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.

Terrier dogs and wild berry preserves

October 23rd, 2004

A MOLEHILL appeared on the lawn, so before I cut the grass I shovelled away the mound of earth   Imagine my pique as I finished the cut to see that the selfsame mole had thrown up another mound at the selfsame spot   I had to remark to Macbeth that he wasn't keeping a weather eye on what was happening round about him.

He's one of the terrier breeds of dog originally developed to work underground, the description deriving from the French word –  la terre'       West Highland terriers like Macbeth, and Border terriers in particular, were bred to flush foxes out of their dens     Moles obviously don't form part of the tradition.

For the past week, while daughter Cait and her family have been on holiday in Holland, we've looked after their yellow Labrador, Sandy   She is an elderly lady and a very well behaved visitor, much like Sheba was   It's been quite like old times having two dogs in the house.

I was speaking to Norman Atkinson, Head of Cultural Services at Angus Council, who in addition to his cultural talents, is a most knowledgeable naturalist   We discussed how pigeons nest and lay eggs almost throughout the year, unlike the rest of the bird world.

I found a hatched wood-pigeon egg on the drive which had been dropped well away from the nest, so as not to draw attention to the chick   Likewise, a collared dove had dropped an empty egg on Norman's garden path.

Wood-pigeons are interesting in several other ways   They feed their chicks for the first few days on what is called  pigeon milk' which they regurgitate from their crop, until the chicks are old enough to feed on more solid food.

They are unusual in the way they drink water   All the other birds I can think of fill their beaks with water and then tilt their heads back to swallow it   Pigeons seem able to suck water up and swallow it without raising their heads.

I mentioned recipes for elderberries several weeks back   My thanks to Mrs Bell from Forfar who sent me a recipe for elderberry chutney   Also to Derek Thomson of Montrose who gave me his recipe for elderberry jelly which he says is an ideal accompaniment to chicken and lamb  

So that's me committed to the jelly pan next year   I'll report back with marks out of ten from the Doyenne.

As most other plants in the garden are starting to die away, a bed of nasturtiums continues to flourish in a cheery splash of colour    

They were the most peely-wally looking plants when I put them in, but new buds are popping out all over the place, and the greenery is encroaching further and further over the grass   And for the first time, the leaves have not been stripped bare by caterpillars.

Written on Saturday, October 23rd, 2004 at 10:03 am for Weekly.