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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

‘Milky’ by Malva

Posted by Encota on 15 June 2018

Malva L4504

I’d first of all like to offer my thanks to Malva for a nicely themed puzzle!

When I see Malva’s name it reminds me of a coffee advert that used to be on when I was a child, for something – I think it was – called “Mellow Birds” (or was that Mallow Birds?), so when the Title ‘Milky’ was also present I was doubly surprised.

And, as an aside, I see from the Listener Setter list that Malva used to be Dipper.  Why the change from a bird-themed name to a plant-themed one, I wonder?  Intriguing … I’d love to hear!

I think this was the third Malva I’ve solved – what with MINSMERE delightfully featuring in the first and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in the second (I always see that pencilled into my copy of Chambers Crossword Dictionary whenever I refer to the ‘birds’ list …).

Initially PETROL/PETREL in the Thematic clues was a gentle way of confirming the Bird-based theme, in the Thematic clue:

Fuel converting oxygen to energy (6)

And I spent far too long trying to solve my last one:

Someone keen on confrontation appears at the end of fight and brawl (11)”,

knowing at that stage that it was a bird but incorrectly trying to shoe-horn in a T for the end of (figh)T, rather than spotting the charade SPAR ROW HAWK.  D’oh!

I also should have read the Preamble and noticed from the start that the rest of the clues were in conventional order.  I didn’t miss it for long – but long enough!  I’ll add that to my ever-growing list of PICNIC* items.

I’m hoping there’s no other 6-letter synonym for Milky that is also a Bird, so I have opted for GENTLE.

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

*The usual:   Problem In Chair Not In Crossword

 

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Milky by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 June 2018

We’ve been struggling lately so it was a relief to see Malva at the head of this week’s crossword. “Ah, probably birds again” I said and had spotted FALCON, PETREL and VIRGINIAN QUAIL before the other Numpty joined me and began a speed solve of the relatively generous clues. Well that was a gift of an anagram wasn’t it? ‘Eccentric aunt living in Iraq, having left behind outskirt of Newport (14, two words)’ We removed NT from AUNTLIVINGINIRAQ* and there was a bird that wasn’t even in Mrs Bradford’s list – and soon we had RINGDOVE, SONG THRUSH, SPARROWHAWK and HUMMINGBIRD too, though we were not yet sure how they were going to fit into the lights that were appearing symmetrically when i created a putative grid on Crossword Compiler.

Of course, those other, 12-letter long anagrams leading to ENCARNALISES and CARTON PIERRE helped enormously with the grid fill and soon we were left with just those six words to complete. Of course I had been keeping an eye out for evidence that Malva retains his place at the bar but there wasn’t much drinking going on in his clues or grid. ‘After tea, Irish saint meeting solitary leaders (6)’ gave us CHA + IR +S and we suspected that even the tea was probably ‘milky’ but, at least, that did give us one extra word; SOLITARY which suddenly made it all clear. HERMIT had to fill that light at the bottom right and Chambers told me that was also a HUMMINGBIRD.

The alcohol? Well, there were wine-flavoured fruits in what turned out to be 18d, but that was about it. Cheers, anyway, Malva!

PRION was the next to fall, (or fly, if you will) “That’s a PATHOGEN” said the other Numpty and Chambers told me it is also a PETREL. The ARM had to be a MUSKET, which I now know is a SPARROWHAWK, MAVIS, our SONG THRUSH was obviously a WOMAN, QUEST filled our final light and that explained SEARCH and RINGDOVE so we were left with the FALCON or the VIRGINIAN QUAIL to paraphrase and slot below the grid and the extra word NICK to justify.

What is that bit about resolving ambiguities? Aha: I find that there is an alternative spelling for the RINGDOVE. She can be a QUIST or a QUEST so we clearly need that SEARCH to tell us which of the spellings to use. Clever!

Fortunately we have the latest edition of Chambers that reinstated that list of names in the appendices and imagine my surprise to find that COLIN is also a name for NICHOLAS so the VIRGINIAN QUAIL or COLIN took flight and our grid was full – except for that MILKY word that somehow had to define a FALCON. We wondered about MERLIN – was he white? Has a CANNON or a TERCEL anything MILKY about it? Not really. “Got it!” said the other Numpty – It’s a GENTLE.  All done and thoroughly enjoyed in just under a couple of hours. Many thanks, Malva.

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Shady Characters by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 July 2017

This is the second time we have met Malva. Last year he educated us about Bewick’s swans. Shady characters? We wonder what kind of criminal underworld we are going to explore this week – or are we going to ‘shade’ some characters? The preamble gives us one word we never like – extra letters in the wordplay are going to form discrete ‘jumbles’. It gets worse, we are to arrange the first and last letters of a number of extra words into a thematic item (two words of equal length), and enter it thematically below the grid (15 letters). That sounds like another rather lengthy jumble that can somehow change from being an even number of letters to an odd number. Mystifying!

Nothing to be done but solve! Well that isn’t quite true. I scan the clues to check whether Malya retains his admission to the Setters’ Oenophile outfit and find quite a few birds and animals, gulls, kestrels, a pigeon, fish, sheep, a small dog and a pig, but not much alcoholic evidence just that ‘Something that matures light beer (4)’ Well, that must be LAGER with the L giving us the first of our extra letters and the AGER being something that matures. Of course, we found the RED later on and used it in the endgame, so “Cheers, Malva!”

We worked steadily through the clues and the grid filled with nothing leaping (or flying) out at us except the fact that the extra letters were grouping themselves into colours. LLYEOW, ENGRE, BULE and EDR appeared, discretely in that they were separated from each other by those extra words PROPAGANDA, COMPATIBLE, ATTACK, OMNIVORE, NO-ONE, PONDER and LASHED. I kick myself that I couldn’t spot the extra word in ‘Woman losing her head and becoming a devotee of renaissance critic (5)’ Clearly CELIA or DELIA was going to be decapitated (and = ‘N’) becoming ELIAN. The other Numpty said ‘Well, Lamb wasn’t renaissance was he?’ But we were just a little confused about our last colour where we had the letters RGBU – GRUB? We had opted for BURG as our NW town, when clearly it had to be BURY. That, together with TAN BUTTER and SAND produced our last colour, RUBY.

We had been solving for well over an hour and had a dinner interval with the grid staring at me. When will I learn to read the preamble? (I’ve been saying that for years!) In a flash (or swoop, or flutter) all was clear. ‘How one thematic answer must be entered …’ it was as simple as that. ‘Yellowhammer’ I crowed, ‘Redstart, Bluetit, Sandpiper – so it has to be Greenshank, Tanager and that leaves us BUTTER and RUBY – of course, Rubythroat and Butterbump’ – well, Mrs Bradford helped with those of course – but she didn’t help me to sort out those letters PA CE HD AK OE NE PR LD RE. I think that was a fairly tough endgame but there was a logical way to approach it.

If 18 letters had to be reduced to 15, three were clearly going to be the colour and that was most likely to be RED. Feeding the rest into an anagram solver suggested PHALAROPE and CDEEKN (NECKED, obviously), and Auntie Google helped out, as usual, with pictures of the creature.  So there we were – finished! Well, not quite; we had to use each of those colours  to enter one of the thematic items and it did say ‘Shady Characters’ in the title so I felt that we had to write those characters in colour, but what if we simply highlighted their lights? And what about the slight ambiguity of the BLUE-EYE mating up in that top corner with the TANAGER – were we to opt for him and split the shared cell? No, I opted for the BLUETIT and coloured the letters and their cells too. Well, I think it is a pretty solution. (I had, at one point, wondered whether our fifteen letters were going to lead us to a RAINBOW LORIKEET with the 18 jumbled ones being its Latin Name – just imagine the rage of those solvers who don’t have a set of coloured pencils!)

Hare amongst the birds

An enjoyable solve. Thank you, Malva.

I didn’t really expect the HARES to be mingling with that massive flight of birds but, of course, they were there in force, all over the grid, but my favourite was curled up with the yellowhammer and sandpiper.

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