Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Hell’s itch

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 | Life

In my post about the weather I shared this photo of my sunburn:

sunburn

It looks worse in the photo than it actually was. It was noticeably red, but it wasn’t that burnt. It was a little sore but some after sun that we found at 1011 (an Icelandic supermarket chain) did the trick. You have to give the store credit: they really do have “everything you need and more…”.

This happened on Monday, and it started looking better the next day, and continued to improve the day after. By this point we’re on Wednesday and heading home. Then, on the Wednesday afternoon, it started itching.

Oh my did it itch!

It was horrendous. It wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t sleep because I was involuntarily twitching every twenty seconds. Every hour, on the hour I would go to bed and spend 15 minutes twitching, before getting up, watching some TV and repeating the cycle.

Somewhere between 3-4am I gave up on making it into work the next day and sent a message in to say I would not be in. At 6am I finally managed to drift off: only to be woken up by Elina’s alarm at 6:10am. I spent some more time trying to sleep, then set off for Boots to clean them out of itch cream.

creams

Nothing worked. I tried after sun, anti-itch cream, even antihistamines. But none of it provided relief.

Luckily, by this point it was starting to subside. The itching continued for several days, but it didn’t stop me going to work on Friday, nor sleeping on the Friday night.

When I looked it up on the internet (which was a mistake) they talked about “hell’s itch” or “hell itch”, with people telling stories about it causing sleep deprivation, depression and torture. I don’t think what I went though is was as bad as being tortured, but I can see why people would make big claims about it. It was not a pleasant experience.

Duck racing

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 | Life

duck-racing

Yeah, duck racing. It’s a thing.

We used Easter Sunday to visit my parents, who were holidaying in Pateley Bridge. The camp site was running a duck racing competition, so they had bought us a duck each. The concept is that they tip all the ducks in at the one end of the stream and the first to make it down to the next bridge is the winner.

It was so popular this year that they had to have six heats, with the top handful going through to the final. Sadly none of our ducks were fast enough to qualify. It’s a shame, as the grand prize was a respectable £50.

However, at least Elina can now say she has been to a real English duck race.

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Spring is in the air

Monday, April 4th, 2016 | Life

49ers-hats

The temperature is getting warmer, the days are getting lighter and flowers are sprining up everywhere. Mostly importantly though, to mark the changing of the season I am putting away my wooly hat and bringing my cap out of the wardrobe. It’s time to enjoy some warmer rain.

Family Mother’s Day

Friday, March 11th, 2016 | Life

diane-family-mothers-day

How did my mum spend Mother’s Day this year? Mostly in the kitchen, cooking.

What can I say, she is a Worfolk, you can’t make her relax. We had family visiting from Canada, so a family party was in order. We did our best to help: my sister made breakfast and a pavlova, and I contributed a cheesecake and a tray of cup cakes, but there is only so much cooking we were allowed to do!

After the food we got together for a group photo.

Leeds Dock bridges

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 | Life

Last week was Elina’s birthday. I took her out for lunch. After, I hurried back to the office. However, something got in my way.

leeds-dock-bridge

Hypothetically of course, we all know the bridges could open. However, I always thought there was a general understanding that they wouldn’t. People have to use those bridges. Because of this, I had to walk an extra 50 metres round the dock! No doubt you are now staring at the screen, open mouthed, in shock. Somehow though, I found the strength to carry on.

Worst of all, there was not even a boat going through it. It looked like it might be maintenance. At least a boat would have been mildly exciting.

Fatboy Christopher

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 | Life

I’m concerned about my weight piling on as I approach 30 so I bought us a set of scales for the bathroom. When they arrived I climbed on – and received a nasty shock. Admittedly I have not been on the scales for quite a long time, but I have put on 9kg since I did.

This takes my BMI from a just healthy 24.9 to an officially overweight 26.1. I never really doubted BMI as a measurement, mostly because I was in the healthy zone. I accepted it doesn’t work at the edges (short people and tall people), but it seemed like an accurate measurement for me. Now, I am thinking about joining the angry club of deniers.

I have recently been looking up the NHS recommendations for diet and exercise. Here is how it compares:

What the NHS recommends What I do
“at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week” At least four and a half hours (270 minutes) per week. I walk to work every day, 25 minutes each way, and walk to lots of other locations in town too, including running up and down the stairs from my apartment on the 4th floor. It’s not concentrated exercise, but it is quite a lot.
or “75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week” Two hours of vigorous aerobic exercise per week, on average. I spend 30 minutes doing the Parkrun on Saturday morning and three hours training with Leeds Samurai. I don’t always make both events, and sometimes there is standing around at training, but overall it averages to more than 75 minutes a week.

I consider my diet quite good as well. I eat fruit every day, home-cook most nights, always with a range of vegetables, and sometimes without meat. We limit out intake of junk food and processed meat and I try to take healthier snacks to work, though with limited success. Just one area strikes me as a problem: we have a pudding every night.

I won’t claim my diet is perfect but it has given me pause for thought. If I can apply so many good behaviours to my life, like walking to work, like exercising every week, like eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, like avoiding junk food, which is all hard and takes a lot of self-control on my part, and still put on weight, how hard is it to stay thin? For some people, who put on weight easier than I do, it must be almost impossible.

I’ve heard people advocating that obesity is entirely the fault of the individual and they should just eat less. To me, this seems like a gross over-simplification of a complex problem. Even to practice some of these positive behaviours requires significant lifestyle changes: much of my time is structured around planning my diet and my exercise, and actually doing them, and I’m not even winning. If someone says to you “right, you need to find an extra hour per day to fit in exercise and planning and preparing healthy meals” where would you find that time? How would you motivate yourself to carry through on that, every day, for the rest of your life?

Many of us have found that time of course. But probably not overnight. Chances are we were raised with some of those behaviours also. If you are a regular person, who hasn’t had that benefit, and has a lot to deal with in their lives, it is a difficult problem to solve.

And that’s the story of how I tried to turn my weight gain into a social justice issue.

fat-chris
A recent photo of me

Mint plant

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 | Life

mint-plant

It may only be February (March by the time you read this), but my mint plant has already re-grown it’s leaves. I’m impressed. My chilli plants still look half dead and probably will do for months. Everything else looks totally dead. However, the mint plant is battling back, even against the still-present overnight frosts.

I am also surprised that my parsley plant, which lives in a plastic greenhouse on my balcony, has survived the winter and continued to provide parsley leaves throughout it.

The Tokyo Journal

Sunday, January 31st, 2016 | Life

tokyo-journal

When I was a child, I used to publish my own magazine. It was called The Tokyo Journal. I have no idea why. It is unrelated to another publication also named Tokyo Journal. I claim they ripped off my name, five years before I was born, but it is difficult to prove either way.

My gran was recently having a clear out and came across an envelope full of them. I have long since lost all of my copies so suspected they might be gone forever. It was quite a pleasant surprise to be reminded of my past.

A lot has changed in fifteen years. Back then I was not the flawless eloquent writer I am today. My sense of humour was less refined. A lot of the material in there makes me cringe a little today. Nevertheless though I think what this shows is that I am a younger far-less-successful version of Richard Branson. Who wouldn’t want that on their CV?

Reading list complete

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 | Life, Thoughts

books-1-1422241

A little under three years ago I formally compiled myself a reading list of all the books that I had been recommended or thought I really should read. I came up with a hundred or so, and began the challenge.

Along the way I picked up a hundred or so more. New books were recommended to be, often by the bookings that I was reading. A times my list actually grew faster than I should shrink it. I reviewed or commented on almost all of them on my blog.

Now though, I’m done! After 33 month’s hard work, I’ve got through them all. I never have to read again!

I probably will of course. In fact, I’ve already made a start on a Dirk Gently novel that I made a half-hearted attempt to read a decade ago and never really finished. No doubt my list will soon begin filling up again, but for now I am going to celebrate the victory.

This seems an appropriate time for some mildly interesting reflections.

I am not really a big reader. In fact I would go so far as to say that I do not enjoy reading. It’s feels like a big statement to make, especially given my social circle is mostly well educated. It feels a bit like admitting to being a smoker. My dirty habit of not reading.

Of course, I actually do read. But do I do it for for pleasure, or because I am a victim of peer pressure, reading because society expects me to read and because I do not want to be labelled as stupid. As peer pressure goes, being compelled to improve oneself by reading is probably one of the better ones, but I take great pride in regularly failing to conform.

In many ways, reading feels like a habit, or something you have to get into. I remember when we first got Sky One. At the time, the channel showed a lot of Star Trek. I wasn’t that interested in Star Trek at the time, but I told myself I wasn’t missing several hours of science fiction every day, so I forced myself to watch it until I liked it. Now I love Star Trek. But you need that initial time to get to know the characters, understand the universe, and fall in love with the premise. Even Discworld requires some buy-in time.

I suspect that reading in general may be the same. I feel much more favourable about it now that I read on a regular basis, then I did when I read a book occasionally.

I now find Waterstones a trap. I used to happily browse their shelves, occasionally buying a book on computing. Now I go in there and see all these books that I feel I should read, even though I know I will never be able to read most of them. In some ways, it makes me feel a tinge of sadness that there is so much great literature out there that one human being can only hope to read a small portion of it.

I am firmly sold on the idea of ebooks. I was never a hold-out for physical books anyway, but the advantages of electronic formats are many. I still buy plenty of physical books, especially cookbooks or music books, but mostly I buy ebooks.

2015 in pictures

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 | Life, Photos

the-assembly-line

The Assembly Line playing its first gig in March.

leeds-elections

Standing for local council in May.

hayfield

Trip to the Peak District in June.

leeds-samurai

Playing flag football with Leeds Samurai in July.

finland-wedding

Finland wedding in August.

leeds-wedding

Leeds wedding in October.

parkrun-50

Achieving my Parkrun 50 milestone in September.

food-drive

Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters in December.