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.

Trapped in history

May 1st, 2010

OUR NEIGHBOUR'S lawn has been a happy hunting ground for the local moles which have zoomed all over, or rather all under, the manicured grass throwing up mini mountains of spoil from their excavations   Clearing away their unsightly eruptions seemed to cause the little critters offence, and they responded by redoubling their efforts to be aggravating.

Modern mole traps are described as  humane', meaning that death should be instantaneous for any mole unlucky enough to find itself caught in one   The idea of humanity may be lost on the mole but things were worse in the past.

The old countryman's method of control was to place two empty bottles end to end in the mole run, which ensured that whichever direction the mole came from it was bound to be trapped.

The logic behind the bottles was that moles apparently cannot go backwards so, once in the bottle, they were unable to escape   Similar to the hypothesis, or so I have been told, that you can take a cow upstairs but you cannot lead it down again, because its hind legs are structurally unsuited for such actions.

I've never trapped a mole to check its ability to go in reverse, or taken a cow upstairs to see if I could get it down again   I suppose I would regard the latter, at least, as being more properly the realm of this paper's agricultural editor.

A mole needs to eat its weight in worms each day, so they are continually on the move   Fifty years ago a common way of dealing with an infestation was to drop worms which had been dipped in strychnine into their runs, which poisoned them of course     The more sympathetically inclined could buy sachets which had a touch paper like a firework and gave off a noxious smoke when it was lit, and was intended to be a repellent rather than poisonous.

I remember as a small boy being told to run all over grass where there were molehills   The theory was that the pounding of my feet vibrating through the earth frightened the moles into the next door neighbour's garden.

King William III (1650-1702) died from injuries he sustained when his horse stumbled on a molehill and threw him   Jacobite supporters of the deposed King James II and VII, who were dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart dynasty to the British crown, celebrated the event thereafter by toasting  €œThe little gentleman in black velvet €.

I watched a fisherman casting patiently into a long pool which showed no sign of producing the salmon he so desperately hoped to hook   It struck me that fishing is like a game of golf – which, incidentally, Mark Twain described as  €œa good walk spoiled €   You can spend hours at both hoping to improve your skills, but despite your best efforts it usually ends in frustration.

Written on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 8:49 am for Weekly.