an irreverent look at Writtle Village, Essex, its people and goings on!
  Fax:07092 336131
e-mail editor
This site has been updated on December 2006

Search Disgruntled


How to contact  us Updated


Contribute to

Feedback Form

Sign our Guest Book

Polo Shirt Offer

Welcome Page



From the Writtle PC



History of the Bells

New Bells June Dedication

Writtle Fun Day


Broadband Easter meeting

Writtle Annual Meeting

Writtle Local Elections

 Wear Pond Expansion

New Visitor to Writtle

Writtle Update

December 2002
They don't apply to me

Italian Job

Police Presentation

Previous issues

A Lid too Far

On the Buses Update

Village Meeting

Teddy Bears
Aerial Runway

Golden Jubilee Celebrations

Residents Association Meeting

Polo Shirt Offer

 April 2002
The Queen Mother

On the buses in Writtle

 The Hunting debate

 Feb 2002
Lodge Road
Traffic Calming


Feedback results

Police Picture

2001 fete
Cheque Presentation

2001 Archive
 Dec 2001

Christmas Fable

Community Policing Writtle Style

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Festive Gruel 


Pooper Snooper for Writtle?

Writtle Fete

All Saints Bell Appeal Barndance

Hannibal the Terrapin of Wear Pond

The Great Post Box debate Update 

Election Results

The Wheatsheaf Charity Golf Day Pictures 

Writtle Parish Annual Meeting

The Great Post Box debate

The Green After the Circus

Albania Calling

Election Information

Teddies Galore!

All Saints Bell Appeal

Wheatsheaf Charity Golf Contest


Previous Issues
April, May

Dog Poo
and related matters

Road traffic,  
a  problem?

On Writtle pond 

Fuel Prices etc

What is Art? 

What is Philosophy?


Albania Calling
Essex Policeman and Writtle resident on duty in Albania

What on earth was this to do with village life in lovely rural Writtle, I hear you ask?

More to the point, where the hell is Albania, may well be your first question?  Well answering the 2nd question first, Albania is situated on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, opposite Italy; its southern border is shared with Greece and to the north lays Montenegro and Kosovo.  Round to the east lies Macedonia, a small country by any standard, with a population of less than 4 million.  In recent years it made the news as a result of political unrest that it shared with other Communist and Balkan States.  Civil war, as such, did not touch Albania, other than when it received the many thousands of displaced persons that were fleeing the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999.

A lot of the illegal immigrants currently trying to enter the United Kingdom are either native Albanians or are transmitting through the country.
Enough of the history and geography lesson, what is Albania like? Should I include it on my holiday itinerary?  Well having been resident in the capital Tirana since March, I do have a view.  I stress it is a personal view, so please don’t sue me if the 18-30’s trip is not quite what you had expected.
 In keeping with much of that part of the world the scenery is spectacular and contrasting, wide lush green glacial valleys give way to rugged mountains on either side.  Snow topped until well into May.
The coastline is equally inspiring and the coast road from Tirana to Soranda, in the far south, is pretty impressive.
Once you clear the mountains in the National Park, four hours drive from Tirana, you are greeted with the wonderful views of the deep blue Ionian Sea, and the locals say this is where the south begins.

Butrint- Southern Albania with Codfu in the background

Many of you will have seen Soranda when on your holidays in Corfu.  Standing in the north shore of that Greek island you are just and hour and a half ferry trip away.
The whole journey from Tirana to Soranda takes about eight hours, allowing for plenty of stops for photo’s etc.  Now the catch.  It is only 200 miles in distance but the roads are so bad.  People regularly remove the drain and culvert covers for the scrap metal!
It does not matter if it was covering an eight- foot or an eight-inch drain.  Sometimes the side of the road has just subsided and slid off down the mountain, so strict attention to the road when driving is and absolute must.

A typical agricultural scene in eastern Albania. Note the woman leading the donkeys, Hubby steering. No shoes!

Tirana itself, as a European capital less than four hours flying from the UK defies belief.  The dust and smog that envelop the city on hot days can leave you with sore eyes and a bad chest.The atmosphere is not helped by the burning of rubbish at night on the side of the street (refuse collecting is only just starting as an organised enterprise).  The rubbish obviously attracts the many wild dogs that roam the streets, scavenging for food.
Talking of wild life.  I have seen rats climbing out of one culvert and disappearing down the next.  It is not difficult when someone has taken the covers.  The gaping holes also make a handy receptacle for rubbish as well.
The amount of building being undertaken is the largest contributor to the dust.  Tower blocks are going up by the dozen.   My concern is are they making provision for the influx of residents by improving the sewer, electricity and water supplies.  I suspect not.
The gunshots I heard on Easter Sunday evening did not attract any news coverage.  So being a tadge inquisitive I asked if there was anything to worry about.  I was informed that Sunday is the usual night for culling the roaming dogs (I told you it was different)!
This is supposed to be the poorest country in Europe and I am not arguing.  Beggars and street kids are all too frequent sights.
I could not count the number of cafés/bars and they all have a steady flow of custom.  Unemployment supposedly is high, but the black economy thrives.  Perhaps you would like to know more?  Does this require a next instalment? 

I suppose I had better close by introducing myself.  I am a serving Essex Cop who is currently seconded to the multi-national advisory police element (MAPE).  Our role in Albania is to advise and train the local police in the many aspects of Western European policing.  Nineteen nations contribute to MAPE and Essex has been represented since 1997 when it all began.  My short time there has opened my eyes to a totally different way of life.  People ask if I am enjoying it.  My reply is that enjoyment is not the most apt adjective.  I have found it intriguing, interesting and totally fascinating.  A land and people of contrasts.  And for those who know me well – no you cannot get a decent pint in Tirana.

 Until next time  Doug the Diver



Village Links
 Wheatsheaf Public House