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.


January 28th, 2006

I SPENT an instructive morning with outdoor photographer Niall Benvie   The Doyenne and I are really rather hopeless when it comes to photography – we regularly take our camera to weddings and family events and just as regularly forget to even take it out of its case.

Niall's expertise is wildlife photography – animals, birds, plants and landscapes   I learnt that there is a philosophy about taking good photographs which hadn't occurred to me   Niall wants to produce an image which creates a common experience between the subject picture and the viewer, so that when the viewer looks at his photographs they recognise something from it that excites them.

This line of photography needs endless patience and perseverance and it's clear that Niall has both   Log onto his website to see what I mean.

We parked at the Brig o' Mooran on the south side of Glenesk   The river tumbles between narrow, rocky shores and when there has been plenty rain beforehand it can be quite spectacular up there   The bridge crosses the Burn of Mooran just before it joins the River North Esk   It's quite an atmospheric part of the glen and as we looked down from the high bank a merganser flew down river.

Not long after it flew back upriver again, the dark pink flush on its breast quite prominent   It flew over half a dozen canoeists who were paddling through the white water, their red and blue and yellow canoes standing out against the dark rocks.

Niall pointed out little frost-shriven plants which he identified as fairy foxgloves   They are not native to Britain so must have self-seeded themselves years ago from rockeries somewhere in the glen   They have dark purple flowers and flourish amongst the rocks, screes and walls where we found them.

The road finishes at Cornescorn, a solitary farmhouse sitting on a bare hillside   My father told me that at the end of the Second World War he, and other members of the local Home Guard, spent many weekends up behind the farmhouse disposing of ammunition, hand grenades, mortars and other ordnance that was no longer needed   It was quite surprising, he said, how hard they had to work to fire everything off!  

You'll see my car sporting a British Trust for Ornithology sticker   I've just joined as a Garden BirdWatch member which means I make regular returns of birds seen in the garden, which enables the Trust to build up an accurate picture of bird activity throughout the UK throughout the seasons.

The annual subscription of £12 seems good value for doing something that is worthwhile as well as fun.

It's not too late, I hope, to acknowledge the Christmas card sent on behalf of Cara, a rough collie, to Inka and Macbeth   I was tempted to write  wuff' collie, but I stayed my hand!

Written on Saturday, January 28th, 2006 at 8:00 am for Weekly.