Plunkett, Eden Project Vegetable Garden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

The View From Outside Eden

Can you believe it? Paddy and Plunkett are still exploring the Eden Project! I always thought that the main draw of this awesome place was the exotic plant communities that live inside the biomes, but WOW was I wrong! It turns out that there’s a lot to see outside those bubble-like domes too. And, to Plunkett’s relief, there don’t appear to be any jaguars lurking in the undergrowth this time around. Let’s take a closer look!

First stop – the vegetable garden. This is definitely Plunkett’s cup of tea!
Plunkett Enjoys the Eden Vegetable Garden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd after “borrowing” a light lunch of green salad – much better than the picnic Paddy had planned – he also enjoyed the beautifully laid out wildflower beds.
Wild Flower Beds at the Eden Project - H Crawfor/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd although Paddy thought he’d found a quicker way to get around the outdoor gardens…
Paddy's Equine Friend - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… This incredible life-sized driftwood horse sculpture by local artist Heather Jansch proved no match for a set of wheels. Paddy even let Plunkett drive!
Plunkett Takes the Wheel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd they discovered all kinds of treasures on their way! First up, a willow dome with honeysuckle growing around the branches…
Willow Dome in the Eden Project Grounds - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI bet this place smells AMAZING on summer evenings! They also met an elegant reclining lady in the forest.
Clay Sculpture at the Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy was particularly impressed with her hairdo, but she remained close-lipped about who her stylist is. He didn’t mind though, because he caught sight of this around the next corner.
Industrial Plant Sculpture, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Plunkett! What is THAT?”
Paddy, Plunkett and the Industrial Flame Plant - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ha! It’s an industrial plant!”

An Industrial Flame Plant, to be exact. This striking sculpture is surrounded by thickets of plants that can be grown and burned as biomass, a means of energy production that is renewable, carbon-neutral and provides a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

And look at Plunkett, standing right next to a “danger” sign! Could it be that he’s feeling a shade more daring than usual?

Well, maybe… But he still let Paddy forge a path through the heather forest that they visited next!
Paddy and Plunkett in the Heather Bank - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe sun-warmed heather perfumed the air, and the boys were surrounded by drifts of pink, purple and white flowers… Which were buzzing with hundreds of busy bees.
The Heather Bank at the Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd further along, they discovered just how important this bee restaurant could be!
Helping the Bees - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut then, the honeybee hum suddenly seemed to get a bit louder.
“Paddy, do you hear that?”
A Giant Bee at the Eden Project! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesGlancing over his shoulder, Paddy realised that Plunkett probably wouldn’t take particularly well to the giant bee that had just landed behind them.

“Ah, it’s nothing. Let’s go and see what other adventures the English Riviera has in store for us!”

Join the lads again in a couple of weeks, when they’ll be stopping off in some of the peaceful towns that make this part of the world such a lovely place to visit! Meanwhile, we’ll be back on Friday with the latest news from Beastie Towers!

See you then!

(B)East of Eden 2 – Another Level!

Hello there Beastiebuddies! We’re heading back to Cornwall this week, to rejoin Paddy and Plunkett as they make their way to the very top of the 50m tall Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project… No mean feat when you’re only 6 inches tall! Since I’ve wanted to visit Eden for a reeeealllly long time, the boys were good enough to go along with the camera and show me what it’s like. Cheers lads! Here are some of the highlights of last week’s adventure, or click to catch up on the full post.
Eden Project Highlights - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI only hope they’re still talking to me after that long uphill trek! Let’s see how they’re getting on.

Ah, there’s Paddy now. He seems to be making good progress!
Paddy Tackles the Rainforest Biome - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“You can see loooooads from up here! We found another waterfall, like the one at Babbacombe…”
A Waterfall in Eden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“…But the people down below just keep on getting smaller!”
View from the Top - Rainforest Biome, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFrom up here, you can really see how the Cornwall landscape has been incorporated into this captive jungle – amazing! And soon…
“Taaaa-daaaaah! We made it! Hey Plunkett, take my picture!”Paddy at the Top of the Dome - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe thing about being above the rainforest canopy, but underneath the protective dome that shelters it from the British weather, is that it gets very, VERY hot. Too hot for Aran sweaters, as it turns out. So after a nanosecond of consideration, Paddy removed his and used it as a parachute to skip out on the walk back to ground level.
“See you later, Plunkett! Wheeeeee!”

Do I really need to mention that parachuting isn’t Plunkett’s cup of tea? Probably not. So, he took his time wandering back downhill… And he was glad he did. Look who he bumped into on the way!
Plunkett's Feathered Friends - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThese are roul-roul or crested partridges, and they’re not just here for show. By eating their fill of bugs and grubs, they’re providing a valuable natural pest control service to Eden’s leafy inhabitants!

And Plunkett couldn’t help but chuckle when he saw this…
Plunkett at the Jaguar Crossing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hahaha! Jaguars crossing! Paddy will love this.”
And he didn’t have to wait long to tell him about it. Paddy was just around the next corner!
“Paddy, did you see the jaguar crossing sign back there? Hilarious! As if there’d be jaguars in here!”

But Plunkett was in for a surprise.

“Sure there are, Plunkett! There’s one right there!”
Paddy, Plunkett and the Jaguar - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“What? Whe… GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!”
Run, Plunkett! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesOh dear. Poor Plunkett! Hopefully it won’t take him too long to calm down again, and he’ll join us next week for a sedate wander around the outdoor areas of the Eden Project. I’m pretty sure they’re jaguar-free!

As for me, I’ll be back on Friday with more monster fun and games. In the meantime, have you ever met any unusual local wildlife on your travels? Share your tales of terror in the comments, and maybe Plunkett will feel better!

Paddy's Vineyard Party, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

(B)East of Eden!

So, last week we learned that Paddy and Plunkett had taken a trip (another one!) to the south-west of England. And since they were in the neighbourhood, I got in touch to ask them a special favour… I’ve wanted to see the Eden Project for YEEEEEAAARS, so would they please go, and take lots of pictures?

Done and done!

“Here we are! Greetings from Eden!”
Beasties at the Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Woooooaaaah! Look at this place, Plunkett!”
Paddy and Plunkett at the Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Yes, it’s incredible! I wonder what that is over there? Looks… Spiky.”
“Must be the Cactus House, I suppose!”

Paddy should probably have looked at the guidebook. It’s actually the “Core” zone, an exhibition and learning centre. It was closed that day while they updated the exhibition… But I suppose that just means that the boys have an excuse to go back another day! Besides, it seems like there was plenty to see elsewhere… First stop, the Mediterranean Biome!
Inside the Mediterranean Biome - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesStunning… Look at all that green! It would be easy to lose a pair of mossy-coloured Beasties in the middle of all that. Fortunately, Paddy is never one for blending into the background. And surprise surprise, he’s “accidentally” stumbled on the vineyard… Where there seems to be a bit of a party going on!
Paddy's Party - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hey, Plunkett, come and join the party! Wow, I bet Tammie and Finn would love this – it’s just like one of Tammie’s books!”
Paddy's Vineyard Party, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Mediterranean Biome isn’t just home to European flora, either. There are plants in here that hail from temperate zones all over the world, including North America, South Africa and Western Australia. Paddy was excited to find this visitor from Down Under – a grass tree, potentially stuffed full of nutritious witchetty grubs!
Paddy Forages for Lunch - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Plunkett! I’ve fixed lunch for us!”

Wait a sec, where’s Plunkett? Has he literally run a mile from Paddy’s idea of a nice picnic?

Nope – turns out he’s just moved on to the jungly climes of the Rainforest Biome! Billed as the world’s largest captive rainforest, this 50m tall bubble holds exotic plants and trees from South America, West Africa, Southeast Asia and the tropical islands. I think this is much more his scene, don’t you?
Inside the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Eden Project is built in a former clay pit, one which was conveniently nearing the end of its clay-producing life when creator Tim Smit was on the lookout for the perfect home for his next big venture. The pit actually dictated the shape of the biomes – they became “bubbles” so that their edges could hug the irregular surface left behind by years of clay extraction! And the claypit walls are still very much part of the Eden experience. A spiral path meanders around them, gradually bringing you up to the very top of the dome!

Ready? Let’s start climbing!

Of course, Paddy was the first to take a peek over the edge.
Paddy Peering Down into the Rainforest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Wow! Those humans look Beastie-sized from up here!”
Beasties or People? Rainforest Biome, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut they’re not at the top yet! They have plenty more bridges to cross…
Rope Bridge, Eden Project - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And so much more to see! But you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what surprises were lurking in the forest!

Meanwhile, we’ll be back on Friday with a more down-to-earth monster adventure. See you then!

Paddy on the Train - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – A RAIL Good Time!

Paddy and Plunkett, Wandering Beasties - CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, these two certainly don’t hang around in one place for very long! After exhausting the entertainment possibilities of their own attic a couple of weeks ago, Paddy and Plunkett decided that the time was right to hit the road again.

Next thing I knew, they were sending me pictures from Devon, in south-west England! And it looks like Plunkett was in charge of organising their first day out, because they began their explorations at the historic Babbacombe Cliff Railway, just outside Torquay! Plunkett has a bit of a thing for trains.
Paddy Photobomb 1 - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUnfortunately, Paddy has a bit of a thing for jumping in front of the camera.
“Paddy! Sit down!”
Paddy Photobomb 2 - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“But look! There’s another carriage coming up on the other side!”
*Sigh*

Plunkett finally got his first Paddy-free shot when their Beastie-sized funicular train reached its destination – right to the seashore at beautiful Oddicombe Beach. As Paddy dashed off to skim stones over the water, Plunkett looked back up the tracks…
The Tracks at Babbacombe Cliff Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… Then took a few steps back to watch as a fresh carriageful of visitors were delivered right to the water’s edge.
The Babbacombe Cliff Railway in Action - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe car really does look very strange when you view it from the side!

The idea for the Babbacombe Cliff Railway dates back to the 1890s – those Victorians loved a good seaside gadget – but it wasn’t completed until 1926. The 720-foot-long track saves people a very irksome uphill walk at the end of their day at the beach, so it’s little wonder it soon became a popular attraction – records for 1935 say that 192,000 people made the trip that year!

But more recently, the railway fell on hard times. Following a significant breakdown in 2003, it closed for 6 weeks… and although services did still run occasionally after that, it was in need of hugely expensive repairs that the local council simply couldn’t afford. Luckily, some enthusiastic locals set up the Friends of the Babbacombe Cliff Railway group, and made it their mission to promote the railway and raise money for the repairs. Thanks to their hard work and the sale of St Marychurch’s Town Hall in 2005, the funds were finally there – so the railway got its much-needed overhaul. Everything got an upgrade – cars, cables, rails and control systems! By the end of winter 2006-7, the repairs were finished and the Babbacombe Cliff Railway was back on track!

So, with some nice clear photographs and a brainful of information from the visitor centre, Plunkett rejoined Paddy for a walk along the shoreline. This beach is on Devon’s Jurassic Coast, so the steep cliffs are made from stunning rich red sandstone – you can see them a bit in the photo above. The main attraction for the boys was this waterfall… Complete with Beastie-sized viewing platform!
Paddy, Plunkett and the Waterfall - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut they couldn’t dawdle here all day… Quick, you’re about to miss the last train home! And walking up that hill will be no fun on little short legs!
Plunkett Admires the Babbacombe Cliff Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFortunately, they juuuuust made it in time. And after catching his breath on the journey back up, Plunkett felt brave enough to clamber up on a railing to get one last look at the train!

Are there any weird and wonderful attractions near you? Be sure to tell us all about them in the comments – perhaps Paddy and Plunkett will come to check them out on a future visit!

Oh, and also… Welcome to May! The latest Beastie calendar page is up in the shop and ready to download, if you haven’t already! You can find it here.

We’ll be back on Friday with more Beastie fun and games – see you then!

Paddy in the Dugout Canoe - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Beasties in the Bronze Age

The boys are stepping back in time again this week – and a little further than usual, too! Today finds them exploring Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire, which had its heyday 3,300 years ago!

What was this place, a harbour?
Plunkett at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, not exactly. A fen is an area of marshy ground, and they’re pretty prone to flooding. While many of the fens in this super-flat part of eastern England were drained to create extra farmland in the 17th century, in the Bronze Age these places would have been tricky enough to navigate. Too wet to walk, too shallow for a boat… GAAAAAAAH! What to do?

Answer – you build a raised walkway over it, and strut across in style without getting your paws wet! And that’s what these timbers are – the remains of a trackway that led to a huge platform out in the fen. It’s kept nice and damp to help to preserve the ancient wood…
The Timber Remains at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And what Plunkett is looking at in the first photo is only a fraction of what is actually there. The whole causeway is more than a kilometre long, and the platform is the size of Wembley Stadium!

Building something on this scale, in this location, at that time would have been a huge undertaking – so why is it here? Unfortunately, our Bronze Age friends weren’t much for writing things down, so we can really only speculate (wildly, in Paddy’s case) about what this place was used for. However, the archaeologists who excavated the site back in the 1980s found way more of this kind of thing than they expected…
Finds! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThese bronze finds – mostly weapons – intriguingly show signs of having been deliberately damaged, and their positioning in the silty ground suggests that they were intentionally dropped there, rather than carelessly chucked away because they were broken. This implies that the causeway was a place of ritual significance, as well as (possibly) being a handy way of getting across Flag Fen!

There’s plenty of opportunity for you to get in touch with your Bronze Age roots around here too… Plunkett took a stroll into this reconstructed roundhouse, built on the site where a real one was excavated!
Plunkett at the Roundhouse - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesMeanwhile, Paddy was trying on some wooden beakers for size… Because, well, that’s what Paddy does.
Paddy tries out the Tableware - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe lads also rested their weary paws on this rather spectacular chair – we think it might be made of bog oak, preserved timber that has been coloured and hardened by years of sitting in the acidic water of the marshes!
Paddy, Plunkett and the Bog Oak Chair - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUnfortunately, Paddy had less success with this replica dugout canoe…
Paddy in the Dugout Canoe - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Row faster, Plunkett! It feels like we’re not moving at all!

This is a copy of one of the boats that was unearthed at Must Farm, just down the road. The real ones are still undergoing preservation work and some of them are really enormous!

Now, what’s been missing from this trip so far? That’s right – SHEEP! This visitor centre is home to a herd of lively Soay sheep, the closest living thing to the kind of sheep that you would have seen trotting around here in the Bronze Age.
Soay Sheep! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWhile Paddy attempted to make friends with some of those lambs, Plunkett took a moment to enjoy a last look out over the site.
Plunkett takes a last look at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s really been quite a trip!

Paddy and Plunkett will have their paws back on comparatively dry land when they rejoin us in a couple of weeks. And next Tuesday, I hope to have some exciting new BeastieBlog developments to share with you all! See you then!

Paddy and Plunkett, Bewitched by Norwich!

Another day, another city!

Paddy and Plunkett have really been making the most of their tour of East Anglia, and today’s post finds them in another place famed for its cathedral – Norwich! Here’s the cathedral coming into view now… And as you can probably guess, Plunkett is champing at the bit to get inside for a look!
Norwich Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAccording to Plunkett’s research, this cathedral is more than 900 years old (construction started in 1096) and boasts the second tallest spire in England – a fitting landmark for a city that, in the 11th century, was second only to London in size and importance. Shall we wander over for a closer look?
St Ethelbert's Gate - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesTalk about making an entrance! This is one of two gates into the cathedral grounds. It’s called St Ethelbert’s Gate, and it actually used to contain a chapel to its namesake in its second storey. And although it looks like the real deal, this isn’t the original gate! It’s a 14th century rebuild, after the first one was destroyed in the riot of 1272.

Inside the cathedral, the boys were impressed by the beautiful long cloisters – perfect for a Beastie-sized afternoon stroll!
Cathedral Cloisters at Norwich - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHowever, like many visitors, they weren’t able to agree on the new stained glass windows. They were designed by English abstract artist John McLean, and were installed on the north aisle in 2014. Apparently they’ve been causing controversy ever since!
Norwich cathedral new stained glass - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy loves the rich colours, and the way the bright light bounces around this corridor, which he thought would be pretty dark and boring otherwise. On the other hand, Plunkett really would have preferred to see something more traditional, and in keeping with the rest of the building. Whose side are you on?

Had the lads visited Norwich in the early 1400s, they would have been able to settle their dispute once and for all. A short walk away from the cathedral is St Julian’s Church, which was home to the anchoress Julian of Norwich.
St. Julian's Church, Norwich - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAlthough there’s little concrete information about her life, Julian of Norwich is still considered an important mystic and theologian. Her account of her religious visions, “Revelations of Divine Love” is thought to be the first book written in English by a female author! She lived out her days in a small cell in a church on this site, and her only contact with the outside world was through two small windows – one into the church, and the other looking onto St Julian’s Alley outside. Members of the public could pass by and ask Mother Julian for advice, and I think it’s fair to presume that she was called upon to settle a few disagreements in her time!
Mother Julian's Cell - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe real St Julian’s Church didn’t survive the Reformation during the reign of Henry VIII, but the building that stands today, as well as giving an impression of what the original would have looked like, tells a story of its own. The stones used to build it were reclaimed from another church, which was destroyed during the Second World War. Plunkett certainly seems to be enjoying the peace and quiet of this contemplative place!

Of course, it wasn’t long before Paddy felt the need for something a little more lively… A spot of shopping, perhaps?
Shopping in Norwich - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFortunately, this beautiful Art Nouveau arcade has enough architectural interest to keep Plunkett entertained too!

Oh, and then he spotted THESE…
Traditional Flint Walls - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Not just any old stone wall, my friends! A stone wall made with the hard-wearing local flint! Beautiful! Incredible!

Uh-oh! I think we’ve lost him for the day! This all seems too familiar to poor Paddy, who remembers what happened on last year’s trip to Arundel Castle.

“I’ll leave you to it there, Plunkett! I’m going to go and hang out with these guys instead!”
Paddy with decorative flint walling. Town Hall, Norwich - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI reckon there’s room in all that fancy stonework for a Beastie-shaped addition – what do you think?

More from the boys in a couple of weeks… I wonder where they’ll end up next?

An App-ELY-ing Day Out!

Paddy and Plunkett really did make the most of their recent trip across the water to England! They might have started out enjoying the lively university city of Cambridge, but they saw no reason to stop there.

Time to take a trip down the road to Ely, a city which started life as an abbey on an island in the fens (marshlands) of East Anglia. The city’s history has been full of ups and downs, mostly starring that abbey – it was founded in 673, destroyed by Vikings in 870, rebuilt again a hundred years later, and then in 1083 a Norman abbot decided that the site would be just perfect for a new cathedral. Work began in the early 1090s, and the result was a building that still stands today.
Beasties at Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, mostly… The Norman-era central tower actually collapsed in 1322. However, Ely Cathedral wasn’t going to let that cramp its style – the tower was rebuilt and then some! What stands there now is the famous Octagon, which you can see in the centre background of this photo.
Ely Cathedral from the Front - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAs I’m sure you can imagine, Plunkett couldn’t wait to get inside this place for a closer look! Unfortunately, he really should have checked his diary first…
Palm Sunday at Ely - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… Because it turns out that the lads had rocked up on Palm Sunday! They decided to let the annual procession (complete with full choir and real live donkey!) pass them by, and headed off in search of morning coffee on the banks of the River Ouse instead.
Paddy Enjoys Coffee in the Sunshine - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy certainly wasn’t going to say no to another hour of lounging around in the sunshine!

Suitably caffeinated, the boys made their way back to the Cathedral… and this time they managed to get inside! Plunkett was immediately transfixed by the ornate interior…
Plunkett Inside Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…While Paddy enjoyed the colourful stained glass and mosaic floors!
Stained Glass and Mosaics - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd then, there were the beautiful high arches of the Octagon!
Inside the Octagon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Paddy, did you know that the roof and lantern in the centre of this tower are held up by timber structures that couldn’t be built now, because there aren’t big enough trees any more?”

“I didn’t. But Plunkett, did YOU know that you can climb up to the very top of this place and look out over the city?”

“Errrrrrm…”

“Ah, go on!”

One third of the way there, and the ground is already starting to look very, very far away…
Going Up, at Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut the view from the top of the West Tower was totally worth the dizzying heights and sore paws!
View from the top of the West Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, it was for at least one of our monster friends!
Paddy's View From the Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesOh dear, poor Plunkett! Will the boys make it safely back to ground level, or will Paddy sign them both up for a tandem bungee jump off the top of the tower? All will be revealed in a couple of weeks!

In the meantime, don’t forget to join us again next Tuesday, when I hope to be sharing a tutorial and pattern for my little felt bees! See you then!
A Little Felt Bee - CrawCrafts Beasties

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 ​to 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!