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.

Food for free

July 17th, 2004

 DOGS DIE in hot cars' was the banner headline on the back cover of last week's  The Big Issue'. I was much impressed that the magazine should be giving dog owners such a timely warning in the summertime. But, never assume! – it's actually the name of a band.  Pretty close to perfection', commented the magazine.

It is a timely warning, however. It's no treat for dogs to be taken out and then abandoned in an overheated car because owners get sidetracked with shopping or meeting friends.

I hope the good weather which arrived midweek is still as good when you are reading this. It arrived just in time for granddaughter Cecily and grandson Fergus who tumbled out of their car and into the garden. It was great to see them enjoying the freedom and knowing they would come in for lunch with dry feet.

As they were only staying one night all the games had to be brought out and played at once. Macbeth loved it – he's a most sociable dog and likes to be included in everything.

We've been working our way through the Doyenne's homemade elderflower cordial. Just as tasty as ever, and just the ticket when I've finished cutting the grass and need  the tissues restored' as Bertie Wooster would say.

La D. has also made her first batch of strawberry jam with berries from Heughhead Farm near Friockheim, where they are grown to be picked and eaten in their proper, traditional season. Cecily declared it to be “yummy”, so I suspect a couple of jars will go with her to Portknockie where the family will be spending their summer.

We had two Chinese guests for the day last Saturday and gave them raspberries from Charleton Farm at Montrose. The McQuistans have been growing rasps there since before the Second World War and generations of Montrosians have gone out to pick them. They were a new experience for our guests and they enjoyed them so much we should have bought more than we did.

There has been a terrific crop of wild strawberries in the garden and I can recommend them as a tasty accompaniment, picked straight off the bush, to a glass of chilled white wine just before supper. It looks as though there will be a big crop of wild raspberries in the woods – I'll keep you posted. White bramble blossom in the hedgerows promises another free gift from Nature.

There's always vigilant readers out there who don't hesitate to spare my blushes. Mrs Beattie wrote to me from Dunfermline to correct my comments about  Lassie the wonder dog'. Lassie actually was a Rough Collie, not a Border Collie, and was in fact a  Laddie'.

My thanks to her for putting me right – but as I said last time, you have to be a certain age to remember all that!

Written on Saturday, July 17th, 2004 at 3:17 pm for Weekly.