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.

Neighbours, walkers and The Fall

February 12th, 2005

WALKING DOGS is a grand way to keep in touch with your neighbours.

In the past week I've met our neighbour Rose Rickman twice, taking her dogs past the house. I was moaning about the amount of beech mast that I had raked up for the second week running. So I was interested to learn from her that because last summer was so dry some beech trees could die from drought.

This triggers a survival response in the trees which produce significantly more seed, some of which will germinate and take root, and grow into a new generation of trees. An almost human response to the problem, but this is nature fighting back while it still can, to the threat of the loss of the tree.

In similar vein, in 1997 the Doyenne and I and two other couples visited America during the Fall – the leaf fall, that is.  Leaf peeking' the American's call it, and it was a gloriously colourful experience motoring along the Skyline Drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.Because the summer had been so dry, the Fall was disappointingly short-lived that year. The leaves had dried out and were dropping off the trees much more quickly than usual because of the lack of moisture in the ground.

But back to neighbours. I see Jim Anderson striding out at the crack of dawn with his springer spaniel. Jim is a power walker and it's far too exhausting to try keeping up with him. The only way I can have a word with him is to get him to stop.

Our neighbour Ronald hasn't got a dog but we meet regularly and have a blether. I haven't asked him, but I suspect that like me, he acknowledges the merit of power walking for others, but after a certain age such effort can be more profitably redirected!

Sandy Eggo, well-known seedsman in Brechin, sometimes walks his huge Scottish deerhound round our way. He – the deerhound, that is – looks at Macbeth as though he might be a tasty between-meals snack, although Macbeth is very keen to be chums.

Cyclists and walkers often use our wee road and we almost always get a greeting as they pass.

Last week I mentioned St Brigid, and on Sunday the Doyenne brought home the Church magazine. Our minister Ian Stewart had written of the good saint too.

He told how Brigid changed her bath water into beer so as to quench the thirst of unexpected visitors. And her cows gave milk three times a day so that visiting bishops should have enough to drink. So the social distinctions were alive and well even in those far off days.

The Doyenne's first boiling of marmalade for this year has set well and, as usual, is disappearing like  snaw off a dyke'. Some things never change.

Written on Saturday, February 12th, 2005 at 6:10 pm for Weekly.