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.

A splash of colour

March 21st, 2015

SPRING FLOWERS, it seems, can inspire the same competitiveness as the season’s first cuckoo.

I wasn’t earwigging on other people’s conversations you understand but, sometimes, standing in a supermarket checkout queue you can’t help overhearing what other folk have to say.

First lady mentioned that her crocuses were starting to flower. Second lady chimed in that her garden was carpeted with the bonny flowers, hinting vaguely that it had been so since Christmas. You don’t like to intrude on such conversations – you can never tell where it will end – but it was at that point I thought the first lady became a bit detached from the conversation.

I never did hear the end of it for the ladies moved on and I had to wait and pay for my messages. I think my sympathy was with the first lady but I have learned, from painful experience, to try to avoid saying ‘never’ – and perhaps the second lady’s claims were legitimate.

The countryside in February and March can seem brown and lifeless but there’s lots going on. Out with the dogs I watch out for the hardy, ground-hugging, spring flowers – sparks of colour in the undergrowth that lift the spirit and brighten the walks. Blue and white and even yellow crocuses which have naturally seeded along the road verges and country tracks put me in mind of that supermarket encounter!

The Doyenne and I – and dogs too, of course – took a walk through the grounds of The Burn House, near Edzell. Winter jasmine flowers over the worst of the winter months and its yellow blossom was a cheery splash of colour.

The snowdrops are past their best now but there’s a patch of aconites in the shelter of a high wall which put on a brave showing every year. A favourite spring bulb are the little scilla – glints of cornflower blue coming on after the snowdrops.

One of the earliest garden flowers are the lenten lilies, with their douce nodding heads. On walks in the woods you’ll see our native pink butterbur which flowers until about May. It’s not the bonniest flower but it’s a certain herald of spring. By the time you read this the daffodils along the banks of the burn that gives The Burn its name will be in bloom.

On Wednesday I drove into Fife. I like Fife. Growing up in Angus I know the Angus glens, but Fife has a softer, rolling countryside and a great feeling of light and space.

My destination was St Andrews to give a talk to the members of the St Rule Club which is a ladies club established in 1896. I suspect some of its original members may have been the golf widows of members of the neighbouring Royal and Ancient Golf Club for its formation was actively supported by the then Captain of the R&A.

The club’s original aims were social but St Andrews is a town dedicated to golf and it didn’t take long for the St Rule ladies to get fed up being golf widows.

Driven, no doubt, by the examples of Mary Queen of Scots who played on Musselburgh Links, the oldest golf course in the world, and the Musselburgh Fish Ladies who played the first recorded golf competition for women in 1810, the St Rule Ladies formed their own golf section in 1898. It coincided with the club’s move to their present premises at 12 The Links.

Looking out of the first floor windows the eye is taken across the St Andrews Links and West Sands to the familiar Angus hills. But even a non-golfer like me can appreciate that these windows have one of the most memorable views in the town. They look straight onto the 18th hole of the famous Old Course and the R&A’s imposing club house.

The original members couldn’t have foreseen the phenomenon that the game of golf has developed into. In July the 144th Open Championship comes to St Andrews and will be played on the Old Course. The St Rule members are so close to the action that they will be able to watch the championship putt drop into the hole. What value do you put on that?

Written on Saturday, March 21st, 2015 at 10:16 am for Weekly.