Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,213 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on January 7th, 2011


Thanks again for the swap, Mark! ;-)

I found some parts of this a bit tricky, so there were several smiles and ahas, for me, when the penny did drop. There was a  mini-theme in the asterisked clues [rather half-hearted, I thought] and another very topical one in 20ac and 6 and 14dn.


1   COSINESS: COSINES [triangle functions + S [point]
5   BLOW UP: double definition
9   NERISSA: reversal of AS + SIREN [seductive woman] and a reference to a rather complicated incident involving Nerissa and Gratiano in ‘The Merchant of Venice’
10  CURATOR: CUR [dog] + A TO[m] [cat without its tail] + R[iver]
11  OBESE: O.B.E.s [honours] + E[cstasy] [drug]: I blogged a very similar clue from Rufus just a couple of weeks ago.
12  TROUSERED: T[ime] + ROUSER [alarm clock] +ED [journalist]
13  CHARING CROSS: CH[urch] + A RING [set of bells] + CROSS [to go over]: the first of the clues with the theme of London stations
17  SAINT FRANCIS: anagram of IN CRAFTS AS IN : nice surface, with a reference to  the Franciscan order of monks
20  BATTERING: ER [queen] in BATTING [“in” in cricket] + reference to battering ram. [I thought there was going to be a tup involved here.]
22  CHOIR: CH[urch] + I in OR
23  LARGESS: anagram of GLASS RE: I’d expect a final E but Chambers gives both spellings.
24  OVERDID: O [love] + VERDI [composer] + D[ied]
25  ARABLE: I think this must be AR[e] ABLE [can nearly?] and ARABLE land can be worked
26  BY CHANCE: B[r]YCHAN + CE [Church of England]: Brychan Brycheiniog was a legendary 5th-century king of Brycheiniog (Brecknockshire alternatively Breconshire) in South Wales.


1,2  CANNON STREET: the second station – sounds like “Canons’ treat”
4   SCATTERBRAINS: SCA [fell – as in Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England] + reversal of BRETT [Jeremy the actor or Simon the writer] + RAINS [monsoon]
6     LORDS: double definition: House of Lords and Lord’s cricket ground
WATERLOO: another station and a reference to the fact that Thomas Crapper did not, in fact, invent the water closet, as popularly believed.
8   PARADISE: IS in PARADE [display
10  CROWNING GLORY: NIN[e] + GG [goods] in CROW LORY [two birds]
14  CRICCIETH: I’m not going to attempt to explain this ‘homophone’. It must be CRICCIET [cricket] + H[ard]
15  ISABELLA: IS A BELL [is one of A RING] + A
16  VICTORIA: anagram of VII AC [7across] around TOR [hill]
18,19  LONDON BRIDGE: L[eft] ON DON [like Aberdeen, which is on the River Don] + BRIDGE [game]: the last of the stations
21  EWELL: E[nglish] + WE’LL [Guardian’s going to] – a nice surface but a bit hard on non-UK residents

61 Responses to “Guardian 25,213 / Araucaria”

  1. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    No a-ha moments for me, I’m afraid. A fairly straightforward solve with some, for Araucaria, very simple clues – 5, 7 (which was the first one I wrote in), 8, 10ac, 11, 22 and 24.

    The clue for 14 worked for me – I think the town’s name is pronounced ‘Cricketh’ so removing the ‘h’ does suggest the homophone of ‘cricket’.

    Disappointing one from The Master.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Not sure that 21 is harder on us non-UK residents than 14, which I had to look up; I didn’t bother with 21 because the construction was so obvious.

    I got 7 very early on and there weren’t too many choices for the theme from thereon so it all fell into place pretty quickly, apart from the aforementioned 14!

  3. Will Mc says:

    According to the Criccieth Tourist Information Service

    “Criccieth is simply pronounced Crick–keyeth.
    It is also more colloquially pronounced as Crick-Yeth.”

    As to 21 Down, I’m a UK resident and I’ve never heard of Ewell. Or Criccieth, for that matter.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for the usual excellent blog and Araucaria for a fairly gentle railway tour. Quite a relief after yesterday’s marathon. As I remarked on that puzzle – it’s almost a physical problem of keeping going from one testing clue to the next while no particular clue is in itself too problematic.

    I completed this fairly quickly, though I made some subsequent checks re Nerissa, Criccieth (spelling), Crapper’s myth, and Brychan to further my understanding of the allusions.
    I got scatterbrains from the sense etc. but was not very familar with the Bretts.

    The clues seemed pretty straightforwardly structured to my mind, but Sil or another :) ‘purist’ may have something to say on that.

    I found the whole puzzle quite entertaining.

  5. Monica M says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Good to know it wasn’t just the non-UK solvers who hadn’t a clue about 14 and 21dn. I’d also never heard of Brychan. But otherwise I managed to get through without resorting to online assistance. I definitely had no trouble wit monsoon = rains.

    I just couldn’t believe that after this morning’s Ashes debacle (from my point of view) there were 2 cricketing clues … nearly made me start weeping again.

  6. Brian (with an eye) says:

    Thanks for the blog. Fairly straightforward, though I didn’t get 4d. The other point about the stations is that they all serve south London, which made it easier for me (although disappointed Blackfriars didn’t get a mention – but then it is currently shut for rebuilding).

  7. Eileen says:

    I’m wondering now why I ‘found some parts of this a bit tricky’. This is going to sound like a lame excuse [which it is] but I made the mistake of looking at the puzzle at 12.05, before going to bed, very tired, and, on a quick run through, didn’t make much of it. This morning, everything was much clearer!

    I don’t know why I made the remark about non-UK residents re 21dn, because I hadn’t heard of it myself! I did know Criccieth – just not how to pronounce it.

    [It’s good to hear from you again, Monica – it’s been a while. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time: the scale of the floods is just mind-blowing for us in our little island.]

  8. William says:

    Thank you Eileen. I couldn’t work out Nerissa and hadn’t heard of Brychan until your blog.

    I don’t really understand the Criccieth thing; we probably need a resident of that fine town to help.

    It’s rare for me to knock off one of the Reverend’s offerings with despatch. As a kindness to me, do you think all subsequent posters could be encouraged to imply it was difficult and took ages? No, I didn’t think so.

    Have a nice day.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this quite enjoyable, and straightforward to put the answers in, but not quite so to explain all of them, so thanks Eileen. They were mostly the ones referring to 14; I am surprised no one has mentioned the liberty (which I don’t mind) with this, and with the clue. CRICKET is not really in the answer to 14.

    Not having got 1ac and 9ac at an early stage, I was toying with BISHOP and DEACON for 1d for a while – but I supppose such stations do not exist.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Having re-read the clue for 15a, I see references to 14 and 13 are to the clue rather than to the answer to the clue, so cancel my remark about liberty in previous posting.

  11. Monica M says:

    Thanks for the kind words Eileen. These floods are unbelievable …. a greater area than the whole of New South Wales …. we’re a wealthy, tough nation and will recover … But will we recover from the Ashes loss…….sigh

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi again Monica

    Our media represent it as ‘an area the size of France and Germany combined’, which is rather easier, in one way, for us to comprehend.

    [I didn’t like to mention the other disaster.]

  13. Robi says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen.

    I had a bit of an advantage in living just round the corner from Ewell, but failed at the other end of the country to see that Aberdeen was on the Don.

    I didn’t quite understand the reference to Franciscan monks? – I just thought St. Francis lived and died in Umbria.

    Once 7 was completed the other starred clues fell into place quite quickly.

    Relatively easy for Arucaria, I thought.

  14. Robi says:

    P.S. Small typo in that 5d should be 6.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi robi

    I was just referring to the apt use of the word ‘order’ as an anagram indicator, and the ‘as in’ ‘as in the [Franciscan]order’, founded by St Francis. In fact, it’s just about an &lit, isn’t it? Very nice, anyway.

    [Thanks for the typo alert.]

  16. Eileen says:

    And apologies for the typo in your name!

  17. rrc says:

    A smile when I entered blow up and that set the spark for a very entertaining crossword The undefined clues gave themselves up very quickly and were ones I actually know but very rarely use. I thought this crossword was excellent

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    A second Araucaria that I’ve managed, but (sorry to disappoint you, William) it was pretty easy, with the stations being a bit of a giveaway once you’d spotted them. I did quite enjoy it, particularly COSINESS, OVERDID and CURATOR. EWELL seems to be the setters’ favourite Surrey town.

    Not wanting to upset Monica, obviously, but I will mention the other disaster even if Eileen won’t. We were outstanding and the Aussies were the first four letters of 7dn. And Punter broke his pinkie. Bless.

    [On the first disaster, it’s just so hard to comprehend the scale of it, but I’m sure the communities will pull together.]

    Thanks for the usual entertaining blog, Eileen.

  19. Kathryn's Dad says:

    In 7dn I meant the clue, of course, not the solution!

  20. crypticsue says:

    This was for me a rare occasion when I finished an Araucaria without the help of this blog, although I did need the explanation for 26a – so perhaps it was easier than usual. Thanks Eileen.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I needed your explanation at 27ac to appreciate the wordplay. Found this on the easy side for an Araucaria, but enjoyable nonetheless.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    It’s a while since I lost count of Araucarias solved, but this is the first “with special instructions”. There again, the sight of special instructions usually makes me start doing something else.

  23. Robi says:

    Eileen, thanks for the explanation; hadn’t realised the double duty of ‘order.’

  24. Martin H says:

    A couple of weak clues at 5 and 11, some unimaginative journalists and churches, and a couple of clues which did no more than wave at the solutions in passing, but quite enjoyable none the less.

  25. Swukker says:

    I’ll wager a vanishingly small proportion of solvers got 26A with no guesswork – possibly the most obscure subsidiary reference ever seen in a Guardian crossword! That and the two iffy placename clues – 14D & 21D – excepted, a pleasantly easy and painless Araucaria ofering.

  26. Dynamic says:

    Very enjoyable, quite educational (Welsh king & resort, Surrey town and Portia’s maid were gettable from the wordplay but not things I knew) and I having done this on the PC, I made good use of ‘Check’ when I wasn’t sure. A typically reasonable Araucaria for a fairly gentle weekday solve.

  27. Stella says:

    Thanks eileen and Araucaria.

    I have little else to add, other than that I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the misdirection in 18d – probably because there is obviously no 7ac, but given recent Grauniad history, I at first suspected it might be a typo :)

  28. Stella says:

    Sorry – Eileen

  29. Kate says:

    As ever I enjoyed this offering from the master, though having spotted Waterloo for some reason my (scatter?)brain went off in the direction of battles – until Cannon Street fell into place!

  30. Carrots says:

    Thanks Eileen…I needed your blog to explain the 7ac anomaly. I just didn`t see it!

    This was a good puzzle which didn`t hurt my head (unlike yesterday`s ten-megaton bone-breaker).

  31. carneddi says:

    Wow! A good day today; an Araucaria knocked out in less than 30 minutes and not one, but two Welsh clues! I would say that 14d only works for those who mispronounce Criccieth, the second ‘i’ should be pronounced and the ‘e’ has more of an ‘a’ sound in Gwynedd – Crick-ee-yath…ish!

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi carneddi

    It has just occurred to me that we’ve been looking at this clue the wrong way round.The pronunciation of Criccieth is irrelevant. The clue has ‘game heard’, so we’re being asked to pronounce CRICCIET as ‘cricket’ [no less bizarre, I know!] then add an H to give the answer. If you see what I mean. ;-)

  33. Brian Harris says:

    Got all but 21 down. Never heard of Ewell. Fortunately, I have been to Criccieth (dragged there when very young by parents en route to holiday in Anglesey), so I got that one although still don’t get the references to it sounding like cricket. Seems a bit of a stretch.

    I thought “arable” might be nearly “parable” which could be defined as a work of some sorts. Buy maybe your guess is better.

    Not altogether too bad. I too suspected a typo when first confronted with reference to 7ac!

  34. tupu says:

    Hi carrots

    :) The only 7ac anomaly I can see is that there is no 7ac.

    Re Waterloo, I have often wondered if that is the origin of the euphemistic ‘loo’. Most discussions mention other ideas e.g. room 100, though I see that World Wide Words mentions it as a possibility.
    Others usages I used to hear were ‘going to see a man about a dog’ and even ‘going to see Mr Churchill’! ‘I’m going to Waterloo’ would fit quite well in that genre.

  35. Paul (not Paul) says:

    I’m with you Eileen that this looked difficult at first glance but revealed itself gradually with close attention. Much more my kind of puzzle than yesterday’s impenetrable offering.

    Sca – in 4d – does actually mean fell, I think and isn’t just a prefix of Scafell. It comes from the gaelic sgurr which means peak. Scafell Pike actually translates as Peak Peak Peak. So good they named it … etc …

  36. Eileen says:

    Hi Paul

    “Sca – in 4d – does actually mean fell, I think and isn’t just a prefix of Scafell.”

    Yes, that’s what I thought but couldn’t find it in any of my dictionaries – just as ‘Avon’ means ‘river’, in fact, and there are lots more examples.

  37. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen at no 32.

    If your parsing’s right, then you’d need to recruit Geoffrey Boycott to render the homophone properly. Listeners to Test Match Special will know what I mean.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well well, from now on I’m a ‘purist’ (#4)? But then, one with a smiley!
    After yesterday’s brainteaser any crossword would have been easy-peasy.

    First of our thematics was LONDON BRIDGE, though we didn’t understand the ‘on Don’ bit – so, thank you Eileen! Moreover, Aberdeen is so very far away from here.
    And after we had WATERLOO and CHARING CROSS, we decided that the theme was ‘bridges over the river Thames’. Which was a bit iffy, though, as all the others lacked the word ‘bridge’. There was once a Victoria Bridge (now: Chelsea Bridge) [ánd there is one here in Cambridge], but Cannon Street Bridge? Not really.

    So, a good offering from Araucaria, well constructed and with many clues that were nicely interwoven.

    The ‘purist’ in me wasn’t fully happy witht he “a” in front of 10ac’s “dog” [as it wasn’t used unlike the one belonging to the cat], and the use of “work” in 25ac [but there’s a question mark at the end to save the setter]. :)

    There were a lot of ‘churches’ today, and a welcome back for a thing that we hadn’t seen for a while [and which was much discussed here]: ” … to make one (fat)” (11ac) to get an adjective, where it looks like we’re getting a noun.
    But I do remember how it should be read, so no problems.

    I/We don’t have an opinion on CRICCIET(H) [nor on cricket]. We both knew the place, unlike EWELL but as NeilW (#2) pointed out it was obvious from the construction. Although some others might say that this is obscure, and I’m not sure whether setters with less specific gravity would have got away with it.

    The reason that crosswords like this are much better than eg this week’s Gordius, is that there is much more going on here, which in a way overrules the occasional looseness [like ‘with ram’ in 20ac, or the ARABLE clue].

    And for tomorrow, surely a Paul, I guess.
    [which is a contradictio in terminis, I know]

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Oh, btw, that LONDON BRIDGE was our first thematic entry, was probably because our brain cells [a ‘word’ that’s not in Chambers!] were still indoctrinated by Bonxie!
    “Left like Aberdeen with game” :)

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @34 re Waterloo

    Apologies: I seem to have overlooked your comment.

    Without doing any research, I’d always assumed ‘loo’ came from

    ” Gardyloo (a cry formerly used in Scotland to warn pedestrians when slops were about to be thrown from an upstairs window.) [Anglicized form of French ‘gare (de) l’eau': ‘beware of the water’]”.

    I’m gratified to find now that Chambers seems to agree with me – now that really makes my day! ;-)

    [I know you’re interested in language. My late Scottish husband, a strong supporter of the ‘Auld Alliance’ – we had many wonderful holidays in France – was fascinated by the language associations between French and Scottish. The only one I can remember at the moment is ‘ashet / assiette': ]

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    Thanks. I’ve not thought about it for some time and only came back to it today with this puzzle. The OED (New ed) seems to be going for Waterloo and
    seems to lean that way too. A problem with ‘old’ derivations (e.g ‘gardez l’eau) is apparently that it is a pretty modern term. Joyce seems to be the first to use it in literature (1922) also Ross of Noblesse Oblige seems to suggest the same. There is no clear evidence however.

  42. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    No harm meant as I’m sure you realise. Also you might like my last comment on the Bonxie site.

    You mention the ‘bridge on the Cam’ there and here today. I was on Victoria Bridge this afternoon! If you’d like to say hello over a coffee (unless that’s not your cup of tea) it might be nice to meet some time.

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, tupu, that might a good idea …
    [to be continued in General Discussion]

  44. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen at no 40. It’s been an interesting blog today, and I’ll leave you with another example of the Scots/French language links that you referred to. Un corbeau/a corbie both mean ‘a crow’, and the Scottish ballad The Twa Corbies starts:

    As I was walking all alane,
    I heard twa corbies making a mane;
    The tane unto the t’other say,
    ‘Where sall we gang and dine to-day?’

    A good weekend to everyone.

  45. mhl says:

    Thanks for a great post, Eileen. We got through this fairly quickly, but it was a satisfying solve, I think.

    The mention of the Don in 18,19 reminds me of a good trivia question: “Which Scottish town lies on the rivers Don and Dee?” :)

  46. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    Many thanks for that. Yes, that’s another one I remember being mentioned [and, to stick my own little oar in: Latin corvus]. I wish I could remember more. Perhaps I’ll reearch further tomorrow.

    Fascinating, isn’t it?

    Hi mhl

    I knew there was something like that lurking on the borders of my memory. Thanks for the reminder!

  47. nmsindy says:

    I don’t have any special expertise in this but the Scots Gaelic word for Sunday Didòmhnaich is not too far from the French dimanche.

  48. muck says:

    Has anyone noticed that Saint Pancras would fit 17ac?
    This must surely have been Araucaria’s original intention
    But he couldn’t make it fit

  49. Eileen says:

    Well spotted, muck! THanks for that.

  50. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen, and happy New Year

  51. Carrots says:

    Tupu @ 34:

    Exactly. That`s why it was, for me, an anomaly. I know you know exactly what I mean, but I bet you can`t resist describing the etymology of anomaly in runic mongolian!

    Don`t do yellow bouncing space hoppers, so here`s a “goodnight” peck: X

  52. PeterO says:

    As you pointed out the Auld Alliance is a good enough reason to find words taken from French in Scots; I was a little more surprised to find the Welsh eglwys – fairly obvious once you get past the Welsh w.
    Re 25A: Araucaria used arable in #25172 back in November (I know because I blogged it), with a clue differently worded, but the same general idea.

  53. Eileen says:

    Thanks, PeterO. I remember being struck by that, many years ago, when we walked round Dinas Head to Cwm yr Eglwys, in Pembrokeshire

    And thanks for the reminder about ARABLE. I thought it seemed familiar!

  54. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    The reference to Eglwys (from Ecclesia orig. but no doubt via French eglise as you and PeterO imply) at first defied my deciphering skills. As is my wont, I first went up ‘Goose Creek’ remembering coming upon the Church of St ELVIS in Pembrokeshire. The proximity of the Presely Hills briefly intrigued me at the time!

  55. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots
    I’m ashamed to say I genuinely missed your point re 7a despite having correctly solved 16d!
    Thanks for your kindly tolerance.

    Re anomaly – you show remarkable insight. The term was originally ‘an O’Malley’ – and relates to a member of that family who was a merceneray in Tsarist Russia. Were it not for a most unusual late Runic Inscription – the only one ever found in Ulan Bator – his presence in Mongolia (1813-25) would have passed unnoticed. The unusualness of this gave rise to the saying ‘it’s an O’Malley’ and somehow this caught on more generally with it’s current spelling.

  56. Carrots says:

    Tupu….you`ve made my day! I`ll let you have the last laugh…you deserve it!!

  57. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots

    Thanks. Apologies for the last apostrophe!

  58. Daniel Miller says:

    Another good A. set. Thanks for the blog Eileen.

  59. DavidM says:

    Hello Eileen – I expect you’re the only one to read this late post. I live in the next town to Criccieth and it’s simply pronounced “Cricky-eth” by all – English or Welsh. I suspect the Rev John only has a literal knowledge of the name – it’s not really a homophone for Cricket, or even nearly. Still, any mention of cricket this week is worthwhile! :-) Many thanks for your blog – helpful, as ever.
    Best regards

  60. Eileen says:

    Hello DavidM

    “I expect you’re the only one to read this late post.”

    You’re very probably right – but it’s nice to hear from you!

    As I said at comment 32, I think we were meant to be looking for a homophone of ‘cricket’ rather than ‘Criccieth’ – both equally dodgy!

    [I’ve always – in my head – pronounced the name of the town in the way that you indicate.]

    I don’t remember seeing your name before – please forgive me if I’m wrong – so hope to hear from you again.

  61. Huw Powell says:

    It took me 2 1/2 months to solve this ;)

    I had it half-done, with none of the stations, and just gave up and moved on, leaving it in this stack of unfinished puzzles.

    Today I looked it over, Charing Cross jumped out at me, and with copious help from the internet, I managed to finish it.


    Thanks for the blog for some missing parsing Eileen, and of course to the Master for a fun “two part” puzzle!

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