Times Quick Cryptic No 1212 by Mara


First off, thank you to (almost) everybody for the kind comments about last week’s blog. I hoped it might offer some inspiration to solvers who were struggling to up their game, and it seems it did.

Now, consensus was, last week’s puzzle was on the easier side. If we’d had another easier one this week, I might have forgone the full write-up. But, as it turned out, while much of the puzzle was rather straightforward, the top few clues were a bear of a solve. In fact, I think I might learn a lot from writing up my efforts, so here we go again!

Solutions first, then discussion.



1 Letters stolen by bitter evangelist (7)
APOSTLE – POST (“letters”) in (“stolen by”) ALE (“bitter”)
‘Bitter’ is a beer with a high hop content. Nice deceptive wordplay here: I was looking for a hidden word like TEREVAN or VANGELI.
5 Wrong, a girl (5)
AMISS – A (“a”) + MISS (“girl”)
8 Bloomer getting daughter into other dodgy card game (3-3,5)
RED-HOT POKER – putting (“getting”) D (“daughter”) in (“into”) OTHER (“other”) anagrammed (“dodgy”) + POKER (“card game”)
A beautiful flower, also known as ‘kniphofia’ or ‘torch lily’.
10 A little peach, occasionally sweet (4)
CHOC – letters in (“a little”) PEACH OCCASIONALLY (“peach occasionally”)
Also deceptive, since ‘occasionally’ often denotes taking every other letter of a word. Fortunately, none of the neighboring words had the right number of letters.
11 Changing, triangle shatters (8)
ALTERING – TRIANGLE (“triangle”) anagrammed (“shatters”)
Deceptive yet again, since ‘changing’ and ‘shatters’ could both have been either the definition or the anagram indicator.
12 Ancient city, portion in South Africa (6)
SPARTA – PART (“portion”) inside (“in”) S.A. (“South Africa”)
14 Loathing crimson fez, perhaps? (6)
HATRED – RED (“crimson”) + HAT (“fez, perhaps”)
Maybe the question mark is what’s supposed to indicate that we should read this like an entry in a catalogue: “Hat, red”?
16 Cook retains right sieve (8)
STRAINER – anagram (“cook”) RETAINS (“retains”) + R (“right”)
I guess. ‘To cook’ can mean to spoil or ruin; ‘to stain’ can mean to taint or discolor. Still, I wonder if I’m missing something here. I had this one all wrong!
18 Card carrying first of nine spots (4)
ACNE – ACE (“card”) outside (“carrying”) first letter of (“first of”) NINE (“nine”)
20 Still owed? / Wonderful! (11)
OUTSTANDING – double definition, the first referring to a bill
22 Long twelve months before end of recession (5)
YEARN – YEAR (“twelve months”) + (“before”) last letter of (“end of”) RECESSION (“recession”)
23 The last reshuffles [in] secrecy (7)
STEALTH – THE LAST (“the last”) anagrammed (“reshuffles”)

2 Bold leader in historic Scottish city (5)
PERTH – PERT (“bold”) + first letter of (“leader in”) HISTORIC (“historic”)
3 Motorbike attachment [that’s] hurried, is the wrong way up (7)
SIDECAR – RACED (“hurried”) + IS (“is”), reversed (“the wrong way up”)
4 Search briefly [for] toilet (3)
LOO – LOOK (“search”) without the last letter (“briefly”)
6 God a degree above king and queen! (5)
MAKER – M.A. (“a degree”) + (“above”) K (“king”) + (“and”) ER (“queen”)
7 Odd way to introduce series (7)
STRANGE – ST. (“way”) + (“to introduce”) RANGE (“series”)
I was thrown here because ‘introduce’ often means to put one word inside another.
9 Person throwing / jug (7)
PITCHER – double definition
11 Versus a profit, loss finally beginning to tell (7)
AGAINST – A (“a”) + GAIN (“profit”) + LOSS (“loss”) reduced to its last letter (“finally”) + first letter of (“beginning to”) TELL (“tell”)
This one went in without reading more than the first word of the clue.
13 Road hazard, this half visible in Dorset town (7)
POTHOLE – THIS (“this”) reduced by half (“half visible”), inside (“in”) POOLE (“Dorset town”)
Similarly, I got this one entirely from the checkers.
15 A royal primarily in woven satin, Russian empress (7)
TSARINA – A (“a”) + ROYAL (“royal”) reduced to its first letter (“primarily”) inside (“in”) anagrammed (“woven”) SATIN (“satin”)
And this one.
17 Stage player originally cast to appear in upcoming schedule (5)
ACTOR – first letter of (“originally”) CAST (“cast”) in (“to appear in”) reversed (“upcoming”) ROTA (“schedule”)
And this one. (Fortunately, since ROTA is one of those words I never remember!)
19 Darkness close, end of daylight (5)
NIGHT – NIGH (“close”) + last letter of (“end of”) DAYLIGHT (“daylight”)
And this one.
21 Catch tail-enders in Australian side, distraught (3)
NET – last letters of (“tail-enders in”) AUSTRALIAN SIDE DISTRAUGHT (“Australian side distraught”)
But this one I got from the wordplay.


Like last time, I present a play-by-play of my solve, which gets particularly interesting towards the end. As you will see, there are several clues which kept stumping me until the very end. But there were also long stretches of clues that were very gettable, allowing me to solve most of the grid very quickly. Eventually I pinned the stubborn clues down.

I’m also going to weave in some discussion of the techniques I use when solving. Intermediate and advanced solvers will no doubt find this boring, but I think it’s worth emphasizing the basics.

  1. Clue: 1 Across. When I solve, I’m always looking for indicator words that suggest wordplay. So here when I see ‘stolen by’, my mind turns to hidden words. But nothing seems to work: TEREVAN? VANGELI? These sound quasi-Biblical, but I’m not convinced. I put a question mark in the margin and move on. Some might suggest to look at 2, 3, and 4 Down to try to get a foothold in the upper-left corner. But why? I’ll get to those Down clues eventually, and by the time I get there I may have gotten some crossing answers. Take the approach that works for you, but here I was happy to move on. Not solved.
  2. Clue: 5 Across. With very few words, this is either a double definition or a definition with very slight wordplay. So, this could be a word meaning ‘wrong’ (SIN?) + A, yielding a girl’s name; or A + a synonym for ‘girl’ yielding a word meaning ‘wrong’. I write these possibilities in the margin and move on. Not solved.
  3. Clue: 8 Across. By contrast, this clue has a lot of words, which usually means I can get a foothold somewhere. Do I see any indicators? ‘Daughter’ is likely a D, so ‘getting daughter into’ means I’ll put a D inside something. I also see ‘dodgy’ which is probably an anagram indicator so I write down REHTO for ‘other’. I feel convinced that the whole answer is some sort of card game but I have no more ideas so I move on. Not solved.
  4. Clue: 10 Across. Two potential indicators leap out here: ‘a little’ could mean a hidden word, and ‘occasionally’ could mean every other letter. But ‘occasionally sweet’ would yield S_E_T, which isn’t enough letters for the answer. So I look for a hidden word and find CHOC. Never heard of it but it sounds like it could be an abbreviation for ‘chocolate’, which is a ‘sweet’ (although we don’t use the singular in the US). I don’t put it in, most likely because I haven’t solved anything yet and I don’t feel confident. I write it in the margin. Not solved.
  5. Clue: 11 Across. ‘Triangle’ has eight letters, but either ‘changing’ or ‘shatters’ could indicate an anagram. I write ELGNAIRT on my paper and start to look for nice combinations, but nothing’s coming to mind! (I see now that I should have tried “-ING”, in case ‘changing’ was the definition, which it was.) Now I feel like I’m doing poorly, but in retrospect I really haven’t spent very much time at all, maybe a minute or less for these five clues. Keep moving! Not solved.
  6. Clue: 12 Across. My eyes lock on ‘South Africa’, which is usually SA, unless we’re taking about a city in South Africa. So from ‘in South Africa’ I know I need a word meaning ‘portion’ inside S _ _ _ _ A, and ‘Sparta’ comes to mind before I even check the definition. My first definite answer! Solved.
  7. Clue: 14 Across. ‘Loathing’ looks very definition-y, and ‘crimson’ makes me think RED. And ‘fez’ is a HAT. REDHAT? That’s not a thing. But HAT makes me think of ‘hate’, and loathing could be HATING, except that doesn’t make sense with the wordplay. Then HATRED pops to mind and I think, “Oh, silly Jeremy.”, before realizing I don’t quite get how the clue works, since usually words come in order unless otherwise indicated. So maybe it’s not my fault? Solved.
  8. Clue: 18 Across. [I accidentally skipped 16 Across.] My eyes lock on the indicator ‘first of’ which will almost always mean the first letter of the next word. So ‘first of nine’ gives N, and a word meaning ‘card’ is supposed to be “carrying” N to give ‘spots’. Rather stupidly, I’m trying ONNE, TWNO, THRNEE, TENN, before realizing I’m on the wrong track. I turn back to the definition for inspiration: a word meaning ‘spots’, four letters, one of them N. Oh, ACNE, which leaves ACE. That’s right, ONE isn’t a card! But that’s three correct answers in a row, and now I’m feeling more on my game. Solved.
  9. Clue: 20 Across. None of these words suggest wordplay, so this is probably a double definition. A longish word meaning ‘wonderful’? OUTSTANDING comes to mind immediately, and it makes sense with the other definition. Solved.
  10. Clue: 22 Across. This looks gettable. ‘Before end of recession’ tells me immediately that the last letter is N, and ‘twelve months’ is YEAR, and YEARN is the answer. When you see a clue chock full of easy indicators, don’t hesitate! These are the gimmes! Five in a row, and now I’m on a roll. Solved.
  11. Clue: 16 Across. Back to the missed clue. Immediately looking for the wordplay indicators, I see ‘retains’, which indicates containment, and I know ‘right’ indicates R. So I’m looking for a word meaning ‘sieve’ with an R in it, and I can’t help come up with STRAINER immediately. But this leaves ‘stainer’ = ‘cook’, and I still don’t like this or get it and I spent like 10 minutes Googling while writing up the blog! But, it has to be right. Solved. [I realized only after proofreading the blog what the actual wordplay is!]
  12. Clue: 23 Across. ‘Reshuffles’ grabs my eye, which has got to be an anagram indicator, and ‘the last’ is the right number of letters. I write TSALEHT and I have the answer before I finish writing. A word about anagram strategy: Some people swear by writing the letters in a circle. I did this for many years, too, and it definitely helps, though it also takes up quite a bit of space on the page. In the end I was spending more time trying to get the ends of my circle to match up than working on the anagram. Writing the letters in reverse was a big help for me; sometimes after writing only one or two letters the answer is apparent to me. Do the method that works best for you: If you do circles and you’re still not getting your anagrams, try writing the letters in reverse and see what happens, and vice versa, of course. Solved.
  13. Clue: 2 Down. It’s apparent to me now that this could have been B inside a word meaning ‘historic’. Thankfully it wasn’t, because I saw ‘leader in historic’ and immediately wrote down H. But now I’m a little stuck because a lot of words mean ‘bold’ and I don’t know any Scottish cities off the top of my head. However, CHOC has a crossing H so now I’m pretty sure that CHOC is right for 10 Across. Not solved.
  14. Clue: 3 Down. ‘Motorbike attachment’ surely looks like a definition. And ‘wrong way up’ in a Down clue certainly indicates a reversal. I toy with some ideas now. If ‘is’ is reversed, then maybe the answer starts with SI. And I have crossing letters at the bottom C_R, so maybe hurried is RACED? Unbelievably, this is all I needed for the answer, and yet I gave up and left the answer blank! Why? Because I never wrote down my guesses. DECAR just looked wrong and the idea of starting a word with SI seemed questionable. The moral of the story is: Write your guesses down and see what they yield! Don’t keep letter gibberish in your head! Not solved.
  15. Clue: 4 Down. Three letter answer and ‘toilet’. Is it LOO? Yes. Solved.
  16. Clue: 6 Down. I see words like ‘above’, so we have bits and pieces to put together. ‘King’ could be R or GR but is usually K, and ‘queen’ is usually ER, so we have _ _ KER. And on top we have a degree… aha! BAKER must be it. I guess bakers are gods in a way… wait a sec, no, it’s MAKER. (Yes, this was actually my thought process.) Solved.
  17. Clue: 5 Across. At this point I diverge from the Down clues. Why? Well, I remember that 5 Across was pretty simple wordplay, and now I have a helpful M right in the middle. So it must be AM _ _ _. AMAID? AMARA? Self-reference?! For some reason I’m still thinking we’re going to have some biblical word for ‘sin’ as the answer. Fortunately the next clue, 7 Down, will give me another checker if I solve it, so I turn there. Not solved.
  18. Clue: 7 Down. I only have the last letter, E, so I don’t feel confident. ‘Introduce’ suggests putting a word inside another, and maybe ‘way’ in ROUTE? ROUTINE? But that doesn’t mean ‘odd’, and IN doesn’t mean ‘series’, I don’t think, though one never knows with cricket. I move on and my hopes of knocking out 5 Across are set aside for now. Not solved.
  19. Clue: 10 Across. At this point, I guess I got a little frustrated, and decided I’d just put in CHOC and stop the rot. Solved.
  20. Clue: 2 Down. What does that give me for 2 Down? ‘Bold’ makes me think of HEAT… HEATH? That’s a thing, right? Some sort of field, but it could certainly be the name of a Scottish city. I write it in the margin. Not solved.
  21. Clue: 8 Across. My eyes flit over to this long one. I’m still thinking A as the first letter from a possible HEATH from 2 Down, and the answer ends with K _ R. ACE? POKER? ACE-LOW POKER? That could be a thing. It doesn’t have a D in it, though. Hmm. I write it in anyway. (Egads!) I’m getting impatient. Guess hazarded.
  22. Clue: 1 Across. Back to 1 Across. Now I have the L, so even though I don’t have the answer I know it’s definitely not a hidden word. This patch of clues is stubborn! Not solved.
  23. Clue: 9 Down. “Enough!”, I scream! Enough of this bouncing around! Let me at least finish up the Down clues! I resolve to finish going through the clues and return to the upper half of the puzzle when my head’s more clear. None of the words in 9 Down suggest wordplay, so this is a double definition and the answer easy. Solved.
  24. Clue: 11 Down. I have _ _ A _ N _ T, and I see ‘versus’, and before I can even think I write in AGAINST. My resolve is strong and I don’t even pause to look at the rest of the clue. I’m seeing red and ready to slam in the rest of the puzzle. Solved.
  25. Clue: 13 Down. I have P _ T _ O _ E, I see ‘road hazard’, I throw in POTHOLE. Solved.
  26. Clue: 15 Down. I have T _ A _ I _ A, I see ‘a royal primarily’, so I add in the R to make T_ARI_A, and in goes TSARINA, which is even a chestnut in US crossword puzzles. Solved.
  27. Clue: 19 Down. [I accidentally skipped 17 Down.] I see N _ G _ T, glance impressionistically at the clue, and write in NIGHT. Solved.
  28. Clue: 21 Down. This time I start with the clue, because ‘tail-enders’ tells me to just look at the last letters, and I get NET. Solved.
  29. Clue: 17 Down. Back to the one I missed, I have A _ T _ R, I see ‘stage player’, and I write in ACTOR. Solved.
  30. Clue: 11 Across. Now that I have A _ T _ R _ _ _, I can surely get this anagram. I look at the remaining letters and get the answer right away. Solved.
  31. Clue: 7 Down. And now that I have the N from ALTERING, maybe it’s time to finish up 7 Down. I have _ _ R _ N _ E, and ‘odd’ gives me STRANGE. I guess ‘introduce’ here does not imply containment. Tricky. Solved.
  32. Clue: 5 Across. Finally I can take care of that stubborn 5 Across. The checkers AM _ S _ allows me to see what I “missed” and write in AMISS. Solved.
  33. Clue: 1 Across. I’m getting so close I can almost taste it! Maybe I can get the stubborn 1 Across now, too! If it’s not a hidden word, what can these pieces mean? ‘Stolen’ could be HOT, ‘bitter’ could be ACID, ‘evangelist’ could be ELI? (Or is he only a priest?) Is it _ _ _ _ ELI? This jibes with the notion that I’m looking for some Latinate word. What is that biblical word for ‘letters’? EPISTLES? Is there some plural of that I don’t know? EPISTLI? I write HOT? ELI? EPISTLES? in the margin and keep moving. Not solved.
  34. Clue: 8 Across. I look more closely at ACE-LOW POKER and see if it can possibly be right. I conclude that it probably isn’t and write a big ol’ question mark. Not solved.
  35. Clue: 1 Across. Back to 1 Across for a moment but I still don’t have any ideas. I guess my mind was flitting from mild frustration. Not solved.
  36. Clue: 3 Down. Finally I get up the nerve to write down my guesses and discover to my embarrassment that I had it all along. Solved.
  37. Clue: 1 Across. Back to 1 Across yet again, now that I have the S from SIDECAR. I’m wondering if it’s _ _ _ SELI, some plural of _ _ _ SELUS, which maybe sounds like it refers to some runic letter. Wait a moment. Letters? Could it be a short Greek letter? MUS? NUS? PIS? Wait a gosh darn moment! PIS fits with EPISTLE! It has to be right! Maybe EPISTLE is its own plural? Fingers crossed that it is, even though it doesn’t sound right at all. I write in EPISTLE and don’t check the wordplay yet. Guess hazarded.
  38. Clue: 2 Down. The P from my incorrect EPISTLE allows me to get PERT and PERTH, which is definitely something I’ve heard of. Solved.
  39. Clue: 8 Across. The R from PERTH tells me that ACE-LOW POKER is definitely not right. So what do I have? R_D-_O_ POKER. Well punch me in the nose if that doesn’t look like RED-HOT POKER, which doesn’t sound at all like a game. If the definition is ‘bloomer’ I wonder if maybe this is Cockney Rhyming Slang for ‘lie’. (Even though I know ‘pork pie’ is rhyming slang for ‘lie’.) Even though I don’t understand it, I’m sure it’s right. Solved.
  40. Clue: 1 Across. I have one more look at 1 Across. If PIS is ‘letters’, then what’s ETLE? A bitter evangelist? Probably not. Back to the drawing board. Wait a moment, could this be APOSTLE for ‘evangelist’? But how does that work? Oh gosh, ‘letters’ was POST. Solved.

At this point, I write UGH! on my paper and call it a day. I type ‘red-hot poker’ into Collins dictionary online, which, with a straight face proceeds to tell me that the definition is ‘kniphofia’, period. Really?! Thanks, Collins. Fortunately there is Google, which provided me with some lovely pictures.

29 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1212 by Mara”

  1. I too ended up struggling with PERTH and APOSTLE before I clicked.

    When I started doing these crosswords decades ago, I wish I’d had a blog with this level of detail. And with the details of the struggle.

    11:50 for me, with everything except those done by about 8 minutes. I even lived in Edinburgh for years so Perth should have been a write-in.

  2. My last ones in were RED-HOT POKER (didn’t know the flower), PERTH and APOSTLE. I had just done the 15×15 (where my last two in were also in the NW, 1 across and down) and I wanted to finish this too while the bathwater was still warm, so I hurried thru and, like our blogger, didn’t notice STRAINER involved an anagram.
  3. In case others have missed it, I’m reposting a comment made on QC 1202 by Mohn:

    “Sadly it would appear that Flamande (aka David Crossland) died over the weekend: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/10/30/david-crossland-dac-rip/ He was perhaps better known as an Indy setter in his Dac persona, as well as a setter (uncredited, of course) for the main Times cryptic, but in all guises his puzzles were notable for their surface readings. Very sad to read of his passing.”

    I hope Jacktt will be able to give us his stats, and feel sure all on here will appreciate the entertainment David has provided since QC 4.

    1. Sad news indeed, and thanks for posting the link, Will, as I had missed the report.

      110 QCs set by Flamande have been published to date, most recently on 17th October this year and blogged by yourself. He achieved his 100th on 14th May. Let’s hope there’s at least one more in the pipeline and still to be published so that we can have a dedicated tribute blog.

  4. 21 minutes, so 9 under my target but I was worried when I got as far as 12A without an answer. The down clues went in a bit easier and for once the checkers fell in the right places.
    Fortunately I knew the bloomer and the R let me biff Perth and the H revealed Choc.
    There seemed to be more ‘first or last letters’ than usual
  5. 13 minutes, so very quick for me. I’m another who was held up at the end by Perth and Apostle.
    Thank you Jeremy for spending the time once again to produce such an amazingly insightful blog.
  6. I needed 12 minutes to solve this QC by Mara with my LOI being 2d PERTH but the NW corner in general caused delays. The only clue I solved on first pass in the NW was 4d LOO. Even the hidden 10a CHOC was solved belatedly but then I am not a fan of shortened informal words and have never called a chocolate a choc. Thanks Jeremy for another remarkable blog.

    I’ve started submitting on the Times Crossword Club under another pseudonym and I can’t believe some of the solving times posted on the leader board.

    1. If you look at the times on the 15×15 puzzle on the club site, there are some unbelievable times posted by those known as neutrinos, who solve the puzzle elsewhere, then type in the answers to the club site. You need to scroll down to Magoo, Jason, Aphis99, Verlaine etc to see the genuine fast times.
  7. Similar experience to others but I’m afraid I must report that I didn’t have the same patience as our blogger with his step 40. Having looked at 1ac for about a minute with _P_S_L_ I put in epistle (somewhat concerned about the plural) only to get the ‘wrong’ message. Hey ho.
  8. A very thorough blog Jeremy, for which thanks. I thought of PERTH fairly quickly, but it took ages before I saw the parsing. I never did see the parsing of APOSTLE, so thanks for that. Knew the flower so no problems there. 8:15 with 30 seconds looking for typos. Didn’t find any this time. If I hadn’t looked there would almost certainly have been one! Thanks Mara and Jeremy. Sad news re Flamande aka Dac.
  9. Another great blog Jeremy.
    Like others most of this went in reasonably quickly but the NW was a real slog with each clue needing to be ground out. I toyed with epistle but couldn’t make it work and my LOI was CHOC. I’m sure I’ve struggled with the plant in 8a previously which meant that it was a write in this time round. Completed in 14.22
    Sad to hear about Flamande – I always enjoyed his puzzles.
  10. How sad to hear about Flamande. Thanks for letting us know.

    Another superb blog, Jeremy. Well done for putting all that effort in! Fascinating to read a detailed breakdown of another solver’s thought processes.

    Thanks to your blog last time I have been experimenting with the “all the acrosses and then all the downs” approach which you described and which was then discussed in the comments. It’s really interesting (and fun) to try a new method. I’m not yet sure which I prefer but it certainly produced a fast solve today – once I’d done the first pass I only had four left (9, 10, 16 and 20). I got both APOSTLE and AMISS first pass, which helped with the downs.

    All done in 10:33, which I guess from other times is probably under 2 Kevins (so a Good Day).

    Thanks to Mara for an enjoyable work out.


  11. As others have noted, the NW was certainly a bit of a bind and responsible for about 5 of my 30mins today. I actually thought of Perth initially, but wasn’t sure about Pert/Bold. Likewise Sidecar, and couldn’t quite see how that worked either until the penny drop moment. Another very interesting and informative blog Jeremy, thanks. Very sad news about Flamande. RIP. Invariant
  12. A REDHAT (or REDCAP) is slang for a Military Policeman in the British Army (they wear red bands round their caps). (Today’s useless piece of information!).
    I was misled by a few of the clues (eg ‘occasionally’ in 10ac, ‘cook’ in 16ac – anagrind or part of the clue? 15dn – was I looking for a name or a title?)). However, all came out about on target.
    FOI LOO (apposite after this week’s budget speech). LOI CHOC – just couldn’t see it at all, having biffed ‘chic’.
    COD RED-HOT POKER. Wasn’t sure if I was looking for a flower, a river or a card game. Fell into place once the ‘P’ in POKER appeared.
    Very enjoyable
  13. Apart from initially thinking 1A would end in ALE, 5A end in A and 14A might be REDHAT there was nothing to hold me up. COD to 14A. Sorry to hear about Flamande. I enjoyed his QCs – and today’s 15×15. 4:02.
  14. I agree with flashman about the three tough clues and COD. Not sure of my time because I stopped in the middle to welcome visitors but it wasn’t one of my quickest. Tremendous blog/discussion which those of us who didn’t find the puzzle ridiculously easy appreciated, I’m sure. John M.
  15. The short days make afternoon golf a bit harder;but so does the local traffic between 5 and 6pm.
    Anyway I returned home feeling nicely tired and ready for the QC.
    This one took me about 15 minutes. LOI was Choc, another good hidden. FOI was hatred and I solved this bottom up finishing in the NW.
    Great blog again Jeremy- thanks. David
  16. Another great blog by Jeremy, bless his heart for devoting so much time to this. I have a lot to learn about cryptics, and this insight into an experienced solver’s mind is invaluable. Thank you soooo much 🙂
  17. Amazingly brilliant blog enhanced by Jeremy finding it tricky in places. So good to see the thought process when it doesn’t fall into place. Just to be different we were ok with NW corner but just couldn’t get ‘strange’. Thanks to Mara and Jeremy (please do this again).
  18. Maybe because of my antipodean location, I parsed 21A as “tail-enders” = “ten”; distraught = anagram “net”.

    Fantastic blog – immense help to a newbie!! Keep up the good work 😉

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