Food & Weather
We took enough food for 25 of the 45 evening meals we would need. This was all food that we could prepare on the gas hob: knowing that we were unlikely to find more than the odd campsite with electricity we took the microwave out of the van before we left to reduce weight and increase storage. Planned meals were fry-ups, pasta with salmon, tuna or Bolognese sauce, and a lamb casserole with rice. We were expecting – unrealistically as it turned out – to eat out half the time. In the event, with so much wild camping and overnight stays in car parks, we only had six or seven meals out. With hindsight it would have been better to take food for at least 35 meals, and more cheese and ham for sandwiches. It was easy enough to pick up bread, milk (fresh, UHT or sterilised), pasta, fruit and vegetables; impossible to find fresh or unsweetened cream (soured cream, ‘smetana’, only), breakfast cereals, baked beans, and British-style ham and sausages; and difficult to find cheddar-type cheese and bacon.
Our trip lasted from mid-August to the end of September 2009, about six-and-a-half weeks. We checked out guidebooks and the internet about weather patterns and listened to the advice of friends and acquaintances. As a result we anticipated all sorts of weather but with a particular concern for the alleged early onset of autumn/winter in Russia, with cold and frosts. We took a full range of clothing!
Were we just lucky or were these suggestions just based on prejudices and faint memories of the outcomes of Napoleon’s and Hitler’s adventures?
The fact is that we enjoyed incredibly good weather throughout most of the trip. Most days were sunny, warm and bright. Some were cloudy but still mild and just a few consisted of rain. Two or three days included summer storms of heavy rain but these soon passed and the sun was out again. We found that a cagoule and an umbrella were useful precautions against getting caught out but never needed the heavy-duty protection of waterproof anoraks and thick jumpers.
When setting off for a day’s city sightseeing in the cool of the morning we would be wearing jumpers and jackets but generally a few hours later these would be stowed in backpacks, and teeshirts and summer tops were all that was needed. Likewise when driving.
Only towards the end of the trip, coming back through Europe, did we put the central heating on for short periods in mornings and evenings.