Times 28431 – not a wild goose chase

A slightly avian theme to this fairly mild but pleasant puzzle, with birds featuring at 4d, 12a and 16a. It took me twenty minutes starting with 1d and 14d which opened up the grid with beginning letters. I liked 3d and 16a ; nothing gave me cause for concern.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics.

1 Old coach station, one adopted by hunt (4,6)
POST CHAISE – POST = station, CHASE = hunt, insert I for one.
6 Elegant style originally conceived here in ancient Rome (4)
CHIC – C (originally conceived), HIC Latin for here.
9 Old Baltic port initially misrepresented in Japanese art (7)
ORIGAMI – O (old) RIGA (in Latvia) MI (first letters of Misrepresented In).
10 Small snake biting large supplier of 24 needs (7)
SADDLER – S = small, ADDER = snake, insert L for large. I had done 24a before solving this one.
12 Uncultivated region where angry sea eagles start to squabble (10)
WILDERNESS – WILD (angry) ERNES (sea eagles) S(quabble).
13 Old character in theatre played Macbeth at last (3)
EDH – a letter ð used in Old English, also in the Icelandic names in ‘noir’ crime novels I often read. Last letters of theatrE playeD MacbetH.
15 Dozy bachelor finally lost in river (6)
OBTUSE -the river OUSE has B and T (end of lost) inserted.
16 Flowers bitterns possibly observed around lake? (8)
BLOOMERS – bitterns are wading birds famous for the “booming” noise they make; insert L for lake.
18 Like tears of US city crook dropping in (8)
20 Flowering shrub a couple of accountants found around island (6)
ACACIA – A CA CA (two accountants) insert I(sland). I had AC AC initially.
23 Trap bringing about mother’s ruin? (3)
GIN – proverbially gin was known as mother’s ruin.
24 Rider’s hesitation about expedition in surrounding area (10)
EQUESTRIAN – QUEST (expedition) inside ER (hesitation) I(A)N.
26 One who breaks down in the lab? A record producer, we hear (7)
ANALYST – sounds like ANNALIST, a person who keeps records.
27 Edgy UK native extremely tense crossing lake (7)
BRITTLE – BRIT, T(ens)E with L inserted.
28 She features in novel, say? Yes and film (4)
ELSA – hidden as above, girl’s name and name of a film about a lioness, also the Disney princess.
29 Unkempt educationist left in threadbare clothing (10)
1 Structure on sailing ship going up and down (4)
POOP – the poop deck, a palindrome.
2 Winter sport aid’s existence briefly revealed in burlesque (3,4)
SKI LIFT – LIF(E) = existence briefly, inside SKIT = burlesque.
3 Family fortune divided by the Spanish on the quiet (13)
CLANDESTINELY – CLAN (family) DESTINY (fortune) with EL inserted.
4 Bird enclosure principally approached by public transport (6)
AVIARY – A(pproached), VIA (by) RY (railway).
5 Like a nun, possibly, knowing about revised rites (8)
SISTERLY – SLY (knowing) with (RITES)* inserted.
7 Greek woman engaged by high-ranking diplomat (7)
HELLENE – H.E. His Excellency, has ELLEN a woman inserted.
8 Vehicle in this way met by chap’s brother? (10)
CARTHUSIAN – CAR (vehicle) THUS (in this way) IAN (a chap). The Carthusian Order is an ancient (founded 1084) order of Catholic monks (and nuns).
11 Embarrassing woman’s noted performance in golf (13)
DISCONCERTING – DI’S (a woman’s) CONCERT (noted performance) IN G (golf).
14 Like some universities, say, breaking random local tie (10)
COLLEGIATE – EG (say) inside (LOCAL TIE)*. Oxford, Cambridge and Durham are such.
17 French loaf ugly old woman consumed, as some would say (8)
BAGUETTE – BAG (ugly old woman) UETTE here sounds like ‘ET’ a dialect pronunciation of ATE or version of EATEN.
19 Sails south to solicit votes (7)
CANVASS – CANVAS (sails) S(outh).
21 Seaside device for drying hops, perhaps, in California (7)
COASTAL – an OAST house goes inside CAL(ifornia).
22 Line on map represents round watering hole (6)
ISOBAR – IS (represents) O (round) BAR (watering hole). Line of equal pressure, on some maps not all.
25 Unite under pressure, perhaps, getting married outside Lima (4)
WELD – WED (married) with L for Lima inserted.


60 comments on “Times 28431 – not a wild goose chase”

  1. I didn’t know of EDH, only ETH (which are the last letters of Macbeth) so DNF. Otherwise I didn’t find this too difficult. I wasn’t sure which ELSA was required, since the lioness is not fictional, and that was the one I first thought of.

  2. 17:34
    I parsed ACACIA as A+CA(chartered accountant)+C(I)A. (Is AC used as an abbreviation for ‘accountant’? ‘account’, yes, but ‘accountant’?) I don’t know where Disney’s ELSA appears, but the name of the lion film was “Born Free”. DNK ‘dozy’=obtuse (ODE marks it “Brit.”), and DNK that bitterns boom. I do wish setters wouldn’t refer to other clues ever, but especially to clues one is not likely to have read yet.

    1. I got SADDLER immediately and then filled in EQUESTRIAN next from just the first word of the clue. But I agree, I don’t really like cross-references or whatever the right word is. Especially when the Guardian goes insane and almost every clue is a cross-reference.

      1. I agree with you on cross references in The Times puzzles but have to admit that since I started doing Guardian puzzles every day I have acquired a taste for them there and always enjoy the extreme examples as mentioned by you, which are nearly always set by your namesake, Paul.

  3. I enjoyed this one and completed it in 33 minutes.

    The POOP on an old sailing ship is specifically the raised structure at the stern whereas the poop deck is the deck on top of it.

    For some reason I’m not used to seeing LACRIMAL, only ‘lachrymal’.

  4. FOI was EDH.

    Parsed ACACIA as Kevin does.

    Took the ELSA clue a saying that she “features in” both a novel and a film, not that either is eponymous. But I had forgotten that the story, in both the book and the ensuing movie, is nonfictional.

    “Boomer” (I found out) is also a nickname for the male Greater Prairie Chicken, a bird native to Illinois. One of the two surviving subspecies is endangered and the other’s range is greatly reduced… Which is sad (however Astro_nowt feels about it notwithstanding).

    I had given up on the Y, from the definition, but inexplicably tried to fit LACRIMAL in with an H.

    Had only the E and the A but put in EQUESTRIAN as soon as I had SADDLER.

    1. Failed on EDH despite doing Old English at Uni ( a long time ago!) but wanted to add to Guy that ‘a boomer’ is also a large male kangaroo , which makes a booming sound hitting it’s chest when in contest. I too had a problem with this spelling of LACHRYMAL. But no problem with the clues relating to horses.

      1. Wow, this is (just) a month old, and I already couldn’t remember writing that headline!
        But it does pertain to birds, as does the clue with “bitterns,” which is why I didn’t mention the marsupial “boomer,” of which I learned in writing this blog.

  5. 27:16 fail – tried ETH for 13a, even though the clueing was reasonably generous. Got my just desserts, really, for playing not-so-fast and loose in that area of the puzzle – held up by an earlier biff of HELENIC (which I initially tried to spell with a double L).

    Even so, I had lots of fun with this one, particularly the construction of almost-unknowns CARTHUSIAN and LACRIMAL + (NHO) POST CHAISE. LOI BEDRAGGLED took 3 or 4 mins and came purely from the crossers – the B.Ed device has stumped me a few times before.

  6. DNF …
    … same as Denise: threw in ETH without really checking, even though I saw how the clue worked. Serves me right for listening to Bob Dylan in preparation for concert on Friday while doing the crossword.
    Thanks, pip.

    1. It was nice of him to let you in for his rehearsals. Although you rather threw it back in his face by doing the crossword while you were there.

  7. But man—we, scaffold of score Brittle bones;
    Who breathe, from groundlong babyhood to hoary
    Age …

    20 mins pre-brekker. It had the whiff of the start/end indicator setter with five in the first seven clues… but it got better.
    No ticks, no MERs. One big cross at Elsa.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  8. 18 minutes. I was undecided between ETH and EDH but the latter seemed more in line with the instructions, and I got it right. I biffed BLOOMERS assuming BITTERNS were either born in the years following the war or made that sort of noise. I’d heard of a POOP deck without really knowing what it was and half-thinking something ruder. I somehow can’t forget Hic Haec Hoc from yesteryear, try as I may. COD to CARTHUSIAN. An enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

  9. 41 minutes, with quite a few proving hard to figure out. Luckily I tried to stick to the wordplay as best I could, including for EDH, and a little Latin came in handy here and there—even for “et”, where my Latin teacher once told us that “et” was the “proper” (I’m guessing “U”?) pronunciation of “ate”. Interesting to learn that LACRIMAL is closer to the original Latin than “lachrymal”, which Chambers says is a medieval spelling, possibly influenced by the Greek “dakryma”.

    I missed parsing the annalist homophone but apart from that teased everything out well enough in the end. At least I’d heard of all the birds, and I’m sure I’ve come across a POST CHAISE quite recently, though I can’t remember where.

    1. I bet you can find a post-chaise or two in Georgette Heyer. I remember learning (if that’s the word) as a child that ‘ate’ is pronouned ‘et’ over there, and ‘figure’ ‘figger’, and marveling that what’s proper over there are gross solecisms here.

  10. 12:11. LOI ELSA, which I didn’t care for much. DNK POST CHAISE or EDH or that OBTUSE could mean Dozy, but the wordplay prevailed to get me to the right answers. EQUESTRIAN went in from the checkers without re-reading the clue. Thanks Pip and setter.

  11. Fairly plain sailing under 19dn, with the southern waters proving somewhat easier than the northern more glacial reaches. 42 mins. At tad too much IKEAN instruction for my liking. l should have been some ten minutes quicker! Swedish setters! Voof!

    FOI 1dn POOP – the deck I have to visit on my voyages.
    LOI 16ac BLOOMERS – oh, that species of flower! Is’ta bloomer a type of sarney upt’north? A long bap?i
    COD 19dn CANVASS – much of that going on in the ‘Mid-Terms’ presentlly, but all over in the UK.

    At 28ac I read it as the novel being Rider Haggard’s ‘She’, then the girl’s name
    hidden within ‘novel say’ and confirmed by ‘Elsa’ a lioness who starred in the Armand and Michaela Denis safari documentaries of the late fifties. These came under a BBC series known as ‘Traveller’s Tales’ and were very popular.

  12. 34m 33s
    Nothing untoward but thanks for EQUESTRIAN, Pip.
    Fortunately, I didn’t know that ETH is an alternative to EDH so just went for the obvious.
    LOI SKI LIFT because I had SKI SUIT for a long time.
    COD: CHIC. ‘Here in ancient Rome’.
    If ELSA is a Disney princess, life has passed me by.

  13. I forgot about Frozen, like others, although now I have the ‘Let It Go’ earworm.

    ‘Lacrimosa’ from Mozart’s Requiem sprang to mind, so I never considered having a ‘y’ in the answer.

    ANALYST not parsed. CARTHUSIAN LOI, but no real holdups.

    10′ 41″, thanks Pip and setter.

    1. The Lacrimosa from Berlioz Requiem is also a cracker. Still remember the First time I sang it (Southampton Guildhall, 1985)

  14. Birds answers are down; that must be said
    But they’re there in the cryptics instead
    Twelve across and four down
    And sixteen made me frown
    Do they do it to mess with my EDH?

  15. 40 mins for a very pleasant stroll today. LOI BLOOMERS where I had no idea about the noise the birds made. Thanks P. As neither ETH nor EDH known I followed the wp and luckily, it was right. NHO POST CHAISE either but, again, the wp was helpful.

    I too had ACACIA as A CA CA with an I in.

    I particularly like CLANDESTINELY and DISCONCERTING. Good stuff after yesterday’s dismal failure.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  16. 25 minutes or so. Some helpful cluing for answers I didn’t know, including POST CHAISE and EDH, and I was also able to figure out BLOOMERS despite not knowing about the booming noise made by bitterns. I didn’t parse ANALYST either.

    I don’t think of DISCONCERTING as meaning embarrassing, more like unsettling. But perhaps that’s just me.

    FOI Chic
    LOI Wilderness
    COD Hellene

  17. Another ETH for EDH. Stupid, because I sensed something was wrong. Going for the clock – 12’42”

  18. Under half an hour, but with ERH at 13ac (theatre = Emergency Room = ER, plus H from the end of Macbeth). My shortlist included ech, eth, eph and esh, but ERH was the only one I could parse

  19. 06:38, so no hold-ups. The only thing approaching a pause was at 13ac, where I knew ETH but had never knowingly seen EDH before – luckily, one of those occasions where the instructions in the wordplay seemed precise enough that I felt safe presuming they were pointing to something I didn’t know. I was well aware of the habits of bitterns; I managed to see one earlier this year, but it required a lot of sitting and looking at reeds first.

  20. I am perplexed by 18ac because the lacrimal gland is that which produces tears, yet ‘like tears’ surely should be lachrymal? Or am I missing something? 17.55 but fell into the ‘eth’ trap. Oh well.

    1. I was also surprised, but lacrimal seems to be an alternative, if not the favoured, spelling these days.

      1. ODE sv ‘lachrymal’ has ‘(also lacrimal or lacrymal)’. But it specifies ‘lacrimal’ for its 2d definition, “(Physiology) & (Anatomy) concerned with the secretion of tears”

  21. I’m hopeless at predicting what the SNITCH is going to be. The other day we had a very easy crossword whose snitch was around 55, and this one seemed to be just as easy (23 minutes). Yet it’s in the 80s. Also was a bit uncomfortable with lacrimal/lachrymal. If you weld something don’t you really unite it under heat?

    1. WELD. I also wondered, but SOED has: Join together (pieces of metal, esp. iron or steel) by heating and hammering or pressure. L17.

  22. FOI, CHIC, LOI, AVIARY. A lot of cogitation in between, but successfully negotiated the rest of it. CARTHUSIAN took a while. 22:48. Thanks setter and Pip.

  23. 25.40. Only eyebrow-raise was at WELD which I also thought usually required heat rather than pressure, though I see from Chambers that heat isn’t exclusively – or perhaps even most commonly – required.

  24. A 22 minute DNF. Like a few others an “eth” for EDH at 13a. Moral of the story: trust the wordplay.

  25. Pretty easy, taking me 21 minutes. The two long down ones took me the longest. I had to run through the alphabet to get the palindrome at 1d (before I had any crossers).

    Could somebody please explain SNITCH.

    1. If you look down the items in the RH column, under USEFUL LINKS is ‘Crossword SNITCH’. I don’t really understand all the statistical niceties, but it does give an indication of how easy or difficult solvers have found it. All is explained if you click on the link.

  26. 18 mins. Difficulty at the end due to failing to separate Greek and woman. I knew EDH from Scrabble but as so often, I had no idea what it meant.

  27. Zoomed (by my standards) through this in 23.35, slowed down at the end by not being able to spell BAGUETTE correctly. Like others I was disconcerted by EDH , but trusted the cryptic in spite of it being such an unlikely combination of letters.

  28. Keeping up a good week, a 40 minute solve with just the one pink square. Feel cheated with “Macbeth at last” not being ETH, a perfectly good “old character”. I guess on closer reading the “in theatre” were not accounted for.


    Spent much time on the unseparated “Greek woman”, trying Hecuba, Hermia, Helena etc.

  29. On the wavelength with leap of faith to enter EDH rather than the tempting eth, and POOP. OBTUSE LOI.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  30. 22:18

    Mostly fine.

    Took a while to work out HELLENE and didn’t like its crosser EDH much.

    Failed to parse SKI LIFT.

  31. I got there in double piquet time. Thought it was going to be very tough but everything fell into place after I had cracked a few clues. Thanks to piquet and setter.

  32. 20.41
    No real problems though EDH was based purely on the clue. Took me a while to accept that ELSA was not going to be TESS. COD and LOI CLANDESTINELY.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter

  33. Lovely puzzle, especially after yesterday’s. Like others, went for the obvious in edh , unaware of other possibilities, and puzzled over lacrimal, knowing only the other spelling. Scratched my head somewhat over Bittern, wondering if heron could be relevant but then light dawned. COD Baguette. 30 minutes.

  34. On the wavelength for this one. Did a third before a test drive, and then the rest just before lunch. I didn’t parse ANALYST, so thank you for explaining it.

  35. As a newbie to the 15 X 15 was chuffed to finish in under an hour. Particularly pleased to have referenced my local Cambs river in the booming bittern(though never yet heard or seen by me) and the stupid bachelor.

    I thought eth was OK for the last three letters of Macbeth bu re-reading the clue edh is better.

  36. Respite today after a dismal effort yesterday. I too had difficulties in the NE. I couldn’t get Carcasonne out of my mind , being convinced that there must have been a brotherhood there…
    I was toying with ETH at 13a , she was a radio character in ‘The Glums’ – I remember my parents quoting her. But obviously not theatre… so parsed the clue and got (NHO) EDH.
    Thank you vinyl1 for ‘momble’ – NHO but so descriptive, maybe one for the glossary 🤔.
    I liked 6a , ‘ hic, haec, hoc ‘ in my memory more than ‘hic’.
    Thank you blogger, setter and contributors.

  37. After yesterday’s stinker, which floored me comprehensively, I was hoping for something relatively gentle as a convalescent aid today. The SNITCH suggests that that’s what I got, but the towel is in again, this time with barely half the grid completed. Still punch-drunk, I guess. Thanks to our blogger for explanations above. Nothing very controversial. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

  38. DNF in 12 and a bit minutes because of a wretched typo. I nimbly side-stepped the eth / edh bear trap only to find that I had trodden on a rake and hit myself in the face with wilderress.

  39. There should be a word for the particular anguish when you’ve rattled through a crossword only to come to a complete standstill over the last clue. Shall we call it crucifverbalixion? The clock is ticking. You’re mind is scuttling along every rabbit hole but nothing is coming. It’s nothing to do with salts. Heron won’t fit in the wp. Surely this flower will be the watery kind after ACACIA. An obscure river I should know if only I’d listened at school? And then you’re spent. 25 minute solve and a DNF. 😂
    BlOOMERS such an innocent looking word. So now we need to know individual birds’ characteristics as well as their names. Every day a school day.

    Thanks Pip and thanks a bunch setter.

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