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 at Clovelly Harbour - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett in Lovely Clovelly!

Phew! It’s been a busy old day… Hence the slightly later than usual posting time! Fortunately, the subject matter for today’s post is a lazy stroll around one of the prettiest and most unusual places that Paddy and Plunkett have visited in a long time. Welcome to Clovelly, a village in northern Devon which has been privately owned since the 13th century! It’s built on a veeeeeery steep slope, and the houses almost appear to tumble down the hill into the harbour…
The Houses at Clovelly - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesClovelly is well-known for its beautiful cobbled streets, which are apparently made from stones gathered at the beach below. Paddy wanted to take a photo of himself with the sea waaaaay down at the bottom of the main street…
Paddy Admires Clovelly Harbour Below - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… But then Plunkett commandeered the camera for a snap of the cobbles themselves.
Clovelly Cobbles - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Beautiful! Look at those nice smooth edges!”

Fortunately, Paddy was able to regain control of the picture-taking by telling Plunkett that there were even better cobbles further down the hill. Normal service resumes!
Plunkett admiring the Clovelly Cobbles - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesYou might have noticed already that these streets, as well as being very steep, are also reeeeeally narrow. And that makes Clovelly officially a car-free zone! In fact, using any form of wheeled transport is pretty much impossible – although I wonder how many runaway carts ended up in the harbour before they figured that one out?

Anyway, back in the day, donkeys did all the -ahem- donkey work of ferrying people and their chattels up and down the hill. But that’s a hard day’s work for anyone, and these days you’re more likely to see the donkeys taking it easy in the sanctuary at the top of the hill. So if you want to move anything, you’ll be using one of these!
Paddy Hitches a Ride to the Harbour - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThese sledges are what locals use to bring home their shopping. After parking their cars up at the top of the hill, they load up the sledge and bring their deliveries to their front door on foot. At least it’s downhill all the way!

And as you can see, Paddy has found the perfect way to turn this system to his own advantage.
“Hop in, Plunkett! Let’s get a lift to the harbour!”

Their journey took them past some of the achingly pretty shops and houses on the main street…
Clovelly Shops and Houses - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And soon they could look right into the harbour from above!
Clovelly Harbour from Above - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s lucky the tide’s out, or Paddy probably would have tried to dive in! The lads decided to opt for a sedate walk down to sea level instead.
Paddy and Plunkett at Clovelly Harbour - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ooooh! It’s beautiful!”

And the view behind them wasn’t bad either!
Clovelly From the Harbour - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe only thing they have to worry about now is how to get back up that hill!

We’ll be rejoining Paddy and Plunkett in a couple of weeks… Because now it’s MY turn to go on holiday! I’ll be taking a break from blogging while I’m gone, but I’ll be posting on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as I travel.

See you again on the 19th for fresh Beastie fun!


Paddy in the Dugout Canoe - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Beasties in the Bronze Age

The boys are stepping back in time again this week – and a little further than usual, too! Today finds them exploring Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire, which had its heyday 3,300 years ago!

What was this place, a harbour?
Plunkett at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, not exactly. A fen is an area of marshy ground, and they’re pretty prone to flooding. While many of the fens in this super-flat part of eastern England were drained to create extra farmland in the 17th century, in the Bronze Age these places would have been tricky enough to navigate. Too wet to walk, too shallow for a boat… GAAAAAAAH! What to do?

Answer – you build a raised walkway over it, and strut across in style without getting your paws wet! And that’s what these timbers are – the remains of a trackway that led to a huge platform out in the fen. It’s kept nice and damp to help to preserve the ancient wood…
The Timber Remains at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And what Plunkett is looking at in the first photo is only a fraction of what is actually there. The whole causeway is more than a kilometre long, and the platform is the size of Wembley Stadium!

Building something on this scale, in this location, at that time would have been a huge undertaking – so why is it here? Unfortunately, our Bronze Age friends weren’t much for writing things down, so we can really only speculate (wildly, in Paddy’s case) about what this place was used for. However, the archaeologists who excavated the site back in the 1980s found way more of this kind of thing than they expected…
Finds! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThese bronze finds – mostly weapons – intriguingly show signs of having been deliberately damaged, and their positioning in the silty ground suggests that they were intentionally dropped there, rather than carelessly chucked away because they were broken. This implies that the causeway was a place of ritual significance, as well as (possibly) being a handy way of getting across Flag Fen!

There’s plenty of opportunity for you to get in touch with your Bronze Age roots around here too… Plunkett took a stroll into this reconstructed roundhouse, built on the site where a real one was excavated!
Plunkett at the Roundhouse - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesMeanwhile, Paddy was trying on some wooden beakers for size… Because, well, that’s what Paddy does.
Paddy tries out the Tableware - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe lads also rested their weary paws on this rather spectacular chair – we think it might be made of bog oak, preserved timber that has been coloured and hardened by years of sitting in the acidic water of the marshes!
Paddy, Plunkett and the Bog Oak Chair - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUnfortunately, Paddy had less success with this replica dugout canoe…
Paddy in the Dugout Canoe - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Row faster, Plunkett! It feels like we’re not moving at all!

This is a copy of one of the boats that was unearthed at Must Farm, just down the road. The real ones are still undergoing preservation work and some of them are really enormous!

Now, what’s been missing from this trip so far? That’s right – SHEEP! This visitor centre is home to a herd of lively Soay sheep, the closest living thing to the kind of sheep that you would have seen trotting around here in the Bronze Age.
Soay Sheep! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWhile Paddy attempted to make friends with some of those lambs, Plunkett took a moment to enjoy a last look out over the site.
Plunkett takes a last look at Flag Fen - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s really been quite a trip!

Paddy and Plunkett will have their paws back on comparatively dry land when they rejoin us in a couple of weeks. And next Tuesday, I hope to have some exciting new BeastieBlog developments to share with you all! See you then!

An App-ELY-ing Day Out!

Paddy and Plunkett really did make the most of their recent trip across the water to England! They might have started out enjoying the lively university city of Cambridge, but they saw no reason to stop there.

Time to take a trip down the road to Ely, a city which started life as an abbey on an island in the fens (marshlands) of East Anglia. The city’s history has been full of ups and downs, mostly starring that abbey – it was founded in 673, destroyed by Vikings in 870, rebuilt again a hundred years later, and then in 1083 a Norman abbot decided that the site would be just perfect for a new cathedral. Work began in the early 1090s, and the result was a building that still stands today.
Beasties at Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, mostly… The Norman-era central tower actually collapsed in 1322. However, Ely Cathedral wasn’t going to let that cramp its style – the tower was rebuilt and then some! What stands there now is the famous Octagon, which you can see in the centre background of this photo.
Ely Cathedral from the Front - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAs I’m sure you can imagine, Plunkett couldn’t wait to get inside this place for a closer look! Unfortunately, he really should have checked his diary first…
Palm Sunday at Ely - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… Because it turns out that the lads had rocked up on Palm Sunday! They decided to let the annual procession (complete with full choir and real live donkey!) pass them by, and headed off in search of morning coffee on the banks of the River Ouse instead.
Paddy Enjoys Coffee in the Sunshine - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy certainly wasn’t going to say no to another hour of lounging around in the sunshine!

Suitably caffeinated, the boys made their way back to the Cathedral… and this time they managed to get inside! Plunkett was immediately transfixed by the ornate interior…
Plunkett Inside Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…While Paddy enjoyed the colourful stained glass and mosaic floors!
Stained Glass and Mosaics - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd then, there were the beautiful high arches of the Octagon!
Inside the Octagon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Paddy, did you know that the roof and lantern in the centre of this tower are held up by timber structures that couldn’t be built now, because there aren’t big enough trees any more?”

“I didn’t. But Plunkett, did YOU know that you can climb up to the very top of this place and look out over the city?”


“Ah, go on!”

One third of the way there, and the ground is already starting to look very, very far away…
Going Up, at Ely Cathedral - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut the view from the top of the West Tower was totally worth the dizzying heights and sore paws!
View from the top of the West Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, it was for at least one of our monster friends!
Paddy's View From the Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesOh dear, poor Plunkett! Will the boys make it safely back to ground level, or will Paddy sign them both up for a tandem bungee jump off the top of the tower? All will be revealed in a couple of weeks!

In the meantime, don’t forget to join us again next Tuesday, when I hope to be sharing a tutorial and pattern for my little felt bees! See you then!
A Little Felt Bee - CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett on the Beach - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – Last Day of the Holidays

Is it just me, or is there a whiff of change in the air? The sun, when it finally makes it out from behind the clouds, is shining with a more mellow light, and the breezes feel a little cooler than they did this time last week. It seems like summer is coming to an end – although how I’m able to notice this when it never really got started is anyone’s guess! But with the shops filling up with “back to school” supplies, and the evenings starting a little earlier each day, it’s time for a pair of adventurous little woolly monsters to think about heading for home.

But not before they’ve hit the beach one last time! This one looks nice – but where are Paddy and Plunkett?
The Beach At Dungeness - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI suppose these pebbles would provide perfect camouflage for them. Helllooooooo?

Oh, wait… there they are!
Paddy and Plunkett at Dungeness Beach - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey really couldn’t have asked for better weather on their last day – look at that sky, reflected in the perfectly still water behind them!
Beautiful Weather Today, Paddy! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesUnfortunately, at this stage their budget has pretty much completely run out, so the boys will be foraging for lunch.
Mmm, lunch! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIs that sea kale? Let’s hope so! Sea kale actually did enjoy a brief spell of culinary popularity in the early 1800s, when a lot of people started growing it in their gardens. Although it’s easy to cultivate, it bruises easily and is best eaten soon after cutting, which is why you’re unlikely to see it in your local supermarket. Still, that doesn’t affect Paddy and Plunkett, who will be tucking in straight away!

And after lunch, perhaps it might be nice to snooze in the sun for a while…
Paddy and Plunkett Catch Some Rays - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hey Paddy, what’s that noise in the background?”

“Ah, don’t worry about it, Plunkett…”
Paddy, Plunkett and the Nuclear Power Station - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“…It’s just the Dungeness B nuclear reactor.”


Hmmm, how DO they end up in these places? Paddy spent the rest of the day trying to keep Plunkett away from the internet, so he couldn’t read about the many setbacks this power station experienced, both during its construction and ongoing maintenance! By the end of the day, both of them were all tuckered out…
Night-night! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…So they thought it was best to get an early night.

I wonder where they’ll be off to next? And how will you be spending the last days of summer (or winter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere)? Let us know in the comments!

Paddy and Plunkett Check out the Defences - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett, Over in Dover Again!

Well, it looks like Paddy and Plunkett are still rambling their way around the English southeast! I wonder whose rather elaborate doorstep they’ve landed on today?

Paddy, Plunkett and Dover Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis is Dover Castle, the largest castle in England. Most of this massive sprawling fortress was commissioned by Henry II, who probably hoped it would impress the many European pilgrims who passed through Dover on their way to Canterbury.

In keeping with this royal connection, Dover Castle holds replicas of what the crown jewels would have looked like at that time…Crown Jewels at Dover Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesOooooh! Sparkly… Although probably a couple of sizes too big for our heroes’ heads.
One Size Fits None - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Castle also boasts some truly beautiful stained glass windows…
Paddy Admires the Stained Glass Windows - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…And a reassuring quantity of cannons.
Paddy and Plunkett Check out the Defences - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut not all of the castle is above ground! The cliffs under the castle are riddled with a network of underground tunnels, the earliest ones dating back to the Napoleonic Wars. They were originally designed so that a large number of soldiers could get from the castle to the beaches below quickly and easily in case of invasion.

One of the coolest things about the tunnels is how you get into them in the first place! If you look closely, you’ll see that this spiral staircase is actually a double helix, meaning that there are two separate staircases here, instead of just one. Architecture buff Plunkett found this fascinating, and wanted to share this photo with you all.
Double Helix Spiral Staircase at Dover Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd Dover Castle’s history doesn’t stop there. The Castle and its tunnels were pressed back into service during the Second World War, initially as an air raid shelter, but later as a military command centre, telephone exchange and hospital. Some of the tunnels are even meant to be used as nuclear bunkers! Evidence of this more recent military involvement is there for any Beastie to see… and to climb over.
Paddy and Plunkett with a Modern Cannon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesYikes! Look at that thing! It’s lucky Plunkett is driving this time – who knows what would happen if Paddy commandeered the wheel?
Plunkett Drives the Cannon - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy and Plunkett will be back next Friday – assuming they aren’t held for questioning by the local police – and don’t forget to tune in on Tuesday to meet some more new Beasties!

(Or, if you happen to be in Dublin tomorrow, you can meet them in person! We’ll be at the Ha’Penny Market in The Grand Social, Liffey Street, from 12-6!)

Paddy and Plunkett Head to Portsmouth

Paddy Over Portsmouth! CrawCrafts BeastiesThese adventurous little monsters can’t seem to get enough of life on the high seas! After their recent visit to the National Maritime Museum in Co.Dublin, Paddy and Plunkett have resurfaced in Portsmouth – a city with centuries of naval history to its name. Coming as they do from an island nation, it’s little wonder that they felt immediately at home here – Portsmouth is the only island city in the UK!
Paddy with the Spinnaker Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesEver eager for excitement, the first thing they did was to climb the Spinnaker Tower (that’s it in the background of the photo) and get a bird’s eye view of the city. This is always especially thrilling for a Beastie, since they spend most of their time significantly closer to the ground. Check out that view!
Plunkett Inside the Spinnaker Tower - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesMind you, I nearly had kittens when I saw this next photo…
Beastie Freefall! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFortunately there’s a nice thick layer of glass floor to keep the boys airborne – for a moment there I was certain they’d decided to take up BASE jumping!

Their next outing was a bit more sedate – a trip over to the Isle of Wight by hovercraft. They got a great day for it… Here’s Paddy posing with The Needles, a line of chalk stacks that’s one of Britain’s most famous natural landmarks.
Paddy on the Isle of Wight - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey made some friends while they were there too!
Paddy and Plunkett with their New Buddies - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy with his Isle of Wight Friends - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett's Dinosaur Collection - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWith all this exploring, the afternoon just zipped by! So much so that… uh oh! Is that the hovercraft heading back to the mainland without them?
Paddy watches their lift home vanish over the horizon! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties


Will Paddy and Plunkett ever make it back to Portsmouth? Or are they going to be marooned indefinitely on the Isle of Wight? You’ll have to wait until next week to find out…

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…