Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Wednesday is market day in St Albans

I know this now. Because I've tried to park the car.

It's probably about 2pm when I try to park outside Verulamium museum. The car park's full. I'm circling round like a vulture, looking for a space. I've suggested meeting Am and Jol here. Am and Jol drive past and wave. I don't see them; I'm focused on the movements of a blue Toyota.

There's only one thing to be done. Drop the kids with Sasha, together with strict instructions to play at this end of the park, while I set off driving round St Albans to find a space.

Oh no you don't, comes the St Alban's reply. Because it's market day, see? Don't think you're parking there. Here's the car park by the cathedral. It's three cars to a space in there. And look! The police are even touring it now looking to park the riot van. Next, here's the car park by the shops with a lot of white vans in. Or would you like the car park with the sign outside: 'Closed on Wednesday. Market traders only'? Of course you can't park on the street because there's a funny looking shield on the signs. To residents that means something special. To Grit it means a wheel clamp and £120 to get the clapped out skip I drive released at 11pm this evening.

So off I go to find some more car parks. I apologise to the residents at that point for driving the wrong way up the one way street but I was temporarily confused. But let's have a look at this car park. Oh, there's the police in it again, circling round and round, probably still looking for a space. Back to the shopper one. Nope. Now here's some more shields. Then, a shopping paradise car park. Success! £2.70 for 5 hours in Level 1! I'll park there! Then leg it back to Am and Jol and the kids and Sasha who are all playing in the water park.

Now I like St Albans, but I don't know it well. As I walk out of the paradise car park and onto the street I have no idea where I am. Help! There is an enormous market happening in front of me and I cannot see my hand in front of my face for market traders and women buying size 20 purple underwear. But where are the signs? Where are the signs that read Cathedral this way? Kids and Jol that way?

Disaster. Turn Grit round a few times, shove her in a market filled with size 20 purple underwear, and she becomes disoriented and confused and loses all sense of directon and starts wandering off in the wrong direction for 25 minutes.

I ring Dig. I give him my location and tell him to call up a screen map of St Albans town centre, preferably one that shows the market on Wednesdays and talk me back as I walk because it feels like 4pm and I am about to collapse.

It must be another 30 minutes before I get to Jol, Sasha and all the kids. My plan is to get rid of Sasha PDQ and have a quality moan to Jol about car parking in St Albans on market day. I suggest Sasha try shopping in the market, since it's Wednesday.

And when I do get rid of Sasha, just how long did I get to sit down with my aching feet before Tiger decides she is going to go bonkers?

So I lead Tiger through the park, past the cathedral and down the streets, past the market traders packing up their purple underwear, back to the paradise shoppers car park and our beaten up old car, where she's calm, says her feet ache, and eats oat biscuits.

And I drive back to the car park outside Verulamium. We make it there just before 6pm. And of course I find a space. No problem.


Michelle said...

If the swimming pool carpark is full (which on a Wed is very likely) try parking at Waitrose. Opposite end of the park to the lake up beyond the masic floor standalone building. I think it's still not a permit only residential area.

Left onto main road outside Verulamium up to the roundabout and left again. Waitrose and housing on RHS. Park on left. You get to walk past some decent Roman Wall bits that way too.

grit said...

excellent. i will use this information and look like a native.