Explorer Beastie Garcia Beastie Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties

Highgate Cemetery – A Monster Tour

Well hello there, Beastie friends! Today we’re joining Explorer Beastie and his good buddy Garcia Beastie for a visit to somewhere a little unusual – Highgate Cemetery!

As you already know, we had a rather soggy day in Kew Gardens…
Soggy Day at Kew Gardens - CrawCrafts Beasties… During which time the boys found a novel way of staying out of the rain.
Beasties Travelling in Style - CrawCrafts Beasties“Outta the way, camera! This is a Beastie bag now!”

So we were pretty happy when the next day was dryer and brighter. Perfect for a visit to Highgate Cemetery! And doesn’t it look beautiful in the morning sunlight?
Morning Sun in Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts BeastiesI love to visit graveyards when I travel. They provide a peaceful respite from any jam-packed sightseeing schedule, and they can help you see another side of the place you’re visiting. As it turns out, Beasties like them too!
Beastie Tourism at Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, they do find us humans endlessly fascinating. And while there were occasional opportunities for mischief…

Monster Mischief in Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a horror film that started like this.

… For the most part, they behaved exceptionally well.
Highgate Cemetery Wanderings - CrawCrafts BeastiesFor the first part of our visit, we were in Highgate Cemetery East. Humans and Beasties can wander freely around this newer part of the cemetery for a small fee, and there’s so much to see here! While many of the monuments are fairly traditional…
Traditional Monuments at Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties

… There are a few less conventional ones dotted along the tree-shaded avenues too. This one, which marks the grave of pop artist Patrick Caulfield, especially caught my eye!
Patrick Caulfield's Grave at Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties

You can also find a few famous faces (or at least their headstones) in the eastern cemetery. I liked these two, which commemorate entertainer Jeremy Beadle and artist/impressario Malcolm McLaren…
Jeremy Beadle and Malcolm McLaren at Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties… But keep your eyes open as you stroll around and you could also meet Douglas Adams, George Eliot, Karl Marx or Bruce Reynolds, who masterminded the Great Train Robbery!

Then again, this is only half the story. The older, western side of Highgate Cemetery dates back to 1839 – a time when the “cosy” living conditions in Victorian London were mirrored by the extreme overcrowding of local church graveyards. Certainly not ideal if you’re trying to bury your loved ones… And even less so when nasties like typhoid and cholera come along to join the party.

Enter the London Cemetery Company, who made it their business to offer a higher class of resting place to those who could afford it. With landscaped locations on what was then the edge of the city, and exotic architectural features, these “garden cemeteries” were a big hit. A trip to Highgate or one of its sister cemeteries became a popular day out among the living – you could even buy guidebooks to help you find your way around!

The graveyard fell on hard times in later years, though. British burial customs differ from those of many other countries, in that once you’re buried, your grave is yours forever. As Highgate filled up, fewer new plots were bought, and that meant less money was coming in. The company couldn’t afford to maintain the facilities, and it was a downhill slide from there.

Who knows what might have happened if a charity, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, hadn’t stepped it to get things back on track? The group works hard to ensure that the atmosphere of “romantic decay” that makes this place so interesting is preserved, but doesn’t get a chance to go too far either.

That said, it’s still a bit wild in there, so the only way to see the Western Cemetery is on a guided tour. And this gets a big paws up from the Beasties! Our guide, Brittany (hope I remembered that correctly) was so entertaining and informative that our tour zipped by in a flash… And we totally forgot to take pictures! My camera only made an appearance near the end, so that I could capture this handsome fellow…
Tom Sayers's Grave at Highgate Cemetery - CrawCrafts Beasties

Meet Lion, the beloved mastiff of Tom Sayers, a bare-knuckle fighter who rose to fame in the 1850s. Although he was quite short and lightly-built, he frequently took on (and defeated) much larger, heavier opponents. This is probably what made him so popular – when he died in 1865, around 100,000 people attended his funeral! Unfortunately, due to the acrimonious state of his marriage at the time, it fell to Lion to be chief mourner… So it’s perhaps fitting that the grave commemorates him as much as his master.

I’ll leave you with a last look back along the leafy avenues of Highgate Cemetery West…
Highgate Cemetery West - CrawCrafts Beasties… To see the rest, you’ll have to take the tour yourself!

Join us again next week, when I’ll have new projects galore to share… See you then!

Explorer Beastie with Rosehips, by CrawCrafts Beasties

Autumn Fun With Explorer Beastie!

Oh, poor Explorer Beastie! We were hoping to get out and about this week, but both the weather and my work schedule were against us… Still, at least we have some great photos from previous years to look back on. I hope you all enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did!

First up – Explorer Beastie and Garcia Beastie hanging out in the olive trees at Kew Gardens a couple of years ago!
Beasties Climbing Olive Trees - CrawCrafts BeastiesThey also took a stroll through the first fallen leaves of the season…
Beasties set off for adventure!… And some of the leaves that hadn’t fallen yet, too!
Explorer Beastie scaling the fenceHere’s another photo from later that year, when Explorer Beastie found a perfectly Beastie-sized toadstool. This has to be one of my favourite monster pictures!Explorer Beastie with ToadstoolWe got lots of other great shots on that trip, too!
Autumn Days with Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesThen last Hallowe’en, he bravely ventured into an isolated graveyard!
Explorer Beastie in the Arched Doorway - CrawCrafts BeastiesYes, okaaaay, it was daylight… But all the same! We really enjoyed this view from the wall – it was so peaceful!
Explorer Beastie Admires the View from Lissonuffy - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd nothing could have put him and Crablet off dressing up later on for some trick or treating…
Beasties at Hallowe'en - CrawCrafts Beasties… Not even a furry gatecrasher!
Gizmo the Gatecrasher - CrawCrafts BeastiesI wonder what we’ll get up to this year? Hopefully we’ll have some new photos to share with you soon – weather permitting, of course!

Here’s wishing you all a super weekend… We’ll be back on Tuesday with another new Beastie! Care to guess which Famous Monster will be joining the gang here at Beastie Towers this time around?

The Post-Holidays Post

Explorer Beastie gets his 5 a Day - CrawCrafts Beasties
Hello everybody! After a couple of weeks away (which seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye, by the way), we’re back in Beastie Towers and ready for more woolly monster fun! Our “holidays” actually ended up being pretty action-packed, so I’ll have lots to share with you over the next few posts.

First of all, let’s do the shameless plug… My first craft fair of the Christmas season is coming up this weekend! I’ve been busy assembling an elite squad of Beasties to bring along, and there will be some other new characters joining them at my stall as well. So if you should happen to be in Dublin, we’d love to see you… be sure to drop in and say hi!
Ranelagh Craft Fair Poster - Creative Collective IrelandAnd of course, the Beasties and I couldn’t let Hallowe’en pass without celebrating a little…
Beasties at Hallowe'en - CrawCrafts Beasties
And with spookily apt timing, look who came to join the party…
Gizmo the Gatecrasher - CrawCrafts BeastiesGizmo Strikes a Pose - CrawCrafts Beasties

Hey there, Gizmo! He was happy to strike a pose for the camera, as long as I made him an honorary Beastie for the day.

Later on, Explorer Beastie and I were looking for somewhere interesting to take a few seasonal photos. So Boyfriend suggested we take a trip to Lissonuffy Cemetery – perfect!
Explorer Beastie at the Gate - CrawCrafts Beasties
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Beasties and I spend all our time hanging out in graveyards, but Lissonuffy is really worth a look.
Explorer Beastie in Lissonuffy - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie in the Arched Doorway - CrawCrafts Beasties

It’s small, and you could almost say it’s a close-knit community in its own right. You’ll see the same family names cropping up time and again on the headstones, and some of the grave markers are really, really old. I wonder what this one used to say?
Explorer Beastie Among the Headstones - CrawCrafts Beasties
It’s also incredibly peaceful out here, since the graveyard is surrounded on all sides by farmland.
Explorer Beastie Admires the View from Lissonuffy - CrawCrafts Beasties
There’s also a ruined church in the centre of Lissonuffy, which has some interesting tombs in its walls…
Explorer Beastie Inside the Old Church - CrawCrafts BeastiesInside the Church - CrawCrafts Beasties

…Some of them perfectly suited to this time of year!
Explorer Beastie Finds the Spookiest Headstone - CrawCrafts Beasties
Then there was time for a quick break under the yew tree before we headed home to carve the pumpkin!
Explorer Beastie Under the Yew Tree - CrawCrafts Beasties
Hope you all had a super Hallowe’en! We’ll be back on Friday with news from Pirate Beastie, who set sail from Beastie Towers a couple of weeks ago in search of adventure. See you then!

Goth Beastie Closeup - CrawCrafts Beasties

Weekly Photo Challenge – Creepy

Goth Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties

Oh wow, I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to get on board with the Weekly Photo Challenge for months… So today’s task on Blogging 101 couldn’t have come at a better time! Here’s my first ever entry… My original Goth Beastie, hanging out in a local graveyard. Don’t have nightmares, now!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Creepy.”

Paddy and Plunkett at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Bonny Beastie Scotland!

Paddy and Plunkett in Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Paddy and Plunkett are back!

Or, more correctly, they’ve gone on holiday again and sent me more tales of their adventures to use on the BeastieBlog. This time, they’re exploring the delights of Scotland!

Their journey begins in Glasgow, which is almost a homecoming for them – I’m a quarter Glaswegian myself, so there should be a teeny bit of Scottishness knitted into the genetic material of these otherwise Irish little monsters!

Their first photocall was at the Glasgow Necropolis…
Paddy and Plunkett at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…What is it with Beasties and graveyards at the minute?!
Paddy at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
They also visited the Transport Museum – Paddy has a bit of a thing for classic cars.
Paddy at the Transport Museum, Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
I think he’s going to have to find someone a little taller than him to help with the driving, though. Meanwhile, architecture buff Plunkett had stumbled on this incredible staircase at the Central Hotel, in the railway station!
Plunkett at the Central Hotel, Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Since they were in the station anyway, the two of them decided to hop on a train and head to Aberdeen on the north east coast… And look what they found when they arrived!
Paddy and Plunkett find some local yarnbombing! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
How nice of the locals to knit up a cosy Beastie hotel for them to stay in!
Paddy and Plunkett at the Aberdeen Yarn Bombing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy and Plunkett get cosy at the Yarn Bombing - H Crawford/Crawcrafts Beasties“We think we’ll stay here for a while… Check back with us in a week or so!”

About Paddy and Plunkett
Paddy and Plunkett are a special sub-species of Beastie called “Barróg Beasties”. “Barróg” is the Irish word for “hug”, which neatly sums up how friendly these little monsters are! They’re also special because they’re made from 100% Irish wool, which is spun and dyed in a family-owned mill in Co. Kilkenny.

Super-observant regular readers may also notice that further changes have been afoot on the BeastieBlog – after nearly two years with the same look, I was encouraged by Blogging 101 to consider overhauling my theme. I’d love to know what you think of our makeover… let me know in the comments!

He’s Back!

Explorer Beastie in Glasnevin

Ta-daaaaah! Explorer Beastie is back in Dublin. Well, for the moment, anyway. While I was away sunning myself in the West of Ireland (yes, that CAN happen) over Easter, he took a trip to the northern suburbs of the city to have a look around Glasnevin Cemetery.
Explorer Beastie with Knotwork Headstone

Not everyone’s idea of a good time, perhaps, but Glasnevin Cemetery is actually a fascinating place. For starters, some of the monuments are beautiful – check out the knotwork design on this one!
Explorer Beastie with Graves

There are over 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. That’s more than currently live in the County Dublin region! Among them are significant figures from Ireland’s past – Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Collins, to name a few – as well as many of our most famous writers, artists and musicians. Glasnevin also makes an appearance in James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Explorer Beastie appears to have caught up with Mr Joyce himself in the gift shop…
Explorer Beastie with James Joyce

Meanwhile, I have enjoyed a relaxing week away! I’ve been flexing my farming muscles, babysitting these little sweethearts…

…being inspired by the scenery…
Lake at Dusk

…And most importantly, knitting like a fiend! I have a bunch of new Beastie bodies ready to be decorated – I wonder what they’ll be?

Goth Beastie

Goth Beastie

Meet the first of my new Beasties – Goth Beastie!

Black hair, black dress, black makeup – and just to add a little colour, a bunch of black roses.  I also had a heap of fun putting an appropriate amount of metalwork in her ears… you can just about see the earrings in this closeup!

Goth Beastie Closeup

My local area provided me with the perfect backdrop for these photos – St Kevin’s Park, which was originally the site of St Kevin’s Church.  The church’s graveyard was cleared in the 1960s, and many of the headstones were moved and propped up against the walls.  The ruined shell of the old church still stands in the middle of the park, making it an incredibly sinister place to enjoy an alfresco lunch, but an ideal hangout for Goth Beastie.