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Buster's Christmas Roundup 1999

Another year, another newsletter. As we are entering the 21st Century, though, I thought it would be appropriate (and far less effort) to begin the trend of publishing these on the web.

1999 began, in predictable fashion, with a monstrous hangover. The big difference this year was that instead of skiing with a hangover on New Year's Day, I swam it off with a dip in the Caribbean, on the island of Jamaica. I was in Jamaica with family and friends to celebrate Mark Gurney's second wedding (two ceremonies, the same girl!), where we had a wonderful time scuba diving, drinking Red Stripe on da beach, and generally relaxing. You can read all about the trip by clicking here

In order to accelerate my acclimatisation back in Europe, I had arranged to join Adam Segal for skiing in Champery on my return. This excellent week of skiing started what was to be a fantastic season in the Alps. In fact, some skiing had to be cancelled because there was just too much snow! The grand finale of the season was an Easter break in Geneva, culminating in the Grand St. Bernard descent into Italy for lunch. You can see some of my general skiing stuff here

Between the ski-trips, Petra and I fitted in a weekend break in Prague, ostensibly to deliver Phil Wolfe his skiis (although we had managed to do this the week beforehand in London) but more honestly to interfere in his romantic St. Valentine's break. It snowed all weekend, which aside from making everything very cold and white, added somehow to the charm of the city. I will try to get back in the summer sometime, but would fully recommend a trip to this city at any time of year. 

Amidst the skiing and weekend breaks, I also found time to train for my second London marathon, which was held in April. I had decided to return to see if I could improve my time from the previous year, and as you can see by clicking here, it all went to plan. I have a ticket for the 2000 marathon, but in the wisdom of increasing age, I have decided (I think!) to give it a miss this year. 

I also took part in several mountain bike marathons during 1999. These were a series of 'races' held around Germany which are open to the general public. Mountain biking has become something of my latest craze, which you could probably detect from these pages. The regular bikers from Heidelberg also arranged a trip to Verbier for a long weekend of biking, which is detailed here. This enthusiasm for biking was started by the idea to ride the Cristalp marathon in Verbier, perhaps the world's hardest one-day event. In the end I didn't ride because of work commitments (more about that later), but I do have a start number for next year. all this biking has made me realise that I have nearly fulfilled a child's destiny of eventually turning into our parents. 

Mountain biking featured heavily in my summer holiday plans with Petra. We crossed Switzerland to Lake Garda in Italy by car, but packed our bikes too. Read about the rides here. Although we didn't do much riding around Lake Garda itself, it whetted the appetite enough such that we have plans to return in 2000, armed with bikes and some friends for a biking break. 

My on-the-ground language training continued during the year, both by Petra's insistence on the use of German and by necessity at work. I also joined a dozen local kids in a trip to the Ötztal valley in Austria under the pretence of improving my language skills, whilst really having a blast rafting and teaching the Krauts to drink beer. Read about it in either language here

The family is well, although we had the recent bad news that Samson, the family lab, had to be put down. However, he was in his 13th year and had had (in our unbiased opinion) a happy life. It'll be odd not having a dog around the house, though, after some 22 years with one.  Not all our family news is bad though. Rachel was married in June to Reto, in a ceremony held in Switzerland near my parent's house. She was also 7 months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to Zachary Gian-Peter on July 28th, also Reto's 31st birthday. You can see his first photos here. My parents are also well, despite the trauma of becoming grandparents for the first time, and more accurately, having to share a bed with a Grandmother/Grandfather. Clare is also well and like myself amused by the new responsibilities, however limited, of being an aunt or uncle to Zach. 

I did of course turn 30 this year, and because of my new job, lavish plans to celebrate in style (climbing Mont Blanc, riding the Cristalp, etc.) had to take a back seat. However, I did get together with other new middle-aged adults (Robert, Dom, Michel and token youngster Murad) for a long lads weekend in Barcelona to celebrate. We did our new age proud by behaving exactly like 17 year olds for four days of late summer sun. All I'd like to add is that if you are ever in that city, arrange a meal at 'Los Caracolos' followed by a night at the Baha Beachclub nightclub. 

From a professional standpoint, I started a new job in August (still with DuPont), which involved a four-month training period and several trips to Houston. I used this opportunity to catch up with friends in New York (you know who you are!), and although this perpetuates the perception of me as a jet-setter, it was hard work and for many of you I may have appeared to have disappeared for a while. However, the training is over, I'm now a fully-fledged Six Sigma Black Belt (no, I can't explain what it means), and I promise to be more visible in 2000. 

The Millennium will end for me in the same place it started, Verbier. This is not a teary tribute to a lost decade, but a pragmatic choice of venue that is neither ridiculously overpriced, nor difficult to get to. I do hope to not to just celebrate in style on the 31st, but to have a fitting last few days of the year and the Millennium by joining family and friends in Geneva.  To that end, any of you who are reading this are invited to my parent's place on Thursday 30th December for the traditional Adcock Open House. The doors at 'Chemin de Jaillet' are open from 16:00 to 20:00, so please drop by! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Millennium at you all, 

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