Times 28875 – below the snow line.

If completing a difficult cryptic crossword is like climbing a mountain, I thought this one was not testing us beyond the foothills; it took me about 15 minutes and quite a few of the clues were of QC level. However I enjoyed the nice surface and anagram at 4d and the ‘currently moving material’ at 12a.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Beetle across motorway, then cut corner (7)
CHAMFER – a CHAFER is a kind of beetle; insert M for motorway.
5 Up till now, ground has turf (4,3)
9 Bird from cold latitudes longing to shelter in widow’s house (9)
DOWITCHER – ITCH (longing) goes inside DOWER (house of a widow). It’s a wading bird related to the snipe, I found it from the wordplay then read about it.
10 Small offence, tearing end off curtain fabric (5)
SCRIM – S[mall], CRIM[e]. Mrs piquet says ‘scrim is cheap rubbish, not for my curtains’.
11 Burrow’s innermost part — hard to get to the end (5)
EARTH – HEART (innermost part) has the H moved to the end.
12 Perhaps Edwin receives two papers with currently moving material (9)
DRIFTWOOD – this Edwin is DROOD, as in the Dickens novel; into DROOD insert I and FT, two newspapers, and W for with.
14 Flag something wicked in light measure once (8,6)
STANDARD CANDLE – flag = STANDARD, and a CANDLE is wicked. Now largely replaced by the Candela.
17 Time when you can’t work spent in bed? (9,5)
GARDENING LEAVE – humorous definition, for when you’re banned from working competitively by a contract and theoretically have to resort to tending flowerbeds.
21 Joggers in mass regularly visited Exmoor golf club (9)
MEMORANDA – M (mass), ExMoOr, R AND A, R&A, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews.
23 Precious metal men found at a market once (5)
AGORA – AG (Ag, silver), OR (men, ordinary ranks), A.
24 Moved sinuously without shirt at first (or anything else) (5)
NAKED – SNAKED loses the S being Shirt at first.
25 Being dirty, one falls into serious condition (9)
GRIMINESS – I inserted into GRIMNESS.
26 Losing temper in the year you died (7)
ANNOYED – ANNO (year, Latin), YE (you) D (died).
27 Denied being age ten? Wrong daughter (7)
NEGATED – (AGE TEN)*, D[aughter].
1 Solicitor’s heartless motto: to be in credit (6)
CADGER – AD[A]GE goes inside CR[edit].
2 Being very negative, a couple relax, dropping pill (2,5)
AT WORST – A, TWO, R[E]ST, the E for the usual ecstasy pill.
3 Highly unlikely meal opportunity for Mrs Sprat? (3,6)
FAT CHANCE – Mrs Sprat would eat no lean, according to the nursery rhyme.
4 Drinking again, the ordinary failing (11)
REHYDRATION – (THE ORDINARY)*. Clever surface.
5 Rating small lake 25 per cent smaller (3)
TAR – TARN loses its N, or 25%. Tar as in sailor.
6 American tangles with favourite — who’s defeated in this? (5)
UPSET – (US PET)*. Unusual, if not disallowed, clue form, where the anagram fodder has to be generated from other words before unravelling; but it’s a simple one so it’s probably acceptable. And in an UPSET, the favourite is defeated.
7 Always manage without party backing (3,4)
FOR GOOD – FORGO (manage without), DO (party) reversed.
8 Corps fails: countermeasures? (8)
REMEDIES – REME (Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, in the British army), DIES (fails).
13 Anger in country reduced by good people (11)
INDIGNATION – INDI[A] (country reduced), G[ood], NATION (people).
15 In becoming older, Lynn possibly getting mean (9)
AVERAGING – AGING (becoming older) has VERA (Lynn) inserted.
16 Giving an example of an Arab with a very conceited attitude (8)
EGOMANIA –  E.G. (giving an example), OMANI (an Arab), A.
18 Mould is mankier when disturbed (7)
19 Fierce noon, getting in the shade (7)
VIOLENT – N for noon inside VIOLET a shade.
20 Congratulated, but not initially promoted (6)
22 Splashed by wet earth, runs for metres, red-faced? (5)
RUDDY – MUDDY swaps M to R.
25 Cerberus, say, pops up in Hades? (3)
GOD – DOG reversed; Cerberus was a dog with three heads who guarded the gates of hell, mythologically, where HADES was the God. Presumably it could bite three people at once. Someone would probably have cross bred it with a poodle to make a cerberdoodle.


55 comments on “Times 28875 – below the snow line.”

  1. I was unable to find an early foothold in the NW so I started exploring other areas of the grid and breezed though them in about 20 minutes. But when I returned to the NW to finish off I hit a brick wall with 1ac, 9ac, 11ac, 1dn and 2dn refusing to give way to my best attentions. Eventually I decided to break the deadlock by using aids to look up the bird which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t know when I found it, and I was right about that. Once that was in place the remaining answers fell eventually, but it wasn’t all over within a few seconds and I think I had around 45 minutes on the click by the time I was done.

    It turns out that DOWITCHER appeared in a Sunday puzzle and Jumbo in 2022, both of which I probably did but I posted no comment to either discussion. I did however admit to not knowing it when it appeared in a weekday puzzle in 2012. On reflection I should probably have been able to construct the answer from wordplay today as we had ‘DOWAGER DUCHESS’ in yesterday’s 15×15 and I made a comment with reference to the widowed Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey, so there was a connection to be made.

    CHAMFER is an odd word one hears on TV antiques shows but it’s rarely seen written down so it sort of looks wrong. This is only its third time out in the TfTT era with 9 years between its first and second, and now 8 between its second and third.

  2. When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
    When move in a sweet body fit for life,
    And love, and pleasure, and the Ruddy strife
    Of hearts and lips!
    (Lamia, Keats)
    Well it took me 30 mins pre-brekker – on IPad pending toner delivery.
    I liked it. Nicely clues, but with words I had to conjure up, like Dowitcher and Scrim.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  3. Like Jack I raced through the southern half of the puzzle but came to a screeching halt in the northern half. NHO CHAMFER or DOWITCHER and while Dowitcher was easily gettable from the clue, Chamfer was not. I was slowed down further by taking much too long to think of Cadger / Adage which finally gave me the opening letters. So I ended up on 28 minutes unfortunately after a racing start, but at least I beat my half hour target!
    Thanks setter and piquet

  4. I found this hard. DOWITCHER was unknown, and needed CADGER to fall. I agonised over GRIMINESS, expecting ‘I falls’ in the middle. RAMEKIN could easily be wrongly spelt.

    GARDENING LEAVE, by the way, can also mean one is suspended from a job, with pay, while some sort of investigation is carried out.

    25’11”, thanks pip and setter.

    1. Happy in the knowledge that my outburst was fully justified and reinstatement would follow, I enjoyed my GARDENING LEAVE by joining the National Trust and spending a very clement spring visiting almost all of their houses and gardens in East Anglia, on full pay !

  5. I’d suggest that UPSET isn’t an indirect anagram, as US and PET individually stay in the correct order. “Tangled” seems to be suggesting “intertwined” or “woven” which possibly makes the indirectness more fair.

    1. Yes, it’s a nice variation on the shared-letter device we sometimes see when the last letter of the first part of the answer is also the first letter of the second.

  6. 48 minutes, so if not Everest, very steep foothills. LOI the unheard of SCRIM. I was pleased to dredge up STANDARD CANDLE from the recesses of my Physics days. COD jointly to DRIFTWOOD and AVERAGING. There’ll be DOWITCHERs over the white cliffs of Dover, just you wait and see. My ear worms are getting older and older. I checked the birds which I didn’t know. Tough puzzle, but a good challenge. Thank you Pip and setter.

  7. To my amazement I managed to finish this in under 30 minutes. NW corner was trickiest but I was aided immensely by two things.

    First as a keen bird photographer living close to the Norfolk coast I know that a Long Billed Dowitcher has returned this winter – having arrived last year, presumably blown off course as it is commonly in the USA. It has celebrity status locally. (Remember this is Norfolk!).

    Second with an academic background in law I always remind myself never to assume that words like solicitor relate to the legal profession. Other forms of solicitor are available.

  8. I found this considerably harder than Pip implied, and was very slow to get started. NHO DOWITCHER or STANDARD CANDLE.

    TIME 11:41

  9. Never heard of either CHAMFER nor CHAFER, so that was never on, even though I saw what was happening.

    Silver lining: I had a daft typo elsewhere in the grid. Always better to use those up when they’re not the difference between completion and not…

    Thanks both.

  10. I found this quite tough like others in the NW, then the rest went in pretty smoothly with a brief wonder about whether it was MUDDY or RUDDY, and needing MEMORANDA to sort that out (which I couldn’t parse). NHO DOWITCHER or SCRIM, but fun puzzle nonetheless aaand I squeaked in under the half hour so happy days. thanks Pip and setter.

  11. 22.42

    Also needed CADGER to get the bird. Didn’t know the beetle but did know CHAMFER sort of

    Thanks setter and Pip

  12. No time as not only was I bogged down in the NW, as others, the lorry delivering my firewood (it’s freezing down here) got entrenched in my sodden back garden and I had to call the local tractor garage to come and hoick him out. All in the pouring rain. Mood: Meldrewvian!

    Anyway, I digress. LOI the NHO DOWITCHER. Lucky guess. Perhaps not Everest, but I needed my crampons.

    I liked the CANDLE & the LEAVE.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  13. A puzzle that mostly wrote itself in for me apart from the NW. But I’m beginning to learn (after 45 years?) that when you get breezeblock it’s probably because the setter has tried to insert a word or two of unfamiliar vocabulary just to slow things down a bit at the end. I definitely knew CHAMFER from having run an engineering company at one time where corners could be CHAMFERed on an artefact to give it a smooth, rounded finish, but I hadn’t used it for years so it took a bit of pulling in from the edges of consciousness. Then I could see that 9A was landing squarely in the middle of one of my many blind spots – ornithology. But that was great, I knew it would be something I’d never heard of but then the two parts came together easily (ITCH in DOWER) to form a plausible-sounding bird, and so it proved. Overall very enjoyable, thanks setter for expanding my ornithological knowledge and Pip for the blog.

  14. 12 minutes or so.

    Didn’t know SCRIM but the wordplay was kind; also didn’t know DOWITCHER or dower as a widow’s house, though both were easily plausible enough for me to be confident it was right; not really familiar with STANDARD CANDLE, but I’ve cottoned on to the ‘wicked’ trick now; don’t know my nursery rhymes well enough to fully understand FAT CHANCE; agree with McBeak’s parsing of UPSET.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Tar
    LOI Scrim
    COD Gardening leave

  15. 22:14 but…

    …checked on DOWITCHER before submitting as I’d never heard of either it or the widow’s house. Not sure where I dredged CHAMFER from – thought it was something to do with woodwork but didn’t know the beetle. Didn’t know SCRIM either but that was easier to build.

    Thanks P and setter

  16. NHO DOWITCHER, which only went in right at the end with some trepidation. Also had problems with CADGER, but the rest of this fell fairly quickly. Liked AVERAGING.

  17. 24:57. Not as easy a climb for me as for our blogger. Quite tough but fair from my perseoctive.


  18. 48 minutes. More than a stroll in the foothills for me too, not helped by another breezeblock, this time with ADAGE for ‘motto’. Once I’d finally got CADGER I then had to work out our unknown feathered friend at 9a. I liked the &littish REMEDIES.

  19. Perhaps not Everest but then stairs are tricky for me these days. 25.46 correctly suggests a solve with sticking points. EGOMANIA and MEMORANDA both took time, in the latter case wondering what on earth Exmoor had to do with anything, in the former imagining it started with A GG, an Arab, of course. Neither AT WORST nor FOR GOOD should have been far from the surface, but were: FOR EVER, maybe?
    As for DOWITCHER, it can’t be often an Iroquoian word makes an appearance. Makes mere French and Latin look rather commonplace.
    Still enjoyed it, especially the d’oh moment of the wicked entry.

  20. Enjoyed this- SCRIM LOI with fingers crossed.
    Much thanks to the setter- these are the puzzles which provide a suitable and entertaining challenge. I notice the snitch is currently 99 so an average difficulty I assume.

  21. 30:01
    The NW almost did for me, with similar troubles as others above.

    A decent workout with quite a few unknowns/references for me.

    Thanks to both.

  22. I was confused (easily done) by ‘widow’s house’ for DOWER in 9a.

    I think that dower is the portion of a husband’s estate set aside to support his widow (one-third traditionally). This could include a house, but that is usually called a ‘dower house’, not just dower.

  23. 26.22. Pretty satisfied with this solving time for my standards. Dragged ‘dowitcher’ from deep in the memory bank, which is becoming ever more inaccessible as the years roll by. ‘Scrim’ is known to me from decorating and bookbinding, though not from curtains.

  24. 14a Wiki thinks a standard candle is (still) something astronomical and not closely related to the candela.
    21a MEMORANDA biffed, was unable to parse.
    8d REMEDIES I was confused as I thought the Corps was RE and forgot about the REME. I shouldn’t have done as Dad was in the REME when he was in the TA.
    Started at usual speed then hit the South and screeched along.

    1. Mine too. He actually went back into the army though, having been offered a commission, and stayed in until retirement. Travelled the world. Never had to endure active duty (a happy hiatus in nations taking potshots at each other) and made half colonel. Not bad for a lad from the other side of the tracks.

  25. 34:31 for me but transposed the I/E in RAMEKIN. Most of it went in quite easily, but struggled for a while with the NW corner. LOI – 9a. Didn’t know the bird or the widow’s house, but I guessed right based on DOWAGER. COD – 4d for the elegant anagram.

  26. Generally the same NHOs/HNIs (Have No Idea) as everyone else, in the end happy with 36.34 because this seemed like a tough but fair puzzle. LOIs were CADGER and the unknown bird, had a wild guess at CHAMFER from some dim way-back memory from Dad’s wood-working shed. Was there a tool for that, perhaps? Nice time from Nelson, I thought it was much harder than that. Thanks for the brilliant unpicking of MEMORANDA and the day will come when I remember REME is a thing.

  27. I found I was able to work through this steadily, but slowly. No unknowns.
    However, I’ve just noticed that I forgot to go back to 1d, so it’s unfinished. Apart from that betise, 55 minutes.

  28. DNF

    Nothing for 1a or 1d at 45’ so gave in. Inventing the Widow’s Tower didn’t help. Good book title though.
    Had errors at 25a and 25d too. Automatically looked at ‘pops up in Hades’ ending in d and wrote in SED for heaven’s sake.

    Really off form today.

  29. Pretty tough foothills for me at 45′ or so. Like Astarte I knew CHAMFER from my engineering days and it has stuck with me. It was one of a number I solved on first pass, making me think I was heading for a quick time. However I then became unstuck on a few self-imposed misdirections. MEMORANDA (joggers?.. nice) wasn’t parsed until I came here. GARDENING LEAVE (never lucky enough to get any) and STANDARD CANDLE (“wicked” in particular is good) were my favourites.. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  30. 10:47

    So yeah, foothills. I didn’t know scrim or dowitcher but the wordplay made them very gettable (if you know dower of course).

    Agree that the definition for driftwood was a goody.

  31. Several words or terms that I’d never heard of, but they were all easily enough clued in the wordplay, so they weren’t really a problem. 36 minutes. A bit slow on DRIFTWOOD, since Edwin only suggested Landseer or Lutyens; also, the only Lynn who occurred was Redgrave, not really very likely to have been heard of by anyone not of a certain age. Mrs Piquet has confirmed what I thought about SCRIM.

  32. 15:08. I started slowly on this, then picked up a decent head of steam, then got completely stuck on the same last three as everybody else. Eventually I worked out CADGER, which got me to the unheard-of bird (I didn’t know DOWER but it seemed likely enough based on the existence of ‘dowager’) at which point I realised that CHAMFER – which I had dismissed as being obviously not a word – might just be the answer after all.
    I have been fortunate enough to benefit from the enforced idleness of GARDENING LEAVE once in my life. Lovely.

  33. Brought down by RAMiKIN. Who’d have thought you needed to check the anagrist. Otherwise I felt pleased to have negotiated these tricky foothills in a less than average time

  34. Not so easy for me either. The NW was the main sticking point. FAT CHANCE was FOI. Once the rest was sorted I came back to 1a, 1d,2d, 11a and 9a. EARTH came first, then AT WORST. A suspicion that 1d would start with C and end with R led to CHAMFER, then I was breezeblocked on the heartless motto, so I looked for synonyms and spotted adage. I already had –WITCHER, so with the D from CADGER, DOWER was confirmed for the widow’s residence and LOI, the unknown DOWITCHER, finished things off. 29:44. Thanks setter and Pip.

  35. Nice. More of a Snowdon than the Eiger I grant you, but by no means a gentle stroll and enough of a challenge for me to be pleased to have done it and glad that I had finished. Happy to see a new bird along the way.

  36. Unknown time as I kept falling asleep. In between naps, the answers arrived in fits and starts. Held up by a few false answers typed in, like LAPPED.

  37. Slow start as nothing much leapt out at me in the top half but speeded up when I got further down. Thanks, Pip, for the parsing of MEMORANDA, I didn’t spot R&A despite my father being from St Andrews and spending a lot of childhood summers there. About 11 minutes.

  38. Like some others I was stuck in the NW. But I managed to work out the unknowns from the cryptics. I spent a long time finding CADGER which confirmed LOI had to be DOWITCHER. My widow was living in a bower until then.
    CHAMFER vaguely known, the beetle not. NHO SCRIM.
    Quite hard but rewarding -like this morning’s QC.

  39. So here’s my problem. I had DOG instead of GOD which meant my last two looked very peculiar until the penny dropped and ANNOYED and GRIMINESS were obvious. I’ve done this before and it’s been pointed out to me ‘it’s clear’ that one and not the other was intended to be reversed but I just don’t see it. Could it not be read either way?

    Thanks P and setter.

    1. Well, it definitely says Cerberus pops up, not Hades pops up. I can’t see how you can read it the other way around. And ‘in Hades’ suggests the answer is ‘in’ Hades, if you see what I mean.

  40. I liked it. The Department of Pedantry informs me that the proper term is Garden Leave, the “ing” being an addition (you have to sit in your garden, you don’t have to putter around with the plants); and that while the original Standard Candle has been replaced for visible light on earth, the term has been co-opted by advanced physicists to refer to the radiation from pulsars – pulsar radiation is constant from one to the next, so measuring what we get from a particular one here on earth gives a good estimate of how far away the pulsar is.

  41. 17.57. Nothing too daunting though it took a while to realise what sort of wicked was defined in standard candle. Managed to recall chamfer and dowitcher from memory recesses.

    Enjoyed it. Thanks setter and blogger.

  42. As usual several went in with some trepidation so was pleased it was all good. Didn’t see the R&A bit when parsing so thanks for enlightening me.
    COD STANDARD CANDLE (“wicked”made me smile once I’d twigged it)

  43. Terribly sleepy after a bad night, so this certainly seemed like a mountain while solving. However, I don’t solve in order, so although I was left with most of the NW corner, I found it went in a lot quicker than some of the other areas, as my brain adjusted itself to the setter’s. I had a D from the assumed dower at the start of 9a, so CADGER was quite easy, and REHYDRATION gave me the H that showed where dower fitted in the full word. I wasn’t aware of the DOWITCHER, but the clueing was clear enough, and I had heard of the chafer beetle. My main worry was whether there was a golf club/course called RANDA! With zero interest in golf, I didn’t know the St Andrew’s course name. SCRIM also NHO. A good challenge.

  44. Great to work out, and thus learn, some new words. I refer of course to DOWITCHER, SCRIM and CHAMFER. Got off to a very slow start, but then the bottom half yielded, and I was done in 18’57”, so a little under my average. Many thanks.

  45. 38:42
    Familiar with the technique of CHAMFER matching in registration of medical images, so OK with 1a. Had to work out DOWITCHER and SCRIM from the cryptic. LOI was REMEDIES – I need to put some effort into learning all the army corps, since they come up often.

    Thanks piquet and setter

  46. Not easy, exactly one hour with seveal unknowns (CHAMFER only vaguely rang a bell, DOWITCHER, SCRIM). When parsing DRIFTWOOD, I was confused by the literal “two” contained in it until I couldn’t find the papers, so I rethought that. CADGER, REMEDIES (first biffed) and then SCRIM were my LOI.

  47. I, too was going well, until I revisited the NW corner. Had the WITCHER part of the clue, but didn’t have CADGER yet, so unsure of the start. NHO STANDARD CANDLE, but worked out from wordplay; totally missed the Drood reference, so never did get DRIFTWOOD; had GARDENING LEAVE in mind but having NHO, didn’t enter it until it was obvious. NE corner filled in first (had beard of SCRIM), and enjoyed getting those I did from strict observance of the cryptic. Good, enjoyable puzzle: COD GARDENING LEAVE.


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