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 geese & Georgian mansions

October 1st, 2005

THE GEESE are back – it's more than a fortnight since I saw the first of them down in the Lothians. But one skein passing over the house earlier this week particularly caught my attention.

They were beating down from the north, heading Montrose Basin way, and there was a steadfastness about their flight that made me think they must have just flown in from Spitzbergen or some other far-flung arctic cape. It was the final leg of an annual journey that's been replayed over generations, and they would be anticipating the relief from so many hundreds of miles of unremitting flight.

Driven by compulsive instinct, nothing could divert them from their intuitive flight path. They would shortly touch down for a  wash and brush-up' on the muddy banks of the Basin before moving out onto stubble fields to graze.

And aye their cryin' voices trailed ahint them on the air”, said Violet Jacob.

The first fall of leaves are littering the garden. I love the vibrancy of their dying colours before they fall off the trees, and they make a  bonnie picter' banked up against the hedgerows where they've been drifted by the wind. It's a reminder that although the growing season may be over the garden always needs something done in it. They'll have to be raked up and the final memory will be the acrid, nippy smell of burning beech leaves drifting in the air.

I attended a conference at the Burn House at Edzell. Built in 1791, it's a fine example of a Georgian mansion, cleverly sited as so many grand houses of that period were, to sit sympathetically within its surroundings. They also had great enthusiasm then for planting trees, and the vision to see in their minds' eye the mature trees occupying their place in the landscape and in relation to each other.

I mentioned this to one of the other delegates and I liked her answer – “they knew what it meant to lift the soul just by looking at nature”.

Inka continues to fill out but he's still just the feckless youngster. I sometimes wonder if, having Macbeth mostly for company, he sees himself as an outsize, black West Highland terrier and not as a Labrador puppy. It will soon be time to start formal obedience training on his own, so I'm hoping we'll quickly get rid of any identity problems.

He's started to dement Macbeth again, and his idea of a bit of fun is to nip Macbeth's backend. It happened to me once with old Sheba who was usually the sweetest-natured dog.

I'd had reason to give her the most awful rollicking for some misdemeanour or other. A few moments later I bent down and she took the opportunity to nip my behind. The message was clear – mind my manners when there's a lady about!

Written on Saturday, October 1st, 2005 at 2:45 pm for Weekly.