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.

Midsummer miscellany

July 26th, 2003

WHITE BLACKBIRDS appear in the news from time to time because they are so uncommon. True albino blackbirds do occur I understand, but a piebald bird has appeared in the garden.

I have been told that white feathers amongst the black are usually dead feathers following an attack on the bird by a cat or suchlike. If this is true then our blackie must have had a hell of a tussle because white feathers appear all over its body. And I have disturbed a large semi-feral looking cat in the garden and in the woods.

Our road is covered with sycamore wings, the vee-shaped seeds which fall from the trees and gently spiral to the ground. These grand trees, and the beeches, which were planted decades ago form a leafy tunnel for cool walks with dogs. Their branches are so intertwined overhead that when it rains the leaves provide protection from all but the fiercest downpour.

I got a bag of flounders, or flukes as they are called locally, which I gutted and filleted. The Doyenne seared the fillets in melted butter and freshly squeezed orange juice, and they were very delicious. Usually regarded as a humble fish, much is in the cooking.

Some of the recent warm evenings we have taken our supper outside. As the light fades and the air becomes damp with dew, glossy, fat, black slugs appear, tearing down the road at half a yard an hour. The dogs poke their noses at them to sniff, and the slugs pull in their horns and shrivel to half their size in protective reaction.

It can be so peaceful as the dusk deepens that the loudest noise is the sound of cattle in the next door field pulling at the grass as they feed. After about nine o'clock most birds have retired to roost although the blackbirds still chatter on amongst themselves for a while. The swallows also are still busy catching daddy longlegs and other airborne goodies to feed their young.

Grandson James and I went off on an exploration together and landed up sitting by the side of a pond. We watched the reflection of the clouds and the trees, and James commented that there was the whole world in the water. Which was a wiser remark than he probably realised. Beneath the surface there's a teeming life cycle which we hardly see.

Fat cushie doos sat in the trees drugged with the heat of the sun, crooning away to themselves. Two flashing-winged birds were reflected in the pond. Mallard duck I thought, and looking above the trees saw the birds speeding on. For me the highlight of our expedition was an electric blue dragonfly which hovered inches away from where we sat – quite still so as not to disturb it. It's good fun being a grandfather.

Written on Saturday, July 26th, 2003 at 6:00 pm for Weekly.