Put a ring on it.

This is perhaps a little altruistic. It’s a video made to raise money for Comic Relief, but by putting it on this blog, I also increase the video content on here by 33-50%, which is quite a jump.

Why is this relevant? It’s from the people who do the breakfast radio show that keeps me entertained in my car between 7.45 when I leave my house and 8.01 when I park in Stevenage (see?).

You can get the background on the vid at www.hertbeat.com

All in a good cause, etc.

The bane of my life.

Exhibit A, m'lud.

Exhibit A, m'lud.

Not parking. The bit after. Commuting. And not that in itself. People. And their wheelie suitcases. Admittedly they can be a necessary evil, but evil they are!

1. Fully extended at a 40-degree angle, they take up the room of 4 people – and in a rush-hour situation that’s just bloody greedy.

2. People don’t see ’em. I am blessed with fantastical peripheral vision and all-round awareness. However, the mere mortals around me don’t seem able to spot a ‘wheelie’ and plough on into what they think is dead space because there’s nothing in their way at head height. WRONG! Cue the pile-up with everyone blaming each other. And to think I used to hate rucksacks (though students with poor peripheral vision still wipe out children and smaller adults with an ill-timed turn from time to time).

3. The abrupt halt their owners come to in order to pick the case up to carry up or down steps. They do this as though there isn’t an unstoppable mass of humanity right behind them, which of course there always is. No backwards glance for them. They just slam on the anchors and do a bit of handle husbandry, blissfully unaware of the carnage of twisted limbs and robust language trailing in their wake.

You can bet there's a wheelie case under that lot.

You can bet there's a wheelie case under that lot.

Barrier maths FAIL.

For some reason I was ahead of myself this morning, getting to Swingate a full 5 minutes before usual. Bloomin’ good job I did. There were 2 spots left. One was a real insurance job. You’d have trouble getting in and out without some serious paintwork scrapage. I’d just watched a Mini perform a 17-point turn (the last 10 or so just needless – a complete khazi – she was basically in but trying to be straight and central, but made very hard work of it).

See that last space on the left? Good luck with that one...

See that last space on the left? Good luck with that one...

There was another space next to hers that was even harder to get in. I made one attempt then cut my losses. I didn’t want to put on a show like the Mini had done moments earlier. Round the corner was an easier one. Still not straightforward – that’s why it’s one of the last to go – but 3 manouvres and I was snug.

And as I locked up and walked away, there were 2 more cars looking for spaces – a bit like musical chairs, but this time with cars and spaces. Well, the first car finds the last space and begins to find an angle to start with while the other does a fruitless circuit before heading for the exit. Now, the naughty Polo and naughty Rover hadn’t used the kerb this morning (which normally throws out the numbers). Would the black Focus (and I felt some kinship here) go semi-legal? No. It left and probably headed to Danesgate.

So there you are, Stevenage Borough Council; your Swingate barrier’s out by one spot. Is this a temporary abberation or the millennium bug (it must have had an effect somewhere…)?

+++ UPDATE +++

Arriving back at Swingate on my way home, naughty red Rover had obviously arrived a little later and bagged the half-on/half-off spot. Cheeky!

Misting up.

Got this new stuff through the post last week. Anti-fogging goo for the inside of the car windows and rain run-off stuff for the outside.

Does what it says on the er... box / tube.

Does what it says on the er... box / tube.

For some reason, my Focus seem to steam up like a mother. The recent cold snap has been particularly burdonsome. So I tried the anti-fogging stuff last week and by jingo it seems to work. I applied the raindrop-beading slime to the windows yesterday but my experiment has been foiled – no rain today. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating that is. More news when the weather decides to play ball.

Parking-wise. Swingate had a choice of about 4 spaces for me this morning. It’s half-term (and Monday at that) but that doesn’t seem to had any effect on the parking situation. Whether Danesgate chimes with the same statistic, for now I cannot say.

Mo’ sno’ on the Fo’.

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Thought we were past the worst of this weather, but my wife hadn’t lied to me on the phone; it really had been snowing again in East Herts. As my train pulled into Stevenage yesterday evening, I felt quite smug seeing the childlike surprise of my fellow commuters: the area was once again wearing its alabaster shroud (that’s trying too hard isn’t it – I’ll stop now). Basically it had been snowing again.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

It took a little while to get the snow off all the windows so I could see out. And once I’d got going, I realised that my headlights were pretty useless as they were still covered in snow, so I had to pull into a petrol station and put that right.

It was pretty slippery stuff. The snow was coming down in very fine flakes, so light it was being blown in all directions – often horizontally – and surprisingly it was settling on the road, despite the back end of the rush hour that my car joins most nights around this time.

Saw a few wheel spins but using the driving skills that I’ve been accumulating from the last few days’ I kept the car moving in a prodominantly forward direction – though I could have done without that big van right up my arse for half of my journey (waves fists again – RARR!)…

Satellite-navigating movie-watching commuting machine.

BIG NEWS! The Sat Nav that I’ve been coveting for weeks – nay, months – came down in price just enough for me to classify it ‘a bargain’ and justify the purchase. It has arrived. And I am pleased. For not only does it run TomTom, it also plays movies. So if I’m not driving but instead commuting on the train, I can watch Zombie Strippers (just for example) on a 4.3 widescreen. My own personal IMAX. Words cannot…

Mmmmmmm.

Mmmmmmm.


Though I will say this: it does seem to be a little picky when the Sat Nav decides to lock on to the satellites. It’s correctly configured and I know it works best outside, but sometimes it just seems to turn its back on the sky, sticks its fingers in its ears and crosses its arms tightly in a huff – maybe it wouldn’t do that with the male voice. Especially the Australian.

Now you see ’em. Now you don’t.

Not even tumbleweed for company.

Not even tumbleweed for company.

Ardent followers of this blog (me) will know that it can be a struggle to get into Swingate at times, so it’s an arresting sight to see a near-empty Swingate at half-past midnight on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Car parks don't have EMPTY signs, but if they did...

Car parks don't have EMPTY signs, but if they did...

Parking all over Stevenage.

It’s snow-sprinkled anarchy! Stevenage has turned into one giant car park. People are parking their cars all over the show – mainly because they can’t move them.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Yesterday I spent 2 hours skidding (very slowly) around the outskirts of Stevenage trying to make it to the station. Abandoned cars, a jack-knifed lorry and the abysmal conditions conspired against me. I narrowly avoided getting stuck myself and returned home defiant but defeated.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Today I persevered but it still took me 2 hours between leaving the house and getting on the train.

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Gettin' kinda heavy...

Gettin' kinda heavy...

But what a nice train it was – another National Express train making a special stop at Stevenage because of issues on the line and weather and and and… This post was brought to you courtesy of their free WiFi connection.

Snowbound.

There are 3 roads out of my village. I tried my normal one. Fine for the first few hundred yards and then a queue. A long one. The sort where cars are pulling 3-point turns and coming back. I wind down my window and catch one of the retreating vans. There are cars stuck in the snow on a hill and there’s no way through. One down, two to go.

The second road is still going in roughly the right direction but in a roundabout way. It’s also more countryfied and a bit of a gamble, but my options are decreasing.

Whaddya know – I make it through Aston village, past the middle-aged lady in her marooned Clio and make it as far as Stevenage city limits. Civilisation (of a sort). A false dawn. Having made a stop at Sainsbury’s for petrol, chocolate and ‘comfort’ I return to the main road to face complete gridlock. A passing pedestrian happily tells me of the jack-knifed lorry that’s the cause of it all. No joy that way – let’s try the opposite way. Almost as slow. I check my watch; it’s been an hour and 45 minutes since I set off and I’m roughly 3 miles from where I started. Never mind what the trains have in store for me, even if I make it to the station.

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

I make a decision. Cut my losses. Go back to the house. Have a cup of tea. Work from home. Struggle up the steep hill, passed the now-abandoned Clio, back the way I came. I’m sliding more laterally than forwards, alarming oncoming traffic but making progress. Slowly.

National Express delivery.

I’m working late-ish on a pitch and I get to King’s Cross to find a huge crowd staring at the big Departure board. Our train is cancelled. There’s an additional screen to the side that display information about an overhead incident at Hitchin – one stop beyond Stevenage. Bad news so far. Reading on, I glean that National Express trains will be stopping at Stevenage (perhaps especially – I didn’t have time to take it all in). As I’m reading this I become aware of a mass exodus towards Platform 3. I search the board; the Newcastle train is stopping at Stevenage. At this rate I might get home even quicker!

It's like a space-train of the future!

It's like a space-train of the future!

Hurrah for overhead incidents. And check me out! Double seat. Swanky interior. Free Wi-Fi. Free magazine (LiveWire – ouch).

I’ve been super-flash and uploaded the bulk of this post from the train. Very 2.0.

%d bloggers like this: