Simon Calder column

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The Independent Travel
You have no access to a car. You want to travel around Britain over Christmas. Do you have a snowflake's chance? That was the theme of the pre-Christmas story that doubled as our Christmas competition. Buried among the minutiae of trains from Gatwick, boats from Dover and planes to Rio were the names of 16 Christmas hits. Your Yuletide task was to identify them all, and to complete the crucial tie-breaker: "The best book to give Santa when he comes to town is the `Rough Guide to ...'." Hundreds of readers took the challenge.

The answers appear on page 13. Imbued with festive generosity, we did not insist on perfection, but judged winners on the inventiveness of the tie-break.

Most of the entries fitted three broad categories: logistics, safety, and dreadful puns. In the latter class, the three winners were all women: Jenny Dunstan of Derby with the Rough Guide to Sacks-ony; Susan Bagley of Grimsby, who suggests Northern Poland ("After all, Santa Claus is North Polish"); and Trish Marshall of Bletchley, with the Rough Guide to Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Krakatoa and Madeira (think about it).

Sleigh safety was a concern of many readers, such as Steve Crick of Dumbartonshire (Drink-driving regulations around the world). Four entries with different names came from the same Hull address; the best was the one claiming to be from the garden gnome: Rough Guide to Heat-resistant underwear, for when the home fires keep burning.

A Euro-angle was injected by a number of readers, including Mark Waldron, Nottinghamshire, who suggested Working with Children and Animals: the latest EU directives on Elves and Safety.

The logistics of travelling the world and its chimneys in 24 hours were tackled by Will Loughlin of Blackburn (Rough Guide to Gas Central Heating Boiler Balanced Flues), Richard Brett of Kent (Roofs of the World - including the North Pole) and, to help when choosing timely presents, Barry Maher of London: Good Years, Bad Years and Buzz Lightyears.

Finally, like a black hole amid all the galactic goodwill, the entry from Peter Lis of Leamington reads simply Rough Guide to Roasting Redundant Reindeer.

Honourable mentions (but no prizes - we've just run out) to Andy Swapp of Oxfordshire, who came up with a title that encompassed another 16 titles and began Rough Guide to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree ... and to Simon Dredge of Kidderminster; besides writing an entire synopsis for the forthcoming Rough Guide to Global Logistics, Mr Dredge wrote:

"The Independent Christmas travel quiz has become a yearly ritual for me. I find it a welcome break from the `Wish you were here?' type of competition, like `Name the capital city of England; is it (a) a bicycle, (b) yellow or (c) London.' But I think it's getting easier. So please, next year, toughen up."

Congratulations to all 10 winners, who each receive the Rough Guide to Rock. Commiserations to everyone else - but rest assured that another Christmas competition is presently being concocted somewhere near the North Pole. And it's a tough one.

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