It’s not you. It’s me. I’ve been… writing another blog.

For anyone that gives a toss, I started this blog because I like writing. I work in advertising and I write ads for other people all day, every day. People like to add their opinion, change my ideas. Sometimes it makes them better (yeah, right!). Sometimes I wish they’d leave well alone.

So this is Parking In Stevenage. All my own work – a true reflection on what I think is good. And while many of my colleagues were busy penning blogs that delved into the dark arts of marketing or digital or branding or whatever, I didn’t want to compete in that space; this was my playground and I could choose the most inane, tedious topic to document. Fact is, it’s getting even more tedious after 3 years – I’ve gone right through the bottom of the barrel – there’s just splinters where that used to be. But no – that won’t stop me or this blog. Parking In Stevenage will live on!

However, I’ve been distracted. I’ve looked elsewhere – outside of Hertfordshire, even. I now anonymously co-edit The London Egotist – the only site I know of that talks specifically to London’s creative community – adland and all the associated specialisms. If you’re interested, check it out. It’s actually very good. Yes, I would say that, wouldn’t I…

The space that wasn’t there.

Well I suppose you buy a Smart car for a reason and here’s where it earns its corn.

It’s not even a space but can you begrudge him parking there? And how can I judge it’s a ‘him’? Because I got busted taking this photo.

So, the only other person in the car park when I took this happened to be the driver of this car.

There used to be another non-official space right next to the barriers but they put a stop to that with a cunningly placed bollard.

Swingate: a metaphor for society in general and so many other aspects of life.

Considering the Sportage.

So it’s nearly time to change the Focus and I like the crossover category of car. They look meaty and possibly more able to handle icy country roads that the BMW certainly can’t. Maybe I shouldn’t be swayed by the shape of the outside.

Thought about the Ford Kuga – no bigger than the Focus inside.

Liked the Audis but the Q5 ‘s out of my league and the Q3’s similar in size to the Focus again.

The Hyundai ix35 just looks a little bland in comparison. Practical considerations like economy and space take a back seat to looks. Who wants to walk back to the car park with a heavy heart?

If it weren’t for the run-flat tyres, the poor winter performance and the pricier servicing, our BMW 3 Series Touring would be the perfect family car.

The incumbent family motor. This is randomly off the web. Not my parking!

And then one thought that gauges the next car’s suitability (in my eyes only) is “What will it look like in Swingate?”

This will be the bigger family car. While my wife does the school run in her Christmas present runabout, I’ll be parking this thing in Stevenage all day. Will it stick out like a sore thumb? Will it say, “Look at me!”. Is it incongruous to have this ever-rising chunk of metal lauding it up over the earthbound Micras and Puntos?

Swingate is typically populated by Saxos, Clios, Hondas and Focuses. The pricier car parks nearer the station are more executive. Audi S4s rub bumpers with Freelanders, Lexuses and BMWs.

So what would a white Sportage look like in Swingate?

Lucky there’s no need for an artist’s impression or Photoshop. There’s one right here. Looks alright dunnit.


How did I get here?

A reconstruction.

WordPress tells me what search terms bring you to my blog. It doesn’t identify you personally – I just see a list of search terms and how many hits I got from them.

Dwarfing all others, Duncan Norvelle is the most popular search term. Is he gay? Is he married? Etc.

But in addition it does give me a fascinating window on to the kinds of things you good citizens of the internet are looking for.

This is a new type of post. I will update this from time to time with my favourite search terms. And I shall start with these:

– Sue Holderness legs
– Ford pigeon
– man superdry back
– silica gel Stevenage
– duncan norvelle gardener
– kepi blank
– illegal parking on grass
– Brian Blessed wife swap
– Stevenage Taliban
– Tesco ad where man pushing a car all over the place
– crossdress air force
– lost black glove
– “showing a bit of leg”
– how much does Duncan Norvelle cost to book
– wiki duncan norvelle please leave me alone

Emile Heskey transferred to Daneshill.

There’s a chap who used to park in Swingate. Green Y reg Citroen. Looks a bit like Emile Heskey. But shorter. We used to arrive at roughly the same time each morning.

Well, the big news is he seems to have swapped Swingate for Daneshill, the local rival.

Little Emile Heskey.

Don’t know why. Maybe there were more opportunities, maybe he just fancied a move. The 2 car parks are only yards apart but he’s made the big move to the other side. Good luck to him I say. Me? I’m sticking with Swingate. Someone needs to show some loyalty, for god’s sake!

Who smokes cigars in the car these days?

I’m feeling very manly. For the first time in my life, I’ve changed a fuse in a car. Changed plenty around the house but never the car.

At first I thought the little FM transmitter thing I use to play my iPod through the car radio had bust. You buy ’em for about £4 on eBay from a place in China and you don’t really expect them to last forever.

So when first one went, I bought a replacement. When that didn’t work, I wondered if it was the cigar lighter (who smokes cigars in the car these days?).

And so it was. Checking the Focus manual, fuse 47, hiding behind the glovebox, needed looking at. I got the fuse picker-outer from another fuse box under the bonnet and replaced fuse 47. Hey presto, everything works again.

The outgoing Fuse 47.

I love it when you can fix a car for £2.09.

The only slight niggle I have is that I’m not quite sure if the glovebox is quite what it was. Now when you open it, it flops open like a difficult teenager. I feel sure that my meagre Zetec was never blessed with hydraulically dampened glovebox but I don’t remember it being this ‘relaxed’.

If you have a 53 reg 1.8 litre Ford Focus Zetec with an as-new glovebox, can I have a go on it?

The British Car Parking Awards 2011.

Big news for the Gascoyne Way car park in Hertford. It’s been shortlisted in the Best Refurbishment category in the British Car Parking Awards. Yes, there is such a thing and Hugh Dennis from out of ‘Outnumbered’ will be giving out the gongs this year. At the InterContinental in Park Lane, no less!

The £800,000 refurbishment means that Hertford’s flagship multi-storey now has bigger spaces, electric charging points and upgraded CCTV.

“We’re delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award,” said Councillor Mike Carver, Executive member for planning policy and transport.

“We spent a great deal of time and effort choosing the right contractor and creating a design that would future proof the car park and it’s great to see this recognised on a national level.

The winners are announced on March 11. It’s by no means in the bag. Gascoyne Way is going head to head with Gatwick Airport Long Stay South and Bold Lane, Derby to name but two.

Nothing for Swingate, Danesgate, Daneshill, Southgate or St George’s. There’s always the British Car Parking Award 2012, I suppose…

I can’t help but think ‘if only there were a blogging category’. Modesty aside I reckon I’d be in with a shout for a Commended or something. If anyone knows anyone at the BCPA, put in a good word won’t you?

The egg in my car.

Why is there an egg in my car? It’s not really an egg, it’s a dehumidifier in disguise. For some reason, in winter my reasonable-in-every-way Ford Focus gets steamy inside (see Something to do with leaky seals perhaps; I’m no expert.

When it gets really cold, I can come back from work to find the windscreen has iced up on the inside. Well that’s no good – I can’t see out to drive.

So I’ve bought this. You leave it in the car and over time it absorbs moisture in the air and stores it it so it can’t get out again. It’s even got an indicator on it to tell you when it’s getting full.

If it shows pink you just sling it in the microwave for 10 minutes and all the moisture’s forced out again.

Does it work? Yes. I’ve noticed a big improvement. Low cost, low maintenance. Perfect.

If you want to get one and see for yourself, I got mine from here:

Lady in waiting.

I pull into Swingate round about the same time every weekday. 8am give or take.

Lately I’ve noticed that there’s a car parked under the oak tree near the far end. Inside there’s a lady. Waiting. I don’t know what she’s waiting for.

...just like this.

Maybe she’s waiting to hear the news on the radio. Is she meeting someone here and giving them a lift elsewhere? Does she does like the Swingate vibe and so she just hangs out there for a bit?

If you see her, give her a wave. She’s in a dark green Golf. With a fag on.

You’re dead to me, Blatter.

Swingate has spoken. Although some of the pubs are flying the flags still, now the FIFA World Cup is behind us (congrats Spain) my car park shows no evidence that it ever happened.

Two flags made it as far as Thursday. The Monday after the final: nothing.

Sepp, we’ve just moved on. See you in 4 years. Hopefully.

But in the meantime, Back The Bid!

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