A GUILTY looking spaniel accompanied John home after their afternoon walk. As soon as she was let off the lead, Moss shot into her basket, head laid down on her paws, the picture of innocence. But not according to John.

“I lost her for half an hour,” he said. “It’s getting to be a habit with her. My worry is she will chase a hare across a field and onto a road in front of a car. I’m going to have to reinstate a training programme.” Life probably just hasn’t been exciting enough for a working spaniel this last year.

There is however the challenge of trying to get into the house as often as possible. Moss has adopted a very beguiling habit of plonking herself directly in front of you as the back door is open and staring expectantly at the door handle willing it to open and let her in to raid Millie, the Jack Russel’s bowl of food. This is despite always having a bowl of biscuits for her and Fizz our sheepdog in the porch. No, these will be ignored in favour of Millie’s self same biscuits. Far tastier if they are stolen.

But their walk out today has inspired John to hunt out his trusty diking shovel. January has been very wet with John estimating from his super efficient rain gauge ( an empty pop bottle) that we have had five inches of rain this last month.

Knowing the drainage schemes of fields we owned in the area he could immediately spot a blockage in the outlet pipe taking water from a flooded pond . “There is a willow tree whose roots have grown into the outfall of that drainage scheme in the past,” he said. “I’ve had to dig it out before, so I’ll just take the shovel and sort it.” I may add John is never happier than standing knee deep in mud, clearing out a ditch. The actual outfall in this case was under water, but John knew exactly where to dig and was rewarded by a rush and boiling of water as the excess water that had backed up was able to find a way out.

Winter is certainly not over but there is hope. Candlemas day, February 2 was very wet indeed and the rhyme goes:

“If Candelmas Day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite.

If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter is gone and won’t come again.”

So cast off those winter coats and boots. Spring is on the way. Maybe.