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.

Wild strawberries and elderflower cordial

July 16th, 2005

SO MUCH activity is going on in the garden that I scarcely know where to start.

I've often said that if I'm stuck for material for these Saturday pieces, all I have to do is stand in the garden for ten minutes and listen and look. I don't even need to do that this week. It's enough to stand at the window and watch.

As I made a cup of tea to take with me to the study while I write this piece, I watched a young house sparrow, still in its juvenile plumage, being fed by one of the parent birds. The youngster can fly, but it's still very dependent – demandingly so, I thought – on parental support. With the regular feeding that we make available year round, the population of house and hedge sparrows has increased noticeably over the last couple of years.

The first swallow's nest appeared under the eaves two summers ago, and was commandeered last season, and this, by wrens. Two more pairs of swallows built beside the front door this year, and the second brood of chicks are peeping over the edge of their nest.

They are not beautiful at this stage. Their gaping juvenile beaks, to facilitate feeding, will start to slim down to adult shape as they prepare to leave the nest. They also have a crest of fluffy feathers that flutter in the slightest breeze, giving them a most comical look.

Our resident cock pheasant stalks through the garden until he sees the bird table, and the chaffinches feeding on the seeds which have fallen to the ground. He gets in a panic at this, and runs to the table in case the smaller birds have already scoffed his breakfast. We make sure they haven't, of course, but he's very predictable.

A hare has made an early visit the last couple of mornings. He – or perhaps it's she – appears very nervous. The slightest movement at the window is enough to spook it, and away it goes. But I'm just delighted to be able to watch such a beautiful creature so close to hand.

It's the season for wild strawberries, and we have the best crop we've ever had. The Doyenne has made the first brew of her elderflower cordial, which is as delicious as ever.

After the hot sunshine, there's a residue of heat left in the walls of the house in the evenings. My back to the warm wall, a glass of white wine, and the musky scent of honeysuckle flooding the garden – it's hard to imagine a more agreeable end to the day.

The weather has been ideal for grandchildren Cecily and Fergus, who are visiting for a few days. They have the freedom of the garden, and as the Doyenne says, if you could bottle children's laughter and sell it, you'd make a fortune.

Written on Saturday, July 16th, 2005 at 8:13 pm for Weekly.