Ride a bike and learn something new. I have just spent the best part of two days riding through apple orchards, in the Grojec region. Like the olive groves in Spain, they seem to go on forever. But little did I realise that Poland is the biggest apple producer in the EU, and that a full 80% of all its fruit production is in the form of apples. That’s a huge 4 million tonnes of apples every year. Check the origin of the next bag of apples you buy.
I spent last night in a tiny village of 900 inhabitants called Lipie, right in the heart of the apple region, being hosted by a delightful family. Renata, the mother, is a primary school teacher, and her children Olivia and Pawel attend the secondary school next door to their house.
Olivia is passionate about horses, and showed me her collection of 49 equine figurines.
Pawel, who wants to be a chef one day, cooked an excellent pasta bolognese, and then tried to teach me the rules of a card game using the Google translate app….we had a lot of fun with that, but very little success.
85km into my day’s ride, I arrived at Konskie, a delightful little town 160km north of Krakow which really caught my attention….enough in fact to persuade me to stay the night. And when I discovered the temperature was going to drop to just +4 degrees (the comfort limit of my sleeping bag), I decided to take a room, just metres from this signpost…..
….telling me I’m 1,651km from Londyn (about 1000 miles). I wonder if Konskie has joined the ranks of the growing number of towns that claim to be the geographic centre of Europe? I know the Guinness Book of records currently recognises Girija in Lithuania.
Forgive me for repeating myself (only if you are one of the few habitual, persistent readers of these ramblings….) but cyclists who think that the three cavernous pockets on the back of their cycling tops are intended for stuffing spare tubes and patches, mini-pump, energy snacks, discarded bits of clothing…….well, they have no idea of their untapped potential.
I’m a natural forager. If I pass an opportunity for picking up anything worthwhile along the road, I endeavour to stuff it into one of my back pockets. In the past I’ve come home with books, high-viz tops, gloves…..even a hand drill. And many is the time when the glint of a coin has caught my attention, the largest denomination being £2, on the way into the centre of London.
Today, the first day of winter, I was stopped in my tracks by food. Yes, free food…..lying unloved and ignored by the roadside. During the autumn, I try to fill the freezer with blackberries and apples, but it is unusual to be picking up good quality windfalls this late, and in December. By this point, they are usually lying half eaten by the birds, and rotting on the verges and in the ditches.