Sunday, June 22, 2014

Watching the boats go by.

They’re all out this weekend. Old and new, plastic, steel and aluminium, long or short. The fine weather has brought out the boats this weekend like midges around a Scottish loch.

We’ve stayed put, not doing anything particular, just trying to stay cool. I did have a look at that small diesel leak that was mentioned by the BSS examiner, but I can’t do anything till we’re below half a tank of fuel, due to the syphon effect of the positioning of the pipework.

Friday evening, after I’d finished writing and posted to the blog, I heard an increasing cacophony of tweets and squawks coming down the canal, then this lot gathered below the side hatch, hoping for a tasty titbit.IMG_0103
Canada geese seem to be attentive parents, gathering their offspring into crèches for safety. There were half a dozen adults chaperoning this little lot on their Trick or Treat outing down the row of moored boats. 

Meg and I have spent a little while walking around the large pool at Branston Water Park, she’s taken the opportunity to have a cooling dunk whenever she could.

Branston Water ParkIMG_0111

Coot having a scratch…

…And tufted duck, err, having a scratch!IMG_0109

Outside the boat, in the evening, this female thrush has been gathering food for probably a nestfull of demanding beaks…IMG_0116

We’ll be toddling on tomorrow, aiming to get to Shardlow in two days. That’ll be good going for us.

Now then, Tom set me a challenge recently, after I’d calculated the number of bricks used to line Harecastle Tunnel, he suggested I should to do the same for The Great Wall of China.great-wall-china-pano2-small2

At first glance, simples. Assume it’s a couple of courses thick on each side, filled with rubble. The average height is around 6.5 metres and the length, according to China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage (and they should know…) is officially set at 8,851.1 Km. That’s a lot of wall.


Tom kindly furnished a link to a website that informs me that a Ming Dynasty standard brick is 375x95x187mm, a volume of 0.0067m³, and the brickwork volume for the wall is 6.5x8851100x.4(guess) x2 (two sides to the wall) = 46025720m³, therefore the number of bricks is 46025720/0.0067 = a mind boggling 6,869,510,448 bricks! Yes? No!!

The wall was built over a couple of thousand years, with techniques ranging from tamped earth to dressed stone, and even wood and vegetation reinforced gravel in some places. The fired bricks only made an appearance during the Ming Dynasty, when a century-long improvement and repair project was undertaken. And even then stone was used as well as brick if it was handy.
So the answer is, anywhere between a couple of million to 7 billion! And that’s not including the watchtowers.

It remains the biggest civil engineering project in history, but it was never directly assaulted by the people it was built to defend against. Until it was improved during the Ming period marauding armies from the north could actually go around the ends of the disconnected sections, following the improvements betrayal by border guards allowed the Manchurian Army through, who established the Qing Dynasty which lasted for nearly 300 years, until early in the 20th century.

The only time the wall was actively defended was as a precursor to the second Sino-Japanese War. In 1933 Japanese troops were held back at Shanhaiguan Pass for three days before overrunning the defenders.

There you have it. No definitive answer, but an interesting bit of research. Thanks Tom. There’s an excellent website that I came across on the subject (and others). The two pictures I’ve used were gleaned from this site.

Thanks everyone for the comments about the Mags picture. You’re right, I don’t know how she does it. I hope I look as good as that in *# years!

Carol, we’re heading down through Leicester to Norton Junction, then either down the GU, along the Thames and back up the Oxford, or vice-versa. So we’ll catch up with you at some point.

KevinToo, mmm, pie! Sorry we’ll miss you this time. We’ll be through Shardlow Wednesday, all being well. Give our regards to your Mum.

Locks 0, miles 0

1 comment:

Tom and Jan said...

Well done Geoff. I remember thinking two things when walking along the wall. 1. Wouldn't it have been great to have the contract to supply the bricks. 2. I pitied those poor soldiers who were given the water resupply task each day and had to walk to the bottom of the hill and back again with the full buckets. :-)