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.

JM Barrie writes Peter Pan

November 19th, 2005

“KLOCK, KLOCK”, a cock pheasant was brazenly standing on the old wall outside the kitchen window, calling on the world at large to acknowledge that he was king of the castle. It's taken up post there for several days and is obviously staking a territorial claim to that part of the garden.

It's  a very good address', as my mother used to say, for a pheasant. There's unlimited feeding at the bird table, it's a suntrap round the front of the house for its leisure moments, and plenty of high trees nearby to roost in overnight. Macbeth gave up trying to fly some time ago, so he's no threat. And Inka's just a  hauflin'.


And on the subject of dogs, Inka's discovered barking. He's still exploring his full range, but appears to be the canine equivalent of a pleasing baritone. He can't make up his mind whether to show off his new-found skill, or be embarrassed by it's social consequences.


We don't want yapping dogs every time someone comes to the door, but it's reassuring to have a barking dog to warn folk inside and outside the house, that someone's keeping an eye on things.


The Doyenne and I are enjoying a jar of Yorkshire honey which came as a gift from the Ryburn Valley and Moors. It's heather country round there, so you'd expect it to be as lipsmackingly tasty as it is. We know where it came from and who produced it; 'traceability' they call it in the trade. It's so much more of a treat than the anonymous product that's bought over the counter.


I was going through the last of my father's papers and came across two letters written by JM Barrie to my grandfather DS Whitson, who was a solicitor in Kirriemuir, which was Barrie's birthplace. The house he was brought up in now belongs to the National Trust for Scotland, and it's an interesting place to take visitors. The washhouse on the back green was the inspiration for the Wendy House.


One letter is dated February 1904, and I like to think that the pen he used to write to my grandfather was the same pen he used to write  Peter Pan', which had its stage premiere in December, the same year, at the Duke of York Theatre, London.


A much more exciting find, tucked away in an envelope, was a five million drachma bank note. I had to count the noughts several times to be quite sure what it was, then dashed to the bank, thinking all my boats had sailed in together.


The bank returned it to me, pointing out that the date was 1944. It had been printed by the Nazis during their occupation of Greece during the Second World War. It was only worth what a collector would give me for it. Oh, the disappointment!



Written on Saturday, November 19th, 2005 at 9:53 pm for Weekly.