Plunkett in the Grotto at Powerescourt - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

To The Manor Born – Beasties at Powerscourt!

Hello there Beastie friends! Well, after a quick new Beastie pit stop last week, we’re back on the road with Paddy and Plunkett. Despite the very obvious appeal of sticking around in that cosy cottage at the Logan Fish Pond, the adventurous pair have moved on… And apparently hopped a couple of rungs up the property ladder at the same time!
Plunkett at Powerscourt - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Greetings from Powerscourt House, everyone!”

Wow! Plunkett looks right at home here, doesn’t he? Has he officially moved in?

“No, just visiting… And enjoying the view!”
The Triton Lake at Powerscourt - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPowerscourt House is in County Wicklow, and it’s only about half an hour south of Dublin. You wouldn’t think it, would you? The house is set in spectacular and varied gardens, and has made Lonely Planet’s list of the Top Ten Houses and Mansions in the world.

And of course, the house has a bit of a tale to tell! It’s been here since Medieval times, and some of the stonework of the 13th century castle still forms part of the structure.

That said, what you see today is mostly the result of an 18th century facelift, commissioned by the 1st Viscount Powerscourt in 1730. The main work was completed in 1741, but the house continued to grow and change over the years. They added a whole extra storey in 1787, and there were more major refurbishments towards the end of the 19th century.

Then, in the 20th century, a fresh round of renovations were completed, in preparation for the house to throw its doors open to the public for the first time. But disaster struck, just as work finished in 1974… A fire started on the top floor, and reduced the house to a roofless shell.

And so it remained for twenty years, until they rebuilt the roof in 1996. Finally, Powerscourt House got its moment in the sun in 1997, when President Mary Robinson officially opened it to the public. It seems to have gone from strength to strength since then – what do you think?
Powerscourt House and the Italian Garden - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesSo, while Plunkett has been enjoying the spectacle of the house, Triton Lake and the Italian Gardens, all set against the backdrop of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, where has Paddy gone? I thought he’d at least be trying to persuade one of those winged horses to take off and give him an aerial view of the grounds… Oh wait, there he is.

Paddy Turns Japanese - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Wait a sec, WHERE is he? It looks like he’s in Japan! I thought these two always travelled together!

Ah, not quite. He’s gone to explore the famous Powerscourt Japanese Garden, which is packed full of pagodas, azaleas, Japanese maples and Chinese fortune palms.

So let’s follow the winding path across the wooden bridge…
The Japanese Garden at Powerscourt - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And wait by the stone lantern for Plunkett to catch up!
Meeting in the Japanese Garden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Japanese Garden was created in 1908 by the 8th Viscount and Viscountess Powerscourt, making it one of the newer features of the grounds. But funnily enough, the boys stumbled on one of the oldest parts just around the corner – the grotto!
Plunkett in the Grotto at Powerescourt - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Paddy, look at all this wonderful moss!”

Yes, Plunkett is a big fan of moss – it’s cool, soft and really brings out his lovely green complexion. Fortunately for him, you can’t go far in Ireland without finding some! And better yet…
Plunkett Finds a Beastie-Sized Waterfall at Powerscourt - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Paddy! It’s a Beastie-sized waterfall! I could stay and watch it all day…”

“No way, Plunkett! There’s still so much to see. Come on!”

Of course, we’ll have to wait until next week to finish up the tour… Be sure to join us then!


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!

Leabhar Beastie Closeup - CrawCrafts Beasties

A Very Beastie Birthday in Portland, Oregon

Hooray! It’s finally Friday! So I thought we’d get the weekend off to a great (and slightly earlier than usual) start by visiting another Beastie abroad. This time, we’re skipping across the pond to Portland, Oregon, where a book-loving Beastie has made a new home for himself with writer and artist Tammie Painter – talk about a match made in heaven! He arrived just in time to join her for her birthday celebrations… Let’s see what they got up to! Oh, and I’d also recommend sticking around on Tammie’s blog to check out her incredibly finely-detailed artwork, or stop into her Etsy shop for some Father’s Day themed gift ideas 🙂

Tammie Painter

As promised many moons ago when I revamped my blog, although I no longer have a regular travel feature, I will occasionally share any travel adventures I do have. Last week was my birthday and to celebrate I decided I’d take a tour of Portland’s Japanese Garden.

While I do love gardens, there were a few ulterior motives behind this choice. First, it was free thanks to the Cultural Pass from my local library; second, it was only a short hop away from where I wanted to have a birthday pint; and third, I was hoping to get a few reference photos for future art projects.

Oh, and last but not least, I had a new friend who had recently moved to Portland from Ireland and wanted to see a few sites in his new home.

Meet Finn McSpool Beastie


Look at that face. how could anyone resist him? Finn…

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Explorer Beastie Heads to the ‘Pool

Explorer Beastie in a Crystal Cave

So, the Pop Up Shop has popped back down again, and as I was unpacking the Beasties who didn’t find their new homes this time around, I was hit by a disturbing thought.

Um, where is Explorer Beastie?

OH HOLY MOLY! Did he sneak into someone’s shopping bag and venture off to parts unknown?

Fortunately, a timely delivery of some holiday photos stopped my rising panic in its tracks. He DID stow away in someone’s luggage, and I will be having words with him about that, but luckily for both of us, said luggage belonged to my parents. So I can rest assured that he will be coming home at some point, and he got to enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Liverpool. And he really got to see all the sights – here he is looking out over the city, with the Liver Building in the background…
Explorer Beastie in Liverpool

…And he followed this up with a trip to see some of Liverpool’s most famous residents!
Explorer Beastie Meets The Beatles

The Beatles theme continued, with a visit to Penny Lane…
Explorer Beastie at Penny Lane

…And then he headed off to the Japanese Garden at the Festival Gardens.
Beastie in the Japanese Garden

It’s lucky he didn’t send me this picture first, or I wouldn’t have known where to find him!

Last I heard, he was planning to see what the surrounding countryside had to offer… so I suppose I’ll be sharing those photos next time around! Stay tuned…