Saturday, 28 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Melrose

Q2. The Leaderfoot viaduct

(N.B. for question two, this span is sometimes referred to as the Drygrange railway viaduct, British Rail Bridge Number 401/61; 'Tripontium' viaduct; Bridge Pool viaduct; Blackrock Pool viaduct, St Boswells Drygrange viaduct. The Eastender is taking a punt that the answer will be the one that's on the tourist blurb for the area, ie the Leaderfoot viaduct)

The initial clues place us most likely in the town of Melrose, in the Scottish border country. According to some sources, a sporting event called the 'Melrose Sevens' was started there c 1883. It was basically a form of rugby with smaller teams and fifteen  minutes playing time (two halves of 7.5 minutes duration). The sevens game has spread around the world and the number of players and match durations, may have evolved since then.

Melrose abbey was said to have been founded by David I of Scotland, c 1136 and Alexander II of Scotland (wives Joan of England and Marie de Coucy) and the heart of Robert the Bruce (mother, Marjorie of Carrick) are reputed to be buried there. A second abbey around three miles to the south east of Melrose, is likely to be Dryburgh abbey. Driving east from Melrose would bring us to the site of the Roman fort of Trimontium, so called because to the south west of that position, lie three lofty eminences, which make up the Eildon hills.

The nearest viaduct to the Trimontium fort site, is most likely the Leaderfoot viaduct, which has nineteen arches and in some references is said to be 38.4 metres high or 126 feet. Depending on which source you check, it was built by the Berwickshire railway c 1863 or c 1865 and closed c 1965. The viaduct does not seem to be visible from the site of the fort but can be viewed, by looking to the west, from the road bridge which carries the A68 across the Tweed. The OS map, shows a footpath/walking trail going across the viaduct.

Travelling two miles or so south south east of the viaduct takes us to Dryburgh abbey, founded c 1150. In the graveyard there lie the remains of the best general the Germans ever had, with two million British casualties resulting from his 'cunning plans', the completely hatstand Field Marshall Douglas Haig (born c 1861). There is a theory that Haig was acting under the unconscious influence of primitive baboon genes inherited from one of his ancestors, which compelled him to attempt the elimination of the genetic competition, by sending them all off to war to get killed.The poet is most likely Sir Walter Scott, whose remains are also said to be buried at Dryburgh abbey. Scott wrote a poem about a smile, which is where the quotation "
Ne'er Was flattery lost on poet's ear A simple race they waste their toil For the vain tribute of a smile" seems to originate.

A tower which lies around three miles north east of Dryburgh abbey, is likely to be Smailholm Tower. Allegedly built for the Pringle clan c 15th century, it was once owned by Sir Walter Scott's ancestors and it was said that he often visited his grandfather there as a child. Historic Scotland claim that the tower is twenty metres or sixty five feet high. Scott himself, is said to have lived in Abbotsford house, which is situated to the west of  Melrose, near Galashiels. The last quote is possibly from Scott's 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel', written c 1805. (Canto #6 of a very long poem, written in a faux medieval style).

"O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!"

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Falmouth

Q2. Operation Chariot

(N.B. for question 2, this WWII operation is sometimes referred to as the 'St Nazaire Raid')

The initial clues most likely place us on the Maritime Line (around 11 3/4 miles long), which runs between Truro and Falmouth, in Cornwall. Several references claim that Falmouth docks opened c1861 and the harbour there, is said to be the deepest in western Europe. The first station which the puzzle author stopped at, from the information given, is likely to be Perranwell, which is around half a mile north of Perranaworthal village, where Tullimaar house lies. Tullimaar house was, according to some sources, used by General Dwight David Eisenhower (born c 1890, in Denison Texas) for two weeks c 1944. The same house was also for a time, said to be the home of William Golding, author of a book called 'Lord of the Flies', which features characters called Ralph and Jack and was published c 1954. Golding won a Nobel prize (c 1983) for his writing.

The creekside town passed through is probably Penryn (though there are several other creekside settlements in the area) and there seem to have been eight viaducts on this line at one time,with some of them being rebuilt or turned into embankments. These are the Penwithers, Ringwell, Carnon, Perran, Ponsenooth, Pascoe, Penryn and Collegewood viaducts. The one which is the most likely fit for the clues given, seems to be Collegewood, as it has similar dimensions at around 100 feet (30 metres) high and 291 metres (318 yards) and is said in some sources, to be the last timber viaduct to have been replaced in Cornwall and dates from around 1863.

The castle near the station terminus in Falmouth, is called Pendennis castle (built c 1539).The Operation Chariot (St Nazaire Raid) was launched from Falmouth and it involved several converted destroyers, a fleet of small boats carrying commandos and several MTBs, which were towed by the destroyers to conserve fuel. The purpose of the attack, was to destroy the Normandie dry docks at St Nazaire, to deny the only site big enough to carry out repairs to ships like the Bismarck. The raid was successful, in that the destroyer Campbeltown, packed with explosives, was driven into the dry dock gates and scuttled, so that the Germans could not move it. It subsequently blew up, rendering the facility unusable for years after. The commandos trashed the town and the dockyard infrastructure before they ran out of ammunition, with some of them surrendering and becoming POWs. It seems that most of the small boats they had planned to make good their escape in, were shot up and sunk, so the escape had to be attempted overland.

Some sources claim that Falmouth pier was opened c 1905 and is around five hundred and ten feet long. Falmouth seems to have been a hub for the post office packet service in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and an author who stayed at the Greenbank hotel and wrote a book called 'Wind in the Willows', which features a road raging character named 'Toad of Toad Hall' (he shouted 'poop poop', when he was near or in motor vehicles),was Kenneth Grahame. Grahame worked in the Bank of England and is said in some references to have been lucky to have survived several assassination attempts by rival banksters, while working there. He would not be able to write 'Wind in the Willows' today, as the coalition government have ordered the badgers killed. There are several ferries operating from Falmouth, travelling to destinations like St Mawes and Truro, which don't sound particularly foreign. There is a ferry which goes to Flushing, which is also the name of a place in Holland.

Where Was I?

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Huddersfield

Q2. Celia Johnson

(N.B. for question two the actress's full name/title is given in some references as Dame Celia Elizabeth Johnson)

The initial clues place us most likely in the vicinity of the town of Huddersfield. There are several viaducts near this settlement, the Denby Dale viaduct and the Paddock viaduct for example but the one that is a good fit for the description in the puzzle, with 32 arches, a construction date of c 1850, by a civil engineer called Sir John Hawkshaw (born c 1811), is the Lockwood viaduct, which does seem to lie on the south western outskirts of the town. A politician who spoke of 'the white heat of revolution', in reference to technological progress, was Sir Harold Wilson, who in some references, is said to have been born in the Cowlersly district of Huddersfield c 1916. Lockwood viaduct does not look to be east/north east of this area, although if the puzzle author is referring to the bearing of the town from the suburb, the directions given make a little more sense.

Several references claim that at 1600, Huddersfield has the third most listed buildings in the UK. Huddersfield station is said by some sources to have been constructed c 1846 - 1850 by architect James Piggot Pritchet and son. The station was because of its Corinthian columns, once described as 'a stately home for trains'. A rare three wheeled car built in Huddersfield between the years 1919 and 1924 is most likely the L.S.D car. In this case L.S.D does not mean that it could fly way out yonder but rather the initials are said to stand for Longbottom, Sykes and Dyson, who were the designer,manufacturer and accountant, respectively of the company which constructed the strange vehicles.

A prime minister who was schooled in Huddersfield and who is listed in some references, as being chancellor of the exchequer between 1905 and 1908, is most likely Henry Herbert Asquith and a musician/bandmaster, who was born c 1878 and who died in 1912 (because the poor sod was on the RMS Titanic) is likely to be Wallace Henry Hartley, who lived in Huddersfield for a time. An actress who made her debut at the theatre royal in Huddersfield c 1928 playing the part of Sarah, in George Bernard Shaw's 'Major Barbara', is most likely to be Celia Johnson who also starred in a David Lean film called 'Brief Encounter', along with Trevor Howard c1945. A great old British actor called James Mason, who starred as Lord Rohan in a 1943 movie called 'The Man In Grey', is said in some references to have been born in Huddersfield c 1909.

The sport of Rugby league is said to have been founded in the George Hotel, Huddersfield c 1895 and Huddersfield Town F.C are said to have won three successive league titles c 1926.

link to the competition

Where Was I?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Shapinsay

Q2. Stronsay

(N.B. for question one, it is a little unclear whether the first island is Shapinsay or Mainland but as the puzzle author says the second island is Wyre and the first mention of an island is describing Shapinsay, the Eastender is taking a punt that the first one is in fact Shapinsay)

The initial clues most likely place us at Kirkwall ( a busy ferry port), on an island in the Orkneys group, which bizarrely seems to be called 'Mainland'. Some sources claim that the first dedicated armed forces newspaper, the 'Orkney Blast', was started here during world war II, by a writer and soldier called Major Eric Linklater (born c 1899). Linklater seems to have been an incredibly industrious and prolific writer (despite being shot up during world war I), who won several awards, both for his books and for his public service. Some references say that he is buried in the Harray parish kirkyard, which looks to be around ten miles or so north west of Kirkwall. He does seem to have published a book called 'Private Angelo' c 1946, which is said to be a war satire.

An island which lies to the east of some of the northern ferry routes out of Kirkwall and which has as its highest point 'Ward Hill', at two hundred and ten feet or sixty four metres, is likely to be Shapinsay. Balfour castle lies on its western tip and according to some sources, it was designed by an Edinburgh architect called David Bryce (born c 1803). Bryce was known for his baronial style designs. Hakon Hakonarson, once a king of Norway, is said to have assembled a fleet off the village of Balfour, in Elwick bay c 1263, in order to do battle with the Scots at Largs. As it turns out, they should have stayed put, because some of their fleet ran aground in a storm and the Scottish squaddies waiting on the beach at Largs, kicked seven bells out of Hakon and his team. Ayre seems to be a norse word for a strip of sea which has been cut off from the main body of water by a narrow neck of land. Shapinsay has a few, the Ayre of Vasa/Vasa Loch and Lairo water, for example. The OS map shows a swamp/nature reserve called Balaclava, to the north of Elwick bay, on Shapinsay.

The second island, which lies three and a half miles or so north west of Shapinsay, is likely to be Wyre. Edwin Muir the poet (born c 1887), is said in some of his bios, to have lived there until the age of fourteen, when he tragically had to leave his Orcadian paradise and go and live in county Hell (aka mainland Britain). Muir is said to have written a poem called 'The Horses', in some references. The oldest stone built castle in Scotland, (Cubbie Roo's Castle) is said to be on Wyre (constructed c 1145 ad), for a big bampot of a giant called Kolbein Hruga. Kolbein Hruga got banned from every pub on the island and the only place he could get a drink was at the lodge, which only opens on Wednesdays.

The fourth island is likely to be Sanday, according to the Northern Lighthouse Board, it does have a lighthouse at Start Point, which is said to have been constructed by Robert Stevenson c 1806 and is around twenty five metres  or eighty two feet high. The ferry route looks to pass close to Sanday (about two miles on the map), before it turns to the south and the pier at Whitehall village, on Stronsay. From the south coast of Stronsay, it should be possible (weather permitting), to see the island of Auskerry, which some sources say is around two hundred and ten acres in area. The NLB claim that the one hundred and eleven foot lighthouse on Auskerry, was built by David and Thomas Stevenson c 1866. A 'Gloup' is said to be a partially collapsed sea cave (the word is probably onomatopoeic, gloup being the noise the sea makes as it slops in). According to the OS map, there seems to be one on Stronsay and its called the 'Vat of Kirbuster Gloup'.

Link to the competition

Where Was I?