Pub Signs- The Mudlark

What is a mudlark? A mudlark is a British term referring to one who made their living by searching for coal, bits of copper, or anything else they could sell to get by. This was a profession long ago.

This sign is from a pub near the Thames River in London. The Thames fluctuates around twenty feet between high and low tide. People go out and search the mud for items. They have to pay attention as they search as the tide comes back in quickly.

Today people who mudlark are hobbyists. They are searching for Saxon items, ancient coins, Roman or Bronze Age artifacts, etc. One may find a blackened roof tile from the Great London Fire of 1666 or a clay pipe. Mudlarks of today are required to get permission and report anything of archeological value. This includes items that may qualify as treasure or human remains. Some prison transport ships to Australia left from London docking along the Thames River and some executions long ago took place near the river.

If you walk along the Thames at low tide, you may see some people busy Mudlarking. You could always join them. You never know what you could find.

Information on getting permission to Mudlark: https://www.pla.co.uk/Environment/Thames-foreshore-permits

Lobster Trap Christmas Trees

Many towns put up a large Christmas tree somewhere central and have a tree lighting to mark the start of the Christmas season. Some towns in New England have a tree lighting, but the tree may not be pine or spruce. These trees are made of lobster traps in homage to the local fishermen.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth started their lobster trap tree tradition in 2013. This one is on the town wharf.

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Some say Gloucester started the lobster trap Christmas tree tradition. They have the oldest tradition in New England. Their tree is stacked with 350 lobster traps. The tree has buoys hand painted by local youth.

Newport, Rhode Island

This tree is next to the harbor. It had buoys, lights and garland.

More New England towns are starting to put these up instead of traditional Christmas trees. There are others in Maine and elsewhere. If you are in New England in December, see which towns nearby have one. These towns put a local flair to Christmas.

Peregrine Falcons of York Minster

What can you see at York Minster besides the cathedral itself? If you look up at the minster you can see the gargoyles and grotesques, but you may also see a nesting pair of peregrine falcons.

Since around 2015 there has been a nesting pair of Peregrine falcons at York Minster. During the 2018 they were reported to have raised four young. Two of the three times I visited York I was able to spy some falcons flying around the minster, landing on grotesques and the towers.

I saw this one in July 2017. It was resting next to a nearby building’s chimney pot. A birdwatcher told me this was a young one on its first day of flight.

If you are going to try to catch these birds of prey, bring a powerful pair of binoculars or a zoom lens. They land pretty high up on the minster. Whether you are a birder or not, they are enjoyable to see in flight.

For more information check out a Twitter page devoted to the York Minster Falcons: https://twitter.com/YorkPeregrines?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Or this website: http://www.yorkperegrines.info/wp/

Beauport Hotel

What hotel near Boston has a lot of Christmas spirit? Are you looking to plan a trip to the Boston area or North Shore in December? I highly recommend the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Downstairs near the front entrance
Another tree in the lobby area outside the bar.
The tree near the fireplace in the bar area.

The Beauport has a nice location. Its on the beach in Gloucester. Its a short drive to Rockport, an artsy town on the sea. Marvelous sunrises and sunsets are to be had in their rooms facing the water. It is really a great location all year long.

The Beauport had numerous holiday displays. They had multiple Christmas trees up stairs and down. The seating around the two fireplaces, one in the bar area and one outside the restaurant is grand. The mantles are decorated beautifully for the season.

Nautical theme- trees in a boat
It was hard to capture these fireplaces. They were popular sitting spots.

The Beauport is about the only gig in town on Christmas Day for food. I was told the only other option was Chinese. They had the choice between a four course meal or something off their menu. They were booked at the restaurant in advance, but no worries. I was able to order food at the bar which included the four course dinner if that is what you fancied.

The service at this hotel is top notch. They have doormen that will assist you. They have a van service. The drivers will take you to where you want to go locally for free. I used them twice since I messed up my foot prior to my trip and wanted to walk as little a possible. It also helped me get to know the area from a local before I tried to drive around and explore. You woke up Christmas morning to a large candy cane hanging on your door and they came around at night offering chocolates. They had a nice store within the hotel that was open even on Christmas selling snacks, lovely gift items, clothing, etc.

This trip was last minute so to speak. I am trying to finish some photo projects for a class. I may have booked the room a day or two in advance. What I paid was much less than their regular rates in the warmer months.

If you want a quiet vacation with lovely decor, great service, delicious food, and marvelous views, stay at the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I highly recommend it.

Newport Doors

Where can you see some great doors leading up to Christmas? Head to Newport, Rhode Island. On the streets intersecting Thames Street in the historic waterfront area you will see some nice old houses and buildings. Some date back to the early 1700s.

Trinity Church

The doors are perfect paintings; a relief from the picture world I’ve created for myself. Gary Hume

I am partial to doors and windows. I enjoy seeing unique ones on my travels. Are you partial to doors?

National Railway Museum

Where is the largest railway museum in the world? Where would a train enthusiast be on cloud nine? The location I am speaking of is the National Railway Museum in York, England.

What’s There

To say this museum is large is an understatement. It has over 6,000 objects on display including signage, model trains, posters, tickets, nameplates, clocks, furniture and other items. Signage catches my eye, so I will include images of some of these items. The museum is massive and I think its best to not spoil it too much.

Seating for one of the locations in the museum that serves food.

There are over 100 locomotives or rolling stock on display with other stock held elsewhere. It has the largest collection of train cars and locomotives held in what formally was the North York Locomotive Depot. On display are Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and other trains such as one used by Queen Elizabeth II. They also have international holdings such as a Japanese Bullet train and a Chinese locomotive. Train displays vary and they rotate displays with other museums.

Front of one of the Royal Trains
Inside of a Post Office sorting carriage
Visiting

They are open daily through out the year including bank holidays with the exception of 24-26 of December. Their hours are from 10-5 (10:00-17:00) most of the year, however, during the summer months they are open 10-6 (10:00-18:00).

If you are a train enthusiast, you could easily spend a blissful day at this museum. If you fancy trains, this museum should be on your bucket list. The historical aspect will appeal to others as well.

Scituate Lighthouse

Are you looking for lighthouses that are readily accessible? Are you looking for one right on the ocean with nice views? Are you interested in one associated with an interesting story from history? One such lighthouse is the Old Scituate in Massachusetts (the c is silent in Scituate).

History

This lighthouse was built and activated in 1811. It has an interesting story behind it. During the War of 1812 the first lighthouse keeper, Captain Simeon Bates and his family lived at the house. During the war Scituate was attacked and some of its vessels were burned in the harbor. Months later while most of the family was away, two of the keeper’s children, Abigail and Rebecca saw two barges approach filled with red coats from a British warship. The girls sent their brother to warn the town and gathered a fife and drum. They hid behind some trees and made such a noise that they were mistaken for an entire regiment and the British made a quick retreat. The girls were credited with preventing the British from ransacking the town. The fife is said to be on display in the keeper’s house.

The keeper’s house is on the left of the lighthouse tower. I was standing on the beginning of the jetty for this shot. The harbor is the body of water on the left. The ocean is on the right.
Location

When I had trouble finding lighthouses to get up close to open one area north of Boston someone nicely recommended this one and ones nearby. Scituate is south of Boston on the South Shore. It is on Lighthouse Road on Cedar Point in the town of Scituate. The area around the lighthouse is mostly residential but nearby is the town. They have some nice restaurants and shops.

Accessiblity

The grounds around the lighthouse tower are accessible all year. It has a large parking lot which was quite empty on December 26th. You can walk around the lighthouse, but not on the property of the actual house where the keeper would have lived. Someone resides in there today and that part is not open to the public. The tower is open the few times a year they have open house. There is a stone wall you can climb which is a buffer between the house and the ocean. If someone has issues walking or is in a wheelchair they can take the path around the grounds. It is fairly flat.

You can faintly see two people on the jetty. The jetty is walkable, but I would not recommend walking it if you see water on it. That means waves are capable of going up on them. You can see a Christmas wreath hanging on the side.

There is a jetty going out from the lighthouse into the ocean. People can walk on that, but I do not recommend doing that when the waves spray up onto it.

It was windy and the waves were going over the jetty in places here.
This is Scituate Lighthouse from the other side of the harbor. As you can see, they decorate it for Christmas.

The story behind the lighthouse makes it interesting to me. Some say if you listen, you can hear a fife and drums playing in the waves. Regardless, it is one that is nice to look at and is accessible.