We played fetch with an apple instead of a ball, and he was utterly thrilled

Home – Calais – Bayeux – a McDonald’s 

I was up at 5am, feeling very peculiar. I had been hypnotised the evening before to get off the electronic cigarette and nicotine lozenges. I felt utterly lost. Everything was packed, but the thought of attaching it all to the bike, in the dark, was more than I could bear. After a lot of moping around, and with surprising ease, everything was secured tight and I was good to go. My train was at 8:50am, but I left at 6am, because I like to arrive early.
It was a lovely balmy morning, with very little traffic, and I should have been having the time of my life, but I felt peculiar, the sat nav took me a completely random route, and I spent the journey chewing at the sides of my mouth in my helmet, in a state of panic. I cursed myself for listening to Radio 1 when I left home. Nick Grimshaw came on, about halfway into my journey, and I spent the rest of the time scowling and wondering just where I fit into this world.
At the Eurotunnel terminal, I bought a chai latte from Starbucks and stared at a couple of punk girls with shaved heads and pierced faces.
When I had prepared the bike I had forgotten to connect the power supply for the sat nav to the battery. I had to untie the bag to be able to remove the seat to do this. So I went to back outside and, crouching down, noticed a few drops of oil on the ground. The centre stand and the whole of the underside of the bike was covered in oil. The bike was on the centre stand so I checked the viewing window to see how much oil there was still in the engine. None.
If you are feeling peculiar because your body hasn’t had any nicotine for 12 hours for the first time in 20 years, this is probably the worst thing you could have happen to you, especially if your last bike trip ended because your bike just died.
I considered ending things right there, going home and lying in bed with the curtains drawn for 6 days. Instead, I went to the AA shop and was horrified to discover that, despite having a hundred different kinds of stickers that said “GB”, they only had two kinds of oil. I picked one of them, reasoning that the wrong kind of oil was better than no oil. I filled up the bike and figured, if I had to, I would just buy oil every time I stopped for petrol.
I was the only bike on the train. Sat on the floor alone, I considered how I really wasn’t looking forward to the day or enjoying myself at all. It was 14 hours since I had used my ecig or had any nicotine. I didn’t feel an overwhelming compulsion or need, but I was aware that I felt strange-different, particularly in my perception of time. I knew it was going to be different, but that was one of the reasons for the trip, five glorious days of zero pressure riding, camping outdoors, and being sulky and grumpy, alone.
It was apparent that I lacked sufficient distance for irony. Everything felt so immediate. On any other trip I could have run over a dog or something, and still seen the funny side. I was set for a humourless day.
France side, it was a pleasant temperature, the roads were good, the scenery was scenic, but it was all wasted on me. The sat nav said I had six hours left to go for about three hours straight. I cursed myself for giving myself such a stupidly long first day. Six hours to travel a couple of hundred miles seemed idiotic.
I lasted until about 1pm and then bought cigarettes. I hadn’t smoked cigarettes in over 3 years. I reasoned that trying to go cold turkey in a novel stressful situation was not conducive to success. I had not drank alcohol for a year, and a large part of how I was able to do that was the support I had received. Where was Mary now? I decided I would message Tracey and book more hypnosis for when I got back home.
This was what I thought about as I smoked that first cigarette, and then I felt faint and almost collapsed. I had to go back inside the tabac where I had bought the cigarettes to sit down and drink a Coke.  
Back on the road, my mouth felt pasty and sour tasting. I did, however, feel considerably better mentally, less mental etc.  
I stopped every so often, took some photos, urinated behind a hedge/tree. The six hours gradually counted down until I found myself at my campsite, at around 6pm.
The campsite was in the grounds of an old abbey that had been partially renovated as a hotel and the grounds behind were used for tents, camper vans etc. The campsitess did not speak English, but got around this by pretending that I spoke French, despite my mumbled “je ne comprends Francais”.
A chap with a camper van tried to speak to me when I returned to the bike, but I hurried quickly away. As is well known, camper van owners are all swingers .
I was disgusted to discover that the power supply for the pitch was a standard European two pin socket and not a three pin, as on the four socket extension lead I had brought with me. I had brought no european adaptors with me, aside from the one that came with my USB charger. This meant I could charge my phone, but not use the kettle I had brought, so no hot water bottle, hot drinks, pot noodle or porridge in the morning.
I swiftly pitched the tent, blew up the air bed, unrolled the sleeping bag, put everything inside the tent, and left on the bike for a Lidl to get something to eat.
The supermarket was due to close in 15 minutes and I bought French bread, laughing cow, some poisonous looking Haribou sweets, and a six pack of Coke Zero. The French didn’t even have alcohol free beer to aid my troubled situation.
I spent the evening in my sleeping bag eating sweets and watching episodes of “The Man in the High Castle”, downloaded from Amazon Prime, and fell asleep during the third one.
It was freezing cold during the night, but the new sleeping bag I had bought kept me warm. I was also saved by the compact torch/lantern that Mary had bought me for my birthday, particularly at 5am, when I went outside in pants, t-shirt and boots, to relieve myself against a bush.
When I woke up properly, it was an act of courage getting out of my sleeping bag and into clothes. I could tell it was a sunny day even from inside the tent, but it was also cold. I told myself that I was putting on my motorcycle costume, which I had ridden across countries in all weathers, and so there was no reason why I would be cold.
I ambled down to use the bathroom and picked up a Jack Russell (Jacques Russell?) on the way back. We played fetch with an apple instead of a ball, and he was utterly thrilled.  
Packing and dismantling the tent took no time at all (even with apple interruptions from my new friend).  
There was only 4 hours riding to be done today. I was feeling considerably better this morning, compared to the morning before.
I stopped at a pharmacy to buy nicotine patches to get me through the rest of the trip. This was not an ideal solution, but preferable to smoking cigarettes. There was also a bakery so I had a coffee as well.
My ETA for the next campsite was 2pm and I was supposed to be there from 4pm, so I rode slow and kept an eye out for a McDonald’s, which arrived an hour or so into my riding, and where I am now.

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