Manchester


Muji’s Low Centre of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 1

On a recent trip to Manchester I noticed that Muji’s low centre of gravity mechanical pencils finally made it to Europe.

Muji’s low centre of gravity pencil in Manchester

Last year they weren’t available in the UK or Germany, which prompted me to visit Muji’s “global flagship store” on Huaihai Road in Shanghai1.

The main purpose of the visit was to get my hands on this pencil for Gunther and myself.

They even had a cafe. I haven’t eaten Muji food before.

The food was quite good. It was slightly more expensive than expected, but the price was acceptable.

In the stationery corner there was a lot to choose from.

Pen and paper wise there wasn’t much more than what I am used to from Manchester, despite Manchester only having a small store now (the bigger one closed down about ten years ago)…

..there was however a lot more choice in terms of desk organisation (trays, boxes, ..).

The decoration was quite nice and it was easy to try products out before buying.

Can you spot the low centre of gravity pencil in the picture above?

As usual you can open pictures in a new tab to see them in high resolution.

I bought some other nice products, too.

I should show them in a separate blog post.

 

  1. It’s one of the stationery related stores I forgot to write about in my recent series of Shanghai related blog posts from my trip in August 2016. []

Repairs & Alterations – All On Liberal Terms 2


The weather was really nice this weekend and since there was something we had to do in Manchester anyway we decided to spend the afternoon in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Fred Aldous, mentioned in the past, is also located in the Northern Quarter.


One of the shops I discovered and I haven’t been to before is the Dedstock General Store. It’s a gem of a store selling a nice choice of wares for it’s size, including stationery, items for shaving (including Mühle blades), enamel items and other things.


The owner was just working on a sewing machine. He said he was mending things, but it looked like a much bigger operation (the word upcycling and hundred year old garments spring to mind).


In terms of stationery there were Dux and Gedess sharpeners, Kaweco and Mindori pens and accessories, the Blackwing remake and Calepino notebooks. Items priced above £50 were stored behind the counter (no photo, sorry).

Repairs & Alterations – All On Liberal Terms

I’m happy I came across this unusual store and will visit again next time I’m in the Northern Quarter.


Muji’s pencils 4

This week I had a quick look at Manchester’s Muji store, where I found wood cased pencils and a desktop pencil sharpener.

Manchester used to have a bigger Muji store, but it closed down, maybe about ten years ago. We now only have a smaller Muji store in Selfridges.

Manchester’s Muji didn’t have these pencils and the sharpener earlier this year1, but it could be that bigger stores were stocking these products for a while already.

Muji's pencils and sharpener

Muji’s pencils and sharpener

I didn’t buy them, just because Japanese pencils in HB can be to soft for my style of writing (I want a fine point that lasts) and for the kind of paper I use (normal paper). An example of this would be Tombow’s Drawing pencil in HB. I thought Muji’s 2B pencils are most likely too soft for me so I didn’t want to buy them and then end up not using them.

The pens left of the pencils seem very similar to OHTO Tasche pens.

  1. They used to sell wood cased coloured pencils, though. []

A pencil anniversary 9

photo-me-outside

Pencils as anniversary gifts

According to the Chicago Public Library pencils are among the suggested gifts for the 7th wedding anniversary, so I couldn’t resist including a trip to a stationery store on my wife and my 7th anniversary.

The chosen stationery store was Fred Aldous, mentioned  in a previous blog post. It’s an independent stationery store in Manchester with a lots of choice.

Photo BoothPhoto Booth

While we were there we also used their photo booth, an ‘analogue’ Photo-Me booth from 1968. Nice. I loved how the photos were still wet from the processing chemicals when they came out.

Pencil-wise we bought a pack of Field Notes pencils as our anniversary pencils.

photo-me-inside

 

Block printing kit

I also got a block printing kit. I’m really looking forward to trying this out. It includes a pencil which looks suspiciously similar to the Field Notes pencil. Since Field Notes pencils are ‘just’ promotional pencils with the Field Notes logo etc printed on (see Erasable episode 28) I was wondering whether both pencils might be from the same factory, but the Fred Aldous pencil’s ferrule is clamped in a very different way, so there’s a good chance it’s from a different factory.

Block printing kit and pencils

Block printing kit and pencils

 

fredaldous-pencil

The Fred Aldous pencil in the block printing kit


A visit to Fred Aldous 5

Earlier this month I went to Fred Aldous, an art/craft/stationery store in Manchester that has bee around for more than 100 years.

Fred Aldous entrance

 

Visiting this store is a great step up from visiting the usual chain stationery shops that all tend to offer the same items. Instead of finding what you can find everywhere you’ll find items that are usually only available in online shops or from abroad.

Ground floor

Ground floor

On the ground floor you will find imported, novelty and quirky stationery. This includes Field Notes, the first time I’ve seen them in a brick and mortar shop.

Field Notes at Fred Aldous

Field Notes

Less of a rarity: Rhodia …but I have never seen so much choice in one shop.

Rhodia at Fred Aldous
I was also able to stock up on Leuchtturm loops and saw pencils ‘live’ that I had to mail order in the past, like the Perfetto pencils mentioned previously.

Basement

Basement

ParkingThe basement did remind me of a Hobby Craft store (an arts and craft chain in the UK). Lots of pencils, inks, etc, but of the less exotic kind. It’s still exciting to see so much choice in one place.

 

Parking isn’t easy in the centre of Manchester, but one of the side streets just next to Fred Aldous didn’t have double yellow lines all the way through, so I was able to park free of charge in a convenient location.

I also managed to buy a few exciting items.

Items bought from Fred Aldous


You can find review of the Field Notes Shelterwood at The Writing Arsenal and at The Gentleman Stationer. The Field Notes I bought is the Cherry Graph, which is nearly identical.

Explosive Ltd, the company behind the Blacking Limited Edition video and running the Wood & Graphite blog, has a video review of the Cedar Pointe, bought in the same store.