Weeknotes 2022.21: Going about on 72 (and 2) wheels

Close up on a small table lamp with a copper lattice circular design around a tall filament bulb in the centre.

It’s been a long time coming, but Crossrail is finally here. I took my initial trip on Tuesday. On Saturday evening, we went across to Paddington for a date night, and had another go. It was very popular with cosplayers from MCM Comic Con at Custom House, and the new train swallowed up passengers with ease—a group of people had no trouble getting on and off with a giant papîer-maché scythe. (I may have ‘accidentally’ co-ordinated my outfit with the new line by wearing only purple.) The flies in the ointment are starting to become clearer: the complete featurelessness of the non-platform side of the tunnel (not even any roundels at the stations, so if you’re looking out the wrong side of the train you could easily miss your stop); the glass roof at Paddington starting to attract bird droppings, looking like a mouldy shower screen; the awful interchange with the DLR or Jubilee line at Canary Wharf that sends you through a maze of a shopping centre. Minor annoyances—but Crossrail itself remains a terrific feat and will make a huge difference for me in getting across London fast.

We had a lovely dinner on Saturday night, at a restaurant on the canal, as the sun went down. We regretted this as soon as it started to get cold, but the lanterns on the table made for some nice photographs. The food was nice, too.

Detail of the top of a lit light bulb in a copper lattice lantern on a wooden table.

Speaking of which, my first ride on Crossrail was preceded by my first go on a Lime e-bike to get to Whitechapel. It was fast, and the e-assist was impressive (if a little jumpy.) On the other hand, it charged me a full £3.22 for a short hop from Stratford to Whitechapel (a ride of about 20 minutes—when the battery ran out towards the end.) I can’t imagine I’ll make a habit of using it, but it’s made me want an e-bike more.

On coming across Westminster Bridge on RideLondon Freecycle today, I saw Big Ben/The Elizabeth Tower/The St. Stephen's Clock Tower/whatever you want to call it, in the sun, properly, for the first time since it was refurbished. For the first time in my life, I can appreciate that there's some kind of appeal to it. Still not a looker as far as London landmarks go, alas.

The top of the Palace of Westminster clock tower (Big Ben), in gilded gold and blue, against a partly cloudy sky.