a new page

by Kate Shapland

January. Not a month to be pushing yourself too hard to my mind. Or indeed the best time to suddenly be embarking on a new regime that promises to transform mind and body. This is the time to be gently mulling over ideas, forming loose plans and jotting a few of them down. Which brings me to the notebook. New notebooks were made for this time of the year.

I know I’m not alone in my love of the notebook. Not digital, paper. Preferably lined (thin not thick) and with a medium-to-hard cover (not paper, not card, but something in-between or leather). Also ideally with separator tags, but not brightly coloured ones. And A4 size. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time hunting down the perfect notebook – in fact when someone asked me recently which high street shops I find it hardest to avoid it was not Zara. It was Paperchase. Or any other shop that gives good paper. Liberty and Fenwick stationary departments. Smythson! Smiggle, Muji and even a bit of Ryman. Museum and bookshop stationary shelves. In New York, Blacker & Kooby on the Upper East Side, Il Papiro and Papyrus. In Tokyo, Loft and Itoya. Delfonics in the Louvre, Paris. Anywhere and everywhere stationary is to be found, I’m there, foraging for the perfect pages.

In the past, in my beauty writing years, I was lucky enough to be given a Smythson diary every year by one or other beauty company. And I never threw them away. So I have years worth of Portobellos, Sohos and Chelseas – in all the colours of the rainbow and all sizes – lined up on a shelf above my desk filled with notes, memos and scribbles. In fact the first iteration of Legology, and how I envisioned the packaging for Air-Lite, my hero, fills a few of them.

Now, with beauty writing behind me, as well as buying them through the year and stacking them up ready to be used I like to treat myself to a new bound treasure every Christmas. The reason for that is that I find the breathing space between Christmas and new year and then well into January to be a super creative time when the mind seems to churn out ideas at a rate of knots and I need – I LOVE – to jot it all down.

This process inspires me more than anything else.  For me, there are few more thrilling things than opening a new notebook and starting to populate its clean white pages with creative notions and nonsense. It’s as addictive as any smart phone app or game: while everyone else is glued to the TV, I’ll be half watching with notebook on the arm of my chair surreptitiously scribbling away.

I do the same on holiday. Notebook (new one for the trip) stashed in pool bag, shady spot, cup of tea or coffee, and away I go.

This new year will be like every other. Positive notes for a new and better year ahead. Nothing stopping us. Not a pandemic nor Brexit. Nothing. Let’s get on with being creative.