Saturday, 23 April 2016

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. Gravesend

Q2. Heart of Darkness

The initial clues appear to place us in the town of Rochester, in the county of Kent, next to the river Medway and possibly at Strood station. The railway line here tracks north east before turning northwest and entering the two thousand three hundred and twenty nine yard 'Strood Tunnel', which some of the reference sources I checked, claim was opened c 1844/45. The Strood tunnel is separated from the one thousand five hundred and thirty one yard 'Higham tunnel', by a fifty yard gap known as 'The Bombhole', which was put in place to allow barges to pass each other, when the tunnels carried both canal and railway. The canal was eventually filled in, to allow a second track to be installed.

Two stops later would take us past Higham station and thence to Gravesend. The line runs parallel to the now disused Thames & Medway canal before entering the second town. A princess called Pocahontas (born c 1596 in the Algonquian nation in Virginia) was according to some of her biographies, buried in the chancel of St George's church, likely expiring from Tuberculosis or Pneumonia c 1617, after being put ashore from a ship bound for Virginia. I found a couple of sources which claim that Gravesend pier is two hundred and sixty feet in length, was opened c 1834 and that it is the oldest cast iron pier in the world.

The author is probably Joseph Conrad (born c 1857). His book 'Heart of Darkness' (published c 1902) starts off with a character called Marlow, aboard a ship called 'The Nellie', which was anchored near Gravesend, telling the story of his search for the mysterious colonel Kurtz, who had gone completely 'Troppo' in the Belgian Congo, due to the heat. By his account, the journey was more like a trip up the rivers Styx or Acheron, rather than a pleasure cruise.

N.B. Due to the number of people who normally write poison pen letters in green ink posting on his page, the Eastender has moved to moderated comments but rest assured, if you have a non abusive comment or quip relating to the puzzle and its solution, he will endeavour to publish it.

1 comment:

  1. The halfway station between Strood and gravesend is Higham. Charles Dickens lived there. The east end of the station abuts the puzzles tunnel end, and I always wonder if it was the inspection for Dicken's railway ghost story 'the Signalman '?