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.

Summer specials

July 12th, 2003

TATTIE ROGUEING is in full swing. This odd sounding activity is essential to ensure that potato crops which are being grown for next season's seed are disease free, and also free of “rogue” or unwanted varieties from the intended crop. Any crop, which is to be sold as seed, must be pure throughout, and free of any adulteration.

Squads of young men, and no doubt young women too, can be seen walking up the tattie dreels with forks, to dig out any offending plants. Modern agricultural machinery is so powerful that the drills are all as straight as arrows, running across the fields. And the ridges, which the potatoes grow in, seem much wider and taller than when I was young. No doubt this helps to produce much larger crops.

The early potatoes are in flower. They are very colourful and provide acres of white or blue flowers (depending on variety) each with a deep orangey centre.

We – the Doyenne and I, and dogs too, that is – passed a field at Westdrums, near Brechin, which was much more of a dusty blue colour. This was linseed or flax, and a hundred years or more ago would have been a much commoner sight.

Flax of course is the plant from which linen is woven, and older readers in the Arbroath area will remember Webster's Mill in that town, which grew up round the linen industry. Nowadays the linseed is crushed for its oil and to make animal feeds.

We have three tubs of wild strawberries which produce a couple of small pickings of fruit. Cut a Galia melon in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill the cavity with the strawberries. The contrast between the sweet melon and sharp zing of the berries is almost unbelievable. This is an offering fit for – well, a Doyenne. I'm just thankful melons come in two halves!

We've had some lovely sunny days recently and the dogs have lain out on the grass enjoying the warmth. It does Sheba no end of good to get the heat into her old bones. Macbeth, who has as much brains as a docken, lies in the full sun until he is dripping with sweat and almost passing out, before he drags himself into the shade of the hedge.

Stout, cosy bumblebees are everywhere in the garden, flying about a bit aimlessly compared with the more businesslike honeybees. I always look forward to seeing foxgloves with their white and rosy bells adding splashes of colour to the roadsides and, often, where trees have been cut down. Old fashioned roses, honeysuckle and wild sweet peas are filling the house with a marvellous old-fashioned scent.

Flax is a bonny blue colour. So you'd expect flaxen to be much the same. But no – flaxen is a bonny blonde colour. It's funny the way words go.

Written on Saturday, July 12th, 2003 at 3:03 pm for Weekly.