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.

Tea up the glen

June 26th, 2010

A BUZZARD sits atop the same pine tree with such regularity that I'm sure he's standing guard over a nest nearby where a hen bird is sitting on eggs   If I'm right it can't be too much longer till the eggs hatch, and then he'll be too busy feeding ravenous chicks to have time to sun himself.
From the kitchen window I can watch the nesting box in the branches of the old gean tree which grows against the boiler house wall   Blue tits have leased it for this season and their family must be close to fledging   I had some doubts about putting the box so close to the bird table where the woodpeckers come to feed   A previous bird table had a nesting box above it and the woodpeckers, which will eat young birds if they are available, drilled a hole in the roof to get at blue tit chicks inside.

A trip to Edinburgh with fellow writer Andrew Orr, for the launch of this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, took me down memory lane after the morning's events   My mother lived for a short while in Lady Stair's Close, in one of the flats at the top of The Mound overlooking Princes Street and Edinburgh's New Town   Just for sentiment I revisited the Close and rediscovered the Writers' Museum which is situated in Lady Stair's House.

The Close is entered from the top of the Royal Mile and the museum, which was bought by Lady Stair in 1719 when she was widowed, is a delightful example of a small, intimate town house of its time   Now crammed with pictures, furniture and personal memorabilia such as bibles, pipes and walking sticks, I can thoroughly recommend a visit there to anyone who was brought up on the writings of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns   It's worth the pech up The Mound to absorb memories of the lives of Scotland's three most famous writers.

The Doyenne and I were invited by kind friends to join them for lunch at their cottage in Glen Clova   Our road took us past the soaring turrets of Cortachy Castle, guarding the entrance to the glen   Distant fields glowed in the sun with a mass of yellow buttercups growing in amongst the grass.

I can't drive that way without thinking of my father growing up in Forfar and, as a teenager, cycling out to Clova to fish for trout in the upper waters of the River South Esk. His transport was a classic sit-up-and-beg, single gear bike and it must have been a fair pech for him pedalling uphill most of the way – even with young legs.

By contrast the Doyenne and I whirled up there on four wheels, with countless gears, arriving fresh and ready to do justice to our hostess's culinary artistry!

Written on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 at 11:35 am for Uncategorized.