DT 27992

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27992

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty * – Enjoyment ***


Our Pohutukawa trees, that we featured at this time last year, are just starting to take on their crimson mantle once again. A reminder to us that it is time to wish Jay, plus all the other setters, Big Dave and our team of fellow bloggers, and all the hordes of commenters who make this site such a wonderful community, A Very Merry Christmas.
Jay seems to be in gentle mode today and, despite there being only one Kiwi in the blogging chair again, it all went together without too much resistance.

Please leave a comment telling us your thoughts.


1a True — men are stupid to pay (10)
REMUNERATE: An anagram (stupid) of TRUE MEN ARE.

6a     Hurried outlay with no end of pain (4)
SPED: Take a word meaning outlay money and remove the last letter of pain from within it.

9a     Working in firm for the next retirement opportunity? (7)
TONIGHT: Place a two letter word meaning ‘working’ inside one meaning firm or secure.

10a     Stretching and breaking with the top off (7)
RACKING: Stretching could be what a mediaeval torturer might do. Remove the first letter from a synonym for breaking.

12a     Form of transport highly subject to inflation (3-3,7)
HOT-AIR BALLOON: A description of what is needed to get this form of transport operational.

14a     Served local wine, getting nicked (8)
COLLARED: An anagram (served) of LOCAL and then a general descriptive word for many types of wine.

15a     Invite king inside since in favour (3,3)
ASK FOR: A synonym for ‘since’ and a word for ‘in favour of’ surround the chess or cards abbreviation for a king.

17a     Effect of bill on Independent Member of Parliament (6)
IMPACT: The abbreviations or first letters of Independent Members and Parliament and then the word for a Parliamentary bill once it is passed.

19a     Euphoric experiences with marijuana — a most memorable thing! (4,4)
HIGH SPOT: A general word for euphoric experiences and then one of the informal terms for marijuana.

21a     Revolutionary Amish promotes complete change (13)
METAMORPHOSIS: An anagram (revolutionary) of AMISH PROMOTES.

24a     Enormous insectivorous bird — a new finch, oddly (7)
TITANIC: A small bird that is often the subject of schoolboy humour, especially the ‘Blue’ and ‘Great’ varieties, then A from the clue, N(ew),  and the second and fourth letters of finch.

25a     Cheating giant red ruler? (7)
ROOKING: Giant red is a variety of animal that lives in a country not too far from us, then the ruler of a monarchy.

26a     Egyptian quietly lying in bed? (4)
COPT: A type of bed has the musical symbol for quietly inside it.

27a     New plush store puts covers on chairs (10)
UPHOLSTERS: An anagram (new) of PLUSH STORE.


1d     Cause of food inspectors visiting ‘Rising Sun’? (4)
RATS: Reverse the type of heavenly body of which our Sun is an example.

2d     A taste of apartment holidays? (7)
MENTHOL: See if you can sniff it out, it’s hiding in the clue.

3d     Guard‘s twisty thing on timer making all nervous initially (5-8)
NIGHT-WATCHMAN: Start with an anagram (twisty) of THING, next a timer that is found on a wrist or in a pocket and then the initial letters of ‘making all nervous’.

4d     Concerned with criminal trial to secure end of rogue trader (8)
RETAILER: The two letter word for ‘concerned with’, then an anagram (criminal) of TRIAL that includes the last letter of roguE.

5d     Beat heartless hunky star (5)
THROB: If you put the word ‘heart’ back in front of the answer you end up with a hunky star.

7d     Parking help not on, but given compensation (4,3)
PAID OFF: The abbreviation for Parking, a synonym for help and a word that is the opposite of ‘on’.

8d     Decline of French taxonomic groups — those without heart (10)
DEGENERATE: The French word for ‘of’, the taxonomic groups that come after species (remember it is plural) and then the first and last letters (without heart) of ‘those’.

11d     Wears the trousers, as a film director does (5,3,5)
CALLS THE SHOTS: A double definition. Picture a film director talking into a megaphone for the second definition.

13d     This scam goes wrong, Nick discovered, becoming fractious (10)
SCHISMATIC: An anagram (goes wrong) of THIS SCAM and then the middle two letters (dis-covered) of Nick.

16d     Up to now the girl’s almost top, after strike (8)
HITHERTO: The singular feminine possessive pronoun, then the first two letters of ‘top’. All this comes after a word meaning ‘strike’.

18d     Part of race to get Stones number one? (3,4)
PIT STOP: Stones are what are found in some fruit, dates for example, and then the place where number one would be on a list.

20d     I am covered in glue — it’s my hobby (7)
PASTIME: The short form of ‘I am’ is inside another word for stuff that sticks things together.

22d     Right, step up and summarise (5)
RECAP: The abbreviation for right, then reverse a synonym for a step or stride.

23d     Language skills must take a long time (4)
AGES: And we finish with another lurker hiding in the clue.

No stand out favourite today but I’ll settle for 8d just ahead of 13d.

Quickie pun   furze  +   twirled   =   first world


  1. Kitty
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed doing this during a spell of relative peace. Somehow it didn’t feel like a Jay to me. I can’t quite explain why. It did seem gentler than the average Wednesday – my only problem was caused by ending 27a with a Y which held me up for 23d. Oh, and I couldn’t fully parse 25a (I haven’t met the giant red). If I didn’t know the day of the week I know who I’d guess as the setter, but I have even less idea why that name came to me so will keep quiet to spare myself further embarrassment.

    Thanks to Jay. Thanks also to the setter in the event that it is someone else. Thanks to the 1Kiwi for the usual excellent blog.

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Assuming this was Jay today this was very much out of character by being virtually R&W, but it was still good fun.

    Two clues slowed me down slightly. I originally put “paid out” for 7d which fits the clue but renders 15a impossible. 26a was my last one in, and I bunged it in based on the wordplay before finding the answer in my BRB.

    Many thanks to (presumably) Jay and one of the 2Ks.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I too put Paid out RD.

      • Graham
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        For 1D I put runs ?

      • Ora Meringue
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        I too put paid out.

      • Baffled Bob
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Yeahhhhhh . . .

        Out is unavailable, and so is what the insurer does after ‘paid’ ;

        So you’re all in good company

      • Kitty
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        I’m another who was out briefly.

        • Tstrummer
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

          I nearly went out, but stayed in for 15a

  3. Penky
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    A nice gentle start to a lovely sunny day in Devon. Quick R&W until getting held up in NW corner, I’d put the N and M wrong way round in 1a so couldn’t work out 2d and 3d. Had to BRB it to correct transient dyslexia.
    Thanks toJay(?) and 2 Kiwis for usual excellent review.

  4. Jane
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Definitely on the gentle side for a Jay and certainly no need to go for the ‘downs’ first.
    Like RD, I started by having ‘paid out’ for 7d and also checked 26a after using the wordplay.
    Took far longer than I should have done to work out the 13d anagram – circles were used!
    Favourite spot goes to 18d.

    Many thanks and a Merry Christmas to Jay (even if it turns out not to have been him today!) and the very best of wishes to our lovely pair of Kiwis. Your blogs are always a delight to read and beautifully illustrated – very much appreciated. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  5. Young Salopian
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Jay in very benign mood today. Enjoyable but over far too quickly unfortunately. It took me a little longer than 1*’ time, so I have to mark it 1.5*/3* overall. Many thanks to Jay, if indeed it was he, and the solitary Kiwi for the blog.

  6. dutch
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    A rapid solve (which I can’t say for today’s toughie!) with some great clues as always. I liked “men are stupid” (1a), “next retirement opportunity” (9a), “served local wine” (14a) and the great anagram in 21a, just to name a few.

    Many thanks and season’s greetings to 1Kiwi and Jay

  7. Paso Doble
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Not a 1 for us today, more like a 2/3. An enjoyable interlude before we have to get on with the big shop at Sainsburys which will no doubt be horrendous! Merry Christmas to Jay and the 2Ks. Many thanks for your enjoyable contributions over the year.

  8. Michael
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – it was all over too soon!

    21a was a brilliant anagram!

    I didn’t understand the Wordplay of 9a or 18d – thanks to the 2K’s for that – I’ve definitely never heard of ‘Date Pits’ – my ignorance I’m afraid!

    As Count Arthur Strong would say ‘Condiments of the Seasoning!’


  9. Hanni
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink


    Is this Jay, is this not, either way a very pleasant solve. No real hold ups other than trying to make an anagram of ‘Local + vin’ for 14a on first pass. Trust when I say that doesn’t work.

    Loved the anagrams, which were solved by my pencil and I working together. I’m sure some people don’t need pencils, they just do it all in their head. Also thought about ‘paid out’ for 7d.

    Many thanks to Jay and to the 1Kiwi for a great blog. Happy Christmas to you both and thanks for your efforts this past year.

    Having ridden out once this morning, I’m now onllne shopping for woolly hats, since I can’t find any of mine and I doubt it’s the sort of thing Santa will send me.

  10. Heno
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Jay and to the 2 Kiwis for the review and hints. I found this very difficult, but it was all my fault as I had the m and the n round the wrong way in 1a, my first answer. This stopped me getting 2&3d. Couldn’t see 14a for toffee. Failed to get 13d, even though I had all the checkers and knew it ended in matic, doh! Favourite was 19a. Was 3,*/3* for me.

  11. Miffypops
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Rock and Wroll for me but so enjoyable. Gorgeous anagrams, 13d nearly had me reaching for the writing implements. Thanks to the setter. Merry Christmas to Jay anyway and merry Christmas to the 2ks.

  12. Una
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The seemed to me to be quite a few references to getting paid 1a, 7d, 15a,and two to cheating .Is the Telegraph slow to pay their crossword setters ?
    My favourite is 11d.
    Thanks to Jay and the singular Kiwi.

  13. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Very good. I have not done the Telegraph crossword for years, raced through Tuesday’s, yet found this impossible!!!

    • Gazza
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, HoofitYouDonkey.

    • KiwiColin
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me too HoofltYouDonkey.

  14. Young Salopian
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Can I take this opportunity to wish everyone associated with this excellent site – our setters, BD and all the bloggers and reviewers, fellow contributors and those who just pop in from time to time – a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful New Year.


    • Hanni
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Happy Christmas to you too. And to everyone who contributes here. Especially our Lord and master BD.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Thank old lad.

  15. Miffypops
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Only one more sleep and it will be time for real men to start thinking what to get their wives for Christmas

    • Young Salopian
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      You have more than one?

    • Michael
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      One wife at a time is enough for any Man! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    • Kitty
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Real men need not worry about seasonal gifts because they have treated their wives right the whole year long http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif.

      • dutch
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        i tried that…

      • Graham
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        Beam me up scotty!

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Saint Sharon has received in the past a ladies border fork and a great many educational high end music CDs that were missing from my collection. My favourite gift was a swing top kitchen bin. Simply for the fact that it removed all risk from future choices. A pack of bin liners for her birthday and just as they were running out, a pack of bin liners for Christmas every year for ever since. Good thinking Miffypops. As I have said before Saint Sharon is a little ball of euphoria. The happiest lady in the land.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      Round here, the petrol stations are open all night.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 24, 2015 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        That’s the spirit. You can buy thermal gloves, road maps (for those whose Satnav fails), an in car charger thingy, some Rennie, a coffee, milk, 5 litres of engine oil, sweets in a round tin (you can’t get them anywhere else), lucozade, Christmas tree air freshener, weirdly expensive batteries, Daniel O’Donnell’s greatest hits CD from that weird ‘bargain bucket’ thing near the till and charcoal briquettes.

        Problem solved.

        However don’t forget about wrapping up that festive can of anti-freeze and you could always nick that inexplicable bucket of sand if you are a cheapskate.

  16. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Felt like a doddle after spending so much time on the toughie.
    Only needed to check synonyms for 10a and 25a. And first thought that 11d would start with ” pulls the something “.
    Liked the local wine in 14a.
    Thanks to Jay and to 2kiwis and a happy Xmas to all.

  17. Kath
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Definitely very gentle – I think it is Jay but that he’s aware of how busy most people are today and tomorrow.
    Nothing much to cause any hold-ups apart from a quick dither about the second word of 7d and where the last two letters of 13d came from – I always forget that ‘discovered’.
    I missed both the hidden answers for ages just for a change.
    I liked 12 and 26a and 1 and 20d. My favourite was 19a.
    With thanks to Jay and to the hinting Kiwi and hello to the absent one.

  18. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Unlike most of the other correspondents I found this much more difficult. Not sure why but definitely not my wavelength. Thanks to the 2Ks for explaining where I was lost and to the setter, you win, but thanks anyway.

  19. Brian
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Found this rather more difficult than yesterday’s or Monday’s so a two star from me but a four star for enjoyment.
    Lots of nice clues such as 8d, 25a and my last in 1d. Couple of lurkers too which are always a bonus.
    Thx to all.

    • Brian
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Really hoping for a Ray T-free day tomorrow so as not to spoil the run up to Christmas.

      • F1lbertfox
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        I really can’t understand why you don’t like RayT’s puzzles, Brian, especially so as I find his to be among the more entertaining ones each week. I assume from your comment here that you didn’t see the letter to Santa that I wrote on your behalf in the comments last Thursday? ;-) ;-)

  20. Merusa
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable, but, I agree, pretty benign to be a Jay. Nevertheless, very entertaining.
    I needed the hint to know why 14a was what it was, otherwise it was all straightforward.
    Don’t know that I can choose a fave without breaking Kath’s rule, so many to pick from.
    Thanks to Jay (?) and to 1Kiwi.
    Merry Christmas to all, may Santa be good to you.

  21. Kirmp
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Any body suggest a ‘ learning’ book, on how to find the answers from the clues given.
    Especially in the Telegraph cryptic ??
    Thanks. Happy Xmas

    • Gazza
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Kirmp.
      If you look at the FAQ item 2 directs you to a very useful guide to clue types by BD and item 3 gives you a list of ‘how to solve’ books.

    • KiwiColin
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me too Kirmp.
      Following this blog seems like a pretty good way of sharpening ones solving skills too, it has certainly helped us. Look forward to following your progress.

  22. Ora Meringue
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one very much and needed only a little help.

    Now…please bear in mind that I am a beginner still, or ‘entry level’ as one of the reviewers put it……I struggled with the parsing of 24a.
    Perhaps as well as a beginner I am also a pedant, or perhaps I just don’t get it, but aren’t the letters i and c in finch the even letters rather than the odd ones?

    Many thanks to the Kiwi and to the setter.
    Happy Christmas to everyone who contributes to this wonderful site.

    • Gazza
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same about 24a. It would be very unusual to use ‘oddly’ to mean the even letters and I wondered if a word (e.g. ‘deficient’) had dropped off the end of the clue.

      • cat
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        I think this came up recently and it was more or less agreed that oddly could mean alternately rather than strictly odd or even but I could be wrong.

        • Kitty
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          I had the same thought before forgetting all about it. Personally, I’m happy with oddly meaning alternately, but know that others aren’t and I think it’s generally not seen on the DT back page.

        • KiwiColin
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          That is what I remembered when I was writing the hint. Seems fair enough to me but I do see the point of those who prefer to be more precise.

    • Ora Meringue
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks everyone.
      Glad I am not alone in thinking this was a bit odd!

  23. mre
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon everybody.

    All very straightforward today although delayed by initially writing OUT for the second part of 7d. Into three star time so ***/** for me.

  24. Eeyore
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been lurking for a long time but I’d just like to say thanks to all bloggers and commenters for their help. This week’s have all seemed relatively straightforward (all in the 1*/1.5* range – I might normally expect to get one in a week in that range) but nonetheless they have been an enjoyable diversion.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

    • Gazza
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Eeyore.. Now that you’ve de-lurked I hope that you’ll be commenting regularly.
      Merry Christmas to you.

    • KiwiColin
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me too Eeyore.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Me too Eeyore. I give alot of money away each year. Mostly to The Donkey sanctuary.

  25. Dylan
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Would have got through it a lot quicker if I knew how to spell remunerate . A well every day’s a school day!

    • Young Salopian
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      And indeed how to spell Ah!

  26. KiwiColin
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Good morning everyone. A calm clear Christmas Eve just dawning here. Looks like we are going to get the fine sunny Christmas that the forecasters have been promising us. I’m about to pack up a few things and will be driving to Wellington to join the other Kiwi and the rest of our family for the festivities.
    Like others, I did have a few thoughts on whether it was a Jay puzzle this week and decided that, based on his setting style, it most probably is one of his albeit more straightforward than usual.
    Have a stress-free build up to the big day.
    Cheers. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  27. Kitty
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Welcome from me to our newcomers. There is plenty of room in the BD stable for a little donkey or two :) .

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I did wonder too.
      Is it National Donkey Day?

      • Kitty
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Now that would be a holiday I’d be happy to celebrate.

      • Tstrummer
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        They have National Donkey Day at Old Trafford every day these days

  28. Framboise
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Quite a few newcomers, great the more the merrier! Pretty benign offering today but nevertheless enjoyable. Did not know a giant red was a Kangaroo but worked out the answer from the checked letters, so there. Difficult to pick a favourite but I liked 14a and 5d. Can’t quite remember when I discovered this wonderful blog – over a year ago? – but it certainly gave me a lot of confidence and eagerness to complete the cryptic puzzle every day. I also would have never met in Hyères a splendid chap called Jean-Luc so Big Dave I am really grateful to you. Again Merry Christmas to all and let’s all meet in Little Venice on 30 January!

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      How sweet.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif
      I wish you and your family a wonderful Xmas. See you on Jan 30th.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        I’m looking forward to seeing you both in January. Happy Christmas and a great 2016 to the French contingent of the blog! J-L are we getting treats this year, I missed out last time?

        • Framboise
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Merci Hanni! Merry Christmas to you too. See you in January!

      • Framboise
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Merci Jean-Luc. Merry Christmas to you and your family. RV on 30 January in Little Venice!

  29. Omar
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Easy-ish for me even without a Dt, a printer or Flash (i.e. on my iPad) – greetings from Boston

  30. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable but not overly difficult. I thought 3d was quite ‘clunky’ and 26a was a new word for me, but my favourite was 13d – what a great word.

    Thanks to Jay for the puzzle and the Kiwi(s) for the review.

    I am currently watching Masterchef – the restaurant the contestants are in this evening beats Mr Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ into second place by a country mile. A bunch of flowers to be eaten with tweezers and a PINK risotto…………’E’s ‘avin’ a giraffe.

  31. Tstrummer
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    After what felt like a never-ending slog over the last few weeks at work, I now have – whoopee – FOUR WHOLE DAYS OFF to relax. Tomorrow I’ll be helping the former Mrs Strummer prepare for the arrival of four of five children with various partners in tow, followed by dinner; then the Big Day, with added grandchildren; Boxing Day sees me travelling some distance for lunch with a friend and her family, followed by an evening with those partners who couldn’t make Christmas; Sunday off to the New Forest with most of the above for my son’s wedding, leaving early on Monday to drive back to London and go back to work – by which time I should be totally relaxed and ready to work all over the new year. The relaxing began with this, I’m sure, puzzle from Jay., which was easier than taking a hamburger from a vegan, but much more fun. The star on the the top of the tree was 1d. Many thanks to Jay and to K-squared, with particular acknowledgement of your (both of you) whole year of enlightenment.

  32. Jane
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Hi TS. Ploughing my way dutifully through Jude but I can’t honestly say that I’m deriving a great deal of satisfaction from the reading of it. It certainly seems to be a very great departure from the style of his previous works and, thus far, I’m not remotely drawn to either the characters or the scenarios. Ah well – perhaps I’ll change my mind at a later stage. I will persevere!

    • Jane
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      Just saw your comment pop up. In case you’re ‘off blog’ from here on – may I wish you all the very best for the festive season. Enjoy your days off and the time you get to spend with your loved ones – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for some decent weather for the happy couple on their wedding day.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 24, 2015 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      I think perseverance may pay off – it certainly did for me. It gets much darker, though. And thanks for good wishes, which I return manyfold. Drinking whisky in bed and researching flights to Calgary now.

  33. Gwizz
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Oops! Better late than never… I only realised a while ago that I hadn’t done this crossword. However it didn’t take too long to remedy that. Very gentle, no great demands of the little grey cells required. 1.5/3* overall and 12a being favourite just from the surface reading involved.
    Thanks to Jay and to the OneK for the review.

  34. Liz
    Posted January 8, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    A lot of fun doing these puzzles, eventually with your help. I like that you give hints and I only have to see the answer when I am totally stymied!

    But more importantly, the mention of the pohutukawa trees took me back to the 5 wonderful years we spent in Howick, outside Auckland, and how much we enjoyed NZ Christmases, and marveled at how the pohutukawa grow, along with other greenery, right down to the water’s edge on the beautiful, quiet beaches.
    It was a privilege to spend these years in NZ, to meet and make life long friendships, and to have our children start school at the local school, just a short walk from the house.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted January 8, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Liz. We live further south than where you were. We are on the coast about an hour and a half north of Wellington but we did live in the Auckland area for a number of years. We reckon that NZ is a rather special place too but perhaps we’re a tiny bit biased. Cheers, and hope to hear from you again in the future.