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.

Spring has sprung

March 29th, 2003

NEWBORN LAMBS in the field means spring is definitely with us. Grandson James, Macbeth and I went to see them. Just four so far – twins and two singles. Despite a week of warm sunny days, there have been some hard frosty nights. I suppose a fat old ewe to cosy up to at night is a lamb's idea of bliss, and shelters it from harsh temperatures.

The Doyenne pointed out a buzzard on the topmost branches of a tree. No it wasn't – they separated and there were two. I'm not an expert on such matters, but I would say they were mating. We seem to have so many of these birds already that I imagine the progeny of such couplings will have to move to a new high-rise flat and seek new hunting grounds once they have left the nest.

I let the area outside the kitchen window stay fairly wild because it is such an attraction for songbirds especially; though there has been the occasional pheasant cautiously pacing through the grasses looking for seeds. I was busy washing dishes (I'm not all bad!) while a handsome cock blackbird scraped amongst the fallen leaves and undergrowth. Jet black feathers, and his yellow bill was almost orange so intense was its colour. For me, much of nature's fascination is in small detail like this.

Thrushes have been around all winter, but they are back in the garden in some numbers. They are the same family and first cousins of the blackbird. Three resplendent song thrushes have been bouncing around the big lawn obviously looking for food. Their habit of hopping across the grass and cocking their heads to one side gives the impression they are listening for worms stirring in the ground. I don't think they have ultra-sonic hearing; but rather their eyes are situated far back on their heads and their near vision is restricted. So they have to “keek” their heads to spy their grub.

I had stopped at the traffic lights at Claypotts. A shiny black crow flew in front of the car with a beakful of twigs for its nest. It landed on the second bottom stone of the crow stepped gable of Claypotts Castle and hopped up each one to the top. The lights changed and I had to go. I just knew crows would make another appearance.

We had to drive through Perth recently. There's lots of spring blossom in the gardens – yellow forsythia in particular. But also white and pink cherry blossom. Is the Cherrybank district of the city so called because at one time the braes were covered in cherry trees which produced a memorable spring show of colour?

Old Sheba has been rather lame with a pulled ligament. It means taking both dogs a short walk to ensure Sheba gets some exercise then Macbeth and I go a longer one. Macbeth thinks these are ideal opportunities to improve bonding. He thinks I don't understand him. Oh yeah!

Written on Saturday, March 29th, 2003 at 8:14 am for Weekly.