Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,519 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on December 30th, 2011


A pleasant Araucaria puzzle for my last blog of the year, which was less taxing than it first appeared, since the gateway clue at 5ac was pretty straightforward. There are a number of old favourite clues / devices here.

[I’m sure I remember doing an Araucaria puzzle on this theme before but I can’t trace it.]

A very Happy New Year, everyone!


1   WARRANTY: WARY [cautious] around [about] RANT [intemperate speechifying]
5   THAMES: AM [morning] with THES [articles!] about it. We then had to find several towns on this river: fortunately, I’d heard of all of them, which might not be the case for our overseas solvers, but they’re all fairly clued, I think, and the theme is not too obtrusive.
9   LECHLADE:  LECH [Polish name – perhaps the best-known one being Walesa] + LAD [boy] + E[nglish]
10  OXFORD: OX [beast] + FORD [car]
11  OUTSTRIP: cryptic definition, the ‘out strip’ being the opposite of the fashionable ‘in strip': Edit: I should have said double / cryptic definition
12  OGRESS: [pr]OGRESS [advance, minus its first two letters {leaders}]
14  AGGRANDISE: anagram of G[ood] and GARDENIAS
18  DUMB BLONDE: DUMB [can’t speak] BLONDE [one fair]
22  EDITOR: hidden in crEDIT ORganically
23  MELANOMA: ME [setter] + NO [number] in [kept by] LAMA [religious leader
24  IRISES: I [one] + RISES {gets up]
25  GAOLBIRD: A [one] + O LB [no weight] in GIRD [dress]
26  HENLEY: HEN [bird] + LEY [field]
27  THE WAGON: WAG [clown] + O [round] in THEN [later]: reference to the saying ‘being on the wagon’, meaning not drinking.


1   WALTON: W and N [directions] around ALTO [voice]: the fisherman is Izaak Walton ( 1593 – 1683) who wrote ‘The Compleat Angler’.
2   RECITE: RITE [form of words] around EC [The City]
3   ARLOTT: chARLOTTe [girl] minus CHE, the ubiquitous crossword revolutionary:  John Arlott OBE (1914 –  1991) was an English journalist, author and cricket commentator for the BBC’s Test Match Special
4   TEDDINGTON:  TEDDING [drying of straw] + TON [speed – 100mph]: the reference is to the opening lines of Hilaire Belloc’s ‘Tarantella’ – which you really need to read [or sing] aloud:
‘Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?’
6   HEXAGONS: HEX [spell] + AGON[y] + S[ociety]
7   MYOGENIC: anagram [development] of COMING YE[ar]
8   SIDESTEP: SIDES [opposing parties] + reversal of PET [favourite]
13  BRIDLE PATH: sounds like ‘bridal path’ [way to the altar] and a bridle path would be ridden over.
15  IDLE RICH: ERIC [boy] in [held by] L[eft] H[and] after [following] ID [instinct]: I liked the way Eric Idle wormed his way in there.  😉
16  AMBITION: AM I ON [‘Is this where I take the stage?’] around [securing] BIT [part] – a nice surface
17  OBSOLETE: SOLE [only] in anagram [transformed] of TO BE
19  MARLOW:  MAR [deface] + LOW [base]
20 GORING: GO [leave] + RING [telephone]
21  MAIDEN: a horse that has not yet won a race: Maidenhead is the last of our Thames towns.

23 Responses to “Guardian 25,519 / Araucaria”

  1. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Not too difficult a puzzle – 5a being straightforward. My first couple of THAMES towns were HENLEY and WALTON, both of which are ‘-on-Thames'; however, the others are not so designated, which held me up briefly. I missed the Belloc reference at 4d (‘The fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees’ is the only line I remembered) and I spent a long time trying to work out why 25a was JAILBIRD until the alternative (obsolescent?) spelling came to me.

    Some nice constructions here: my favourite is 16d.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Happy New Year to you too.

    I had to “cheat” by going to this website: to check LECHLADE. Interestingly, GORING isn’t listed but the wordplay was easy enough.

  3. apple granny says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen – quite straightforward but pleasing to complete over our breakfast – our preferred option for atarting the day. We had to look up 7d “myogenic” which was new to us, but the only possible anagram by the time we tried it. We were surprisingly quick with Thames towns for northerners, and remembered enough of the Belloc to get 4d. Unlike Gervase, we must be oldfashioned, since “gaol” was our first try. A perfect start to the day (still later than usual routine, so it was reassuring that Eileen had posted quite late too!)

  4. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the link, Neil. I started doing links for all the towns but I got into a bit of a mess and didn’t want to delay the blog any further.

    Here’s GORING, anyway: [I think it’s perhaps not big enough to be on the ‘Thames Towns list]

  5. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Happy New Year to you, too.

    GORING isn’t in the Wiki list either, NeilW, but as you say, it was clear enough.

    I didn’t know the Hilaire Belloc rhyme, thanks for that. Curiously, Miranda is the name of the second largest town in our province, just south of the “Pyrenankles”, as we used to call them in our family – the “(k)nees” are much higher up and further east. The sentiment in the poem has a familiar ring to it, though I don’t think they use straw mattresses any more :)

  6. Roger says:

    Hi Eileen. I saw 11a more as a dd : {go further than} and {previous sporting gear ?} can both be read as OUTSTRIP.
    … and thanks for the Belloc connection.

    A very Happy and peaceful New Year to all.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. And a very happy New Year!

    I found this fairly easy for an Araucaria and it certainly helped that I spent my teenage years living in a small village near 26ac, which might be clued ‘Ben leads field on 5′. I’m ashamed to say, however, that despite this advantage 21dn(head) was the last to go in — doubly shameful since that’s where I went to school…

    Thanks for the Belloc reference, which I didn’t know!

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    An enjoyable puzzle with a mixture of harder and easier clues. I had to check Lechlade and did not remember the Miranda reference (thanks for that) though was able to check ‘tedding’ in Chambers.

    Happy New Year to all.

  9. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    What a difference a day makes.
    A came up with a decent exercise for me today.
    Unlike most others Lechlade was the most familiar as I am Wiltshire bred and spent many summer days at L.
    I too tried to parse ‘jailbird’ for a while and found ‘gaolbird’ looked very odd when I wrote it down.
    I had to ignore the ‘Miranda’ (no Hart link) but ted(ding) is a regular in Azed.
    I liked 3d but then I always liked JA too. Strangers would frequently accuse my father of being the great man as soon as he spoke.
    Happy new (Olympic) year.

  10. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Eileen
    “[I’m sure I remember doing an Araucaria puzzle on this theme before but I can’t trace it.]”

    I too had a feeling of déjà vu whilst solving this one. However, it was not a previous Araucaria but a Scorpion prize puzzle in the Independent on 12th March:

  11. MikeC says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria. Enjoyable but not too hard. I can vouch for the existence of Goring-on-Thames (and its sister village, Streatley), as I once lived there myself. 21 took me a while to work out – the sense of maiden as a filly (etc) was buried very deeply!!

    Since there’s no blog tomorrow (prize puzzle, I assume), I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year.

  12. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. In 4d I was puzzled by Miranda – thanks for explaining it.

    Several people have remarked that 5a was pretty straightforward – but it baffled me on first (and second) reading. Then I solved 10a and went back to 5: it then jumped out at me.
    I have quite often found this with Araucaria: the primary clue is so cryptic that I cannot penetrate it. Then I solve one of the themed clues and go back to the primary one and win through.

  13. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid @10 – that’s the one. [I would never have found it, because I was sure it was an Araucaria.]

    Hi Roger @6 [I’ve been out!]

    I did mean to call 11ac a double / cryptic definition. I don’t agree that it’s a straight double definition, because OUTSTRIP doesn’t really mean ‘previous sporting gear’, except in a whimsical way [as indicated by the question mark] – but certainly ‘go further than’ is the definition.

  14. Wolfie says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog and Happy New Year to you.

    I enjoyed this (apart from the deplorably sexist 18ac) but found it at least as easy as yesterday’s offering from Logodaedalus and wondered why, unlike yesterday, there have been no complaints about lack of challenge etc.

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for the blog – I needed it for the Miranda one of which I had no inkling.

    I agree with Wolfie@14, in that I found it almost as easy as yesterday’s, but I think the clues on the whole were more pleasing today; the main difference was the grid, which leads to essentially four mini puzzles. Putting BRIDAL held me up in the BL corner.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    I think I go along with most of the above.

    Last “on Thames” for me was Oxford, probably because all it means to me is a dreary part of the A34 and a dog track! Oh yes, and a supiciously large number of fictional murders.

    Goring is certainly small. It only rates half a railway station name, as in Goring and Streatley, which is one stop from Cholsey where I do my preserved railway volunteering, and hence despite being the most obscure, it was the easiest for me.

  17. molonglo says:

    I agree with Wolfie completely; but there were new words and causes for after-thinking. Happy New Year, all esp Eileen.

  18. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and Eileen, as always.

    5ac was first in and pointed me in the right direction. Good to be reminded of Miranda and my Sussex childhood. HB’s neice was in my class.
    Jailbird always reminds me of Elvis, of course and looks very American – although after years of seeing it, the English version looks rather odd now.

    Happy New Year to all setters and bloggers and Gaufrid, too .

    Giovanna xx

  19. Maxine from Oz says:

    Did nobody think ‘Dumb Blonde’ at 18a was unacceptably unpc?

  20. Cowshill says:

    Coming in a month late, so probably no one will see this but….
    I’m still not clear on the explained parsing of 11ac. We parsed it as out=previous, s for sporting and trip=gear (a mechanical device).

    Maxine@19 – at least Wlfie@14 agrees with you!

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Cowshill

    It;s never too late: the blogger receives an email of all comments on his / her blog.

    I’m struggling to find another way of explaining 11ac [“Go further than the previous sporting gear?”] other than as in the blog and subsequent comments. I don’t think your reading works, because I can’t find ‘S = sporting’ anywhere.

    Is it that you’re unfamiliar with this meaning of ‘strip’? – Collins: ‘the clothes worn by the members of a team, esp a football team’. Clubs change their strip regularly, involving their fans in inordinate expense to avoid being seen in the ‘out strip’. 😉

  22. Cowshill says:


    Thanks for the response. I’m a Yank, now permanently residing in England, and my wife, though British, has no interest in sport, so we indeed were unfamiliar with this meaning of “strip”. We failed to look it up in our Chambers as it was the last one in and we accepted our somewhat convoluted parsing. Some setters do indicate a single letter by throwing in any old word starting with that letter, but I should have known better than to think Araucaria would stoop so low!

    We have only recently started doing the Guardian cryptics online and are working our way up towards the present. When we get caught up in a month or so and are actually doing the current day’s puzzle, you may see more comments from me – more likely to be expressing puzzlement or amazement than to be offering enlightenment.

    By the way, Cowshill is my regular online identity and reflects the fact that we live in the tiny village of Cowshill, Upper Weardale, County Durham.

  23. Eileen says:

    Welcome to the site, Cowshill [and Mrs Cowshill]! I hope you’ll find it as useful and enjoyable as I have.

    I’m sure you know that you can find the blogs for any puzzle, using the search facilities on the right hand side of the page, and, as I said, whoever blogged the puzzle will still receive messages from you if you need further clarification.

    Happy catch-ups – and I hope to hear more from you before long! 😉

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

four + 8 =