Times 26,129: The Chanel Islands

Running a bit behind this morning, so I’m going to try to keep this unprecedentedly brief, and perhaps make up for it in the comments.

I think it’s fair to say I loved this one, which felt like a trip to interesting locales all around the world, taking in some previously unknown but interesting vocab along the way (16dn and 26ac being new to me). Even a cryptic definition of a sporting term couldn’t dampen my good mood, not being located in my unfortunate blind spot of the cricket; some of the definitions were delightfully devious (8ac, 25ac), and add as well some above averagely interesting constructions (7dn, 19dn) and all in all your had a recipe for a happy me. I finished a little past the 10 minute mark with the clever 4dn being my LOI. Three grids in an hour later this month, we can *do* this! (Hashtag: pumped.) Many thanks setter!

1 CHOIR – vocal group: CHOR{e} [“unfinished” tedious work] “overwhelms” I [current]
4 WAKELESS – with rest undisturbed: WAKE LESS [funeral party | smaller]
8 CHINESE LANTERN – illuminating article in (i.e. made of) paper: CHINS [features] about E [European] + ELAN [style] + TERN [flyer]
10 SHANGRI-LA – utopia: SH [don’t speak] + ANGRIL{y} [fury “shortly”] “before coming to” A
11 HOMER – Greek poet: HOME [in] + R [“capital of” R{hodes}]
12 SCARAB – piece of Egyptian jewellery: SCAR [sign of repair] “in front of” A B [a | black]
14 DOUBLOON – old coin: DOUB{t} [“mostly” be suspicious about] + LOON [silly]
17 ABRASION – skin injury: A BRA’S ON [an undergarment’s being worn] around I [one]
18 CERISE – red: E [{al}E{rt}’s “central part”] in CRISE{s} [“endless” emergencies]
20 DIVOT – cryptic def, the swinger being a golfer, the links a golf course, and the divot damage visited by the former upon the latter
22 AFRIKAANS – foreign language: N [noun] in (FARSI AKA*) [“strange”]
24 AS FIT AS A FIDDLE – very well: and what a fiddle is fit for might certainly be “bowing and scraping”
25 FEATHERY – wearing (i.e. covered in) down: (HEART*) [“broken”] in FEY [spiritual]
26 HYSON – green tea: H [husband] + reverse of NOSY [curious “about”]

1 COCOS ISLANDS – Indian Ocean territory: CO CO [“repeating” company] + SIS [girl’s informal address] + LANDS [settles]
2 OUIJA – cryptic def: this (possibly fey?) “device” being a means to receive communications from the dead
3 REED GRASS – markedly stemmed (i.e. having tall stems) growth: reverse of DEER [“rise of” ruminant] + GRASS [rat]
4 WEEPIE – it’s saddening to view: and a WEE PIE might be a dish “with very little filling”
5 KRAKATOA – major eruption site: homophone of CRACK A TOW A [“sound of” sharp explosion, a trail, a]
6 LATCH – which provides closure: L AT CH [Liberal | attending | church]
7 STROMBOLI – Italian hotspot: S TROMBONE [small | brass instrument] – NE + LI [“taking half of” LI{ne} “for the rest” (of {li}NE)]
9 FRANKENSTEIN – disastrous experimenter: FRANK EINSTEIN [outspoken | genius] – I [“dismissing” one]
13 ARRIVISTE – an ambitious person: (VARIETIES – R + E*) [“corrupt”, “runs to represent English”)
15 BREAK WITH – drop: K{i}WI [New Zealander “skipping island”] amid BREATH [suspicion]
16 SODA LAKE – a lot of concentrated water: reverse of ADO [trouble “arises”] “stopping” SLAKE [to satisfy by drinking]
19 FRIARY – brothers (i.e. monks) live here: FRITILLARY – TILL [“till removed from middle of” plant]
21 TWIST – (Dickensian) workhouse orphan: TWIT [fool] taking in S [second]
23 ANDES – series of prominences: “displayed by” {Russi}AN DES{pot}

30 comments on “Times 26,129: The Chanel Islands”

  1. I feel like I was ‘on the wavelength’ this morning. An initially bemusing O_I_A at 2D soon became OUIJA, a daunting _E_I_E at 18A yielded CERISE quickly and at 25A I thought of ‘wearing down’ as FEATHERY surprisingly quickly. I mention these in particular as they are all clues which on another day could have had me dumbfounded.

    HYSON and SODA LAKE also new to me, but both gettable from the cryptic.

  2. 30 minutes and very enjoyable. COD to 25a for wearing me down. LOI was inexplicably 16d (I think I had sate in my mind rather than slake). Thanks to Verlaine for the blog especially the title – do I smell Sarkasm?

    Edited at 2015-10-02 10:27 am (UTC)

  3. 35 minutes with SODA LAKE last in. I am ashamed to say that I had ‘break wind’ at 15d for a while, wondering a) if it needed ‘one’ in the definition, b) whether it would appear in The Times and c) what exactly the Kiwi had got himself wrapped up in.
    1. Well I should be ashamed of myself too, then. Although in mitigation, m’lud, I didn’t actually put it in.
  4. At 14ac it read it as DOUB{t} (be suspicious about), LOON{y}(silly) with “mostly” applying to both elements.

    I found this hard but enjoyable enough with 2dn and 4dn still outstanding as the hour passed. Of the usual sources Collins and COED only have OUIJA in conjunction with “board” but Chambers allows it on its own as a registered trademark.

    Edited at 2015-10-02 09:42 am (UTC)

    1. Mm, well, DOUBT is *definitely* only “mostly” presented there. Whereas I could just about imagine “thou greybeard loon!” and “you old silly!” being directly substitutable.
    2. I read this like verlaine. I prefer this reading because for me ‘mostly be suspicious about silly’ gives DOUBTLOON (or DOUBTLOO), and it should be ‘mostly be suspicious about and silly’ to give DOUBLOON. I acknowledge this is a very fine distinction though, and it works either way.
  5. Felt as if I was floundering slightly at times, and had the same unknowns as others – but as I managed to solve them correctly, I can hardly claim I wasn’t given enough information to crack the code. Also didn’t help myself by misreading the enumeration at 15dn as (4,5), which left me baffled as to what horrible neologism beginning KWI__ (presumably, I thought, out of the same stable as KWIK-SAVE) could possibly be admitted to a Times cryptic…
  6. 37:00. Last few (ending with 25a, 15d, 19d and 2d) took me ages to find the pennies to drop. HYSON was new to me. Loved the WEE PIE at 4d, the experimenter at 9d and the convoluted 8a illumitaing article.
  7. Put linch at 6dn, confusing it with lynch, which certainly provides closure. That made CHINESE LANTERN ungettable until I latched on to the right answer. I had jackkt’s reading of DOUBLOON at the time and it still seems the more likely. An entertaining mid-range crossword.
  8. 15m. A very enjoyable puzzle.
    HYRON, COCOS ISLANDS and SODA LAKE were all new to me. I imagined the last of these might arise as a consequence of over-generous EU subsidies for lemonade producers.
  9. … and that One Blank was the unknown DOUBLOON, where I read ‘doub(t)’ as ‘be suspicious’ and couldn’t fathom what to do with ‘about’…

    Great crossie, but did take an age, despite a quick start with 1ac going straight in. Thanks, as ever, V, for the blog.

  10. Definitely a wavelength day – a whisker over 13 minutes being my fastest in a long time. DNK the lake of fizzy drink or the tea, and had CocoA islands for a while until it became clear that 10a couldn’t start with an A.
    All in all a very enjoyable and pleasing solve.

    Edited at 2015-10-02 11:29 am (UTC)

  11. Same as sidcuppa with LINCH, as in pin. And for some unfathomable reason I had KRAKATOA with 2Cs. After all that got sorted out I still hadn’t come to grips with FEATHERY. I don’t really think of “fey” as spiritual exactly (more sort of weird) but it was an excellent clue. Not to mention that I now associate the word with the tv actress Tina whose dead-on impersonation of Sarah Palin had quite an effect on the 2008 presidential election. 17.45
  12. 17.10. A pleasant end to the week with a few more crafty definitions. Ended with a chuckle at WEEPIE.
  13. 16:18. My initial stab at 25 was LEATHERY on the foolish assumption that a LEY must be akin to a negro (if I’m still allowed to say that) spiritual. Maybe Swing Low… is unaccountably in my subconscious. But the def didn’t feel right and whilst I’m with Olivia in that fey and spiritual don’t feel quite right as synonyms I decided that wearing dowm is exactly the sort of clever definition this setter would pick for feathery.

    Thanks all round.

    PS, I was a LOON rather than a LOONY.

    Edited at 2015-10-02 12:09 pm (UTC)

  14. Verlaine’s love affair lasted just eleven minutes. A mere knee trembler!

    Mine was a whole half hour longer!So perhaps far more amorous.

    held up by FEATHERY and


    COD 15dn


  15. Enjoyable puzzle ending with SODA LAKE, only vaguely known. Slake = satisfy by drinking was clever when I finally saw it. HYSON unknown altogether, but the wordplay was clear. FRANKENSTEIN my COD today. I think it took about 25 minutes. Thanks to Verlaine as well, and regards.
  16. 16 mins, so back to a bit of form after yesterday. I really enjoyed this puzzle. Count me as another who got HYSON and SODA LAKE from the wordplay, and FEATHERY was my LOI.
  17. I forgot to add that when I checked HYSON post-solve it turns out there’s also a HYSON GREEN, which is an area of Nottingham. The article I then read about the tea offers a couple of possible derivations of the name, but the Nottingham area isn’t one of them so it appears to be nothing more than a coincidence.
  18. I plumped for LEATHERY rather than FEATHERY as ley lines have some association to mysticism whereas fey didn’t seem to have any. I must be using the wrong dictionary. Not a very satisfactory clue.
  19. Did this early morning in 25 minutes but was busy all day so a late comment; LOI was SODA LAKE after being fixated with SATE like some above; otherwise loved it, no arguments. What a great week of puzzles!
  20. Well, over an hour (but fortunately not well over an hour), yet I finished correctly despite the usual spate of unknowns like HYSON (not in COED, but it is in Chambers). A very enjoyable puzzle with many audacious and clever clues (FEATHERY and “taking half of line for the rest” in STROMBOLI. My LOIs (or rather my LOsI)were OUIJA and HYSON, which fortunately could only be that from the wordplay.
  21. 10:45 for me, held up at the end by FEATHERY (stupidly taking ages to twig the neat “wearing down”). HYSON is an old friend from Times crosswords of yesteryear.

    My sort of puzzle too really, but I’m still feeling desperately tired after another exhausting week.

  22. thanks for the blog, Verlaine. I was a LOON. Cod here went to DIVOT. Fortunately for me the clue bits that I didn’t easily understand were in other wise gettable words – for example I still don’t quite see TOW as TRAIL. But I was pleased to finish in a bit less than an hour.

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