Quick Cryptic 2034 by Noel

Predictably Christmas-themed and very gentle. 16dn – nice of Noel to include the city I would be visiting next week if it weren’t for all the hysterical politicians. 4 minutes for me.


1 Crazy solvers! (8)
CRACKERS – double definition
6 Large plant in theatre entrance (4)
TREE – hidden word: theaTRE Entrance
8 Something in night sky seen in deserts to the west (4)
STAR – RATS backwards, i.e pointing towards the west
9 Holding a piece of hose (8)
STOCKING – double definition
10 Here’s some gifts (8)
PRESENTS – double definition
12 One ordered about ten cattle (4)
OXEN – anagram (‘ordered’) of ONE outside X (ten)
13 Sings about luxury car with middle missing! (6)
CAROLS – CA (about) + ROLLS minus its middle letter
15 Produce more eggs, perhaps, than expenditure (6)
OUTLAY – double definition. One chicken might outlay another
17 Glossy publication, maybe one for the wise (4)
19 Comfortable place to prepare tea I pour finally (8)
ARMCHAIR – ARM (prepare) + CHA (tea) + I + R
21 Fine wines prepared eg in vats (8)
VINTAGES – anagram (‘prepared’) of  EG IN VATS
23 Long to have gym outside home (4)
PINE – PE outside IN
24 Egg on lady, every so often getting first prize? (4)
GOLD – alternate letters of eGg On LaDy
25 Bothering to keep railway for transporting (8)
CARRYING – CARING with RY inside
2 Revolver originally used north of a NZ city (7)
3 Diamonds, maybe, found by detective sergeant beneath vehicle (5)
CARDS – DS with CAR on top
4 Printing measures used in English manuscript (3)
EMS – E + MS. An em is a distance equal to the typographical point size in use, beloved of crossword setters, See also ‘en’
5 Wintry weather in NSW: motors malfunctioning (9)
SNOWSTORM – anagram (‘malfunctioning’) of NSW MOTORS
6 Do away with escort (4,3)
TAKE OUT – double definition
7 Wise, perhaps, to have, on reflection, some in reserve (5)
ERNIE – reversed hidden word: somE IN REserve
11 Frantically casing lot, yearning for the past (9)
NOSTALGIC – anagram (‘frantically’) of CASING LOT
14 Hand in dictionary that’s left out (7)
16 Dissolute characters from Govan in French city (7)
AVIGNON – anagram (‘dissolute characters from’) of GOVAN IN
18 In the morning I turn to find friend (5)
20 Dwarf hiding pennies in grass (5)
HAPPY – HAY with two Ps in. One of Snow White’s
22 Teacher starts off shouting in room (3)
SIR – initial letters of Shouting In Room

63 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2034 by Noel”

  1. A bit slow to get started at the top but FOI PRESENTS seemed to kick start things and then it was all straightforward enough. Fortunately I’d heard of the NZ city and EMS both of which might have proved tricky on the GK front.
    Finished in 7.46 with LOI ERNIE with COD going to OUTLAY.
    Thanks to curarist and Noel and I hope you all enjoy the festive period.
  2. I struggled for half an hour with this one before completing it. I did have to use Chambers twice for help. Did not know ROTORUA or EMS.

    I was not surprised to find it Christmas themed.

  3. 9 minutes for all but the NHO ROTORUA which took me an extra 2 minutes to decipher from wordplay.

    I found Christmas references in all the Across answers apart from perhaps CARRYING. I had slight queries about OUTLAY and ARMCHAIR but then decided it’s an expensive time of year and one may pass more time than usual sitting comfortably at home or elsewhere, so they were fair enough.

    In the Downs I found only CARDS, SNOWSTORM, HAPPY and, at a pinch, NOSTALGIC.

    Edited at 2021-12-24 09:00 am (UTC)

  4. Lots of festive fun in Noel’s lovely Christmas themed puzzle today. We took 7 lighted hearted and enjoyable minutes to unwrap this present.


    Thanks Curarist and Noel.

    Merry Christmas to all — have a cracking time!

    Edited at 2021-12-24 09:01 am (UTC)

  5. Enjoyable puzzle. Not too difficult. As always, had to do someone else while I thought about the last two: CAROLS and OMITTED.
    Happy Christmas to all solvers, bloggers and setters!
  6. I’d never heard of ROTORUA but I think I can be excused for not having come across “the second largest urban area in the Bay of Plenty” especially since I hadn’t heard of the largest, Tauranga, either. 58,400 residents, so about the same as Weymouth or Brentwood. Struggled with the parsing of ARMCHAIR. All green in 13.
  7. 16:08 Was slow to see the Christmas theme. Duh.

    LOI ROTORUA and my daughter just moved to NZ this June. She has visited this spot, which otherwise I would not have heard of. Many city names have alternative vowel-rich Māori names, including the name of the country, Aotearoa. Compare with the vowel-poor Christchurch (Ōtautah).


    1. Just to say that Christchurch (NZ) is twinned with Christchurch (Dorset), which is where I was brought up (and where my parents still live).

      Edited at 2021-12-24 12:05 pm (UTC)

  8. 13 mins on phone with most time spent on Rotorua.
    Should be in Russia but isolating at home…

    Cod outlay.
    Happy Christmas 🎄

  9. A lovely festive puzzle🎄
    I enjoy checking in here every day and have learned so much from all the setters, solvers and regular contributors — thank you all. Although I don’t normally post, I wanted to wish you all a really lovely Christmas and hope that 2022 brings you joy!
    1. Dear Emma Anonymous (strange surname),
      Do please post your thoughts a little more often. We all feed off each other, and that’s half the fun of it. Happy Christmas!
      1. Can I echo Emma’s comments? I began doing the QC a year ago as one of a number of steps to help with some mental health problems. I have attempted the QC each day and have slowly improved. Sometimes I get them all but on other days I don’t quite manage it. Regardless of the daily outcome, I enjoy the challenge (even if the solution produces one or two groans). I am so grateful to the setters, the bloggers and everyone else who comments. I have found the daily blog an invaluable aid to helping me to understand how the QC works and I would be lost without it. Merry Christmas one and all!
  10. I was unnecessarily slow on e.g. STOCKING. ERNIE was my LOI and made me laugh aloud. Also liked CRACKERS, CAROLS, GOLD. ( ROTORUA is famous for geysers.)

    Thanks Curarist and all the other bloggers for your help during the year,
    Happy safe Christmas to all, 🎄🎊🦌.

    Edited at 2021-12-24 09:50 am (UTC)

    1. Rotorua – once visited not forgotten due to the sulphur-rich air, though strangely you don’t smell it after a while. Oil drillers will tell you that hydrogen sulphide is ok if you can smell it – otherwise run for your lives! Recommend Wellington for its cafe and coffee culture (will leave it to Merlin to tell me the vowel-rich Maori name). Merry xmas all.
  11. Fifteen minutes, so in between in terms of difficulty. Saw the theme, but then it wasn’t unexpected … especially given the setter. FOI tree. Solved all over the puzzle as answers went in. Snookered self by putting in nostalgia, not reading the clue carefully enough, so was left with carrying as unsolvable the way things were. Wondered if it might be ic instead of ia, checked the clue and hey presto, all done. COD Rotorua which I would not have known had I not been there. Nostalgic. Thanks for the blog, Curarist, especially for parsing armchair and omitted, as I did not. Thanks for the puzzle, Noel, and Merry Christmas to all.
  12. Taken over my target by the unknown NZ City, but got there eventually. EMS and CRACKERS went in first and ROTORUA brought up the rear. Merry Christmas everyone! 12:12. Thanks Noel and Curarist.
  13. An enjoyable 18 mins, although 4dn was a bit of a punt and felt oddly out of place. Having lived in NZ for a few years 2dn wasn’t a problem.

    FOI — 3dn “Cards”
    LOI — 4dn “Ems”
    COD — 14dn “Omitted” — although 7dn “Ernie” was a close thing.

    Thanks as usual — and a Merry Christmas to everyone 🎄

    Edited at 2021-12-24 10:47 am (UTC)

  14. Used all of my 15 minute target, held up by the tale of two cities. I didn’t see AVIGNON for ages as I had biffed OUPUT for 15a, looking at the wrong end of the clue for the definition. ROTORUA I had vaguely heard of, but couldn’t recall, so had to construct from wordplay, and wasted some time trying to think of a 5 letter word for ‘used’ to fit betwixt R and A. Nicely done Noel, and I spotted the theme with the first answer (CRACKERS).
  15. I was a bit slow to see some of these. ERNIE I assumed to be something to do with premium bonds; it is wise to have a few, but it seemed a strange answer. BBC repeats will make sure I don’t forget Mr Wise again.
    OMITTED was late in and I had all done bar 2d in about 11 minutes. But I needed another 5 to get LOI ROTORUA which I vaguely recognised once it emerged. I was trying to insert a word for USED after R.
    Fun for Christmas.
  16. Only took up doing the Quick Cryptic every day a couple of weeks ago (albeit a friend explained how to do them 30+ years ago and I’ve tried them unsuccessfully over the years).

    Took about 50-mins on this one today, but did end up going click happy on the online checker for EMS, ERNIE, STOCKING. Then I was confused why I was still not finished – turned out I’d put PANG in for PINE. ROTORUA I double-checked the spelling as I originally had YODELS instead of CAROLS (thinking MODELS might be the luxury car).

    Fascinating myself with how my solving has evolved over the past two weeks – first change was learning to see what part of the clue was the definition, second change – diving in with correct answers that ‘feel’ right while not being able to parse how the setter go there. Now beginning to look at clues as a jumble of words than a coherent clue – today for example was aware “north of a NZ city” didn’t necessarily have to be a NZ city but the NZ could be part of the answer for a city elsewhere.

    Appreciate this blog in helping me get there. Glad to see from the comments that the ones I’m getting stuck on are the ones generally stumping others.

    Enjoyed decoding FOI, LOI, COD which were TREE, PINE, CRACKERS respectively.

    1. Excellent start – mon brave! RR – ROLLS – LIMO = luxury car although Tesla may fit the bill these days. Why not register and add your monicker and an avatar? Then you can really be somebody!

      Edited at 2021-12-24 11:00 am (UTC)

  17. I was on the 9:15 to Christmas Island in a Snowstorm.

    FOI 6ac Xmas TREE

    LOI ROTORUA where Santa resides at Wonderland. I have flown over it on my way from Auckland to Napier, but at the wrong time of year.

    COD 1ac Xmas CRACKERS!

    WOD 16dn AVIGNON head for the Palais du Roure and Place de l’Horlogue, for one of the largest Christmas markets in France. Stunning lightshow!

    A very Happy Christmas to one and all.

    Edited at 2021-12-24 10:52 am (UTC)

  18. A nice gentle start to the festive weekend with Noel’s Christmas themed crossword.

    A Merry Christmas to all Quick Cryptic followers!

  19. Gentle enough, but I still managed to spin it out to 22mins. The last two or three of those were spent on the unknown Rotorua and trying to think of a sentence where ‘deserts’ and ‘rats’ were interchangeable — I’d be grateful if someone could provide an answer. Apart from that, nothing too controversial, with CoD to the pdm in 15ac, Outlay. Invariant

    Merry Christmas and HNY to one and all.

      1. And there was me thinking of the Desert Rats (British 7th Armoured Division) and moving on quickly!

        Edited at 2021-12-24 06:26 pm (UTC)

      2. I did, but I’ve never come across ‘to rat’. On the other hand, ‘to rat on’ is in common usage, but that’s not what the clue said.
  20. At least only part of the puzzle was dedicated to the festive season.

    TIME 3:54

    1. I must be the archetypal Scrooge, as I completely missed the theme!

      You can imagine that the as for Ninas I don ‘t even get them when they’ve been explained 🙂

  21. … but still sticky towards the end. I struggled to get started, but eventually much of the lower half of the grid went in fairly smoothly. Back to the top half and the pace slowed considerably. PRESENTS and EMS (DNK) were entered only faintly, CAROLS required some significant thought, and both ERNIE and ROTORUA (NHO and my LOI) required alpabet trawls.

    Still, 33 minutes is a good time for me, and I enjoyed the challenge.

    Many thanks to Noel and curarist, and Merry Christmas to all who frequent this place.

  22. The page is back into link/reply/thread mode, so I clicked on ‘thread’ and found ‘like’ available; so I clicked on it. To no avail, it would seem. Anyway, merry Christmas, Phil.
  23. Quite a gentle QCC to squeeze into SCC land.
    Potatoes peeled, now to sort out the chestnuts and budgie heads before raiding the wine fridge. May need to check out the stilton with a glass of port before looking for last year’s Xmas pudding which must be in a cupboard somewhere or in the garage with most of the furniture stiil waiting to be re-installed.
    Merry Christmas everyone.
  24. Just within my target 9. 8:37 for a mostly straight forward solve. My FOI was EMS which I only knew from crossword land. I took a while to find the ARMCHAIR and ROTORUA said out loud is familiar to me. Fortunately the wordplay determined the spelling. I’m struggling to remember which was my LOI probably because my mind has already moved on to my last minute things to do list before my family arrives for festive fun. Seasons greetings to all. Janet

    Edited at 2021-12-24 01:53 pm (UTC)

  25. A lovely Christmas puzzle today – thank you, and a vey Happy Christmas to everyone, from a lovely, snowy, Connecticut.


  26. A lovely festive 10 minutes with Noel in between all those little jobs, like making the cranberry and bread sauces. I did exactly the same thing as Wombat at 11d which really slowed down cracking 25a, but suddenly realised my mistake. My Christmas PRESENT to myself arrived yesterday — not an ARMCHAIR but a really lovely rocker. I’ve PINEd for it for years, and suddenly thought ‘Why not’! MrB lived in NZ in the 70s so I knew of ROTORUA — perhaps we’ll get there one day.
    FOI Prsents
    LOI Carrying
    COD Stocking
    Many thanks Noel and Curarist, and Merry Christmas one and all🎄🎁🎅
  27. Nice gentle offering today, with my only hold up being Rotorua.

    I enjoyed the festive offering from Noel. Thanks to Curarist and all the other bloggers for tirelessly producing these blogs every day – you’ve really improved my cryptic knowledge over the year.

    Merry Christmas to all in the Times Xwd community!

  28. Thank goodness for a sub-10 solve at last (9 mins) after all the shenanigans over recent days. I enjoyed this and was obviously on message for a change. Perhaps the drive through the mist from Leicestershire to Berkshire for a family Christmas helped sharpen my feeble brain a little (or maybe it was down to a glass of IPA with lunch). Thanks to Noel and curarist.
    Enjoy Christmas, one and all, and I hope 2022 is healthy and happy. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-24 04:58 pm (UTC)

    1. Leicestershire to Berkshire — a route I know very well! Hope you have a wonderful time in my home county 😊
        1. Oops. Made the mistake of using my phone but I was logged out. That was me, of course.
          Have a good Christmas, too. John
  29. Nothing much to add, but spot on 20 minutes today. Didn’t find it quite as easy as some on here and was slow to see many of the longer words. NHO EMS, but apart from that I was okay. Was glad that VINTAGES turned out to be that instead of some unknown (to me) French wine that is obvious to everyone else. Anyway, COD to STOCKING and thanks to Noel and Curarist. Merry Christmas everyone.
  30. I began doing the QC last year after some nasty mental health problems. My solving times are still embarrassingly slow (some days you could time me with a sun dial), but I love the challenge.

    Thank you to all the setters and the bloggers. The blog is an invaluable aid to understanding.

    A very merry Christmas to you all.

    Gary A

    1. Just keep enjoying the challenge — and hope you’ll carry on joining us in the new year 😊
  31. NHO Rotorua — so I just capitulated! Feeble but still.
    Otherwise good festive cheer.
    Thanks all and happy Christmas
  32. Still only able to sign in as Anon…very frustrating. To coin a phrase: ‘Is it only me?’

    also no ‘Like’ option – maybe because it’s in Anon mode…? Anyway:

    Seasonal Greetings to all.

    Although entered correctly, I rather PINEd for Pint at 23a.

    Cheers all.


    1. No, it’s not only you! There’s something strange in the neighbourhood — but who are we going to call?
  33. though I seem to remember it as Nowell in the Hymn Book. No suggestion, of course, on inspiration from angels or any other being in success with today’s crossword. Good steady stuff here, all done and a good 25 min time equals a satisfying GN5. Happy wishes to Noel, Curarist, and all Players.
  34. I struggled a bit. Blaming the phone and the unfamiliar setter.

    ERNIE LOI and groansome.


  35. A fun end to the week
    As my step father used to say Christmas is a day with Noel
    Be festive folks despite all that is going on.
  36. Would have liked to Like various posts, but not possible, as has been said.
    Meanwhile I have just scored two 7-letter words playing Scrabble. Must be all the practice here.
    Happy Christmas again!
  37. Merry Christmas all! I hope to resume regular habits next year.

    FOI CARDS, LOI ROTORUA, COD ARMCHAIR, time a sluggish 11:34 but then I was juggling it with pouring drinks and other pleasant festive tasks.

    Thanks Noel and curarist


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