A Road to... Where? CrawCrafts Beasties

Düsseldorf Days – A Walk in the Park!

Hello everybody! It’s veeeery nearly the weekend… And between the scorching weather and the lovely time I’ve just spent picking out pictures to use in this post, it really does feel a lot like I’m still on holiday! Hopefully a little of that will radiate out from your screen as you read… Now, let’s catch up with Explorer Beastie and see what he got up to on our first day in Düsseldorf!
Catching up with Explorer Beastie in Nordpark - CrawCrafts BeastiesAha! He appears to have waded into a Beastie-sized jungle. It’s certainly an adventurous way to kick off the holiday! Maybe we’d better stick to the paths, though?
The Entrance to Nordpark, Düsseldorf - CrawCrafts Beasties

When we visited Düsseldorf last spring we were only there for a few days, so we pretty much stayed in the city centre. This time, we took advantage of a bright sunny morning and hopped on the underground to Nordpark – a park made up of a series of themed gardens. Perfect for an early summer walk!

Everyone we saw stopped for a photo op with the fountains, so of course Explorer Beastie wanted to as well.
Explorer Beastie at the Nordpark Fountains - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd as we ventured in deeper, we found some formal walks to wander along…
Walking in Nordpark, Dusseldorf - CrawCrafts Beasties… And some places where Nature seemed to have gained the upper hand!
Space Left to Nature, Nordpark - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie found some interesting beetles wandering around here… Does anyone know what these are?
Explorer Beastie's Beetles - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd then, around the next corner, we found ourselves on the other side of the world!
The Japanese Lantern - CrawCrafts BeastiesWelcome to the Japanese Garden!

It’s a beautiful place to relax and stroll through – lush and shady, and there are even koi carp in the pond!
The Japanese Garden, Nordpark, Dusseldorf - CrawCrafts BeastiesSomething you may not know about Düsseldorf is that it has one of Europe’s largest Japanese communities – in fact, the third biggest after London and Paris! In the years after the Second World War, a handful of Japanese firms set up in the city so that they could export metal and machinery from Germany’s industrial heartland back to Japan. Word spread, and by the early 1970s, 200 Japanese companies were registered there, and 2000 Japanese people called Düsseldorf home.

The community continued to grow through the 80s, but numbers dipped a little in the early 90s, when Germany’s capital relocated to Berlin and Japan’s economy took a downturn. However, Japanese people began to drift back to Düsseldorf from the late 90s onwards. Why? Because it already had everything they needed to help them feel at home when working in Europe – a support network for new arrivals, a Buddhist centre, a Japanese school and even a weekly Japanese newspaper!

So, to celebrate this special bond, in 1975 the Japanese garden was gifted to the people of Düsseldorf by the “Japanischer Garten in Düsseldorf” Association, a group of Japanese firms and members of the city’s Japanese community.

I’m not sure that those people could ever have imagined that one day, a little woolly monster from Ireland would be climbing in those perfectly-manicured trees…
Tree Climbing, Japanese Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties… Peering over the bridge…
What's Under the Bridge, Explorer Beastie? CrawCrafts Beasties… Or catching some rays beside the stream!
Sunbathing by the Stream, Nordpark, Dusseldorf - CrawCrafts BeastiesFeeling very zen indeed, we took one last look back at the Japanese Garden…
Japanischer Garten, Nordpark, Dusseldorf - CrawCrafts Beasties… And continued our wanderings! I really loved this place, too… A sundrenched meadow where the long grass was full of singing crickets!
The Cricket Meadow - CrawCrafts BeastiesHaving successfully “Beastie-bombed” my tranquil vista, Explorer Beastie tore on ahead to our next destination, at the end of this tree-lined path…
A Road to... Where? CrawCrafts BeastiesWhere are we off to? You’ll have to come back next Friday to find out!

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend – are you enjoying the same heat and sunny climes as we’re getting in Ireland? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join us again on Tuesday to meet another new Beastie friend!

Beasties in a Giant Bird's Nest - CrawCrafts Beasties

My Beloved Monsters – A Revisit

Earlier in the week, I was cruising around the You-Tubes watching Muppets and Sesame Street videos – Boyfriend found a Muppet Christmas special that I’d never seen, and I confess now that I watched ALL of it, despite the complete seasonal impropriety – and I was reminded of this post that I wrote waaaaaaay back at the beginning of my BeastieBlogging life.

Because it was perhaps my fifth post, it didn’t really get much of an audience. And I think that’s a shame, so I want to give it another chance now that all you lovely people have taken to calling around for a read and a chat twice a week. So, grab a cuppa and your sweet treat of choice, and let me introduce you to the monsters that made ME.

1. The Muppets
MuppetsWell, after what I said in the intro, this was to be expected, wasn’t it? And I’d like to widen the net to include all the characters created by Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop – from Fraggle Rock to Mopatop’s Shop. One of my earliest TV-related memories is of watching “The Muppet Show” with my family, and I’ve been a fan ever since. And while Miss Piggy and Kermit always steal the show, it’s the antics of the monsters in the supporting cast which have kept me watching all these years.

2. Stoppit and Tidyup
Stoppit TidyupDoes anyone else remember this? It’s my token obscure hipster choice! Stoppit and Tidyup was a series of short cartoons, which aired the UK in the mid-to-late 80s. Each episode told a story about cheeky red fuzzball Stoppit, his better-behaved friend Tidyup and one of the other bit-part characters who lived with them in the Land of Do-As-You’re-Told. You can meet them all by watching the show’s intro… and yes, that is TV legend Terry Wogan narrating. Regular BeastieBlog readers might pick up on a bit of a Paddy and Plunkett dynamic between Stoppit and Tidyup, too!

3. The wonderful creations of Dr Seuss
green-eggs-hamI adore the illustrations in the Dr Seuss books – try as they might, those film adaptations just don’t do them justice. They’re so simple, but they capture everything perfectly. He’s especially good at showing furriness, and his not-quite-human, not-quite-animal creatures always have incredibly luxuriant fuzzy hands and feet. And those gadgets! Just look at the contraption which Sam-I-Am is using to offer his plate of green eggs and ham – why don’t restaurants have these?! My love of these characters was kick-started when my brother and I got a hand-me-down copy of The Dr Seuss Storybook from our older cousins, and from the first story (“McElligot’s Pool”, featuring pages of fantastic imaginary fish) I was totally hooked.

4. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”
momeraths-2Or, more correctly, the part of the 1951 animated film where Alice finds herself in Tulgey Wood. The multicoloured mome raths in the picture are joined by a forest-full of other nonsense creatures, including some pretty imaginative birds. I just rewatched this recently, and it still makes me smile!

5. The Creatures of Studio Ghibli
TotoroAnd not just the Totoros, either… although they are a great introduction to the universe of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Most of the films feature a charming animal sidekick, a supporting cast of critters drawn from Japanese mythology or (best of all) both. Add in some beautifully-painted backgrounds and stories which manage to be heartwarming without descending into saccharine sweetness, and you’ve got a winner. Want to see more? This article handily introduces some of Ghibli’s best incidental characters.

And for real hardcore fans, there’s a whole MUSEUM dedicated to the world of Ghibli in Tokyo… It was quite literally the first attraction I visited when I went to Japan in 2009! Here is a nice dorky picture of me getting ready to buy a ticket from Totoro himself at the gate.
Totoro and Me - CrawCrafts BeastiesOk, ok, you can stop laughing now. But what about you? Is there anything special from your own childhood that’s had a unexpected influence on your adult life? Be sure to tell me all about it in the comments!

Aaaaand Paddy and Plunkett will be back with part 2 of their Eden Project adventure on Tuesday, so stay tuned! Enjoy the weekend!

PS I claim no ownership of these images (except that last one), and this post belongs to a time when I was blissfully unaware of image crediting etiquette. Any copyright infringement is totally accidental, and if I need to credit you, please let me know!