A weekend with Engineers Without Borders

On November 20th I caught a train in the morning from London to Coventry. I met up with my friend Spela, who I met in Slovenia back in May 2008 and is now studying in Coventry. We had lunch and took a look around the Coventry Transport Museum before realising that I was nearly late for my afternoon train, and speedwalked back to the rail station. A few pics from the museum:

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This is the hub of the front (large) wheel on an old penny-farthing bicycle. Just below the hub, that round thing is a kerosene lamp holder to see at night!

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Luxury motorcycle:

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In the Second World War, the Nazis destroyed almost all of Coventry from the air. The cathedral walls remained standing, but the roof and everything inside was completely destroyed:

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After my short visit to Coventry I headed to Shrewsbury, near the border with Wales, for a 4 day post-cyclone reconstruction weekend with Engineers Without Borders. I didn’t take many photos on the first night or the first day, which was spent indoors, but this one’s neat. One of the participants can bend his fingers back to touch the back of his hand!

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On Sunday the 22nd, we spent most of the day outside, building a shed that could withstand a category 4 storm. First, we had a quick chat about being careful with tools and stuff, which Louise and Sean must have forgotten pretty quickly:

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There was lots of sawing and drilling and hammering.

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Once we had built it, we tested it with a Newton meter (to measure how much force we were applying to the structure), and it flexed quite easily the first time, before we had added any diagonal braces. The second time, after adding support, it withstood a large amount of force:

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However, even with all those people pulling, we couldn’t pull hard enough to simulate the force of a category 4 wind. So we hooked the rope up to the back of Razi’s car, with Muhammad in the middle holding the Newton meter to see what amount of force was being exerted.

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For some reason, no one thought to double up the cheap synthetic rope (I have a good excuse: I was trying to take photos from a distance and didn’t look at the ropes being tied), and eventually the rope broke and the Newton meter flew out of Muhammad’s hands and back toward the shed, landing just short of the people weighing it down:

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We spent the evening back inside, going over lots of different information on rebuilding homes after a natural disaster, which was very interesting.

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On Monday morning, a few of us went for a short walk down to the flooded River Severn. On the way there, this sign was down on the ground:

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The flooded river:

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The weekend was really informative and as a bonus, the participants were really friendly and fun to hang out with. Here are a few of the many people shots I took on our construction day:

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On Monday afternoon we got a ride to the rail station in Shrewsbury, but a few of us had an hour or so to waste so we took a walk around town. Kind of funny that the County Council offices are right beside Blower’s Repository:

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Shrewsbury is not a very well-known town, but it does have one claim to fame: Charles Darwin grew up in Shrewsbury. I found out a couple days later that November 24th (the day after I took this photo) was the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” Darwin’s famous book proposing the theory of evolution.

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Looking up the main drag in Shrewsbury:

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On the first train we caught, this ridiculous poster was near the doors. I have no idea how someone actually thinks this might possibly affect a young person’s behaviour. It’s hilarious! I doubt anyone consulted someone below the age of 50 in designing it…

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