So I got hold of the motherboard circuit from an old keyboard and used it to modify a spiral writing pad last night.
Looks decent eh? Yes, that is indeed a mother board / circuit. The yellow bit of paper is a dry-cleaners bill which I have kept tucked in that instead of in my bulging wallet - it also shows off the pocket better on camera. This also makes the notepad waterproof.
The second snap shows the notepad resting on my keyboard with a pen inside. The actual pages are a nice bright blue, on which blue ink looks almost-black.
I will soon try to make more versions now that this experiment has turned out decent. After all, lack of a smartphone means I'm back to paper and pen - but not without a little circuitry!