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.

Smoke signals and sunshine moments

November 29th, 2003

SMOKE RISING vertically from the chimneys has been an indication how still and windless some of the recent mornings have been. So calm that not even the topmost branches of the trees nor the slenderest grasses with their feathery heads, were stirring. Single leaves falling from the trees land with a dry rattle that you usually wouldn't hear above the normal clatter of woodland life.

It's been great weather to be out and about – sunny and clear. But you can't stand doing nothing for long because there's been a sharp nip in the air. First thing in the morning there's hard frost on the grass which soon gets criss-crossed with dogs' paw prints and my footprints.

We – the dogs and I, that is – were on the homeward leg of the morning walk when Macbeth was transfixed by a tantalising scent coming from the other side of the hedge. Sheba and I stopped to see what the excitement was all about.

It was only several moments, and then we heard the careful movements of a roe deer, warily drifting through the dead undergrowth to vanish deeper into the wood. We likely passed it on the way out, and it would have stood quite still, on the alert, until we turned into the field. But when we returned too quickly for comfort the beast's natural caution said it was time to go.

Last Sunday was a day of flawless blue skies and sunshine, and I was out and about in the garden until mid-afternoon. Sheba found a sheltered spot where the sun was warm enough for her to doze for a while. I took my cup of coffee outdoors and she and I shared some quiet moments together.

I made a bonfire and was clearing up, and Macbeth padded patiently behind me, wondering when all the outdoor activity would develop into a walk. By two o'clock it was still bright. But the heat is beginning to go out of the day by then, and there was still frost where the sun hadn't penetrated.

A silver single-engined aeroplane flew high overhead, and it caught the sun and winked down at us so far below. What stunning all-around views the pilot must have been enjoying. It was certainly a day which confirmed how good it is to be alive.

But life with two dogs isn't all outdoors. Saturday night is Robbie Shepherd and “Take the Floor” night. It's a favourite radio programme, and as a family we all enjoy Scottish country dance music and dancing the reels and jigs.

And at this time of year we get the fire lit and pile the logs on. At night when I take the dogs out last thing before going to bed, the tangy smell of the wood smoke hangs in the garden.

Written on Saturday, November 29th, 2003 at 3:03 pm for Weekly.