Four Today!

Big Dave’s Crossword Blog celebrates its fourth birthday today!

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It really doesn’t seem like four years since I set up this blog, with the first post published on the following day.  Records continue to be broken and the average number of pageviews now exceeds 10,000.

I would like to thank once again the team of bloggers – I couldn’t do it on my own.

A blog is no  use at all if no-one looks at it, so many thanks to the thousands of you that drop in every day and make this such a fun place.

My biggest thank you, as always, goes to those who set the crosswords found in the Daily and Sunday Telegraph – without you we would have nothing to write about!

And my final thanks go to Phil McNeill and Daniella Gomés, whose dedication and hard work bring the Telegraph puzzles to all of us in both the newspaper and the online website.



  1. Nick P
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to the site and enjoy the day

    “You have taught us that that Curiosity is the wick in learning.”

    6 letters.

    (William Ward)

  2. crypticsue
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to the blog and a GIANT thank you to Big Dave, without whose dedication and daily hard work we wouldn’t have this wonderful site to enjoy every day.

    I am sorry I won’t be there on Saturday to provide a birthday cake, but promise to do an extra special one next year for the five-year anniversary.

  3. Mike Bramwell
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday and thanks for everything you do.

  4. Poppy
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Warmest congratulations to Big Dave, for having both such a great idea as well as all the skills needed to set up this site! :-D I am learning so much from it, and really appreciate the virtual companionship it provides across the continents. I’m hoping to be there on Saturday, but am not sure of ‘the form’? Have never dared to attend such a gathering before….. Do I bring cake?

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      You don’t have to bring cake Poppy, just turn up and be prepared to have a very good time meeting bloggers and setters and fellow commenters.

      • Poppy
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Thanks Sue.

    • Kath
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Hi Poppy,
      I’ve only been to one of these get togethers – I have to admit that on my way from Oxford to London I suddenly had a terrible attack of cold feet and wondered what on earth I was doing! I needn’t have worried – it was really good fun and everyone is just as friendly as they sound in the comments.

      • Poppy
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Hi Kath,
        That’s really helpful, as I hadn’t wanted to say that the chill was approaching my lower extremities. Can’t believe that I actually dreamed (pathetic or what!) about it last night & the dream version was the exact opposite of your description. Phew! So now – roll on Saturday…Thanks! :-)

        • Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          If you get there before me, we are at the front of the pub and it will be reserved for John Henderson (Elgar’s real name).

          • Poppy
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

            Thank, BD

        • mary
          Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Lucky you Poppy, I have never been to one, I’m sure everyone will make you really welcome but I understand how you feel I’m sure I’d be exactly the same! Do you live near to the venue?

          • Poppy
            Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for those reassuring comments, Mary (I hadn’t realised quite how nervous I was until my dream!!). It’s been a lot of firsts for me over the past twelve months, & this is one of them (joining the comments on this site was another, as well as joining a choir). I don’t live in London, but near to Hampton Court so it’s an easy train ride in. Wish I could pick you up & we’d go together, but Wales is a bit beyond my reach at present. :-) I’m not allowed to take Poppy in to the venue (train travel is free for dogs), so she’ll be going to (what she thinks is a 5-star hotel) a friend’s in central London.

            • mary
              Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              Near Hampton Court sounds lovely :-)

              • Poppy
                Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

                It is, Mary. And in winter I can walk Poppy in the palace grounds as they don’t charge us then… And the towpath walks along the Thames are super.

                • mary
                  Posted January 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

                  Sounds really, really nice :-)

            • andy
              Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

              Poppy are you sure about your dog, i’m sure there were dogs in the Bridge when we’ve been there before. Please don’t be nervous, I was at the first one I attended a couple of years ago in Derby, and absolutely shouldn’t have been!

              • Poppy
                Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

                Thanks for that thought, Andy. I rang to check… But it’s not a problem as she loves visiting the friend!

  5. Jezza
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Many thanks to Big Dave for all the hard work that goes into making this site such an enjoyable success.
    Congratulations and Happy Birthday !!

  6. pommers
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to the blog and long may it continue! Well done Dave.

    Sorry I can’t be there on Saturday but I’m sure you’ll have a great day.

  7. Geoff Potter
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    As frequent ‘lurkers’ my congratulations to BD and all the bloggers who help to put the words to lights, and explain why some answers go beyond us. Because we’re pub solvers the comments are already there for us, so commenting and asking for explanations would be too late in the day, but we frequently enjoy the tips and treats (especially the cakes) as well as the banter between you all.

    Happy birthday to Big Dave’s Daily Telegraph Blog, long may it continue (should it be a he or a she?).

    From Geoff and Alison in the Far East (of Kent)

  8. Kath
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday dear blog, BD and bloggers,
    Happy birthday to you!

    You’ll have to supply the tune yourselves! Thank you all so much for the help, not to mention all the fun. :grin: to everyone.

  9. Zofbak
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This site is a constant source of education – mostly, but not always, about crosswords – and amusement. Congratulations to BD and all the team on 4 years of a mission splendidly accomplished.

  10. Only fools
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I really do think what you have achieved individually and collectively is quite remarkable .Congratulations and thank you .

  11. Mike in Amble
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Excellent site. Happy birthday to all especially BD. :)

  12. boltonbabs
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful site, so glad I stumbled across it, I googled an obscure word and up it popped. Gives us a lot of pleasure, even if we do not always agree with the ratings! Keep up the good work.

  13. eXternal
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Congrats BD and Happy Birthday.

  14. GMalaga
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Congrats and well done for a fantastic blog that you have maintained over the years.
    It’s much appreciated and often sorely needed for those nasties that seem incomprehensible initially and then so obvious once the hints have been read!
    Keep up the great work.

  15. tonyp17
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have as much time as I would like to attempt the crosswords but when I do the blog and the comments are so enlightening and often amusing.

    A big thank you to Big Dave who has worked so hard to keep everything running smoothly and to all the bloggers who show me up with their knowledge every day.

  16. AlisonS
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday and congrats for a great blog – don’t know how I ever survived without it! It has relieved me of much frustration, hair-pulling and screaming “BUT WHY???”. :-D Long may it continue.

  17. Big Boab
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday to the best blog in the world, especial congratulations to Big Dave and his entire team.

  18. mary
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations once again Dave, this site goes from strength to strength, it is amazing how much I have learnt (and forgotten) I would never ever have come on as quickly without the help of you all, new people are arriving most days now and it is great to see, the good thing is no matter how good or bad we are at these crosswords, we are never afraid to ask and being made to look stupid, I think I have asked some pretty stupid questions in my time :oops: Thanks to all

  19. albatross
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Back in 2008 the acquisition of Sky+ changed my life. In 2012 discovering this site changed it again. My thanks to all concerned (and to Adrian who introduced me.)

  20. Colmce
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on the fourth birthday.

    Stumbled across this blog by accident about a year ago, it has greatly enhanced my skillset and the enjoyment I get from Xwords.

    Big thanks to BD, and to the learned contributors who contribute an enormous amount of time and energy to making it so good.

    Can’t join the bash on Saturday but hope every body has a good time.

  21. Silveroak
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Happy 4th Birthday. As an ex-Brit living across the pond I don’t know anyone over here who does the DT Xword so for many years I had no-one else to discuss it with. Then I found this site and there are all these wonderful bloggers and people who comment and I feel I have a little bit of England coming into my home every day. Thank you to everyone who gives us the puzzles and to everyone involved on this site, especially Big Dave who made this possible. I am a better crossword solver because of you all.

    • mary
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Hello Silveroak, not seen you for a while, don’t forget you have a little bit of Wales coming into your home too ;-)

    • Derek
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi Silveroak!

      You live over the pond but where?
      I live in NL and would love to discuss the Xword with you any time.

      • Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Silveroak lives in Chicago – which was revealed a few comments back.

  22. bakesi
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s all been said before (or should that be above in cluing terms),..happy birthday and thanks

  23. Hieroglyph
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations! Well done to all involved. Now for another four :-)

  24. stanXYZ
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Happy 4th Birthday!

    Any chance of seeing the first Blog?

    • Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Click on the Welcome post and then go to the next post!

      For the first few days it was called Big Dave’s Toughie Blog, and then I took over blogging the daily puzzles from James Carey.

      • stanXYZ
        Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that tip! So you can read ALL the ancient history!

        When did gazza arrive? Before or after CS? etc, etc.

  25. Rufus
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Many congratulations to Big Dave, and all the bloggers – both those that solve and explain the clues, and those that comment. It has been a real pleasure for me to meet some of them at crossword get-togethers etc.
    While writing, I must thank Big Dave for being so helpful to me in explaining the electronic world! It is much appreciated!

    • Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Helping you has always been a pleasure!

      Thanks for your kind words.

  26. axe
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink


    When I first visited your blog some 18 month’s ago I was searching for help with the DT back pagers.

    Since then your blog (with it’s impressive team of reviewers) have taken me from a standard back page solver

    to a person who tackles Toughie’s without outside aid.

    So may I take this opportunity to thank yourself, and everybody who is involved with your blog.

    Long may your blog continue I still have a tremendous amount to learn.

  27. Amy Field
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday – and thank you so much for being there – so helpful , informative and fun – so appreciated!

  28. Prolixic
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    May I add my thanks too and congratulations on a spectacular achievement. As well as the wealth of encouragement for solvers and a fantastic team of bloggers, Big Dave has also been instrumental in nurturing and encouraging new setters with the NTSPP series, some of whom are branching out into the wider world. There are few sites where us rookies can cut our teeth and we owe a debt of gratitude to BD for the work he does in bringing new talent to light.

    I think we should also say a big big thank you to Mrs BD for allowing BD the time to be involved in such a wonderful site.

    • Kath
      Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes – I sometimes wonder how much Mrs BD sees of BD given how much time he presumably gives to this blog.
      Three cheers to her too, and :smile: from me.

  29. Caravaggio
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Many Happy Returns of the Day to the Blog, Dave, and, yes, you’re right because those four years have gone extremely quickly. It is indeed a wonderful site and thank you for all your hard work; long may you and the blog reign.

  30. una
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Googgling “Joy, Sue Pearl, Dotty” which had stumped the entire family,got me here.At first I though Oh no!, I have found a way to cheat. But ,of course , it hasn’t worked out like that.Very enjoyable and definitely improving my solving skills.It is always great to hear from everybody.Good luck with your Blog and many ,many happy returns! I truly appreciate all your hard work.

  31. Heno
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Happy 4th Birthday, thanks to all who have worked on the site, and especially to Big Dave for providing so much fun, learning and entertainment, a fantastic achievement.

  32. andy
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    many happy returns from me too, hopefully see many of you at the Bridge on Saturday. Like so many commenters my heartfelt thanks to BDs crew, and to the setters, Cheers all

  33. gnomethang
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    YAY! and Many Happy Returns on the day (just). What a life changer!.
    Thanks to you all for your friendship and attention to detail – I echo Dave’s sentiments on the setters and the Telegraph Team of Phil and Daniella. Hope to see some of you on Saturday.

  34. Captain Beefheart
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on reaching four years, long may the blog continue. Thank you to all the people who make the blog such a great place to visit.

  35. Wantage Hopefuls
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday! We’re normally several months behind, and take a couple of days to fight our way through each toughie, but the help we get here is immense. We’re slow but thorough and aim to finish before moving on. We have a wad of oldies to work on (puzzles, not people!)

    And it’s reassuring to see the mental turmoil our fellow solvers suffer.

    Thank you :-)

    • Posted January 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Wantage Hopefuls

  36. Pegasus
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful site, with a special mention to our host Big Dave and long may it continue.

  37. Dawn
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday to the blog and I am indebted to you for the help you so cheerfully give :D

  38. Phil McNeill
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday, Big Dave.

    Your fourth anniversary almost exactly coincides with my fourth as Crossword Editor. At the end of Jan 2009 I had just undergone an intensive learning curve courtesy of Kate Fassett, and was wondering what I had let myself in for with all the Telegraph puzzles to look after as well. Thank heavens Daniella came along a few months later.

    Congratulations on a brilliant website. I’m not sure it has made life easier for me, but it has certainly made it many, many times more interesting!

    All the best

  39. scchua
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday to the blog and thanks to Dave, belated, as I’ve been pressed for time, not least because it was the same day as my daughter’s 16th. As they say, Good Health, Prosperity and a Long Life to the birthday boy/girl/it(?)

  40. Denis Donohue
    Posted January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to BD and all setters

    Many happy returns.