Saturday, 27 April 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

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

Q1. Hythe

Q2. Colin MacInnes

The initial clues can cause some confusion as the author is not talking about optical mirrors but rather the concrete accoustic mirrors they built in various coastal areas of the UK before WWII, in an attempt to detect enemy aircraft by listening for their approach. They did work to an extent but due to the progress in aircraft engine technology and the resulting increase in speed, the warning time was short and the accoustic detection system was eventually replaced by radar. The issue is also confusing because there are concrete acccoustic mirrors in several British coastal locations and on an island on Greatstone lakes, on the edge of Greatstone on Sea, which is just down the road from Hythe but from the description, there is said to be in several references, a thirty foot concrete accoustic mirror on an area of land known as 'The Roughs' on the outskirts of the town of Hythe, in Kent.

 A canal in the locale of Hythe, which was said to have been completed c1806, is most likely 'The Royal Military Canal' and a factory there which made 'Milk Stout' was Mackeson's which is reported to have ceased operations c1968. An author who lived in Hythe and penned a novel called 'The Heat of the Day' c1949, which featured characters called Stella Rodney and Robert Kellway, was Elizabeth Bowen. There is a tunnel near Sandling station north of the town but couldn't find any references relating it to a treaty, unless it has something to do with the Channel tunnel treaty, as the terminal is nearby, in Folkstone.

Francis Pettit Smith (b1808) is said by some sources to have invented the screw propellor, his father was the postmaster in Hythe and a lifeboat designer who is buried in the town is most likely Lionel Lukin. An author who wrote about a London pimp called 'Billy Whispers', in a novel called 'City of Spades' was Colin MacInnes, who is said to have lived in Hythe for a time. There is an eleventh century church in Hythe called St Leonard's and one of it's claims to fame is that it has a crypt full of bones, around 1,100 skulls and about 8000 thigh bones.

link to the competition:

Where Was I?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

They might as well just have posted the answers up, which near as I can figure it this week, seem to me to be

Q1. The Union canal

Q2. Linlithgow

The initial clues place us in the town of Ratho, which lies on the western edge of Scotland's second city, Edinburgh. A canal which starts twenty miles away at Grangemouth and which was constructed c1790, is most likely the Forth and Clyde canal. The second canal, which from the sources I checked follows a contour of around 240 feet, is most likely the Union canal, which was constructed circa 1818 - 1822. The town of Ratho, which the canal passes through, claims to have the worlds largest indoor climbing centre and was according to some references, the birthplace of a sculptor called David Watson Stevenson, whose works included a statue called 'Highland Mary'. I found several references which claim that the Union canal had an eleven flight lock, which was demolished, possibly some time during the 1930s.....

The three aqueducts on the Union canal are Slateford aqueduct, Almond aqueduct (aka Lin's Mill aqueduct) and Avon aqueduct. The one which best fits the description is the Almond aqueduct which from the satellite picture has five arches and according to the references checked is said to be 420 feet long. A little way northeast of the aqueduct lies a railway viaduct called the 'Birds Mill Viaduct' which looks to be a good fit for the description given by the puzzle author, there is a much larger viaduct further north which crosses the Almond valley (Almond Aqueduct) but this is said to be around two kilometers long.

The second town is most likely to be Linlithgow and it was here that the battle of Linlithgow bridge was fought on sept 4th 1526. The battle is said to be the result of an attempt to bust the young king james V out of jail in Edinburgh, where he was being held captive by Archibald Douglass. The rescuer army was headed by a guy called the Earl of Lennox and consisted of around 10,000 men. He made the classic mistake of getting bottle necked trying to cross the river and Douglass's reinforcements from Edinburgh defeated them, with the loss of around 3000 men.

Linlithgow palace was said to have been renovated by James I of Scotland (mother Annabella Drummond) and the king was murdered by assassins at Blackfriars in Perth c1437. People from Linlithgow are known locally as 'Black Bitches' as this is the name of the oldest pub there and because of the legend of the black dog which swam out to an island on Linlithgow loch, to bring food to a man who was condemned to die by starvation by being chained up there. Unfortunately, the local goon squad caught the poor auld dog and chained it up on an island to starve as well.

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

Saturday, 13 April 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. Liverpool

Q2. Harvey Lonsdale Elmes

The three graces clue is a bit of a give away, this is what they call the three buildings which stand at a place called Pier Head in the magical and marvelous city of Liverpool, which spawned the 'Quarrymen' (gawd bless 'em) who later evolved into the Beatles, who ye all know and ken. The buildings are 'The Royal Liver Building' built circa 1908 - 1911 (295ft high with some sculpted liver birds on top) and 102 years old, the 'Cunard building' built circa 1914 - 1916 and the 'Port of Liverpool building' built circa 1903 - 1907. The author is probably referring to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which claims to be one of the oldest surviving in the UK (founded c 1840). The city was nearly destroyed by a wicked auld witch and an army of blue meanies back in the nineteen eighties but she fell off her broomstick after swooping a bit too low and being hit by groundfire from a flak tower over near Paddy's Wigwam and won't ever be coming back. Die hexe was last seen being carried back to London by her meanies, trailing smoke and screeching like a demented banshee.

An actor who some sources say was born in the Dingle, in Liverpool c1900 and who starred in a radio show called 'Band Waggon', is most likely Arthur Askey. An artist who is famous for painting horses and born in Liverpool c1724 was George Stubbs. A cathedral south east of Pier Head is Liverpool Anglican cathedral which the sources I checked, claim has a tower which is 331 feet high. It is also reported to have an organ and a sculpture unveiled in 1993 called 'The Risen Christ' by Elisabeth Frink, who unfortunately died from cancer shortly after completing it.

A neo classical building around three quarters of a mile north west of the cathedral and beside Lime street station, is St George's Hall. The references I checked for this claim that the main hall is around 169 feet long, that it has an organ and that two architects worked on its construction,from 1841 - 1854. They were Harvey Lonsdale Elmes (b 1814 - 1847) who died before it was completed and Sir Charles Cockerell (1788 - 1863) who took over the project when Elmes passed away. Frank Hornby a manufacturer of toy trains and railway stations, is said to have been born in Liverpool.

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.