Le Petit Hotel in Shanghai Saturday, May 11 2013 

Tuesday 14 May will see Bruce in Shanghai. Apart from attending the SNEC EXPO, I’m hoping to have a brief look at the old French Concession area of the city.


Its not going to be easy Sunday, Jun 3 2012 


I know what kara feels like now she’s seen the suitcase on the bedroom floor!

Departure lounge: le petit hotel Sunday, Jun 3 2012 

I’m already having withdrawal symptoms & l haven’t said good bye to Kara yet

Forced absence Friday, May 25 2012 

One Le Petit Hotel staff member unfortunately will not be travelling to France with Martine & Bruce…that being young Kara

Le Petit Hôtel prend des vacances en France 2012 Friday, May 25 2012 

Martine & Bruce are taking a June break in France

Le Petit Hotel & the Irish connection Monday, Sep 27 2010 


The green fields of Ireland


The Irish sun shone today Friday…& after a phone call to Portrush…Inspector Whitfield (retired) had enough clues to set the gps to Cullybackey…and go looking….

The “luck of the Irish” must have been with me ….and after a stopping off at a few country houses…the trail was getting decidedly hotter….some people sort of knew of the Sands family – ( my g. grandmother’s  family). Some had never heard of them..but the ‘net was tightening as I drove down a narrow country lane towards some houses…knocked on a door…and after a cup of tea with the nice lady…I found myself looking out through her kitchen window at a neighbouring farm house….part of which probably was more than 200 years old. ..the most likely place where my grandmother aged about 2 yrs together with her parents and some close friends would have packed their few belongings and headed off to catch a boat ( The clipper Waikato) to New Zealand….for a totally new beginning…thousands of miles away, and so it would have been..
I  thought of how far we all have come in a relatively short space of 100 +  years and the life we enjoy as I stepped inside the remaining original thick stone walls…looked at the huge stone hearth tiles..& the old fireplace with swinging wrought iron frame still with some kettle & pot hooks…one can only begin to imagine just how tough life was especially for the women folk of this era. Like so many other Northern Ireland emigrees,  the Sands family would have packed up & left with precious little apart from their clothes & a few personal possessions that they could manage between them all.

I  will return home to NZ and Le Petit Hotel ….with a somewhat better appreciation of just what my ancestors’ lives were like in Ireland……..tough…unbelieveably tough, and not to mention the Irish weather.

Cullybackey: the connection with Le Petit Hotel Saturday, Sep 25 2010 

Clipper Waikato

Waikato berthed at Port Chalmers, South Island, NZ

My grand mother Annie Kernohan ( nee Sands) emigrated to New Zealand as a very young child with her mother Agnes Sands and other family members. They sailed directly to the port of Lyttelton in the South Island of New Zealand taking just under 100 days, and then travelled to Timaru by train. The family set up home on a small parcel of land just south of Timaru.

They left Ballymena & the Cullybackey townlands in the late 1800’s at a time when poverty was particularly rife and there was very little hope of improvement, in search of a better life with more opportunities.

My visit to N.Ireland, my first, is to obtain a glimpse of the countryside, and make some new contacts that might prove useful as my brother & I delve into our mother’s family ancestral records.

Paris to Belfast, N. Ireland, via easyjet Thursday, Sep 23 2010 

Just tried the Irish trick of sending mail without the dotcom!
Clearly this le petit hotel manager is suffering from his holiday….
Strict security at the CDG departure point ….full body search for everyone…shoes xrayed…belt off..etc…etc :-))
But a good clear flight across France until we met the approaching rain over the Irish sea.
Flying in over the Irish countryside, the place is green….real emerald green as they say….mostly white houses with dark grey roofs..
Another Peugeot, a Budget 107 was waiting for bruce…& back to RHD  for the Irish roads…no challenge for the gps again…
After a little drama locating the owner of the Marlagh b&B (who was at a choir practice in Belfast! )….a small matter of Irish time being different to Easyjet Paris time….I eventually tumbled into bed about midnight (Irish time ;-))
Anyway…I. can report that Irish wifi works even if it means I have to sit outside the bedroom on the 2nd floor landing.

Paris to CDG & Easyjet to Belfast Int. Thursday, Sep 23 2010 

Today’s challenge for bruce began with farewelling Martine in the centre of Paris & driving the Peugeot as fast as everyone else towards Charles de Gaulle terminal 2 for the flight to Belfast.
Now this task is just a tad different to a Sumner to Christchurch run….allow for french drivers who appear to think that they are the only ones on the road…allow for the odd red light stuck at a busy intersection….add the odd periferique interchange where too many roads squeeze into one…..all with no lanes…allow for diversions with the signpost pointing exactly opposite to where you should go….apart from that…its just a Sunday drive; -))
I can understand why some gps owners download John Cleese….to give them moral support as they tackle Parisian traffic.
But Belfast is calling….I can hear Irish voices among the Arabs in the departure lounge….not that they’re heading to Ireland I have summised. Sofar the EasyJet experience is trouble free especially for this solo traveller with no baggage.

Moulins to Paris, via the N7 ; a Paris Loft Apartment Tuesday, Sep 21 2010 

It was Sunday in France when we departed Moulins….and Paris was 350 + kms away…but really just a leisurely drive away on the Route National N7…that is at least until you reach the outskirts of the city.
We took a picnic lunch stop by taking an exit road at about 12.30….& found a very quiet spot adjacent to the Loire river and on a blind backwater canal boat parking area, a place called Châtillon-sur-Loire.
Back on the N7,..few trucks are permitted on french roads on Sundays….and so traffic was light. However..what we had not allowed for was that this particular weekend was one special one when the French Govt allow free public access to all museums….national places of interest…etc  across France and when that happens all roads lead to “Rome”…!!…& so when our intrepid travellers eventually hit Paris..every Parisian was either in town or heading there complete with car. It was the typical day when most French cars get a “haircut” ..their sides get brushed (requires a paint job later! ) and many get shortened by the width of their front & rear bumpers. If there’s a space for a mini….a French man is quite capable of getting a Mercedes into it! It’s hard to watch.
Inspite of all the above,  & several hours later…about 7pm..bruce eased the luckily undented leased Peugeot into a public parking basement… :-))..after having parked illegally for a while in a nearby street …while Martine ran our cases into our Japanese styled 2.5m x 2.5m approx., 7th floor, under the roof, Parisian Loft Apartment in the Marais district. I have to report that it took the combined brain power of two Le Petit Hotel managers on their hands & knees to work out how to put together the foldaway bed..the situation not being helped by the last tenants who in probable confused desperation had repacked the bed incorrectly. It was well after midnight when we actually collapsed onto the bed as opposed to the bed collapsing.
The micro loft apartment is located on Rue du Vieille du Temple which runs into Rue Rivoli,  & in daylight one could see the Sacre-Coeur Basillica on the horizon over in the Montmartre district and also a glimpse of Tower Eiffel, plus a good view of the neighbouring roof tops & chimney pots.


7th Floor Parisian Loft View


Paris is France & France is Paris. People are drawn to Paris ..stroll the pavements, drink coffee while seated at one of the hundreds of pavement cafes and just watch people. It is the city of fashion for both young & old…fashion ( in clothes, shoes, handbags, scarves etc )  is everywhere…, the place buzzes with life..it’s a vibrant place for all. We even managed to spot a very obedient Scottish Terrier crossing the Rue Rivoli amongst all the traffic.
I mentioned to Martine, it’s easy to observe that the Smartphone is now the new cigarette “must have in the hand”…

Wednesday is Belfast day for Bruce…it will be a culture shock after Paris for sure.

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