Review of the Year 2018

January

HerbieIn the world of online retail, there's a fair element of just recovering from Christmas when January arrives. It's the same this year. We're tired. Maybe we'll wait until Herbie goes out for a bit, and curl up in his bed. Why do only dogs get to have beds at work?

We did wake up to have a journaling workshop with our friend Helen Colebrook, which was fun and enlightening. We celebrated Matt getting old, too (well, 40, not as old as some of us...), and we were pleasantly surprised by the Monteverde Monza when it arrived - an impressive pen for the price.

Matt's Cake

February

Jacket decorated using Pilot Pintor markersLamy's Vibrant Pink AL-star appeared, but it disappeared out of the door almost as soon as it arrived! We'd expected it to be popular, but it still took us by surprise. Pilot launched the Pintor, so we had some fun decorating things. Tammy returned from maternity leave, and some of us had a trip to Hong Kong, which Herbie was excited about, because it was the Year of the Dog.

Hong Kong - Year of the Dog

March

It snowed! Reactions varied from somewhat annoyed to very excited. Yes, we know what you're thinking - nobody would be more excited than Herbie. But you'd be wrong. James came to the UK from the Caribbean, and he'd never seen snow before, so he out-excited-ed Herbie. Which takes a bit of doing.

Snow!

Herbie being MikaSpeaking of Herbie, we tried to copy Pilot's promo shots for their special edition Mika pens, where Mika is jumping through a hoop. We thought we'd get Herbie to jump through a hoop, and photograph him doing it. It went about as well as you'd expect, really, but we sort of got the shot, so we'll claim it as a success.

Herbie being Mika

April

PizzaWe hit 40,000 reviews on Trustpilot, which made us all smug. Sorry.

When we feel smug, though, we turn to pizza. Acutally, pizza is a pretty good answer to most feelings, but this time we had smug pizza, and it was good.

Herbie reminded us that he likes pizza too, with his very best sad puppy eyes.

Herbie wants pizza

In another milestone, we passed 19,000 different products listed on our site! That's a lot of things.

May

Rock paintingHerbie - spaniel or badger?Another baby! Little Arthur emerged, so congratulations were in order for Nick. We celebrated by painting some rocks, though the two events may not have been connected. Rock painting was fun, though. You're usually supposed to go and hide the rocks for people to find, but we can't bring ourselves to part with them, so we still have painted rocks sitting all over the place.

And we had to wonder if Herbie was, in fact, 36% badger, as Instagram told us.

Simon and Amanda, Cult Pens founders, were judges at the London Stationery Show, which turned out to be far more like hard work than they'd expected, but very enjoyable anyway.

May was also pretty big for Matt and Martin. Martin plays football with the Elmore 2nds, and Matt coaches them. Well, in May, the Elmore 2nds won the Devon Intermediate Cup. If that doesn't sound so impressive, they beat 117 other teams to win it, and to make things really exciting, they managed to be losing 3-nil at half time, which probably didn't look very promising. We never did get Matt to admit what he threatened them with at half time, but it worked - they went from losing 3-0 to winning 4-3!

June

Another baby! Was it something in the water? Why had we suddenly started reproducing at such an alarming rate?

Fortunately for the world's resources, it seems to have calmed down again now. But this time, little Leo joined the world, after being walked in an incubator for many, many kilometres, there was an Oh?, and out he came, candy in hand. It's only a few months later, and he's already quite a formidable Pokémon GO player, too.

Becky's cakeWe celebrated Becky becoming a bit older too, with another milestone birthday, but not even as old as Matt, never mind actually old. Herbie always loves a party, though, and makes sure he gets plenty of cuddles. Sometimes, so many cuddles that he totally loses control of a leg.

Herbie cuddles

Oh, and three months after the snow, we were far too hot. Ah, the joy of being British - we'll always find something to whinge about.

Mechanical Pencil Day - tops of pencils showing 05 and 07July

Tip of a Pentel OrenzneroIt was Mechanical Pencil Day! We found this rather exciting, because we made it up, and it actually happened. We'd noticed the lack of a day to celebrate mechanical pencils, when there was already a successful Fountain Pen Day in November, then we realised that this is only because nobody had decided to make one. So we did! And 05-07 seemed like the best date for it.

Louise got engaged, and is now busy planning a wedding - fortunately, she already knows a good calligrapher. Well, ok, she is a good calligrapher.

Louise - Calligraphy GirlAugust

We started selling some Moleskine, which was about time, really.

And it was calligraphy day, which was pretty exciting for Louise, because she's Calligraphy Girl. And everyone knows now, because she got a cape, like a proper superhero. Because she is a proper superhero. Well, to be fair, being really good at calligraphy is better than some of the quirks in My Hero Academia. I mean, Froppy is great, but 'frog' is not a superpower I'd choose.

It was also a big milestone birthday for Louise, so August was a big month for her.

TWSBI GO fountain penIn more pen-related news, the TWSBI GO! appeared, which was a pretty big deal. Not only was it much cheaper than any comparable pen, its filling system makes it one of the quickest and easiest pens to use with bottled ink.

September

A Bentley CarBentley pulled up at Cult Pens. The pens, that is, not the cars. A design collaboration between Bentley and Graf von Faber-Castell, these beautiful quality pens impressed us by doing such a great job of combining the styling of the two brands together so successfully. And with the Graf von Faber-Castell name behind them, you know they're great pens too.

We had a workshop with Derwent, learning to use the amazing Inktense range, so we had a seriously colourful time!

Robert inkAnd speaking of colour, we launched our exclusive sheening inks, made for us by Diamine! And we called them Robert and Maureen. Robert is a bright purple with a green sheen, and Maureen is a brilliant blue with a red sheen.

Maureen inkSo, what happened was, we made a joke about needing people to come up with names for them, because we'd tried, and all we'd come up with was 'Robert' and 'Maureen'. We thought it would inspire people to do better. But most people seemed to think we'd done pretty well, so we just went with Robert and Maureen. To be honest, by that point, we'd got pretty attached to those names ourselves.

October

Some ink bottlesHerbie as a puppyInktober. We had lots of offers on inks for Inktober. Some inkredible offers.

Ryder Carroll's book was launched, too, The Bullet Journal Method, which was pretty exciting to those of us who'd been bitten by the bullet bug, which was quite a few of us.

And Platinum sent us their new pen, the Procyon. Along with a new nib design and some really stylish colours, it's got an interesting feed which can draw up the last bit of ink from a bottle, using an optional converter.

The Secret Life of the Pencil bookAnother book launch that was rather relevant to our interests was The Secret Life of the Pencil, so we put together a pack of interesting pencils to go with the book, so people could find their own favourite while reading about other people's favourites.

Herbie eating cakeBut perhaps most importantly, it was Herbie's birthday. There was cake. Herbie says it was delicious - we'll take his word for it, though, because it was a special dog cake, not for humans. It's ok, we had cake too, and ours was made for humans. The cake was not a lie.

Herbie Birthday To You

November

Some pensFountain Pen Day! Yes, November is pretty exciting for us too, because it includes Fountain Pen Day, and we do have a lot of love for fountain pens. We had lots of offers, and enjoyed the excuse to get even more inky than usual.

Some vintage fountain pens

We added Winsor & Newton - one of the most-loved brands in art supplies. Their ProMarker has long been a favourite of many artists, but some of their less well-known markers are just as good too.

And we had another workshop - this time, making Christmas cards with lots of glitter. There's glitter everywhere. Henry has done his best, but parts of the carpet still sparkle.

Since Christmas was approaching rather rapidly, and we're a bit busy as it gets closer, we took the chance to have our Christmas meal at the end of November. Good food was had by all, and then the karaoke started. I'd love to say we didn't embarrass ourselves terribly, but I don't really know. Your humble narrator ran away pretty quickly the moment people started singing Abba songs.

December

Christmas baublesIn what can only be attributed to terrible planning on our part, in the final weeks leading up to Christmas, already into December, we launched two new brands - Pineider and Fisher Space Pen.

Pineider may not be all that well known in pen circles at the moment, but the designer of their new pen range certainly is. It's Dante Del Vecchio, the man behind Visconti for many years. He's as innovative as ever, so Pineider have some really interesting pens and accessories.

Fisher Space Pen is another case of a brand that we really should have got to long ago, but somehow didn't. They make great pens, and have a wonderful story - yes, their pens may go into space on almost every mission, and are used by space agencies all over the world, but they're still a fairly small family-run company, making their pens in the USA.

After that, we come to a rather awkward point. You're reading this in January, but I'm actually writing it in the middle of December. So I don't know what happens after this point. Maybe it's quite uneventful. Maybe everything goes horribly wrong. Maybe something wonderful happens! Ah, well, all I can do is guess, and hope I'm not too far off the mark...

So, er, late in December, we all ran around a bit madly, getting all your orders out in time for Christmas, and Royal Mail did a fine job of delivering them. There was the unfortunate incident with Herbie, the squirrel, and the Christmas tree, but the less said about that the better.

And politics. Well, what can I say? I don't think anybody was expecting that change of leadership, but the promotion of Larry from Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, to Prime Minister, has gone really quite well. To be honest, many of us (myself included) were ruled by cats much of the time anyway, and Larry is doing a pretty good job. It's nice to have a bit of stability in politics again, and even better when it's purring.

Us in our Christmas jumpers

8 January 2019

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