Life in Lochby-down

by Scribble Monboddo

'Lochby' sounds like a bit of a Scottish reference, doesn't it? The suspicion only deepens when discovering that the firm is based in Inverness. But no, not that Inverness - think instead of the one in, err, Florida. Strata Florida, the Welsh abbey which takes the Latin name of a valley filled with flowers? No, sorry, much as one loves to extemporise on the magnificence of Cistercian wilderness architecture, it's the American state we're talking about here. To confuse things further, the founder of Lochby is from Minneapolis, a name combining Dakȟótiyapi with Greek, and wished to celebrate that city's adjacent bodies of water through coining a new compound term for 'lake town' which draws, as you will of course have immediately spotted, upon Gaelic and old Norse. Well, that's a promising start, if you're into a spot of obscure etymology - but on the off chance that you're not, let's talk about the stationery.

The brand story here is that the founder served in the US Army, so knows the value of tough kit in the field, but has adopted the habits of a refined fountain pen aficionado in civvy street and wanted to keep his new toys safe. The Quattro pen case does exactly that, and then some.

The construction is certainly solid enough to take some outdoor action, and the paracord zip-pull is a nice touch for those of us of a hiking-and-trekking disposition (note to self: paracord is also available in purple). The exterior material is waxed canvas, as tested in shooting gear for centuries, and the internal pockets - for four pens, as the name suggests - look like rip-stop nylon. The front pocket provides space for another couple of pocket pens if you wish, and the back pocket has a hook-and-loop closure which should serve amply for small items like erasers.

This is robust, just the right size for most pens and pencils (NB, not Blackwings - they're too long when new), and clearly very well thought-through. It's made in Vietnam, which is a positive gesture from someone with a 'khaki' background, without putting too fine a point on it. The only surprise is that the right-hand pen pockets open downwards, but of course that makes design sense too - to stop clips rubbing against each other. Of course fountain pens should not be stored pointing to the floor, but mechanical pencils are just fine either way. The test unit has been filled with sturdy brass pencils and a few metal pens, and could doubtless cope with being lugged up a mountain quite comfortably. Yes, it's better-appointed and therefore a bit more expensive than cheap stuff found on certain online megastores - but unlike them, this is built to last a lifetime and quite probably will. Top marks!