New Years Resolution.

 Although bright, the day is cold and a bitterly cold wind had me back home toot sweet. So I thought let’s finish the Swallow nest box. The design is Dutch and called a Zeist, and this one is made from what remained of the tabletops from the Brewery skip.

This is the time of year when we look back over the year with all sorts of emotions, joy, sadness even grief. It is also a time to look forward to the New Year still to come, most of us I’m sure will be glad indeed to see the back of 2020 and travelling hopefully into 2021.

many of us will make New Year resolutions, some may even succeed in turning a page, turning their lives around, and moving in a new direction. Sometimes change is thrust upon us, and although it is not what you would have wished for yourself, change does not always have to be bad or feared.

When Japan was still a country of the Samaria, a gunboat, flying a British flag, sailed into their waters. They had little chose but to surrender to the demands of the British. This was a wake-up call for the Japanese, they turned to the only foreigner they knew on the island, who just happened to be Scottish, and asked him to help them move their country forward, become a modern nation. The rest, as they say, is history, as the British car and motorcycle industry would find out to their cost.

I was never an academic, my skills were in my hands, so I did not shine in college, however college opening up a whole new world to me, it taught me how to learn, and that has never left me. Then came retirement giving me the opportunity to read all those books I should have read but did not have the time or the ability to read. Combine this with a keen interest in people and you have a winning combination. I have watched a lot of documentaries over the years, and one I remember now, was the building of the Hong Kong International Airport. The airport was built on reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok

Chek Lap Kok was designed as a replacement for the former Hong Kong Internation Airport built way back in 1925 and now trapped in a densely built-up area of Kowloon City, with its single runway extending into Kowloon Bay. By 1990, now one of the worlds busiest airports it had outlived its usefulness, it would have to be replaced.

The small island of Chek Lap Kok off Lantau Island was the place chosen, away from the congested city centre, and with a flight path out over the South China Sea would allow round the clock flights in and out with minimum noise disruption, Ideal in fact. That is until you look at the logistics of getting people and goods too and from the planes.

In October 1989 the Governor of Hong Kong gave the project his blessing to the Legislative Council, the adopted plan would see an airport at Chek Lap Kok and incorporating new container terminals 8 and 9 at Stonecutters Island east of the island of Tsing Yi.

Construction of the new airport began in 1991, they would chop the pointy bit off Chek Lap Kok island to flatten it out, and using the spoil to build an artificial island (covering 3.02 square kilometres) on which the airport was built. Access was via the Tsin Ma Bridge, this would carry a railway below and a road above across the waters to Lantau Island and the airport this was completed in 1997, a mere 6 years, into construction. In Scotland, it took longer than that to acquire planning permission for the Aberdeen by-pass, and possibly cost more that the Tsin Ma Bridge in legal fees.

There was one other hurdle to overcome Victoria Harbour, building a bridge was out of the question so large concrete hollow square sections were constructed in a dry dock, their ends sealed and floated out into the harbour, where they were sunk and joined together end too end to form a tunnel.

Another documentary that kind of links my thoughts happened in Beijing Mentougou district of China. In 2010, it was a straddling bus. And although it never really got off the ground (never given the backing of the district authorities) it did run successfully in trials.

Like many cities around the world growing up with the motorcar their cities had become multi lane parking lots, with traffic at a standstill during rush hour. The idea of the straddling bus was just that to straddle the four lanes of traffic in Beijing. It would carry up to 300 people along rails on each side of the road travelling high above the carriageways, so without interruption. Interest in the bus was also shown by the city of Manaus Brazil, Qinhuangdao and four other Chinese cities, Shenyang, Tianjin and Zhukov, they had all signed contracts for pilot projects involving the construction of test tracks beginning in 2016, sadly it never past the development stage.

The elevated bus was not a new idea in 1969 two American architects had come up with a similar idea for an elevated bus called the Bos-Wash Landliner, who else but America would come up with a name like that? Again there was one designed by Shenzhen Hashi unveiled at the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May 2010.

the bus would run along a fixed route, its passenger compartment spanning the width of two traffic lanes, 4 to 4.5 m over the roadway allowing vehicular lower than 2 m to pass under the bus. A working model of the bus now called Transit Explore Bus was showcased at the 2016 Beijing International High-tech Expo. But as I have said, never got off the ground. But why am I mentioning this now? Well, it only took six months from concept to a bus actually travelling along the rails and carrying passenger, although not the 300 had the full-scale version been built.

The moral of the story is, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible, however there is little point in simply identifying the problem, the reasons why you can not lose weight, can not stop drinking, taking drugs, doing more exercise, or one hundred other resolutions that will not last past January. You have to make that commitment to change, and that’s the hard part.

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