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.

Farmhouse cookery school

October 8th, 2005

PERSONAL INVITATIONS from grandchildren can't be ignored so the Doyenne and I, and dogs too, hotfooted it down to grandson Fergus's fourth birthday celebration last Saturday. You forget how few children are needed to cause mayhem, and I hoped they would run out of steam before I did. A pious hope as it turned out!

However I had an interesting chat with one of the other young Mums (with the Doyenne it's still a state of mind) who came to the party. Janie Neill runs a children's cookery school from her farmhouse kitchen just outside Dunning.

She teaches half a dozen children at a time, boys and girls, round her kitchen table, and from her enthusiasm it's easily seen she just loves it. And so do the youngsters, who she says are just like wee sponges, soaking up their lessons. As a farmer's daughter, farmer's wife and Cordon Bleu trained, Janie has got all the qualifications needed.

It all started with her own children and their young friends needing to be kept occupied, and like so many good ideas it just growed.

Most people are aware of the increased interest in healthy eating – I've written about the Healthy Eating Co-operative based in Dundee's West Church – but here's a great example of catching youngsters when they are most receptive to learning about sensible eating habits.

Looking back at my own childhood, it didn't really occur to mothers in the 1950s to teach sons to cook, unless they specifically asked – which I didn't. But both our sons are excellent cooks, and daughter Cait is adventurous and inventive. And son-in-law and daughters-in-law are pretty good too!

I've watched celebrity cooks on TV produce wondrous meals at the drop of a hat and with a few culinary flourishes, and thought that it was all beyond me. But I've had a few cooking lessons from the Doyenne, and after I'd thrown a tantrum or two I realised that basic cookery isn't rocket science after all.

I'll stake my omelettes against all comers, and La D. reckons she can't better my pasta sauce. It's very reassuring to be able to look after oneself, and better still to have the approval of others.

In her classes Janie uses the best ingredients, and fruit and vegetables grown, picked and prepared in their proper seasons, introducing her pupils to traditional standards. Delicious meals can be produced simply and quickly, with just one or two steps in the preparation.

If you believe in culinary coincidence you won't be surprised that the morning after I started writing this piece I found wild mushrooms in the field beside the house, while I was walking the dogs. I've never found them there before, so I brought them home and we had them for breakfast, fried in butter and accompanied with grilled bacon. Very moreish!