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.

Christmas preparations and urban delights

December 13th, 2003

CHANGEABLE WEATHER seems to be the order of the day just now. One moment I'm ready to write about the “iron frost” and then a warm front rolls in from the Atlantic, and I have to start my piece all over again.

There are some fine Scotch words, used less and less these days, to describe the fickle days the weather throws at us. It's been right rimey some mornings when I've walked the dogs in the near frozen mist. The roads have been greasy for driving and I've warned the Doyenne to take care on the corners. Christmas on my own would be no fun.

Other days have been dreich. It's mizzled with rain and not been able to make up its mind what it wants to do. You'd expect me to like words, and I always enjoy hearing expressions from my childhood that are in danger of being lost.

La D. has been up to the oxters in preparations for Christmas. The mincemeat is made and the plum puddings are in the making. I look forward to the first batch of mince pies, still warm from the oven, and comfortingly full of cholesterol! The turkey is ordered and we'll be collecting the Christmas tree as you're reading this.

Nature isn't just a countryside experience. Business has taken me to Dundee more than usual recently, and I've been hearing about the peregrines that have been seen about the city. The urban environment provides a ready food supply of small mammals and birds to attract these handsome raptors to the city life.

Foxes, one of the best adaptors in the animal world, have been spotted during daylight hours sneaking through the Eastern Cemetery. In the spring I met a friend, who, like me, had parked down by the riverside on the old Broughty Ferry Road, to eat his lunchtime piecey. Through his binoculars we watched a black throated diver out on the water. It was passing through on its way to the west Highlands to breed.

Nature doesn't restrict itself to the countryside. Dundee is fortunate to have gardens, parks and other green places such as the airport and the Observatory Hill at Balgay where wildlife can flourish.

Ponds at Camperdown and Caird Park, and the reservoir at Clatto. The Botanic Gardens, the seashore and the Tay. Grey seals are regularly seen at low tide on the sandbanks above the railway bridge. Even the two bridges over the river – Dundee provides habitats for as wide a range of wildlife as any country lover would hope to see.

I came across a startling fact – that a dog's sense of smell is 300-400 times keener than that of us humans. I know what a smelly little tyke Macbeth can be sometimes. Heaven only knows what he thinks of me. I'm just thankful the Doyenne is fragrant.

Written on Saturday, December 13th, 2003 at 2:31 pm for Weekly.