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.

White on white

December 11th, 2010

TOO MUCH snow for too long becomes a bit of a bore. Too much time is spent trying to anticipate what problems the freezing conditions might produce.

Cars stuck in driveways are always a concern but having good neighbours helps a lot and we've had few difficulties driving out and about   The Doyenne ensured we haven't run out of household basics – we've lived all our married life in the country and it's second nature for her to have a well stocked store cupboard to cope with unexpected downturns in the weather.

The chill weather has brought rewards and there have been some golden mornings with pale blue skies   Wonderful cloud formations have developed in the afternoons and last Saturday, in particular, the day ended in a brief, but memorable, sunset.

Tuesday was a sparkly, tingly morning and retired Mearns farmer and old friend, Gordon Robertson, called round and proposed a trip to see what was happening in Glen Esk   His large 4X4 vehicle was the ideal transport to take us up the single track that the council has cleared through the deep snow blocking the glen road.

Heavy snow has filled the corries and ravines, levelling out crevasses and the hills looked gentler and less challenging than we know them to be   The summits stood out against the sky and the Rowan Tower on top of the Hill of the Rowans was the only intrusion into the infinite blue   Shafts of strong sunshine bounced off the snow like handfuls of scattered diamonds.

A small herd of Highland cattle at Auchmull, philosophically chewing on hay, gazed back at us seemingly unconcerned by the state of the weather   They are a hardy breed ideally adapted to withstand the severe conditions   Further up, we stopped to let a farmer wrestle an unwilling tup (a male sheep) back into the field it had escaped from   He told us it was blind which made its breakout a bit more remarkable.

Light, colours, snow, mountains – the glen could scarcely have looked bonnier, but it was a deceptive beauty   A hundred and fifty years ago, when the modern amenities we take for granted were not even dreamed of, a winter like this must have been intolerable.

Even by the standards of the time, life for many of the Glenners was basic and they needed to be tough, self-reliant individuals   Water was drawn from burns and peat was the main source of heating for their thatched cottages   With little transport in or out of the glen they were dependent on their own self-sufficiency and neighbourhood network.

The Doyenne and I are thankful that we have got off relatively lightly compared with son James who lives in a glen in a fold of the hills near Peebles   He phoned one evening to tell us his thermometer was registering 21 degrees of frost!

Written on Saturday, December 11th, 2010 at 3:23 pm for Weekly.