With a cryptic crossword the solver likes to know where he or she is – eventually.
But when the destination is reached, the route back to the domain must be verifiable. When I travel I do like to pen a puzzle on that particular destination, beautiful Northern Ireland and a vibrant New York being fairly recent examples.
Inspired by the possibilities of a whole nation, or a league of nations within a single city, the ideas generally flow.
Similarly, some years back I was inspired by a trip to Peru.
Solvers should ideally be familiar with all solutions. After Lima, Paddington Bear and Machu Picchu I’d been struggling to find thematic entries. So, armed with a long spatula I dived head first into the barrel, and proceeded to scrape it.
A tip I’d offer budding setters is – and this advice came from my father, saving me from being crushed by a freewheeling tractor cum lawn-mower as it careered backwards towards the garden pond – if in doubt, both feet out.
I’d had a funny feeling the Atacama Desert was in Chile, but I was evidently in denial. I soooo wanted it to be in Peru, at least partially, surely just a grain or two of sand, after all it seemed on the map to be at least touching the border, -ish.
So I awarded it honorary Peruvian status, and entered ‘Atacama’ into my grid. In aiming for another Peruvian reference it had seemed too good to miss. Too bad I missed.
Still, at least this glaring error hadn’t been too close to home. Unlike my placing the town of Settle, North Yorkshire, in Cumbria. Thankfully the number of complains on that occasion ran only to a couple of hundred. -Ish.