Listen With Others

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Dream On by Agricola

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 August 2019

We downloaded a puzzle with a fine, clear and short preamble. That word ‘collinearly’ was a new one on me. I wondered, initially, if it was something to do with railways in collieries but decided to wait and see what the endgame produced to confirm it. I didn’t wait to see whether Agricola retains his Oenophile place in the Listener Setters’ outfit. A rather crude ‘Check over soak’s stool in Maine (7)’ gave us TAB + O + RET and suggested there was some alcohol about, and it turned out to be quality stuff – malt, ‘Mongolian malt extracts to scatter about (5)’. We turned over STROW to give us WORTS, which the BRB tells me are ‘malt extracts unfermented or in the process of fermentation’. I think we can drink to that, ‘Cheers, Agricola!”

‘Mongolian’ seemed to be one of the extra words that we needed to locate in order to find which solutions contained ‘collinearly’ the items we ultimately needed to highlight. They were an odd set but we selected COLE RIDGES IMAGINATION BLOSSOMING THUS SPECIALISED MONGOLIAN HORTICULTURE INSPIRING SAMUEL.

I kick myself that we had found WALL and TOWER each appearing twice symmetrically before we spotted ALPH, the sacred river, winding its way between them, and put together SAMUEL COLE RIDGE (what happened to his TAYLOR?) Our gridfill was speedy and we knew that we were in Xanadu with Kubla Khan, but we spent a few fruitless minutes hunting for caverns, a pleasure dome and a sunless sea – but it was not to be.

“CISTUS” said the other Numpty, “Isn’t that an incense-bearing tree?” We were off on a tree hunt, happily prompted by those clues with the extra words but I was still tempted to include LIANE, or even LING or DAHLIA. The forty-letter constraint finally led me to see whether there was a tree called BOSWELLIA – happily there is, so I highlighted it with BALSAM, SANTAL, LASERWORT and, to my surprise, SPRUCE. I learn something from every Listener that we solve. Thank you, Agricola.

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