Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Bit of a slog this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers, seem to me to be:

Q1. Shaftesbury

Q2. Woodhenge

The initial clues place us in the Dorset area, Shaftesbury to be more precise. I found references which claim that the town is between 600 and 700 feet above sea level, so does appear to be on a hill. A saint who is possibly buried there (at Shaftesbury abbey), is Edward the Martyr. He was murdered by Aethelred the Unready's followers at Corfe castle c978 (so fits the 10th century clue) and his feast day is reported to be on 18th March. Aethelred was his half brother and he wasn't really 'unready' his nickname was actually 'Aethelred the poorly counselled', it's just that the original Anglo-Saxon sounds like the current English word 'unready'. He was indeed badly advised and experienced a lot of problems with the Danes who were invading Wessex around that time (he fled to Normandy when old Sweyn Forkbeard came over to have words (Aethelred allegedly massacred a lot of Danish settlers)). An eleventh century king who died at Shaftesbury abbey c1035, was the Dane, Cnut (sister Estrith) who once tried to command the waves to prove a point. According to some of the references I checked, the quote "A place where the churchyard lay nearer heaven than the church steeple", may be from a work by Thomas Hardy, called 'Jude the Obscure' (c1896) and possibly refers to St John's church at Enmore Green, Shaftesbury. From the photographs I have seen of it, the graveyard does seem to be higher up the hill than the church.

Travelling five miles north east of Shaftesbury brings us to Old Wardour castle. This sits beside a lake and according to the spiel on the English heritage site, it was constructed c14th century and you can actually climb the turrets. Around four miles north east of there, lies the site of RAF Chilmark. The quarry was the RAF's ammunition store and according to some sources, was originally hewn to provide stone for Salisbury cathedral. This site allegedly came into use by the air force c1937 and closed c1994 and was for a time the RAF's sole ammunition dump. Around eight miles to the north west of Chilmark carries us to some villages with the suffix 'Deverill', these are Kingston Deverill, Monkton Deverill, Brixton Deverill and Longbridge Deverill. A saint who is said to have been active in that area c12th century, is Wulfric (feast day 20th february). Wulfric was a bit of a hippie by all accounts and likely lived in a cave and took magic mushrooms.

North from the Deverill suffixed villages lies the White horse at Westbury, a hill fort near it and the site of the Battle of Edington, where King Alfred battered Guthrum the Dane and his team, for ruining their Christmas dinner c878 (The Eastender Himself has been hiking in this region but prefers the white horse at Uffington).

Seventeen miles east of the Deverill villages, brings us to Woodhenge. From the pictures I saw of this, it does seem to be next to a bend in a river and is marked out with concrete blocks, which delineate where the wooden posts which made up the original Henge stood. It is reckoned to be neolithic and c2500bc ish, so fits in with the clues about concrete blocks and postscripts.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not too bad this week , some huge giveaway clues and back in the day, the Eastender Himself trained for his PPL in this neck of the woods, so knows it well. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers, seem to me to be:

Q1. Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve

Q2, Merchant Taylors' School

(NB for question 1, I found references which give the size of Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve as varying between 726 and 755 acres so 731 is in the right ballpark for this to be a candidate. I found several sources which say the four woods which make up the nature reserve, have a total area of 295 hectares, which is around 731 acres )

From the initial clues given, the first station the author is describing, is most likely to be Ruislip Gardens. According to some of the references I checked, this did have what were described as 'winged' canopies and John Betjeman wrote a poem about it (Middlesex c1954) which is where the references to 'red trains' and 'Elysium' come from. I found five stations in the town with the name Ruislip in them, some of them are shared between mainline rail and the tube (West Ruislip, Ruislip, Ruislip Manor, Ruislip Gardens and South Ruislip) An extract from the Betjeman poem 'Middlesex' is below:

Gaily into Ruislip Gardens
Runs the red electric train
With a thousand Ta's and Pardon's
Daintily alights Elaine;

Hurries down the concrete station
With a frown of concentration
Out into the outskirt's edges
Where a few surviving hedges
Keep alive our lost Elysium
Rural Middlesex again

An airfield which lies to the south of Ruislip Gardens station, is RAF Northolt and according to some of the sources I checked, this seems to have been first used by the RFC c1915 and was one of the first aerodromes to receive the Hurricane fighters. The men of letters founded in 1882 refers to the APOC (Army Post Office Corp) and the British Forces Post Office has headquarters at Northolt.

The puzzle author most likely alights from the train at West Ruislip station and a short distance to the north, lies Ruislip Wood National Nature Reserve (I found references for the size of this ranging from 726 to 755 acres). Ruislip wood nature reserve, contains a 'Great Barn' which was built c1280 and is said to be around 40 metres long (greater than 100 feet). Ruislip Lido apparently started life as a canal resevoir (c1811) before becoming a leisure facility c1933. The sources I checked confirm that it does indeed have a beach and a miniature railway and that several films were shot there, including 'A Night to Remember' c1958 (about the Titanic in 1912), the 'Young Ones' with Cliff Richard and possibly a comedy film called 'What a Whopper' in the 1960s. I found a reference which says the Lido closed c1990 and was demolished c1998.

North of the Lido, lies the town of Northwood and this is the postal area of a school called Merchant Taylors' School. It seems to be located in a place called Three Rivers, Sandy Lodge, Hertfordshire which is on the north side of the town.This school was originally in the city of London and was founded c1561. There is also said to be an art nouveau style church in Northwood but seems to have been converted to a library at some point. A former pupil of Merchant Taylors' school was one William Henry Pratt aka Boris Karloff (b 1887), who played the 'Frankenstein' monster in a film of the same name c1931.

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Very entertaining this week and a little tricky as some of the acreages and hectarages of the islands involved vary depending upon which sources you check. Near as I can figure it, the answers which seem to me most likely are:

Q1: Luing

Q2: Kay Kendall

(NB for question one, the size of Luing island in hectares is quoted in some references as 1430 and in others as 1543, which gives acreages of 3533 and 3813 respectively. The acreage for Seil island is given in one source as 3289, so they are similar in size, however it is the highest point at 94 metres clue, which indicates the answer is likely to be Luing )

I'm not sure what the "Lend me a dollar" quote refers to but from the initial clues given, I'd say that the author and his travelling companion are standing on the Clachan bridge, which spans the Clachan sound, on the northern end of Seil island, in the Argyll and Bute region. The bridge, according to some sources, was designed by Thomas Telford and constructed by an engineer called Robert Mylne c1792. It became known as the 'Bridge Over the Atlantic' and has a span of around 72 feet.

The highest point on Seil island (according to Ordnance Survey) is Meall a Chaise at 146 metres or approximately 479 feet, which rules that out as the location of the 'pretty island'. The highest point on the nearby Luing island, again according to OS, is Cnoc Dhomhnuill at 94 metres or around 308 feet, which puts this insel in the frame as a candidate for the answer to question one.

Approximately two miles south of the Clachan bridge lies Ardmaddy castle, which is famous for, among other things, its Rhododendron gardens. Travelling northeast from the bridge brings us to an inlet called Loch Feochan, which does look to be around four miles long and has a road which tracks along its southern shore. The Argyll and Bute district was the location for the films "A Ring of Bright Water" (civil servant with a strange pet, (an otter) c1969) and "Enigma" (c2001). I found a reference which says that a scene from "Enigma" featured a house in the locale called "Tigh Beg Croft". The road does turn north at the end of the Inlet and it carries us to a town called Oban, (the distance looks to be around four miles on some of my maps but again, the author may be measuring the distance using the car odometer) where an actress called "Kay Kendall" (b 1927) went to school (St Margaret's convent school). Some of the biographies I read on Kay Kendall state that she was in a film called "Les Girls" (c1957). The poor woman, god help her, died from Myeloid leukemia at the young age of 32 (c1959). Shortly before her untimely demise, she became involved with the actor Rex Harrison, who according to some sources, left his wife to take care of her.

The Callander and Oban railway was authorised c1865 but didn't actually reach the town of Oban until 1880. A mile in the westerly direction across the sound, lies the island of Kerrera, highest point at around 189 metres or 620  feet , the hill of Carn Breugach. Around four and a half miles to the northwest of Kerrera, lies the Lismore lighthouse, which is not actually on Lismore but was built on Eilean Musdile by Robert Stevenson c1833 and is reckoned to be around 26 metres or 85 feet in height. There is another lighthouse on Lady's rock very close by but I couldn't find any information on its dimensions or construction dates, however the Lismore lighthouse seems to match the clues. A king who died on Kerrera, who's father was William the Lion, was Alexander II of Scotland. Alexander II was a psychopath and by all accounts he murdered a baby girl, the daughter of a rival for the throne, by getting his goon squad, to bash her brains out on a rock ( The Eastender was raging when he read this and thinks someone should have altered this royal bampot's parameters of absolute reality, with an anachronistic Claymore (Claymores are though to be 15th century weapons, Alexander II died c1249), long before the fever killed him on Kerrera). There is a ferry to Kerrera, marked on some maps as being situated a few miles south west of Oban.

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I? Competition

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

I reckon that the Sunday Times IT bod has been out on the sauce last night, the puzzle did not become visible until 08:58 hrs this morning. The Eastender Himself is a bit cheesed off about this as he likes to get this one knocked on the head early so he can go for Sunday lunch. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be :

Q1. Christopher Hollis

Q2. Midsomer Norton

(NB for Question 1, Christopher Hollis was known officially as Maurice Christopher Hollis but his bios seem to use the name Christopher Hollis, which he was better known by)

The initial clues place us in the county of Somerset, where some of the local coal mines closed for good c1973. A Palladian style mansion which was constructed between 1721 and 1725 by a bankster financial terrorist called Henry Hoare II (what a great name for someone who creates counterfeit money from thin air and loans it out at outrageous levels of interest ) is Stourhead house (was called Stourton manor). Around 2 miles northwest of the house/estate, lies King Alfred's tower, which from the pictures I saw of it, does indeed seem to be triangular, this was also constructed by the nasty old banker.

Travelling around seven miles north/northwest of the Palladian house brings us to Nunney castle, this was constructed around 1370 by a Sir John de la Mere and bombarded by the Parliamentarians c1645. Some of the references I checked claim that the gun damaged section fell down on christmas day c1910. Two miles north of the castle takes us to the one horse dorp of Mells. Siegfried Sassoon (Mad Jack) the war poet is allegedly buried there as is one Christopher Hollis (born c1902) who lived in Mells for a time and was an MP, a writer for Punch magazine and an author. Mells is said to be where Little Jack Horner is from and the tasty plum he pulled out of the pie was said to be the ownership deeds to Mells Manor.

Five miles north/north west of Mells lies Downside Abbey, built in the early 19th century, it houses a school who's alumni are called 'Old Gregorians'. I looked at several references which say that a saint Oliver Plunkett's headless body is intered there (he was hung drawn and quartered by the vicious government sociopaths of the day) and that the church tower is 166ft high. Depending on which sources you look at, St Oliver Plunkett's feast day can be on the 1st or the 11th of July.

Northeast of Downside abbey is the town of Radstock, which was once home to the Marcroft wagon works which closed c1988. Ludlow, Huish and Coates refer to the coal mines/mining companies which were operating in the area around Radstock, prior to 1973. Two miles north of the Abbey puts us in the town of Midsomer Norton, where the Somerset and Dorset railway line is being restored by the Somerset and Dorset railway heritage trust. According to some sources, the Somerset and Dorset railway was created in 1862 when an act of parliament gave the green light for the amalgamation of the Somerset Central Railway and the Dorset Central Railway.

link to competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?