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