DT 26739

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26739

Hints and tips by Libellule

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty * Enjoyment ***

A piece of (Christmas) cake! (Thanks to Gazza for that).

Highlight the space between the curly brackets to reveal the answer.


1. Form of decoration that has grown over the years (9,4)
{CHRISTMAS TREE} – A decorated real plant seen around this time of the year.

10. Suitable present for a lady? It depends on the listener (7)
{EARRING} – Something that might hang from the organ that perceives sound.

11. Seasoning duck with orange, perhaps (7)
{OREGANO} – An anagram (perhaps) of ORANGE and O (duck) is also a herb.

12. Riddle involves a Kipling poem, in a way (4)
{SIFT} – A word meaning to sieve is a famous Kipling poem inside ST (way).

13. One small bird and an enormous one (5)
{TITAN} – Blue, Great, Coal, Marsh, Willow etc plus AN is also a person of great strength or size.

14. A long time providing sage stuffing (4)
{AGES} – An anagram (stuffing) of SAGE.

17. A Christmas cake — or blazer? (4,3)
{YULE LOG} – A large piece of wood traditionally burned in the fireplace is also a type of cake.

18. Shakespearean character to return a greeting (7)
{OTHELLO} – Reverse (return) TO and then add an expression of greeting for a play about the Moor of Venice.

19. Presents for nurses (7)
{TENDERS} – Double definition, gives or offers, people who look after something.

22. It affects our habits in winter (7)
{WEATHER} – Habits in this sense means what we wear.

24. Order a gin for a Scandinavian girl (4)
{INGA} – An anagram (order) of A GIN is a girls name.

25. Nail one inside for decoration (5)
{BRAID} – Put I (one) inside a small nail to get an interwoven decoration.

26. Make a hit unexpectedly by sending back crackers (4)
{STUN} – Reverse a slang word for insane for a word that means to shock or surprise.

29. Brazil, say, presents a problem difficult to crack (4,3)
{HARD NUT} – a tough shelled fruit, brazil, almond, acorn etc.

30. Feel ill after parties and leave the port (3,4)
{SET SAIL} – A term that describes leaving a harbour for example, could if put as (4,3) be a group of things that belong together followed by a word that means to feel ill or have pain

31. Party game using bouncy castle perhaps? (4,3,6)
{PASS THE PARCEL} – An anagram of CASTLE PERHAPS is also a children’s party game.


2. Ruth is out with flu, that’s upsetting (7)
{HURTFUL} – An anagram (out) of RUTH and FLU.

3. The bird is full of thiamine (4)
{IBIS} – A type of wading bird is made up from IS around a vitamin.

4. Being a little behind with labelling presents (7)
{TAGGING} – Following something closely could also describe identifying parcels.

5. Head off disaster and have a party with fruit (7)
{AVOCADO} – Remove the first letter (head off) of a word that describes widespread destruction or devastation and then add A DO (party) for a pear-shaped fruit with yellowish-green flesh.

6. Sweet bird’s note cut short (4)
{TWEE} – Remove the last letter of the chirping sound of a young bird (or a post on Twatter) to get another word that means affectedly dainty or refined.

7. Gave Len unusually good news for Christians! (7)
{EVANGEL} – An anagram (unusually) of GAVE LEN.

8. Heavenly sight delights shepherds (3,3,2,5)
{RED SKY AT NIGHT} – Part of a phrase that describes how shepherds determine the weather.

9. Everything’s OK if you’re Cratchit’s nephew (4,4,5)
{BOBS YOUR UNCLE} – A phrase used to describe the means of straightforwardly obtaining a successful result could is also the relationship of a nephew to Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol”.

15. In a way, there’s general snow and rain (5)
{SLEET} – Put the name of a Confederate general between ST (a way) for a mixture of rain and snow or hail.

16. A number after a new hip flask (5)
{PHIAL} – Place A and then L (Roman numeral for 50) after an anagram (new) of HIP to get a small bottle for liquids.

20. Grain that is cultivated in African republic (7)
{NIGERIA} – An anagram (cultivated) of GRAIN and IE (that is).

21. Pull out bird (7)
{STRETCH} – Double definition, to lengthen or extend, or time spent in prison.

22. Puts off bedtime to see carol singers at university (5,2)
{WAITS UP} – Only seen at this time in crossword land, a word that describes bands of musicians who go around the streets, especially at Christmas, singing and playing carols followed by UP (at university) could also be “not going to bed” yet.

23. Freshly cooked Christmas fare is a swift seller (3,4)
{HOT CAKE} – Something that’s in great demand could be a sweet baked food fresh from the oven.

27. Where barristers get refreshers? (4)
{INNS} – Originally a term used to describe residences for law students could also be public houses.

28. The highlight of the Nativity (4)
{STAR} – Read this as high light…

The Quick crossword pun: {franc} + {incense} = {frankincense}



  1. Jezza
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    A gentle start to the week. Favourite clue, 31a.
    Thanks to Rufus, and to Libellule.

    Happy Christmas Libellule, if we don’t see you before! :)

    14a I thought was a hidden clue.

  2. Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    What a nice Christman crossword. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I hope that is not because it is fairly easy. I thought that 3d was particularly clever.

  3. Lostboy
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I slightly confused myself by confidently writing “Bars” in for 27d, but recovered reasonably quickly.

    Nice, straightforward Christmas fare………. so now on to the Toughie…….

    Arggg! No Toughie!

    • toadson
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      So did I (put ‘Bars’ at first).

      • Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        I almost did, but it would have been too obvious even for an easy one.

  4. Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    A nice straightforward start to the week. The only one I struggled with was 6d. Probably because of a late night last night.

  5. Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    We wish you a Merry Crossword. What a delight to be presented with this seasonal offering today. Wonderful start to the Christmas week without taxing the grey matter too much. I thought 3D was particularly clever.

  6. Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Having finished and now looking back on the crossword it was a nice mix of clues and, as I said above, 3d was particularly clever. Thanks to Rufus for a good crossword and Libellule for the hints – one or two of which were very useful

  7. toadson
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Enjoyable and fairly gentle puzzle. Liked 9d. Needed the blog to check why ‘waits’ was correct in 22d. Thanks to the setter and Libellule.

  8. Chris
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Several nice clues (e.g. 9d, 1a, 28d), but I thought 22a clue was a bit weak. Hadn’t heard that term for carol singers before (22d).

  9. mary
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Libelulle for the hints and Rufus for a nice semi Christmas crossword, Although I finished without books or electronic friends today, or hints I didn’t find it all easy and struggled with a few, my favourite clue of all was 9d, last in for me today were 3d and 25a, although I got the answer at 31a, I just didn’t see the anagram indicator and had to read the hints for the explaination, very clever, Merry Christmas Libelulle see you on Boxing Day :-D

    • mary
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      thank you :-)

    • eXternal
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I was the same, got 31A and never saw the anagram indicator

      • mary
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        in good company then :-)

  10. Brian
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Pleasant start to the week although must admit not come across waits for musicians before (thank you Chambers) and 7d is a new word to me as well. However, the wordplay was straightforward. Thx to the setter for some seasonal cheer.

  11. Captain Lethargy
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I also thought it a nice crossword and a good start to the week. Hope it doesn’t lead to another Weds wake up shock! Fave was 9d and hardest was 25a.
    Thanks to setter and Libellule.

  12. Steve_the_beard
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else find that the “quick” crossword took longer than the “cryptic”? Or is it just me :-)

  13. Kath
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this was quite easy apart from nearly doing what several others did with 27d – wanted to make it “bars” which made me doubt what I already had for 29a. I’d never heard of the carol singers in 22d and I had “scratch” for 21d – well, it would do for the first bit of the clue …. and it fitted with everything else … ! Oh dear – do hope that it’s not going to ANOTHER of those weeks … ! :roll:
    Too many good clues to enumerate all – perhaps best, for me, was 9d. With thanks and all good wishes for a very happy Christmas to Rufus and Libellule.

    • Jezza
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      I also wanted to put ‘scratch’ for 21d – I even looked to see if such a ‘bird’ existed! :)

      • Chris
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        Me too !

        • Addicted
          Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          And me!

      • Kath
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        I also got as far as looking up to see if there was a bird called a “scratch” – I also registered “prison term” and wondered if there was some sort of rhyming slang and STILL I didn’t catch on!! Fortunately the checking letters were the same and so my stupid mistake didn’t screw up anything else!

  14. crypticsue
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    A lovely themed start to the week, thank you and Happy Christmas to Rufus. I agree with Jezza that 14a is definitely a hidden word clue. Thanks to Libellule and Happy Christmas to you and Mrs L too.

  15. Digby
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Having done the Quickie as an appetizer to the main course I found that 22d linked nicely to Q. 26/27a. Agree that this was a gentle start to the week, but no less enjoyable for that. Merry Christmas Rufus – keep on the centreline and the power on!

  16. Pete
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Easy start to the week. Agree with the 1* rating but would not give it much more foe enjoyment. Not a fan of so called themed puzzles. Thanks to setter and Libellule and best wishes to both of you.

  17. Addicted
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes agree, relatively easy but nonetheless enjoyable, apart from getting 21d wrong – wondered why it didn’t quite “fit” somehow! Last in 6d, favs were 8 & 9d. Thanks to setter and Libellule for showing me the error of my ways.

  18. upthecreek
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Why do they put easy puzzles on Monday when there is no Toughie?. Its a lousy day and I could have done with a bit more of a contest today. Gripe over. I really liked 9 12 and 31.

  19. Mike in Amble
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    A nice and gentle start to the week. Thanks setter and Libellule. Fav. clues 31a and 9d. Last in 21d. A merry Christmas to all. :)

  20. Stephen Meldrum
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    20d easy enough to solve, but it looks to me like an indirect anagram. I thought we cold shouldered those.

    • Kath
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I feel I ought to know by now but what is an indirect anagram?

      • Libellule
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        The reference here in the clue is that you have to translate that is to IE and then use it as part of the anagram fodder.

        • Kath
          Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

          Thank you, Libellule – will read the information on the link tomorrow when brain is back in gear after making mince pies/brandy butter etc etc. Why is an indirect anagram “cold shouldered”?

    • eXternal
      Posted December 20, 2011 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      It is certainly unusual to see a two letter abbreviation to add to the fodder. Especially one where it is not a direct abbreviation, but an abbreviation of the Latin

  21. Prolixic
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Very gentle themed crossword from Rufus today. I had a curious sense of deja-vu with some of the clues. A Rufus Christmas Crossword without “Waits” is like Christmas without the carols!

    Many thanks to the setter and Happy Christmas to one and all. I am off to sort out the ship of our office carol service that is heading towards the iceberg of disaster with the rector off dealing with a crisis and the choir having evaporated into thin air. I can preach on an extempore basis but I draw the limit at singing on my own!

    Thanks too to Libellule for the review.

  22. Little Dave
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    All done although I did initially put in “bars” for 27d.

  23. Annidrum
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Hello Everybody, you have been my daily companions for a year now and I thought it was about time I came out of the closet. Thank you Big Dave . I love the blog

    and even when on occasion I don’t need the hints I still love to read the comments. Loved 9d to-day.

    Merry Christmas to you all and all the best for 2012.

    • gazza
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Hi Annidrum,
      Welcome to the blog. Now that you’ve exited the closet I hope that you won’t leave it another year before your next comment :D
      The compliments of the season to you.

      • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Ditto from me! The more the merrier!

      • Kath
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        Et moi – the more “lurkers” who “come out” the better! It’s all really good fun and you don’t half learn a lot, but if you’ve been following this stuff for a year you already know that. I find it most useful at weekends when you’re completely stuffed if you can’t get an answer even after the hint – someone ALWAYS comes to the rescue. Keep going and keep commenting. :smile:

  24. BigBoab
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t enjoy this at all, I didn’t mind the Christmas theme just the weakness of the crossword, I normally enjoy the gentle Rufus start to the week but this was a bit too easy. Thanks anyway to Rufus and to Libellule, I’m probably in a “bah, humbug ” mood.

  25. Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Good start to the week, very straight forward, except 25a. Never heard of a brad before!

    • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      It’s a thin nail with a small head used for fixing mouldings etc. The small head sinks flush with the surface.

    • Kath
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s quite a common word in crosswords and one that is well worth sticking in the brain to be taken out when necessary!

    • Captain Lethargy
      Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      I hadn’t either David. I assumed it was something to do with a bradall (Spelling?) which we used to use at school woodwork to make a starting hole for the nail – or Brad as I found out today!

  26. Franny
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t get started on this until very late today, but I did enjoy it. 25a was last in for me, too, and I needed the hint to find it. The week before Christmas is always a hectic time, so the brain is often otherwise occupied. However, I send good wishes of the season to everyone, just in case <i< don't get round to it before the Day. And thanks to
    Rufus and Libellule. :-)

  27. TimCypher
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was just about OK…not too tricky, but the bottom half of the crossword seemed to descend into obscure uses of everyday words (always a pet hate of mine) – I wasn’t too keen on 22a’s cryptic definition either. I also don’t like the way Rufus keeps throwing extraneous ‘a’s and ‘one’s into the wordplay (e.g. 13a, 17a, 18a and 16d in particular) – it’s annoyingly misleading for charade type clues and I keep trying to place extra A’s and I’s where they’re just not needed.

    Meh, that aside, I did think 11a, 31a and 9d were especially good clues with outstanding surface readings…just about worth the annoyance elsewhere… ;)

  28. Addicted
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Being a bit of a dinosaur with technology – can anyone please tell me why I have to actually “exit” internet for anything to update on this blog?? In other words, I can’t just “minimise” it – I have to go right out and start again before other comments appear? If you see what I mean??? (Said I was a dinosaur!) Happy Christmas everyone.

    • gazza
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      You should have an icon on your browser enabling you to refresh or reload your current page. What it looks like will depend on which browser you use:
      On Internet Explorer it’s two arrows, the first pointing south the second north.
      On Firefox and Chrome it’s an arrow going round in a circle in a clockwise direction.

      Just clicking on the icon should update the page for you, without your having to exit and re-enter the site.

    • Kath
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      Really glad that you asked that, Addicted – have often wondered about that myself! Have just read gazza’s response and will attempt it tomorrow. From one dinosaur to another :grin:

    • Captain Lethargy
      Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Press F5 at the top of the keyboard and the screen will refesh.

      • Addicted
        Posted December 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Gazza and Captain L – I will try both those! And glad it’s not just me, Kath!

      • Posted December 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        thanks, not a luddite but never knew that .A useful tip!

  29. Heno
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter & Libellule, a very gentle start to the week. Some nice clues. Favourite was 5d. Last in was 2d.