2000 Millennial Message from Graham and Jackie

Here is our second Millennial letter. Whenever the new Millennium actually starts or started, the year 2000 has been a cusp year, a twelve month period to close out one century and to tidy up for the next. And this is how we spent it.

After last year’s letter went out, we kicked off the Christmas season with our now traditional Gospel concert at the Barbican – hallelujah! Then, in an extension to our tradition, much of Graham’s family, being in London for a change for Christmas, joined us in our meal at Brasserie Julius before attending Midnight Mass followed by copious amounts of mulled wine and minced pies. This, by the way, means that Christmas Day dawns late in our household !

Our Christmas musical event was a concert on 27th at the Royal Opera House by Angela Gheorghui and Roberto Alagna, the golden couple of the opera world, who met and fell in love while appearing at Covent Garden in La Bohème – how romantic, sigh !

Thereafter, we headed North to see in the Millennium (or at least the year 2000 !) with all of Graham’s family in the elegant surroundings of Redworth Hall in Northumberland. The evening included champagne in a medieval-style hall, steamy from a log fire, a fabulous meal and dancing for the grownups and a special children’s party for Daniel. Then we all met up for piper and fireworks at midnight. The next day we were able to relax in the spa and steam room and recover gently before returning home to start work etc.

Jackie started 2000 with a welcome month at home before continue to travel extensively with 3Com. She went to the Netherlands, Madrid, Northern California four times, twice for three weeks and twice for about four days, the Mosel area of Germany, Berlin, Munich, Scotland, Boston, Singapore, Ireland and Winnersh, near Reading.

She was able to explore some of these: Madrid with her mother; the village of Saratoga, CA, where we find her favourite place to stay when working in Silicon Valley, the Inn at Saratoga; and Inverary and the beginning of the Highlands. The travel also helped her read the novels of Diana Gabaldon.  Starting with "Outlander", or "Cross Stitch", as it is known in the UK, these involve a heroine who accidently travels through time and finds herself in 18th Century Scotland.  They are very romantic and are strongly recommended to all !

In between all these trips, we were able to fit in quite a lot of concerts and films and other events. On the opera front, we are now "Trust Members" of the newly opened House. We seem to get better seats (Grand Tier) and a choice of which productions we see, rather than having to get "tickets for everything" (but at a price !).

In the last twelve months we have seen; Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), Romeo et Juliette, Les Contes d’Hoffman, Tosca, La Traviata, La Cenerentola, a Bryn Terfel concert (sadly, mostly lieder) and La Bohème with Graham’s parents (at which we almost literally bumped into Margaret Thatcher !).

There were also Ballet visits during the year: Manon (once with her mother) and a programme of short 20th century pieces (with her mother AND Graham). Manon was with Sylvie Guillem who takes Jackie’s breath away when she dances. Jackie much prefers her to England’s own Darcey Bussell – sorry, but there it is !

Other concerts include Shirley Bassey at Hampton Court and Dean Friedman at Spitalfields market – strange bedfellows I’m sure you’ll agree ! Shirley Bassey was spectacular – a great presence and a great voice. The venue was also very enjoyable and the evening included a picnic in the grounds on a lovely summer evening.

Graham (a lifelong Dean Friedman fan) contacted him via email during the year to find out some details of when he was making a TV show for Sky. Being a Sky employee Graham managed to swing a ticket to see the show being recorded. The power of the internet, eh ? Following the Spitalfields concert Graham sent Dean a couple of photos he had taken to check that Dean didn’t object to them being used on our web site. Dean was happy to have them used … in fact he said he intended to include them on his own web site too !

We managed to go to the cinema to see The Gladiator, Toy Story 2, Love Honour & Obey, American Beauty, Galaxy Quest and Charlie’s Angels. We can recommend all of them for different reasons. We also caught up with The Sixth Sense on DVD and that was superb – clever story, clever craft to tell it and excellent acting from Bruce Willis as well as the boy. Jackie took advantage of being in the US when it came out to see Highlander – End Game, which was a fan’s film, caught between the two styles of the films and the TV series, perhaps not demonstrating the best of either.

We had some very special meals. Firstly, we went to Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons for Sunday lunch with friends who knew it was as good as its reputation. Then, Graham took Jackie to the Oxo Tower for her birthday. Then, we went back to Le Manoir for an overnight stay to celebrate our "10th anniversary". The rooms are really special as well as the food. There are lots of gadgets to explore as well as the more traditional big comfortable bed and luxury bathrooms.

Family-wise, Graham’s nephew, Daniel, has now turned three and is developing language skills .. i.e. he won’t stop talking ! He is also rapidly catching up with the rest of the family in terms of IT skills (MSPaint at least) – and he can take anyone on in a Dreamcast head-to-head !

Fortunately he is keeping his feet on the ground and has got the old Scalextric set out of mothballs (for the first time in about 30 years !) – ah, nostalgia ! (Note from Jackie: I am not sure that Daniel is the only Woodhouse male who is excited about this!)

Daniel and his parents came to stay for a few days in May. This was where he learnt to use the steering wheel to play the Dreamcast driving games.

We all went for a ride on the Millennium Wheel, which is a brilliant thing to do and not at all scary, as long as you look out from the hub. Jackie loved it so much that she took her 3Com internal audit colleagues on the Wheel during their team meeting. The same day, they all visited the Millennium Dome and took a boat trip back up river. We did the same trip together later in the year and we want to say: the Dome was a fun day out and the show in the centre with trapeze artists and an incredible moving set was terrific. It was a shame that the media and the people decided that the Dome was bad and then made every subsequent observation through that lens.

Jackie’s mother came back in April from wintering in Southern Spain, put her house in Skipton on the market and, four months and much hard work later, went back for good.

Jackie’s sister, Diane, and nephew, Chris, were heavily involved in the Sydney Olympics. They both carried the torch at various points during its journey to the games. Diane’s stint was in Sydney on opening ceremony day with Greg Norman.

Our main holiday this year was a 10 day grand tour through France in June/July. We drove all the way, crossing under the channel on "Le Shuttle" (the car carrying train which runs through the Channel Tunnel). It was a great experience, which Jackie is (gradually) documenting on her web site. You will see our blue SLK in the photos, but we traded that in for a new (red) one in July.

Other trips included a weekend in Chester in October to see Jackie’s cousin Geoff as his business, Acoustica, hosted the Chester HiFi show; and a long weekend in Munich in December to see the Christmas markets (and sample the Glühwein), courtesy of Sky (or at least Graham winning multiple prizes in the Christmas 1999 raffle).

Another raffle prize was a pair of tickets to the 2000 F.A Cup Final (the last one at the "old" Wembley Stadium). We saw Chelsea beat West Ham (fabulous seats in the Olympic Gallery).

Two friends from Kingfisher had their weddings this year and Jackie was able to attend one’s hen night in Bath and the other’s wedding in East Anglia. She had a further trip to East Anglia when she had a college reunion in September, including a night in a college bed – boy, remember how small they are !

Graham, meanwhile, was the official representative at a cousin’s christening and at a party at the London pied-à-terre of old friends from Andersen’s.

Much of the year has been documented digitally as a result of Graham buying Jackie a digital stills camera for Christmas 1999. It went down so well, allowing Jackie to send back emails from around the world as well as documenting our journey through France, that Graham treated himself to a (better) one during the year ! (Note from Jackie: better means smaller and more user-friendly – mine takes better photos!)

Graham has chosen a new gym after our current one became overcrowded with "young kids" (i.e. people younger than him) who insist on listening to loud noise (which they, without a trace or irony, refer to as "music") whilst exercising. In order to find an oasis of tranquillity he had to become a member of the health club at the Berkley Hotel ! Not cheap, but very peaceful.

Jackie used the gym at work both in Hemel and in Santa Clara, CA, and took up yoga again.

As the year drew to a close, Graham supplemented his collection of electronic toys (which now include a twin VCR – half SVHS and half mini-DV !) with the latest "must have" accessory for the man who has at least one of every TV gadget – a TiVo. By virtue of being one of the beta testers of this gadget before it was released in the UK he gets to keep the hardware ! The verdict ? Very good, but expensive – wait until Sky bring their own version out next year !