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.

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Archive for 2009

Back door drama

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

THERE WAS correspondence in Craigie Column several months back about the scarcity of wildlife in readers' gardens   We noticed it here but assumed that there was so much natural feeding in the hedges and woods that the birds and red squirrels didn't need the bought food we put out – and they would return when they were ready to do so   I'm beginning now to wonder if this is really the case

Written for Weekly |

In from the cold

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING can be a bit of a trauchle but, by way of diversion, if you look about you it's surprising how much wildlife there is to see that has become accustomed to human company and cheerfully adopted urban living

Written for Weekly |

… in his master’s steps he trod

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

CATS PAWS riffled the shallow water covering the sands of the Annat Bank. The ebbing tide had almost completed its twice daily cycle of emptying the Montrose Basin and I was standing on the damp sand at the outfall of the River South Esk where it meets the North Sea, looking across to Scurdie Ness Lighthouse.

Written for Weekly |

Sliding up the bannister of life

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

THE IMMORTAL memory of Scotland's national bard burned bright in Perth last Saturday. For seven years now Perth Burns Club has held a St Andrew's Day celebration at which four of Scotland's “leading academics, writers and personalities” give presentations on topics of Scottish life and culture. To my genuine surprise I was invited to give one of the lectures this year.

Written for Weekly |

Electric connection

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

THE DANGERS of electricity power lines were sharply brought home to me recently. I watched a pheasant fly out of the edge of a wood, rising steeply as it went. For no apparent reason it fell to the ground. It took a moment or two for me to click that it had flown into an overhead power line – it was dead in the air.

Written for Weekly |

Ancestral ties

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

GUTHRIE VILLAGE sits discreetly between the A934 Montrose-Forfar and A932 Friockheim-Forfar roads. Several weeks ago, visiting the village to give a talk to the ladies of the church Friendly Circle, I turned left shortly after Pickerton Farm (on the A934) onto the minor road which rises up to the appropriately named Hilton Farm, and then descends into the village.

Written for Weekly |

… best country ever is at home. (Oliver Goldsmith)

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

WELLIE BOOTS, waterproof overtrousers, my ankle boots and the stout brown brogues – over the past week or ten days they've all been pulled out from the cupboard beneath the stairs for walking in conditions ranging from just damp to raining stair rods. The ground is so saturated at present, with water lying just below the surface, that it takes very little more rain for the puddles to appear all over again.

Written for Weekly |


Saturday, November 7th, 2009

OLD BOOKS can get like a fever. Earlier in the week I went to a charity book fair. I had an idea of the sort of houses the books came from and hoped I might find something by wildlife photographer and writer Seton Gordon who, in his day, was Scotland's foremost naturalist. Or pick up someone's discards of one of my favourite writers, Violet Jacob, or sometime Ferryden resident Peter Anson, who wrote so fondly and descriptively about the east of Scotland fisher folk.

Written for Weekly |

Dragon not as black as he is painted

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

BLACK SHEEP mostly get a bad press, so the Doyenne and I were surprised to see a whole flock of pure black sheep in a field just outside St Fillans, at the east end of Loch Earn. With dogs, and what seemed like everything bar the kitchen sink in the back of the car (how do people manage to travel light?) we were on our way for a holiday on the west coast.

Written for Weekly |

… dogs go on with their doggy life (WH Auden)

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

“KEEP OUT, Viscuous Animals” was the notice painted on the door of one of the outhouses, commandeered by our son as his personal “sheddie”. We never suffered the fate of Aunt Ada Doom in Stella Gibbon's comic novel “Cold Comfort Farm” who went mad on account of seeing “something nasty in the woodshed”, but the implicit threat was there.

Written for Weekly |