by the usual cuckoo, at six by a chattering morning chorus of birds, went back to a lovely deep sleep until ten thirty. No rush.
Tonight, after an easy day a worker bee has settled on my drying t shirt, laid in the ebbing sun. The bee is motionless, sucking up the moisture and remaining remnants of my body odour – although I had just washed it, I had not changed it for two weeks. The water in the wash basin was the colour of ash.
High points to the journey today? Not many, but one I shall never forget was very brief. I was nearing the bridge at Malcolm, southern Sweden, hire miles from the toll booths, a black apparition skipped, bounded across the road no more than thirty feet away. I was going fast, the shape was so black, it was like any light was sucked in, none reflected off its silhouette like body, like how I imagine a black hole to be. A wild boar! Quite common I suppose, for many signs were in the area, replacing the moose signs further north. The hurtling boar dived over the ditch on the left hand side of the road, his hooves kicking up as he disappeared. I slow down but no sign of him in the uncut grass beyond. I pass freshly squashed cat, confused red squirrels as well on the way.
I make my way to Copenhagen, a love child of Holland and Germany they had a little girl… Tivoli gardens with its gyrating fun fair, reminiscent of the permanent Battersea funfair when I was a child hanging off a 49 bus to get there. Smell of candy floss. Screams. Sentimental. Man Ray exhibition? With all this bike gear? Sadly I can’t do it.
I visit Cristianaland, part of Copenhagen, based in an old park; was this a gesture of of tolerance by the people of the city to smoking marijuana or another tourist attraction gimmick? Possibly a bit of both. Sign reads at the entrance, “you are now leaving the EU”. I push my bike into the walled village within a city. Sellers, hustlers, teenage girls giggling, bearded tramps, emaciated junkies, coughing tourists, drawing on a reefer far stronger than the dope they smoked decades ago. I parked the bike, then enter the ‘green light district, no photographs.’ and into a stall painted outside with green leaves. Two burly men inside wearing black balaclavas, like terrorists, standing arms folded, ready to mug any idiot like me entering their shop. I wanted to ask one of them, isn’t it rather hot and stuffy wearing that balaclava, I mean, doesnt it get damp with your breath on it all day? “brown or green?” the nearest one asks me. “er green, how much?” “ten euro.” to keep things pleasant, I ask his name, he glares at me “I… I’m James…”, “…Miko”, he responds gruffly “Cheers!” I reply in my best Terry Thomas manner, furled umbrella under my arm and bowler hat, “good day to you!”….. placing the neat plastic container in my wallet pocket.
I’m not smoking this here I thought, gotta drive.
I had a chat with a man painting a picture near various stalls, some selling woven bracelets and cheap jewellery. He didn’t know the english word for a commission so I filled in for him. He said all of us here have to earn money to stay here, I have many people who want my pictures. He was painting a bright rendition of this sad run down tourist ghetto. In his left hand, a yoghurt pot with streaks of colours as his palette. The the quality of his work seemed a bit second-rate but was still charming. “It’s really good!” I lied. He noticed something wasn’t right, I simply wanted to go. He asked why I looked so ill at ease and I told him, partially true, that I was a bit worn out, I had been travelling four and a half thousand miles and was going home. He smiled and said, well, relax, you can now. Wished me good luck. He looked intensely at me through his dark framed glasses and crooked grey teeth, I saw a familiar face looking back at me; it was my art teacher, Andy.
I pushed my iron pony out of dodgy city.
On, through he suburbs, avoiding motorways, following local careless and terrible local drivers, worse seen so far, anywhere, even the UK. I plod on and find a campsite in the well tended luxurious green countryside… No wild camping tonight.
I could also just mention Ernie, the toothless Danish proprietor of the campsite I am on. He trundles up to me on his motor mower, I read at the front, a joke number plate, “best driver in the world” I point at this, smiling and do a thumbs up at him. He didn’t see the joke. I give you plate to put under your bike. He returned with a plank of wood. I gratefully place it under the kickstand, preventing another bike capsize, this would have been one too many. “Ten euro”, Ernie said. Cost of a tourist joint, I thought.
Knorr soup with dehydrated rubber chicken pieces on the Primus stove. Relax, you can now.