Paddy and Plunkett, Centurions - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Roman Around With Paddy and Plunkett!

Paddy and Plunkett, Centurions - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt may have been a while since we last caught up with Paddy and Plunkett, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been up to their usual tricks! Last month they set off to the south east of England, hoping to escape the decidedly un-spring-like weather we were enduring here in Ireland at the time. Luckily for them, they were greeted by sunny days, and lots of fun things to do!

Plunkett got to choose the first port of call – Fishbourne Roman Palace – but as you can see above, Paddy insisted they get into character first! Plunkett soon retook the lead though… here he is admiring the famous “Cupid and Dolphin” mosaic inside the palace.
Plunkett Appreciating the Mosaics at Fishbourne - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFishbourne Palace is considered the largest Roman villa discovered in the UK to date, and some of the decorated mosaic floors are in perfect condition. Plunkett asked a passing human to take a picture of this one for him as a souvenir – look at the detail!
Closeup of the Boy and Dolphin Mosaic at Fishbourne - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut not all of the villa is in this pristine state. Other past inhabitants of this area have left their mark on Fishbourne too – look what the boys found here!
That Shouldn't Be There! Saxon Burial at Fishbourne - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAccording to our trusty friend Wikipedia, Fishbourne burnt down in around 270AD, and was subsequently abandoned. Apparently they were doing extensive renovations at the time, so perhaps the builders decided to focus their energies on building a new villa, instead of fixing up an old one. Paddy is reasonably sure that this could have been the first recorded instance of an insurance scam, but Plunkett, as usual, needs more convincing. Anyway, many years later, the site was used as a Saxon burial ground – some of the graves cut right down through the mosaic floors! A few of them, like the one above, have been left in situ… But some of the Saxon remains have been exhumed for closer inspection by curious visiting Beasties.
Paddy, Plunkett and the Saxon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesOnce the lads had seen everything inside the villa, they headed outside to have a look around the grounds. The gardens have been restored and filled with the kind of plants the Romans would have had here back in the palace’s heyday, and also included a “Triclinium”, or outdoor feasting area.
Paddy and Plunkett at the Triclinium - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis would have been covered in sumptuous fabrics, allowing the family to sprawl around in the sunshine and enjoy tasty treats. Here’s Paddy demonstrating how to get the best out of your Triclinium.
How to use your Triclinium - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I think I could get used to this, Plunkett! Pass the stuffed dormouse!”

After they’d enjoyed picnic-ing like Romans, Paddy got to choose the afternoon’s entertainment. He decided on a trip on the Chichester Ship Canal… the passenger boats are captained by volunteers, so all the proceeds from the hour-and-a-quarter-long cruise go towards the upkeep and restoration of the canal. There was plenty to see along the way…
Paddy Watching Wildlife - H Crawford/Crawcrafts Beasties…Or was there?
Paddy Takes the Wheel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUh-oh! We all know what happens when Paddy takes the wheel… I wonder where they’ll end up next?

Be sure to join us on Tuesday for more monster antics! And in the meantime, have a super weekend!

A Sunny Stroll by the Grand Canal

Explorer Beastie at the Canal - CrawCrafts Beasties
New year, new feature… Welcome to the first instalment of Explorer Beastie’s Dublin!

Explorer Beastie had a bit of a quiet year in 2015…
Explorer Beastie Takes a Weight Off - CrawCrafts Beasties
… So we thought that it would be fun for both of us to get out a little more, and show you the hidden corners of our city from a Beastie’s-eye point of view!

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, so we scrapped our original plans for an indoor adventure and made for the canal instead. There are two canals in Dublin’s city centre, the Grand Canal in the south and the Royal Canal in the north, and both canals eventually link up with the River Shannon in the west, via a whole string of towns and villages throughout Ireland’s midlands. The Grand Canal is nearer Beastie Towers though, so that’s where we headed.

The first part of our route was along the side of a busy road (boooo!) but once you pass the top of Clanbrassil Street Upper there’s a pedestrian path along one side of the canal, which makes for a much more peaceful walk… and better photos!
The Start of the Grand Canal Footpath - CrawCrafts Beasties
There’s plenty of wildlife to see along the canal banks – we spotted mallard ducks, mute swans, moorhens and a couple of different species of gulls.
Swan and Gulls on the Grand Canal - CrawCrafts BeastiesMoorhen on the Grand Canal - CrawCrafts Beasties

Explorer Beastie even tried to make friends with one of the swans…
Explorer Beastie Meets a Swan - CrawCrafts Beasties
… With limited success.
Hello there... (CrawCrafts Beasties)Oh. Okay Then. (CrawCrafts Beasties)

Never mind, there’s much more to see…
Canalbank Collage - CrawCrafts Beasties

… And sunny streets to explore!
In the Streets by the Canal - CrawCrafts Beasties
This canal is still in use, and the working lock gates along the way break the waterway into smaller sections, each with its own distinct character!
Grand Canal Locks Collage - CrawCrafts Beasties
This stretch beside The Barge pub is especially popular – it looks quiet now, but you should see it in the summer! On a warm evening, you’d think half the city had turned out to enjoy a pint by the water’s edge!
The Barge Pub, Grand Canal - CrawCrafts Beasties
And further along, this wall usually has some interesting graffiti to look at…
Shadowbeasties and Graffiti! CrawCrafts Beasties

We carried on past the top of Leeson Street, right in the city centre. A perfect chance to sit on an old bench and admire the view…
Relaxing by the Canal - CrawCrafts Beasties
…Before heading to one of our favourite cafés for a sandwich and a warming cup of tea!
Lunchtime! CrawCrafts Beasties
Remind us to take you there sometime…

We’ll be back with another slice of Dublin life in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can find out more about the Grand Canal here – this site lists all kinds of interesting canal-based activities, including walking tours, food markets and dinner cruises. Or if there’s anywhere you think we should visit, let us know in the comments!

Meet Paddy & Plunkett!

Paddy & Plunkett by CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Regular visitors to the Beasties’ Facebook page will recognise these handsome characters from my St Patrick’s Day post! For everyone else, allow me to introduce Paddy…
Paddy Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
…and Plunkett!
Plunkett Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Normally I let a Beastie’s adoptive parents choose their names, but my mum was quite taken with this pair when I brought them with me on a recent visit home. I left them sitting on the kitchen table while I went upstairs to fetch something, and by the time I came back down again, they had already been christened Paddy and Plunkett. And the names stuck, because they suit them perfectly. They’re also about as Irish as you can get, which is a good thing… because Paddy and Plunkett are about as Irish as Beasties get! They’re “Barróg Beasties” – a local subspecies of Beastie, grown from 100% Irish wool. They’re just as fond of humans as my other Beasties… in fact, “barróg” is the Irish word for “hug”, so you can be sure of a warm welcome if you come across one in their natural habitat!

Speaking of natural habitats, who better than these two to show you around some of the little-known corners of County Fermanagh?

Our tour begins in Tully Castle, an old fortified house whose Irish name means “castle on the hill”. Plunkett at Tully Castle - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford

It was abandoned after an unpleasant incident during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 – you can read the full story here – and is now a State Care Historic Monument with a rather impressive knot garden.
Paddy & Plunkett in the Knot Garden at Tully Castle - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Next stop is Correl Nature Reserve, the perfect place for a pair of Beasties to relax in some nice soft moss!
Plunkett takes a weight off! CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather CrawfordPaddy checks out some moss - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather CrawfordOne of the biggest draws in Co. Fermanagh is the lakes. Upper and Lower Lough Erne link into the Shannon-Erne Waterway, which is part of a canal system that starts in the estuary of the River Shannon in south-west Ireland, runs through Co. Leitrim and Co. Cavan, before crossing the border into Northern Ireland. This makes the area incredibly popular for boating holidays… and Paddy and Plunkett couldn’t wait to join in the fun!
Paddy and Plunkett set sail - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford

Back on dry land, there was just enough time for one last stop before they headed for home – Fardross Forest, a short hop away in Co. Tyrone! Paddy went on ahead to open the gate…
Paddy at the gate - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
… Before tackling the stepping stones across the river!
Paddy at the River - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Meanwhile, Plunkett took a stroll around the forest. He’s a more laid-back, long-walks-in-the-countryside kind of guy. Here he is posing with some pine cones he collected during his wanderings.
Plunkett's Pine Cones - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Ah, Paddy’s back!
Paddy and Plunkett in Fardross Forest - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford
Looks like he managed to cross the river without falling in! And now it’s time for these two to start the journey home – hopefully there will be a nice mug of tea and a big dinner waiting for them when they get back!
Paddy and Plunkett head for home - CrawCrafts Beasties/Heather Crawford