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Winter dragged on, but the snow retreated into the North, leaving behind a bleak and muddy Moldovan countryside, and I considered that maybe February wasn’t the best time to be visiting by bike. But after a few cold and exhausting days (and an attempted roadside robbery) I trundled into Chișinău, where I’d be hosted by two locals, Alex and Marina.

I’d been dying to reach Moldova’s capital for a less obvious reason; 60km from the city lies a bastion of Soviet architecture and influence that has clung on while the world around it changed.

Transnistria (aka the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, aka “The Country that Doesn’t Exist) declared independence from the rest of the country in 1990, sparking a war that went on for two years. The border is now manned by Russian peace-keepers, whose arrival put a stop to the fighting in the ‘90s. So, before I continued South to the Romanian border, I hopped on a bus to check out the “little USSR” for myself.

Have a watch at the link below!
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Have you ever wondered what life was like in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall?

Petra Wiezer grew up in the communist G.D.R. (German Democratic Republic). I met her in Rauen, a small village some 60km East of Berlin, where she sat down with me to talk about her experience living in a country that no longer exists, including her run-in with the secret service, and the West's misconceptions about the nation she once called home.

Have a watch at the link below!

Rauen, Brandenburg, Germany
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I was exactly where I’d tried not to be; Ukraine in the depths of winter, attempting to figure out how to get my bike through the snow to the Moldovan border…

The next part of the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour is up on Youtube, have a watch at the link below!
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After a couple of rides over snow-covered roads, courtesy of some friendly locals, I finally crossed the border into Moldova. Before long, the country’s peculiarities began to reveal themselves. The noisy complaints from my bicycle were joined by the clip-clopping of horses and carts carrying farming supplies, audible long before they were visible, which seemed to materialise from thin air, and countless wells, known as “fîntînă”, beautifully decorated with intricate and complex patterns, lined the streets of villages.
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I felt isolated; most locals I spoke with had never met anyone from England; the few who do visit the country mostly go to the capital, Chișinău, and rarely venture into the surrounding countryside. There was a sense of mystery, of true exploration that I hadn’t felt before, and one that would remain for the next 4 weeks as I made my way South.
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A huge thank you to Taras and Kate for saving me from cycling along one of Ukraine's busiest main roads in a snowstorm, and to Justine and Maddie for hosting me in Bălți!
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Shoutout to everyone else who appears in this video for making the trip what it was: Darren Alff (Bicycle Touring Pro), Yurko, Аліна, Denis
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"Scandinavian Socialism" is often bandied about in the media, but do you ever wonder what those who actually live under the Nordic model think of it?

In Trondheim, Central Norway, Nippe and Hege Fossland told me their thoughts on Norway's welfare state.

Have a watch at the link below!
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Ukraine, Ikraine, we all Kraine.

The next part of the Arctic to Asia cycle tour is up on YouTube!
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I knew very little about Ukraine before I arrived so I had no idea what to expect from this part of the journey. To be honest, my excitement was mixed with a little nervousness after so many of my hosts and friends warned me to be careful once I'd crossed the border, with one Ukrainian expat quipping that cycling in Ukraine "sounds like a good way to get your legs broken".
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Nonetheless, it was a big moment; at long last, I was leaving Poland, and with it the EU/Schengen area.
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As luck would have it, just three days after my arrival, a conflict between the Ukrainian and Russian navies led to the declaration of martial law across large swathes of the country. It was a tense time to be visiting, but I was well-looked after by two locals, Yurko and Romana, while I waited in Lviv for things to blow over.
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Have a watch at the link below!
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A big thank you to everyone who appears in this video for yet more amazing hospitality (Yurko, Romana, Oleksandr, Olena)!
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The next Arctic to Asia video diary is on YouTube! Have a watch at the link below 🚲🚲
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As autumn began slipping back into winter, I pedalled as fast as I could towards the Ukrainian border, hoping to outrun the inevitable arrival of the snow.
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I left Kraków and made my way into the foothills of the Carpathian mountains before the temperature plummeted; the days were getting shorter and shorter, and I found myself cycling through icy darkness day after day.
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The freezing weather and dwindling daylight brought new challenges, but after long days shivering on the bike traversing Poland's quaint country lanes, I ended up warming myself by fireplaces on farms and in cabins, getting to know local people, and seeing what life was like in Eastern Poland.
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A massive thank you to everyone who features in this video for the incredible hospitality:
Janusz and his family at Farma Kozłówek
Grażyna, Klaudia, Izabela and Andrzej at Chata na końcu świata
Henryk and Maria at Słomiana Chatka, the house Henryk built from scratch, in Wesoła
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5 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Would you ever live on a ferry?
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Four years ago, Torben and Dorthe secured the purchase of the 'Svendborgsund', and began a project: turn a decommissioned car ferry, built in 1947, into a home. Since then they have completely gutted the inside, renovated it and converted it into a houseboat that now sits on one of Copenhagen's canals.
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The old deck that used to house up to 12 cars now functions as their living area and kitchen, and they sleep down below in the "engine room".
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They didn’t pick just any ferry, though; this was the one that Dorthe used to take regularly in the south of Denmark when she was a child!
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Hands down the coolest house I’ve ever visited…
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: www.placepersonplate.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/placepersonplate/

YouTube: www.youtube.com/placepersonplate/
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Part 8 of the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour is now up on YouTube!

I was almost 2 months behind schedule, but I put timing aside as I slowly soaked up Poland's charm on the way from Czestochowa to Kraków.

I was fortunate enough to be there for All Saints' Day, when thousands of candles light up churchyards dotting the countryside. Visible from miles away, the dazzling displays of flickering light remain one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Have a watch at the link below!

P.S. A big thank you to Wojtek, Dorota and their family for hosting me for 4 nights in Podlipie, and a shout out to everyone else that appears in this video (Jarek, Agata, Marina, Bronte) who helped make this trip what it was!
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5 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

With a steadily leaking tyre, I rolled around twists and turns on my way to the Comrat, passing nothing but tiny villages, marshland, and a farmer leading a donkey. At last, a Moldovan flag, fluttering beside another, less familiar one above a sign welcomed me to yet another one of Moldova’s oddities. I was now in an enclave with its own unique culture, Turkic language, and no written history; the Gagauz Autonomy.
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Just past a labyrinthine Turkish-style market hidden under corrugated iron panels in the centre of Comrat, my host, Ali, emerged from an apartment block to greet me. He helped lug my stuff up an endless flight of stairs to the top floor, and introduced me to his family.
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For the next 4 days, they showed me around, introducing me to their Gagauz friends and the local culture. Luckily, since Ali was Turkish, he was able to speak the language (Gagauz and Turkish are about 95% the same) and acted as a translator for my interview with Olga (link at end of post) and another one with his friends, Lidia and Elena!
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4,000km on the road and I still hadn’t learned how to repair a punctured tyre, so Ali also took the time to walk me through the process; a long overdue lesson that’d prove extremely useful later in the trip.
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A massive, and as always very late, thank you to Ali, Rukiye and their kids, Hamza and Zeynep (they've also since welcomed a new addition to the family; their daughter, Meryem), for the incredible hospitality, amazing food, and for inspiring me to take a massive detour to travel through Turkey! It was an fantastic way to say goodbye to Moldova before I headed South into Romania; Teşekkür ederim 😊🚲
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Read my interview with Olga about what it means to be Gagauz: theplacethepersontheplate.com/gagauzia/
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Finding someone who spoke any English was a rarity in the Moldovan countryside. Most of my communication was done through google translate when I had service, or through the medium of mime when I didn’t. So, I was caught off guard when, just outside Edinet, in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, a guy cleaning his teeth at the sink next to me in the hotel bathroom while I did the same turned to me and said, in perfect English, “hey, I saw you cycling past us earlier, where are you from?”
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Thrilled to be able to have a fluid conversation with someone, I took the opportunity to chat. It turns out he was from Chișinău, but was running an ultramarathon down the entire length of Moldova, a feat him and his sports club attempt every year!
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Since he had a spare flat that him and his wife weren’t using, he told me to contact him when I arrived in Moldova’s capital and that I was welcome to stay there. As well as giving me a warm bed, they even took me wine- and sherry-tasting, out for several meals, and to the world’s largest wine-cellar; Mileştii Mici. So, a huge late thank you to Alex and Marina for the incredible hospitality; Mulțumesc!
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: www.placepersonplate.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/placepersonplate/

YouTube: www.youtube.com/placepersonplate/
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The next short "moments" video is up on YouTube! We headed through Norway's Nordland province, and inched ever-closer to the edge of the Arctic Circle...

Our plan had been to cycle to the tip of the Lofoten islands before taking a ferry to Bodø and heading south, but the never-ending stormy weather meant that we decided to head for the mainland early before cycling further south.

Have a watch at the link below!
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Part 7 of the Arctic to Asia cycle tour is now on YouTube!

I'd been cycling solo for a month, and was finally getting to grips with being alone on the road. Autumn was catching up with me - and the more stormy, challenging conditions that came with it. But my spirits were climbing higher and higher as I headed through Western Poland, largely thanks to the kindness I received from the locals I crossed paths with along the way.
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This leg of the journey took me around 250km from Lubin to Częstochowa, with a stop in Wrocław en route and a two-day trip home to surprise my grandad for his birthday (shoutout to Kajtek, who I didn’t get on film, for looking after my things while I was gone)!
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A big thank you Janusz, Małgorzata and their family at the Buffalo Ranch in Dabrówka Dolna, Opole, Poland, and to Jarek in Czestochowa for hosting me!

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Have a watch at the link below!
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6 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Throwback to when we were still allowed to have fun outside, and we were cycling across the Atlantic road; one of the first major milestones of the trip.

We were out of the Arctic circle, the weather had FINALLY turned for the better, and it was a stunning place to say goodbye to the ocean before we turned to cut inland towards Oslo!

You can find more videos from the adventure over the past year-and-a-half on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/placepersonplate/
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Part 6 of the Arctic to Asia cycle tour is now up on YouTube!
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After struggling to keep it together on my way to Berlin, I headed for Poland. Along the way, the hospitality of the people I met helped me forget about the loneliness and isolation that had been overwhelming me, and I finally started to truly enjoy my time on the road solo.
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I’ve been putting off recording a voiceover/narration for this for a long time, but, now that the world has gone into lockdown, I’ve run out of excuses…
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Have a watch at the link below!
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P.S. For reference, I'm making that face because my bike has just broken in the middle of nowhere, stranding me in a Polish forest at night.
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Massive thank you to everyone who features in this video:
Clemens, Petra and their family in Rauen, Brandenburg, Germany, and Greg, Marek, Sławomir, Paweł, and Andrzej in Nowa Sól; you guys made this part of the trip unforgettable 😊🚲
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The last thing I expected to be doing in Balti, Moldova, was feasting on nachos and watching the Super Bowl, albeit on a livestream through someone in the USA’s Instagram story, but somehow I managed to stumble across Moldova’s only “little America”...
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So, a huge and very, very late thank you to Maddie and Justine, who were volunteering with the American Peace Corps, for letting me take up their entire living room floor for 4 nights, introducing me to Toamna and Zapada (their creatively-named cats), and organising a fascinating interview with Marina Skaletskaya! Mulțumiri! 😊
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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7 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Once again, I find myself scrambling to catch up on long overdue thank you posts from my time on the road over the past year-and-a-half.

Winter in Moldova isn’t exactly cycle-friendly, and my days on the bike consisted of slipping and sliding through slush, frigid air burning my lungs, and the loss of feeling in my hands and feet after about an hour. As I raced south to escape the snow’s clutches, I jumped at every opportunity to get inside for for a break from the cold.

So, a big shoutout to Vasilii, who invited me into his shop near Edinet with his friends, Denis and Vitalii, warmed me up with tea and refuelled me with a sandwich on a frigid February afternoon. Mulțumesc!
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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7 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

The Place, The Person, The Plate's cover photo ...

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7 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

MASSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed things have been very quiet on this page recently. Now I’m finally able to provide an explanation:

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve just finished sorting out an agreement with TV 2 Skole to turn the Place, Person, Plate interviews into learning resources for Norwegian schoolkids!
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What does this mean? In short, “The Place, The Person, The Plate” has secured FUNDING! So, more interviews, more adventure, and more insight into the lives of everyday people around the world.
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Now that I've finally reached Baku, TV2 Skole has asked me to cycle round the UK and Ireland later this year. Along the way, I’ll be speaking to locals about “identity”, which will be especially interesting in the current social and political climate, so keep an eye out!
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I’ll try to keep posting on the website and this page as much as possible, but things will continue to be a little more sporadic than they have been over the past year-and-a-half. I still have tonnes of interviews, photos, videos and belated thank you posts to put on here, but for now a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported me on this ridiculous project and helped me come this far; hopefully there is much more to come! 🚲🚲🚲
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: www.placepersonplate.com

Elevkanalen's website (a branch of TV2 Skole): www.elevkanalen.no
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10 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

In Norway, the month before your final exams at videregående (college) you become "Russ". This means celebrating finishing 13 years of school by partying in buses, vans and "walking groups", usually from the 20th of April until "Norwegian Constitution Day" - the 17th of May.
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Some save money for up to two years to be able to afford the flashiest bus and take part in the celebrations. While studying for exams, many will drink almost every day and have special Russ festivals. During this time, russekort (russ card) collection becomes something of a temporary hobby for many, especially children.
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In the photo, Sindre can be seen modelling his old "Russedress" which, according to Russ rules, you are not allowed to wash and have to wear whenever you leave the house, 7 days a week during "russefeiring".
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The colour of the uniform indicates what kind of subject you studied; red is for regular school, blue for economics and politics, black for subjects like mechanics and carpentry, and green is for agriculture. This is a unique celebration to Norway and, according to Sindre and his father, Anders, is very much approved of by parents, despite the fact that it often ends in someone dropping out of school...
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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After 2 weeks of cycling in Norway with barely a glimpse of the sun, we finally had our first clear day!

In place of an interview this week, here is another "moment" from mine and Miriam's journey across the island of Andøya in Northern Norway, complete with clips that (mostly) didn't make it into the final version of "Arctic to Asia part 1". Have a watch below!

youtu.be/SwKaerU76_o
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On Thursday, I spoke with an Azerbaijani news network, and it seems I was accidentally transported back to the 1980s.
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A short disclaimer: despite how it may look, I absolutely did not wink at the interviewer at any point during the interview...
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You can find the full video below (though it is dubbed in Azerbaijani)!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZVPBDwgToQ
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10 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Once again, I found myself at the mercy of winter in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Slush had turned to ice at the roadside, and I’d begun googling how to make improvised snow tyres so I didn’t slip on the busy highway that would take me out of the city towards Moldova. But just as I was about to venture into the frigid conditions outside Аліна (Alina), who worked at the hostel I’d been staying at, came to the rescue.

So a massive and very late thank you to her for insisting that I load my bike into her car so she could drive me out of the city to the Moldovan border, saving me a nerve-wracking few hours navigating traffic on a snow-covered road! Дякую (Dyakuyu)!

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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: www.placepersonplate.com
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Part 5 of the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour is now up on YouTube!
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The adjustment to cycling alone almost broke me. At times, the loneliness was overwhelming and I'd struggle to see how I'd last a month, let alone a year, on the road by myself.
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It wasn't the isolation in the moment that bothered me, but the creeping sensation that this is what life would be like for the next year. By the end of the first day, I was already thinking of how I'd have to explain to my friends and family that I hadn't been able to handle it and had to quit and come home.
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So have a watch of me getting to grips with solo cycle touring as I traversed the banks of the river Elbe from Hamburg to Berlin at the link below!
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The bad news: the next Place, Person, Plate interview from Romania won't be published until next week.

The good news: That's because we've been flown to Paris to film for a TV show!

Instead, here is the latest "moment" from the Arctic to Asia Cycle tour, when Miriam and I were stranded on Senja in Northern Norway after a storm blew in. Enjoy!
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1 years ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Times have changed at Holma farm in Tretten, Norway.

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13 years ago, Håvard, Johan and the rest of the Sagheim family split an investment in a farm in the mountains with three other families, and moved all their animals from their back yard up onto their new land.
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Very different from when Håvard began work on his own farm in 1990, he can now often be seen at a computer in his office, using a software that predicts the milk yields of each cow and notifies him of any ill animals as well as those that need a break from milking. He even uses a milking robot, which automatically leads his dairy cows into a milking pen and is able to diagnose and isolate any sick individuals. Not quite what some may have in mind when they think of farming in the Norsk mountains.
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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1 years ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

My final day in Lviv, Ukraine, and a storm blew in. Chunks of snow and ice scuttled across the concrete outside, powered by gusts of frigid air, and I stared out the window, contemplating my next move. As if sensing my doubts, my phone screen lit up; a call from Taras, my friend in Ivano-Frankivsk who I’d met in a hostel in Western Poland a month earlier.

“I'm worried. I don’t think you should cycle here, Tieran. It’s a little dangerous.” I glanced back out through the window, which shook under the force of a gale, and tried to explain that, with all the stuff on my bike, I didn’t have too much of a choice.

“Tieran." he cut me off, "If I tell you I can borrow my friends truck, and come and pick you up, no problem, will you accept?”

So a huge (and as always very late) thank you to Taras and his wife, Kate, who hosted me on their kitchen floor for three nights, and drove hours out of their way to ensure I wasn’t cycling on the edge of an icy main-road, took me up to Bukovel to see the Carpathian mountains and set up an interview with Юлія (Yulia), before dropping me at the next city I was stopping at.

Дякую (Dya Kuyu) for everything, and hope to see you guys again!

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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: https://theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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The island of Senja in Northern Norway gave us some of the most spectacular views on the entire cycle tour. Miriam and I headed for Ersfjord, where we camped on a beach, and marvelled at the scenery the entire way!

Have a watch of our latest “moments” video below:
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This is Reidar Berg. He is 86-years-old, and in true Norwegian fashion he "roller-skis" 13-17km three times a week to stay in shape in Dovre, Norway. This, he says, takes him 60 minutes, but is a lot quicker in winter on real skis in the snow.
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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Our first night of wild camping was when it started to dawn on me that I might not be cut out for this...

Miriam​ and I had planned on making it about 10km further, but our bodies gave up near the top of a mountain outside Brensholmen​, Norway​. With nothing but some pasta, pesto and peanuts to refuel on, and dirty lake water to use for cooking, we didn’t have the energy to bring our gear inside, and risked leaving it strewn across the surrounding brush overnight.

Despite being exhausted and emotionally drained, I lay wide awake on the lumps and bumps pushing my sleeping mat into my back, wondering how I’d tell my friends and family that I’d made it less than a week into the so-called “Arctic to Asia” cycle tour before calling it quits. For about an hour, every time I got close to sleep, I imagined the distance we still had to cover - the daunting prospect of almost an entire year of doing this over and over again - and my heart lurched.

On the literal and metaphorical bright side, we got to experience a cloudless night illuminated by the famous midnight sun; this photo was taken at about 12.30am, just before I started questioning whether this whole thing was a terrible mistake.
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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1 years ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

For those who missed them on Instagram, I’ve decided to start sharing some of my favourite photos from the road over the past year.

So, to kick off, here's a throwback to Nesna in Northern Norway, where Miriam and I had just finished pushing our bikes 3km uphill, only to discover that there was another 3km still to come up ahead…

The first few weeks of the trip pushed both of us to breaking point, as the stunning scenery brought with it some of the most difficult terrain we cycled... and the occasional emotional breakdown.
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For interviews and Articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: placepersonplate.com/
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1 years ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

A massive and very late thank you to Oleksandr Rozhok and his mum, Olena Eu. Since I wildly overpacked at the beginning of this trip, they offered me a place to leave my mountain of stuff in Lviv, Ukraine, which allowed me to go home to visit family for “Channukamas”. Somehow, I forgot to take a photo of us all together, so here’s some of Oleks showing off the pipe-smoking skills he's perfected after years of competing in pipe-smoking competitions.

Dyakuyu!
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tur, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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Democracy, beaten and bloodied almost beyond recognition, limps on in Turkey, or at least Istanbul, for now…
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Early May, and a tangible excitement permeates through Istanbul's labyrinthine streets. Ekrem İmamoğlu, a soft-spoken political unknown and relative newcomer, had somehow clinched victory in a mayoral race against a candidate from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP, a regime that has been accused of continuously undermining democratic institutions and slipping perilously close to a dictatorship over the best part of a decade. The results handed him a razor-thin margin of 13,000 votes, just 0.2% of the total, over Binali Yıldırım, striking Erdoğan where it hurt; as a former mayor of Turkey's cultural capital, the now-President has repeated time and time again the mantra that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”.
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It wasn’t long, however, before that victory turned to ash, and, at the request of Erdoğan, who claimed irregularities at the ballot box were responsible for his loss, election authorities annulled the results and ordered a rerun to be held on the 23rd of June. For months, it seemed that it had become illegal to win against the AKP.
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The date grew closer, and just 2 percentage points separated the rivals in opinion polls. Could İmamoğlu recreate his performance from weeks earlier? Pundits were torn; pollsters, conflicted. Locals were anxious. The world watched. But voters, in their fervour, riled by the injustice of a legitimate political victory ripped away and, fearing the last flickers of democracy would soon be extinguished, returned with a renewed sense of resolve, determined to defy the polls.
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Seconds ticked by, and it became startlingly clear to Erdoğan and the AK Parti that the plan had backfired; spectacularly so. A small 13,000 vote lead had turned into a 775,000 one. Voters saw that, with enough turnout, not even Erdoğan was infallible. Istanbul, governed by the AKP since 1994, fell to the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi - CHP - opposition, and an extended campaign breathed life into what was once a political lightweight who now had momentum in a situation frighteningly similar to the one that had seen Erdoğan himself take control of the country not too long ago.
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So there you have it; Istanbul has a new mayor, and maybe, just maybe, Turkey could have found itself a potential future challenger for the presidency.
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle Tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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Since I've left my laptop behind for a few days to go hiking in the Svaneti region in Northern Georgia, the next Place Person Plate interview will be published next week instead of today. Until then, here's a few photos from day 1 of the 4 day trek from Mestia to Ushguli!
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For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, visit:
theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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At the end of an exhausting 2nd day of cycling, we could go no further, and so decided to camp at the top of a mountain near Brensholmen; Miriam's first time camping for about 12 years... ...

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