The Jade VIne - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy, Plunkett and Some Plants!

Plunkett has been in architectural heaven since the lads headed to Cambridge a few weeks back…Plunkett Loves Architecture - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And he’d happily continue on in this vein indefinitely.The Round Church, Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Oooh, look! It’s the Norman doorway of the famous Round Church. Paddy, did you know that it’s one of four mediaeval round churches that are still in use in England todaaaaa…”

“No way, Plunkett! It’s my turn to decide what we’re doing! Come on, we’re off to…Paddy's Choice - The Botanic Garden! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… The Botanic Garden! Mad plants ahoy!”Paddy, In His Element - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThere are over 8,000 species of plants crammed into this 40 acre garden, from every imaginable habitat. Deserts, bogland, jungle… You name it, it’s here! And of course, Paddy was determined to see (and climb) as many of them as possible. This photo was taken just as he spotted something good. Seconds later, only a Paddy-shaped dust cloud remained.Paddy and Plunkett in the Botanic Garden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut Plunkett takes things at a more sedate pace. That has its rewards too… Look what he found!Plunkett's Lucky Find -H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis is a jade vine, which hails from Indonesia. If you can believe it, this crazy-looking hanging plant is a member of the legume family – it’s a long way from your average runner bean though!The Jade VIne - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIn the wild, the jade vine is pollinated by bats, which up until recently has stopped it from producing any seeds. However, thanks to one devoted research student getting stuck in and pollinating the flowers by hand, the vine has set seed for the first time. Now seeds are being sent to other botanic gardens around the UK – maybe even one near some of you!

Meanwhile, Plunkett finally caught up with Paddy…Catching Up With Paddy at the Lake - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… Just in time to take the stepping stone path across the bog garden’s lake!Beasties on the Stepping Stones - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd on the other side, they were first plunged into the cool green depths of a bamboo forest…Beastie-Sized Bamboo Forest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… Before emerging in the arboretum!A Tree WIth a Wall - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hey look, Plunkett! This tree has a wall in it!”

“Hmmm… I wonder why?”

Later research revealed that this wild pear tree had split, and the brickwork is there ‚Äčto keep it together. The tree doesn’t appear to mind though – it certainly seems to be doing just fine!

And further down the road in the pinetum, Paddy found ample fodder for some really terrible puns!Don't Needle Paddy! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy Pining Away - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesResin D'etre - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUh-oh! He’s had enough, and scarpered to The Mount to check out the view. Fortunately, he’s still happy to share the chair he found here with his old buddy – as long as Paddy promises to keep quiet!
The View From The Mount - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHave you had any horticultural adventures recently? If so, please be sure to leaf a comment below! Or feel free to share your worst plant-based pun… Paddy’s always on the lookout for new material.

Here’s wishing you all a super week, catch you next Tuesday!

Paddy and Plunkett Inside the Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

A College Fit For a King… Or a Beastie!

You might remember Paddy and Plunkett spotting this rather lovely place from their punt trip along the River Cam a couple of weeks back
King's College - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett was especially taken with the beautiful buildings of King’s College, and decided to make it his first port of call the minute his paws were back on dry land!

On the way there, the Beasties passed the front gate of another of Cambridge’s many colleges…
Trinity College, Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis is Trinity College, which has the reputation of being the wealthiest of all the city’s educational establishments. It was founded by Henry VIII, who at that time was going around the country closing down monasteries and helping himself to the land they owned. The colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, being religious organisations and quite moneyed, were next in his sights. They appealed to Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and managed to reach a compromise – instead of closing some of Cambridge’s existing colleges down, they were amalgamated as Trinity College AND given a nice little gift of some of the confiscated monastery lands to get them started! To this day, it remains one of the biggest landowners in Britain. Henry VIII is still here keeping an eye on things, too – that’s his statue standing guard over the entrance!

But this isn’t where we’re going… Onwards to King’s College! Nearly there now!

Plunkett couldn’t wait to get inside, but it seems that Paddy is dragging his paws a little…
Paddy's Delaying Tactics - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Please keep off the grass? But it’s such a beautiful day!”

Of course, Paddy has a knack for bending the rules to suit himself…
Paddy Walking on the Grass - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ha! It’s still the same lawn, y’know!”

Rebellious impulses satisfied, it was finally time for Plunkett to get his history fix!

King’s College formerly went by the less snappy name of “The King’s College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge”, and a good number of British monarchs were involved in its founding and construction. Henry VI got the ball rolling in 1441, and he also laid the first stone of the College’s famous chapel in 1446. His original plan for a modest establishment for “12 poor scholars” was abandoned when he learned about a bigger, fancier college that William of Wykeham had founded in Oxford (60 years earlier – I guess news travelled more slowly in those days), so he updated the charter of King’s College, calling for a superior institution with more grandiose buildings and a larger number of students. Unfortunately, he then got tied up in the Wars of the Roses, and work slowed due to lack of funds. It took another two generations of King Henrys to finish the chapel, which was the only part of Henry VI’s plan to actually be realised. Let’s go and take a look, shall we?
Chapel Entrance, King's College Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Huh. I don’t get it, Plunkett… What’s the big deal?”

“Paddy, look up!”
Paddy and Plunkett Inside the Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd even Paddy’s breath was taken away by the fantastic fan-vaulted ceiling!
The Ceiling at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s the largest of its kind in the world, and Plunkett could have gazed at it all day.
Plunkett Mesmerised by the Ceiling at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLuckily, Paddy was good enough to point out that the glorious stained glass windows were also worth a look!
Stained Glass at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis chapel is still very much in use, and is most famous for its choir, who perform in services almost every day during term time. But the biggest event in the King’s College Chapel calendar is the annual Carol Service on Christmas Eve, which has been broadcast on the BBC for decades, to a global audience!

There are also lots of beautiful little details to be spied, if you stop to look at things from a Beastie-eye point of view. Plunkett found this very fine door lock, although he was a little confused about which step he was supposed to be minding…
Around the King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Step? What step? It’s been completely worn away by big stomping human feet!”

Meanwhile, Paddy had ended up somewhere far spookier… The Tomb Chapel!
Paddy in the Tomb Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesTrust him to find the most ghoulish thing on offer here! I expect he’ll be waiting in the shadows to jump out at Plunkett when he wanders in…

“Who, me? Never!”

Uh-huh. I’ll believe that when I see it, Paddy!

More from Paddy and Plunkett in a couple of weeks! And next Tuesday, look out for a new Explorer Beastie adventure – see you then!

Paddy and Plunkett, Random Punters - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Cambridge – Worth a Punt!

I’ll be honest with you… Paddy and Plunkett were more than a little miffed that Explorer Beastie didn’t invite them along on his recent trip to Copenhagen. So, when they had the chance to hitch a lift to another bike-loving city (one a bit closer to home), you won’t be surprised to hear that they were off like a shot!

And where did they end up?
Paddy and Plunkett Cycle Cambridge! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAha! In beautiful sunny Cambridge!

Although it’s most famous for its universities – Plunkett actually considered applying here, but was disappointed by the human-centric approach these institutions take to the history of architecture – this little city that sits just outside London has plenty of other activities to keep a pair of curious little monsters entertained.

…Like these!
Punts Along the Cam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Awww, Plunkett! Let’s have a go – the humans make it look so easy!”
Punting on the Cam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hmmm, let’s see… Yeeees, it feels stable enough! But maybe we should let someone else drive?”
Paddy and Plunkett Set Sail - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“DEAL!”

As it turns out, Plunkett took to these little boats (called “punts”) like a duck to water. He appreciated their sturdy construction, visibly-displayed safety information cards and the fact that they packed cosy blankets and umbrellas for the inevitable quirks of the British weather. And after a few minutes of gliding gently under the weeping willows, he was utterly sold!
Not Your Average Punter - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesA punt can hold 12 humans, plus a couple of stowaway Beasties, so Paddy and Plunkett were happy to share theirs with a family from the US. Strangely, they’d never met a Beastie before – what are the chances?

As for Paddy… Well, you know Paddy. Not even the “Bridge of Sighs” could dampen his mood!
The Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis Bridge of Sighs got its name courtesy of Queen Victoria, who said it reminded her of the famous Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice. It didn’t matter that she’d never been to Venice, and that the two bridges actually look nothing alike… I don’t think even Paddy would have dared to contradict her!

And although the bridges gave Plunkett plenty to look at, he was also interested in the brick walls that line the river and keep the banks in check. These walls are carefully maintained, and repaired when necessary.
Inspecting the Brick Walls on the Cam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFurther along, the boys came to the part of the river known as “The Backs” – so named because you float past the back doors of some of Cambridge’s most famous colleges.
Floating Down the Backs, Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesKing's College Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Look at this, Paddy! The guide says this is King’s College…
Plunkett Plans his Next Move - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… I think I’d like to go here next!”

Join the boys when they return to dry land in a couple of weeks. Next week, I hope to have something new to share with you, so stay tuned!