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Buster's Christmas Roundup 2000

A year ago, we were collectively worrying about the imminent meltdown of the computer age and a world-wide shortage of champagne. 12 months on, we are all a year wiser and have 12 months worth of champagne, bug-free computing and other experiences to look back upon. Here are some of the events which shaped my year.

Like many of you, my year started with the anticlimax of the millennium celebrations. In my case these were in Verbier, a venue which was as overpriced as they all were, but where I am assured my fist-full of over-indulgence went to a good cause. Other than a spectacular view of the stars at 03:00 in the morning, it was an uneventful evening.

Immediately after New Year, I tagged along with the Wolfe and associates for a week of skiing in St. Anton. I haven't been back to Austria for skiing since the days of ski racing in Seefeld and I was more than pleasantly surprised - not by the skiing (which is fine), but by the quality of the nightlife and the great sense of fun in the town. If you make it to St. Anton, I particularly recommend the Krazy Kangaroo for the apres-ski. As Arnold would say "I vill be beck".

I returned to Heidelberg in my Christmas present, my Mum's hand-me-down Porsche. This started a love-hate relationship with the several people I had not previously had the misfortune to meet but whom I was to get to know well - Swiss and German border guards, the car registration bureaucrats and of course the friendly mechanic at the local dealership. I now consider myself an expert in the intricacies of car importing paperwork and I certainly fully appreciate the meaning of the phrase "expensive to run". But who said you couldn't buy happiness?

Shortly after, Petra and I kicked off the millennium in the grandiose style it demanded; namely with a trip to the Seychelles with my parents. We had an excellent two weeks, sunning ourselves on the beach, scuba-diving, and generally taking it easy. You can see the holiday photos here. As we returned via Geneva, Petra and I fitted in a long weekend skiing in Verbier: This was the first of several short ski trips, which added up to a very respectable skiing season.

My indoctrination into the German lifestyle was further cemented by an invitation to celebrate Fasching, Germany's answer to carnival week. Fasching is a four day party where Germans are officially sanctioned (i.e. expected) to let their hair down and misbehave a bit. If you live in Germany for the remainder of the year, this is a surprising about-turn to the normal way of life. I attended a function in a local village dressed in a 'The Mask' mask where, for reasons only alcohol can properly explain, I spent the night speaking English badly with unsuspecting locals. Despite this, we discovered we had a lot in common - or at least we do for 4 days of the year.

The Geneva boys' escape committee organised another foray to (for us anyway) another undiscovered city - this time we selected Dublin. You can read (and hear) about it here. I had never really appreciated the acquired taste of Guinness, but after a mere 48 hours in the city and I was, and remain, a convert.

In the spring and early summer the MadMilers took part in the now customary series of mountainbike marathons in Germany. You can read some reports from these pages. The regular Heidelberg bikers also held the now-customary trip to Verbier for a long weekend of biking (as detailed here), and also fitted in a training week in Lake Garda in Italy. The biking season culminated in the Cristalp marathon, a grinding but spectacular ride through the Swiss Alps, where I was additionally challenged by some disconcerting but amusing 'stomach troubles'. Read about them here.

>I didn't take part in any running marathons this year, although I did accept my brother-in-law's challenge to run the Morat-Fribourg in September. This is a 17km run through rolling Swiss country side, which unfortunately this year coincided with the 'Fete des Vendanges', Switzerland's answer to the Oktoberfest. I enjoyed both, but fitting both new experiences into the same weekend is not to be advised.

August saw me fly to the US for Paul Dover's wedding. We kicked off the weekend with a round of golf, and ended it with a sumptuous and entertaining wedding in the dining halls of Yale University. The weekend spawned a new passion for golf - I spent the last weeks of the summer religiously practising my swing and hacking around a local short course. I expect golf to figure highly in my report for 2001, assuming that I can use the winter pause to sell a kidney or two, and so can afford club membership in Germany.

My family is well. My parents have a (nearly) year-old Labrador puppy, called Amba. I am happy to report that, under my able tutelage, her anti-training is coming along nicely and her behaviour is now suitably daft. The other important news from my parents' is their purchase of a chalet in Champery. The sale (and the chalet itself) was completed in September, so everything will be ready in time for a grand Christmas opening and the 2001 ski-season. As my father put it, they have spent our inheritance well. My sisters are both well - my nephew Zachary took his first steps, and muttered his first words (since deciphered as 'Amba'), during 2000.

Petra and I spent the closing part of the year moving in together in a village just outside Heidelberg. After a few weeks endlessly packing and unpacking boxes, and several disagreements over such trivia as the colours of wall paint and the merits (or lack thereof) of doilies and small potted plants, we have settled in and are living together comfortably. (In case you are wondering how we compromised, Petra got to keep most of her assortment of seashells, weird picture frames and other pointless decorations, I get to buy a 40" TV with Dolby surround sound, and we will hire a cleaning lady. I have negotiated the right to pee standing up if I exclusively use the guest toilet). In case you weren't on the distribution list for my new address details, send me an email and I'll forward them.

I hope you too have enjoyed your year, and I look forward to meeting up with you all during 2001. Have a merry and prosperous New Year.


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