Category Archives: fun

Tom Fiorini Sculpture Garden (Lenox, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 31, 2017

Location: Behind Joane Cornell Jewelry Store (63 Church St, Lenox, MA)

Hours: Art is available for viewing 24 hours

Cost: Free to view (unless you want to buy something)

Parking:  Free street parking is available on Church St (although it may have time limits).  There is also a parking lot on Franklin St that you may use for short term parking.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: Variety of unique art and decorative items made by New England artist Tom Fiorini

Website: Tom Fiorini – Sculptor

Tom Fiorini Facebook

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You interested in a doghouse covered with license plates?  (dogs sold separately)

How about a some carved fish? (at least you don’t need to feed them or buy a tank for them)

Perhaps you’re looking for boat?  I’m just not sure if she is sea-worthy.

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Tucked away behind the Joane Cornell Jewelry store at 63 Church St, Lenox, MA (at least for now), Tom Fiorino’s art, sculptures and other unique items offer an unusual brand of decorative items.

Tom Fiorini is not your orthodox artist.  He works mainly with metals and often times his choice of tool is a chainsaw.  Much of his art is made of normal, everyday materials reshaped and manufactured into a completely different.

Tom’s signs, with their offbeat slogans and designs, may be the highlight of his collection.

Tom also uses his creativity to make his art and create arrtful designs.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I could really use this really big bottle of wine.

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Other miscellaneous works of art are scattered around the lawn.

As you can see by his art, Tom has a great sense of humor.

Also, his prices may be negotiable based on the sign below.

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For now, Tom’s work can be viewed at the address listed above on Church St.  I am not sure where he stores his sculptures during the winter season.  You can contact him at his website listed above for more information.  Below is more information about him and his art.

Keeping with today’s theme of outdoor art, today’s New England featured link is the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum in Lincoln, MA.  I’ve yet to go there.  But, it is definitely on my list.

 


Dock Dogs 2017 (Agawam, MA)

 

Date Of Event: June 3, 2017 (first weekend of June each year)

Location: Parking lot of Dave’s Soda And Pet City, 151 Springfield Street
Agawam, MA

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: dogs, jumping,speed and agility contests, face painting, fund raising

Website: Dock Dogs

IMG_9966Dogs big and small came from all over New England and farther to take part in the Dock Dogs competition last week in Agawam, MA.

 

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In case you missed it, I covered last year’s Dock Dogs event.

There were two events at Dock Dogs during my visit.  There was the Big Air Wave and the Extreme Vertical contests.

The first event, the Big Air Wave contest, was a jumping contest.  The dog’s trainer would throw an object, usually a tennis ball, Frisbee or toy, and the dog would jump as far as he or she could to retrieve it.

Just watching the trainers getting their pets psyched up for the jump was fun to watch.

Some dogs needed a little more encouragement than others.  But, what I really loved was the trust and discipline the dogs had.

The second event was the Extreme Vertical contest. Each dog would have the chance to reach the bar resting on a hook.  Although the dogs try to grab the bar in their mouths, all the dog has to do is knock the bar off the hooks to be successful.  Yeah, that”s easy enough for me to say.

Even if the dogs didn’t grab the bar in their mouth they could still advance to the next round by just knocking it off the holder.  The winner was Coop, a 2 year old, Chocolate Lab, who was able to grab the bar at 7 feet, 2 inches.

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Some people seemed more interested in the swarm of bees one of the trees near the competition.

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By the time we came back from lunch, bee keepers had been called and had handled the situation.

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Not all of the dogs who came to Dave’s for the event participated.  But, even if they were just spectators they were still beautiful.  Below are just some of the dogs I saw at the Dock Dogs event.

Duke is an 8.5 year old German Short Hair Pointer.

This 10 wek old Belgian Malinois did not have a name yet.

Bella is a 7 year old Pomeranian.  She is known as “Bella The Therapy Dom.”  She works with Paws For Friendship as a therapy dog as well as being the official mascot of the East Forest Park Library.  You can find out more about Paws For Friendship here.  You can also contact Bella at bellatherapydog@gmail.com

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Lola is a 2 year old mini Pincher Chihuahua.

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Fiona is a 8 month old Maltese Yorkie.

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Fargo is a 3 year old German Shepherd.

Inky is a 15 month old Blue Merle Australian Sheepdog.

Meeko is a 15 month old Siberian Husky.

Tobin is a 2 year old Great Pyrenees.  His sister Maggie Mae, a 3 year old Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever, is behind and to the right in the photos.

Token is a 5 year old Belgian Tervuren.

Fluffy Puffer, with the signature Newfoundland signature drool, is a 1 and a half year old Newfie

Miller is a 1 year old Golden Retriever and German Shepherd.

Rufus is a 7 year old Newfie.

Max is a 9 year old Border Collie.

There was also face painting, a bouncy house (I was tempted to go in it) and a variety of vendors and charitable organizations at the event.

Can’t wait until the next year’s Dock Dogs event!

Below are some videos of the dogs competing at Dock Dogs!

 

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Wild Bill’s Nostalgia (Middletown, CT)

Date Of Visit: December, 28, 2016

Location: 1003 Newfield St, Middletown, CT

Cost: Free

Hours:Open everyday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Parking: There are about a dozen or so parking spots right in front of the store, and, in a pinch, parking is available on the front left hand side of the store as well as on the grounds.

Handicapped Friendly: The outside area is.  The aisles in the store are a bit too narrow for wheelchairs unfortunately.

Dog Friendly: The outside area probably is

Highlights: Memorabilia, outdoor attractions, clothing, toys, games and other items from the past available for purchase

Web Site: Wild Bill’s Nostalgia

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While the flag signifying the entrance to Wild Bill’s Nostalgia may seem plain,  the store and grounds is anything but.

“Relive memories and take lots of photographs”, “Wild” Bill Zeigler told us as we entered his unique shop.  So, I did.

Even as you walk in the front door, you are bombarded with unusual items and nostalgia.

The shop is so unique and , at times bizarre, that I stopped at the register expecting to have to pay an entrance fee.  But, despite it’s museum like feel, there is no fee to enter Wild Bill’s.  You’ll still end up leaving with your pockets a little lighter, though, after you browse the items inside.

One of the first things that caught my eye and sent me walking down memory lane immediately were the trading cards (love love love the trading cards for the old t.v. shows) and “cigarette candies” in the glass case by the register.  And who could forget the pins we all used to wear our denim jackets?  C’mon I wasn’t the only one.  Of course, what is a grown man doing buying trading cards and candy cigarettes, or the real ones for that matter?  But, that is the theme of this store; relive your youth and be a kid again for a little while.

“Wild” Bill Zeigler has run his business for 34 years.  Over the years, the shop has changed somewhat but he has always specialized in the unusual.

Speaking of the unusual and hard to find, items from the dust bin of yesterday overflow the shelves and aisles at Wild Bill’s.  Whether it is a Terminator statue, vintage shirts and posters,  G.I. Joe and Barbie figures or a weird horseshoe tree, you’re sure to find something you will like.  I still am kicking myself for not buying that Luke Skywalker poster.

Wild Bill’s even has items hanging from, and on the ceiling.  Not sure if some of those posters on the ceiling are for sale.

Another favorite part of the store for me was the selection of media, including old school video games.  And, there is a voliumnous collection of vinyl.

There is even an “adult section.”  Yes, I did check it out.  Strictly for research purposes.  Old beer cans, a few Playboys and other jokey gifts line the shelves.  I did spot these really cool old cameras and police detectors there.

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While shopping there, I couldn’t resist buying this cool KISS lunchbox and a Grease poster.

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If you think that is all there is to Wild Bill’s, then you’re sadly mistaken.  Even before you enter the store, attractions are visible.  So, the shopping experience is only the beginning of your Wild Bill experience.

A variety of exhibits, artistic displays and even a few abandoned haunted houses, which made them seem even creepier, occupy the grounds of Wild Bill’s.  Who knew Michael Jordan was a zombie basketball player! Rumor has it the amusemtnpark rea may be open during the warmer seasons at some point.

This orange and yellow “Rube Goldberg” looking contraption is actually a mailbox.

These cars are, keeping with the nostalgia theme, are Yugos.dsc_0432

Those aren’t the only cars on the grounds of Wild Bill’s.  Love the hippie mobile.

Cars aren’t the only vehicles on display at Wild Bill’s.  These boats are also on display.  If you do try to get close to these boats, as I did, be warned, it is very muddy in this section.  At least I hope it was mud.  I think they use a special chemical or add something to the soil to make sure the boats stand up and so I sort of sunk into the soil a bit and tracked muddy soil around the grounds.

There is also an assortment of artistic renderings and statues.

There are also some sheds or other enclosed huts on the grounds.  The first one looks kind of cozy.

It’s hard to say which is more fun; the inside or outside of Wild Bill’s.  But, whichever your preference, Wild Bill’s is sure to grab your attention and take you down memory lane!

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Illuminate Thanksgiving (Plymouth, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 19, 2016

Location: Downtown Plymouth, MA (Water, Court and Main Streets)

Hours: 24 hours a day, everyday until the holidays

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: holiday decorations

Web Site: Illuminate Thanksgiving

Plymouth, MA, is beautiful enough on its own.  But, Plymouth during the holiday season is simply magical.

As part of their holiday season in Plymouth, MA, Plymouth 400, an organization which promotes the celebration of the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Plymouth Rock landing which will occur in 2020, helped illuminate Plymouth.

The festivities began with a celebration of some of the residents of Plymouth, MA and the surrounding area and some entertainment at the Hedges House on Water Street.  The entertainment consisted of interpretive dance, an acapella rendition of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” and a celebration of a family in Massachusetts who helped start a charity which helps buy cellphone minutes for soldiers overseas (Cellphones For Soldiers).

After the Plymouth 400 celebration, the city was aglow with holiday decorations (both Thanksgiving and Christmas).

I was a little disappointed at the lack of decorations and some of the decorations weren’t lit by the time we got there.  In fact, some of the better decorations were not on Main and Court Streets but off Water Street like these decorations at CabbyShack and The Tavern On The Wharf.

It is not a long walk to get from Court Street and Main Street.  Just walk straight on either street (Main Street becomes Court St and vice versa).  I was able to take a few photos of the holiday decorations on Main and Court Streets.  It still was enough to get me into the holiday spirit, although it pales in comparison to some of the other displays in New England.  At the same time, the scaled down decorations somehow gave it a more “small town” and tasteful feel to it which is also nice.  Let’s face it, some places can overdo it with the lights and decorations.

The decorations are still up and a few more have more than likely been added.  Plus, there is the annual Kiwanis Christmas Tree Lighting Friday, December 2 from 5:30 to 8 which will really get the city’s holiday season in gear.

I did see a cute dog at the Plymouth 400 celebration.  Tully, a 3 and a half month old Labrador, was in the holiday spirit!


Tall Bob The Bubble Man (Salem, MA)

Date Of Event: October 22, 2016

Location: Essex St, Salem, MA (alternatively Salem Commons, North Washington Square, Salem, MA)

Hours: usually late morning, early afternoon (I saw him at around 1 o’clock) *His last show is Monday, Halloween*

Parking: There are several parking garages on New Liberty St and Congress St and off street parking (go early to ensure you get a spot if you want to see  Bubble Man before Halloween)

Cost: Free, tips are apprreciated

Dog Friendly: Yes, dogs like bubbles too!

Handicap Accessible: Yes, the streets in Salem are handicap accessible

Web Site: Tall Bob The Bubble Man

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Not everything in Salem this time of year is scary or gory.  It is both unexpected and refreshing to see such a fun and heartwarming spectacle.

It’s great seeing such family friendly, good clean fun (literally), especially when there are ghosts, goblins and an assortment of other macabre characters doing their best to scare the visitors of Salem.  Scares are not for everyone.  But, everyone loves the bubbles, old and young alike, because as Bob says, “there ain’t love like bubble love.”

Tall Bob was first inspired by watching someone at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California, about two years ago.  The man he saw had made a bubble “as big as a bus”, according to Bobby.  Since watching that, he was hooked.  He poured over books and researched the art of bubble making.  He even made his own bubble wand.

Tall Bob The Bubble Man (aka Bobby Carr) uses a very different type of bubble wand.  His wand consists of two wood sticks connected by 4 ropes with one rope intersecting the other 4 ropes and a ball at the bottom of the ropes.  This allows him to create some huge bubbles.

And Tall Bob The Bubble Man does not shortchange his audience.  He is often out performing 8 or more hours, weather permitting, with the occasional break.

The Bubble Man did have to change his venue from the pedestrian walkway on Essex St to Salem Commons because people had complained the soap and water had made the walkway slippery.  But, when I went to visit there he was at his original venue.  He has also performed at Artist Row on Derby Square off Essex St and Lappin Park at the end of Essex Street.

The best part is watching the children react to the bubbles and try to touch and burst them.

But, hurry, Halloween of 2016 will be Tall Bob’s last show.  Ever.  He is moving to California this winter and hanging up his bubble sticks for good.  I  will be there for his monumental last show.  See you there!

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Nelson Memorial Park (Plymouth, MA)

Dates of Visit: October 8, 2016 & October 16, 2016

Location: Nelson St, Plymouth, MA

Hours: Open everyday, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: Free parking, handicap-accessible, picnic benches and tables, playground area, beach area, restrooms, boat docking area, seasonal water play area, bike path

Web Site: Nelson Memorial Park

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When people think of Plymouth Massachusetts certain places automatically come to mind; Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth Rock, Nelson Memorial Park.  No, that’s not a typo.  In fact, Nelson Memorial Park may be one of the best kept secrets in Plymouth (except may be the Grace Trail).

 

Located approximately a mile from the aforementioned rock, Nelson Memorial Park is a family friendly park with activities for children, pretty views and ample parking.

The water activity area, called a “splash pad” is an area that shoots out water for children, and probably even a few adults and dogs, to play in.  A sign states that due to water restrictions the pad will be on only on days when the air temperature is above 80 degrees.  There’s little threat of that happening for some time, although we have had some unseasonably warm weather lately.

The park is relatively small but it still offers some very pretty scenery.  I’ve always marveled at how clouds, even wispy clouds, can really accentuate the beauty of an area, especially by bodies of water.

Some kayakers took advantage of the warm weather and calm water.

There is also a bike path from Nelson Memorial Park that goes all the way to North Plymouth (roughly 1.5 miles from Nelson Memorial Beach or over 2 miles if you start from Grace Trail which is located behind the park’s parking lot).

Although it is a small park, Nelson Memorial is a wonderful, peaceful area just minutes from the busy  waterfront and downtown areas and a must-see if you’re in the Plymouth area.

A boy and his dog take in the views at Nelson Memorial.  This is why dogs are so great.  No matter how bad your day is or how lonely you might feel, you always have your dog.

There were many other dogs at Nelson Memorial Park and I was able to get some great shots of a few of them.

Remy is a 13 year old Lab, Boxer and Rottweiler.  He had head and leg injuries when he was adopted.  But, he looks fine right now!

Stella is a 7 year old Boston Terrier with a special talent.  She likes to chase balls and hit them with her head, soccer style.

Below is a video of Stella playing.

Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

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Salem Willows (Salem, MA)

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Odiorne Point State Park (Rye, NH)

 


The Elms (Newport, RI)

Holidays and mansions.  Sounds like a pretty good combination to me.  That is what the folks at  the Newport mansions are offering all their patrons.  As part of the holiday season, the Newport mansions have been decorated for the season.  The $29 tour includes 3 of the mansions (The Elms, The Breakers and The Marbles).  But, I was only able to see The Elms Mansion.

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The mansions aren’t the only ornate buildings in the area.  Some of the homes in the area are very pretty as well.  Before you arrive at the mansions, you can peak at the pretty houses in the neighborhood.

When you enter the mansions, you are given an audio player with headphones to use as part of the self guided audio tour.  Indoor photography is limited to certain rooms (usually they don’t allow photography at all in the mansions but they relaxed their policy slightly for the holiday tours).  I might have sneaked in a few more photos from the rooms that weren’t authorized for picture taking.  It’s actually kind of a good thing that they limit photography because you could easily be inundated with things to photograph.  One room seemed more beautiful or interesting then the previous room.

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Photo taking is allowed on the exteriors of the mansions and the grounds of the buildings.

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The mansions are available for tours throughout the year.  So, if you can’t make it there during the holiday try going another time when it is less busy.  If you go to the holiday mansion tour, it is only during daylight hours.  Parking can be difficult, especially if you arrive later in the day.  But, you should be able to find parking somewhere in the area if you can’t find a spot in the parking lots at the mansions.