Friday, 17 June 2016

Day 9 - Home

Day 9

Miles travelled - 327 (2214 in total for the trip)

French phrase of the day - Le Tunnel (The Tunnel)

Straightforward day today. Hour drive to Calais, stocked up on cheap wine and beer, and then shared the drive back home with Dad, reaching Llansantffraid and two very excited children (I got a good ten seconds of attention before the present bags took over) just before six o clock. 

So that's it then. Trip of a lifetime over. Back to enjoying the tournament on television, like every other since 1986 when I first watched these brilliant sporting occasions.

With the next two world cups based in Russia and Mars (or somewhere equally as appropriate), and the UEFA experiment of playing the next tournament all around Europe, it's not a trip I'll have the opportunity to do for quite some time. Also, given my dad's 67 now and he's only got 35 or 40 more years left him, unlikely that we'll have another Hopkins/Hopkins Jnr. road trip of this magnitude again.

But there's always something else to look forward to.

The amount we've packed in has left me totally exhausted, so I've just got enough energy to share with you some of the final memories swirling round my head. 

Taking my Dad for his first ever trip to a harvester and watching him struggle to comprehend the number of hugely obese people all in one place at one time. Driving down the French motorways and seeing the beautiful simple villages with their steeples. Cracking open what I thought was a hard boiled egg at the breakfast table, but turned out to be raw, making a terrible mess, and which gave Dad the most enjoyment I've seen him have on the trip. He almost passed out laughing. The Welsh national anthem before the first match bringing us both to the verge of tears. Having a tear up with Bosch Customer Service whilst on the telephone in a little square in Lyon. Facetiming the family and feeling those pangs of homesickness. Listening to Dad happily humming chants he had picked up whilst watching Belgium. Eating cheese rolls in bed at midnight with a can of lager. Watching pretty girls on bikes. Watching a Welsh team continue to play above themselves as individuals and keeping a nation proud, even in defeat. Listening to the Marseilles in the fan park before the opening game. The friendship, warmth and generosity that I saw on an hourly basis amongst fans of all nations. And finally, that magical Saturday in Bordeaux, when Hal mended the hearts that Pele had broken in 1958. 

Couple of thanks before I retire from writing blogs forever.

Firstly to those of you who've read it. It started simply as a way for me to record this trip in a slightly different way, and one day perhaps for my children to read it and be interested in it. However, the numbers of who have read it have come as a lovely surprise and I genuinely hope you enjoyed at least parts of it.

Also to my family (including some no longer with us) who in their own different ways (they know how) made this trip happen for me in the way it did, and I thought of them all frequently throughout. Finally a special mention for my Dad. It was a little bit of a step into the unknown living 9 days in each other's pockets, but it was just superb. Being able to share this trip with him both as father and son, and as friends, is something I'll always be thankful for.

Thanks Dad.

Cymru am byth.

The end. 

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