I make special care to record the ID number on a travelbug, so that I can put it into a new cache the same day if I wish. (The danger here is that someone else may find it and log it before I do - this messes up the chronology of the bug, if late in the day, I don't worry about this. If early in the day I attach a note to say I'll be logging >the find by the end of (date), and for the finder not to log themselves until after that time  )

I wanted to launch a travelbug (I now have seven out in the wilds) - and my first travelbug? A moleskine, my own 'wandering art project'.

I launched it by putting it in a newly placed local cache, after preparing it well. Inside the cover are instructions about what the travelbug is, and about it's mission.

The Silent Sentry 1 Geocache

The bug itself can be tracked here:
Track the bug

The idea is that each finder makes their own piece of art in the book, and scans it, before placing it in a new cache (hopefully well protected from moisture!)

The future? I've found 65 caches in total, and am heading for 100. I'm currently looking into paperless caching (so there is less printing out before I head off on a walk, I could take the gps and pda, and off I go). Even if I do make the leap to paperless caching, my moleskine log will stay with me to record the results of my finds.

Related links:
Link for 'Geocaching'
Geocaching in the UK

Noodlers Ink Tests

I recently bought some Noodlers Ink. I got Noodlers Black and Walnut from the UK, and I ordered some Legal Lapis from the USA. I decided to test the waterfastness of the inks for myself, using Parker gel ink for comparison.

This is my 'before' image:


All looking good. Now for the 'after' image. I ran the envelope under water for some time, and then allowed the envelope to dry:


As you can see, the walnut has lost some colour, but is passable. Black and Legal Lapis are untouched (despite being water based inks, and so fountain pen safe. The Parker Gel ink has all but vanished.

Noodlers' Legal Lapis

I recently bought some Noodler's Black and Walnut inks from I've had good results with both (though my pens do get an airlock from time to time, easy to clear, but annoying to have to). Noodlers Black is 'bulletproof', i.e. once on the paper then it stays on. Yet it is fountain pen safe. There is even a challenge on the US site to the first person who can reliably remove it. There is also an eternal blue due to be released.

There are other 'Bulletproof' inks, such as Eternal Brown and Legal Lapis, both of these are only available through one supplier.

That said, Walnut was pretty good when I tried to remove it with an ink eraser (which simply makes Quink and the like vanish).

I've now placed an order for Legal Lapis, this is not available in the UK and so it's not cheap, but if it is as nice as the others, I am looking forward to getting it.

These inks (and the accompanying fountain pens) are not cheap initially, but over time they fair well compared to the cost of disposables (assuming that one doesn't acquire disposables through the office...!)

There is also something almost sensual about using a fountain pen which is not replicated with your throwaway biro.

Ciak's at Murky's Place

(Nb: This is an old post - as I update I'm no longer selling these on ebay) At Murky's Place, I am almost out of Black Ciak diaries. There's one in the bargain bucket being auctioned, and two more on fixed price (at time of writing). I have three green and ochre left, four red and six blue.

I'm packing these books daily, and so far everyone who has taken one from me has been pleased with them.

It may be time to reorder soon - though I'm considering looking at running moleskine alongside. I wonder what'd be the best items from the moleskine range to start? Possibly pocketbooks and regular books (plain? lined? checked?) - what about sketchbooks? What about the reporter range? I know I'll avoid cahier (the old 'If I don't sell it, will I use it?' conundrum). I'll need to put in extra cash to run ciak and moleskine side by side, should I do this? Possibly, yes.

Decisions, decisions.

Ciak - the next generation

Ciak notebooksMy first batch of Ciak Journals are all now on their way to (or have arrived at) their new owners. The second batch is about to be bought, and the third batch has just been placed on ebay. I do hope that people like these things as much as I do, if they don't then I won't need to buy a notebook for a while! I really must get around to writing up the 'pocket sized' version - I only have eight of these in total, and one has already been spoken for!

Ciak Journals

Ciak notebooksI've mentioned before on this site that I have a great fondness for Ciak Journals. Ciaks are nice little journals and suit me well, I use a moleskine for my sketching and a ciak for my writing - a notebook is such a personal thing. The Ciak has just the right size and weight for me.

To cut a long story short, I found it hard to obtain Ciaks in the UK. So I've sourced them from Florence where they're made. The minimum order was larger than I need to my person use, so I was in a quandary. The solution was should now be obvious, make the order and hope that someone else likes Ciaks too. I've just put the first batch up on Ebay. [Edit: 7th Sept 2005: Another batch is now up.]

If you want a decent notebook you can do a lot worse!

Wandering Moleskine Project

Ciak and MoleskineThough I'm a ciak user at the moment, I do use a pocket moleskine for general jottings. This was enough for me to sign up to the Wandering Moleskine Project (introduction is here). Essentially the idea is that each person gets a week to put whatever they want onto a page of a moleskine notebook. They then scan it in and post to the next guy.

At the end of its travels, the book returns home. Lovely idea, though they should've called it the 'Wandering Moleskine Diaries' just for the acronym.

It is such a lovely idea I find myself wondering.... should we nick it for ciak? I have a moleskine and ciak in front of me now, and with the exception of the pouch, I can't see why the moleskine is so preferred by many - maybe they just don't know about ciak? ;)

Some of the first pages are being posted.

(Edit: I am selling some CIAK online )

Ciak Journals

CiakAt long last I've found the Italian supplier of my favourite notebook, Ciak. The journals cannot be bought individually here, so I'm considering making a large order and selling the rest on. The Ciak is quite hard to find in the UK, a website called City Organiser have just stopped selling them (I got the last three). They're also available in 'Paperchase' under the 'noto' brand name - but only in black and blue, at present (note, the price on the website is for the very small size - not the size I use for journalling). At this time, paperchase only have the hideous multicolour page one on their site, not the cream paged one which is available in the shop. I like the leather cover of a . I have a moleskine as a pocket book, but I don't like the cover as much... if they had a soft leathery cover, that may be different! It's rather hard to tell from a website, especially this one. Moleskine certainly have a following, there are even Moleskine 'hacks'. Though the comments here shows that not everybody 'gets it'.

I spent a long time trying to find a journal I like, I'm not the only one! I started off with one from WHSmith (they went through a 'posh' phase in my local store, this is now over and they no longer stock the one I liked, going back to flowery things for kids, women, and spiral bindings for everyone else), and I switched to Ciak as it seemed similar! I've now a Ciak convert!

Now, all that remains is to see if I can get them direct from Italy rather than sticking with Paperchase's meagre (though reasonably priced) choice. Ciak journals are excellent, I'd recommend them highly. Looking around, I can see a German supplier, now... if only I could read their site!

I've found plenty of nice sites looking around this topic, I've subscribed to a few using bloglines, including Journalisimo

LATEST Update: I have sold out on ebay, and have no immediate plans to get a job lot in (in other words, my personal stock doesn't need to be replenished). Update: 16th September 2006: I don't have any on ebay at the moment, however I will be getting some more in soon as I'm about to run out of my personal stash. Update: 14th May 2005 - I've just put some Ciak journals up on Ebay Update: 7th Sept 2005 - I have put another batch up today. The URL is now semi-permanent Update: 13th Dec - I am out of stock until 2006 - sorry.