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PingWi-Fi Travel Writer Searches For Hotspots, Uncovers New Zealand Family History, Treaures At Pavilion

May 27th, 2011 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Hotels · Wi-Fi

I won’t lie, in college there were a few days when i walked out of my dorm room, apartment, house, whatever and had no clue about the whereabouts of my car. Those days are gone. These days, as I mature, it is more like I notice any strange vehicles parked near the place where I stay.

So, when I opened the shades of my hotel bathroom in Christchurch New Zealand and saw a pink and blue tractor parked outside … it caught my eye. Also, there was some tiny vintage car, a predecessor of a Mini Cooper or Honda or whatever. In fact it was a dark green 1940-something Morris. Obviously, I snapped a few photos and I wondered what in the world they were doing on the back side of the hotel and more specifically just outside my room.

It puzzled me for days. Then I visited the hotel lobby and saw the 1942 Indian motorbike in the lobby. Ah, I see … someone has a little collector’s habit.

Then one day, recently, the pink/blue tractor was gone. The green Morris was nowhere to be found. Was their a parade somewhere, celebrating the birth of baby boys and baby girls, for which they needed the tractor?

I didn’t wonder about it too much …. and then I forgot.

Ha! I found the tractor and the Morris today.

The new parking place looked like something me or one of my college buddies would have done. The two-tone tractor and the tiny auto … along with the Indian cycle were all mounted on the wall like trophies in the cafe bar of the hotel, 10 or 12 feet up in the air on steel (hopefully earthquake proof) frames.

All of this … the work of one Graeme Horncastle, the owner of the hotel.

His hotel is one of the largest privately owned and operated hotels in Christchurch.  And most significantly after the Canterbury Provence’s second recent earthquake, The Pavilion is well beyond Christchurch’s city center which is shut down due to massive damage.  Although it is still standing, the hotel from my first NZ visit is one of hundreds of buildings fenced off from the rest of the world. I digress …

I only met Graeme the morning that I checked out of the hotel. But we hit it off immediately when I asked him about his book that I had seen for sale at the front desk. He seemed to be quite the likable, successful and somewhat eccentric Kiwi gentleman.

I saw another gentleman carrying out five or six copies of the book, so I was interested even more.

Before I could tell Horncastle that I too dabble with “pen and paper,” he was signing a copy of his book, and then he led me on a quick tour of the hotel, telling me all of the stories that went with the photos of his dad; their service medals hanging side by side: the antique crank telephone ringing on the wall; and yes the pink/blue tractor.

How fun.

Graeme’s book? “Horncastle’s Suitcase.”

The hotel? The Pavilion.
Horncastle’s Suitcase

The writer said the book is a journey back to his roots for therapy and a search for deeper meaning because he had already obtained millionaire financial dreams in life, but was still looking for more satisfaction.  Before writing the book, he barely could peck out a word on a keyboard with one finger, and he is quick to admit he can’t spell.  But like so many, he now is an enthusiastic evangelist for bookmaking and writing as therapy. The book is filled with lots of historical photos documenting the Horncastle family’s story and Kiwi history.
So, what a nice final chapter — meeting the author — to finish off a month of hospitality in The Pavilion on Papanui.

In addition to this great history and menagerie of antique steel … does The Pavilion have Wi-Fi?

Yes it does. Like so many Kiwi Wi-Fi hotspots I encountered on this trip, it is pay for play. However, because our group rented several rooms for several weeks, The Pavilion cuts us a special deal on Wi-Fi. I don’t know if I have ever had a chance to barter or negotiate for Wi-Fi fees in my eight years of reviewing hotspots. Hmmmm …. I could grow accustomed to this …

How was it?

Well, it had its limitations. At The Pavilion you can choose one of several Wi-Fi plans, with varying amounts of data download. I of course opted for “family style” … “all you can eat” … er … the biggest allotment. And of course, I used up my quota each and every day, so I was continually bugging the hotel front desk for a new password.

But it’s what I do.

The price was great. The hotspot was dependable, but there was a recurring issue. Every time I logged on with a new password, my mail server or the hotel’s server … or a combination of the two blew a gasket. Each time, my MacBook Pro got flooded with e-mails …. all of my e-mails …. not spam … but the previous three weeks worth of e-mails again. So, I was using half of my data plan each day to receive and then throw away the e-mails I threw away the day before … and the day before … and the day before.

I don’t know what the cause or the solution was. I contacted my provider back in the U.S. — Internet America, via e-mail, oh about two weeks ago, and I am still waiting for any sort of human response.

So …. I may never know. This was the first time I had ever encountered this.

So … I don’t know if The Pavilion Wi-Fi hotspot was guilty by association, an innocent bystander, or the problem …. It seems perhaps unfair, but they got a one point deduction for that e-mail snafu. Other than that …. It was Wi-Fi nirvana at The Pavilion … and a great storyteller in Graeme on the premises — 6 pings.

Know what I sayin?