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As someone returning to using fountain pens I've noticed that letter writing paper has become harder to come by, even posh stuff. However, perseverance and all that. I thought I'd see what I could get in my local High Street, Leighton Buzzard. A typical small English market town. With a market on Tuesdays & Saturdays. WH Smith Post Quarto plain white is pretty good with all my pens (Conway Stewart 27, Parker 25, Waterman Forum, all used with a variety of Quink inks). A 100 sheet pad cost £3.49 and include a piece of blotting paper and a line guide. There are envelopes to match but they didn't have those! Wilkinsons (Wilkos) have an A5 pad at £1 for 100 sheets although with line guide or blotter. This also worked well. A larger branch of WH Smith in Hertford also stocked Three Candlesticks in two sizes (A4 & A5) with envelopes!! Plus a variety of Basildon Bond also with envelopes. I treated myself to a pad & pack of envelopes of Three Candlesticks which is a paper I remember using years ago and is lovely to write on. It was necessary to hunt round in WHSmith for the stuff but the Wilkos writing paper is easy to find. For non UK readers, Wilkinsons (popularly known as Wilkos) is a household goods store chain that provides good quality at good prices. Since I had to wait 30 mins for a train at Euston (London) I had a browse in Paperchase and bought some rather nice looking own brand "Inscription" writing paper. I still have to test this. Has anyone tried it before?
So I thought I'd compare my newly purchased (for GBP 12) Ciak Paperchase and the Rhodia Webbie we all already know and love. Firstly is the Ciak Paperchase. I believe this is the new Ciak paper which is now dubbed environmental friendly as it is acid free (personally never read much into the whole environmental issues behind acid containing paper). I was initially hesitant to get it as I had at a time held a sample of the old Ciak paper, which we would recall was slightly toothy, fibrous, but oddly had a strange charm and texture to it. I never did manage to find another copy of the old Ciaks, as much as I tried with emails to various online Ciak sellers. So describing this paper, it not as smooth to touch as the Webbie's Clairefontaine. When I say that, the paper isn't rough like a tortoise's shell, it's just more, textured, but not to the point of say, a G Lalo Verde 100gsm paper with the embossed lines in them to guide writing. Your pen will not glide as smoothly on this paper as on the Webbie. You will not have that 'I'm writing on silk.'' sensation. (Ignore the logic for a second and just concentrate on silk being smooth...) But it will not stop, get tangled in fibres, or spew blobs of precious ink. But yes it is bettter than your average paper you find at work. Strangely, I used to hold Webbies as my gold standard, but I've found that this paper actually holds slightly better against broad pens with broad nibs. As you can see, there is a little more bleedthrough on the Webbies, evident by the tiny dark splotches ,whereas the ink patterns are relatively consistent throughout the Ciak's. The shading amount is the same. Not very well represented on this, but take my word for it. I think it's a good alternative for people who; 1) Have been using Webbies, love them, but just want to try something new. I'm one of them. I'd actually love a journal made completely out of G Lalo Verde pages.. 2) Dislike the sheen on the paper of webbies 3) Dislike the slower drying time of webbies 4) Don't need the extra pouch at the back to keep pieces of paper. 5) Like a horizontal strap. It is fountain pen friendly, which for me, means it is able to tolerate broad nibbed pens with highly saturated inks. I've no qualms recommending this as a reliable alternative to the Webbie.