LOCKDOWN was already pretty bad, but last week’s snow made that cooped up feeling even worse.

It’s been some time since we had enough snow to make a snowball, let alone a snowman, and it was cruel not to be able to enjoy the white stuff with our grandchildren.

We could see them on line having lots of jolly red-cheeked fun with their balaclavas and sledges, but it’s not the same as taking part in person.

Even at 70, I do enjoy plodging through snow, but Covid restrictions meant I had to content myself with clearing the precipitous footpaths outside Hextol Towers of snow and ice, not once but three times as the snow covered up all my hard work in next to no time.

I certainly worked up a sweat with my snow shovel and many bags of county council grit, and also basked in the warmglow of praise from pedestrians whose journeys I had made a little easier

I did manage to take the dog out for her usual morning stroll, and even though she is now rather advanced in years, she never tires of searching for the snowballs you throw at her when they vanish into the snow.

She is very deaf now, or at least pretends to be, and is not as responsive to commands as she used to be, only responding to a bellow right in her ear.

Her eyes don’t seem too great either, because as we were returning to base, I noticed a hunched figure standing in the snow some 50 yards away, right in our path. She normally tries to chase any creatures that come into her line of vision but she was blissfully unaware of the presence of this large interloper.

I recognised him at once as Claud the Confused Heron, a forlorn creature who has spent the last few weeks standing forlornly at the side of the Hareshaw Linn footpath, in the mistaken belief it was a stream.

True, the persistent rain had made the path very wet, but I suspect there was a distinct shortage of tasty titbits.

So there he was, standing in the middle of the snow covered footpath even further from the water than before looking as miserable as Steve Bruce with a hangover, as a fat man and a myopic dog bore down on him.

We got to within 10 yards of him before he launched himself laboriously into the sky, like an unfolding deckchair, and still the dog didn’t see him - and then spent five minutes snuffling excitedly around the dinosaur-like footprints Old Nog had left.

Then it was back indoors to thumb twiddle while watching the other birds trying to cope with the fact their bird bath was frozen solid

I had to fill the dog’s spare bowl with warmish water and place it top of the iceberg in the bath, and as soon as I went back inside, they were out in force, the boss blackbirds wallowing in the water like old men in the slipper baths, throwing up so much water the sparrows on the outskirts all enjoyed a good shower.

We never watch television until the sun has set, but boredom has found us channel hopping at night to catch up on things we somehow missed first time round.

A big favourite we have discovered is Doctor Pimple Popper, an unlikely show featuring an American lady whose life’s work involves squeezing pus and other debris out of unfortunates from all 50 states.

She removes football sized humps and growths from backs, arms legs and heads, often producing Mr Whippy sized outpourings from a cyst or some other boil-like blemish, and occasionally showering herself and her team with a fountain of unspeakable goo from a monstrous carbuncle someone has been nurturing for half a century.

Another favourite is Inspector George Gently, a sort of male Vera, but with more convincing Geordie accents, and set in the North East of the 1960s.

How we missed it first time round I’m not sure, but we are now totally riveted to the activities of Martin Shaw’s saintly Gently and his brash sidekick Sergeant Bacchus,

The stories themselves are all good, but what I find particularly entertaining is picking out the anachronisms which inevitably abound in such an enterprise.

Much to Mrs Hextol’s disgust, I spend much of each episode crowing things like : “Look, it’s supposed to be 1964, and they are playing pool with red and yellow balls - there were no pool tables at all in pubs at that time!”

All I need now is to find some re-runs of cowboy series like Cheyenne, Laramie, Wagon Train and Bronco, and my lockdown life will be complete.