Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Oor Wullie celebrates British Summer Time

March 18th, 2006

BRITISH SUMMER time starts on the last Sunday of March. Right now, with a real snell east wind, or the westerly coming off the snow-covered hills, the very idea of summer seems like a remote dream.

  The people at Scottish Water will have welcomed so much snow. Melting snow, trickling slowly and steadily into the ground is the most effective way of directing water into our reservoirs and retaining it. Downpours of rain tend to flow straight into rivers and watercourses, causing them to rise very rapidly as flash floods which drain off downriver just as swiftly.

It's surprising how few rabbits I see when out walking the dogs, but their scrapes appeared in the snow where they cleared it to get to the feeding below. I followed their tracks back to where they come in from the Big Hoose policies, and it's plain there's quite a colony, living quietly and minding their own business, on the other side of the fence.

But spring refuses to let itself be sidelined. The Doyenne and I watched a blue tit investigating the nesting box on top of the bird table. Next stop will be the mortgage shop to see what deals are on offer for penthouse apartments. I cleared the box out at the end of the summer, so it's available for immediate entry.

The snowdrops are starting to fade and the daffodils are well forward. Even though they have taken a check with the cold weather there are well-formed buds on most of them, just ready to open. As soon as we get some warmth, I suspect there will be a frenzy of growth in the spring flowers and shrubs.

I was surprised that Oor Wullie is celebrating only his 70th birthday. Like any good Angus bairn, Sunday wasn't Sunday till I'd read his escapades, and The Broons on the opposite page. Even on holiday in Ullapool or Loch Shiel, which were then remote parts of Scotland, the Sunday Post had to be obtained. Usually it meant waiting till Monday lunchtime when it was delivered by the post bus.

After a certain age it's dangerous to look back too far, because everything is seen through rose-tinted spectacles. Until about a week ago, when I learned otherwise, I would have sworn that these childhood favourites must be well into their eighties, if not older.

From the time I was able to read it seemed as if they had been around for ever. It says something of the skills of Dudley Watkins, the original cartoonist, that he created such ageless characters.

When I brought the Doyenne, as a young bride, back to Montrose from Yorkshire she did her best to share my enthusiasm. But even now she cannot give full resonance to Oorrrrrrrr Wullie. I tell her it's just a matter of rolling her Rs




Written on Saturday, March 18th, 2006 at 9:23 pm for Weekly.