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!