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.

New life

June 28th, 2003

CUCKOO SPIT is everywhere on the tall grasses in a favourite walking wood. It's another name eccentricity from past generations and has nothing to do with cuckoos or spit. It certainly looks like spit – a bubbly, white blob sticking to the grass leaves. The Doyenne, who is a great authority on many matters, thinks it is a deposit left by an insect.

We – the dogs and I, that is – saw two pairs of ears twitching above the growing barley. I watched for a while because they were hares, and hares are in poor supply round here. With a bit of luck they'll have produced some young to add further pleasure to our walks. Driving to Forfar and passing the gates of Careston Castle I saw a black rabbit in the field. They were called “parsons” when I was young, but it has been years since I heard anyone else refer to them so.

Two glittering eyes transfixed me. At the foot of the hedge a young thrush crouched motionless. It had grown too large for the nest (there would likely be more than the one chick) but still relied on the parent birds for food. It still had its juvenile beak, as wide as it was long, for receiving the endless supply of bugs and beasties so patiently brought by the parents. The moment I took my eye off it, its natural sense of survival took over and it whisked out of sight into the cover of the hedge.

By a busy roadside a young peewit, all long legs waiting for its body to grow into them, was confused by the constant traffic. It didn't know whether to try and cross the road or jump back into the undergrowth again. They are very fragile looking at this stage and look constantly surprised – which of course they may be.

The longest day, the summer solstice, occurred last Saturday. I suppose we should have all gone out at daybreak and washed our faces in the morning dew. Or danced around a blazing fire in the gloaming. But it was far more fun to be invited out to supper, talk with congenial friends, enjoy good food and wine, and watch the evening fade into the not-quite darkness that characterises the night hours at this time of year.

Macbeth has had his hair clipped. “A country gentleman's summer haircut” – was what I asked for. He went in looking like a badly rolled up ball of string and emerged looking like he'd just stepped off a whisky label. But Macbeth is always up for that sort of challenge. It was barely twenty minutes and he was back to his normal mobile midden state.

He comes home from these outings smelling unusually fragrant, so it's always a relief for Sheba when he reverts back to his normal baser character.

Written on Saturday, June 28th, 2003 at 5:38 pm for Weekly.