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I first heard of the Visconti pen some months ago when I was working hard on my last book. It is the normal way of things for a writer. You would not believe the inventive ways by which an author can avoid writing. There is research, there is reading other people’s books to get a flavour for what is being read by other people, there is fetching a coffee, chatting to the postman, calling parents, friends, brothers, and irritating them with the fact that you’re desperately seeking any displacement activity that will save you from writing the next book. This day, I was looking at Cult Pens’ website, and found the Visconti. Now, I am an author. I have little in the way of decent expenses and equipment, but one thing I can claim for is things to be used for writing. And I like that. There is nothing, nothing whatsoever, as appealing to me as sitting with a blank sheet of paper and writing. With a few outline sketches and scrawls, I can plan out a book, and it’s much more enjoyable than bashing keys on a keyboard. Some years ago I went to Conway Stewart and proposed to them that they should design a new collection, perhaps to call it the Detection Collection, and work in collaboration with crime writers to create new pens. It was a success, and the Michael Jecks Pen was the result. Soon there will be more. I love the Michael Jecks pen, but I dare not take it out with me too often. It could be damaged, it could get lost, and that would mortify me because my Author's Prototype is literally irreplaceable, so generally I always used my first Conway Stewart pen, a Churchill. It’s a great pen. It writes well, and I like the size and weight, but there are some problems with it. The first issue for me is, after using it a lot in recent years, it has grown a little scratched. Nothing massive, but where I have carried it in my pocket, the edges have been rubbed and marked. I work two days each week at Exeter University for the Royal Literary Fund, helping students to write more effectively, and I do need to carry a pen with me all the time (I hate biros and won't use them). I have to travel to give talks and sign books, and doing this scratches my poor old pen. I can, I know, get it repolished, but then it would only get scratched again. Why bother? There is, however, another, more serious problem. Over the years I have used my Churchill a lot. Recently, I was researching a new character in the Devon and Exeter Institution, and had to write ten pages of A4. To do that, I had to refill the pen twice. Fortunately I had my travelling inkwell from Visconti with me, and that was enough to keep me going, but it caused a certain amount of frustration. There should, I felt, be a better way of working. I ought to be able to find a pen with a larger capacity. Not an eyedropper, because that is a surefire way to acquire smudges and stained fingers, but a pen with significantly more capacity than a standard piston or converter pen. For me, as a serious writer, such a pen was essential. That was why I began to look for a pen that would fulfil my requirements, and because I was looking at Cult Pen’s site, idly looking at the newer versions of my Visconti Travelling Inkwell, I found myself staring at their Homo Sapiens. I should state here that my version is the Bronze model. This is different to the Steel model, which has a different filling mechanism (please see the Note at the bottom of this review). The Homo Sapiens is a good size. For me, it fits the hand perfectly. I don’t like to cap my pens - mainly because I always worry that capping will scratch the barrel - and without the cap, the Homo Sapiens sits comfortably on the web between thumb and forefinger. Its weight is well balanced. It is nothing like as heavy as, say, my Michael Jecks Conway Stewart, but it’s a little more than my old Churchill, which is a little over light for my taste. And here I should mention the material it is made of. The adverts make a lot of this. It’s composed of a mixture of lava and, I have read, some form of resin or rubber. Some say it is basaltic lave from Etna, some say it is 50% lava. I don’t know and I care even less. I would imagine that lava alone would make for a cold and highly brittle material. This isn’t. Whatever it is that bonds the lava in this pen, it is lovely. It is instantly warm to the touch, and has a rock-hard feel. However, after carrying it in my shirt pocket, I was appalled to see scratches all over the cap. And not small ones, either, but large, silvery blotches smeared all over it. Mortified to have damaged my beautiful new pen, I rubbed the marks and was delighted to see them disappear. Later I realised that the shirt I’d been wearing had a hidden zip-pocket inside the main pocket, and it was the metal zip that had made those marks - not because the metal had marked the pen, but because the pen had rubbed and eroded the metal zip! The feel is good, the robustness is a delight. The adverts say that it won’t be affected by heat up to too hot to touch, and it is certainly rock-hard. This pen will not be damaged in normal use. I will never have to worry about scratches. However, some people may not like the matte effect. I do. There is one other aspect which I adore. Under very bright lamps or in sunlight, the pen glitters. There are tiny flecks of mica, so it seems, within it. When you first look at the pen, the material appears bland. It is not black, but more a kind of very deep grey. Depending upon the light, it can appear to be a tinted with blue or brown - it reminds me a little of the deep black of my old Bernese Mountain Dog, an almost black, but with hints of brown. Either way, it most certainly is not pure black. Even with the matte appearance of the lava mix, the pen itself is not a dull-looker. With two bands of bronze on the cap, a third, larger band on the barrel, which holds the words “Homo Sapiens”, and a spacer at the end, this pen looks glorious. The clip too is made of bronze, and has the distinctive Visconti curve. Apparently this is made to emulate the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, where Visconti is based. I've never been there (sadly), so I can't vouch for that. It does look, I think, elegant - but that's not the point. My only concern with a clip is, that it’s strongly sprung to guarantee that I won’t lose the pen (as I did with a Graf von Faber Castell Perfect Pencil some months ago, which slipped from my pocket). I was pleased to find that the spring behind the clip is certainly strong enough to hold this pen in the pocket. I have worn it in my pocket every day for about the last six weeks and have never had a concern about it falling out, even with thin shirt pocket material. I should just note here that the bronze is not lacquered or treated in any way. The bronze discolours or, as the salesmen like to say, “develops a patina over time”. In the past, I understand Visconti did provide a cleaning cloth with the early pens, but they don’t any more. However, I confess I rather like the discolouration. It makes the clip look distinctive, and I think makes the pen look more like the working tool it is. It isn’t a pretty Mont Blanc or Yard-o-Led: this is a functional writer’s workhorse. There is one thing that intrigues me, however, and that is that the clip and bands are supposed to be all bronze. Yet it is only the main pocket clip that tarnishes. All the bands on the cap and barrel seem to be unaffected. This could be because they are all handled more regularly, I suppose, but I'd have thought that the flat top surface of the clip would also be rubbed regularly and wear away the patina. I have no axe to grind here, but I thought it was interesting. Another thing I really, really like about the Homo Sapiens is the opening mechanism. Yes, most people will look at me like a twit for saying that, but this is just a delight to use. Most pens, obviously, use a simple screw thread or a push-fit. My Cross pens are all push-fit now. In the past, they used a strong spring to clip the cap to the body, but in recent years they have moved to a simple inner sheath of plastic that grabs the section. This seems fine, until you go to a black tie dinner and the pen falls out of its cap in your jacket, as I learned to my embarrassment. I don't trust plastic inner sleeves any more. A screw is safer, but it has the disadvantage of taking time to open. I know this is a small matter, but there are times when it’s an irritant to have to turn the barrel one and a half or two times just to remove the cap. The Visconti’s system is a kind of cross between a bayonet and an interrupted screw. In the cap is a spring-loaded cylinder. As you push the section of the pen inside, this cylinder pushes against the section. On the outside of the section you can see geometric slots cut at an angle. In the cap itself there are lugs that match them. Thus to close the pen, you push in the section, and twist 1/5th of a turn clockwise. To remove the cap, you push in and rotate it 1/5th of a turn anticlockwise. It’s quick, convenient, and a delight to use. I have seen one review that claimed this was a failing in the pen, because he found the pen kept uncapping itself in his pocket. I can only say this is not a problem I’ve experienced. So, getting down to the nitty gritty, how does it write? It is deliciously smooth and silky. I love my Conway Stewarts, and I would not say this is dramatically better, but the nib (a medium) is very soft to use, and lays down a reliable, clear line without ever skipping. It starts as soon as it is laid to the paper, and so far hasn’t failed once. Even when writing for extended periods, it just keeps on going. The nib is a curious one: it’s made of palladium, which is one of the few metals, like gold, which is valued in carats. Unlike gold, it is a slightly firmer metal, and for that reason the nibs are made of 23 carat palladium. That should mean that the nib will be even more resistant to corrosion than many gold nibs, apparently. Since I regularly clean my pens it won’t be a problem. The thing I really like most about the pen is that there is a great amount of variability in the thickness of the line. It's not a flex pen, but I do like to use inks that give shading, and I write (I guess) a little harder on the downstroke than sideways. This nib, without effort, gives me an almost stub-effect on my writing. It is purely because of this that I am writing a little more slowly than before. It is just a delight to use. The Conway Stewarts are good pens, with gorgeous nibs, but I do prefer this. However, as well as writing smoothly and beautifully, the best thing for me is, it keeps on writing. The bronze version has a wonderful “powerfiller” mechanism inside. This is an odd system to me. If I get the details wrong here, I apologise, but it's worth trying to explain. So, as far as I can make out from my researches: the barrel contains a cylinder with parallel sides. At the bottom, near the nib, these sides flare. Inside the cylinder is a piston, fully sealed, which slides up and down the cylinder. To fill it, you hold the nib in ink, and pull up on the end cap. It pulls on a titanium rod that draws the piston up. That does nothing to draw up ink, though. The ink is pulled in when you push the piston down. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but as you press the rod back into the pen’s barrel, the pistol is creating a vacuum behind it. As it reaches the flare in the cylinder, the vacuum is released, and sucks ink up into the void. Some people have got very confused with this. Personally, I love it. I will have to measure the precise quantity of ink that it draws, but it is a lot more than my old cartridge-converter pens - probably about double their capacity. Certainly I haven’t been able to run it dry yet while writing, and fortunately it works superbly well with my Visconti Travelling Inkwell. There is one last thing I must mention. When I received my pen, I was delighted to see that instead of the Visconti logo in the top of the cap, Cult Pens had taken the time to replace it with my initials. Visconti has a wonderful system called the “my pen” system, whereby the cap can be personalised to every owner in this way. You can have either initials, a semi-precious stone, or signs of the zodiac. It’s entirely up to you. That little touch for me, added to the appeal enormously. So, in short, it is a highly robust pen, constructed from material that is thoroughly scratch and heat resistant, strong and robust. The nib works beautifully - it is as near perfection as I have yet found. I find the appearance very attractive and interesting - there really is nothing quite like it. The ink reservoir is much larger capacity than others I have tried. I really like the system for removing the cap, the strength of the cap’s clip, and the overall weight and balance. For anyone who writes a lot and who is looking for a solid, reliable pen for everyday use, I would happily recommend the Homo Sapiens. You can see it here: http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Visconti-Homo-Sapiens.html I should add here that I am writing a weekly diary piece for Cult Pens over on their website at www.cultpens.com/blog and that they are sponsoring my writing. However, this review is based on my own use over six weeks and my own opinions. I hope the review is some help to others considering new pens. NOTE: All the comments above are specifically related to the Homo Sapiens oversized pen in bronze. The models in steel and the shorter pens do not use the wonderful powerfiller system, but instead use a simple piston filler. This will, I am sure, be plenty adequate for people who only want a pen for occasional note-taking or shorter writing, but for people like me who need more capacity, I’d recommend the bronze oversize every time. NOTE 2: Apologies for the lack of photographs. When uploading, none of the photos loaded. If I can figure out a cure, I will add them later!
http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0014.jpg?w=640 Kaweco, Cult, Cross, Visconti, three Conway Stewarts ... heavenly tools! I am madly keen on fountain pens. On my desk right now, I have three Conway Stewarts, three Crosses, one Kaweco and one Cult Pens pen. All of them are regularly used. When I am writing, when I am planning, when I am doodling or plotting, the only pens for me are fountain pens. I don't use a biro more than a couple of times a year - usually because I have to sign a credit card or something similar. For me, it's really essential to have several nibs in different styles, to have the ability to use various different coloured inks, and to have pens with different hefts for work through the week. I can vary everything about my writing with these! http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0017.jpg?w=640 My Cross pens - even a biro (never used) and pencil (rarely). I'm more likely to grab a Tombow pencil now, fitted into my Graf von Faber Castell Perfect Pencil. The Cross Pens I have now used for almost thirty years. They were the natural tool of choice for salesmen when I was young: real salesmen managed to get the incredibly slim and elegant Cross biros (like the one right at the back in this picture. Personally, I loved the slender design so much, I bought a gold fountain pen, biro and pencil. Then, because I was writing long tenders, I bought a red Cross too. This pen only ever had red ink in it. When I wrote a particularly long response to tender for Kent County Council, that pen was used to the full, and it still is now. I use it every week, with students at the university, and with my own works. Whenever I have to work on something, I'll grab for it to make sure that I can see where I've made corrections or changes in my work. However, with my first good royalties, I celebrated by purchasing a Conway Stewart Churchill in black. I loved (and still do) the design of this classic-looking Edwardian fountain pen, and I adore the chunky feel. It has served me very well, taking notes in meetings of the Crime Writers' Association while I was deputy chair and chairman, and has travelled with me to America, Colombia, Italy - and many other places. It is a classic. Some years later, I decided to give up air pistol shooting. The air gun I used was a fabulously expensive gun which I had bought with the (pitiful) compensation I was paid when my real pistols were all confiscated after the ban on legal pistol shooting in 1997. This airgun was all I had to remind me of my sport. So when I decided to stop shooting, I had to think of a way of celebrating pistols and my joy of shooting. And I found that celebration in a Conway Stewart Drake fountain pen. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0015.jpg?w=640 My beautiful Conway Stewart collection: Churchill at the back, solid silver Drake, and then the Michael Jecks at the front. Lovely! Solid silver, beautifully balanced, this is a pen I love to use still. The weight is too much for many people. Not me. The size I find perfect, and the gorgeous nib will supply ink without effort. It is beautiful and a joy to use. Later, after some involvement with Conway Stewart, I decided to work with the company on a new idea: a pen designed with writers in mind. To this end, I helped create the "Michael Jecks" pen. This wonderful pen had everything I loved about Conway Stewart pens: a good weight, broad dimensions, and a superb, highly polished barrel in Dartmoor resin. This resin has flecks and gleams deep within it. It looks like polished granite, but is imbued with the greens, browns and greys of the moors themselves. I adore these pens. However, the pen I use every single day just now is the Visconti. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/pen3-copy.jpg?w=640 The unscratchable Visconti Homo Sapiens. The Homo Sapiens is a marvellous shape. The barrel is slightly bulbous at the middle, tapering to the nib and the end. At the end itself, there is a slightly rounded design. No harsh edges here. The cap is set off by two circlets of bronze, has a strong clip, also of bronze, and has an end-piece that uses Visconti's own personalisation. You can, if you want, keep to the Visconti badge. However, if preferred, a magnet will allow you remove this badge and replace it with a birth-sign, or a semi-precious stone, or even (as in my case) initials. I mentioned the use of bronze. There is another large band of bronze on the barrel, too. Bronze is a curious metal. It harkens back to an age before steel and iron, when mankind was learning about culture, about writing and reading. But the great thing about bronze is, it feels more natural in the hand than steel or iron. The way that it gains a patina all of its own is wonderful. It also offsets the main material of the pen. I love my Cross pens. The gold one stays in a leather case all the time now, but I like the slimness and the light weight. The Conway Stewart resin pens are just lovely, while the silver is superb. I adore that. However, I wouldn't use them every day at, say, university. For one thing they are valuable, and while I trust my colleagues, I don't trust my own ability to keep them. I have lost too many pens in the past! However, worse than that is the fact that all resin pens will eventually scratch and be damaged. I noticed that particularly with my Churchill. Over time, the barrel has been etched with a multitude of infinitesimal scratches. None of them is dramatic, but as with spectacle lenses, even tiny one mark will affect its appearance. My Visconti will not mark. The first time I wore it in a shirt pocket, a zip rubbed against it. When I glanced at my new pen and saw the whitish erosion, I was inordinately depressed. Typical, I thought, that a pen should be wrecked in fifteen minute's carelessness. I rubbed at the mark, and as I did so, it miraculously disappeared. The pen hadn't been affected by the zip, it had worn away the metal of the zip! http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0003.jpg?w=640 The superb Visconti with barrel formed from Etna's lava Homo Sapiens pens are made from an amazing material that is in part volcanic lava from Etna. It is pounded into dust and mixed with a (secret) compound including, I assume, rubber. When left, it forms a firm substance with a moderate weight. For me, it is ideal for a daily-used pen. It will never look damaged because the material is more or less bullet-proof. In my daily use over the last year, there has been not the slightest deterioration. Apart from the patination of the bronze, it looks exactly the same as the day I took it from its box. Some people have noticed that the material is slightly porous. It absorbs moisture. This can mean that the section above the nib can soak up a little ink if the user isn't careful, although I haven't found that a problem - perhaps because I use a Traveller's Inkwell. The other aspect I do like, however, is that no matter how warm the weather, this pen always feels cool and comfortable. Perhaps it absorbs sweat from the hands, but for whatever the reason, it is a delight to use in midsummer as much as in the winter. One final comment on the material: it looks a plain, dull greyish black at first glance. However, the closer one peers at it, one can see flakes and specks of mica glittering. It is almost impossible to show this under ordinary daylight - I am not a good enough photographer - but the material shows a glorious depth. I like a pen I can use quickly, and here I have to mention a rather lovely aspect of this pen, the way that the cap is held on. Most pens will have either a push on, pull off cap or a screw fit cap. I won't labour this point, but in my experience, a push fit can have problems. Such as the time that one Cross cap wasn't properly fitted, and the pen came adrift in my jacket pocket, creating an unpleasant stain that was not cheap. On the other hand, I don't want to sit unscrewing a cap for ages. The Visconti has a (to me) unique design. There is a simple push and twist fit which is more akin to a bayonet fitting for a light bulb than anything else I have seen or used. It is quick, effective and pretty much fool proof.You can see in the picture above that the barrel has some odd, deep slots cut into it. The cap has some lugs inside and a spring-loaded inner sleeve. The lugs engage with the slots, and the spring keeps the pen held in place. Simple, but very effective. Under the cap, the Visconti has a magnificent (there is no other word for it) nib of palladium. Now many people won't have heard of this metal, but for my money, it is the best nib I own. It is soft, smooth, flexible and plain gorgeous, both to use and to look at. I can use it for hours at a time, and never get tired. That brings me on to the other thing I really, really like about my Visconti. Yes, I adore my Michael Jecks Conway Stewart pen. It is beautiful to look at and to use. I love my Drake because of the weight and the balance and the appearance of that lovely silver. However, the one aspect of both that limits their use is their ink capacity. I am a novelist. If I sit down to write, I will often take ten, twelve or more pages to note researches or to write a short story, or develop a character. It is the nature of my work. However, with most pens the capacity of the ink reservoir is frankly pathetic. I happen to like large writing. It is how I work. I like large nibs because that is how I work. But with most pens, large writing means having to refill the pen at regular intervals. Not so with the Homo Sapiens. It uses an ink reservoir that is massive. It is filled by pulling out the plunger. Once this is fully extended from the body, one inserts the nib into an ink well, and while it is fully submerged, the plunger is pushed down firmly. As the plunger is pushed down, a piston is forced down an internal cylinder. This creates a vacuum behind the seal. However, at the bottom of the cylinder is a section that is flared. Here the seal is broken and the vacuum sucks up the ink. A brilliant, simple, yet very effective way to fill a pen. I find that the pen works ideally for me. It is a good weight, has a sizeable heft in the hand, and writes like a dream. I love the massive reservoir, and I particularly adore the material from which it is made and the fact that it does not scratch. My Homo Sapiens has been with me now for over a year, and I can happily state that I have used it almost every day without mishap. If there was one potential aspect that could be altered, it would be to inset a viewing window so that the actual level of ink in the reservoir could be seen. However, since I always carry a Visconti Travelling Inkwell with me, that is less important. More key to me is the fact that this lovely pen works, works daily, and never fails. However, it is not quite perfect in every way. For the last eighteen months I have taken to carrying a small pen with me daily. The reason is simple: I always have a notepad with me and ideas for a story or character will occur to me at the oddest occasions. I love my Conway Stewart pens and my Visconti. In fact I love them so much that I won't take them with me at all hours of the day and night. When I am walking the dog, for example, I don't want to carry a £500 fountain pen (because once I lost a £200 Graf von Faber Castell Perfect Pencil while doing so). So, for occasional notes while dog walking, I bought my self a lightweight Kaweco Al-Sport. The Kaweco pens were originally designed, I believe, between the two World Wars. They had an octagonal section on an oversized cap, with a main barrel that was cylindrical. The reason for the oversized cap is simple to see when you first pick up a Kaweco. When closed the pen is a tiny size, only about four inches long. However, when posted, the length is nearer five and a half inches, which is big enough for even my hand when writing. I love this little pen. Even more so now that there is an effective convertor - I never have liked using ink cartridges. Cult Pens have been working for some time with Kaweco to produce their own little pen, and now they have it: the Cult Pens pen. I am very grateful to Cult for their sending me one to play with. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0023.jpg?w=640 Kaweco and Cult It is a light, but not too light, pen of metal. I particularly like the brushed metal of the cap and barrel. This is a pen that can sit in a pocket and not show the marks of keys or penknives. The top and end cap of the pen are both ground flat. The cap itself has a very strong spring clip. I like that - I've had too many pencils and pens slip from their moorings (my Graf von Faber Castell Perfect Pencil, for example!) for me to trust light spring clips. Externally, the Cult Pens pen has about the same length as the Kaweco, at just over four inches. However, when posted there is a significant difference. The Cult Pens pen is just about five inches, so a half inch shorter. This may not sound much, but in terms of the balance and feel, it makes a huge difference. The difference extends to the width, too. The Kaweco cap is a half inch wide, the section a little thinner at about thirteen thirty-seconds of an inch. The Cult cap is the same as the Kaweco section, while the section itself is from five eighths of an inch to nine thirty-seconds. This is very small, but for a small, pocket pen, it's still very usable. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0022.jpg?w=640 The Kaweco has it in terms of general size The cap unscrews with about four turns of my fingers. This to me is a bit excessive. My Kaweco, for example, needs only two turns to uncap, and while I know that this is a minor detail to many, if I'm on the phone and need to hurry to make a note, I want to do so without fiddling. Still, it does mean that the likelihood of the cap coming adrift is remote. When posting the cap (which really is essential, the pen is so short), there's a soft rubber or plastic insert inside the cap itself. It grips the pen quite well and gives it more of a substantial feel when writing, but it can come adrift if you're writing longer screeds. Still, that's not really what this pen is for. Beneath the cap is a steel nib from Kaweco. In this case I chose a BB nib. It has the broadness of line that I look for in a pen, but it also has the advantage that the nib gives great flexibility. Use a little more force and you can get good line variation - use less and you can create almost a stub-like, italic effect. Kaweco steel nibs are renowned for their smoothness in writing, and this one is a good example of lovely softness. I did find that initially the ink didn't flow very well, and was prone to skipping and drying. I confess I first blamed the cartridge. Cheaper pens using cartridges, I always used to find, would dry out and give a terrible writing experience. In the end, I admit, I gave up and contacted the pen supplier to ask whether the nib could be checked. The pen expert advised me to disassemble the pen first and wash the nib and section through with soapy water. I did this a few times, rinsed it well, and all was suddenly, miraculously better. Now the nib works like a dream. Very smooth, utterly responsive to a little pressure, and with a superb and reliable ink flow. However, I confess, I have not got on with it quite as well as I would like. Instead, I bought a Kaweco 1.1 italic nib. Suddenly the pen has a whole new feel and lease of life. It's a beautiful nib, really delightful. Plus, I still believe very firmly that the best nibs are stubs or italics. Yes, I am a sad old sack and I promise to get out more, but I just find the look of writing when using an italic is so much better. Even the worst writer can look good with this style of pen. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0026.jpg?w=640 My daily set. I still love my Kaweco. It has a slightly larger size in the hand, and I do like the smoothly rounded octagonal shape. However, the Cult Pens pen is taking over for general note taking while walking the dogs or other daily use away from desks. I have swapped nibs. Now the Cult has the fine nib and the Kaweco carries the italic 1.1. I like the fact that the clip will hold it firmly wherever I put it. The feel in the hand is a little light and skinny, but for a general pen for use as a note-taker, in other words a pen to keep in a shirt or trouser pocket over the weekend, or in a handbag full time, the Cult is absolutely perfect. Add to that the very low cost, and I think Cult have got a winner. So, there you go. The pens I've collected over the years, and which I still use. In the far-distant past I used to write with an old Parker pen at school. I still have it (although my son has commandeered it). But generally, although I have owned various biros, roller balls and other pens, I have never lost my love for fountain pens. The biros and others have all been discarded with the exception of a few special ones. Yet the fountain pens carry on, and all keep being used. My three go-to pens daily are the Kaweco, the Cult and the Visconti, while the Michael Jecks and the Drake are used here at my desk for longer works where they can't be scratched or lost, and the Churchill is used in rotation. All have their own delights. I like the Cult for its simplicity. I love the Kaweco because there is something glorious in the feel. My Drake is just heavenly, the Churchill is lovely to look at (although a little too light for my taste - it was one of the early models: more recent versions have more heft to them) and I adore the Michael Jecks pen - well, I would, wouldn't I. The looks are wonderful, the nib a joy to use, and the feel is gorgeous. However, my favourite still is probably the Visconti. You cannot appreciate what a pleasure writing can be, until you experience a pen of this quality. And now, as I cast a glance over at the tray of inks, I can see that I have a total of 22 inks of different colours. Perhaps it's time to fill all the pens with different colours and pretend I'm working again ...! Meanwhile, for those who are interested, I'm recording a series of videos on YouTube which will go through my books, the moors, the stories and legends that inspired me to write - everything, in short, that led to me writing my books. If you have any specific questions about my stories, please let me know. The first, brief introductory video will soon go up - just as soon as I have sorted out permission to use some music - so I hope you'll want to go there and see what inspired me to write. http://writerlywitterings.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/dsc_0028.jpg?w=640