Times 26,501: Llamrei or Hengroen

Hello, I’m back, did I miss anything, did you miss me? The better part of a week in Amsterdam, mostly crossword-free, has blunted my abilities rather, and so I took a whole ten minutes over this pleasant but largely very straightforward number. 11ac, 13ac, 21ac and 24ac all went straight in with pleasing rotational symmetry, but I struggled more in other places, notably with 19dn, which I feel like I might have seen in puzzles before but had definitely forgotten. I should have trusted the wordplay instead of racking my vocabulary, of course, because the answer seemed clearly right once the clue was teased out.

I wasn’t sure about the cluing for 7dn, but then my brain is as previously stated very rusty, so if it does work fine then please fill me in and perhaps I’ll be back to normal levels of comprehension for next week, though I am off to North Wales with the family as of tomorrow morning, which may or may not be even more stultifying than the Low Countries. COD to 25ac just because I like seeing slightly more unusual devices in my clues. I also took the liberty of looking up the answer to the bonus quiz question in row 11, and have included this in the title of this blog. Massive props to anyone who knew it already. And hartelijk bedankt to the setter!


1 Composer has group leaving out middle piece (4)

3 Material coming to us from space (10)
EARTHBOUNDEARTH [material] + BOUND [coming] After conferral with my esteemed colleagues, probably a double def

9 Crashing bore very sensitive about conflict (4,3)
BOER WAR – (BORE*) [“crashing”] + RAW reversed

11 Tangier reconstructed in stone (7)
GRANITE – (TANGIER*) [“reconstructed”]

12 Heavens! Royal Mail has last word in fine computer systems (9)
FIRMAMENT – R.M. has AMEN [last word] in F I.T. [fine | computer systems]

13 Depressed about river in flood (5)
DROWN – DOWN about R

14 Started flying? (3,3,6)
OFF THE GROUND – double def

18 Girl with grand invested in old car to provide what’s needed (6,3,3)
BRIDGE THE GAP – BRIDGET with G invested in HEAP

21 Drug user finally caught in Tube (5)
HORSE – {use}R caught in HOSE

22 Two men in kingly legend (9)

24 Garment that’s almost neckwear (7)
NIGHTIE – NIGH TIE [almost | neckwear]

25 Stuff material used to fill woven wreath (7)
OVEREAT – {w}OVE{n} {w}REAT{h}

26 Prompt to accept Conservative changing (10)

27 Russian leader succeeded in turning informer (4)
TSAR – S in reversed RAT


1 Restricted diet born of a body that’s not in good shape (4,4)
BABY FOOD – B [born] + (OF A BODY*) [“that’s not in good shape”]

2 Go away untroubled on holiday (5,3)
CLEAR OFF – CLEAR [untroubled] + OFF [on holiday]

4 An ecologist denied new grant (5)

5 Drunk secure with line to walk on (9)
TIGHTROPE – TIGHT ROPE [drunk | secure]

6 Where one may stop getting on with noble family (8,5)
BOARDING HOUSE – BOARDING [getting on] with HOUSE [noble family]

7 Universities working as one (6)
UNISON – UNIS ON (thanks to robrolfe for explaining, below, that this is a musical instruction)

8 Adding colour reportedly becoming less strong (6)
DYEING – homophone of DYING

10 We nearly fed on plant, consumed with damaged skin (7-6)

15 Sponsor of moulded garden pot (9)
GODPARENT – (GARDEN POT*) [“moulded”]

16 Unpleasant quality of upper-class actor’s part in G&S (8)
UGLINESS – U + LINES [actor’s part] in G, S

17 Single old woman endlessly frowning about legs (8)

19 Okra, not European, to the back of one (6)

20 Soldier in wagon turned up suffering great distress (6)
TRAGIC – GI in CART reversed

23 Spine damaged by stretching, needing input from hospital (5)
THORN – TORN [damaged by stretching] “needing input from” H

48 comments on “Times 26,501: Llamrei or Hengroen”

  1. In a very pleasant change to my recent form, I polished this off in 40 minutes (with Bach’s six sonatas & PARTITAs playing in the background — never let it be said that I don’t take my vocabulary education seriously.)

    Although okra came up recently, I didn’t look it up then as I already knew the word. Unfortunately that means I didn’t know BHINDI, so it was my LOI. (I did know it was “ladies fingers”, as that’s often the English translation on Cretan menus…) COD 24a for me; I assume NIGHTIE is a chestnut, but it’s new to me and it made me laugh.

    Thank you for the blog, especially the parsing of 25a, which I couldn’t see, and thank you to the setter for a workout that didn’t end in my defeat for once!

    Edited at 2016-08-26 07:09 am (UTC)

  2. Something I’ve never bothered with, preferring Chana Masala or Motor Panir (other spellings available) as an accompaniment, but have often seen it on the menu. Easy for me today in quarter of an hour. It’s the early start courtesy of the dog’s bladder that makes the difference. Can HORSE next time be a four-legged friend or what clothes dry on? Although in the latter case that was a maiden where I grew up.

    Edited at 2016-08-26 07:51 am (UTC)

  3. Solved in the wee small ones on a relentlessly sticky night, possibly contributing to my 32.48 time for a 17-ish puzzle.
    It seems we have a new game. Might I offer a tentative Spion Kop for line three, Midnight feast at Mallory Towers for line 13 and Peter II for line 15? The columns look even more fun. Offers?

    Edited at 2016-08-26 07:57 am (UTC)

    1. Just the thought of col. 1 was enough to put me off this idea.. though col. 13 is clearly a political statement, something to do with the junior doctors’ strike perhaps?
    2. Bhindi baby food sounds plausible, I suppose, but I’m not sure my kids would have liked it then or even now.
      Held up by the bottom left corner as I forgot the word for 19d had an H in it, and only remembered whe HORSE fell into place. 20mins 47.
  4. Welcome back. 25 minutes and no problems especially as BHINDI was a write-in for me. 25a last in and clever clue. I thought Camelot was a legend designed by a committee? Thanks for doing the research, I didn’t know the horse.
  5. Just over the 20 mins with LOI THORN and a pleasant enough solve. Knew BHINDI from misspent youth.
    Small typo V. The fodder in 9ac is (BORE*)
  6. Solid solving today, 23′. Unable, still, to parse 3ac, but thinking about Matt’s contribution (and well done Matt for completion). LOI BHINDI, although didn’t know it as a synonym of ladies’ fingers. On 7d, UNISON is a musical instruction (cf harmony) found on sheet music/hymn books, meaning ‘as one’. For the new game, I offer ‘congregations, mostly’ for column 13, and ‘I shall wear purple’ for column 15.

    On another point entirely, I have done today’s QC blog. Comments are most welcome, especially as new solvers may not feel confident about contributing.

  7. For some reason I felt quite pleased with myself for solving this in 15 mins or so, only to find that everyone else has too. Could someone pretend it was quite hard, please? Thank you
    3ac seems pretty clearly to be a simple DD. Material = earthbound is fine, if a little out of the linguistic mainstream, now that everyone is all the time, pretty much
  8. I found it hard to get off the ground with this one but once I got going I managed to polish it off in 15:15.

    I was a bit apprehensive when I had the crossers in the okra clue but couldn’t biff it, so was pleased to get it from the cryptic. Once I had BHINDI I knew it was correct from the bhindi bhajis I’ve seen on many a menu though I’ve never been tempted to try one.

    1. Now, is a BHINDI also that red dot that women have on their foreheads, and if so is there any connection to okra?
        1. Google tells me that the red spot is spelled bindi. I’m sure better men than me could come up with a clue linking the two.
      1. Verlaine, Sanskrit has far more consonants than English, with the result that transliterations of Indian words into English are often ambiguous. The vegetable “bhindi” has an aspirated “b”, so this transliteration is correct so far as it goes. The red spot on the forehead is “bindi” — no aspiration of the “b”. If someone writes/says it with an aspirated “b” then that would be incorrect.

        Hope this helps and regards. MVS

  9. One of those puzzles where I complete all but one answer in reasonable time (for me – 30 minutes being my target) but then the last one eludes me completely and I can’t see the point of spending more than 5 minutes on it alone before resorting to aids. We’re talking 19dn here where I’d have thought that knowing two alternative names of a disgusting vegetable would have been more than sufficient for crossword purposes, but apparently not so. Okra is “ladies fingers” as has been mentioned above, but also “gumbo” which lent its name to the popular cajun dish that Hank Williams used to sing about.

    I also couldn’t quite nail the parsing at 3ac, taking “coming to us from space” as the definition. Does “bound” on its own really mean coming rather than going, or heading in any other direction?

    Edited at 2016-08-26 07:40 am (UTC)

    1. Mm, I can’t say I was sure about the parsing of that one, you may very well have it right as simply a double definition… are “earthbound” and “material” good enough synonyms? Can’t say I liked this clue very much really.
      1. I solved it as a double def. My dictionary has “limited to material existence as distinct from a spiritual or heavenly one: her earthbound view of the sacrament”.
        1. Yes, that works, Matt. So “coming” is part of the second definition and the first one is figurative (should have thought of that!). Thanks for the clarification.
  10. 30 minutes with one letter wrong. Failed to associate Okra with the bhaji and mombled EHINDI with HINDI(non european) to the back of (on)E. Otherwise I enjoyed this one with a reasonable canter through by my standards. Thanks V and setter.
  11. 14 mins for a rare morning solve. I had most of it polished off in about 11 mins but I was reluctant to enter OVEREAT until I could parse it (I agree with V that it was nice to see one of the rarer cluing devices used) and I struggled with the INCONSTANT/BHINDI crossers despite having seen the latter for many years in Indian restaurant menus.
  12. I ended my comment yesterday with “Onwards and downwards …” How prescient. I made a total hash of this, and gave up with BHINDI and INCONSTANT not so much unsolved as consigned to the category of Life’s Eternal Mysteries. Funny, they both look obvious now.

    I also unhesitatingly ‘solved’ 8d as DIEING. Just me, then? I’m not going to attempt to defend it because I always end up losing those arguments, but I still can’t see why it wouldn’t be a permita [this term may have slipped past our blogger while he was busily documenting the fleshpots of Amsterdam for research purposes]

  13. WOD 19 ac Bhindi Bargee was a write-in for starters.

    22ac ARTHURIAN was my actual FOI.

    I thought for a Friday this was easy but it still took me 37mins;

    not feeling too well after a dodgy 19ac!

    LOI 8dn DYING

    COD 24ac NIGHTIE mad me larf too!

    Verlaine – you were missed but your time is a disgrace!

    horryd Shanghai

  14. 15m. Good lord that was extremely hard! (Will that do Jerry?). No but seriously folks, I found the top half of this really easy and the bottom half quite tricky.
    Welcome back, verlaine. I’m sure you weren’t at your best but with a time of 10m you didn’t exactly blow it completely.
    Like others I knew the word BHINDI from bhajis of that ilk, and I also knew there was another word for okra (as well as ladies’ fingers), but I wasn’t sure the two were the same so I hesitated until I had figured out the wordplay. I’m not a great fan of the vegetable: I’m more in boltonwanderer’s camp and in fact I had chana masala for supper last night.
  15. As one who judges Indian restaurants by the quality and freshness (or not) of their bhindi bhajis, and has tried to perfect the recipe at home, the okra job was a write-in. It’s a delicious veggie when done right, but can be disgusting. Otherwise not a bother although I was unsure exactly how EARTHBOUND worked so thanks to gothick matt for explaining properly. 20 minutes at leisure.
    1. Dash it all, I think I’d probably have got it if it had been clued as “type of bhaji”. Clearly I am one of those very trusting people who will happily enjoy a “bhindi bhaji” without the slightest idea of what its actual ingredients might be.
  16. While musing on V’s progression from Holland to Wales (and a propos of nothing) I remembered that Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is twinned with Y in France and Ee in the Netherlands .
    1. I *did* go to Haarlem last weekend and I may go to Llanfairp next week… I guess you have to twin with a very short foreign town if you’ve blown your entire lettering budget already!
  17. A steady 32m today. Paused over the spelling of the Indian side dish only – very popular in the Grestyman household. Took much longer over 18a as I had bride with an inserted G and then couldn’t see how THE GAP was an old car but then I never claimed to have the slightest interest in motor vehicles that weren’t motorbikes. Thanks for parsing 3a as well – beyond me. Good puzzle and blog – thank you to both creators.
  18. Around an hour and a welcome wind-down after yesterday’s struggle. A few hold-ups along the way, but nothing too obscure apart from the unknown BHINDI, my last in. Otherwise enjoyed the mental image conjured up by the clue for TIGHTROPE, the wordplay device for OVEREAT and my COD, EARTHBOUND.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  19. A pleasant 27 minutes, which is my favourite sort of time. Anything less, and I’d have to find something else to do at lunch time: read the rest of the paper, maybe.

    Like everyone else I knew the bhindi from the bhaji. But whether they’re being sold as bhindis, okras, gumbos or lady’s fingers, I just think of them as ‘suspicious slimy things that are best avoided.’

    1. Okra and chicken thigh curry – yea, slimy things with legs did crawl ….. sort of TLS clue, perhaps?
  20. Remember Angry from Purley on the Steve Wright show? Well, that’s me today. On Monday, much heat was generated by a lovely clue that tested the sort of knowledge Times solvers ought to have. Okay, some solvers complained about a lack of wordplay, but whoever said that wordplay was a necessary part of the crossword genre? Nice to have, on the whole, but not a must, especially when referencing one of Britain’s greatest poets – and a tax collector, to boot. So don’t say he was just your average romantic picking daffodils in the Lakes!

    Today, on the other hand, we have a word which does not pass what ought to be the simplest test in a setter’s manual: I’d never heard of it. What is more, it is a foreign word that doesn’t really look like a word. The sort of word the Hong Kong schoolkid will play at the competition tomorrow to beat me again. As for the wordplay, although it is there, it’s jolly hard.

    Earlier in the week, one of our most eminent and respected bloggers compared the setter’s art to the golf course designer, cunningly placing bunkers around a golf course – a legitimate way to trap the unwary, the ignorant or the stupid. Well, to me, the clue to a word like BHINDI is worse that that: it’s like putting on a green with no borrow. You lag it out to the left and it stays left.

    Although I’m angry enough to throw the phone down – if I still had one at home where I am penning this after an evening cooling off with a bottle of Chablis Premier Cru – I won’t be cancelling my subscription, although that may have something to do with the fact that I don’t pay one. I would, though, appeal to setters to do the decent thing, chuck away their Chambers and stick in a bit more Spenser and Scott. What sort of Faerie Queene would we have if Ximenes had been looking over Sir Edmund’s shoulder?

      1. You wouldn’t know how many times I had to proofread it to lick it into shape.

        Are we counting the beers I had first?

    1. Ulaca

      I was with you 100% until the mention of Chablis Premier Cru. Empathy morphed into sympathy and envy then into downright jealousy.

  21. After crashing and burning on yesterday’s, I was happy to get out of this one in 31 minutes.

    My LOI, like many others’, was BHINDI. If I hadn’t known it (thanks to my avoiding it at all opportunities), I would have agreed with those who thought it unsporting. Admittedly, it appears on the menu of my local Indian, but then again “白饭” appears on the menu of the local Chinese.

    Other than that, I thought this was quite a nice puzzle. I missed the parsing of EARTHBOUND and simply thought it a rather non-cryptic and dull clue. The remainder, though, was all good stuff.

  22. About 30 minutes, I guess I started too late at night over here in the US for my brain to cooperate. Then I sort of toiled along, LOI the absolutely unknown BHINDI, as a guess from wordplay. But a doubtful guess, since to my eye it looks very odd. We call okra: okra. I’ve never seen the Indian word, as I imagine we have many fewer Indian food outlets here than in the UK. Gumbo is not okra, the okra is merely an ingredient in that dish, by the way. Regards.
    1. Always happy to bow to specialist knowledge, Kevin, but I based by comment above on info taken from Collins which has Gumbo as: 1. the mucilaginous pods of okra 2. another name for okra 3. a soup or stew thickened with okra pods 4. a fine soil in the W prairies that becomes muddy when wet.


  23. 45 minutes (OK for me), but I needed a fresh cold apple to extract the last two from my brain. They were OVEREATEN (also my COD) and of course BHINDI, which of course I didn’t know, so it took a while to see the wordplay. But then obviously nothing else would fit.

    The best part of this puzzle was sawbill’s comment on the twin towns of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which I can actually write down from memory. I hope I can remember the names of the twin towns, too. It took me about five minutes to catch my breath and stop laughing. It has made my week (or made me weak).

    Edited at 2016-08-26 07:51 pm (UTC)

  24. A fellow QCer reported that he/she had failed to finish today’s QC but had completed this.
    So I had a go and completed it too, quite quickly. LOI was Overeat and, on which topic,visits to Indian restaurants over many years made Bhindi seem obvious and acceptable (because I knew it).
    I recommend today’s QC for a couple of quality conundrums if anyone has a spare few minutes. David.
  25. 13:46 for me, held up badly at the end by BHINDI which exposed my usual ignorance of foodie matters. When I finally got it, I was surprised to find that I actually knew the word. Or rather thought I knew it, since on reflection (having read others’ comments above) I was almost certainly thinking of BINDHI (an alternative spelling of BINDI).

    Nevertheless I found this an interesting and enjoyable solve. My one quibble would be with SPINSTER defined as “single old woman”, since in the days (long past) when I used to go to church regularly, “spinster of this parish” invariably referred to some nubile young woman for whom the banns were being read out.

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