Crossword News October 2023

The September crossword was Farewell by Hedge-sparrow. The theme is the SEA SHANTY “SPANISH LADIES” whose third verse describes a voyage from USHANT (a French island at the extreme south-western end of the English Channel) to SOUTH (S) FORELAND (a chalk headland on the Kent coast where there is a famous lighthouse), passing by several other LANDMARKS on the way.  The ROUTE starts at USHANT, passing by SCILLY, (the) DEADMAN, RAME HEAD, START, PORTLAND, WIGHT, BEACHY, FAIRLIGHT, DUNGENESS, and finally anchoring off S. FORELAND.  Clashes in the grid give the names of the various landmarks (which are generally either headlands or islands, sometimes with lighthouses) in approximately their correct geographical locations, to be indicated in the completed grid with first and final letters in the cells where they occur.  The puzzle’s title is derived from the first line of the shanty: “Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies”.

I remembered that the song appears briefly in the movie Jaws.

In the 1956 film The Buccaneers it was Robert Shaw singing.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

A fine follow-up to the excellent "Postcard". This time, Hedge-sparrow has us identifying coastal features along the English Channel, according to the words of an old sea shanty. The solve was initially tricky, but all became clear when I tackled the down entries and revealed 1 across. I wasn't entirely sure whether I should be Googling "Spanish Ladies" at that time of the morning, but fortunately it led to a very useful Wikipedia page with the required landmarks. Many thanks to Hedge-sparrow and the Crossword Centre.

An excellent puzzle. Great clueing. I never knew of Spanish Ladies before and the fact that it is a sea shanty with an oral history made finding the “right” list of landmarks was more challenging - there is quite a lot of variety out there! Many thanks for the high quality of puzzles.

An elegant puzzle with the placenames accurately located and cleverly assembled.  I spotted sea shanty as a likely 1 across, and getting fair/light as a clash made finding the source material relatively easy on the net, even though I’d never heard of it.  That helped a lot with getting other clashing entries making for a relatively smooth and enjoyable solve -- thanks to Hedge-sparrow.

This was the hardest puzzle in this series since I started sending in entries (which was only last year, I think, to be fair).  In fact I nearly gave up on it.  The sea shanty emerged fairly early on (although, to be pedantic, Spanish Ladies is not a shanty) .  What really threw me was my failure to realise that there could be more than one clashing letter in a cell - “clashing “ to me implies just two letters.  To add to the difficulty, the Wikipedia page on the song uses an alternative spelling of Rame Head.  But I’m glad that I persevered!

There were only 29 entries, of which 12 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat was Gerry Murtagh from Glasgow, who will soon be receiving his prize book which was donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution to Farewell at


You still have time to email your entry for the October Prize Puzzle, Strauss Work? By Chalicea.

The November Prize Puzzle will be No Subtitles by a new setter to the Crossword Centre, Pandiculator.

Pandiculator is a mathematics lecturer based in Aberystwyth. He found his way to thematic crosswords via solving a numerical Listener and wondering whether the cryptics might be just as fun, eventually concluding that the answer is an emphatic "yes". His early setting efforts were numerical puzzles appearing in the Listener, Magpie and Crossnumbers Quarterly series. More recently, he's dipped a toe into the waters of setting thematic cryptics, with a recent effort appearing in Magpie and hopefully more to come soon in other publications. Beyond crosswording, he has two young children and can often be found hill-walking or mountain biking around the forests of Mid Wales.
The Times Crossword Championship takes place on the 21st October. Crossword groupies will tend to meet up in the George Inn.

On the weekend 27/28 October there is the legendary York S & B. John Henderson has posted a final plea for confirmation for those going.

I shall be there on Saturday 28th and, looking at the list of names, I am looking forward to catching up with old friends. I have promised John that I will be bringing some copies of The Apex Letters to sell and one to offer as a prize.

On Saturday 28th there will be a Listener gathering in London. As usual, solvers, setters and editors meet at the Sir John Oldcastle in Farringdon, from about midday onwards.
Jane Teather has announced that the 2024 Listener Crossword Dinner will take place on Saturday 9 March at The Lincoln Hotel, next to Lincoln Cathedral and a short walk from Lincoln Castle.
On the CC Clue Writing competition, the results are in for clues to WALES. Clear winner was Ramki Krishnan with this deceptive entry.

Part of the UK used to be occupied by the French

This month’s competition is to write a clue for GRANGER.

The CCCWC site is an incredible piece of software designed by John Tozer. Robert Teuton has access to the setting up of competitions and results. However, since John Tozer’s illness, he has not been able to manage the membership. If anyone has the ability to look at the code or suggest a way round it we would appreciate it. As it stands, we are unable to accept new members.
Quote of the month from Private Eye - “Anagrams can’t tell their ears from their bowels.”

Best wishes