Paddy, Ready to Tackle Velocity 2 - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Me, You… And Velocity 2!

Well hello there, Beastie friends! It’s lucky you’re here… After the emotional highs and lows of last week’s post, Paddy and Plunkett are squeezing in one more adventure in Wales before heading for home. And where are they today, I wonder?
The Lake at Velocity 2 - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLooks nice and peaceful, doesn’t it? But just as Plunkett is unwrapping his sandwiches in preparation for a nice quiet lunch in the countryside…
WHOOOOOOOOSH! What’s that?
It's Velocity 2! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLooks like the boys might have stumbled upon the home of Velocity 2 – the fastest zipline in the world!

So Paddy drags Plunkett off to the Zip World visitor centre to find out more…
Paddy and Plunkett at Velocity 2 - H Crawford/ CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett is happy to pose with the sign, even though he is secretly dreaming of getting back to his picnic. But Paddy is hungry for adventure… And his curiosity leads him deeper into the building.

Luckily, the Wall of Stats will tell him everything he wants to know about this high-speed glide over a former slate quarry!

Velocity 2 Stats - H Crawford/ CrawCrafts Beasties
“Top speed 118 miles an hour? Woweeeeee!”

As you probably guessed, Paddy can’t get up there quickly enough. Leaving Plunkett trailing in his wake, he runs back to the summit as quickly as his little short legs will carry him.

“Velocity 2, here I come!”

There he is now, ready to go.Paddy, Ready to Tackle Velocity 2 - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLater, Paddy rejoins Plunkett at the bottom of the quarry. Plunkett has had a lovely afternoon of munching cheese and pickle sandwiches and watching the humans hurtling down the zipline. And he’s very interested to get a Paddy’s-eye view!

“How was it, then? I didn’t see you come down, but they go so quickly…”

Paddy mumbles something.

“Hmmm? What’s that?”
“They wouldn’t let me go on it.”

Oh no! Poor Paddy! It turns out that there’s a 4ft minimum height limit. But, as usual, Plunkett knows exactly how to make things better. A little bit of digital wizardry later, and…
Paddy on the Zipline - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

“Now, smile while I take your picture here…”
Paddy Flew Velocity 2! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, that’s all the proof I need. Well done, Paddy! Although I really don’t know how your next adventure will ever compete with this one…

The boys will be back in a few weeks – but there’s a new Beastie for you to meet next Tuesday, so be sure to join us then!

Beasties Meet Beastie on the Welsh Highland Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – The Railway Less Travelled

Well, after a quick New Beastie break last week, the boys are back… And this time they’ve left the island of Anglesey and headed to the Welsh mainland to explore Snowdonia! Oh yes, and guess how they’re travelling?
Beasties Meet Beastie on the Welsh Highland Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThat’s right, it wouldn’t be a Paddy and Plunkett day out if they weren’t wreaking havoc on a train somewhere… And this time it’s the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway that’s getting the Beastie treatment. Luckily for them, the railway has a monster of its own to keep these two under control – the legendary Welsh Red Dragon!

That said, there’s still some silliness afoot as the boys wait for their train to arrive. Lads, that’s probably not a good idea.
Paddy and Plunkett, off the rails - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesNope, definitely not.
Beasties, behave! Welsh Highland Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFortunately, Plunkett has got some sense into his woolly head – juuuuuust in time, by the looks of things!
Plunkett's Train Arrives - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Oh, how cool! All the trains on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway are restored vintage diesel and steam engines, and they transport their lucky passengers along a short route between the town of Porthmadog and Pen-y-Mount junction a few miles away. The line is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, and the trains are clearly their pride and joy… So much so that many of them have names and profiles on the railway website!
Trains of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI tried to ID Paddy and Plunkett’s train, but I didn’t get too far… Are there any locals out there who can help?

Then, on the return trip, the train stops off at Gelert’s Farm, so the boys hop out to investigate a well-known local landmark – Gelert’s Grave.
Paddy and Plunkett at Gelert's Grave - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“This Gelert must have been a pretty important person!” says Paddy.
“Hmmm… Well, he wasn’t exactly a person…”
“He was a dog.”
“What? A dog? But look at this thing! It’s, like, 5 Beasties tall… With headstones in English and Welsh!”

Plunkett has no choice but to launch into the sad tale of Gelert. Let’s listen in, shall we?

“According to local legend, Gelert was the prized hunting dog of Llywelyn the Great – a prince born in the late 12th century, who eventually became ruler of all Wales. One day, he went out hunting…”
“Wait… Without his prized hunting dog?”
“Apparently so, yes. Gelert was left behind to look after Llywelyn’s baby son. But when Llywelyn returned home, he found the baby missing, the house in a mess, and Gelert covered in blood!”
“Bad dog!”
“That’s what Llywelyn thought. He drew his sword… And killed Gelert on the spot!”
“But then he heard a baby cry out from underneath the overturned cradle…”
“…And he saw his son there safe and sound, lying beside the body of a wolf.”
“You mean…”
“Yes… Poor Gelert had not only NOT killed the baby, he’d also dispatched the wolf that had tried to attack them both!”

Paddy is uncharacteristically speechless.

“That’s… The saddest thing… I have EVER heard!”

Plunkett, seeing how touched Paddy is by the story, decides not to elaborate on the prevalence of the “faithful hound” motif in European and Asian folklore.

Or to mention how the grave mound might have been built in the late 1700s by the enterprising proprietor of the charmingly-named Goat Hotel, in an effort to encourage tourism.

Instead, he knows exactly how to cheer Paddy up.
“Hey Paddy – I think your letter from Hogwarts might be here!”
Paddy, Plunkett and Some Owls - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHanging out with all those owlets certainly put a smile back on Paddy’s woolly face.
Owls on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

And later on, in the Anglesey Transport Museum, his woes are completely forgotten.
Paddy and Plunkett at the Anglesey Transport Museum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Plunkett! PLUNKETT! Can you see the keys for these anywhere? I think I’d like to take one of them for a spin!”
Don't let Paddy drive! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Oh dear. Join us next week to see if Anglesey has declared a state of emergency… Or at least sent the lads packing!

Plunkett in the Seahorse Nursery - Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy And Plunkett – Save the Sea!

Welcome back to the watery depths of Anglesea Sea Zoo! The fish all look happy today…
Fish! Anglesey Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut Paddy and Plunkett were in a bit of a pickle when we left them last week!
Octopus Hug - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesFortunately, I was getting all alarmed over nothing… Turns out that this rather large octopus is a big fan of the boys, and couldn’t wait to snatch them up for a hug and a photo!

Look, here they are… Safe and sound, climbing aboard the wreck of the Seven Sisters pirate ship.
Paddy and Plunkett aboard the Seven Sisters - Sea Zoo - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnything else lurking in the shadows? The Sea Zoo website said to look out for conger eels!

“Nope, just a few crabs here!”
View from the Shipwreck - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

And further on… Look what Plunkett’s found!
Plunkett in the Seahorse Nursery - Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHe’s wandered into the Seahorse Nursery, another of the Sea Zoo’s ongoing conservation projects.

And it’s an important one, because these strangely beautiful little creatures are feeling the pinch all over the world. They’re put into traditional Chinese remedies for everything from skin complaints to heart disease, dried and sold as souvenirs, and kept as pets (which they really don’t like). Luckily, the Sea Zoo is part of a Europe-wide collaboration between aquaria, universities and conservation organisations, all of them working together to share research findings, improve captive breeding, and campaign to protect wild seahorses in the future.

The Sea Zoo have another seahorsey claim to fame too – they’re one of the only places in the world where short-snouted seahorses have successfully bred in captivity! Short-snouted seahorses, and their long-snouted cousins, are both native to British waters… And you see both at the Sea Zoo.
Seahorses - Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Sadly, despite the best efforts of the Sea Zoo and their partners, the boys saw a lot of this as they walked around the aquarium.
Uh-oh! Plastic! H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPollution of the world’s oceans with plastic is already having a serious impact on marine life… And unless we fix this plastic problem, all of the fantastic creatures Paddy and Plunkett met here could vanish from the seas forever! They don’t want to see this any more than I do, so they asked me to wrap up this post by sharing a few little things we can all do to bin the plastic… For good.

On your lunch break…

Don’t take away – bring it with you! With the UK planning to introduce a 25p tax on disposable coffee cups, and many coffee shops actually offering a discount on your drink if you show up with your own takeaway mug, it’s probably a good time to pick up a reusable coffee cup and get into the habit of using it. I love my one… It keeps my tea toasty for at least 3 hours!

I’m also very fond of my Snack Attack lunchbox for strategic sandwich and nibbles transportation… Or I’ll pack a home-made salad in a washed-out takeaway container or ice cream tub. Don’t forget to bring your own cutlery too!

And finally, say no to straws. Very few of us need to use a straw… But then again, if you like to, bring one with you! Reusable metal and bamboo ones are available for anyone who likes to noisily slurp up the last dregs of their milkshake.

In the supermarket…

Of course, bring your own reusable shopping bag with you! I keep mine well stocked with smaller bags for loose fruit and veg or bakery items, so that I never need to take one of the store’s plastic bags.

You can also avoid the huuuuuge amount of packaging that comes with fragile tasties like biscuits and crackers by making your own – check out this recent post from The Snail of Happiness for inspiration!

In the bathroom…

I was really shocked a couple of years ago when I bought a pack of “cotton wool” pads… Only to discover later on that they were 100% polyester! And it turns out that it’s not uncommon for things that look like cotton wool to actually contain a blend of fibres, some of which are man-made and not biodegradable. This prompted me to switch to washable, plastic-free alternatives – I got my reusable cotton face pads from Kindly Island and they’ve been great!

I was also really impressed to see that my local Boots chemists have started stocking toothbrushes with bamboo handles. They’re not perfect – the bristles are still nylon – but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

(PS Any links in this section are only here because I own these things, use them and love them! Rest assured that I am not being paid by any companies to hawk their wares)

I imagine many of you are probably doing these things already, but if not… Pick one and give it a try! Little changes can make a big difference when everyone joins in. And if you have any suggestions of your own, be sure and share them in the comments!

We’ll be back next week, with a new Beastie for you all to meet. See you then!

Under the Sea in Anglesey!

Hello, Beastie friends! We’re joining Paddy and Plunkett again today, for an adventure with a bit more of an aquatic theme than last week’s! To set the scene, we’ll meet up with the boys at the tidal race in the Menai Strait… And what’s this? A rare photobombing by Plunkett?Plunkett at the Menai Strait, Anglesey - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Menai Strait is the narrow stretch of water that separates the island of Anglesey from the Welsh mainland. It looks calm enough here, doesn’t it? But strong and ever-changing tidal currents make it highly unpredictable and tricky to cross. In the past, this served the locals well – Anglesey was one of the last refuges of the Druids, at a time when they were being displaced all over Britain by the arrival of the Romans.

But today, the lads will not be seeking out ancient Druid strongholds – however much Paddy might want to. Instead, we’re heading to… The Anglesey Sea Zoo!

Beasties find it hard to resist an aquarium – as regular readers will remember from Explorer Beastie’s travels in Germany last summer. Paddy and Plunkett can’t wait to make some fishy friends themselves! But first of all, let’s visit the Lobster Hatchery.
Beasties at the Lobster Hatchery - Sea Zoo Anglesey - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe Lobster Hatchery is one of several conservation projects based here in Anglesey Sea Zoo. Overfishing in the 1980s meant that local wild lobster populations took a huge hit, so the Hatchery is here to help them get back on their spiny little feet. The main focus of their work is a captive breeding programme, but research and education are also important aspects of what they do.

Paddy is delighted to meet the lobsters… But Plunkett suspects that they’re more likely to eat him than he is to eat them.
Plunkett Vs Lobster - Anglesey - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
This is probably more your scene, Plunkett… Watching the fish from the quayside!
Plunkett Ponders the Fish - Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Meanwhile, Paddy has taken a trip to the Moon!
Paddy and the Moon Jellies - Anglesey Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, moon jellies, if you’re going to be particular about it… But they do have an otherworldly look to them, don’t they? He could have watched them for hours – which is unusual for Paddy!

Plunkett is nice and relaxed now too, now that he’s been gazing at the gently waving arms of the sea anemones for a few minutes. Aaaahhhhhh!
Plunkett and the Anemones - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd although Paddy was momentarily distracted by the starfish that was taking a stroll across the front of the tank…
Strolling Starfish - Sea Zoo Anglesey - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… It wasn’t long before he found a new way to pass the time – playing hide and seek with the fish!
Paddy plays hide and seek - Anglesey Sea Zoo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut what’s that stirring in the hidden depths of the aquarium? Uh-oh!
Octopus Hug - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesWill the boys be able to wriggle free and swim to safety? Or will they remain imprisoned in the darkest depths of Davy Jones’ locker? You’ll have to tune in next week to find out!

See you then!

Blue Rocks at Parys Mountain - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy, Plunkett and Parys Mountain

You know, a girl could find herself getting a little jealous of Paddy and Plunkett. It seems like the woolly twosome only just got back from their trip to Scotland… And then the next thing I know, I’m getting more photos from another away trip! This time, they’ve headed further south, and ended up in this strange place – Parys Mountain, in Anglesey, Wales!

And as we join them today, it appears that Plunkett is being uncharacteristically selfish…

“Mine! It’s all mine!”
Plunkett lays claim to Parys Mountain - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBy all accounts, Paddy was ready to storm off in a huff… Until Plunkett corrected himself. Parys Mountain is a mine – in fact, during its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the largest copper mine in Europe.

The story of this runaway success starts in 1764, when Charles Roe leased the mountain from its owners in the hope of mining it for copper. I’m not sure if he knew at the time that the area had been mined as far back as the Bronze Age – archaeological evidence for this only really came to light in the early 2000s. But copper ingots with Roman markings had been found near the mountain and on other parts of Anglesey Island well before that, which suggested that searching for copper here might not be such a bad idea.

And it turned out he was right! Four years later, on the 2nd of March, Rowland Pugh – a local miner working on the site – stumbled on a great mass of copper ore relatively near the surface. After that, it was open season on copper at Parys Mountain!

Nothing lasts forever though, and mining work stopped here around a century ago. There’s still copper in them thar hills, but the finished product doesn’t fetch the tasty prices it used to, when it was in demand for protecting the hulls of wooden ships and making cannons. These days, the former mine is open to the public – both human and Beastie – so they can explore this strange lunar-like landscape!
Parys Mountain Landscape - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

It looks like Paddy has found something interesting already!
Blue Rocks at Parys Mountain - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Look, Plunkett! Blue and orange rocks!”

The mineral deposits in the stones here make for a pretty crazy colour palette – everywhere you look you’re greeted by strange psychedelic hues! But where has Plunkett gone?

Oh, wait, he’s checking out some industrial architecture. Obviously.
Plunkett at the Parys Mountain Windmill - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hmmmm, what have we here? An old stone windmill, perhaps for pumping water out of the mineshafts? Fascinating! And look at that stonework!”

His reverie doesn’t last long, though. Paddy’s calling him over to see something else.

“Plunkett! Look at this!”
Paddy Explores Parys Mountain - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Wow! That’s pretty incredible!”
The Main Main at Parys Mountain - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt really is! And all the more so when you remember that this massive hole in the ground…
a) Used to be a mountainside (check out this video for an aerial view of the whole mountain)
b) Was carved out by people using only picks, shovels and the odd stick of dynamite.

And that’s before you take the labyrinthine underground network of tunnels into account!

Paddy was all for exploring the mineshafts too – he had heard that there are deposits of gold and silver in there, and he also entertained the hope that he could maybe pick up an unexploded stick of dynamite as a souvenir.

But the idea of Paddy with dynamite was enough to convince Plunkett that it was time to leave. Onwards to the next adventure!

Join us for part 2 of Paddy and Plunkett’s Anglesey exploits next week! And are there any weird and wonderful places to visit near you? Tell us all about them in the comments!

Rugby Shirt Featured - Wales Rugby Jersey - CrawCrafts Beasties

A Wales of a Time!

Well hello there everyone!  This week I’m finally getting around to sharing a sort-of-commission that was requested by long-term BeastieBuddy Jan, who blogs at The Snail of Happiness. She already opened her home to a pair of Beasties last summer…
Ready for the Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties… But following a Grand Slam victory for Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament earlier this year, she thought a special celebratory addition to their wardrobe was in order. So I found a willing Beastie model to help me get the sizing right, and TA-DAAAAAAH!
Rugby Shirt Front - Wales Rugby Jersey - CrawCrafts BeastiesOne Beastified Wales Rugby jersey!

We decided to go for a classic short-sleeved shirt, with a crisp white felt collar. Then I embroidered the Welsh Rugby Union logo on one side…
Rugby Shirt WRU Logo -Wales Rugby Jersey - CrawCrafts Beasties… And added an appliquéd number 8 on the back!
Shirt Back - Beastified Wales Rugby Jersey - CrawCrafts BeastiesThe significance of the number 8 is still a mystery to us here at Beastie Towers, but it’s clearly got some sort of special meaning to Jon Beastie and his human counterpart. I’m keeping an eye on their blog in case an explanation is forthcoming!

And here is the jersey, being expertly modelled by Jon Beastie himself! Looking good, sir!

(Plus I was able to heave a sigh of relief that it fitted!)

Any other sports-loving Beasties out there? Be sure to tell us all about your monster fan moments in the comments below!

And we’ll be back next week with some late spring shenanigans from Paddy and Plunkett… Hope to catch you then!