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.

Ecological

August 7th, 2004

SOMETHING BLUE has been catching my eye every time I turn into the drive of the house. I thought it might have been a field of lupins but I'm learning not to make hasty assumptions, so I  phoned to check with Alan Stewart at Stracathro and Careston Farms.

“I know what you're calling about” he greeted me, with admirable intuition. I've been looking at an acre of phacelia which is a most interesting crop that is grown for several uses. This plot was planted to attract bees for honey production.

When you get close to, it has a stunning bloom like a blue flash which seems to almost vibrate in the air. There were plenty of bees foraging for nectar, and lots of other insects attracted by the sweetness. I could hear the muted buzzing of all the little wings.

Talking to another farmer, Sandy Brown at Reidhall, I was wondering why oil seed rape is cut with a stubble about a foot high, and barley is cut almost to ground level.

Sandy patiently explained that the barley is cut and threshed by the combine harvester in one programme, and then discharged into a bogey. Oil seed rape, topped off with its seedpods which contain the crop, is first cut with a swather into swathes which must be left to dry. The straw lies on the tall stubble which lifts it away from damp earth, and protects the crop.

Several weeks later when the seedpods are dry they are put through the combine harvester and the tiny black seeds, much smaller than black peppercorns, are threshed out.

It's all so obvious when you have someone knowledgeable to help you through the hoops!

There's been an abundance of wild raspberries in the woods and I was able to pick three or four pounds before the heavy rains spoilt the tail-end of them. I got quite a picking of yellow rasps which I was delighted with as you usually only find an isolated bush or two at any one time. Like the wild strawberries, we have them as a delicious accompaniment to half an ogen melon.

The call from Angus Davidson, retired from farming at Glen Effock in Glen Esk, had the Doyenne and me hurrying up the glen to the annual Lochlee Games and Picnic at Tarfside.

There was the usual friendly atmosphere about the occasion which always makes it such fun to be part of – Angus thought the turnout was the best in memory. One mother got it right when she said –   €¦.just a lovely family day out, and not a million miles from home'.

We took Macbeth along for the outing and he got tremendously excited at all the activity and races. So much so that he forgot himself and raised his leg against the Doyenne's shoe. I didn't know where to put myself.