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.

Animal camouflage

February 19th, 2005

PANDEMONIUM REIGNS when grandchildren come to stay. Last weekend we expected only grandson James to be visiting, but son Robert and daughter-in-law Kate blew in with Cecily and Fergus. The decibels rapidly rose to unforeseen levels!It's heaven for Macbeth. He's a dog that can stand as much tickling as the grandchildren care to give him.

After a quick lunch everyone was ready for a walk. The wind was biting and all the young set off looking like miniature Michelin men. Fergus suddenly announced that he was nervous. He couldn't tell us the reason for this, but when you're the smallest small person in the wild wood I expect there are scary things lurking that big people take for granted.

We've lost one of our resident roe deer. Robert spied the dead buck which we think must have been hit by a vehicle, and was just able to stagger into the cover of the wood before succumbing. Its horns were in velvet so Kate surprised us when she described them as being  in ermine'.

I think she realised her mistake as she said it. In winter, stoats can change the colour of their fur to white as a camouflage against snow. They are referred to as being  in ermine'.

Roe bucks and red deer stags lose, or  cast', their antlers each wintertime. While new antlers grow they are covered with a skin or  velvet', which carries a blood supply to help the new horns develop.

On the walk back through the wood the grandchildren picked snowdrops and daffodils for Granny.

Before she came indoors again Kate worked off the rest of her energy by stacking the load of logs that we'd had delivered the previous day. I had Robert and James lined up to help me with that chore, so we could only look on in silent admiration.

Just to show I have skills of my own, I cooked a spicy cottage pie for supper.

A recent report in this paper about the proposed replacement of the Lower Northwater Bridge which crosses the River North Esk between Montrose and St Cyrus, referred to its eight arches.

Violet Jacob, the Angus writer who stands on a par with RL Stevenson and Grassic Gibbon, wrote in the opening paragraphs of her novel  The Interloper', about the self same eight arches spanning the river, which she calls the North Lour.

She goes on to describe the  harled white house' which my mother claimed was based on Gallery House which is several miles upriver. The white house has to be Kinnaber, and a quick call to Mrs Christine Smart confirmed this.

Violet Jacob's childhood was spent at House of Dun, on the family estate. She wrote very affectionately of her home county in her novels and poems, and while names are changed, places are frequently recognisable.

Written on Saturday, February 19th, 2005 at 5:56 pm for Weekly.