Times 26,591: A Wet Weekend in Wales

A puzzle for which the word that springs to mind is “ingenious”: I found no shortage of toeholds to began my ascent, but then ran into many “how on earth do I get from here to there?” moments before I finally made it to the summit, rather closer to the 15 minute mark than the 10. 11ac in particular defeated me: while the correct answer clearly couldn’t be anything else, I cracked and asked for a hint from the ed just now to fully untangle how to get the first two words of the clue from the wordplay. If only I’d paid more attention in school sports…

I really like crossword clues about crossword clues, so 13dn is my Clue of the Day, with an honourable mention to 20dn too. My daughters’ school on the other hand really likes them not to be late, so off I’d better dash. Many many thanks to the setter and a special tip of the hat to the helpful editor too this week. A tout a l’heure!


1 Town, it’s plain, hiding new failure (9)
LLANDUDNO – LLANO [plain], hiding N DUD [new | failure]

6 A teacher is wrong (5)
AMISS – A MISS [a | teacher]

9 Very pale green at first, have you left grey at the end? (7)
GHASTLY – G{reen} + HAST L [have you | left] + {gre}Y

10 Explosion setting army back: I drive off (7)
ATISHOO – reverse of T.A. [“setting… back” army] + I SHOO [I | drive off]

11 With no play area at first, game is in the balance (5, 3, 2)
TOUCH AND GO – AND [with], given TOUCH [no play area (in sportsball)] at first + GO [game]

12 Almost entirely give up (4)
QUITE – QUIT{e} [“almost” entirely]

14 What’s in some gap that’s found in alphabet (5)
OMEGA – hidden in {s}OME GA{p}

15 Incomplete box, say, among items chucked in current (3, 6)
JET STREAM – TRE{e} [“incomplete” box, say] among JETSAM [items chucked in]

16 Fails to be accepted by priest, with name as Lothario (6, 3)
LADIES MAN – DIES [fails] to be accepted by LAMA [priest], with N [name]

18 Provide peer with one penny, not a pound (5)
EQUIP – EQUAL [peer] with 1P [one penny], minus the A L [“not” a pound]

20 Starts to compile, and later finishes new jumbo? (4)
CALF – C{ompile} A{nd} L{ater} F{inishes}; a calf as in a baby elephant

21 Act by ministry rejected in row, so no meaningful pattern here (6, 4)
RANDOM WALK – reverse of LAW M.O.D. [act (by) ministry “rejected”] in RANK [row]

25 Book jazz singer to appear after autumn period (7)
NOVELLA – ELLA [jazz singer (Fitzgerald)] to appear after NOV [autumn period]

26 Fat girl with an attitude going about (7)
ADIPOSE – DI [girl] with A POSE [an attitude] going about

27 Bird for one: about time (5)
EGRET E.G. RE T [for one | about | time]

28 Wonder if a rug can cover me during meditation (9)
AMAZEMENT A MAT [a rug] can cover ME during ZEN [meditation]


1 Easy to carry guide in the dark (5)
LIGHT – double def

2 Mainly like beer, covering game (2, 1, 4)
AS A RULE – AS ALE [like | beer], covering R.U. [game]

3 Give up drink that’s said to be dull (10)
DITCHWATER – DITCH WATER [give up | drink]; per the proverb, “dull as ditchwater”

4 Senior teacher accepts you as old-fashioned (5)
DOYEN – DON [teacher] accepts YE [you “as old-fashioned”]

5 Our cousin called, briefly out and about (5-4)
ORANG-UTAN – RANG [called], with OUT AN{d} about

6 A small number coming up the Central Line (4)
AXIS – A + SIX reversed [small number “coming up”]

7 One hopeless astride horse without outside help (2-5)
IN-HOUSE – I [one] + NO USE [hopeless] astride H [horse]

8 Peace increased, suppressing rise of imitative violent programme (5-2-2)
SHOOT-EM-UP – SH UP [peace | increased], suppressing ME-TOO reversed [“rise of” imitative]

13 Get more efficient in the morning to crack Listener somehow (10)
STREAMLINE – A.M. [in the morning] to crack (LISTENER*) [“somehow”]

14 So some prisoners released; just what pub needs (2-7)
ON-LICENCE – ON [just, as in “that’s not on”] + LICENCE [what pub needs]

15 Hand, one held by digger (7)
DELIVER – I [one] held by DELVER [digger]

17 Post a bet on a Creole dish (9)
JAMBALAYA – JAMB A LAY [post | a | bet] on A

19 Generally agreed a French bird has lost tail (3, 4)
UNA VOCE – UN [a French] AVOCE{t} [bird “has lost tail”]

22 Goddess offers a help up (5)
DIANA – AN AID reversed [a help “up”]

23 Got down time after short sound of bell (5)
KNELT – T [time] after KNEL{l} [“short” sound of bell]

24 Stomach accommodates large excess
GLUT – GUT [stomach] accommodates L [large]

46 comments on “Times 26,591: A Wet Weekend in Wales”

  1. I did my share of biffing, in one case anyway (TOUCH-AND-GO) simply not knowing how TOUCH got in there, but otherwise parsing post hoc, and enjoying the parsing. DNK RANDOM WALK, and was wondering if in fact it was a lexical item until I looked it up. For some reason I was too thick to see DI–oh, wait that’s the reason–, the universal DI, in 26ac, thinking IDA instead, and thinking ‘Shouldn’t it be “Fat girl going about with an attitude?”‘ for the longest time. COD maybe to EQUIP.
  2. DNF. Didn’t get the ATISHOO/SHOOT EM UP crossing. STICK EM UP was my best guess. Tough but enjoyable. The only clue I didn’t like was 8d.
  3. I hadn’t noticed, but someone on the forum points out that this is a pangram. Had I noticed, I might have got AMAZEMENT sooner, although I’d still have had to work out the wordplay.
    1. I started looking for one after the Q and the Z appeared, but sadly the pangram didn’t help me with my last two answers, as all the letters were there even without my remaining empty lights! I still wasted a minute checking, of course…

      Edited at 2016-12-09 11:27 am (UTC)

  4. DNF DNK 21ac RANDOM WALK – this has passed me by over the years – when was it first in usage? Thus I did not get, 19 dn UNA VOCE – (the tailless avocet is not native to these parts!)which should have been a write in!

    So a long hour of nothingness the rest of it being straightforward. At near 15 minutes for Velaine this is a Friday nasty, although 1dn was a preposterously easy FOI!

    My COD was 10ac ATISHOO which went in before we all fell down.
    I noticed flares going off in the QC!


    1. Your “preposterously easy”, my “deceptively easy”! LIGHT was one of my last ones in…
  5. damn.. put don random walk as random talk.. did consider it but thot random walk didnt mean anything.. whereas random talk fits better with the definition. i mean wouldnt u be looking for meaning in talk rather than walk??
    1. Well you clearly weren’t alone in having trouble with that one! I though I was trying to put something into RANT for a long time, but fortunately none of random TALK, TASK, TACT etc were quite able to do it for me wordplay-wise. When the penny finally did drop it looked right… though I didn’t realise there was a high finance connection, I assumed it was just some kind of computer science term.
  6. Nice crossword – I’m not sure that the ‘on’ in 14 down is anything to do with just – I think it just refers to the pub selling alcohol for consumption on the premises, unlike an off-licence


  7. 22m, getting badly stuck in the NE. SHOOT-EM-UP (which surely needs hyphens?) and ATISHOO are perfectly familiar words but not what you expect in the Times crossword. I welcome them without reservation, though, and enjoyed this a lot.
  8. I read Physics 1964 to 1967 but never then heard the term RANDOM WALK. I only knew it through investment bankers from the devil’s own bank (no, I can’t even say it without thinking I’m using rhyming slang) I was to work alongside decades later. The cryptic was clear only if you knew the expression which fortunately I by now do. NE gave me most problems with SHOOT EM UP LOI. I could pretend I learnt JAMBALAYA from Hank Williams as a kid but I think the first time I met the song was with Gerry and the Pacemakers. The food was probably another decade later. A lot of answers came from the music of the spheres today including the death of a LADIES MAN from that great guy who died recently. How strange the change from major to minor. 30 minutes.
  9. Just over the 30 mins but suspected a pangram which in due course got me AXIS. UNA VOCE was a guess from the crossers and my schoolboy Italian but I have never heard the expression. I will give a miss to the well-known but somewhat crude joke involving TOUCH AND GO. Some enjoyable stuff here so thanks setter and V
    1. It’s Latin of course… VOX in the ablative case, with an appropriate feminine singular ablative form of UNUM agreeing with it! I knew all those years of classics would finally come in useful one day.
  10. First fully completed week for a while, and it looked doubtful at times today. The NE in particular took some while to crack, not being helped by some unusual word patterns. I thought the first word in 5D would have to be ‘owing’ and 8D was going to be something ‘am up’ or ‘I’m up’. Satisfying to eventually complete a fine puzzle.
    1. I kicked myself over 5D because I really, really should have been able to think of something matching the rather unusual _T_N on a first pass. But I did not. Perhaps I was tired.
  11. About 20 minutes for everything including RANDOM WALK, which I decided couldn’t possibly be a thing. After another 10 minutes thinking what else it could be I looked it up and discovered that a random walk is a thing. I didn’t find the wordplay that helpful as I was thinking the ‘do’ might also be the act.

    I really enjoyed the rest of the puzzle.

    1. It is clear that there aren’t many science-trained folks on this forum. A random walk is a well-known phenomenon in anything that involves probability, e.g. statistical mechanics, movement of stock prices, etc. MVS
      1. Dear MAVIS,

        It is clear that you are indeed a science-trained folk. Please fascinate us further!

  12. I nearly resorted to aids around the 50 minute mark with a couple of up answers outstanding but there’s been a bit too much of that going on recently chez jackkt so I decided to persevere and eventually completed in 62 minutes. The unknown WALK (I got the RANDOM bit) and UNA VOCE were the last to give up their secrets.

    Rather inventive and enjoyable generally, I thought, and I was pleased to spot the pangram.

  13. Thought I was reading the wrong blog, came in at 17.5 minutes. RANDOM WALK important in aspects of mathematics too. Have visited LLANDUDNO. Loved the Cohen album. We had ADIPOSE recently, and the ubiquitous EGRET makes yet another appearance. And, have seen many times in the past, though less so now, those signs above the door in pubs which give the name of the licensee and say either ‘licensed to sell beer wine and spirits on and off the premises’ or omit ‘and off’. To be a pub it’s just the ‘on licence’ you need. Did not parse 11ac, and still can’t after reading the answers and discussion.

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

    1. I’m going to come down and say I don’t like 11ac, all the pieces are there but it seems very clunky!
  14. Even with a lot of biffing I couldn’t finish this one in the hour, being left with the crossers of the second word of 21a—having got the first word on my first pass—and 19d.

    I might have got RANDOM WALK in the end. I certainly know the similar “drunkard’s walk”. I was doing one just last night, in fact. But I doubt that continuing my walk through birds’ names would ever have got “avocet” to spring to mind for the unknown UNA VOCE, no matter how many extra minutes I’d given it.

    Still, all very enjoyable. One of those odd puzzles where I was held up with large swathes of empty grid for long periods before finally making my way in and filling them out surprisingly quickly.

  15. No excuse for missing RANDOM WALK after doing most of my daughter’s Year 12 Maths homework this year. But if I got that, would I have got UNA VOCE? We’ll never know. (Ed:Probably not)

    Pleased to have correctly deciphered the Welsh town, and thought GHOSTLY was brilliant (to host = to have you? Ok, not so brilliant on closer scrutiny) before working out it had to be GHASTLY.

    Most of the fun was in the post-solve parsing of TOUCH AND GO, SHOOT EM UP, JETSTREAM and AMAZEMENT. Great puzzle, disappointed not to have completed it successfully.

    On the bright side, even with today’s 13 over par I managed even par for the week. Thanks setter and V, have a good weekend everyone.

    Edited at 2016-12-09 11:32 am (UTC)

  16. Struggled with LOI Atishoo, but with checkers couldn’t see any other option, the penny dropping some time later.

    I had 14d as a DD, although can see now that would leave JUST as, um, just (sorry) smoothing the surface a little.

    Thoroughly enjoyed though, thanks setter; oh, and Verlaine – 11 was my FOI.

    1. I can see how 11ac is the sort of thing that might be addable just from the enumeration of course…
      1. Knowing the sports meaning of touch made 11ac a write in and quick parse. It is also the name for a way rookie pilots practice takeoff and landings – getting the wheels down, then speeding up and taking off without stopping so as to save time and fuel, flying a circle, and doing it again.
        We should all be thankful that the setter didn’t get excited about the slightly more specific Markov Process or Markov Chain instead of Random Walk.
  17. Quite liked this, but like most others found it difficult in places. But different places: RANDOM WALK no problem, applies to inertial navigation systems amongst other things. I’ve just come off a job where we had an INS gyro for 4 weeks so we always knew exactly where our remote-control robot was, then we went to another client who wouldn’t pay for it so back to observation, dead-reckoning and guesswork.
    About 30 minutes while cooking, so at the hard end of the usual 20 – 30 mins.
  18. …until I finally saw 1d. I reached 20a, with a rising sense of helplessness, before making a mark on the grid. After that the SW and SE gradually began to take shape, but having not come across the expression RANDOM WALK, I took it on trust from the wordplay. I did eventually figure out 11a, but after I’d biffed it, and as V says, it seems a bit clunky. My last pair were QUIT and then SHOOT EM UP, which I almost, but didn’t quite, manage to parse.(why does the tense of “parse” not look quite right there?). I smiled at ATISHOO, especially as I’ve been exhaling explosively quite a lot over the last day or so. LLANO stayed in mind from a recent puzzle, so 1a went in easily once I had a couple of crossers. 42 minutes for an enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and V for filling in the voids in my deciphering.
  19. about 2 hours between customers and reps etc. My embarrassing moment was LLANDUDNO, which eventually jumped out from the letters available. As its just up the road from here and we go there a lot…. ah well.
    DNK UNA VOCE, RANDOM WALK COD ATISHOO so simple when I eventually got it
  20. 19:32 and most enjoyable. I assume the nina in the middle spotted by sawbill points to Anax.

    No problem with random walk and spotting the possible pangram helped with Amazement.

    Too many good clues to pick a winner.

  21. Did it this morning watching Indian cricketers make it look easy… so was the puzzle in 12 minutes except for UNA VOCE which took a while and no resolution of the RANDOM thing, walk, talk, pack, so rather than look it up I DNF.
  22. I have a delightful book, published by the Institute of Physics in 1973, called “A Random Walk in Science”. It is a collection of vaguely physics-related snippets, including “Theoretical Zipperdynamics”, “The art of finding the right graph paper to get a straight line”, “On the imperturbability of elevator operators”, “On the feasibility of coal-driven power stations”, “A stress analysis of a strapless evening gown”, and a mathematical proof that heaven is hotter than hell.
  23. A leisurely 38 minutes for me, though part of that was spent Skyping Mrs. Thud, who – I realized this morning – I had completely forgotten to take with me to Malaysia. I dare not return without a placatory gift.

    I struggled over 5d until I realized that ORANG-UTAN was staring me in the face. This is fortuitous, since tomorrow I will actually have an ORANG-UTAN staring me in the face: my hosts here are taking me to an ORANG-UTAN sanctuary. They have not made it clear whether I am being taken to enjoy seeing the orangs, or to be left there. In any event, I am looking forward to it, probably more so than the orangs.

    RANDOM WALK was no problem – surely it’s not that obscure a term? It crops up in so many contexts, aside from financial models.

    My only NHO was UNA VOCE, which was gettable given the checkers and a smattering of Romance languages.

  24. 20 mins, which doesn’t seem to be that bad considering I started to drift mid-solve. I confess to biffing TOUCH AND GO and I never did try to parse it. UNA VOCE was my LOI after RANDOM WALK, both of which I needed the WP for. I found the LHS a lot easier than the RHS, although that may be because I only started to drift after the LHS had been completed.

    My parents took me on several holidays to LLANDUDNO when I was young and I’ve been back there a few times since on day trips, so 1ac wasn’t a problem, or at least it wasn’t once I had a couple of checkers.

    1. I grew up in North Wales so it was no problem once the penny dropped, but I’m going confess that L_A___D__was suggesting LEAMINGDON or something similar to me for a long time… I’ve been out of Wales too long!
      1. Sadly for me, Ypsilanti fits the letter count, is better known to me, and is close enough to an anagram of ‘its plain’ + n to have sat in the grid for considerable time.

        Edited at 2016-12-10 09:01 pm (UTC)

  25. Probably about an hour or so, but all correct sans aids. RANDOM WALK and UNA VOCE from wp. Great puzzle, challenging but gettable. Respect to setter, and Verlaine for sorting it all out at such speed.
  26. About 30 minutes here, held up at the end by UNA VOCE/RANDOM WALK. Eventually the ‘law’ and the ‘avocet’ came to mind. I had no idea how to parse TOUCH AND GO, so stopped trying; now that Verlaine has explained it, I still have no idea. But I got LLANDUDNO without any real problem, only because its appeared some number of times before. Regards.
  27. I found this pretty tough and was happy just to finish it with all correct.
    Several clues were biffed or simply guessed from the checkers and my progress was hampered by several interruptions – dog, telephone, doorbell, etc..
    SHOOT ‘EM UP and RANDOM WALK had to be dragged up kicking and screaming from the increasingly unreliable mind-palace, but LADIES’ MAN made me smile – is one still allowed to be a LADIES’ MAN these days?
    I used to love novellas when I was a languages student back in the middle-ages – so much shorter than the big 19th century blockbusters.

    About an hour, all told.

  28. I am having an orthographical catastrophe this week. Everything right except for the ON-LICENSE. Now I do know that Brits spell the verb one way and the noun the other, but after flipping back and forth a few times I ended up with the wrong choice. How I managed LLANDUDNO I cannot imagine.
  29. 14:55 for this interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    The last minute or three were spent on RANDOM WALK, which I actually knew perfectly well (probably from university maths), but needed to work through the alphabet to find.

  30. Was all but done in 20 minutes, but the North-East corner did for me. Did nobody else find NILL a hidden word in 6d? I knew STICK EM UP couldn’t be right for 8d, but it took me ages to fidn the right answer to that too. 39:14 eventually.

Comments are closed.