Despite some bad press, parts of Dover are actually quite scenic. Once you've bypassed the eyesore of the ferry port and dragged your hungover friends who dislike 'hiking' as far as The White Cliffs and stormed far enough ahead that you can't hear their complaints, it's actually quite peaceful. I bound past kids in jackets three sizes too big and Italian tourists in the wrong footwear for a cliff walk in November and soon I'm gasping in fresh air and feeling sub-human again. I promise the girls there is a pub ahead with a view of France and they follow.
Later that night, in a pub with a view of a chipper and a bookies, a young troubadour is murdering an Ed Sheeran song as we pile in and take the only remaining seats, right in front of him. He finishes the song and spies my Guinness. 'Are ye Irish?' he asks. 'Uh-oh', I think. My fears are justified as he rattles out every 'Oirish' song in his repertoire, from U2 to The Dubliners, ingeniously without using more than three chords. When he gets to a rousing rendition of The Wild Rover, I decide to go outside and smoke my brains out. Inside, everyone is thumping the table in time and shouting along to the chorus, so I decide enough is enough and leave. Back in the B&B, I lie on the bed with the lights off and contemplate my bear-like humour. I'm annoyed with myself mainly, because a rare chance to escape the rat race of work like a dog, drink like a fish, six hours' sleep and start again has ended up in a pub. It all feels like a depressingly familiar tale.
Then it dawns on me to make a radical change, right there. Giving up drinking seems futile a few weeks before Christmas, I'd never last, but maybe there's another bad habit I could axe? I go outside for a cigarette to think. Standing in the doorway of our grotty B&B listening to the echo of the music from across the road, I stub out my final fag and walk inside determined not to smoke again, no never, no more.