Times 28645 – Greetings from Corfu

Yes, I’m back in Greece, not the Cyclades this time, but the island of the Durrells, enjoying the sun (and the occasional refreshing shower), the hot tub, the beaches, the boats and the tavernas. What’s not to like?

Just under 16 minutes for this, so not much to scare the horses.

1 Male artist crossing a bar for a dance in Cuba (8)
5 Save container king left out for wine (6)
10 Military unit cheers celebrity joining club (9)
BATTALION – BAT (club) TA (cheers) LION (celebrity)
11 Move stealthily, principally pursuing rare bird (5)
PROWL – P[ursuing] R[are] OWL
12 Netting son installed in border going west (4)
MESH – S in HEM reversed
13 Sail south, having a kip at first in Greater London town (9)
SPINNAKER – S A K[ip] in PINNER (area of London, once in Middlesex)
15 Undemanding force in English stronghold changing sides (10)
EFFORTLESS – F (force) in E (English) FORT[r]ESS – L for r
17 Intelligence required to frame right legal document (4)
19 Way you initially cross an underworld river (4)
STYX – ST Y[ou] X
20 Bird westerners originally precooked, unexpectedly (10)
WOODPECKER – W[esterners] anagram* of PRECOOKED
22 Extended opus rated badly (9)
24 Necklace identified in lecture on radio (4)
TORC – sounds like talk
26 Prickly plant originally trapping antler, perhaps (5)
THORN – T[rapping] HORN
27 Defeat wife going on about steering apparatus (9)
OVERWHELM – OVER (about) W (wife) HELM (steering apparatus)
28 Midshipman Easy’s head used in advert (6)
REEFER – E[asy] in REFER
29 Steps over the top, twirling a dagger (8)
STILETTO – STILE (steps) reversal of OTT
1 Vagrant bowled over by house (4)
HOBO – HO (house) B O
2 Movement in water of peacock, say, by river in Staffs city (9,6)
3 Articles digested by obsessive animal minder (8)
4 Endlessly regretting introduction to such decayed buildings (5)
RUINS – RUIN[g] S[uch]
6 A large tree growing in European mountains (6)
7 Farm animals reportedly damaged a career in affluent zone? (11,4)
STOCKBROKER BELT – STOCK (farm animals) sounds like ‘broke a belt’ where belt is to run
8 Style of singing at our carol broadcast? (10)
9 Impartial peacekeepers stationed around India (8)
14 Child’s toy that may set the pulse racing! (10)
PEASHOOTER – a peashooter fires a pea, i.e. a type of pulse
16 Free fight in horse’s compartment (8)
18 Award most agreeable old canon set up (8)
BESTOWAL -BEST (most agreeable) O LAW reversed
21 What a scrounger may do to get cake (6)
SPONGE -a scrounger will sponge
23 Lived in comfort briefly in outskirts of Detroit (5)
DWELT – WEL[l] in D[etroi]T
25 It may include shells — from BrixhAM MOstly (4)
AMMO – hidden

87 comments on “Times 28645 – Greetings from Corfu”

  1. 12:52
    Easy enough, but I had some DNKs. Biffed SPINNAKER, parsed post-submission, assumed that there was a place called PINNER. Biffed BUTTERFLY STROKE, DNK the butterfly (also, of course didn’t know where Stoke is). Biffed STOCKBROKER BELT, didn’t get the ‘career’ part. Biffed WOODPECKER, parsed post-sub. MER at defining NERD as ‘obsessive’. Fortunately I knew TORC (and had the checkers) or I’d never have got it from the wordplay.

  2. 13m

    It’s the return of the reefer

    Not my kind of vocab – habanera, barsac, torc, neatherd, loosebox, and coloratura all unheard of. I see half of them are upsetting this website’s spell-checker, but not the ones I would have expected

  3. 28 minutes with TORK for TORC at 24ac as I never heard of it.

    PINNER is not a town. It’s a former village in Middlesex, always in my lifetime a part of the Borough of Harrow which eventually became absorbed into Greater London in 1965. I lived in the same borough for 33 years, the last 5 of them in Pinner itself. Both Pinner Village and Middlesex are still in common use locally.

    I wouldn’t have know REEFER for Midshipman but for the discussion of a clue here a couple of weeks ago.

    1. I’m pretty sure you have heard of TORC, because I have, and it could only have been here that I heard of it.

      1. Thanks . Not an easy word to check on as ‘torc’ appears in other words too, but I found one instance, ST 4476 on 11 March 2012 when we both contributed comments. You didn’t mention the answer but I said I didn’t know it. The clue was more straightforward however, and unlike today, unambiguous, so I doubt it gave me a problem: Part of pendent or chain necklace (5).

        Anyway according to Chambers and Collins (but not the COED) TORC in this sense is only an alternative spelling of ”torque’ – not that I would have known that as a necklace either.

        1. Fans of sci-fi/fantasy will know of Julian May’s “The Golden Torc” from the early ’80s.

    2. Slight pedantry alert, Jackkt – not quite always in your lifetime, I think, because Harrow only achieved borough status in 1954. Before that it was an Urban District: I am old enough to remember HUDC on the park-keepers’ hats. Forgive me if I am over-estimating your age.

      Jim R

      1. Thanks for your comment, Jim, and you are correct that Harrow achieved Borough status on 4 May 1954 having been an Urban District since 1934. I would have been aged 5 at the time and unaware of such niceties although I certainly knew by then that the neighbouring village of Pinner was not a town!

  4. 24 minute fail. I didn’t know how to spell TORC and like Jack plumped for a K at the end. Yes, good to see REEFER again after its recent appearance which I did happen to remember.

  5. I was worried about REEFER because I couldn’t see that “refer” means “advert” but as it turns out I should have been worried about my LOOSEROW instead.

    1. Another TORK here – and joining you with LOI LOOSEROW, knowing that it was highly unlikely to be the correct answer. But by that stage, I just wanted it all to end – 35m SNAFU

  6. 12:05. There were a lot of words at the edge of my vocabulary today – HABANERA, BARSAC, TORC, REEFER, NEATHERD, COLORATURA. And LOOSEBOX was completely new to me. Strangely, when driving through the affluent Berkshire suburbs yesterday the term STOCKBROKER BELT came to mind, and I contemplated how it’s not much used any more, and then here it is this morning!

  7. I found this a puzzle of two halves: I whizzed through about half of it then slowed dramatically as I circled back to the western hemisphere, finishing in just under 35. I’m with Lou on the unfriendly vocab but I also like the challenge it presents and enjoyed this today. Had forgotten the midshipman discussion and don’t get ‘refer = advert’ but made a wild guess which turned out right. Thanks for the blog ulaca and enjoy Corfu you lucky sod.

    1. advert here is the verb, not the noun: ODE sv advert2: (formal) refer to in speaking or writing

      1. Ah. Right, the penny drops. Thanks for taking the time to explain Kevin

  8. The light Dwelt o’er the scene so lingeringly.
    He bares his forehead to the cool blue sky,
    And smiles at the far clearness all around, …
    (Calidore, Keats)

    25 mins pre-brekker. Neat and tidy. As others have said, it was lucky we had Reefer recently as advert=refer is pretty obscure if you ask me.
    Ta setter and U.

  9. Sorry, but TORC was an unreasonable clue. Even if you knew about it, there’s still the alternative spelling TORQ (according to Wikipedia). I didn’t know about that, but was still left with a coin toss. I went for TORK like Jack, BR and Denise. A shocker of a clue in an otherwise okay puzzle.

    1. The spelling torq is not in any of the usual dictionaries, as far as I can tell, and the edit that added it to the Wikipedia page was made by an anonymous user who didn’t cite any sources.

  10. 21 minutes with a ?spelling written against both COLORATURA and TORC, and a ? without spelling by REEFER. But all was well. Otherwise, reasonably straightforward. Thank you U and setter. I’ve never actually had a PEASHOOTER. I suppose it’s a bit late now.

  11. No problem at all with TORC, known from treasure troves where it is a neck band. That said, it could be another appalling homophone, depending on where you live.

    7′ 55″ today, fourth in my PB list.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  12. 8:38. Strange puzzle, with some very esoteric stuff. I didn’t know LOOSEBOX but fortunately I did know TORC (from Mephisto I suspect) and I remembered the discussion about Midshipman Easy. Two unfairly obscure clues IMO.

    1. My Turtle Ninja is the Lovejoy novels – in which Torcs appear from time to time

  13. All correct for me despite several unknowns that had to be assembled by hand. I did know the hot pepper “habanero” so HABANERA seemed plausible. I guessed right on TORC, I knew what a LOOSEBOX is, although I (and Chambers) think it has to be two words. I remembered that a REEFER is a midshipman from its recent appearance. I’ve never heard of a NEATHERD but I do know that meaning of NEAT, so not too hard once I’d ruled out GOATHERD. A nice gentle start to the week.

    1. I bet you know the habanera from “Carmen”, even if, like me, you’re not an opera buff.

      1. Dear old John Amis on “My Music” use to call it the Haveabanana.

  14. 23m 03s
    A pleasant solve to make me think perhaps I’m not losing my touch after all. Too often recently, especially with a couple of recent Sunday Times Concise puzzles, I’ve felt like Bairstow -stumped- and had to rely on solving one or two clues to get checkers to get me going.
    14d. The idea of a pulse racing was used recently and I have a record of it being used in #25886 back in 2014.
    Thank you, ulaca and enjoy Corfu. It must be 50 years since I was last there.

    1. I got wind of a bit of a kerfuffle when I checked my email after returning from a day on a friend’s yacht yesterday to find a message from the MCC telling me that three members had been suspended for being aggressive towards some Australians.

      In my day, you got accelerated membership for that.

      1. I was there. Should have suspended the whole bloody crowd. Appalling mob behaviour, probably my worst day ever at a sporting event.

  15. 9:33. A steady solve. NHO LOOSEBOX but remembered REEFER and TORC. Fortunately I never knew there was an alternative spelling of TORQ. COD to COLORATURA for the surface, but I liked PEASHOOTER too. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  16. It looks like OWL club is fairly busy today, and I’m glad I’m not the only one to put ‘tork’ rather than TORC. Hadn’t heard of LOOSEBOX or NEATHERD but both were gettable.

    COD Stiletto

  17. Pedant’s Corner
    A peashooter doesn’t fire a pea as it isn’t a firearm, in the same way an archer doesn’t fire an arrow.

    1. It is acceptable extended usage. Collins has ‘to discharge (a firearm or projectile) or (of a firearm, etc) to be discharged’ (example sentence: ‘If you fire an arrow, you send it from a bow.’)

    2. And here is a charming image entitled “woman firing a peashooter at dockers” So the Daily Mail thinks you can.

  18. Difficult start for the week for me with an incorrect guess at TORQ and an incorrect guess at the vowel placement with CALORATURO too.

    Scrabbled around generally anyway with the wrong end of the stick with the swimming stroke and looking for a city instead and PEASHOOTER took an age too although I have seen something similar in the last month or so, so should have done better.

    Onwards to tomorrow!

    Thanks u and setter

    1. Same here with calorotura guessed. Too many options in an unfamiliar word for me. I knew I’d misplace one of those vowels.

  19. 25:44 but…

    …entered TORQ rather than TORC – I can see that some sources allow TORQ so slightly disappointed that I’ve been pink-squared 🙁

  20. No time again but not too long. Exactly the same as previous comments re the odd/unknown/hoped for answers. Luckily I plumped for TORC, certainly more by luck than knowledge.

    I liked the two long clues.

    Thanks u and setter.

  21. 8:30
    Not sure about the homophony of TORC, nor the possibility of alternative spelling.
    Which member of The Monkees was it who said “And where there is choice there is misery”?
    Oh yes, Peter Tork.

  22. 5m 36s, having guessed the right anagram for COLORATURA as my LOI.

    Some lovely words today, including NEATHERD, which I’d not come across before, but hope to see again.

    I did start the puzzle trying to get MARAMBA at 1ac, which: (i) is spelled wrong; (ii) is too short; (iii) doesn’t fit the wordplay; & (iv) isn’t a dance. Apart from that, a great answer.

    1. I went straight for Macarena for 1a, a similarly ill-fitting guess, with the added problem of giving me a less than welcome ear-worm for the remainder of the solve!

  23. 21.26. Not quite a stroll for me, partly because there was a fair bit of testing spelling. Oddly enough it was the wine that slowed me most: I couldn’t get BALSAC out of my mind (stop sniggering at the back there!) which I guess is a misremembering of Balzac, and a real place in France. Eventually I let the wordplay do the heavy lifting. COLORATURA is another where the order of the vowels is iffy. I wasn’t tempted by TORK, but I knew TORQ was a thing, meaning the entry was a 50/50 shot. I was a mite confused by Cuba for the HABANERA: the French version in Carmen is definitely Spanish but I suppose we should know it derives from Havana. I was fixated on getting Noah into 3d: “animal minder” would be almost a cliché for the old drunkard in crosswords. I expected 2d to be a Staffs town and toyed with beau for peacock relocating Beaumaris from Wales. Fair to say it was a stroll round the setters garden, up whose paths I was unwittingly led.

  24. This only took me 4 seconds longer than this morning’s QC, but I had two pink squares. One was a typo, and I’d have got the puzzle wrong anyway. However I blame Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull for seducing me with “The Habanero Reel” despite having parsed the goddam clue correctly.

  25. Not very efficient this morning, 39 minutes and I gave up on the cake and used a list and it was obvious, should have seen it. HABANERA known from Carmen. BATALLION I never can remember how to spell but the wordplay helped. Couldn’t parse OVERWHELM. How is the pea racing in the PEASHOOTER clue?

      1. Seems rather odd. When one uses a peashooter one doesn’t think of the peas as either racing or rushing out of the barrel. I don’t, anyway.

  26. I didn’t get 1a until very late in the solve, but the expected RA at the end gave me my FOI, RUINS. The anticipated M at the front delayed HOBO though. However, the arrival of the NEATHERD, who quickly pushed the GOATHERD out of contention, provoked a flurry of activity in the NW and then BUTTERFLY STROKE helped with the completion of the SW, culminating in LOI, the Midshipman, whose appearance recently, was very helpful. The RHS had proved less resistant to my efforts, and TORC seemed to appear from the mists without any alternative spellings presenting themselves to confuse me. COLORATURA also appeared not too long ago and rang a vague bell. 20:28. Thanks setter and U.

  27. No real problems, sped through it. Only unknowns were NEATHERD and LOOSESBOX, but the two halves of both words were known so easily constructed; and Pinner, but spinnaker had to be. PEASHOOTER’s clue first seen last century at a guess, and regularly ever since. Not a Spanish speaker but I know that Habanero/a is just masc/fem Spanish for ‘from Habana’ (or Havana as transliterated into English). A bit surprised that isn’t more widely known, is my inference reading above comments. Very Timesy vocabulary, COD is probably BESTOWAL.

  28. 19:41

    “Monday, Monday so good to me”. Might have been a PB if I had not had to change the battery in my wireless keyboard half way though. No problem with torc, learnt from a crossword somewhere or other. I had always thought that a HABANERA was a kind of pickle but it had to be that.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter.

  29. 32 mins, with COLORATURA my LOI, and a few beads of sweat did drop onto my keyboard as I hit enter, I will admit. Not the easiest of Mondays, with a few NHOs – LOOSEBOX and HABANERA, which I had to trust wordplay with

  30. 21 mins. Major MER at REEFER, don’t remember the discussion on here. Advert as a verb??
    As a scrabble player, if TORQ was allowed I’d use it! Used to sell copper bracelets and one of the types was a TORC.

  31. Am surprised TORC not widely known, but if you know something then of course it is easy.
    Was tempted by BLANDINGS CASTLE at 2d but only briefly. My cheating machine offered BUTTERFLY BUSHES, but I couldn’t justify that.
    HABANERA forgotten, but I think it showed up recently, and could be built from the wordplay.
    Being overly picky I think the def for ALPINE at 6d includes “in” so we have: a large tree growing “in European mountains”.

    1. Thanks, but we need the ‘growing’ too, otherwise it’s limp and lonely! Blog amended.

    2. I think Dany wears one in A Game of Thrones, so that at least was a pleasant biff for me. Dracarys!

  32. 28 mins (anything below 30 is always cheered here). Had some luck with my NHOs, LOOSEBOX and NEATHERD. But almost got a pink square with torQ instead of TORC, I knew the word but not the spelling and not sure why I went with C since I rationalised torq as being linked to rotation therefore something round. Anyways thanks to blogger and setter.

  33. I hesitated over TORC, was it a C or a K? Jumped the right way for once. My satisfaction was short lived however to discover I had carelessly written in HABANARA at 1ac. My time of 32.13 was well inside target, but ….

  34. 29:50 so off the pace and with tork for torc, which I didn’t know or couldn’t remember. Plenty of other doubtfuls to detain me, with LOOSEBOX and BARSAC high on the list, though happily with unambiguous spelling once you got the drift.

  35. Monday in its correct place.

    REEFER and LOOSEBOX were the only ones to cause me too much thought once I’d pieced together HABANERA instead of biffing HABANERO.


  36. A straightforward solve, spoiled by my entering TORK along with many others! I knew the word, but spelled as Torque, and the dictionary offers Torc as an alternative. But difficult to see how one would know that the ending is C rather than Q or K. So not very impressed with that clue. FOI HABANERA, LOI REEFER (I didn’t remember the discussion about midshipmen, so had to work it out from ‘advert’ as verb.) Otherwise a pleasant solve. Liked the unexpected NEATHERD.

  37. A rare excursion under seven minutes for me. Music background led to a couple of write-ins. No problem with TORC, which has cropped up often enough, and REEFER appeared very recently. NEAT(HERD) is a fairly frequent flier, though maybe more so in Mephistos etc. And having an equestrian daughter meant that LOOSEBOX was straightforward.

    The habanera was banned in Spain for being too lascivious, though that was before the tango came along.

  38. Went for TORQ, but as a paper solver I don’t really mind. Never knew this sense of ADVERT, assumed wrongly the link might be coming via the idea of a referral

  39. All fine apart from the erroneous scattering of vowels in COLORATURA! NHO it and so was destined to choose unwisely but seems everyone else on here knew of it!
    I’ll try again tomorrow!

  40. DNF after 55 minutes with the NHO COLORATURA and TORC missing. Other than that the rest were solved and parsed. Although LOOSEBOX for horsebox was new to me as well but at least I could construct it from WP.

  41. Reefer was the only one to hold me up. I remember reading a report of a gold torc being found in a field by a metal detectorist. It is now in the British Museum.

  42. I was pleasantly surprised at the return of the ‘easy Monday’. All done in 30
    mins which is at least half my usual leisurely time. I was held
    up a little by REFER and OUTSPREAD as the less obvious synonyms for me but greatly helped by REEFER, PEASHOOTER and STOCKBROKER BELT all being on my mind from recent puzzles. Discoveries of Anglo Saxon jewellery often include torcs and make headlines here, but I remember one mostly from Michael Morpurgo’s A Twist of Gold, an exciting and surprisingly moving book I enjoyed with my children.

  43. 15’3”
    Very lucky to get a clear run, stayed on gamely.
    Fortunate indeed! I first saw Carmen as a ballet not an opera.
    Secondly, thanks to the labels in Downing Street’s Museum of Arch. & Ant., I knew the spelling of TORC, and, thirdly, LOOSEBOXES were my place of work at one time.
    Thanks to Ulaca for interrupting the Greek idyll, and to the setter for a clear run at my best homemade ‘Witch’ so far. The week will inevitably be downhill from here, I fear.

  44. Continually amazed at the various words that solvers claim not to have heard of. Seems to be a recurring whinge most days. Just sayin’ …

  45. Another TORK here, after 45 minutes. And another completely witless puzzle which relies on obscurities for its difficulties (and ambiguous ones at that if TORC and TORQ are alternate spellings for the necklace). I knew REEFER only because it cropped up recently, BARSAC only because it is a local variety near where my cousin lives in France and I actually once purchased a few bottles, and LOOSEBOX at least had fair wordplay. I wouldn’t mind this sort of stuff if this was the only possible way to construct a cryptic puzzle (but of course it isn’t) or if there was any other redeeming aspect, like a particularly clever or humourous turn of phrase, but if there was I seem to have overlooked it.

  46. Around 40 minutes after guessing correctly how the various vowels went in “Coloratura”.
    My COD was “Peashooter”.

  47. 12.02. Could have got under 12 minutes if I could use the touch screen on my iPad faster, but I’m not complaining.

  48. Gave it an hour and only turned up 11 answers. Not surprised as a bunch of terms I didn’t know.

  49. 19.40

    So late as to be certainly unread but hey ho

    I’ve always thought I was embarrassingly illiterate but kids’ books about treasure and Jack Aubrey meant TORC and REEFER straight in

    Main hold up was sticking in BOHO thinking “what an easy one”. Took a while to notice/untangle

    Thanks everyone

    1. I hope ‘kid’s’ refers solely to the books about treasure.
      The Aubrey Maturin tales are among my favourites, I take umbrage when they are belittled.

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