Saturday, 26 October 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. The Innocent Railway

Q2. Dalkeith

The initial clues seem to place us on a cycle path, which follows the route of the old Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway. According to some sources, this used to be known as 'The Innocent Railway', probably because it used horses to pull the carriages and freight wagons, thus making it much safer than the early steam engines. The railway closed c1968, with the section between Newington/St Leonards and Craigmillar being reinvented as 'The Innocent cycle path' c 1981. The Innocent railway tunnel (517 metres or 565 yards), is claimed in some references, to pass under Holyrood Park (640 acres) and the highest point in this park, is Arthur's Seat, shown as 251 metres (823 feet) on some maps.

Near the Craigmillar end of the cycle path, lies Craigmillar castle, which depending on the source you check, is listed as c 14th or 13th century. The Historic Scotland web site puts the tower house at around 17 metres or 56 feet high. It is claimed in some texts on the subject, that Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle when the plot (with or without her knowledge) to whack her husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was carried out. The castle is beautiful and if you like the medieval period (the Eastender does), looks like it could be worth a visit.

Travelling two miles of so west of the castle, would bring us to the Royal Observatory, which seems to have been there since at least the 18th century, though astronomy was being taught in Edinburgh as early as the 16th century. A mining village four miles or so east north east, from the vicinity of Craigmillar castle and which used to be on the route of Innocent railway line, is most likely Newcraighall, where c 1972, the film director Bill Douglas shot some of the scenes from his film 'My Childhood'. This movie was part of a trilogy, with the other two being 'My Ain Folk' and 'My Way Home'.

The architect John Adam (b c 1721) is said to have studied at Dalkeith grammar school. Dalkeith lies three or so miles south of Newcraighall.John Adam's grave is in Greyfriars kirkyard and he died c 1792, which is 39 years before the Innocent railway came into being (c 1831).

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

Saturday, 19 October 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. Cilmeri

Q2. John Osborne

(N.B. for question one, Cilmeri also appears on some maps as Cilmery)

The initial clues seem to place us on the 'Heart of Wales' railway line, which some sources claim runs from Llanelli to Craven Arms, across the Welsh-English border. A span which was built c 1868 by the Central Wales Extension Railway (CWER), to carry the line over the Afon Bran river, is most likely the Cynghordy viaduct, which is said in some references, to be around two hundred and eighty three yards long, have eighteen arches and looks to be in the region that the puzzle author is describing, near Llandovery, which is around thirty miles or so from Llanelli. The OS map shows a tunnel just before Sugar-Loaf Halt station, north east of the viaduct.

The settlement which claims to be the smallest town in Britain, with a population of around six hundred or so people and which lies on the Heart of Wales line, is likely to be Llanwrtyd Wells. It sounds like a quirky place, they seem to hold 'men versus horse' races and 'bog snorkelling' events there. The village with the spring containing Barium Chloride, is said in some references, to be Llangammarch Wells. A village where a battle was fought c 1282 on the 11th of December, is probably Climeri or Climery (English spelling), where a prince called Llywelyn Ap Gruftydd (mother Senana Ferch Rhodri) was killed in the melee after fighting bravely against the nasty old fascist, Edward the first.

The Heart of Wales line crosses over the river Wye, which is around one hundred and thirty to one hundred and thirty four miles long, depending on which source you check. The next viaduct that the puzzle author mentions, is probably the Knucklas viaduct, which is described in some texts as having thirteen arches. The fourth town that the train halts at could be Craven Arms, as the playwright John Osborne (born c 1929) lived in Clun, which lies six miles or so to the west. Osborne wrote the play 'Look Back in Anger' c 1956, which is about an angry malcontent called Jimmy Porter and his wife Allison, talking politics and ranting about the establishment, in a grungy flat. Osborne may have created this genre of 'angry young men' and 'kitchen sink' dramas.

Where Was I?

Saturday, 12 October 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. Garmondsway

Q2. Chesney Allen

(N.B there are around one hundred and fourteen deserted villages listed for Durham but one which looks like it could be a good fit, being four miles or so west south west of Station Town, is Garmondsway)

The initial clues place us most likely in Station Town, which is listed as being a village, in the county of Durham, and could be why the puzzle author has used the quote marks around the word town. There does seem to be a dismantled railway line near this hamlet and it looks like it passed slightly to the north west, though there are also remnants of a disused line approaching from the south (now a walking trail). About four miles west south west of there, according to the OS map, lies the abandoned medieval village of Garmondsway (this is also listed as a deserted medieval village and field system on some heritage sites). Six miles or so south east of Station Town, lies the port and former shipbuilding town of Hartlepool. Some references claim that the last ship constructed in the town, called the Blanchland, was launched from there c 1961. The settlement was shelled heavily by the imperial German navy c 1914, with around 119 casualties and six members of the Durham Light Infantry being killed in the attack, which was one of the first of the war and became known as the 'Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby raid'. An Indian built frigate, which lies in the harbour museum there, is most likely HMS Trincomalee, which was according to the ship's official web site, constructed in India c 1817.

Hartlepool abbey was according to some sources constructed on a headland called the Heugh, c 640 ad and the first abbess was a Saint Hieu (feast day 21 Sep). The second abbess was a saint Hilda (feast day Nov 17) and St Hilda's church, which now stands on the Heugh headland, is dedicated to her memory. The author Compton Mackenzie is said in some references, to have been born in west Hartlepool c 1883, he was a very prolific writer and is probably remembered more for his work 'Whisky Galore', than for the book which features John Ogilvie, 'The Four Winds of Love'. Depending on which source you check, the comedian Chesney Allen was born c1893 or 1894 and died in 1982. I found one reference which claims that his first week away from his home in London, was spent in repertory, at the Grand, in west Hartlepool c 1912. The comedy duo Flanagan and Allen did a sketch called 'Oi', a version of which can be heard on Spotify.

Where Was I?

Saturday, 5 October 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. Rev Richard Harris Barham aka Thomas Ingoldsby

Q2. Dymchurch

(N.B. for question one, Rev Richard Harris Barham wrote his stories under the pen name of Thomas Ingoldsby, they are possibly looking for the author's real name as the answer, as opposed to the nomme d'plume. For question two, some references claim that E.Nesbit and Tommy Tucker, built a house in the village of St Mary's bay near Dymchurch but this lies to the east of St Mary in the Marsh and other sources claim that the Nesbits holidayed in Sycamore house in Dymchurch proper, which does lie north east of St Mary in the Marsh. The Eastender, is taking a punt on the answer being Dymchurch).

The initial clues most likely place us in the town of Lydd, which lies in the marshes, in the county of Kent. The quote "The world according to the best geographers is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh" , is said in some references, to originate from a Rev Richard Harris Barham, who wrote under the pen name 'Thomas Ingoldsby' and published a collection of what are described as burlesque horror stories, set in the Romney Marshes, c 1840, The collected works were known as 'The Ingoldsby Legends'. Some of Barham's biographies claim that he was one of the founders of the Garrick club c 1832 (he also founded a club called the 'Wig Club').

The longest church in the county of Kent, is said to be, in some references, "All Saint's Church", in the town of Lydd. It's dimensions are given as, one hundred and ninety nine feet long, with a tower around one hundred and thirty two feet high. The master of 'The Discovery', Thomas Edgar (born 1745) which was captain Cook's ship on his voyages of exploration between 1776 and 1780, is reportedly buried in the churchyard there. From the OS map, it looks like Lydd has a firing range south west of it and this could be where the explosive Lyddite (made in part from Pycric acid), was tested before being used in anger, during the first world war. There was a battle between two kings for control of Kent c 798 ad, they were called Coenwulf of Mercia (father Cuthbert) and Eadberht III Praen. It seems that Coenwulf had to get permission from the pope to move against Eadberht, as he was some sort of 'made' guy and couldn't be touched. I could'nt find any references detailing where this struggle took place but Eadberht lost and had his eyes put out and his hands cut off, by a victorious Coenwulf. The OS map does show locations near Lydd marked as Swamp Level Crossing, Sheep Wash and Sheepfold.

A hamlet northeast of Lydd, which lies two miles or so inland, is most likely St Mary in the Marsh and it is in the churchyard here, that some sources claim that the author Edith Nesbit (b 1858 - d 1924) is said to be buried. Edith's second husband was known as Thomas 'The Skipper' Tucker. Nesbit herself was allegedly a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and active in founding the Fabian society.Some references indicate that there is a plaque on Sycamore house, commemorating the author, in the village of Dymchurch, which is around two miles north east of St Mary in the Marsh and Nesbit and her family were said to have rented this place, while holidaying there.

The third author (b 1885) is most likely to be Russell Thorndike, he wrote some books about a swashbuckling vicar called Dr Syn, which were set in the area of Dymchurch and the Romney Marshes. The first one seems to be called 'Dr Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh'. They sound very entertaining and the Eastender may download one to his Kindle, if he can find them in the archives.

Where Was I?