I do have a soft spot for Pebble Stationery. Over the years, I've reviewed a number of their notebooks, some of which were limited editions and which are now sold out; some of which are still available.
Today it's the turn of a new notebook - an A5 hardbacked, dot-grid book with slightly heavier paper - 83 gsm Cosmo Air Light. The notebook is lie-flat with sewn binding.
After Tomoe River stopped making paper, there was some interest in the stationery-nerd world about which other papers were comparable. Cosmo Air Light came up several times in these discussions and I will get to the paper soon, I promise, but let me walk you through the notebook first.
It has a lot of bells and whistles, especially for this price point (£28), so let's take it from the front.
The cover is light blue or grey linen, with Pebble Stationery Co blind-embossed on the cover (it looks a little blurry through the linen). There's an elasticated closure, in a complementary blue. Inside, there is space to put your name, the date, and your contact details (though I never do). Following that are three index pages (um... table of contents pages, but okay, let's not be pedantic), with a fairly narrow ruling at 5.5mm.
The dot-grid pages start on the reverse of the index, with page numbering starting at 1. This is the only thing that irks me about the notebook - conventionally, page numbering starts on the right-hand page, so all odd-pages are on the right and all even on the left. Starting with page 1 on the left makes my brain do a double-take, but I fully accept that I could be weird. The dots of the dot-grid are fine enough you could ignore them, but dark enough to be useful, and in a light grey colour.
There are 252 numbered pages. On the very back page, is an ink-swatch test page (genius!), to check which pens will work the best with the paper (whether they will bleed/show through etc. and what kind of sheen you get).
In the back cover is a gusseted pocket for odds and ends, and there are two ribbon markers in different colours. In my pale blue version they are pale blue and grey and complement the book beautifully.
Okay, the paper... 83 gsm. What does that even mean? And what does it compare to?
Gsm stands for grams per square metre. The super-thin Tomoe River paper is 52 gsm. The other Tomoe River paper is 68 gsm. Standard copier paper is often 80 gsm. Airmail paper is ~25-40 gsm.
At 82 gsm, the paper is heavier than Tomoe River of any flavour, but it's not just the weight that is important about paper, but its finish. Tomoe River is loved by fountain pen users because the ink doesn't sink in and so dries to leave a lovely sheen. This is also the reason many people hate it - it smudges really easily. It can also be a bit too smooth for graphite lovers.
I tried one of my 'work-horse' fountain pens, with a medium-fine nib, plus my beast - a Rosetta Mosaic with a very wet, fat nib.
The work-horse was fine. The paper had more texture than Tomoe River and ink dried reasonably quickly. The writing experience was nice. Since I'm not really a bullet-journal person, I'm much more likely to use this for making notes about books and so would use every other 'line', making it 10 mm spacing. That's a little broad for a medium nib, but is perfectly workable for the beast.
The wet stub nib was actually a smoother write on the paper, but dry time might be an issue for those lefties who insist on smearing their hand across their writing. As a result of the longer dry time, there was some lovely shading with the ink.
Ghosting/show-through was not insignificant (which is why the ink swatch page is such a great idea), but was bearable (to me).
All in all, this is a terrific notebook and a really decent price-point.