Sunday, 23 September 2012

europe central

The village has three shops - more than usual.  The brand new supermarket is doing the best trade.  I wait outside and have a fag with my ice cream whilst trying to photograph the roller-skating dog from a shopping trolley without dropping my revolver. Meanwhile Gayle goes inside and gets lunch.  She takes a bag in with her for which she is not ejected. Bah!

Also waiting are two women peasants sat in a cart with a horse.  Well, the horse is stood up, not in the cart with the women.  An old farmer appears with his shopping then wanders over to another shop for something else, before they trundle off homewards.  We are 30 kms from the geographical centre of Europe, and it's fair to say we're not all going at the same speed.

On our first night in Lithuania a few days before this, we crossed a mown field of wheat, climbed down and out of a ditch to pitch our tent in the next field, behind a thicket of trees - a perfect spot completely out of sight.  The next morning we lay and dozed a little until the sound of a tractor approaching chivvied us along.  By the time we were dressed and out of the tent there was a tractor and a shiny 4x4 stood in the field next to us.  I greeted the farmer in the car - he was smiling and friendly.  We clocked the gold watch on his wrist.  He spoke a little English and told us not to worry about campig on his land.  Where had we come from? And where to? How many kilometres each day? He asked us questions.  I asked him about his farm.  He had a thousand hectares - owned 500, rented another 500.  No wonder he had a gold watch and a benevolent disposition.  He wasn't the type of farmer we expected to see, and was probably not a representative example.

After another day of fairly dull flat landscape we suddenly came across rolling winding roads, sometimes with views.  Great excitement.  But the villages and towns all seemed quiet and uninteresting.  They like their beer here, and I can see why.  At one garage where we stopped for lunch you could fill up with petrol, have a beer at the bar inside the shop, then get a good coffee before you headed off.  How convenient.....

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