DT 27975

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27975

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating — Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Hello everyone. There’s a lot that I don’t know today so I’m going to start off with the one thing I am sure of – this is not a Ray T crossword. I don’t know who set it and although I could make a guess I’m keeping quiet for the moment. I think it was tricky in places and I think I enjoyed it very much but I find it difficult to judge both when I’m doing the hints. In other words over to you now.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are under the bits that say ANSWER so only do that if you need to see one.


1a            Crab? Auntie had ordered steak (13)
CHATEAUBRIAND — An anagram (ordered) of CRAB AUNTIE HAD. I know I’ve said it before but a long anagram right across the top is a very encouraging start.


9a            Carpool’s got lost taking one to old citadel (9)
ACROPOLIS — Hot on the heels of the previous clue we have another anagram (got lost) of CARPOOL’S which contains (taking) I (one).


10a         Drive old Hillman to centre of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (5)
IMPEL — A small economy car of the 1960’s and 70’s that had a reputation for being unreliable is followed by the middle two letters of (centre of) Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

11a         Grub from a camper van in Hollywood? (5)
LARVA — The two letters for the city where the US film industry is based are followed by what a camper van is called over there – i.e. in Hollywood. All I can find is that camper vans are called RV’s but they seem to come in different sizes – A, B and C – I think I need some help from one of our American commenters here.


12a         See 6 Down
TEST — See 6d for the hint to both

13a         Slight case of pins and needles (4)
ETUI — The pins and needles here are sewing implements rather than ‘fizzy feet’ and the ‘slight case’ is a small decorative case for holding them.

15a         Dull rather like a mountain lake? (7)
TARNISH — A mountain lake or loch is followed by a suffix that signifies rather like  or similar too. Anything ending with this suffix makes me laugh – I don’t know why.

17a         Lost to Spurs in staggering circumstances? (7)
STUPORS — An anagram (lost – the same is used in 9a) of TO SPURS. I got into a terrible muddle with this one as I confused the definition and the anagram indicator which really wasn’t helpful.

18a         Train voice (7)
EXPRESS — A double definition – a fast train and verb meaning to put into words.

20a         Does as a favour cook big sole (7)
OBLIGES — An anagram (cook) of BIG SOLE.

21a         University professor or thick noodle? (4)
UDON — The one letter abbreviation for U(niversity) is followed by a fellow of a university or college. I think a bit of ‘setter’s licence’ is being used here as a don is not necessarily a professor.


22a         What harmonies do in ‘Gimme Shelter’ (4)
MESH — A lurker or answer that’s hidden in the clue – in this case it’s in between the last two words.

23a         Soundly sited to keep moist (5)
BASTE — A homophone (soundly) of a word meaning sited or located.

26a         Petty arguments like these about ankles! (5)
SPATS — A double definition – minor arguments or trivial bickers and cloth or leather gaiters coving the shoe uppers and ankles.

27a         Sandwich for instance makes turnover for retail part of chain (4,5)
GOLF LINKS — In a crossword that has a lot of foody clues here we have a sandwich which is not anything to eat – it’s a place in Kent and the answer to the clue is something that this place is famous for. The first bit is a reversal (turnover) of a verb meaning to retail or sell and the second part are some loops in a chain – not one of my better hints . . .

28a         Measure taken for boot? (8,5)
EVICTION ORDER — A legal term for a procedure or course of action (measure) which allows someone to be removed or booted out of somewhere.



1d            Surpisingly a lecture’s short and sweet (9,5)
CHARLOTTE RUSSE — An anagram (surprisingly) of A LECTURE’S SHORT. This was much easier once I stopped trying to make the first word ‘chocolate’ – how could it be – there’s only one ‘C’.


2d            Drier Queen melody transposed (5)
AIRER — Two parts here – the Queen and the melody but the two letters for our Queen and the melody or tune are in a different order (transposed) to the way they appear in the clue.

3d            Insists on mince pies and mashes (10)
EMPHASISES — An anagram (mince) of PIES and MASHES.

4d            Open buffet at lunch (7)
UNLATCH — Another anagram (buffet, as in bash around) of AT LUNCH.

5d            Refuses Silk Cut during breaks (7)
RESISTS — The first two letters (cut) of SI(lk) are contained in (during) a word for breaks or short breathers. I spent quite a while thinking that I was missing something here but if I am I still can’t see it.

6d            and 12 Across: Time to interrupt most ill-natured trial (4,4)
ACID  TEST— The superlative form of a word meaning ill-natured or cutting contains (to interrupt) the one letter abbreviation for T(ime).

7d            Swim? Husband’s put on G-string — it’s two tones in one (9)
DIPHTHONG — The tones are vowel sounds. Begin with a word meaning a short swim, follow that with the one letter abbreviation for H(usband) and finish off with a G-string or very small pants or bikini bottoms.


8d            Seafood taster perhaps swallows one and he checks cover for cracks (6,8)
CLAIMS ASSESSOR — Some edible shellfish are followed by a word meaning taster or someone deciding the quality of something – the shellfish contain the letter that looks like the Roman numeral one (swallows one).

14d         Uproar in eastern city with a second-rate potato found in curry (10)
HULLABALOO — A large industrial city in the NE of the UK is followed by the A from the clue, the letter indicating second-rate and, finally, the word for potato used in Indian cookery (curry).


16d         Rogue about to go over copy of will (9)
REPROBATE — The usual two letters meaning about or concerning are followed by (to go over) an official copy of a will with the certificate of its having been proved.

19d         Deceptive move from second crew circling lake (7)
SLEIGHT — The one letter abbreviation for S(econd) are followed by a rowing crew – the second and the crew are split by (circling) another one letter abbreviation, this time the one for L(ake).


20d         Loves absorbing temperature where it’s hot in general in Venice (7)
OTHELLO — This general in Venice was a Moorish one in the Venetian army in a tragedy by Shakespeare. Two letters that look like a zeros or love scores in a game of tennis contain (absorbing) the one letter abbreviation for T(emperature) and a place that is reputed to be very hot.

24d         Court controversy? Noddy Holder? (5)
SYNOD — Our final lurker or another hidden answer – it’s in between the middle two words of the clue. Well – oh dear, oh dear, oh dear – I know I’m bad at finding these but really . . . I know who Noddy Holder is but what with a question mark and a capital letter what hope did I have – thanks to Mr Google I am now almost a world expert on Noddy Holder in my effort to make sense of the clue. 

25d         Basis of soda’s it’s flipping bubbly (4)
ASTI — The last letter (basis of) soda is followed by a reversal (flipping) of IT’S.

I liked 10a and 7 and 14d. My favourite was 28a.



  1. Nick the Greek
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Not the easiest I’ve done. I didn’t really like 8d, assessor for taster is stretching things a bit. 7d and 24d took a while too. Interestingly I have all the answers that Kath has but my iPad tells me there is an error, I have double checked the spelling and letters so I’m not sure what’s going on. Thanks to Kath and the setter. ****/***

  2. Gazza
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    A gourmet puzzle today which I really enjoyed – thanks to the setter and to Kath for the first-class blog. For 11a I think that A RV is positioned ‘in LA’. I’m not keen on ‘cut’ in 5d meaning cut in half rather than truncate.

    • Kath
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Gazza – of course A RV in LA – how did I miss that? Dim, that’s how!
      I didn’t care much for the 5d ‘cut’ bit either.

  3. stanXYZ
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Many thanks to P-J (For it surely must be him (?) – Lots of laughs and guffaws!


    Thanks to Kath for the Blog – I don’t understand 11a either.

    • Popeye
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I think the RV is a horrible American abbreviation for recreational vehicle. I say horrible because as far as I’m aware it has no common use in the UK….

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m with you all the way on that one, Popeye.

      • Bluebird
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Those of us with motorhomes will have noticed the American style RV ( to be pronounced ve-HI-cle) catching on over this side of the pond. They’re more like coaches with no drivers door and even “pull-out” side bits. The fuel costs and the 17 point turns required in British towns, will keep them in check, I think.

      • spindrift
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if we’ll see SUV being used one day?

        • merusa
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          What do you call SUVs in UK?

          • Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            Chelsea tractors?

            • merusa
              Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

              The cars here that drive me crazy are the Hummers. They gobble petrol, and sometimes I feel that I am in downtown Bagdhad.

          • Kath
            Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            Too big!

          • Michael
            Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            We call them SUV’s – what’s wrong with them – thank god it’s still a free country – I pay my Road Tax, the fuel duty, insurance etc – I love my X5.


            • Kath
              Posted December 3, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              I’m sure you pay your Road Tax etc etc and I agree with you in being glad that it’s still a free country but they’re too big for our over crowded roads. However, the main problem that I have is how the people who own them drive.

              • merusa
                Posted December 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

                I drive a Suzuki crossover, a small version of the SUV. It’s really small, but I got it because of my bad arthritis. In a normal car I had a problem getting out of the car and unravelling my hips, but when I alight from my “sweet pea” I’m already standing!

              • Michael
                Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

                I’ve been driving since 1973, I’ve never had an accident, I’ve had maximum no claims allowance for over 30 years – I’ve only received 2 speeding tickets in 42 years. You can’t generalise about a whole cross section of the population. I’m sure there are plenty of Road Hogs driving Toyota Hybrids.

                • Kath
                  Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

                  OK – I give in (a little bit) for what was probably a rather sweeping generalisation – apologies but most of the things that nearly knock me for six from my bike are really big cars just like yours.
                  I don’t know what a Toyota Hybrid is – do I need to know?

                  • Miffypops
                    Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink

                    Everybody who drives whatever they drive is a prat in somebodies eyes. The only perfect driver in the world is (can you guess?) Me. The second best driver is obviously Michael.

  4. neveracrossword
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I agree with you, Kath, re parsing of 5d. You haven’t missed anything. Started off like an express train with this one, thanks to all those helpful anagrams, but was delayed by 27a. Favourite was 7d. No doubt we will be treated to Noddy Holder’s Xmas rendition again soon.Thx to Kath and setter.

  5. Brian
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    For me the best puzzle of the week by a country mile! Some lovely clues esp 7d which is my fav.
    No questions or queries and no religious clues so I am a happy bunnyhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif
    Thx to all

    • Vince
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Brian, what exactly is a “country mile”? I’ve heard this expression so much in sports commentary, and never understood where it comes from.

      • Brian
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Very good point. A trip through Google revealed several possibilities but this seemed the best:

        A country mile is an exaggerated distance. Mile is from the Latin for 1,000 paces [mille passuum] and has become standardized in English as 1,760 yards. The term “country mile” may be by analogy to a nautical mile (one minute of a great circle of the earth; fixed at 6,080 feet), an Irish mile (2,240 yards), a Scottish mile (various, including 1,976 yards), or it may be because the winding character of many country roads requires a long distance to be traversed in order to travel a mile as the crow flies.

  6. Graham
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Firstly thank you for the kind words of sympathy yesterday,feeling a lot better after a good nights sleep.Back to the puzzle which was pitched at my sort of level,liked 14D. But favourite goes to 7D.Many thanks to the setter & Kath for her excellent review.?

  7. Popeye
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Enjoyable start what a gift two enormous anagrams giving all those first letters. Unfolded nicely and then I met 8d and 13a. Really struggled with both. Favourite by far 7d best word of the week must try and use today!!!! *** / ****

  8. Jane
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Well, we’ve got food and music today along with the glorious word at 14d that I doubt many setters would choose so I’ll stick my neck out and accuse PJ.
    Things I’ve learnt include the name for potato in a curry and the fact that I can’t spell the second part of 1d at the first attempt! Sorry, JL – hanging my head in shame.
    Fortunately I did remember the noodle from a recent Rookie puzzle and spotted the 24d lurker before I got too involved in Noddy Holder’s life story!
    SE corner took longer than the rest of the puzzle put together and pushed me just over the 2* time. Definitely 4* for enjoyment.

    I’d second Kath’s choices for the leader board but have to give the gold star to 1d for its perfect surface read.
    Many thanks to our setter (will PJ perhaps confirm or deny?) and also to our lovely Kath – I do so love your little asides on your blogs. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    • John Pidgeon
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it’s me. Relieved you enjoyed it. JP

      • Kath
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for calling in and claiming your great crossword. Maybe next time I think it’s one of yours I’ll have the courage to stick my neck out and say so, but probably not.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Great stuff PJ. More please.

        Jane, I like Kath’s asides on the blog too.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the puzzle and for dropping in – always nice to see a setter taking an interest in what we mere mortals think of their work. Splendid http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

      • Jane
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, PJ. You’re not half as relieved as I am for guessing correctly!

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          I guessed it yesterday Jane

          • Jane
            Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

            Yes you did – and that was a tough call.

      • Hilary
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Fabadabulous, jolly hard for me but most enjoyable with all those lovely foddie references.

        • Hilary
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          I meant foodie

      • Michael
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Congrstulations on a very good puzzle – my only criticism would be the use of ‘RV’ in 11a – Americanisms in a Daily Telegraph crossword is really not on – in my humble opinion!


  9. neveracrossword
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    There was an old music-hall song entitled “Ashby de la Zouch by the Sea”, ironically named because the town is about as far from the ocean as it’s possible to be. One of the lines of the song was :”Aint it a shame that it’s got such a name”.

  10. overtaxed
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Really liked this puzzle. The long anagrams helped, but trickier clues too, with 18a and 27a providing doh moments. Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the excellent blog. Ps has anyone else had trouble accessing the site today?

  11. Michael
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – 11a had to be Larva from the ‘grub’ bit and the ‘LA’ reference but I had no idea that a Camper Van was referred to as an ‘RV’ – that is obscure to the utmost and I don’t approve of Americanisms appearing in the Daily Telegraph crossword – but then again who cares what I think!

    21a was a new word to me but I got it from the ‘surface reading’ ( see I’m getting the hang of this lark!) and the BRB helped!

    I make it 6 anagrams, and some long ones at that – food and drink to me – I love ’em!

    Luckily I’m a golfer so 27a was another write in – all great stuff!


    • Dr_Bob
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I counted 8 anagrams. Seems rather a lot but a minor quibble as this was a great puzzle.

      I’m a golfer too and, likewise, 27a was immediately obvious :-)

      EDIT: 7 anagrams (I can’t count!)

      • Patski
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        I live within walking distance of Sandwich and often walk alongside the golf course but it still took me an age! The Bay is a joy to walk when the tide is out. Lots of remains of old wooden ships embedded in the sands.

        Enjoyable puzzle but took a while to get into even with all those marvellous anagrams.

  12. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    3*/4*. This was a bit off the wall with lots of different clue types which made it very interesting. Good fun, but what a shame to spoil it by the inclusion of RV. 28a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron and to Kath.

  13. spook
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Found this a bit strange, completed left side in write in speed then came to a dead stop until 7d. The rest was quite a struggle had to resort to help for 8d. Many thanks to Kath and mystery setter, on the whole ***\*** for me.

  14. Kitty
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Just me then :( . Struggled today. Great puzzle though, with just a couple of minor hmms. Smiles may have been raised at 7d, 20d and 23a.

    I needed to look up the old Hillman to explain my answer to 10a and all I could do with 27a was guess the second word. Also struggled inexplicably in other places, leaving me feeling a bit of a dunce.

    I’ve been left with an earworm to the tune of Bustopher Jones and a craving for a bhuna with a side of sag aloo.

    Thanks to PJ and to Kath for the wonderful blog.

    • Bluebird
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      The Hillman Imp was my very first car and very nippy it was too…..

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I paid £40 for one with a pal for a holiday in Cornwall. It gradually died slowly through the holiday and just about made it home. We dumped it at the bottom of his mums garden where it rotted for a good many years. Eventually a chap paid us stupid money for its number plate. Result.

    • Kitty
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Lots of vehicle talk today.
      I’m just a little disappointed that nobody asked whether the dunce minded.

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:00 am | Permalink


      • Tstrummer
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:36 am | Permalink

        It depends which bit, but I expect he was quite pleased

        • Kitty
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          I knew I could count on you, Ts.

  15. Kath
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes – I also thought PJ but having been wrong so many times I chickened out of saying so – you can all call me a coward if you like . . .

  16. Vince
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    25d. What is the purpose of ‘S at the end of soda? It seems redundant, to me, and it makes the surface e reading clumsy.

    • dutch
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      ‘s translates to “is” in the surface reading and “has” in the cryptic reading. Yes, it’s not a super-smooth sentence but it does make sense

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      Not so. It’s (SOD) AS and then IT reversed. Not clumsy at all. Rather a neat way to clue and old chestnut, I thought,

  17. Angel
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    A breeze in the North but a bit rougher in the South although nothing too alarming. Imagine there might be a few people unaware of 27a but I have to admit that although I solved it I failed to parse it – or perhaps I didn’t try too hard. A fair share (?) of anagrams which aren’t my favourite things but otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Thanks PJ and Kath for your special style of hints. **/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  18. Beaver
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Certainly had a different feel about it today, some of the cluing was ,as RD says, a bit off the wall. Having said that most seemed to enjoy it, myself included, and the SE corner forced it into *** territory, can’t really quibble with a **** either .Like others 10a was pure nostalgia , had one myself Roots group flier with a aluminium Coventry climax based engine -prone to head warping but 10 mph quicker than a mini !Favourite and last in 27a-often the case.

  19. Langstone Joe
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed today’s puzzle, and for once needed no hints, but must confess to checking a couple of my answers before writing them in :)

  20. Young Salopian
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink


    A terrific little teaser today. Like many above, I don’t see the need to import Americanisms into what is a quintessentially British crossword. That apart, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Loved 8 and 14d. Many thanks to our setter, and Kath for her hard work. It can’t be easy solving any puzzle against a time limit and then making sense of it AND putting together the hints. I know we always thank the daily blogger but I thought I’d mention it.

    • Kath
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  21. Dr_Bob
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic crossword today with some excellent surface readings. Really enjoyed it. ***/****

    Favourite was 27a but 7d runs it close.

  22. Hanni
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink


    Delicious stuff. A quarter of the way in I did wonder if was PJ…mischievous and funny. Glad I was right.

    So much food on offer today, and all the better for it. Stars by 10 clues today. I did wonder about the use of ‘don’ in 21a but clue made me laugh so I don’t care. Biggest smile goes to 1a with 25a and 24d getting a mention too.

    So many thanks to PJ for a great puzzle and to Kath for a great blog.

    After a ridiculously busy work morning and then riding out twice, I’m having a rather unexpected relaxing afternoon on a dark and wet day on the moors. And the Christmas tree is still standing.

    • dutch
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Chambers has don = lecturer, teacher, tutor, academic, scholar, professor, reader, fellow.

      The professor meaning comes to my mind quickly, a professor often has a chair as head of department which i associate (maybe wrongly) with university dons

      • Hanni
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Yup. I’ve done a ‘Brian’, and not bothered to look it up. Cheers Dutch.

        Jane, after another battle with it, it’s upright. I should have got a smaller one but it’s a big room. It’s acting like a giant pine air freshener. An insanely decorated air freshener.

      • Kath
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        I still don’t agree that a don is the same as a professor. A don is a university fellow or lecturer – he, or she, may also be a professor but not necessarily. I agree with Hanni that it’s a good clue and I’m not going to quibble either but . . .
        Our elder Pet Lamb was a Chemistry Lecturer at Birmingham University – she’s as sure as hell not a professor!

        • Physicist
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          Kath, of course you’re right that a don is not necessarily a professor, but a professor is a don, and it’s professor that’s used in the clue, so I reckon it’s fair.

    • Jane
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Is said Christmas tree still leaning?

  23. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle with JP trying to hoodwink us to think it’s a RayT – what with innuendo and Her Maj appearing in the clues. At first I thought there were going to be too many anagrams but they soon fell away. Lots of good cluing but my favourite (and last one in) has to be 27a. I kept trying to parse ‘gold links’ – without success obviously. Then the penny finally dropped with a bang – you scamp, you http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Thanks to PJ for the puzzle and Kath for her review.

    I too had an Imp – just had to put sandbags over the front wheel arches to give me, at least, some semblance of steering. Harvest Gold it was and a b****r to maintain. Loved it http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

  24. JonP
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    A thoroughly enjoyable solve today – I thought it might be PJ due to a few clues being a bit “off-the-wall” (as mentioned above) but I’m definitely no expert when it comes to setters and have been wrong before. Just into 2* time with the SE corner last to fall – thanks to Kath and PJ **/****

  25. Stone Lee
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This was ** for me until the last two clues 8d and 13a took me into *** time. It would have helped if I had read clue 8d properly – kept trying to find seafood without the Roman numeral! Couple of friends had Hillmans so that went in quickly as did 11a (yes it is American but been in use for a long time). Very enjoyable solve and blog – thank PJ/JP and Kath

  26. dutch
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, mainly because almost every clue had a finely-crafted surface reading. Too many to mention, but I savoured most of them. Not too hard, not too easy, a nice mix of clues, a very good puzzle

    many thanks Petitjean and thanks Kath for a brilliant review

  27. Paso Doble
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    We thought this was the best puzzle for ages with some brilliantly crafted clues. We also agree with Shropshirelad that PJ was trying to trick us into thinking it was a Ray T day.

    The winning clue for us was 14d because Paso had the ‘malfortune’ of having been born just across the Humber in Cleethorpes.

    **/***** for us. Big thanks to Petitjean for an excellent crossword and to Kath for an equally excellent review.

  28. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    **/*****. Outstanding puzzle, possibly the best this year for me. Wonderful clues – 10&27a, 7,14&20d to name a few. I admire the pains taken to make the clue work. 10a for example could have just used the regular “Spanish the” but no effort spared. Many thanks to Kath for the review and I take my hat off to the setter. Excellent.

  29. Toadson
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – Liked the misleading anag indicator in 4d. I once saw an Imp with a sticker in the rear window ‘Hillman Imp – Never Again’ !

  30. silvanus
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant with superb anagrams, highly original constructions and so much to smile at and enjoy.

    I have ticked 1a, 10a, 15a, 4d, 8d and 20d as being excellent, but the clue that stands out for me is 7d – the best clue I’ve seen for ages.

    The only fly in the ointment for me was 11a, which like Rabbit Dave and others, I didn’t much care for.

    Our French friends will no doubt feel more at home with 1a and 1d than they did with John Wisden on Monday!

    Many thanks to Mr. Pidgeon and Kath.

  31. mre
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon everybody.

    A very tidy back page puzzle today, not least because it was on the back page again. It was pleasing to solve 1d without knowing the term. 21a also although that one was rather more obvious. I didn’t enter a solution for 13a although the only letters combination that I came up with proves to have been correct.

    Although into four star time for me this was not excessively time consuming which is as it should be for a back page puzzle.


  32. merusa
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    What a splendid puzzle. I knew immediately that it wasn’t RayT as I was right on wavelength.
    So many lovely clues. I didn’t know the noodle at 21a but a quick google solved that. I also didn’t know the potato in 14d, that was a fun clue.
    I loved 1a and 1d, but I think fave goes to 27a.
    Thanks to PJ, and kudos to Kath for a great blog.

  33. Una
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Merusa above, 27a is my favourite too.There are lots of great clues especially all the framing ones.I was also quite taken by 10a.
    With thanks to Kath and John P.

  34. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Not too easy but very enjoyable.
    Again the long anagrams in 1a and 1d opened up the crossword. Even if I thought of Cigarette Russe for 1d. And I don’t mean the Sobranie from the other day but the little hollow rolled biscuit we serve with ice cream.
    14d took a while and 27a was last one.
    I’ll go for 7d as favourite for the silliness of the clue.
    Thanks to PJ and to Kath for the review.

  35. Miffypops
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I struggled with the last few and resorted to Kaths wonderful hints which is something I never do. Thank you PJ a wonderfully entertaining puzzle. Thank you Kath. I felt for you at 24d and wondered yesterday whether you saw Esau sitting on his see-saw. Thanks Kath for the blog. Very entertaining too and I am glad it wasn’t my turn.

    We have our grandson every Thursday but the poor little fellow is poorly (Monkey Fever I think). Thank goodness for Nana’s ample bosses to snuggle up to. The lad not me.

    • Una
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      Pink ? Maybe you have had this gravatar for a bit and I missed it.We had a cattle dealer living across the road from us, growing up, he always drove a pink Peugot, a new one every year, so that he could find it in the car park , I think.

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:03 am | Permalink

        I always let my tyres down when I park. When I return I simply look for the lowest car. Pink. Breast cancer. One dear to me who died. Pink for Karen.

  36. Heno
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Petitjean and to Kath for the review and hints. A very enjoyable enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. I needed the mad hat for this, but just couldn’t find it. Must brush up on my gastronomy. I had heard of 1a, but didn’t know what it was, so even though I had the fodder (pun intended) I couldn’t solve it. Same applied to 1d, had the first word, but never heard of the second. Also never heard of 21a, but got it from the wordplay. Was also beaten by 23&27a. All food clues. Also needed the hints for 8d&28a. Thank heavens I wasn’t reviewing it, well done to Kath. This was totally beyond me. Favourite was 17a. Was 4*/3* for me.

  37. Rob Wilson
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable solve today. I would have rated **/*** but I hadn’t heard of 13a which made it nigh on impossible to get from the clue. So ***/**.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      13a – Etui – possibly one of crosswordland’s most favourite words?

      How many words are there that fit the pattern: ?T?I


      I only knew “Etui” – Any Scrabble players out there?

      • Angel
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        Would you accept “ptui” which Chambers says is “used to indicate act of spitting”? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  38. Hrothgar
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed the, at times, pretty hard struggle.
    Got there in the end unaided except for the odd spelling check
    Did not like 5d, poor clue in my opinion.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for the nicely llustrated review.

  39. Hilary
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh Dear it’s Thursday and despite trying not to I always seem to struggle on Thursday. Got 1a straight away some memory from my youth, then 1d emerged from then on it was uphill all the way. Thanks to Kath and PJ, if I had a favourite it would be 7d lovely sounding word. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  40. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Well we are back to two solvers today to enjoy this really good fun puzzle. Rather glad that we had never heard of Noddy Holder as it saved us from being misled and we immediately looked for a lurker. We had made a stab at the possible setter (metaphorically of course) and pleased to see we got it right.
    Thanks Petitjean and Kath.

  41. pommers
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Not had time for this one today but, as it’s a PJ, I’ve printed it out for tomorrow. We’re off to the UK at the crack of sparrow’s wotsits as it’s my aged parent’s 90th birthday on Sunday. See y’all next Thurs when I believe I’m in the blogging chair.

  42. Salty Dog
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Quite an entertaining puzzle, rather easier on the RHS than on the left. Right on the 1/2* cusp for difficulty, and 4* for enjoyment. Either 10 or 11 across (there’s nothing between them) for top spot. Thanks to the setter (if it is indeed PJ I’m pleased, as I usually struggle with him), and to Kath for the review.

  43. Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Clunky. Udon? Etui? Boot ? does not mean evict; boot out does. Must try harder. I like tarnish though ??

    • Jane
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Um yes, perhaps you should try harder, Sam. Etui comes up regularly in cryptics, udon is becoming more and more popular with the proliferation of Japanese restaurants around these days and as for boot – surely you’ve heard of people ‘being given the boot’?

      • Kath
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        So glad that you replied appropriately to Sam, Jane. I’d just decided not to, or at least to leave it until tomorrow.

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:07 am | Permalink

        He has tried harder with the funny little things. Harder than I ever would. He has a boot a thumbs up and a thingy. (who knows what) Wow!

  44. Tstrummer
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Loved it. Had a bit of a tussle with a couple and took far too long to get 1d, which delayed the LHS, but pleased to have finished in 3* time. I don’t have a problem with genuine Americanisms, such as RV or SUV – after all, we regularly have French, Spanish, German and Italian elements in our answers. I only object when it’s an American distortion of a perfectly good already extant English word. 7d wins today’s ballon d’or, with 15a and 20d mentioned in dispatches. 4* for jollity. Heartfelt thanks to PJ for a most satisfying challenge and to Kath for a far-from-dim review
    BTW Jane, the boy is currently laid up with broken ribs in Canada after a snowboarding accident (I pushed too hard and fell of a cliff, landing on some rocks). He is being tended by a pair of Australian nurses who live in his house. He doesn’t seem to mind.

  45. Doug Butler
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Hi, I’ve never felt competent to file a comment on these pages, usually taking 2 – 3 days to master 3/4 of the puzzle, before turning to this excellent site for assistance. I have, however, managed to post off 3 competition crosswords, and reassured myself that my efforts would stave off senile decay. Yesterday’s crossword proves me wrong – SD has taken control – I was unable to do more than 22a. Maybe I should abandon cryptics and do ‘Find the word’ puzzles instead………

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Doug.

      Don’t give up. We all have bad days when we can’t get on the setter’s wavelength. If you keep reading the hints and comments n this blog you will find that you get better.

    • NivagSwerdna
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      You and me Doug. But I’m getting better.

    • Kath
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me too.
      I tried to reply to you earlier today but the site was playing silly whatsits and wouldn’t let me post it – now you probably won’t read it but if you do then please just keep going.
      Keep reading the blog – keep commenting and if you don’t understand something then just ask. Everyone here is very friendly and helpful and no-one will ever make you feel stupid even if you feel as if you are.
      Good luck and thank you for your comment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Doug
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Another day, another go! Cracked the 2 big anagrams with help from my wife, then finished the north half quickly. Managed another few the next session to reach 3/4 before resorting to your help. Many thanks for the hints and the welcome. Next posting will be upbeat !!

        • Gazza
          Posted December 6, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          Hi Doug. You’ve shortened your alias so your comment had to be moderated. Both aliases should work from now on.

    • Jane
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Just spotted your post, Doug. For goodness sake don’t worry about your ‘competence’. Many of us are very far away from that euphoric state – we’ve simply got less embarrassed about admitting to our failures. It’s mostly just a friendly chat at the end of the day and we all try to encourage one another. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn here without even realising it.
      Keep on posting – we’d love to hear from you again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  46. Gwizz
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I actually completed this very fine puzzle shortly before dinner last night and so consequently completely forgot to comment. Wine? What wine?
    As I said a lovely puzzle which was a joy to do. Although putting REPLICATE in for 16d meaning that for 21a the answer had to be UNIT didn’t help. Well, the latter kind of made sense….
    Once the I-pad informed me of my failure I eventually realised me ineptitude. My favourite clue was 14d just because the answer is such a lovely sounding word.
    3/4* overall.
    Thanks to PJ for a great effort and to Kath for a terrific blog. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  47. NivagSwerdna
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    If 1 across had been Chicken Nuggets and 1 down was McFlurry I might have had a chance! What sort of lifestyle do these setters lead?