Ravenshead

Cryptic Crossword

Group Leader Frances Gilbert Tel.01623 616615
Meetings 1st & 3rd Thursday's from 10.00 am to 11.45 am
AtMembers’ homes. Contact the Group Leader for details.
Status Active Not full

The cryptic Crossword Group had its inaugural meeting on 21st September
2017. Since then the group has continued to flourish. Initially, the
group facilitated by Sue B, worked through the Workbook 'Learn How To
Solve Cryptic Crosswords. A Course for Beginners' by Henry Howarth, U3A
National Subject Advisor on Cryptic Crosswords. The Workbook is
available to U3A members for £10. For some time now we have been using
the SUN Two - Speed Crosswords, Collection 3.

This group is suitable for near beginners and improvers. We work
together in a friendly environment in members' homes on the first and
third Thursdays in the month from 10.00am to 11.45am. Frequent tea
/coffee breaks with biscuits help to oil the brain cells. You might
surprise yourself by how much of a devious mind you have when you get
chatting to others!

If you are interested in seeing how this group works, please contact the
Group Leader, Frances Gilbert on 01623 616615.
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Week 41: Thursday 18th July 2019
We busied ourselves working through the homework, SUN crosswords 61 & 62.

As usual, a number of words brought themselves to our notice during the morning. In particular:

Nacelle: a streamlined casing on the outside of an aircraft or motor vehicle, especially one housing an aircraft engine, or the passenger compartment of an airship.

Nesh: an English dialect adjective??meaning??'unusually susceptible to cold weather' and there is no synonym for this use. ... The word comes from Old English hnesce??meaning??feeble, weak, or infirm and is a cognate with the 16th century Dutch word nesch typically??meaning??damp or foolish. It is apparently used in the Mansfield area although I have not heard it myself.

Nankeen: Nankeen??cloth is a kind of pale yellowish cloth, originally made at Nanjing, China from a yellow variety of cotton, but subsequently manufactured from ordinary cotton that is then dyed. Also in the plural a piece or variety of this cloth.

In addition we came across a number of words used to indicate an anagram clue. For example: around, criminal, crushed, brewed, badly.

Homework: SUN crosswords 63, 64 and 65.

Next meeting: Thursday 1st August at the usual time and place.
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Week 40: Wednesday 4th July 2019
I am not sure if there is a collective noun for a group of cruciverbalists, but if not, may I suggest a 'table-full'? We certainly had a table full today! We worked our way carefully through SUN crosswords 59 & 60 unpicking?? the construction of the clues. It was good practice. Sue B has suggested that we try a Daily Mail crossword from time to time so that we appreciate the different styles of compilers.
Only two words encouraged deeper discussion.
1. The word 'simper' was the answer to the definition 'grimace'. This was queried by some and on further inspection it does seem that the words are not synonyms.
Simper - a smile affected by a coy or ingratiating manner; an artificial smile; to smile in a rather silly way. A 'grimace' on the other hand, is described as an 'ugly or twisted expression on a person's face, expressing typically disgust, pain or wry amusement'.
2. 'Transom' was the answer to the clue 'over-door beam'. We all thought of 'lintel', but the answer was 'transom'. Many of the references related to the stern of boats, but it does seem that it is a 'strengthening crossbar, in particular, one set above a window or door'.
Our group will be part of the RU3A Group Activity Display after the meeting on September 10th
Homework: Sun Crosswords 61 & 62.
Next meeting: Thursday 18th July at the usual time and place.
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Week 39: Thursday 20th June 2019
We were a small group of four today and so we all stepped up to the mark and made our contributions - no place to hide!
We worked collectively through our homework, Sun Crossword 56, and made good progress on 58.
As usual, several 'new' words came to our attention:
1. We had all forgotten that a Dragonfly larva is a 'nymph'.
2. We reminded ourselves that a housing benefit can be a pension - 'la pension' being French for an 'allocation', a guesthouse.
3. So ...............what is a 'brad'? : it seems that 'Brad nailers use what are called brads (hence the name). Brads are essentially a thinner gauge of nail used to attach lightweight trim. ​The great advantage of using a brad nailer vs finish nailer is that because brads are thin gauged and the head is much smaller, you won't have to use wood putty to cover the hole'. That's very interesting to know!
Homework: Try to complete Sun crosswords 59 & 60.
Next meeting: Thursday 4th July at the usual time and place

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Week 38: Thursday 6th June 2019
Quite a few members were away this week but six of us were soon at work, wrestling with the last meeting's homework.
We steadily worked our way through Sun crosswords 54 and 55. Sue B, our facilitator was away on holiday, so we needed to be more self reliant! Fortunately, collaboration between the?? group ensured that almost all clues could be explained logically. We made a start on Sun crossword 56 but time caught up with us.
Of course, we are always interested in unusual, interesting or infrequently used words.
1. One member, who prefers anonymity (and may have led a sheltered life), was not familiar with the term 'airhead'. She is better informed now. The term refers to a 'simpleton'. Enough said!
2. There was considerable interest in the word 'holdfast'. It can refer to:
2.1. A firm grip
2.2. A staple or clamp securing an object
2.3. In biology - it refers to a stalked organ by which an alga or simple aquatic plant i.e seaweed, or animal is attached to a substrate.
3. Oran. None of us were aware that Oran is a port in Algeria. Indeed it is the 2nd most important city in Algeria after Algiers due to its commercial, industrial and cultural importance.
Next meeting : Thursday 20th June 2019
Homework: Complete Sun crosswords 56 and 57.
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Week 37: Thursday 16th May 2019
We were quickly at work this morning, taking the morning to go over our previous homework.
Only two interesting / unusual words cropped up today.
Larrup: To thrash or whip (a person or animal). Old English, early 19C, possibly related to leather or lather.
Monza: is a city and commune on the River Lambro, a tributary of the Po in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is the capital of the province of Monza and Brianza. The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is a historic race track located near the city of Monza, north of Milan, in Italy. Built in 1922, it is the world's third purpose-built motor racing circuit after those of Brooklands and Indianapolis. The circuit's biggest event is the Formula One Italian Grand Prix.Wikipedia
Homework: SUN crosswords 54 & 55
Next meeting: Thursday 6th June 2019 at the GL's house.
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Week 36: Thursday 2nd May 2019

Three crosswords (our homework) were completed this morning. Firstly we started on the Daily Telegraph Cryptic Crossword, 10th March 2013 on page 148 of Henry Howarth's Workbook. This crossword proved an almost impossible challenge to many of the group. Slow and steady progress was made but it was with some cheer that we returned to our regular SUN Two-Speed Crossword book. These crosswords were completed in half the time.

Of interest was the word 'saw'. ??
1. As a noun it is a 'tool that has a blade with sharp points along one edge, used for cutting hard materials, such as wood or metal'.
2. As a verb: to cut with a saw. 'I sawed the end of a plank'.
3. A proverb or maxim as in 'Mum is always repeating the old saw 'Haste makes waste'. This term uses saw in the sense of 'saying' and old in the sense of 'wise' rather than old-fashioned.

We reminded ourselves that the 'Wheatear' is a passerine bird, a member of the Oenanthe Family and that 'pound' is another word for 'pen'.
Homework: Complete SUN crosswords 51 & 52

Next meeting: Thursday 16th May at the usual time and place
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Week 35 Thursday 4th April 2019
We had a cosy crowd round the table this morning.

We started with a discussion regarding the group's future in terms of the group's recent increase in members, wide range of abilities and suitable accommodation. The suggestion was put forward that those more accomplished cruciverbalists might like to work together at a separate table - still under the watchful eye of Sue B! It was agreed to discuss this again in a few months time.

Without any more ado, we started working through our homework, Sun crosswords 47 & 48. In the course of our clue solving antics / activities, only one member knew that there is a Hebrew minor prophet called Nahum, who is recorded in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. The Book of Nahum comes in chronological order between Micah and Habakkuk. He wrote about the end of the Assyrian Empire and it's capital city, Nineveh, in a vivid poetic style. Once again, we came upon the word 'En' a unit of measurement.

Regarding our last session: Sun crossword 46, 2 down. The clue answer required the substitution of 'ox' for 'neat'. One member, frustrated by why this should be, undertook her own research. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1954) 'neat' is listed as 'any animal of the ox kind; cattle; neat-herd; cowherd; cattle shed; neat's leather, ox-hide. So now we know!

Homework:
1. The Daily Telegraph Cryptic Crossword, 10th March 2013 on page 149 of the 'Learn how to do Cryptic Crosswords' by Henry Howarth.
2. Sun crosswords 49 & 50.

Next meeting: The meeting on Thursday 18th April has been cancelled due to most members being otherwise engaged. We will meet again on Thursday 2nd May at 10am in the GL's home.

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Week 34: Thursday 21st March 2019
We were pleased to welcome another new member today. Sue B was back in the fold and suggested that instead of going over our homework, we might like to move on to SUN crosswords 45 & 46. That kept us quiet for quite a while! Indeed, the silence was only broken by sighs of exasperation!

As always, several words and phrases caught our interest:
'In quod' Most of us didn't know that this expression is slang for 'in prison / jail'. Relating to the quadrangle of a jail.
'Pique' as a noun means 'irritation, annoyance, anger, displeasure' and as a verb is used to mean 'to arouse interest' or to 'feel irritated, resentful'
'Glinka'. A knowledge of Russian composers is helpful here! Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804 - 1857) was the first Russian composer to gain wide recognition in his own country.
'Oxlip' primula elation is a member of the Primula family. It is found in woodlands and is similar to primroses and cowslips.

Homework: SUN Crosswords 47 & 48.
Next meeting: Thursday 4th April at the usual time and place
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Week 33: Thursday 7th March 2019
At long last we were able to meet up again; it has seemed like ages since we last pitted our collective wits against a crossword!
Several members and our facilitator Sue B were away today, but we were pleased to welcome a new member to the group.
We started by revisiting 'The Sun Two-Speed Crossword, 7th December 2012 page 144/5 in the Workbook. Between us we were able to complete the crossword and explain how the clues were constructed. We then moved onto to a Daily Express Crusader Crossword, 15th June 2012, page 146/7 in the Workbook.
Several clues especially interested us. For example, some time was spent discussing whether 'prerogative' was actually miss-pelt in the text but the Oxford Dictionary soon put us right. Most of us thought that the wife of a Sultan was a 'Sultana', however it seems that 'Sultaness' is also an appropriate if infrequently used term. We are now better informed about the meaning of the word 'emanate' - 'to express a quality or feeling through the way that you look or behave'. Synonyms, however also include 'issue' and 'release'.
Next meeting: Thursday 21st March 2019
Homework: Finish off the Daily Express crossword in the Workbook. Try to complete SUN crosswords 43 and 44.
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Week 32: Thursday 28th February 2019
Unfortunately, the meeting on 28th February had to be cancelled and it's now a month since we last met! Time to sharpen the crossword pencil!
We will be meeting again on Thursday 7th March at the usual time and place.
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Week 31: Thursday 7th February 2019
Another busy session and quite a few laughs!

To begin with we looked at our homework, Practice Puzzle 5, page 125 in 'Learn How To Solve Cryptic Crosswords', by Henry Howarth, and between us were able to explain how we 'read' the clues to obtain the answers.

We debated whether to move on to Chapter 5: 'Tackling trickier clues', but after looking at 'Deceptive word meaning: practice clues' page 117, there was general agreement to leave this for another day!

So, we worked together on a 'Daily Mirror' crossword, page 143 and started a Sun puzzle on page 145. Both from 'Learn How To Solve Cryptic Crosswords'.

Homework: to complete the Sun puzzle on page 145
Next meeting: Thursday 28th February at the usual time and place (Please note that we are NOT meeting on Thursday February 21st).
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Week 30: Thursday 17th January 2019
Once again we pitted our collective minds in our attempts to solve the clues that had evaded us whilst working alone at home. We worked through Sun Crosswords 39 & 40 and decided to leave crossword 41 to the next session. Sue lead us through some revision and as a consequence we all agreed we would benefit from a return to basics.
We never cease to be surprised at the variety of unknown and or long forgotten words that turn up in our clues.
'Keen' - of course we immediately think of someone who is 'very interested, eager', but as a verb it refers to 'crying and wailing'. If someone 'keens' they 'cry out or make sounds to express their sorrow'. That's a new one for me.
'Gopher' - well, where do we start? It is a 'burrowing rodent with fur pouches found in North and Central America'. It is a 'tortoise of dry and sandy regions native to southern US'. It is an IT term - an application -layer protocol relating to Web documents. However, in our Sun crossword, it was a synonym for 'dog'.
We now know that a 'cable' is more than a wire. It also refers to a measure - 'a cable length is the length of a ships's cable, approximately 600'. Apparently, it is also the name of a comic character, but I can't give you any references!
'Buffet'. It depends how you pronounce it! In our crossword today it meant 'to knock into something' or be 'buffeted about' as in strong winds.
Homework: Revise Chapters 1 to 4 in Henry Howarth's Workbook and complete Practice Puzzle 5 on page 125.
Next meetings: We meet again in our normal pattern on Thursday 7th February. However, as the meeting on 21st February is in the middle of half-term week, we agreed to move the meeting to Thursday 28th February.

Sun crossword grid, Book 3. Please feel free to print off your own copy'.
Sun Cryptic Crossword PDF
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Week 29: Thursday 3rd January 2019
Our first meeting of the New Year - just what we needed to exercise our 'little grey cells'.
Today we welcomed two new members, and they more than survived being thrown straight into the deep end!
To start, we worked through Sun crosswords 36 & 37 (our homework). As always, members offered answers and attempted to explain how the clue was solved and Sue B provided further support as needed. As a group, we worked through crossword 38
As expected, some interesting, long-forgotten and new words turned up.
'Vibrato' - we reminded ourselves that 'vibrato' means - vibrate, from the Italian 'vibrare'. It adds expression and effect to music.
'Infra dig' means 'beneath one's dignity' or demeaning. From the Latin 'infra dignitatem'.
'Piton' This is a metal spike used in climbing. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic plugs in St. Lucia.
The 'Methodist' Church is a denomination of the Protestant Church. However, in today's crossword, 'methodist' referred to a style of acting.
'Ham'. We usually think of pork from a leg that has been preserved. In today's crossword, a 'ham' referred to a 'overacting inferior performer', and the term dates back to about 1882.
'Bushido'. This word was totally unknown to all, except Sue B. The unwritten Samurai Code, known as the Bushido, holds that a true warrior must hold that loyalty, courage, veracity, compassion and honor, as important above all else.
Homework: Complete Sun crosswords 39 & 40, and possibly try 41. That's quite enough!
Next meeting: Thursday 17th January 2019
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