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.

High jinks in Marykirk

September 17th, 2005

 TAE MEET him ye gang up a stair/ Deil tak' the ploy that leads me there./ The steps as I ha'e coonted ower/ Cost two pence each or three and fower./ He writes me whiles a wee bit line/ And says he is sincerely mine./ But in a book he's noted doon/ To writing you say half a croon./ I aften think it wad be braw/ Gin I could do without the law/ But when I'm in a fax I ken/ I'll climb thae twenty steps again./ Bit ae dull day wi' grave content/ He'll read my will and testament/ A'h lad I'll hae the laugh on ye/ Ye'll send yer bill bit no tae me.

The poem, entitled  My address to my Solicitor', was penned for my father by Lewis Thomson who owned the Marykirk Hotel. I often went there with Father who drank whisky, but I was only old enough to be offered ginger beer.

The poem describes a little bit of Scottish social history. 3s/4d (pre-decimal currency, for the very young!) was half of 6s/8d which was one third of £1 or 20 shillings. The 6s/8d was the fee for a consultation with your  man of business' (a near-vanished description now) in the 1950s. Far off days, but I did manage to track down a solicitor – and not as old as you might imagine! – who remembered charging such fees.

I believe Mr Thomson retired to Forfar after he sold the hotel. It would be interesting to know how much more of his lively poetry survives and, better still, if it was published. He obviously had wit and a pawky way with words.

I have a photograph taken in the Marykirk Hotel of a fishing or shooting supper when the annual rent for sporting rights was handed over. Seated round the table are my father and Jim Young, who was the vet in Brechin, paying their rent in bags of ha'penny coins to Gordon Officer who farmed Ardoch of Gallery and Jim Scott who farmed neighbouring Mains of Gallery. Unseemly hilarity is very obvious.

I was woken about half past three in the morning by a noise I just couldn't place. So I got out of bed and prowled round the house and tracked it down to Inka – hiccupping.

All the childhood remedies like drinking water from the wrong side of the glass or holding his breath and counting to fifty, were wasted on him. Putting a cold key down the back of his neck would have been the opportunity for a great game which ended in the key being swallowed!

I could have waited until his attention was diverted and tried the ultimate cure of giving him a big fright. But it wisnae cosy out there, and it was in the bed. So that's where I went back to.

Written on Saturday, September 17th, 2005 at 4:04 pm for Weekly.