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?

The "Italian Job " Again!

Writtle man David Dawsey and his co-driver Stuart Wilson of Chelmsford recently completed the Italian Job Charity Run in a Mini.  The Italian Job run starts in Imala in Italy and ends in Ashford Kent. Over a 100 mini's of all ages competed. David and Stuart raised in excess of  £2500 for the charity of which 80% is donated to the NCH (The National Children's Home).

The Italian Job is a National Charity that has been operating for about 13 years and has in that time raised more than £1.5 million.

Below is the diary of events as recorded by David Dawsey with a couple of photographs

Day 0 (Tuesday evening)

Loaded car with my things then headed off to pick up Stuart.
First problem - we seem to be rather heavily loaded!! Anyway we head off to Dover and arrive safe and sound with about ½ inch clearance between wheel arch and tyre – could be problems to come!
Popped along to the local pub for last pint of real beer and get confronted by the barmaid practicing acupuncture. We managed to avoid it and headed for bed.

Day 1 Wednesday

Arrived in time for the 8:15 am ferry (Sea France had decided to cancel the 9:30 ferry that we had booked).
Head for Brugge but as the rain is so bad we decide to bypass it and head for Brussels. This city has got to have the worst roads in Northern Europe!!
Anyway we got parked and sampled the local food – McDonalds, well you have to start somewhere.
After this we tried to get out of the city, unsuccessfully it seemed at times, but eventually we made it and headed for Heidelberg, or so we thought.
About 7.30pm just south of Luxembourg a German frauline in a French car managed to plough in to the back of us and wreck the boot!! Fortunately she admitted it was her fault to the Luxembourg police and that’s what she said on the insurance claim form.
Anyway after 90 mins delay we decided to head for Triar in Germany and look for a place to stay. This we successfully managed and unloaded our bags into a nice hotel in the middle of the city. We managed to find an Italian restaurant still serving food and after a rather long and eventful day managed to relax.

Day 3 Friday

We are going to go for it and try to get as close to Imola as possible. Up early and away heading for the Alps. Rain has gone and scenery is getting more spectacular. We head for the St Bernard tunnel – unfortunately no snow yet therefore no snowball fights, maybe when we come home! Through the tunnel and we are in Italy – whoopee. Unfortunately we come out the tunnel and it is raining but it soon clears as we blast our way across Northern Italy. I thought the drivers in Belgium were bad but this lot are all lunatics and only know one way of driving – you get up behind the driver in front of you as quick as possible, flash your lights to get them out of the way and find your next victim. We made good time and manage to get around Milan without to much trouble headed for Bologna and then surprise, surprise we get held up after two accidents -  I suppose this is normal for Italy! Eventually after fighting a battle with the motorway we headed into Bologna where the lunatics ride scooters – absolute mayhem. We find a hotel but then spend an hour trying to park. Give up and park in resident only parking – well it is Italy.

An interesting hotel – a big fully equipped bathroom with shower, but no toilet. This is down the corridor and looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned for years but the hotel is relatively cheap and in the middle of the city. We are earlier today although it would be nice not to be searching for a hotel in the dark! Anyway all forgiven after a very nice meal and the prospect of only a 20 mile drive to Imola in the morning

A selection of pictures taken during the run

Click to enlarge

Day 4 Saturday

We have unfortunately picked up a parking ticket but they are only 32 Euros and they may never catch up with us! We arrive at the Imola hotel in plenty of time for scrutineering and we pass, even with a dodgy boot. We get our room and collapse in comparative luxury. Midday briefing, lunch, and away we go on the first stage of the navigation rally. First stop Baracca Airport in Lugo with an aerobatics display laid on. Weather hot and sunny, lots and lots of minis, and the locals love it. We end the day at the Imola F1 Grand Prix circuit including 3 laps round the circuit, some of us also got half a lap in the opposite direction. As a result of this some teams have been banned from the rooftop test track in Turin because they were driving dangerously – not us of course. The food was good in the evening and along with good wine and beer we didn’t have too much trouble sleeping.

Day 5 Sunday

Glorious weather again although a foggy start – wish I had brought some shorts! A full day of the navigation rally which saw us spend 3 hours in the middle of the day parked up in the central square at Modena where food was laid on. We then headed for a private car collection at the Panini Museum which included some fabulous cars. At the end of the Navigation rally a lot of us headed for Maranello and the home of Ferrari. Fantastic museum and expensive shop – I bought a sticker for the car and a mousemat for my future son-in-law! We then had a long blast along the Autostrada to get back in time for a quick beer before dinner. Another good meal but only 4 bottles of wine per table. This was followed by a charity auction on behalf of NCH, which raised a lot of money especially from those who had drunk too much. Collapsed into bed knackered after another full day.

Day 6 Monday 

We are lying in 62nd place in the navigation rally – that’s better than 40 others! Anyway off we go heading for the mountains and the twists and bends of the roads that link Imola and Florence including crossing the 15th century Alidosi humped back bridge. Lunch is at the Gruppo winery in Pontassieve. We then head back independently to Imola. Some go onto Florence, but we join others to head back over the mountains again with spectacular views and roads. A BMW 1 series (I think they call them minis) managed to run off the road and bury itself in a tree. They driver was OK but needs to get himself a real mini if he wants to go round corners properly. Anyway back via the supermarket and get ready for dinner.

Day 7 Tuesday

Last day in Imola and last day of the navigation rally. Today we head over towards Rimini and more hills, finally I remember my shorts as it is another (boring isn’t it?) hot and sunny day. We haved moved up into 57th position now but that might be more to do with cars dropping out than us improving.
Very pleasant day with some beautiful views and a special stage (cross two time controls in 11 seconds exactly – these are the ones where we always lose lots of points) at a Ferrari dealership. We finish the rally at an olive oil mill (one big stone wheel crushing olives – 30 seconds to tour the whole place) for lunch.
We now head back to the hotel to raise the rear end of the car a bit more as from now on we will be fully loaded all the time. Has a slight hint of ‘Monster Truck’ about it unloaded but should give us a much better ride home.
Back to our room for a wash and brush up, get out the dinner suit, fortunately with no creases as its been hanging up for four days, as we have our first formal dinner. A good evening with the usual thankyou speeches to our Italian hosts but off to bed reasonably early as we are off early tomorrow.

Day 8 Wednesday

Up at 5:15am and away by 6:00am as we have got 240 miles to do before 11:00am (the main Piazza in Turin is only open to us between 11:00 and 12:00). We are travelling with a young couple in a mini 1000 now known as ‘yellow peril’. This means a maximum speed of 75 mph but we arrive without too much trouble and start seeing the sights that are familiar to anybody who has seen the film ‘The Italian Job’.
We stay here for a few hours before we indulge in one of the most exciting parts of the trip. We roar through the city in convoy with police on motorcycles with sirens blaring and lights flashing escorting us to our hotel. The streets are lined by Italians who seem to be enjoying it and finally, after the police got a bit confused, arrived at the hotel. The hotel we are staying at is part of the old Fiat factory which also includes a shopping centre, conference centre etc but more to the point still has the roof top test track as featured in the film. We are split up into four groups and taken up onto the roof. The organisers decided, probably wisely, it was to dangerous to let us lose on the complete track and therefore we just get a chance to use the 55% banking at one end – but an incredible experience none the less. As we come down off the roof we are confronted by a channel 4 TV crew who want to know about our accident. I hope nothing gets out about it before we get home as I don’t plan on telling my wife until then!!
In the evening we are all loaded onto four coaches and head off for some pizza, wine etc etc. A great end to a truly magnificent day.

Day 9 Thursday

Bye bye to Italy, where we have had glorious weather, fabulous scenery and where the people have been tremendous.  By fluke we get out of Turin without any trouble and turn north towards the Alps on our way to Colmar in France. The weather continues to be good making the approaching Alps look even more spectacular as we head for the St Bernard tunnel with ‘yellow peril’ and ‘turbo boys’.  ‘Yellow peril’ is struggling up the mountains with the thin air and their little engine but turbo boys are also struggling firing on only 3 cylinders but we get through the tunnel and art into Switzerland. The boys decide to get going as far as they can with their misfiring engine which does eventually clear. Unfortunately just short of Colmar a tie rod become disconnected and sends them into a motorway armco barrier. The first thing the police say to them is that they will have to pay for the barriers! They are OK but the car isn’t so they head for home on the back of a recovery truck. Meanwhile we have trundled on our way at 75mph without any mishap to Colmar where we have a very nice meal with wines amply supplied by the local vineyard. I’m beginning to feel tired now and am looking forward to getting home.

Day 10 Friday

Today we cross France with our companion heading for Paris. The first part of the trip is very pretty with lots of Autumn colours but the journey is long (well over 300 miles today) and rather boring – the weather is also changing getting much more like home. We hit the Paris ring road, get it wrong and head the wrong way – fortunately it’s a lot shorter than the M25. We find our exit, see the Hotel, but in the time honoured fashion of these hotels in Paris spend half an hour trying to get to it. Eventually make it and collapse in the Bar for a drink – 11 Euro’s for two largers, I can’t wait for my £1.90 pint!!
We decide not to venture very far and with another team try to find food locally. We seem to have arrived in the Turkish quarter, everywhere you go there are Keb-bab places but we manage to find one that does a passable.
Pizza, retire to a another bar for a couple of drinks and then head back to the hotel. Stuart is so knackered that he heads for bed and is asleep by 9.15pm – these youngsters don’t have the staying power! We decide to have another couple of beers but as I’m about to go to bed at 11:00 get caught by the most boring man on earth talking about security. I finally get away by 12:15 but apparently he was still going at 1:30 so I suppose I was lucky!!

Day 11 Saturday

The last full day – England here we come! We leave Paris in heavy rain with our companions in yellow peril plus some others in a mauve convertible – unfortunately they shed a wiper blade but not to dramatic as the weather clears up and we have a safe run through to Calais. Everybody arrives on time although we have lost 6 cars on the way to various maladies. Finally after nearly 11 days we arrive back in the UK – yellow peril gives up and blows a manifold gasket as well as shearing a bolt on his starter motor but he does eventually struggle through to Ashford. We are lead in procession by the police along the A20 and M20 to the hotel in Ashford through the gathering gloom and more rain to complete the run. By the time we get home tomorrow we will have clocked up 2900 miles in a little over 11 days – not bad for a car that has done less than 1000 in the last two years!

We have the final formal dinner this evening with some guests including Paddy Hopkirk (Monte Carlo rally winner in 1964) plus some teams friends and families. Turbo boys  turn-up in a Ford Orion and a great evening is had by all. 3:30am to bed – home tomorrow.

Day 12 Sunday

Time to check out, have a decent cooked breakfast, exchange phone numbers and addresses with the many new friends we have gained, buy various bits of IJ clothing and two boxes of IJ wine. The car is fully loaded – Stuart is resting his feet on the wine and we head for home and in my case  roast beef and yorkshire pudding. I own up to my wife about the accident and she’s glad and didn’t tell her at the time. I decide to watch the Italian Job Film tonight for a bit of nostalgia but fall asleep in the middle. I must remember next time to book some holiday afterwards to have a rest. Yes, there will be a next time after an experience like that I have to go again. 2004 here I come.


Village Links
 Wheatsheaf Public House