42. While peace lasts
Of course, building the palaces was fun but this was not the only
fun. Of course, the subjects must
be happy and proud that they are being ruled by the sovereign who have the majestic residences  but they should be even happier if a monarch created something tangible presumably
for their benefit (not necessarily a personal benefit but in general). Time of the public toilets was not there, yet, so the second best things were the canals. The great minds tend to think alike so both of them hit the idea independently , which probably implies that the idea was great as well: if there was only a single creat mind involved, this could be a fluke but with two you have a solid statistics.
Charles launched his Göta Canal
 was a part of a waterway 390 km (240 mi) long, linking a number of lakes and rivers to provide a route from Gothenburg
(Göteborg) on the west coast to Söderköping
on the Baltic Sea
via the Trollhätte kanal
and Göta älv
river, through the large lakes Vänern
. Of course, it could not accommodate the big warships but it was OK for the smaller merchant ships fitting into 30 x 7 x 2.8 meters measurements. 
While the construction projects had been going on, Charles enjoyed his role of “father of the nation”, traveling with a minimal entourage or alone across the country, suddenly appearing to check performance of the state officials, inspecting the troops, awarding a watchman who refused to let him into a town after the gates had been closed for a night and doing some other things greatly increasing his personal popularity. Most of the soldiers and officers who returned from the last war brought with them some nice “extras” obtained in Poland and had been eagerly telling the stories about this glorious war and their great king providing Charles with a semi-divine status. The only entertainment his subjects were missing so far was the royal wedding and he was considering a suitable candidate….
On his side, Peter launched an ambitious program which involved 3 systems
connecting the Volga River to the Baltic Sea. Of course, he did not have resources for all of them so only one of them, Vyshny Volochyok Waterway, had been started (the left-most on the schema below) and two others remained on a research stage during his life time.
The waterway from Lake Ilmen
upstream the Msta and the Tsna Rivers
, followed by a portage to the Tvertsa and downstream to the Volga River
existed from the medieval times. The name of Vyshny Volochyok is derived from Russian
: волок, which means portage. On January 12, 1703 Peter
signed a decree which ordered a canal to be built instead of the portage. Prince Matvey Gagarin
was appointed the supervisor of the construction, and Adriaan Houter
, a Dutch water engineer from Amsterdam
, was hired to perform the construction and, as was a typical case with most of the state-run projects, things went wrong and kept going in that direction  until Peter found a private entrepreneur, Mikhail Serdyukov
, who volunteered to fix the problems. Construction and supervision had been transferred to him and he completely reconstructed canals and locks and created a number of the reservoirs allowing to maintain a reasonably high water level. Needless to say that the job was done faster and cheaper than under the state supervision. By 1716 up to 4000 ships were annually using the canal.
got a concession for 50 years. He was under the obligation to provide the maintenance and repairs at his own expense but with a free timber provided by the state. He got a right to establish a toll (5 kopecks for each 2 meters of the ship’s length), to build the mills along a waterway and (attention, this is very important
) to have a priority on “otkup”  of the drinking establishments along the route
. Taking into an account that we are talking about Russia, this
was better than a gold mine.
And, while on a subject of the canals, Peter’s recent “acquisition”, von Munnich, presented him with a plan for a much needed one to bypass the Ladoga Lake and expressed willingness to start implementation right now.
So, both Peter and Charles had been busy doing something useful while most of the European countries had been busy fighting the WoSS. The exports had been booming and while the Netherlands clearly were on decline as the Europe's greatest trader, the growing British imports had been more than compensating for the shrinking Dutch activities . The last thing either of them needed was to get a new war on their hands. Which, following the principle “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, meant that they had to get prepared for one….
 Just imagine a situation when a subject of a monarch X tells to a subject of a monarch Y that his king has a palace with 200 rooms and gets in response: “and our king lives in a hovel”….
 It is like the law of Lomonosov-Lavoisier: both of them (admittedly, with the interval of 25 years) came to the same conclusion that if something (for example, money) disappears in one place, it will sooner or later appear in some other place.
 My sincere gratitude to @von Adler
who, by telling about this canal, saved me the need to start a new war right now:
I had an idea to go into a detailed description of the aristocratic banquets but found that I simply can’t comprehend (forget about translate) meaning of most of the dishes’ names (among the few that are reasonably clear are cheeks of a herring
, few thousands per portion). Which was leaving me with a choice between the royal weddings (subject that I don’t like at all), Peter and/or Charles converting into Buddhism or a new war.
 Not important for Sweden but potentially useful for the Russian-British trade.
 Due to the fluctuations of the water levels on the rivers and absence of the regulating reservoirs, system was getting too shallow for a serious traffic and then for any
 State license for which a receiver paid certain sum.
 As I understand, the WoSS was a major hit on the Dutch economy but the main reason for them getting into it was an old paranoia “the French are coming” which was caused by the Dutch own policies. Was it worth it?