HOHOHO…HAHAHA the Coca Cola tractor has arrived – courtesy of  so Christmas must be coming and Michael will be ‘spreading’ the festive cheer far and wide during the countdown to Christmas!!

And speaking of countdowns, Steve Bennett, founder of Starchaser Industries emailed the latest picture of his rocket Skybolt 2 being successfully launched a few weeks ago…I wonder if it’s on its way to the North Pole? Well done Steve – and the national newspapers covering the story inform us that commercial flights to space are the next stage see …definitely faster than narrowboat travel!


Now, here are a few dates to put in your diaries for the remainder of this year:

November 28th at 7.30         TONIGHT – Andy’s Quiz Night             

December 7th  at 7.30              OPEN MIC NIGHT     We’re hoping for a full turnout! If you can sing, act, recite, mime, dance, tell jokes, then we’d love you to come along.

December 15th at 7pm             CHRISTMAS SOCIAL   An evening of mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas carols and lots of dancing to festive music and having fun.

December 19th at 7.30             QUIZ NIGHT                   A week earlier than the normal last Tuesday of the month, but that falls on Boxing Day.

I was talking to Danny Shakeshaft (of D & J Engineering, based here at Swanley) and was asking him about some of the worst things he’s seen on boats – one thing led to another and we thought it might be of interest to include a few of Danny’s tips to avoid having to spend money putting things right at a later date…so to kick off this month’s ‘Danny’s House of HoHo-Horrors’ we’re looking at rudder trunk tube erosion.


In this example, the rudder tube had never been blacked because the access to the tube was restricted due to the grill covering the entrance being welded in-situ. The solution to this problem is to remove the fixed grill and replace with a bolt on grill which, like the beer, allows you to reach the parts with your blacking brush that other fixed grills don’t!

P1130671The surrounding area has been blacked, but the inside couldn’t be accessed due to the bars being welded in place.

P1130668An example of a bolt on/removable grill that lets you get at the tube to black the inside.

And Danny is awarded the ‘quote of the week’……….Rust is a living thing…….so sayeth the soothsayer – in other words, rust is a chemical reaction that carries on happening, so black your rudder tubes asap!

Carol took some beautiful photographs in and around the marina during November and I’ve included a few in the hope it may inspire you to get snapping, if you do and want to share them, we can include them in the next blog.

IMG_8623 Unusually Calm!!!


In anticipation of the festive season, we at the office, are charging up the HOHOHO machine; surgicaly removing the Bah Humbug from Andy’s nether regions; kitting Mandy out in a pink tutu and Stardust Wand and sitting her atop the Christmas tree; Malcolm’s being force fed mince pies everyday, so when we stuff him into the red suit, he looks more like a round and jolly Santa than a skinny Christmas Grinch; and Doug’s confined to his grotto and won’t be released until he’s repaired 9000 fairy lights and decorated his hanging holly balls…as you can see, it’ll just be another fun and jolly season  here at Planet Swanley.

As promised in the last blog – another recipe. This one has been provided by Pat Woolgar, which he made for the Macmillan Coffee morning. It may come in very handy if, like me, you’re a sort of person and not made your Christmas cake yet – this one will more than compensate.

Boiled Fruit Cake

900g/2lb mixed fruit – raisins, sultanas, chopped nuts & walnuts

350g/12oz sugar

350g/12oz margarine

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml/9fl oz cold water

250ml/9fl oz brandy

240g/8 1/2 oz self raising flour

240g/8 1/2 oz plain flour

4 free range eggs, beaten

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

1 x 20g/7oz tub glace cherries, chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas3. Grease and line 3 loaf tins
  2. Place the mixed fruit and nuts, sugar, margarine, bicarbonate of soda, water and brandy in a large pan and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool.
  3. When the mixture has cooled, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into the loaf tins and bake for two hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Chef’s tip…and Pat was a professional chef in a former life, so this tip is straight from the retired ‘horse’s’ mouth. When you remove the cakes from the oven, flip over in the tin and allow to cool upside down.

Preparation time                  30 mins

Cooking time                           over 2 hours

Makes 3 loaves

This sticky cake is quick and easy to make and will keep well if stored in an airtight container.   (From Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels).

For those who may not have heard, the Macmillan coffee morning we held a few weeks ago raised a grand total of £566.88 – so a BIG thank you to all of you. The Macmillan Fund let us know that in TOTAL a staggering £21 million was raised through this one event countrywide this year.

So, on that very happy and inspiring note, Michael, Carol, Andy & Mandy, Malcolm, Doug and me, (Liz) wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.