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.

Countryside musings

November 15th, 2003

GLEN PROSEN was my destination last Saturday. It was a favourite place of my Father who was born and brought up in Kirriemuir. As a youngster he cycled to the glen and scrambled about its braes. Bikes were heavy machines in those days, and often referred to as “push” bikes. It must have taken a lot of push and puff to slog his way up the hills from Kirrie

I was bowling round a corner and had to brake to avoid a pheasant crossing the road. I was concentrating so much on the bird I nearly didn't notice the wildcat that was sneaking back into the undergrowth on the opposite verge. So perhaps that was one lucky pheasant and one hungry wildcat swicked out of its breakfast!

The Clan Macpherson crest is a Scottish wildcat and their motto is “Touch not the cat bot a glove”, meaning don't touch the cat without the protection of a glove. The inference being that the Macpherson warriors were, and possibly still are, as unpredictable and ferocious as a wildcat with its claws unsheathed.

Hopefully the recent rain has raised the level of the Prosen Water enough to let the salmon up to their spawning grounds. A clip on TV news showed fish in the River Ericht being netted and helped over the weir at Blairgowrie. So while it's been great suntan weather for us humans there may be an ecological account to be paid for in future years.

On my way back down the glen I saw a melanistic cock pheasant; something I haven't seen for several seasons. I understand they are not hybrid birds, but they have an abnormally high level of black pigment in their feathers. This gives a dark, burnished sheen to the feathers, almost like a starling, making them particularly handsome birds.

Near the foot of the glen is a memorial to Captain Scott of the Antarctic, and Dr Edward Wilson who died with him. Capt. Scott planned his last fateful trip to the South Pole in a bungalow close by the cairn. Dundee and Montrose readers who are getting smoother in the tooth will remember Largs music shops. Mr Eric Larg and his sister lived in the same bungalow for some years.

My Father told me my Grandfather, who was a partner in Wilkie and Dundas, solicitors in Kirrie, knew Capt. Scott. Father handed on to me a banjo which he said Scott had left in my Grandfather's care. It has ink cartoons of dancing figures on its skin, which were supposed to have been drawn by Wilson.

Wilson was a fine artist and the dancers on the banjo are quite crude compared with photos of his delicate work which appear in his biography. Nevertheless I like to believe the story is true, for why would my Grandfather invent a story like that?

Written on Saturday, November 15th, 2003 at 3:24 pm for Weekly.