Walkern white-out

Once again, a few flakes of snow cause chaos, wreak havoc and do all the other hyperbolic things the news says it does.

How does this affect Parking In Stevenage? It means I sacrifice the Focus for the BMW. But why, the Beemer’s crap in the snow, right? Dear reader, you are not wrong. With that knowledge, my wife commandeers the Focus for the school runs. Fair enough, I’ve just got a 10-minute run into Stevenage; she’s weaving across most of Herts and crossing the border into Essex. But about that nice new Fiat 500 you bought her for Christmas? That’s what I thought. But apparently changing gears in the snow could be awkward (?) and besides, what if it got damaged? It seems that the Focus is not only sure-footed in slippy conditions, it’s also expendable should anything untoward occur.

The toughest part of my journey is getting the BMW out of the private close we live on. Fortunately it’s downhill to the road, so at least that’s in our favour. I could have done without the car parked across the street from the close. It’s a steep little run and it would be easy to slide into his passenger door. Anyway, that negotiated, it was an east run to Swingate.

But of course getting there is one thing, finding a spot is a different matter. I don’t mean finding a vacant spot’s a problem. If anything, there were more spaces available than usual, but the issue facing me this morning is illustrated below. We’re reduced to parking from memory.

White Lines... Er, where?

Rather than just random anarchy, everyone’s done their level best to park where they think the lines should be. It’d be interesting to see if a sudden thaw revealed how close we’d been. A bit like ‘The Cube’ but outside.

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 http://bit.ly/f5u1Cn). 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:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300471917413

How to make it snow inside your car.

Come the winter months, my reasonable-in-every-way Ford Focus reveals itself to be more damp (damper?) than the average vehicle.

When it’s parked under cover, it’s not a problem, but when I come back to Swingate in the evening, the frost has not only covered my windscreen on the outside, there’s a thin coating of ice covering the inside too. This is hard to shift.

A reconstruction.

I gave it a go with a redundant credit card combined with the blowers on full. You should try it – it makes your car’s interior very Christmassy. As the scraped ice flakes fall from the windscreen, the fans catch them and blow them gaily hither and thither. They then drift gently down and melt all over my dashboard, probably dripping somewhere mechanically unhealthy.

Plan B anyone?

The heaters don’t really get going until I’ve driven for a bit. Catch 22: can’t go anywhere with the windscreen iced up – it might not be suicide but it’s not a clever idea is it.

I’m leaning towards getting a big bag of silica gel (tarted up with packaging for marketing purposes, of course) to leave in the car and soak up the excess moisture. I”ve found motoring solutions in the past. I can do it again. I shall report back soon.

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!)…

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.

The big thaw

Well the forecast was for more snow but it was more of a no-show. There’s still plenty around and if anything the roads are more treacherous than yesterday. I did the most sedate wheelspin I’ve ever done and while wondering why everyone else was going so slow, my car decided to travel diagonally for a bit. I actually used a gear setting on my car for the first time ever. It’s an automatic and I put it in 2 – it won’t go higher than 2nd – perfect for the north face of K2 or indeed Fairlands Way on a frosty Tuesday morning.

Fairlands Way - a Sherpa's eye view

Fairlands Way - a Sherpa's eye view

My son is distraught, his school is open for anyone that wants to give it a go. He’ll be getting a lift as my wife is waiting in all day for a new fridge freezer after I stabbed the old one to death. Proper movie-white gas came steaming out of it after the carving knife inadvertently went through something it shouldn’t. A hairdryer is the way forward I’m told.

If you look closely, it's easy to see... the tracks of my tyres

If you look closely, it's easy to see... the tracks of my tyres

Back to parking. Swingate is waiting for me. Nearly had to get out of my car to put my pass against the machine because my electric window had been frozen shut. It finally snapped free and we were in! Lots of unmelted snow and a massive gap in the middle where cars are normally parked. Clearly there are some people working from home again today but because you can’t see the road markings, no one’s been prepared to make the first move and play ‘guess where the spots are’.

Swingate in the snow

Swingate in the snow

I’ve given the windows a pre-freeze anti-freeze spray. It’s an experiment that may backfire but we shall see tonight.

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