Chris Worfolk's Blog


24.1 kilometres

August 6th, 2018 | Sport

Last month, I went out for a 24-kilometre run. Specifically, I went out for a 24.1-kilometre run, which meant I would set a new distance record by 0.1 of a kilometre.

It was the day the rains came after the long heatwave. I set off at 7:30am and given it was so early on a Saturday morning and raining heavily, you might think I would have the canal towpath to myself. But other endurance athletes are, of course, as crazy as I am.

The rain continued, including two brief but torrential downpours that left me soaked to the skin. Thankfully, I had lubed in the correct places to stop any chaffing and despite my ankles being a bit sore from driving in Finland, I felt fine in all respects after the run. My 162nd Parkrun featured in the middle of it.

The levels in the Leeds Liverpool canal were shockingly low. You can see some of it from the photo, but it’s not the clearest example. At some points, it was a good half a metre below the usual level.

I could clearly see the bottom for long stretches. No bodies, thank god. I did see several hundred tyres, though. They were every metre for a good hundred-metres. There were so many in there, I wondered whether they were put in there intentionally because it must have been a massive fly-tipping exercise to get them all in.

You can check it out on Strava here. And, while you’re there, why not follow me? Please be my friend, your kudos are the only thing that validates my ego…

I was getting ripped off for electricity, and maybe you are too

August 5th, 2018 | Life

Last month, Ofgem decided that EDF Energy were ripping me off so much that they forced EDF Energy to send me a letter telling me how much they were ripping me off and that I should switch to a new provider immediately.

When I first got the letter, I was annoyed.

First, this was now something I had to deal with it. Until now, I had been telling myself that when I moved in, I did an energy price comparison and found that EDF was the cheapest supplier. And they had been at every other property I had ever sorted electricity out for, too. So, it seemed logical they would still be the cheapest.

Second, I then felt like an idiot for not doing anything about it for so long. Especially given it literally took me less than five minutes to switch providers, from first putting in my details to getting to the “congratulations” screen.

So, the whole business has made me feel crap.

But, on the plus side, we’re not switching to Bulb Energy, which is going to save us several hundred pounds per year. And they use 100% renewable energy, which means I can feel morally superior, too.

The moral of the story is that even if your provider has been the cheapest in the past, it might not be now. No doubt it is engineered to be this way. According to Which, smaller providers typically have higher levels of customer satisfaction, too, so it’s worth putting your details into a price comparison site once a year. Or now. Now is a great time.

Snapped sunglasses

August 4th, 2018 | Life

Last month, in an effort not to have to spend hundreds of pounds on some cycling sunglasses, I ordered a £10 Bolle-style pair from Ali Express. They looked awesome.

Then, when I told my friends, one of them pointed me to this story on Cycling Weekly about someone who was almost blinded by a pair of knock-off Oakley’s that snapped during a crash.

Heartbroken, I went back to my Aldi special buy sunglasses. They were told in the UK and would, therefore, be subject to EU legislation, so no problems there I thought. Literally, the week after, this happened:

It didn’t happen in a crash, thankfully, it happened while I was putting something into my bag. However, I was still rather surprised about how little force was required to snap them in two, as I wasn’t jamming anything in hard.

So, the search continues. Hopefully, Roka will expand into the UK, and offer everyone a 90% discount to celebrate, sometime before September.

Gluten-free cookies

August 3rd, 2018 | Photos

You can go all the way to Laitila, but Tesco are still following you around.

A psychologist watches Love Island

August 2nd, 2018 | Distractions

A few weeks ago we did a writing retreat for everyone on the masters programme in the School of Psychology. During one of the breaks, everyone was talking about Love Island. Somehow, they convinced me it was a subject worth study.

This isn’t unusual. Take Benefits Street, for example. That has all kind of implications, stereotypes and editing choices that provide a deep, rich dataset for social psychologists looking to elucidate and explain the way our society works (or does not work).

So, with Venla safely tucked up into bed, I headed over to ITV’s On Demand service and watched some.

I made it as far as the first “re-coupling” before I had to give up.

What is it?

If you haven’t seen it, here is a quick overview. The show’s producers have rented a giant villa. They then fill it with single people who they hope will have sex on television.

But it’s more than that. It’s a game show. They start by introducing five men and five women and couple them up. They then introduce a sixth man who has to “steal” one of the girls, and they become a couple. Each couple shares a double bed in the communal bedroom, and the person who is left over has to sleep by themselves.

They then introduce more sets of men and women in such a way that there is always a slight imbalance. At certain points, there is a “re-coupling” in which one gender has to select who to couple up with from the other gender, and the person who is left out is sent home.

At the end of the show, the public vote for the couple they like the most, who are given £50,000.

Why is it terrible?

At best, it is uninteresting. It is a bunch of shallow people doing nothing with their time but gossiping, moaning about relationships. drinking and playing ridiculous games.

At worst, it is far more ominous. They’re not shy about the tasteless nature of the show. In one of the organised games, for examples, the girls had to try and crush a watermelon with their bottom by bouncing up and down on it.

Yeah, it was a real thing that really happened:

Worse, though, are the ethical implications of the show.

If I went to the university ethics committee and said I wanted to make people pick who to couple up with, leaving one person purposely excluded, and then continued to strategically introduce other people to break up the existing relationships and make people cry on camera, I would quite rightly be burnt at the stake.

And at least I would be doing it in the name of science.

Because who would possibly subject their fellow human beings to that for the purposes of entertainment? It has been running for six series so it’s not like they can possibly be surprised when the poor people break down in tears.

Finland swimming

August 1st, 2018 | Life

During our recent trip to Finland, we spent some time at the lake and in the sea.

When I first went swimming at the Blue Lagoon, they asked me if I had done open water swimming before. Because I said yes, they assumed I knew all about wetsuits, acclimatisation and how to get rescued. I had to explain to them that in Finland, we just jump in the lake and swim. Some drown, but that must be what god intended.

We went to the same lake we’ve visited during previous trips, which makes sense because it has a nice beach, changing facilities and toilets (both just huts) and a pier to jump off if you so wish.

We also tried to find a nice beach around Uusikaupunki so we could swim in the sea. The beautiful beaches of Pori they were not.

The first one had so much plant life that whenever you swam, you ended up getting caught up in it.

Meanwhile, the second one stubbornly refused to get deep no matter how far I waded out. Venla had a good splash in that one, though.

Next time, I think it is worth the drive up to Pori. Or just swim in the lakes, which is always a pleasant experience.

Tour de France 2018

July 31st, 2018 | Life, Sport

It’s not been a strong start to the season for me. Sure, I knocked out my first metric tonne at the Flat n Fast 100, but at grand tour level, my performance has been lacking. My fantasy Giro team put up a mere 3,878 points compared to John’s 6,091. Despite me picking Froome and him taking Dumoulin.

Luckily, Le Tour has gone much better for me. I thought about taking Froome, but he consumed a huge amount of points. G, on the other hand, seemed rather undervalued given how good he is. Turns out that that was a good decision.

Armed with G and Dan Martin on GC, Kittel and Sagan in the sprints, and Gilbert, De Gendt and Barguil in the mountain break-aways, I set forth. Chad Haga and Wout Poels rounded off the team. In the end, it clocked in at 6,899 points, most of which coming from Thomas and Sagan.

And the racing was pretty good, too. Great to see a Welshman on the top step!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Humanist summer social at All Bar One

July 30th, 2018 | Humanism

Earlier this month, we headed to All Bar One for the first in a series of summer socials at West Yorkshire Humanists.

They have this new policy where they will only serve food in the “restaurant area” now. It’s really annoying because it means we were crammed into a small space while most of the rest of the bar was empty.

In many ways, we were a victim of our own popularity. A table of four was available, but as there was around a dozen of us, we had to keep expanding.

I enjoy the talks that the society does but I prefer the socials because you get so much more time to talk and catch up with people.

Finland trip 2018

July 29th, 2018 | Travel

Not content with simply having a picnic, we also jetted off to the country itself earlier this month to attend the wedding of Elina’s brother, Henry.

It was Venla’s first time on a plane, and her first trip to Finland. She was mostly fine on the flight (a toddler is going to get bored anywhere after three hours) and very much enjoyed spending the week with Elina’s mum.

We did the usual stuff: swimming in the lakes, swimming in the sea, pottering around both of the shops in Laitila and, of course, eating plenty of ice cream. Nothing beats tar flavour. Apparently. I stuck with suklaa.

The wedding was nice. A brief ceremony in the village chapel and a party at a lakeside summer house, including copious quantities of big being served.

It also gave Venla a chance to meet her cousins.

I did, as usual, get eaten alive by biting insects, though. I think they lie dormant waiting for me to make my semi-annual pilgrimage.

Finnish picnic 2018

July 28th, 2018 | Events

July means the annual Finnish summer picnic in Leeds. Last year was Venla’s first and this year she was armed with new skills, including walking and talking.

Both Elina and I failed to do particularly well in the molkky tournament, but better in the welly throwing, with us both coming second in our respective gender competitions.

I’m pretty sure we won the wife carrying by default when I was the only person physically able to lift their partner.

And, of course, we filled out boots with Karelian pasties.