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.

A very unambitious ambition.

How much fun can you have Parking in Stevenage? I done the ‘using my pass to raise the barrier while not quite stopping’ trick – and to be fair, I quite impressed myself.

I’ve done the ‘birdlime experiment’.

What’s left?

Well, for my next trick, I’m going to try and park in every spot in Swingate. Obviously not in one go – that would be ridiculous. And I won’t bother looking for sponsorship either.

Bingo.

Bingo.

I’m keeping an informal record in my head of spots I’ve parked in and the one left. There are the usual suspects – like the handful that are left for me by the time I arrive in the morning. So I really need to make an effort to park in spaces I haven’t yet filled. According to Stevenage Borough Council’s little chart, there are 86 spaces. I need to make a chart. I must have done over half by now, but the only way to do this is to tick ’em off as I go. Wish me luck.

Something for the CV, no?

The miracle of St Evenage

A bad sign

A bad sign

The car in front got very lucky this morning. I was a little way back but I could see the FULL sign from where I was. He’d begun the business of turning round when he started to reverse that process (still with me?). Well Hallelujah – there’s a car coming out – at this time in the morning? Yes, really. So, one in, one out. I had a little look to see if see if this was the beginning of a Swingate exodus. No joy. Two miracles in a morning really would be too much. Especially in Stevenage.

Third choice

Not again...

Not again...

Denied a spot at Swingate for the second morning running. Admittedly I was running a couple of minutes later than usual – though I would still caught the train I was aiming for. A couple of corners away from Swingate I was greeted by the ominous sight of cars coming towards me – a sure sign that those 4 dreaded red letters were illuminated: FULL. I pulled a 3 point turn and headed off to Danesgate. What’s this? A car reversing away from the entry barrier? No red letters but he mouths “It’s full” to me. Well if he’s reversing I guess he’s not lying. Nothing else for it – off to Southgate. Plenty of spaces there but it’s a much longer walk for the station. That, added to my tour of Stevenage’s car parks has meant that I’ll miss not one but two trains. The next one’d delayed – just to add insult to injury. Shame the earlier trains weren’t delayed – but it never works like that. Ever.

Debut in Southgate.

I was running later than usual this morning, but not by much. I thought Swingate might have pushing it so the sensible option was Danesgate. Except it wasn’t. I was greeted by those 4 red letters no Stevenage parker wants to see: FULL.

That left me 2 options:
1. The multi-storey which has literally over 1000 spaces which I’ve used once before.
2. Southgate, an unknown quantity for me.

Well I’ve stolen my own thunder in the title so you can be forgiven for not being on the edge of your seat (just this once!).

I really didn’t fancy the multi-storey again. It’s completely empty in the morning and again at night. You can imagine either a bullet-ridden car chase bursting onto the scene or a hip hop promo featuring honeys, 4×4’s with blacked out windows and fancy rims.

It’s everyone’s last resort. It even features on YouTube alongside a chap threatening to end it all. It’s that sort of place.

The upshot is that driving to Southgate and walking back to the station delays me enough to miss my train. There is an upside to this, however. The next train is slower but I can invariably get a seat which is definitely not the case with the 8.08. And satisfying the completist in me, I have now parked in all 5 car parks that my pass gives me access to. I’ve collected the set!

All that excitement and I’ve not even made it to London yet!

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