Springtime Adventure Part 2 - CrawCrafts Beasties

Springtime with Explorer Beastie

Hey there everyone! Wow, you’d barely know you were in Ireland today – it’s so warm and sunny outside! So I thought it might be the perfect day to catch up with the rest of Explorer Beastie’s springtime wanderings, after our slight digression last week.

Oh, and if you missed part one, you’ll find that here. We’ll kick back and relax while you get caught up.
Explorer Beastie Enjoying the Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts BeastiesSpringtime in the Irish countryside is a very colourful time. The fields are full of blue…
Springtime Colours - CrawCrafts Beasties… And white…
Springtime Daisies - CrawCrafts Beasties… And yellow!
Springtime Gorse - CrawCrafts BeastiesThose gorgeous golden gorse flowers are always a treat. Take a good big sniff there, Explorer Beastie – being careful of those spines, of course!
Gorse Perfume - CrawCrafts Beasties“Mmmmm! It smells like… Coconut!”

He’s right, it really does. It makes a stroll in the countryside feel like a holiday in the tropics!

And the plants aren’t the only ones putting on a show in glorious technicolour.

First Ladybird - CrawCrafts Beasties
“Look! It’s the first ladybird of the season!”

There were also plenty of butterflies to admire, but the ladybird was the only colourful critter who stayed put long enough to be photographed… Next time I’ll know to bring along my proper camera! But never mind, there’s still plenty of exploring to do.
In the long grass - Springtime - CrawCrafts BeastiesThrough the long grass and rushes, and up a staircase made of tree roots…
Tree Roots - CrawCrafts Beasties
… To discover traces left behind by other visitors.

What’s this?
Traces of Other Visitors - CrawCrafts Beasties“Someone’s stopped here for dinner recently! It looks like they ordered escargots…”
Springtime Snacks - CrawCrafts BeastiesOh yes! Flat rocks and broken snail shells are a sign that a bird (usually a song thrush) has been enjoying a springtime snack. The birds use the stone as an anvil to break open the shell and extract the snail from within.

Are we having snails for lunch too, then?
“No thanks! I’ll hold out for a sandwich when we get home.”

Fair enough. Oh look, dandelion clocks! Take a deep breath, and…
Dandelion Clock - Springtime - CrawCrafts Beasties… BLOW!
Telling Time, Country Style - CrawCrafts BeastiesSo, what time is it?
The number of seeds still clinging to the stem after you blow supposedly tells you what time it is. That’s why these seed heads are called clocks! One seed left means it’s one o’clock, two seeds, two o’clock… You get the idea.
“Oh, okay… One, two, three – LUNCHTIME!”

Ah, a Beastie after my own heart! Let’s turn our paws for home, then.
Springtime Countryside Adventures - CrawCrafts Beasties


For anybody outside Ireland who couldn’t watch me on the telly last week, the nice people at Ireland AM sent me a video clip of my segment! I’ve popped it on the Beasties’ Facebook page, here, if you’d like to see it!

And we’ll be back next week with another new Beastie for you to meet… See you then!

Explorer Beastie Enjoying the Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts Beasties

Spring in the Irish Countryside

Hello there everyone! How are things where you are? Our county borders reopened here in Ireland last week… And maybe it was this, or possibly I was inspired by Paddy and Plunkett’s “great escape” last week, but I decided it might be a good time to escape to the lovely Irish countryside for a couple of days!

Explorer Beastie came along too, looking very dapper in his new Aran sweater.
Beastie in an Apple Tree - Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts BeastiesUm, can you maybe turn around so we can see?
Beastie Aran Sweater - CrawCrafts BeastiesMuch better! That’ll keep you nice and cosy while we go exploring. Although it looks like we’ve been uncommonly lucky with the weather – you’d hardly know we’re in Ireland at all!

This apple blossom is great, isn’t it?
Apple Blossom - Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts Beasties“Yes, and it smells AMAZING!”
What's Over There? Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts Beasties“Hey, what’s over there?”

Oooh, good idea! Let’s head off over the fields and see what we can find.

It wasn’t long before we came across these very delicate flowers – does anyone know what they are?
Mystery Flowers - Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts Beasties“I’ll stand next to them, for scale!”

Identifying these was easy enough though – hello, primroses!
Primroses - Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s always nice to see their sunny yellow faces peeking out of shaded, Beastie-sized hollows in the hedgerows.

And even though we were there last week, it looks like we only just caught the end of the May blossom! The Irish countryside is white with flowers at this time of year, thanks to the many hawthorn and blackthorn trees that make up our hedges. This is a blackthorn tree, I believe…
Beastie Blackthorn Blossom - CrawCrafts Beasties

Ahhhh! I think we might just hang out here for a while, and watch the clouds drift by…

Big Skies - Irish Countryside - CrawCrafts Beasties

… And listen to the birds singing in the background. Make sure you have the sound on when you watch the video, so you can hear them too!

See you next time!


Makeshift Gate - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties

Countryside Christmas

Hello there Beastie friends! I hope you’re all staying safe and keeping well in these strange times. I thought I’d do something a little different today, and share a behind-the-scenes story… My Christmas in the countryside!

I usually head north of the border to spend the festive season with my family in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, Coronavirus laughed in the face of my holiday plans. But luckily, Boyfriend’s family stepped in and “adopted” me for a couple of days, and Christmas Eve saw us both scooting westwards on the train to the peace and quiet of County Roscommon.

It was so nice to leave the city behind for a couple of days, and I made sure to head out for a walk every day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside! Care to join me?

Now, we are in Ireland here, so it rained A LOT. Can you tell?
Rainy Ireland - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd while some shadowy thickets retained a feeling of chilly mystery when the clouds parted…
Thicket - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties… In some places the winter sun broke through the trees and made the empty fields glow.
Willows - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties

Gotta love those quiet roads and wide open skies.Countryside Christmas Wander - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd there are wonders right at your feet in the undergrowth, too.
Earthstars - CrawCrafts BeastiesThese alien-looking marvels are fungi called earthstars. They pop up in the same place every year, so I always make sure to check in on them when I’m in the neighbourhood.

Then as the sun slipped below the horizon, I headed for home… Just as the moon started to rise over the fields.
The Moon & the Fields - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut where was Explorer Beastie while all this was going on? Ummm…
Sleepy Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, I suppose the holidays are a time to rest up and recharge your batteries.

So, did the pandemic throw a spanner in the works of your usual end-of-year activities? And did you end up doing something different but equally fun? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!

Sloes Featured - Foraging - CrawCrafts Beasties

A Beastie Foraging Feast!

Hello there Beastie friends! How was your weekend? Ours turned out to be surprisingly fruitful, when we went for a late autumn walk in the Irish countryside! Join us as we head out foraging in nature’s larder… Well, if Explorer Beastie can be coaxed out of the flower beds.
Autumn Flowers - CrawCrafts Beasties

A Sloe Day for Foraging

We honestly weren’t expecting great results from our wanderings… Although it’s been a super year for blackberries, birds and other free food enthusiasts had long since stripped the best pickings from the hedgerows. And our other quarry, the humble sloe, didn’t seem to enjoy the unusually warm weather this summer as much as the rest of us did. All our usual picking spots were turning up bare!

But fortunately, Explorer Beastie stopped to check out this cushiony bit of moss growing among the spines of a blackthorn…
Moss in the Hedge - CrawCrafts Beasties… And turned up some sloes clinging to the branches of its neighbour!
Foraging for Sloes! CrawCrafts BeastiesFor those of you who are unfamiliar with sloes, they’re the fruit of the blackthorn tree. And although they’re related to plums and damsons, and look mighty like blueberries, you reeeeealllllly don’t want to just eat them. They’re unbelievably bitter, and biting into one will leave your mouth feeling like you’ve been wandering in the Sahara for a week! No, we have other plans for these… More on that later.

Continuing with our walk, we decided to check in on some four-legged friends further along the road.
Friends in the field - CrawCrafts BeastiesThis little lady calf was especially keen to come over and say hello. But wait a sec, what’s she spotted over there?
Curious Calf, Foraging Helper! CrawCrafts Beasties– GASP! –

It’s a monster mushroom!
Monster Mushroom ahoy! CrawCrafts BeastiesWhat a beauty! And we were so sure that mushroom season was over!

“Look! It’s nearly the same size as me!”
Monster with Monster Mushroom - CrawCrafts BeastiesYum! But what should we do with it?

Back in my own Unphotogenic Kitchen…

Cutting Mushrooms - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie supervised while I chopped the prized fungus into wedges, and we made up the numbers with a couple of large brown mushrooms from the greengrocer.

Then, with a little monster magic (and an onion, some ready-made puff pastry, crème fraîche, gruyere cheese and a smidge of bacon)… TA DAAAAH!
Dinner - A Foraging Feast! CrawCrafts BeastiesMushroom tart à la Beastie! It was really rather good, even if it didn’t photograph particularly well. I don’t think the food bloggers out there have to worry about this turning into a cookery blog anytime soon!

And as for those Sloes…

Those other fruits of our foraging trip are destined to become sloe gin!

These bitter little berries undergo a marvellous transformation when they’re soaked in gin, sweetened with sugar and left alone for 3 months. (But then again, who wouldn’t respond favourably to such treatment? Ha!)

The end result is a fruity, bright pink liqueur which is delicious by itself, or topped up with sparkling water and some ice. I’ve been making a batch every autumn for the last few years, and I’ve amassed quite a collection. Feast your eyes on the wondrous Gin Gallery!
Gin Gallery - Foraging - CrawCrafts BeastiesAs you can see, every batch gets a pun-tastic name. Previous (long since departed) incarnations include Sloe Learner and Sloe Train to Oblivion, and that Vintage Reserve on the left is now a whopping 5 years old! Apparently the brew improves with age, so I’m going to see how long I can keep it.

But this year, a name is yet to suggest itself. Oh no! But I know there are a few of you out there who share my appreciation of a good/bad pun, so I’m opening the naming question to the floor. Leave your choicest boozy puns in the comments, and my favourite will grace the bottles of the 2018 batch!

Have any of you enjoyed foraging success this autumn? Share your food-for-free stories with us below. And also, pleeeeeeeease be super-careful when foraging for yourselves, especially where mushrooms are concerned!

Good hunting!

Among Fading Colours - CrawCrafts Beasties

Explorer Beastie’s Wintry Ramble!

So, the clocks have gone back and the evenings are starting noticeably earlier every day. And, after a slightly rainy start to the autumn here in Ireland, the sun finally showed his face – fortunately at a time when Explorer Beastie and I were away in the countryside for a couple of days!
Late Autumn Colours With Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesThe bright sunshine made for some great photos… although the slight nip in the air was a reminder that winter is very much on the way! Care to join us on our stroll?

Oh, but we’ll just have to wait while Explorer Beastie climbs a couple of trees first…
Climbing Trees - CrawCrafts BeastiesAmazingly, there are still some flowers out brightening up the garden at this time of the year…
Explorer Beastie with the Nasturtiums - CrawCrafts Beasties…Even if everywhere else is starting to look a little less colourful.
Among Fading Colours - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut when the leaves fall, they sometimes reveal hidden treasure among the branches – like this cosy, mossy bird’s nest!
Finding a Bird's Nest - CrawCrafts BeastiesYou need to be careful where you perch though… I think you’ve picked up some extra accessories on your hat there, Explorer Beastie!
The Natural Look - CrawCrafts BeastiesFurther down the lane, we found some natural treats – sloes, blackberries and rosehips!
The Natural Look - CrawCrafts BeastiesIn fact, the whole hedgerow had become one beautiful natural tapestry, dancing in the sunlight.
Leaf Tapestry - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut despite the bright sunshine, it was starting to get a little chilly out here! So after a quick pitstop in a sheltered spot…
Sandwich Break! CrawCrafts Beasties…It was time to head for home!

How is winter arriving where you are? Or are you somewhere that’s already looking forward to long, lazy summer days? Let us know in the comments!

We’ll be back on Tuesday, when I’m hoping to have a preview of next year’s Beastie Calendar to share with you all! 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!

Head West

Down at the Lake - CrawCrafts Beasties

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Happy Place.”

Anyone who checks in with the BeastieBlog regularly will know that my favourite place to spend some downtime is at Boyfriend’s family farm, in County Roscommon. Roscommon is one of the semi-forgotten counties in the centre-west of Ireland, which makes it a great place to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet away from the hubbub of central Dublin. And the changing seasons mean that there’s always something new to enjoy, from springtime blossom in the fields…
Roscommon Fields in Spring - CrawCrafts Beasties
… To new arrivals in the cattle shed!
Cosy Calves - CrawCrafts Beasties
Autumn here isn’t bad either! The hedgerows are loaded with free snacks…
There is such a thing as a free lunch! CrawCrafts Beasties
… And a misty morning walk can make you feel like you’ve entered some forgotten magical country.
Misty Mornings in Roscommon - CrawCrafts Beasties
Explorer Beastie likes it here too, of course…
Explorer Beastie in Roscommon - CrawCrafts Beasties
… But his favourite place to recharge his Beastie batteries is beside the fire at my parents’ house. Cosy!
Explorer Beastie Takes a Weight Off - CrawCrafts Beasties

Summer Colour Inspiration!

The Colours of Summer in Ireland - CrawCrafts Beasties
Summer in Ireland is a fleeting thing! Our unpredictable four-seasons-in-one-day climate means that a balmy evening can turn chilly in a heartbeat, and a day that starts out grey and drizzly can transform into a real scorcher by lunchtime. That’s why the very second we see a blink of sunshine here, we drop everything and rush outside to enjoy it… because in five minutes it could be pouring again!

So I’m sure you can understand why I was delighted to get a sunny morning while I was away in the west of Ireland with Explorer Beastie last week. And I brought my camera along to capture all the colours of the Irish countryside, which have inspired the colour palette for my latest round of Barróg Beasties. In case you’re new to the BeastieBlog, Barróg Beasties are a subspecies of Beastie native to Ireland. They’re made from Irish wool, and sport particularly Irish accessories! They get their name from the Irish word “Barróg”, which means “hug”.

These are the colours I chose:
Summer Barróg Beastie Yarn Colours - CrawCrafts Beasties
I picked blue and white to represent our summer skies – there’s usually a cloud or two up there somewhere!
Irish Summer Skies, by CrawCrafts Beasties
And these colours match a couple of the plants you see at this time of the year too! On my wanderings, I found tiny blue forget-me-nots and a few tufts of bog cotton that had survived the recent downpours.
Forget-me-nots - CrawCrafts BeastiesBog Cotton, by CrawCrafts BeastiesOf course, including green was a bit of a no-brainer.
50 Shades of... GREEN! CrawCrafts Beasties
And as for that rich bronze-brown… That’s what the bog looks like in summer! You can see it a bit in this picture – unfortunately the bog is incredibly tricky to capture in photos!
Summer Bog Colours - CrawCrafts Beasties
And finally, I chose purple because it’s just about everywhere right now – tangled through the hedgerows, creeping along the ground and peeking out from among the tall grasses!
Purple, purple... Everywhere! CrawCrafts Beasties
More Natural Purples - CrawCrafts Beasties
And after all that (plus a bit of knitting), some Beasties appeared!
Summer Barróg Beasties, by CrawCrafts Beasties
I’ll be giving each of them a unique Irish-inspired accessory today… I wonder what they’ll be?

PS WordPress tells me that this is my 100th post! Thanks to all my readers, especially those of you who have been here from the very beginning!

Summer in the Countryside

Explorer Beastie Goes For A Walk! CrawCrafts Beasties

It’s been a while since we last caught up with Explorer Beastie… with so many of his Beastie brothers and sisters sending reports of their travels to us, he hasn’t really got a look-in! So a trip out west to my boyfriend’s family farm was a perfect opportunity for him to take a wander, and for me to take some long-overdue photos.

First up – check in with the cows!
Explorer Beastie on the Fence! CrawCrafts BeastiesCows in Roscommon - CrawCrafts BeastiesThen a quick stop to smell the flowers…Explorer Beastie Stops to Smell the Flowers - CrawCrafts Beasties…And then off up the road!
On The Road With Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
I think this is the first chance I’ve had to share photos of the farm in high summer, and even I was surprised at how green everything was! Look at this… no filters, no fiddling, just nature doing its thing.
Explorer Beastie in the Greenery - CrawCrafts Beasties
Next, we decided to head up onto the bog. The path was a bit overgrown… but that’s no problem for an adventurous little Beastie!
Explorer Beastie in the Long Grass - CrawCrafts Beasties
Even in summertime, the bog is noticeably less lush than the surrounding meadows – definitely easier terrain for those with slightly shorter legs!
Explorer Beastie with the Bog Plants - CrawCrafts Beasties
It’s also the perfect place to stop for a snooze in the sun! Explorer Beastie found himself a comfy place to rest for a minute in a patch of springy heather. I bet he’s glad he packed his sunscreen!
Explorer Beastie Relaxes in the Heather - CrawCrafts Beasties
After a refreshing nap, there was more exploring to be done!
Explorer Beastie Makes a Botanical Discovery - CrawCrafts Beasties
But eventually Explorer Beastie decided he’d had enough of my paparazzi-ing, and made a break for it in the long grass!
Explorer Beastie Escapes the Paparazzi - CrawCrafts Beasties
Don’t worry, he made it home in time for dinner!

More Beastie adventures next week, wishing you all a monster weekend!