Tag Archives: Cynophobia

A Challenge Accepted

Just recently a blogging pal of mine challenged me to tackle these three questions. I don’t usually respond to challenges but in this case I have made an exception.

1. Which philosopher do you most admire and if they were alive today in your country/town how would they focus or direct their main theory and to what end?

Thomas Paine Thetford Norfolk

I immediately thought that I might go for John Locke “The Father of Liberalism” because I think that “Two Treatises of Government” is where nearly fifty years ago I formed my own views on politics and society.

I then considered Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (not Voltaire himself of course even though it neatly sums up his contribution to the principle of Free Speech.

But I have decided to choose Thomas Paine. My interest in him was rekindled when I visited his birth town of Thetford in Norfolk.

Thomas Paine Hotel

Paine supported both the American Revolution (one of the Founding Fathers no less) and the French Revolution and his most important work was The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by the law. In 1792 he was elected to the French National Convention. In all of the turmoil of the revolution he was arrested. He only narrowly escaped the guillotine during the reign of terror and was then (not being welcome in England) allowed to travel to the USA.

The Declaration is important, it is included in the beginning of the constitutions of both the Fourth French Republic (1946) and Fifth (1958) and is still current. Inspired by the philosophers of the French Enlightenment like Voltaire and Rousseau, the Declaration became a core statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a major impact on the development of freedom and democracy in Europe and Worldwide.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is so significant that it is considered to be as important as Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and inspired in large part the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

Thomas Paine Memorial

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

2. If you could completely “remove” three things from this planet what would they be and why? By “things” I don’t mean poverty, disease, discrimination etc, I mean tangible items, goods, or artefacts that really bug you. 

Dogs

alsatian

In the UK you need a licence for a shotgun or to keep poison or even weed killer but not for a killer animal!

Apologies here to my canine loving friends but I really don’t like dogs, I suffer from Cynophobia – I am scared of them, and this isn’t completely irrational because they really don’t like me either – but they are not frightened of me!  As soon as people with dogs realise that I have an unnatural and unexplainable fear of them then they seem to take sadistic delight in subjecting me to the terror of their company.

I don’t like dogs because I see no redeeming features in them. They sweat, they are greasy, they smell, they have bad breath, they foul the pavements and they piss up my garden wall.  What is there possibly to like about them?

My dislike for them started as a boy when I was taken one day for a walk by my granddad and on a piece of waste land opposite my parent’s house in Leicester an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest.  The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash and I was absolutely terrified.

I couldn’t sum it up better than in the words of Bill Bryson…

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s arses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

I wasn’t always frightened of dogs…

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Garlic

I hate garlic, I mean I really, really hate garlic. I hate the taste, I hate the aroma, I hate the way that it dries your mouth out and I hate the way that it makes you smell for twenty-four hours after eating it. I know that it is useful for warding off vampires but that is all I really have to say about garlic.  I am not even going to post a picture.

Plastic

truckers rubbish

I wish plastic had never been invented.

I have recently become more upset than ever before about litter alongside roads and paths. While littering of the oceans is now at the forefront of public concern, general littering of the countryside and communities is barely on the national radar. Yet the amount of eyesore litter, not just plastic, is increasing exponentially on roadsides, in rivers, in public spaces and in the countryside and has a hugely negative impact on our lives.

Litter ruins people’s enjoyment of the countryside and makes open spaces feel like waste grounds. In Lincolnshire, where I live, many road verges are strewn with plastic sheets and bags hanging from trees, discarded meal containers and sacks of general rubbish.  Rubbish collection, or lack of it, compounds the problem. Bins for public use are relatively scarce, and litter collection is less frequent as councils simultaneously promote recycling and cut budgets.

This is me  at work in 1990 trying to tackle the litter problem with local school children…

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3. Magic wish …. you can visit and see anything or any place on earth for a week, what is it, where, why?

Easy, my garden with some bottles of fine wine and a plate of my favourite nibbles!

So that is my challenge completed.  It is my job now to pass it on.  I have decided not to nominate anyone specifically but to invite anyone that has a care to, to think about and answer my three questions…

1 Most disappointing place ever visited

2 Which King or Queen of England would you invite to dinner and why and what is on the menu

3 Should the World build walls to restrict free movement of people

If you don’t like my questions then you could always use Brian’s…

Brian.png

Check out his amusing and informative blog pages right here…

https://thetwodoctors.wordpress.com/

Portugal, Tomar and the Aqueduct of Pegões

Tomar Portugal

The day began with breakfast.  Nothing unusual about that of course, most days begin with breakfast, but this breakfast was unusual.

I have to say that I did not have very high expectations about eating at Conde de Ferreira Palace but I was soon to be proved wrong. The food and the service itself was excellent but it was the ambiance of the dining arrangements which set it apart from other places that we have stayed.

There was only one large dining table and hotel guests all sat together; this sort of arrangement can be uncomfortable at first but within only a very short time everyone was chatting away to each other.  When I say chatting I really mean struggling because around the table there were several different nationalities rather like a meeting at the United Nations but without the interpreters.

The French Canadians from Quebec couldn’t speak to the Germans, the Flemish Belgians couldn’t speak to the Dutch because the French couldn’t understand German, the Belgians couldn’t understand the Dutch and vice versa.  No one except the Portuguese could speak Portuguese.  But this didn’t matter one jot because everyone could speak English, except for the Americans of course, so everyone was able to satisfactorily communicate with one another.  I am forever ashamed of my linguistic ineptitude but today English was the universal language and we all got along rather splendidly.

It was a bright start to the day and we planned a walk out of the town to visit a nearby aqueduct about three miles away that had been recommended to us at the Tourist Information Office..

Tomar Aquduct

The small city of Tomar is situated on the river Nabão, a short but swiftly flowing river that carves its way through a deep valley and consequently the town is situated at the bottom of a steep hill which rises quickly away from the banks of the river and requires considerable stamina to make the trek.

The ascent seemed positively endless, every time we were certain that we were at the top of the hill the road tricked us into climbing even further, even Sisyphus would have despaired and we walked out and past edge of town houses that got bigger and grander the further we went.  Each one had a big dog that barked like crazy as we passed by and with my cynophobic nerves shattered I wondered why?  Why do people keep these obnoxious animals I wonder?

The Aqueduct of Pegões is, it turns out a little known monument and therefore very little visited, totally free access and no tourists.

It was built to bring water to the Convent of Christ in Tomar and is an amazing monument just over about four kilometers long and in some parts reaching a height of a hundred foot or so and made of one hundred and eighty arches and fifty-eight arcs at the most elevated part.  The construction started in 1593 and finished 1614 and it is the biggest and most important construction of the Philip I kingdom in Portugal.  Wow, who knew that, even the Tourist Information Office doesn’t give it a lot of headline space.

It was a quite astonishing place, no one there but us and some occasional ramblers.  There was no entrance fee, no safety barriers and nothing to stop visitors from climbing to the top and carelessly falling over the edge.  We climbed to the top and walked a short way out along the elevated section until we realised that this was quite dangerous so after walking out further than was really sensible and clinging desperately to the stones for security we groped our way back to safety and returned to ground level.

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This was the sort of place that I am reluctant to leave but after a while it was time to concede that this was the end of the visit and we debated the route back.  Should we return by the road and the way that we had come or perhaps take what appeared to be the walking route back along a narrow dusty track?

We were momentarily confused, we had no idea, no map, no SatNav and no clue about the track and bear in mind here that I was with Kim who generally suffers from a chronic lack of direction but who was urging a reckless walk into the woods.  I surrendered my common sense approach to these sort of situations and we followed some optimistic signs and set off down the track.

To our surprise, before very long we were in a blackened wilderness of post forest fire devastation.  Earlier in the year central Portugal had suffered a scorching summer followed by devastating fires which had wiped out acres of trees and caused several deaths.  This was one such area and as we walked now through charcoal and ash we reflected on the power and terror of such an event.  Sometimes I am grateful to live in a country where it rains rather a lot.

Eventually we emerged from the blackened wilderness, stumbled across a road back into town and made our way back to the main square where we were ready for an afternoon drink at a pavement bar.

We squandered away the rest of the day, did a bit of exploring through the back streets, enjoyed an hour or so at the Conde de Ferreira Palace and then dined again at the same place as the night before.  Once we have found somewhere that we like we are always reluctant to give it up and go elsewhere.

Tomar Forest Fire aftermathTomar Portugal Forest Fire

Travels in Spain – Andalucía and The Rain in Spain

Ronda The Bridge

“Dogs don’t like me. It is a simple law of the universe, like gravity. I am not exaggerating when I say that dogs that have not moved from the sofa in years will, at the sniff of me passing outside, rise in fury and hurl themselves at shut windows. I have seen tiny dogs, no bigger than a fluffy slipper, jerk little old ladies off their feet and drag them over open ground in a quest to get at my blood and sinew. Every dog on the face of the earth wants me dead.”, Bill Bryson – ‘In a Sunburned Country’

The next morning it was raining, raining quite hard, raining very hard and after breakfast and with no immediate prospect of improvement Kim decided to go shopping to buy some shoes she needed which left me free to visit the historical centre.

The weather was thoroughly horrid with gusty winds that turned my cheap umbrella inside out and sharp squally showers which tested even the most boasting of waterproof clothing claims.

I walked for a while and then as though by magic the sky cleared, the clouds blew away in an instant and I didn’t need the umbrella and the waterproof clothing any more. That is what I like about Spain, when it rains in England in the morning it generally rains all day but in Spain it can quickly blow away.

Street Ronda Spain

I walked to the edge of the town, through the old gate of the defensive walls of the old Arab Alcazaba and then spotted a path that I estimated would take me to a viewing spot at ground level below the bridge.  I asked a local man and he confirmed my judgement and so I optimistically set off.  It was a steep downhill path of loose shale and after a quarter of a mile or so I began to have doubts but I had reached that point when I felt committed to carry on even though my confidence was by now beginning to evaporate as quickly as a kettle left to boil dry on a burning hob!

And so I carried on, forever going down into the canyon and increasingly regretting my adventurous resolve to carry on.  Eventually I reached the bottom of the slippery path and my worst fears were confirmed.  This was a dead end and there was no way of returning to the town without either advanced mountaineering skills or alternatively retracing my steps up a very steep slope.

On the positive side I did get some good pictures of the bridge!

The path was quite remote and deserted and on the way back I began to worry about the prospect of running into a dog.  You may remember that it is fair to say that I am terrified of dogs – I suffer from cynophobia.  This was exactly the sort of place that I would not want to be confronted with a loose canine beast.

Anyway, I got most of the way back and came to the edge of town and then was confronted with my worst fear.  Here was a massive dog with the scent of blood in its nostrils staring down at me from the top of a ten foot wall.  I can’t tell you what sort of dog it was because my brain had dissolved into jelly and I wasn’t thinking straight.  It desperately wanted to jump down and rip my throat out but luckily it was more afraid of heights than I am of dogs and it couldn’t bring itself to make the leap.  I rushed past, my heart thumping like a bass drum from the combination of the stiff walk and the dog scare.

A good friend of mine who loves dogs once asked me why I don’t like them.  I tried to explain that I am genuinely afraid of them, I don’t like them anywhere near me, I don’t like the smell of their sweating bodies, I don’t like the feel of their greasy hair, I don’t like their slavering tongues and their slobber anywhere near my hands.  Like all people who like dogs he didn’t understand my explanation.  Some people don’t like cats – I do but if people come to my house and explain that they don’t like them then I put them in a different room and anyway a cat would have more manners than to keep pestering people, they are so much more intelligent  and socially aware.

As Bill said…

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s anuses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

Unscathed but shaking uncontrollably with fear I negotiated the final few steps and returned to the safety of the town and slipped inside the old Arab gate and into the labyrinth of twisting narrow streets, still damp and dripping with residual rain.  I followed them for a while dropping down again towards the bottom of the canyon but this time on the opposite side of the town.

Arab Baths Ronda Spain

Eventually I came to the two earlier bridges and then to the Baños Árabes, the Arab Baths which are claimed to be the most complete and most important example of its type in all of Spain.  It was impressive I have to say and well worth the €3 admission charge to go inside.

I almost had time to go to the secret gardens which looked well worth a visit but it was starting to rain again and I was due to meet Kim in fifteen minutes, so I turned down the opportunity and returned directly to the hotel.

Kim was already back.  She hadn’t got the shoes she needed because the shop hadn’t got them in the right colour but to make up for this disappointment she had alternatively bought some shoes that she wanted!

This is another of my phobias – Shoe Shops…

Kim Shoe Shop spain

Ireland, Ring of Kerry and I Temporarily Overcome My Fear of Dogs.

Ring of Kerry

Inch Beach, Dingle…

It was the final day in Ireland and we had a late flight home so we debated how best to make the most of our final moments.  We decided to drive the Ring of Kerry.  On account of the engine management warning lights blinking away this might have been rather rash but we decided to go ahead regardless.

It was a shame to leave the Dingle Skellig Hotel but as we loaded the bags into the car I made a mental note to add it to my ‘places I must return to one day’ list and then we left the car park and drove east.

After a while we came to a place called Inch beach, a spit of perfect sand that intrudes five kilometres into Dingle Bay and really looks for all the world as though it shouldn’t really be there at all – an expanse of perfect caramel land stretching south and defying the Atlantic Ocean to devour it.  We parked the car at a glorious look out point and although we didn’t stop long enough to go down to the sea I was happy to elevate it straight away into my list of top ten beaches and to the ‘places I must return to one day’ list.

After Inch Beach we left the Dingle Peninsula and started west again and at the town of Killorglin began the one hundred and ten mile circular route around the Ring of Kerry.

Inch Beach Dingle Ireland

Driving The Ring of Kerry…

Almost immediately I began to wonder if we had made the right decision because one hundred and ten miles is a long way and after only a short while it became rather tedious and awfully slow going as we drove for long distances staring at the back end of a coach full of pensioners taking the day trip from Killarney. All along the northern route there were no sea views as I had imagined there would be and the road remained stubbornly inland wedged in between the scenery of the coast and the majesty of the mountains but enjoying neither.

After an hour or so it was obvious that the Ring of Kerry is something that you really need to take your time over and the one day version is not the best one.  Eventually we arrived at the most westerly point and we could see over Valentia Island which is famous for having the first transatlantic cable station built in 1866 and then the road turned south to Waterville where for some reason Charlie Chaplin used to like to spend some holiday time and there is a statue on the sea front to prove it!

We thought that we might stop for a while in Waterville but it wasn’t especially thrilling and it was clogged up with tour buses making their lunch time break so we passed through and carried on.

Immediately the scenery improved as we climbed several hundred metres from sea level through mountain passes and winding roads until we reached Skelligs viewing point with expansive views in all directions and a coach park.

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

Skelligs View Car Park, Kerry…

It has to be said that this was a really odd place.  It seems that wherever coaches stop in Ireland an unusual ensemble of strange people and entertainers beam down from out of space and put out a collection tin.  In this windy remote place the oddest of all was a sort of farmer chap who looked as though he hadn’t washed his hands or combed his hair for several years who sat on two battered sofa cushions and invited people to have their photograph taken with a litter of kittens barely old enough to be away from their mother and then some lambs who looked to me to be highly sedated.  I think the chap was highly sedated as well, probably on Guinness!

Father Ted Funland

But he actually seemed positively normal next to the man a badly out of tune accordion and kicking a piece of metal plate in some sort of unholy row that I can only imagine was designed to scare witches away.

Walking back to the car in a state of dazed amusement I decided to take his picture but he saw me raise the camera and he was not very happy about it.  Perhaps he thought the camera would steal his soul but on reflection I think it was because I hadn’t put any money in the tin.  “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”  he yelled, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”.  I took the picture and gave a jolly wave but he wasn’t going to be that easily placated, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”, I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”.

Now I suffer from a real fear of dogs and a paranoia of being mauled to a canine death and normally a threat like that would turn by backbone to jelly.  The British Geological Survey Team in Edinburgh measures earthquake activity in the UK and has been known to sometimes get confused by the seismic  activity created by my violent shaking when faced by a dog and has issued a false earthquake event alert.

On this occasion however I didn’t think I had a lot to fear from an obviously shagged out old collie that was wearing a flat cap tied to its head and whose best people attacking days were a long way behind it.  The poor thing could hardly stand up let alone chase anyone that it was set upon so I gave another cheery wave and dawdled defiantly back to the car.  I was supremely confident that I could make the five metres to the door faster than it could cover the fifty metres or so to get to me.

Back in the car I suddenly worried that this might be the time that the engine would blow up and I might be in a spot of bother after all but thankfully it fired into life and I deliberately drove slowly past him and gave him a another cheeky wave as he continued to make his pointless threat – “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”.  What was it going to do – bite the tyres?  Anyway, there was no warning light on the dashboard about geriatric dog attacks so we just laughed and carried on to the exit.

Angry Man Skelligs Viewpoint Kerry Ireland