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.

Street names

April 19th, 2003

CHANGING SEASONS bring changing colours to the landscape. Even in the less colourful winter months the countryside never loses its attraction. Then Spring asserts itself bit by bit and we hardly notice. The browns and rusty colours of autumn are being replaced, and the promises of the coming summer are already starting to appear.

The field outside the kitchen window was sown with spring barley and for days was just a free lunch for greedy wood pigeons. One morning there was the merest hint of colour and within another day fresh green shoots had pushed through.

It's the same with trees. One moment the buds and new leaves are hidden in their protective casings. Next, the buds have burst and the trees are covered with a fresh, light green mantle of colour that deepens as the leaves mature

There are still some fields to be ploughed, unless they are in SetAside, which is a government scheme that pays farmers not to cultivate a percentage of their land. Weeds will grow where it is uncultivated providing a fine supply of juicy seed heads for hungry birds in the autumn and winter.

Night-time temperatures have been pretty nippy while the days have been quite warm enough for summer. I don't take too much notice of planting dates recommended on seed packets. My experience of growing garden vegetables is that there won't be any significant growth until there is real heat in the soil.

Big, fat bumble bees have been poking their noses into the daffodil blooms. I suppose they must make honey like the smaller honey bee, but I've never heard of it being available for honey and toast. I'm sure a more knowledgeable reader can throw some light on this.

Many local street names tell much of their origin. I made a call in Peasiehill Road in Arbroath. Was this a part of the town where lapwings or peewits would gather, and perform their striking aerobatic displays? Peesweeps or peasieweeps are their local names. Or perhaps it was a field where pease or peasemeal for peaebrose, was grown.

The origins of Broomfield Road and Whinfield Road in Montrose are obvious. The last time I was in Post Box Road in Birkhill, the post box was indeed there. And who was the imaginative early riser who named Peep o' Day Lane in Dundee?

A mallard drake and duck spent much of one morning in the garden, sitting cosied up together on the grass beside the stream. They were obviously enjoying the warmth of the sun, protected from the wind by the high beech hedges. It's fascinating to watch these events so close to hand, but it takes your mind off the daytime job, and before you know you've lost a couple of hours.



Written on Saturday, April 19th, 2003 at 7:48 am for Weekly.