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.

Water divining or dowsing

April 9th, 2005

BIRDS NEST in the most unlikely, and sometimes apparently impractical, places.

One pair had built their nest my hand's length inside a rolled-up piece of carpet. Another had completed a major construction on top of a box of old books. They had to fill in a four or five inch space between books before they could start the nest proper. Unnecessary work really, when there was the spacious family nest box on top of the bird table, which remained empty last season.

We'd been clearing out the barn of things that were treasures when they were stored there, but which we haven't used, or even looked at in the past three years. It was time to be ruthless – or so said the Doyenne, but I was trying to squirrel them away in corners we'd already checked through.

I opened a box full of knitting needles and wool, some of it Herdwick sheep wool the Doyenne thinks, and therefore quite unusual. Now, that box hadn't been opened since well before we left The Kirklands in 1997. I doubt if the Doyenne has wielded a knitting needle in anger since about 1993, when she started to knit me a tanktop.

I suppose there's been a minor reconfiguration of my silhouette since then, but if she is still inclined to finish it perhaps she should measure it up for oldest grandson James, because he'll be the right size for it in a couple of years time.

What I was getting round to, when I inadvertently let slip that La D. might no longer be the domestic goddess that once she was, is that amongst the knitting needles was a blue painted L-shaped rod.

It was one of a pair of divining rods given me by the late Captain Mel Evans of Clearbank, near Brechin. He was an original character and entertaining company, for he had no reverence for meaningless authority and expressed his opinions pithily.

He was interested in the earth's energy lines, which were what he believed the rods responded to. He taught me how to use the rods and I was able to trace the line of the water supply to The Kirklands where I had lost it in the garden, and the lines of the old drainage system in the steading buildings.

In the early days of North Sea oil exploration Mel was granted a licence to drill for oil on his own land. Everyone hooted with laughter at the very thought; but the laugh would have been on everyone if he had drilled and actually struck oil.

He did however start the Stracathro Service Station –  Ye may gang faur, and fare waur' – opposite the hospital entrance. Look how successful that has been.

Grass cutting is upon us once more. I don't know why we do it – we just encourage it to grow again!