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.


February 28th, 2004

NATURE'S BUSH telegraph is a most efficient communication system.

Several days ago they came to plough the other half of the stubbles at the back of the kitchen. The tractor and plough were scarcely in the field before the seagulls began to float in, waiting for the plough blade to fold back the brown earth and uncover all the juicy snails, worms and other insects that are the great attraction.

I looked out of the window again about midday when the tractor-man was having his piece. The seagulls had been joined by three herons which sat out in the plough like three humphybackitt old men who couldn't find anything better to do. Herons have quite a catholic diet which isn't confined to fish, and includes insects, especially when there is a ready supply from newly turned earth.

Business took me to Kincardine-on-Forth and I left home about 7.30am. As I passed West Kintrockat Farm on my left, a ghostly blanket of grey mist lay in the haugh of the River South Esk and crept up the hill towards the back road from Forfar to Brechin. It cleared away after Finavon, but there was a tremendous atmosphere of a Hitchcock grainy black-and-white film.

It was in such contrast to the sunrise lighting up the east, white clouds streaked with pink which were anything but a “shepherd's warning” as the day developed. Westwards to my right the sun lit on snow covered hilltops away to the back of Kirriemuir, and the Airlie Memorial rose stark against a duck egg blue sky.

I could hardly believe it – a neighbour has given his lawn the first cut of the season! It's an indecently early time of year to be doing such a thing.

I was on my way to a game of curling one evening.and I saw what I thought were three faces ahead of me. As I drove nearer I realised there were four, and they were our four resident roe deer which had strayed onto the road. What I was seeing were the deer's white scuts at their rear ends.

Spirals of smoke in Glen Esk mean the muirburn is in full swing. This is the controlled burning of old, rank heather to encourage new growth especially for the grouse. Except when they are chicks and eat insects, the grouse's main diet is heather and obviously young, sweet shoots are tastier than the old stuff. The new growth also attracts the sheep and deer to the improved menu.

Returning from Kincardine and approaching Perth I was transfixed by the sunset. It was focused on one hill, and it was as though the hilltop had split open and was gushing molten white gold. I can't recall ever seeing anything so dramatic and intense, and of course I didn't have a camera to capture the memory!


Written on Saturday, February 28th, 2004 at 1:16 pm for Weekly.