Daneshill barriers are properly down.

It started as a very frustrating morning. Plenty of spaces in Swingate and Daneshill, though plenty of cars already there. But with no warning or explanation, both car parks were closed. For what? I don’t know. Nothing got painted, lopped, trimmed or demolished, so no idea. I ended up in Southgate of all places – yeah – I know!!!

But on the way back, the random closing while some cars were already inside had obviously caused havoc. This was either an official or unofficial way to deal with the situation…


Neighbourly parking.

It’s a Thursday, traditionally not the busiest day in Swingate. Busier than a Friday but not as busy as a Tuesday, obviously.

But lo and behold, the sign said it’s full. And it is. A hasty 3-point turn later, I’m on my way to Daneshill. Result: spaces.

Ahead of me there’s a car that’s vaguely familiar. As I park up, I see the driver rushing past to catch her train. It’s my neighbour Debbie and together we’ve bagged the last two spaces in Daneshill. Yay!

I guess that’s why they invented the word ‘serendipity’ (on the exact same day as ‘irony’ – fact).

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…?

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.

Last spot in Daneshill.

It’s been a while since I treated you both to the all-too-real nitty-gritty of actually parking in Stevenage.

Well, dear readers, this morning the four red capitals no one wants to see (FULL) greeted me as I approached Swingate. Two other cars were ahead of me, so around we all turned in messy 3-pointers and headed off to the alternatives.

Pulling out on to Lytton Way, you have two next-best options. Danesgate is a good bet, it fills up later and it’s not too far from the station – plus I like to think it’s a good overnight spot because it’s opposite the police station (not that it’s a factor today).

Daneshill is a bit of a loop round but you end up just as close to the station as Swingate – with the added bonus of being handier for the bingo if you’re that way inclined. In truth, it’s nearby whether you like bingo or not.

Thoughtfully, they’ve erected a sign on the corner telling you if there are spaces in Daneshill so you can make a snap decision between Daneshill and Danesgate. It sounds complicated but even after a rotten night’s sleep, I can still manage this level of split second decision-making.

As luck would have it, Daneshill was advertising spaces. Bingo, I thought (are you following me?).

There’s always a worry that the cars on front of you will take the last spaces and that just as you pull up to the barrier those for red letters will come back to haunt you. Well, blow me, if you remember as far back as the title for this post, you’ll know I bagged the last space in Daneshill. And what a curious little spot it is.

It’s an awkward little corner, tucked in behind another car. If you insist on knowing all the ins and outs, I had to pull a 5-pointer first in order to reverse in – minding the cement  bollards for good measure. It’s like the Krypton Factor for parking. And THEN I have to go and spend the day at work! Lunacy gone mad.

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!

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?



Like bingo AND fags?

Then BINGO! You’ll love Mecca in Stevenage. It’s like a… place that attracts pilgrims from all over.

But you know, when that close “House!” call has got to your nerves and you need a ciggie to calm yourself, the law says you can’t light up inside. Happily, Mecca have thought of everything: smoking cages!

The usual occupants remind me of the number 88 for some reason.

Fair play, Mecca don’t want chancers bunking in the back door, so a cage is the answer. You’re still just a step away from your dabber and card but you’re outside enough to enjoy a lungful of carcinogens – and the panaromic view of Daneshill car park through the bars. What a night!

Day off.

Bit under the weather. Rather than share the lurgie with my colleagues, I shall work from home today – so no thrilling updates from Swingate, Danesgate, Daneshill, Southgate or the St George’s Way multi-storey. I promise to make it up to you all tomorrow.

My debut in Daneshill

Another early start this morning. Had to feed back comments on the first cut of the short film we shot on Friday and then write some new scripts for another short film before 9.30. Ah, the glamour of it all…

Well, I thought I’d treat myself, broaden my parking horizons and leave LC in the care of Daneshill car park.

A word about Daneshill. I’ve coveted the spaces in Daneshill until now; call it car-park-envy if you will. It’s right next to the steps to the station, just like Swingate, but for some reason, the spaces go a little bit earlier. It’s nearer the bingo, but I can’t see that being a deal-breaker. But in summary, today’s parking was an even bigger event than usual.

Plenty of spaces. I chose well, I think. I picked the third nearest space to the steps leading to the station and I reversed in as well, so tonight I’ll be out of that car park like a bat out of Daneshill.

One thing that does hold me back is getting the swipe card ready, winding the window down and actually steering the bloody car all at the same time. I’ve narrowly avoided dinging my front wing on more than one occasion. The best solution I’ve found so far is having the card ready in my teeth and the window down before I even leave my parking spot – though in cold weather I’d really prefer to make it a last minute wind-down.

Maybe velcro could play a part? Suggestions welcome.

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