I walk to breakfast bare foot across the cool flagstones, feeling the gentle undulations and imperfections that would send a Grand Designs OCD kitchen freak to distraction. All the steps taken before me rock my heals and steer me to a table by the huge old fireplace to eat, to look out the window, to hear voices arguing outside. My brain usually full of thoughts of home and work is free to take whatever path it wants, and it just wanders round, takes its time .. relaxes.. breathes
Today we’re just taking a route across to Suwalki near the border with Lithuania. We don’t want to have to be dealing with border problems at the end of a day. We’re keen to slow down just a bit and avoid the major routes, just get the map out and plot a journey through the lakes.
The road is real surprise, like going to see a tribute band then having the originals turn up instead. Its an absolute joy after all the lifeless conveyor belts we’ve been on. Rolling and twisting and ducking and diving like a roller coaster that’s been unwound and laid across the countryside. We decided when we left that we’re going to do everything to avoid contact with any official authority, and in our case that’s mostly obviously the police. Whenever we cross into another country we get a text asking us to go to a government site and fill in X,Y and Z because they all have official rules that we should be obeying, but we, like 99% of travellers just … dont… Every time I see police my bum tightens so much it can be used as a pencil sharpener .. useful for a policeman that wants to fill in a form.. but has a blunt pencil .. The other day when we were in Szczecin we came across a load of coppers diverting traffic and they gave us a good look but luckily we didn’t exceed their bovveration threshold and they just waved us on. Today we come round a bend and the road is closed because of an accident. So we sit and wait… wait and see..
We’ve developed a habit of riding close and obliquely behind trucks when there are police about.. and its downhill .. so the Ktm can keep her voice down, so we slide past and back out into the open road.
We’ve had nothing to eat since breakfast and its mid afternoon so we decide we’ll take a lake lunch ..
A billion places on the planet to eat but this one will go into my memory for today. A random choice, a flip of a coin, a late squeeze of a brake lever.. decision made.
Get to Suwalki and another random choice hotel. Much to my friend’s frustration I frequently go for the cheapest option because all I want to do is get clean and get horizontal. Everything else is a bonus, and in an odd way I like the semi derelict places best. This one is fine, if a little bit pink ..
And the receptionist mentioned to Brian that she needs her plumbing seeing to .. so she gave him her address and he promised he would bring his big plunger round later that evening ..
‘Where is the main street?’.. ‘This is the main street’.. oh.. OK.. loads of places are just shut and look like they have been for some time. The town is just dead. When I’m feeling down and hard done by back home I think back to places like this that just seem to be coming to the end of their lives ..
There is still hope here though I’m sure. We go out to eat and watch the locals go about their business. What can I say .. there is plenty of ‘very very good breeding stock’ here at least ..
And .. of course .. I’m always more than willing to sample the local delicacies …
Christ knows what it was but that stuff on the right looked like a perfect ball of fart fodder .. and so it was. My bum was snoring all night long.
So far we have flashed our paper COVID certificates whenever we’ve been asked but it looks like some of the countries will only accept the QR code on the app. I did mine before we came but Brian has a phone with dementia and it simply cannot remember anything between doing one thing and the next so he’s not been able to do it. I guess sitting a few miles from a border with a dodgy internet connection isn’t the best place to do this but we manage to find away round his problem and submit his request.. and watch a lady Polish army officer match around showing off her perfectly made to measure camos with as many perfect curves as yesterdays fabulous road .. i can just imagine her on manoeuvres…
The coffee however looks like its not been used this century.. or someone has gobbed a dollop of COVID infected flem in it ..
Its been twatting down again all night and its dull and grey but the girls dont care. They just want to run ..
We go to get some fuel just before the border and a couple of Germans turn up on some ATs, both looking like they have just been ridden from the nearest showroom. They’re the first foreign riders we’ve seen but they’re not interested in getting themselves dirty talking to us. Fuck um.. I’ve given up trying to talk to wankers .. life is too short.
I come out the garage and take a wrong turning which makes the satnav recalculate which results in us heading down some single track roads through a few tiny villages. Another random choice that just by luck takes up another winding twisting curvy road for a few miles then up to a small bridge that must be on the border. A Polish police car one side, a Lithuanian one the other. Neither policeman even looks up from their phones as we go past .. and we’re in to Lithunania 😀️
Who built these roads .. they’re shit .. all smooth and curvy and up and downy .. all fast and open and with a grip like a hookers hand .. apparently.. I hate them… 😍️😍️😍️
The weather is brightening up too. Still cold and windy but who cares. We’re heading up through Lithuania to Riga in Latvia tonight. We’re leaving all the traffic behind.. seeing it disappear in the mirrors.. heading north. You can see the light changing as we climb up through the latitudes, the days are getting longer, the air is changing too. All these things your body is natively sensitive to, all amplified by being on the bike. This is why I do this. This is what goes through my head all day. I don’t listen to music, I don’t have any comms, I just let my brain freestyle with no distractions bar the million things we see on our way.
I got these Avons just because they are the only matched set my local tyre dealer could supply, and they are really very good. Amazing in the wet too. See that stripe down the middle where the different compound is too .. isn’t technology wonderful 😊️
Have a coffee.. look at a map.. bung a few points in the sat nav and bugger off on the back roads.. there are always lovely things hiding on the back roads..
Your brain always trys to fit what it sees into what it knows .. what is sees is a load of old Russian planes and helicopters .. what it doesn’t think is that actually this is an open air museum attached to a motel .. not something I’d find in Hampshire ..
Get to Riga and we’re a little out of town this time so we can park the horses safely underground. Go to see the receptionist .. but she can barely see us due to the ridiculous set of false eyelashes she’s wearing. She looks like she has just put glue all over her eyelids then stuck her face in a big bowl of black spiders. Her eyelid muscles can barely lift them and they’re flicking so fast I fear they’re going to come off at any moment and impale themselves in my forehead. Lovely girl though.. unmarried .. likes cats.. has a big ginger pussy she calls Randolf .. ummm
I takes us about 30 mins to walk into town along the river and across the bridge. Its a beautiful evening, there is a live band playing in the park and the old town is busy paining its face with the golds and yellows of the evening sun.
I love live music, I don’t really care what it is as long as it sounds good. I remember walking through the Moscow underground one day and hearing a violin from far away and being drawn towards it with all my hairs standing on end and my emotions going in all directions.. and then seeing a young woman with her eyes closed completely lost in the moment. I remember just stading and staring.. its such a beautiful instrument to watch being played. Tonight its a small band in a square surrounded by couples dancing between courses .. absolutely perfect ..
I ordered Solanka, never heard of it before, turns out to be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
A lovely evening walk home in the dark, another day in my ridiculously lucky life completedNorth to the Circle