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.

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Duck in Swingate.

It seems only right to break the dormancy of this blog to bring you reports of a mallards malaise.

This bird seems to conducting be a one-duck sit-in. In protest at what, we just don’t know.

More when we have it. Back to the studio.

Autumnal Swingate.

Just this really.

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Is Elon Musk parked up in Swingate?

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You’d expect a Tesla really…

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…

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10 new spaces in Swingate

This is possibly the biggest thing to happen in Swingate since the installation of the new card machines – I do miss the old animation of a Cadillac rolling through the display though.

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They’ve done away with the Voluntary Service building which was a glorified portakabin crossed with a PoW camp hut.

By my calculations it has added 10 new spaces to Swingate. This is good news. I also had the good fortune of being the first to park in the newly painted spots. Made of winning, I am.

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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.

Before

Before

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After

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.

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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.

Why is Stevenage traffic suddenly all clogged up?

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What is it all of a sudden with traffic in Stevenage? All backed up on the roundabout leading up to the Tesco Extra leading into Lytton Way, trailing back as far back as Fairlands Valley Park. I don’t understand.

Are there roadworks blocking other routes then? I don’t know. All I do know that I have to set off five minutes early to make sure I get the same train.

I mean, is this just temporary or is it permanent from now on?

Traffic’s always heaviest in the middle of the week, but even on Mondays it’s choggy.

I can’t get to Swingate any other route – that’s the nature of Lytton Way’s 5/6 lane dual carriageway. Unless I come at the big roundabout from Old Stevenage direction but then that’ll set me back routing from there anyway.

First World problems, eh…

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