We are travelling again, on our way to the Baltic island of Gotland so I managed to work my way through the intricacies of the Internet and the printer in Swedish then looked with trepidation at what emerged. Were we in for a Sabre special of knights playing leap-frog or a mean editorial trick of a numerical shocker a couple of weeks early?
It was not to be. With a sigh of relief we found that we were on familiar ground; back in Dipper’s garden where we have already shifted boulders and played around with plants in the past.
I do my usual scan through the clues but find that Dipper doesn’t qualify for the Listener Setters’ Oenophiles’ Club though he has a predictable number of clues about gardeny things,”Section of stream is muddy (3)” giving us a corrected Muddy/Buddy misprint, and “Dyke, one surrounded by flowers gives a colourful effect (8)” giving us a U corrected misprint and IRIDISES (DI surrounded by IRISES).
I also wonder about Dipper’s other pastimes in addition to gardening when I find “beats cat, head to tail (4)”, but decide that he is talking about a different CAT, and that we are being given a Beats/Seats misprint with SPew becoming PEWS. Then there is “Move very gradually during sex session (4)” we change the X for a corrected misprint A to get EASE. Hmmmm! Dipper – clearly spending time with the “inadequate mistress” of clue 18 “Irritating hanger-on getting inadequate mistress into trouble (6)” we opt for Mistress/Distress this time and put GNA(w) Or “distress” into AIL.
Indeed some of these clues were tough but a message was emerging, and while we still had one unresolved clue and a couple of dubious corrected misprints, we were able to make a stab at a rather disconcerting message: GARDEN SOLD TO BUILDERS CLEAR PLOT BAR CLUED TREES! was Dipper really telling us that this is the end of his garden or just that we can expect no more garden crosswords – is he just down-scaling and will we find ourselves chasing exotic orchids around his greenhouse in a couple of years?
Of course, we still had three thematic clues to solve and these were going to lack a common definition and a common length, we were told. This was rather worrying, as the first two TREES that we found seemed to share a common length (both five letters) and were both trees. When we ultimately found MYALL, that seemed to share both the definition and length, so I still have some anxiety about the rather empty grid we finally sent with just three straggly, five-letter trees or was this simply a rather ill-expressed requirement?
Thank you anyway, Dipper and good luck with whatever the new pastime is.