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.

The night

December 17th, 2005

THE NIGHT is darkest just before the dawn', the old saw goes. I've had early mornings this past fortnight and I've tried to catch the dawning, but it's hard to judge at just what Stygian moment night ceases and dawn emerges from the lightening darkness.

Night-time slips away without a whisper and then  bliss was it in that dawn to be alive' as poet William Wordsworth wrote. Not that the dogs give two hoots about poetry. The moment I've got out of bed they are ettling after the morning walk because breakfast follows the walk.

Luckily Macbeth has had his festive trim and for the time being shines like a wee silver beacon in the dark. Inka is just as black as soot and if we go out on the road I take a torch with me to keep in contact with him. But the field beside the house is empty so he can stretch his legs in safety there.

It's odd we don't say that  the day is darkest just before the dusk' – yet it is true. Perhaps we have a psychological reluctance to confront the evening's descent into inspissating gloom.

I wrote about the Wideopen, the road that crosses from Marykirk to St Cyrus, and I was most interested to get a note from a reader telling me that her father had walked the road every Sunday, with his dog for company, to court her mother who lived in St Cyrus. He got his lunch, and in the evening walked home again.

The young couple must have taken other walks up the coast, for the writer's first name is Finella which comes from Den Finella, an attractive wee glen that runs down to the sea just below Johnshaven.

Her cousin Jimmy Maver and his wife Millie owned the post office and shop at Craigo for some years. It was our local shoppie when we lived at Logie Pert. Jimmy's father was Bob Maver who was gamekeeper at Craigo Estate, and I remember him too.

 Coortin' must have been a demanding undertaking in those days. Thirled as I am to the Doyenne (it's over forty years now), I wonder how we would have fared if I hadn't had the good fortune to own a car.

It was a white Hillman California with a soft top that I could take down in summer. It was a perishingly cold car in winter, but the gear change was on the steering column, the handbrake on the floor beside the driver's door, and it had a bench seat. Thus it was I learnt to cosy up!

A sharp  creech' was the disapproving cry of a snipe, raised by the dogs from the edge of the stream at the foot of the garden. I think it's the first one I've seen in our four years staying here.

Written on Saturday, December 17th, 2005 at 9:56 am for Weekly.