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  • Writer's pictureDan Brown

Diaries, Journals, Memories in Notebooks

In a world of digital and standardised everything, my tatty notebooks and unkempt handwriting feel as out of place and as old as my knees do (when walking down a mountain at least!)

Writing at one of my favourite bridges many years ago.

The idea of keeping a journal or a diary in a real physical notebook is now a bit of a sub-culture of its own. This is something that I love to see. There is the creative hobby element, where people create and decorate elaborate notebooks to the level of outright high quality artwork. There are people who focus on the functional productivity and organisation of diaries and journals. For me though it is the quiet moment of reflection and calm that sitting down to spend a few minutes scribbling away brings, that I find so appealing.

The first Midori pocket journal I ever filled. Sat on a bench next to Narrowboat Tilly, overlooking Blakemere.

I fluctuate on how consistently I write in my journals, how much I write and even what time of day I do it. But one thing is common to all of those moments, I am focused for a brief period, thinking about the events of the day. Even as a simple side effect, that brings a certain level of calm and deeper thought.

When I was writing my books about boat life, I'd find myself scouring notebooks, photos, memories and scraps of paper, trying to piece together events from months before, for hours on end. Then I would frantically type things out in a stream of words that would need heavily editing, as the endless scroll of the blank white computer screen invited me to find just one more paragraph to write.

An all time favourite picture of mine. Jotting down a few thoughts on a break from descending a mountain.

After spending years with this kind of writing as a regular feature of my life, the tiny moments of filling up a few lines in a pocket notebook became even more of a meditative experience. My more recent style of pocket notebook journaling has now gone on for almost a decade! Buying a Midori Traveler's Notebook as a bit of a luxury, novelty wallet style item in September 2013 has proved to be one of the longest lasting items I've owned. The cover is now well worn after being in my backpack for thousands of miles of walking, thousands of miles of cycling, and following me up 100-200 mountains in all weather conditions!

One of my very basic watercolour attempts. Fun but maybe not art!

I can now say that it has its own sentimental value similar to the growing line of filled notebooks that it has contained. Seeing the cover stained after a particularly wet mountain walk, then watching it fade over the following months until the stain vanishes gives it an almost living feeling and certainly challenges my natural love of neatness!

If there is one thing I would like people to take away from this random little post it is that you do not need to even have anything in particular to write, at least for me that's how it feels. The act of sitting down for a moment, putting the internet away and being silent, reflecting on the day's events, no matter how dramatic or mundane, can often bring things into a different light or offer a new solution to the daily trails of life... Surely its got to be better than watching another ten TikToks!

Thank you very much for reading my friends.

Keep it boat worthy,

Keep it interesting,



(Want to help me out? Please take a look at my boat life books HERE, and my YouTube Channel HERE)

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