26 September 2012

Philofaxy Meet Up - September 2012

So another London meet up is complete.
'But Steve it was just another London Meet Up?'
Well yes and no... I will admit the format of the day on Saturday did use the tried and tested formula of the previous ones, but we have been tweaking and refining it with each meet up... the same as we tweak our Filofax set ups, looking for that ultimate bit of perfection.

A quick run down of the day and then I will get into the detail and some background for those of you who as yet haven't attended a meet up to see if we can demystify the magic of a Philofaxy Meet Up, what is the secret behind them...

So I flew in to London from Poitiers my local airport here in France on Friday afternoon, arriving in London in the thick of the evening rush hour, which is a bit of a shock compared to quiet and peaceful rural France.  Once again I was booked in to the Holiday Inn Express in Southwark Street just behind Tate Modern, although there are a growing number of hotels now available in this area of London.

After breakfast I wandered across to Tate Modern and monitored Twitter and had my phone to hand to keep in touch with people on their way to London.  Our meet up was timed for 12.00 noon with us booked in to the restaurant for 12:15. With one exception every one was there by 12:10, big thumbs up, thanks everyone, this was a great start to a great afternoon.

Because our numbers have swelled from 10 to 14 people, Tate couldn't accommodate us all on one long table as in the past. However, in the end this didn't seem to matter as we all moved around after we had finished eating and I think we all got to talk to everyone else either at the Tate, during the walk across to City Organiser or later on that evening.

As usual it was a case of 'who is going to be first'.... first to finish dinner? No.... First to get out their Filofax organisers that they had brought along! It didn't take long before they started to appear and pages where being turned and discussions and explanations where being given and ideas exchanged.

Andy surprised Rebecca when he produced a large Dodopad folder that his wife had used in the late 1980's, Rebecca was rather taken back and Dodolighted to see a bit of her companies history still preserved and loved.  

This was our sixth London meet up in less than two years, we had people that had been to a meet up before as well as new people, but some people had not been at the same meet up together, so they were also meeting for the first time. Very few introductions were needed, with people being on Twitter, Facebook and of course Philofaxy, more and more people know each other quite well these days, and it was great to watch everyone instantly be relaxed and at ease with each other.

Alison the Globe Trotting Philofaxy Meet Up Attendee London, Chicago....

I got to chat with people about Philofaxy in general and some of these discussions triggered ideas for future posts, so I was frantically making notes so I didn't forget them.

At about 3pm we settled up our bill at the Tate and we formed up to march, sorry I mean walk to City Organiser over in Bow Lane, once again we were lucky with the weather, not a drop of rain all day thank goodness.

Then as we approached City Organiser, all the excitement and chattering started to die down as we got within a few metres. For those who had never been there before it was like entering the 'Magic Kingdom' there was silence... for a few seconds.... then people remembered to breath again.... no this wasn't a dream it was real, all those organisers in one place for them to look at and touch.

Having the whole of City Organiser to ourselves was once again an excellent part of the whole meet up experience and a big thank you to Andy for agreeing to open just for us on Saturday, normally his day off.

Tracy and Imy

The Dynamic Duo
Well Imy what do you think of the new Temperley?
I think you can guess Tracy's reaction!
Andy introduces some of the new Letts Notebooks

This was were the serious business of the day was going to take place, shopping lists came out, eyes started scanning the displays and items were being picked out and placed on the counter.

Purple Maldens

It wasn't all about buying though, we got to closely examine the new Temperley organisers as well as the limited edition ones. Quite a lot of discussion took place around a table at the back of the shop about these and comparing them with other organisers from the standard range.

Laurie will be doing a review of a Temperley soon so it will be interesting to see what she has to say compared to what the group thought. 

I think most of us ventured down in to the 'Aladdins Cave' which is the basement office of City Organiser. As you can see there were a few familiar office staff already sat at the desks gazing around the walls of shelves of Filofax black boxes.... and Andy then told us, oh we haven't had our big Autumn delivery yet... I wonder where they will all end up being stored..!

The new office staff at City Organiser try out their desks!

I am sure most of us have been to a store to look and may be buy a Filofax before. However, the unique experience about doing the same thing at a meet up is that you are shopping with 'friends'. You can examine the whole range of organisers, or even the whole stock of one particular model/style to be able to pick out exactly the one that you like the best, best the pattern of the leather or the shade of colour.

Which Purple Malden would you like?

We managed to get everyone outside for a quick group photo before the daylight disappeared and some of our party had to leave for early trains home to different parts of UK. 

L-R Yasmin, Andy, Anita, Saz, Christa, Thomas, Tracy, Imy, Alison, Jess, Keji, Rebecca, Preethi

As some of us were staying in London, and a few people only had a short train journey to get home, so we agreed to meet up for a meal in a restaurant in the evening.

I had spotted Vapiano whilst I was over last time in May, when I mentioned it to Thomas, he was very complementary about Vapiano and so we met up there in the evening.

More discussions took place, others continued from earlier, a few drinks were consumed as well as some lovely food and deserts.

Sadly we had to end the day there, go home or back our respective hotels. After a quick night cap we turned in for the night.

Sunday dawned with grey skies and the forecast of rain and high winds, so I implemented a hasty change of plan for lunch and we went back to Vapiano's again... this time a reduced number of us (Thomas, Imy, Tracy and myself), but we were joined by my son Philip and Maudie (of Maudie Made)

We had a great meal and lots of discussion. I'm not quite sure what my son Philip made of it all, he was the only non-Filofax user there!!!  But he joined in the conversation as much as everyone else, so it couldn't have been too bad!

It was lovely to meet Maudie as well for the first time. She is also another diary insert maker so it was interesting to compare notes about how we create our different diary inserts.

With it still raining outside we all said our goodbyes and headed off for trains. I had a quiet night in the hotel and flew back to France on Monday morning, but I also managed to visit The Pen Shop in Stansted Airport on the way through. The manager remembered me from last May!!! So we had a chat and I left her with some Philofaxy cards.

The Pen Shop Stansted Airport

The weekend has left me full of happy memories of conversations and things we shared on the two days and now of course I can look forward to the November meet ups... one in Edinburgh and the other in London.

Again thank you to everyone who came to the various events over the weekend. And of course to Andy for giving us full access to City Organiser 


  1. Looks like a brilliant Meetup! We all wish we could have been to this star-studded event... Steve (the King), Imy and Tracy (the dynamic duo), Anita... I'd particularly have loved to have met Lord Dodo! Looks like tons of fun. Will have to try to get to London for one of these sometime!

  2. Loved reading the write-up, Steve. Fantastically fun day meeting old and new friends. Have to admit I felt far more relaxed this time around (last time my husband was freaking out about me meeting people off the internet and I was instructed to send him regular texts throughout the day.... this time he knew I was with friends!). Steve - thanks so much for organising, you do all the hard work so we can all enjoy the day. P.S. LOVE seeing The Pen Shop photo.... my highlight of flying from Stansted (they have some really old inserts there, and makes flying budget worth it!).

  3. Looks like brilliant fun. I'd love to come along to one of these! Maybe next time...

  4. Looks like brilliant fun. I'd love to come along to one of these! Maybe next time...

  5. What a nice write-up, but I keep wondering: what did everyone buy?

    1. I only bought a couple of packs of plain cotton cream paper so I can print off my own personal size diary insert.

      I also collected another item at the meet up that Tracy had bought for me off Ebay, this will appear in a post soon.... so all will be revealed!


  6. This was a fantastic write up of a great meet up! Wow the basement of the store with all those Filofax boxes - how could you stand that! My British boyfriend keeps telling me to fly to London for a meet up and I would love to go one day SOON!

  7. Thanks again to you Steve - it was a brilliant day - I met friends old and mostly new but as you say knowing each other online makes actually meeting 'in the flesh' almost completing the circle. I have to say it never occurred to me to be cautious about meeting people I'd not 'met' before!

    I'll be interested to see what Laurie has to say about the new 'Violet' Temperley. I did in fact buy one and I have to admit to loving it. But I am using it as a wallet to replace my old Classic. (I guess neither Imy or Tracy will ever speak to me again!)

    It was wonderful to meet Andy from City Organiser too and to see a 32 year old Dodo Pad, perfectly preserved and MUCH used and loved, was indeed my highlight of the day! Thank you and I look forward to coming along to another meet up soon.

    1. Unfortunately for me it's not the Violet Temperley I've received on loan but the yellow Ikat one. Too bad because I think the Violet looks gorgeous but the Ikat is very disappointing. Not only the print (you either love it or hate it I think) but the construction seems very cheap. I have off-brand Filofax-like binders I bought 8 years ago that are better constructed. Too bad, especially considering the price!! I will post the review soon.

      Looks like a wonderful meetup!!

  8. Looks wonderful - you are all so lucky to get together - I must try and get there one day! I don't think you would get me out of COs basement though - I'd want to move in with all that lovely stock! Can't wait to hear what everyone has bought - I'm sure there will be blogs and reveals soon!

  9. On meeting strangers from online - I remember when I met up with David Popely for the first time, my OH was a little dubious, but we arranged to meet in a FF shop and moved onto a coffee shop so I guessed there was no real problem. In the event it turned out to be the start of a very pleasant online 'friendship'. I also met up with Helen Conway at the Quilting Festival at the NEC and my only regret is that I was unable to spend more time with her as I had my elderly mother and my niece in tow!

    Ordinarily I might be more cautious, but I have to say every interaction or meeting I've ever had with the Philofaxy community has been lovely - a bunch of truly nice people.

    1. I've also recently met Cloudberry, and again, it was (I am sure) the start of what will be a very pleasant friendship....obviously standard caution is on order, but I would urge people not to shy away from meeting other Philofaxy members.....we're basically a good bunch, and the breadth of our shared interest makes it easy to spend time together talking.

    2. Yes - the problem is usually getting a word in edgewise as we all want to talk so much!!! There is always so. much. to. say.

  10. What a lovely write-up!

    It is my dream to one day visit City Organiser. Preferably with Philofaxers. Since I am in the US and have no money, this is definitely a dream....but who knows what will happen someday!

    Also, I had to laugh when you said you were at a Holiday Inn Express - we have those here, and I didn't know they were an international thing. :)

    1. I've stayed occasionally at the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon - it's very nice, although I usually use the Travelodge for reasons of price. The HI people are really helpful though - I recommend calling them rather than booking online, just for the pleasure of their service!

    2. You don't hear remarks like that any more, David! Most of the time, I prefer to do something online so I don't have to have my day ruined by poor customer service.

    3. Having said that, when I arrived at Croydon Travelodge on Wednesday, the nice people there had opened the windows and drawn the curtains to stop the room from overheating during the day. That kind of thoughtfulness impresses me.

      I have a 'whitelist' of people/business I will buy from (in person). It's pretty short, and membership is sometimes short-lived. I'm a tough customer on service. Also I will *not* buy from *anyone* who can't spell or use written English appropriately - so greengrocers (Tomato's) and restaurants (Tapas Tuesday's) get a particularly hard time. Politeness, eye contact (supermarkets included)and general cheerfulness (the idiot customer you may have just served is not my problem) are all criteria. Sadly, it's only by being pedantic curmudgeons that we can stem the downward spiral of customer service we are currently experiencing. I hear it's a different world in Canada.......

  11. Wow, this meet up puts our shopping selection in New York to shame. Where we go has a good selection for the US, but nothing like this! And you had so many people! I hope, hope, hope I get to London some day. I would love to attend a meet up there!

    1. Yes 14 of us this time!

      Can I just say that if anyone from the US manages to travel to UK on holiday I would do everything possible to arrange a meet up around their visiting dates, assuming we had enough notice etc.

      It's just the way Philofaxy works, you would do the same for us in the USA I'm sure.... and you have I know already with both Saffy and Alison D visiting different meet ups in the USA.

    2. Do Pens and Leather have a store you could visit? I will look it up in a moment.....

    3. I don't believe that pens and leather has a store. There are a few places in New York that sell filos, but none of them have the selection that your stores in London do.

      If - no when - I make it to London, you'll be the first to know!

  12. I had such a wonderful day & thanks to Steve for arranging it. Really enjoyed the meal afterwards as well & my lovely husband collected me from the station at 11:30 p.m.! Blog post to come :)

  13. @kanalt, I will drag you with me! John said it again, "you should go to London for a meet up!"

    1. Drag me, drag me! I won't protest! ;-) actually, I have thought about that - rounding up as many Americans as possible and doing a group trip to London. It's probably not very feasible, but a nice idea anyway!

  14. Jealous!!!! Could you have taken anymore pictures of those purple Maldens!!! haha. Thanks for sharing! Seems like most of us from the USA are in envy of the wide range of Filofaxes you have in the UK and those Philofaxy meet ups! Now, how to ship us over there...

  15. It sounds as though your London meet up was sucessful. If I ever went into the City Organiser, my wife may never see me agsain. I really like those kind of stores.