Ashley began compiling crosswords for his own amusement under the name Boatman in 1999: his first puzzle was about Mrs B's dog. Pieces for 1 Across magazine followed in 2001, then unwavering support from Tom Johnson at 1 Across and persistent badgering of crossword editor Hugh Stephenson led to Ashley’s first crossword for the Guardian, which appeared in October 2008. His fiftieth followed seven years later.
Having lived literally on the sea in Brighton Marina, Ashley can now be found on the other side of the Downs, in Keymer, next to the creative village of Ditchling, with his artist wife, a teenage daughter, one very lazy greyhound and several unappreciated fish. During the week, he is a reluctant commuter; look out for him on the London to Brighton line in the evening, though, and you may find Boatman in his own world, happily compiling.