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.

Sack of shakings

October 25th, 2003

“A SACK of shakings” comes from the glory days of sailing ships, and refers to a miscellany of odds and ends of rope and canvas accumulated during a sailing voyage. And a miscellany is what this week's piece turns out to be.

Macbeth has had his autumn clipping, and it didn't come a day too soon. Latterly he was appearing from the undergrowth looking like some strange ecosystem from beyond – covered in leaves, stickywillies, dead grass and whatever else he picked up along the way. I've no idea how he could see anything through the fringe of foliage that hung over his eyes.

Sheba is noticing the change in the weather. Once she gets going she's fine, but she's not so keen to leave the comfort of her bed. Especially for the last outing at night.

There's exceptional goose activity this year. Grandson James and I stood with the dogs and watched as several thousands lifted off three fields they had been feeding on, and headed off towards Montrose Basin. The din was tremendous and I told James how his great-grandfather and I used to watch similar sights when I was his age.

A Doyenne is a “most respected and prominent person”. Continued reference to “my wife” in these weekly pieces might eventually make her seem rather remote, and the alternatives were unacceptable to both of us. So how better can I characterise that most respected and prominent person who is my wife?

The leaves on the Virginia creeper at the front of the house have turned a vibrant, rich red colour. Much like the shades of deepest embarrassment I remember suffering as a teenager when my Mother drew attention to me.

I said I'd meet a friend on Tuesday. “Tuesday's Hornet Day”, he told me. I was astonished. I never knew hornets had an official day of recognition. It turned out he was referring to The Hornet comic, which he faithfully bought every Tuesday when he was a wee laddie in short pants.

It's amazing what baggage grown men carry with them from their childhood. It's amazing how easily I was fooled! No prizes for guessing who published the comic.

You'll be pleased to know that the guillemot chick rescued by Mrs Jeannie Gladstone has been released into the sea in tip-top condition. He flourished under the care of the SSPCA people at Inverkeithing and had gained enough weight to be able to look after himself.

A pair of partridge were scratting in the grit by the vergeside. I stopped to watch. They seemed incredibly tame and one came across the road to inspect the car. Leave the engine running in these situations. The change in noise level when you stop the engine is usually enough scare off animals you are watching at close quarters.

Written on Saturday, October 25th, 2003 at 3:51 pm for Weekly.