Thanks for all the advice. Well, a brief update. The car ended up in the garage for about 4 weeks in total, thankfully they gave me a loan car so not so much trouble.
The outcome was a garage bill of just over a grand -
Cylinder head - head skimmed, 4 new valves, valve seats re-cut head set, 2 new valve guides
New water pump, thermostat, & cam belt, new camcover.
After all that work she was running smoothly, but had already made the decision to trade her in. I have a baby on the way, and was just really worried about her reliability, particularly with the ongoing problem of engine management failure and engine cutting out. Not so good when it happens on a busy dual carriageway.
So, yesterday the deed was done, and she was traded in for a Mazda 6 2.0 TS2. A really sad day to see her go as i was quite attached to her (the first car that i had 'chosen' to my sepc). Hpefully she will go to somene who wil love her, drive her with a smile and has a deep wallet
So, the Alfa love affair is over. It was lovely while it lasted. Here's hoping my bank balance recovers soon!