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.

Hotchpotch

January 8th, 2005

DECEMBER 22ND – I walked up the Bishop's Walk, along by Skinner's Burn which runs through the narrow ravine separating Brechin Castle from Brechin Cathedral kirkyard. My ancestor George Whitson was minister of the Cathedral Kirk of Brechin from 1804 –1835.

I was preceded through the churchyard by a swaggering cock pheasant which would have glided across the couple of hundred yards from the castle policies. Marching confidently into Church Lane it hesitated briefly to look back at me, then flew onto the high garden wall opposite the church gates.

As I left the kirkyard I could hear him cackling away to himself, no doubt tucking into Christmas treats left out for him by a hospitable house owner.

Christmas Eve – snow started falling mid-afternoon. It snowed steadily until the ground was carpeted, and in the windless conditions all the trees took on a thick coating of flakes.

About half past ten I took Macbeth out for his last walk before the Doyenne and I went to the candlelit Midnight Service. For a rare moment the constant noise of traffic on the A90 was silent. The near full moon shimmered through ghostly trees, no other creatures were moving, and for those brief minutes Macbeth and I were alone in our own little world of stillness and peace.

December 28th – was bright and warm. Despite living in Angus for nearly forty years the Doyenne had never walked the Brown Catterthun, one of the two Iron Age forts which lie to the west of Brechin. It's much like living in Edinburgh all your life and never visiting Edinburgh Castle.

The day couldn't have been better – views almost up to Stonehaven eastwards, and Forfar and beyond to the west. Montrose Basin, Montrose Bay and Scurdie Ness lighthouse sparkled in the distance. And as we turned back to the car a couple of skeins of geese flew in below us preparing to land and feed, probably on a long suffering farmer's winter barley.

December 30th – in a year-end frenzy of tidying the deep freeze the Doyenne came across a box of red and yellow wild raspberries which I had earmarked for raspberry vodka. Now, there's a drink that can creep up on the unwary!

There was no vodka in the house, so the Doyenne reached a quick executive decision. She boiled the fruit into raspberry jelly which has turned out so absolutely delicious that I can't feel the least bit cheated out of my innocent hedgerow cordial.

New Year's Day – was dreich, overcast and scarcely the sort of day you expect to herald the advent of the fledgling year.

January 2nd – by comparison was sunny; so the three of us bundled into the car and drove down to walk on Kinnaber Moor and the beach. It felt as though the New Year had really dawned.