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.

Unique setting

December 12th, 2004

THE DOYENNE is up to her oxters with the usual Christmas preparations. It's mince pies right now and orders are coming in thick and fast from all the family. Her sweet pastry is unbeatable and very  moreish', as I am ample testimony to, and her recipe for mincemeat is a secret that she threatens to take with her to the grave.

It came as a bit of a shock, therefore, to find a jar of bought mincemeat on the kitchen worktop. Despite assurances that it was bought for an urgent batch of mince pies for the church sale, the experience was a bit unsettling.

But it's not been the only one. I had to take my car to the garage, and as Macbeth was puddling around in the garden I bundled him into the car with me and drove off. It was about ten minutes after I had left the garage that I remembered I had left my poor dog behind in the car. He'd have been there overnight as it turned out – can this be the first of my  senior moments'?

One of the views that I will take with me to my grave is the view over Montrose Basin and the town itself, from the hill at the start of the old Hedderwick estate which runs down into Hillside. For thirty six years home was at Logie Pert and I've seen that view in every sort of weather and at every hour of the day.

On my way to the garage I stopped just over the crest of the hill. The low sun was shining out of a cloudless sky, making it difficult to identify very much except the familiar spire of the Old Kirk in the centre of the town.

What makes Montrose such a byordinar town is having the sea on two sides of it – is there any other town in Scotland that can claim such a distinctive setting?

Beyond the town the white pencil of Scurdie Ness lighthouse stood out against a battleship-grey sea. It was built in 1870 by engineers David and Thomas Stevenson, sons of lighthouse doyen(!) Robert. Thomas was father of author Robert Louis.

Jim Tindal and his wife ran the sub post office and shop in Ferryden. Jim was a relief lighthouse keeper and when he was on duty my Father took me to visit him, and I would be taken up the winding stairs to help polish the glass prisms and see the lamp being lit.

Every lighthouse has a unique series of flashes so that mariners can recognise their position at sea in even the dirtiest weather. Scurdie Ness shows three white flashes every twenty seconds.

There will have been black, wild nights when the sight of those three blinks in the dark will have been the most welcome sight of a lifetime.