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.

Keep on smiling

January 16th, 2010

THE OPTIMIST in me had me thinking that three weeks, maybe a month, of the snowy weather would be plenty to be going on with   Like a true greybeard I've been musing on about the horrors of the winter of 1947 – although I was only a bairn at the time – and the grim conditions we endured in 1979, ingenuously implying that today's generation don't know how easy a time they're having by comparison. But my gloom deepened after speaking to a Perthshire farmer who cast a wizened eye at the skies and, in doom-laden tones, warned me –  €œYou mark my words (that's always a bad start), this weather will return in the second week in February, and when it comes it will be far worse than anything we're experiencing just now €

So despite the thaw it looks like there's more winter weather to come   Perhaps we'd all better stock up on emergency rations before the supermarket shelves are stripped bare   And remembering what I wrote about the Ettrick Shepherd last week, I ought to be investing in some of those  €œwarm drawers € his anxious wife, Margaret, urged him to wear.

But we have got off lightly compared with some   A letter to the Doyenne from a Finnish friend enclosed a photo of the River Aura which runs through the middle of the city of Turku, where we spent ten very happy days on holiday.

The river is frozen solid apart from a narrow channel kept open by the municipal ferry boat working between the two banks, carrying the worthy Turku citizens to and from one side and back again   The interest for me is that the ducks are making best use of the only bit of open water on the river.

Out with the dogs and up at the lochan behind the house it was apparent that the rise in temperature has loosened the frost's grip on the top soil, for moles have been busy throwing up molehills   The greybeards used to claim that garlic bulbs or half an onion pushed into a molehill would clear your garden of moles for the season – and vampires too, no doubt!

The runs or tunnels, which connect the molehills, are referred to by the experts as  galleries'   Don't be over-eager to claim expertise, however   An exasperated wife, who had long endured her husband's ambitious claims, finally cracked –  €œExpert € she snapped,  €œan expert is just an ordinary man away from home €

Now that the big melt has come, the tips of the snowdrops that were showing through the ground before the snow covered them, have reappeared unaffected by their recent chilly experience   They are hardy little souls when you think about it   If you or I were stuck out in the garden, and covered up with snow for three weeks, we'd soon feel pretty wizened and shrivelled.

Written on Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at 12:21 pm for Weekly.