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.

Flying spiders and the Wind in the Willows

September 11th, 2004

THE AUTUMN sun sits lower and lower in the sky as the season progresses, and the landscape takes on a different colour mantle. Macbeth and I were walking down a familiar track and the late afternoon sun was low enough to be quite blinding.

Glinting in the sunlight were sparkling threads which were each anchored to the tops of tall grasses. They were single strands of spiders' web which were blowing in the light breeze. At the end of each one a spider was working its little heart out spinning a silky thread to get to somewhere only it knew where.

It's the spiders' version of flying, and it saves them a wearisome trek round plant stems and over leaves, which must look to them like a Brazilian rain forest looks to us humans.

Now that most of the grain has been cut there is a great sense of freedom and space. This time last year Sheba was still fit enough to enjoy a good walk, and I was quite happy to let her roam wherever she wanted. I knew she was never going to stray too far from me – she never had.

Most mornings, when Macbeth and I go out for his first walk, the cattle in the field beside the house are patiently waiting at the field gate for the cattleman to call by with breakfast. Their grass diet is supplemented with barley and groundnut pellets.

They have a very precise digestive alarm clock and get quite indignant if the cattleman isn't bang on time with their meal. My appearance is enough to get them milling around in anticipation that I might be the one with the goodies.

Sometimes, when I take Macbeth up the drive last thing, I hear the most lifelike human coughs and clearing of throats. It's just the cattle, but if you didn't know they were there you could be forgiven for wondering what all these people are doing in the field!

A whistle from behind me when I was out with Macbeth didn't catch me out a second time. A neighbour who keeps fit by cycling most mornings, was giving me warning of his rapid approach.

The first time he did it I thought I was hearing an exotic bird I hadn't come across before. I was nearly flattened as I gazed skywards into the trees to catch sight of an unexpected visitor.

I think it's time my neighbour invested in a good old-fashioned cycle bell. Or at the very least shouts “poop, poop” like Mr Toad in the  Wind in the Willows'.

I've been picking the first of the brambles. I think it's going to be a bumper crop this year. A cupful of the fruit, picked from the roadside, and sprinkled over a plate of ice cream makes a delicious bitter-sweet pudding.

Written on Saturday, September 11th, 2004 at 11:43 am for Weekly.