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  • Day177

    Day 178: More Mining Sites

    August 11, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    More world heritage sites today, all of it mining themed! First stop was another of the coalmines from the industrial era, a site called Le Grand Hornu. This site was a little odd - the old mine buildings were all constructed in grand neoclassical fashion, with lots of columns, archways and hemispherical porticos. We had a look around, but there wasn't an awful lot of the mining heritage still on display.

    These days the site is used as a modern art museum and conference centre, so we had a look around at the current exhibition by a designer from Japan. Not quite what we expected to find in rural Belgium, some hyper-arty and modern furniture designs, but it was quite interesting!

    Wrapped up filming and had lunch in the on-site restaurant, as there looked to be a paucity of options in the area. Food was quite good - I had a huge dish of mussels that I couldn't finish, while Shandos had a salmon tartare with salad.

    Lunch finished, we set off for the third WHS in the area, a neolithic flint mine around the small town of Spiennes. These are a series of mine shafts dating from around 4500 BC - 3300 BC, discovered during the 19th century when a railway cutting was being dug. This was where neolithic peoples would come and mine flint, later shaping it into axes, knives and other tools.

    Since it's in the middle of a large field, we had to walk a fair way from the car, and by the time we arrived we'd just missed the start of a tour. Normally you have to book for these things, but because the group wasn't full the nice lady at the entrance allowed me to join up (and she gave me a discount price as well). Shandos had to stay behind to mind Schnitzel, sadly, as he wasn't allowed inside.

    The best part of the tour was undoubtedly going down into the mines themselves - very tight and small, but surprisingly far under the surface! The neolithic peoples would dig their mine shafts to a depth of about 6 metres, hollow out a gallery to extract the flint, then once it was exhausted they'd fill it with rubble and dig a new shaft nearby.

    It was great to go down there and see things with my own eyes, thinking about how they would have worked in darkness (no smoke residue on the walls from torches/fires), and how they were only digging at the chalk rocks with deer antlers and flint stones for tools. Yikes.

    When we got back top side we had a look around the area - apparently on this hill of a few hundred acres, they've discovered evidence of over 10,000 mine shafts!! Only about 15 have been excavated, and they haven't found any sort of bones, just flint. Fascinating spot.

    Finished off our filming and headed back to the hotel by 5pm. It's been quite nice to finish off early like this, gives us both time to unwind in the evening and either do something productive or just relax!
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    Joel Baldwin

    Entrance to Grand-Hornu mine

    Joel Baldwin

    Very odd for a mine!

    Joel Baldwin

    Details still intact

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  • Day3

    "Churches like NZ has pubs"

    September 13, 2015 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    After a somewhat stress and tension filled navigation out of Paris we are enjoying the country side from our steed. To be fair, Nick is doing really well driving and there have only been a few choice words in the last few hours. I sent us back to the airport so that didn't help haha, but apart from that my navigation/co-pilot duties are going well. Since we picked up the car straight after we arrived we're actually now ahead of where we would've been if our flight wasn't cancelled.

    It's amazing how many churches are, seemingly in the middle of no where and less than a few kilometres apart. As Nick so eloquently put it, they have churches like NZ has pubs. I've seen many exciting signs about frogs, pheasants and deer but I'm yet to actually see any.
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    Hi Jess and Nick


    Hi Jess & Nick again Glad to hear that you have arrived safe and sound. Jess you sound like me directing Nick back to the airport. Just as well you left on Saturday because the fog is so bad in Auckland this morning that all planes are still on the ground. Give the frogs my love when you finally see one. Love you


    Pleased you arrived safe and sound! Sounds like an exciting adventure is underway!!! Look forward to more updates. Sarah x


You might also know this place by the following names:

Saint-Ghislain, Сен Гислен, سن-گیزلن, 7330, Санкт-Гилене, سینٹ-غصلیں, 聖吉斯蘭