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.


June 21st, 2003

COW PARSLEY is a bit of a botanical misnomer in my view. It doesn't look the least like parsley and the expert opinions I have canvassed doubt whether cows eat it. On the other hand, horses apparently love it. Such a common plant, its white, lacy flowers atop tall green stems appear in neglected corners of gardens, roadsides and the edges of fields.

In the field at the back of the house, across the burn, is a hedge of hawthorn which has been in full bloom for several weeks. Its lacy flowers are more of an old ivory colour, and cover the bushes in great confusion. Soon they'll wither and be replaced by crimson berries or haws. When there's no livestock in this field it's a great favourite for dog walking.

Talking of which – we see one of our neighbours “jogging ” her dogs. Thankfully Sheba will never feel the need to be so conspicuous. But Heaven preserve us if Macbeth gets it into his head that this is what smart dogs are doing this summer.

We were woken up at an unearthly hour by Macbeth crouched at the foot of a French window yowling with frustration at being unable to get to grips with a rabbit which was cheekily wandering round the garden. West Highland terriers were introduced originally as below ground hunting dogs, so he was only doing what comes naturally. I still went back to bed with thoughts of Beatrix Potter's gardener, Mr Macgregor.

I was bowling round a corner on the way to Brechin and just had time to noticewhat I thought was a buzzard on the verge. I braked, and indeed it was. Very slowly I reversed and saw that it was “mantling” something it must have just brought down. Holding their prey in their talons, they stand over it with their wings outstretched, like a cape or mantle, to prevent it escaping. It flew off before I could see what the prey was. But a solitary white pigeon feather was lying in the grass.

A thoughtful friend lent me “A Country Life” by Sir Roy Strong who was well known as Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is a compilation of a monthly diary he contributed to Country Life magazine. For a newcomer like myself it's especially interesting to compare my own style with that of a more established writer. It's a delightful book that's worth a read.

I hadn't been down Grange Road in Monifieth for a very long time. But there it is – Colin Gibson Drive. It's marvellous that my predecessor, and his life-long association with the Angus countryside, should be remembered in this way. I sometimes wish I had his artistic talents to illustrate my pieces. But if we were all the same, it wouldn't be the same – if you see what I mean.

Written on Saturday, June 21st, 2003 at 5:46 pm for Weekly.