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.

Purple blooming heather

August 14th, 2004

THE PURPLE heather is at its blooming best at this time of year, but there’s been little chance to see it over recent days. As I’m writing this week’s piece the rain is hissing down in stair rods, and there’s only one word for it – dreich.

I sympathise with the holidaymakers who do us the compliment of choosing Tayside, the gem of Scotland, for their holidays. It’s probably no consolation, but it appears to be little better anywhere else.

July, and especially August, are the best months to enjoy the colour of the heather on the braes and in the glens of Angus, and it’s no wonder visitors come to share it with us. And, of course, there’s the added of taking home some heather honey to keep the memory fresh throughout the winter months.

What a contrast the weather was earlier in the week when I was in Aberdeen, where it was humid but very sunny.

On the way home I decided to take a look at the latest gas pipeline which starts at Peterhead and goes south to somewhere. I turned off the motorway just below Fiddes and took the narrow winding road that meets up with the B967 from Fordoun to Inverbervie.

It’s pretty rare to find a road with passing places outside of the Highlands, but in the couple of miles before it joins the B967 there are the familiar diamond signs on poles indicating where you can pull into the side to let other traffic past.

A lot of ground gets used while a pipeline is being laid. I looked back along the bare line of red Mearns clay which curves round the contours of the countryside. The enormous plant and machinery used to lay the pipe means yards of ground on each side of the trench are out of commission for cultivation. If the unsettled weather continues perhaps pipeline compensation will be the best crop for the fields affected!

Arbuthnott on the B967 is Lewis Grassic Gibbon heartland. His best known work, the trilogy  A Scots Quair’, contains some of the most wonderfully graphic and responsive descriptions of the Mearns and the northeast. If you’re not familiar with his books start with  Sunset Song’ and you’ll not be disappointed.

The Grassic Gibbon Centre in the village is devoted to the author and his work. The shop and restaurant help to make a visit a proper day out.

We had an implosion of grandchildren recently and as the decibels crescendoed we realised we were missing Macbeth. He was eventually tracked down to a spare bedroom upstairs where he had escaped for peace. Old Sheba, a Labrador, could take these disruptions to life in her stride. But, obviously, being a small Westie who is getting used to being king of the midden, isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

Written on Saturday, August 14th, 2004 at 2:24 pm for Weekly.