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?”


“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

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 have a Picnic - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

A Quiet Stroll in the Countryside… Or is it?

Paddy, Plunkett and some late Bluebells - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAt last! The sun has broken through the clouds and it feels like summer again! Not that it matters to Paddy and Plunkett, whose extended holiday is still ongoing… let’s find out where they are today!
Paddy Admires the View - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt certainly seems nice and peaceful, anyway. And look, Paddy’s spotted some distant Beastie relatives – well, they are all made of wool, right?
Proto-Beasties? H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut all is not as it seems!

“Hey Plunkett, what’s that building up there?”
Paddy and Plunkett Catch a Glimpse of English History - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Glad you asked, Paddy – I’ve been reading up on this! That’s part of the remains of Battle Abbey. Can you believe that we’re standing on what is believed to be the site of the Battle of Hastings? Look, there’s a stone slab here to mark the spot where the English leader King Harold is supposed to have fallen!”
Professor Plunkett Takes a History Lesson - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Yikes! What happened to King Harold?”

“Arrow through the eye, apparently – the famous Bayeux Tapestry captured the whole thing…”

The Death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings - Photo from
The Death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings – Photo from

“In fact, Paddy, forget what you’ve been seeing on Game of Thrones lately… The Battle of Hastings was a pretty gruesome episode in English history! Casualties on both sides were so numerous that the leader of the victorious invading Norman army, who later became known as William the Conqueror, was ordered by Pope Alexander II to atone for this immense loss of life. So he built a church here – it was finished in around 1094.  Then in the late 13th century, it was remodelled into Battle Abbey.”

“Wow, that’s some history! How on earth do we follow that?”

“How about some lunch?”

“Good thinking, Plunkett!”
Paddy and Plunkett have a Picnic - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties


Paddy, Plunkett and the Sundials - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Kings of the Castle!

Paddy and Plunkett at Arundel Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHmmm, who’s that lurking in the undergrowth outside Arundel Castle? Paddy and Plunkett picked the perfect day to explore this mediaeval castle in West Sussex – just look at that sunshine! Let’s join them as they take a trip around this incredible place, which has been the home of the Dukes of Norfolk (and their predecessors) for nearly a thousand years!

Given the most un-British weather that day, it made sense for them to start in the rose garden…
Paddy, Plunkett and the Sundials - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThere were a only a few roses out, but the boys found a sundial to keep themselves entertained! That said, it wasn’t long before they were overcome with curiosity… Time to explore the castle! Let’s go!
Climbing the Stairs to the Keep - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy Gawps at Arundel Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesArundel Castle is a bit of an architectural hodge-podge – the oldest parts were built in the late 11th century and subsequent generations left their mark on the building, both inside and out. In the late 16th-early 17th century, the 14th Earl of Arundel (nicknamed “the Collector Earl”) went on a bit of an interiors shopping spree, and many of his purchases can still be found in the castle today! Although the castle was damaged in the English Civil War, repairs were eventually carried out in the early and late 1700s, and a further round of restoration, completed in 1900, produced the remarkable building that stands today.

All this means that architecture buff Plunkett is in seventh heaven! However, Paddy maybe isn’t the most willing audience for his musings…
Very Different Beasties - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…Not when he can hang out with the man-at-arms and his cat, anyway!
Paddy, Man-at-Arms in Training - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAt least it’s given Plunkett a chance to brush up on his Latin.
Plunkett and Monk, Latin Enthusiasts - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey also met a former castle resident in the private chapel – well, kind of.
Paddy, Plunkett and the Duchess - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut the bright sunshine soon lured the lads back outside. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to see the gardens in all their glory! First stop was this formal garden, created as a memorial to the “Collector Earl”, which was full to bursting with beautiful tulips. Then they headed to the Stumpery – a novel concept garden where native woodland plants are encouraged to grow over the stumps of felled trees. This creates a really unusual and artistic display… and a great habitat for local wildlife!
Arundel Castle Gardens - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe boys also encountered a few curiosities on their travels… A whole family of scarecrows, and a rather unusual sign!
Arundel Garden Curiosities - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy thought it might have been the first cryptic clue in a treasure hunt… He spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what it meant. Perhaps he’ll have something to show for his mental exertions next time we catch up with these two!

What have you all got planned for the weekend? For any yarn-lovin’ folks out there, don’t forget that tomorrow is World Wide Knit In Public Day – what better excuse to grab your needles and make a start on a fun new project?




Submarines and Seascapes… Paddy and Plunkett in Portsmouth, Part 3

Paddy at Victory, Portsmouth - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Last week, we left adventurous Irish Beasties Paddy and Plunkett in something of a sticky situation… captured by an irate security guard who objected strenuously to Paddy’s attempts to take HMS Warrior for a test drive!

However, this week I’ve received another round of photos in which the pair of them appear to have eluded their captor… How can this be?
“A good escape artist never reveals his secrets,” says Plunkett. “And anyway, we had to go and have a look around the Alliance submarine.”
Plunkett with the Alliance Submarine - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Fair enough.

Although it seems like Plunkett was really only interested in hanging out in the bar…
Plunkett in the Torpedo Tube Saloon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Apparently when Alliance was in use, food was stored just about anywhere they could find space. So yes, those beers are indeed being stashed in a torpedo tube! Fortunately, it’s a long time since any torpedoes were launched from this submarine – Alliance has been a museum since 1981, so Plunkett can enjoy his tinnies in peace.

Suitably refreshed, the two lads set off for the Figurehead Museum…
Paddy at the Figurehead Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…Where they met some pretty unusual ladies!
Figurehead Museum, Portsmouth - H Crawford/Crawcrafts BeastiesScary Lady at the Figurehead Museum, Portsmouth - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesYikes! Imagine if you saw those faces leering at you from the front of a battleship! But look what was waiting for the boys around the corner…
The Knitted Sea at Portsmouth's Figurehead Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesKnitted Fishies at the Figurehead Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesKnitted Mermaid and Friends at the Figurehead Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesMore Knitted Undersea Creatures at the Figurehead Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…A whole knitted underwater scene! Look closely and you’ll see turtles, starfish and mermaids as well as hundreds of multicoloured fish! Paddy and Plunkett could have stayed here for hours, but then they saw this…
Plunkett with the Giant's Causeway Poster - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
“Is that the Giant’s Causeway? We really have been away for quite a while… maybe it’s time to head home. Hope you’ve enjoyed following us around Portsmouth, see you soon for more monster adventures!”

Paddy and Plunkett’s Portsmouth – Part 2

Paddy and Plunkett Continue Their Portsmouth Adventures - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
The last time we checked in with Paddy and Plunkett, they’d got carried away exploring the Isle of Wight and missed the last boat back to the mainland! Fortunately, it seems they eventually managed to make their return journey by stowing away on a passing ship … the cable pattern on Paddy’s jumper is perfect camouflage in among the rigging ropes!
Paddy in the Rigging - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Even though they’re now back on dry land, they couldn’t resist going to visit one of the city’s most famous attractions – the Mary Rose!At the Mary Rose - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
The Mary Rose sank in 1545 just north of the Isle of Wight, after 33 years of service in Henry VIII’s navy. Her wreckage was rediscovered in 1971 (although Wikipedia mentions an earlier rediscovery in 1863, after which some enterprising gentlemen tried to meet market demand for salvaged artefacts by blowing up parts of the ship with condemned bomb shells filled with gunpowder) and so began a decade of intense underwater archaelogy, legal wranglings and preparations to extract what remained of the ship’s hull from the sticky clay on the seabed. Finally, on the 11th of October 1982, the Mary Rose saw daylight for the first time in more than 4 centuries! Conservation work has been ongoing ever since… the ship is now in the process of drying out after 25 years of being sprayed with preserving wax.

Unfortunately, photo opportunities were few and far between in the museum itself – with so many visitors around, a Beastie could easily get trampled underfoot! The lads were happy to soak up the sights, and leave the happy snaps until they stopped for coffee at the end of the tour. Hey look – Paddy’s got his own personalised mug!
Paddy Stops for Coffee - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Then there was just time to pose with this scurvy sea dog outside…
Paddy, Plunkett and the Pirate - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…Before going to seek more nautical adventures on board HMS Warrior. Warrior was Britain’s first iron-clad battleship, built in 1860. Her wrought-iron armour was a huge technological leap forward, and this development made the ship faster, stronger and harder to hit than anything else afloat at the time. Apparently, most rivals didn’t even bother to engage her – one look and they just slunk off into the sunset! She didn’t scare Paddy and Plunkett though – they were too busy hanging out in the rigging!
Paddy and Plunkett on HMS Warrior - H Crawford/Crawcrafts Beasties
They also had a look around below decks…
Paddy and Plunkett Below Decks on HMS Warrior - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
And then… oh no! Who let Paddy drive?
Paddy Takes the Helm - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
These mischievous monsters have gone too far this time – they’d better leave before someone calls security…
Captured! Security Catches Up with Paddy and Plunkett! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Too late! Still, it’s not every day that you get forcibly ejected from a vintage battleship by a former film star… Super-observant readers may have seen this monster from the deep before, in the Bond film “For Your Eyes Only”!

Now it only remains to be seen if Paddy and Plunkett can wriggle free of the iron grip of the law! Stay tuned…