Saturday, 6 April 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Quite tricky this week, much 'chaff' to confuse the unwary puzzler with but near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Llanelli

Q2. Billy Fury

(N.B. for question one, I initially thought that the town could be Pontyberem but the railway line through it is marked as disused on the map and Llanelli was a terminus to a railway which closed in 1844, so is a better fit as the answer. For question two, Billy Fury's real name was Ronald Wycherley but the clue at the end suggests that they are looking for Billy Fury as the answer)

The initial clues place us in the Camarthenshire region of Wales, most likely the town of Llanelli. A rail line which had its terminus in the town and which according to the references I checked, closed in 1844 was the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr railway, which was formally known as the Camarthenshire Tramroad. Initially they did not have locomotives to pull the carriages so they used horses instead. A singer who was according to some sources born c1915 in a field close to the village of Pontyberem, was Dorothy Squires. She was married to the famous James Bond actor Roger Moore. Her first song according to several of her bios was 'When the Poppies Bloom Again' recorded c1936. I could not find a definitive answer to where her singing debut took place but the biographies say that she sang at local dances for a band called the Denzas, so it could be Llanelli, which would be the nearest large settlement with people looking for entertainment.

From the author's description, the clifftop castle is most likely to be Carreg Cennen (c 13th century), which is from the photographs, set in a stunning location overlooking a river and looks to  be around three miles from the railway tracks. The interior of the castle was demolished c1462.

Seven stations out from Llanelli brings us to Ffairfach which sits on the western edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The next stop after that is Llandeilo, which seems to be named after Saint Teilo (c 6th century and feast day February 9th). St Teilo had a pet dragon which came over all poorly after it bit a fierce vitriol spewing daily mail reader demon which was ranting and gibbering insanely about Welsh people, immigrants, religious minorities, chav-pikeys and benefit 'cheats' but it cheered up after Teilo said it could singe the nasty old fascist a bit with dragon fire. Saint T then lectured the foul imp to 'Read ye the works of Jung, particularly the sections on anger projection onto those who remind thee of thine own repressed unconscious complexes!', to 'Quit making those negative waves!' and 'to dig how righteous and beautiful it is out here!' before ordering it to leave town and never return. Teilo then had to administer some Ayahuasca jungle juice to the badly shaken dragon, to rebalance its chakras....

A hill fort which sits around four miles east northeast of Llandeilo is most likely to be Garn Goch (Red Cairn in English). The references say it covers around 27 or 28 acres, depending on which ones you read. A footballer who was born c1931 and who was evacuated to Llandeilo was 'The Gentle Giant' or 'Il Gigante Buono' as he was later known, John Charles. Charles is said to have scored a total of 42 goals in the 1953 - 1954 season. A village, which for obvious reasons is popular with philatelists who collect Christmas stamps, is Bethelehem, which looks to be around four miles or so from Llandeilo.

A town which is around eleven rail miles from Llandeilo, is Llandovery. A songwriter who was reputed to have owned a one hundred acre farm in the Llandovery area was Billy Fury (born circa 1940). He played the part of a Teddy Boy in a film called 'Strictly for Sparrows'. There is a Norman castle at Llandovery and the author is probably 'Fury-ous' after leaving his camera at home.

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