Saturday, 29 November 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. Dunsop Bridge

Q2. Whalley Abbey

The initial clues seem to place us in a village called Dunsop Bridge, which lies in a 312 square mile area of outstanding natural beauty, called 'The Forest of Bowland', in the beautiful county of Lancashire. In 1992, according to some of the sources I checked, BT installed their one hundred thousandth payphone in the village. The location of this settlement makes it a candidate for the exact centre of Great Britain and there are photographs of a plaque on the wall of the phone box (which may or may not still exist, as most people use cell phones now) which states "BT You are calling from the BT payphone that marks the centre of Great Britain. It is the 100,000th payphone to be installed by BT and was officially opened on 29 June 1992. The exact centre of Great Britain and 401 associated islands is at National Grid reference SD 63770 56550 as supplied by Ordnance Survey."

The exact centre is not however at the phone box but is given by the grid reference SD 63770 56550 which some sources claim, places it near Brennand Farm and that lies along a northward trail, on the west bank of the river Dunsop. The puzzle author was most likely headed for a three hundred and ninety six/three hundred and ninety five metre (thirteen hundred foot) high eminence to the east of Brennand Farm, called Middle Knoll.

A politician born c 1811, who was appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancashire, is most likely John Bright. Bright went to several schools between the years 1820 and 1827, Townhead school in Rochdale, Pendarth near Warrington, Ackworth in Pontefract, York and Newton in Bowland quaker school, near Clitheroe in Lancashire. George Birkbeck, who founded the London Mechanic's Institution (which was renamed Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution c 1867), also seems to have attended the quaker school at Newton in Bowland.

Travelling six miles or so, south south west of Newton in Bowland, would bring us to the vicinity of Clitheroe castle (built c 11th/12th century, depending on which references you check). Another three miles south, lies Whalley Abbey, which according to English Heritage, was founded c 1296 and was reputed to be Lancashire's second richest, until ol 'Enry the eighth oi am' trashed it, c 16th century).

Saturday, 22 November 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. Stratford

Q2. Bow porcelain

внимание друзья! For question one, Stratford used to be called 'Stratford-atte-Bow' but the poet seems to have been born in Stratford, so the Eastender is taking a punt on this being the correct answer, rather than Bow.For question two, this type of pottery is also known as 'soft paste porcelain' but the blue and white porcelain made at the factory in Bow, does seem to be known as 'Bow porcelain', there is a web site for collectors of this style:

The initial clues seem to place us in Stratford, which is part of the London borough of Newham. A poet born there circa 1844 and who used 'sprung rhythm', is most likely Gerard Manley Hopkins, some of his biographies state that he was born on the 27th of July 1844, at 87 The Grove, Stratford, London. They also say that he used 'sprung rhythm in his verse'. A novelist who had an Alsation dog called 'Queenie' and who wrote about a similar dog in a novel called 'We Think The World of You' (published c 1960), is likely to be Joe Randolph Ackerley (born c 1896). Some of the text in this book, does seem to contain references to Stratford, in London.

The Great Eastern Railway had trains which were known as 'Jazz' trains, because they had brightly coloured carriages, which were regarded as 'Jazzy' by some people in that period. I found some references which claim that the locomotives used by the GER, were manufactured at Stratford Works.

A potter and painter (born c 1711), who opened 'The Bow Porcelain Manufactory' in the locale, appears to be Thomas Frye. This pottery is of the soft paste porcelain variety and from looking on the web site, does appear to be blue and white.

Terribly Trendy Friend seems to have visited the third largest shopping centre in the UK, at Westfield, while the puzzle author goes to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is said in some of the references I checked, to be around five hundred and sixty acres in area. There is a giant sculpture in the park called the Arcelormittal Orbit, which is made of steel and was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and is around three hundred and seventy six feet tall, with four hundred and fifty five steps (This fits with the clue at the end from TTF, who 'nearly went into orbit'). A man made waterway which cuts through the park, is likely to be the Lee Navigation Canal, which is around twenty eight miles long, according to some sources.

From the OS map, it looks like a tidal mill called 'The House Mill', which is said to be the largest tidal mill left standing in Britain, lies around a mile or so south east of the sculpture.

Saturday, 15 November 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. Forsinard Station

Q2. Dounreay Castle (aka Dounrae Castle)

The puzzle author has been a bit crafty this week as there are at least three railways (and probably more), called the S&CR. These are the Swindon & Cricklade Railway (built c 1881), the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway (built c 1845) and the Sutherland & Caithness Railway (built c 1874). The last one is the best fit for the given clues and seems to place us at Forsinard station, which is the visitors centre for the Flows National Nature Reserve (28,000 acres and established c 2007, according to some of the references I checked), in the Flow country, which appears to be a giant peat bog.

Travelling four miles or so west south west of Forsinard, would bring us to the hill fort on Ben Griam Beg, which is around five hundred and eighty metres or nineteen hundred and three feet high. The fort is described as the highest in Scotland, consisting of a roughly oval enceinte one hundred and fifty two metres by sixty one metres, on the Royal Commission on the Ancient Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) website and reminds the Eastender of a very bad French gag:

1st geezer: Ma femme est enceinte

2nd geezer: Ah bon, de combien de Watts?

Driving north along the A897, takes us to the estuary of the Halladale river and Melvich Bay. The lighthouse on a headland north west of that position, is probably Strathy point lighthouse which according to the Northern Lighthouse Board, was the first lighthouse built as an all electric station between 1953 and 1958. Its height is given as fourteen metres or around forty six feet.

Ten miles south east of Strathy point lie the ruins of Dounreay Castle (c 16th century) and the partially decommissioned nuclear power station of Dounreay (Dounreay Castle is also known as Dounrae Castle). It is just as well that the writer could not visit it because they seem to have spilled quite a bit of radioactive liquid there over the years. The power station seems to have been connected to the national grid c1962. The disused airfield there was once called HMS Tern (II) during the second world war, when it was passed from RAF coastal command (c 1944), to the admiralty.

Saturday, 8 November 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 Hereford and Gloucester Canal (aka The Gloucester and Hereford Canal aka The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal)

Q2. Stephen Ballard

внимание друзья! for question 1, some of Stephen Ballard's biographies state that he worked for the Gloucester and Hereford Canal Company and some references and sources say the canal is called the Gloucester and Hereford canal but others call it the Hereford and Gloucester Canal, while others call it The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal......

The initial clues seem to place us in the vicinity of the market town of Ledbury, in Herefordshire. This appears to be the birthplace (c 1878) of John Masefield, a free spirited nomad and poet laureate from 1930 to 1967. Who can fail to like someone who penned the lines "When I am buried, all my thoughts and acts, will be reduced to lists of dates and facts" ?  

An author born c 1806, who lived at Hope House, in Hope End, some two miles or so north north east of Ledbury, is most likely Elizabeth Barrett Moulton Barrett, who later became Elizabeth Barrett Browning, when she married the poet Robert Browning, c 1846 and moved to Italy. EBB had the two Barretts in her name for complex legal reasons, to do with getting an inheritance from her father, who was loaded. Barrett senior built the Turkish style mansion of Hope House.

A canal which once passed through Ledbury, before sections of it were replaced by the Worcester and Hereford Railway, is most probably the Hereford and Gloucester canal, which according to some of the sources I checked was around thirty four miles long. The Ledbury viaduct has thirty one arches and is around three hundred and thirty yards long. Both the viaduct and the canal, seem to have been built by an engineer called Stephen Ballard (born c 1804). The viaduct has five million bricks in it and these were made from clay excavated from the site, by Ballard's brother.

The OS map shows a canal section around four miles north west of Ledbury and the 13th century castle one mile to the west of this, is probably Ashperton castle, which may have been a fortified manor house built c 1292. There is not much at the site apart from what looks more like fishponds, rather than a moat. The Romans liked to build their forts near a road and the A4172 was originally a Roman road which passed a fort at Canon Frome (there does not seem to be much evidence of it now, on either the map or the satellite photographs)

Saturday, 1 November 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. Islay

Q2. Loch Indaal

The initial clues seem to place us next to the ruins of Dunyvaig castle (built c 12th century), on a promontory on the western side of Lagavulin bay, on the beautiful island of Islay (approx 61956 Ha or 153096 acres according to some sources), where some of the best whisky in the world is made (while the Eastender undoubtedly favours Lagavulin, his favourites are Bowmore, Ardbeg and Smokehead). Lagavulin bay has a genius loci who looks after the place and the otters that swim there and it is this benign presence, which is also responsible for the gentle zephyrs that carry the iodine rich air, emanating from the seaweed, into the maturation barrels in the nearby Lagavulin distillery and which give that marvelous elixir its own unique flavour. The most likely candidate for richest commoner of the nineteenth century, is one James Morrison (born c 1789). Morrison was a merchant, politician and art collector according to some of his biographies, which say he owned Islay estate but not the whole island.A unitary authority which is responsible for around three thousand miles of coastline, is probably Argyll and Bute district council.

Travelling a mile or so south west from Lagavulin, would bring us to the island of Texa (approx 48Ha or 119 acres). The OS map shows a chapel on the island. Taking the road to the west from the castle, would carry us across the Kilbride river and through the hamlet of Laphroaig. You can buy a very small piece of the land at the distillery there (they give you a certificate) and as an owner, this entitles you to a dram when you go to visit the place.

Continuing west from Laphroaig, would bring us to Port Ellen and the square lighthouse of Carraig Fhada, which legend has it, was built by Walter Frederick Campbell, in memory of his wife, Lady Campbell. Motoring north north west along the road from Port Ellen takes us past Islay airport (built c 1940 to defend the western isles and to provide a landing strip for long range reconnaissance aircraft) and thence past a nature reserve called Eilean Na Muice Dubhe (not sure if this is the one that was delisted c 2010) and across the rivers Duice and Laggan, to Bowmore.

Bowmore sits next to a broad sea inlet called Loch Indaal. Voyaging four miles across the water from Bowmore, would bring us into the vicinity of a dorp called Kilchiaran, on the Rhinns of Islay. Kilchiaran or Cill Chiaran, means St Kieran's church. St Kieran was born c 512 in Connacht in Ireland and his feast day is September 9th. There does seem to be a ruined church in the vicinity.