DT 28615 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28615

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28615

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

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

Kia ora from Aotearoa.                

As this will be our last blog before Christmas we want to wish all the setters, Phil’s team at the Telegraph, fellow contributors to the blog and all the thousands of followers of the site a very happy festive season. Merry Christmas everyone.

At the bottom of the hints we have put in a couple of photos taken this week of New Zealand’s special Christmas tree, the pohutukawa, which puts on its short-lived brilliant display every December. This one is beside the estuary, just across the road from us.

Once again Jay brings joy to all his appreciative solvers.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     European pest could be worrying (3,3)
MAY BUG : The answer can be read as a phrase meaning could be worrying or causing concern.

5a     Animal quietly burrowing into ground (8)
TERRAPIN : The letter used in music to signify quietly is inside a word for ground or tract of land.

9a     First animal to be identified in Oxford? (8)
AARDVARK : A cryptic definition. Instead of Oxford, the setter could have said Chambers or Webster. (We considered all sorts of footwear and locations before we had this one sorted).

10a     Object to work attitude (6)
OPPOSE : A two letter artistic work and then an attitude or stance.

11a     History and memory anticipating the writer’s beef dish (8)
PASTRAMI : The time period that relates to history and one of the types of computer memory are followed by a personal pronoun that the writer would use referring to himself.

12a     Flinch from east wind on run (6)
RECOIL : Start with the abbreviation for run, then the one for east. Follow these with a word for twist or wind.

13a     Person losing faith with a job brewing tea (8)
APOSTATE : ‘A’ from the clue, then a job or situation and an anagram (brewing) of TEA.

15a     Cast the female lead in drama (4)
SHED : A personal pronoun for a female and then the first letter of drama.

17a     Woman oddly going missing in air raids (4)
IRIS : Alternate letters (only the even ones) in the last two words of the clue.

19a     Roman army unit must welcome a tense mission (8)
LEGATION : A Roman army unit of between three to six thousand soldiers includes ‘A’ from the clue and the grammatical abbreviation for tense.

20a     A cut in cover of Jeremy’s old banger (6)
JALOPY : The first and last letters of Jeremy are his cover. These surround ‘A’ from the clue and a word meaning cut.

21a     Two for eight, perhaps — it’s a factor (4,4)
CUBE ROOT : Two for eight is one example, three for twenty-seven would be another.

22a     Ride, in American terminology (6)
CANTER : A lurker hiding in the clue.

23a     Oblivious of danger developing in a fraud (8)
UNAFRAID : An anagram (developing) of IN A FRAUD.

24a     Harsh pace, not without love (8)
STRIDENT : A pace or long step and the word ‘not’ once the tennis score love has been removed.

25a     Avoids cunning wheezes (6)
DODGES : A double definition.


2d     A mother with diatribe on husband is a bloomer (8)
AMARANTH : ‘A’ from the clue, then a two letter familiar word for mother, a diatribe or angry outburst and the abbreviation for husband.

3d     Model debates origin of designer frame (8)
BEDSTEAD : An anagram (model) of DEBATES and the first letter of designer.

4d     Dip in the morning — wearing new cagoule (9)
GUACAMOLE : The two letters signifying before noon are inside (wearing) an anagram (new) of CAGOULE.

5d     Consider fool should be on time meeting old relation (4,4,7)
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT : A (4,2) phrase meaning to fool, then the abbreviations for time and old and a ‘relation’ or telling of a story.

6d     Full theatre — allow encore at the end (7)
REPLETE : The three letter abbreviation for a type of performing theatre group, then a word meaning allow or permit and the last letter of encore.

7d     One may require a second for puzzle (8)
PROPOSER : A word meaning for or in favour of and a puzzle or conundrum.

8d     Bristles and beards ultimately must be unnecessary (8)
NEEDLESS : A word for bristles or fine spikes and the last letter of beards.

14d     Dog food that’s dropped off back of a lorry (9)
TAILBOARD : A word meaning dog or follow closely, and then food that could be supplied by a lodging house.

15d     Issues for people ruled by a monarch (8)
SUBJECTS : Double definition. The issues could be those tackled by school pupils.

16d     Product designed to define viewers (8)
EYELINER : A cryptic definition of a cosmetic preparation.

17d     Such photography has popular female artist looking embarrassed (8)
INFRARED : The two letter word meaning popular, then the abbreviation for female, an artist from the Royal Academy and the colour associated with embarrassed.

18d     Independent person elected to lie badly, being insolent (8)
IMPOLITE : The abbreviation for independent, then a person elected in a general election and an anagram (badly) of TO LIE.

19d     Look for understanding in conversation (3-4)
LIP-READ : A cryptic definition of how a hearing-impaired person might gain understanding.

Our top clues today are 1a and 9a.

Quickie pun      thud    +    hark     +     aegis    =      the dark ages 


50 comments on “DT 28615

    1. Starting with Aa it is the first animal you’d find in the dictionary if you start at the front

    2. The answer to the clue is the first animal listed in the OED or any other dictionary. This was my favourite clue. Like the 2 kiwis I spent ages trying to make something with shoes.

  1. Maybe seasonal indulgence had a bearing on my sluggish solving skills this morning but I found this puzzle a bit trickier than recent Wednesdays. Of course, on reflection, I can’t see why.

    Thanks to the 2ks and Jay ***/****

  2. It looks like The Grinch was out and about today!

    It is probably me, but this could have been a wrong envelope day. Lots of head scratching and some electronic assistance required to finish at a canter, very enjoyable – ***/***.

    Once I had understood the parsing, favourite is 9a – it appeals to my (weird) sense of humour. Like the 2Ks, I was thinking shoes and even shirts before the penny dropped.

    Thanks to Jay and the 2 Ks.

  3. Definitely more difficult than the Monday or Tuesday puzzle. The bottom half went in first. Top right followed and top left was last to fall. Very very satisfying. Thanks to The 2Ks and thanks to Jay.

  4. Late on parade today yet strangely not many before me………

    9a my favourite in this far from straightforward Jay puzzle. Nothing obscure, but plenty of tricky clues to push my solving time out beyond my usual range for this compiler. Worth the effort, though, and 3.5* /3* from me overall.

    Thanks to all three birds.

  5. The site is alive and well again thank goodness. I’ve been breaking out in cold sweats all morning.

    3* / 5*. This was yet another tip-top puzzle from our Wednesday maestro – quite challenging and great fun from start to finish. I’ve got too many ticks to mention them all and double ticks went to 12a, 21a, 8d & 14d with 9a trumping them all as my favourite.

    Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  6. Today’s offering was a real slow starter for me, with less than ten answers after my first pass. The rest gradually fell from SE to NW until I had just two to go. From the wordplay, it was easy enough to contruct an answer for 2d, but I didn’t know the word.

    That left just 1a and whilst the second word was obvious, I had to run through the alphabet to get the first word. Again, a phrase I didn’t know. If I am ill-educated in British bloomers, I am hardly likely to know a continental aphid.

    Overall a **** for me, with special mention to 9a and 20a.

    Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  7. This one took me considerably longer than normal for a Wednesday puzzle, but as always very enjoyable.

    The two that I liked the most were the same as those chosen by the 2Ks; 1a and 9a.

    Many thanks and Merry Christmas to Jay, and to the 2Ks.

  8. Loved today’s puzzle and the cryptic definitions were top drawer, going for a ***/***** , special award to Jay for the ride, and the 2K’S for the blog pics.
    Hard to look past 9a for my favourite clue, liked the surface of 1a, I could go on for longer – the Quickie pun just about passed muster! had to chortle.

  9. When the Big Dave site is down … there is always help available on Answerbank.

    Needed it today to parse 1a.

  10. I agree with the majority ie trickier than our normal Wednesday fare but very satisfying ***/**** 😃 My favourites (tricky decision) were 9a, 14d & 1a. I must confess that for quite some time I thought 1a was ear wig 😬 don’t ask me why! Big thanks as always to Jay and the 2x Ks and a Happy Christmas to all I am off to darkest Berkshire forthwith for the holiday. Loved the picture of the beautiful pohutukawa tree 🎄🍾🍷

  11. Phew – I thought the site was going to be out of action all day, good to see it back up and running.
    Pleased to discover that I wasn’t alone in rummaging through shoes etc in search of 9a – nice one, Jay!
    I also spent a while trying to fit an ‘aunt’ into the parsing of 5d.
    Not familiar with the plant name at 2d – I only know it as Love-lies-bleeding.

    Definitely at the trickier end of Jay’s spectrum but very satisfying to complete. Podium places going to 1&9a plus 7&14d.

    Thanks to Jay and also to our 2Ks – all the best of wishes for the festive season and many thanks for another year of fine blogging from both of you.

  12. Like Jane I took a while to get away from aunt in 5d. Once the penny dropped it has to be cotd. Really enjoyed the workout, ***/****, so many thanks to Jay and the 2 Kiwis.

  13. Tricky puzzle for me but very entertaining, struggled to get going but got there in the end without any help from the blog.1a last in and took me ages to see it but what a great clue it is. So clue of the day 1a also liked 18d.

    Rating 3.5* / 3.5*

    Thanks to the 2K’s have a great Christmas, and thanks to Jay.

  14. Good afternoon everybody.

    Very tricky today and the first word of 1a ultimately eluded me. Favourite clue was 4d


  15. Whew, wotta relief that there were so many in the tricky camp. I started out like greased lightning, then ran into a brick wall. I thought dementia was setting in.
    I never did get 25a or 14d, still don’t get “cunning wheezes”, must be Britspeak.
    I wrote in the correct answer for 1a but needed the hint to know why, now, isn’t that clever? My fave, without doubt, is 9a, but 1a is runner up.
    Thanks to Jay and to 2Kiwis, love, love, love the tree!

  16. Oh good BD is up and running again. I enjoyed every minute of this solve. The West went in first and then the East provided a lot of fun combined with a bit of head-scratching. 2d raised from the depths of my grey matter. Goodies for me included 1a, 5a, 4d and 7d. Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  17. Definitely a puzzle of two halves for me – whereas the right-hand side was fairly straightforward, the left-hand side, especially the NW corner, was anything but. Glad to know I wasn’t alone in having more problems usual.

    Overall this was another terrific puzzle, and Jay now takes on the mantle of my undisputed favourite weekday setter with Rufus sadly no longer around to offer keen competition.

    My top three clues today were 5d, 7d and 14d.

    Thanks to Mr Mutch (liked the name check in 20a) and the 2Ks, thank you once again for the pohutukawa pictures. It surprised me to discover they do grow in the UK too, but only in very sheltered places like the Scilly Islands. Merry Christmas to you both.

    1. The NW was only troublesome to me because of the fine anagrams at 3d and 4d. Easily recognisable as anagrams but tough to solve in ones head. Both fell after 1ac went in. Oh the joy of having a first letter. I did wonder about the European Theresa at 1ac but only for half a second

  18. I failed miserably today. Didn’t even get halfway, and I’ve been on a good run lately.
    Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.

    Thanks to all.

  19. Morning all.
    We had scheduled the blog to appear at 11.00am your time as usual (which is midnight for us at present) and were surprised to see that the fist comments did not appear for another couple of hours. Looks like people were busy sorting things out while we were happily slumbering. Grateful thanks again BD.
    The pest in 1a was one we did not know so we had to get it from the wordplay and then confirm with Google. The plant in 2d we did know, mainly from trekking trips in Nepal where it is grown as a crop and makes brilliant splashes of colour on the hillsides where it is grown.
    Our weather continues to be very dry (note the grass under the pohutukawa) but at least the temperatures have moderated to much more reasonable low 20C lately.
    Only a couple of days left for the last minute Christmas shopping so no slacking please.

  20. You can all call me a bit slow on the uptake if you like but I’m beginning to get the idea that the blog was down until early afternoon.
    Definitely a lot trickier than usual so I’m jolly glad to see that others think so too.
    Several clues caused trouble – to be honest probably at least half of them.
    I never did get the first word of 1a and was stupidly slow with 25a having tried and failed to make it an anagram.
    Spent too long on ‘aunty’ in 5d and thought 14d was a dog for ages.
    4d – oh, that kind of dip. :roll:
    I could go on but will leave it at that apart from saying what a good crossword – I loved it.
    Too many good clues to pick out any in particular.
    With thanks to Jay and to the K’s – a beautiful tree and Happy Christmas to you both, and to Jay.

  21. Smashing puzzle from Jay! A pleasure to solve with 9a being the standout clue. Certainly a little trickier than usual so 2.5/4* overall.
    Thanks to Jay, and to the 2K’s for their review.

  22. A Christmas Cracker this one. Got there in one session but in my case got a good roughing up in the SE corner. Never mind I won and the wounds will heal. This was a real quality offering with the deviousness and smoothness of Machiavelli. ***/**** & ****
    Thank you Jay and the Ks.

  23. Right on the 1*/2* cusp, and 3.5* for enjoyment. My favourite was 5d, but there were quite a few contenders. I’m not sure about 1a, though. I find May Bugs quite charming and can’t see why they would worry anyone. I can see that May might currently be bugging Europeans, of course. Thanks to Jay and the 2 Kiwis.

  24. Definitely on the tricky side, say *** for difficulty, solved at a 22ac. Last in were 14d and 21ac. I had no idea how 9ac worked, but it could be little (nothing?) else. Top marks for enjoyment throughout.

      1. You beat me to it, MP.
        I just admit that I couldn’t do it. They’re the silly things that have what look like eyelashes and land on your kitchen table upside down under the lamp, but I know you know that.

    1. Hmmm – do you have anything nice to say about any of the amazing clues today? What a shame to comment on the one that you didn’t like.

    2. I also thoroughly disliked 1a, for which I had to resort to electronic assistance for the first word (for me a fail), but then I came to the blog and read the 2K’s explanation and light dawned – utter genius! Credit where it’s due. The rest of the crossword- wonderful as always with 9a taking the laurels.

      Beautiful trees 2Ks. Happy Christmas and many thanks to you both for your hard work.

  25. Nice one today and more than a little tricky. I had to use my Wordsearch program for 1a and then it took a little looking at before I got it (obvious really!). I also needed the blog to understand the wordplay for 12a.

    I also needed the blog for the Quicker Pun, I wouldn’t have got that in a month of Sundays!

    The Boss has had a loss of confidence in driving on Motorways so I had to take her down to Lakeside to do a bit of last minute Christmas shopping – not my idea of fun but hey-ho a mans gotta do……

  26. Good grief, if they were always this tricky I think I would lose interest. So relieved to see the *** difficulty rating as I was feeling very stupid. As we are 5 hours behind the UK the site was already up and running when we logged in. 😊
    Didn’t recognise the picture in 1a. We used to get beleaguered by what looked like flying stag beetles every May when I was a girl, and the long walk up home from school up our country lane used to terrify me as they zigged and zagged about and I was convinced they would get tangled in my hair. Perhaps they were another insect that my parents incorrectly called may bugs. Thank you to 2Kiwis for the hints, I needed so many of them that I have a low satisfaction level of my efforts today.
    Mr BL crashed his RC plane today, so not a good day in our house. Still, he gets the fun of rebuilding it. All part of the hobby.

    1. We get the bugs in May and early June. They are known as Cockchafer Beetles. Occasionally they fly into our home at night attracted by the lights. I catch them in mid air and release them out of the window. The tail end looks very vicious but it is harmless

      1. Thank you MP. Of course there’s a whole other world of insects over here, and animals like the raccoon that wrecked our fountain every night until hubby glued the spout in place with some special stuff.

  27. Loved today’s puzzle. I got there in the end – steadily. I even got 9a. Went all round the houses but I couldn’t parse it . Thanks to the blog I now understand and it becomes my favourite. ***/*****. Happy Christmas you Kiwis and everyone one else.

  28. I settled down with a wee dram of Ben Nevis malt whisky and today’s Telegraph cryptic puzzle after a day of cooking cakes and Scottish tablet with my three ‘grand-bairns’. Whether it was the whisky or the children I don’t know, but this puzzle caused me more head scratching and provided more pleasure than a good many of late. 1a & 9a were the most challenging for me, but both were very fair. All in all a very satisfying solve – but after Jay and a day with the kiddies I’m now both physicslly and mentally exhausted. Thanks to Jay & 2Ks.

  29. To Kath. When I said ‘Oxford’ I meant ‘shire’. Between Abingdon and Witney to answer your question.

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