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.

Out walking in May

November 26th, 2005

OUT WALKING in May, I met a man who passed on to me a prediction that the temperature in Scotland on August twelfth would be hotter than the hottest day recorded in England last year. That was a temperature of 103 degrees at Heathrow Airport.

I was on hecklepins waiting for the sun to blaze from azure skies. I can't recall the weather on the Twelfth, but it was nowhere near that predicted, so I took the news that we are in for a severe winter with a pinch of salt. At the time of writing, however, it's a forecast that seems a lot nearer the mark.

It's been a week of iron-hard frosty mornings and my first task has been to top-up the bird feeders. Surrounded as we are by woods and hedgerows, there's plenty of natural feeding from seed heads on weeds and grasses, despite the warnings in  Craigie' at the beginning of the week. Whatever, giving nature a helping hand now will be repaid in the spring.

The songbirds are so hungry I can stand within arms' length of the feeders, and they still crowd round them pushing each other out of the way to get their share. Blue tits were all over the garden in the summer. But they have moved elsewhere and clouds of coal tits have taken their place.

Some of the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular – great blocks of bloodied and bruised colour scattered round the sky. You have to catch the moment though. It's a fluid skyscape, molten and hot at its height, then quickly ebbing below the horizon. Turn away for a moment and the picture has changed.

I wish I'd had an opportunity to meet Alfred Anderson, the First World War, Black Watch veteran who died last Monday. Not because I especially wanted to talk about the Great War, although I would have been interested to speak to him about it.

His was a life that spanned five generations, and it's the ordinary day-to-day changes he experienced throughout his life that interest me. His quality of life and the personal and social standards that guided him. What could he (perhaps he did) tell his two great great grandchildren about his grandparents, and the sort of life they lived. There's living history for you.

For similar reasons I wish I'd had the wit to give my parents small hand-held dictating machines, with a sackful of batteries and tapes, and asked them to record their memories about everything. They too lived through two world wars and experienced changes at a pace that my generation, and those succeeding, are never likely to really appreciate.

Written on Saturday, November 26th, 2005 at 8:53 am for Weekly.