Sunday, 27 April 2014

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. Canovium

Q2. Rhos on Sea

внимание друзья! Again, a little more difficult this week. The fort at Canovium is also sometimes called Caerhun but as the puzzle author is a bit of a history buff, they are probably looking for the Roman version of the name. Not totally sure if Rhos-on-sea is a town in its own right , it is sometimes listed as being a suburb of Colwyn bay)

The initial clues seem to place us at Gwydir castle, in the Conwy region of Wales. The castle's web page claims that it has a ten acre grade 1 listed garden and the house appears to be Tudor in origin, being built for the Wynn family c 1500. Driving north along the B5106, would bring you to the village of Trefriw, the site of a chalybeate spa, which was according to some references, discovered by Legio XX (named Valeria Victrix, after they put down the Boudican rebellion c ad 60/61). The spa mineral water seems to be being sold to this very day.

Legio XX VV, depending on which sources you check,  may have been based at Tayside in Scotland for a time and also Chester, with forts at Northwich and Middlewich but a fort which lay near to the Trefriw wells spa, and which was used by them, was called Canovium and the name of the river Conwy, according to some sources, is possibly derived from the Celtic word for 'reedy one'. The OS map shows reeds and swampy ground near the remains of the fort at Canovium, which does lie next to the river as given in the clues.

Around six miles north of the spa, lies the town of Conwy. Conwy castle was built by a nasty old psychopath called Edward I (mother, Eleanor of Provence) and the town walls do seem to have twenty one towers.There is a three hundred and twenty six foot span at Conwy, which was allegedly built by Thomas Telford (born c 1757).

Journeying four miles or so to the north east of Conwy, brings us to the second town, Rhos-on-sea, a dorp which according to some sources, lost its pier to fire, c 1954. It does still have what is said to be the first permanent puppet theatre in the country, founded c 1958, ie the Harlequin Puppet Theatre.

The Eastender, as a paying customer, thinks the Sunday Times should offer more prizes to nice places like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and some of the Baltic states. He also now refuses to put a link in to the competition site, as it no longer displays the puzzle entry form.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

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. Captain Nicholas John Barker

Q2. Wimborne Minster

внимание друзья! Very difficult this week, there is not much information available online about the skipper of HMS Endurance during the Falklands conflict and the puzzle author has created a veritable smog of historical data to trawl through. For question 2, The address of St Cuthburga's church is given as : Church House High Street, Wimborne Minster, DORSET, BH21 1HT, so it does seem to be in the town of Wimborne Minster.

Pretty sure the initial clues place us at Canford school, in the locale of a village called Canford Magna, in Dorset. The captain of HMS Endurance (a ship that was painted bright red and nicknamed 'The Red Plum'), was according to some web sites about the school, once a pupil there. Some of the bios on Nick Barker (born c 1933), say that he wrote several books, including titles such as 'Beyond Endurance' and 'Red Ice'. HMS Endurance is said to have taken part in operation Paraquat (originally called parakeet but renamed after the weedkiller, as it was thought to be deadly to those who took part in it) to recapture the island of South Georgia. Endurance seems to have been used to drop SBS personnel onto south Georgia via WASP helicopter and to evacuate a wildlife film maker and her team from the island, with HMS Antrim locking horns with a submarine called Santa Fe, which subsequently decided to leave the area, after Antrim's helicopters altered the skipper's parameters of absolute reality, by dropping some depth charges on him. Barker was a wily sea captain, adept at tactics, strategy and did not like the Whitehall Mandarins much, as he had warned them that the Argentinians were planning to take their islands back. His advice was ignored and they took it as a signal that the British government were not too bothered about keeping them. One of the Argentine garrisons on south Georgia eventually surrendered to HMS Plymouth and HMS Endurance.

Converting 21000 acres to hectares (c 8500), helps us find the estate  four miles or so north west of Canford school (one Kingston Lacy), which the national trust says was bought by a lawyer called Sir John Bankes (c 1632). A descendant of the Lawyer, one William Bankes, is said by some sources, to have (ahem) 'borrowed' a pink obelisk from the Egyptians (c 1815). Some very entertaining stuff happened while they were trying to ship this needle back to the UK. It took seven years to move it, mainly because they dropped it into the Nile, while trying to load it on the transport ship and a gun battle broke out with a rival mob of Egyptologists, who wanted it for their collection.

Moving a mile and a half or so to the north west of Kingston Lacy, brings us to a hill fort called Badbury Rings (use metres, not feet to find this type of thing on an OS map ). The rings are shown as 99 metres in height, not 327ft, as given in the clues. Some references claim that the remains of a Romano-British town called Vindocladia, lie a mile or so to the south west of the fortifications.

Travelling two and a half miles west or so from the Badbury Rings, would bring you to Tarrant Crawford and the ruins of Tarrant Abbey.This is said in some references, to be the burial site of Queen Joan (22 July 1210 – 4 March 1238) , wife of Alexander II (a total bampot by all accounts) of Scotland.

Here, the puzzle compiler, tries to create a smog of data, to obfuscate our attempts to win the holiday. This guy Aethelbald, depending on which sources you check, seems to have had four brothers and most of them were buried in abbeys all over the place, για παράδειγμα:

Aethelbert, buried in Sherborne abbey, Aethelred, buried in Wimborne Minster, Alfred, buried in Hyde Abbey and Athelstan, buried in Malmesbury abbey (by way of further misdirection, there seems to be a 99 metre eminence (Cam's hill, an earth works, possibly a hill fort) shown on the OS map, near Malmesbury). From looking at the photographs of these abbeys/churches, the one that most fits the bill, is St Cuthburga's, a twin towered Norman church, in Wimborne Minster. It has an astronomical clock inside, an effigy of a 17th century grenadier on one of the towers and a very fine three faced sundial in the grounds. The hapless betowered squaddie, is known locally as 'Quarter Jack', because he is said to strike a bell, every quarter hour.

link to the competition: (If the Sunday Times IT bod has fixed the link that is.... ;-) )

Where Was I?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

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. Mr Mackay (played by Fulton Mackay)

Q2. Kirkintilloch

внимание друзья! It is not totally clear whether they are asking for the name of the jailer or the name of the actor who played him in 'Porridge' but as the actor's surname is the same as the jailer's, entering Mr Mackay and (played by Fulton Mackay) may be sufficient information.

The initial clues seem to place us on the Dumbarton road, in the Dalmuir district of Glasgow, specifically on the bridge which carries it over the Forth and Clyde canal. The Eastender himself has cycled this waterway, all the way to Dumbarton castle, where climbed he up the rugged stairs, some 300ft to the top. The view to the west, of the windswept firth of Clyde dort auf dem schloss am meer, is spectacular, as is the view to the north of Ben Lomond. However, I digress, some references claim that work started on the canal c 1768 and that it also has 39 locks. The bridge at Dalmuir is navigable to boats, solely because there is said to be a drop lock there, which allows the passage of vessels. Some references claim that the F&C canal was closed c 1963 and then restored to navigable condition c 2000, using money from the national lottery fund. (the Eastender does wonder however, if the writer was actually there, why there is no mention of the model of HMS Ramilles ,a dreadnought (built by artist Tom McKendrick) which sits atop a 26ft high tower, a few metres east of the bridge? possibly it was too big a giveaway to include it)

Following the canal east, brings us to Clydebank and it was here, at Clydebank high school, that some sources claim that an actor who played the demented jailer, Mr MacKay in the sitcom TV series 'Porridge', one Fulton Mackay (born c 1922), was educated. Other alumni from this place of learning are said to be the entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne and Marti Pellow of the band, Wet, Wet, Wet.

The puzzle writer appears to be driving right into the heart of Commanche territory, as his route brings him into a district named after the daughter of the Laird of Gairbraid, one Hew Hill. His daughter was called Mary Hill and was allegedly married to a guy called Robert Graham. Graham is said to have established the settlement there and named it after Mary c 18th century. The aqueduct referred to in the clues, is most likely the Kelvin aqueduct, which carries the F&C canal over the river Kelvin at Maryhill. The area around there is known locally as 'The Butney', which some sources claim is derived from the word 'Botany', as in 'Botany Bay', because convict labour was used to construct the aqueduct. The Eastender remembers well the story of a hapless entrepreneur, who back in the early nineteen eighties, opened a sex shop on the Maryhill road. Legend has it, that the parish priest contracted the Butney Bhoys (a local mutual aid 'fraternity'), to repeatedly smash the windows, until the aforementioned shopkeeper closed up and left. (aqua = water but a duct which carries aqua, is spelled aqueduct ? )

Following the canal further east brings us to the ground of a football club called 'Partick Thistle Nil' , Fir Park and this is also close to the location (870 Garscube road) of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh (architect b 1868) church. Continuing east along the canal takes us to Kirkintilloch, which was the birthplace of Tom Johnston, who according to some references was appointed lord privy seal c 1931. There is also an aqueduct in the locale, called 'The Luggie Water' aqueduct. It appears to carry the canal over the river Luggie and at one time a railway also went under it.

From looking at the OS map, there appear to be two roman forts, a roman camp and an earth works structure there, called 'The Antonine Wall'. The Eastender at one time was of the opinion that pungi sticks were invented by Victor Charlie, during the late unpleasantness in south east asia but in fact, there are pits along the Antonine Wall, which are said to have contained pungi sticks, that were concealed by turf or brushwood, so that any non switched on raiders, would blunder into them in the dark.

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

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. West Ham United 

Q2. William Kidd

внимание друзья!, for question 1, the team was originally called 'Thames Ironworks football club' but the question is asking what the name of the team is now, which is 'West Ham United'

The initial clues seem to place us around Blackwall/East India, in the city of London. Some references claim that the first British iron hulled and armoured warship, HMS Warrior was built and launched from the Thames Ironworks and Ship Building Company's site c1860, at the confluence of Bow creek and the river Thames between Canning town and Blackwall.  Depending on which source you check, the displacement of  HMS Warrior is given as 9137 tons/9284 tons.

According to some sources there were four super dreadnought Orion class battleships of around 22,000 tons displacement, built and launched around 1910 - 1912. These were HMS Orion (built at Portsmouth), HMS Monarch (built at Elswick), HMS Conqueror (built at Dalmuir) and HMS Thunderer (built at Thames Ironworks c1910). The Thames Ironworks and Ship Building Company seems to have closed due to lack of orders and bankruptcy following completion of Thunderer c1912. (HMS Thunderer was later lost in action, while trying to ram a Martian fighting machine in the English channel ;-)   ).

Some of the references claim that Thames Ironworks f.c was founded c 1895 and later became West Ham United  c 1900. West Ham are known as 'The Irons' or 'The Hammers', because of the former name of the iron works team and allegedly because of the sound of the hammers hitting the rivets at the ship yard.

The puzzle author most likely then visits the only lighthouse in London ,constructed c 1864 by James Douglass, the Bow Creek lighthouse. The lighthouse was according to some sources, used by Michael Faraday to conduct experiments into electric lighting. 

Five tube stops along from East India takes us to Limehouse station and sauntering down to the river would bring us to the Shadwell/Wapping district where a Judge called George Jeffreys,1st Baron Jeffreys (born c1645),was lifted by the goon squad, in a pub, dressed as a sailor according to some accounts, while trying to flee the country during a Dutch backed regime change operation against James II, who also did a runner.

A place where they hanged pirates and smugglers in Wapping was 'Execution Dock' and it was here that a seafarer accused of piracy, called William Kidd (born c  1645) was hanged on the 23rd of May 1701, after a long struggle to try and clear his name. 

Think the Sunday times is possibly produced in Wapping, so the author may well be headed there after his tour.

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

An Infinite Number of Monkeys?

Fery Interestink, the same week that the Eastender was reading a fourteenth century grimoire on practical theurgy, sixteenth and nineteenth century tracts on Enochian and Neo Enochian methods, the word ANGEL appeared very prominently in the first column of the Thunderball data (Enochian and Neo Enochian practitioners attempt to use their art to communicate with and petition the intervention of, the cosmic civil servants who they believe run the universe, aka angels).What has caused this strange synchronicity? is it merely random noise in the data along the lines of an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, or is there some kind of bizarre ouija board effect going on?.........