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The Countdown has begun for me … tick tock tick tock

The countdown has begun for me and the start of the Italian Job 2011. I’m all packed, shaved (well decoratively trimmed that is) car is loaded with my stuff and now I’m just waiting for morning to come; a wait where a sleepless night will doubtless start me thinking that I should have left last night! My eldest daughter (8) has just wished me ‘good luck in Italy ‘ as I told her I’d see her in ten more sleeps. As I closed her door she whispered, ‘I’m proud of you Daddy’ and that she cannot wait to see me in London on Bonfire night when we return. My other daughter (7) seems somewhat less concerned/interested and wishes my friends and me fun ‘at’ Italy… mental note: speak with her English teacher when I get back!

Though I’ve been here 20 times before on 20 previous editions, my heart is still pounding with the thrill of it all. I can feel myself tensing up just a bit for what will be 10 very long though incredibly enjoyable days. Most of my time will be spent in a car, the pace car or a MINI on loan to us from MINI Italy, dashing between Time Control points and special stages, lunch stops and Piazza’s where our teams will arrive and park. With fewer teams this year, we have a smaller crew, and necessarily so. But I’m more than confident we’ll be able to cover all routes and all check points.

I learned today that we’ll be joined by a large number of Florentine Minis, which is wonderful news, especially as our chosen Italian Children’s charity is the MEYER Children’s Hospital in Florence. Our on the Job auction this year will take place in Florence, so I really hope it’s a cracker and raises lots of money for this epic hospital.

I was talking yesterday with a journalist – oh, listen to me! – and when she asked me to sum up in a few short words what the Italian Job is, I told her this: it is the epitome of a truly social, social motoring event (that’s not a typo or word repetition) which just happens to raise a few pounds on its way. Each year we are blessed with the company of some wonderful people who give their time, energy and passion to raise money for the Italian Job’s chosen charity. In return they enjoy 10 days of adventure, of driving so far off the beaten track that even Garmin and TOM TOM come up blank. I’m off tomorrow at the crack of sparrows to join these hero’s and to begin my Italian Job 2011 Mini/MINI adventure.

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