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.

Holiday Cottages

October 29th, 2005

HOLIDAY COTTAGES and family pets don't always go together; but the Doyenne and I have come back from a week's holiday at Loch Melfort where dogs are welcome.

We stayed in a cottage at the timeshare complex at Melfort Village, sixteen miles below Oban. It's the sort of place where it's very easy to give into temptation to eat more and exercise less. Having the dogs with us meant we got out amongst the marvellous west coast scenery which we enjoy so much. And the autumn colours of the trees and landscape are quite spectacular at this time of year.

Grandchildren are welcome too, and Alfie and Mathilda, plus parents, joined us for half the week. The swimming pool within the complex was a great hit with the youngsters, and there are play areas and lots of other activities.

We found a wonderful fishmonger in Tarbert Loch Fyne where we got the freshest scallops and sea bass. The scallops, wrapped in streaky bacon and grilled, are still a melt-in-the-mouth memory. The Doyenne baked the sea bass, stuffed with breadcrumbs and parsley and bound together with lemon juice. Speechless!

The  Shower of Herring' restaurant is part of the Melfort complex, and is named after a real shower of herring which rained out of the sky in 1821. This is one of a number of similar documented Biblical-style phenomena. It's thought the fish got caught up some sort of a waterspout, which ran out of energy when it got over land and deposited its unlikely passengers.

My memory of our meal there is having probably as good a fillet steak, grilled the way I wanted, as I've ever had. But we really did have some good walks too!

Follow the sign to Ardfern, where millions of pounds worth of expensive yachts lie moored, and then drive down the Craignish peninsula to where the road ends at an old jetty. The ferry to Jura used to leave from here taking passengers and goods for the island. Islay and Gigha peep up from behind Jura, and to the north you see the hills of Mull.

Between Lochgilphead and Inveraray we stopped at Port Ann, and walked through the woods and along the shore of Loch Fyne to the old Otter Ferry, which took passengers across to the Cowal Peninsula. Before motoring and transport links improved, the ferries were the only way to avoid lengthy journeys round the tops of the long fiord-like sea lochs which bite into our west coast.

You meet all sorts at a place like Melfort. Here's the sort of story they tell in Buchlyvie.

A man was handed a glass of his host's favourite malt whisky. He held it to the light, sniffed it, and asked its age. Fifteen years old.

 It's very small for its age', was the comment!


Written on Saturday, October 29th, 2005 at 3:27 pm for Weekly.