Second European Meeting at St Moritz.                                  September 2004         

Check out the
Austin Healey Club of Switzerland website for many pictures of this fabulous event.
A personal view from Ivor and Pam Davies.   Ivor's photo album. Bernard's photo album.  
Ivor and Pam's Healey overlooking the Monteratsch Glacier.


  In August 2002, immediately after the 50th Anniversary event at Wokefield Park, Reading, I e-mailed Vic Jacob at Suvretta House to make a preliminary booking for the then just-announced 2nd. European Meeting proposed to be held in St.Moritz in 2004. Pam and I then spent the next 18months trying to decide whether to confirm that booking or not. Thank goodness we did because the event was superb in every aspect.
Together with fellow Northern Centre members Bernard and Claire Jones and Mike and Pam Jenkins we took the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam (Europort) and then, following Bernard, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for his almost-faultless organisation of the routes to and from Switzerland, we travelled to St.Moritz via one night in Heiligenroth, on the A3 in Germany at Montabaur near Bonn, and a second night in Triberg in the Black Forest.


  The weather was very mixed and especially wet on the Dutch and German motorways but, by the time we approached St. Moritz, it was perfect and the ideal introduction to that beautiful part of the world. We began to pick up Healeys along the way and by the time we arrived at Suvretta it was abundantly clear that there was a one-make car event somewhere in the area.
The next six days in St. Moritz at the Suvretta House Hotel, flew by with a series of wonderfully organised events. Sunday afternoon started the whole show with a reception in the meadows at Salastrains above St. Moritz. On Monday under a prefect cloudless sky there was the concours event and we non-contestants had time both to view the cars and to explore Suvretta and the beautiful town of St. Mortitz. On Tuesday, in very changeable weather that included very heavy rain and sleet on some of the passes, we took part in the Stelvio Rally travelling into Austria and Italy before returning to St. Moritz via the Reschenpass, Stelvio and Bernina Passes. My personal memories of the Stelvio are rather mixed as I began to hear some disturbing noises coming from my clutch as we struggled to avoid the hoards of cyclists going up that pass. I have to say that most of them were travelling at commendable speed but with little or no regard for the shortcomings of our aged cars.
  They must be mad we thought but they were probably thinking the same about us. Then on the way down, just after the lunch stop and in driving, freezing rain, my electrics gave out completely.    Fortunately it was just a failed fuse but it could have picked a drier, safer place to expire. I like to think that my later prize for third place on the Stevio Rally was in no small part for persistence in the face of adversity but I suspect that it was more due to pure lady luck. On Wednesday there was an event at a Kart Track in Italy at Gordona-Chianvenna but, despite my personal liking for haring round tracks at speed, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour at that time and we took the opportunity of a relaxed exploration around Suvretta and an even more leisurely use of the hotels� pool facilities. Which left us more than ready for Thurdays� Gavia Rally that took us over the Passo di Foppa, the Passo Gavia, the Pass Umbrail, and the Ofenpass � what views!!
  The picnic was superb although the hamper, which was for us to keep as a memento, gave us more than a little headache in deciding how and what to pack for the journey home and I suspect we were not alone in that dilemma. And on Friday, all too soon it seemed, we were travelling to Silvaplana and the Surlej base-station to commence the final days� event of a cable-car ride up to the 3000m high Corvatsch Mountain. Despite some of our �fear of heights� we all made it to the top and experienced yet another faultlessly-organised day comprising an aperitif and snacks at the summit, a �flying-fox� hang-slide on a cable over the glacier for the braver of our contingent, an exploration of the glacier ice cave, and a lunch at the Murtel middle-station, before returning by cable-car or, for some of the more energetic amongst us, by foot, albeit down the mountain, to the hotel for the final Gala Dinner. The whole day was again in the most perfect weather and gave us the best impressions of Switzerland to take home.
  My excuse for not taking the hike was that I needed to avail myself of the Suvretta House garage facilities to check on the ever-louder nasty noises coming from my clutch. Fortunately the prognosis was that I would make it home albeit with little or no clutch. I did and GSK has since been treated to a new clutch; and a new rear hub, and new wheel bearings but that�s another story. During the week there were several visitors to the garage. A Swiss 100S for a new clutch, another Swiss 100 for a head gasket, Phil Kennedy�s 100 for new bottom-end bearings (poor Jane spent many a happy hour gazing into the garage as Phil and his stalwart helpers beavered away), and many more. All part of the fun of classic car ownership we say. Since returning from the event I have heard stories of several mechanical maladies. Don�t be put off lads � it was surely worth it!
Needless to say the Gala Dinner was a fitting end to the whole week. There were table magicians (I always thought I would be able to spot the illusions close-up, but I couldn�t), paper folding artists, several courses of delicious food, closing speeches of thanks and congratulation, presentations of super prizes to the event winners (should I mention that I won a minor runner-up prize on the Stelvio Rally but I would perhaps have tried a lot harder had I realised that one of the event-sponsors, watch makers Frederique Constant, were giving their special limited edition watches, produced specially to commemorate this event, to the winners � I had no option but to buy one instead) and finally dancing to the music of a live band into the early hours for those with stamina remaining.
  On Saturday morning our Northern Centre travelling group expanded to four with the addition of Stuart and Dianne Stainton and we somewhat reluctantly left Suvretta and St. Moritz to travel to Gravedona on Lake Como where we spent a relaxing three days. We lazed by the lake, explored the surrounding hills, cruised on the lake to Bellagio and Tremezzo, visiting the Villa Carlotta, and generally chilled to recover from the exertions of the previous week. As in Switzerland the weather was a little changeable but, unlike our weather back in the UK, it always seems to change quickly back to the default-setting of the best bright, warm and sunny conditions.
In marginal weather on Wednesday morning our convoy, still following Bernard, left to head home. By Lugano, back in Switzerland, the rain was torrential but by the time we approached the St.Gothard Pass the sunshine was back again in a cloudless sky. We went over not under the pass and travelled for our overnight stop at Colmar in Alsace Lorraine. The following day we travelled some beautiful local roads through the Vosges, reverting to the motorways to the north to skirt Nancy and Metz and head through central Luxembourg to our final overnight stop at Bourschied. 
  In Luxembourg all the potential pitfalls of convoy running that we had avoided on the trip to date, caught up with us. Bernard, in his desire to follow the route, jumped a red light and lost us all. Then Mike hared off in pursuit and lost himself. Then I, nursing my poorly clutch, failed to navigate a fork in the road and Stuart behind, realising my error, chose to take the right, as in right and correct, fork and left Pam and I, who had committed to the left and wrong option, to our own devices. Needless to say we all met up again at the hotel although Stuart must have gone halfway to Brussels judging from the time it took him. Pam and I, in regaining our route, passed the hotels where the Healeys gathered at the 1st European Healey Meeting in 1999 � some coincidence. From Bourscheid we travelled finally to Rotterdam with only one minor delay for me to replace a broken exhaust mounting at a motorway service area. We had a farewell dinner on the ferry and in the morning headed our separate ways down the M62 and home.
  I decided to take a minor diversion to the Northern Healey Centre in Castleford to shown Pam where a lot of her hard-earned cash has ended up over the years and have Paul Grogan check out my ailing car for the necessary repairs. On the motorway home it took no time at all to notice that we were firmly �back-in- Britain�, what with our roadworks, traffic jams, and atrocious lane discipline. Over the 2000plus miles that we had travelled on the Continent I recall only one case of road-rage, two significant sites of roadwork repairs, one visible speed camera, and two traffic jams, neither of which delayed us for any significant period. They don�t know how lucky they are over there!
  And so back home to reflect on a wonderful holiday. Pam was surprised that GSK was kinder to her suspect back than she had anticipated and she experienced little or none of the expected pain. She was also surprised that the switchback roads and steep drops were not too frightening but merely awe-inspiring � although I have to take some credit for that because I stuck to my promise to drive carefully, well within the 70% rule agreed. We have a memory (and the photos to prove it) of the two wire-haired dachshund dogs that fitted perfectly and without complaint under the rolled down and partly unzipped tonneau of an Austrian (I think) BJ8. In fact we both loved the whole experience and shall be travelling that way again soon we hope.
  We both thank our travelling companions for their genial company and consideration, and extend our regrets to Denis and Margaret (Austin) who had to miss the event due to Denis�s ill health. And finally our sincere thanks to all the organisers, to the Swiss Club, and especially to Helen and Vic Jacob for their dual role in organising and running both the event and the Suvretta House Hotel. Your efforts were greatly appreciated and will be remembered for many a year by the many Healey-owners who attended. It will be difficult to better in four or five years time but hopefully we will all look forward to meeting again at the 3rd European Healey Meeting.