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.

Newport Lighthouse

How easy is it to view New England lighthouses? I found it is not as easy to get a peak was you would think.

There are many reasons they are difficult to view. Some are on islands off shore. A few I tried to get near in Massachusetts or Rhode Island are on private land or rich people own the land with the best views of them. You have to get permission from the landowner or try to find a spot to view them from a distance. In one area of Massachusetts the roads were private in these areas of mega mansions. You were allowed to drive on some of those roads, but you were not allowed to park on them or walk in the parks in their neighborhood, which most likely gave you a good view of a certain lighthouse.

This lighthouse is on private land near Newport, Rhode Island and I asked permission to walk to it on an island. They allowed access starting around 7 a.m. That happened to be good timing sky and light wise.

This lighthouse was decorated for Christmas, which made it all the more special.

I am glad they do allow access to this one if you ask during certain hours but I wish more were accessible to view. If you get to Newport, Rhode Island, check this one out, but ask permission first.

Rockport New England Christmas

Most small towns have their Christmas celebrations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With the exceptions of some church services, there is not much going on Christmas week in most small towns. I drove around Rockport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and found out they were the exception.

I was surprised many businesses and restaurants were closed December 24th as I was traveling in Massachusetts. From locals that sounds typical. For many stores and restaurants in New York December 24th is important and they stay open at least part of the day. I found that some Rockport businesses were open on December 24th.

Santa arriving in the back of a vintage Chevy truck.

I also discovered that Santa arrives to visit the townspeople by the tree on Christmas morning. He arrives in vintage Chevy pick-up and passes out bags of fruit and candy to everyone. He even poses for a picture. I was told this is a favorite yearly tradition.

People in Rockport welcomed Santa on Christmas.
Santa gave out bags filled with fruit and candy.
Santa’s helper
People and their pets arrived in festive attire.
This dog has his own Instagram-Whatnorthseas. He is a very friendly border collie.

No businesses were open on Christmas as expected, except one, a coffee shop. The owner would not accept payment. Coffee, tea, and a pastry was free that morning while she was open. Many were leaving tips in the jar regardless.

The shop that had free coffee, tea and pastries. I believe this was Helmut’s Strudel.
Most painted building

Rockport is a wonderful little coastal town. It has many shops with a vibrant art community. One fishing stage in the harbor is said to be the most painted building in art classes in the United States.

It was fun walking and driving around town looking at holiday wreaths and decorations. Some used local plants or shells.

Many visit Rockport in summer. It is also a nice destination in winter, especially during Christmas.