How I turned a Bull & Stash notebook into a Fauxdori

Bull & Stash are wonderful at marketing. I have never impulse-bought an expensive notebook so quickly in my life. I also instantly bought one for my brother at the same time and spent plenty of dollars on shipping it to Australia to him, so sure was I that this would be the best thing since sliced sweet potato as the new toast.

One look at the plethora of beautiful people on their website putting this soft leather notebook into their back pockets, next to wild horses and pine trees and waterfalls and I was hooked. So THIS is the reason I haven’t finished writing my novel yet? It all makes sense now.

The book arrived and I fell even further in love. They say you don’t know true love until you look into your child’s eyes for the first time. Au contraire, Rodders. These people have just never received a Bull & Stash in the post.

I was so in love with the cover and how it started to age the minute I looked at it, that I chose to pretend initially that the flimsy little card centre piece was perfectly acceptable, and that when they tell you this is your last notebook they must really mean it and this cardboard must surely be super cardboard. Oh, it’s bent already. Um, well, that’s ok, because the next set of refills will have a new cardboard bit won’t it? Hang on, how much are the refills? $7 for 50 pages? With $20 shipping? Maybe that novel will have to be a very short story instead. Sorry agent, I couldn’t afford to write the ending.

I write on the first page. I don’t care about anything anymore, I’m going to love this if it kills me. I turn over. I can’t turn over. Well, I can, but I’m left with 2.5 inches of paper to write on. And it’s near impossible to write on the rear of the page because of the screws that you have to fold it over. I so want to love this that I start googling refillable notebooks so that I can see how to source some refill that will mean that I can also afford pens, pencils, beans, and water while I own this notebook.

My search brings up all sorts of wonderful things called fauxdoris. Yes ok so it sounds like Aldi’s version of your favourite biscuit but it is in fact the apparently wide-spread term for a DIY Midori notebook. A Midori notebook is everything the Bull & Stash notebooks say they are going to be, only they are functional aswell. You can write in them. You can make your own refill or buy reasonably priced ones online. You can turn the page. You can, in short, use it for the rest of your life. Below is a photo of the Midori on top of the Bull and Stash. Same size.

IMG_4437.jpgSo I am faced with a stationery geek’s dilemma. Do I accept that I was taken in by someone who looked like Maid Marion writing her memoirs against the trunk of a tree and just buy the Midori so that I can actually use it? Or do I just not let this bull have died in vain and make sure I put the notebook to good use?

Or… do I have a stab at this Fauxdori lark?

After more hours than I care to admit, combined with a friend buying the Midori with next day delivery, I worked out the following:

  • The screws and cardboard can be removed in their entirety from the Bull & Stash
  • A Midori is £34-40
  • A Midori is narrower than the Bull & Stash
  • A Midori comes with a spare elastic (now mine)
  • Moleskine Cahier notebooks are exactly the right height and width to fit perfectly inside a Bull & Stash cover
  • The holes left after taking the screws out of the Bull & Stash are not central, making it hard to use them for anything else

After analysing the above data and borrowing my sister’s leather hole punch (and buying a 3 pack of Moleskine Cahier notebooks on Amazon Prime), I have done the following astounding adaptation, and can actually hand on heart, up against a tree, with my hair in a long plait and a waterfall in the background, say that I have found/made my notebook for life.

As any other review of the Bull & Stash notebooks has seemed to say the same thing (bloody gorgeous leather, bloody impossible to use) see below for ways to do your own similar adaptation.

  1. Remove the screws and cardboard from the cover and lay it open, with the inside facing up.IMG_4443.jpg
  2. Use a tape measure to mark the centre of the leather. Mine was 28cm side so I put small dots 14cm in. Measure 5cm up from the edges and place a dot on the centre line. This is going to be where you punch the hole. Mark another dot parallel to the ones already there, but on the centre line again. This will also be hole punched.
  3. Use a leather hole punch on a 2mm setting and when you are sure that it is hovering over each of the four dots, make a hole.IMG_4444.JPG
  4. Thread the elastic that comes spare with a Midori so that it looks like the photo below. If you don’t know someone who has just made the same Bull & Stash purchase as you and then felt compelled to buy a Midori straight away I don’t know what to suggest in terms of where to buy this elastic. Make sure that the knot is on the back of the book so that it doesn’t interfere with the notebooks inside.IMG_4455.jpg
  5. A quick google of how Midori suggest you secure the books together will help you. I have chosen to have one notebook and two sets of scrap paper either side for writing draft stories that can then be binned and replaced once they are typed up.

With just a little tweaking you can have all this space to write on… both sides, no metal screws, and you are in control of what priced notebook you get to replace it. You can even use scrap paper or cheap copier paper which I definitely do not advocate that you take from your office printer.


Ta – Da…



‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’: On Speech and Language Policing

Jeanne de Montbaston

“And I’ll tell you another thing about the way women don’t Talk Proper …”
Filippo Lippi, Man and Woman at a Casement. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to speak, as T. S. Eliot puts it, ‘in different voices’. We use language as an index of belonging. At the moment, there’s an idiolect, which I’d like to imagine would immediately tell me whether or not I’m in the presence of the sisterhood. ‘Silencing’ is the new favourite Participle Of Oppression for all parties. Fourth wavers talk about language as a form of literal violence. Radfems say unsisterly things about fourth wavers and bite our tongues. We all thank the goddess for Rebecca Solnit coining the term ‘mansplaining’, and Deborah Cameron writes brilliant critiques of all the idiotic pseudo-scientific arguments that all misogyny would disappear if only women would learn to Talk…

View original post 1,673 more words

A confession of sorts… A change… A new journey…

This is a brave, honest account of a difficult decision, from a super champ taking control of her life and empowering others to clue themselves up as much as possible and question everything before you decide whether it is right for you. Proud to know her!

My Sweet Life

… I’ve mulled over this post for a while. Well, almost 4 weeks – to be more precise.

Y’see, 4 weeks ago I started insulin.

View original post 1,050 more words

Book Review March 27th 2013 – How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

This book was great for a bit of a debate. It wasn’t long before a good ol’ debate opened up about whether we really can/should differentiate people so much into woman and men and separate them so much/ One reader claims to be more of a ‘personist’ than a feminist and does not like the idea of people being so pigeon-holed into groups. Although she didn’t say it explicitly in this book, Moran does agree with this is some of her other writing:

 “I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘anti-men’. I’m just ‘Thumbs up for the six billion”

Another reader believes that there is a lot of truth behind the  ‘men are from mars and women are from venus’ concepts, and that a deeper understanding of these ideas can greatly improve relationships.

One of the men in the group did not really get on with Caitlin Moran’s style of writing and found it quite annoying. The elements that were most interesting to the men in the group seemed to be the writing about family life growing up as this was something that they could relate to more. I agree to a small degree. There were some bits that seemed a little over the top for me, but on the whole it was interesting and difficult to put down. I’m glad that we read it as a group, and that there were men at the meetup who were happy to give it a go and give us their opinion.

I personally found it most interesting in its discussion of what it means to be a feminist. It is easy to think that in order to label yourself a feminist you must have done something actively feminist like marching somewhere wearing only your bra, or not wearing your bra, or reading Germaine Greer. Moran makes us all realise how important it is to question what we believe the word ‘feminsim’ to mean, and if we believe in equal rights then we should not be afraid to call ourselves a feminist.

“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, ‘Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don’t know! I still don’t know what it is! …  So here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”

“What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”

“When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42 percent of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?”

She does make amusing points agains those who think that they are against feminism and why they contradict themselves, as they are getting paid as an independent woman as they write it:

“These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realised that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.”

Yes her writing can sometimes get a little over the top in parts but let us not ignore some of the important messages that she is getting across under her humour and sensational use of the c*** word, and, most importantly, the people she is getting this across too. She is clearly doing her best to target as many readers as possible who may not read academic literature on feminism and the female plight throughout history. She is targetting readers who may not even want to learn about feminism but just wanted to read something funny about how to be a woman and who will not be able to not learn about feminism by reading it. From talking about this book with friends I have found out that there are many young people reading this who really do need to read this. She talks about porn like she is talking about baking a cake, and getting very important messages about self respect, choice, freedom and power across to the most important audience – those who don’t think they are feminists.

As a mother (Moran, not me), I found it refreshing that she was able to write so convincingly about the validity of a life without children. As someone who currently has one eye on the biological clock and one eye on the globe that I could travel if I didn’t have to find a hostel that had a crèche, I am constantly frustrated by comments implying that I cannot have a truly fulfilling life if I do not have biological children. To read someone able to wax lyrical about the joys that her own children have brought her, but who also stands up strongly for those who do not have children, can describe the positives of that choice, and who can justify her decision to have an abortion, to me was so comforting. She really is able to lay out the bigger picture. She rightly challenges the negative connotations inherent in not having children which is extremely ingrained in society and is severely da

“But deciding not to have children is a very, very hard decision for a woman to make: the atmosphere is worryingly inconducive to saying, “I choose not to,” or “it all sounds a bit vile, tbh.” We call these women “selfish” The inference of the word “childless” is negative: one of lack, and loss. We think of nonmothers as rangy lone wolves–rattling around, as dangerous as teenage boys or men. We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a halt in their thirities if they don’t “finish things” properly and have children.”

“If you want to know what’s in motherhood for you, as a woman, then – in truth – it’s nothing you couldn’t get from, say, reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn; drinking whisky with revolutionaries; learning to do close-hand magic; swimming in a river in winter; growing foxgloves, peas and roses; calling your mum; singing while you walk; being polite; and always, always helping strangers. No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it.”

This is comforting reading from someone who is also brimming with joy at motherhood in many other passages:

“…there is the sheer emotional, intellectual, physical, chemical pleasure of your children. The honest truth is that the world holds no greater gratification than lying in bed with your children, putting your leg on top of them in a semi-crushing manner, while saying sternly, “You are a poo.”

“It’s the silliness–the profligacy, and the silliness–that’s so dizzying: a seven-year-old will run downstairs, kiss you hard, and then run back upstairs again, all in less than 30 seconds. It’s as urgent an item on their daily agenda as eating or singing. It’s like being mugged by Cupid.”

At the end of the day, whatever you think of her, don’t be too harsh. She has said nice things about libraries:

 “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead”

Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such an interesting evening.

Future Meetups:

April 24th The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

May 29th Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

June 18th Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

July 31st And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

August 31st The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson 

 September 25th The Warden by Anthony Trollope and The Spooks Apprentice by Joseph Delaney

October 30th The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

November 27th Dovetail by Jeremy Hughes

December 18th A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

January 29th 2014 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier