From amber fishing in the Baltic to mushroom hunting in Russia, theres lots of stuff that doesnt cost a penny, say our reporters
Mushrooms in Russia
In Russia, mushroom picking is called the quiet hunt and it has a ritual all its own. From late spring through to autumn, the high season for mycophiles, Russians fan out into the forests in search of fresh air, solitude and fungi to fill their wicker baskets. Should you see Ladas and Range Rovers abandoned roadside after a downpour, do not be alarmed: it is just mushroom season, not the zombie apocalypse.
The prey depends on the season: morels in spring, then pine boletes, broad milkcaps, orange chanterelles and the prized boroviki, the porcinis or penny buns that crown the season before the first snowfalls.
Yes, Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy wrote about mushroom hunts. But for a more hallucinogenic offering, turn to the Bolshevik functionary Alexander Tolstoy, who wrote a fairytale about talking mushrooms complaining how painful it is to be eaten, trampling a poisonous mukhomor and then shoving their way into the mouths of two children with the cry All right, kids, open up!