Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it this week, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Nicholas Bacon

Q2. St Albans

The initial clues place us at the site of a mansion called 'Gorhambury House' (c18th century) west of the city of St Albans. The original or 'Old Gorhambury house' was constructed, according to the references I checked, between 1563 and 1568, for a lawyer called Nicholas Bacon, who was for a time a keeper of the great seal. His son, Francis Bacon (the polymath) inherited the house and was made attorney general c1613.

Travelling two miles or so to the south east of the mansion brings us to the Gardens of the Rose, at Chiswell green, which belong to the Royal National Rose society (founded c1876). Four miles south east of that position, next to junction 22 on the M25, lies Salisbury hall and the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Museum, where while the theme tune for the film 633 squadron plays in your head, you can view a fine example of the 'Wooden Wonder' itself, in the form of a restored world war II Mosquito aircraft. The prototypes for these aircraft were developed at Salisbury hall.

St Albans was occupied by the Romans at one point, they called it Verulamium (possibly the name was associated with the word Verlamion, which some sources claim means 'place by the marsh'. There were two major battles fought around St Albans in the fifteenth century, one on the 22nd of May 1455 and the second on the 17th February 1461. The second battle was unsurprisingly a primate politics affair over who would control England and its resources, a Yorkist or a Lancastrian. Margaret of Anjou ( mother Isabelle, Duchess of Lorraine) brought a combined Lancastrian and Scottish army down through England to take on the team of a guy called Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. The Lancastrian Scottish force trashed most of England on their way to the venue (medieval armies also marched on their stomachs and they had to disperse them over a wide front to enable them to pillage enough food from the unsuspecting inhabitants en route). Warwick's intel on the disposition and intent of the enemy force was poor and he positioned his troops in such a way that the Lancastrians snuck their army through St Albans at night and hit them on the flank the following day, soundly defeating Warwick.

There does appear to be a medieval clock tower in St Albans, the references claim it was constructed c1403 - 1412 and it stands where the tyrannical psychopath Edward the first Longshanks, planted a cross (one of a series of twelve) to commemorate the death of his wife, Eleanor.The clock tower stands near to St Alban's cathedral which houses the bells 'Sanctus' (cast c1290) and 'Edmund' (cast c1884 in memory of Edmund lord Grimthorpe). The sources I checked claim that king Offa (grandfather Eanwulf) found the remains of St Alban, a martyr who had been whacked by the Romans. Alban told the Roman guard captain, that he wasn't there for decapitation, they'd said he hadn't done anything and could go and live on an island somewhere but it was to no avail, he fessed up that he was "only joking squire, it's decapitation", so they cut his head off making him one of the first British christian martyrs. Some sources claim that his feast day is on the 22nd of June, while others claim it's on the 20th June. The nineteenth century novel which features the city, is likely to be 'Bleak House' by Charles Dickens.

link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Much to research this week, the most likely answers, seem to me to be:

Henry Horatio Hobson (the cobbler)

Charles Laughton (the actor)

Salford and Gloucester (cities one and two)

Henry III (the king)

Beatrix Potter (the author)

Cabbagehall (the viaduct)

Kirkcaldy (the town)

George Shillibeer (the entrepreneur)

Carlton House (the 18th century house)

Beau Brummel (the dandy)

The initial clues place us in the city of Salford (granted city status c1926), which is where the play 'Hobson's Choice' by Harold Brighouse was set. 'Hobson's Choice' is believed to have had it's first public viewings c1916. The play was turned into a film circa 1953/54 and starred the actor Charles Laughton (b1899) as Henry Hobson the cobbler.

Travelling around one hundred and ten miles south of Salford, brings us to the city of Gloucester and a king (Henry III) was crowned at the abbey there c1216 (he was also later crowned in Westminster abbey). He reigned until 1272 ie for 56 years. An author called Beatrix Potter (husband William Heelis) wrote a story called  'The Tailor of Gloucester' which from the references I looked at, was published around 1902 and featured mice.

Three hundred and ten miles north from Gloucester takes us to the Cabbagehall viaduct, just south of the town of Leslie in Fife. The references I checked claim that the viaduct has 14 spans and was constructed c1871. The brassic clue either refers to the fact that the spans are named after a brassica type vegetable (ie a cabbage) or could mean that the people who owned it were brassic lint (skint) and can only afford to eat cabbages. The viaduct is around six miles north of the town which is reputed to have the longest street fair in Europe, established c1304 in Kirkcaldy.

Some sources claim that an entrepreneur called George Shillibeer started the first omnibus service in London on the 4th July 1829. The prince regent, an upstart Hanoverian pretender, who later became George IV, lived in Carlton house (demolished c1827) and his daughter princess Charlotte of Wales, was said to have been born there c1796. The prince was friends with a dandy called Beau Brummel (born c1778) who used to hit people with quips, banter, repartee and one line put downs and on one occasion, referring to the prince regent standing beside someone, said 'who is your fat friend?'

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I? competition

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not much of a challenge this week, they might as well have supplied the answers along with the huge giveaway clues. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Truro

Q2. Richard Lemon Lander

The initial clues given place us firmly in the city of Truro, in Cornwall. It's name is said to be derived from a word meaning 'three rivers'. From looking at the OS map of the area, there seem to be two rivers, the Kenwyn and the Allen which flow through the city itself, these later merge into the Truro river. I found references which claim that Truro became a city c1877 and that the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was built in 1880. The Architect who designed it was called John Loughborough Pearson (b1817) and the sources I checked say that his father was an etcher. Pearson incorporated the church of St Mary's, which stood on the site for the new cathedral, into his design and it is now part of it.

A locomotive called the city of Truro (built c1903 for GWR and still extant) is said in some references, to belong to the National Railway Museum (NRM). The explorer, Richard Lemon Lander (born c1804) was a very exotic character, some references claim that he was actually born in a pub, either the Daniell Arms on Lemon street or the Fighting Cocks Inn, on Green street, depending on which source you check. There is a statue on a column dedicated to his memory outside of the Daniell Arms on Lemon street. Lander followed the Niger river from Bussa down to the Atlantic ocean, encountering many dangerous people on his travels. He was eventually killed by local tribesmen on a subsequent trip to the area.

A playwright, baptised in Truro c1721 was Samuel Foote and according to references checked, he did publish a play called Taste, c1752. An author who was born c1884 who attended school in Truro, was Sir Hugh Walpole and he did write a work called 'Jeremy' c1919. The motto of the city of Truro, whose coat of arms does have a fisherman, a miner, a ship and two fishes on it, may be 'Exaltatum Cornu In Deo'. The Eastender has not translated any Latin since studying the works of Pliny the Younger back in nineteen canteen and has not come up with a meaning for this phrase.........(IIRC Pliny the Elder led a far more exciting and interesting life than PTY, though he did get a bit too close to a volcano)

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I? Competition

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Green groweth the holly, 
So doth the ivy. 
Though winter blasts blow never so high, 
Green groweth the holly......

Seasonal greetings, not too difficult this week, near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Ipswich

Q2. Alexander Obolensky

(NB, for question 2, The rugby player's full name and title were given in some references as 'Prince Alexander Sergeevich Obolensky though he was also known as 'Obo' and 'The Flying Prince').

Pretty sure that this week, from the initial clues given, the quest takes us to the marvelous county of Suffolk, specifically to an edifice called 'Freston Tower' on the south western bank of the river Orwell. The description of the tower in the references I checked matches the one in the puzzle, ie it is six storeys high, has 26 windows and an observation platform . The tower was built circa 1758/9, possibly as a viewing point for the wealthy merchant who is believed to have constructed it, to see his ships as they approached the port town of Ipswich. I have not yet found an old poem connected with keeping the seas around that area clear.

A captain who was born in the Ipswich area and who commanded the Discovery on a voyage to Jamestown, was John Ratcliffe (aka John Sicklemore). There are several captains listed for this ship on various voyages and dates but he seems to be a good fit.

I found several sources which claim that Ipswich has thirteen medieval churches and the football team, who's fans are known as 'The Tractor Boys' was founded c1878 and became professional c1936. A manager of Ipswich Town FC, appointed c1955 and who played his international debut against Switzerland c1948, was Alf Ramsey.

A rugby player, born c1916 and buried in Ipswich, was Alexander Sergeevich Obolensky. He was not only what is known in the trade as a Rurikid prince (a Russian who's family fled the Bolsheviks and became British) but also a very brave aviator who was killed at the young age of 24, when his Hurricane hit a rabbit hole on landing during a training flight. It was said that as he had been taxiing at the time, he had undone the safety harness and was catapulted out of the cockpit and broke his neck. Obolensky, from the sources I checked, did indeed score seventeen trys against Brazil. There is said to be a statue of 'Obo' at Cromwell square, in Ipswich. The Eastender knows Martlesham Heath well and IIRC, there was a very nice boozer called 'The Douglas Bader' in the locale, though an excellent pint of Woodforde's Wherry, could also be had at 'The Fat Cat'.

A thespian who may have made his debut in Ipswich (c1741) in a play called 'Ooronoko' (aka 'The Royal Slave') was a chap called David Garrick. I found a reference to a pantomine he took part in which was called 'Harlequin Student' or 'The Fall of Pantomime with the Restoration of the Drama'.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday competition

Little bit tricky this week but near as I can figure it, the most likely answers, seem to me to be

Q1. John Cobb

Q2. The Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway Company.

(NB for question one, Mr Cobb's full name is given as John Rhodes Cobb but it is marked as John Cobb on the memorial near Urquhart castle)

The puzzle author has upped his game this week and thrown in a bit of nacht und nebel, to make things a little more interesting. I found several hiking trails or 'ways' in the UK which are quoted at 79 miles long, some examples are the Yorkshire Wolds Way and The Dales way but I am pretty sure that the one which is pertinent to this quest, is The Great Glen Way, which shadows some of the A82, along the north western shores of Loch Ness.

From the initial clues given, the author may have visited the Divach falls near Drumnadrochit. Looking at the OS map for the area, you do have to leave the main road and use the back roads to get to the aforesaid cataract, which some sources claim is around 100 feet high (he could also have visited the Plodda falls near the village of Tomich, in glen Affric, which are said to be around the same height but they are further down the back roads from Drumnadrochit and he may not have travelled that far).

There is a memorial on the A82 around two kilometres south west of Drumnadrochit and from the pictures I have seen of it, this is dedicated not to Donald Campbell (red herring) but instead to a quieter speed record achiever called John Rhodes Cobb (born 1899), who lead a very adventurous and daring life, which was financed by his work at the family fur broking business (Anning, Chadwick and Kiver ltd). The photographs of the memorial and some of the references indicate that JRC was killed while attempting to break a water speed record, in a jet boat called 'The Crusader' on loch Ness, on the 29th September 1952. The tragedy happened close to Urquhart castle and the memorial was built near the accident site by the local villagers. Some of the witnesses claimed that the boat flipped over when it hit the wake of a plesiosaur but they may have been on the ale at the time.

A film about highwaymen starring Ned Beatty and Joe Mullaney, which was shot in the area circa 1985, was 'Restless Natives'. The film features music by one of the few great bands to emerge from that ghastly decade, namely, 'Big Country'. Continuing down the A82, brings us to the village of Invermoriston, which is where the river Moriston flows into Loch Ness. I found some references which claim it is 4 miles long but I think the people who wrote this are measuring the distance to the dam. On some of my maps, it looks more like 16 - 20 to the main lake that it sources from (Loch Cluanie).

It seems more like six miles on the map from Invermoriston to the town of Fort Augustus, though again the puzzle writer may be using the car odometer to measure the distance but there is indeed a small island, called Cherry Island and it is thought to have been a Crannog or a fortified dwelling which was built on top of wooden piles driven into the loch bed. Cherry Island is believed to be the only isle on loch Ness. A company which was incorporated in 1896 to open a railway from Fort Augustus to Spean Bridge, was The Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway Company. The railway opened in 1903 but later went bust (not enough passengers to make it viable) and was taken over by the Highland Railway, then the North British Railway and finally the London and North British Railway, before closing c1947. 

Fort Augustus had a Benedictine abbey and the OS map and satellite pictures show there is also a lighthouse there. North east of Fort Augustus, the OS map shows the word 'Meml' near the south eastern shore of the loch in the vicinity of loch Tarff and between Glendoe lodge and Murligan hill. I have not yet located a source which explains what the memorial commemorates. (The Eastender Himself would have travelled down the south eastern shore of the loch, to see the house (Boleskin) of one of the greatest of the Yardbirds, Mr Jimmy Page (Boleskin was formerly owned by a whacky practitioner of Magicke, called Aleister Crowley))

Link to the competition:

Where Was I? Competition