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Notes from Notebook Love

“Thanks, Teach’” Gift Ideas for Teachers (what they really want).

“Thanks, Teach’” Gift Ideas for Teachers (what they really want). 0


An apple a day keeps the teacher away. That’s how the saying goes, right*? Hands up who’s EVER given a teacher an apple? Nope. But I don’t think that’s why we give teachers gifts before the summer holidays. I’m pretty certain that they go ‘away’ very much of their own accord – usually somewhere sunny. 

And I heard on the grapevine that teachers definitely prefer wine. But stuffing a bottle of pinot in your child’s school bag is probably not the most responsible of things to do.

When it comes to the summer holidays, more and more parents are buying teachers a thank you gift. And rightly so, don’t you think? They deserve that holiday and then-some for all the hard work they do for pay that doesn’t tend to increase all that much or all that speedily these days.   


Did you know?....

According to a recent Mumsnet survey:

  • Parents today spend an average of £10.60 on a primary school teacher’s gift.
  • 1 in 10 parents spends £25.
  • 83% buy presents for teachers.
  • 75% buy presents for teaching assistants.
  • 9% buy something for the head teacher.
  • 8% don’t think a gift is necessary at all. (Pah!) 


So what do teachers really want (apart from a well-earned holiday)

We asked a few teacher friends what they really wanted and we found that simple words of thanks in a card are genuinely the thing that means the most.

Emma, a nursery teacher said, “A parent taking a moment to quietly say thank you has to be the best gift. Especially when they say what they are thanking you for and how you have made a difference to their child or family.”

And Kaye, an English teacher and Assistant Headteacher, tends to agree “Wine and/or chocolate are always appreciated! It's usually the words in the cards that mean the most.”

(Bubble wrap in the school bag it is then!)

And Mumsnet teacher-mums tended to agree:

“A heartfelt message in a homemade card - this will always be Number One!”




But we insist!

OK, so the cards are the best thing (and my esteem for teachers is now EVEN higher for that little discovery) but if their card had to be accompanied by a gift, what would they reeeeeally like?

Mumsnet teacher-mums to the rescue again! - with a few honest pointers about what they really appreciate (and what they don’t really want). Here are some of their wise gift suggestions:

Canvas bag to carry marking home, personalised and decorated (and chose one with a gusset).

Stationery: pens, stickers, funky post-it notes, notebooks.

Vouchers for Amazon or John Lewis if you're a school that does class collections. 

Wine, if you KNOW they drink it. Same goes for chocolate.

Costume jewellery, hair clips, scarves, etc of a type that you have SEEN them wear.


Homemade edibles are wonderful and the effort and thought is always appreciated.

Please avoid lotions, shower gels, etc as you cannot know what they like or might be allergic to. Same goes for scented candles.

Please, no more mugs.

Oh dear, yes. We can understand the mug thing.

So there you have it. The classic gifts are the winners but the cards and appreciation get top marks from most teachers.

Teachers, we salute you! Now go and enjoy your summer holiday! There's some wine in the Doc McStuffins back pack on cloakroom peg number 14. Cheers!






*I know, I know, it's really a doctor! ;)  

  • Kate Efomi
3 Ways A Notebook Can Make Your Holiday Even Better (and a shipwreck experience bearable).

3 Ways A Notebook Can Make Your Holiday Even Better (and a shipwreck experience bearable). 0

Going away this summer? Got your tickets? Got your passport? What about remembering to pack a notebook? Whether it’s a romantic city break, a package holiday with the kids or a trip around the world, here’s how a trusty notebook can make your experience even better.



It could even make a genuine shipwreck experience feel more like an adventure.



Before I even leave the house for any kind of getaway, I’m jotting down shopping lists for our holiday essentials, things to do before we leave, items to pack – especially the last minute things you can’t put in your bag until the bleary-eyed morning of your flight - toothbrush, charger, house keys.

It helps to have a list for what you packed so you can check everything off for your return journey (if you really have to go back).

Notebooks are also great for research before the trip. What would you like to do when you’re there? What’s on your wish list of must-dos and –sees? Getting organised before you leave means you can make the most of your trip when you’re there. Tick those landmarks off as you go.

Angie Mercer is an Australian (with Yorkshire heritage) new mum and training manager at Dior. She also got shipwrecked (as you do) with my sister (Char) and now brother-in-law (Paul) nearly ten years ago, somewhere near Panama.


The Shipwreck (photo by Dave Mercer)

Angie and her now husband, photo retoucher, Dave, were traveling around the world when they shared this particular episode with Char and Paul. Trying to cross the gap between South and Central America, they decided to take a boat rather fly. But the Captain turned out to be somewhat inept and the sea was choppy, to say the least when they found themselves at a 30-degree angle one night with the side of the boat scraping across some perilous rocks.

Photo. Dave Mercer. 

The Shipwreck (photo by Angie and Dave Mercer)

You can read about the deserted beach, the lack of food and the villagers with machetes at their blog post ‘Sacré Bleu! That Continent Just came out of Nowhere!’ It has gone down in the annals of traveller history and was also featured in Wanderlust Magazine.

Angie leaving the shipwreck - still smiling! 


When the time came to abandon ship, Angie’s notebooks, a little soggy perhaps, came with them to shore. Precious? Yes. Multiple? Yes. But what exactly had she been using them for during their travels?

 Angie's Travel Journals

“I'm definitely a paper and pen girl. I still use a paper diary. One book was for Spanish study. We were also on a budget (about 10 months in when we decided to forfeit our last flight and go straight to my brother’s wedding in Bali, meaning we absolutely had to make our money last the next 9 months) so I used my notebook as a budget tracker.

Angie's travel budget

Angie's budget

“I was brutal with the budget (must be my Yorkshire blood). I remember being in Mexico and turning around to find Dave eating an ice cream and I was like, “Where did you get that?!” I had to write it in the book immediately. And at the end of each day, I would tally it up and put a happy or sad face if we were under or over! I was just so scared we wouldn't make my brother’s wedding if we spent all the money.

(They made it to the wedding. Thank you notebook!)

(Oh, and they were also rescued from their shipwreck ordeal after spending a few days with the local villagers.)


Relax and Reflect (no charger necessary).

Shipwrecks aside for a moment, there is something delightfully daring and rather refreshing about unplugging from reality and detoxing from your phone when you’re away. Fewer and fewer of us will probably do this now that the data roaming charges in Europe are finally much less than the price of your plane ticket.

But why not keep up the tradition of locking your phone in the hotel safe or banishing it to the bottom of the beach bag and give you brain some time off? Experts have been saying for a while now that you sleep better, concentrate better and are less stressed when you reduce screen time and that’s what holidays are about too, right? More rest and less stress. Why bring the stress with you?

So where does the notebook come in? Well, I tend to use one for quiet contemplation. While the phone is decidedly turned off, my thoughts, dreams, planning, and general contemplation levels are turned on and up.

Quiet contemplation by the pool


Lying by the pool or on the beach, you’ve physically taken a step away from day-to-day life, so why not mentally take a step back and assess where your life is at? What tweaks do you need to make to get back on track? How can you take back control of your daily routine and the life you want to lead?

Pour it all out onto paper and shuffle it into some form of order. The effects are restorative, purposeful and surprisingly effective. I always feel ready and raring to go after a holiday when I’ve done this. I don’t feel sad about going home (although I will definitely always, always miss the sun), far from it. I’m excited to take life by the horns when I get back to reality and turn that phone on again. Thank you notebook.   



If you have a more active trip planned then why not take a leaf out of Angie and Dave’s book – or notebooks, lots of them? Don’t just take photos write it down, draw it, stick in tickets and memorabilia.


“We travelled with a laptop and Dave tended to write on it as we went then upload it when we were back in civilisation. I kept paper diaries and wrote things down so if he forgot details or timelines etc he could check them with me. I also stuck in every brochure, ticket, pamphlet etc that I came across and love looking back on them.”

There was no electricity in their shipwreck hosts' village - only a heavy duty battery to charge the village TV for the football - so it sounds like Angie's notes really came into their own helping them remember the details of the whole experience. Now everyone can read all about it 

A huge thank you to Angie for fishing out all her old notebooks and journals. Just the other day she said, "This whole process has been a really enjoyable trip down memory lane." Our point exactly. Thank you Angie (glad you're safe)! And thank you notebooks!  

So whether you’re shipwrecked, on a staycation or something in between, make sure you pack that notebook. Happy travels!

Some Wedding Wisdom from a seasoned Mother-of-the-Bride

Some Wedding Wisdom from a seasoned Mother-of-the-Bride 0

As it's wedding season, we're saluting the main players of the wedding party over on our Facebook Page where we're also running weekly competitions. This week we shine a light on the Mother of the Bride - without whom, let's face it, there would be no bride. 

My own mother is a scary, cuddly pussy cat. An ex-RAF Officer and amazing wife and mother of three, I owe her a lot and she was an incredible "MofB" for me.

Her favourite poem is 'Warning' by Jenny Jones - do you know it? It's the one that starts, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple...". It's an impish, defiant poem about growing old disgracefully and it's scary how closely mum has taken it to heart over the years!

The lady in the poem goes on to threaten spending her pension money on brandy (it's sherry in mum's case) and "hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes" (replace the beermats with notebooks, knitting wool and buttons and you've got mum and her boxes) "And gobble up samples in the shops" (yep, mum again - also a dab hand at clearing hotel rooms of sachets and packets each night with the expectation of full replenishment each morning. She will have an eventual teabag and showercap-stuffed handbag by the end of any holiday).

Oh and mum LOVES purple.

So it's no suprise that this is the notebook that sums her up the best. And it's the one we're giving away on Facebook for our Mother of the Bride Competition.

It's bold, dazzling, and unashamedly bright and well…


... Much like this lovely lady.

Mother of the Bride - Definition: The amazing woman who drives you crazy.

I asked her for some Mother-of-the-Bride advice and tips and it made me chuckle that the answers in her email were written in purple! Here's some of her wedding wisdom for this year's MofBs: 

How many times have you been mother of the bride? 

Of the Bride, twice and of the Groom once and all within the space of 20 months. Add to that the marriage of a niece and God-daughter in the same period and I was becoming an expert who just stopped short from scoring the various elements.

Which was your favourite wedding? You don't have to answer that one! 

My own of course!  All three of you kids had different styles of weddings but each was special and memorable in its own way. 

What were your most memorable moments as Mother-of-the-Bride?

Has to be the chicken!*


To explain, we called mum's bluff on her insistence of a "pretty, fluffy-legged chicken" as a dowry. African grooms would usually be given a long list of dowry requests (money, clothes, alcohol, livestock!) from the bride's family. Instead, Consol went the more western route of ring and down-on-one-knee after asking dad for my hand in marriage. Dad said yes of course. Then mum heard about the dowry tradition and jokingly asked for at least one chicken for her daughter. (Nice to know my worth). Well. She got one. This is a picture of her trying to act very cool about just having been handed a chicken in the middle of the wedding reception.     

How did you choose your outfit(s)?

With the father of the bride as my sartorial advisor. Yes, I know that is unusual but it works for us. One fashion related tip - each outfit held special memories which could never be replicated so I decided to freeze those memories by "releasing" the whole outfit the following week to the dress agency. By acting so quickly the outfit was still in season, some other "wedding lady" got a chance of a lovely bargain, I had lovely photos and money back in my purse.

What tips would you give to a mother of the bride-to-be?

Always remember MofB is NOT the star of the day. so never outshine the bride in dress, bling or behaviour. However, you are a very important part of the inner circle and should be dressed rather specially.

Any no-nos?

White wine is better for spills than red! Go very, very easy on the alcohol. Mother of the Bride enjoying herself helps everybody to relax. Mother of the Bride out of control and drunk not a pretty sight, can lead to all sorts of problems on the day and indeed in the ongoing extended family relationships.

Which one element of wedding etiquette do you like the best and why?  

The formal greeting line does help to ensure that you have met everyone (just keep it light and quick). Dad and I worked together to craft the Father's speech and I loved finding the props to illustrate - in Kate's case a copy of her favourite childhood book the Rabbits’ Wedding and a doormat just to name a few.


*Edit: This is mum's version of the chicken experience...

Have you ever had that moment of perfection, fresh from the make-up chair, hair is stunning, your outfit is just wow (even if a tad pricey) and all eyes are on you? Now let’s just overlay that ridiculously smug feeling with a gradual realisation that this could all get rather messy in seconds.

But I get ahead of myself. Daughter No 1 (Mrs. Notebooklove) was about 100 minutes into her marriage to her Congolese husband - all the guys in kilts, speeches in French and English, 18 nationalities present and great cultural engagement all round…….. until the box appeared.  

Cries of “foul” at a wedding can be alarming but as the box opened I realised the best man was bringing me an all-together more challenging fowl. Yes, the “notional” dowry payment for our daughter from the groom’s family was a gorgeous and very alive chicken! For just five seconds my face continued to radiantly smile as the brain speed processed:   - live chicken; best dress; scratchy claws; sharp beak; the “other end”; must reject; insult the in-laws; international incident; must accept; grand-dad was a farmer; I can do it; clamp the wings; stroke gently, speak softly, smile for the camera; chicken asleep.

No chicken was harmed in the making of this wedding – she had a very happy, egg laying retirement, where she could sometimes be heard clucking of her 5 seconds of fame.

Spot us in this month's issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine!

Spot us in this month's issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine! 0

So excited to make a wee appearance in the May issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine! Spot the discount code to save this Spring (also there's free 1st class Royal Mail shipping on all UK orders until 30th April!) 


Happy New Year! Happy New Notebook!

Happy New Year! Happy New Notebook! 0

New Year’s resolutions? I don’t make them. And it seems I’m not alone.

Many years ago I resolved not to resolve. I just don’t want to beat myself around the head when I invariably fail somewhere around February – especially if the resolution involved exercise or reduced calorie intake.

Did you know that the tradition of making resolutions in the New Year can be traced as far back as the Babylonians who made promises to their gods to return borrowed items and to repay debts? Very commendable, if you ask me. I still have a few items I really should return to friends and many more of my own that I have given up hope on ever seeing again. In fact I have one friend, a former librarian, who would literally stamp in and out his book and DVD loans to friends. He knew all too well that good intention was not always enough for his library to remain replete. Clever. I do like the idea of the New Year being a borrowed-items-amnesty but not so much the religiosity of it all - the resolution, that is. Not the library stamp. The library stamp I want! 

Did you know that about 80% of us are likely to fail at keeping our resolutions, the main reason being that we simply set unrealistic goals? That’s just what I used to do. If my list had anything to do with it, I’d be fluent in French by Christmas or in possession of £1 million of savings by hogmanay. But could I engage my own husband in his mother tongue (without him laughing) before whisking him off to dinner in my private jet come the winter solstice? Could I thump – as they say in Yorkshire.

Nope. I just don’t make resolutions anymore. Years ago, I decided I would spend time reflecting, journaling, distilling, planning and implementing instead… right after I got over the lack of sleep on 1st January.

And it turns out I’m not alone. Here at Notebook Love HQ we love this time of year because this is when notebooks and journals really come into their own. There is a huge community of folk who start a new journal in the New Year. Even if it feels like you’ve had a dull day, it’s important to jot it down before you forget. You never know when it might be of interest to more than just you. Just look at Carrie Fisher’s journal, “The Princess Diarist” released just before her untimely death. When she was writing her journal she thought she was working on a daft little scifi movie that wouldn’t go anywhere. But now look.

Bullet journaling (or ‘bujo’ for short) is also huge trend and something we’ll be looking at more in future blog posts. Yes, people organise their lives a little more, get their ducks in a row at this time of year and nothing feels better than cracking the spine of a new notebook in order to do that.

That’s why we have a wonderful sale on at this time of year, to help with the planning and to extend the festive cheer just that little bit further. Happy New Year notebook lovers and Happy New Notebook!




What does Hygge mean to you?

What does Hygge mean to you? 2

This year a Danish word was shortlisted for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Yes, ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hyoogah’ or ‘hoogah’) has been embraced, cuddled and positively snuggled by the majority of the English-speaking western world – well, those who tend to live in the colder nations, anyway.

Unless you’ve been in the Australian jungle or on the International Space Station for the past 6 months, you probably already know exactly what I mean by ‘hygge’. But try and sum it up in one sentence and it gets tricky. Even those clever word buffs who put 'hygge' on their shortlist actually struggled to define or translate the word itself accurately. Their attempt was as follows: 

[mass noun] a quality of cosiness and comfortable
conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment
or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic
of Danish culture).


Hmm. So if the term is so tricky to pin down, why or how has hygge caught the imagination of so many here in the UK? There are hygge subscription boxes and hygge books, hygge blogs and gift sets… Even the sofa companies are describing that ‘cosy-night-in feeling.’ And I think that’s exactly it. Hygge seems to be based on a feeling rather than a singular tangible concept. It taps into our emotions and the notion of savouring what is simple and wholesome, slowing down in a fast world to spend time with the people we love.

So what feeling does hygge conjure for you?

What defines hygge in your life?

For me that ‘feeling’ starts every year when the clocks turn back and all I want to do is live in Downton Abbey and ensconce myself in a window seat (that they would doubtless have in the library there) with a good book or my notebook. It doesn’t help that I grew up in Downton country in the gorgeous Vale of York and my Grandma lives in Ripon where Lady Mary or the Dowager would often run errands. Our Notebook Love packing centre is now based there (Yorkshire, alas not Downton itself) and I love any excuse to visit. Who wouldn't with this view?!

Yorkshire view. Charlotte Noone.

  • J.K Rowling said, “The idea of just wandering off to a café with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me is just bliss.” That’s hygge. It's writing, dreaming, looking longingly out the window (there's the window seat again). It's planning, hatching, noting and listing, mastering and creating.

Inky Thinkings in the window.

"Inky Thinkings" is our most popular A5 notebook and suits a good window seat.

  • It’s highlighting the Radio Times at Christmas and watching movies every day.
  • It’s a feeling of home - without interruptions of the outside world, electronics, social media, glaring screens and emails from work.
  • It’s tickling the ears of the dozing dog I don’t have yet.
  • It’s that feeling when the furniture is moved around to fit the Christmas tree in and the whole room is transformed.
  • It’s good coffee.
  • It’s cuddling with my husband or nursing our four-month-old. It’s enjoying the necessity to stop or slow down for the better things in life.

Did you know?

The word has no proven origin but it is speculated that ‘hygge’ comes from the Norwegian word: Hug: ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Norwegian hugga ‘comfort, console.’

And speaking of which, my lovely other half, Mr. Notebook Love himself, is called Consol meaning 'comfort' or 'consolation'. Perhaps his name subconsciously derived from the time his family spent in another Scandinavian country, Sweden. He’s originally from DR Congo but his dad was ambassador there when he was 4 years old. When hygge came on our radar earlier this year, Consol casually mentioned how his family would often pile duvets, cushions and beanbags into the living room and they’d all spend the night in each other’s company, listening to music, talking, cosying then sleeping. Bliss! We need to reinstate that into our family life today!

Meanwhile, I’ll work on the Abbey window seat and put a puppy on my Christmas list. 

Happy hygge everyone. And Merry Christmas. Throw another log on the fire, tickle the ears of your dog if you’re lucky enough to have one and cosy up for Christmas.

 Dream Big by the fire 

"Dream Big & Dare" for fireside musings and New Year planning.