Swingate blackberries.

Yes, you can hunter-gather in Swingate in August. Slim pickings the rest of the year, though there was a pair of jeans in the bushes a while back. And that duck.

Autism warning.

Never seen this before. In a way I’m surprised I haven’t.

It’s a reminder of the daily responsibility carried by a parent bringing up an autistic child.

It takes a special kind of parent and a special kind of love, no doubt.

Now where’s my car?



I love mirror.

While it’s true, I am fond of mirrors – they’re very good at what they do – I’m not sure I could say I had a passion for them (in slightly broken English).


However, if you do have ‘passion for mirror’ you could follow the example of this Belgian chap and create your own pan-European mirror business.

It takes him to all sorts of exotic locations. Like Stevenage.

Autumnal Swingate.

Just this really.


Parking Like A Twat in Stevenage.

When I started this blog way back in 2008 I thought I would be the only person taking an interest in the parking habits of those in and around Stevenage. How wrong I was. Since that time, a Facebook group has sprung up – Parking Like A Twat in Stevenage – an event so improbable, I thought I’d dreamt the whole thing up. Can we be twinned somehow?

School pick up time and this bellend decides to park so accurately.......twat.

“School pick up time and this bellend decides to park so accurately……. twat.”

But no, it’s real – and the photos are genuinely taken in Stevenage. Even Swingate gets in on the act. Not that this part of the world has a monopoly on twatty parking, but it’s rare for someone to not only set up a group so geographically specific, but for others to contribute – pretty regularly as it turns out. Stevenage is not short of people who park like twats. We bring forth exhibits B, C and D.

Could not believe this woman!! Swung her car in like its normal space, didn't care that it was sticking out on a bend!! She grabbed a big trolley so guessing she wasn't just popping in for a pint of milk! Gives woman drivers a bad name!!! Billy hunt!

“Could not believe this woman!! Swung her car in like its normal space, didn’t care that it was sticking out on a bend!! She grabbed a big trolley so guessing she wasn’t just popping in for a pint of milk! Gives woman drivers a bad name!!! Billy hunt!”

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Amazing. Having started on Facebook in June 2013, it already has 4,959 Likes – that’s about 4,959 more than Parking In Stevenage. Hats off to them. I for one will be parking with added care, knowing that this community is watching…

The trickiest spot in Stevenage.

This is, without doubt the most difficult space to park in Stevenage especially when all the surrounding cars are all parked up. Take a look at the silver Focus tucked in on the right.


What’s more, it’s also under a tree giving birds eight hours to use my car for target practice while I’m at work.

There was no way in forwards. Cars on all sides. Insurance-tastic. However, with judicious use of the kerb, it’s possible. Just.

Swingate: Now you don’t (see it).

Imagine how ghasted by flabber was when I saw a sign saying that Swingate was closing for 2 weeks. One of my first thoughts was – wow – maybe after a 6-month break, this might be worthy of a post in Parking In Stevenage. Of course that was very closely followed by the more practical consideration of where to park my reasonable-in-every-way-except-the-£1400-auto-gearbox-repair Ford Focus.

I don’t know what’s happened it’s getting harder to get into my car parks of choice unless it’s a Friday. My guess is that few people take holiday in January so everyone is using the car park. Throughout the rest of the year, we have a few of us who go AWOL and introduce some more slack into the system.

It’s got to the point that I can only dream of getting a spot in Daneshill or Danesgate, let alone Swingate. So for now, Southgate is my car’s new home. Downside: a long walk and desolate at night. Upside. No trees = no birdshit on the paintwork or door handles. Nice.

And the good news continues. Why have they closed Swingate for 2 weeks? They’re knocking down the Stevenage Voluntary Services building. it was a pig-ugly building – the longest portakabin I’ve ever seen that had a matching portaloo sitting 8 feet away, like a moon to its planet. It always looked very depressing – no wonder people stopped volunteering their services. Search Google for a pic and you won’t find one. Fortunately, yours truly captured this temporary structure a while back – when it photo-bombed my shot of a Rolls Royce and my Focus.





If you remember before these photos, I mentioned good news. Yes, that good news is not just that an eyesore is being removed so we can see the eyesore behind it. No – this will add around half a dozen new spaces to Swingate. Is someone re-programming the barrier? Due diligence, ladies and gentlemen!

Not straight.

Are you supposed to park with your wheels straight? I mean after you’ve finished your manoeuvres?

I don’t. Consequently my reasonable-in-every-way Ford Focus looks extra ‘hairy’ – ripe for a sexy wide angle photo from a low perspective.


Go on any second hand car site and you’ll see the sort of three-quarters-on shot I mean.

Meandering through Swingate towards the station I note that EVERY other car without exception has dutifully had its wheels left in perfect parallels heading straight ahead.

Is there a rule? Do they teach this at driving school? I don’t remember my diminutive driving instructor Tony telling me to ‘straighten my wheels’. I do remember how small he was though. I only discovered this at my driving test because until then I’d honestly only ever seen him sitting in the passenger seat of the car I was learning in. I’d never seen him standing up – not that it made much difference.

So, to straighten or just leave them where they lie? I’m guessing it must be something they teach. Possible reasons: takes the strain off the steering / makes sure the steering doesn’t become imbalanced / makes sure when you drive off you know where your wheels are facing / just assimilate with the rest of the population, you mindless automaton…

How safe is parking in Stevenage? This safe.

So I come back from work on the train and return to the car parked in Swingate. Standard procedure – it’s been Swingate for as long as I can remember – not even the snow or Christmas has interrupted that routine.

Only this time, on closer inspection, my driver’s window isn’t there. Two possible scenarios: I’ve inadvertently left it down or someone’s smashed it in completely.

No sign of the latter – and to be fair, I’ve never seen anyone’s window smashed in throughout my Stevenage parking career – unlike gentrified Fulham where I used to live. The familiar puddle of granulated safety glass on the kerb was a common sight.

So it was me. I wondered if my remote had learnt a new trick – winding down the window remotely when I unlocked the car. The BMW can do this. The Focus I don’t think can.

So there’s only one conclusion to draw: Swingate is safe enough to leave your car unattended with the driver’s window down for approximately 11 hours on a Tuesday. Although I wouldn’t recommend it.

Reminds me of the time I left the boot wide open while I went shopping in Tesco. Bit of a shock when I went back to the car, but again the culprit was me and the car hadn’t been touched. What an honest lot SG1s are.

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