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.

Grandchildren and sunshine

September 18th, 2004

MACBETH SAW it first, and took off across the lawn. By his body language I guessed it might be a pheasant so I called him back to heel, and he returned somewhat reluctantly.

The Doyenne and I were in the garden enjoying a glass of wine and the fading warmth of a glorious day's sunshine. We were watching the birds feeding on the peanuts and seeds. Most have become so accustomed to human and dog company that they take next to no notice of us.

One of our woodpeckers rocketed into the rowan tree beside the bird table. They are shy birds and we hoped if we sat quite still it would start feeding. However Macbeth doesn't know the meaning of sitting still, and the woodpecker was too wary to hang around.

But back to the pheasant, as indeed it was. About a dozen paces away a cautious head, with wattle red patches around the eyes, was poking just above the cover of the long grass, spying out the prospects for supper.

It was the cock pheasant that calls each day to feed on the scattered seeds below the bird table. With the three of us so close he obviously had misgivings about leaving the safety of cover and coming into the open to feed. Finally, losing heart, he flew off across the potato field with loud  kloks' of disapproval.

The Doyenne has made this year's rowan and apple jelly with rowans and apples from the garden. We had to supplement the rowans with some from the Glen because the birds, especially the blackbirds, are devastation on them.

The elderberries (whose flowers provide the ingredients for the elderberry cordial) are almost over and have been a great attraction especially for the pigeons. I hoped the Doyenne would try her hand at making `elderberry jelly, but she was reluctant, thinking it might taste very bitter. Perhaps next year, in the spirit of original research, I should have a go myself. I'll need to find a recipe first.

The rowan jelly has set well, and the next treat to look forward to is seeing a generous spoonful on the side of the plate, embellishing several thick slices of good Scotch lamb.

From time to time I've introduced our grandchildren into these Saturday pieces. I'm very happy to introduce the latest – granddaughter Mathilda is just four weeks old, and in the course of events will doubtless have an increasing impact on our lives.

Our neighbour Ronald has built a  sitooterie' in a `sheltered corner of his garden, so that he and his wife can enjoy the summer sunshine, and be protected from any chill winds. I called to give it a trial and I must say he has chosen his spot well. However I should have called an hour earlier when the iced coffee was on the go!