DT 29897 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29897 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29897 (Hints)

The Saturday Crossword Club (hosted by Tilsit)

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Greetings from a damp and blustery Porthmadog.

I sneaked away for a few days break having set myself the personal challenge of riding the ten Great Little Trains of Wales. I duly booked a room here in the hub of a number of them, only to find out they are not running until the end of February/beginning of March!! So it looks like I shall go for an afternoon tea in Portmeirion.

I rather think we have another visit from our lovely lady setter today. More clues that leave you with a smile on your face, and with pleasant appreciative thoughts.

As usual, remember the forum rules, and please don’t post open hints. A full dissection by Rahmat Ali will appear in due course. I’m off for a homely Welsh breakfast and a stroll around the seafront.

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    Puzzle — cattle disease grips bird (6)
Inside the abbreviation for a disease that causes havoc with cattle goes a bird from the Antipodes.

4    Jettisons rotten, mostly base publicity items (8)
A word sum. A word meaning rotten, plus two-thirds of a word meaning base, plus a short way of saying publicity items.

10    Raised fists of Ellington and Wellington? (5)
Two definitions, one a cryptic name for raised fists and one describing Messrs E & W.

17    Building anew, deplorably cutting corners (14)
An anagram (deplorably) of cutting corners.

23    Some cricket starts with appeal ignored (7)
A word meaning starts is needed and then remove the first three letters, a word meaning appeal.

24    Scotsman caught breaking into fruit machine (9)
One of the archetypal names associated with Scotsmen and the abbreviation for caught both go inside the name of a common fruit.

26    Adventurously hanging round centre of Hebrides (8)
An adjective meaning hanging goes round the middle two letters of Hebrides.

27    Girl checks email on vacation (6)
A word meaning checks or blocks plus the first & last letters of the word email.


1    Orchestras welcoming American Democrat (Liberal) in South Dakota region (8)
A word for orchestras has inside abbreviations for American, Democrat and liberal to give an area of S Dakota, that was also the name of a very fine 1970’s film starring a young Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.

5    Frivolous exploit the lady’s intellect emptily engineered (7-7)
A word for an exploit, followed by a way of describing ‘the lady’. Add a word for intellect and the first and last letters of engineered, and you have an expression for something frivolous or light.

6    Be vigilant, toilet lock ultimately not in use (4,3)
A word for a lavatory, the last letter of lock and something meaning not in use.

9    Regularly admit emphasis on remarkable flare, for example (8,6)
Alternate letters from admit, something meaning emphasis and a word that can be used to mean remarkable or distinct.

16    Incites havoc, a truly fragile thing (8)
A word meaning incites, plus something meaning havoc or chaos.

19    Insincere talk advanced with thanks for choral work (7)
The word for word that have little meaning, the abbreviation for advanced and a way of saying thanks.

22    Pleasant little drink with queen (5)
A short word meaning to drink or the name of a drink, plus the abbreviation for Her Majesty.

Was it full steam ahead, or did you hit the buffers? Thanks to Chalicea for a beautifully crafted challenge that was terrific fun.

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.

The Quick Crossword pun: MAR + SOUP + EELS = MARSUPIALS

Music today is something very brand new from a young musician. I heard this on Scala Radio while driving yesterday and it was just lovely. Hope you enjoy it. A new performer on me, but so amazingly talented.

65 comments on “DT 29897 (Hints)

  1. 1.5*/3.5*. It’s nice to start the weekend with a light and fun puzzle.

    Given Tilsit’s revelation of the setter’s identity, I think we can safely assume this was penned by the prolific Chalicea, so many thanks to both of them.

  2. First of all I wish I was in Little Venice going to Big Dave’s birthday bash instead of on my way to Aldi. Hopefully one day….. secondly this was a welcome swift solve after my tortuous journey through yesterday’s! And on the back page too. Last one in 27a which I hope I’ve got right. Favourites 24a and 8 and 16d. I liked all the long ones. The anagrams were impressive. Thanks setter and Tilsit to whose hints I shall now turn. PS Now understand I can thank Chalicea.

    1. Entirely agree, last in 27 and the same 3 favourites. I thought this was a perfect Saturday puzzle, not too easy, a slow start for me and a few head scratching moments but then the mists cleared. Spent too long looking for a vacation for 27a, probably something subliminal there 🤔🤔
      Thank you to Chalicea and Tilsit , hopefully Wales is not as windy as the South East, but having spoken to a friend in Lake District this morning I fear it will be worse.

  3. A light delight from Chalicea. I appreciated the merits of the puzzle more having read back through it after a brisk completion. I only knew the South Dakota location of 1d from Terrence Malick’s wonderful directorial debut (his follow up Days Of Heaven is visually stunning) which I haven’t watched for some time & will do so. Wordle in 5 today.
    Thanks to Chalicea & Tilsit – enjoy your break

    1. Amen to the Malick films. We watched Days of Heaven recently, and it is quite stunning to view.

  4. Thanks Chalicea (?) for a brisk walk in the park, until I was held up by three of the four long ‘uns – with most checkers in place! Ho hum. 1* time but 4* happiness. Will now trot back to read Tilsit’s no doubt enlightening comments.

  5. Enjoyably solved accompanied by a celebratory wee dram for the 13th – 2*/3.5*.

    Candidates for favourite – 27a, 5d, 9d, and 16d – and the winner is 5d.

    Thanks to Chalicea and Tilsit.

    Now looking forward to, presumably, a Prolixic BB-special NTSPP.

  6. Excellent puzzle, a real relief after the last couple of days. My fav was 7d which made me smile.
    Well constructed clues using words that most of us actually know.
    Thx to Chalicea for a pleasant start to the weekend (more from this setter please) and for the hints.

  7. A typically bright and breezy solve with plenty of fun to be had along the way, making this a pleasantly entertaining puzzle. I particularly liked 16d, my final entry.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to Tilsit.

  8. A light and pleasant start to the weekend, just enough bite to get the brain cells going. As it is a prize puzzle I will refrain from providing a link to the first piece of music that came to mind for 1d suffice to say I was there in Hyde Park.

    Is there anybody ALIVE out there!

    Not kept the ticket but I do have a rather tatty T-shirt from that gig.

    Many thanks to tilsit and Chalicea

  9. An unusually smooth ride for me, thanks Chalicea and Tilsit (hope you enjoy prett Porthmadog). On a different matter why on earth doesn’t the telegraph publish the names of the last prize crossword winners underneath the current Saturday puzzle ( this is done on Sundays)

    1. I guess because they won’t have been pulled out of the hat and checked yet. It does not really matter when so long as they are published.

  10. This looked extremely tricky to start with but I soon got into by solving some of the long ones first. SE corner held me up for a bit as I was looking for a girl’s name. All in all good fun so thanks to Chalicea and Tilsit. Worldle in 4 despite getting zilch in first two passes and using 3 of the 5 vowels – must be down to lady luck.

  11. A terrific puzzle that revealed its secrets gradually to give a most satisfying solve. I only got 10a by recalling a character in a film telling somebody to put them up. Getting the long anagrams early on helped greatly with gaining a foothold. My favourite and COTD was 8d but, to be honest, it was difficult to single out one clue from them all.

    Many thanks to Chalicea for the fun – more please. Thanks also to Tilsit for the hints and enjoy Portmeirion but beware of large balloons!

    I thought the Quickie pun worth a mention.

    Wordle in 2 – a fluke of course. :grin:

    1. Well done you. I thought I was on course for two as I saw the first three correct letters reveal themselves in green. Then it took me two further attempts to get the right word, so 4 for me.

        1. I read your letter in the Daily Telegraph Daisygirl. I had not spotted it so went back to look. Like you, if I get one in it is usually a humorous one. My Wordle today was in four as was that of my 10 year old grandson. I don’t think it is a complete fluke as you learn not to re-use letters that have already been used unsuccessfully. I have not come unstuck yet, but you could easily do so with those words which have several different options for one letter. Also I think some are harder than others.

  12. Light and bright – would have been spot-on for a friendly solve in the pub at Little Venice!
    The surface of 24a made me laugh so that can have today’s gold medal.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to Tilsit for the hints.

  13. Another delightful work of art from our lovely lady setter, which I blissfully solved from top to bottom, loving it more and more as I finished much too soon. The two long down clues deserve special mention, but my favourites are 16d, 24a, & 1d, which I remember driving through, en route to Mt Rushmore, in the autumn of 1978, in my old pop-top VW camper. I was between academic posts, enjoying my first-ever motor-tour across America. What larks, eh Pip? Thanks to Tilsit and Chalicea. 1.5* / 4.5*

    1. Did you call in at Pipestone by any chance? They used to do a pageant celebrating Longfellow’s Hiawatha but it stopped before I could visit. I do still have a copy of Longfellow’s poems in a nice leather-bound edition I inherited from Grandma Bee.

      1. No, John. So sorry we missed Pipestone National Monument; we were on a slightly different route, coming up, via Des Moines, IA, into Sioux Falls, SD, zigging and zagging our way across the continent.

  14. It’s all been said, I can only add that I enjoyed it with my top two being 23&24a (though I wonder how many Scotsmen are actually called that these days)

  15. Another lovely puzzle just held up by 16 d which was a real head scratcher. I liked the first three across and 24a and 5 & 15d. Thanks to Tilsit and Chalicea of course. Blowing a Gale here in Cambridge, wind coming straight off the steppes, nothing between us and the Urals. George has gone to watch Hertford play rugby so I am left to my own devices 😋

    1. Actually DG, we are – between you and the Urals! Blowing a gale here too. Another wonderful seafood platter last night, enough for a light lunch today as well.

      1. Oh, please stop talking about your seafood platters – it makes me drool!! We are jolly well going to
        come up and have one of these meals one day. And you may well be between us and
        the Urals but you are not doing a very good job of blocking the wind. We need a sizeable range of mountains.🤔

      2. We are spending next weekend in Norwich, travelling by train. We do hope to come to Norfolk later in the year at which time I shall ask you for directions to your seafood restaurant!

  16. Most heritage railways are shut until the end of next month. Here the South Devon Railway reopens for February half term, They have to get their breath back after a thankfully successful Christmas..
    Enjoy Portmeirion. It’s a magical place,

  17. No problem (as they say!) in the West but East required rather more application which was enjoyable. 1d new to me however it had to be. Surely 5d refers to someone rather than something. Fav was 27a for its surface likewise 24a. Thank you Chalicea and Tilsit. Hope everyone is safe from effects of storm Malik.

  18. I am always really happy to give pleasure to solvers so many thanks for those happy comments. If only we could have some of your stormy weather. We live down below our ski resort and have had cloudless blue skies for most of January – hot wine out of doors on the cafe terrace today.
    Many thanks to Tilsit for the wonderful job he always does.

    1. You certainly give us pleasure Chalicea in our cold, grey, windy world. That thought must
      comfort you as you bravely sit outside in the calm sunshine drinking hot toddies, it sounds awful.

  19. A very enjoyable puzzle today. Did not need Tilsit’s hints but always read them .

    Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit. Hope you have a nice break.

  20. Can’t say I was over enamoured with this Saturday offering. I find Chalicea’s clues quite often a stretch with synonyms or the path to the answers over convoluted, but that is just my take. Today was 3*/2* with several entries wrong due to the way I parsed what I thought was the answer. No matter. Solved west side first with the east MOST troublesome today for me, with the NE the last to be corrected and re-corrected.
    Not a lot of satisfaction today.
    New word for me in 11a.
    Favourite candidates 1a, 14a & 24a with 24a the winner
    Ended up as a DNF on my own accord I am afraid.
    On the plus side though Wordle in 3 today.

    Thanks to Chalicea and more so to Tilsit for the many needed hints to make some sort of sense of this one.
    Bring on Dada tomorrow …

  21. Thank you Chalicea for brightening up my day. It appears that we may not get out of the 40sF today, bright sunshine and cloudless sky, I have the heat on so I’m comfortable but I don’t like it … whinge, whinge, whinge and so on. The wind and cold have stripped my bougainvillea (see my avatar) of all its leaves and flowers, which are now in my pool, but I’m not going in there to get them out! I’m just not the hardy sort. Tonight is forecast to be in the 30s, Sadie and I will be snug and warm in our comforter and the heat full on.
    Crossword: A bundle of fun, only problem 27a and 16d, once I had the hint for 27a, 16d followed smartly. As Robert says, not a dud in the grid, any one could be a fave, though 5d did appeal.
    Thank you Chalicea for the fun, and Tilsit for unravelling a couple. Wordle at 4 today, I’m making up for that awful flameout earlier in the week.

  22. First of course a big thank you to Big Dave, the setter and Tilset. I am so sorry to hear of your cancelled train plans. Many years ago we lived in North Wales and took the boys on some of those journeys, during the summer and also over the Christmas period.

    To the puzzle. I loved this one. For the first time in ages I managed to finish with no help, though I always go back just to read the extra tips and hints. No favourites, every clue was fun. My brain is not complete mush then in spite of the pandemic’s best efforts.
    Still under lock-down here. As my surgery has been cancelled we are being extra careful. Our eldest son has it but he is fully vaccinated so hopefully it will clear up soon. Sadly we have lost 3 unvaccinated friends in the USA.

    Stay safe and well everyone.

  23. Too difficult for me.
    As is the way with solving crossword for me, all bar 3 clues went in in the time it takes to eat a pizza. The last three,11a, 7d and 5d, I would not be able to solve if I looked at them until doomsday.
    After 6 years of attempting to solve cryptic crosswords, I am still awful. To think I once considered offering my services as a blogger! Laughable.
    Still, at least Millwall won for a change and I solved my first quick crossword unaided, ever.
    Ho hum!
    Thanks both.

    1. C’mon, Hoofit – you didn’t solve three, what’s the big deal? I didn’t solve two in the south but I’m certainly not fretting about it, I solved 20-something clues, that’s good enough for me.

        1. Oh no, it does not get better. Finishing a crossword is a great day for me, especially if I also find my glasses on the first go or remembering why I have gone down to the basement without having to go back up and go back down again.
          Also though I appear to be getting shorter (or the top shelves of the kitchen cabinets are sneaking their way up overnight) for some reason my feet are getting further away when I try to putt on socks or tights.

    2. If I may respectfully disagree; you are not awful if only three solutions escaped you. Many friends of mine regularly do not finish despite trying for many more years than six..I’m talking 20/30+ years.
      It is a pastime, enjoy what you achieve.

    3. Certainly do not despair. I hate it if I have two or three which take me more time than the rest of the puzzle. I don’t give in, however, I persist. I think that is the way to improve. Often I am solving late in the day so if it is a tough one I take it to bed. It amazes me that you can look at a clue until you are cross-eyed in the evening, but in the morning they write themselves in as if by magic.

  24. An enjoyable solve with some cracking anagrams and mis-direction, thanks lady! 👍
    The ‘on vacation’ hint in 27A was a new one for me…is this a ‘usual suspect’ that I’ve just missed before?
    Anyway, all completed, so will expect anther prize pen in the post shortly 😜
    Thanks also to Tilsit for another great blog ‘n hints.

    1. I have seen “on vacation” before to indicate what it does. but it doesn’t come up often. Mr K our resident Statistician may have more gen on this. Basically, I find the half-life of remembering all the different clue constructions is usually fractionally shorter than the next time you need to remember it!

      1. \oI do so agree with that last comment of yours, John Bee!
        I have just finished – but had to google quite a few answers this time. However, I was also quite pleased to find that I had been thinking along the right lines so that is encouraging, I think!

  25. Back to the old fun Chalicea for me. Super puzzle just right for an SPP.
    Late on parade as internet outage due to storm means I am using connection via mobile as problems will persist until tomorrow.
    Thanks to Chalicea and Tilsit. I rermember one of the Vale of Rheidol locos being stripped down in God’s Wonderful Railway works when I worked there in the 60s / 70s.

  26. Lovely puzzle with some entertaining twists. Tilsit – if you’re an ale drinker I hope you found some Purple Moose, who brew in Porthmadog. Also the coast railway as far as Machynlleth is well worth a ride for the cliff scenery and the views of the Mawddach and Dovey estuaries.

    Thanks for your review and to our compiler.

  27. Delighted to finish this in one session without resorting to the hints! A rare occurrence, but made it very enjoyable.

  28. Three average gents from my local pub The Southgate . Devizes . We have so much fun doing battle with your compilers . A huge thanks Dave Steve Ken

  29. Thanks to all and sundry. Try not to look at the hints until really stuck. But, got bogged down on both 27a and 18d. However after a slight re-adjustment to the correct end spelling of 17a answer, 18d fell into place, as then did 27a.
    Great to read all the comments. And thanks especially to the setter.

  30. Thanks crypticsue. Been following for a while, but never left a comment as most things were covered. Great blog.

  31. Last in as usual. All straightforward apart from 5 down which was last on. Airhead is the more common used. Also agree 22d a bit tenuous but most enjoyable nonetheless. Thank you

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