Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26745
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphMonday, December 26, 2011
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26745]
Big Dave's Review Written ByLibellule
Big Dave's Rating
|Difficulty - ★★||Enjoyment - ★★★|
█ - solved without assistance
█ - incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
█ - unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's blog
█ - reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's blog
NotesThe National Post has skipped DT 26744 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, December 24, 2011
Libellule awarded this puzzle barely two stars for difficulty, although I certainly found it to be rather challenging. Perhaps the unseasonably warm early spring weather we have been experiencing prevented me from getting on the correct wavelength for the theme of this puzzle.
Notes on Today's Puzzle
This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.
4a It often gets held up in winter weather (8)
Winter is the one season with which I do not associate umbrellas.
13a Have head round for a party (5)
Beano is an informal British term for a party • a traditional Bank Holiday beano. It is an abbreviation of beanfeast, a celebratory party with plentiful food and drink • (i) cheerful music for beanfeasts; (ii) [figurative] a beanfeast of seminars and workshops. The term originally denoted an annual dinner given to employees by their employers, where beans and bacon were regarded as an indispensable dish. In North America, Beano is the trade name of a dietary supplement intended to prevent flatulence.
17a Original ground for New Year ceremony (5-7)
First-footing is a Scottish custom that relates to the first person to enter a household in the New Year. By Hogmanay tradition a dark-haired man who crosses the threshold at midnight brings good luck.
23a No penny found in cheap pudding — it’s a pain! (4)
As an anagram indicator, pudding definitely worked for me - I recognized it as such immediately. However, when I stopped to think about it, I was a bit hard pressed to justify it (as Libellule was too, judging by the question mark in his hint). This difficulty may be in part because anagram indicators are usually (but not always) verbs, and pudding is a noun. The rationale for its use can be seen through an analogy with bread pudding, a dessert which consists of pieces of bread in a mixture which is baked. It follows, then, that a "cheap pudding" would be a mixture (anagram) of the letters forming the word CHEAP.
29a In winter fox-hunting, horses will be thus afflicted (6)
Ridden means afflicted as in the expression guilt-ridden (afflicted with guilt). The word "winter" in the clue is immaterial to the cryptic analysis. It is merely padding that serves both to link the clue to the theme of puzzle and to provide a bit of misdirection to the solver.
7d He finds level ice initially over Noel, perhaps (6)
As far as I can tell, there is nothing particularly significant in this clue about the name Lionel - just a random English name.
8d Russian beer half-a-dozen go up for (6)
Another random name - this one supposedly Russian. However, I can see nothing particularly Russian about it. Alexei, yes, but Alexis?
16d Songs about kisses under the mistletoe (5)
This would work as either a noun or a verb. As a noun, snog is an informal British term for a long kiss or a period of amorous kissing and cuddling • he gave her a proper snog, not just a peck. As a verb, it means to kiss and cuddle amorously • (i) the pair were snogging on the sofa; (ii) [with object] he snogged my girl at a party.
21d A greeting with love that comes from a Boxing Day huntsman? (6)
Hallo is an alternative spelling of hello. A halloo is a cry or shout to attract attention or to give encouragement to dogs in hunting.
While the use of the word "winter" in 29a may have seemed to be a bit gratuitous, such is not the case with "Boxing Day" in this clue. Boxing Day is a popular day in the UK and U.S. for mounted fox hunters. Despite fox hunting being banned by the Hunting Act in 2004, Boxing Day remains the biggest hunt of the year for most hunts in the UK by use of scent drag trails instead of live quarry.
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for today - Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)