Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

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

Q1. Tarbet

Q2. Ru Stoer  aka Stoer Head lighthouse

(NB for question 2, there is a light marked on some maps next to Soyea island but from the directions given this is in the wrong location to be the lighthouse in question and the construction date and height make Ru Stoer a better candidate for the answer to this question. Some references call it Rhuba Stor lighthouse but most of the ones I looked at call it Ru Stoer).

From the initial clues given, the puzzle author is likely to be standing at a junction on the A894 where it loops around Loch a Bhagh Ghainmhich, in the northwest Sutherland region. Travelling northwest on the road leading from the junction with the A894, could lead you to the first hamlet of Tarbet, from where a ferry sometimes runs to Handa island, which is according to some sources, a nature reserve. On checking the OS map, the highest point on Handa island at 123 metres or around 404 feet, is found to be Sithean Mor. The island is reported to be around 764 acres in area. There is also a tiny dorp along that road called Fanagmore which has some islands next to it but there is no ferry marked on the map from there and the heights of the highest points on those islands don't match the information given in the clues (Eilean Ard 71 metres and Eilean a Mhadaidh 35 metres).

Around three miles southwest of the junction lies the second hamlet of Scourie, which is on a piece of land between Scourie bay and Loch a Bhadaidh Daraich. It was here that Bill Forsyth shot some of the scenes for the 1994 film 'Being Human' which was set over several historical periods and had Robin Williams, Ewan McGreggor and Robert Carlyle in it, to name a few of the actors in the very large cast.

From the description given, the third hamlet is most likely to be Kylestrome or Kylesku. The distance from Scourie looks to be around eight miles as the Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama flies but again if measuring by the car odometer, the road is twisty and turny and may well show a distance of 12 miles. The Kylesku bridge was constructed c1984 and from the photographs I looked at, there does seem to be a memorial cairn to the 12th submarine flotilla there. The submariners were a courageous bunch and travelled in tiny X-craft submarines (loaded with tonnes of Amatol high explosives) to Norway and did a bit of damage to a battleship called 'The Tirpitz'. Many of them did not survive this raid.

The distance measurement again is a little off but at this point (three twisty miles south of the third hamlet) I believe that the author was most likely at the junction of the A894 and the B869 close to Loch Unapool and around 14.5 miles west of this location would bring you to the vicinity of Stoer Head lighthouse (also known as Ru Stoer). The northern lighthouse board's web site claims that it was built c1870 by David and Thomas Stevenson and that it is around 14 metres or 46 feet high. There is another light near Soyea island in Loch Inver but this would be southwest of the junction described and seems to also be a radio beacon. There are reported to be dangerous Bonxies in this region, which swoop down from above on the heads of unwary travellers in the vicinity of the Ru Stoer lighthouse, not to mention fierce shape shifting Kelpies that inhabit the lochs and streams in this part of the world (Kelpies can be spotted in their human or other shifted forms, because they are always dripping wet, so don't let them borrow your I-phone, if you encounter one on your hiking trip)

Driving roughly two miles south from the junction of the A894/B869 brings us to a car park next to loch na Gainmhich and the cousin of the small waterfall there, which lies around three miles south east of the car park  and claims to be the largest cascade on the big British island, is most likely 'Eas a Chuall Alluin' at around 658 feet. Continuing down the A894 takes us to the A837 and Loch Assynt, to the east, dort auf dem schloss am meer (by yonder sea washed castle) of Ardvreck, to the west, towards the junction at the other end of the B869. The author would then likely follow the A837 west/south west, until it again meets the B869 and take that road to the Ru Stoer lighthouse.

Link to the competition

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

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

Q1. Bristol

Q2. Victoria Hughes

The initial clues place us in the city of Bristol. Bristol has two football clubs, Bristol city and Bristol Rovers. Bristol city started out as Bristol South End c1894 before turning professional and rebranding as Bristol city c1897. According to some of the references I checked, a footballer and cricketer born c 1928 who played for Bristol city fc was Clement Arthur Milton. There is a type of pasteboard called ' Bristol board' and a company called 'Bristol Water' but I could not find a cutlery cleaning product with that name or a dye.

A lavatory attendant and author, who by all accounts had a very tough life and wrote about her facility's clientele (mainly sex workers) was Victoria Hughes (b 1897). One of her books on this subject, published in 1977 was called 'Ladies' Mile' .

Bristol station was opened c1840 on land which used to belong to the Knights Templar. According to some of the sources I checked on this outfit, they started out as a bunch of ragged squaddies billeted in the motor pool in the ruins of Solomon's temple on top of mount Moriah. The scuttlebutt says that after finding something of incredible value in the mines under the temple, they became fabulously wealthy and ended up controlling the world banking system. 'Mines of Moriah' may mean real delvings beneath the temple of Solomon, or it may be a metaphor for a spiritual journey and transformation that the initiates of the order underwent. Interestingly, 'Gandalf the Grey' seems to have undergone a similar test and after meeting his Jungian shadow in the 'Mines of Moria', emerges later as 'Gandalf the White', a degree higher in his sodality....(If you believe that Mr Tolkien was a Christian, you may be a little naive in matters esoteric, though perhaps the occultists amongst the Inklings have imparted some of this knowledge to him, Owen Barfield (Rudolf Steiner disciple) and Charles Williams (Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, writer of occult novels and alleged H.O.G.D. member) are in the frame for this one). King Philip IV of France took a contract out on the Templars (he wanted to rip off their money) and most of them were killed around 1307. The Pope ordered the tyrannical fascist King Edward II of England to destroy the order but he held out until 1312 before breaking it up and executing many of the knights. Temple Church is near Temple Mead station in Bristol and according to English heritage, the tower is five feet off vertical.

A king who was imprisoned for a time in Bristol castle, was Stephen of England. His father count Stephen Henry was killed in the battle of Ramlah in the Levant c1102 according to some sources. A Bristol priory founded c1129 by Robert Earl of Gloucester, was St Jame's priory.

A musician born c1925 who attended Bristol Cathedral Choir School and who composed a piece of music called 'Primera' is most likely 'Russ Conway'.

Link to the competition

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Some huge giveaway clues this week. The most likely answers, near as I can figure it, seem to me to be:

Q1. Edinburgh

Q2. (Sir) James Young Simpson

The initial clues place us very obviously in one of the coldest places on earth, ie the city of Edinburgh. It has a castle and from the references I checked, a film festival that was established c1947. The university site claims that it was established c1583 and a pioneer in the use of chloroform, who was also a professor of Midwifery there and born c1811, was James Young Simpson. Queen Victoria made him a baronet for his work with the new anaesthetic, although he is regarded as a controversial figure in some quarters over the number of people he may have killed while perfecting its use. The novel is possibly 'Jude the Obscure' by Thomas Hardy published c1894/95 which features a character called 'Little Father Time' and some scenes from the 1996 film 'Jude' were shot in Edinburgh.

A film about an eccentric teacher shot c1969 was 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' and some of the scenes were set around Greyfriar's kirk and kirkyard.  A highland terrier (died c 1872) called 'Greyfriars Bobby' featured in a shocking 1961 film of the same name. The architect William Adam (b 1689) was nicknamed 'Old Stone and Lime' by his children and is said to be buried in Greyfriar's kirkyard in some references.

The Mons meg cannon is now situated in Edinburgh castle, where they fire a gun at one o clock every day, to let the locals know when it's lunchtime. The canon was made in Mons in the Duchy of Burgundy c15th century and was an astonishing piece of kit in its day, it was said that it could throw a 20" caliber, 400 pound cannon ball, a distance of two miles and was used to pound Dumbarton castle when James the IV had a bit of a falling out with a chancer called Lord Darnley. It was also reputed to have been placed on the large Scottish warship, the Great Michael, as part of its armament. The weapon was rendered unusable by a numpty from down south, who put too much powder in it while trying it out.

I found a reference to a Henry of Scotland who had one son born in Scotland who became king (Malcolm IV) and William (born in England) but have not found anything verifying that Malcolm was born in Edinburgh castle. St Margaret (feast day 16th November) is said to have died in Edinburgh castle and a 1999 film about a loan shark turned artist, featuring Billy Connolly, was 'The Debt Collector'. The station is most likely Edinburgh Waverley.

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

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. Saltburn by the Sea

Q2. William Scoresby

(NB for question1 this town is sometimes refered to simply as Saltburn but it is called Saltburn-by-the-Sea on some maps.For question 2 there was a William Scoresby senior and his son William jnr but it was Scoresby senior who allegedly invented the barrel crow's nest)

The initial clues place us in the town of Whitby (first mentioned town), which sits on the river Esk in north Yorkshire. The town some way to the northwest (second mentioned town) which the author says he visited en route, is most likely Saltburn by the Sea, it has a 207ft funicular tramway and a 681 foot pier, which was according to the references I checked, opened in 1869 and had an original length of 1500 feet. A town which lies to Saltburn's northwest (third mentioned town) and which had a pier that was said to be 45 foot long when it was demolished in 1981, is most likely Redcar.

There does appear to be a lighthouse in the vicinity of Whitby and the sources I looked at claim that it is 13 metres or around 43 feet high and was established c1858. Whitby is famous for among other things, fossilized monkey puzzle tree wood aka lignite or jet. Whitby abbey became a ruin after the Danes (ruddy 'ooligans) and old Henry the Eighth  trashed it, in the 9th and 16th centuries respectively. This vandalism was further compounded by Kaiser Bill, who sent admiral Von Hipper of the German imperial navy no less, over c1914 with a battle group to shell the coast of England (their cunning plan was to draw the British navy out to fight and then sink their ships). The abbey was hit by the bombardment and sustained damage. References checked claim it was founded c 657ad by king Oswy and ruled over by an abbess called Hild who later became saint Hild (feast day 17th november). Oswy who was born c611/612 ad may be buried in the abbey.

A shiver might have run down the writer's spine at this eldritch location, as it was here that Bram Stoker set some of the tale of his Jungian shadow 'Dracula' (the Eastender Himself prefers F.W.Murnau's version of this archetypal shade, which he rebranded as 'Nosferatu' and got sued by the Stoker estate for his trouble. A judge ordered the film to be burned but a copy survived and it is still surprisingly watchable today), though the 1863 novel he refers to is most likely 'Sylvia's Lovers' by Elizabeth Gaskell in which Whitby appears under the guise of a town called 'Monkshaven'. A navigator associated with Whitby who invented the barrel crow's nest, is most likely William Scoresby senior. Some of the references indicate that he did reach a latitude beyond 81 degrees north c1806.

link to the competition

Sunday Times Where Was I?