June 26 – Faxe Ladeplads to Koge
No clock needed. I had the real thing. Fun fact, cuckoos do actually say cuckoo. Not an approximation of that sound, it is not onomatopoeia, they very distinctly and very clearly say, cuckoo! No point lying around being sent slowly cuckoo myself with the chorus outside, so I took myself off for a run. It was quiet, it was early enough for the wind to still be resting and the sun was coming up over the water. Magic.
By the time we packed up and pedalled off, it was 8:30 and, it seemed, still too early for the wind to put in an appearance. It was already warm and we rode on, once again through farmland, wheat fields and beside the ever present wind turbines. It was all just fab.
We rode through Rodvig, a nice little town with views across to the cliffs rising above the sea. We gathered some elevenses and pedalled on. We were on mostly quiet roads, through the country and we were greeted by locals, other cyclists and drivers. The drivers were great, passing us carefully and giving a smile and a wave. Friendly people everywhere!
After wheeling along for about 30km, elevenses was upon us and we spotted a bench, in the shade, under a tree. The sun was working its magic and it had turned really hot, so the shelter from the trees and a light breeze blowing through the shade gave us a welcome spot to rest for our morning snack. We then discovered that we were actually sitting outside the walls of Gjorslev, a medieval castle built in 1400. We weren’t able to go in, but we could take a sticky beak through the arch.
We began our onward pedal and soon discovered we were not alone. The wind had arrived. It was in our face and pushing hard and we clicked down the gears to try to push right back. Still, we had lovely fields and poppies beside us and then we could see the water, which is always good for the soul.
We rode through some little towns, something I love, because I can look at the houses and get a glimpse into the lives of the locals. It seems gardening is very much a thing here. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and clearly tended with care and expertise. Each town we pass I usually see someone pruning, or trimming a hedge or weeding. I saw one lady down on hands and knees pulling the tiny little weeds and pieces of grass out from between the cracks in the footpath outside her house. Today, we passed a lovely house with a lady in the front garden, with one glove on, bending down to pull errant blades of grass, or weeds seen only by her, out of the already immaculate lawn. The results of all this labour are towns with chocolate box cottages and magazine worthy gardens. It really added to the already delightful scenery.
It was now really hot and we’d both gone through all our water bottles and needed a top up. We stopped at a supermarket and parked the bikes against a wall in the car park. Steve emerged with water, we filled up our bottles and were just about to ride off when a lady poked her head around from behind the wall.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
“Australia,” we said. “Tasmania,” I added.
“That is a long way. Would you like some coffee?”
These are the moments we never want to pass up.
“Sure.” “That would be lovely,” Steve and I said in unison.
“Come, I will make you coffee,” she said, waving us into her small courtyard behind the wall.
That was how we met Luba. We sat in the little space between her house and the wall to the car park and she brewed fresh coffee, which she brought to us with a bowl of shortbread and plate of strawberries and cherries. She had been knitting and when I asked what she was making, she said she was knitting a vest and held it up in front of herself to show me how the pieces would fit together.
“In Denmark, all the women knit. It seems to be a thing they all do,” she said with a laugh.
We sat talking, eating strawberries and drinking coffee with her and she told us she was from Ukraine and had moved to Denmark when she married her husband. “I go back each year, my mother is eighty three and my family are in Ukraine. My husband always says ‘why must we always go back?’ she said with a laugh, “but I like to go back.”
It was lovely sitting there talking to this kind and friendly lady, who laughed with us about our shared attempts at learning language and she told us her English wasn’t good but she learns from watching television. We assured her, her English was very good indeed! Then I asked if I could practise some Danish language and she helped me with words and phrases and then wrote words down for me, chuckling as I wrote down words phonetically so I would remember how to pronounce them. Her first language was Russian, so then I asked her to teach us that too. So we sat there, behind that car park wall, with a lovely person, drinking coffee in the sun and learning Russian! How absolutely, knock your socks off special is that!
“It is a very beautiful language,” she said, “Russian, sounds very beautiful.”
When I asked her to write her name for me, so I knew how to spell it correctly, she began writing, looking down at the paper, then she paused, looked up at me and said, just a little wistfully, “It means love. In Russian. My name means love in Russian.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
We eventually had to leave and we thanked her many times over and told her how special it had been to spend time with her.
“Have a good journey,” she said, as we prepared to ride off.
“Spasibo. Paka,” I said, thanking her and saying goodbye in my newly learnt Russian.
We rode on and I couldn’t stop smiling. The people we meet are so wonderful and they make our travels so special. The unexpected moments like that, when people come up to us and offer us kindness and hospitality are just so amazing. Very, very special. I commented to Steve that we need to do more of that ourselves. We need to learn from the wonderful people we meet and pay it forward when we see tourists or visitors or people travelling through our own home town.
We rode on, along a bike path beside the road and the wind was fierce. It was hard going and it was really blowing, so much so, that it pushed me towards the edge of the road and I had more than one sudden swerve when a fierce gust grabbed hold of me and gave me a shove. We made it to Koge, where we decided to stop for the day. We wheeled into a campsite beside the water and the Pitch Whisperer commenced the routine. Today it involved not just a walk around the site, but a ride to various locations, before finally settling on a spot that was flatter and with fewer lumpy tree roots than the other spots we had inspected. We settled in, did some laundry and hung it out in the ferocious wind to dry, gathered supplies and then began adding some more tent pegs to our little abode, because the wind seemed intent on sending the Nylon Palace up into the trees or out to sea. We are pitched under pine trees and the pine cones have been raining down around us. As long as the trees themselves stay upright and don’t bow to the wind, all will be well.
Another fabulous day. Another day where I had to say to myself, ‘it’s the people once again, what wonderful, kind, friendly people we are lucky enough to meet.’ Today was another moment where I was once again grateful for this form of travel. We would not have met Luba, had we been in a car. It was only that we were stopped on the bikes, beside her back wall, that she saw us, spoke to us and was kind enough to offer us such warmth and hospitality. We are very lucky. We never forget that. Today we met another lovely person, who gave us another very special highlight on this pretty special adventure we are on. I would never have imagined sitting in a little courtyard in Denmark, learning Russian! Oh the experiences we have! The things we learn! What an adventure we are on!
Distance ridden: 53.5 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 11 minutes
Distance run: 8 km
Weather: Sunny, hot, very, very windy. 30C