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.

The blood sports or countryside pursuits debate

July 10th, 2010

IT'S BECOME a bit of an annual fixture for the Doyenne and me to take a day down at Scone for the Scottish Game Fair, if for no other reason than we usually meet at least one chum we haven't seen for ages   So it's a great place to catch up with the  €œgoss €.

The Game Fair means different things to different people   Some go because, if the weather is fine as it was on the Friday, it's a day out for retail therapy   There were any number of clothing stands, from the purely practical for outdoors living to the plain indulgent   The Doyenne fell into the latter category, but even I had to approve of the colourful, dreamy silk scarf she treated herself to.

The range of exhibitors shows the extent to which nature, however unobtrusively, is part of all our lives, sometimes without us really noticing   Of course there were the gun and fishing stands for the game shooters and fishers – or are they blood sports?   It's a personal choice, but it needn't prevent anyone from enjoying other parts of the show.

Conservation plays an important part in fishing and shooting and, whatever your view of these activities, fishers and shooters have contributed greatly to conservation research.

Falconry displays, ferrets, gundog demonstrations, gamekeepers, dry stone walling, archery, cookery – the Game Fair is more than just a showcase of the participants' skills   They all relate directly to nature – alive or dead   Cookery goes back to the day a hairy ancestor discovered fire and how it could improve the experience of roast leg of dinosaur.

Game Fairs tell us about our past   Lose the history, the mythology, the ability of bygone skills and our world begins to be a sterile place   I bought probably the cheapest stick on the day (cost me £12), made by a former gamekeeper   He had to find the right branch, let it dry, dress it for sale and I got a simple but pleasing walking aid   But it took him time to get it to that state.

He didn't make much money off me but if I had come from a city centre, with little knowledge or access to the countryside, he would have added something new to my knowledge and experience.

My stickmaker was at the Game Fair to make a living   He might as readily have been a writer, artist, breeder, musician   I wonder how fully it is appreciated how many livelihoods and families are directly and indirectly linked to and depend on nature, the countryside and wildlife and the celebration of its continuity.

The dogs went to our daughter-in-law for the day on the understanding that we took Fergus and Cecily back home with us for two sleep-overs to allow their parents to visit the show on the Saturday   I haven't worked out who got the better deal!

Written on Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at 9:40 am for Uncategorized.