Saturday, 28 June 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. The National Memorial Arboretum

Q2. Private Herbert Burden

внимание друзья! The private's full name is given in some bios as 'Herbert Francis Burden'

It was with heavy heart that the Eastender wrote his puzzle blog this week, it was sobering and truly horrifying to read about the vast numbers of British, Commonwealth, Allied and indeed 'enemy' service personnel, who lost their lives in these insane conflicts, many of whom are commemorated at the National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire, which is where the initial clues seem to place us. There are trees and sculptures dedicated to many different outfits, from different branches of the armed forces and civilian emergency services at this place. The NMA website states that it has around 50,000 trees, c 200 memorials and covers about 150 acres.

It seems to be one hundred years and a day since a bloke called Archie Duke, shot an ostrich because he was hungry, thus precipitating the industrial scale carnage of the first world war. The National Memorial Arboretum, according to their web site, was founded c 1997 using some money from the lottery fund, to reclaim a disused gravel pit.

There appear to be memorials to HMS Barham, HMS Kenya and a host of other otriads who were sucked into these armed struggles. A monument which depicts one of the ghastlier aspects of WWI is likely 'The Shot at Dawn' memorial, which commemorates some of the poor sods who had shell shock, decided to go home and were subsequently shot by firing squad, for making this very sensible decision. The model for the statue of the poor blindfolded squaddie, is said by some sources, to be a 17 year old private (born 22nd March, c 1898), called Herbert Francis Burden. Some references claim that he is also remembered on a wooden carving  in a church in Catford or Lewisham, probably because he was born in Lewisham.

The morse code clue has a flaw in it, it seems to refer to the one of the carvings on the GCHQ memorial
"--./-.-./-.-./…. ", the error is that there is an extra dot, due to the full stop in the clues text. If you remove this extra dot, the code en clair, becomes 'GCCS' which appears to stand for 'Government Code and Cypher School', which is carved on a stone sphere on the GCHQ sculpture at the NMA. There is also an inscription in binary on the globe, which is thought to represent the letters 'GCHQ'.

The forest proper which the puzzle author refers to, is most likely 'The National Forest'. The blurb on their website, says that it is 200 square miles in area and that there is a trail starting at the NMA which extends over seventy five miles through der wald, called 'The National Forest Way'.

According to some of his bios, the ninth astronomer royal seems to have been a chap called 'Frank Watson Dyson' (born c 1868), at Baptist Manse, Measham, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Derbyshire. Ashby-de-la-Zouch is shown as being in Leicester on some maps (they've possibly moved the county line since that biography was written ).

Saturday, 21 June 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. Shrewsbury

Q2. Noel Hill (First Lord Berwick)

внимание друзья! Noel Hill is listed in some references, as first Baron Berwick but the National Trust, who look after Attingham Park, call him '1st Lord Berwick'.

The initial clues seem to place us around six miles north north west of Shrewsbury, which is listed as the county town of Shropshire. There were two castles in that area at one time, Wilcott castle near Nesscliffe and Shrawardine castle (parts of which lie either side of the river Severn). Shrawardine is the most likely fit with the clues, as it seems to have been destroyed by the Welsh c 1215 (by a force led by Llewelyn ap Iowerth). Some sources claim that it was rebuilt by John Fitz Alan (c 1244) and renamed 'Castle Isabela', after his wife. From the photographs of it, there seem to be only a few stones left standing on the site.

A ruined fortified manor house built c 13th century for Robert Burnell, a bishop who was appointed chancellor (c 1274), is most likely Acton Burnell castle, which lies around seven miles or so, south east of Shrewsbury.

An estate which sits four miles east/south east of Shrewsbury, is probably Attingham Park. The National Trust website, claims that it was built by the first Lord Berwick, who from a quick check of some of his biographies, was called Noel Hill (born c 1745 and appointed mp for Shrewsbury c 1768).

A ruined abbey which is situated three miles north east of the town centre is most likely to be Haughmond Abbey, which English heritage claim has a substantially surviving chapter house with a frontage richly bedecked with twelfth and fourteenth century carving and statuary.

Travelling five and a half miles from the abbey, would bring us into the vicinity of Morton Corbett castle, which English heritage say is a ruined medieval castle and a Tudor  manor house which once belonged to the Corbetts. The house was destroyed during the English civil war. Two miles north west of Haughmond abbey, is the site of the battle of Shrewsbury (c 21st July 1403). This looks to have been a bit of a donnybrook involving the exchange of a very large number of arrows, between the Lancastrian king, Henry IV and a gang of hooligans, led by Henry 'Harry Hotspur' Percy (aus Northumberland). The Northumbrians seem to have lost this battle.

Saturday, 14 June 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. Stirling

Q2. Oliver Bulleid

внимание друзья! Oliver Bulleid is listed in some of his biographies, as Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid.

The initial clues, seem to me to place us in Stirling, which was according to some of the references I checked, awarded city status c 2002, to celebrate her majesty's golden jubilee. A king who died in Stirling c 1124, is most likely Alexander the first of Scotland (father Malcolm III) and the member of parliament for the Stirling burgh and secretary of state for war c 1866, seems likely to be Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman. The captain of the Scotland football team in the world cup of 1974, who was also born in Stirling c1942, was Billy Bremner.

The doggy film the puzzle author is referring to, is most likely 'The Adventures of Greyfriar's Bobby', which was made c 2005 and released in the UK c 2006. Some of the references state that scenes from this film were shot in the graveyard and around the castle, in Stirling. Edinburgh, where the Greyfriars Bobby story originated, lies about thirty miles or so, south east-ish from Stirling.

Travelling a mile or so east of the cemetery would bring us to Cambuskenneth abbey, which some sources such as Historic Scotland, claim was used first by an Arouaisian order and subsequently by Augustinians. It seems to have been founded by David the first of Scotland c 1140. King David's wife is referred to as Matilda in a lot of his biographies but digging a little deeper, turns up the fact that his spouse was also known as Maud, countess of Huntingdon. The royal couple who are buried at Cambuskenneth abbey are most likely James III (mother, Mary of Guelders) and his wife Margaret of Denmark (father Christian the first, of Denmark).

The hill to the north east which is shown as having heights of  418 and 419 metres is, Meml Dumyat, where lies a monument to the Argyle and Southern Highlanders (formed c 1881). Two and a half miles or so to the west of the eminence, sits Bridge of Allan, a town which used to be a centre of hydropathic therapeutic establishments. An engineer who was schooled at the settlement's 'Spa College', is according to some sources, Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid (born c 1882 at Invercargill, New Zealand). One of Bulleid's bios, says that he succeeded Richard Maunsell as chief engineer of the Southern Railway, c 1937.

Saturday, 7 June 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. Crediton

Q2. William Richard Lethaby

The initial clues seem to place us in the town of Crediton, in Devon. According to some of his bios, a politician and home secretary appointed c 1945, one Ernest Bevin (born c 1881) was schooled in Winsford, Somerset (which is listed as a village, not a town) and Crediton (listed as a town), in Devon. St Boniface (feast day 5th June), is said by some sources to have been born in Crediton, c 672 or thereabouts.

The railway which passes through Crediton is known as the Tarka line (this reminds the Eastender of a very old gag: "A guy goes into a curry house and asks the waiter for a chicken Tarka. The waiter scratches his head and says 'What's a chicken Tarka?'. Yer man replies 'Well sir, It's like a chicken Tikka, but 'otter'). The Tarka line passes through the village of Copplestone, where Ernest Bevin once lived.

Couldn't locate a halt on the OS map but a town which lies ten miles or so west of the Tarka line, where one of the last battles of the English civil war was fought on February 16th, c 1646, is Great Torrington. On the southern approaches to Great Torrington, lie the RHS gardens at Rosemoor, gifted to the society by Lady Palmer, c 1988. The RHS is said by some sources, to have been founded c 1804.

The Tarka line follows the river Taw, until the penultimate station, at Chapelton and it is four miles or so to the east, that St Hieritha (feast day 8th July) was chopped up with a scythe, by slack jawed rednecks from the village of Chittlehampton. The church in that dorp, is called St Hieritha's. A spring is said to have appeared later, at the spot where the poor women was murdered.

Barnstaple is said to be the birthplace of an architect called William Richard Lethaby (Grosvenor street, c 1857). One of Lethaby's biographies says that he only built six edifices and these were:Avon Tyrrell, near Christchurch, (1893), The Hurst at Four Oaks, near Birmingham (1893), Melsetter House in the Orkneys (1898), High Coxlease at Lyndhurst, Hampshire (1900–01), the village church at Brockhampton and the Eagle insurance office in Birmingham. The last stop on the Tarka line, seems to be in Barnstaple.