Chris Worfolk's Blog


Cognitive psychology course

September 23rd, 2021 | News

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes. In this course, we will cover all of the core topics in cognitive psychology including perception, attention, memory, learning, language, decision-making, emotion and much more. We’ll also look at research methods and how neuroscience is allowing us to see inside the brain.

Preview the course on Udemy or watch the trailer below.

Ilkley Triathlon

September 21st, 2021 | Sport

Ilkley Triathlon was a record-breaker for me. But not one based on time or result.

If you have ever been to Ilkley, you may have noticed that there is very little flat around there. We did a course recce on Thursday and did a quick lap of the course. The climb is not too bad: it averages around 5% and is hard work but if you drop down to your lowest gears you can keep a high cadence. The downhill is rather steeper, though!

The swim was lovely for a pool swim. There were only two other people in my lane and the pool itself only had three lanes so there was plenty of space for overtaking if needed. I drafted Aron for the first six lengths before cutting the water for myself. I wasn’t entirely sure how to pace 500-metres but had a little something left to give so sped up for the final two lengths.

The bike course was three laps and each lap hurt the legs more than the previous one. the descent was steep enough that I did some comfort breaking. And it is comfort breaking: on the second lap I had just overtaken another cyclist and didn’t want to hold them up, so descended faster out of politeness 😂. That said, I actually set my maximum speed on the third lap.

It was getting warm by the run so I doused myself with a cup of water. Alas, there was no bin for it so I ended up tucking the cup down my tri suit until I could find a public bin on the course. As we headed up the hill I managed to overtake a bike: probably the first time I have done that! Coming down was probably the hardest bit of the course: the steep descent really went into my knees and the leaves on the pavement didn’t provide much confidence. As I rounded the final corner I realised I still had some to give so I decided to sprint to the finish.

My total time was:

1:12:38

And my splits were:

Disipline Time
Swim 11:26
T1 1:33
Bike 33:56
T2 1:40
Run 22:02

My final place was 74 out of 279. Top third is not bad.

Some interesting comparisons to The Dalesman. My swim time at Ilkley was 7 minutes faster than my T1 time at Dalesman and my total race time at Ilkley was 21 minutes faster than my swim time at Dalesman. I can see the appeal of short format!

In what way did it break a record? In 2019, I completed 15 triathlons. Ilkley was race 16 of the 2021 WTS (Worfolk Triathlon Series).

Thank you to everyone at LBT and beyond who volunteered, marshalled and generally made the event happen. It turned out to be a wonderfully social day with so many club members and friends there. Grahame and Paula didn’t even realise the race was on until they cycled past looking for ice cream. Thank you to Tony, Ralph and Naomi for the photos.

Chevin Forest parkrun

September 19th, 2021 | Sport

First time at Chevin Forest parkrun. It’s beautiful. Every time I go there I think I should go there more often. The parkrun course is pretty hilly but no worse than Temple Newsam. Muddy, though, even in summer, so it is going to be a challenging course in winter. Great to see plenty of fellow HPHers there, too. And I’ve increased my Wilson Index to 4.

Does the government really provide 30 hours free childcare?

September 18th, 2021 | Family & Parenting

The government claim to provide 30 hours of free childcare for children over three who have working parents. But this is not the case. We are getting somewhere around 5-15 hours per week. In this post, I will explain how it works.

How much childcare is provided?

The government say they provide 30 hours a week of free childcare. But’s more complicated than that.

First, it is only during school term time. There is nothing underhanded about I’m not sure how well known it is that it is only 38 weeks per year’s worth of childcare.

Second, it only starts the term after your child turns three. Our daughter was born in October, so the funding did not kick in from January.

Third, childcare providers often just deduct the funding from your regular bill. And the government funding is not £5.28 per hour.

Fourth, childcare providers sometimes charge you more for using government funding. In our case, they said that although our daughter attends full time because she attends part-time as a government-funded placement and part-time as a private placement, she is no longer eligible for the £55 per day rate, but instead must pay the £62.50 per day rate.

What was our original bill?

Our daughter was paying £55 per day, 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year, minus two training days. The days are 10.5 hours long. So, we were paying £14,025 per year and getting 253 days in total, which is 2,656.5 hours. Thus, we were paying £5.28 per hour.

What does this look like with funding?

Because we are now on the higher tariff, our annual bill is now £15,937.50. The government provide £4.30 per hour in funding (£4.36 from April 2020), so this meant autumn term (not eligible), winter term (360 x £4.30 = £1,1548), spring term (360 x £4.36 = £1,569.60).

That’s a total of £3,117.60, which comes off our bill of £15,937.50. So, the final bill is £12,819.90. Remember that our original bill was £14,025.00, so this has reduced our bill by £1,205.10.

We calculated our fees at £5.28 per hour, so based on this the government are paying for 228.2 hours, which spread across the 51 weeks is 4.5 hours a week. Or, if you want to argue that it should only count for school term time weeks, we can divide it by 36, in which case the government is providing 6.0 hours per week.

For the next academic year, we should be eligible for funding for all three terms. So, 36 weeks x 30 hours x £4.36 means £4,970.40. £15,937.50 minus £4,970.40 is £10,967.10. That is a reduction of £3,057.90 from our original bill of £14,025.00, which is 579.1 funded hours of childcare, or 11.4 hours per week over 51 weeks, or 15.2 hours per week over 38 weeks.

Therefore, even with the most liberal interpretation, I believe the government are only providing less than half the amount of free childcare they claim to be.

Are they allowed to do this?

That’s not clear. We spoke to our MP, who was helpful but ultimately had to refer us elsewhere. We spoke to the Department of Education who said it was down to local councils to manage the funding. And we spoke to Leeds City Council who said they were not going to do anything about it.

The issue is that the rules are unclear. They cannot charge parents for using the 30 hours, but they can charge whatever they like for any additional time. And they can charge for “extras” like food and nappies. So, if they provide the 30 hours for free but then the money for the extra time you spend there is magically the same as if they had just deducted the funding from your regular bill, well, that is certainly a crazy coincidence.

Why don’t you go somewhere else?

Because we have no option. There are only two daycares near where we live (including the one we use, so one alternative) and you cannot just walk up to them and sign up: they often have long waiting lists. There is not an abundance of childcare available so you have to take what you can get and pay whatever they ask. Hence why we all spend over £1,000 a month on childcare.

What should change?

If you have followed the maths so far in this article, you are doing really well. It is complicated to work all of this out to the point where many parents may not even realise what is happening.

I myself have already had to redo the figures once because I calculated it on 36 weeks of funding. This is because our childcare provider said there are 12 weeks available in winter and spring. But the government website said there are 38 weeks per year available. I have therefore assumed that autumn (the term we missed out on) will provide 14 weeks of funding. But neither the government nor our childcare provider has confirmed this.

The current process is too complicated for parents to understand and needs to be made clearer.

Second, the difficulty is that childcare is not a profitable business. We could ban childcare providers from charging these additional top-ups fees but the most likely outcome is that the childcare providers would simply stop out of of the government-funded places and we would just have to pay their private fees.

Therefore the government needs to offer a realistic amount of funding. If it costs £5.28 per hour to run a daycare, £4.36 per hour (around 17% less) is not enough.

Third, childcare providers should be banned from profiting from the funding. Even if they just took the government funding and deducted it from our bill, we could probably live with that and blame the government for not providing enough funding. However, as we get moved onto the higher tariff, the childcare provider is charging us £1,912.50 per year more than if we were not using the funding.

Conclusion

The government claim to provide 30 hours of free childcare. But, in reality, parents can expect somewhere between 5 and 15 hours of free childcare per week depending on how it is calculated.

Best tri tops

September 17th, 2021 | Life

I have been trying to find a new tri top as they don’t make my current tri top anymore. They have a slightly different model but with one fewer pockets (my current one has three!). So, I have been hunting for the best tri tops with a high UFP rating and enough pockets for all of my snacks.

Orca 226

This is my current top of choice. Good shoulder stretch and three pockets at the back. It does bounce up and down a bit, though, so could use some grip at the bottom. Also, the zip only goes halfway down which probably helps with comfort but makes it a little less practical. It has UPF 50.

Castelli Free Speed

This looks nice but is only UPF 16.

Zone3 Lava

I bought this but it has one big pocket at the back and when I put my phone in it, it bounced up and down like crazy. The shoulders also felt a little constricted. UPF 50, though.

Zone3 Aquaflo

I ruled this one out because it does not mention a UPF rating, which means it will probably be bad.

Pactimo Summit

I ruled this out because it has a single mesh pocket at the back.

Huub RaceLine

I ruled this could because I couldn’t work out where the pockets were. It says it has nutrition pockets but I am not sure what that means. It has UPF 30 but it is not clear whether that is all over or just on the shoulders and upper arms.

Roka Elite Aero

I ruled this out because it does not state a UPF rating.

Santini Cupio

This looks like a real option and has UPF 30 but was not available from any UK supplier I was familiar with. You can buy it directly from Santini but shipping is £20 and there may be import taxes on t top of that.

Santini Audax

I ruled this out because it does not state a UPF rating.

Actual research

September 16th, 2021 | Science

If the academic community wants people to stop doing their research on YouTube, the paywalls need to come down and they need to come down now. And until they do, nobody should be surprised that people use the information sources that they are allowed access to.

The Amphibian

September 15th, 2021 | Sport

The Amphibian is an open water swimming challenge run by Evolve Endurance at the Blue Lagoon. It is a one-kilometre lap of swimming and you have four hours to complete up to ten laps.

I would like to be a marathon swimmer. Until a few months before lockdown, I thought it was literally impossible for me to swim front crawl because of a nasal issue. When I mastered it, it really changed what I thought was possible. And a marathon swim (generally thought of as 10k) would really top that off. But could I get ten laps done in the time limit?

Mass starts are back and I refuse to start at the back of the crowd because that gives me an extra 20-30 metres to swim. So, I ended up right in the washing machine with arms and legs going everywhere. Between the battle for position any drafting effect I completed the first lap in 21:34.

The water was over 20 degrees. Lovely and toasty. Despite this, I felt a slight chill after the second lap and decided to keep the work rate high to maintain my body temperature. From this, I think we can safely conclude that the Norseman is not in my future until I spent a lot of time doing cold water acclimatisation!

After that, I settled down to a consistent pace of 23 minutes per lap. Starting and finishing the fifth lap was exciting because I had never swum more than four kilometres before so this was a new record for me. I set myself five laps as my target with anything above this being a bonus. I went through the 5k mark is just over two hours.

I had one more good lap in me and then after six kilometres, I started to feel the fatigue. My pace slowed down to around 27 minutes per lap. I was chafing a little in my right underarm. Adjusting my suit did not help but flushing it did. But everything else was getting tired, too.

Because swimming is gentle on the body, I somehow thought that I would not be as sore as when I ran my first marathon. But my whole upper body was getting tired and sore. But the most soreness came from a place I did not expect: my cheeks. Three hours of blowing out air under the water were taking its toll and my whole face was tired.

After completing lap eight, I was clear I was not going to make ten. Knowing that nine would be the limit made it slightly easier psychologically. But tired arms and the feeling that my left calf was cramping made it difficult to push. I was very glad to reach the beach area for the final time.

I finished in:

3:56:23

I was the second-to-last athlete out of the water. It was a challenge rather than a race so there were no placings as such. But of the 78 swimmers that started, I came 22nd. The 21 athletes ahead of me completed all ten laps. This included Leigh with a 3:36:57 swim and Gareth from Wakefield finishing a couple of minutes ahead of me. Everyone else did fewer laps and who can blame them: nine is the most amount of work you can do without being able to call yourself a marathon swimmer 😂.

This is the final Evolve event meaning that I have done every single one of theirs this year. It has been so good to get back to racing (and they ran some during 2020 as well!). Thank you to Bev, Morg and all of the volunteers and water safety crew for making the events possible.

Wiltshire Down Adventure

September 14th, 2021 | Sport

Adventure race number two! Like the Chilterns Adventure it is a sprint-based scorienterring event composed of trail running, mountain biking and kayaking. You have five hours to get around as many checkpoints as possible.

I started on foot and decided to tackle the checkpoints in the woods as they were clustered closer together, even though it would make for more challenging navigation. Things started well and I made it around the first few. The forest was beautiful.

After that, I missed a turning and had to retrace my steps before finding what I thought was R12. I was nowhere to be found. I spend like ten minutes looking for it but nothing. Worse still, the mud swallowed my feet.

By this point, I was fed up and cursing having driven all the way down to Wiltshire for a stupid race. It then occurred to me that I was probably hungry. I ate something and found the next checkpoint so I am not sure what made me feel better. In the end, it turned out I probably was in the correct place as multiple other athletes could not find it and someone said it was pretty well hidden.

After transition, I headed out on the mountain bike. Most of the race at Questars is getting to the kayak transition and back so I set off following the roads picking up four checkpoints on the way. It was made easier by a long descent. I made it to KT early despite having a little jog between the area where we leave our bikes and the kayaks themselves.

There were three checkpoints up the canal and two down. I made the strategic decision to turn around after getting the first two upstream ones to ensure I had enough time to get the downstream ones, too. In the end, I got back with 12 minutes to spare so maybe I could have collected them all. More importantly, I actually spotted them this time: last time I got all the way upstream without seeing any and had to pick them all up the way back.

Kayaking was still hard. My quads hurt a little less this time but my lower back really lock a hammering. My flexibility makes it difficult to reach forward with my upper body, which you need to do to take the work into your core muscles rather than your arms. I also kept catching my right thumb on the side of the boat which hurt like hell.

The KT transition team were lovely (all of the marshalls were) and one of them even recognised me from the Chilterns Adventure and remembered that that had been my first race!

On the way back, I had a choice to make. I could take the road route all the way back, miss any further checkpoints but not having to deal with any off-road cycling. Or I could go the off-road route and pick up some more. This was a battle: part of me said to challenge myself as I was doing this to push my boundaries. But another part said that I was here to have fun and it was okay to enjoy myself.

In the end, I compromised. I took the road route back up the big hill and then switched onto a byway. This started by going uphill through farmer’s fields with big gates I had to open and close. Most of it was grass and dirt track with big groves I wasn’t sure whether I should ride in or not. It ended with a fairly steep downhill covered in rubble. I hit a big rock on the way down and nearly came off. After that, I decided I had pushed my boundaries enough and it was now time to push the bike. But I managed o find some grass by the side that made it easier to descend and finished off the hill that way.

I picked up a final checkpoint before climbing back up to transition to finish the race with a couple of minutes to spare.

Stonehenge

September 13th, 2021 | Travel

In Yorkshire, the rocks are much bigger and you can climb on them. Also, it doesn’t cost you £47 to look at them.

I have visited Stonehenge before but never with Elina so worked it into our travels. I can confirm it looks pretty similar to how it did 12 years ago. Venla thought the gift shop was pretty good.

At least I got to play the Spinal Tap song on the way there.

Canoeing at Leeds Dock

September 12th, 2021 | Sport

Leeds Dock has been hosting some canoeing sessions and they’re a lot of fun. I struggle with kayaking because it does not suit my flexibility but being able to sit up makes it a lot easier. A single-sided paddle sounded annoying but it works really well and, for a novice, makes it easier to manoeuvre the craft if anything. Thank you to Chris for leading the sessions.