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.

Seashore and semi-precious stones

February 5th, 2005

AN IRISH girl tells me that last Tuesday was St Brigid's Day, and that the Irish traditionally regard the first of February as the first day of spring. The fair Saint would have got a healthy suntan if she'd spent the day in our garden, and with Irish luck it was a foretaste of what we can expect to come. I wonder if I might have an affinity with Irish girls. I had an Irish uncle and I was born on St Patrick's Day, which could help.

Last Saturday was another sunny and settled day so Macbeth and I took ourselves off to Usan, just south of Ferryden, which has always been a favourite haunt.


Driving down to Mains of Usan farm I saw three herons at the side of the dam just above Inverusan House.


I have a vested interest in that house. I spent the first six months of my life there until the family moved to Montrose because wartime petrol shortages meant my Father spent too much time walking to and from Montrose to his solicitors business.


It was known as Usan Cottage then, and I still can't get used to calling it by its new name. I believe it was built as the dower house for nearby Usan House.


Mains of Usan, Fishtown of Usan, Seaton of Usan – you'll realise that the Usan estate has the sea as its east march. I once saw a hare, chased by dogs, jump off the rocks and swim for safety to a rocky islet.


There's a blowhole among the rocks which explodes quite spectacularly in a fountain of seawater when large incoming waves are forced through it.


As a youngster I spent many happy hours, armed with a fishing net, scrambling about the rock pools catching sticklebacks and crabs.


We walked along the shoreline towards Scurdie Ness lighthouse. Facing the sea is a wee brae face of whins and rough grass which I've always known as The Rascal. You'd wonder why such an unimposing scratch of land, which can't even be cultivated, should have had a name and an identity long before I was born, and which folk will remember it by long after I am gone – and forgotten too!

The warmth of the sun was too tempting and I lay down at the top of a bank overlooking the shore and closed my eyes. The sound of the waves breaking on the shingle had the same calming effect as the wind in the high branches of the trees round the house.


Written on Saturday, February 5th, 2005 at 6:27 pm for Weekly.