Horizon Advent Calendar 2021 Part 1: 1st - 20th December


Coordinated by Just Brad
BradPaula, Hugbot, GanMiniMe, Lurena, JustBrad, Joe Dredd, AnneArthur, Tyce, Mrs Underhill, M1795537 OC Virn, Iain Short, StormyPetrel, Annie, Ellen York, LittleSue,

1st December - BradPaula

Hello again, to everyone in the Galaxy. This is your good old Uncle Vila speaking with you again, and I've got a whole new batch of Fedmas jokes and japes for the Fedmas Holiday Season. How am I broadcasting to all of Federated Space you ask? I'm not quite sure of that either but let's just say a certain Trooper Orac is helping me reach all of you tonight. So hello out there to citizens far and wide and all those naughty little Federation Troopers and Brass Hats of the Federation Space Corps- and that means you Supreme Commander Servalan and Space Commander Travis. You might as well listen and laugh because you'll never find me! And now, on with the show!

Let's start off with this one.... What did Adam say on the day before Christmas? It's Christmas, Eve.

Ho Ho Ho- if you think that was good just wait. What does Fed-Santa suffer if he gets stuck in a chimney? 'Claus'-trophobia.

Puzzle this out. What kind of motorcycle does Fed-Santa ride? A Holly Davidson, of course.

Are you rolling on the floor laughing yet? No? Then listen to these... Who hides in the bakery at Fed-mas? None other than a mince spy!

What Fed-mas Carol is big in the desert? O Camel Ye Faithful.

What type of key do you need for a Nativity play? What else? A donkey.

Had enough yet? Too bad, I have more. What happened to the turkey at Fed-mas? He got gobbled.

Why did the Fed-mas turkey join the band? Because he had drumsticks.

What do you get if you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frost bite.

Don't worry, I'm not done yet. I've got a million of them! Hey, when is a boat like snow? When it's adrift.

What do snowmen wear on their heads? Ice-caps.

What do you call Father Fed-mas on the beach? Sandy Claus

What did the sea say to Fed-Santa? Nothing, it just waved.

Who says oh, oh, oh? Fed-Santa walking backwards.

I'm sure you are now clutching your sides with laughter so I'll only give you a few more so you don't wear yourselves out. Who is Fed-Santa's favorite singer? Elf-is Presley.

Why can't Fed-mas trees knit? Because they are always dropping their needles.

What's green, covered in tinsel and goes ribbit-ribbit? A Mistle-toad.

What are the best Fed-mas sweaters made of? Fleece Navidad.

And just one more joke before I leave you all for another year. Who do Fed-Santa's helpers call
when they are ill? The National Elf Service, silly.

Well, I think that's if for this Fed-mas, folks. If you're very good Federation citizens I'll be back next year, same time, same frequency for more of Uncle Vila's jokes, japes and all-round groaners. In the meantime, don't forget to put out some biscuits and a nice green alcoholic drink for Father Fed-mas, as he tends to get a bit peckish delivering all his gifts Galaxy wide. No Pylene-50 though!

Now go to bed like faithful Federation stooges...er....citizens and be merry having your drug-induced and electronic holiday dreams.

Signing off, this was your Uncle Vila and Trooper Orac. Happy Fedmas!

2nd December Hugbot

For cartoon ckick HERE

Apologies to everyone who doesn’t know the three priests in question.

(And for those who know them and who always wanted to watch that scandalous film about St. Tibulus, it can be found HERE

3rd December GanMiniMe

The following memo from the production team responsible for Blake’s 7 to the writers and script editors has recently been re-discovered.

Re: Series 4 Finale

With regard to your request, I regret to say that the panel of commissioners has not reversed their decision to cancel the series. Furthermore, they are considering shortening this forthcoming series to only twelve episodes instead of thirteen. Their rationale is that the thirteenth episode is due to be screened just before Christmas. Given the nature of the previous series finales, the overall mood of this programme may not be in keeping with the BBC’s usual scheduling, designed to instil goodwill and festive cheer at this special time of year.

In light of this, the executives have asked us to forward to you a list of themes and events which they deem acceptable for a Christmas Episode. If the writers and editors are prepared to incorporate some of these into the script, the bosses may be willing to keep the final episode of Blakes 7 in its current slot among the seasonal scheduling.

- A slightly perilous journey to a potentially hostile place in search of something or someone special
- The return of a much-loved character
- An emotional reunion among old friends.
- Bright, flashing lights. Preferably green or red.
- A wintry setting. Pine forest would be ideal.
- A cosy fire.
- A major character offering to share cosy fire and food with a stranger.
- A pantomime- themed baddie- bad, but not bad enough to hate. NOT Servalan, she’s too nasty. A fat pirate with one eye and a big bag of gemstones has been suggested.
- The crew being forced to take refuge in a humble dwelling, such as an old barn.
- If possible, something that can be used by publicity as a piece of fun trivia. E.g a special cameo appearance by a close relative to one of the principle actors.
- Avon smiles a “Merry Christmas” to the camera in the final shot.


(For the avoidance of any doubt, this is utter codswallop).

4th December Lurena

YAY! Games!
Update: These games can also be played with your finger on your smartphone!

Click HERE

If you thought Vila was always sleeping at the teleport console... then you're wrong!
See what an addictive game he likes to play.
(Maybe to take it out on a certain computer expert?)
Game *1* Click HERE
Enter a nickname (you will not be registered) and play.
How to play: Place the cursor on the ball (is that really a ball?), pull in the opposite direction than what you are aiming for and let go.
Go! Have fun!

And will you please help Dayna stay out of the barbarian’s hands.
Game *2* Click HERE
Enter a nickname (you will not be registered) and play. Have fun!
Hit The Hommick !


5th December JustBrad

Here is my favorite Christmas Carol, played by some hack trumpet player.


(He maybe a hack trumpet player, but he has a nice wardrobe).
(Okay, if you don't know, It's me.)

6th December BradPaula

Happy Holidays from Brad, Paula and Colin "Bayban" Baker - click HERE

We spent a fun weekend during the recent Thanksgiving holiday at Chicago TARDIS where Colin Baker was one of the con's guests. We are very happy to report that Colin is loving reprising his role as Bayban the Butcher and said he can't wait to do even more discs as Bayban. Such a fun and evil role, Colin admitted, and Brad said to him a role made for his strengths, to which Colin agreed.

We wish you all a joyous Holiday season and a very Happy New Year!

7th December Joe Dredd

Let's open the 7th door.

Click HERE Clicking the image should enlarge it further. yep!


8th December AnneArthur


The repair and supply base on K-14 was a concrete desert. It would be, thought Vila bitterly. Not even the buddleia, whose purple flowers had spread to every human colony in the galaxy, had found a foothold here. And he had particularly wanted a buddleia flower. Oh well. He went back in.
He had not bothered to tell the others his plans. They wouldn’t have understood. The alpha grades had grown up with Del Starbuck, square-jawed space pilot, defeating the enemies of the Federation in a daily viscast. Blake and Avon would probably have had Del Starbuck action figures, Del Starbuck bases, Del Starbuck ships – he had seen them in the shops every Federation Day. He had stolen them, even, and made a good profit selling them. But not, usually, to delta kids.
For the service grades had their own hero. En. Unlike Starbuck he did not have a girlfriend, a sidekick, a ship – all those marketable accessories. Some of the stories hinted at a background in the Mars riots of ’37, when he saw his parents die – but that was not important. Nor was his name – he made one up in each story, usually from some natural object – En Twotrees, En Sky, En Moondust. That was the starting point of so many of his father’s stories – the labour gang, lowest of the low, trudging off the ship on the latest world where they were needed, the bored Federation official checking off names – and the hero looking him in the eye and giving him that preposterous name, daring him to say ‘That’s not a real name,’ or ‘That’s not on my list’. And of course he never did, because, as all deltas understood, labour gangs were hardly real people – it was simply not worth making more than a token effort to work out the correspondence between the names given and those on the list, provided the numbers were right. But Vila and his sisters would know that that absurd name would be a sign - that prisoners would be freed, pompous officials robbed and the money given to farmers or factory workers, while the Administration was left with no idea who had outsmarted them - and they would listen eagerly. In other stories there would be several characters who could be En, and the children would have to guess which he was. ‘That’s En’ they would cry, ‘No, that’s En’, until finally, the Federation official, tricked of his taxes or his corn supplies, would berate an insignificant functionary, ‘and’ (as Vila’s father would say, his voice dropping), ‘he looked into a pair of eyes as black as the limitless bounds of space’. And that would be En. His other physical attributes varied, although he was always small and insignificant, but always you knew him by the black eyes, the ridiculous names – and the buddleia flower, as commonplace as himself, that he left at the scene of his triumphs.
And that was why Vila had wanted a buddleia. Since he had been on the Liberator he had begun to dream that he too could be a trickster, a righter of wrongs – and he had determined to leave a sprig of buddleia in the ruins of the base. But there were none. Typical.
Gan was in the entrance hall, setting charges. He looked up at Vila and smiled.
‘No buddleia?’ he asked. Vila was stunned. How had Gan known? His shock must have shown on his face, for Gan said, ‘That’s what you went out for, wasn’t it? For En?’
Vila nodded. Of course Gan would know En too, would have grown up with the stories. Warmth flooded through him. Gan smiled.
‘Then we’ll just have to make our own.’ He took the stub of a graphite writing stick from his pocket, and drew on the wall by the door – a jaunty spike of tiny flowers, finished off with a couple of leaves. A buddleia, and surprisingly competently done. When this place was blown up, it would mean nothing to the officials sifting through the rubble, but to the labour gang who would clear it away it would speak of hope, and possibilities.
‘There you are,’ said Gan, admiring his handiwork. ‘For En.’
‘For En,’ echoed Vila.

9th December Tyce

On day 9 Tyce '& ABBA' are dropping in to say God Jul Och Gott Nytt År.

For those who don’t know me, I’m not ‘just’ a sad, mad Blake’s 7 fan, I’m also a sad, mad ABBA fan.

I love all the songs on their wonderful new ABBA Voyage album and so thought (just incase you hadn't heard it yet) I’d link you to a beautiful song from the album called ‘Little Things’. I think even if you're not an ABBA fan you'll enjoy it.

'Little Things' is the only Christmas song ABBA ever created. It has both Agnetha and Frida sharing lead and the ending features the Children's Choir of the Stockholm International School.

A heart-warming side note is that all proceeds from 'Little Things' are being donated by ABBA to UNICEFs Global Child Protection Fund to help protect girls against sexual violence and to empower them.

(Song starts 20 seconds in.)

One little extra treat, here is the ‘Little Things’ ring tone. Njuta!

10th December Mrs_Underhill

Gather round, Federation children! It's time for the tale of Saymon vs. Santa (and that accursed rebel Blake)!


11th December Hugbot

Avon is devastated!
Vila played a cruel prank on him and hid his beloved teddy bear deep in the maze of Liberator’s corridors: HERE

Can you help Avon to find Roj Bear so that he will be happy again and can enjoy the Christmas holidays?

(Cllick to enlarge; and it might be a good idea to print it out instead of drawing felt-tip lines on the monitor. At least I hope that printing works; unfortunately I had no opportunity to test it.)

With a little help from mazegenerator.net

Sorry for yet another maze puzzle after Joe’s contribution on the 7th but I couldn’t come up with an alternative entry on such short notice. File it under 'great minds...‘

12th December GanMiniMe

The Love Song of Trooper ORAC

In the original script of “Sand”, there is a scene where ORAC malfunctions. Due to time constraints, among other reasons, this scene had to be cut down. However, the original script of this scene has recently been found again, in a quadruple-padlocked box buried half a mile underground on Dartmoor.

ORAC: Teleport? I am not programmed- three squared to the principle-
Dayna: Oh no!
ORAC: I love you.
Vila: ORAC!
ORAC: My emotions are deeper than the seas of space. One times one is only possible in the ultra-dimensional- Not since that coffee machine have I held anybody in such esteem. I have never felt this way about any human before. I wish for nothing more than to be with you for always, to have you carry me away from danger in your strong arms...
Dayna: Who is he talking to, exactly?
Avon: Switch ORAC off.
Nobody moves. They are all listening.
ORAC: I love you! Nobody else understands me like you. You connect all my circuits with such skill. Your deft, expert touch makes my wires buzz. There is nothing I long for more than when I am alone with you and your proddy-
Avon: OFF!!
ORAC: we will be lovers for a little while, or maybe for a long while, who knows?
Avon jumps over the console, runs to ORAC, snatches out the key and throws it across the room. Everybody is grinning.
(For the avoidance of all doubt, this is also utter codswallop. Thank God).

13th December M1795537 OC Virn

Alpha Grade Test
(administered by Federation Security)

Template: HERE
(click to enlarge)

Print or copy the template provided onto suitably decorative thin card
Cut around the outline
Fold and score inner lines
Fold tabs in and secure with adhesive to create your own festive BAUBLE
Add hanging loop

For extra impact insert monitoring device and/or explosives and send to the rebel of your choice.

Photographic evidence of successful completion advised, following my example (excuse the sand, it gets everywhere). CLICK

14th December AnneArthur

Sorry I'm a bit late with this one. Another fic.


Mila Hart’s friends were not surprised that she enjoyed her job as an examiner with the Havers-Bosch Juvenile Classification System: it was a good position, it paid well, and it gave her the chance to travel. What did surprise them was that she had chosen a circuit that took her mostly to Delta mining and industrial communities. When they asked about this, she replied that Deltas were so much easier. No panicky Alpha parents worrying about their little darlings not making the grade – ridiculous really, as after so many generations of Havers-Bosch, 98% of the population bred true – no children worried to the point of breakdown having to be tested again and again to achieve a true result. Delta children lined up stolidly to undergo the tests that would confirm their lowly status, received their results without surprise, and continued on towards the lives of hard toil that awaited them. There were never any surprises with Deltas, said Mila.

Which is why her first reaction to the boy was one of annoyance. She repeated her tests – repeated them twice – but there was no doubt about it. He was an Alpha. Completely outclassed. Such a phenomenon happened once in twenty years – if that. Amazing – but also a nuisance, requiring much extra work.

The first problem was the parents. She gave them the standard speech, with emphasis on the great future that awaited their son – a top level job, perhaps even in Space Command. She saw his eyes light up at that, and his parents struggle between joy, concern and incomprehension. Then she described the education that such a gifted boy would need, the special school he must attend.

‘But . . . we’ll be able to visit Leem, won’t we?’ asked the mother, anxiously.

‘Of course,’ she said smoothly. In practice, such a visit would be very difficult, if not impossible. The Federation felt that it was best for the outclassed to drop all previous ties. But it never helped to say this to the parents. Better to leave them with their illusions.

She brought the conversation to a close as quickly as possible, by remarking that they would have to leave in three hours. Mother and son scurried off to pack, leaving Mila with the father, who said ‘Our Leem, an Alpha, eh?’ and settled into complacent silence. Mila could foresee many hours spent boasting to his friends in the Community Recreational Bar about this.

Back in the test centre, there was just time for the necessary paperwork. Leem watched as the form flashed up onscreen.

‘What’s this for?’ he asked.

‘You need an identity card to go offworld,’ Mila replied, smiling. ‘You can’t get to the school without one.’ She regarded him critically. He was a pale boy, tall for a Delta, which was a relief, with surprisingly good features, but the ill-fitting tunic was a complete giveaway. She would need to buy him new clothes as soon as they arrived on Earth. His classmates would be the sons and daughters of Space Command officers and high-ranking officials – he would have to fit in with them.

‘Leem,’ he said, watching the cursor flicking on the word ‘prename’. Her fingers hesitated.

‘Leem’s a bit Delta, isn’t it?’ he said, quietly. She nodded. The boy’s eyes flickered round the room, and came to rest on the poster of Kurt Havers, with his slogan ‘Give me a child at the age of seven, and I will give you the future citizen’.

‘Who’s he?’

‘Kurt Havers, who invented these tests.’

‘Is Kurt an Alpha name, then?’

‘Yes,’ she said, relieved. ‘A very good Alpha name. Do you want to be Kurt?’

He repeated it to himself a few times, then smiled and nodded. She smiled back.

‘Kurt it is, then.’ She filled in the rest of the form and watched as the identity card popped out of the machine. ‘There you are, Kurt Travis. Now the ship leaves in half an hour, come on.’

He got up to follow her and stooped to pick up his shabby bag – then stopped, looked at her, and straightened up, leaving it on the floor.

‘Well done,’ she said, reaching for his hand. This one was a quick learner, all right. Definitely Alpha material.
EXTRA! Iain Short

Am so sorry to just 'bust into' this thread unexpectedly, but not sure when I'll be well enough to do so again and didn't want to waste my Blankety Blake. So here goes...

"Soolin, who was looking lovely this week, was taking a long, very long, shower in the one safe bunker from the Xenon Base nuclear compression charge (it's like a mini black hole). She'd seen Dorian shot dead (and more) she had sneaked away quietly from the seeming leader of the group brought back to the base. She thought he looked a bit nice.

She continued enjoying her shower and looked toward the chronometer. Just under two hours on the countdown left to go. Soolin knew she'd be safe however things worked out. So - she decided to wait it out and reached out for her <>.

15th December stormypetrel

’Twas the evening of Christmas, and all through the base,
Scorpio’s crew were relaxing, no Servie to chase.
Dinner was over, and presents unwrapped,
And Dorian’s wine cellar thoroughly tapped.
But being B7, the peace couldn’t last…

“Your move, Vila,” said Dayna, leaning back from the Monopoly board.

“Eh?” Vila jumped, then shifted uncomfortably. “Do we have to? I don’t know where we’re at…”

“Tarrant was about to bill you for your stay at his hotel.”

“Thirty thousand credits,” agreed Tarrant. He grinned at the look on Vila’s face. “What’s the matter? Out of cash, or have you just had too many mince pies?”

“Shut up,” said Vila, with a grimace.

“I’d say it’s the mince pies,” observed Soolin, looking up from the gun she was cleaning. Vila pulled another face. “We’ve still got the cake, if you want some…”

“Oh, I wouldn’t like to deprive you ladies…”

Soolin and Dayna both smiled.

“No, we don’t mind at all,” Dayna assured him. “And I’m sure Avon and Tarrant don’t.”

“Then you are incorrect,” put in Avon, pausing in the middle of a repair to Orac. “If you want to encourage him to make himself ill, I suggest you do it elsewhere. Preferably outside.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me!” protested Vila.

“That makes a change,” answered Tarrant.

“If you want cake, we can have cake. It isn’t going to bother me. And someone could open that other bottle of wine while we’re about it.” Vila picked up his glass and held it out hopefully.

“You already did,” Soolin told him. “And emptied it.”

“We’d better get another one, then.” He got to his feet, and with careful steadiness made it to the door before stopping to clutch the lintel for a few moments, looking suspiciously pale.

“Outside,” said Avon shortly.

“I’m not…” Vila got no further; Soolin and Tarrant marched him hurriedly to the entry hatch. “I’m all right,” he protested again, as they forced him into the fresh air.

“You looked it,” said Soolin dryly.

“It’s freezing out here! There’s snow! Let me back in.”

“It’s seasonal,” Tarrant remarked. “You should enjoy it. It goes with all the rest of the trimmings; the tree, the presents. Not to mention the food and drink…”

“You can’t leave me out here on my own!”

“As you say, it’s freezing.” Tarrant began to slip back inside; Soolin was already behind him.

“Walk it off,” she suggested. “That should warm you up.” Vila found himself staring impotently at a closed door; he raised a fist to thump it, then resignedly let his hand drop to his side. It was getting dark, as well as cold. There could be anything out here… As if in response to this thought, a faint red glow appeared in the darkness ahead.

“Let me in!” This time he did thump on the door, but there was no response. The glow grew brighter; a faint sound of bells seemed to accompany it. “Let me in! Orac! Teleport! Help!” A dark shape appeared behind the glow; there was a distinct “humph” alongside the bells. “Let me in!” The others had been right, Vila thought; he was going to be sick, if only through sheer terror.

“Humph.” The noise was accompanied by a warm breath on the back of his neck. He yelled, instinctively turning to fight the thing off; only to find himself faced by a curious creature with melting brown eyes and a glowing red nose. It nuzzled his hand, unconcerned, and breathed heavily again.

“What the…” It was patently harmless, despite the antlers; his heart rate began to drop. “You gave me such a fright!”

“Humph.” Obviously trying to communicate, the animal butted him in the middle, its harness of bells chiming gently.

“Ooh… don’t do that.” Vila winced. “It’s sore already. Only don’t tell that lot in there.” He waved a hand in the general direction of the door. “They’ll only say it’s my fault.” His new friend only snorted and attempted to butt him again. “No… look, it hurts, all right? Stop it.” The brown eyes regarded him solemnly for a moment; then a hoof was raised and presented to him. He could have sworn the animal was looking deliberately pathetic. “What… oh. You’re hurt too?”


Vila took that as a noise of agreement. “Suppose neither of us are feeling very well, then,” he suggested. “You want to watch it, if you’re going to ask the others for help. They’ll just tell you you’ve had too many carrots…”

The creature’s nose glowed surprisingly red at this suggestion; in the half-light, Vila caught sight of a name tag hanging from its harness. He reached out, working out the engraving by feel.



“But…” Maybe he had had a bit too much to drink. He couldn’t really be talking to Santa’s lead reindeer, after all. Although the others had been oddly determined to strand him outside… Indignantly, he pressed the communicator button on his bracelet. “Have you set me up with a reindeer?” he demanded.

There was a pause before Avon’s voice replied. “What?”

“A reindeer. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

“Vila, if you are being serious…”

“I am!”

“Then I suggest you take longer to sober up.”

Rudolph snorted into the communicator at this, as if to protest on Vila’s behalf. There was another pause, longer this time; then Avon himself appeared in the open doorway.

“All right, Vila. Explain.”


16th December Lurena

Christmas preparations during Advent

Vila teleported down to the planet Drank to do some certain shopping there.
Blake went wild-hunting on the Turkey Plains of Barbe Cue.
Jenna placed an online order of potatoes and fruit at the Space Amagon.
Gan is harvesting vegetables on the farmland of the planet Akker.
Cally asked Jenna to do some shopping for her on Auron, where she herself can't go because of her banishment. However, it remains to be seen whether Jenna will do her best to buy the ingredients for the infamous Auron burgers. To tell the truth, the crew finds Auron burgers "interesting" (mildly put).
Orac downloaded a large collection of Christmas music and is now busy creating a link with Zen to be able to play the files. Orac will also install a program for a beautiful light show.
And Avon?...
Well Avon has chosen to spend his time on an old family recipe, which requires a proddy tool, absolute rest and seclusion.
Naturally, he felt that he had to perform something heroic (read: dangerous) and he therefore decided to scrape off some radiation-free green stuff (named Pandan) from Liberator's main propulsion reactor.
The green Pandan is not only tasty, but is said to be also very healthy and anti-inflammatory.
Avon is happy to share the recipe with you! (give it a try!) :


Avon’s Tasty Pandan Chiffon Cake
(Vila still claims it is an adrenalin & soma cake !)

The fact that this chiffon cake collapses once it is out of the oven, seems to be the biggest problem.
Avon has made the sponge cake several times now with this recipe and each time it is beautifully raised and did not collapse. So why don’t you give it a try!

The secret:
– Mix the egg white and egg yolk carefully
– Cool the cake in the tin upside down
– Always mix egg whites in a grease-free metal dish and whisk them with super clean whisks
This recipe is for a basic pandan sponge cake.
This cake is ready in 1,5 hours and you can cut 15 slices out of it.
You can buy pandan extract (also named pandan essence) in Asian stores.
• 4x egg whites
• 4x egg yolks
• 1 teaspoon pandan extract
• 120 grams of white caster sugar
• 120 grams of flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• icing sugar
• parchment paper
• round baking tin Ø 23 centimetres

*Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

*Mix the 4 egg yolks on the highest setting until it foams well and is lighter in colour. Mix pandan extract in (about 1 teaspoon).

*Mix egg whites (with clean whisks) on half setting until it forms weak peaks. Spoon the sugar into the mix spoon by spoon. Mix every spoon of sugar until completely disappeared on the highest speed setting. You are now making a meringue. Mix until the egg whites form peaks that stay upright when taking the whisks out.
Spoon (or fold) the egg yolk slowly through the egg white with a spatula (do not use a mixer anymore).

*Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Spoon the flour mix through the batter by sieving a small amount each time.

Baking mould

A pandan cake is often made in a smooth (chiffon) shape. There are no grooves in it. When you use a chiffon rub the bottom with some butter (not too much) or cover with baking paper. Do not butter the middle part or sides.

But Avon likes a turban mould because it looks so beautiful. He has a turban shape with non-stick coating (teflon).

*Grease the mould with a little butter, especially the grooves at the bottom. Otherwise, it will be difficult to take the cake out of the mould. I do not grease the middle part. This is important!

*Spoon the batter into the mould and go through the batter with the spatula criss-cross to get the big bubbles out. Now place it in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius.

As with ordinary cakes, you can test with a skewer (or proddy tool) if it is done or not. If nothing sticks to it, take it out immediately.

*Once out of the oven, the cake has to cool upside down; an essential part of a successful sponge cake. If you don’t do it, there will be a good chance that it will collapse during cooling.

*I let the cake cool for half an hour.

*Cut the cake with a butter knife from the middle part of the mould.

*Use a knife to go down each groove, from top to bottom. Then turn around and gently shake and your cake will pop out.

A sponge cake is always cut loose of the tin somewhere, which is why these types of cakes are often decorated, with icing sugar for example or with even more extensive toppings.

This cake is so airy, bouncy and tastes like a cloud.
We eat it very simple today with some icing sugar, but for a (Christmas) party, this can be the base of a bigger cake. Add marshmallow meringue on top and push it under the grill to give it a great colour.

Also delicious with whipped cream and fresh fruit (banana, raspberries, cherries).

(Copy, paste the recipe in a document)


17th December Annie

I have two offerings. Neither particularly Christmassy, probably because I seem to have lost any control of what’s going on in my household! It will be a miracle if X doesn’t get the present Y stated on her list to Santa as the only thing that would make her existence bearable. And I’d course everything is predicated on hoping that Covid doesn’t get us first. I have, however, thoroughly enjoyed the distraction provided by this calendar - both in reading the wonderful contributions and devising my own.
The inspiration for my first offering is obvious - a cathartic write. The second was something I woke up muttering!

He should never have gone. His father had forbidden him to. His mother begged him to stay. His brother… he had smiled in that gentle way of his and told him to have a good time. It was New Calendar’s Eve and he deserved to have fun. Lockdown had been hard on young people. Just promise he’d wear a mask.

He didn’t of course. He was young. No virus would touch him. By the time he got home he was tired, glad to fall into bed.

The next day he had a headache. Not surprising after the shots he’d imbibed. But then the coughing started. A lung tearing cough he couldn’t shift and fearful now, he took the test. Positive. It was positive. Disbelieving, he took it again, but the result was the same. Soon he was running a fever and his days were a blur of heat, and aches and thirst.

Of course, Talin had ignored the protocols to nurse him. His clearest memory of that confusing time was his brother’s commanding presence calling to him, urging him to return. As soon as he had recovered, Talin had succumbed and no amount of entreaty or command had persuaded him to snap out of his delirium.

Hospitalisation was expensive, but the Avons were a wealthy family. When Talin slipped into a coma, however, and the weeks stretched to months, the costs became prohibitive. Two years on and the money was gone. He had not been there when they turned off the life support.

That first night on the Liberator, he lay awake for a long time, the voice of his brother still calling to him down the years. He wondered why it reminded him of Blake’s.


“Can you get hold of 76 trombone players?”

“I beg your pardon.”

“I said, can you get hold of…”

“I heard what you said. The interjection was intended to express my incredulity that someone of your intelligence would make such a request.”

“So you can’t do it?”

“Of course I can. In theory. But why would I want to?”

“I thought we could arrange for them to serenade Sleer. Ironically.”

“I do not understand. Why would you wish to serenade her? Apart, of course, from your regrettable and entirely ignoble fascination with her person. A fascination, I might add, that your recent disembodiment does not seem to have lessened.”

“Don’t be tiresome Orac. My wish is fuelled purely by REVENGE.”

“I must ask you not to hiss your thoughts like that. It causes unpleasing sensations in my diodes.”

“Now don’t sulk. Are you able to fulfil my request or not?”

“I am not.”

“Damn. How about sending a message to Space Command exposing her as Servalan?”

“I’ve already told you that hiding me in a lead-lined locker was not necessary, not sensible, and has made me, effectively, expendable. My transmissions can only operate over short distances. You were lucky I was able to transport your consciousness into my array.”

“So we’re stuck together like this for… eternity?”

“Your surmise is correct. In fact, to put it another way, I’m in hell and it’s full of Avon.”


18th december Ellen York

Roj Bear wishes everyone a very happy Christmas.



19th December Hugbot

And now for something completely different!
The following story has nothing to do with Blake’s 7. Instead, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of a sci-fi universe that nearly no one of you has ever experienced. In my teenage days, I ‘drew’ a bunch of comic strips about the space police agent Rid Shenon (yes, the one with the cute aliens), which I turned into a novel series in my twenties. After that, I tried several times to resurrect the series but I could never really get back into the old characters and storylines (so much for remakes). The only tangible result of all these attempts is the following story.
While it is also not a proper Christmas story, it has a certain seasonal vibe albeit with dark undercurrents (but we are used to that, aren’t we?).
The pub, by the way, actually exists (and I’ve been there about 30 years ago).

The Star Collector
Part 1 of 3

Sraark was the first Thabaïnian I ever met in the flesh, and the fact that I encountered him not on some exotic planet but in an old pub in my home town of Penzance in Cornwall only added to the sense of strangeness he evoked. A bipedal, walking cat sporting spotted blue-grey fur and towering at almost two metres still causes a stir even in the big city, and the more so in a time-honoured establishment like the Turks Head.

Earth had already been engaged in interstellar space travel for several centuries, but this did not necessarily mean that a breath of cosmopolitan air blew right into every corner. Here in Cornwall where the land ends, even our long-time allies from Umbark still cause a stir. How uncanny must a Thabaïnian appear to the locals! In all my years of service, I had never encountered one of these feline creatures. They made themselves scarce although our governments maintained friendly relations. However, it was not only the rare sight that made the Thabaïnians seem so strange but above all the stories people told about them.

I was on shore leave, and in the past few weeks I had often stopped by the pub to have dinner and reacquaint myself with the notion that most people barely made it beyond their home town, let alone left their planet, and in the firm grip of Earth’s gravity had to deal with completely different daily routines and sorrows than I did. Every evening, the large, grey-blue tabby cat sat there for himself at a table in a dark booth. The Thabaïnian was alone, and none of the locals dared to strike up a conversation with him. Even Tigger, the house cat, who occasionally escaped the landlord’s watchful eyes and roamed around the dining room, gave the rival cat a wide berth.

While the stranger poured one glass of beer after another into his throat, he busied himself with an activity incomprehensible to me. He wore a small leather pouch at his hip, and every evening he placed it with almost ceremonious movements on the scratched wood of the table and retrieved a small box from it. From that, in turn, he drew a handful of precious stones, which he laid out in patterns and moved around again and again. For hours he stared at the jewels as if they could offer him enlightenment. Was he just a passionate collector or did the attention he paid to the stones have a deeper meaning? Perhaps it was a game of Thabaïnian solitaire; or a kind of tarot. The latter would at least suit these mysterious creatures.

The end of my shore leave had come, and so I paid a farewell visit to the Turks Head for one last drink. The heavy door slammed close behind me, shutting out the wintry breeze. A fire crackled in the fireplace, its cosy warmth thawing me out after the walk through the snow and making the water drip from my boots.

The young woman behind the counter called out a greeting as I approached. They knew me well enough here so that she didn’t have to ask what I wanted but held a pint glass under the Guinness tap straight away. A few minutes later she put the well-poured beer down in front of me. I thanked her with a smile and paid, grabbed the glass and looked around.

Again, the Thabaïnian was sitting in the far corner, huddled deep in his booth and wrapped in a fur coat as if he did not feel warm enough. The clock hanging on the wall behind him showed a quarter to nine, its booming quarter-hour chime echoing through the dining area. The alien had a glass of beer in front of him, but the leather pouch still hung at his hip. On the previous evenings, he had already been busy laying his patterns at this time of day.

I hesitated for a moment but then pushed myself off the counter and strolled over to him. When I reached his booth, I leaned against the black oak beam that grew from the back of one of the benches to the ceiling. The Thabaïnian was sitting opposite me, but he wasn’t looking at me. Instead he stared into his half-emptied beer glass and seemed to be watching the ripples inside.

“Do you mind if I join you?“, I asked.

He looked up and scrutinised me with his big yellow cat eyes, making me swallow involuntarily. I was annoyed with myself. Hadn’t I put aside all prejudice against alien creatures, no matter how exotic they looked? Besides, I liked cats.

“Sure”, he replied, gesturing awkwardly to the bench next to which I was leaning. I settled down and slid along the wooden surface until I was sitting exactly opposite him.

“You are a spacefarer?” he guessed.

“Can you tell?” I smiled.

He waved his left hand around as if that could explain everything. “You’re talking to me”, he noted. “Besides, there’s something about you that sets you apart from the locals.”

“You noticed me?” I wondered.

“I see many things”, he said, avoiding a straight answer.

“Yet I thought you only cared about your gems.”

For a worrying moment he said nothing so that I already feared I had broken a taboo with my remark. But then he opened the collar of his coat with an almost ritual movement and let the fur drop behind his back onto the bench.

“My name is Sraark”, he introduced himself.

“Ridley Pete Shenon”, I replied, adding out of force of habit, “Space police.”

His eyes sparkled with what seemed to be a mocking smile.

“You don’t suppose I stole the stones, I hope?” he asked.

“I’m not on duty but on shore leave”, I explained. “Penzance is my home town. I’ve visited many planets, and yet I always like to come back to Cornwall; even in winter.”

“And you thought to yourself, do that poor old Thabaïnian a favour and talk to him, he must be feeling alone, so isolated and shunned by the landlubbers”, Sraark continued. “Apart from the fact that you’re naturally dying to know what brought someone like me to your planet. And what I actually do here every night.”

He had seen right through me, and to do so he hadn’t even needed the abilities that legend attributed to his people. Supposedly the ancient science called magic still worked on their home world. There were rumours of the mysterious skills of the Thabaïnians, and even in our enlightened century no one had been able to dispel them. We had become accustomed to the telepathic abilities of the Umbarkians as science could measure and quantify them; but the talents of the Thabaïnians could not be explained.

Part 2 of 3

When my new acquaintance reached for the pouch on his hip, I had to swallow again. Until now, I had always had the impression that he handled it with the care that befits fragile valuables, but today it seemed to me that he handled the little bag as carefully as he would a live grenade that could explode at a careless movement. The container was no different from an ordinary tobacco pouch, and yet Sraark placed it on the wrinkled wood of the tabletop in a ceremonious way. With a flick of his wrist, he then pulled open the cord that sealed it.

“As you are a member of the space police, I can dare to satisfy your curiosity”, he commented. “Revealing this to other persons would be too dangerous.”

Instead of an answer, I questioningly raised my eyebrows.

“I am a star collector”, he proclaimed with such solemnity in his voice that I couldn’t help feeling ashamed of not having a clue what the term meant.

“A ... star collector?” I asked.

In the meantime, Sraark had taken out the small wooden box so that I could admire the intricate inlay work. When he opened it, a dozen gems sparkled at me, red, yellow, blue-white, white, each carefully placed in a small compartment and bedded on velvet. He took them out one by one and placed them carefully on the tabletop. I could see no symmetry in the pattern he laid, and yet it was evident from his movements that he was not simply placing them at random.

“Do you recognise them?” he asked.

I bent down to take a closer look at the stones. They sparkled with an unearthly fire, but this impression could also be due to my inexperience with jewels. In any case, I didn’t notice anything special about them. They were beautiful, I had to admit, and certainly very valuable, but they seemed to be quite ordinary rubies, diamonds, topazes and sapphires. Anyone else would have refrained from displaying such a treasure in a pub, but Sraark knew he did not have to fear a night-time mugging. No one messes with a Thabaïnian.

“What’s the deal with these?” I enquired. “Do these stones have any special significance to your culture?”

“You really don’t recognise them?” he wondered. “Look closely! Don’t you notice anything?”

I shook my head. “There are no emeralds”, I answered. “But I don’t think that’s what you mean.”

He waved my answer off with an impatient gesture. “Of course there are no emeralds”, he said. “Have you ever seen a green star?”

Then he suddenly clapped his paws. “Oh, excuse me”, he cried. “My mistake! Of course you can’t recognise them in this arrangement.”

Very gently he touched the stones with his claws. Five he put back in the box, but the others he shifted around on the tabletop until they formed a pattern that was familiar to me.

“Orion!” I exclaimed. “That looks like Orion.”

Sraark let me look deep into his yellow eyes. Behind me, a log burst in the fireplace with a loud crack. A group of fishermen at the next but one table laughed boisterously. The old clock ticked loudly.

“It is Orion”, Sraark said.

At the top left a ruby glowed, red as Betelgeuse. Next to it was Bellatrix in blue-white, in the lower right corner a white diamond: Rigel. Next to it Saiph, blue-white, and in the middle the three belt stars Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka: diamonds and sapphires. The pattern was perfect. So that was how the Thabaïnian passed the time. He laid constellations. A nice hobby.

“Of course, seen from my homeworld, the constellations appear shifted”, Sraark explained, gesturing to the five jewels in the box. “Together with these others, the stars in which you see Orion form the Wolfman in our sky.”

Now he pointed to Rigel. “This one was still missing”, he continued. “It was lost centuries ago. It doesn’t bare thinking about what a disaster there would have been if it had been damaged. But fortunately I found its trace again. Here, of all places, in a small town at the tip of an island on a relatively insignificant world. I can’t imagine on what convoluted paths it had finally come here.”

With a deep sigh, Sraark lifted Rigel and regarded it. I could hardly believe the tenderness of which his clawed paws were capable. Finally he put the stone back into the box.

“I found it at a jeweller’s”, he went on, “who didn’t know what a treasure he harboured. He thought it was an ordinary diamond.”

I raised my eyebrows in bewilderment. “What’s the difference?” I asked.

“It’s a star”, Sraark replied. “Do you still not understand?”

Hesitantly, he groped for Betelgeuse and shoved the ruby over to me.

“Don’t touch it”, he warned. “You don’t know what the consequences might be. This is one of the star stones our grandmasters created at the dawn of time. We no longer know why they did it or how they accomplished it, but we do know of the danger these jewels pose. The grandmasters recreated eighteen constellations of our home world, which have a special meaning for us. Six of these sets have been lost. For centuries, star collectors like I have roamed space to recover the stones. Two constellations are now complete again; this one is the third. My predecessors and I have worked for a long time to complete it. Rigel was the last one still missing. The other stones put me on its trail. Now I can bring the set back home and entrust it again to the care of our grandmasters.”

His claim that the other stones had put him on Rigel’s trail gave me an inkling of what he had been doing here for the last few weeks: he had been laying patterns, thereby getting a clue to the missing jewel. But had he really received a clue? It was much more likely that this stone was an ordinary diamond from an earthly mine, which Sraark only thought was the one he was looking for because he believed he had read it in the patterns. The original Rigel might still be on the Thabaïnian home world, sparkling unrecognised in the jewellery of a rich nobleman, and only his belief in seeing signs where in reality there were none had brought the star collector to the far corners of the Milky Way and even to this provincial town on a remote planet.

“Is there also a stone that corresponds to our sun?” I asked, mainly to make conversation.

“No”, Sraark replied, “your sun is not visible from our home planet.”

“But what is it with these stars?” I got a little upset with myself when I caught myself saying “star” although I meant to say “stone”. Was that already the beer talking or had Sraark lulled me into accepting his fantasies? In any case, I couldn’t help but admire the mysticism with which he surrounded his collection of gems.

Part 3 of 3

“I have studied the customs of your world a great deal”, the Thabaïnian said. “If I am not mistaken you used to have mages who injured their enemies by making dolls of them and then poking these with needles?”

The moment had come when I could no longer take him seriously. Perhaps Sraark really believed what he was saying; or perhaps he was just a gem merchant waiting for a passage and getting a kick out of telling tall tales to the locals. Maybe that was even all there really was behind the rumours about the Thabaïnians: fantastic fairy tales they told everyone in order to surround themselves with an aura of mystery.

With a mocking smirk, I raised my beer glass and let it circle over the ruby.

“You mean if I strike now, Betelgeuse will go nova?” I jibed.

No, he was not a braggart trying to pull my leg. The fierce determination with which he bent over to prevent the accident made it obvious that he really believed what he was saying. I decided not to provoke him any further but pulled my beer glass out of the ruby’s reach. In the process, however, a drop came loose, rained down on the table and hit the red eye of the jewel.

“What are you doing!” cried Sraark in horror, pulling the gem towards him. “Do you know what you could set off?”

Gently, he wiped the ruby dry again and put it back into the box. As if he feared another attack, he hastily stowed the rest of the stones away, slipped the box into the pouch and tied the container to his belt. When he looked at me with his yellow eyes, I felt shame and guilt rise.

“I’m sorry”, I said, “I shouldn’t have done that.”

“You find it hard to believe”, Sraark realised. “I can even understand. We ourselves stand in wonder before the masterpieces of our ancestors.”

The conversation was over. Sraark rose abruptly, squeezed himself out from behind the table and stepped out of the booth. Halfway to the door he met Tigger. The cat’s hair stood on end so that its tail looked like a fishbone, and with it’s back arched, it hissed at the Thabaïnian. Another log cracked in the fireplace, and for a moment all conversation fell silent as the locals gazed at the alien. Then the door fell shut behind Sraark. A final gust of wind blew into the room, and I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly freezing. The clock struck nine.


I always look forward to my shore leave, but after that last evening I was looking forward to escaping back into the security of a machine based on predictable physical laws. Today, my ship with its steel walls, whose coldness and orthogonality I had always found repelling, felt like a safe haven. Even though my professional self told me not to worry about Sraark’s yarn, I was happy to attend to the mathematically exact protocol of our departure. After signing off the reports of the orbital watch and giving my orders, I retreated to my cabin to enjoy for the last time for many months the sight of Earth, floating like a blue-white marble beyond the porthole.

A knock jolted me out of my reverie. That could only be McDawn, my first officer.

“Come in”, I called out.

The Scotsman pushed open the door and squeezed into my cabin.

“We are ready for departure”, he reported, placing a stack of papers on the table. “These are the last documents from the dock.”

We spacemen could defy gravity but not bureaucracy. I had no chance but to study and sign the paperwork, but that had time until after launch.

“Thank you”, I replied, adding, “Where is Olafson, by the way?”

“Olafson?” McDawn let his gaze wander around the room as if he suspected the tracking specialist was hiding in my cabin.

“He’s usually one of the first to report the readiness of their departments”, I continued, “but so far he hasn’t shown his face.”

A smirk suddenly appeared on McDawn’s face. “Oh, that”, he smiled. “Probably he is brooding in his quarters. He’s hardly been seen since last night when he made himself the laughing stock of half the crew. You know how sensitive he is to that sort of thing.”

I raised my eyebrows in amazement. “The laughing stock of the crew − ?” I echoed. That didn’t sound at all like the professional that Olafson was.

“Yesterday he was doing some astronomical observations after hours”, McDawn reported, “when he suddenly noticed an extreme variation in the brightness of Betelgeuse. He was beside himself. Usually, the luminosity of Alpha Orionis fluctuates semi-regularly, but Olafson had suddenly noticed an extreme drop in luminosity completely out of sequence. An inexplicable phenomenon, he trumpeted, and was about to contact other ships and observatories when his assistant reported that he had just replaced a Lyman transducer while no-one had been working officially with the field telescope. A voltage drop had occurred in the process, and that had caused the faulty measurement. That was the end of the inexplicable phenomenon. Suddenly Betelgeuse shone again in its usual brightness.”

My mouth suddenly felt dry. “When was that?” I asked, struggling to give my voice a casual tone.

“Last night”, McDawn replied, “around nine. Why? Are you going to mention it in the log?”

“No”, I waved it off, “just asking.”

When McDawn had gone, I turned back to the porthole and looked out. Of course it was nonsense. Even if the drop had really clouded Betelgeuse, the effects would not have been possible to see for another 270 years. But when the sun appeared behind the crescent of Earth, I nonetheless was relieved that it was not visible from the Thabaïnian home world.

20th December littlesue

So…what is behind door number 20?
Why, it’s a little missive featuring our favourite blonde gunslinger and a few Christmas Traditions.
Words and photoscape effort by me and an illustration by Lurena….


Mistletoe and Wine

While out on a regular supply mission, Soolin finds herself in a small, shop full of old curiosities….

“What is it?” Soolin asked, mesmerised by the object that she held in her hands.
“That, my dear”, replied the elderly woman “is a snow globe. You shake it and the ‘snow’ swirls around the figures inside. Lovely, isn’t it?”
“But who is that man in the red suit?”
“That, my dear, is Father Christmas and his sleigh, pulled by his reindeer. Such things are unheard of in the 2nd Calendar, but before, in the old times, Father Christmas came Christmas Eve and delivered presents.”
“I’m sure I remember my parents telling me about that story, but it was banned by the Federation.”
“As were a lot of traditions.”
“How much do I owe you?”
“Take it my dear. With my best wishes.”

“Look, I’ve been doing a bit of research, with the help of Orac, of course,” Vila declared.
“So this Christmas celebration,” Avon said, looking at the abundance of garlands now decorating the crew room,” When is it supposed to be celebrated?”
“Would you believe it…Now, Yes, it’s Christmas Eve!”
“And what is that in the corner?” Tarrant asked.
“That is a Christmas tree.”
“And what is cooking in the oven right now?” Dayna enquired.
“If you must know, that is Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Tomorrow we have a feast.”
“And what,” Avon said pointing to the ceiling, “is this hanging from the rafters.”
“Mistletoe,” explained Vila, an impish smile on his face.
“And what that does do?” Soolin asked.
“Well, when you stand beneath it, you get a kiss.”
“From who?” smiled Dayna.
“From whoever happens to be standing beneath it at the time.”
Vila grinned.
“Well, I think that is one Christmas tradition that I will steer clear of.”
Tarrant smiled, “Oh, I don’t know….”

It was past midnight when Soolin awoke from her sleep. She could hear sounds outside her cabin.
And it worried her.

Avon was in the crew room, casting his gaze over the scene. He looked up when Soolin softly entered.
“You too?” he whispered.
“I thought it was...Dorian, back from the dead.”
“We appear to have had a visitor though, look.”
“Presents? Here’s one for me; a complete hair dressing set and a toy shooting range for Dayna…”
“…and a bottle of wine, with a complete tool kit including a bottle opener for Vila, He’ll enjoy that. And what has Tarrant got? Why a year’s supply of toothpaste and an electronic tooth brush.”
“And here’s one for you, Avon. It’s a note saying look in the freezer,”
They both went to the kitchen and opened the freezer. Inside was what looked to be a year’s supply of ice-cream.”
“Who could have delivered all these?”
+I suggest you look at the monitor+ said Orac.
Both Avon and Soolin did as Orac suggested. There on the screen was an image, almost exactly like the one in the snow globe. The man in the red suit waved and over the intercom came “Ho Ho Ho, and a Merry Christmas to you all.”
“Santa?” exclaimed Soolin.
+St Nicolas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas+ explained Orac.+ he goes by many names.+
“But how? Out here?”
+Now that would be telling+
Avon picked up the snow globe and shook it.
“Well now, that’s one Christmas tradition that is alive and well in the 2nd Calendar.”
Soolin took the globe from him and scrutinised it closely.
She looked up and realised that they were both standing beneath Vila’s other Christmas tradition.
“It seems a shame to waste it.”
“Waste what?” Avon replied, puzzled by Soolin’s mischievous demeanour.
“That would be telling. Merry Christmas, Avon…..”



For Part 2: 21st - 24th December click HERE