Welcome to my Desk, where you’ll find all sorts of items to hold your interest. Unlike my real office desk, which is cluttered with books, files, news cuttings and the remnants of my lunch, this Online Desk will be efficient and easy to navigate.
Learn some of the tricks of solving those weird cryptic crosswords on my tutorials page.
If you wonder about the origins of some of our wonderful English expressions, Words & Phrases is the place to find out more.
Read about the puzzling but positive effect Lovatts has on your health in Puzzles & your Health. We’d love to hear from you, so write a letter to Christine’s Mailbag. You might want to comment on my regular column @ Christine’s Hello.
There’s something for everyone here, so come on in!
I’m finding it hard to believe that we are up to our 300th edition of my BIG Crossword magazine already. That must be thousands – possibly millions – of clues altogether that we have inflicted on you over 33 years.
We published our first BIG Crossword magazine in 1985, when our boys were only 3 and 2, and [more…]
How important are vowels? Some languages, such as Welsh, don’t look as if they use any.
The Welsh word for hospital is ysbyty, and here are some Welsh place names: Bwlchgwyn, Ystwyth or Cwmystwyth – they look very hard to pronounce until you realise that w and y are used as vowels. I was there recently and was looking [more…]
Many of the widely different breeds of terrier may be found as clues in our crosswords. They were mostly developed in Britain and Ireland to control rats, rabbits and foxes. The name terrier comes from the Latin word terra ‘earth’ because they dig into the earth after their prey. It’s no coincidence that the current French word for [more…]
The word Gothic can describe an East Germanic tribe, a type of literature, a style of art and architecture or a subculture of young people who wear black.
Historically, the Goths were an East Germanic people who waged war against the Roman Empire and ultimately played a part in causing its downfall. They were [more…]
Australia, New Zealand and Britain are among the highest producers of sheep meat. Sheep farming goes back to around 10,000 BC, when wild mouflon were domesticated in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The Bible tells us that wealth was measured in flocks. The king of Israel taxed his subjects according to the number of rams they owned. In [more…]
Many a puzzled puzzler has written in to query a word we have used: “When I was at school, we were told we should never use this word…”, the voice of their English teacher still ringing in their ears. Well it seems that rules are made to be broken, and while we may rant and rave, nothing can [more…]