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 Siren

December 24th, 2005

THE SIREN sea sang her song and, like the bidden fiddler, I went – but I didnae get my gill of whisky!  

I needed space, so bundling the dogs into the car we set off for my best antidote – the beach   At the Lower Northwaterbridge I turned down to St Cyrus Nature Reserve   There are butterfly-shaped notices by the roadside announcing that the verges are maintained for biodiversity, so I ll be looking for butterfly-friendly flowers blooming there in the spring and summer.

There's a handy car park beside the reserve visitor centre and from there we set off across the bents by the bridge built some years ago by the Ghurkas   I can't remember now why such an unexpected regiment should have contributed their time and effort to improving our local landscape  

It replaced the rickety but perfectly serviceable construction which had been used by generations of salmon netsmen   The odd plank was missing, but that concentrated your attention.

Good friend, Montrose artist James Morrison, painted a marvellously redolent picture of the old bridge before it was demolished   Fortunately it was bought locally, so the memory can be revisited.

We met an enormous dog which seemed, at first notion, to be the indiscreet product of a union between a Dalmatian and something even larger   But from the shape of its head and way it moved I decided it was a piebald Great Dane; called Olive, as the impatient cries of her owner appeared to suggest.
For each of Olive's monstrous loping strides Macbeth took about twenty seven   Macbeth thinks he is monstrous and loping too   It's just confidence and a trick of his mind.

We had the beach to ourselves, which is the best way to enjoy it   Inka discovered that he's not scared of the sea after all, and that he can swim  
I threw sticks into the incoming tide and Inka pranced about in the dying waves as though he was about to perish   Suddenly he tired of all the pussyfooting around, and dived into water properly to retrieve them  

I threw one into a pool which was much deeper than it looked. Inka crashed confidently in and, before he knew it, he was swimming and fetching back the stick – quite to his own surprise, I think.

Macbeth had to be headed away from the foul remains of a dead sheep lying above the high water mark   Its bloated stomach was an irresistible attraction for the crows which had already attacked it to gorge on its decaying remains.

And the sunset sky!   Above Montrose it was a celebration of brush strokes of pink and red and taupe and gunmetal, feathering round a broad streak of turquoise green, the like of which I last saw in Tongue Bay in Sutherland with the sun blazing down on white sands covered by the high tide.         

Written on Saturday, December 24th, 2005 at 7:42 am for Weekly.