Category Archives: Reviews

Pen Love: Pagan Omega Fountain Pen.

I recently won an award and I wanted to do something nice with the prize money, something that I could cherish for a good few years and get joy out of every time I use it. I decided on a fountain pen, but not just any fountain pen, I got a handmade, wooden, beautiful work of art which is absolutely stunning and a joy to use. David, the owner of Pagan Pens was kind enough to take a couple of pictures of my pen being made so I could share them on this post.

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The first step is to select the wood. On the website there is a useful guide of woods based on the Ogham Calendar. The Ogham Alphabet is one of the earliest forms of written communication and was found largely within Ireland, but also in parts of Wales as well. Later medieval documents suggest that the letters of the alphabet were named after trees. The Ogham Calendar is based on a 13, 28 day cycles each represented by a tree. This lends itself quite nicely to having birth woods, in a similar fashion to the having a Zodiac star sign. My birth wood is Alder (18th March – 14th April), which is represented by the letter Ogham letter F (Old Irish: Fearn, although originally in Primiative Irish this symbol was a W for Wernā). Each wood has it’s own unique characteristics and properties. Alder is said to be the magical tree of Bran, the King or God of the Celts (who was said to be a paternal and maternal ancestor of King Arthur). Alder gives protection, courage and eases fear and doubt. It is also a pioneer tree, often being one of the first to claim wet,treeless ground and improves the soil to allow for other trees to grow there as well. As a result it is often see near water, which connects the tree to the element of water. However, it is also connected to air, with ancient legends suggesting the wood was used to make wind instruments. Furthermore, it’s bark once cut turns to a fiery orange, which gave rise to the belief there was a flame within the Alder, as a result the charcoal was used in forges to make Celtic weaponry. So I thought it was a pretty perfect and unique wood for me to choose!

IMAG2574Once I had selected my wood and placed my order it was David’s turn to select the actual piece of Alder. David picked a piece of spalted wood, which means the wood has gone through a colouration process caused by Fungi and can produce some beautiful interest on the wood. It is typically found on dead wood and is the stage before the wood begins to rot. The first process is to cut the wood to size and then to drill and glue the brass parts of the pen into place. IMAG2572

IMAG2575Next the pen wood is  mounted onto a lathe and using a heavy gouge chisel the wood is turned and begins to become rounded. IMAG2578Once the basic shape of the pen is reached a skew chisel is used to produce finer shavings and give the wood a smoother finish. IMAG2579The final stage of the pen making process is to sand the pen down to make it smooth and then apply three different waxes, each wax is applied four times given a total of twelve coats of wax.IMAG2582.jpgAnd here is the finished:IMAG2583The pen is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and it feels soft and smooth in my hand. It’s more light weight than I expected (but then again I do have a very heavy wooden locket which I was comparing it to, so I expected it to be a lot heavier than it is). It’s a good weight and the pen itself is very comfortable to write with. The nib itself is smooth and had a good flow from the start, it doesn’t skip and it really nice to write with. IMAG2584As you can see at the end of the pen, there is a knot visible. This is common within wood and was not visible at first when David cut the wood. It has sanded smooth and there is no visible ridge to the pen. David did contact me and say that if i was not happy with the knot he would make a new pen for me as some customers prefer to have the pen knot free. For me I was completely in love with the pen and thought the markings were truly beautiful. I did not see the knot as a flaw but a wonderful unique feature to an already beautiful pen.The craftsmanship and beauty of this pen far exceeds anything I was expecting and I am truly blown away from the quality of this pen. Considering I paid £32 (plus £5 shipping), I really got one hell of a pen for my money. I am completely in love with it and it fits in so wonderfully with my letter writing case. The only downside is that I do not have enough letters to write. I am hoping my pen pals will speed up a little bit and give me some letters over the coming days.

Waiting time was very reasonable, I ordered the pen at 2:38am on the 5th August. It was posted on the 24th August and I received it the following day. The pen was presented in a lovely purple velvet pouch and came with a standard size ink cartridge and an ink converter. There is also the possibility to get other nibs and you can use this pen for all your calligraphy needs.

So if you are interested in a unique gift at a great price I recommend checking out Pagan Pens, and if you are not a fountain pen lover there are other pen options available. To see more photos of David’s beautiful pens check out his Facebook page as well.

pagan pens

http://www.paganpens.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/PaganPens/


John Wick (3 Stars)

Probably not a film to be praised about for it’s script of plot line, it is a simple enough storyline. John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is an retired assassin who has just loss his wife. His wife who knew she was dying organises a gift to her grieving husband in the form of a dog. Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen, Theon Greyjoy in a Game of Thrones) sees Wick’s car and offers to buy it. When Wick refuses, Tarasov breaks into his house and steals the car and kills Wick’s dog.

Unbeknown to Tarasov, he didn’t just break into anyone’s house, he broke into the Baba Yaga (The Boogeyman)’s house. Wick comes out of retirement and back his assassin’s ways to seek revenge for the murder of his dog.

The film is gripping and some of the stunts of brilliant. I think Keanu Reeves is very well suited to the film and gives a great performance, maybe because he has so much empathy with his character giving his personal experiences with loss.

It’s not a film to win for screenplay but in terms of all out violence and a good dose of ‘What the Hell’ did he just do! It’s well worth a watch.

 


Munich (3 Stars)

It’s funny that even when I am taking a break for working on German history I am drawn to German history film topics. Although this film focuses a little more on Israel than Germany. In 1972, The Summer Olympics are held in Germany, during which members of a Palestinian terrorist organisation known as Black September. Walk into a very relaxed Olympics Village and kidnap and eventually massacre 11 members of the Israeli Olympics team in what is known as Operation Iqrit and Biram (which were two Palestinian Christian villages forcibly obtained during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and became part of the State of Israel). The film dramatically shows those events in the opening film.

In revenge for the massacre, Israel launches Operation Wrath of God, under Mossed control. What is surprising is that this is one of Spielberg’s lowest grossing films, one of the reasons for that could be arguably the nature of the topic. It was quite a controversial topic choice, and one which in 2005 had received very little debate of discussion about. Perhaps in somewhere making the film helped bring it out in the open to be discussed. The film itself is interesting and has a lively dialogue throughout and at some points is very white-knuckle interesting. However, I found elements of it quite difficult to follow, and in some areas it became confusing – particularly around the breakdown of the operation.

Elements I particularly liked about this was Eric Bana’s character Avner Kaufman, who is the leader of the operation and his ‘breakdown’ as the operation continues. There are elements of this film I really like and I think it was great, however I don’t think key actors – such as Daniel Craig, were well cast in this film and I don’t think those bad casting decisions bought much to the film.

I thought it was a good and interesting attempt, but it wasn’t brilliant.


Cinderella (3 Stars)

Although a predictable Storyline and one you’ve probably all watched before I did enjoy watching this version of Cinderella. I really like the Brother’s Grimm and I am trying to read them in German at the moment so it is nice to watch them as a film as well. Although largely based on the Children friendly version of the story, this film just breath new life in the beginning of the film – so it is not a rematch of previous films. It also adds new breath with great performances by Cath Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. It also had some lovely costumes.


Revenger’s Tragedy (1 Star)

 

I found this film weird, complicated and elements of it just left me puzzled. The film is based on Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean play of the same name, written in 1607. The language of this film is true to the original play and is in Middle English. Yet the film itself is set in a modern day if not slightly futuristic setting, which I didn’t think complimented the film at all. There was elements of the film that just didn’t seem to flow or make sense because they were difficult to interpret with the opposing modern vs. traditional spheres of the film. I felt I had to work to hard to understand the film and in doing so elements of the film were very much lost in translation. It was a fair attempt but I think it needed to be either modernised entirely or kept completely traditional.


The Boy Next Door (4 Stars)

This film has a relatively low Rotten Tomato score, which is not unsurprising. I was a little apprehensive about watching it because I didn’t think it would be good. I was pleasantly surprised. Some scenes were chillingly creepy and produced some chills and genuine excitement, which made up for the films shortcomings of average performances and predictable and dull in places storyline. Ryan Guzman was a thoroughly convincing certified weird psychopath with superficial easy to fall for charm.

It is easy to see why this film was overlooked and it isn’t particularly a game changing in it’s genre but for a chill out easy to watch film that is somewhat exciting whilst not regarding you to think to much, it’s a good film worthy of any rainy day.


Doubt (4 Stars)

After watching Spotlight and being really impressed by the film, I thought I’d look at other films that explore the Catholic Church. I had wanted to see doubt at the time of it’s release but ended up missing it and never got round to seeing it, until now.

The film centres around predominately three characters played by Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. Despite a relatively small class and a lack of complexity to the film in terms of locations and storyline, this film marvels in it’s simplicity. This simplicity allows you to really focus on the relationships of Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Sister James (Amy Adams) and explores Father Flynn’s relationship with Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). Sister Beauvier seems to take the close nature of the two to be something more than it should be and strives to protect the child. Sister James, at first seeing the good in Father Flynn defends him until her experiences and recollections are altered when discussing them with Sister Beavier.

The extended metaphor of doubt, it sustained throughout the film so there is no clear resolution to the film, which begs the question, what was the relationship between Father Flynn and Donald Miller and was Sister Beauvier right in her suspicions and right to act the way she did.

The film reminds me alot of the song ‘A Thousand Trees’ by the Stereophonics…it only takes one tree to make a thousand matches, it only takes one match to burn a thousand trees.

I can’t help but really feel for sorry for Father Flynn, because I presume it to be innocent until proven guilty and so to tarnish someone’s reputation with only suspicions.