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.

Elderflower cordial

July 5th, 2003

I'M DRINKING a glass of the first of the Doyenne's delicious homemade elderflower cordial. This is living off Nature's bounty. It's this year's first free offering from the countryside, and we have it on our doorstep.

Enormous soup plate sized heads of elderflower blossom, ivory coloured and heavily scented were cut from their bushes, but that's where the free bit ends. Dissolve sugar and citric acid in boiling water, and add lemon slices. Trim the elderflower florets from the main stems and add to the “bree”. Leave overnight and the next day strain into clean bottles. Couldn't be simpler, but you have to remember it's a concentrate and must be diluted. Taken neat it'll probably shift your fillings!

It's a great lifesaver in the summertime. After an afternoon's heavy exertion cutting grass nothing compares with the cool refreshing pleasure of a pint of cordial smothered with ice and a bunch of crushed mint leaves scattered on top. Providentially it can be frozen, prolonging the pleasure into autumn. And then there's the anticipation of next spring and the whole mouthwatering process starting again.

I found a dead ferret by the roadside, which is unusual. Its coat wasn't the old ivory colour I'm used to but had an almost brindled look, and it may have been a cross with a polecat. La D saw another one, very similar, crossing the road near the gates of House of Dun. I was told if your ferret escapes always deny it, say it has died and you forget where you buried it. An escaped ferret can do terrible damage if it gets into a henhouse at night, hence the need to distance yourself from any recriminations.

Swallows have built a nest under the eaves of the porch, and they explode out of it every time we open the front door. I haven't disturbed them further by trying to look into it, but I think the eggs must be close to hatching, and we'll soon see small faces peering at us over the edge, waiting for the next treat of daddy longlegs and other tasty insects.

Wild roses, or dog roses as they are also called, are in flower all over. They are so attractive but will die very quickly if you cut them and put them in a vase. They flowers grow in white and varying shades of pink, though once on a back road to Crieff I came across a yellow one. It's hard to associate a Hideous Hound like Macbeth with such a delicate bush.

Sticky willy, the climbing weed whose round, dry seed pods stick to anything they catch on, is flourishing in the beech hedges. It was only several days ago, walking the dogs, when the early morning sun was shining on it that I realised it has tiny white, four pointed, star shaped flowers.

Written on Saturday, July 5th, 2003 at 3:09 pm for Weekly.