Scavenger Hunt: AKA reasons to love TK Maxx

The grail.

The grail.

There are always a few things on my list of ‘really want, must buy if I see it’. Quite frankly, if I just wrote my list out and stuck to it it would be good for my bank balance, but that’s another story. One item that has been on the list for a long time now is a very specific type of journal. I wanted a thick, leather bound, hardback, A5 journal with good quality paper. An inch thick minimum, and not more than £20.

I don’t even know why I want it, apart from the fact that Ianto Jones had one in Torchwood, and it looked cool with half the papers crinkled from use and stuffed with notes. His was smaller, but I like A5, and had a lock on it, but I’d only lose the key.

So I knew what I wanted. To give you an idea of how long I’ve been looking, Ianto was written out of the show in 2009. I’ve still not forgiven them for that one, incidentally. I’ve written a lot of Torchwood fanfiction, and for a long time I wondered about rewriting my mega fanfiction from the start in the style of journal entries, and do it properly, in the journal. But no, that would be silly, and anyway I couldn’t find something that matched what I wanted.

Skip to the present, and TK Maxx is possibly my favourite stationery shop. It has provided me with my favourite brand of journal – Eccolo World Traveller – and so many pretty shiny things, often seen and grabbed, because they’ll never cross my path again. Whenever I go away, I check out TK Maxx for shiny things and different buyers. And lo and behold, in TK Maxx in the centre of Sheffield, there it was. An inch thick, made in Italy with genuine leather, heavy pages and A5, and just £10. Five years of searching, and it finally came home with me.

I am a happy stationery addict, but I have no idea what I’m going to use it for.

Remembering London: New Filofax

Sheffield was good to me in terms of goodies. As well as the journal I’ve been looking for for a year, I also found this little beauty. Obviously it was the colours that caught my eye, but it was the Olympics that won me over. I picked it up and carried it around WH Smith, then put it down and went for another wander, but once I’d read up on it I was straight back there to get it after all.

This is the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Line Burst Filofax in pink. Yes, that does appear to be its full name. It’s very definitely intended to be a beginner’s Filofax and an introduction to the brand, and each page has a reminder of the paper size it takes. Most of the diary is the week to view layout that I really like, but when the Olympics and Paralympics were on each day got its own page, with space to insert the supplied stickers to mark the events you watched. At the back there’s tonnes of information about the different sports, the venues and the history of the Olympics and Paralympics.

My new best friend. It shall remain unsullied, and I shall call it Hannah.


Another brand that’s let me down, and this time it’s stationery heaven: Paperchase.

20141225_154944Every stationery fan in the UK must love Paperchase. It’s a magical wonderland of shiny things, with really practical and functional items all in beautiful designs. They have to try really hard to put a foot wrong. Both of my organisers are from them, because their designs are nicer than Filofax, they’re the same sizes, and they’re a lot cheaper. This one is my A5, in the Vintage London design. I also have a notebook in the same design, waiting for the perfect project, and when I found them in the sale I picked up the box of post-it notes in the same design.

They’re so pretty, but they are also utterly useless. Sad, but apparently true. I’ve tried all the different sizes now, and I’ve had the same problem with all of them. The problem is that the sticky notes just aren’t sticky. Or they are, but on the top rather than the bottom. The glue is actually too sticky, so it stays behind on the next note, and there’s nothing there to adhere it to whatever you’re noting. You can see in the left hand photo how the note is curling up, and that’s right after I stuck it down.

Not a happy bunny. I’ll still shop there, but not for sticky notes.

Customer Service at its best

We British are famous for complaining. It’s also well known that everyone is more likely to tell people about bad service than they are about good. I actually have a lengthy screed about the service we got from the RAC and their contractor yesterday, but I am so in love with giffgaff that I’m writing this instead.

giffgaff is a mobile network in the UK. I’ve been on the network for about eighteen months now, and I have very few complaints. Yes, sometimes the network is slow and it doesn’t have the best coverage, but I’m paying £10 a month for unlimited texts, 500 minutes and 1GB data. I’ve never exceeded any of those.

The network is basically run by its members, which means that we get things that are really useful. One of these is free calls to 0800 numbers. They’re free from landlines, but most mobile networks charge for them. The RAC (a breakdown service) don’t seem to see a problem with this, and have actually advised people to walk to a phone box or shop if they break down away from home and they don’t want to pay for the call. I’ll leave you to work through the many levels of fail in that logic. giffgaff, though, say that a free call from a landline should also be free from a mobile, so yesterday my mum was using my phone to call the RAC so, so many times to chase up our rescue.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, their customer service kicked in over Twitter after I tweeted to say how awesome their free calls were. Their Twitter handler kept me endlessly entertained, offered to play 20 questions with me to keep me amused, and even offered to send me pizza. By the end of the day I was tired, cold and hungry, and still laughing.

So if you’re fed up with bad customer service and sky high mobile bills, check them out. The link below is my affiliate link, so I’ll get points if you activate a SIM. These can be traded for phone credit or a PayPal payment, or can be donated to a charity chosen by the members at each quarter, so if you try the service and like it you can become an affiliate too.

If you get an O2 signal, you’ll be fine on giffgaff. If you only get Vodafone, best to avoid it. I can only get a signal if I put my phone on the windowsill.

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Santa and Sales

A combination of being a terrible spendthrift and having amazing family and friends has given me even more lovely stuff to play with in the new year. Not least of this is a massive pile of discarded wrapping paper, which is going to be turned into gift tags, Christmas cards, Filofax Stuff and anything else I can think of. There’s a lot of it, and I think I’m probably still going to be finding uses for it this time next year, after I gain another huge pile. I love some of these ideas.

A Vintage London organiser from Paperchase.

First up is this beauty. It’s an A5 Vintage London organiser from Paperchase. I asked for this from my mum, as they had them on sale when she asked. They then disappeared from the website and I thought I’d missed my chance. Popped into the one in Leeds, though, and they had loads, so I grabbed it and passed it on to her to give back to me. It makes sense, I swear. It’s (as you can see) really pretty, it’s a chunky size with big rings, plenty of pockets, and a week on two pages layout that I really like. It came with a full calendar from July 2014 to December 2015, but obviously at this stage I didn’t need most of the pages. I’ve been using it for less than a week, but I’m getting used to it and have already started making my own layouts and stuff – more on my set-up later.

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