Oslo! The capital of Norway!


So, here I am, writing in a hotel in Oslo, the capital of Norway, one of the only non-EU european countries. I came on a 6 hour train journey yesterday, which was rather tiring to say the least. But it's great so far! We visited a much-reknowned place yesterday: Aker Brygge, which is like a harbourside-cum-shopping centre-cum-very expensive restaurant centre-cum-Christmas market. The Christmas market was lovely; drowned in beautiful lights, and selling lovely things. I will post some photos later. It was a pity that everything was so overpriced, I mean, is 50 Norwegian Kroner (£5/$10/€7.50) the right price to pay for a 400 g stollen cake? I doubt it. But it was fun to visit. We also took a tram ride up to Grünerløkka, the Greenwich/Camden-y area, and the tram since it was late (OK, 8pm isn't that late, but it gets pitch black at about 4pm in Oslo), it was nice, because we saw lots of Christmas lights on the way. Now I'm about to eat breakfast, and I'll update this very post later. Come back soon!

The Christmas Series - Part 3 - Christmas Media in the UK


What would Christmas be without the media? TV, radio, the internet, magazines, books, shops, online stores, newspapers, theatres, cinemas... the list is endless. Every year the UK media blows up with Christmas cheer... and this year is no different! So I thought I'd give a little preview of what we can expect to see this Christmas.

This year, UK TV viewers can expect to watch a whole array of Christmas specials. Starting with 'The Snowman' and 'A Christmas Carol'; Christmas Eve classics, we can also expect to see Jacqueline Wilson's 'Dustbin Baby' bought to life and a special Eastenders in which Dot's son Nick returns to (wreck?) Christmas. The Doctor Who Christmas special 'The Next Doctor' is something not to be missed. A dramatised version of the spooky 'Crooked House' will air, as well as another episode of the ever-loved programme Wallace and Gromit; A Matter of Loaf and Death. Michael Palin retraces his steps to Mumbai and Dubai, which he last visited twenty years ago, as well as the Keeping up Appearances and the Blackadder Christmas specials airing! Top of the Pops returns too, along with the final of Strictly Come Dancing and a whole list of films and repeats!

Bookstores and clothes stores go mad at Christmas, with all the shops trying to lure their customers with pre-Christmas 'sales', which are likely to be slashed in half on Boxing Day. Online stores are also extremely popular this Christmas; sales of up to one thousand per minute were recorded on Play.com!

Theatre productions such as the Dickensian 'A Christmas Carol' and pantomimes return, and hundreds of streets will be lit up, as well as loads of markets being set up. London is probably one of the best places to be around Christmas - so much festive spirit!!

I'll return with another Christmassy post soon! I hope you enjoyed reading; please leave comments!

The Christmas Series - Part 2 - A little pre-Christmas poem


You may have noticed that I've gone absolutely overboard with the decorations on the blog - and that's because I love Christmas! Everything about it! Dressing the tree, opening the presents, walking down lit up streets - everything! I'm mad about Christmas! I hope you like the blog decorations - please leave comments! And, since there's only three weeks left until Christmas day, I thought I'd kick off with a little pre-Christmas poem! Enjoy!

The stockings are up,
We've dressed the tree,
In three weeks exactly
It's Christmas to be.

We've baked the mince pies,
The pudding's in the pot,
Now I come to mention it -
I see, we've made a lot!

The fireplace mantle is
Covered with cards,
And outside the window
It's snowing quite hard!

We've done lots of shopping,
We've seen all the sales,
Our house is so packed,
So much to unveil!

Now we're getting ready,
Watching TV and more,
Singing all the carols,
Like no Christmas before!

Now I'm in Hyde Park,
In the Winter Wonderland,
The lovely Christmas market,
It's going just as planned.

We've been to the theatre,
The pantomimes we've seen!
A Christmas Carol - charming!
What a great time it's been!

But now we will all wait here,
Till the joyful Christmas morn',
To open all our presents,
We're waiting for the dawn...

Happy Birthday Doctor Who!


After 45 glorious years, BBC's Doctor Who is still going strong! The wonderful science-fiction show, originally designed as an educational history programme, has developed into so much more, complemented with a handful of spin-offs, still on our TVs today! This series, noted in the Guinness World Records for the longest running sci-fi show, tells the story of a Time Lord, an alien from a planet named Gallifrey. Throughout the years, the fictional now 945 year old has regenerated into a new body nine times, and has had a countless number of (mostly human) companions, joining him on his adventures in the TARDIS, in time and space.

This programme is now ingrained in British culture, and it's doubtful that you'll find a family in Britain who haven't heard of the terrifying pepper-pot 'Dalek' monsters, the Doctor's arch enemy. Doctor Who ran regularly from 1963 until 1989, and after one TV movie in 1996, the show was revived, in 2005 (with the ninth Doctor, player by Christopher Eccleston). Contrary to many producers' and critics' belief, it was immensely successful, and has been broadcast ever since.

The main character is the Doctor, and currently in his tenth regeneration (played by David Tennant), he is still discovering adventures and aliens - such as the Daleks, Cybermen, Ood and Sontarans among (MANY) others, both here and there around the universe, and on his favourite planet, Earth. He has had three companions in the new series; Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Without doubt, this must be my favourite TV series - I simply cannot miss an episode.

A new character was introduced in the first new series - Captain Jack. His character proved to be a popular character, and an spin-off was made starring him as the main character of a secret organisation called Torchwood, dealing with alien activity on Earth (OK... Cardiff, where the studio, I mean time rift is). This is a great show. Another spin-off was created in 2007, starring 1970's companion Sarah Jane Smith as the main characters, with her teenage companions dealing with Alien mysteries. I watched a few episodes, and it was really excellent too.

To be sure that you don't miss any of the episodes of those series, here are the dates of the next shows: Doctor Who - Christmas Day BBC1, Sarah Jane Adventures - Monday 24th November BBC1 4:35 pm and Torchwood - Spring 2009 on BBC.

All of these series are exceedingly brilliant - I would completely recommend you to watch them. One of the episodes attracted 13 million viewers - imagine almost 7 Stockholms watching simultaneously! You can watch some clips on YouTube or Google Video or if you're in the UK, why not catch up on some of the latest episodes on BBC's iPlayer?

Today is the exact 45th anniversary of Doctor Who. Long live the Doctor! Here are some great resources for finding out more. Enjoy! Oh, and if you liked my post, please leave a comment!

Death Note - an unusual story


Initially I didn't really like the look of anime (Japanese animated stories), but I actually found one that is pretty good. It's called Death Note (デスノート), and it's based on the manga (Japanese comic book) of the same name. The story is a supernatural action mystery by Tsugumi Ohba and it is about a Death God who drops a notebook entitled Death Note, because he was bored. Any person's name that is written in this book will die within 40 seconds.

Light Yagami, a Japanese teenager, happened to pick up this book, and therefore became the owner of it. Now he can see the death god Ryuk, who believes that human control of the book is 'fun'. Light starts writing down the names of all the criminals he can think of, and they start dropping like flies. He wishes to become a 'God' and bring justice to the world - and make it a better place. But this doesn't go unnoticed, and now everyone from the Japanese police to a secret detective called 'L' and the FBI are after him, and Light is doing is best to protect his identity. He is now known all across Japan as the Japanese pronunciation of 'Killer' - 'Kira'.

I'm on episode three - and I'm really enjoying it. I don't know if everyone would like it, but you could always try watching the first episode below!

A Beautiful Mind - murderous maths indeed


You may say I've gone into a scary film review mood. But I just had to write about this film. The Orphanage, yes I know I'm contradicting myself, was not half as frightening as I described it to be. I realised this when I watched Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind yesterday.

Imagine being superbly intelligent. Being able to work out complicated maths problems within seconds, being able to detect patterns in thousands of numbers or words. Imagine going to university, despite being asocial. Meeting new friends there. Soon after, you join the US military's secret services, breaking codes being used by Soviet spies. But then, you suddenly find out that your job at the US military and one of your university friends is unreal. You are being followed all the time, by your own imagination. Then you cannot tell the difference between real and unreal - your brain is in a conflict. You struggle in a mental hospital - against fake guns, used by fake people.

That's what this film was about. It's really very spooky - telling the story of John Nash, a Nobel prize-winning schizophrenic genius. It's even more spooky when you find out it was based on a true story...

The Orphanage - aarrgghh!


Yesterday I watched The Orphanage. Yes. That sentence in itself is a statement of horror. I have a feeling that Juan Antonio Bayona will make many more films, after such a great debut. Yes. The awful, terribly frightening Spanish film 'El Orfanato', overflowing with suspense and a feeling of anything jumping out of anywhere at any time. If you can't speak Spanish you can't resist laughing at the fact that they speak so quickly, and it's quite difficult to keep up with the racing English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Before watching it, I checked out the ratings on the IMDb, and they vary from PG in Singapore to 13-15 in most of Europe and 18PL in Malaysia - for over-eighteens only! This variation was rather odd, and soon I found out why. There was hardly any violence or blood, but it was all down to fear. If you understand the story, you can actually feel the horror - you understand the daunting situations, hence the post title.

The film starts with a flashback of one of the main characters Laura in her childhood, playing games. A calm start. Then we meet Simón, her adopted son, who has to take medicine every day because he is HIV positive. He has 'imaginary' friends. Laura and her husband Carlos never believe in these invisible friends. They all live in Laura's old orphanage, and they want to make it into an orphanage again, with about 5-6 children. One day at a party Simón wants to show her something, but she refuses. That was the last time she sees him alive. The story escalates from here. It really becomes a thriller. We see how she tries to find him... doing whatever it takes.

If you can stomach it, I'd really advise you to watch this film!

The Christmas Series - Part 1 - The Snowman


With an early kick-off to the Christmas season, I've decided to start with a warm (or should I say snowy) series of Christmas posts, covering all aspects of a very wonderful Christmas. For starters, I've decided to include the lyrics of one of the best if not my favourite Christmas songs - We're Walking in the Air. It is part of a fascinating wordless half-hour Christmas television programme called 'The Snowman' by Raymond Briggs, repeated every Christmas eve since 1982 on Britain's Channel 4. And yes, it's true, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without 'The Snowman'; I've watched it every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember!

'The Snowman' tells the story of a little boy who wakes up on Christmas eve to find that it's snowing. He goes outside and makes a snowman. When he goes to bed he notices that the snowman he created has become alive, magically! He rushes outside to embark on a ship of many adventures with this mythical creature. They do everything from trying on some of the little boy's dad's clothes, turning the Christmas tree lights on and off and bathing in a freezer to racing through the woods on a motorbike! Eventually they both take off, across the frozen world to join Father Christmas, the reindeer and all the other snowmen on a big snowman dance. The little boy receives a scarf from Father Christmas and in the end they fly back home. To the great disappointment of the little boy he wakes up on Christmas day to find the Snowman melted - but he still has the scarf in his hand...

The magical, enchanting tale comprises a wonderful song - We're Walking in the Air, sung by Peter Auty and written by Howard Blake. This song is so great I've decided to play it on the piano this year, and as part of my English homework, here are the lyrics, with a Swedish translation:

Here is the link for 'The Snowman' on YouTube - a timeless classic. And here is a separate link for just the Walking in the Air video, with English and Swedish subtitles. Please, look out for more posts in The Christmas Series!

Four exciting festivals - wow!


Now, when October is nearing to an end and November and December are looming upon us, with dark days, dark(er) nights, cold and bad weather with quite a gloomy and dull climate... four exciting festivals are coming up! This is the beginning of the festive season! Forget about the bad weather... think of the great festivities! For starters we had UN day on the 24th and now comes the Hindu/Sikh/Jain festival of light, Diwali or Deepavali, followed by a (hopefully) spooky Hallowe'en, which marks the very beginning of Christmas, Yuletide - it's wonderful!

So, here are the details on the three periods of festivities:

1. UN Day - Celebrating the birthday of the United Nations; created in 1945 as a big worldwide union to prevent war and poverty. The festival is celebrated in many parts of the world as a day to celebrate internationality and nations!

2. Diwali/Deepavali (দীপাবলী/दीपावली/தீபாவளி) - one of the biggest Indian festivals - as big as Christmas in the west - the Festival of Lights. The festival is based on a story celebrating light over darkness and the victory of good over evil. The story is about the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile and a war in which he killed the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps to light their path in the darkness. This is why many Hindu homes are thoroughly cleaned and oil lamps are lit. It is also believed that the goddess Laxmi will come and bless their homes. In some parts of the world such as the UK and Singapore this festival is not strictly celebrated by Hindus, but non-religiously appreciated by those of other religions, similar to Christmas. Celebrations include having firework nights, putting up festive lights, decorating the house with flowers and sharing sweets.

3. Hallowe'en - is the spookiest festival of the year, passed down from ancient traditions to today's scary carved Jack-o-lanterns (pumpkins), reading scary stories and watching horror films, lighting bonfires and going trick-or-treating! Originally an Irish festival, with activities such as apple-bobbing, Hallowe'en is really scary and exciting now!

I think that Christmas will get its own post later. In the mean time, HAVE FUN!!!

(Popular) British Cuisine


There are lots of people who just think that Britain has no cuisine whatsoever. And the majority of the few people who do believe can only imagine tea and scones with jam and cream. Cream tea is British cuisine, but it's not the staple everyday diet of most Brits. When I say British cuisine, I don't mean Masterchef-style fancy-hardly-anything-on-the-plate-food, but I mean regular things that people eat and by from Tesco's (a supermarket chain) - stuff that is popular in the UK. It's not always traditional, it's not always completely British - it's often a mix of many cuisines, and it's not always especially healthy either. But it's food that people in the UK like - and visitors in the UK should try.

And before you ask - fish and chips is not the only British supper. Scrambled/poached/fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, sausages, toast, baked beans and mushrooms are all part of an English breakfast - normally too rich and too much for a breakfast! Let's continue with a snack - the scotch egg. Not actually Scottish, the scotch egg is an egg coated with a layer of sausagemeat. Delicious hot or cold, there are variations, such as savoury eggs (mashed egg with mayonnaise in mini sausagemeat coated balls) - which I like best! Savoury eggs are really good for snacks and picnics. Then there's the roast dinner, which many people in the UK like to tuck into on a Sunday or at Christmas, with beef, chicken or turkey - which consists of vegetables, roast potatoes and roast meat... yum. Curry is a very popular dish in Britain originating from India, and now there's at least one South Asian take-away in most towns. Contrary to popular belief, Chicken Tikka Masala is not an South Asian dish. Yes, it's based on South Asian food, but according to the BBC, it was invented in a Glasgow curry house, when one day a man thought his tandoori chicken was too dry, and asked for some gravy. The chef then added a tin of tomato soup and a pinch of spices, and Britain's true national dish was born (according to the former former secretary Robin Cook).

Some other delicious British dishes/snacks consist of: Scottish Shortbread, fudge, Weetabix (wheat cereal biscuits eaten with milk for breakfast which go with just about anything - from honey to raspberries to chocolate ice cream!), Hoola Hoops (some sort of crisps), Mini Cheedar Cheese Biscuits (miles from the American 'Goldfish' biscuits), Chocolate-coated oaty biscuits (Hob-Nobs), the delectable Cadbury's British chocolate (read Roald Dahl's 'Boy - Tales of Childhood' - tremendously delicious - a wonderful unique taste), sausage rolls (rolls of pastry bulging with tasty sausagemeat), pork pies and last but not least, at Christmas time, mince pies - scrumptious little pies filled with mincemeat; not actually meat, but a mixture of different jams, berries and fruits.

Finally, although bit off-topic, I would like to wish all those who celebrate the festival of Durga Puja all the best! PS: Coincidentally, the day after I finished this post, I found out that the British Food Fortnight is currently ongoing - celebrating British food. Have a look for more ideas here and here too!

Goodness Gracious Me - the world's best comedy!


Goodness Gracious Me has to be the best comedy ever! Based on British Asian culture, four famous actors: Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia, Kulvinder Ghir and Meera Syal act as British Asians in three whole series of nineteen-nineties comedy! You probably have to have some sort of South Asian connection or knowledge to understand the comedy, but if you do, you can watch it for hours on end. Filled with parodies and exaggerated situations, ranging from the man who calls everything overly English Indians to the Guru Maharishi Yogi - who knows nothing whatsoever about Hinduism.

There are many wonderful sketches which are extremely funny - and lots of great plots. Recently, a sketch named "Going out for an English" - in which four friends go out to an English restaurant in India, much like many British people go out for an Indian, and end up ordering extraordinarily bland food and twenty-four plates of chips was voted the 6th greatest comedy sketch by Britain's Channel 4. It's actually dreadfully hilarious for anyone, so I highly recommend you to watch the following clips, and then have a look at the episodes (almost all of them) on YouTube! It's fantastic!

Ridiculous "Nōkabe" - Hole in the Wall


A ridiculous Japanese gameshow component ((脳カベ Nōkabe from とんねるずのみなさんのおかげでした 'Tunnels' 'Thanks to everyone') has invaded the whole world - everywhere from Argentina to Indonesia! Named 'Hole in the Wall', it involves a wall with a shaped hole coming towards a player. The player has to get through the hole to get "CLEAR", but if they are unable to make it through the wall, they get "NOT CLEAR", and then fall into a big pool of water. It's also known as 'human tetris'.

It certainly is a very silly game, but the popularity in Japan (and on YouTube) was so high, it spread everywhere. I mean, you'd never expect the BBC to create a copy of a weird Japanese gameshow - but they have! Now, time for some wacky clips:

Original Japanese version:

And the wacky BBC version - Bring on the Wall!:

Oh ... whatever next? Anyway, it's kind of funny!

Christmas stamps - don't ask me why!


Despite the fact that there's still 110 days remaining until the joyful dawn of Christmas day, I've got all tangled up in the world of stamps - especially the Christmas and festival ones that lots of countries are starting to bring out now! Stamps are really cool "masterpieces" of art - displaying lots on a small piece of gummed paper which are placed on letters to be posted. Lots of stamps can be really boring like the British definitive "Machin" stamps - the queen's head in about a million different colours - probably ranging from "phosphate blue" to "light gravel grey". I mean; do you really want to send something as boring as that on a letter? But I must admit that they do look cool when there are lots of them in album - all multicoloured. And it's a very recognisable British icon. Luckily, there are loads of wonderful stamps everywhere though - especially ones that are given out at Christmas.

When December arrives a carpet of a wintry festive spirit descends upon many countries, and in the season of goodwill and faith many letters and cards are sent to and fro, many people wishing their family and friends a great Christmas and New Year. I've made a small compilation of some great festival stamps which will be posted around the world this very Yule and some that were sent in previous years:

Anyway, I hope all the countries continue to bring out lovely festive stamps to adorn our seasonal mail!

Trams and Monorails


I was flicking through the Stockholm Metro newspaper the other day and came across an article about SL (Stockholm Public Transport) making the decision to extend the Tvärbana tramway. Currently it starts at Alvik, a lakeside town in West Stockholm and goes through Liljeholmen, the Årsta industrial area, the Globe Arena, the Gullmarsplan interchange, and ending at the brand new coastal/skiing town of Hammarby Sjöstad. They want to extend it northbound through Bromma Airport and Bromma Center to a residential/shopping town called Solna. This would be really cool because then you would be able to get through Stockholm's nearby outskirts so easily - because the tram is connected to many underground stations.

Talking of trams, I think they make any city look really cool - and they're also great for the environment; carrying many people on an electric line. There are loads of cool trams around the world. Starting in my home town - London has the Croydon tram. It's nothing exceptional but it is a great achievement for London - the inner-to-outercity Crossrail has been planned since the 1970's, and the newest date for the completion is 2018. It's been delayed time after time. But London's going to go through a major rejuvenation for the 2012 Olympics - it's going to be great!

You can see some other cool tram and monorail systems from around the world above in the slideshow. There's the double-decker Hong Kong tram, which travels all over the islands and you can get some good views. You use the multi-pupose Octopus card on them - they are top-up pay as you go cards like London's 'Oyster card', but you can use the contact-less cashless cards at most shops and libraries too! The second one is Bordeaux's super-cool glassy, shiny tram system. Germany's Wuppertaler Schwebebahn ('Wuppertal Suspension Railway') has a really intresting design - it is a hanging monorail which transports residents and tourists through the small German town (and river) of Wuppertal. Sydney's monorail is fantastic - it has the coolest look and runs over the ground on a viaduct through the city centre! But the winner has to be Shanghai's maglev train. Maglev stands for magnetic levitation; the train doesn't actually touch the track - it hovers, or levitates above it! I would really like to go on this amazing train one day - with a maximum speed of 500 km/h! It takes you 30 km - from the airport to the city centre - in just 8 minutes! This must be the coolest!

I love all tram and monorail transportation systems - they are so modern and efficient! I hope to see more popping up all over the place!

The Beijing 2008 Olympics


The Olympics are great!! They're a great way to bring the world together on such a special joyous and competitive event. This year Beijing, the capital of China are hosting the summer olympics. The opening ceremony was quite fantastic. Despite the slight cheating (such as the computer-generated fireworks and the little girl miming the national song due to the actual girl having crooked teeth), I found it very good and entertaining. Not only was China's opening ceremony good; they are very good at the sports too. So far, China has 49 gold medals, followed by the USA with 34, Russia with 21 and the UK with 19. I've got the continuously updating list on my sidebar. On Monday the Beijing Olympics end, but a whole month of paralympics begin! It's really exciting and fun to watch!

But after the month of paralympics, the olympic fun doesn't stop! In fifty days Pune, India has the honour of hosting the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. And in 2010 the world will experience the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the Vancouver Winter Olympics AND the Guangzhou Asian Games! But tomorrow (24th August 2008) the Beijing Olympics finish, and the grand closing ceremony, which is expected to be as good as the opening ceremony will include the Beijing-London handover ceremony - which will surely be fantastic! I can't wait for the London 2012 Summer Olympics!

Monopoly; my favourite board game


Earlier on today I was playing Monopoly with some of my friends. It's such a fun game!! Although you go round and round the board - a single game lasting hours and hours - you never quite get bored! I've got one of the ancient London version, but it's still as fun as ever! I'm not exactly an expert at the game - I usually lose, but now I've kind of got the hang of it - I made quite a lot of money when I brought all three roads in a set (the Angel/Islington, Pentonville Road and Euston Road set) and bought houses on all roads. But my joy vanished once I almost fell bankrupt, when I landed on a hotel; having to pay £750.

Monopoly is basically a game where you go round the board trying to buy as many properties/roads/companies as you can and make a monopoly. When anybody lands on your purchased thing, they have to pay you, and you make a profit! There are lots of different features like the community chest, chance cards, the jail etc. It is really very fun - it's a business game, but it's great when you make a lot of money!

There are lots of different versions, but the original London version is very good. Apparently, on the brand new London version, you use credit cards instead of play-cash and the prices have skyrocketed!! Mayfair (the original most expensive property: £400) has been replaced by 'The City', which costs £4,000,000!!! I am looking forward to the World Edition Monopoly, in which the roads have been replaced with world cities (voted by the public online), and the cash has been replaced with credit cards!! I'm really looking forward to this edition. They will most likely use dollars or euros as the currency. I can't wait to get this edition!

Well anyway, I would really recommend Monopoly to anyone who is looking for an exciting, fun board game. The winner is the last player that has not gone bankrupt - but I've never played a game that has reached that stage!

Grade 4 Music Theory - scary!!


On the sixth of November I will be expected to sit the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 4 Theory of Music examination. You don't even need to open the book to judge how complicated and scary it is. But half the time, when you turn up at the exam, it's proves not to be as complicated as it is in the books. But still, you almost always end up worrying about it 'just in case' - going through scales and and key signatures until you literally know them off by heart, repeating French, German and Italian performance directions until you could be mistaken for a native Swiss, worrying about whether your made up four-bar rhythms are 'musically correct' and 'creative' enough, wondering whether rhythm you just composed for a poem matches with the words... the list is endless!

Basically, music theory is like the 'language' of music - it's the notes and all of its (unnecessary) components and accessories. But passing the Grade 5 Theory exam is required if you want to continue beyond Grade 5 Practical (piano in my case) - so I'm going through each earlier theory grade. Everything under Grade 5 are the basics - the requirements to play good music on any note-based instrument. It's advanced after that: Grades 6-8, then diploma. With only 2½ months left until my Grade 4 Theory exam, I need to excessively start practising! Oh - one more thing: I've also got a Grade 5 piano exam coming up... nahi!

My new aquarium - step by step


Today I'm going to write a bit about my new aquarium. It all started when we were shopping - I saw some really cool tropical fish in a pet shop. I had kept goldfish before, but I thought it would be nice to keep some tropical fish.

We did lots of aquarium-hunting, and saw that they were all mostly unreasonably priced: all of the beginners 50-70 litre sets cost about 900-1500 kr/£77-£128/€97-€161. But at the end of our hunt, we found a really nice AquaEl 54 litre set in a massive pet shop in West Stockholm that cost 500 kr/£42/€53. It came with most of the things you need: filter/aerator, heater, food and tap water conditioner. We didn't want to buy the table that was designed for this tank, it looked horribly weak and unsturdy, so we opted to go to IKEA to find a better one. We spent a few hours until the store closed, but most of the tables were either the wrong size, or not capable of holding 70 kg and cost about 1000 kr/£85/€107. But in the last minute, we found a perfectly-sized metal-frame sturdy perfect table in the bargain corner - for only 99 kr/£8.40/€10.60! We were really lucky. The next day I bought a metre of background, which according to my aquarium book, "ensures that the fish feel safe".

We then visited the pet shop again and bought 10 kg 3-5 mm pea gravel, a wooden ornament, a net, and TetraAqua SafeStart, which would let us put in the fish almost instantaneously, instead of having to do a tiring 4-8 week fishless cycle (when the tank 'installs' bacteria to eat up the nasty toxic ammonia/nitrite made by the fish). Cleaning the gravel was a laborious process, but at the end we were very pleased, and a few days later we headed off to the pet shop again to finally get the fish and plants!

We got to the shop and we bought four different plants, three male colourful guppies and three swordtails; one male, one female and one baby! We settled them into the tank, and now, 5 days on they are very lively, happy and they have very hungry appetites!

In the near future we plan to get two bottom-dwelling Three-stripe Cories. They're really nice, have a look:

We're having lots of fun with our community tank! It's really peaceful and relaxing to watch!! It might be hard work, but it's really worth it and rewarding in the end!

His Dark Materials - one of the best series?


I've just finished The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman - and I must say that it was probably one of the best series of books I've ever read. It started when I went to see the film The Golden Compass, based on the Northern Lights, and I liked it, so I decided to read the books. I had then truly entered the world of Lyra on the adventurous journey to the North. The first book was really good, at least ten times better than the film, which included about half of the actual content of the book. The Subtle Knife was even better, when Will and Mary Malone came into the story, and all new kinds of worlds were discovered, including the spectre-invaded city of Cittàgazze, and the world of the elephant-like Mulefa - with help of the powerful knife. The Amber Spyglass pulls together all the loose ends as the story is brought to a heart-wrenching end, in which the two main characters: Will and Lyra, must part forever, extremely similar to the ending of the first series of the new Doctor Who.

I would really recommend this series to everyone! I'm reading The Ruby in the Smoke now, and will soon read the rest of the His Dark Material books!

New blog!


Hi! I've started up a blog (finally!) with a cool template from "Plantilla's Blogs". Here I will be mostly talking about different books, my aquarium, travelling and probably a lot of other things; hence the name Fish, books & travel etc. I'll try and update it as regularly as possible, and I hope that you enjoy my writing!