The Staples to Naples banger rally turned out to much more of a test of stamina than we had expected.

The rally was more or less ably run by Street Safari in the UK. Cars have to cost less than £100 but have a valid MOT and insurance and at least £500 had to be raised for charity.

My brother had selected a little red Rover 213 for the trip, sadly not the most comfortable of cars but pretty economical. It did turn out to have been a good choice but it could have used new front seats!

Staples CornerStaples is short for Staples Corner, the junction at the bottom of the M1 with London’s North Circular Road however the rally actually starts from Calais due to the practical constraints of getting from Staples Corner through London and down to Dover. Being masochists, and also being told that there would be press at Staples Corner, we decided to start there. My advice? Start at Calais.

At the other end, the rally wisely stops just outside Naples. For no better reason than wanting to see Pompei, we decided to go through Naples. The little red Rover took the opportunity to stutter to a stop in a traffic jam just at the entrance to a motorway toll plaza in the middle of Naples. After considering whether to simply dump it and walk away we decided to push and got it more or less out of the way of the traffic. In the end the car cooled and limped out of town.

The route we took went through four countries from the UK to France, Switzerland and finally Italy. Each day the organisers, using the word loosely, gave us a set of challenges, mostly things that we had to find and take digital photos of. All in all it made for long days but it kept us fully occupied.

One of the highlights was La Tremola which is the old St. Gotthard pass in Switzerland. It's a small windy road with cobblestones all the way. We also took in Stelviopass in Northern Italy which was more or less on the way to our stopover for the night.

Certainly a great challenge for man and machinery, full of new experiences and a sense of adventure, comradeship with some terrific people. The long days were offset by some sightseeing and some really good meals (except for the universally basic breakfasts). One word of warning though, if you like peace and quiet at night then don't stay in the same hotel as the other teams.

If you asked immediately after if we would do it again, the answer would have been a resounding 'NO', but as the memory fades and we consider holidays that don't involve sitting on a beach, we might consider it. It would need to be a new route, perhaps to Prague or Casablanca?

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