Saturday, 22 October 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. Cobham

Q2. Ashford

The initial clues appear to place us on the railway half a mile or so north of the village of Cobham, in Kent. The quote "I can discern a cross, and a 13, and then a T. This is important.”,  seems to be from a work by Charles Dickens, called 'The Pickwick Papers', first published in serial form c 1836. Mr Pickwick unearths a stone with an inscription on it in a village and some reference sources claim that Dickens used Cobham as his model for the aforementioned dorpie. According to some of his biographies, the architect Sir Herbert Baker was born in a seventeenth century red brick house in Cobham, which was called 'Owletts'. Among his projects, Baker had a hand in the reconstruction of the bank of England c 1921 and Tyne Cot cemetery at Passchendale near Ypres in Belgium, which may be one of the biggest British war cemeteries in the world.

The railway line is carried across the river Medway by a viaduct, as is the M2 on adjacent motorway bridges. The airport is probably Rochester airport (the Eastender used to program flight computers at the works there, back in the day) and I found some references to Short Stirling bombers being built and tested at the site. After Rochester, the railway passes under the North Downs, via the North Downs or Blue Bell Hill tunnel, as it is also known and thence to Leeds Castle, who have a very beautiful web site, which the Eastender spent a fair bit of time perusing. It turns out that a queen born c 1366 called Anne of Bohemia, spent a Christmas there, with John of Gaunt and was later given the castle by Richard II, c 1382. The line then passes through Ashford, which did have a railway works that opened c 1847 and which according to some of his biographies, was where the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent was born, c 1895. Malcolm Sargent became conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra c 1950.

Nine miles further down the track brings us to Folkstone racecourse which lies next to Westenhanger Castle and from viewing their web site, this also looks to have a very pleasant aspect.

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. To be pedantic, the traveller is actually on the channel tunnel (HS1) line. Clues to this are the route, the fact he crosses the Medway next to two motorways and the fact he talks of the train as an "arrow" (the branding of domestic Kent services using the line. Speed and comfort for the South East - little for the rest of us.

  2. Hi East Ender, Just to complete your set of excellent answers, the two short tunnels near Maidstone are Boxley and Eyhorne.
    Cheers, David.

  3. Thanks for the further explanation and information David and David