Paddy's Pool - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy, Plunkett and the Fish Pond

Wait a second… FISH POND? I thought the boys were off to Senegal!

Apparently not. They were all set to go, but as they headed down the coast, they were won over to the idea of a quiet day at the seaside. Then…
Mysterious Building by the Sea - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hey, what’s that weird-looking building in among the rocks?”

Once again, the Beasties’ curious natures get the better of them and they have to at least go a little closer! Fortunately, the next thing they stumble upon is this sign, which tells them everything they need to know.
A Famous Fish Pond! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesSold! As we know, the boys can’t resist an aquarium… And how often do you get to visit a famous fish pond?

Especially if it also looks like a castle…
Portlogan's Fish Pond - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLet’s go inside!

Portlogan's Fish Pond - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAha! Nice one, Plunkett… You’ve found the fish pond!

This pool started as a natural inlet from the sea, but it was enlarged by the local laird (landowner) between 1788-1800, with the help of a few French prisoners of war. Look, the date of completion is right here on the rocks!
Fish Pond Rocks - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWhat did he want a pool for? Well, in the dark days before the fridge-freezer, a “fish larder” like this one meant that the family could keep sea fish handy and fresh all year round!

These days, it’s enjoying a new role as a marine life centre. Paddy can’t wait to make more fishy friends! But wait, what lies at the end of this rather spooky tunnel?
Tunnel at the Fish Pond - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Smugglers! It has to be smugglers!”
“Not quite, Paddy. It’s a nursery!”
Fish Nursery - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIn here, fish are raised from teeny fry to adult size… Then they can move to the main pool.

Back outside, it’s time to get up close and personal with the grownups!
Fish Pond Friends - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWow, they’re friendly! They must love the camera… Or could it be that they know when John the guide is coming around with his bucket of fish food?

After the fish have had their lunch, the boys explore a little further afield. Just around the corner, Paddy sees this.
Paddy's Dream Home - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIs it the perfect Beastie-sized house? Not quite.

“Plunkett, look! It’s the old bathing hut!”
“What’s that?”
“It’s where people used to change before going in for a swim!”
Plunkett takes a moment to read the signpost.
“Um, Paddy? It says this was for women only, so maybe we should…”

Too late!
Paddy's Pool - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLuckily, the days of segregated sea bathing here are long gone, and Paddy can enjoy a view of the shallow pool without outraging anyone’s delicate sensibilities. He almost looks like he’d like to go for a dip himself!
Paddy at the Port Logan Bathing Hut - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLook! There’s even a fireplace inside, so getting dried off afterwards wouldn’t be a problem!
Port Logan Bathing Hut - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett likes it too, despite his initial reservations.
Paddy and Plunkett Move In - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Maybe we should stay here for the winter. I reckon they’d like a pair of resident Beasties!”

What’s this? Are the intrepid twosome considering a retirement from the adventuring life? You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out, because there’s a new Beastie waiting in the wings to meet you next Tuesday!

See you then!

Paddy at the Lighthouse - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

To The Lighthouse!

Hello there Beastie people! After last week’s visit with a new Beastie, we’re back on the road with Paddy and Plunkett… And it’s certainly nice and sunny wherever they are today!
Paddy and Plunkett Enjoy the Sunshine - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt seems the locals are pleasant, too. We all know about how well Beasties and cats get on, and the boys can really get on board with any place that puts up a sign like this.
Cat Crossing at the Lighthouse - CrawCrafts BeastiesThen, on the horizon… Look, a lighthouse!

The Lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
The boys have never been in a lighthouse before. And now we know where they are – they’re back in Scotland, at the Mull of Galloway! This is Scotland’s most southerly point, and between the lighthouse and the nearby nature reserve, there’s plenty of cool stuff to see. Better still…
Lighthouse Entrance - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Look, Paddy! It’s open!”

“YESSSSSS! I can’t wait to see the view from up there…”
Paddy at the Lighthouse - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut alas, Paddy will have to stick to admiring the lighthouse from ground level. The Beasties’ small stature has once again been their undoing, and there’s a minimum height requirement. And they won’t even be able to stow away in a handy human pocket or backpack, either.

” ‘Little ones may not be carried’. Sounds like the humans might be on to us, Paddy… Paddy?”

He’s already gone! Never one to dwell, Paddy has switched his attentions to something new. Namely, how to get down to this foghorn. It’s been out of service since 1987, but it was restored to full working order last year… And is occasionally sounded for lucky visitors.
Foghorn - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy is planning to take it a step further. He’s pretty sure everyone wants to hear his rendition of “Ode to Joy” blasted out over the sea at 120 decibels.

Fortunately, Plunkett has the perfect distraction to get Paddy away from the foghorn, and preserve the peace of this otherwise tranquil nature reserve…
Where to Next, Paddy and Plunkett? H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHow could any adventurous Beastie resist a signpost like this one? So many possibilities!

“Which way to Dublin, Paddy?”
“It doesn’t say… How about we head to Senegal instead?”

Do you reckon the boys will hitch a lift with a friendly gannet and send their next holiday photos from Dakar? You’ll have to join us next week to find out!

On The Trains

Hello there everyone! Well, after a hiccup-y couple of weeks, we’re back on our regular timetable. And how apt, because Paddy and Plunkett have been out and about on the trains again! They’re really getting around this summer, aren’t they?

Now, let’s check in and see where they’re off to today!

Oooh, nice view from here…
Leaving Fortwilliam - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis beautiful beach with its tempting turquoise waters greeted the boys as they set out from Fort William. Paddy was all for stopping for a quick paddle, until Plunkett reminded him how very un-tropical that water was likely to be. Fortunately, there was something else to catch his attention a little further along the line…

Paddy and the Harry Potter Viaduct - On the Trains - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Plunkett! LOOK!”

Famous Trains - Paddy and Plunkett - CrawCrafts Beasties
Image on the right sneakily borrowed from

“It’s the bridge from the Harry Potter films… We’re going to HOGWARTS!”

From his extensive reading of the guidebook, Plunkett knows this place is Glenfinnan Viaduct. He also knows that by letting Paddy think that he’s going to be joining Harry Potter Beastie and Hermione Beastie at Hogwarts this term…
Harry Potter and Hermione Beasties by CrawCrafts Beasties… He will be able to admire its 21 soaring arches in relative peace.

And Plunkett was able to keep Paddy practicing his spellcraft all the way to the end of their journey, at Mallaig Harbour. Entranced by the boats and the fresh sea air, Paddy forgot all about his wizarding ambitions!
At Mallaig Harbour - Paddy and Plunkett Trains - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe port at Mallaig is the gateway to the Western Isles, and although Paddy would happily have traded in his rail ticket for the chance to be captain of a pirate ship, Plunkett gently reminded him that this post is supposed to be about trains. Speaking of which… We’ve another one to catch! Don’t be late!

“GASP! Plunkett, is this our train? It looks just like the Hogwarts Express!”
Paddy Finds the Hogwarts Express - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett reckoned that it was close enough – this still-active steam train is the Jacobite, and it’s a dead ringer for Paddy’s beloved Hogwarts Express. Better still, it runs an almost daily service from late April to early October. All aboard!

And while Paddy kept an eye out for marauding Dementors and supporters of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, Plunkett settled back to enjoy the wild beauty of Rannoch Moor.
Rannoch Moor - Scotland Trains - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesA few trains later, the boys were back in Glasgow… And because travelling Beasties know how to have a good time, they invited themselves into an empty penthouse suite in a nearby hotel for a little R&R.

“Paddy, come and look at the view!”
Plunkett Admires the View - Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Can’t talk! Eating!”
Paddy Snacks - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Finally, several sandwiches later…
Paddy and Plunkett in Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Not bad at all! Hey Plunkett, where are we off to next?”

“I don’t know… Pass me that train timetable, and we’ll see!”

We’ll catch up with the boys again in a couple of weeks… I’ve some new Beasties to share with you all first, so be sure to join us again next Tuesday to meet them! See you then!


Paddy and Plunkett Take Fort William!

Hello there Beastie friends! It’s a bit of a rainy old day in Dublin today – ah, the Irish summer! So I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely be up for seeing where Paddy and Plunkett’s wandering paws have taken them. You may remember we left them here last week
Paddy and Plunkett in Fortwilliam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, I can now reveal that this place with the lovely view is Fort William, in the Scottish Highlands!

Fort William did actually start life as a fort – the earliest recorded settlement here was a wooden fort, dating back to the mid-1600s. It’s seen a fair amount of military activity since then, most notably during the Jacobite uprising in 1746. Back then, forces supporting the reinstatement of James Stuart to the British throne laid siege to the town for two weeks! These days, it’s much more peaceful. In fact, the original fort was much bigger than what remains there today!
The Peaceful Heart of Fort William - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

What brings many people to Fort William now is its proximity to the Highlands. Look, Paddy has spotted Ben Nevis!
Paddy Admires Ben Nevis - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt may be shrouded in mist, but it’s pretty difficult to hide completely. It’s Scotland’s highest mountain, after all!

Closer at hand, the boys explored the fort a little further…
Sally Port at Fort William - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“This is the sally port, Paddy! They used it to bring in supplies by boat back in the day. Look at that stonework…”

Paddy found this very impressive… Until he learned that the sally port has been out of action for many years, and no-one was going to row past with a sandwich for his lunch.

No, his mind quickly turned to other things… Like climbing mountains! The West Highland Way walking trail starts (or ends, depending which direction you go) in Fort William, and stretches 96 miles across some of Scotland’s most beautiful and rugged countryside. But the first section, in the town, is deceptively easy going…
Walking the West Highland Way - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPerfect for little short Beastie legs! And luckily for the boys, just as their paws began to get tired, they happened upon a friendly local who offered them a lift home.
Hitching a Ride Home - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

This bronzed fellow in his Model T Ford is here to commemorate a publicity stunt that took place here more than 100 years ago. Mr Henry Alexander, the local Ford dealer, had the bright idea of asking his son to drive one of their Model Ts to the top of Ben Nevis. He wanted to demonstrate to the buying public that these cars were as good (or even better than) their hand-built British counterparts. The trip there – and more importantly, back down again – was tricky, but a success. There’s even some recently-rediscovered film footage of the descent! You can see it and find out more about the statue here.

Of course, Paddy was eager to take the wheel and recreate the journey himself… But since Mr Henry Alexander Jr was literally welded into the driving seat, he had to settle for riding shotgun!
Leaving Fort William - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWe’ll rejoin the boys in a couple of weeks. Next week… A new Beastie friend for you all to meet. And this one has SO MANY ACCESSORIES!

See you then!

Paddy and Plunkett in Fortwilliam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Scotland Bound with Paddy and Plunkett!

Hello there Beastie friends! As promised, Paddy and Plunkett have hit the open road again, in search of Beastie-sized adventure! Although, since they’re on their way to Scotland, their journey really begins on a stretch of open water…
Beasties Take the Boat - CrawCrafts BeastiesHmmm… There is a lot of water around. It’s coming down from the sky too, by the looks of things. Hopefully it won’t rain for their entire trip!

Fortunately, the lads outran the clouds, and left them behind on the other side of the Irish Sea. They were glad to hop on a bus without getting their paws wet…
Beasties on the Bus - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties … And were soon speeding along the road to their next port of call – Glasgow!

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and was considered by many to be the “second city” of the British Empire during its heyday in the Victorian era. Although the city was hit hard by the decline of the heavy industries (especially shipbuilding) upon which its fortunes were built, it has bounced back in recent years. It’s earned a reputation as a centre of culture and style, while its industrial past makes it an interesting place to visit – for both humans and Beasties!

This was only supposed to be a brief stopover, but that didn’t stop the lads from getting to know some of the locals.
Pigeon Welcoming Party - Scotland - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey might have hung out in the square a little longer than planned… Quick, get to the train station!
Plunkett Boards the Train - Scotland - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe boys got a few funny looks as they navigated the turnstile – honestly, you’d think people had never seen a Beastie before. But luckily they got to their seats just in time.
Paddy and Plunkett take the Train - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, I say seats – they find they get a much better view when they stand on the table.

“Where are we actually going, Plunkett?”

Wait a sec – did you not check where the train was heading before you boarded?!

Apparently not. But the Beasties’ haphazard approach to holidaying usually works out just fine.
Paddy and Plunkett in Fortwilliam - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“This is the life, Plunkett!”

“Yes, Paddy – not bad at all, is it?”

I’ll reveal where the terrible twosome landed in the next post… But if you think you already know, be sure to share your guesses in the comments!

See you next week!

Paddy and Plunkett, Rulers of the Multiverse!

With all the talk Stateside about the total solar eclipse yesterday, Paddy and Plunkett just had to get a slice of the astronomical action for themselves! So they very kindly sent me on some pictures of themselves gadding around in this incredible and unearthly place – welcome to the Crawick Multiverse!
Crawick Mulitverse, Scotland - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
This unique attraction is really a large-scale art installation. Work here started in 2012, and the park opened in 2015. But the best part is that this project has given new life to an area that had been made unfarmable (and also just plain ugly) by years of open-cast coal mining. You wouldn’t think that to look at it now, would you?
The Spiral Galaxy Hills - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe hills are probably the most striking feature in the park, and I’m sure they can be seen for miles around! These 20 metre tall earth mounds represent the spiral galaxies of Andromeda and our own galactic home, the Milky Way. Did you know that while most of the other 100 billion-odd galaxies in the universe are moving away from us, Andromeda is actually heading right in our direction? The two galaxies are expected to meet in 4 billion years’ time, and this is an interpretation of what will happen next – they’ll whirl around together, stripping lines of stars and planets from each other in a sort of crazy spinning dance. I’m pretty glad I won’t be around to see THAT!

Of course, the boys were just dying to get in to have a closer look at everything… And despite the huge scale of the place, a few helpful “lifts” from passers by (whether they knew it or not) allowed them to mostly hop from place to place in style! First port of call – the Multiverse installation! Well, almost…
The Multiverse on the Hill -  Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
“Come on, Plunkett! We’re nearly there! It’s just up here on the hill behind me!”
The “Multiverse” is made of blocks of back and white layered mudstone, arranged in a corkscrew shape (which might be tricky to make out from this angle). It represents all the possible universes, and features carvings showing their different fates.

Well, apparently it does. Unfortunately, Plunkett ran out of puff halfway up the hill, and Paddy got distracted by the idea of the Omphalos, down at the bottom of the slope.
Approaching the Omphalos - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Paddy, are you sure about this? Omphalos stones mark the mythical ‘navel of the world’… Who knows WHAT’S potentially lurking in there?”
“Only one way to find out, Plunkett!”
Exploring the Omphalos - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Uh-oh! It’s Plunkett’s turn to get distracted! He’s found some thought-provoking poetry to look at…
Poetry Rocks! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…And check this out – a whole galaxy trapped in a rock!
Teeny Galaxy - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Fortunately, it didn’t take Paddy too long to figure out that he was small enough to squeeze back out through those bars, so the boys were able to meet up again and stroll down the impressive North-South Line, which neatly divides the Multiverse site down the middle.
Walking the North-South Line - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
As well as making this walkway extra striking, the boulders lining the path protect walkers from the elements, and (most importantly) provide a playground for mischievous Beasties!
Bouldering with Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Plunkett, I think there’s one more place we need to go…”
One More Hill at the Multiverse - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“ANOTHER hill?”
“Don’t worry, it’ll TOTALLY be worth it!”
Nearly There, Plunkett! H Crawford?Crawrafts Beasties
“Come on Plunkett, you can do it!”
The View from Andromeda - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Not bad, Paddy. Not bad at all!
“Yup. And check it out – this is how the Milky Way looks from Andromeda! You don’t see that every day!”

This pair of monster space cadets will be back in a couple of weeks – unless they decide to spend a little more time exploring the Multiverse!

And what about you? How’s your week been? Did any of you get to see the eclipse? Let us know in the comments!

Paddy and Plunkett's Gift From Scotland - CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett Come Home…

Paddy and Plunkett's Gift From Scotland - CrawCrafts Beasties
… And look, they brought me back a present!

As some of you already know, I am a little bit Scottish – the “Craw” in “CrawCrafts” is taken from my family name, Crawford, a legacy from my Glaswegian grandfather. UK residents will probably also associate the name with a popular brand of Scottish shortbread… although unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a family connection there!

Anyway, it turns out that the Crawfords have their own family tartan… and the boys were able to scavenge me a piece! I’m already plotting ways to use it – and I love the fact that it’s red and green, two of my favourite colours!

However, these restless Beasties barely had time to hand over their gift before they hit the road again…
Paddy and Plunkett take the train - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Or rather, the rails. Here they are taking the train north, to get a sneak preview of a rather special new vistor attraction in Northern Ireland. They’ve promised to share the full story next week, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at where they’re off to…
Paddy and Plunkett's Mystery Destination! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Does anyone know where they’ve gone?

Paddy at the Kelpies - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Wild Horses, Country Residences and Little Woolly Monsters!

Paddy at the Kelpies - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
After an enjoyable trip to the Orkneys, Paddy and Plunkett have finally decided to head back to the Scottish mainland! The next stop on their journey was to visit the giant Kelpies sculptures in The Helix parkland, just outside the town of Falkirk in central Scotland.

These two massive horses stand guard over the eastern entrance to the newly extended Forth and Clyde canal, and they’re fast becoming one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks! Kelpies are mythological water creatures that feature heavily in Scottish folklore – pretty much every major stretch of water in the country has a resident kelpie. They usually take the form of a large and powerful horse, and their rather spooky modus operandi is to tempt humans to hop aboard, before plunging back underwater and having them for dinner! However, though the Kelpies statues may take their name from these otherworldly aquatic beasts, they are intended to represent the hardworking horses who pulled the barges along the canals back in the day… a fitting tribute, I think! The boys had lots of fun posing with the sculptures, despite the photography challenges posed by the breezy weather…

They also watched a barge full of visitors passing through the lock gate on the canal!
Plunkett at the lock gate - H Crawford/Crawcrafts BeastiesPlunkett, still watching the lock gate - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

They resisted the urge to join them though… They had an appointment with royalty!
Plunkett at Dumfries House - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
This rather lovely place is Dumfries House. Back in the mid 2000s, its future was looking a little uncertain… the house was due to be sold, and its original Chippendale furniture (including some custom-made pieces) auctioned off. At the eleventh hour, the house, the estate in which it stands and its entire contents were purchased by a consortium headed up by Prince Charles, so that it could be preserved intact, and used to bring revenue to the surrounding area.

The house was opened to visitors in 2008, and since then other parts of the estate have been repurposed and put to use as well, providing education, employment and income to keep the project running. And there really is a lot going on there… for starters, you can stay on the estate! Paddy and Plunkett snuck into this beautiful, cosy room in the old stable block, now converted into a pretty spiffy guesthouse…
Paddy and Plunkett in the guesthouse at Dumfries House - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…And then took a tour of the Walled Garden, to check out the conservatory and herb garden!
Dumfries House Walled Garden - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Although the boys were also tempted by a tour of the house or a visit to the Arboretum, they realised that the date on their ferry ticket was…

Uh-oh… RUN!!
Paddy and Plunkett make it to the ferry - JUST! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Phew! Made it, with seconds to spare!

Have a safe trip home, boys!

More From Orkney!

Paddy and Plunkett are still in the Orkneys! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed by the amount of interesting things Paddy and Plunkett have found to see and do on Orkney! For some relatively small islands, there’s a lot going on!

After their visit to Skara Brae, they decided to pop down the road to visit Skaill House, which is the “big house” of the Breckness estate, where Skara Brae is located. In fact, it was the 7th laird of the estate who first started excavations at Skara Brae back in 1850. According to this article I found, he used the house’s dining room table to display his finds from the site! Skaill House has been open to visitors since 1997, and it is just full of treasures, including this rather fearsome tigerskin rug…
Plunkett at Skaill House - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Hey Plunkett, watch out for those teeth!

The boys also got to see the actual dinner service from Captain Cook’s ship! These well-travelled plates made it back from the famous explorer’s ill-fated final trip to Hawaii, and ended up here because Orkney was the ships’ first port of call in Britain on their return journey.
Paddy and Plunkett admire Captain Cook's crockery - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Am I the only one who’s having a hard time imagining intrepid explorers and salty sea dogs eating their dinner from one of these pretty floral plates? It certainly looks like the Beasties are bemused by them too!

After a spot of lunch, the lads thought they’d check out the Ring of Brodgar, which is part of the same UNESCO World Heritage site as Skara Brae.
Paddy and Plunkett at the Ring of Brodgar - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
This stone circle (officially described as a “Neolithic henge and stone circle) is the third largest in the British Isles, and the most northerly. It’s quite a mysterious place – its age is still uncertain, and although an archaelogical excavation took place in the summer of 2008, many questions about the site, such who built it and why, remain unanswered.

Unfazed by unsolved historical riddles, Paddy and Plunkett were at least able to establish a purpose for one of the stones now – as a handy viewing platform!

Then they rounded off their day with a visit to the working blacksmith’s workshop in St Margaret’s Hope…
Paddy and Plunkett visit the blacksmith - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
… And a wee dram*!
Paddy and Plunkett treat themselves to some liquid refreshment - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Uh-oh… Too much, perhaps?
Paddy and Plunkett overindulge on the local brew - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Let’s hope this doesn’t spoil their holiday! I wouldn’t like to be in their woolly little shoes tomorrow morning…

* “A wee dram” = “A spot of light liquid refreshment”

Plunkett Investigates Skara Brae - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

This Is What Happens…

Paddy and Plunkett get their hiking boots on - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…When you let a pair of adventurous Beasties out into the world, and then forget to check up on them regularly. With so much else going on last week, Paddy and Plunkett’s ongoing Scottish adventures kiiiinda slipped through the net… Sorry lads!

To try and get my attention, they decided to abandon the Scottish mainland and visit the Orkney Islands – an archipelago of around 70 islands that lie 10 or so miles north of the northernmost point of Great Britain. Having put their hiking boots on (with debatable success), it was time to head out and explore!

Their adventure started in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkneys! It’s a town and port on the largest of the islands, and about 9000 people live there. It’s also got history – the first mention of it was in the Orkneyinga saga, a part-fiction, part historical account of the lives and times of the earls of Orkney, written by an unknown Icelandic author in around 1230. According to the saga, Kirkwall (or “Kirkjuvagr”, as it was then) existed as far back as 1046… That means that in a few years’ time, the people of Kirkwall can legitimately celebrate the 1000th birthday of their home town!

However, Paddy was apparently more interested in checking out this creepy grinning skull on one of the tombstones in St Magnus Cathedral!
Paddy at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Mind you, it looks like Plunkett was too afraid to even venture inside! Oh no, wait… he’s just getting himself some lunch.
Plunkett treats himself to some lunch - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Probably a good idea, since their next move was to cut across the middle of Mainland Orkney to Stromness…
Paddy and Plunkett all at sea in Stromness - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…And from there, make their way over to the west coast to see Skara Brae!
Plunkett at Skara Brae - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Skara Brae is a Neolithic village, sometimes called “the Scottish Pompeii” because it’s so incredibly well preserved. However, it’s much, much older than Pompeii – it’s estimated that the eight houses here were occupied between 3180-2500 BCE (thanks for the numbers, Wikipedia!), meaning that Skara Brae predates both the Pyramids and Stonehenge!

The story of how Skara Brae came to be rediscovered is also pretty interesting… It seems that no-one was aware that there had been a settlement here until the winter of 1850, when a severe storm lifted the topsoil covering a lumpy hill known as Skerrabra. Once the storm clouds had dispersed, locals were intrigued to find the outlines of a number of small houses, complete apart from their roofs! The site fell victim to a number of well-intentioned (mostly) amateur archaeological excavations in the years that followed, until another storm in 1924 swept away one of the unearthed houses. It became clear that this important find could be completely lost if it wasn’t properly cared for, so a professor from the University of Edinburgh, who revelled in the glorious name Vere Gordon Childe, was put in charge of all further efforts to make the site secure and investigate its history. His work started in 1927, and today Skara Brae enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Plunkett was certainly interested to see these ancient underground houses!
Plunkett Investigates Skara Brae - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Meanwhile, Paddy was getting up close and personal with the Neolithic furniture – it was full of Beastie hiding places!
Paddy at Skara Brae - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
I wonder if there were Beasties back then?

More Paddy and Plunkett adventures next week – I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on them in future!