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.

Home winemaker

April 24th, 2004

MACBETH AND I took a walk up the Westwater together. It was a great favourite of my Father's, especially at the Meeting of the Waters which is where the Westwater flows into the North Esk.

I believe the stream was originally called the Eskandie, meaning Little Esk, hence the name of the farm of Inveriscandye. It is the farm that stands at the inflow, or  inver', where the Little Esk joins the main confluence.

As the Westwater flows in from the west, it would have been an easy adaptation to the present name.

I hadn't walked along the stream for many years, and I'd forgotten just how attractive it is. As we had to cross farmland all the time I asked permission to do so.

Much of the west bank falls steeply down to the waterside so we kept to the field edge. Both banks are quite heavily wooded and there are fallen trees amongst the undergrowth which provides lots of cover for wildlife. Macbeth was determined to explore the most precipitous parts, and I was just waiting for him to lose his hold and tumble into the water.

Part of the east bank of the river runs alongside Edzell Golf Course and I heard an unusual splash which didn't sound at all like a jumping fish. A couple of harassed golfers were looking down into the water, so I took it that one of them had been a bit undisciplined with his golf swing.

I watched several dippers perched on stones in midstream dipping and curtseying as they searched for food. Clumps of primroses were coming into flower. They used to grow in such abundance all over the countryside when I was a youngster, but are not nearly so common nowadays.

Fifty years ago, and more, I went out with my father and picked great baskets full of the flowers which he made into wine. Also the cluster-headed cowslips which grew all along the east bank of the North Esk at the Upper Northwaterbridge. You hardly see any there now.

Father was a great home wine maker.  Hedgerow cordials' he used to call them, which was a bit of a misnomer as some of them had a kick like a mule. I especially remember his peach wine which was real firewater!

The woodpeckers have returned to our bird table and are very welcome visitors once more. We have also seen at least one goldfinch at the feeders. And I had a very brief glimpse of what I'm sure was a water vole before it disappeared over the bank of the burn at the foot of the garden.

The old Sheba dog has become a very old lady quite suddenly. She's not up to walks with Macbeth any more, and it takes her all her time just to get around the garden. Which is sad.

Written on Saturday, April 24th, 2004 at 9:59 am for Weekly.