Posted by loonapick on February 16th, 2007
If I had looked up Kruger’s bio before tackling this puzzle, I may have saved myself some time, as he has listed among his hobbies long-distance walking.
The title of the puzzle had me looking for links between Welsh border towns and military music when I should have been thinking of The Marches, the area on the English-Welsh border.
Anyway, once I had solved the puzzle and identified the theme, I came up with the following unclued towns running North to South, both on the border and in the puzzle – PRESTATYN, BODFARI, LLANGOLLEN, FORDEN, KNIGHTON, HAY-ON-WYE and CHEPSTOW, all of which are on or near OFFA’s DYKE PATH (which can be seen zig-zagging down columns 3-6 from the square marked A to the square marked B).
So the “Military” in the title now becomes apparent as Offa’s Dyke was a ditch attributed to Offa and which allowed him to separate Mercia from Wales. The letters of superfluous words in the clues also spell out four hills (highlights) which are on or near the Dyke – HAY BLUFF, HERGEST RIDGE, EGLWYSEG MOUNTAIN and MOEL FAMAU.
As for the clues, they were fair and not too difficult, especially the Down clues, although it took me a while to get going. Solving time would be difficult to measure accurately, as I kept leaving and coming back to the puzzle, but it was probably in the region of 50 minutes to solve the clues, 10 minutes to fill in the Welsh towns, a couple of minutes identifying the path from A to B and 10-15 minutes checking the names of the hills. One clue did beat me, though. I can’t quite see the wordplay for 31dn.
1 MANO (<=ON A M) – a stone or roller used for grinding corn or maize.
14 KEN-A-F – a fibrous East Indian plant, and a ken used to be a house where thieves or vagabonds gathered.
22 A(S-I)A, “aa” being a type of volcanic rock.
24 EASLE – first letters of “England Australia series lets enjoy”, and an old word for ashes.
26 R(EN)AY – a old word meaning “deny”.
28 ETRIERS – (terrie(r)s)* – short mountaineering ladders.
40 WET (<=TEW) – “tew” is an old word for “worry”, as in treating leather or fabric.
42 ELEMENTS – (steelmen)* – very clever clue, with Al and I being aluminim and iodine respectively.
2 ABET (BETA with “back to front”) – for some unfathomable reason, this clue took me a while to get!!
3 NONE-GO – apparently, the non-ego is a metaphysical term for “not-I”, so “object” is the definition – difficult, but attainable through checked letters and wordplay.
4 ODAL – I’m not keen on “up” as an anagram indicator, and originally assumed “easily” (not much better, IMO) was the anagrind, but the search for superfluous words led to the “easily” being necessary for EGLWYSEG (see preamble above).
5 RANA – double def. – a genus of frog that includes the Common Frog and an Indian prince.
13 R-A-NINE – relating to a swelling on the underside of the same tongue, and from the same root as 5dn – given that it has nothing to do with frogs, I suppose it’s passable, but I don’t think it is normally good practice to have such similar words in the same puzzle unless linked by a theme.
19 A(no)RAKS – strong liqueurs made from molasses.
25 LENO – (Leon)* – a thin fabric, which coincidentally came up in Beelzebub’s puzzle last weekend.
27 NASUTES – (sunset)* “obscuring” A (vanguard of army) – Nasutes are soldier termites.
29 RIPIENO – RI(pine)*O – ripieno is a musical term denoting supplementary instruments not necessary to the playing of a piece, but which may add to the mass or tutti of the piece.
31 HEXOSE – I’m 99% sure hexose is the answer, and that hex~wizard has something to do with the answer, but beyond that, I’m stumped. Anyone?