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Published: September 26th 2022
We woke early at the crack of dawn in our quiet overnight stop near Antwerp. The reasoning for waking early was to "do a Hamburg". That is get round Antwerp before it woke up . Easier said than done . The roads were dark and dismal and dawn felt a long way away. There was not much conversation in Gabby so early in the morning. We were not going to be rewarded with the flame red of the sun rising this morning . The traffic even at this ungodly hour was busy . Roadworks here and there slowing the traffic to a crawl. Moving from one side of the carriageway to the other and closed lanes all impeded our journey . Coming home always feels a letdown but there is always another holiday just around the corner . We knew driving that this was Gabbys last trip to the Eurotunnel .
After a delay just outside of Calais we finally arrived at the tunnel . Ticket exchanged we were offered no earlier train . We had time to park up, walk over to the cafes and pick up a last coffee, last croissant and final baguette to take home. The
boards finally told us we could go to embarkation and what seems like the long process of checking our gas was off began. The french customs checked our passports and stamped us out of France, further customs came in and checked the interior of Gabby including the toilet and finally the British customs let us through. "I am hoping to buy a house in Wales " the customs officer told me. I wondered if he had any connection with the country or just loved Pembrokeshire . Little England as it is getting to be known. On the train slowly but surely we made our way to miserable grey Kent .
Arriving home the job of emptying Gabby began . I would have loved to have taken the Maxxair back off as it had had little use , taken the Gaslow bottles out and all the other fixtures we had added over the years. But the main task was emptying drawers and cupboards , cleaning Gabby and waiting for her to be picked up. Some items were thrown away. Some we wondered why we had purchased them. Others were put away for some further use in the future . Carpets
taken out and hoovered . Sink cleaned , Toilet all spick shape . It was hard doing all of this as normally items would be taken out, cleaned, washed and put back in again . It all felt the reverse of starting motorhoming . On the due day the guys turned up to pick up Gabby. One walked around her many times looking for scratches and dents . They would not find any. They commented on the battery large enough to launch a space ship. And then she went . It felt odd again not seeing her on the drive but the deed had to be done even if it all felt not quite right .
The next few days went in a whirl of activity. We needed a new car to replace Gabby . Glenn had found a few he likes . An Audi TT - we had had one before . They were going out of production . A VW Golf R - none in the country and order a new one and it could take six months to arrive . A BMW M135i x drive - very few in the country but one a black beast
was available in the Chester BMW showroom. Apparently if we pre-ordered one the delivery date was a year ahead with no guarentee the order would be fulfilled . The car might start off on the production but within a few days would be off the line or it had gone somewhere else . Brexit or Covid again ? Who knows ? The car was not what we wanted exactly but it would do if we could get it at the right price . It is a buyers market - is it not ? Not as the case seemed . The showroom was empty. The salesmen and there were a few sat at desks and ignored us . Did we not look like BMW buyers ? Did they think we were not serious? The one guy near us did get off his rear end and we told him what we were looking for. We liked the black . We liked the extras. We did not like the Magma red seats which looked very orange . We tried to haggle but he was going nowhere . The car was in the next tax band so that finally put us off and we
left feeling as if we were never going to find a car that would suit . To make it worse they were all automatics or semi automatics . Not one of the German cars had manual gearboxes and conventional handbrakes . The search for the next car was going on . I felt like Alan Sugar and the Apprentice as I said that .
Over the weekend we found ourselves looking out of the kitchen window and Gabby was not there . We had made the decision to hope that nothing was wrong with her as we did not want to talk to the dealership who bought her back . Nor did we want to know how much they sold her for . We had to ring up the tracker company to ask them not to ring us up to track her any longer as we no longer owned her . One of the many things that needed to be done in the next week or so . None of our neighbours called to ask how the holiday went nor why we came back early apart from one complaint that we had not bothered to tell them we were
on our way home . We had not realised we would shorten the holiday nor had we planned Glenns knee to play up so the complaint felt unfounded.. It all felt a change from our old neighbours who would have been round like a flash and work where I would have been asked about the trip . How times have changed !.
But we did try to get back to some kind of normality . Football and a trip to watch our team play Torquay - the Gulls at the Cae Ras. We parked up as always at the Glyndwr University car park. At £3 it is a bargain . The car is safe and it is handy for getting away at the end of the game . We walked up town past a packed out Turf to the chemist . It was time to drop of the old tablet wrappers for recycling and drop a cheque off at the bank before stopping for half a bacon bap and two cups of coffee . Whilst we had been away the town had received its city status and we had missed the celebrations . The proclaimation of King Charles III had taken place on the Guildhall balcony . And today the fair was in town, a food festival had been set up and the local museum had changed their temporary display from Wrexham on the Map to the History of football through shirts .
The museum is small and has a permanent collection which seems never to change . However the tiny gallery alongside has around three or four tall glass cabinets and one long one that they use to display books, maps , items from the moving collections . The Welsh FA - down in South Wales agreed to release a few items for show in Wrexham . I doubt they were the best exhibits but at least it gave us the chance to see football shirts changing through the ages and to see some memorabilia from Cymru games over the years . In each case were two or three shirts some from the national team and others from local and not so local welsh teams . A red cap from the 1977 Welsh national team campaign . That was the only time that Wales beat England at Wembley in a Home International . Wales the previous year had reached the final of the European Championship. A team that comprised of Dai Davies goalkeeper who played for Wrexham and Everton . A player who won 52 caps for his country . Rod Thomas Derby Counties a member of Derby Counties title winning team of 1975 and our own Joey Jones a Liverpool player who is regularly seen at the Cae Ras on match days. He had played in European cups and currently works with the reserve and youth team at Wrexham. The list of players in that team went on and on. I was amazed at how small some of the shirts appeared to be. I would not have fitted into some of them. The materials changed over the years from thicker cotton that must have been uncomfortable to wear in the rain to the newer ones made from recycled plastic. There were programmes from the 1977 International game . A yellow Wales kit and a programme from the Wales v Israel game which cost 6pence to purchase . A far cry from the £3 a programme these days.
Styles had changed ,. Numbers on shirts now not limited to 1 to 11 but infinite . Shirts with collars, V necks and round necks , Sponsorship long gone Marstons Brewery on a Wrexham shirt . A programme from the friendly match between the National Women Team of Wales and Iceland at Afan Lido in 1993. A shirt with the name and number collared in with the LBGQT rainbow logo . It seems it was the first time it had been used .
There were only ourselves and a father and his son looking at the shirts . Play areas for the children were empty . Crayons, pictures to colour in of football kits, design your own kit on the wall . All empty which was sad as the shirts and the games would be a useful tool in education. It goes to show just how anything can tell the history of a country . From its landscape to its people , from photographs to the written word . You just have to be imaginative and let that imagination run riot .
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