DT 27693 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27693

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27693

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja where it’s a beautiful sunny morning but a bit too chilly for blog-writing outside.  You all know my track record in spotting setters but, for once, I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say that this one is a RayT.  I know we had one last week but this has all the hallmarks – there’s a little bit of innuendo, no clue more than eight words, a couple of hidden answers (just for Kath), an initial letters clue and Her Majesty makes an appearance. On top of that I’ve just had a peek at the Quickie and all the clues are single words. I rest my case.

RayT or not it’s a bit tricky in places, and I slipped into *** time, but there are enough gimmes and anagrams to get you going. However, I found it very entertaining with a few ‘D’oh!’ moments so I’ll be interested in your views.

As usual the ones I like most are in blue, definitions underlined in the clue and the answers hidden under the click here buttons.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


7a           Craft with single course facing empty seas (8)
WILINESS: This isn’t a boat but craft as in cunning. It’s a charade of W(ith), I (single), a word meaning course or direction (4) and S(ea)S (empty).  I’m always happy when the first across clue goes straight in but today I was not happy.

9a           Scoundrel’s hit, getting cane (6)
RATTAN: One of the usual three letter scoundrels followed by a word for to hit.

10a         Progress made by the old man’s son (4)
PASS: The old man as in father (don’t forget the S) followed by S(on). Simple but elegant

11a         Terrible canteen’s stocking American food (10)
SUSTENANCE: Anagram (terrible) of CANTEENS with US (American) inserted (stocking). Well, if it were stocking American food it would be a terrible canteen

12a         Bands making collections for speakers (6)
HORDES: These bands are large groups of people and they sound like (for speakers) collections of stuff that have been squirreled away.

14a         Spread some caramel on gateau (8)
ELONGATE: It’s one of the hidden answers. You’ll spot it if you look carefully enough.

15a         Upset since originally trapped in fly, perhaps (6)
INSECT: Anagram (upset) of SINCE followed by a T (originally Trapped). I thought it was fair but a bit sneaky putting the wordplay indicators before the fodder. I spent some time trying to put an S (Since originally) into (trapped in) some sort of fly to get a word meaning upset, D’OH!

17a         Explosive dissolved before detonator’s top fired (6)
HEATED: Fired or, at least, warmed up.  It’s an abbreviation for High Explosive followed by a word for dissolved or corroded and then a D (Detonator’s top).

20a         Cut both sides of tree sheltering last animal (8)
TRUNCATE: You need a T and an E (both sides of TreE) and insert (sheltering) and word which can mean to last and an animal much beloved of pommette. Took a while to work out under what circumstances the word means to last but got there in the end.

22a         Continental appetiser nibbled at party events initially (6)
CANAPE: First letters (initially) of every other word in the clue.

23a         Ran despite boils on foot (10)
PEDESTRIAN: Anagram (boils) of RAN DESPITE.  I’m not usually a great fan of anagram clues but the surface of this is just brill.

24a         Turn using second gear (4)
SKIT: Turn as in a short turn or act on a stage, usually a satirical one. It’s S(econd) followed by some gear or equipment.  Here’s one of these from Monty P.

25a         Rows from ship around lake (6)
SERIES: The usual two letter ship around a North American lake.

26a         Sailor one predicts sheltering at a distance (8)
SEAFARER: Not AB or TAR this time, the sailor finally gets to be the definition. Take a word for someone who makes predictions and insert (sheltering) a word meaning at a distance.  We’ve already had this insertion indicator in 20a.


1d           Cook a lot topping Italy’s pasta (8)
RIGATONI: A charade of a word meaning cook, as in cook the books, the A from the clue, a slang term for a lot and I(taly).

2d           The man’s small, provoking jeer (4)
HISS: “The man’s” followed by S(mall) gives a sound you make when you jeer at something. Not BOO but another one.

3d           Lovers usually embracing, playing (6)
VERSUS: This is the other hidden answer.  It’s playing as in playing against.

4d           Caesar’s heart found in morgue, horribly macabre (8)
GRUESOME: Take an anagram (horribly) of MORGUE and insert (found in) ES (caESar’s heart)

5d           Get up after shattering blows (10)
STRAIGHTEN: Anagram (after . . . blows) of SHATTERING.  Novel anagram indicator

6d           Charm of master’s bed (6)
MASCOT: A Master of Arts (don’t forget the S again) followed by a baby’s bed. I said there was a little bit of innuendo

8d           Is raised by practically strict nun (6)
SISTER: IS reversed (raised in a down clue) followed by a word meaning strict without its last letter (practically).

13d         Refuse to leave the house? (10)
DISINHERIT: A cryptic definition of what you would do to refuse to leave someone your house (or anything else for that matter) in your will.

16d         Cold rush taking one’s discipline (8)
CHASTISE: Take C(old) followed by a word meaning rush or a hurry and insert (taking) IS (ones).

18d         In need, hurried to acquire record by Queen (8)
DEPRIVED: Start with a word which can mean hurried and insert (to acquire) and old type of record and R(egina).

19d         Disguises guts, lifting middle (6)
BELIES: A word used to describe the guts or stomachs of heavy beer drinkers with the centre letter missing (lifting middle).  I’m trying to lose some of mine at the moment, The trousers have all gone tight since Christmas.

21d         Staggered about dinghy’s prow catching fish (6)
REELED: You need an abbreviation for about followed by a D (Dinghy’s prow) and insert (catching) a long thin fish.

22d         Container vessel’s docked, and sails (6)
CANVAS: A container where you find baked beans followed by a vessel where you find cut flowers without its last letter (docked) gives you a generic term for the sails on a sailing vessel. Yachtsmen still use this term even though their sails are more likely made of Kevlar.

24d         Beneath ocean is large marine creature (4)
SEAL: Put an L(arge) beneath not an ocean but a large expanse of salt water to get a creature that lives in it. I used to see a lot of these around Puffin Island when I sailed out of Conwy but very few puffins, surprisingly, although I believe these are now re-establishing themselves because the rats have been eradicated from the island.

A lot of blue today but on the podium are 23a, 6d and 10a.  What floated your boat?

The Quick Crossword pun: whirl+sup+art=worlds apart

155 comments on “DT 27693

  1. Found this a bit tricky today. Needed the hints to justify some of my answers. Favourite 23a. Thanks to setter and to Pommers for the hints.

  2. This has been the hardest one for me this year. Even using electronic aids I was grateful for some of the hints. Still very enjoyable though.

    Many thanks to both setter and pommers

    And many many thanks for the Monty Python clip… laughed my socks off

  3. A tad difficult for me but very enjoyably, I loved the anagram pointer in 23A with 5D a close second. I dont know how pommers obtained a picture of me in 19D but it has all been bought & paid for.Many thanks to Pommers for his much needed review.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  4. Thank you Ray T, quite tricky, took me ages – in particular the SW corner. Thanks for the review and hints Pommers. I had some “bungitins” and needed your explanations for a few !

  5. I quite enjoyed that this puzzle was full of anagram indicators that were not used as such: cook, playing, spread, shattering, disguise, etc. Together with some unexpected anagram indicators (boil, blows) and other unusual indicators (prow), it made for a puzzle with very nice surprises.

    I liked 5d (shattering blows), 23a (ran despite boils), and many more

    It was only 13d that I did not like very much, I don’t think the question mark is enough to indicate that a house is just one example of what you can leave: it really needs something like “refuse to leave the house, for example”.
    I spent ages thinking of various house wastes.

    Many thanks setter (RayT if it’s you) and pommers for the review

    1. You’re possibly right about 13d. Whatever, it was my last one in and a big D’OH in capital letters when the penny dropped – that’s why it’s in blue.

    2. I went through the whole household rubbish too…recycling etc. Also went down the agoraphobia route!

  6. ***/****

    Grumpy Hanni has left the building. Apologies for yesterday.

    There is nothing like a good RayT to make you smile along with going to the pub with friends that completely take the pi…mickey out of you.

    I started quite slowly today, only a few answers went in quickly. The NW corner was a no-go area for awhile until 3d stopped being so hidden.

    Completely missed the anagram in 23a even though it was blatantly obvious and although I got 19d I needed the skills of the Vega Baja residents to decipher it.

    Favourite goes to 24d in this ‘slightly’
    nautical themed puzzle.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Pommers for a brilliant blog. :-)

    Je suis Charlie.

    1. Hi Hanni – so glad to see that you’re back on form, I was really worried about you yesterday – so unlike you.

      Hope all is well, despite the golf, fishing, weather, offspring etc. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      1. Hi Jane,
        Thank you for the concern but all is well. I rarely get grumpy about anything so that should be it for 2015. :-)
        A few drinks with the quiz team and their particularly unsympathetic/dry humour advice and I soon snapped out of it.
        Though one of engineers said he would ‘liberate’, some pencils from work for me. They know about the crossword stuff.

        How are things with you? Have Candy and fiance settled in OK?
        And what were the lectures today. Sounds very exciting!

        1. They’re fine, thank you – but suffering through the final stages of becoming home-owners! They now hate all solicitors, estate agents, sellers etc. etc. – sound familiar?!!!

          Lectures today were really interesting – this morning’s was all about ‘peat bodies’ (as in Lindow Pete) and what contributed to the preservation of same. The afternoon was a talk by one of the experts involved with OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) which aims to get more people involved with the environment and build up a database of the state of nature and relay the info. to the ‘powers that be’.

          Tomorrow I’m leading a Bird Group outing to Conwy for my U3A group – weather forecast is lousy!

          So glad you’re OK – thought the corner might have to be closed for the duration and Ray T almost had me heading your way tonight! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

          1. What about the puffins on Puffin Island? Is it true they are returning after Gwynedd Council poisoned all the rats? As far as I know the rats got on to the island a couple of hundred years ago and they eat the birds eggs, so no more puffins. Shame as they are a lot of fun to watch – the puffins that is, not the rats!

            1. Puffins doing reasonably well since then, Pommers. The problem now is that the island is a forest of almost impenetrable undergrowth and ‘they’ are having to consider putting grazing animals out there to redress the balance – possibly some of the goats from the Great Orme.

              The other issue is jet-skiers who land on the island with impunity and disturb the birds, particularly the Eiders, who have established nests on the small beach. Without a permanent resident warden (any volunteers to either take the job or pay for one?!!) there is little that can be done at the moment to prevent that. There is an attempt to limit jet-skiers to certain parts of the island but that’s going to be a hard one to enforce.

              By the way – we now have a proliferation of rowing teams out on the Strait – I understand that some of them are doing rather well in national competitions – looks like b. hard work to me. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

              1. Re jet skiers. Have the council considered laying minefields?

                As to warden on the island, it would be a no-no for me as there’s no pub and with the tides as they are it’s not easy to get to ashore, as it were. You tried taking a boat through Puffin sound when the tide’s running – scary or what?

                1. Not sure the council would consider that, Pommers, but maybe an independent body………..!
                  Yes, I’ve run the sound several times (considered resorting to rosary beads on some occasions) and walked (stumbled) the length and breadth of the island doing nest counts.
                  As for being a warden – no thanks – as you say, no pub! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

                  Commiserations to Pommette – it’s blowing a gale here and I doubt that Manchester is faring much better, although the temperatures aren’t bad (by Brit standards!).

          2. Hi Jane…sorry for the belated reply. Good grief I had to Google some of the information! Re environmental databases I have been involved in butterfly conservation/habitats and it’s been brilliant to read up about what you are involved in.

            Oh gosh I do feel for the newly engaged re house buying. :-( Even the smoothest of purchases is stressful. I still don’t understand the bin buying thing though! ;-)

            A rose to the mum that helped. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  7. This took me a little longer than normal to complete, finishing up with 13d and 19d as my last in.
    3*/4* for me. Thanks to RayT, and to Pommers for the review.

  8. I also found this one quite difficult – mostly because when I finally figured out the answer, I disputed much of the basis of the wordplay. Some just awful clues here in my opinion – poor synonyms and inexact wordplays.

    It is the type of puzzle that I tend to scrumple up and throw into the waste basket with disgust.

    Grumpy Hanni may have left the building, but Grumpy George just came in!

    Anyway 4*/1* is my rating.

  9. Phew that was tough! The grid gets a difficulty star to itself; not only is it stingy with the first letters (8 I think) but it seemed to offer s*d all in the way of useful checkers. The right hand side went in ok but the other half took three times as long. 13d was my nemesis too.
    Hard but in a good way. 4*/4*

  10. Didn’t like 18d even with the hint. How does ‘need’ work here?

    Nous Sommes Tous Charlie

    1. The definition is IN NEED, ie DEPRIVED which is the answer. It’s EP (record) and R (Queen) inside DIVED.

  11. I thought this was a trickier than usual Ray T – thank you to him

    Any other newspaper solvers amused by the fact that now they have cottoned on to the fact that we don’t look at the advert on the back page, they’ve put another advert for the same car on the inside back page and moved the crossword back a page.

    1. That sounds pretty good to me. Surely you can chuck the outer sheet and the crossie will then be on what becomes the back page of what’s left http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    2. It may have something to do with news event. It could have been bought as a wraparound, with the DT sometimes allows, but when earth-shattering news like yesterday’s happens, they quite rightly shove the ads elsewhere so that they can get the new on P1 rather than an ad for a fairly dull car

  12. Tricky today so quite a lot of help needed, normal for this type of cryptic for us. I don’t quite understand how the answer to 10 across equates to progress though. Anyway, nice and bright and sunny on the East Coast today. Thank you to the Thursday setter and to Pommers without whom we would not have been able to finish.

    1. First definition of PASS in Collins on-line:

      to go onwards or move by or past (a person, thing, etc)

      1. I took it as ‘pass an exam’ – probably a throw-back to years ago! As I remember, all it meant was that one progressed to the next exam which was even harder than the one before. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

        1. That was my first thought, but then I looked in the dictionary and was quite surprised.

  13. A toughie back page for me today and I think a ****/****,some straight forward clues but a lot more difficult ones-to me at least , like 13D and 20A. Last in was 19D, as I was looking for a 6 letter word for ‘guts’ with the middle letters reversed-or similar- till the d’oh moment arrived. Thanks setter for the headache, on Elvis’s birthday too.

  14. Needed Pommers explanation to parse 20a. Thought 19d was the clue of the day.
    Small point Pommers, re your explanation for 22a, do you mean “First letters (Initially) of each word in the clue” not every other word.
    Thanx to Compiler and to Pommers for his usual quality Hints. **/**** for me.

  15. Well that was tricky. It’s taken me ages – 4* for difficulty and 4* for enjoyment too.
    I wasn’t expecting a Ray T today but it didn’t take very long to twig and look at the quick crossword clues which confirmed what I’d already decided.
    I never did get 19d – should have done, but I didn’t.
    I always know when a crossword is difficult – I find the hidden answers more quickly than lots of other ones – that means I’m getting a bit desperate!
    5d had to be what it was but why remained a total mystery – didn’t spot the anagram.
    The 23a anagram took a long time – no excuses for that one.
    Spent too long being completely dim with 15a.
    I could go on but have probably said enough already . . .
    I liked 10 and 23a and 2 and 4d. My favourite was 6d.
    With thanks to Ray T and thanks and well done to pommers. The only problem is that I was so busy watching and laughing at John Cleese that I forgot I’d put bread in the oven. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  16. I did not finish today’s puzzle (5 missing in the end – well 4 really – I thought 13d had to be disinherit but couldn’t think of a way of justifying it). I find grids such as these where there are so many lone first letters of words (i.e that have no intersection with other words) far more challenging, and then when you add word plays that are, may I say, convoluted (e.g. 20a) you get, for me, a recipe for frustration. I did not know that H.E. was an abbreviation for high explosive. I did know the word play involved for 19d but could not come up with belies, and I did not get, but should have, 21d. Many thanks to all.

  17. Wrestling with Ray is one of my favourite pastimes. Sometimes it goes on for hours. Today is such a day. I am down at the moment but I will rise. Its not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog. I am coming for you Ray.

    1. Wrestling with Ray is one of my favourite pastimes. Sometimes it goes on for hours.

      I’m going to be wrestling with that image myself!!!

      1. Sorry, Hanni – you’ll have to get in the queue – I’m in front of you and I reckon Kath could well be standing in pole position!

          1. Yes – I realised that but thought that Kath and I should get the ringside seats! However………. now you’ve raised the debate to a different level I’m quite prepared to reconsider my motives. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        1. The trouble with women (as you doubtless know) is that we fall madly in ‘lust’ with one aspect of a man and then realise that dealing with the whole package is an entirely different matter. I suspect (with the hindsight of maturity) that the same is true in reverse!

          If Mr. T. is still looking in – please forgive us for the levity. Hopefully, you will take it in good part and not retaliate with a ‘monster puzzle’ with your next offering. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

          1. Hi Jane. Absolutely nothing to forgive. Where would we be without levity? However, as pommers suggested, the mind did indeed boggle at the image conjured up…


  18. Not a pleasant stroll but a very enjoyable marathon. Certainly needed the hints today but very well constructed puzzle and very enjoyable. My rating is 4/4 Thanks to Pommers for the very entertaining review.

  19. ****/*** Many thanks to Pommers for his hints, my last one was 19d after reading the hint! The picture that accompanied it is a reminder to get on with my New Year fitness regime!

  20. A puzzle of two parts for me, very reasonable for all but the southwest corner. I worried and gnawed at it for ages, but I just failed and had to look at the hints. This was a very difficult solve but still enjoyable.
    Thanks to Jay, even though I was tearing my hair out, and thanks to pommers for the help finishing it.
    Je suis Charlie.

    1. I see that Donald Trump, our resident buffoon, thinks this atrocious attack was caused by France’s strict gun laws, if more of the public were armed they could have taken down the goons. Gawd help us! As if America weren’t like noon at the Okay Corral.

  21. Taking pommette to the airport now as she off to the UKfor three days – mother’s birthday tomorrow.

    Back in a couple of hours.

    Soy Charlie también.

  22. Really struggled today so massive thanks to pommers, I’ve learnt a lot today!! Favourite today was 23a mainly cos I got it! Thanks to setter for giving the old brain a thoroughly good workout.

  23. Thanks to the Telegraph and to all of you for taking my mind off this day of National mourning as I had to concentrate wholly on today’s crossword.
    Quite a hard slog but the longer I spent on some clues, the better I felt.
    Never too happy to have American = US, but apart from that I have no quibbles.
    Glad but also sorry to see that MP’s and Hanni’s pencils are making all the headlines.

    The pen is mightier than the sword.
    My daughter is really called Charlie Cheval. How ironic.
    Moi aussi je suis Charlie.

    1. Moi aussi, je suis Charlie. Could not really concentrate on today’s difficult puzzle as my mind was elsewhere. All this reminded me of the Bombay terrorist attack – we lived in Mumbai at the time and could have among the diners at the Taj or the Oberoi. Terrible times. Amazing reaction all over the world. As you said the pen is mightier than the sword, how tragic that it has cost brave people their lives.

  24. Did quite well, managed just under half before the hints. Very tough though, more like a four star.
    Thx to all

    1. Now had a chance to revisit with the hints and managed to complete it tho it was tricky after misspelling 12a! Intensly disliked 1a but the top right corner was fun.
      Was it a Ray T? The clues seemed too logical and complete for his which usually require some sort of leap of faith.

      1. Don’t think any of the rest of us had a 1a but am so glad to learn that you are getting with the ‘leap of faith’ idea – I have to do that time after time with the Don. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  25. What a lovely surprise to find another Ray T so soon. This was much tougher than last week’s with my last three in (12a, 13d & 19d) taking quite a while to crack, but I found it equally enjoyable. My rating today is 3*/4*.

    My joint favourites were 23a & 6d.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to pommers.

  26. ****/**. What a tricky puzzle with a mix of brilliant clues and ones that just didn’t work for me. Thanks to Pommers for the hints which I needed to explain the more obtuse elements and to the setter for taxing my little grey cells.

  27. I ,too, found this on the difficult side & was forced to go to the hints to complete it. Thanks to Pommers & Ray T albeit on his sterner side today.

  28. We found this one really tough and even had to use assistance to get 12a and 19d. It also took ages to work out the anagram in 5d. We had convinced ourselves that the definition was ‘blows’, ‘shattering’ was the indicator and ‘get up after’ was the fodder. No wonder it took a while for the penny to drop. Pommers has already commented on the word count on the clues, but we did check. A good challenge and good fun.
    Thanks RayT and pommers.

  29. Thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the review and hints. A very enjoyable, but very difficult puzzle. I was 8 answers short, and had to look them all up. Couldn’t even get them from the hints. Favourite was 5d, was 4*/3* for me.

  30. This felt quite tough, but my watch tells me it’s well within (what l consider) 2* time. 3* for satisfaction. No obvious favourite as a clue, so I’ll plump for 26a on the grounds that l was one (and indeed still am when my boat’s in the water). VMTs to Ray T, and to Pommers for the review.

      1. I dread to think! St. Sharon deserves wins at cribbage, nights out other than to Van concerts, hearts, flowers and possibly an MBE (Miffypops Best Endeavour). http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        1. Saint Sharon’s team can enjoy wins over the other teams that play. In 2013 I took her to four Bob Dylan concerts. Last year we went to Belfast and Bruges. This year we may go to Coventry and Carlisle. We have tickets this year for Gordon Giltrap. The History Boys and Bellowhead. A holiday booked in St Mawes Cornwall where we will dine like kings and queens. Hopefully Mr Dylan will grace our shores and I will secure best of house tickets for all shows. The girl wants for nothing that I want.

          1. Oh dear, MP – I can’t speak for the rest of the ‘dates’ but certainly remember that Belfast was a Van date. As for Dylan – was that St. Sharon’s choice?

            As Pommers said – Carlisle?!!!

              1. The music is nearly always my choice but St Sharon would never have seen Belfast and Mournes restaurant if Van had not been playing. Dylan is me through and through. We do stay in some nice hotels, eat in top restaurants, meet former heavyweight boxing champions of the world (Larry Holmes) and once witnessed the best punch I haver ever seen thrown in my life in a five star hotel. The girl done well.

                1. Just maybe she wasn’t bothered about seeing Belfast, MP – if you’re stuck on ‘C’ for next time, how about the Caribbean. You could get St. Sharon points in spades. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

          2. Carlisle. I’m sorry but what the @#$/?

            Unless we’re missing your humour here?

            Edit…you can see plenty of my families military medals at Carlisle castle. Other than that…why?

            1. Belfast and Bruges last year. This year I need places that begin with a C. I thought it was obvious. If you can suggest better please feel to do so..

                  1. I would like to go to either Majorca or Ibiza. One is definitely out but I am not sure which one. Once I find that out I can book the other

                    1. Neither begin with C but as I have lived in S’arraco in Mallorca I have to vote for that island. The north west is brill.

    1. James Blunt lives on one of the islands so I need the other one. If I am to leave these shores this year it will have to be worth it and no flight of more than an hour.

      1. I forgot about Mr Blunt…you two could have a sing-a-long? You’re never going to speak to me again. No flight of more than an hour?? Ok..and this is being serious. Why not a shuttle hop to mainland Europe and drive/train?

  31. Needed hints for 5 clues. I think RayT has definitely upped the difficulty level so far for 2015.

    23a was great.

  32. Ok.So more difficult than yesterday. Last 2 in were 12a and 19d after looking at the hints. Otherwise, a good test and my favourite was 23a. ****/***

    1. De nada. Thanks for the tussle Ray, really enjoyed it. I still think Phil McNiell has asked you guys to up the ante a bit.

    2. You have spoilt my record the first one this year I have not managed to complete but actually I am not complaining because what I did fill in I was proud of. I was grateful to pommers for filling in the top left hand corner where I came to a grinding halt. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  33. Oh, dear, this was one of those days when RayT beat me by a country mile, I’m afraid. Usually he lets me have just enough success to keep me going happily on right to the end: alas, today I only managed half – and ground to a miserable halt! By such we learn, I suppose.
    Many thanks to him and to pommers.

  34. Wow – Mr. T, you really got me going with this one! Only had time to scratch the surface this morning before a full day of lectures and came back to a real challenge. Where to start?…………
    15 & 20a – with you all the way, Pommers, with your modus operandi. I also followed others down the ‘household rubbish’ route for 13d, which took ages to sort out.

    17a – ‘melted’ seemed OK and remained in place until I read the review (shame on me, but I didn’t know the abb. for High Explosive).
    24a – spent a long time trying to justify ‘spin’ !
    5d – knew it had to be an anagram but even with pen and circle (sorry, MP) it fought back for quite a while.

    Absolute favourite has to be 19d – one of my first ones in and I just KNEW Pommers would come up with a great picture! Speaking of which, such a superb review and many thanks for Monty Python, the reminder of Sister Act and the pic. of the intrepid Ellen Macarthur. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif I reckon Mr. T knew you’d be reviewing and put in 26a & 19d just for you. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Devotion as ever to Mr. T – if it hadn’t been one of yours I might have given up before the end! PS – loved your Quickie pun. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    1. Yes! Great pic of Ellen MacArthur. Actually she had dinner once at le jardin while participating in a regatta in Hyeres and so did the whole Bribon team that Pommers probably knows.

      1. No, but I did meet Ellen a fair few years ago when she visited Conwy during regatta week. Lovely lady, very self-effacing and easy to talk to. I’m not wishing to do a Miffypops here but it’s fair to point out that pommette and I won the cruiser class for the second year running that year, sailing two handed against fully crewed boats. How cool was that http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

        Now back to Endevour on ITV3 – see y’all at the next adverts.

          1. You are correct on the spelling and it was a ship indeed, that of Captain James Cook I believe, but this one is the young Inspector Morse and this is an episode I seem to have missed.

          2. Thoughts have been with the whole of France today Jean-Luc.

            Though I have to agree with Jane. You can’t have Ellen but love the fact that she came to Le Jardin!!

            James Cook did indeed sail the Endeavour. He grew up in Great Ayton and the monument named after him is a local landmark near us.

      2. OK Jean-luc – you’ve proved your point – Brits do dine at Le Jardin. But there again – folk like Ellen must have the constitution of an ox! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        So sorry for what you are all going through in France at the moment – took me back to the outpouring of grief over the London underground tragedy. Hard to see where we go from here given that none of us can comprehend the mind set of these people.

        1. Things are starting to cool down here.
          As a logical reaction French press is starting to be satirical about the loss of so much talent. That’s probably what they would have wanted no doubt. Like attending Spike Milligan’s funeral I suppose.
          As far as Ellen is concerned, she is very French.

          1. Sorry, Jean-luc – I’ll forgive you most things (even the menu) but the lovely Ellen was born in Matlock, Derbyshire – not far from where I lived – you can’t get away with that one!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

            1. I think we can put her in the category of “closet French”. She probably would be better at French crosswords than me.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    2. My god! I just looked up when that was.
      2007 for the Spanish and 2009 for Ellen. And I thought it was yesterday. Time does fly when it comes to the jet set.

    1. When I worked at the Duke of York’s I had to wear a suit. The top came from Moss Bros but for the trousers I had to go to Marks and Spencer’s children department.

      1. Could that be anything to do with your body’s natural inclination to rid itself of the offal you eat as quickly as possible? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    2. Not me. It has to be 23a – a perfect clue. The surface is meaningful and there isn’t a wasted letter. I laughed out loud when I spotted how it worked.

  35. I’m glad I wasn’t the one one who struggled with this then. Surprisingly tricky and after way more time spent on it than usual I had to resort to 2 hints to finish it.
    Tnanks to the setter (Ray T?) for the challenge and to pommers for the saving hints.
    3.5*/3* for me.

  36. Wow, RayT, you had me tearing my hair out today for which I reluctantly thank you! I finally had to succumb to help on the West Side from Pommers and thanks to him my sanity may perhaps have been preserved! I am reassured that I am not alone in finding 2015 puzzles abnormally testing so far and I certainly haven’t been able to finish any over breakfast as has usually been the case heretofore. ****/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifLet’s see what the morrow brings. Ironically I attended a lecture today on English cartoonists over the centuries. Je suis Charlie.

    1. Don’t keep your hopes up for tomorrow, Angel – at this rate it will be a Toughie in little disguise! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  37. Oh well, DS Morse has sorted it all out and clocked the bad guys. Not a surprise.

    Pommette should have landed at Manchester about an hour ago so will soon be arriving at our friend’s place where she is staying for the next three nights. I await the phone call and after that all I have to do is feed her irritation of cats (is that the correct collective noun for four of the little b*****s?), sort their litter trays, put out their beds, have a last snort of the amber stuff and then go to bed. You may not have realised but I am married to “The Mad Cat Lady of El Saladar the Vega Baja”. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    1. You have my sympathy, Pommers. Both of my daughters were ‘mad cat ladies’ and I got left with their (up to seven) dependents when they went on hols (and subsequently, when they left home). Didn’t go down well with the loves of my life – a trio of Scottish Deerhounds! All my own fault, I guess. I encouraged younger daughter when she wanted to help out with the CPS (Cats Protection Society). It’s a bit like joining a book/wine club – if you don’t cancel your subscription, they send you the monthly offer anyway. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      1. You could have fed the cats to the deerhounds. Would have saved on the dog food, and cat food I guess!
        You may have guessed from today that I’m not over keen on anagrams or cats but with pommette it’s “Love me, love my cats, no matter how many they are” so I have to put up with them.

        1. Ah……… what I didn’t mention was that the deerhounds were besotted with the felines whilst they were indoors – it was only when they went outside that the chase was on. I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats would have just streaked up one of the blasted damson trees and p…… on them anyway!

  38. Right, that’s it. Pommette spoken to, irritation fed, bogs sorted, beds put out and occupied (doesn’t take long), amber stuff snorted so now off to bed. Well, possibly another snort first while the electric blanket warms up :grin:

    See y’all tomorrow.

    1. Thank Pommers for the blog and entertainment today. I hope Pommette has a good trip.

      Cats can be OK. Then again the only ones we’ve ever had were raging psychopaths. Even the Newfies thought twice.

  39. It’s just occurred to me that, if the blog carries on like this, we will have to reinstate the “After Eight Club”. Wonder where he’s gone, was it Ainsley?

  40. Last in, as usual, and even later than I would have liked owing to the 4* difficulty level of this RayT offering. Didn’t like the grid and even less the fact that most of the checking letters were vowels. Got there in the end after a break to make – and eat – some broccoli, mushroom and Stilton soup. Interesting that Stilton doesn’t come from Stilton, where they make the same cheese but are not allowed to call it Stilton. Only 3* satisfaction! I’m afraid! because of the grid and absence of useful checkers. Thanks to Pommers for the review and to the rest of you for a better even than usual blogfest.

  41. I had no difficulty at all with much of this crossword, and then got completely stuck with six clues. This isn’t to say it wasn’t thoroughly enjoyable!

    Very big thanks to RayT for the entertainment and to Pommers for a super review and much needed enlightenment for the six clues which got the better of me.

    1. We usually like people to explain what they mean by awful – the crossword, the review, the weather, the situation in France, the price of peas…. do tell exactly what made you join us to comment on the awfulness of something or other.

      1. Hopefully, Terry was referring to his own performance?!!! I can often empathise with that. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

  42. I needed the hint for 7a and was most annoyed with myself for not ‘seeing’ it. Ain’t that always the case? What a terrific crossword today! Thank you Ray T. Some excellent surface reading and my favorite clue was 22d.
    Once again a lively blog!
    Thanks also to Pommers for the revue.

  43. Been slowly chipping away at this one for a couple of days. Finally stuck on 19d and reluctantly turned to electronic help – and still missed it among the possibles! Pommers’ hint made it obvious – thanks. Difficult but satisfying. Thanks to Ray T.

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