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.

Changing landscape

October 16th, 2004

I POPPED into the barbers for my usual session with Dennis Burke who has cut the greying locks for more years than either of us care to admit.

Dennis told me that coming into Montrose to open the shop he had seen more pinkfoot geese roosting on Montrose Basin than he could remember for a long time. After he had trimmed me up I went round to the Station, where I got a marvellous view from the railway bridge across the water and onto the hills beyond.

The tide was coming in, pushing the birds onto the mud banks. Their wild cries blew across on the wind, and I thought about the clocks going back soon, and the lighter mornings that will darken again as winter really sets in.

Packs of geese took off with choruses of farewells as they headed to all points of the compass in search of feeding grounds. They are not welcomed by farmers when they descend to graze on fields of winter barley whose first green shoots are beginning to push through.

Mallard and eider duck were paddling in the shallows at the back of the station platform, and a delicate wisp of dunlins flittered along the tideline. Two oystercatchers pattered over the oozy mud, busily poking with their orange beaks for oozy mud treats which I imagine are their equivalent of dark chocolate.

A carrion crow worked back and forth along the high tide mark. They eat mussels, for which the Basin was once famous, small crabs and molluscs, but this one seemed more interested in finding what had been left behind by the outgoing tide.

I'm reading a most entertaining book called  The Longshoreman' by Richard Shelton, who calls the geese –  hounds of heaven'. Out on an iron-hard frosty night and hearing the distant yelps of the geese closing up on you, it's easy to imagine them as baying hounds in hot pursuit.

Years ago  They' demolished the familiar old Montrose Station building which I grew up with.  They' filled in the south stream of the Basin which emptied out alongside Ferryden. Rossie Island ceased to be an island, but I got used to that. Now  They' have dismantled the familiar old road bridge which crossed from Montrose to Rossie Island, over the main river which empties the Basin into the North Sea at Scurdyness Lighthouse. Happily, I think the replacement will be a rather graceful addition to the skyline.

I met one of my primary school teachers who told me she enjoys reading these Saturday pieces. I told her how much I enjoy writing them, and we got to wondering if her efforts all these years ago had contributed to the quality of the words. We agreed they probably had.

I don't remember the same easy rapport between us when I was eight years old!