Lamy Safari 2017 Special Edition: Petrol


The first fountain pen I ever bought myself was a Charcoal Lamy Safari when I first moved to London almost ten years ago. What a whimsical memory! It was certainly not true love, though, which I blame on the Medium nib I was not quite ready for, and the fact that I just tossed in the truly abysmal Lamy Blue cartridge that came with the pen.

Something about a Safari keeps you coming back, though, and when I fell hard into fountain pens again last year, the first one I bought was a Lamy Vista, which I immediately and deeply loved.

But I am not an undying Safari fan, and I have no intention of being a collector. When the 2017 Special Edition was released, though, I knew I would end up with it. I just straight up love how it looks, and although I held off for a while, these pens are just too affordable to talk yourself out of for very long.

I just love the cut of the Petrol’s jib – love the black clip and black nib and the matte body. I even love that they called it Petrol. I won’t go too in depth as far as the pen’s performance, because you can read actually hundreds of other Safari reviews. But I will say that when you buy a Safari, you know you’re getting a pen that is basically indestructible. That first Safari I bought, which was hardly cherished, managed to stick with me through two moves across the Atlantic. Love them or hate them, these pens are nothing if not reliable.

The Ink

I bought my Petrol Safari at a Paperchase in a District Line Tube station and it came with a box of five Petrol ink cartridges. I’m really into this ink. It’s a dark teal/green-black with some good shading. I’ll probably pick up a couple more boxes of cartridges. I don’t own a bottle of Lamy ink and would love for Petrol to be the first, but they’re quite hard to get hold of and I’m not going to stress myself out trying to find one. I’m very happy to be able to try it out in cartridges, though.

Petrol Sample1

And I’m not going to worry too much about its limited availability because, while it’s the only teal ink I own, I don’t think it’s incredibly unique. I’m not generally concerned about matching pen and ink colours, but I would love to keep a teal ink in the Petrol Safari and I think there are many other suitable inks out there. Diamine Teal would be totally legit to keep in this pen when I run out of Petrol cartridges.


To my eye, Lamy has gotten this Safari just right. And while I’m not too bothered about its Special Edition-ness, I am very pleased that I didn’t miss out on this one.

Budget Beaut: Helix Oxford Fountain Pen


I started this blog with a bang of excitement and enthusiasm, as I have with a few other blogs in my time. You can, with a little dedicated Googling, find the cadavers of other blogs I have abandoned along the way. This will not be one of those! My excuse is that right after Christmas, we decided to sell our house and change absolutely every aspect of our life and that is an INCREDIBLY DISTRACTING THING TO DO and we are still very much in the gunky, coagulated thick of it. Also, the number keys on my Chromebook stopped working, so I can’t even log into it and that proved to be really rather inconvenient.

UGH ANYWAY – I bought this laptop a few days ago and every single one of the backlit keys works as it should! So my first thought was, “I can type about pens again!” And then it dawned on me that I haven’t bought any stationery because we’ve been in a limbo of thinking we’re moving so-don’t-you-dare-bring-anything-into-this-house-that-we-then-have-to-pack-up-any-day-now-and-carry-out-of-here-no-matter-how-small-or-cheap!

And then today my mother-in-law gave me some really very awesome thoughtful birthday presents and one of them was this pen. And it’s such a splendid little gem of a surprise that I immediately came home and hand-wrote this whole rambleview (a rambling review!!) with it and then typed it out on my flash new laptop (with a little background music of my neighbours having a total nuclear brawl in the backyard. They seem determined to throw each other through the fence separating our yards, but at press time, the fence is valiantly holding out.) MOVING ON. From this topic and from this neighbourhood, please God.


This seems to be marketed as a student pen. It’s made by the company that made every compass and protractor that every kid has used in every geometry class in every country in EVERY WORLD – Helix.

When I first picked up the pen, I was struck by how solid and weighty it feels. It seems to be lacquer over a metal body, but I suppose it could be plastic. As far as I can tell, it only comes in one colour – a very deep navy blue with chrome accents, including the very sturdy but flexible pocket clip. There is nothing flashy about the pen, but the construction is surprisingly top-notch for something you can pick up for £5 – £7.

The cap is a pull-off, push-on and closes with the loveliest of clicks. It posts well and it’s really an incredibly well-balanced pen. I generally write with my pens unposted, but I love the feel of writing with this pen posted. It’s not too long or back heavy.

I’d say the nib writes a line on par with a steel Lamy F nib. It has a smooth and consistent flow that I’m really happy with. I put in a Jinhao converter I happened to have and filled it with Diamine Deep Dark Blue, which I find to be a fairly wet ink. I generally like EF nibs, but the flow and nib size on the Helix are a really great combination for an everyday writer.

In the realm of affordable, readily available fountain pens, the Parker Vector is pretty much king, in terms of ubiquity. But this Helix fountain pen, which I’m sure you can pick up in most stationery shops in the UK, would be a great alternative. The construction is better, with metal threads that mean it won’t have the cracking problems that tend to plague well-used Vectors. It’s also cheaper, and a bit more convenient, because rather than proprietary refills, it uses standard international cartridges and converters.

Jinhao x750 size comparison
Jinhao x750 size comparison
Here’s the biggest endorsement I can give this pen: If your world is in a spin and you just want something solid to clutch and write a few thoughts down with, you cannot go wrong with this little beaut. You’ll get change from £10 and it will be a bud for years to come.