Danesgate closed. Daneshill needs re-calibrating.

For some reason, Danesgate remains closed. There is no work that I can see being done on it. For half the time, the tarmac was covered in snow anyway.

The knock-on effect is of course that the Danesgate massive are encroaching on Swingate’s turf, so it’s gets full earlier. I’ve been caught out twice on this.

Both times, I’ve ended up in Southgate which is a long old schlep to the station (comparatively). Happily, the Daneshill sign says there are spaces. “Salvation!” – maybe I’ll catch my train after all.

Daneshill is a funny old place. It’s shaped a bit like a ‘W’ and you enter in the middle, so you get to a bit where you have a choice: left or right. I take a chance on right. No spaces. Doesn’t matter. That just means the space must have been the other way (left – if you’re paying attention). No joy. The sign said ‘SPACES’, the ‘FULL’ sign wasn’t lit. Where’s my space? Not in this car park.

Walking back from Southgate, you get a good look at Daneshill from the ramp leading up to the Gordon Craig Theatre/overpass. And there they are: 3 cars forlornly manoeuvring around the ‘W’ looking for an empty space that isn’t there. How existential can you get…?

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Snowy Stevenage.

Today made it 2 days on the trot in Southgate. Some kind of record. Impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Yesterday I was here because inexplicably, Danesgate was closed and Swingate and Daneshill were full.

No idea why Danesgate was closed. Funny time to do work on it. They’d have to clear the snow before they could do any road marking. Must have been something that just couldn’t wait.

Being late due to dropping my son off for the school bus this morning, I assumed the situation was the same as yesterday. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Walking to the station from snowy Southgate I could see Swingate had a space or two and Daneshill was open for business again. Gah.

On the far left is the church St Andrew & St George, Grade 2 listed - the largest parish church to have been built in this country since World War 2.

Stevenage Fire Station straight ahead.

So tonight I have needlessly long traipse back to the Focus ahead of me. Oh well, it makes a change from Swingate every day. I could even go for the record 3-in-a-row on Monday.

One can of course have TOO MUCH excitement in one’s life…

One day my international conglomerate will occupy this entire building.

The big reveal: set for March 19, 2012.

Hot off the Twitter press, the powers that be are saying the hoardings come down on March 19.

Very exciting for everyone, not just us commuters that get diverted a slightly different way every day as they lay the flooring bit by bit.

And what does this vision of the future look like? A bit like this:

It's all hover boards and retina scans from here on in.

I especially like the woman on the far right wiping dog shit off her shoe – click to enlarge it and you’ll see what I mean.

Craving more info? Click below for the lowdown, including this bombshell, “…the current concourse will be demolished revealing for the first time in decades the Grade I listed Victorian façade which has been fully restored to its former glory.”

King’s Cross official announcement >

King’s Cross passengers offered a glimpse into the future >

Want more piccies? here you go:

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The secret escalator at King’s Cross.

As I’ve posted once or twice, the new look King’s Cross draws ever nearer. We get glimpses of new bits, then curiously they erect tarpaulins to keep it from us. As Patrick Stewart said in Extras, “It’s too late of course, because I’ve seen everything.”

One corner that’s been forgotten about is in the Northern ticket hall. Away from the ticket machines, booths and barriers there’s a section, er…sectioned off by hoardings the same colour as the surrounding walls. Closer inspection reveals a notice pertaining to escalators. Take it from me, dear reader, this corner will soon blossom into our escalator up to the brand new concourse – our stairway to heaven/hell (depending on how the trains are that day).

One view.

So, here is your ‘before’ photo and in another post after the big reveal, I shall share the ‘after with you.

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Another view.

A couple of inches makes all the difference.

East Coast Trains. Aside from my wi-fi beef, they’re alright by me. And if you can snag seats 75 or 76 (in any coach, I guess, though I’m currently in coach C) they’re even better.

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To look at, the difference is imperceptible, but when you sit down, you can really feel it: glorious extra inches of legroom.

Bear it in mind – especially if you’re reserving a seat online.

That is all.

A paucity of posts.

It’s been pointed out to me and I’ve noticed it too: I can leave it a little long between posts. I don’t have an excuse but I do have 2 reasons:

– Angry Birds
– A shiny new netbook

I thought it was me and solitaire (Klondike™) on my iPod forever. When that game counter ticked passed 1000 (and it did) who’d have thought something new would come along to take its place?

Well, hats off to the Angry Birds crew. If ever there was a game that made you think ‘just one more go’ EVERY time you play it, this is it. And there’s just no escape. They keep updating it with seasonal specials and extra levels. And it’s all FREE! What’s not to love?

Angry Birds yesterday.

The new netbook? That’s for me to write my Oscar-winning screenplay on the train to and from work every day. Isn’t it? It turns out it’s very god at playing other people’s movies, so I end up watching those in 20-minute bursts between Stevenage and King’s Cross and Stevenage again.

The netbook. For films. And occasionally other stuff.

One day, eh – if I’m not updating this old thing with the latest happenings in my playground of car parks…

London. Hanging by a thread.

Most of the time things just work. We don’t question them. We take them for granted. We don’t see them. It’s the way things are.

It’s only when things go wrong that we question them. They become noticeable by their absence.

Overhead lines. You never hear announcements about them working perfectly, but to be fair, the majority of the time they’re quietly getting on with the job in the background. Overhead.

But the other evening, they jumped from obscurity to centre-stage when they stopped working. It meant that trains couldn’t safely reach King’s Cross. For a long, long time that evening it was a station with thousands of stranded commuters and no trains. Not one.

Departures board at King's Cross

Ignore the 'on time' trains. They weren't.

It’s at times like this that you come to realise that it really doesn’t take much to bring these systems to standstill. One simple random glitch can affect thousands of families, ruin plans, cause chaos, cost time and money. More to the point, this father won’t get to say ‘night night’ to his little girl this evening.

With no trains out of town, your options are severely limited. A guy next to me got his mate’s taxi firm on the phone. No joy. Coaches? Where do they go from? Wouldn’t they be rammed too? A city perhaps running beyond full capacity, London really is hanging by a thread, a fragile set of connections at the mercy of anyone with serious intentions of creating havoc.

Blimey.

Oh why, oh why, oh wi-fi.

East Coast. Very nice trains. And on my line at least, very punctual. Swanky interiors. ‘In-flight’ magazine. Free wi-fi. Scratch that. What used to be free wi-fi is now 15 minutes of free wi-fi. If you want longer you have to pay. Or go First Class.

Elaine Holt, head of East Coast and a bit of a train (right).

Excuse me, East Coast, I think you’re going in the wrong direction. Everyone else seems to be offering free wi-fi – from the likes of O2 to independent coffee shops. The days of paying for it are dying out. Now, I know times are tight and if you can charge for something you will – and from where I’m sitting your monopoly is absolute – but in the name of offering passengers something called ‘service’, would it kill you to let us have wi-fi without the catch? I pay thousands of pounds a year for the privilege of using your trains and the price certainly ain’t coming down any time soon.

Don’t go all Ryanair on us, please.

Last in space.

This is hardcore parking news. I’ve had complaints that I’ve wandered away from the business of actually parking in Stevenage. So brace yourselves: this is PiS in the raw.

I arrived at Swingate at my regular time (look out for me at about 7.58 web fans!) but it looked as though the green Almera had taken the last spot. But wait! There was a really tight spot that I really needed God to lift my toy Focus into.

Then I remembered he doesn’t exist – or at least won’t perform miracles for non-believers in Swingate.

I pulled a 7-point parking manouvre forwards (arguable harder because of the relative turning circles) and had my car safely parked while green Almera was still buggering about. Manliness confirmed. What a way to start the week!

Mysterious dirty hand.

No mystery as to whose hand this is. It’s mine. It’s at the end of my left arm where it’s always been, so that part isn’t the mystery. But where did the dirt come from?

I arrived in work just like any other day. But then a colleague said, “What happened to your hand?”

I said, “Nothing.” But then looking at it, I was astonished to see it covered in an odourless black mark.

How?

I was at a loss to explain and still am. I’d been no further than 2 feet away from my left hand throughout the morning. Where had it been to have been sullied without my noticing. To this day (which is the day after it happened) it remains a complete mystery to everyone involved. Yes, both of us.

Spooky.

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