There has been an influx of new stuff at Nero's, including a range of fabulous notebooks from Octagon - a stationery company I'd never heard of before. I was sent one of them to have a whirl with (the Calm cover book), so let me share my thoughts with you.
First up, the specs...
The book is A5(ish). It's 13.5 cm x 20 cm (true A5 is a smidgen bigger on both sides at 14.8 x 21 cm). The notebooks come in a variety of papers and covers (see the full range at Nero's here), but the one I have has Calm on the cover and dot-grid pages.
The binding/cover means that the cover opens out, away from the spine. This means that there isn't that 'cover stuck to the first page' issue you frequently get, that makes the first page unusable. Here, the cover folds clean away.
The very front page has space for personal details. There are then 4 sides of index pages. After that, there are 121 numbered pages of dot-grid paper.
Right at the back is a page for you to draw out your perfect notebook to send to Octagon. They want you to photograph it and email it/Instagram it, which is good, because this back page is stuck to the cover. Very firmly.
The cover is made of sturdy cardstock. It probably wouldn't take a huge amount of abuse, but it's reasonably robust. The paper is 120 gsm and the dot-grid is the standard 5 mm. The dot-grid doesn't go right to the edges of the page. There is ~1 cm margin on the outer 3 sides; slightly less on the inner.
The construction of the book means that it lies totally flat without needing brutality! There is also a well coordinated ribbon marker with a decent length tail. You will need to tie a knot/seal the end of the ribbon marker though as it isn't sealed and could fray.
Okay, so that's all the dry facts, but what's it like????
Well, it's lovely!
"120 gsm paper" isn't always a good guide for fountain pen friendliness in paper. I've had some 120 gsm paper that has feathered and bled and been frankly awful to use with a fountain pen, and I've had lighter-weight paper that's been fabulous.
I threw some of the 'big guns' at this - my stub nibs, a calligraphy nib, my TWSBI Eco (which can give point bleed-through on some papers). I also used a variety of rollerballs, gel pens, biros etc. Absolutely zero feathering, bleed-through or show-through, whatever I used.
The paper is slightly toothy, which means that writing in fountain pen is a nice experience. There's not a huge amount of sheen and drying time is quick (the two are often connected!). All in all, it was a lovely experience!
The robustness of the paper also means that this would make an amazing combination with the Pebble Stamp Set that I reviewed a fortnight ago (you can read that here). With 121 pages, there's more than enough to do a weekly spread and have some space for notes or future planning at the end. I can't imagine any ink would bleed-through or show-through to the reverse of the page, so your layouts would remain pristine.
The fact the paper is dot-grid, means the notebook lends itself more to bullet-journalling than to writing notes perhaps. I would find the 5 mm spacing a bit too close to be able to write on every line, but every other line makes for quite wide spacing. The dot-grid, along with the decent-sized index at the front would make this a great notebook for bullet-journalling, planning or a diary.
All in all, I think this is a great addition to the stationery world and there is plenty of variety in the notebooks (including some sweary covers, which might not be safe for work!). If you were thinking about it as a diary/planner, then check out the Octagon planners - there are weekly and monthly versions. Both of them are well designed and would involve less drawing out of layouts, but still have plenty of space for notes.