In June 2001, Stephen and Lucy travelled with Lucy's mother Kathleen for a truly
memorable holiday to Zimbabwe, focused around the first total solar eclipse of the third
millennium, on 21 June 2001.
Because of difficulties in making connections, and the high demand on
flights direct to Zimbabwe, we flew Virgin Atlantic overnight to Johannesburg in South
Africa, and spent the Saturday in South Africa. Virgin were most unhelpful regarding
seating - despite arriving five hours early for check-in, they were unable to seat the
three of us together, a performance sadly repeated on the return journey. However, the
goodwill of our neighbouring flyers meant that we were able to shuffle around once on the
plane, and sit near each other.
After arriving at the hotel, our first act was to catch up on a little
sleep. In the afternoon, we travelled by coach to Gold Reef City, a strange mixture of
museum to the gold mining industry and theme park.
Lucy and Kathleen (bottom left) watching the train arrive. This train makes a circuit of
the fairly extensive site.
The building in the foreground houses the "Gold Pour" (see below). On the right
is the ferris wheel, the largest such in Africa.
The oven is at about 1050°C
Withdrawing the flask of molten gold.
Pouring the molten gold into a mould.
The bar of "rough" gold (containing a significant level of impurities)
And a bar of the real thing, worth over $100 000.