With memories of yesterdays exercise in obscurity and obfuscation still fresh I approached this hopeful that Nestor might be more accessible and to a point I think he was with !ac and 4ac going in straight away. there were of course quite a few that took a lot of disentangling and I must admit a lot of question marks which took a visit to Fifteensquared to resolve chiefly among them were 21ac, 6dn and 24dn. There were too many references to films and TV programmes for my liking but 15ac was awarded a couple of ticks conversely I thought 9dn was awful, never having come across the contraction of James to Jas before its always been Jim where I come from, and 22dn a film I have not seen but guessed the answer from the cryptic. So a pretty enjoyable puzzle with lots of good clues to choose from for COD but the one that amused me the most was

27ac        Given too much information presented fraudulently including name (5-3)



We haven’t seen Monk in these parts for a long time, and this puzzle was every bit as difficult as I expected when I saw his name. Lots of easier clues to allow some in-roads into the grid, but this was still a long haul. I guessed there would be a Nina in the top and bottom rows as soon as I saw the grid, so was on the look-out for it, which helped somewhat when I worked out what it was (with a little help from Google). The bottom half of the grid still took a while to fall. Apparently there are no E’s in the grid, so E-no?

Did anyone else think DRAGON… for 19ac? Was I the only person who thought the words in 16d should have been the other way round?

Anyway, my brain hurts now, so no more. COD? 19d – “With which one can’t draw properly (6)”.

To March 2013 once more:


What can you say? Another enjoyable, not too difficult Wednesday treat. I struggled a little in the SW corner – I desperately wanted 18ac to be REREDOS, even with an unsufficient number of letters, and little support from the wordplay – and couldn’t see 12d for too long. Once the former fell, so did the latter, and the rest of that corner. There’s a rare Nina and theme from Dac that’s explained in the comments over on the other side.

COD? 16ac – “Supplementary part in A Year In Provence is for adults only (6)”.

To March 2013:


In which normal service is resumed, refreshed after a week’s holiday. Well, after acting as an unpaid, over-worked, in-house holiday rep for a week. With the consolation of the local beer and copious bags of chips. A nice easy one to get back into? Not with Schadenfreude’s name at the top. Though Saturday evening the very top half does lead to a false sense of security and the rash decision to leave it until tomorrow, because this is going to a be a doddle. Which of course it isn’t. Cue slow, slow progress throughout too much of Sunday.

Extra letters in the answers to some of the clues? I can cope with that. And the cryptic bits are rock solid, fair, and just need a little careful thought. Which I get round to in the end after all else fails. As is traditional a few answers are guesses, a few must be right but I can’t see the cryptic for the life of me, but I’ve got enough of the extra letters to mean the words they spell out must be:


When I’ve got rid of those question marks.

So we’ve got four A’s – well, we know where they are. And a few weeds, albeit after a little rubbing out and more than a few corrections. TILT for a fairly desperate GILT (if you squint at Chambers for long enough it sort of works), and 43d I never did get to the bottom of. Got to be EARD, hasn’t it? So here’re our weeds:

MOSS (is it really a weed?)

Which we need to replace with flowers. Out with the Word Search, a list of possible letters, and we’ve got:


Huzzah! A difficult grid fill, an easy end game. That’s OK with me. A much needed confidence boost after a week of bleary eyed struggling with daily cryptics. Until next time, when with any luck I’ll have shaken off the traditional post holiday illness (a lovely sinus infection, and believe me you don’t want the gory details) in time to be fighting fit come Saturday and Eclogue’s latest offering.

An all too rare but very welcome appearance by Eimi today, the Professor Moriarty of the Indy Crossword. Ordinarily that means there will be a theme, and of course it’s Tuesday – but I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the puzzle by hinting and shall therefore simply refer to the relevant Fifteensquared blog entry from March 2013.

A diverse mix of nicely phrased clues ranging from straightforward to distinctly devious made for a lively solving experience, with a few smiles along the way. I particularly liked the two long anagrams and the link between 16ac and 5d; and of course 28ac and 22d (which tipped me off to the theme). 9d struck me as exceedingly good, but my favourite and therefore COD is 12ac:

“Yeléna appears heartless after Astrov eventually gets embraced in sordid play (5,5)”

I knew we’d seen Commoner before in these parts, but couldn’t remember how easy or otherwise the previous puzzle was, so approached this with a little trepidation. As it was I didn’t have to worry, as this turned out to be a perfectly accessible, breezy IoS reprint. I couldn’t parse 11ac, and took an age to get 25ac at the end – or rather took an age to decide I’d have to sit down and parse the clue properly – but the rest went in with little trouble. Which was lucky, as a pre-lunch meeting today ate into half my lunch break, as these things tend to do, and anything a little tougher might have gone unsolved. All in all a decent substitute for Quixote.

COD? With lots to like, the succinct 12ac – “Heated, dry out? (9)”.

To April 2013:


Saturday 5th August 2017

Am I the only one for whom last Saturday seems an awfully long time ago? We had Phi back in his usual slot with a very respectable crossword puzzle – enjoyable and a shade easier than medium difficulty for the i, I’d say.  No theme or Nina, but the four long clues were all anagrams or substantial part anagrams, which will have appealed to some more than others.

The minor issue of whether or not apostrophes should be enumerated in the clue cropped up again with ‘Pièces d’occasion’ being clued as (6,9)– all I can say is, that’s the convention, so be on the alert for it!

I’ve rather forgotten about this puzzle, alas, so am grateful to the 2013 blog here for reminding me what a good clue 25a was. Here it is again:

NASA’s expertise producing tyre? (8)

A lovely inventive puzzle with lots clever misdirection’s and just a couple of obscurities. I started off quite slowly but after unpicking the two long anagrams began to make progress, spent too long overthinking 1dn “goal” must be aim reversed oh well and wasn’t convinced by crowd = mess but that’s just me, there is some who query the Just in 7dn over on Fifteensquared but I had no problem with it and thought it an excellent clue. I did have a problem with the chap in 9ac and the woman in 17dn both only being apparent after the solving and not much help when trying to solve from the cryptic, this especially so in 17dn which was an unknown to me and only entered after a bit of electronic help. My other obscurity was 2dn , after sorting out the anagram fodder found that it was indeed a bird but a North American one so no wonder I had not heard of it. To pick just one clue out today is difficult as most of them below “RATNER” ( which is probably an accidental Nina?) have ticks so with commendations to 19ac,26ac, 20dn and 23dn

COD 18ac   Orientals not popular around East Lancashire? (6)

It’s Hypnos, so it’s our second IoS reprint of the week, and a much easier one than the last. I had no idea how to spell 14d so needed all the checking letters, and thought the first word of 3d didn’t need the E at the end, but the rest was plain, enjoyable sailing. In this neck of the woods we like to think of ourselves as a nation rather than a 20ac, but the answer is technically correct. 🙂

COD? 24ac – ‘Republican group attracting gadgeteer in state (4)’.

To May 2013:


Dac is AWOL again this week, so we have an IoS reprint to fill the Wednesday spot. I made very heavy weather of this, though I haven’t been feeling that clever today, and nobody seems to have struggled over on the other side, so… Some complaints there about 25ac, but that’s the point of checking letters, surely?

Anyway, lots to enjoy, with COD going to 28ac that raised a smile when I eventually spotted it – “Existing for the least amount of time as a celebration of cheese (8)”.

To February 2013: