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.

Harvest and Bloody Murder

September 4th, 2004

MONSTROUS MACHINES are crawling over the countryside and along the roads. Hopefully the weather has settled and the harvest can continue without the unwelcome breaks of recent weeks.

Modern harvesting machines are designed big (and noisy) to harvest the crops quickly and efficiently, and move onto the next field – colourful monsters of the land.

Possibly the biggest of the lot are the pea and bean viners. The Doyenne and I were on our way to Dundee to an organ recital in the Caird Hall, and passed an  armada' of five of these monstrous machines. They are not built for speedy travel, and they looked a bit like a parade of elephants marching trunk to tail down the street.

Combine harvesters are scarcely any smaller. Even if I hadn't heard it, the familiar dusty smell of combined barley blowing over the trees to the garden, told me there was combining close by. That decided the direction of Macbeth's evening walk because it meant there would be freshly cut stubble fields close to home for future outings.

I walked across to join the farmer while the combine was discharging its load of cut barley into a tractor bogey, to be transported back to the store. The combine was rumbledythumping away, and the rattling tractor was pretty loud too. From Macbeth's very low perspective the size and noise of the machines could have been a bit daunting. But he wasn't fazed for a moment, showing a keen interest in the whole proceedings and inspecting everything.

You mightn't think an organ recital had much of a place in a countryside diary, but one of the pieces played by Carnoustie-born organist Andrew Caskie, was Hamish MacCunn's  The Land of the Mountain and the Flood', which had been arranged for the organ from the original orchestral score.

It's a dramatic musical portrayal of Scotland with plenty of loud stops and pedal action. It just put me in mind of the Great Glen through which the Caledonian Canal – one of the great waterways of Europe – flows from Inverness to Fort William.

I saw in my mind the soaring grandeur of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, and the dark solemnity of deep Loch Ness. All this lightened with flashes of bright water and sky, and what a romantically minded writer called the  spilt claret' of the heather. And I remembered the Well of the Seven Heads – of seven murderers – by Loch Oich.

On a more contemporary note, part of the piece was used as the signature tune for the television series  Sutherland's Law' in the 1970s.

And coming back to earth again, several evenings when I've taken Macbeth out around midnight for his last walk, I've heard the beat of combine harvesters as farmers took advantage of the turn in the weather to get their harvest in as quickly as possible.

Written on Saturday, September 4th, 2004 at 11:37 am for Weekly.