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.

Powered flight and pig nuts

August 27th, 2005

THUMBING LIFTS seems less common than it was a decade ago, but I stopped in response to the persuasive appeal of the walker passing the Friockheim road end.

Dave Priestley is an ex-pat Brummie living in Arbroath now, and his passion is climbing hills and identifying the remains of aircraft which have crashed on them. He was on his way to climb The Wirren, the familiar hill guarding the south side of the entrance to Glen Esk. In the course of our conversation I was surprised to learn just how many sites there are to be found on the hillsides of mainland Scotland and the islands.

On Wirren itself there are three wartime crashes – an RAF Liberator, a Bristol Beaufighter and a Swordfish. And a Hawker Seafury from the then HMS Condor came down in 1953.

Back home, we are watching the progress of a second hatch of swallows. It seems late in the season for chicks that will have to mature quickly to be ready to fly south. Already we see the fully-fledged birds gathering on the roof ridge and power lines,  coffee shopping' about departure dates.

We've had a second hatch of wrens too, in the requisitioned swallow's nest under the eaves at the front door. They have had a couple of mishaps. What appeared to be a leaf in the loo turned out to be a fledgling wren which had drowned. Possibly on its first ever flight the chick flew into the house and lost its bearings. It wouldn't have known it couldn't land on water.

Inka appeared with something in his firmly closed jaws that he obviously didn't want to give up. When I prised them open another wee wren popped out, quite stiff and cold, so Inka can't have been responsible for its demise.

I was confident I should get information about  Lucy Arnots' when I wrote about them several weeks ago. An Arbroath reader has sent details, and a recipe, from a book called  All Good Things Around Us' by Pamela Michael. Pig nuts are safe for human consumption (provided you are careful what you gather) and taste like a cross between raw chestnuts and fresh hazelnuts, with a hot after-taste of radish.

Scottish folklore has it that if you eat too many you will get head lice! Possibly this originates from the old name  lousy arnuts' which appears in Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary.

Luthermuir farmer Gordon Robertson tells a story about the Chief of Clanranald who was gazing from his castle window at Ormiclate on South Uist. He saw his ploughman pluck a Lucy Arnot from the field and eat it. Clanranald picked up his musket and shot the ploughman stone dead.

Although charged and tried with murder, he was found not guilty because the ploughman had stolen what was rightfully his Chief's. Hard times in them days.