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.

Country calm

June 7th, 2003

RECENT RAIN has produced terrific growth in the gardens and woods, and along the roadside verges. The grass is growing as I watch it. I've had the strimmer out to battle with nettles which are most invasive weeds. I like to keep some nettles in an out of the way corner of the garden because I understand butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves and their caterpillars feed on them.

Leaves on all the trees are now fully grown and walks with the dogs in the woods provide a different sensation. There is a wonderful canopy of green above us which produces a feeling of quiet seclusion. In winter the bare trees provide some protection from the wind, but at this time of year the fluttering barrier of leaves calms even the strongest wind, breaking it up and scattering its force.

Friends from the south visited recently and took a walk in the local woods. They saw buzzards, pheasants, a red squirrel and two roe deer. It was all special but the red squirrel was a real treat for them as grey squirrels have taken over the woodlands where they normally walk. It does me good to be reminded how lucky we are to still be surrounded by wildlife that was commonplace everywhere fifty years ago.

In a lay-by near Arbroath I came across a tremendous crop of brilliant blue flowers with hairy leaves and stalks. Reference to Mary McMurtrie's invaluable book on Scottish Wild Flowers told me that this was alkanet, which is one of the borage family.

In the woods I've been finding tiny blue speedwell and delicate white wood sorrel. Purple vetch creeps out from underneath the hedgerows. I diligently cut the grass and the following morning all the daisies I hoped I had also cut have poked their heads back out again.

How many drivers leaving Brechin noticed the oystercatcher sitting on her nest in the middle of the roundabout just before the dual carriageway? It says something about the birds' instinctive sense that passing vehicles won't pose a danger, that they felt secure enough to nest there. It's just a scraping in the dust and pebbles, and the sitting bird was very conspicuous, but the constant traffic probably protected her from the attentions of hunting raptors.

I saw at least one chick had been successfully hatched, so it's been a bit of a success story. By contrast Arthur Grewar had a sad story to tell.

Making a final evening round of his lambs he came across a dead otter by the side of the dual carriageway. It was still bleeding so was only recently killed. Evening light, too much speed, too little attention, possibly ignorance of wildlife. Otters aren't exactly an endangered species but there aren't enough of them around for even one to be wantonly run down.

Written on Saturday, June 7th, 2003 at 10:15 pm for Weekly.