Habana in my Cabana

Not too long ago Karen at Exaclair sent me a Quo Vadis Habana notebook to use and, if inclined, relate my thoughts on it. A few words about them before I get any further: Via their blogs, tweets, and other social media presence this company has proven itself to really care about its customers and their feedback. No, I’m not just saying that because I want another notebook. How could you even think that about me? Humph.

I must admit that I was pretty sure how this review would go before I sat down to write it. The Habana notebook pictured uses Clairefontaine paper in it which has been my favorite for years. The paper is smooth to write upon and, important to us fountain pen users, bleed and feather resistant.

The problem was I’m a procrastinator and I didn’t get to writing this entry until just about everyone had already reviewed this notebook doing a much better job of it than I could (like my friend Clem did here). Realizing I needed to come up with a different way to review the notebook, as to not tread over the same old ground, I sat and did my best approximation of thinking. Obviously I needed to push the envelope and do something different, new, and never attempted before. I had to drop the usual paper quality, ink penetration, and binding construction stuff for new frontiers.

Well, if I’m not reviewing the Habana on how it works traditionally as a notebook then what should this newly-styled iconoclast do? Thinking “push that envelope” led me to decide to see how the notebook worked in ways that people not as cutting edge as myself would think of.

At this time from behind me came the loud and rhythmic noises of the dog breed often called the “furry boulders that snore”. That seemed as  good a place as any to go for my unique take on this review. However, as you can see, the Habana Pug Pillow didn’t meet with the approval of Snuffy, pug stationary tester. Also it was hard to clean drool off of. Back to the drawing board!

Snuffy did not approve of the Habana as pillow.

Snuffy did not approve of the Habana as pillow.

I made a nice, hot cup of tea to sip on as I thought more. Suddenly I had a flash! It was my tongue burning form the hot tea! A few medicinal ice cubes later I really had an idea as you can see below.

Covers flopping open made the Habana tea tray awkward.

Covers flopping open made the Habana tea tray awkward.

Alas, the Habana Tea Tray was not roomy enough to use and got soggy when tea was spilled. Back to square one.

Liking the utilitarian track I was following my next brainstorm was so simple it bordered on not being stupid! Here’s something I could get a lot of mileage out of in my review: the Habana Window Prop! Oh yea, I would go on about how great this was for holding my windows open, creating ventilation and the like. No one has even come close to mentioning that in a review! This was sweet!

The Habana window prop had problems on rainy days.

The Habana window prop had problems on rainy days.

The major failing here is that we’ve had rain for two days straight now. Remember the soggy comment a little while ago? Unluckily I realized it was time to move on once again.

The idea that there might be a productive, non-traditional twist on this all drove me to go deep, deep into the genius that is my mind. Well, deep is relative and I think shallow genius ain’t nothing to sneeze at. After all, an ant thinks a puddle is an ocean! Sadly, and predictably, this feverish activity went nowhere. I needed to take my mind off of all this and so went about repairing things I had broken trying to repair them earlier. It was while at this another eureka moment occurred!

I never got a clean cut with the Habana saw.

I never got a clean cut with the Habana saw.

Well, Habana Saw didn’t work out and the bias-cut it made was just awful. I guess I shouldn’t have hitched my philosophy to ants.

I wrote off the idea of finding some use for the Habana and went the opposite direction: totally useless. Being quite the expert at that idea flooded in. Happily that idea had to do with how attractive the basic black Habana was so certainly it should be where people could see it… maybe if I move that vase over there we might have something.

It didn't really work as a objet d'art.

It didn't really work as an objet d'art.

The Display Only Habana just never really *merged* with the décor and caused people make comments like “where’s your vase” and “why the hell do you have a notebook here”. Not an astounding success.

So, I gave up and went back to what I wanted to avoid: a typical review. I will make this brief so you can escape from here quickly. The Quo Vadis Habana has a number of features I do like very much. First is the Calirfontain paper which is the usual high quality, bright, smooth substrate you find in items branded under that name. As always this paper is a fountain pen’s friend with only the slightest feathering and bleed thorough.

The look and feel of the cover on this notebook is quality. It’s soft but firm with the logo embossed on the front and the name on the back. A pocket is on the inside back cover which is very handy when you have receipts in your pocket taking up space but you can’t see anywhere to throw them out. The elastic band that holds it all together is pretty standard as is the ribbon that marks your current page.

The binding is quite interesting in that the spin is very soft and flexible. Most of the back of the book block isn’t glued to the sine so it can lay pretty flat. I did notice that one end did have the spine glued down but only in a small area. I think this is where the ribbon is attached. No matter, this is a nice book to open and spread apart.

The images below show how it reacted to my little writing test so click on them to see the big picture.

The size is larger than what I’m used to but I do like the extra real estate. It will fit into my backpack easily and when on your lap for notes offers a more stable platform for writing.

In the end I’m a fan of this notebook and happy to have gotten a chance to see what it can do if motivated to be all that it can be. I don’t see many negatives other than the ribbon can fray a bit and you can’t use it as a frying pan (that experiment I didn’t document due to the fire.) Although I keep calling it the “Havana” by accident it’s certainly straight forward in all other ways. Just remember it works best as a notebook.

  1. November 12, 2009, 1:44 pm

    I LOVE this review!! Thanks for a great review and for making me smile.

  2. Sam
    November 12, 2009, 2:10 pm

    Genius, sheer genius! I haven’t enjoyed a review this much in ages.

  3. TAO
    November 12, 2009, 2:28 pm

    Julie and Sam: Thanks for the compliments. However, this is all totally serious and I’m trying to see where there is humor. Anyway, looking at it again at least made me find a typo (I’m sure there are many more).

  4. November 12, 2009, 5:33 pm

    Hehehe. Objet d’art eh? Love the pug pix! Adorable! They match the Habana!!! Karen is sending me one to review, I wonder what I’ll do when my turn comes.

  5. TAO
    November 12, 2009, 7:15 pm

    Mona: I recommend not trying to use it as a frying pan. Just a word to the wise.

  6. November 12, 2009, 7:50 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Tom! But really, more than all the reviews (including mine), this is THE ONE! 🙂 Love the pug!

  7. TAO
    November 12, 2009, 11:16 pm

    Clem: Thanks!

  8. ccorrada
    November 14, 2009, 8:46 am

    this is a great review! thanks!

  9. TAO
    November 14, 2009, 10:40 am

    ccorrada: Glad you liked it!

  10. November 14, 2009, 1:04 pm

    great review – loving the tea tray and pug pillow 🙂

  11. hazel
    November 15, 2009, 5:10 am

    douglas wants one

  12. TAO
    November 15, 2009, 11:20 am

    Travisthetrout: Thanks for the comment. Snuffy likes softer pillows, though. 🙂

    Hazel: You think trying the notebook with a second pug would get different results?

  13. November 24, 2009, 1:04 am

    <3 Very creative.
    I have billions of moleskins but none of these!

  14. doodle wife
    November 25, 2009, 1:07 am

    hmm… if you had a couple of them we could use them as yoga props…