DT 29545 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29545 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29545 (Hints)

The Saturday Crossword Club

Hosted by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Morning everyone from Warrington.

A very brief blog today. Broadband problems and oversleeping has conspired to make this a bit of a rush.

[Not helped by my forgetting about adding the hints, being distracted by the postman delivering some New Berry Fruits and Turkish Delight!  BD]

This is a very enjoyable puzzle, somewhere towards the harder end of Saturday, but my advice would be to read the clues carefully, sort out what you believe the definition to be and take the indications from there. There are a couple of obscurities lurking around, so tread carefully.

I have given a couple of extra clues in some places to odd words.

1 Across took several different entries before I had the right one. A few crossword chestnuts are lurking in the indications, so think a little outside the box. My guess is it’s our original Mysteron behind the mask today. Unless it’s a first or last clue, and the answer is a full-on anagram, I’m not hinting them. So, look for words that could be anagram indicators.

As usual remember the usual caveats about hints and posting answers. The Naughty Step is a bit damp and there’s only stale Simnel Cake and the juice from the Brussels Sprouts that have been on since August to drink.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, an assortment of clues, including some of the more difficult ones, have been selected and hints provided for them.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow.


1 Ogre entering disreputable bar? Split! (7)
Probably the hardest clue today. A word for a sleazy bar has the name for an Ogre from the world of Tolkien inside to give something meaning to split (in a marital way).

5 Birds with wings in Estonia’s coastal location (7)
The name for a British town on the coast. Take some birds and add the first and last letters (wings) of ESTONIA.

10 Half a dozen with tasty dish (5)
The Roman numeral for six, plus a word that means ‘with’. You could swap ‘tasty dish’ for ‘French meat’, as an extra clue.

11 Armchair found by couple in a Sumerian city (7)
Something meaning to couple or join inside A, plus the name of a Sumerian city. Change ‘Sumerian’ to ‘biblical’ if you are not a traveller to Sumeria.

16 Performance going ahead in London district (5)
A word for a performance and something meaning going ahead or taking place.

21 Lass around when love gives gemstone (7)
A word for a female goes around a short word meaning when and the symbol for love in tennis.

25 Guru’s morning in Westminster? (5)
Inside the area location of Westminster goes the abbreviation for morning.

28 Painter harboured by diplomat is secure (7)
Simply a hidden answer!


1 State directive emptied Irish county (7)
The first and last letters of directive plus the name of an Irish county.

2 Grand house in very bad area (5)
The abbreviation for very, a word meaning bad and the abbreviation for area.

5 Trickery from the French in great deal (7)
Something meaning trickery, especially associated with magic. This man was a genius at it, and one of the funniest people I have seen live (after Doddy, of course).

6 Profit sometimes taken unfairly? (9)
A double definition.

7 Get this cooked: old man coming in for food (9)
Inside an anagram (cooked) of GET THIS goes a word for your old man.

14 Planted bananas in secret? (9)
The location of something planted plus the posh name for a bunch of bananas.

18 Student in Hell beginning to sweat: this fans flames (7)
The abbreviation for a student inside the location of Hades plus the first letter of sweat.

20 Made to suffer in wicked college life (7)
Inside a slang word meaning wicked, or brilliant goes an anagram (to suffer) of MADE.

23 Milling corn gerbils ate regularly (5)
The alternate letters (regularly) of GERBILS ATE.

24 Gets close attention in north and south (5)
Inside the abbreviations for North and South goes a word meaning attention.

Thanks to our setter for a pleasant challenge. I hope the hints help and you got through it! See you next week.

The Crossword Club is now open.

Today’s music is something to get you feeling seasonal.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment. If in doubt, leave it out!

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

If you don’t understand, or don’t wish to comply with, the conventions for commenting on weekend prize puzzles then save yourself (and me) a lot of trouble and don’t leave a comment.  BD

The Quick Crossword pun: Sun+tall+buns=St Albans

105 comments on “DT 29545 (Hints)

  1. There were a few really tricky clues and one word new to me, which I shouldn’t really point out or the naughty corner beckons. I liked 11a, 5a and 28a which had some great misdirection. Overall rating 2.5/3.5. Thanks to whoever is putting together the hints. Hope Tilsit is OK and thanks to the compiler.

  2. I had the grid completed in ***/**** time, but in the process of doing so, I noted two things.

    Firstly, in my initial pass, I completed every other across clue, resulting in the right-hand side being well-populated; and when nearly completed, I had three unfinished clues, all of which contained the word ‘city’ (11a, 17a & 17d).

    I didn’t know the gem in 21a, and felt that the synonym of ‘armchair’ in 11a was a little stretched. I also think that expecting us to know London postcodes (25a) is a trifle unfair, particularly when one of the few things I know about that place, is that it is north of the Thames.

    Many thanks to the setter, Prolixic and to whoever should have been on duty, I hope all is well.

  3. I hope all is well with Tilsit. An easy going puzzle for a Saturday morning which was more than welcome after the last couple of days. **/*** There were a few Geographical clues which may not go down too well with everyone but I think they are quite workable. The only one that gave me pause for thought was 21a and which I had to check on Mr G. I rather liked 12a but no particular favourite today. Thanks to all.

  4. A pleasantly tricky but ultimately satisfying solve for a Saturday morning. Some of the synonyms were a little stretched, but I thought they were fair. 5a was my final entry and favourite.

    Thanks to our setter and to Prolixic for stepping in. Best wishes to Tilsit.🤞🤞

  5. I am probably wrong, but, based on my unreliable setter detector, this had the ‘feel’ of being by the same setter as last week. A friendly enjoyable solve completed at a gallop – **/****.
    Like MalcolmR, I thought the synonym for 11a was somewhat stretched and it generated a Hmm. However, it is in the Small Red Book (Crossword Dictionary) which suggests it has appeared in puzzles before but that does not necessarily make it right.
    21a was new for me but was easy enough to get from the wordplay followed by BRB confirmation.
    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 22a, 25a, and 1d – and the winner is 9a.
    Thanks to the setter and Prolixic for stepping into the breach and here’s hoping that Tilsit is OK.

    1. I wasn’t sure about 11a at first but checked in the little red Chambers Crossword Dictionary and there it was. So I moved from thinking it a poor synonym to praising the fine misdirection. I began to think of all the nouns that could be qualified by ‘armchair’ as an adjective such as detective etc.

    1. Your obviously out of tune at the moment Brian. Im Sure it will all come good. I have some sympathy as I’m usually on your wavelength
      But not today.

    2. Oh dear Brian, your comment has given me the biggest chuckle of the day and sadly it was sort of expected. Still wiping the tears from my eyes – quite literally.

    3. Agree Brian. I persevered with lots of electronic help and a few flashes of insight but all in all a minus five stars for enjoyment.

    4. I once again agree with you Brian. Whilst I did eventually finish it having time in self isolation i found there was little or no pleasure to be wrung out of it.

  6. Very enjoyable **/**** really well clued so that even 21a, which I had never heard of, was gettable. Agree with MalcomR about the armchair in 11 but still fair and when the penny dropped gave a sense of satisfaction. Strangely rather than the usual scattergun approach this fell in SE/NW/SW/NE order with 5a last one in, having ignored the early idea of it being seaside!

    Thanks to the setter and the blogger.

    1. How extraordinary this was just the same for me SE NW SW NE, This is the one and only time this has happened to me. 5a last one in. Got wrong answer for 1a. I did not know the ogre so carelessly put in the three letters and guessed wrongly it was an ogre. Favourites 12 13 25 and 27a and 8 17 and 19d

  7. A slow solve but most enjoyable. No real favourites but the l nearly missed the lurker but I won’t say where for fear of the naughty step. I’m not happy with the armchair clue and cannot parse it. I learned a new word so that’s my one lesson for today.

    Many thanks to the setter and I the emergency hinter. I do hope all is well with Tilsit.

  8. Last in was 11a & like MalcolmR & Senf thought the synonym stretched to say the least. 21a was also a new one for me but otherwise no real issues in a perfectly pleasant prize puzzle, albeit one that perhaps relied on a wee bit too much geography.
    Thanks to the setter, Prolixic for stepping in & hoping all ok with Tilsit.
    Ps my stack of chips were (for a change) correctly placed today on Brian’s reaction.

  9. Our Curmudgeon seems to know nothing about solving cryptic crosswords.

    Why does he keep saying “dreadful”, “horrific”, etc, etc. when he cannot solve the puzzle?

    1. If our curmudgeon can solve a puzzle it is great. If he can’t solve one it is dreadful. :unsure:

      1. He is fine unless he has to think outside the box which is a necessary ingredient of cryptic crossword solving.

        1. And yet Brian often likes and quickly finishes puzzles, with which many of the other contributors to the blog have really struggled. So it’s partly a wave-length issue, surely. General Knowledge is often an issue too and can place limitations on all of us, just different limitations for different people.

        2. Gosh! What a brutal comment, WW.

          He said ‘for me’.

          Can’t you all just leave him alone and stick to the crossword?

          Please bin this Curmudgeon’ moniker?

          It’s not on.

          You know the social media adage…

          Only say something that you would happily say to their face.

      1. Oh, I agree, Terence. I think I enjoy the anticipation of what he might say more than what he actually says. :grin:

      2. Whenever there is a puzzle I find less than straightforward I think “What will Brian say about today’s?”
        However, whether to his taste or not, a courteous “Thank you” to both setter and reviewer would not go amiss.

      3. Agreed. The more he pontificates and complains, the more we get to know and understand the real Brian. I think that after all these years of commenting, six at least, we know far more about ‘Brian’ and his ability or not to understand a cryptic puzzle than we do almost anyone else who makes comment on this blog. Keep it going though Brian, you cheer up many a dull day for me. :-)

        1. I’m getting concerned. Either the crosswords are getting harder or I’m starting to lose it. I’ve been a regular DT crossworder since the early 70’s. I got to the point where I could always finish them even if I have to stop and return to it later. Since earlier this year I’ve struggled to finished many. The answers seem to really stretch word definitions ( like the armchair one today) and more and more clues seem to demand taking single letters from words in the clue.
          Don’t get me wrong , I still enjoy them but I’d be interested to know if anyone else as noticed this progression.

          1. Reggie,
            Welcome from me.
            I am of a similar vintage & agree with the comment re letter subtractions.
            However, as with most things, fashions & methods change / evolve. Currently using letter subtractions, first & last letters seem to be in vogue. I also think lurkers are more common & anagrams slightly less but we will adapt I’m sure
            However it could be they were always there and the selective amnesia that increases as we get older is kicking in.

    2. That’s hardly fair. We are asked to comment on what we think of a puzzle, and he’s just being honest. I often find myself swimming against the tide, hating a puzzle when most love it, and vice versa.

    3. I don’t think B is attention-seeking but he got plenty of it today! He makes me laugh and I often say to my wife, when I get stuck, ‘ I bet Brian will love this!’ Let’s leave him alone, season of goodwill and all that.
      I enjoyed this one and a fair stretch of my limited talents. ***/****

  10. I found this extraordinary! I only managed to do about half to start with. Came back to it much later and found it much easier second time around. Agree with the comments about 11a although the U3A branch here have an armchair ballet group which I always thought sounded a bit bazaar but makes sense now. Thanks to all and hope Tilsit is OK

  11. Glad to see that Tilsit is OK and thanks to Prolixic for earlier stepping in. This puzzle appeared to take us all over the place, from a small capital city (which is one of the 48 I’ve visited), to another city that has a small inland town here in S Carolina named after it, to an old biblical favourite. Also, one of the greatest-ever poets makes one of his occasional appearances, and I wonder how he’d deal with the world’s many crises today. After all, he once wrote that “Poetry makes nothing happen,” though it certainly can lift the mind above the fray. Of the clues, I especially liked 5a, 15d, & 19d. Keep well, Tilsit, and thanks to today’s Mysteron. ** / ***

    I do apologise for my blunders yesterday when I meant ‘incorporeal’ instead of ‘corporeal’! I woke up this morning fretting over my confused state when responding to Bluebird and Corky.

    1. My golfing chum decided in 2019 that he was going to visit every state capital though God knows why as I understand many are nothing to write home about. Anyway he did it & claimed it was a worthwhile/enjoyable exercise – we thought he was bonkers.

    2. Hey Robert – I hate to think of the frettage you have suffered (that’s probably not even a word) so no apologies needed. I know you were an English Prof, but you’re relieved from duty on here…..Yesterday, I couldn’t even remember some people’s names which are well known to me and had to ask the OH. Even he couldn’t remember one of them. Luckily we have a spreadsheet of Christmas card names for labels..
      I try to follow Her Maj’s advice – never complain, never explain. I have taken to laughing at any and all of my lapses which are considerable and therefore give me a decent shot of serotonin daily (to go with the Vit D3, fish oil etc etc).

    3. Just out of interest RC, is that 48 state capitals, or country capitals? If it’s the latter, that’s very impressive for a ‘Merkin.

      1. Hi Huntsman and Malcolm. That’s US state capitals–48 of them over a period of 50+ years of travelling around this country (haven’t seen Juneau, Alaska or Helena, Montana). I’ve been to 25 or 26 national capitals–not sure about one of them. Well, it wasn’t something–visiting all 50 US capital cities–I actually set out to do early on but something that sort of happened until about 25 years ago I realised I’d seen x-number because my parents had taken me to a goodly number of them when I was young, and that’s when I made a point of visiting as many as I could. I’ve been to 49 states (missed Helena, MT because of a fluky reason in the early days of travel). Looks like Alaska will have to wait until the next time around.

    4. Re the poet at 17a, I struggled over that and I can’t believe it, one of my faves, plus I knew the city, can’t think of another one in Yemen with only four letters. I begin to wonder if age is beginning to tell. Oh dear!

  12. I started with the across clues in the NW corner …..and got absolutely nowhere. I refused to be defeated so started again with the the SE corner. Hey presto….. all slotted in nicely. I felt as though this was a real mixed bag. Some clues I liked some I didn’t. Too many place names. It was what it was. Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit.

  13. 3.5*/4*. I found this quite tough, with the SW corner taking the most time. I did however enjoy it with 1a my favourite.

    I thought the definitions for both 5d & 11d, whilst accurate, were both slightly strange, and I am not fully convinced by the synonym for “planted” needed in 14d. I imagine that 25a may prove a bit perplexing for non-British solvers. On the other hand I was surprised by the choice of state in 17d – I can’t say more as I don’t relish stale Simnel cake washed down with brussels sprout juice.

    I may have misinterpreted the preamble but I have taken it to mean that Tilsit prepared the review but, because of broadband problems, Prolixic posted it on his behalf. So thanks to the setter and to Tilsit.

    1. As the several paragraphs of the prologue say:

      Tilsit produced the review while sorting out his broadband problems
      BD was enjoying opening a parcel of goodies before he posted the blog for Tilsit
      Prolixic stepped in to provide some interim hints

      Further confusion is probably being caused by Prolixic’s avatar still being in the corner of the post

          1. You’re lucky to get a delivery. In the Vale of White Horse, where I live, we are reduced to 2 delivery days a week. Last week I received 2 special discount offers…….to be used by the end of November! It’s down to staff shortages we are told and 5 jobs are being advertised but there are no takers

            1. Odd, about the Royal Mail vacancies there. Since being made “self-employed redundant” as a London cab driver, I’ve applied for a dozen Royal Mail jobs in East London. Each time, repeating tortuous application processes, they don’t seem to retain info already given.
              Anyway, after each application, the same reply : Thankyou, we won’t be offering you an interview.
              I had 14 years in the post from 1986 to 2000. I must conclude it is my age, 58, which they don’t like.
              I know that’s not allowed, but there it is. Nine months (so far) on Universal Credit is no picnic.

              1. There’s no rhyme nor reason in the things they do. Last year I sent a Christnas parcel to 2 year old twins in the USA, using the middle band of charges. 6 weeks later it was returned to me, with the twins mum insisting that no attempt to deliver it had been made. At the local Post Office, I was told that they had nothing to do with it and should ask Parcel Force, who had no tracking system in place and would send it again only if I paid again. I sent it via Hermes.

                1. Friends sent us a very nice card last Christmas, which they duly received back as undeliverable. They showed us the envelope (via Facebook Messenger), and it was correct exactly as they had written. Doubt it ever made it to our post office or mail man. Disappointing, especially for the extortionate amount the Royal Mail charged for overseas mail.

                  1. We have just received some flowers addressed to “Pam & Dave, The Bungalow next door to the [pub]” and they arrived the day after being posted, despite having the wrong road name and postcode, so it’s not all bad.

              2. Ummm. Just a thought but might I help with your cv?
                Am an avid but not very good cryptic crossword fan- but am a top headhunter.

              3. Many people in your position, Harry. Mate of mine is an IT tester and he’s been out of work for a year…
                Best of luck finding something.

    2. I consider that the choice of the 17d state, rather than using the ‘obvious’ one, was to make us think a bit. There are many repeated city names in the USA. For example, I lived in the ‘obvious’ San Antonio (Texas if it’s not that obvious) for a number of years but there are at least three other San Antonios scattered around other states.

  14. Very enjoyable. I started to bluster at some of the clues but each of them were gettable and no passes. I have to thank both setter and hinter for entertaining my afternoon.

  15. Very, very tricky. Fun to solve, but not quite at the startling pace set by Senf’s horse for me.
    Like several pals above, I found 11a rather stretching, and 21a was completely new to me. I’m not much of a laugh-out-loud-er but 25a made me do so.

    Yesterday there were several comments about cameras, ‘Alexas’, and being uncomfortable with the thought of being spied upon. So… I had a check on what we have.
    It’s quite a list – four ‘alexas’ (Echo Dots); one Google Home (came free); another ‘alexa’ as part of the smart tv; four security cameras (two outdoors; two indoors); four security lights.
    George Orwell would feel quite at home here.

    Thanks to Miss Terri Setter, Prolixic, and all the best to Tilsit.

    1. I’ve had an Echo Dot for over a year but I don’t know how to install it, so it sits on my front hall table along with a front-door lock that doesn’t need a key, you punch in numbers. I was told I should have that in case I fall and need 911, I can just give them the number to come in and get me! I expect they’ll sit there for another year.

  16. We took a long time over this stretching our self-imposed lunch hour somewhat. But we got there in the end. I too thought 11a and 14d were a bit far fetched and George fulminated about the synonym for wicked in 20d but he is an old fogey. But oh boy, we’re not complaining, just saying. So many thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the hints (and hope all is well). Pouring with rain here in Cambridge, my feet are becoming webbed. Definitely a light the fire and hibernate day.

    1. You do surprise me DG – I’d have thought you & George were well versed in ‘yoof’ speak…..
      Incomprehensible to me but safe to assume it means the opposite to what you’d think.

      1. I didn’t say that I fulminated but that the old fellow at present sleeping off his exertion ‘couldn’t be doing with it’. Of course I am au fait with hop hip and yoof speak, I’m known as the trendy one I’ll have you know! I am still remembered as the first one to walk down the High Street in hot pants!

        1. Well, ‘hop hip’ or ‘hip hop’ should be pertinent for you DG!
          I know it’s your knee, but that wouldn’t fit……..

  17. I’d agree with Senf that this seemed to be the work of last week’s Saturday setter. Like others, I thought 11a was something of a stretch – our setter cutting down on his word count perhaps – and I did need to check 21a with the BRB.
    13a made me laugh and I rather liked 17d.

    Thanks to our setter and to whoever finally came up with the hints – not needed, but still appreciated.

  18. Well for me that comprised a delightfully uncomplicated Saturday morning virtual stroll in the park in the sunshine. The North went straight in and the South wasn’t far behind. My Fav was 12a. Thank you Cephas (if indeed it is you) and also Tilsit (TC always provokes some giggles and the Christmas Festival from Seoul is beautifully heartwarming 🎄) Keep safe and well Tilsit.

  19. Took me well into **** time and with much pondering. This made it very satisfying when the last clue went in. Some lovely misdirections and definition-deflections, so thanks to setter and everyone else on the blog. Even Brian.

  20. Must have been on the GK wavelength today. I only know 21 from gardening and European supermarkets, but it had to be what it is. Thanks to setter and our glorious range of lead bloggers today.

  21. Completed with some e confirmation but, unlike others did not enjoy today’s. Wouldn’t go as far as Brian but
    Agree with Jane et al on 11a but thought it over stretched.
    No idea of the ogre in 1a.
    The use of “wings in” as opposed to “wings of” in 5a made it a poor clue.
    Also idn’t know the gemstone, nor aware of the postcode nor the Maine City. (Yes I know my limited GK).
    I thought that using the latter, rather than a more recognisable namesake, when accompanied by a stretched synonym was the setter being overly obtuse for a Saturday.
    Tomorrow is another day I hope.
    Thanks to setter & whoever provided the hints

    1. Edit lost.
      Meant to say ….. but this did little to lift the gloom on a dreich dismal day up here.

      1. Sorry it’s dreich day up there, LROK. It’s sunny here in Shropshire and getting quite cold. Hoping for a deep red sky this evening. Hope it’s the same tomorrow so there is a chance to see the Geminid shower in the evening.

    2. Re ogre, we believe that JR Tolkein might have been responsible for introducing the relevant word to our dictionaries. Hope this does not qualify for the naughty step ….

      1. It’s said that one evening at a meeting of the Inklings that when J R Tolkein started reading Lord of the Rings one of the group in attendance said ” not another f*cking elf”. My feelings exactly.

  22. It took me a long time to twig, but once I did I thought 11a was fine – definition seems straightforward, not at all stretched, in common usage…..the gemstone was a word I only know as French for something else entirely….

  23. Similarly to during the week I decided to do half then have a baking morning and try to complete after lunch. A good fun prize puzzle and much as Tilsit has decsribed above. I learned a couple of new words to add to my vocabulary in 21a and 20d, but otherwise pretty plain sailing. Last in was 17d, which caused me to think a little harder, but my favourite is 7d – no good reason, but it made me chuckle anyway. Still tittering to myself over Brian’s comment, you made my day :-) Thanks to today’s setter and Tilsit

  24. I didn’t have too many difficulties here until I hit the SW corner. The city in Maine eluded me because I thought the cruciverbalists favourite Maine city was 5 letters with 3 O’s
    A few other 26a clues and 3d made a quick comeback. Quite a geography field trip today with only a bit of BRB action and a little bit of light investigoogling.
    Thanks to the setter blogging team effort today. I spent last weekend hunting down a Betty’s cake for Mama Bee and this weekend sister informs me a Hamper of Betty’s goodies is coming for Mama Bee! I will swap duplicates for Berry Fruits!

  25. This was a breeze if I compare it with yesterday which I did not finish. I was happy with 11a. It works when you add another noun to it. Also had no problem with 25a. The whereabouts of Westminster must be familiar at home and abroad. The only fact I had to check for my answer was the guru to make sure I had not invented him. Thank you setter and the trio who had a hand in the hints.

  26. Just a note to say thank you to everyone for a lovely not too easy, not too hard, just right for me crossword and a special extra THANK YOU to Tilsit for the wonderful Tommy Cooper link. We both laughed out loud at every joke and shrug and grin, what a treasure he was.

  27. Definitely on the trickier end for a Saturday puzzle … 2.5*/**** my ranking today.
    Clues of note include 5a, 12a, 16a, 1d & 5d with winner 12a
    11a was what it had to be, but still don’t understand the clue and answer even with the hint. Just can’t parse it at all.
    21a was a new word for me.

    Thanks to setter and Tilsit for hints

  28. Finished nice and early today…
    A few unknown words, particularly the gemstone.
    I played golf today, and my partner was 9 years old and played of 11!!! Should be a law against It!!
    Thanks all.

  29. ***/*** Lots of new geography knowledge as a result of this difficult and interesting crossword. 14d last one in, even with only two letters to go we gazed at it for ages before the penny dropped. 15d hardest to parse. Many thanks to setter and the various hinters!

  30. I never find cryptics easy but today was quite friendly, until I got to the SW, I needed to go in for a hint to get going again. As did everyone, I’d never heard of 21a. I had no problem with the postal code in 25a and it was one of my first answers in.
    I enjoyed this, I think 5a is fave, but lots more could qualify. The SE corner went in pretty smartly.
    Thanks to whomsoever set this, and thanks to the trio of hinters for getting me going again.

  31. Unlike Jane I welcomed the hints to help me finish it. I have put something into 11a that fits but no idea how it relates to the clue. I enjoyed 18d. Thanks to all concerned.

  32. A hard solve this Saturday… some of the clues were exceptionally well thought out & gave a snigger when I eventually got them.
    Many thanks to Tilsit & our setter

  33. I found this quite difficult even though my brain was allegedly functional. SW corner was the last to be completed. There seemed to be, for me, a few stretched definitions. Rather more of a grind than enjoyable. However, thanks to the setter and for the hints. At least I completed it!

  34. I thought 11a was pretty tangential to say the least , and hardly a synonym.
    And I only ever associated 17d with a certain golf open in a state I won’t name. I haven’t learned the state capitols of the US , some people have , good for them.
    Still it was fun.
    Thanks to all involved.

  35. Well, that made me sit up and take notice – glad I wasn’t the only one to find it a touch on the tricky side.
    11a took me ages but I now think it’s fine.
    Most of the left hand side was more difficult than t’other one, to me anyway.
    I’d never heard of the 21a gemstone.
    The only London postcodes (25a) that I know are SW19 (Wimbledon) and anywhere that either Lamb has ever lived.
    I started this one late – our Elder Lamb and her partner and our little three and a half year old grandson came for the day to celebrate her birthday (Nov 5th so not even meeting in gardens allowed then!) – we lit the barbecue and sat outside and had lunch – we were all frozen but lovely to see them – Georgie (grandson) asked if he’d be allowed inside next time they came – :cry: we said ‘yes’ because it’ll be Christmas. He’s too young to understand.
    I enjoyed this crossword but definitely found it quite difficult so thanks to the setter and to the multitude of ‘hinty people’.

  36. Just started this after a disastrous lunch time defeat – thanks ref for being one eyed or blind actually 😡- and along comes 5a to rub it in🤬🤬🤬

  37. No real hold ups today.
    Answers came readily from the parsing and was surprised to learn that the Georgian city was also in Maine and that the stone shared its name with this wonderful flower. The French version is also the wifi password at the Jardin and I often pronounce 21a to our Spanish and Italian customers.
    I think 12a would have been more fun if it stated that it is often seen on a French Restaurant table. So passé but yet still so popular. Time to move on my dear co-restaurateurs. I remember eating at Jamie Oliver’s in enameled camping plates and washing up linen napkins and look where that got him. As CJ used to say: I didn’t get to where I am now by adopting such retro rubbish!
    Thanks to the setter and to all the team involved in putting up the blog.

  38. I had a quick look after breakfast and thought this was going to be a real toughy….but it wasn’t! A really enjoyable crossword, 25a made me chuckle! I’d not heard of the gemstone but it was easy enough to work it out. Thanks to the setter and Tilsit and BD for the blog.

  39. Managed to finish, but with several hints, and can’t say I enjoyed it. Archaic word in 10a didn’t help, and I was totally stymied by 11a. I found that clue to be unnessarily difficult. Could have sat here all day staring at the empty spaces. But at least I did know 21a. Thanks to setter for the challenge, and sympathies to Tilsit for his bandwidth problems this morning. I have been trying to use my laptop since early yesterday and every time I turn it on it decides to update something or other and locking me out. I’ve just threatened it with an introduction to the toilet… so not in the best of moods. Thank goodness for the iPad. Please, please let Dada be friendly tomorrow.

  40. A bit of a hmmm crossword for me. I finally finished it with a bit of electronic help, submitted it, read the hints and realised I had the wrong answer for 1A (not being a Tolkien fan). I resubmitted it which is probably not allowed but then in years of submitting prize crosswords I have won diddly squat so I assume this will be no different. I kicked myself for not knowing 17d as it’s my daughter’s middle name. A new word for me at 21a and 11a was my last one in, not being able to think of a synonym for armchair. ***/***

  41. Thanks so much for this Big Dave site. I have really improved my solving using this for help and hints (and often the actual answer!). I am slowly getting better and have now finished two Saturday prize ones in a row – if checking a couple of words I hadn’t heard of on Google isn’t cheating. Needed this site’s help for 1a and 5a then the top half eventually fell into place. Thank you!

  42. We enjoyed this puzzle late morning. We didn’t know 21a and 11a took some time to solve – but we had nothing else to do on this dreary Sunday in E. Sussex. 25a was a new word but given the clue Google confirmed the answer. Good to check chosen answers with hints above. Many thanks.

  43. Well! Did fine until NW corner and then stalled. 11a really tenuous in my opinion. 3d was used a few months ago but I’d forgotten answer. Suppose I enjoyed it masochistic way.

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