The last couple of weeks have been a rollicking roller coast of a ride. Though not necessarily in a good way. After two decent days in Broadstairs, I had to return to Hertford. Friday afternoon found me crawling along the M25 at a top speed of 40 mph. Something was very wrong with the engine.
Fortunately my most excellent mechanic, Colin Gunning (or Saint Colin, as I am thinking of renaming him) managed to sort it out the following Monday, for a modest fee.
By then, the waves had gone flat.
I sat around all week. Finally, the forecast was looking good. Not just good, great - at least by the standards of the South Coast, my next destination.
I set off again, roaring down the M25 with hope in my heart and a spring in my accelerator pedal. Back on the road. It felt fabulous. Swooping over the Dartford Bridge felt like crossing the gateway to a bright, new world.
I stopped off in Deal, which turns out to be delightful, with a small pier, a couple of fishing boats pulled up on the shingle beach and a low fortress built by Henry VIII to keep those nasty Spanish sailors away.
Just after Deal, you go past Ham and then past Sandwich. Honestly.
But then, as I headed towards Dover, something didn't seem right. The van wasn't driving very well. Fifth gear wasn't working. And then neither was fourth gear. Or third. There was a loud bang, and suddenly I was free-wheeling, going nowhere. Except into a fortuitous lay-by, just off the A2.
Three hours later, a man called Bob was attaching a line to the van.
Is it just me, or does the van look slightly alarmed?
This was followed by a sight I don't want to see too often:
The previous Friday, I had been crawling home along the M25 in despair. But at least I had been travelling under my own steam. Exactly seven days later, I was speeding home along the M25 again. Only now I was on the back of a transporter.
Back to kneel at the shrine of Saint Colin.
It wasn't looking good. He couldn't fit it in until the following Friday.
To say I was a little despondant would be something of an understatement. Not least because I was missing three days of decent waves on the South coast. The kind of waves that only happen every couple of months, at most. But don't take my word for it. Several of the local surf shops commented on how good it was:
"OK, so yesterday was super nice..." - The Witterings Surf Shop.
"After yesterday's epic swell..." - Filf surf co.
"Only small after yesterday..." - sharkbait.co.uk.
And then, just when things couldn't look any worse, this happened.
At which point, I gave up on the whole venture and flew to Moscow, so I wouldn't have to worry about waves or vans or surfing. I am now very happy growing cabbages and drinking vodka and travelling around on a donkey called Katya.
By popular demand (Dan and Kukurusta) I'm adding a second photo of the dent on the side of my board (the rail, in surferspeak). Fortunately the magic of Solarex means it is at least watertight, if not very aesthetically pleasing.
And I didn't really emigrate to Moscow. I went to Ramsgate (though the similarities between the two places are striking).