Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not too bad this week (no questions about furniture). Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be :

Q1. Chester

Q2. Sir Adrian Boult (or just plain Adrian Boult)

The initial clues place us in Deva Victrix or as it is called now, the city of Chester. The river Dee is reported in some references to be around 70 miles long and it appears to be spanned by a suspension bridge. On the north side of the river at the end of the suspension bridge, lies a park where a church called 'St John the Baptist' is situated. I found several references which say that this was the cathedral of a bishop called Peter and was consecrated as such c1075. It held this designation until c1085 when the bishop died. I also found some references which say that both the central tower and the west tower have collapsed more than once (not once as the puzzle author has stated).

Travelling north northwest from St John's brings us to Chester cathedral which was designated as such in 1541. It was upgraded from an abbey (St Werburgh's) which was built (c1092) by the first earl of Chester, a guy called Hugh D'Avranches, who went by the nicknames of 'Fat boy' and 'Wolfman' depending on who he was hanging out with and how much they'd been drinking. Fat Boy's father was called Richard and the first earl died c1101 (shot by a Norwegian bad ass called Magnus Barefoot). He is allegedly buried in the cathedral graveyard. A good ol' Norman boy called Bill the Conqueror gave Chester castle to the Fat Boy Wolfman first earl. The castle has Agricola's tower, a chapel and an eighteenth century gun platform.

The Eastender Himself found a weighty tome in the archives called 'The Cathedral Church of Chester; a description of the fabric and a brief history of the episcopal see' written by one Charles Hiatt and published c1898 as part of the Bell's cathedrals series. This intriguing incunabula contains the dimensions of the nave and the tower and confirms that they are indeed 145 feet long and 127 feet high respectively. It also waxes lyrical about the woodwork in the place . (NB that there were several cathedrals inaugurated c1541, including Gloucester, Peterborough, Bristol and Oxford but the descriptions in the WWI? puzzle do not fit these places as well as Chester).

A conductor called Sir Adrian Boult was born (c1889) in Liverpool road in Chester (Liverpool road lies to the north of Chester cathedral). Boult conducted the orchestra for the coronation of King George VI (the current queen's father) c1937. Some references say that George VI's mother was called Mary from Teck.

Travelling south west from the current cathedral brings us to Chester castle and going north east from there brings us to the back end of St John the Baptists, where the remains of the Roman amphitheatre lie.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Curses! Mr Fautley has finally got one over on the Eastender Himself with his obscure nacht und nebel furniture question last week, it was a fifty fifty shot between Ebenezer Gomme  and Lucian Ercolani, both had brands which were household names in the fifties, yours truly took a punt on the wrong one. However, he will not beat me this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers are:

Q1.  Beinn Tangabhal (Ben Tangaval in English)

Q2. The Annie Jane

From the initial clues given, the author appears to be near Kisimul castle (c 15 century), on the beautiful island of Barra. The castle is built on a rocky island in Castle bay ( a natural moat hundreds of yards across). Barra may be named after a sixth century saint called Fionbarra or St Finbarr (feast day 25th September).

Going northwest from the junction leads to a tower on loch Tangasdail called Dun Mic Leoid, castle Sinclair, Ian Garbh's Castle or An Casteil depending on your preference. A little further on from there lies the 'Isle of Barra' hotel (not too sure what records it has set). Turning south west at the junction takes us past Beinn Tangabhal, which ordnance survey say is 332 metres or 1089 feet high.

From the next set of clues given, it looks like the author is heading to Vatersay, which can be reached by a causeway. I found several references which claim that around 200,000 tonnes of rock were used in its construction. Back in the early twentieth century and late nineteenth century a lot of ethnic cleansing and land grabbing was going on in that part of the world. Some of the islanders decided to invoke an ancient law which stated that if you could build a thatched house and light a fire in its hearth in a day, you could keep the land. A small group of people, who became known as 'The Vatersay Raiders' tried this experiment around 1906 and frightened the sociopathic absentee landlord oligarchy of the time so badly, that they had to cut a deal to let them have a bit of property to croft on, when some of them were released from jail.

A ship called the Annie Jane hit a reef near Bagh Siar (West Bay)  on Vatersay in September 1853, it had been bound for Montreal in Quebec before getting into trouble and some of the references show that around 350 men women and children perished in the wreck and are buried on the Isthmus, which has dunes on either side of it. There is a memorial to the victims in the form of an obelisk on the west side of the road and a stone cairn. It seems that only a quarter of the people on the Annie Jane survived the incident.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Bit of a dilemma regarding furniture this week, this is not the Eastender's area of expertise but near as I can figure it, the most likely answers are:

Q1. Lucian Ercolani (Ercol)

Q2. Waddesdon Manor

(NB for question one, I'm not sure about this at all, G-plan furniture by E.Gomme ltd of High Wycombe, was marked with the G-plan brand symbol but Ercol were also based in High Wycombe and had pioneered and perfected the steam bending of wood (English Elm) in large quantities or batches. Both of these manufacturers had products which were very popular in the 1950s. Ercol's products are marked with a lion symbol (also to be considered is the outfit started by the German fighter pilot who built comfy chairs in High Wycombe after his experiences sitting on a hard seat in his aircraft during WWI ie the Parker Knoll company). Things are further complicated by the fact that Ercolani, who produced Ercol furniture worked for E.Gomme for a while and also knew the guy who ran Parker Knoll. There was also a furniture manufacturer called James Clarke in High Wycombe who specialised in the production of small batches of furniture but although he produced a very popular '750 small' chair for government contracts, I can't find anything which says he became a household name in the 1950s. I did however find several references which said that Ercol became a household name around that time, so will take a punt (and it is a punt) on it being Ercol (could just as likely be E.Gomme). The plot thickens somewhat when you find out that Ercolani's son was a bomber pilot and a wing commander to boot, so that ties him in nicely with some of the other clues )

The initial clues place us in the village of Cookham, in Buckinghamshire, birthplace of Sir Stanley Spencer (c1891) an artist who was famous for his war murals. The village is home to the Stanley Spencer Gallery. Five miles north east of Cookham takes us to the town of Beaconsfield, which was once home to a controversial author called Enid Blyton ( the Eastender has read many of her books and doesn't think they are controversial at all, they reflect the social environment that the author lived in at that time and are a bit dated now, however, she is forgiven all because of her wonderful designation of the local plod, as PC Goon, actually, I think she could be responsible for the term 'Plod' meaning copper, coming into widespread use as well). Beaconsfield is home to the world's oldest model railway village (est c1929) Bekonscot.

Travelling north west of Beaconsfield brings us to High Wycombe where the RAF bomber command headquarters was based at Daws Hill. Now known as RAF High Wycombe, it's motto is 'Non Sibi' which means 'not for ourselves'. High Wycombe seems to have been swarming with bodgers and there were many furniture companies there , Ercol, E.Gomme ltd who created G-plan branded furniture and Parker Knoll to name a few. London Wasps, who are based at High Wycombe, were founded in 1897.

Sixteen miles north north west as the crow flies from High Wycombe, brings us to the Schatzkammer of a liberal MP called Ferdinand James Anselm Freiherr Von Rothschild (b c1839 and possibly part of that red shield mob out of Frankfurt who like to create money from thin air and lend it to people with a very large viggorish (you could well ask 'why is no one else, apart from a select few banksters, allowed to do this?'). The baron liked collecting stuff and he kept his vast hoard in a mansion called Waddesdon manor.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

A little bit tricky this week, much to research and check. Mr Fautley has upped his game but near as I can figure it, the most likely answers this week are:

Q1. Lundy Island

Q2. Shutter Point

From the initial clues given, it looks like the author is on the Landing beach at Lundy island (the island is named after a bird, Lundy may be a Norse word for Puffin). A pebble's throw from there, lies a 52 foot lighthouse which was constructed around 1897 (Lundy island south lighthouse). Another lighthouse, which he says should be visible at night and which lies twenty miles to the east, is most likely Bull point lighthouse (36ft high), a little ways to the north of Woolacombe, in Devon.

Walking north west from the Lundy island south lighthouse, takes you close to a castle, which was built by Henry III (who inherited the throne when he was nine) and thence to a church called St Helena's, which was designed by an architect called John Norton (born c 1823). Norton specialized in the Gothic style of architecture.

Travelling south west from there, takes us to a rock called 'the Shutter' at  Shutter point and it was here that a 'great ship', a Spanish galleon no less,  in the 1855 novel 'Westward Ho!', written by Charles Kingsley, was wrecked. This rock has destroyed a few real ships and the island is also reputed to have the remains of a few crashed Heinkel bombers on it. Going north from there brings us to the old lighthouse on Chapel Hill, 96ft high and built c1819-1820. The old light is close to the highest point on the island (142 metres or around 465 feet). There is a third lighthouse at the north end of Lundy island and this is most likely the one which the author did not have time to visit.