Times Cryptic 28478


My solving time was off the scale at an hour and then some. I found this very hard with too many answers that eluded me for far too long and frankly too many obscurities for a single puzzle. I was not helped by three of these all  appearing in the top half of the grid hampering progress on neighbouring clues.


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Journalist in hut putting out leader (4)
{s}HACK (hut) [putting out leader]
3 Famous actress, girl reportedly in special garment? (6-4)
Sounds like [reportedly] “Taylor” (famous actress – Elizabeth) + “maid” (girl). I had the definition as a query whilst solving but have since found in Collins that ‘tailor-made’ can be a noun defined as a tailor-made garment. Vague definitions ‘famous actress’ and ‘garment’ didn’t exactly inspire my thinking as I was looking for a way into the clue.
10 Wines served with fruit mainly and fish (3,6)
REDS (wines), ALMON{d} (fruit) [mainly]. Not a fruit that came readily to mind. I spent a lot of time thinking about ‘mullet’ before giving up on the idea.
11 A lot row, ending in lake (5)
SPAT(row), {lak}E [ending]
12 Debauched king was first to embrace tot (7)
R (king) + LED (was first) containing [to embrace] ADD (tot). Chambers has ‘raddled’ as worn out and haggard-looking through debauchery.
13 English in Tonbridge? Only some wanted Eastern religion! (6)
Hidden in [only some wanted] {Engli}SH IN TO{onbridge}
15 What locations just outside Midland city do for sheep (6,9)
A vague cryptic hint precedes an equally vague straight definition of an obscure breed of animal. If I’d seen the answer out of context I’d have guessed it was a cheese.
18 Report of cricket’s unfortunate downfall? (4,7,4)
A rather pleasing cryptic definition. One of the more enjoyable moments of my solving experience today.
21 One watching Casualty in US chasing celebrity (6)
STAR (celebrity), ER (Casualty in US – hospital Emergency Room)
23 Dish of duck gentleman sent back with dry egg (7)
O (duck) + SIR (gentleman) reversed [sent back], then TT (dry – teetotal), O (egg)
26 Engineers coming in to help broadcast (5)
RE (Royal Engineers) contained by [coming in] AID (help)
27 Voting for what’s proposed brings advancement (9)
PRO (voting for), MOTION (what’s proposed)
28 Supporter of union supplied with rota, saving time (10)
FED (supplied) + LIST (rota) containing [saving] ERA (time)
29 Insect we hear in the country (4)
Sounds like [we hear] “louse” (insect)
1 Brother entertained by the divine George is a flowery type (4,6)
BRO (brother) contained [entertained] by HERBERT (the divine George). I don’t pretend that I understood this, but research suggests that ‘the divine George’ is a reference to a writer of religious poetry called George Herbert (1593-1693), although I haven’t been able to confirm that this particular epithet was ever applied to him before today. He did however write a poem called Divinity, so that may have some bearing.  The target word is a type of geranium also unknown to me.

If it turns out that I have misunderstood I apologise in advance,  but I almost despair of clues like this in a standard cryptic puzzle as the answer is obscure and the main element of wordplay even more so. And in trying to construct something from the clue whilst solving, even ‘brother’ was uncertain as it could have been BR or BRO – or possibly even B if influence from  The Guardian is taking hold.

Further research has revealed that although I had never heard of Herbert he wrote a poem called The Elixir which was set to music and appears in Hymns Ancient & Modern under the title Teach Me My God and King, which I sang many a time at school assembly. It has a rather good tune by anon, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams .

2 Encrypted hoax written by newspaperman? (5)
COD (hoax), ED (newspaperman)
4 A river with bats and sick old animal (9)
A, R (river), MAD (bats), ILL (sick), O (old). Cue Flanders and Swann, but I’m not posting a link to their most poignant ditty this time.
5 Joins a course for outdoor sporting types (5)
Two meanings, the second with reference to golf
6 Support this writer has to be rebellious? (7)
REST (support), I’VE (this writer has)
7 Mistakenly alter a top building for self-catering guests (9)
Anagram [mistakenly] of ALTER A TOP. Another stinker of a word. It’s not in Collins or Chambers, but the Oxfords have it as an alternative spelling of another word I’ve never heard of ‘aparthotel’  which is itself a contraction of ‘apartment hotel’ also unknown to me.
8 Regular   time to relax from the day job? (4)
I take this to be two meanings although the dictionaries have the second one (even = evening) as archaic, but I imagine it survives in poetry.
9 Slithery thing left a mark climbing tree (6)
EEL (slithery thing) + L (left) + A + M (mark) reversed [climbing]. Another obscurity, but perhaps not so to our friends down under?
14 Dogs you upset beginning to howl in land by manor? (10)
YE (you) reversed [upset) + H{owl} [beginning] contained by GROUNDS  (land by manor). A manor is the principle building on an estate so by definition has grounds, but it still seems an odd piece of clueing to me.
16 Lived it up — sore and tired, needing a change? (9)
Anagram [needing a change] of SORE TIRED
17 Haughty claim of fairy to dismiss mostly (9)
I’M PERI (claim of fairy), OUS{t} (dismiss} [mostly]. Collins has ‘peri’ as any beautiful fairy-like creature.
19 Street traveller, no dawdler? (7)
ST (street), RIDER (traveller). Given our setter’s liking for obscurities I’m thankful he didn’t clue this one with reference to the nickname of a character in Lord of the Rings.
20 Show contempt for Greek island parties? (6)
DIS (show contempt for), COS (Greek island)
22 Drive back from dance, parking inside (5)
P (parking) inside REEL (dance)
24 A huge fellow with no name turned up in forest (5)
A + GIA{n}T (huge fellow) [with no name – n] reversed [turned up]. I knew this Russian forest.
25 Future source of beef, possibly a bit of shank? (4)
Two meanings, young cattle and part of the leg

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28478”

  1. 45:53
    DNK TAILOR-MADE was a noun, APARTOTEL, MALLEE. NHO HERB ROBERT, but with BRO I guessed it was HERBBRO, and thought of George Herbert. Who was A divine, a priest of the C of E (I didn’t know that; just looked him up now). DNK BORDER LEICESTER, but I guessed from checkers. I also guessed RAIN STOPPED GAME, which I finally revised when I got APARTOTEL, and then was able to get GREYHOUNDS. We’ve had TAIGA before; as I recall it provoked some discussion, with complaints about obscurity. My LOI was LAOS, which took me an alphabet trawl and a half; it’s two syllables in my pronunciation. Glad to have finished, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

    1. I was actively a member of the C of E whilst growing up and am still so, at least in name, but I never heard of ‘Divine’ as a priest. I have since found it, though at least one dictionary says it’s archaic and others say it’s a priest who specialises in religious study. Still more obscurity in my view, but perhaps our setter has an intimate knowledge of all this stuff and assumes that everyone else has too!

      1. I didn’t think, or mean to imply, that ‘divine’ was specifically Anglican; I just thought it meant ‘cleric’ (or Christian cleric), and am not surprised to find that ODE (at least) marks it ‘archaic’. In any case, ‘the divine George’ is pretty awful, and wouldn’t have been improved much if it had been ‘the priest George’.

      2. While I struggled with some of the puzzle I saw this one right away. It seems to come down (when does it not?) to what you just happen to know. I’ve quite often seen a clergyman referred to as a “divine” in 19th C literature and was familiar with Herbert’s poems from my schooldays. And I think the plant may make an appearance in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

        1. Well done, Olivia, and I’m sure I’ve had many a clue work out for me that way too, but three obscurities in a single clue is going it some!

        2. “Although Grigson traces the English name “herbe Robert” back to the thirteenth century, from the medieval Latin Herba Sancti Ruperti, he speculates that the red color and unpleasant smell of herb Robert linked the plant not to a saint but to the sinister hobgoblin of Germanic folklore, Knecht Ruprecht, and his mischievous English counterpart, the household sprite Robin Goodfellow, who is often described in sixteenth-century sources as red and hairy and who carries a candlestick that may have been identified with the “beak” of the cranesbill. However, Robin Goodfellow does not figure in English sources before the Renaissance, and I haven’t found any medieval evidence connecting the sprite with the plant.”
          Where have you been, Olivia? Haven’t seen you here for some time.

  2. A 59 minute deserved DNF. In the end only failed on SPATE, for which I had a close but not close enough “spare”. NHO the ‘flowery type’ or the ‘divine George’ at 1d but managed to get the right answer thanks to crossers. I agree the portmanteau APARTOTEL is a very ordinary word. I spent a long time on LAOS at the end, bunging it it in anyway, although like Kevin I thought it was (or could be) pronounced as two separate syllables.

    At least MALLEE and BORDER LEICESTER are familiar in this part of the world.

    1. Not sure who you’re agreeing with about APARTOTEL being a very ordinary word, BR? Both Kevin and I said we never heard of it. BTW, congrats on your appointment as a new QC blogger, and welcome to the team!

      1. Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. By “very ordinary” I mean “very bad” or, as you put it, a “stinker of a word” and if anything, that’s being kind. Let’s just hope it dies a natural. Thanks for the welcome to the blogging team.

        1. This is a usage you become familiar with if you’re a fan of any sport which involves Australians. If an Aussie tells you a performance or action was “pretty ordinary, mate”, they’re usually seething quietly about something…

          1. Many thanks for explaining the context, Tim. You may know that the only sport I follow to any degree is tennis, and not even that quite so much these days so I don’t come across much by way of Aussie dialect.

            BR, I wasn’t aware of your location until a week ago when I saw your email address re joining the blogging team. Prior to that I’d always imagined you might be just up the road from me in Bletchley or at least have some connection with the place. But perhaps you do?

            1. Er, sadly not Jack. About the only tenuous connection I can claim (and that’s overstating the case) is that I worked for a couple of years in Cheltenham, the location of Bletchley Park’s modern day incarnation, GCHQ. You never know though, as a temporary Cheltenham resident, they might have a file on me. That’s what I like to think anyway.

  3. Glad it wasn’t just me, then. Another who pronounces last-one-in LAOS with 2 syllables, same as the locals (though they don’t pronounce an S on the end). Had heard of Border Leicester; but not George Divine or Herb Robert. Brother can also be FRA, from memory? From Italian monks Fratelli? Raddled as debauched unknown, only red-marked. Aparthotel with the H vaguely known, so a small step. Mallee known, but as scrub not a tree – one of the later ones in as I had the clue backwards, looking for a 6-letter slithery thing. Though I see it is a tree according to the dictionaries. Tailor-made 2LOI. Mostly enjoyed, but a few a little loose.
    And in honour of my terrible attempt to parse the obvious GREYHOUNDS as (YOU* + H) in GROUNDS I’ve uploaded Toto the greyhound in his standard pose.

  4. I got NHO HERB ROBERT after briefly flashing on HERB ALPERT, ha. I knew that the poet was a priest, so was starting from that. APARTOTEL was POI, but LOI was TAILOR-MADE, which seems so obvious now. MALLEE is straight out of Mephisto.

  5. DNF defeated by the crossing nho HERB ROBERT and the nho BORDER LEICESTER (I got the Leicester bit of course). I did OK on the nho MALLE and the nho APARTHOTEL since the wordplay didn’t leave anything else. I got BRO in the middle of 1D and the flower bit meant it was going to start HERB but I had no clue about the divine Henry bit. I truly think this clue was unfair (or maybe just sour grapes) but the answer is obscure. which is fine, but then the wordplay needs to not be obscure, or without specialist knowledge, neither route to the answer will get you there.

    I’m English but I live in California, but do English people in England really pronounce LAOS as “louse”. It’s not how Californians pronounce it and certainly not how Laotians pronounce it. Luckily, four letter countries blank-a-blank-s immediately led me to LAOS and it was close enough to “louse” not to hold me up.

    Until I got stuck at the end, though, I enjoyed this.

  6. DNF. Like Bletchleyreject I had SPARE which if it doesn’t work comes very close. If I have something “to spare” then I have a lot of it and to spar is to row. I’m not sure the definition quite works but it’s damned close!

  7. Many NHOs made this a tough morning, even though 1A went straight in. Towel thrown with many absent in the top half.

    What is the context for M=mark in MALLEE? I was trying Spot, Blot etc in there.

    I was trying to be too clever trying to use DEMESNE for “land by manor”

    I read EVEN (time to relax from the day job?) as EVENT (day job) missing (to relax) the final T (time).


    1. m = mark as a monetary unit though DM was specifically the German currency. It’s also used as a measure of weight apparently but that might be too obscure even for this puzzle!

  8. Taiga, Taiga, burning bright,
    In the forests of the night …

    25 mins pre-brekker. Irritating. Not my cup of tea.
    Thanks setter and J.

  9. 52 minutes, with LOI TAILOR-MADE. Should have gone for a Burton. I’d put in APARTOTEL with a shrug, having played with the letters far too long. COD to RAIN STOPPED PLAY, with BORDER LEICESTER the best of the obscurities. I knew them all though apart from the non-hotel, so it was a struggle I quite enjoyed. Thank you Jack and setter

  10. I did all the hard work – constructed the nho APARTOTEL, the nho MALLEE, the nho HERB ROBERT and the nho BORDER LEICESTER. Then blew it in the NE having felt happy at getting TAILOR-MADE, which I entered as MAID, which made EVEN impossible.

    I agree with everyone else that there’s too much uncertainty in this one puzzle. Welcome to the new bloggers also (I did the QC blog for some months, a long time ago now).

    Thanks jack (put it down to experience) and thanks setter.

  11. I’m glad some others here had a few issues.

    DNF beaten by many that have puzzled others above including TAILOR-MADE, MALLEE, HERB ROBERT, but was ok with APARTOTEL and BORDER LEICESTER (but more by luck than judgement).

    Thanks, I guess, to setter and thanks for the blog Jackkt

  12. Sorry to trouble solvers with a technical problem, but I know there are some techies on here who might be able to help. I use the Times website for the crossword, but am currently unable to input any answers on the grids. The grids load without problem and it is possible to highlight particular clues – entering answers, however, is not possible.
    Thanks in advance, Dave Staniforth.

    1. Not particularly techie myself, David, but I doubt it’s a general problem or others would be complaining too. If anyone can offer advice I imagine they’ll need to know how you are accessing the puzzle (via the newspaper or the Crossword Club?) and details of the device you’re using, app or web browser etc.

      1. Thank you, jackkt,

        I access the puzzle via the online newspaper, using a Compaq CQ58 running Windows 8 – it’s old technology now but generally reliable. I’ve never had any problems before.


    2. I periodically get similar behaviour, as I think do others here. Cleaning anything you can for the browser, such as history and cookies, tends to fix it.

    3. I regularly get this on my iPhone. The solution is to clear your cache of data from the Times website. You don’t have to clear all your browser data and cookies, which can create a lot of extra work elsewhere!

    4. Clear your cache, or history. Failing that, uninstall then reinstall the app.

      For me it was placing my text in random parts of the grid.

  13. “Fit as a MALLEE bull” is an Aussie phrase, meaning fit and strong.
    NHO APARTOTEL. The only other similar portmanteau word I knew, apart from motel, was botel.
    Didn’t really enjoy that especially as I had to uses aids for GREYHOUNDS.

  14. Shamelessly used aids for HERB ROBERT which is way beyond the pale as a double obscurity. Too many NHOs for one puzzle, and not things I feel have enhanced my quality of life by discovering. Harumph.

  15. Hadn’t heard of mallee. No problems otherwise… I have stayed in an apartotel. Not by my own choice I might add.
    1dn with its divine Herbert, bit of a car-crash of a clue. But had heard of herb robert..

  16. Welcome to me world! Lots of grumbling about too many obscurities today, but that is every day for me! Virtually every composer, religious person, bird, musical notation and French word is obscure to me! I thought today was fair because the unknowns were all guessable once you had most of the crossers in. I got lucky with apartotel because I stayed in one a few years ago when working in the city we used to call Kiev.
    Technically a DNF because, like others I entered spare instead of spate. Otherwise done in about 41 mins, and I’m giving myself the win because I think spare works.

  17. 13:32, so when I submitted I was a bit surprised to be so far up the leaderboard, but in retrospect, there’s a lot to unpack here if you’re not a solver of a certain vintage. Various holdups – I’ve stayed in an APARTHOTEL several times, but they’ve always had an H in my experience; MALLEE entirely from trusting the wordplay (there was a famous literary hoax involving a made-up Australian poet called Ern Malley, but I didn’t let that distract me), likewise HERB ROBERT; and alphabet trawls to come up with LAOS and SPATE, though in recent quizzing escapades, I’ve heard at least one apparently knowledgeable person pronounce it LAO.

  18. APARTOTEL one I had to use reveal for, and it was a word that I’d never heard of and wasn’t apparently in the dictionaries. I wonder how long it will be before it finds its way into them. MALLEE a word I’d heard of but I couldn’t have told you that it was a tree. TAILOR-MADE was very slow to come. BORDER LEICESTER I got only when I gave up trying to find the first word and looked at a list of sheep. HERB ROBERT dredged up from somewhere., but the divinity of George was a mystery. So it was very difficult, especially for a Tuesday. 67 minutes, although not really because of the aids and the reveal.

    1. Wil, APARTOTEL (no H) is in all my 3 versions of Oxford dictionary COED (2007) , ODE and SOED as an alternative spelling of APARTHOTEL. Collins has it with H but not without, and Chambers has no truck with either spelling unless it’s in the paid-for app which I don’t have access to.

      So it’s justifiable and the anagram wordplay in combination with checkers makes it gettable, but I still think its a stinker when viewed in the context of all the other obscurities.

      1. Oh for the old days when the crossword was usually done on the commute à la Reggie Perrin. No manfully struggling on to the 745 from Purley weighed down by numerous tomes. There was no need then, because the cryptic was clear and the parsing specific, with no ambiguity. You then had to trust that the word that emerged was the correct answer. The golden age. . .

        . . .Those days when you had to wait until the next day to see if you had it correct. There’s still something to be said for that I think? I’m sure it doesn’t help that setters can now be almost instantaneously held to account for their ‘errors’, or that those errors suddenly take on the appearance of heinous crimes.

        But they really don’t help themselves by regularly resorting to dictionary obscurities and wind-ups. The place for those is the Mephisto or the Monthly Special, not the daily Cryptic.

      2. I have the Chambers app on my phone and I paid a small sum for it some years ago, so no doubt it’s the paid-for app to which you refer. It doesn’t have apartotel.

  19. 52 mins
    Bit of a strange one with loads of obscurities. Got through it, but not a fan. That said, nice to see a little Tarkus running down the grid at 4dn 🙂
    Thanks, jack.

  20. A number of obscurities made this rather tricky for me too. HACK went in first, and RED SALMON made it likely that 1d began with HERB, so I posited that it would be HERB RO____, then when BORDER LEICESTER appeared, ROBERT seemed likely, but as I didn’t know the plant and had no idea who HERBERT was, I had no qualms in googling Herbert AND divine, which brought me the priestly poet, so I shrugged and moved on. I also came up with the NHO APARTOTEL from the anagrist and checked it only to find that the commonest spelling has an H in it. I derived MALLEE from wordplay too, but it seemed so unlikely that I checked it as well. Apart from that, I made reasonable progress with the innocuous RESTIVE finally opening up the NE so I could finish with TAILOR MADE and EVEN. A bit of a slog though. 30:47. Thanks setter and Jack.

  21. Very pleased to have cracked this in 37 mins with no help from any friends. MER about ALMOND being clued as a fruit, poor choice IMHO. Vaguely heard of several of the obscurities, HERB ROBERT being one, and as mentioned above, the clueing mostly helped to identify them. LOI CALF, quite a good clue when I twigged.

  22. I must confess I enjoyed this puzzle, with some reservations, unlike most who have previously commented. I suspect that is largely because, even though there were some names I’d not come across before (MALLEE, BORDER LEICESTER) I didn’t find it particularly difficult to guess them from the wordplay and crossers. I knew Herbert and TAIGA, and I’d come across the accommodation before, but always seen it spelt ‘Aparthotel’. Still, it was my LOI and it couldn’t really have been anything else. I was pretty pleased with a time of 12:51 for a fairly teasing puzzle, especially so after coming here and seeing that others had struggled a bit today. Still, on another day I might have been complaining, too!

    Thanks, Jack, and Setter.

  23. Needed two goes, but got there in the end. Managed to figure out the unfamiliar HERB ROBERT from the wordplay as I know of George Herbert as a hymn-writer. Had to trust that MALLEE and RADDLED were right, that APARTOTEL can be spelled without an H, and that a BORDER LEICESTER is a breed of sheep. A MER over LAOS, but I’m happy to allow some leeway with homophones. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Shinto
    LOI Even
    COD Rain stopped play

  24. DNF. Exceeded self-imposed 40 minute deadline. My feelings much the same as Jack’s though I liked BORDER LEICESTER and got HERB ROBERT easily enough, despite having never heard of it.

    Having MEETS instead of LINKS at 5 down didn’t help.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  25. Well thank goodness. I thought it must be my (slow) emergence from this wretched Covid thing that had my brain in a complete gerfuddle. Most comments have already been made. But I had 11ac, 29ac, 8d and 9d all unentered after a ridiculously long time, and gave up. Unenjoyable.

    I think Jack that you have summed it all up perfectly in your blog. Thank you for that.

  26. My worst DNF in a while with 7 missing when I gave up, largely in the top-left. Thanks jackkt very much for the blog. Many of the ones I missed seem fair if tough but I agree that HERB ROBERT was a bit of a stretch – although given the amount I have growing in my garden I suspect I could have biffed it if I had the checkers.

  27. 18:45. Slowed down by the obscurities. Guessed BORDER LEICESTER and then remembered HERB ROBERT although I had no idea what the ‘divine’ epithet for George was about. I have stayed in a couple of APARTHOTELs, so at least I knew that one. I didn’t enjoy this much but I did like IMPERIOUS. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  28. DNF; as others missed SPATe at 11a, biffed SPARE, and definite MER at dodgy homophone LAOS – louse. But Herb Robert clue was just rubbish. I wasted time trying to remember the MP “Gorgeous George” Galloway rather than divine George. But to expect us to work out from Divine George that we want a clerical poet called HERBERT who died in 1633 is a step, no, a route-march, too far IMHO.

  29. My garden would be full of Herb Robert if I let it grow, it is very common in the English countrtyside, but sadly I’ve never heard of George so only half points for that one. My Oxford dictionary is kinder to the raddled, it doesn’t require their fatigue to be due to debauchery. Mallee and Border Leicester were unknown to me but guessable but I would also hope this the last time we encounter apartotel! Thanks for the blog.

  30. You’ve no idea what a comfort it is to us beginners and slowcoaches to see one of the bloggers post a DNF! That’s me most days. Same NHO as many others and also had Spare for Spate. Onwards and upwards!

  31. Finished without aids over several sessions, but I should have been timed with a calendar rather than a clock and I confess to several unknowns that I deduced from the wordplay. Crosswords are meant to be pleasurable and this one wasn’t.

  32. Yup – too many obscurities for me. Had about 8 left after 30 mins but could not see a way into any of them.

    Guessed the Leicester part based on the L and T, but no idea about the rest. The plants were complete unknowns – guessed the first word of 1d might be HERB but with just the Rs for the second word, it could have been many things – no idea about the divine George. As for 9d – no chance with this one – if the answer is likely to be unknown, I’d expect the parsing to be a shade clearer.

    Didn’t work out what was going on with 3a – no problems with APARTOTEL though, apart from the spelling – should be with the silent H as is HOTEL. Guess that’s an import from abroad?

    On the whole, only 75% enjoyed – the rest was a bit of a grind with added shrugging.

  33. I worked out Border Leicester from the checkers, but had never heard of the breed of sheep. I might have seen it more quickly if it had been “What Oadby and Wigston do for sheep”. Mallee was also unknown to me; one of my rare successes at trusting the wordplay enough to enter a completely unknown word.

    LOI SPATE required an alphabet trawl, and could just as well have been SPARE. Scraped in under an hour with 59.33.

    I have stayed in accommodation described as Aparthotels, but have never seen it spelt without the h.

    The Wikipedia entry for Anglicanism, under the heading “divines” has “see also John Donne, George Herbert and William Laud.”

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  34. Is a SPATE of unusual words
    EVEN worse than multiple birds?
    ROBERT my last one
    The same name as my son
    if you knew all the vocab, you’re nerds

  35. But I like the obscurities! Normally there’s some half-remembered name — like George Herbert here — and then you chisel away till you get the answer. Then you remember for next time. Or not. Funnily enough it was CALF that held me up longest at the end. An odd puzzle, but none the worse for it. Thanks. 32’15”

  36. DNF. Struggled away for about 70 minutes, and then threw in the towel with TAILOR-MADE and LAOS unsolved. I think it’s good to have a stinker once in a while, but if they were like this too regularly I’d spend my leisure time elsewhere. Thanks s & b

  37. Toughest for some time, and like many others was a DNF. I was defeated by HERB ROBERT having got the first bit but not the name of my eldest son! Also missed out on MALLEE and FEDERALIST, the latter not being helped by biffing LAMB for 25dn and not returning to it. 75 minutes not completely wasted however as I got some satisfaction out of it in spite of the obscurities.

  38. If I bothered to set myself a time limit, it would have been a DNF on this one – it’s only my dogged refusal to be beaten that gets me through. Totally agree with Jackkt on the unfairness of obscure clueing of obscure terms – as it happens, HERB ROBERT is a rampant weed in my garden, and pretty as it is, requires constant culling. But NHO APARTOTEL (which nearly went in as APARTOLET, entirely plausible!), BORDER LEICESTER (from the cryptic, but clearly more familiar to our antipodean solvers), MALLEE, ditto, but parseable. I solved this in two sessions – the second following a panto outing with the grandchildren, which cleared the resentment engendered during the first session. The 2 clues that remained for this were LAOS, which involved a tedious double alphabet trawl, and TAILOR-MADE, the LOI, which finally yielded when I realised the possibility of -A-E being MAID/MADE. There must be at least 500 famous actresses, for goodness sake! Glad to come here and find myself in like-minded company…

    1. >There must be at least 500 famous actresses, for goodness sake!

      It would have to be a dead one to get into the puzzle, which narrows the field somewhat. It still took me a while to hit on the right one though.

  39. Well, after I looked up herb Robert, I gave up and came here. Glad I did! Thanks, Jack.

    Who among us pronounces Laos to rhyme with louse?

    1. Hate to say it, but… my Oxford Dictionary app! It gives one possible pronunciation of Laos the same as that of louse.

  40. 39.20. Pretty tough I thought with a few unknowns- mallee ( which I checked) herb robert which I didn’t but it made more sense than mallee and Border Leicester.
    Lots of entertaining trickery, especially taylor made when I was looking for the full name of a famous actress.

    Very enjoyable so thanks setter and blogger.

  41. Red card for partotel-not in Chambers, One Look and anagrinbd scramblers dont want to know-looks like a portmanteau word thats been drunkely shortened-or a leftover from the Afrikaans

  42. Completely wrong, but I quickly got Herb Robert as first one in :
    Divine = HERO brother = BR and George = BERT (king George, Bertie)
    Strange how things can work out? Otherwise tough and tougher as already noted

  43. Heavens- you can tell how long it took by the fact it’s now Wednesday!! A real tussle with all the problems already mentioned. Very satisfying to have finished but goodness me that was tough. I’m surprised the SNITCH wasn’t higher! Thanks blogger and setter.

  44. Late to the party on this one, but I’m happy to spring to its defence.

    Whilst MALLEE is a commonplace word in Australia, the other obscurities (RADDLED, BORDER LEICESTER, APARTOTEL and HERB ROBERT) were all unknown to me. But uncovering unknown words via the wordplay and the crossers is what makes these things satisfying IMHO. And ultimately I was able to enter each of them with confidence.

    The excellent RAIN STOPPED PLAY is up there with “still your putt” in terms of disheartening three-word phrases. Tough clue for our American friends.

    18:23 for an enjoyable solve. Thanks setter and Jack.

  45. Thanks for the blog. Banged my head against this one for some time but didn’t have a chance of completing.

  46. Bloggers have said it all! I did not finish: no problem with MALLEE (as an Ozzie now) or most of the rest, but agree that HERB ROBERT is a bit ‘beyond the pale’, along with the archaic RADDLED and the too-new (to me) APARTOTEL – what a horrible word. Not unhappy with the rest of the puzzle, and particularly liked RAIN STOPPED PLAY. ( Coincidentally had just made up a similar DD clue for CALF: “A little lower on the leg”.)

    1. Hello from W.A.
      I’m not great at these – got pretty good at the one in the West Australian and decided to upgrade to the famous Times – that put me in my place! I print them and have a bash at Nanna Nap time, get as far as I can, look up a couple if necessary.
      Today it was definitely necessary but made good progress after that. Hooray for mallee, was also grateful for woomera the other day.

  47. Used aids for HERB ROBERT and the BORDER part of BORDER LEICESTER. No complaint about the latter. The double NHO in the former was a problem as, unlike others, I don’t have a son named Robert. Although, to be fair, maybe the fact that my own name is Robert could have given me the necessary hint.

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