Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

My broadband connection has been running like a dog today but near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Newcastle Emlyn

Q2. The Sagranus Stone

(N.B. For question one, I found several references which claim that the first legal printing press in Wales was situated in the village of Adpar but reading about the place, it seems to have been assimilated into and is now considered to be part of the town of Newcastle Emlyn. The Eastender Himself is taking a punt on Newcastle Emlyn being the correct answer)

The initial clues place us once more in Wales, specifically, the town of Newcastle Emlyn. I found several references which claim that the first legal printing press in Wales, was installed in Adpar (now a district of Newcastle Emlyn) by a gentleman called Isaac Carter (c1718/1719). Newcastle Emlyn sits on the river Teifi, which at 75 miles, is believed to be the longest river in Wales.

Travelling west/north west from there brings us to a village called Cilgerran, where there is a castle, which appears, from the pictures I found of it, to have two towers and was allegedly built sometime during the 12th century (first mentioned in texts published c1164). Seven miles west/south west of Cilgerran, lies the site of Nevern castle (be careful not to pick Castell Henllys here, this is an iron age hillfort with a replica iron age village on it). Nevern castle was built by some good ol' Normans and was fought over by them, more than JR and Bobby Ewing fought over Southfork. William Fitzmartin and his father in law, Lord Rhys, were in dispute over ownership of the castle for years and Hywel Sais, a son of Lord Rhys, is alleged to have torn the place down in 1195.

The village of Nevern is situated within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the church in Nevern was founded by a St Brynach (feast day 7th April) c6th century. The Eastender Himself had to look up what a 'Portal Dolmen' was, seems to be a crude megalithic burial structure made with three flat rocks standing perpendicular to the ground and a capstone laid flat on top. The one the puzzle author is describing, is most likely Pentre Ifan, which is around two miles south east of Nevern. Judging from the size of it, someone very big must have been buried there (Readers are advised that such tombs often contain barrow wights and barrow zombies and that these can follow you home and become almost as much of a pest as people who stalk celebrities).

Journeying seven miles north east from Pentre Ifan brings us to a dorp called St Dogmaels. Two miles east of there is the town of Cardigan where a gardening broadcaster called David Clay Jones was born c1923. The ruined abbey is called St Dogmaels, named after the sixth century saint (feast day June 14th). The church next to the ruined abbey, (which I believe is called St Thomas's) contains a Rosetta stone like object, which is inscribed with script written in both Latin and Ogham. Ogham is an ancient twenty character alphabet, believed to be Irish/Pictish in origin and seems to me to be even harder to read and write, than both kinds of Armenian (eastern and western). The stone is called 'The Sagranus Stone'.

Our friends down the road at Kaledo Jewellery have asked us to give them a plug, the Eastender Himself has no problem with this, as he believes that business is business. There are some very high quality artisan silver products for sale there. See link:

Kaledo Jewelley

The artisan's blog can be viewed here, for those of you who are interested in seeing how such beautiful things are made:

Kaledo Jewellery Blog

Link to Sunday Times Competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

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

Q1. Erraid

Q2. Sir Hugh Fraser

(N.B. for question two, if you do a search for businessman and Iona, the engine can come back with Rev George Macleod and Sir John Macleod, businessman (George's father). Rev George Macleod helped reconstruct some of the buildings on Iona and created the Iona community, so that can cause some confusion as to the identity of the beneficial businessman but Hugh Fraser's 'Fraser Foundation', gave the island to the national trust for Scotland, in memory of his father, Lord Fraser of Allander and is a much better fit for the answer)

The initial clues place us on the island of Iona, in the Hebrides, the main drag there is called 'The Street of the Dead' or 'Sraid nam Marbh' in the local tongue, mainly because they had to track coffins along it to bury people at the graveyard near Iona abbey, at the small church of St Odran (feast day 27th Oct). According to some references, St Odran may have been a victim of what is known in the trade as 'foundation sacrifice' ie he was whacked by saint Columba and buried in the foundations of what was to be his own church, as an offering, to make sure that it didn't fall down. Some texts claim that he came through the walls and frightened the bejaysus out of the congregation and had to be quicky re-buried after telling the punters that there was no heaven or hell (a likely story, sounds a bit like the bad ass barrow zombie (Glam) that haunted Grettir on Iceland, after he 'acquired' some valuable grave goods).

The graveyard at St Odran's is alleged to have 48 Scottish kings buried there, among them a Constantin Mac Cinaeda (Constantine I, a son of Kenneth Mac Alpin) who was buried there c876ad. Some of the references I looked at claimed that he died in 878ad but historians are always arguing about dates and who did what to who. A king, who some sources claim reigned c1093/94 and who died in 1094 and might be buried on Iona, is Duncan II. A saint who was abbot of Iona and whose mother was called Ronnat, was Saint Adamnan.

Travelling south west along the main drag until you reach the end, brings you to a point where looking south south/east you may be able to see the tidal island of Erraid (around two miles distant on some of my maps). This island was featured in a book called 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson (published c1866) and featured the exploits of a good ol' Jacobite rebel called Alan Breck Stewart (gawrd bless 'im) and David Balfour (loyal to the upstart Hanoverian pretender). They had to leave the ship they were travelling on, after becoming involved in a bit of a fraicas with the crew and subsequently striking the Torran rocks. Balfour ends up being washed ashore on Erraid. Erraid is about one square mile in area and does indeed seem to have mica on it.

Heading west from the viewpoint, brings us to a trail which meanders in a south westerly direction past loch Staoineig and thence to the bay where saint Columba came ashore c562ad (wearing a dishevelled raincoat and smoking a cigar). Columba, in many accounts, seems to have had a bit of an anger management problem and had to flee from Ireland after what started out as a dispute over intellectual property rights, resulted in an armed conflict with the deaths of an estimated three to ten thousand people ( battle of Cul Dremhne). 

If you turn northwest from the end of the road, that leads to the highest point on the island, a cnoc known as Dun l (which according to ordnance survey, is 100 meters or 328 feet high in old money). The businessman who is largely responsible for preserving the natural beauty of the island was a guy called Sir Hugh Fraser, who's 'Fraser Foundation' donated it to the national trust for Scotland, as a memorial to his father, Lord Fraser of Allander.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not too challenging this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers, seem to me to be:

Q1 . Hen Gwrt

Q2. The Kymin

(NB from looking at the national trust site and other references, the hill is called 'Kymin hill' and the estate seems to be called 'The Kymin' so the Eastender Himself is going with 'The Kymin' as the name of the nine acre site)

Some huge giveaway clues this week, 'Trilateral' gets you the answers almost immediately, there is a group of Norman castles in monmouthshire which are called 'The Trilateral castles'. These are Grosmont Castle, Skenfrith Castle and White castle. From the initial clues given, it looks like the author is at Grosmont castle, travelling four miles south east of there brings us to Skenfrith castle, which stands next to the river monnow and from the photographs I found of it, it does indeed have four ruined towers and a keep inside the walls (looks like a very beautiful, if somewhat eldritch place).

Travelling south west from Skenfrith castle takes us to the hamlet of Llantilio Crosseny, where a moat (or more accurately 'a moated site') called Hen Gwrt can be found. It is indeed square and surrounds the remains of a house . Some of the references I found on this claim that it was possibly a manorial site used by the bishops of Llanduff in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, later being used as a hunting lodge.

A sixth century saint who came to the aid of the district around Lantilio Crosseny, was Saint Teilo (feast day 9th February). Some sources claim that he was asked for help by a king Iddon to see off some Saxon hoodies who were drinking cider, doing club style singing at 3 am and plundering the place. Teilo is reputed to have planted a cross on a pre christian mound where the church now stands and prayed for their defeat. It seems to have worked because Iddon gave the church some lands in grattitude after the Saxons were routed and given an ASBO. Llantilo Crosseny may be a corruption of 'St Teilo's at Iddon's Cross'. Teilo's PR people put out a story claiming that he had a pet dragon (captured by him while on holiday in Brittany) but they may just have been trying to big him up a bit.......

Travelling around seven miles east south east of Llantilo Crosseny, brings you to the town of Monmouth and about a mile east of the town lies a nine acre estate called 'The Kymin', where there is a hill which has been used as a picnic spot since around 1793. The hill has two notable structures on it, a Georgian round house (built c1794) and a Naval temple (built c 1800). Lord Nelson did lunch at the Kymin, while inspecting the temple, which is dedicated to the victories of the British navy.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

If you are not an extremist with a qualification in the humanities (ie know a lot about literature and history) you may find this week's puzzle a bit of a slog . The Eastender is not and had to rely on researching the clues and data crunching, though reading about some of the people uncovered has prompted him to consider learning a bit more about them and their works. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Max Faulkner

Q2. Duncton Hill

(NB for question one, there were two golfers who came sixth in the 1949 open. Max Faulkner and Arthur lees. I couldn't find a reference that shows Arthur Lees lived in Pulborough but did find one for Max Faulkner living there (obit in the Bexhill observer). Lees seems to be associated with Sunningdale club in Berkshire.

(NB For question 2, there are two places in close proximity called Duncton hill, one is a viewpoint and one is an actual hill, which one of my maps claims is 255 meters or 836 feet and while it is difficult to work out the height using only the contours, there are photographs of a plaque on a plinth at the viewpoint, which show it to be 121 meters or 398 feet above sea level (I don't know if Hilaire Belloc wrote the poem Duncton hill about the hill or the viewpoint).

The initial clues lead us to Duncton hill viewpoint in a region known as 'The South Downs National Park' (according to some references, this came into being c2011). There were several liberal MP's born in 1870 but the one who most fits the clues given, is Hilaire Belloc, he seems to have been something of a polymath; a poet, author, journalist, adventurer, hiker and friends with H.G.Wells and George Bernard Shaw. He would be regarded as controversial by some elements of the idiocracy that we have created to run things today. Belloc according to some sources, loved Sussex and wrote a poem about Duncton hill, it has a line in it as follows:

The passer-by shall hear me still,
  A boy that sings on Duncton Hill.

which fits nicely with the clue at the end of the puzzle, he also wrote poems about a hippopotamus and a girl that slams doors.

I shoot the Hippopotamus
with bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
his hide is sure to flatten 'em.

Travelling twenty five miles west from Duncton hill viewpoint takes us to a place called Bishop's Waltham, where a ruined abbey lies (Bishop's palace). Some references claim this was started by a guy called William Wykeham (born c 1324) and that he also founded Winchester college. The palace was allegedly destroyed by Oliver Cromwell (presumably because he did not want the opposition using it like the Alamo to hole up in, or maybe just out of badness).

Tracking east from Bishop's palace, brings us into proximity with a house called Uppark. I found some references which say that the mother of H.G.Wells, was the housekeeper and that Wells himself lived there for a time. Uppark, according to some reports, was torched by a roofer (probably one of Cromwell's descendants) c1989 but it has since been refurbished. I think that the house and its environs were used as a social model in an H.G.Wells novel (c1909) called 'Tono Bungay' (Tono Bungay being a patent medicine). The Eastender Himself favours Bulwer Lytton's 'Vril' over Wells's 'The Time Machine', for the reason that the Vril-ya would have sent any Morlocks who were stupid enough to venture into their caverns, packing, in short order. His occult work 'Zanoni' makes for very interesting reading too......

Wells was employed by a chemists shop in the town of Midhurst and also taught at the grammar school there for a time. Duncton hill viewpoint is around five miles south east of Midhurst. Four miles or so north/north east of Duncton hill viewpoint lies the town of Petworth, this has a 'Petworth House', a seven hundred acre deer park and was home for a time to an author called Joan Aiken (born c1924). Aiken wrote a book called 'Dido and Pa' which featured a Mrs Bloodvessel.

Five miles east/north east of the viewpoint (the plaque there claims that it is six miles, also shows as six on one of my maps), lies the town of Pulborough. Pulborough was once home to the joint sixth place 1949 open golf contestant, Max Faulkner (he tied with Arthur Lees) and the cricketer (urg, cricket)  who captained the England team in the first test match played in 1924, one Arthur Gilligan.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Loads of fun this week leddies ed jittlemen, Mr Fautley has exhibited brilliance in the deviousness of this weeks geographic and historical hunt and has again wheeled out some of the favorite weapons in the puzzle writer's arsenal, ie information overload (aka chaff, some sources claim that there are more than 1350 known hill forts in England and Wales, scrolling through and checking them all will take you a lot of time, so a faster method is required), switching meters to feet (to make it harder to find with a modern map) and that old favorite, juxtaposing several items of information which appear very similar at first glance ( more than one baronet was born c1906 in the area under scrutiny and there seem to be more than one medieval cottage in the vicinity, with names that sound like scorers), next week, he will say that the letters you have to gather, are an enigma code encryption of one of the answers. As near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be :

Q1. Canada

Q2.  A La Ronde

The initial clues place us at a hill fort called Hembury castle, in the county of Devon. Ordnance survey claim that this is around 269 metres or 883 feet in height. The hill fort was believed to have had a causeway at one time but there is not much left of it now. Travelling four miles northeast from there brings us to the outskirts of a village called Dunkeswell, where Wolford chapel lies. This seems  to be a nineteenth century listed building which was given to the prime minister of Quebec c1966 by one Sir Geoffrey Harmsworth, so the deeds to the chapel appear to be held by the Canadian government (don't think Quebec is a country so not sure why it had a prime minister).

Three miles (looks more like two and a half on one of my maps and four on the other, so three is in the right ballpark) south east of Wolford chapel takes us to the village of Broadhembury, where a hymn writer called Augustus Montague Toplady (who allegedly wrote the hymn 'Rock of Ages') ministered to the faithful (c1768). Nine miles south east of Broadhembury, brings us to Blackbury camp (does sound like a holiday spot for soft fruit, sometimes called Blackbury castle) which may indeed an iron age hill fort be.

The puzzle now becomes a little tricky, there are two (could be more) houses in the west north west-ish directions, which baronets born in 1906 are associated with, these are Killerton (Richard Acland born c 1906) and Creedy park (Sir John Ferguson Davies also born c1906). The Eastender Himself favours Richard Acland and Killerton as the baronet and location respectively, as taking the first letter of John, does not provide a character that could be used in a word for a number. After driving the twenty two road miles to Killerton (it's not twenty two miles ATCF from Blackbury camp) you are close to Marker's (a scorer's) cottage, which according to the blurb in some of the references has an unusual painted decorative screen, depicting saint Andrew (watch out that you don't pick Shute Barton as the scorer's cottage (football reference as in shoots at the goal and scores) as this gives the wrong location and letters (has a St Michaels church very close by).

Clue 1. H(e)mbury Castle
Clue 2. Wol(f)ord Chapel
Clue 3. Ca(n)ada
Clue 4. Br(o)adhembury
Clue 5. Augus(t)us Montague Toplady
Clue 6. Blackb(u)ry Camp (or castle)
Clue 7. Killert(o)n
Clue 8. (R)ichard Acland
Clue 9. Mark(e)r's cottage
Clue 10. St A(n)dr(e)w

This gives us the letters:

E, F, N, O, T, U, O, R, E, N, E

Which the numbers one and fourteen can be constructed from. Adding one to fourteen gives fifteen and adding one to that gives sixteen. Ten miles south (little bit south east ish) of Marker's cottage, lies a house called A la Ronde, which has sixteen sides, it also reputed to have a room encrusted with shells........