On Saturday I went to France for lunch, which quixotic enterprise made my day pleasantly surreal. The occasion was the inaugural European trip of the UK chapter of the Modern Vespa forum.
I'm no stranger to riding on the wrong side of the road, but this was my 125cc Vespa's first trip abroad. I may have trouble getting it to knuckle down and chug to work at 30mph after its taste of the D940 from Calais to Boulogne.
I got up horridly early to meet the others at Maidstone services. As we rode down to Folkstone a tantalising band of yellow across the horizon spoke of sun beyond the grey clouds, and we emerged from the Eurotunnel to blue sky.
Sand dunes, the sea off to the right and a little mist clinging over the fields - beautiful. Through Boulogne, which smells of dog. A white van and a BMW trying to kill us - some things are the same wherever you go.
Our destination was Le Touquet, where lots of folk were rollerblading or walking the dog along the seafront and we had a lovely lunch at a seaside brasserie. I had saumon sauce crevettes (and cleaned my plate so thoroughly, mopping up the shrimp sauce with bread, that the nice waiter said "Oh! Finish!" when he collected it) followed by blackcurrant sorbet with crème de cassis.
The return route took us inland for another seventy miles of curves, scenery and little traffic, with plenty of those undulating, tree-lined French roads I love. All too soon we were back at the Chunnel and embarked on the rattliest train ever, causing us all to hang on to our scooters in case they fell over.
Twelve hours from leaving my front door to regaining it; over 200 miles travelled; two tanks of petrol used. Not bad for a titchy commuter bike!